Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Binge Completed!

Oh! I totally had this long, thorough, linked-up entry with reviews of the books I'd read and everything and BLOGGER ATE IT! ARGH!

So, now to see if I can recreate it. Stupid Blogger!

  • Lake Woebegon Days by Garrison Keillor - done. I'd picked this one up at Goodwill because I was feeling a bit MN homesick. If you know anything about the author, or his monologues on the radio show A Prairie Home Companion (which I've seen live, thank you very much), you won't be surprised to hear it is neither fast-paced nor brief. I did enjoy the slow descriptions of life in a small town though. This one took a much larger portion of my month than my fiction books usually take.

  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (reread) - done. Excellent. Probably best if you've been to London and/or enjoy the confluence of reality with (a bit dark) fantasy. I do wish the tube map at the front of the book would've been in color though.

  • I'll Be Watching You by Samuel M. Key (horror pen name of Charles de Lint) - done. Overall good. I didn't like his pacing sometimes though. I didn't like the balance between the different sections of her life; it felt like we were rushed through some parts. If you liked the movie Sleeping with the Enemy, this has a similar subject matter/style.

  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay - done. While I ADORE some of his work (Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan, A Song for Arbonne), this one reminded me more of his Fionavar Tapestry (a trilogy), which just isn't strong. While this book did have some aspects of "this story comes after those," it's still a stand-alone. I just don't like him being "modern;" he tries too hard and seems too conscious about having his characters use terms like jpeg, downloading, etc.

  • The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston (nonfiction, on Kittenpie's recommendation) - done. Fascinating! I'm going to have to read his book The Hot Zone soon. I never knew so much about smallpox or Ebola or how they're worked with in the lab or how smallpox was defeated. Also, now I know that vaccination is related linguistically to "vaca" (Spanish for "cow" with the Latin being "vacca") since Edward Jenner used cowpox to successfully inoculate a small boy after noticing that milkmaids rarely got smallpox.

  • Granuaile: Ireland's Pirate Queen c. 1530-1603 by Anne Chambers (nonfiction) - still in progress. This one won't be done by month's end. I picked it up after realizing that this reading nonfiction books thing, begun as a resolution, has grown on me. I can see often having a nonfiction in progress any more. This one's a bit dense with Irish names and place names, but I get a kick out of recognizing (and having visited) some of them.

  • Lost Notes by David Murphy (short stories; reread) - done. After starting Granuaile, I realized that I don't like to only have a nonfiction on my bedside table. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for something lighter, or fluffier, or less content rich. While Lost Notes certainly isn't light, being a collection of short stories, it was easy to pick up and put down. Very very rich stories that stick in my mind.

So there you have it! Thanks, Mary P., for hosting the Book Binge!

Friday, May 30, 2008

I think Mr. Kluges will have to RE-explain his dendrology lesson

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Edited to add:
If you want a (another?) chuckle today, check out Mary P.'s post in which her child care charges are dumbfounded about her gardening activities! I was laughing out loud!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WW - In this case, you wouldn't want "vintage."

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

(Have I mentioned the wide assortment of stuff that was left at our house? This is definitely one of the most unexpected!)

You can find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

And a special thank you goes out to Grandma Pet and Grandpa Pharoah and TNGreatAunt for the awesome birthday present wagon for Penguin and again to TNGreatAunt for the festive (and well-fitting) holiday wear!

Friday, May 23, 2008

I cannot make these things up.

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

(Well, I could, but I didn't.)

What was on the TV?
DK's Eyewitness: Mammal DVD

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top Household Phrases

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Let me give you a sampling of some of the top words and phrases heard about our household these days. Then you'll see just how glamorous and exotic being a stay-at-home parent can be.

  • Why? (Still #1 around here.)
  • [Penguin], don't eat that!
  • Be careful!
  • All duh! (*see below)
  • But I don't WANT to.
  • Be NICE to your sister.
  • [Penguin], hold STILL!
  • She has it now; you can have it when she's done.
  • I can't!
  • Mommy, can I watch a bideo?
  • Leave your sister alone.
  • Waaaaah!
  • But I'm not tired!

