Sunday, November 30, 2008

NBPM 30 - Sunday Stuff - That's it; I'm DONE!!!

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Today is the last day of November, and therefore the last day of NaBloPoMo. I've posted every day so far, but a mite bit afeared I'm going to forget to post today, so I'm doing this right now so I remember.

So there you are - 30 posts (actually, 31) in 30 days. Yay, me!

P.S. Thanks to my folks for the fun visit, the work around the house that got done (yay for working curtains in Penguin's room), the diapers and other kid-care we didn't have to do, taking us out for supper, and putting the girls to bed so we could run errands on our own. THANKS!!! The girls had a blast with you both. Thanks!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

NBPM 29 - Saturday Surreality - No sauce for me, thanks.

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Ok, so I don't really have much of anything of a surreal nature to talk about tonight, but, gosh darn it, I'm ALMOST done with NaBloPoMo, so I'm posting today anyway! My folks are here, so we've enjoyed a fun day of playing with the kids, fixing Penguin's broken curtain that has been bugging me for a couple of months now, and getting to go out to eat. Woo-hoo!

Granted, if you do want a dose of food-related surreality (well, condiment-related more like), you can check out this WI story.

Yeah, that'd be surreal.

Probably also put me off barbecue sauce for a while...

Friday, November 28, 2008

NBPM 28 - Friday Family - Gramma Pet

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Last week for Friday Family, I wrote about my dad, it being his birthday and all. This week, I get to talk about my mom! (Who is coming to visit tonight for the weekend!) (With Dad, too.)

My mom. She's a character and I love her. She has her own way of doing things and arranging things and making things. She's a wonderful, dedicated nurse who really cares about the residents at her nursing home and seeing that they receive quality care. She's a gifted seamstress and a great cook, not to mention World Supreme Chocolate Chip Cookie Baker.

My mom would occasionally tell us stories about her childhood, and we were always enthralled. Her stories about growing up in the city were so different from our own country life that they were especially fascinating. She told us about riding on the city bus (you'd pull a cord to say when the bus had to stop to let you off!!!), going to Catholic school, a strangely named restaurant called "White Castle," and other exotic, big-city things. A lot of treasured memories are from when we'd go up to the Twin Cities to visit my mom's mom and get to spend time where Mom grew up, visiting her church (where, as a kid, she'd have to wear a kleenex on her head if she forgot her hat), going up the hill to the local park (with wading pool!), and getting to go see museums and other attractions.

One particular time when we went up to the TC, Mom's sister (TNGreatAunt) was up to visit at the same time. "Us girls" went out shopping in downtown Minneapolis - my grandma, my mom, my aunt, and me. I couldn't've been that old - probably early elementary school. I remember how much giggling and laughing and pointing out of amusing merchandise that happened throughout the day. Oh, once you got them started, it was a gas! It was also the first time I really realized how much we all resembled each other. I'd never thought I looked like my mom before ('cuz you know, she was all old and grown-up and stuff to a young kid), but that day I saw it. I saw how much she, her sister, and her mom looked alike and how I shared that look with them.

My mom is absolutely the best chocolate chip cookie maker in the world. She's willing to share her recipe with people, and taught it to me, but somehow it never quite turns out the same when anybody else makes them. She doesn't try to keep anything about it secret either - my mom is honest as the day is long - to the point of telling exactly how she measure the brown and white sugars together in a 2-cup glass measuring cup, and how she uses 1/2 c. minichips plus enough regular chips to total 1 1/3 cups, how the amount of flour varies depending on the humidity, and all the other little quirks. It doesn't matter. No one else can ever make them as delicious and wonderfully-textured as she does. Mr. Kluges keeps hoping that someday I'll manage to make them just like hers.

Mom and Dad were THRILLED to become grandparents. Over the moon, even. It's so fun to watch Gramma Pet play kitchen with Pumpkin, or interact with Penguin. She gets down and sits on the floor and really PLAYS with them. It's heart-warming to watch them playing together and making memories we will all treasure for years and years.

When Pumpkin was first born, my parents would come up pretty much every weekend to see this first grandchild of theirs... and us, too. They'd help around the house, bring food and cook, and Mom and I would play "[Pumpkin] Clothes." Dad and Mr. Kluges would laugh at us as we'd spread out all sort of her clothing all over in her room and make up outfits, and back-up outfits, and match socks to the outfits while she'd burble and coo and watch us.

Mom has her own way of doing things. She's got a very organized mind (and house). When we were younger, we'd occasionally get exasperated with how we had to do things her way, but you know what? I might deny it sometimes, but as I take charge of our house and the household management, I find myself doing more and more things "Mom's way," because it just makes sense! So, Mom, know that I'll think of you whenever I rearrange my linen closet (with labeled boxes) or write something on the posted grocery list as soon as I take out the last one or use a left-handed scissors with ease. I love you, Mom!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans, here or overseas, as well as "Hello!" to the rest of the world.

I had this great idea for a post where I was going to do an ABC list of things for which I am thankful... F is for family, etc.

But the tryptophan from the turkey is kicking in, so I'll just wish you all a wonderful day and let you know I'm thankful for family and friends, food and fun, and all the many blessing we enjoy. If you want a more complete and mildly sappy list, just check out last year's post. I'm STILL thankful for all that!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WW - The Tidiest Linen Closet in the West, or What I Did Yesterday

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

(Every time I walk past, I open the door and look in and smile.)

You can find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NBPM25 - Travel Tuesday - Food Flashbacks

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

It's the last Travel Tuesday in NaBloPoMo and I have to admit I'm a little stumped for an idea. Which is why it's evening & I haven't posted yet. Well, I'd better hurry up 'cuz The Mentalist is on in less than half an hour, so you're going to get a brief food/drink tour of the places I've been. 'Cuz food is memorable, you know?

1. Austria
Actually, I don't think we ate here, unless it was snacks on the train. Hey, that was easy... next!

2. Belgium
I saw Brussels sprouts actually growing on the stems for the first time ever right outside Brussels. Which is cool. Also, the BEER! Yum!!!

3. Czech Republic
Only here briefly, but we happened to be in Prague on December 5th, which is St. Nicholas Day. We sat in freezing weather at an outdoor cafe, drinking absinthe and watching trios consisting of St. Nicks, angels, and devils walking around. Apparently they go around asking kids if they were good the past year.

4. France
Ah, France. Mr. Kluges had "saddle of rabbit" there, but the best, best, best meal we had in Paris was at La Casa di Sergio. Oh, I'm almost in raptures just remembering it. *sigh*

5. Germany
I still remember a few German phrases and - surprise!- most of them involve food or drink. I loved a lot of the sausages, especially Nuernberg sausages, and all the yummies to be had at the winter markets we went to, like gluhwein (mulled wine) and the hash-brown-potato-pancakes-with-applesauce-on-top.

6. Iceland
Iceland is expensive. We were there on a Valentine's Day deal through Icelandair, which included one fancy romantic dinner (with pate even). Other than that, we mostly ate ham and cheese sandwiches. Oh, I'm not a fish fan, but we had some AMAZING cod as part of a day tour where we rode Icelandic horses.

