home? is nice.

Back in the days when home improvement shows still featured guys who looked like they might actually have held a hammer in a professional capacity, there was a show called the Furniture Guys, starring a Mutt & Jeff-esque pair from Philly, who ended every show with their catch phrase, “Home is nice.”

As we ended our marathon trip home today, it’s a sentiment I have to echo. I may never leave the tri-state area again.

I’ll be back in the New Year with a description of our trip (hint: it included lots of sun and more family fighting than I would have hoped for), but for now:

  • Thanks to the excellent Delta booking agent, who helped us change our tickets so we didn’t have to land at 1 a.m. without charging us a fortune, and then threw some food vouchers in too.
  • Thanks to the Marriott desk clerk, who gave us the lowest possible room rate when we didn’t even have a reservation.
  • Thanks to the terrific hotel shuttle driver, who broke the rules to drive us back to the hotel from the airport without another stop, when landisdad and I realized that we’d left Mr. Bear in the hotel.
  • Thanks to the second Delta agent, who bumped two of us to first class, when she realized that they had seated one of our kids in an exit row.
  • And last, but not least, thanks to the ground crew in our local airport, who managed to deliver all of our luggage without losing any, despite the fact that it seems to have flown here on a different plane.

Happy New Year, everyone!


December 31, 2006. random other things. 8 comments.

Happy Holidays!

Bee’s birthday

Originally uploaded by landismom.

We’re on our way out of town, and will most likely be without internet access most of the time between now and New Year’s. Have a wonderful holiday, everyone, and I’ll see you in the new year. For now, you can enjoy our Christmas card photo!

December 21, 2006. random other things. 8 comments.

Sweet Potato, interior decorator

Does anyone else out there have a bathroom wall that is decorated with iridescent truck and airplane stickers? How about Blue’s Clues on the bedroom door? Cartoonish school buses on the hardwood floors?!?!

I’m losing all my fingernails, trying to pry them off. Not that I’m really into having long fingernails, but it’s a little annoying.

There are little things my kids do every day to claim our house as theirs, some of them more permanent, some less. I think with an unlimited roll of painter’s tape, the Potato could keep himself occupied for about a day and a half. It’s not just our walls that he’s interested in decorating–it’s also his toys, sometimes books, the furniture. It’s kind of fascinating to watch, really. I think it’s likely that I’ll be finding stickers and tape in odd places around our house when the boy is ready to leave for college.

December 18, 2006. random other things. 6 comments.

can we buy our way to a greener planet?

So I was stumbling around the internets today, and ran across this site. I’ve been thinking a lot about our consumption of energy lately (although I still haven’t bought a new car). For some as-yet-undetermined reason, our electric use has increased tremendously in recent months. Landisdad thinks it’s due to our expanded use of dehumidifiers in the basement. I’m blaming the dryer, which is really just more of a tumbler of clothing at this point–I think it might be getting up to 50 degrees in there, but not much more. It’s certainly taking waaaaaay longer than normal to dry the clothes.

Anyway, I’ve flown a lot for work this year, and we’re all about to go away on vacation. I was somewhat startled to see, though, that our family’s total flight time has created about 7.5 tons of CO2. Ugh! When I added up the miles we drove, and the energy we use at home, I was feeling pretty bad about the whole thing.

I’m not really sure how I feel about the idea about offsetting one’s bad behavior by buying carbon credits. There are other things I’d like to do to reduce our energy consumption–landisdad and I have been talking about putting solar panels on our roof, for example. Can you have solar panels on your roof without being considered cranks by your neighbors, though? I think we’ll do it when our roof needs replacing, but I’m not sure we’re ready to go through all that work yet.

We were watching Mythbusters the other night, and they did a show about whether or not it actually saves electricity if you turn off the lights when you leave a room. Conclusion? Yes, it’s much better to turn the lights off than to leave them on when you exit a room. Great. Now if I could only get my kids to actually do it!