Oh, but I am some days, child. I am.


(Edited to add: But of course, y'all know I love 'em dearly, even when I am tearing out my hair some days.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Daddy's Little Carpenter

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

You can find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Well, you have to PRETEND it's a vacuum.

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coffee Maker Conundrum Resolved

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Ok, y'all have convinced me. I'm going with the 8-cup thermal coffee maker that I bought at Target but didn't open when Mr. Kluges expressed doubts that it would be big enough for company. We'll think about adding an electric kettle or other hot water fix to the mix if we still think we need it after a while.

Thanks so much for your input, both through comments and the poll!

Final results from the poll (which I just closed) were:

a 12-cup coffee maker
2 (14%)
an 8-cup THERMAL coffee maker
4 (28%)
an electric kettle only
1 (7%)
the 12-cup AND electric kettle
1 (7%)
the 8-cup AND electric kettle
10 (71%)
Other - I'll leave a comment.
2 (14%)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Coffee Maker Conundrum

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Right, so, our coffee maker has been dying a slow death. It is apparently incontinent, because whenever we make coffee or run water through it, we always end up with a puddle on the floor. Better than a puppy puddle, but still really annoying.

So I went to Target yesterday to get a new one, planning on getting the 12-cup programmable Mr. Coffee they had on sale this week, which is nearly an exact replacement for the one we have.

But then when I was there, I saw the 8-cup, programmable, THERMAL (that is, with a thermos carafe instead of glass), Black&Decker one was also on sale. And I remembered that I'd been thinking (oh, weeks ago when the coffee maker started leaking) about how nice it would be to get a thermos one so the coffee would stay warm without being continually cooked.

BUT, I usually just use the coffee maker to make the water hot and then I make coffee in a French press anyway and transfer it into a plain thermos, so we could just get an electric kettle (something like this, that were ubiquitous in Ireland).

EXCEPT THAT when we have visitors, like, say the grandparents, here, it's really nice to have a plain ol' coffee maker that they know how to use, too. Especially one that I can program to brew in the morning before I'm necessarily ready to be up and about. (Both 'cuz grandparents get up early, and for busy mornings when we need to be out of the house.)

BEAR IN MIND, coffee has recently been bothering Mr. Kluges's tummy, so he's been opting for tea exclusively, which is a vote for the electric kettle, which would be just peachy and quick for the French press coffee, hot cocoa in the winter, etc.

HOWEVER, in a few months, Pumpkin will be starting "4K," which is basically half-day preschool / kindergarten for 4 year olds ('cuz that's what she'll be by end of August!), and I'm requesting morning since she still occasionally naps in the afternoons, so I'll probably want coffee with less time input than French press in the am's. So programmable = good.

AND if we got the thermal one, I wouldn't have to also have a thermos out on the counter all the time, and it wouldn't keep heating the coffee and giving it off flavors, and it would still stay warm and yummy.

THAT BEING SAID, when the grandparents or any guests are here, will an 8-cup maker really be sufficient (even with Mr. Kluges possibly still boycotting coffee), or will I just be having to jump up and make a second pot every single time....


What do you think makes the most sense? Leave a comment below and/or hit the poll off in the right sidebar. Thanks!

Monday, May 12, 2008

1 down! Hooray!

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

So I figured I'd better write something 'cuz it's been a little bit again & I want to save the bitstrip comic I made on Saturday, staying up way too late while Mr. Kluges had to work until 1 am, until Friday so I can call it a "Friday Funny," so here we go with....

...what, like, the longest run-on sentence ever? Ok, wow. I thought I made decaf coffee this morning, but maybe I was mistaken.

I know I've talked about my 2008 Resolutions a few (too many) times already this year, but if I don't keep them in front of me so to speak I won't work on them. Sad, but, true.

But now? Now I've accomplished one of them! Hooray!!!!

5. This one's a late addition to my list: To read at least 4 nonfiction books this year. I enjoy reading, but I practically always read fiction. Mr. Kluges recommended The Omnivore's Dilemma to me, and it made me realize I should be at least reading some more nonfiction. And since I'm in-progress on it, I'm going to be counting it as my first one for 2008.