7. Ireland
In the two years we lived here we got to enjoy a lot of Irish food. I miss the toasted specials (grilled cheese sandwich with ham, tomato, & onion), the bacon (Oh, the BACON!), popping into a pub for lunch & a pint, the English Market (Oh, I miss you, English Market with your amazing cheese selections, and excellent olives, and bizarre cuts of meat I never bought), Moro chocolate bars, and digestive biscuits, to name but a few things.

8. Italy
Oh, I can't even tell you how much wonderful food we had here! So instead I'll tell you about how I will never forget the word "fegatto," because I learned the hard way that it means liver. I can also tell you that in an ignorant taste test, my dislike of liver is based on the taste, not any preconceived notions. Even in Venice, liver was not a favorite of mine. Blech.

9. Mexico
I think my favorite food from Mexico was the mole sauce. We did the big tourist thing in Cancun, though, so it's not like we were eating very authentically. But hey, anyplace they recommend drinking beer instead of water isn't half bad.

10. New Zealand
I think of pavlova when I think of New Zealand food. Living there for 3 months for student teaching, a group of us from my college rented a house together, so we mostly cooked what we knew. I did discover crumpets there, though, and should actually go add them to my grocery list right now. They always remind me of a cross between an English muffin and an unflipped pancake. Also, it's "kiwiFRUIT!" "Kiwi" is the bird or a New Zealander, not the food.

11. United Kingdom
Um, the Brits aren't really known for their food, are they? We were only in London briefly, and to be honest, I really can't remember much about the food. Oh, except that at the hug-giganti-mungous theatre where we saw The Two Towers on opening day had either regular salty popcorn or sweet popcorn. I chose salty.

12. United States
Yadda, yadda, yadda. Let's see, I love the huge variety you can get at the grocery stores and some of the regional differences you find. Yay for sweet tea and BBQ in the south! Also, Little Sizzlers, good hash browns, Wheat Thins, Triscuits, and chocolate malts.

13. Vatican City
Well, I guess, see Italy above. The Vatican City's just not that big, so I doubt we actually ate there, but we might have had gelato. Mmmmm... gelato!

Monday, November 24, 2008

NBPM 24 - Monday Meme - SNOW!

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

This is how my house looks today. So, in honor of the first real snow of the season, I made up my own snow meme with a round dozen of questions. 'Cuz memes have to start somewhere.

In general, are you a snow lover, liker, or hater?
Liker - definitely more fond at the beginning of the season than the end!

Three words about snow
Fluffy, delicate, cold

Ever been in a snowball fight?

Built a snowman?

Made snow angels?

Your favorite thing to do in the snow.
Tubing is fun, especially when they've got a tow rope to pull you back up to the top.

Childhood memory involving snow
We had an old one-story building behind our house growing up. The important thing about it was that it would always drift right in front of it, and by half-way through the winter, the drift would reach the roof itself. I remember how we'd sled down the roof/drift, moving closer and closer to the edge where the roof and the drift didn't quite meet up anymore... until we'd go to far over and instead of skimming over the gap, we'd slap hard into the edge of the drift and knock the wind out of ourselves. Good times.

Non-childhood memory about snow
Snow-blowing our large driveway in the TC... and our just as big one here.

Have you ever skiied? Down-hill, cross-country or both?
Yes, both.

Ever been sledding?
Of course!

Favorite piece of winter outwear/gear
I can't do without mittens or gloves. Brrrr.

Describe your favorite kind of snow.
I like the big fluffy flakes that fall down so s-l-o-w-l-y, especially when it stays cold enough that they're easy to shovel.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NBPM23 - Sunday Stuff - Samoroset

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Some time ago, I followed this link from a post by min over at Good Mom/Bad Mom. It's a game thingie called "Samorost" where you click around and stuff happens (Oh, if you're at work - there is sound) and you try to help the funny little man. I love the artwork with its combination of nature and rusty metal stuff. I'd say you'll find it bizarre, plus either frustrating and dumb, or else somehow rather addictive...

Anyway, it'll keep you busy for a while. And what more can you ask from Sunday Stuff?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NaBloPoMo22 - Saturday Surreality - Xmas Photos

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

In another reality, when I'm trying to take photos for Christmas cards, my kids would
a) hold still,
b) look at me and/or the camera,
c) smile without looking possessed or like goofballs,
d) hold STILL,
e) not have runny noses,
f) look at ME!, and

Friday, November 21, 2008

NaBloPoMo21 - Friday Family - Grandpa Pharaoh

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!

Yup, it's Grandpa Pharaoh's birthday today, so here are a few of my memories about him growing up.

We did most of our growing up on a farm. First at a place we rented from my uncle, and then the farm my dad's dad owned before him. I remember "helping" Dad outside from an early age - fetching hammers or pliers or whatnot, especially when he was fixing the combine or a tractor. I remember him driving around the yard with tractors and wagons and pickups. We spent hours picking rocks or riding the bean bar, shooting weeds between the soybean plants with herbicide, or doing whatever he told us we needed to do.

I always LOVED getting to go to town with him. It might involve a trip to the elevator or the bank or the co-op, but it pretty much ALWAYS included a stop in the cafe for coffee. There we'd join the table of other guys there for coffee and shake dice to see who paid. I thought growing up that Dad knew EVERYBODY... and it's pretty much true.

He taught us all how to drive tractor and cars and stick-shift. When I was older, he had me drive the grain truck to the elevator in town during the harvest sometimes. Dad told me the guys at the elevator told him they knew immediately which one of us was driving depending on whether the truck cautiously approached the scale or just barreled right onto it.

Mom worked some while we were growing up - less when we were young & more as we grew older. When she was working, of course Dad had to do the cooking until we were old enough to help with that. His specialties were cheeseburger Hamburger Helper with peas stirred in (had to have a veg, you know), ring bologna served with mac & cheese, and pancake shapes. We'd come up with the craziest thing to have him make out of pancake batter and he'd manage to get something created for us. He also taught me that grilled cheese sandwiches make a good breakfast.

The church we attended growing up was rather... conservative? Strict? "Just so," certainly. There were high expectations for behavior during services - for all ages. None of this sending the kids to Sunday School partway though the service there! Dad was the holder of the mints that got doled out, one to each of us, during the sermon when we kids started to get wiggly. He also always had a pen in his pocket that was used to doodle on the edges of the church bulletin for that week.

Dad can strike up a conversation with ANYBODY. Bring him someplace and he'll find somebody to talk to. I remember waiting in a line at Disney on a family vacation, and he struck up a conversation with another guy in a seed corn cap, and it turned out they either knew each other somehow or knew somebody in common. Also, if there's popcorn available, he'll find it, and if there's a baby to be held, he'll be doing the holding! Babies love him.

Dad sings a lot around the house. "Peaches and pears and apricots - those are all the fruits we gots!" was the chorus when choosing canned fruit for dessert. I remember him singing other songs, occasionally hymns, and a favorite for us kids was when he'd sing "Lettuce Break Bread Together on Our Knees!"

