Friday, June 02, 2006

Too adorable

The assembly is over. Ten minutes trying to park, seven minutes bringing DD to her class because we missed the bell trying to park, five minutes waiting in line to get into the gym, and another good ten minutes or so waiting for things to start. Two minutes of the most adorable singing, instrument playing, and dancing I have ever seen. One hour of various assorted assembly stuff that had nothing to do with my daughter nor her grade level and was not adorable at all. But it builds character, right? Then another twenty minutes to exit the gym and fight my way out of the parking lot. The kids were absolutely wonderful. They played instruments they made with their very own hands (drums, rain sticks, and some other african-ish type things I didn't recognize). They sang - over one hundred students singing at the same time. And they danced and did actions. I was so proud, not only of my darling talented daughter (ahem), and not just her class. All of the students did a wonderful job. There was no pushing/shoving/fighting in the ranks. They sang very well and we could actually tell what the words were. Beaming smiles on their faces. You could sense that they KNEW they were doing well, and it lifted them up. Did I forget to tell you I am kind of sappy about these things? I managed to tape the singing part with no casualties, although I can't attest to the steadiness of the picture. In other words, I do not promise that you won't get motion sickness while watching. I did a couple of close shots (love that zoom), making sure to get DD and some of her other friends. If it turns out and isn't too unsteady, I will copy that section for the parents of the other kids. Most could not make it, and of the ones that did only two of us had useable cameras. Of course, this "I" that I refer to may not be me myself. I've never played with the camera before, nor the DVD burner. We will assume that I am intelligent enough to figure it out (because we love punishment and thrive on disappointment). But if not, there is always DH (again, that punishment and disappointment thing). If all else fails we will ask DD, because somehow six year olds can figure these things out. Our generation thought we were so smart because we could set the time on our parents' VCR's. Kids these days can practically build them out of tinker toys and Barbie parts. As a reward for doing so well, I think I might take DD to the movies this week-end. I'd like to see "Over the Hedge". Yes, that's right. I am rewarding my daughter with a movie that "I" want to see. Want to make something of it? Huh? HUH? Didn't think so. DH might be working Saturday. If he doesn't want to see it DD and I will go to a Saturday matinee while he is gone. If he does want to see it, maybe we will go Sunday. I want to try the matinee showing and see how it goes. Most evening shows start or end after DD's bedtime. Not that we have a problem with her staying up later once in a while. But the truth is, our lovely child just does not stay awake well after her bedtime and starts to conk out. And since she can't get comfortable enough to doze off, she gets cold and cranky. She wants to be on my lap, and I just can't do that for half a movie - they make them so LONG nowadays. Plus that kid is all legs and elbows and bony butt wrapped up in a ball of fidgit - I feel bruised thinking about it. A matinee might work out better for all of us. No rush after dinner, no staying up late - but I'll still bring a lap blanket in case she gets cold. For all the troubles and issues I have with my mother, I have to say one thing about her. She always brought a blanket at the movies. Sure, she made us smuggle in snack food like mules and lie about our ages to get cheaper tickets, but when it came to certain touches (like having blankets ready) she was right on the ball. No matter how many hours she worked, and how many hours she spent at school and studying after that, if asked to bake 100 cupcakes for the bake sale she gladly did it. Dozens and dozens of cookies for our class parties would magically appear while we were sleeping, packed and ready for school the next day. And don't forget the special treats for those in our class with allergies or dietary restrictions. I think we each had one in our class. Thinking on it now, those special treats were probably the highlight of their day. Not only were they NOT left out, but their snack was SPECIAL and packaged prettily and had their name on it. She couldn't always make it to things like plays, track meets, and assemblies and I remembered that, so make it a point to go to any event humanly possible for DD. These are the things I want to share with my daughter. The GOOD things that I remember, from a pretty tumultuous relationship. I want to perpetuate the 'function' part of our 'dysfunction'. So I will bring blankets to the movies and make treats for her class (remembering the Muslims and allergies and the Buddhist and anybody else needing something special) and dance with her in the rain and wake her up to see a rabbit under the moon and stop even though we are running late to watch the preying mantis crawl up the wall and pick her up from school in the winter with a toboggan to pull her home (there is that blanket again, and a thermos of hot chocolate) and wave like mad in the audience of the assembly and cheer and whistle so she knows I am there get the picture. I won't share the tirades, the dragging by the hair, the getting hit in the face with rings, the drunken or drugged or otherwise altered episodes, the suicide attempts and certainly not the verbal and emotional abuse. I want to give DD all the GOOD things I can before she goes out in that big bad world and sees for herself that it is not always that way. Besides, some day I might need her to set the time on my micro-DVD player. Just bettering my chances she'll come by every so often, my friend.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sushi means RICE people!

