Winter Storm Warning

Expected weather coming in 24 hours:

A WINTER STORM WARNING is in effect from 6 PM Thursday to Noon on Friday.
A major winter storm will move over southern Wisconsin and much of the upper Midwest during this time frame. Heavy snows are likely over much of southern Wisconsin, and there may even be thundersnow! And to top it all off, winds will become strong and producing blowing and drifting of the snow. This system will pull away quickly on Friday, but not before leaving 8-12 inches of accumulation across most of southern Wisconsin, with the heaviest amounts over the Madison area. Stay tuned for updates on this dangerous Winter Storm –

I’ll start taking bets for yet another snow day on Friday? Oh how sweet it would be. (Question mark?) That day is also our oldest son’s birthday and a day that our middle son is scheduled to go on a ski trip with the ski club.

Frank’s trying to decide whether he should get a snow-blower or not. He’s wanted one since last year. I still think the five shovels and our troop of boys works just as good. And, it’s cheaper for sure. Considering we’d have to put the snow-blower on financing and would be one more debt, I’m not too excited about it.

If you’re in the mood for some music for the Holidays, here’s something that should easily fit into the budget – one free MP3 download per day at!! Good stuff.

Why Moms Can’t Get Sick

You know moms can’t get sick, right? I mean, you physically can get a cold, or the flu, or have tummy issues… but you just can’t acknowledge or cater to it. If you’re feeling under the weather, you just need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep on, keepin’ on. Get the kids up, pump your body full of medicines to mask your illness, go to work/about your business.

Right? ‘Cause if I’m wrong, please let a girl know, ’cause I didn’t get the memo.

Pity party, table for one?

If I were a kid, staying home from school, I’d have been back in bed a long time ago. Or at least tucked in on the couch complete with blankie and soup, with my mommy taking care of me. But… that’s not going to happen. So I’ll at least be thankful that I can relax on my couch,  by a blinking Christmas tree, snow-covered rooftops peeking through the windows, in quietness of my house with a warm mug of coffee at my side. Maybe I’ll pop in one of my new Christmas CDs and wait for my aspirin to kick in. Yeah, that’ll do.

Christmas Music

Beautiful weather isn’t always 85 and sunny. Today it was 8 degrees and snowy… and it was beautiful.

Driving down the Interstate at 35 miles per hour, careful not to go off the road. Walking into the mall with icy cold flakes hitting my face. Strolling across the parking lot to buy a ream of paper at Staples, climbing over a small snow mound left by the plows. Back across the parking lot to drop the package in my van, and then to the grocery store for odds and ends. I took my time packing the groceries in the van, flakes of snow falling so quickly, they covered the last remaining bag in the cart.

On my entire drive (from store to store and then home) I listened to my new Christmas CD’s (Elf: Music From The Major Motion Picture and Merry from Lena Horne) – both fabulous albums. The Elf album is a lot of fun with a variety of styles and songs, and Lena Horne’s voice is silky smooth with the BEST rendition of The Little Drummer Boy.

The music was perfect. The dusty snow and cold air made flakes that danced and glittered on the road in front of me. Driving home I was looking at the road glittering in front of me and admitted to myself that my slow crawling pace had more to do with thoroughly enjoying the ride and less to do with the road conditions.

Winter Picnic

The weather is turning temperamental. Sunday it was 40 and warm, today it was 5 and cold. The snow has diminished significantly, leaving behind what looks like a dirty grey snow-cone emptied over the city. All that beautiful snow, melted. We need more snow.

Yesterday we took a trip to a county park and had a Winter Picnic with some friends (who were kind enough to share their special “spot” they had discovered a few years ago). You park, then hike over a couple small hills to come to a clearing where there is a large fire pit, complete with logs for seating and tables for picnicking and paths cut for cross-country skiing. But the best part? – A small cabin, in which, if I were younger, I’d surely break into a Laura Ingalls make-believe festival. The cabin has wood stacked, lined and ready one side, and a small-bellied stove for a fire, with space on top to boil water – or beans, or coffee… windows on each side, and two large picnic tables.

