I am SO ready to get outside and plant my veggies!!! They are growing bigger and bigger in the kitchen window...I'm a little worried that some of the tomatoes might outgrow their little containers. I've been thinning the seedlings like crazy. I must have about 60 tomato seedlings. Uh-oh. Anyone want some? I can't guarantee what they are though. I got a mixed bag called "Rainbow's End", which included Brandywynes, Marvel Stripes (red and gold stripes) and Green Zebras (green and gold stripes). They all look the same right now. It's a grab bag.

And...the Tulips are coming!!!! Yeah! the squirrels didn't eat them! However, NONE of my daffodils OR my crocuses came up.

Spring is such a great time. It is a little reminder that things always bloom. No matter what. OK, that's my sentiment for the day.
Whatever. It's been a long week, and it is only Monday. 4 more days of this...sigh. Looks like Coffee and I will be close this week. Gotta love it.

Mom's friendly reminders.

My mom had a knack for things. No, seriously. She was blunt, but in a way that wasn't in your face. She told you what you needed to hear, but she didn't beat you upside the head.

Many years ago, when I still lived at home, she got a breadmaker. This was during the breadmaker craze in the 90's. We loved fresh bread. All the time. It was warm, it was fresh, it counted as homemade. She used it, I used it. That breadmaker got a workout. but, every so often, the bread got stuck in the pan. Not an unusual thing...right? BUT...how do you get bread out of the pan? You take a knife and jam it down the side of the pan to unstick it! At least, that's what I did. Until...I found this note: This was her subtle way of telling me to stop jamming the knife into the pan.

This past Saturday afternoon, I was in the basement, and I saw the breadmaker, sitting on the shelf, looking very lonely. And suddenly, I had a craving for cinnamon raisin bread. I knew I had all of the ingredients in the pantry....so, I brought the lonely breadmaker upstairs to the kitchen, plopped it onto the counter...and opened it up...to find that note.

Her lasting subtlety.

And I smiled. No, I didn't cry, I didn't even get a frog in my throat. I smiled, because I knew that she was watching me, chuckling, because she knew that her lesson stuck...even if she had to write it on a 3X5 card for me to get the message.

And that cinnamon raisin bread was GOOD!!!!

You have got to be kidding me.

This outrages me. In this day and age where society expects less of kids than ever before...This has got to be the kicker:


Failing test scores prompt Michigan to cancel writing portion of MEAP
Poor scores call for a new test; officials examine why kids fail
Shawn D. Lewis / The Detroit News

Royal Oak -- Dismal test scores are prompting the state to cancel the writing section of the MEAP test next year for some students.
Only students in grades four and seven will take the test, while a new test is created. Students in grades three, five, six and eight will not take the test.
Scores determine if schools meet goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Districts that don't meet the guidelines face sanctions.

The Michigan Department of Education continues to examine why student test scores are flagging.
"We're constantly reviewing the tests, and when we find one that doesn't have kids performing at the top level, we have to find out why that is and make sure we have the most valid results possible," said department spokeswoman Jan Ellis. "When we look at the scores from a statistical standpoint, very few students scored in the top level."

The most recent Michigan Education Assessment Program test scores are scheduled to be released in the coming days.

In a letter to the State Board of Education, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan recommended the change. "To correct issues with the writing portion of the MEAP," Flanagan wrote, "the Office of Educational Assessment and Accountability (OEAA) staff has needed to either fix problems or institute changes to avoid future problems. The problems stem mostly from the test being the shortest, and therefore least precise, of MEAP assessments. Limits on the test's length have also limited the ability to achieve broad and consistent coverage of grade level content standards in writing."

Students in grades three to eight are tested in English language arts and math every year. Science is added in grades five and eight and social studies is included in grades six and nine.

Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Thomas Moline disagrees with the recommended change.
"I'm opposed to the changes, because we've been putting in a lot of work and effort to improve the written expression, and we're seeing solid improvement," he said. "The ability to lay pen to paper and to write clearly is difficult because so many kids are involved in writing on a keyboard, on computers and through texting. I think it's a step backward."


How can the State Board of Education justifiably accept that it is OK for kids to not be able to write anymore? When does it get to a point that parents have to step in and demand that our kids get an education that actually teaches them something, instead of teaching them to take a test the right way!!!!!?!!!?


Rosemary...a sure sign of summer coming!

Wow. I impress even myself sometimes.

I found this recipe a while ago, looking for ways to use up excess rosemary (I can't believe I actually have LIVING real rosemary growing in my kitchen window right now, and it survived through the winter!!!). Anyways - check out this recipe. Holy cow it is GOOD!!! Make sure you use REAL butter too - none of that fake stuff!!

Tuscan Rosemary and Pine Nut Bars
from the L.A. Times Food Section 8/11/99

1/4 cup pine nuts, roasted
1/2 Cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (I used a little more than this...)
1 cup flour

In a glass bowl, melt butter in microwave. Stir in sugar, rosemary and pine nuts. Stir in flour to make dough; it will be stiff.