The pot luck was a success. We brought 104 tortilla pinwheels. My original aim was 160, but the second package of tortillas was all stuck together and I could only peel three off (grrr...last time I shop at a discount chain for tortillas!). But it worked out fine because there were fewer people there than expected. We came home What is it about the very last piece of something that suggests "hands off"? You can have a line up of starving people, but that last piece of food on the dish goes untouched. So they went over well, better in fact than I expected. The only thing was...well.....nobody knew what they were. We kept hearing exclamations of "Yum! Sushi!" as they were piled onto plates. I was worried there would be alot of pieces in the garbage with one bite out of them, since they were certainly not sushi and it would be quite a disappointment if that is what you are expecting. Nope, people were pleasantly surprised and a LOT got back in line to get more. "What ARE these?" gobble gobble gulp! I shared the recipe (which is embarassingly simple LOL) with many people. After all, they are relatively easy to make, transport well, and don't have to be heated. I also like to think my presentation helped a bit as well. That bowl in the center is for salsa. I poured two jars in when we got there to make it look nice, but really a single container would have been way more than enough. I want to mention that while there were a few carrots and tomatoes left, somebody ate the green onion/olive garnish ROFL! Tortilla Pinwheels 15 (more or less) large flour tortillas I used white flour because I was worried the kids would be picky. For just adults I would have mixed in some whole wheat and coloured wraps like sundried tomato or pesto 2 packages cream cheese, room temp 2 packages light cream cheese, room temp Next time I will use all light 1 package shredded cheese - 2 to 3 cups I used half mild cheddar and half nacho mix but I've used all of one or the other before with good results. Just didn't want it spicy for the kids. 1 can pitted ripe olives, chopped The sliced ones in the can always taste funny to me so I prefer to slice and chop my own. If they taste fine to you, start with those. 1 bunch green onions, cleaned and trimmed and finely chopped 1/2 cup light sour cream Mix the cream cheeses and sour cream with a hand or stand mixer until well blended and not too stiff. It has to be spreadable. Fold in the chopped olives, green onions, and shredded cheese. Spread the mixture a couple of milimeters thick on a tortilla. Too little filling and your rolls will be too small and not hold together. Too much filling and your rolls will be messy and squishy so hard to cut. It takes me about two rolls to find a nice balance. Starting from any edge, roll the tortilla relatively tightly, using your hands to press the roll as you go to make sure the filling is sticking nicely. Cut off the very ends (which never fill out very nice but still taste good, so save them for yourself). Stack the rolls on a plate as you go, then chill for at least 1 hour. Slice each roll in half, then those two pieces in half, then those four pieces in half again to make 8 pinwheels per roll. You can get more or less from a roll as you like, but eight is about perfect in my opinion. Arrange on a platter and chill until serving time. Serve with salsa to dip or drizzle. Although I am not exactly a food snob per se, there are some things that sort of bother me. Like when people say that sushi is raw fish. WRONG. Sushi refers to the seasoned rice, not the toppings. Sashimi means raw fish. The preparation also helps determine the name. Sushi (seasoned rice) pressed with a topping (raw or cooked) is called Nigiri Sushi. Maki sushi is rice and fish or other items (california roll, anyone?) pressed or rolled with nori - dried seaweed sheets. Temaki is the same idea, but the seaweed is shaped into a cone and filled rather than rolling it all up and slicing into pieces. So to look at my pinwheels and think they are sushi....HUH? There ain't no rice in there, people! Notice that I know a lot about sushi. I know that thickly sliced sashimi is often dipped in shoyu - soy sauce - and thinly sliced items are dipped in ponzu (sort of a citrus flavoured soy I guess). I know that it is appropriate to dip your Nigiri sushi and then eat it in one bite, but etiquette calls for dipping the TOPPING, and not the rice side. I KNOW all these things. I am fascinated by each and every type, each and every topping. Yet, I don't eat it. Go figure! I can't find it in myself to appreciate the taste or "snap" of the seaweed sheets - maki and temaki are out. I don't like the sweet-sour flavour of the rice, nor it's texture - there goes anything else called "sushi". And don't get me started on the texture of the raw items! So, sashimi is clearly not my thing. I am that nerd in the japanese restaurant sitting far from the raw bar and eating tempura vegetables. We won't discuss soups that start with fish flakes, either. It is all charming, but in my opinion, inedible LOLOL. I make maki rolls for DH sometimes. He says they are good. I'll take his word for it. Now, back to the pot luck. I was surprised this time, there was a good variety of different things. There were a few repeats, but they were different enough from each other to be considered in their own