We spent the first half of our time at the outside tables, roasting wieners and brats on sticks over the open fire and snacking on cheese, fruits and dips watching the kids sled. Later it began to rain (oh how I wish that it would have been snow) and we retired to the cabin, my friend and I, as the kids and the men stayed outside for a bit. In the cabin we had one small lamp and the fire. It was comfortably dim, inviting. Cool air, but warm with the scent of a burning fire. The kids came in and out, grabbing cookies or warming in front of the fire where steam would rise off their wet coats. We sang some songs, told some spooky stories.

The rain continued and the temperature dropped, so we thought it wise to start traveling home before the roads got too slick. I was toasty in my snowpants and jacket, and was reluctant to leave. It was a wonderful way to round off the weekend. The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as did the adults. I forgot my camera, or I’d show pictures. My girlfriend took some, though, and I hope some turned out OK and I can share.

Winter in Wisconsin can be rather tiring unless you find some things to do (ski, sled, etc.). As long as you keep warm, you can enjoy a lot of summer’s activities in the midst of Winter, though – like a picnic.

Hanging the Star

Francesco, the oldest twin, is our most enthusiastic tree-trimmer. Last year he assigned himself as the Star Hanger, and this year assumed the role as well.

Last year we were going through a stressful time, this year, the same. It takes a bit more effort to muster up the energy to get our decorations out and trim the tree. So the kids took a larger role in doing so – which is wonderful!! In the past the tree has had a large cluster of ornaments kid’s-eye height, which I would rearrange after they went to bed. This year – I didn’t touch a thing. And there was no cluster.

I’ve been de-cluttering our Christmas decorations over the past few years, as well. So many were broken or useless that it was silly to pack and unpack them. Realizing I had done this, though, I thought I would replenish some this year. Goodwill was my biggest helper in that. I’ll post pictures of my finds in another post.

Here, he admires the star…

Do Not Pay Outside Help

Every year, as soon as possible after Thanksgiving Day, we go to the same place to pick out our Christmas tree. This year it took us a little longer to get out there to get one. But not longer than a week later. Generally we don’t put a whole lot of time into the process.

The mom and pop greenery isn’t far from home. We always have a little giggle at the signs they have tacked up around the lot.

“Pay inside only!! Do not pay outside help.”

Must have been a lucrative season at one point for the outside help, huh?

They small barn-like shack where you pay is almost as cold as it is outside, smelling like fresh cut pine and motor oil. dThe tree prices are reasonable, they take checks and they hand out a Tootsie Roll to anybody that comes in. It is a small gesture, but it makes for a nice memory in a family tradition.

Shampooing Berber Carpet

I didn’t want to do it. I’ve heard horror stories about shampooing berber. Never have I had to do it, either, unless I’ve blanked it out of my retrievable memory. Long ago I switched out using commercial cleaner for laundry detergent (generally Tide) as a cheaper and just-as-effective alternative. The woes of oversudsing and having to dump out bubbles from the icky water receptor were… not so enjoyable, though.

That was before the days of low-sudsing HE detergent.

This time around I filled my wash container with Gain HE detergent (filled the cap between the 1 and 2 line mark) and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. It worked quite well, but there were some suds while I was filling. Not once, though, during cleaning the actual carpet did I have to stop and dump out the dirty water to get rid of over-sudsing.

If I was so inclined, I might just use hot water with vinegar and forgo the detergent, but I really needed that extra cleaning power this time around. I shampooed in the morning before work, and it was very well on its way to dry by the time I got home. And it smells so much better. My goal, though, is to get rid of the majority of carpeting in the house. So far I’ve successfully removed it from only one room, installing fake hardwood (installed by my father and I). And I am SO glad we did. In just tearing it out I was DISGUSTED by the dirt, crumbs, grit, stench and dust the carpet had collected over the years. I don’t regret getting rid of it one bit. The next room will either be the living room or the computer room. But… floor costs money and money doesn’t grow on trees, so we need to save up first.

Striped Scarf

Last night I stayed up late to finish a scarf I’ve been working on. It was kind of a trial run, knit in the round simply to have a new project to knit, with the hope that I could also use it.

I probably should have spent that time reading the book I’m supposed to finish for bookclub this Friday, but I’m just not into it. So, instead, I threw myself into the knitting. I’d like to try this same pattern with some different yarns, or maybe with just two colors. Or with a horizontal stripe instead. This one I bound off a bit too tight and it has a slight curve to it. Note to self: chill out on last row before binding off.

