Thursday, December 5, 2013


Okay, let's get this post started off right:

Nothing can contain it!

Well, a few things have happened over the past little bit, so it's going to take some brainpower this morning to sort it into a pseudo-coherent post.

More or less...

Most of our recent conversations have been in congratulations of our good friend Sid, who is getting married in may. We're very happy for him, and as his close friends, we are invited to the wedding, and of course we'll stand there with him...

Oh, and it'll be on the other side of the world. In India.

Multiple hands optional.

While I'm going to totes rock a sari, I always thought that I would, I don't know... slide into international travel. You know, start with Canada or Mexico, places closer to home, then maybe to another country whose culture is more like my own before I expand my palette to include wildly different countries. Oh well, dive in, enjoy, and take my courage, my cheerfulness, and my resolve with me!

I'm carefully moving from "terrified that I will be kidnapped and sold into international slavery" to "I might actually survive this!"

Cautious Optimism... or an early spring.

I am currently bearing up in the tradition of the Home Front. Just contacted the state Gifted Association about Junior and found out that there is a gifted testing facility that the recommend and it's just down the road. It's not cheap, but it's nearby.

Just a few more equations, and I'll be able to
summon my own waffles!

I manage to tat here and there to keep my sanity. As the crafters among you should know (that should be most of you, if I know my readership), there are few better ways to keep your sanity while holding up the world.

Multitasking is key.

This isn't made much easier by a pair of bra-line bruised ribs. Apparently the bra recommended by Oprah doesn't really hold up to a work out created by Zeek. Between incline sit ups, lateral raises on my stomach, and jumping jacks, I am remembering why I wear a soft sports bra instead of one that actually provides a ton of support.

"Okay, maybe an under wire was a bad idea."

Once I'm healed up, though, I'm going to try again. This is an amazing workout!

This man is ten years older
than my parents.

We never give up, here on the Home Front. Today is laundry day, and I will be washing, drying, fluffing and folding. The boy will be helping me with my grocery shopping, and I will have a nice clean house by the end of the day.

Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Detective work

So, as you know, I've been hunting down the cause of my household allergies. I thought at first it might be the carpet.

Anyone would be allergic to this.

Vacuuming took pretty good care of that. I thought it might be dust mites in the bed.

I can feel them crawling on me...
And whispering.

Flipped the bed, treated with vinegar AND vacuumed. Then I thought that it could be the air filter.

 You're supposed to change these twice a year, right?

Even the dog got blamed.

Et tu, Bruce?

Eventually, I came to my senses and remembered that like any mystery, you have to put the pieces together. Each of my suspects had the means, some had the motive, they all certainly had opportunity. But then I heard a little bird whisper a vital clue.

Still a better--
No, no, that's not right...

Still a better love story than Twilight.

What I had not considered is that our little friends not only had returned, but they'd torn holes in the duct work. The filter going from the intake was all well and good for keeping the stuff out of the AC unit, but then when the air was blowing to the vents, it was picking up all sorts of crap from under the house, from shredded insulation, to dust, mold, probably other stuff.

Use your imagination.

I've never been allergic to dust or dander before (or other stuff), but what I am allergic to, what will get me every time, is mold. I could tell you horror stories about it from when I was a kid, and all the fun places that mold can hide. It likes dark places, and when it's near by, you can feel it.

Is that an allegory in your pocket?
Or are you just... hey, where are you going?

This is why we will be hiring professionals to refurbish our duct work with proper cut-to-size solid ducts, and different professionals to remove our unwanted house guests. In the meantime, we'll be adding filters to all the vents so at least I can breathe. Or since I'm the only one bothered by it, there are alternatives.
We call it, "Working the Problem."

This isn't my first go-round with the idea. I'm also allergic to smokers in one of the smokiest states (Tennessee is 8th in smokers per capita). I think of it as a fashion statement with benefits.

Swarovski crystals make everything better.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Regular Postings are not Regular.

I never realized, when I started this blog, how much of my time would be taken up sitting at the computer and NOT doing something personal. There's no checking G+ and few spare hours to do anything at all BUT click buttons on the school website. Not precisely what I imagined, but at least Junior's getting some sort of a state required education, and not being yelled out of the room. So due to this unforeseen change, it's put a dent in my ability to post. It's as if I got a full time job that doesn't pay.

In today's news of the Home Front, I made a deal with Junior that if he helped me recover our living room from the Blitz that was Halloween and the first month of school, that I'd give him a pass on today's chore chart. You see, my mother taught me a lesson many many years ago, a lesson I take to my heart: If you've got kids, put them to work. Hey, Junior lives in this house, too!