right. Being as I love pasta salad but I rarely make it, pot lucks are a good thing. I get to taste dibs and dabs of several kinds of pasta salad without having to eat an entire batch myself, since my family does not eat it. There were four different lasagnas, and they were DIFFERENT. One had a layer of ricotta, one was all cheese and no meat. There was a traditional meat and cheese and the last was a creamy veggie version. Meatballs in many configurations. More taco salads than you could shake a stick at. And though the base ingredients were the same, each had it's subtle personality that set it apart. The only one I did not like was so sweet, it was like eating doritos covered in pancake syrup. If I had to guess, the original recipe called for french or catalina dressing and the cook used a fat free version. Catalina is sweet enough, the diet versions are downright filling busters. There were a few "what were they thinking?" dishes of course. Like the store bought cole slaw with added mini-marshmallows and graham crackers. "S'more" is not a good theme for cabbage salad, in case you were wondering. And the baked beans with broccoli florettes. My daughter actually looked OFFENDED by that one. The box of unfrozen freezies was another head scratcher. Not MELTED freezies. These had never been frozen. I was taken by surprise with a mouthful of what I thought was hash-brown-casserole only to discover it was some kind of chicken/crabmeat/mayonaise/cheeze whiz mixture. Which DH promptly scooped up with a piece of bread and ate greedily. Which was fine with me, because it gave me more room to try that 8th pasta salad.......

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don't quit your day job

I am convinced that schools assume that parents either a) Are independently wealthy and thus don't have to work or b) Work some kind of flex time so they can take days (or hours) off at will with almost no notice. We got a note home yesterday that we are invited to an assembly to hear four grades worth of kids sing and play drums and stuff. According to DD they have been practicing this pretty much since school started in the fall. 150 kids, all singing or playing or dancing or whatever at the same time. Should be a riot (almost literally LOL). Only problem is, said assembly is two days from now and in the morning. My hours are somewhat flexible so I can go. But no way can DH take the time off with such short notice. Fridays in the summer are almost impossible to get without a few months notice, let alone two days. His only hope is finding somebody to trade shifts with him that day, but I doubt he will try hard. He doesn't want to work until midnight on a Friday night - and who can blame him. Yet it will be just as hard on him to miss the assembly. Some people hate these things. Getting packed into a hot school gym full of noisy adults and fidgety, hyper siblings. Sitting through a four hour concert to catch the four minutes your darling is on stage (alternating between picking their nose and picking their butt usually, or fighting with the kids next to them). Most people go and hope it is over fast. And some, as soon as their kid is done, get up and leave even if there are still three hours to go. I find it rude, but then again it clears chairs for those standing at the back. Doesn't it seem cruel to have to come an hour early to get a good seat for something you don't even want to go to? Then to have cookies and punch afterwards, well, that could send a person over the edge. I, on the otherhand, love these things. First of all, I don't get out much. A bit of conversation with an adult other than my spouse (you know, so the conversation can touch on things other than what is for dinner, what we need the next time I grocery shop, or asking about the state of the laundry), some time out of the house and away from the computer, and the chance to see my darling daughters shining face up there on stage as she proudly performs. Well, most of the time proudly performs. Why kids feel the need to pick their noses while on display is beyond me. Is there some strange chemical emitted from school stages that causes nose pluggage and nasal itching? Actually, itching in general because there is an awful lot of fidgeting with undergarments going on up there. I suppose it might be the same chemical that makes people sitting in an audience do that weird cough. You only ever hear it in movie theaters and school gyms or auditoriums waiting for the show to start. Odd that. So now, because DH can't go, I will be charged with the duties of filming this wonderous event. Now, I don't mind using the video camera per se. But trying to get a video of kids at a school assembly is a bit tricky. You see, if there are 150 kids up there then there are twice that number of parents trying to get a picture(and don't even get me started on grandparents, aunts and uncles, and second cousins once removed). With still cameras at least you have a fighting chance. When they announce your kids group, you fight your way to the front (crouched over thinking you are being inconspicuous but really, we are sitting on tiny little primary school chairs. You could crawl and your butt is still higher up than I am), wait for a moment when your little darling's finger is out of their nose and they are facing front, and CLICK. Blind everybody with