My mother would really like another scarf for Christmas. I don’t know if I have the time or energy to do it, though. But I’ll see what I can do.

Snow Day

Snow Day. Slept in, stayed home from work. Unpacking Christmas decorations led me into dusting and de-cluttering the various surfaces of the house in-between doing loads of laundry.

Lunch was grilled cheese (pepper-jack and cheddar) and tomato soup. No grumbles from the kids – a favorite lunch. After that, the youngest three sat down with their math workbooks; I helped them with a couple pages. The twins worked on rounding up to the nearest tens, hundreds, thousands and ten-thousands. Fun stuff.

I washed the dishes, happily looking out the window at the snow (we got dumped on today – hence the Snow Day). I pondered on my contentedness. Just… being a mom, a homemaker, whatever you want to call it. Some weird sort of me, even though I’m working part-time outside the home, still considers myself a stay-at-home-mom. I guess, I guess it is because that is where my heart is; that is what I’m most content with, what feels centered at my soul.

Frank came home from work and all the boys went outside to help him shovel snow. I stayed in to dust and clean a bit more. After that was done, we all went sledding – something we’d anticipated all day. We had a great time, each taking turns. After about an hour we came home, made dinner (potato chip tuna casserole – Loo wanted to make that, specifically for dinner… lots of improvisation there).

Layer of chips in a casserole. 1 semi-cooked package of frozen broccoli, 5-inch square of Velveeta, cubed and stirred into the hot broccoli to melt (we had to nuke it for a few seconds to help it along). 1/4 cup of chopped onion, 1 pepper chopped, 1 package of spaghetti noodles (broken in thirds and cooked), a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese., 1 large can of tuna (or 2 small ones, drained). Mix everything but the chips, spread over the chips in pan, sprinkle with garlic, add another layer of crushed chips. Bake at 350 for about 1/2 hour. Done. Good stuff.

A good day. Nothing spectacular, just… a good day. Snow Days can be crazy, hair-pulling days. But today wasn’t. It was a slow and simple day finished off with a movie, putting the kids in bed, Christmas music, knitting and a glass of wine.

Your Bratty Kid Isn’t Cute

When did being a brat become a desired attribute in children?

I was with some friends who were having a small get-together and one of the children, a young girl, was a little prima donna. “Get me this, I don’t like that, I want this…” Calling the hostess (who was not her mother) by her first name as if it were a follower on the playground, demanding things be done HER way.

In her defense, the brat’s mother did freely acknowledge her little kidd-o was indeed a bit bratty. She made her say “thank you” after getting what she wanted. As the mother watched her daughter walk away, she rolled her eyes and said that it is so annoying to her (the little brat’s attitude), but the little girl’s daddy thinks it is cute. What to do? Sigh. I think she expected me to say something like, “What? No!! – She rocks – totally cute!!” or “No man will ever do HER wrong!!!” or something to stroke her misguided ego, affirming the strange notion that her kid’s attitude would someday make them all filthy rich. YeahNO.

Cute? Really? Really. Well, here’s a clue – it isn’t cute. It’s atrocious, disgusting and sinful. Now,  I know there are outright hellion children and freaky never-ending energy-filled boys (I’ll raise my hand on this one), but I’m telling you, nothing, in my opinion, ranks higher on Annoyance Radar (as far as kids go) than little adult-like Paris Hiltonesque miniatures ordering their parents (and any other adult they can force to succumb to their will) around as if they are cattle. Oh yeah. Wait. There IS something almost as annoying as the bratty little demons – their parents. Yes. The parents feeding into the little game make me nearly bust a vein.

You know what? When you’re a guest at someone’s house and your kid samples the food, scrunches up his or her little face and says, “Ew, no. I do not like that.” It is neither adorable nor endearing. It is insulting and ill-mannered. When you are in the middle of a conversation and your child comes up, interrupts with a hand on the hip demanding you to get up and get/do/help, don’t put your palms to the sky like “silly ol’ kid” and shrug. And for the love of all that is good on this earth, if you are letting your little girl either dress like or play with these demonic abominations? Ask yourself if anything by the name of BRATZ is going to contribute to your child’s brain development and not damage the little brain cell common sense pool.