It's only the middle of May, but I've already finished my 4 nonfiction books. I read:
I've even read nearly all of The No-Cry Sleep Solution as well, so I've averaged about 1 nonfiction each month. Yay, me!

Gotta say, I found good ideas in all 3 of the child-rearing books. Some definite contradictory opinions between Healthy Sleep Habits (cry it out) and the No-Cry Sleep one, but food for thought in each. Lots of similarities in areas like the importance of sleep, establishing a bedtime routine, overtired = the devil (ok, paraphrasing!), etc.

And LOTS of food for thought in the Omnivore's Dilemma. (*grin*) It does make me think a bit more about my food choices and look at ingredient labels, that's for sure.

And The Professor and the Madman was intriguing. I wished they would have given more examples and fleshed out more of the dictionary making process, but all in all it was very interesting. Um, if you like language and dictionaries and odd coincidences and insanity and such like. Also, I learned a new word that ends in "-otomy." Bizarre stuff in that book.

So I'm glad I made the 4 nonfiction books one of my 2008 goals because (woot!), I've already accomplished it and enjoyed/was edified by my reading. Also, I'd say I'm much more likely to seek out some more nonfiction for both education and fun in the future as well.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Some Open Letters

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

To my in-laws, Grampa Jem and Gramma Yori,

Thank you so much for all your hard work this weekend. You and Mr. Kluges got a TON done. Gramma Yori, the newly painted kitchen and living room look great! And I know it was slow going in the LR since the varnish was too old and delicate to mask it with blue tape. Plus painting behind the radiator makes you a champ. Grampa Jem, it was due to your help and know-how that the LR floor got jacked up and the framing for the new support wall was built. Also, good eye on finding the floor jacks on sale in the paper! Also, it's so nice to have the storm windows off and the (few) screens up and the doorbell fixed.

On a side note, it turns out we cut down a few of the neighbors' buckthorns as the line isn't quite where we thought it was. Oops. Oh well.

Thanks again!
The Owners of the House of 42 Doors

Dear Penguin,

Please stop finding stuff on the floor and eating it.

Your Mom

To My Parents, who will be coming to visit fairly soon,

It's ok with us if take it a little easier when you're visiting. Because I think I'm still exhausted from trying to keep up with the in-laws!

Your Best Daughter

Dear Penguin,

Just because it's on the floor does NOT mean it is edible.

Your Mom

To The Father of My Children, who are too young to cook on their own,

*cough* Ahem, Mother's Day is this weekend and I like hash browns and coffee and bacon &/or sausage with my breakfast in bed. ;)

The woman who went through labor twice without any epidurals to birth those very children

Dear Penguin,

I know you don't know math yet, but here you go anyway...

Stuff on floor <> Food


Your Mom, who really does sweep the floor sometimes, even if it's apparently not often enough

Dear Cold,

Please go away. I am quite tired of your company.

And take your friends Cough and Sneeze with you, 'k?

Very sincerely,

Monday, May 05, 2008

Book Binge!

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

book bingeMary P. over at It's Not All Mary Poppins is hosting a book binge this month, in case any of you want to play along. I'm signed up, and I hope to read a few more than last year, when it was in April, right after we'd moved & before I had a library card or many books on hand.

So head on over and sign up and read, read, read!

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Whys Have It and Super Pumpkin, Artist

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Now introducing a new (semi-) weekly feature, the Friday Funnies!

Yes, she really, really did say each of these things. In the final panel, we were out back and she had a rock in her hand.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday, Penguin

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

One year ago today, the fire alarm went off.

That is, the fire alarm in building of the furnished apartment where we were living at the time went off at about 3 a.m. thanks to a lightning storm... and kept going off... and kept going off... and kept going off...

Fortunately, Mr. Kluges and Pumpkin were able to sleep through it, but not me. I gave up and got up, and decided to blog to pass the time.

The alarms were finally silenced (seriously, it was like more than an hour, and the alarm was right outside our door), and I crawled back into bed.... be hit nearly immediately by the first of what were definitely the-real-thing contractions.