Normally, he has his regular chores to do. I have them listed out with a chart, as well as clear rules. Our system is this: If he does his chore with a good attitude, he gets a sticker on that chore, if he does it but has a bad attitude, he gets a check. If he doesn't do it? An X. An x on any chore means he gets no payment. Mostly checks means he gets his dollar for the day, but no point. Mostly stickers, and he gets a dollar and a point that he can save up for some special rewards like eating out or buying off a choice of chores.

Today, however, he earned his dollar and a point, because he helped me get the living room back up to scratch and was a terrific helper! Maybe tomorrow we'll lounge around in there and do our work. Maybe tomorrow, we'll also get the kitchen cleaned up and I can be proud of our home front again!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wiggle Breaks

So I'm writing today while Junior takes a "Wiggle Break" in his homeschooling. (I swear, this is not a home school blog. I swear it!) It is week three, things have reached a sort of "order" we just have to keep plodding along. Burning through the curriculum is actually helping us, but because it's all boring review, we have to take a few wiggle breaks through the day where he can sing to himself ("DOO DOO DOO!"), shake his strut, and decompress. I keep them to about every two hours or so, and that seems to be working.

Slightly less wiggly than Junior.

Since we have no online teacher meetings today, our Halloween Schedule is our own. This is great because the Home Front has not been exactly the bastion of sanity. I'm behind on almost everything because between being upset about money troubles (that I make none), and trying to get Boy Scout patches sewn on, costumes made, and every thing else, well...

Situation Normal.

I've got a pile of laundry that's reaching my height in a corner. It's clean, but I'm behind on folding. I've got a kitchen that looks like a greasy dinner bomb went off, a kitchen table that looks like a school bomb went off, and our larder is running a tad bare.

Oh, and my palm pilot, where I keep all my shopping information, and months of data? Crashed. Hard. I lost everything.

Go home, Plane, you're drunk.

Rule #1 on the Home front, though. Never panic. Never. You could be actually on fire, but there will be no screaming, no running around. We deal with problems head on.

Also applies to palms.

Today, I have to work on decorating for All Hallow's Eve. On that note, I've decided that I need to join the neighborhood association and start campaigning for a better solution to Halloween, one that I'd seen in a dream, twice. First and foremost, spooky is great, but our neighborhood was laid out by drunken hobos on a five day meth bender. There are few streetlights, and fewer sidewalks, not to mention many, many front yard gates.

Trick or... Treat?

Do you enter a front yard gate? Usually those strike me as good signs to move on. Well, our haul has been less than spectacular the past couple of years mostly because of these reasons, so I had an idea to use the big local track/soccer field as a sort of massive neighborhood Trunk or treat, only without cars, and maybe with a sorta party in the soccer field area. Basically, we would be getting together as neighbors in a safe place.

And just because it's Halloween, I'll leave you with a picture that's not scary at all:

Not even a little.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! Hidden Gems in your Refrigerator!

What's for dinner, Mrs. Jones? Leftovers? That's excellent! You've been paying attention to what Uncle Sam has been telling us:

What's the matter? Ah, the family can get pretty bored of three days of roast. Well, I suppose few of us would blame them, but let's go look at Mrs. Smith, her family never seems bored! She's serving up a wonderful casserole tonight, my my, that smells good!

Mrs. Smith, what is your secret? Oh, there IS a secret hiding in that dish, isn't there. With rice, crackers or breadcrumbs, white sauce or gravy, a little meat and some fresh vegetables, and maybe even a dash of cheese if you can spare it, and you've turned leftover night from a sad affair to a gala event in taste and thrift! Just layer it all in together, bake in the oven until heated through.

Our friends across the pond remind us:

Now, let's not forget those little ones at Halloween. For those craving sweets at home, don't forget that many recipes for spice cakes and honey buns take less sugar than they used to, and a spooky and fabulous time can be had when you're not filling up bags.

Also, let's look at what we already have on hand for those costumes. Just like our food, we must save the cotton and other fabrics for our boys overseas. Mrs. Smith has adapted an old dress and a pair of Mr. Smith's trousers that are too worn to wear, and now Junior makes a scary ghoul, without wasting precious cloth.

Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front! Ready for Winter

It's not quite time for Halloween tricks and treats, but a chill is in the air in our little neighborhood. Mrs. Jones is in her favorite spot, curled under a blanket and listening to music on the Wireless.

Mrs. Smith is--Say, where IS Mrs. Smith?

Why here she is! Out back in the garden. While fresh bread rises in the kitchen, she's working hard to finish out the summer victory harvest. Anything left, she'll get into cans or on the table this week, but what about the ground? No, our Mrs. Smith would never let all that hard work go to waste!

She's already checked her copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac for what to do to keep her garden healthy through the long winter months. They've been in print since 1792, so they know their business. Not only that, but there's a lot more great information to help you through the year. Now that's a national treasure!