the flash. Then do the crouch-walk back to your spot, saying "excuse me, pardon me, excuse me, pardon me" like something from an old Looney Toons cartoon. With a video camera, the responsibilty is much larger. Sometimes you are expected to tape the whole show. Which means getting there two hours early to claim the best spot, only to be told 3 seconds before the show starts that you are standing in an aisleway where the kids are expected to enter and exit and have to move. Then turn to discover people are packed elbow to chin and it is standing room only. If you decide to only tape the portion of the show containing your own child it gets even MORE complicated. You have to fight your way to the front along with parents carrying still cameras, knowing full well that they will jump in front of your view to CLICK photos during the entire taping. All that work to get more minutes of parent's backsides as they say "excuse me, pardon me" than of your actual child. That is assuming of course, that you know when your kids part is going to start. Printed programs be damned, nine times out of ten by the time I wake up, get up there, and get filming her class is done and walking off the stage. Being able to recognize your own child in a sea of first graders by only the back of her head is a keen parenting skill you should start honing the minute they are born. You will use it. A lot. Sometimes, after a class has done their section they are allowed to find and sit with their parents. Who are they kidding? We are squished onto primary chairs. There is no more room on my lap, what with the camera, purse, and my chin. Where is said child going to sit when she gets here? She has better luck squeezing UNDER the chair than anywhere around it. I like it better when they keep the kids until the end. Generally this involves bringing them back to their classroom for a snack and maybe a movie. It gives me time (and room) to watch the rest of the show to garner clues as to what we might see in later years. For sadly enough, these shows are often quite predictable. The same teachers have their kids do the same routines year after year, albeit with a different cast. The dancing flowers of this year will become the singing summer hula choir of the next. And so on and so forth, until a teacher transfers or retires and they bring in new blood. As the assembly goes on, the room gets less and less crowded as people leave when their own kids are done. The ones left over at the end are either die hards like me, parents whose kids are in the LAST section, or parents with more than one child and one of those kids is in the last section or was drafted as an usher or stagehand or something and has to stay until the end. Those parents are easy to spot, from their flushed faces, wild hair, and bags under their eyes. It's hard work fighting your way to the front in a crouch-walk ONCE, let alone a multiple of times. You can see that they are starting to consider having one child skip a grade and holding the other two back a few years so they can all be in the same class next year - all to avoid the need to stay for the entire show again. Plus you have to factor in what they had to do at work, to get the day off on such short notice. Poor poor parents. They are going to need something more fortifying than cookies and punch after all that. And if they were truly insane and brought along another child not-yet-school-aged, well, I am not sure what to say about that. Few have survived such a scenario with faculties intact, punch or no punch. I know it is blurry, so don't take this as a demonstration of my photo skills - I had to take it from far away so cropping was necessary. And when you crop, you lose definition. Anyway. The shiney thing on the left is a quarter. The yellow blobby thing on the right is a snail. Dora the (what number are we on? Not sure. I'll have to count the empty shells on the bottom of the tank - bwa ha ha!). Now, is it just me, or is it kind of creepy to have a snail that is THAT big? And whoever told you that snails were slow is dead wrong. This thing zooms around the tank like a ping-pong ball. I think the only reason Cedric-The-Murderous-Fish hasn't tried to eat this one yet, is it got too big too fast and now is too scary to eat.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yin and yang

Too hot outside. Too cold inside. There is never a happy medium (median?) for me! I can't take the heat but air conditioning chills me to the bone. Fans pushing hot air around the room and my hair into my face do nothing to help so forget that option. I've tried raising the temp just a bit - so that it still takes the humidity out of the air but doesn't make it so I could make icecream holding a glass of milk - but DH and DD freak out and pant and scream and insist they are burning up. Drama queens. We were getting by fine, although it was getting hard to sleep as it was stuffy upstairs. But poor Ruby was ready to drop. She loves to be outside but the humidity is too much for her. She was panting so much I was getting worried. I have to admit it is hilarious when she lies completely flat and spread eagled on the kitchen floor - maximum belly to cool linoleum contact. But it isn't right to have her suffer. So the air conditioner went on, and so did my socks because I am a fricken popsicle right now. I have purchased