My parents both valued education, read to us, and encouraged us in school. Dad was on the school board for years and years and years! I know I mentioned earlier this month that he gave me my high school diploma at graduation. The school board was yet another way that he was involved in the community... and knew everybody.

Obviously, I've got tons of more memories I could share, but the girls will soon be up from naptime, so I should finish this out and get it posted. Life certainly changes over time, but sure as death & taxes is Dad's nightcap of lemonade (heated up in the winter) and brandy. So let's all raise a glass and say "Cheers!" to the birthday boy! Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NBPM20 - Thursday Thoughts - A small case of whine

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Edited to add: Ok, rereading through this, I realize how whiny and self-pitying I sound when really, it wasn't THAT bad of a day. At all. However, being NaBloPoMo and all, if I don't leave this poor-me post up, well, then I have to think of something else to write about. So guess what? You're getting the whine today! :) Feel free to skip now!

You ever have one of those days? You know, the kind where your French press takes a nose-dive out of the cupboard first thing in the morning when you're opening it to reach for a mug? And smashes ALL TO HECK in shards of glass bestrewing the counter AND the floor?*

And then a couple of hours later when you are just heading out the door to get a replacement with the toddler because she's not taking a morning nap anymore (*sigh*) and the school calls to say your 4Ker has been having a runny and slightly bloody nose all morning? Maybe you could swing by and take a look to see if you want to take her home?**

And you might have a tad less patience than usual 'cuz the little one has decided that the switch back from Daylight Savings Time didn't actually happen, so she's been ready to get up at 5:00 am the last two mornings?

And then with one thing and another, you don't get your NaBloPoMo post up as soon as planned, so you keep thinking about it 'cuz you don't want to break your streak 2/3 of the way through...

Yeah, it was that day.

Not awful in its entirety by any means***, but still, the kind of day when you're just glad to be approaching the evening, and dreaming of when you get to put on some fleece pjs and hop in between those cozy flannel sheets with a book and relax.

Now, if only we could convince the brownies to come and do the dishes, tidy up the toys, vacuum the dining room floor...****

*It definitely could have been worse - Pumpkin was still asleep upstairs and Penguin was happily eating breakfast in her chair, so no kids were near or otherwise in danger of being hurt by all the slivers and shards and chunks of glass in my kitchen, thank goodness! Also, I was getting out a mug to drink some coffee already made in the thermal programmable coffee maker, so, you know, there was still coffee to be had!

**They were nice and had I been unable to get her then it wouldn't've been a big deal 'cuz it wasn't that bad. I do like her teacher & the classroom aide, too.

***Yes, I've had worse ones, and I know you have, too, and perspective and all that, blah blah blah. Sometimes it just eases the mind to whine and mutter a little bit, you know?

****Couscous eaten by a toddler is messy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WW - And So Winter Begins...

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

(Bonus poncho photo for Mugsy in hot, smokey L.A.!)

You can find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NBPM 18 - Travel Tuesday - Toddler Travel Tips

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Ok, I know I've posted about this before, but I'm going to collect some of my tips for traveling by air with kids right here in one place. I haven't flown (with or without child) for 19 months now, since we moved back from Ireland, but, hey, I figure I did it enough times, mostly alone with a toddler, that these might have some value to fellow travelers with kids. Plus, if we ever have any money left over from the House, I can keep these in mind for traveling with our own!

Plus, you know, NaBloPoMo filler and all...

In previous posts, I talked about some options for keeping your kids in their airplane seats,and here's a list of things I was packing in my carry-on traveling with a 23-month-old Pumpkin. I'd thought I'd posted more previously, but can't find it now. Oh well.

Ms. Huis Herself's Hopefully Helpful Hints & Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Preflight Prep
Ok, depending on how completely tiny your child is, this might not matter, but for most of them, do a little pre-trip preparation by reading some simple kids' books about planes, trips, the airport, your destination, etc. It will make the airport, plane, and journey seem a little more familiar to them, and will give you a chance to talk about what to expect. Love your local library for this one or make a gift of a fun plane book to start the conversation.

When you're getting your tickets, ask where they're going to be. We were often put right near the bathrooms, which is a mixed blessing - more room, but more people standing in the aisles by you, which can be more noise. If you've got the first row of seats behind the bathroom, you've got lots of leg- and wiggle- room, but your stuff will all have to be stowed above your head for take-off and landing because you've got no seat in front of you to stick it under. Also, the tray tables in the arms aren't always as easily used as the ones in seatbacks.

Do a last minute diaper change(or trip to the potty) about 20-30 minutes before you expect your flight to begin pre-boarding. (Ask at the gate if you want to double-check that they will be pre-boarding families with small children and about what time that'll be.) Trust me - it's not easy to change a poopy diaper on the teeny-tiny fold-down diaper change spots in the airplane bathroom & you'll get serious stink-eye from the other passengers if you try to change a stinky anywhere else (on the floor, on your seats, etc.).

Cardinal Rule

Be nice to everybody around you - flight attendants, the people at the check-in desk or the gate, the security people, other travelers. They'll be a lot more likely to cut you some slack, plus sometimes they can help you out with getting your lap-baby her own seat, telling you if/where there's a play area at the airport (FIND IT! USE IT!), or maybe they'll just give you less evil-eye when your kid is acting up. Of course, be assertive, as needed, too, but politeness and a good attitude goes farther than you might think.

Carry-ons / purses / day packs
I think each adult in your group should have in their carry-on or purse, at a minimum:
  • one snack (cereal bar, etc.)
  • one new-to-the-kid gift- or tissue-wrapped small present or book
  • a largish ziploc-type baggie with a couple of napkins/tissues/paper towels inside it, and,
  • if appropriate, two diapers and a small pack (or ziploc baggie) of wipes.
Of course, depending on the length of your flight, you will need more of the above along plus a complete change of clothes for the child(ren), a small waterproof diaper changing pad, and at least a shirt for yourself, but just make sure everybody has those basics at a minimum. They don't take up much room, and you never know when you won't be able to get to a bag, or if you're traveling with someone else, which one of you will have the kid when there's a spill or spit-up, if you won't have seats together on the plane, if the line will be long and you need a distraction for your child, the meal service is delayed, whatever. This way you've got a snack, distraction, and clean-up available if needed.

Overnight diapers hold more and keep the little tushies drier - I'd only bother to bring those. While you can pick up additional regular diapers, wipes, etc. at your destination, pack enough to allow for delays and traveler's tummy issues. You can always make do with wetting paper towels for wipes, but you can't improvise a new diaper. Got a favorite diaper cream? Bring it.

Books / Toys / Activities
You're going to want some familiar favorites & some new ones along. If you've got some plane books or ones about your destination, bring those as long as they're smallish. Books with flaps, wheels, touch-n-feel, etc. are more fun than those without. Toys should be small and quiet. If it's going to be a night flight, consider a toy that lights up or small, dim flashlight for when they dim the plane's interior lights. Rummage sales, thrift stores, friends and relative with slightly older kids can be good sources for cheap or free new-to-you books and toys. Wrapping the new (or "new") ones, in gift wrap, tissue paper, or the Sunday comics makes them extra fun, plus you'll remember which ones they've been introduced to and which ones they haven't.