So I figured even if rest was not as good as sleep, it was at least better than being wide awake, so I settled into (as much as one can) a pattern of "(silently) Oh. Ow. OW. OH, OW! OWW! Ow. Oh. Ok. Ok. *breathe* That one's done. ... I wonder how much longer.... *just begin to doze off* ... (silently) Oh. Ow. OW. OH, OW!!!"

Once they started being often enough and strong enough that I couldn't do that anymore, I woke up Mr. Kluges and told him what was going on. We decided we might as well let Pumpkin sleep a bit more and we finished packing the hospital bags. My due date wasn't for two weeks, but Pumpkin had come exactly two weeks early, too, so I wasn't hugely shocked by the timing. Eventually, still in the early morning hours, we called the hospital and told them what was up. By this time we'd been timing the contractions, which were about 8 minutes apart, lasting a minute and a half or so, and required cessation of packing accompanied by walking and breathing only. They said it was up to us if we thought we should come in and I said I thought we'd better.

So we woke up Pumpkin, and called Gramma Yori, who was very, very recently retired (as of that day, in fact. We woke her from her first morning lie-in, and she said she just knew it was us as soon as the phone rang.) to please start the long drive as she was our planned babysitter. (Yeah, not a great plan to have your planned child care person a 6+ hour drive away, but remember - we'd just moved to the area 30 days ago from Ireland and, you know, didn't really know anybody or have a babysitter in the area!)

We woke and readied Pumpkin and loaded up the car and headed out.

Checking it at the hospital was a bit of a trip. Of course, they had to ask me questions, which was fine, except that about every, oh, 3 minutes or so, I'd have to stop mid-sentence or mid-word and walk in small circles and go, "whoooooooooo, whooooooo" with my breath. But by 8:20 am I was officially admitted, and Mr. Kluges, Pumpkin, and I, official plastic wristband and all, took the elevator up to the maternity ward.

Where by 9:05, Penguin was born.

No, that was not a typo or "just more than 12 hours later" 9:05 - that is a "45 minutes after admission" 9:05 birth time. Yeah. You might say we progressed quickly. So quickly, in fact, that there was no time for an epidural and I had only the tiniest bit of pain relief in my system when I would have happily HAD the epidural, had there been time.

Which there wasn't.

Because once they broke my water, the whole process went from a pace of, you know, somewhere around a metaphorical 50 mph (moving along at a good speed, getting there, but having a chance to see the sights along the way) to 180 MPH!!!!! (Which involves, I must admit, screaming, but does get one there in a hurry.)

And then it was done. She was here!**

And she was (and still is) wonderful, and perfect, and worth every scream and "OWWWW!!!" and "I DON'T LIKE THIS!" or "I WISH THIS WAS OVERRRRRR!" yelled out during a push, and every no-epidural-moment of the birth and heartburn-laden day of the pregnancy.

(Also, I'm sure she'll be worth every two-year-old tantrum, and teenage angst, and "I hate you, Mommy!" and every other heartache and exasperation to come. Because she's my little girl. And I love her to bits and pieces, backwards and forwards, and to the moon and back. And always will.)

Penguin, I love you!

Happy 1st Birthday, wonderful, lovely, tremendous Penguin of mine!

**In fact, almost before the doctor was done rescheduling his appointments and back in the room. I remember the nurse saying (with relief in her voice), "Oh good, you're back! I was starting to think I'd have to catch this one myself!" Or something similar. I'm not sure as my eyes were closed and I might have been saying something like, "ARRRGH! *pant pant pant* THIS HURTS!!!"

Because I was a yeller. Good thing they happened to put me in a room way at the end so I (hopefully) didn't terrify the rest of the parents-to-be or horrify the just-recently-parents during those 45 minutes.

(Not that the hurting was really a surprise, you know, after having had one already, but one forgets JUST HOW MUCH it hurts. Because there is not a font size large enough to hint at the amount of hurt and pressure and PUSH! that's going on.)

(Oh, sorry, TSB... I just remembered that you're likely to read this, too, and haven't been through it yourself yet. Well, just remember, the pain does end, and then you've got a beautiful, wonderful child who makes it all worthwhile immediately merely by their angelic (if sticky) presence. Really.)