Recent Reasons to Smile

♥ Janie asked me to have a Five-Minute Sit Down Breakfast with her in the middle of this morning’s chaos.  We managed two, but with a little practice . . .


Give Peas a Chance♥ Give Peas a Chance by Morris Gleitzman. A collection of kid-oriented short stories written by an Australian with an uncanny talent for balancing poignancy with humor (The first one in the collection is here).  The audio version (read by the author and the delightful Ruth Schoenheimer), which I’m listening to in the car right now is even better.  

My favorite so far is “100 Text Messages you must Read Before you Die”, which proves that actions speak louder than words and there’s nothing more actionable than a father’s love for his daughter.


♥ Friends who snark out of affection.


♥ I woke up humming a favorite song that I hadn’t heard in over a year—and it played on the radio during Two-Minute Sit Down Breakfast so I could groove to it in front of the kids.


♥ Pomegranate and Blood Orange Skittles.

Darkside Skittles





(And also the concept of “the other side of the rainbow”)


♥ Air-conditioned workplaces.


♥ Kids in superhero costumes who are happy to have a serious discussion of the merits of Batman versus Captain America with you until their parents coax them away from the library desk.

Cap Shield

Fresh Paint app♥ Children who can be bribed into vacuuming their rooms and setting the table with a pad of drawing paper and an hour on my Fresh Paint app, respectively.


♥ That I managed to discover a continuity error in my WIP and managed to fix it all by myself yesterday.


♥ A Harry Potter/Hot Fuzz crossover fanfic series that works far, far better than it should.  Especially when it calls Dumbledore to task for some of his shenanigans and eventually has Ron in it.

Potter Fuzz

♥ That I had something to blog about after all.



Random Thursday: Everything is Awesome!

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

No charge for the earworm!


Best Wedding Cake Ever—Lego Division

LEGO Cake by Cupcakes by SJ

According to the Facebook page of Cupcakes by S-J,
which is (who is?) based in Basingstoke,
credit for this cake goes to the owner of the page and her father.

Looks like everything IS cool, when you’re part of a team.

Especially cake!


PInata skin rug

And all this time, I was just saving the ears and the tail . . .


One Duck, Snoring

That’s it.  That’s the video.

You watched it twice, didn’t you?  Just to show someone else?  Thought so.

(Thanks, Teresa!)




“Mom!  I have to show you this!”
“This!  Watch this!”
“Huh.  Yeah,  that’s a neat ide—oh, wow!”

Picture a hot glue gun—the kind where the dried glue sticks go in one end and hot glue comes out the other in a guided flow.

Make the glue gun pen shaped.  And swap the glue sticks for colored plastic.

Like this:


And then draw with it.

Like this:


Jane and I are already pricing them.

Considering the cost of 3D printers, this freestyle pen is completely reasonable, and the refill costs aren’t too bad, either . . . unless you’re a Wesson and spent half an hour pouring over the possibilities.

” . . . yeah, I know . . .”



Johanna Colón, center stage, proves that on that dark day when Aretha is no longer with us,
she will still be with us.


Mike Allegra, children’s author, blogger, artist, keeper of houses, teller of hilarious family stories, and all around good guy, recently held one of his ever-popular doodle contests—and I won!

And even though he is suffering a debilitating injury to his drawing hand, he sent me this:

jitteryThis is Jittery–my very own Caffeine Gnome!

Just look at him!  Those eyes, those slippers, that clear sense of involuntary vibration!

He’s a lot more cheerful than I usually imagine them, but my experiences are generally affected by caffeine withdrawal, which tends to elevate even the figments of my imagination to DefCon-2 Cranky and has them looking around for drums, bagpipes, and ice picks with which to express their displeasure, until I offer suitable apologies and double their rightful tribute in the form of Americanos, mochas, diet Pepsis, and or straight up chocolate-covered beans.

But Jittery is clearly one Gnome who has consumed perhaps a little more than his fair share and is planning to ride the coffee train until the inevitable crash.

I like that in a metaphor.  And I adore this drawing.

Thanks, Mike!

Age is just a number that tells everyone you’re old now*

Wise old owl

I had a good birthday.