Practice up on some songs and finger plays, especially if you've got an under-two lap baby because you have to have them buckled in and on your lap for a LONG time for take-off and landing.

They're Going to Wiggle - Find a Good Place for it.
When you're at the airport before you leave or especially during a long layover, ask at the information desk or when you're checking in about play areas. (Also about family bathrooms, kid-friendly eating option, etc.) Take advantage of them! Kids NEED to wiggle and get some large motor skills exercise and have a chance to PLAY sometimes. Finding that play area will help you stay sane and give your kid a chance to run (or toddle or crawl) around someplace other than between the rows of seats at the gate.

If there's not a lot of time, or the play area is in a way different terminal, or you need to stay near/at your gate, try to find some space to the side or out of the way of foot traffic, mark out the boundaries with your carry-ons, jackets, or spread out a blanket, and let them get at least a little movement or stretching there where they won't be in the way, tripping over other people's suitcases, or, let's be honest here, annoying some already-grumpy fellow passengers. Just keep the noise level down.

On the plane, when you're not going to be in the way of a meal service or post-meal/post-movie bathroom rush, occasionally get up and move around with your child. Let them walk around a bit in the extra space by the bathrooms or go up and down the aisle. If you've got the first row of seats behind the bathrooms, you could have enough room for them to play on the floor right in front of your seats.

But sometimes they can't be moving around on their own!
I'm a big fan of leashes on walking-but-no-impulse-control-age kids for airports. You may think they look like you're treating your kid like a dog, but you know what? You have to take them out of the stroller to send it through security... which is also when you're trying to manage all your stuff and send it through the X-ray machine, take off your shoes, keep track of your tickets & ID, etc. And kids? THEY MOVE FAST! Leashes are especially priceless when traveling alone with a kid 'cuz you just do not have enough hands.

Definitely do an umbrella stroller, too, for fast walking to your gate, holding a napping child (oh, you lucky thing), or wheeling along your carry-on while your kid gets some exercise walking with that leash on. However, make sure you get a gate-check tag thingie for it - somehow we didn't get a tag one time... and never saw the stroller again. Which sucked, because I needed it for traversing the length of O'Hare. Fortunately we had enough time I could go right to the baggage help desk, complain (politely!), and get a new (cheap, but hey, that was fine!) umbrella stroller from them right then and there.

Kids have little tummies, no sense of timing, and sometimes food issues. Airlines are cutting back on meals and snacks and their timing sometimes doesn't work well with yours. Solution: lots and lots of prepackaged, healthy snacks. I know I mentioned in the carry-on section to each have at least one snack along, but seriously, bring as many as you can if you're going to be traveling for very long or you've got a fussy eater. Stick a box of raisins in your pocket, some cereal bars & fruit leather in your bag, package of almonds in your purse, whatever. You might be planning on having lunch during your layover, but your flight is late & suddenly you've got barely enough time to switch gates. Or you pre-board at 11, the plane finishing boarding by 11:30, you sit on the runway for an hour, then they won't be serving the meal until they reach cruising altitude, they start at the opposite end of the plane than you're on... you've got a starving kid and no food to your tray table until 1:30! Not a recipe for a happy kid!

Another option is to contact your airline ahead of time and request a special meal for your child, and maybe a vegetarian or kosher one for yourself. You see, special meals usually get served first! Granted, the one time I tried this, somebody messed up and the airplane was short like 5 kid meals from what they were supposed to have, so she had a regular one anyway. If you're getting regular meals, get one kind for yourself and the other for your kid; that way you've got more choices to offer them.

What NOT to Wear
Things that are tight, or difficult to change, or not comfy. You want layers of soft, easy to change, comfortable enough to sleep in clothes. Mix and matchable as much as possible with the spare set you've got in your carry-on (you DO have a set in your carry-on, don't you?), but comfort and ease are more important than matchiness. Keep in mind the weather at your destination, too, and do a light coat with sweater or bring hat, scarf, mittens, sunglasses, sun hat as appropriate. Also, airplanes get COLD up so high, so sweaters are good, especially if you've got germ-issues about the blankets or there aren't enough to go around.

Bonus Tips
You know how you're only allowed one carry-on and maybe a purse per person? And you've got it crammed full with all the stuff you need such that it's maybe a wee bit difficult to actually GET to some of it? Bring along a compact, expandable bag - like the reusable grocery bags that can zip or snap into their own pocket. Then once you're ON the plane, you can take the stuff you currently need out of your carry-on, stow that above your head, and use the now-opened-up extra bag to contain the toys and books that would otherwise be falling around underfoot.

If you're a germaphobe, well, you'll probably have along your child's own special favorite blanket anyway. Just tuck a spare pillowcase into your carry-on and you can cover up the possibly-skeezy airline pillow... or stick a sweater into it and improvise your own if they run out. I never did this, but it never bothered me much. I'm sure you'll have your own anti-germ-hand-gel-stuff along - just keep in mind what the size limits are on those and stick it in a ziploc to prevent spill-/goo-age.

Most importantly of all - keep a sense of humor and patience.
You'll need them. :) Good luck!

P.S. Have tips of your own? Please add 'em in the comments!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

NBPM17 - Monday Meme - Who Needs a Title?

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Borrowed this one from All-Knowing Jen over at the Bus of Love. 'Cuz Monday's are for memes this month.

10 years ago:
  1. The first half of the year, I was teaching second grade in my hometown, in my old elementary school, with my own second grade teacher as a coworker.
  2. I was making lots of trips up to the TC to see Mr. Kluges, with whom I'd moved to the TC in 1997... and then left behind to take previously mentioned job.
  3. Applying for tons of teaching jobs because I knew the one I had was going away due to budget cuts.
  4. In the fall, I took a job at a wonderful school teaching in a kindergarten-first grade multiage, team-teaching, open classroom environment on an alternate calendar with fabulous coworkers.
  5. Most importantly, I got engaged to the wonderful Mr. Kluges!
5 years ago:
  1. Lived in an apartment in St. Paul for 6 months upon returning from Europe in December of 2002.
  2. Covered a maternity-leave that spring for a teammate on my old team at school.
  3. Bought our first house.
  4. Taught in a 1-3 multiage team with 3 great teammates (and 1 awful, b*tchy one)
  5. Went to the first big Mr.-Kluges's-side family reunion the weekend of their small town festival and we all marched in the parade wearing matching green shirts

5 things on my To-do list today:
  1. Get new bathmat from Target - done
  2. Pay bills
  3. Mail Grandpa Pharaoh's birthday card
  4. Pumpkin's dance class
  5. Make supper so it's ready for Mr. Kluges & Penguin to eat while we're at dance class but still yummy when Pumpkin and I get home

5 things I would do if I won a million dollars:
  1. Pay off the House of 42 Doors and all its repairs
  2. Put in main floor bathroom & do a few other repairs/improvements
  3. Set some aside to do some major world traveling when girls are bigger
  4. Share with family
  5. Take a couple thousand and just GO SHOPPING!