I didn’t buy myself a TerraPass, but I am still thinking about it. I guess I’m not opposed to paying to offset the environmental effects of our consumption, but I’d still like to find ways of reducing our overall use of energy. What are the things that your family does to use fewer resources? And how do you talk to your kids about it?

December 14, 2006. politically motivated, thoughtful parenting. 10 comments.

2nd grade humor

What did the baby banana say to its mother?

I don’t peel good.

December 12, 2006. the cutest kids ever!. 6 comments.


A few days ago, I was picking the Bee up from her after-school program. The woman who runs this program asked me if she could talk to me for a minute, because she wanted to see if I would be okay if the after-school program ran a field trip this week. The trip would be to deliver toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program’s drop-off in town. She said she wanted to do it to teach the kids about giving to the less fortunate.

I was conflicted about it, but I didn’t really feel like I had space to talk to her about it in detail, since there were other parents coming in, and she was trying to have the same conversation with them. I’m really not enamored of Toys for Tots–I think it’s really just a big marketing program for the Marines. In the instant that I had to make the decision, I said the Bee could go. There’s really not much worse than being the one kid left behind on Field Trip day, and who am I to subject my kid to that, when I don’t have to?

There are a million different ways that my kids live with the results of my political choices. They live in a multi-racial, economically diverse town, because that’s important to me and landisdad. They suffered my absence (well, it might be landisdad who suffered the most) for some of the fall, because of my work. They live in a somewhat dirty house, because we won’t hire a cleaner. They wear extra sweaters in the winter, because we keep the heat down in an effort to spare the environment.

I don’t believe in making my children the center of my political battles–I might agitate about the menu at her school, but I’m not going to keep her from buying lunch once a week or so. I want my kids to have a political analysis, particularly a class analysis, though, so I still try to talk to them about stuff like these, when a teachable moment arrives. So we did talk about the irony of the U.S. military being nice to kids domestically and then taunting the children of Iraq with water.

December 10, 2006. politically motivated, thoughtful parenting. 7 comments.

Top Ten Toys

I saw this meme over at Jo(e)’s place—but haven’t seen it anywhere else. Jo(e), did you make it up? Here, in no particular order, are the top ten toys of my childhood:


My bike. I rode my bike everywhere when I was a kid. We lived in a not-so-busy town, with lots of farmland around (although for most of my adolescence, that was busily being converted to developments). I spent endless hours riding around, and the distances that I rode in middle and high school amaze me today.

Mad Libs. I doubt I would have put these on the list, except that the Bee has been recently introduced to Mad Libs Junior, and it’s brought back all the hilarity. Seriously, my brothers and I spent hours doing Mad Libs. What’s funnier than thinking up synonyms for poop?

Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, I was one of those kids. We had the perfect basement for gaming, and indeed, I was a gamer geek in high school. Nowadays, of course, I have to settle for marathon sessions of Baldur’s Gate, since I no longer have gamer geek friends (nor 12 unspoken-for hours at my disposal. No liters of Diet Coke, either.)


My homemade dollhouse. My dad once made me a dollhouse that was a scale model of our house. Coolest. Dollhouse. Ever. It wasn’t that my dad was such a skilled carpenter–the thing was sturdily made but not highly decorative–I don’t think it ever got painted, so it was basically the color of balsa wood forever. But still, I could have my dolls play in my room. While they were in my room! Get it?


Horsey. Like the Potato, I had a favorite stuffed animal (and man, I’ve gotta take a new picture of Mr. Bear to put on the blog. One that shows his many patches.). Landisdad doesn’t quite get my fondness for Mr. Bear, but I know what it’s like to love a stuffed animal so much it becomes real. Some now-forgotten person gave my mother Horsey as a shower gift when she was pregnant with me. Yes, that is an actual picture of him. And yes, I’m 38 years old, and I still have my first stuffed animal.