(These suggestions have been adapted from the page. Our thanks to the Old Farmer's Almanac for their contributions to the American household through the many years of their service!)

Let's check back on Mrs. Smith!

Here she is checking the carrots. We'll leave those in the ground, along with garlic, parsnips, and radishes. Here's plenty of good mulch to keep the ground warm and some tall stakes so we know where the rows are.

Beans, Tomatoes, Squash and Pea plants are checked for any diseases. The good ones are thrown into the compost, the bad ones are burned first.

She's tilling up any insect nests that might have decided to make their homes there, and also sowing some mulch, compost and fertilizer as needed into the soil.

Don't forget those cover crops. Mrs. Jones is using pea plants as a cover, but she won't be picking these peas! Just dig them under in the fall and you'll be ready to go in the spring as soon as the last frost has passed.

Once again, a little hard work sure can save you some trouble when it's time for the spring planting. Why, Mrs. Smith, I bet you'll double your yield! And every vegetable you don't have to buy is one more for our boys overseas to eat good healthy meals and keep up their strength for the long road ahead!

Keep 'em flying, Mrs. Smith, and Old Farmer's Almanac!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Raining and Complaining... and tarts!

Welcome again to the Thursday rant. It's been a--how do I put this--

Edvard Munch understands.

It's been this kind of a week. Plus side, I've been cooking more. That's one of the most important lessons that I've learned in studying the homefront. Just because you're out of everything doesn't mean you can't make dinner. Tonight, I made cheese dumplings in tomato sauce, and tonight I'm thinking I might use the rest of the cheese to make sausage and cheese breakfast pastries (to cook early tomorrow morning). Last night I made jam tarts which were VERY sweet, especially after the reduced sugar of the ration cooking I've been doing, but as was suggested I might try using a sugar free preserve next time, but also not attempt to make them a breakfast food.

Great dress, needs mouse slippers, though.

Home schooling has hit a few road bumps. Not the least of which is a lack of communication between the school and me. Junior's enjoying it, though. I've not seen him have this much fun in a couple of months.

Playing in the rain was HIS idea, not mine.
(I just told him where the better puddles were.)

I'm actually less stressed than I was. I mean, no more sitting in the rolling death fog while I wait to rescue him, no more worrying about notes from school, no more nervous tatting.

Breaks my heart just thinking about it.

Not that I've stopped work. I am taking a short hiatus from the tablecloth to work on the worlds most foppish handkerchief. I'll post photos in my regular google feed later.

Overall, I've not been doing my utmost to improve morale on the Home Front. Part of this is getting everything set up for home schooling, part of it is just general malaise. Okay, I'm not saying I need to be Miss Sally Sunshine all the time, but I need to do a better job of sucking it up.

I'd like to see Twilight Sparkle do this some time.

So that's my goal for the next week. To stop focusing so hard inward when there's work to be done, a family that needs my attention, schooling that needs doing. As we remind ourselves here on the home front:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front: The Smells of Home

(Editor's note: Last week while Mrs. Smith handled her son's education, Mrs. Jones was in charge of the Blog posting. Now you understand why we do not let this happen often.)

It's lunchtime, and Mrs. Jones is setting out her bread and jam while she counts up her points for next week's meals. There never seem to be quite as many as Mrs. Smith seems to have, even though they have families of the same size.

What's that wonderful smell coming from Mrs. Smith's house? Why, it's fresh bread! Manufactured bread costs more than just points, shipping the ingredients to factories and then to your home wastes precious resources needed for our boys overseas.

Our troops need shipping far more than our food!

And let's not forget, pies, and other pastries, when you can spare the rations provide a great lift to the family, and a little sugar can go a long way when it comes to morale at home. Meanwhile, homemade jam need not be trucked further than from the local berry patch, or even your own garden, and can bring a taste of summer to a blustery winter day when canned as jam! Making jam can also earn you extra sugar rations since you'll be stretching those points through the winter.

And let's not forget the wonderful smell of a kitchen in operation! This can help lighten spirits as well as lengthen that food budget. So ladies, let's get cooking!

Keep 'em flying Mrs. Smith!

Today's recipes come from Ms. Anna Liffey, who provides us with a few things to help satisfy that nagging sweet tooth!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Breaking up is never easy.

Oh wow, is it Thursday already?


It seems like a thousand years ago that I was posting about being fed up with Junior's school, or as we began to think of it, his state required daycare. He really wasn't learning anything but how to be bored. Story of too many lives, including many of you, my dear readers.

So thanks to modern technology, I don't have to feel so disconnected as I join the ranks of--

Resistance is Futile.

Well, I was going to say homeschooling housewyfs. Close enough.

I will adapt.

After all, there's a lot to be learned from our Delta Quadrant friends, here, and not just about trans-warp corridors. They have the fighting thirst of the Klingons, the art of the Romulans, the ruthlessness of the Cardassians, and the calm of the Vulcans. After all, their technological and biological uniqueness was added to their own.