5 places I have lived:
  1. Wisconsin
  2. Ireland
  3. New Zealand (3 months)
  4. Minnesota (rural)
  5. Minnesota (urban - Twin Cities)
(Hey, I had to stretch it to make 5, you know.)

5 jobs I've had:
  1. Stay at home parent
  2. Elementary teacher (2nd grade, K-1 multiage, 1-3 multiage)
  3. Fast food worker
  4. Residential adviser (RA)
  5. Preschool teacher/child care center director

If you want to do this one, too, consider yourself tagged!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NBPM16 - Sunday Stuff - Seven Joyous Things

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

A while back, Mary P. posted this positive-outlook idea: seven things that brought you joy this week. I like joyful things, and it's always nice to reflect on the positive, so here we go:
  1. The grocery store had Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate bars on sale when I was in, so I got a few in several varieties because they're yummy and remind me of Ireland.
  2. I made the best gravy I've ever made in my life on Thursday with a turkey breast and recipe from Cooking Light. YUM!!!
  3. We had Pumpkin's first ever school conference on Tuesday and the teacher said she's doing well academically and socially. That made me very glad, especially since I'd agonized a bit over whether or not to send her this year with her late birthday.
  4. We were in for Penguin's 18 month check-up last Tuesday as well, and she's doing swell. I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but she was like 50% on height, 26% on weight, and still a teeny-tiny head. But it's always nice to hear things are looking fine. (Also got them flu shots. Pumpkin chose a shot over the up-your-nose-mist and didn't make a PEEP when they gave it to her! Brave girl!)
  5. My two most relied on pairs of jeans both got holes in them recently (boo!), but this afternoon I ran out to Kohl's and managed to fairly easily find replacements (on sale even)!
  6. Did I mention the shopping was without kids? That rates its own line.
  7. It was a noon release day on Friday, so no K classes, so we went to the children's museum. It was fun to see the girls enjoy it so much.
How about you? Need to focus on the positive and share some things that gave you joy this week?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NBPM15 - Saturday Surreality

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

In another reality, children would come with guidelines on their scalps so you could easily part their hair evenly and straight.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NBPM 14 - Friday Family - Penguin

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

I started this post this morning, but it's been one of those days with no school for Pumpkin, so we went to the children's museum, and then no napping this afternoon, and one thing after another... but dang it, I WILL get this done yet today!

I talked about her big sister last week, so this week it's Penguin's turn. I feel like you all know her really well since I've been blogging about her since, well, before she was born!

I've shared her birth story. You got to see her learning to crawl. You saw her almost-first steps. You've gotten to share her first birthday.

You know what she's like. She's silly and affectionate and has already started being chatty. She tries to "help" and do whatever we're doing. She can be very sweet with her big sister. She has strong opinions already, like when she's all done or when she decides she doesn't like something.

It seems like she has grown and grown up so much more quickly than Pumpkin did, but I know a lot of that is being a second child. There's a bigger one around distracting me, so I don't notice the same things in the same ways or with as much detail sometimes.

But I still notice how she now takes down the dish towel and wipes up any spills she finds. And how she can open the backyard gates... and tries to close them again. She uses her "words" and syllables very well, letting us know if it's "Nana" (her sister) or "nana" (banana) or "nah-nah" (no) that she means.

She adores her big sister, and follows her around, and tries to copy whatever she's doing. Sometimes that causes a little strife and difficulty, but it's easy to see already that they love each other, and that soon they'll be more able to play together.

She likes to climb up steps, and it's her favorite thing that we do right after dropping Pumpkin off at her 4K door, which is down some stairs. "Up! Up!" she cries, and takes off to try to grab the railing. She's still hesitant about going down though, so we're working on that. She can "run," which always gives me the giggles, and she loves to go down the slide.

She will carry around dolls more than Pumpkin ever did, whether it be "Door-door" (Dora) or "Em-ma" or "La" (Flossie) or her little bear "DAY-day!" (Daisy). They get put in the tiny stroller and wheeled around the downstairs or just lugged around for a while and left laying on the floor. She also likes balls and blocks and whatever Pumpkin happens to be playing with at any given moment.

She ADORES books, and will pick out the ones she wants to read before nap or bedtime. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a favorite right now, but there are quite a few she chooses over and over (like Head to Toe and Silly Sally and 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed). It's fun to see her standing her little self in front of her bookshelf, looking over her choices, and then pulling one out and "running" it over to me to read to her.

Yup, she's a sweetie, so smart and personable already. I love watching her grow and change, and I can hardly believe how much she's changed in only the last 18 months! I love my little Penguin!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NBPM13 - Thursday Thoughts - NaNoWriMo

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Someday I'm going to write a novel*. It's one of the things on my list of stuff I'd like to do in my life. And I was thinking, this would probably have been a good year to give National Novel Writing Month a try because:
  • Pumpkin is in school for about 3 hours most every day. Penguin still sometimes takes morning naps. Therefore, when I'm lucky, I could maybe squeeze in 30-45 minutes writing time there. (Which happens to be when I'm trying to do my NaBloPoMo posts this month.)
  • Both girls have "rest time" in the afternoon. If/when I manage to get those to overlap, I've got additional get-stuff-done time.
  • We put Penguin to be between 6 & 6:30, with Pumpkin following between 7:30 & 8. There's a lot of evening still left before I fall asleep.
  • I've got a working computer sitting right here I can use. (Well, whenever Mr. Kluges isn't playing Diablo on it, that is. *grin*)

Why I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year:
  • All the things I try to do during the girls' naps/rest time/evenings, wouldn't get done. That means we'd be behind on laundry, dishes, meals, tidying, bill paying, etc. etc. etc.
  • It's a bit intimidating to think of the amount of words involved there!
  • Most importantly, I've got no idea what I'd write about.

Maybe next year I'll give it a try, if I can get an idea in my head, because Pumpkin will still be having half-day school as a 5Ker. Penguin won't be morning napping anymore, and bedtimes will possibly be a little later, especially for Penguin, but still quite reasonable.

So, you know, if you've got a grand idea for me to write about, please DO feel free to share it in the comments! 'Cuz I think I might have convinced myself to take the plunge next year.

(And a big shout out to those of you doing or who have done NaNoWriMo! You rock!)

*Note: nowhere to I ever say I'm going to write a good novel, or a novel I'd necessarily let anybody else read, just that I'd do it - have a plot, develop characters, write that many words, etc.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WW - Ew! He drooled.

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

(Mr. Kluges carved this one.) You can find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NBPM11 - Travel Tuesday - "German"

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

My Misspelled, Mispronounced, Miscapitalized and Quite Likely Incorrect German*
(But close enough to be somewhat useful when I was traveling!)

Bitte "Bit-tuh" Please
Danke "Dahn-kah" Thank you
Wo ist de WC? "Voe ist dee Vayt-Say?" Where is the bathroom?
-Herren "hair-en" Men's
-Damen "dahm-en" Women's
Enshueldegung Sie, bitte. "En-shul-dee-gung zee bit-tuh" Excuse me. (You're in the way.)