Pat dough evenly into ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and firm at edges, about 20 minutes. Cool pan on rack about 2 minutes, then use sharp knife to cut bars into 16 squares. Let cool in pan at least 10 minutes before removing with small spatula.


Do I think my boys will eat it? I highly doubt it...but I'll try it with Little Joe. There are no eggs...you may notice.

More later - I haven't blogged in a while, you may have noticed. I'm swamped. Work is crazy. Spring is here, and I'm out in the yard a lot. I need to buy more yard waste bags!! So much to do!!


Piano and Camping in the Bedroom

I took the day off today, because Little Joe had the day off of school. Instead of wasting the day, I decided to make the day useful...and I called the piano tuner. You see, we have a 1936 Baldwin upright player piano...the same one that I learned on. It is in our "piano room", one of the little bedrooms in our house.

So, the tuner guy is here right now. He's also the same guy who will be giving Joseph the lessons. Wow - our piano was RIDICULOUSLY out of tune. I'm cringing everytime he presses a key. egads!!! But, I'm so very glad that this is getting done. It makes me feel a little more balanced and secure. I'm not sure why tuning a piano would make me feel secure - but it does.

I can't wait to start Joseph's lessons. I can't wait to have this house full of music. I can't wait to have Joseph appreciate music, and all that stuff.

And in other Joseph wierdness news: He decided to put his popup tent in OUR BEDROOM last night! And he slept in it! All night! Aside from his heavy breathing, and snoring...I barely knew he was there!


Check This Out!!

Check out these links from Animusic. This is something that Little Joe absolutely loves. He came from school, and told me that I "HAD to go online to check out the cool computer robot music".

So...Here and Here.

Let me know what you think.

Good Things

Yeah!! Little Joe can float on his back! You see, this little monster REFUSES to learn how to swim. He gives up WAY too easily. No, we don't have him in swim lessons. He has little to no body fat, is all solid muscle, and sinks like a rock in the water. So - yesterday afternoon, we all went swimming at the gym as a family. It was alot of fun - but the best part was Joseph FINALLY floating on his back. I am so proud of him! (He also went underneath the mushroom fountain, which he has never done either).

Then, Little Joe and I were heading home (Dad went out to a friend's house), we got a phone call from a good friend, inviting us to dinner with her family...at CASA FIESTA!! Now - you know how much I LOVE Mexican food...so we were rather more than willing to go. We had a wonderful time, and great adult conversation too. They are a wonderful family to hang out with. Our boys have a common love of "Back to the Future", and Joseph asked me if their son could come over for a sleepover and watch "Back to the Future" all night long...Too cute!!

My boys are off fishing this afternoon - they are heading to Newburgh Lake, to see if the fish are biting.

A funny side story...last night, on the way home from dinner, Little Joe and I stopped at Meijer to buy bread. Then, I realized that I could buy worms for the boys, so they wouldn't have to stop today, and then...I saw that Barefoot Cellars had wine on sale...so I grabbed two bottles of Cab. So, in the checkout line...I had:
1. a loaf of Wonder White Bread
2. a plastic bucket of live worms
3. two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.

I'll bet the checkout person was wondering what kind of weirdos we are!!!


Frogs and Insanity

I am so glad that I was the only person in my office this morning. You see, I have an eclectic mix on my IPod, which includes Frog Mating Calls. Yes, you read that correctly. Friends of the Rouge does this amazing program to assess the heath of the watershed by locating where frog populations are, by listening for their mating calls. Some frogs are indicator species of cleaner water; therefore, if you hear these frogs, then you can assume that they are living in a high quality habitat.

So, when I got to the office this morning, I plugged my IPod into the speakers that my awesome hubby got me for Xmas…and proceeded to start my day. I was jamming away to some great tunes, organizing my to-do list. That is, until I heard the Wood Frog Call. I paused, to be sure that I was hearing what I thought I was hearing…and then I LOOKED UNDER MY DESK!!!!

No, seriously. I thought there was a Wood Frog under my desk. Under. My. Desk.

Until I realized that I was INSIDE CITY HALL!!!

And you thought that I was normal…boy, were YOU wrong!


A quiet moment.

Tonight, Little Joe and I went to Pizza Hut to celebrate his "BookIt" coupon. (If he reads a certain number of books in a month, he gets a coupon for a free personal pizza). Mr. Picky eater told me that he likes Pizza Hut pizza better than the pizza we get at home (Hungry Howies). Great. I'm not exactly a fan of the Hut. Ick. Ew. But hey - if it gets my kid to eat more...OK then.

On the way home, after stopping my the MIL's house, I turned on some classical music on the radio (Beethoven's 4th), to which he excalimed "Ooh - Mommy - I like this music. Keep it here!"