These are ST:TOS meerkats, your argument is irrelevant.
(I see nothing wrong with this. Don't judge me.)
(ETA: On review, I noticed that they were in front of the Enterprise-D, that IS wrong.)

So, back on topic, next Friday, I finally seal my fate and sign the papers to withdraw Junior from Brick and Mortar public school and resign myself to spending 6.5 hours a day attempting to fulfil his educational needs. I'm actually really very thankful that I don't have to figure this out from scratch, and that I won't be alone. He'll have a teacher to report to, books to learn from. It's all wonderfully done for my lazy butt. (Can you say bon-bons and daytime TV? Nah, I can't either, I'm only occasionally a total "Mrs. Jones.")

Currently, I'm penning a final letter to Junior's first grade teacher asking her to collect all his things. It's going to feel a bit like the exile scene in the Stallone Judge Dredd. "Let him be remembered in/stricken from our hearts and minds, forever." (EDIT: Mistaken date due to bad communication. Next Friday. Imagine the day we had.)

It could be worse.

In other Home Front news, we've put another infernal machine out of use. My grass whip arrived today, which may not be as sharp as a scythe, but it requires a lot less skill and not only can I clear the weeds without a Masters Degree in peening, but I can also work on my golf swing while I do yard work. At this point, between the new grass whip, the reel mower, and the scythe, the Home Front is now using only human power to tend our little 1/2 acre.

Also not powered by gas or electric.

Finally, a bit of a quandry has been solved, but not in the way I would have liked. It turns out that the evening cough has not just been a dry throat. I seem to be having an allergic reaction to my bedding, probably dust mites. There's not much for it, even replacing the mattress would regain the same problem in a few short months.

To save that cost (we will eventually need to do this as ours is 12 years old and we tend to meet in the middle), I'm going to buy a cover for our mattress and start regularly either hanging out my pillows in the sunshine or throwing them in the dryer for a while to kill the dust mites. Husband and I might revisit our earlier discussions of a Japanese style futon, especially if I can convince him to build me a drying rack outside for daily or weekly hanging.

Suck on some sunlight, you little bastards!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fighting on the Home Front: Keeping fit!

Good morning, Mrs. Jones! And what a fabulous morning it is. You've had your coffee and the children are off at school.

Oh my, you don't look ready to face your day! The clock is ticking on the hours you'll be by yourself, you should get as much done as possible so that your family time isn't wasted with cleaning what should have been done earlier.

Let's have a look in on Mrs. Smith.

That's right, Mrs. Smith is getting her day started right with a work out as soon as the kids are gone. Not only does this keep her fighting fit, but it also helps to boost her energy so that she can do what needs to be done!

It can often be hard to motivate yourself, so it's best to find a partner that does workouts that you enjoy. And don't forget:

It's never too early to get your little ones involved in physical fitness. Something as simple as letting your toddler walk instead of keeping them in the stroller can help their endurance, and when you have to pick them up, it helps you stay strong too.

Just like eating healthy, a regular work out should be part of your routine on the home front, after all, if our boys overseas can do it, it's the least we can do for them, too!

Keep 'em flying Mrs. Smith!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tranquil Fury

I thought I'd start with an image that explains how I feel this week.

You see, there's a sort of calm that can overtake a mother when her child is hurting, suffering. A frightening kind of calm taught to us by our mothers, our grandmothers, our great grandmothers and so on into the mists of time. I've gone beyond my usual ranting and raging anger and into this "eye of the storm" sort of calm, the kind of calm that you walk around with a bemused smile while things explode around you. Carrie calm.

Or Harley Quinn.

Junior's school has been less than honest with us about the state required support that they are giving him. When we have heard more about Coupon Books than we do about our child's class, then we take issue. Unfortunately, we can't afford a private school, so we'll have to fall back to the ultimate in Private Education: Home Schooling. This is hopefully just a stop-gap until we can either find a private school that we can afford OR he goes into Middle School.

In the meantime, I have a number of influential teachers for inspiration:

Constance Hardbroom, The Worst Witch

Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter

Dr. Penny Ferguson, MHS

These women are, to me, what a teacher should be, strict but fair, stern but caring, and challenging to all their students. I may not be as mighty as they are, but as with everything on the Home Front, I do it because I have to, not always because I want to.

It's not all frustrating news, though! After six years of wearing the same khaki pants, my husband found new pants that he likes, which means that I can leave off attempting to patch his pants.

There's only so much one can do.

The next and most important step for the Home Front will be budgeting. Not just for groceries (using whole foods means that for a standard week of groceries, we can spend under $100 for three people), but also for other things. I'll be working on our home plan and probably have something to post on it next Tuesday.