Ein Bier bitte "Ine beer bit-tuh." A beer please.
-Helles "hell-ess" light beer
-Dunkles "Doon-kless" dark beer

Ich habe huenger. "Eek habba hoon-ger." I'm hungry. (I have hunger.)
Es smecht gut. "Ess shmecht goot." It tastes good!

Ein Potatokartoffel mit Apfelmus "Ine potato-cart-off-el mitt ap-fell-moose" A potato pancake/hashbrown thingie with applesauce.
Ein Gleuwine "Ine glue-vine" Hot mulled wine. (YUM!)
Apfelzapf "app-fell-zap" Apple juice
Orangzapf "oh-rahnj-zap" Orange juice

Pflegebalsam "I have no idea" Conditioner for your hair (I know this by process of elimination because shampoo is "shampoo." Therefore pflegebalsm is conditioner. Practical foreign shopping is fun.)
Hauptbahnhof "Howpt-bahn-hof" Train station. (Mr. Kluges yells at me for calling it the "hop-n-hop," but if you say it fast, that's what it sounds like to me.) (You know, I think this is maybe actually the main train station in a town, with Bahnhof being a plain train station...)
Eingang "Ine-gang"? One way?
Umleitung. "Oom-lie-toong." Detour. (This is a good one to know.)

*All mistakes are my own. Sum total of my "German" comes from things Mr. Kluges taught me, travel, and a 10 week community ed class I took years ago. Apologies to anybody who actually knows/speaks/reads German for the catastrophe above.

P.S. I'm totally going to be adding to this if I remember any more.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NBPM10 - Monday Meme - High School

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Another Monday, another meme. This one comes rather long ago from Ewe over at Wherever Ewe Go, There Ewe Are. I figured I'd do it someday, and a Monday during NaBloPoMo seems like the right time.
(P.S. Thanks, Ewe! Hope you don't mind I stole it.)

High School Meme

1 Who was your best friend? Polly

2 What high school sports did you play? Track, but I was also a volleyball cheerleader one season.

3 What kind of car did you drive? Thanks, Dad for the correction! The lovely reddish brown "Betty Rootbeer" was actually a diesel Chevy Caprice. The Cutlass was what I drove in college. (I know squat about cars.)

4 It's Friday night, where were you? Driving around with friends in a slightly larger town nearby.

5 Were you a party animal? Um, no.

6 Were you considered a flirt. Are you kidding? I was a nerdy brain.

7 Were you in band, orchestra or choir? Yes; didn't have it at my school; yes. Also swing choir.

7b I'm adding this one in myself... Any other extracurriculars? Yes - theatre, speech team, Knowledge Bowl, SADD, student council - it was a small school.

8 Were you a nerd? See the previous 3 questions...very much so!

9 Did you get suspended/expelled? Are you kidding? No. I was a good kid.

10 Can you sing the fight song? Not any more, but I played it a bunch of times in pep band.

11 Who was your favorite teacher? Miss Jones, Mr. Halliday, and Mr. Dinsmore

12 School mascot? Mustangs and Pintos

13 Did you go to Prom? Yes - three times. (When I was a sophomore, I was dating the junior class president.)

14 If you could go back and do it over, would you? NO!

15 What do you remember most about graduation? That my dad, who was on the school board, gave me my diploma. Also, thinking that I'd probably remember the full names of my 10 classmates my entire life.

16 Where were you on senior skip day? We didn't have one, but we did take a senior class trip up to Valley Fair and Murphy's Landing.

17 Did you have a job your senior year? Nope. Too many extracurriculars.

18 Where did you go most often for lunch? Closed campus, so down to the basement lunch room with its row of microwaves because we were too small for a hot lunch program. Student council sold frozen burritos, burgers, and other microwaveables you'd find at a gas station.

19 Have you gained weight since then? Some, but not too much.

20 What did you do after graduation? Up to college.

21 When did you graduate? Way back in '91

22 Who was your senior prom date? John

23 Are you going / did you go to your 10 year reunion? No. I would have, but it fell on the weekend my mother, mother-in-law, and I were out in Montana together. I did go to our 5 year, but that was just us all getting together at a local supper club.

24 Who was your homeroom teacher? Didn't have 'em.

25 Who will repost this after you? Oh, probably some other NaBloPoMo'er looking for filler... :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008


(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Scene: Dinner Table
Time: 5 minutes ago

Pumpkin: (having some) Where does goat yogurt come from?

Ms. Huis Herself: (figuring we should start with what we know) Well, you know how most of the milk we drink comes from cows?

P: Uh-huh.

M: Well, where do you suppose goat milk comes from?

P: Pterodactyls!

M: *blink, blink* Bwah haha hahahaha!

NBPM9 - Sunday Stuff - Cyborg Name Decoder

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

So, you know this "human" thing is all a cover, right?

Mechanical Synthetic Humanoid Used for Immediate Sabotage

Get Your Cyborg Name

That's right - immediate sabotage! None of this delayed sabotage crap.

(How 'bout you? What's your cyborg name?)

(And yes, this totally counts as a post, you know. Nobody said it was NationalQualityPostsMonth, you know. Frequency is the name of the game! So all you fellow NaBloPoMo-ers out there, feel free to post your own cyborgness and put your feet up, entry done for today!!)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NBPM8 - Saturday Surreality

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

In another reality, I'd be a potter with dyed red hair and a big black motorcycle.

How about you?

What? Haven't you ever daydreamed about what you'd be if you suddenly had to assume a different identity? Like, if you were in the Witness Protection Program, what would you want them to let you be? Do you have talents/skills/interests you'd like to take out from under a bushel and let shine?

Friday, November 07, 2008

NBPM7 - Friday Family - Pumpkin

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Pumpkin is just SOOO funny. She's getting so big and so capable, I can hardly believe it. Now that she's started school, it's like she has her own little life that I'm not really a part of. It's exciting to see her grow and mature and change, but it's gone so fast already!

She's one of the reasons I started blogging. I mean, we were WAY over in Ireland, so it was nice to be able to post about what she was doing, show some pictures, etc., especially for the grandparents and other family members. (I mean, how could I NOT share the story of the first night she climbed out of her crib?! or how we made bread together? Or the time the poor dear pretended she was a hammer(which I probably would have forgotten if not for this blog)? or show off her Xmas photos... oh, wait, THIS one.) And even though we're closer now, and see them a lot more often, it's still nice to be able to share her life (and our lives) with them here.

That being said, here are some bit of our life with Pumpkin these days.

Yesterday she said to Mr. Kluges at the supper table, "If you're REALLY lucky and REALLY good, Daddy, Santa might bring you a PINEAPPLE for Christmas!!!" Who knew pineapples were such coveted items?!

The first word she's learned how to spell completely on her own, besides her name, is not "Mom" or "Dad" or even "cat." It is "Boo!" I love Halloween!

We were returning books to the library on election day by putting them into the outside book drop. Pumpkin looked at the sign on it and said, "Why does it say 'Boo' where we're putting our books?" So now she knows how to spell "book" and "books," too.