After lunch—technically a Father’s Day lunch for my husband at his favorite Mexican restaurant—Janie, Watson and I went shoe shopping.  I adopted three pairs:  a pewter pair that almost makes up for the deplorable fact that Rieker stopped making those red  and silver suede ones just when I need replacements, a black pair that Rieker can’t stop making because they are the shoe, and a pair that hugs my feet like lovely woven gloves.**

The only bad part is that I have to inter my old, worn-loved-and-abused-to-destruction favorites,*** but all birthdays have a touch of melancholy, right?

We spent the next hour looking at every single item in the accessory shop next door and saying no to Janie, which is good exercise and keeps me sharp for the pseudo-negotiation of bigger things she won’t be getting until she achieves financial and geographical independence.   But I did spring for a set or two of earrings–on sale–and two hairbows for Sunny.^

Because every birthday should be about sharing stuff, even if that stuff is made of tiny earrings shaped like fast food.  Right?

Tired and happy, we returned home and had lemonade and pie.  Okay, the kids had lemonade in front of the tube, my husband had iced tea, Watson went downstairs to take care of Jada Mae Swissie Dog and I hid in the kitchen with my laptop and had pie—chocolate truffle pie—while thanking everyone who sent me birthday wishes.

So, so worth the slightly sticky keyboard.  Because birthdays should be about friends and risking chocolate-coated, white-hot sugar death.  Right?

And then . . . I napped.

It was a good, long, prodigious nap.  There may have been dreams of swordfights with garlic breadsticks.  This isn’t as weird as it sounds—partly because it’s my subconscious, and garlic breadstick swordfights aren’t nearly as odd as it gets in there—and mostly because when I woke up, the house smelled of roasted garlic, meatballs, pasta sauce, and toasted bread—Janie and Watson made me dinner for my birthday.  It was amazing, and ended as all fabulous meals should,  with a slab of my MIL’s famous Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting^^ and a quick change into elastic-waisted pants.

And then we had presents. Because birthdays should be—well, you know.

My kids gave me a hair dryer, which is exactly what I’d asked for, since I’ve been playing Russian Roulette with my old one for two weeks—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it waits until my hair is half-dry and at even funnier angles than usual. This new one is bright, shiny, and aggressively magenta—if it were  shoes, it would be clogs (see**)—but it works, it has a retractable cord,  and it’s quiet.  I spent some quality time with it this morning and I think we’ll get along just fine.

My husband gave me Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on DVD, which I’m still loudly kicking myself for missing in the theater every time I’m reminded of it.^^^  He apparently bought it the day it  came out in an effort to stop the kicking, or at least the loud, and has been living in fear that I’d buy it for myself, which I’ve only done . . . a couple timesand usually, in my defense, books.   So I want at least partial credit for my restraint.°

But the Gift of the Day award—don’t tell the kids—goes to my MIL, who gave me something I’d stared at for a solid twenty minutes at the Art Fair last month before tearing myself away with thoughts of my Discover Card bill:

His name is Blaug.  Isn’t he brilliant?

It was a very good birthday—because birthdays should be shared with the people who know you best and love you anyway.  Right?



*Thanks so very much,  Siobhan.  You’ll be delighted to know that I’ve marked your birthday on my calendar, too.  In red.

**I’m so disappointed that clogs and I don’t get along.  I hated the pointy shoe trend, because I do not have naturally streamlined toes and do not feel the need to cripple myself for fashion, but the overly-rounded backlash currently in effect makes me feel like I’m a clown dressing as a duck in an effort to look like a clown duck in my early hipster twenties, which wouldn’t have been a good look for me when I was in my twenties and is exponentially bad now.  Especially in that pair that looked like someone had cracked a blood-red pearlized bowling ball in half and shellacked it.  There are some shoes so fundamentally ugly, you have to try them on, just once.

***Sing it with me:  The Ciiiiiiiircle of Liiiiiiiife . . . .

^Who told me I was the Best Mom Ever and  promptly clipped them to the head of her stuffed duck, whom she had dressed in a play jumper originally owned by an entirely different species of doll.  In retrospect, the day had an odd, secondary duck theme to it . . .

^^I still can’t believe I rated this cake.  I’m sure she also made it for my husband, but I don’t care because it’s that good.

^^^According to certain members of my family who have started to join in chorus as I whine, I’m reminded of this a lot.

° While duly giving credit for the distractions offered by television—more specifically, the second season of BBC Sherlock (nabbed it) and the fourth season of Leverage (pre-ordered).  But it could have easily gone the other way.