my veggie plants, but I haven't planted them yet because it is just too hot for me out there. Plus I am lazy. It would seem that somewhere in my pea-sized brain I would figure out that dragging the hose over and watering those poor sun scorched plants sitting in the driveway three times a day is much more work than plunking them in the ground. But nope. There they sit, and out I trudge to give them their periodic drink. I've also been watering the new sod, as I was able to disable that part of my brain that convinced me watering grass - any kind of grass, even new sod that I paid money for - was a waste of time and money. It is growing nicely. And if I had been paying attention to the gardener I would know when I could stop watering it and when we can mow it for the first time. Tomatoes (several kinds), cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini (green and yellow), swiss chard, nasturtium, banana peppers. I think that's it so far. Of course, we don't know what will survive the "driveway" period so that planting list could change. Around here if you aren't rugged and thrive on neglect then you don't stand a chance. People and animals included LOL. Actually that is not true. I cook Ruby's food for her once a week, and she eats better than we do. The cats get the best quality food I can get, and even the bird gets fresh fruit and greens every day alongside his special canary food and "supplement". The fish get flakes and granules and algae disks, and shrimp. I bought the wrong dried shrimp last time, these things were huge. I couldn't bring them back, so I put them through the coffee grinder much to the amusement of my darling husband and daughter. They also get veggies once or twice a week and the occasional frozen block of blood worms (shudder!). Food is love baby, even if you are a dog/cat/bird/fish! Too bad my family has to subsist on macaroni and cheese from a box and raw hot dogs ;). Hey, with all that other food love going on, who has time to cook for PEOPLE? Oh fine, I'll nuke the hotdogs then. Sheesh. I have a raised bed system for the veggie garden, complete with soaker hoses that run through it. Being the lazy booger that I am, I want to get a water timer this year so I don't have to go to the other side of the house and turn the hose on and off. But the ones I keep finding have to be started manually - I want a PROGRAMMABLE one. My family thinks I am crazy, especially my brother. His yard is like a botanical garden, and he does all his own weeding and watering and mowing by hand. He is also as cheap as the day is long. As far as he is concerned I might as well dig a hole, throw my money in it, and shovel the dirt back in. "How hard is it to turn the water on and off?". Obviously he doesn't know who he is dealing with here. Tomorrow we have a potluck dinner for the Girl Guides division of DD's Sparks group. Sparks, Brownies, Guides, and Pathfinders will be there as we will have the "crossing over" ceremonies as girls graduate from one to the other. DD was digging her heels in that she was done with Sparks and did NOT want to do Brownies but I think some of the other girls (and I was pushing for it too) have convinced her otherwise. We will register her, and see how she likes it. I know she will like it more than Sparks. She liked that, in fact once she was there she LOVED Sparks. But it was getting her there that was the problem. She didn't want to stop doing THIS to go do THAT....even if THIS was absolutely nothing. Cross your fingers please. Anyway, her last session was Monday and now there is the dinner tomorrow. I am making tortilla pinwheels, and hoping that DD will help me put them together. Only because I think she will have a good time doing it, not because I need the help LOL. I'll post a picture of the finished product tomorrow, unless they look like crap in which case we will never mention them again - bwa ha ha haaaa!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Field Tripping

Friday was a blogless day, as I was on a field trip with DD's class to the Hillman Marsh. We were lucky it was a bit overcast, as the day was warm and we would have fried like little sausages out on the open marsh all day. We got to see muskrat dams, and tent catterpillar homes, nesting boxes of robins and swallows and red wing black birds. The robins could have cared less, but the swallows would swoop us and the black birds "tisked" while shaking their tails to tell us to GET LOST. We saw a little turtle (the size of a quarter. How the kids even knew he was in the grass I will never know). The kids got to lie on their bellies on a platform, and scoop in the water with sieves to see what they could find. Snails, water tigers, minnows, crayfish. We were a little late (or early) for tadpoles so that was a disappointment but we got over it LOL. There was a great blue heron out in the water. I never realized how BIG those suckers were. This thing is as big as a man, it's wingspan had to be like seven feet. Close to the shoreline we got to see carp frolicking together. And at one part, we went up on a deck to see literally hundreds of carpenter bees. Now, let's just stop here a minute and disect that sentence. We intentionally went up on a deck especially to watch carpenter BEES. I can assure you, this was not MY idea. In fact, none of us was too eager to get up there