She seems to enjoy having a part of her life separate from us. But sometimes that means she doesn't want to tell us about her day (tad bit of power play there) because it's a "secret."

Our election discussions covered a wide range of topics, both girls accompanied me to the polls, and she got to vote at school. When Mr. Kluges asked her how she voted, she told him she wasn't going to tell him because it was a "secret pallet."

She's all about telling her little sister what to do... and NOT to do. "No, [Penguin], no!" is heard a lot. But she's sweet with her, too, bringing her toys or a special blanket and sharing snacks in the car. It's fun to see how they're starting to get closer to being able to actually PLAY together.

Her favorite video right now is probably Eyewitness: Butterfly & Moth. We get it from the library fairly often. While it's written quite a bit past her age/grade level, she does pick up things from it, like when she told me, "
I yearned that some caterpillars eat mulberry leaves, and then they make cocoons, and then they turn into a princess's wedding dress!" Missed a few steps in the how-to-make-silk process, but, hey, not bad.

Yup, she's a fun kid, and smart, too. (As well as puzzling, sweet, curious, clever, sensitive, frustrating, friendly, strong-willed, scientific, sociable, curious, semi-literate, sharing, well-spoken, curious (oh wait, did I mention that one already?!), and an all 'round keeper!) I love you, Pumpkin!!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NBPM6 - Thursday Thoughts - Why We're Tired & Broke

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

The other day when I was feeling a little more tired & broke that usual, I got to thinking about all the things we've done with/on/for the house (with, of course, help from family & friends... and contractors!). I realized it's got to be QUITE a long list, so to make myself feel better about my perceived poverty and house-frustration, here it is...

(Also, this is likely incomplete & will be added to as Mr. Kluges or I remember more stuff.)

Whole House-Electrical
  • replaced knob-and-tube wiring
  • added umpteen outlets
  • added lights to many closets
  • added motion detector lights outside
  • Mr. Kluges rewired fixtures to replace some existing
  • purchased really nice matching lights for office
  • had electric line buried

Whole House-Plumbing
  • Had the sewer line replaced since the cast iron pipe had rotted through to dirt on the bottom.
  • While they were cutting up the basement floor anyway, had them stub in a waste pipe for the eventual future 2nd bathroom
  • Had them add a drain, and a laundry sink
House Exterior
  • Replaced cement-asbestos roof with lovely diamond-shaped asphalt shingles
  • Replaced original gutters with custom-made gutters to match
  • (Roof and Gutter project here at House of 42 Doors)
  • Had sections of house re-tuck-pointed and repaired
  • Had some of the rotten fascia replaced
  • Had dormers reroofed & re-cedar-shingled on the sides
  • Painted 460 cedar shakes for the dormers (Thanks, Pusher & Puck!)
  • Scraped & repainted some of the rest of the fascia
  • Done quite a bit of work on repairing storm windows
  • Painted dormers

  • Mr. Kluges cut out section of sidewalk for electrical line burying
  • He and Grampa Pharaoh filled it it with cement.
  • Mr. Kluges relaid some brick stairs along the side of the house.
  • We tried to take care of the big mess the plumbers had left after fixing the sewer line.
  • Mr. Kluges and Grampa Jem relaid the part of our brick patio under the clothesline the plumbers had to take out for the sewer line.
  • Had about 8 trees removed
  • Mr. Kluges took out DOZENS of buckthorn trees/bushes/scrub
  • Sort of redid the front "rock garden"
  • Built (and filled) a nice firewood shed that holds about a cord of wood.

Living Room
  • Painted (Thanks, Gramma Yori)
  • Replaced light fixtures above fireplace
  • Now have lovely matching draft stoppers for doors and cushion for cedar chest (Thanks, Gramma Pet!)
  • Bought end tables & lights
  • and rug
  • and semi-circular shelf for phone
  • Oh, right - bought set of cordless phones


  • Replaced light fixtures and added a wall scones & some outlets

Dining Room
  • ...actually, I think nothing. We were waiting to paint until the tuck-pointing was done since in the spring a couple of times water came right through the wall into here...
  • Wait - replaced missing pane of glass in French doors

  • Fixed someof the rotting window sills
  • Replaced/added dealies to wind up the blind cords

  • Peeled/scraped
  • Washed the calcimine paint residue off the walls
  • Primed
  • Painted
  • Now have lovely custom-made bench cushion (Thanks, Gramma Pet!)
  • Replaced scratched-up plexiglass in door to LR with real glass

Master Bedroom
  • Painted
  • Added outlets
  • Bought nightstands & lights
  • and headboard

Pumpkin's Bedroom
  • Peeled/scraped
  • Applied flour-water mixture to calcimine paint, scraped that off when dry
  • Washed the walls
  • Primed
  • Painted
  • (Thanks, Gramma Yori!)
  • Took care of ugly conduit and outlet boxes on walls
  • Replastered spots left from ugly outlet boxes
  • Painted trim

Penguin's Bedroom
  • Peeled/scraped
  • Repaired plaster cracks
  • Applied flour-water mixture to calcimine paint, scraped that off when dry
  • Washed the walls
  • Primed
  • Painted
  • Took care of ugly conduit and outlet boxes on walls
  • Painted trim

Guest Bedroom
  • Got lovely furniture! (Thanks, Grampa Pharaoh & Gramma Pet!)
  • Mr. Kluges started peeling the paint but has been warned to leave it the heck alone until we're done with the bathroom painting.

  • Painted

  • In process peeling paint in preparation for whole calcimine-removal process

  • Had washer & dryer installed (Thanks, TNGreatAunt!)
  • Had vent cut through wall for dryer venting
  • Had sewer line replaced with MUCH cutting through the floor and subsequent reconcreting of floor
  • Built shelving for storage of totes
  • Wrapped radiator and hot water pipes with pipe insulation
  • Built support wall for LR floor under radiator where it was sagging
  • Ripped out basement lathe & plaster in preparation for electricians (The dirtiest job EVER - MANY, MANY thanks to Grampa Pharaoh for helping with that!)

  • Painted
  • Added lights, switches & outlets
  • Mr. Kluges put shelves in one under-stairs closet for my pantry
  • Painted back hallway/entryway
  • Purchased phone stand for next to laundry chute

Ok, well, dang, no wonder we're broke & exhausted!

Edited to add: AKJ is right - there was something about the radiators. We had the heat exchanger go out on our boiler & had to get that replaced. We want to get the sunroom radiators fixed sometime, but it didn't make it into this budget cycle. :)

Also, I forgot, we (and by "we" I mean more like Mr. Kluges & Grampa Jem) shaved down, planed, sanded, and otherwise smallified some of the doors throughout the house that were sticking. And fixed the garage door and put in a threshold or something out there to keep the snow and chipmunks out.

(Yes, chipmunks - the gap was fairly big under the door, plus they chewed it or something so they had a hole that gave them free reign of the garage.)

Oh, and Mr. Kluges fixed/replaced/repaired some of the old mortise locks. And we had a locksmith in for the front door lock, too.