Some time ago, Mom and I were talking on the phone, and during the course of the conversation, she said, “Ow!”

I asked her if one of the cats had jumped on her, and she said, no, that her arm hurt. “Well, not  my arm, really, but . . . .”* so,  I asked her what she’d done.

Turns out she was getting the neighbor kids’ kite/frisbee/cat/glockenspiel** out of that big tree and she couldn’t quite reach it, even at the top of Dad’s tallest ladder, so she stretched up just a bit too far.  She didn’t hyperextend her arm, just pulled her biopsy scar a little. And she did manage to grab the—

“Whoa.  Hold on.  What biopsy?”

“I had a lump in my breast so they stuck the biggest needle I’ve ever seen into it and they’re looking at it now.”

“And you didn’t tell me?”

You all know what she said then right?

“I didn’t want you to worry.”

Yeah.  Didn’t work.  That never works, am I right?  All the anxiety hit me at once and it’s been years and I still remember it, even if I don’t remember exactly what she went up that tree on a fairly rickety ladder to fetch down for those kids.***

I promised myself that I’d never do that to anyone.  But . . . I kind of did.

See, several weeks ago, the city I work for was offering free skin cancer screenings.  I spent most of my childhood frying in the sun, I have a nice collection of skin tags and moles that I’ve acquired over the years, and free-stuff-on-work-time is always nice, so I went.

And the doctor found a big weird, discolored, irregular thing on my upper back that I hadn’t known was there and told me to have it removed and biopsied.  Now.

Then she circled the area around the weird thing with a pen, instructed me to have my husband do the same before my appointment, and asked me to have a nice day.


So I immedately called the only doctor in my immediate area who was taking new patients, and his office agreed that I should come in as soon as possible, which, as it turned out, meant first thing in the morning, ten days later.  Which meant ten days of worrying about this weird thing festering away behind my back.

About what I would do if it was malignant.  About what I would do if I needed treatment.

I didn’t obsess, exactly—I did my work, I wrote, I blogged—but I was aware that the the worst words in the world had suddenly narrowed to squalous and metastasis.

And I didn’t tell anyone but my parents, the adults living in our house, and two close friends.

I hid my concern from my family so well that no one remembered why I’d taken the morning off work and I had to run outside and flag down my husband as he backed his car out of the driveway, so he could circle the thing on my back.^

“Do you know where it is?”

“Of course I do.”


Most of the medical offices in our town are clustered into one ginormous hospital complex, forcing first-time visitors to weave and circle around and through the various parking lots reading the three-foot high numbers over all the glass doors.  I found the building I wanted connected to the huge Oncology Center, which didn’t make me feel any better.^^

Once inside, I showed my insurance card like a hall pass with a deductible at a series of desks until I was allowed to approach the actual office.  Once there, I was led to a small room where I filled out a medical history, stripped, put on a small robe, and re-read Beat^^^ until the doctor arrived.

The dermatologist, Dr. E., looks like Chris Pine and Elijah Wood had a genius son who graduated from medical school at the age of sixteen, and I decided upon meeting him that I wasn’t old enough to have doctors who look that young—nor was I anywhere near mentally healthy enough to have doctors that gorgeous survey the surfaces of my carcass.

But he put me at as much ease as was possible under the circumstances—at least those blue eyes of his made me a more pleasant kind of nervous—looked me over, and told me that he would like to remove the weird thing and send it to be biopsied.

His nurse gave me a numbing shot, he excavated the weird thing, and sent me on my way, telling me   I shouldn’t waste time worrying about the results.


This morning, I received a call.  The big weird, discolored, irregular thing was just a big weird, discolored, irregular thing.  It was totally benign and Dr. E. would see me next year for my annual screening.

A weight has been lifted.

I don’t have cancer.

I don’t have cancer.


*Why, yes, trailing off at the end of sentences is a family trait . . .

**I don’t remember which, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a cat.

***That part didn’t worry me.  That’s what Mom does.

^And then run back inside for a pen because all we could find in his car was a crayon, and that didn’t work very well.

^^To make it worse, I had to park in section C, right under the sign.  Nice one, universe.

^^^You want a distraction from your problems?  Try the ones Stephen Jay Schwartz put his main characters through.