(My happiness and pride was gushing at this minute)

Then, when we got home, he asked if he could listen to this music while he fell asleep. He has never asked this before. But...as I type this, he is laying in our bed, sleeping, with the classical music (XM Pops channel) on. This is so cool.

All I need now is a glass of wine, and the evening would be perfectly calming and relaxing. Big Joe is out with some of his friends...having him at home and relaxing would be even MORE perfect. But, sometimes alone time is necessary. Not all the time though. I don't like being alone.

enough babbling.


Recycler Joe and Sickness (it floats!)

So, last night, Little Joe and I were out in the front yard, playing. After a few minutes - he came running up to me saying "Mom, Miss Nikki is doing something bad!!" (Miss Nikki is our neighbor across the street whom I LOVE!) Anyways...apparently, they had put their trash out at the curb, and there was a computer screen and computer in with the trash. Joseph says "She should RECYCLE that computer, or else it will end up in a landfill!!"

I kid you not.

This kid rocks.

I told him that we should tell Miss Nikki when we see her...so, a few minutes later, she came out of the house to talk to us, and he ran up to her and told her about how the computer should be recycled, etc...blah blah. I did not prompt him. Not once. How cool is that?

On another note - have you ever tried Theraflu Warming Liquid Daytime cold/cough stuff? It. Rocks. I felt like a Mack Truck hit me yesterday, so I slept in a little, went into the office for about 3 hours, then came back home. I took some of the medicine before I got to the office, when I left the office, then in the afternoon at home. It "warms" up you alright! I broke out in a sweat at the office from it! Seriously! It makes the achiness go away, and the headache sort of go away - BUT...it does make you a little drowsy. Good stuff.

And on that same note - last night, I went to bed early, because I was feeling so crummy. This morning, I found Joseph on the couch, where he apparently slept last night. I asked him why he was on the couch - and he said because he couldn't sleep in my bed.

I replied "you shouldn't be sleeping in my bed anyways - you should sleep in your own bed."

To which he replied "I can't sleep in my bed, because your sickness might float through the walls into my room and get me sick."


Never a dull moment with this kid.


The Culprit

So, it has been really nice outside here in Michigan. And, being the awesome mom that I am...I let Joseph play outside when the weather is nice. And I don't supervise...I mean...c'mon...how far can he get? Our yard is fenced, and he knows he isn't allowed to leave the yard anyways.

So, Last Friday, Joseph was playing in the front yard while I got dinner ready. I peeked out the front door, and found this:

Oh yes. That is the landscape block that I busted my rear end putting in a few years ago. Why would a little boy think it was cool to pull those blocks up?

"Because I wanted to see what was underneath"

sigh. I can't get mad at him for being curious...however, I can get mad at him for destroying the landscape!!! I made him put them back. I'm also thinking of manual labor this summer...maybe helping me put in more block, so he can see how hard it is to do!

In other news - things are good. We are anxiously awaiting the first sign of Spring. This warm weather has been tricky, and we keep thinking that Spring is right around the corner, but I know better. It's only March!

It rained for 3 days straight this weekend...and true to form...I received many many complaint phone calls at work:
"The ditch has water in it!"
"There is standing water in my back yard!"
"The river is very high!"

I wonder if these people looked out their windows AT ALL this past weekend? sigh.


Finding Birthday presents....

In Joe's class - the students are asked to write about what they did this weekend, and draw a picture about it. So...this is what he drew and wrote:

Translation: "This weekend I sniffed a Lionel Box Switch Track".

The story: Joe and I were playing hide-and-seek at my MIL's house...Joseph thought that I was hiding underneath the bed, where grandma had hidden his birthday present...and, he obviously found it, but not me. I have never seen him with a bigger grin on his face. He came RUNNING down the stairs to tell me, but he was cute about it, because he didn't want Grandma to know that he knew. And he hasn't stopped talking about it.

Cute Joseph Pictures...

The boys went to The Henry Ford last weekend - these pics are from Joe's IPhone. How stinkng cute is this kid!??!!?

This is in front of the Allegheny Steam Engine....From the www.thehenryford.com website:

Allegheny Locomotive: Built in 1941 and weighing in at 600 tons, this was one of the largest steam-powered locomotives ever built. Designed for pulling huge coal trains over the Allegheny mountains of West Virginia, this locomotive could reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. This powerful behemoth is the centerpiece of our trains collection and a visitor landmark in Henry Ford Museum. The cab of the Allegheny locomotive is now open for public viewing.

AND...the piece de resistance: They now have a new display that allows the kids to assemble a Model T, just like they used to almost 100 years ago! Joseph got to sit in the assembled vehicle:

Joseph is getting all the details from the docent...he asks the CRAZIEST questions!
Ok - enough of an ad for the Henry Ford. but seriously - if you are in the area, and want to go - just ask. We would LOVE to take you with us! We love it!!