Edited again to add that my mom also made curtains for Pumpkin's room. On a related note, do you know how hard it is to find fabric that has both cats AND butterflies on it?!

Edited yet again to add that we also had a good portion of the sidewalk around the house mud-jacked up to slant away from us, and that we had the radiator system drained & refilled.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

WW - Civic Duty: Completed

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

You can find more Wordless Wednesday here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NBPM4 - Travel Tuesday - My World Map

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

I think they kick you out of the blogging club if you don't say this on your blog today...


Ok, now that that's done, in honor of it being Election Day here in the U.S. of A., I'm going to post a map showing all the countries I've visited or in which I've lived where I CAN'T take part in their political process, not being a citizen and all.

[Edited to add - I did include the US, even though I am eligible to vote here (and DO!) just so my map would be complete.]

(I found this map tool at World66, via The Daily Meme.)

Ok, that doesn't look very impressive at all, I know, but there are a LOT of countries in this world! And since I've never been to South America, the Middle East, Asia, or Africa (yet?), it leaves out a lot.

But to make myself feel like more of a world traveler, here is a numbered (and alphabetical) list of the countries I've been in...
  1. Austria (Well, we traveled through it...)
  2. Belgium
  3. Czech Republic
  4. France
  5. Germany
  6. Iceland
  7. Ireland (lived here two years)
  8. Italy
  9. Mexico
  10. New Zealand (lived here three months)
  11. United Kingdom
  12. United States
  13. Vatican City
(I'm not including Canada, because padding over to the northern side of a river and touching the reeds there does NOT actually count as a visit.)

And those 13 only equal 5% of the world's countries, according to World66. Huh. Guess I've got a lot of traveling still to do.

Where have YOU been?

Monday, November 03, 2008

NBPM3 - Monday Meme - No-Theme Meme

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

I've decided that Mondays in November are going to be simple, easy, lazy posts. Therefore, welcome to our first Monday Meme! I swiped this No-Theme Meme from Mary P. over at It's Not All Mary Poppins.

What is your salad dressing of choice?
I don't have one special favorite. With standard supper-club choices, I'd pick Thousand Island, but if there's a honey mustard or poppy seed or raspberry vinaigrette, I'd probably pick that.

What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
Around here I love Victoria's. It's WONDERFUL Italian food. If we were back in Blarney, I'd say The Lemon Tree, right on the square, or if you want less fancy, the bar attached to it. Delicious food, all of it.

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
Cheese! So many kinds, so many ways to eat it.

What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Cheese! Oh wait, that was last question. Usually sausage & mushroom, sometimes pepperoni & pineapple (can't stand ham/Canadian bacon), chicken & artichokes if that's an option.

What do you like to put on your toast?
Butter. If it's on hand, sometimes with pesto or olive tapenade on top. Or, you know, cheese.

What is your wallpaper on your computer?
Right now it's a picture of my two girls at the apple orchard. Not one of these, but similar.

What color cell phone do you have?

Are you right-handed or left-handed?

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Wisdom teeth.

What is the last heavy item you lifted?
Both girls at the same time. Totes in the basement full of books.

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
Only for the wisdom teeth.

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
Gosh, I don't know. I guess if I knew it was far in the future, I'd take more chances now. But if it was soon, I'd be terribly, terribly depressed. I think I'd rather not.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
Miranda? Aoife? (Ok, only if we were in Ireland. Too confusing for here.) Chloe? Claire? Moira? Oh, I know - Maeve. Maybe... Did I ever mention that we didn't have EITHER girl's name picked out before she was at least 24 hours old? Names are hard.

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
No. Absolutely, positively NOT. I can hardly handle medium salsa. You know how cartoon characters have steam/smoke coming out of their ears if they eat something hot? That's exactly how my Eustachian tubes feel when I eat anything hotter than half-mild/half-medium salsa. No, I'm not kidding.

How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
None. I have issues with that piece that goes between your toes. Ok, now I'm all like wiggling my feet and toes around in horror. But it's a shame, 'cuz there are a lot of cute shoe styles like that.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Um, healthy, wealthy, & wise?

Favorite Season?
Fall, definitely.

Favorite Holiday?
I LOVE Halloween! Costumes are FUN!

Favorite Day of the Week?
Saturday. There's a chance of sleeping in (depending on the kids), plus the whole weekend still stretches out in front of you, full of promise & possibility.

Favorite Month?
September is nice. 'Course, our anniversary is then, which contributes. :)

Missing someone?
Well, it'd be nice to be closer to friends and family to more fun and visits, but hey, WI is closer than Ireland...

What can you not wait to do?
Travel again. Once we've got more money & the girls are a better travel-able age.

What’s the last movie you saw?
I finished Aeon Flux last night, which I'd gotten from the library. In the theatre, I think it was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Do you smile often?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaBloPoMo #2 - High Hopper & Pumpkin Sandwiches

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Hello and welcome to NaBloPoMo Day #2. I've got ideas/themes for most of the days of the week, but for Sunday's all I have down is "Sunday Stuff." So, grab-bag it is!

Tomorrow Pumpkin is the "High Hopper" (student of the day) in her class. A booklet, "All About Me" was sent home last week for us to complete together, plus she gets to bring a special toy, plus she gets to sit by the teacher and do special jobs. Big stuff when you're 4!

She also has the option to bring a snack, so of course we are. She wanted to bring Petzels & Kisses (with M&Ms on top) so we made some, but considering that it's the first day after Halloween, and that everybody's going to be sugar-shocked, we're also bringing little pumpkin-shaped cheese sandwiches.

Since it's NaBloPoMo, and I need some "stuff" to write about this Sunday, here's how we made 'em!

First, we used a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cheese. I used American slices (NOT individually wrapped!) and did three at a time. Peeling the outside edges before taking off the cutter works well.

After cutting out ALL the cheese slices, I cut out the jack-o-lantern faces. Again, keeping them together as the three-at-a-time I did before worked well, except that last one was always a little tricky to get the eyes and nose out. Still, MUCH better than one at a time!

Then it was time to cut out the bread. Unfortunately, that was one slice at a time, but it didn't go too badly. Pushing the cutter down and then wiggling the whole thing around on the cutting board for a little bit helps get through the last bit cleanly. Again, peeling off the outer edges first makes it easier.

Then I buttered the breads and we put a cheese pumpkin face on each.

(Aren't they cute?!)

(And all the leftover cheese and bread bits were used up in an egg bake for supper that night! Brilliant, if I do say so myself!)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Let the Na__Mos begin!

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Hullo! So it's now November, which means time for the really ambitious to write their novels with National Novel Writing Month, and the slightly less ambitious (like me) to go to National Blog Posting Month. Let's go, NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo!!!

So, I'm going to try to write a better post here yet today, but just so y'all know, since it's November 1st, it's time for a new monthly theme over at Recipeeps 4 Us, so I've posted over there already today. Check it out!

Ok, time to go relieve my husband. I told him I'd be right out to play with the kids outside so he could get stuff done.... then I hopped on the computer to do the Recipeeps theme post. Guess he's probably getting antsy...