Roller skates. In one of the more ironic experiences I’ve had lately, the Bee has been constantly wearing her roller skates with the retractable wheels. Why is this ironic? Well, I bought them for her because I would have given my eye-teeth to have a pair of real skates when I was a kid, instead of the kind that you clipped on over your shoes. The Bee, of course, is not wearing these as roller skates. She’s wearing them as knock-off Heely’s, with just the back wheels popped out. And so the circle of deprivation continues…

My sled. I’m not sure how old I was when this happened—old enough that I was sledding with just friends and no parents. You know how there are those kids that don’t have a real sled, but use cardboard or a sheet of plastic? I was one of those kids. Until the day that my best friend and I went down a hill together, her in front, me in the back. She saw the tree, and jumped off. I got the almost-concussion. A lovely older gentleman who saw it followed me home (without telling me—he was afraid I wouldn’t talk to him because he was a stranger) and told my mom what had happened. He came back several days later with a newly refurbished sled that he had trash-picked and refinished just for me. It was a great sled, and a great town.


Marbles. I wasn’t really a big competitor, marbles-wise, but I really liked carrying them around. Plus, the many pretty colors. More of a collector, I guess, but I never got into trading or anything like that.


Books. If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I am an inveterate reader, and have been since childhood. From The Lorax to Encyclopedia Brown to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to A Wrinkle in Time to Anne of Green Gables to Nancy Drew to all of Judy Blume–the list goes on and on. Fiction was my first love, but I’ve also enjoyed plenty of non-fiction kids’ books. One thing that I really like about having kids is getting to learn all kinds of new dinosaur facts.


Scrabble. Well, really any kind of word game, crossword puzzle, word search, what-have-you. I actually had a subscription to Games Magazine for a while when I was in middle school. And I wondered why I couldn’t attract a boy?


Our backyard playset. Surprisingly, when you do a search of googleimages for ‘crazy wooden playset,’ you don’t get a single result. That’s obviously because no one ever posted a picture online of the playset that my dad built in our backyard. It didn’t look anything like this lovely number, because that was the ’70s, when people still thought it was a good idea for kids to play on structures made out of plywood, 4′ x 8’s, and nails. My dad built the world’s greatest playset, it was nearly two stories high, and was painted white. I loved it right up until the day that I fell off the second story and passed out (are you sensing a theme? I had a lot of injuries as a kid).

Bonus track 11–our shed. At one time, the house that I grew up in was on the property of a much larger house that was across the street. That house had a stable in the back yard. Our house had the carriage house in the back yard. It was full of interesting horsey things that I didn’t quite get the purpose of. Also ginormous spiders as big as your head. If you could stand to hide there during hide-and-seek, you would always win. But the fear always got me…

Tag. I feel it would be remiss of me to do this post, and not tag some folks at the end. What do you have to say for yourselves? Who’s going to play along?

December 5, 2006. memes. 16 comments.

winter beach trip

serious Potato

We took the kids to the beach today. It’s unseasonably warm, although we’ve been getting a cold front starting last night. Still, when it’s in the low 50s in the first week of December, you have to take advantage of it.

My MIL gave me an early Christmas present this year–a brand new digital SLR that she bought for herself, but decided was too complicated to use. It’s a phenomenal camera that I never would have bought for myself, but am now completely in love with.

I took some pictures of the kids, including these, and am still figuring out how to use the thing properly. Two major assets of this camera over my old analog SLR (beautiful Nikon, I’m sorry I’m seeing someone else now) is the ability to delete bad pictures, and to immediately see the results of my fiddling around with the settings. The learning curve, she is steep, but not as steep as when I had to wait a week to see the results of my fiddling.

I haven’t posted much this week, because I’m recovering from very minor surgery to my right eye. The world was extremely blurry for the past few days, and it was nice to be out in the ocean breeze and seeing clearly.


December 2, 2006. the cutest kids ever!. 7 comments.