once we knew what there was to see. But it was kind of like having to eat the mashed turnip scooped onto your plate while having a holiday dinner with your boyfriends family for the first time - you feel OBLIGATED. You don't WANT to do it. You shudder thinking about it. But you buck it up, and up the stairs you go. So now you have a group of parents who really do not want to go look at bees, trying to convince a bigger group of little children that it is OKAY to go up and look at bees even though we are all thinking we would rather eat a tadpole than climb those stairs. Smaller kids and bigger kids would have been fine, but these are kids at the ripe point of being scared of anything bigger than a gnat. There are two main rules when going up stairs to a rickety platform to look at bees. No screaming, and no flailing. These kids are in grade one, and those are some big friggen bees. There is gonna be screaming and flailing and I just HOPE that it all isn't coming from ME. DD is deathly afraid of most bugs. I refuse to blame it on myself, since she was this way far before she ever saw me do the bee dance or become too scared to cross the porch in the daytime. It is genetic, I am beginning to believe. My mother once left us four kids in the house alone after a hornet flew in the front door. She stood on the porch and begged us to come outside, since she was not going in there with THAT thing. My father came home to find her sobbing on the porch, and the four of us sitting on the couch and eating chips in the good living room. I don't actually remember this, and I am not sure that I wouldn't have done the same thing in her shoes. Those hornets are pretty ugly beasts. When DD was around one year old, she was sitting in her high chair. And there was a fly in the house. Every time it would zoom by, she would squeeze her eyes shut really tight, put her head down on the tray, and cover her head with her hands. Poor thing, she was really really scared. Flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fruit flies, ants, moths, spiders, lady bugs, you name it she is afraid of it. So now I have to convince this child that screams when she sees a ladybug to climb those wooden steps and - quietly and calmly - stare a colony of carpenter bees in the face. Literally. There are certain ones (males, I think) that kind of stick around the nesting sites and just hover. They aren't exactly protecting their nests, but rather looking to mate. They hover, right about eye level, and do a slow weaving dance. They will come right up and look into your face...."are you a lady bee?". And once they decide you are NOT their type they weave over and hover elsewhere. Knowing in your head that they are not hostile, that they are just curious and are not interested in chasing or bothering you is one thing. Having an insect the size of a guinea pig hover an inch from your eyes is a whole other deal. At the same time, other worker bees are zooming back and forth. And while they zip around back and forth, they make no attempt whatsoever to avoid obstacles in their path. Other bees, children, adults. Standing on a piece of driftwood wavering in the breeze at the top of a flight of rickety steps, with guinea pigs in your face and being pelted by small projectiles that buzz does not a happy memory make. I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to let the experience transcend from something frightening into something wonderous. But it was not happening, my friend. All the Paxil in the world would not have made that happen, but it sure did make me wish I was still taking it. Poor DD was so, so brave. She DID go up those steps. She DID stand on that platform and get pelted and investigated by bees. And she did the whole thing clinging to me like a baby koala and with her eyes closed. When I announced that I think it was time to go back down, there was a zipping noise as the air closed back in around the hole in space where her body had been. She made an exit like the road-runner from those old cartoons. Only thing missing was the "meep meep". And if the stairs had been a little sturdier I just might have beat her down. So that was my Friday. I had to go into the office afterwards for a meeting, so left DH and DD in charge of making dinner. I returned home (after getting caught in a surprise downpour that soaked me to the underwear) to find out he said it was okay for two of her friends to come over and no dinner started or planned. Seems he figured I could just whip something up when I got back. No Way. I hardly had enough energy to change my clothes, let alone cook dinner for three hot, tired, and hungry first graders and an impatient DH standing in the kitchen and tapping his foot. I sent him for Kentucky Fried chicken. Over the week-end my brother, sister, and two brother-in-laws helped us put that gigantic roof on it's poles. So now we have this huge, hulking (yet lovely) thing on our patio. It is nice to sit in, but we don't have any nice patio furniture and I feel odd sitting in there on a crappy lawn chair. I feel like there should be an immense bed in there, covered in cushions ala Ali Baba. Or some luxurious lounge chairs and a small, low table. You know, to put the grapes on. I think two shirtless cabana boys might be enough. Standing in the corner, fanning the lounges, peeling grapes if need be.