Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Measuring the snow totals

How do you measure the snow totals?

Well, you forge a path:


Find a good place for the yardstick:


And then get photographic evidence:


Click to see the proof.

Yes, we got at least 20-inches of snow!

This measurement was taken out where the snow would fall and not drift…the drifts were even taller!

Talk about an interesting turn of events…for OCTOBER!


So, what does one do with 20-inches (and then some) of snow?  Well, if you can’t beat it, you play in it!


I can’t shovel it if you’re standing in it.

Yesterday marked a Snow Day. As luck would have it, we didn’t have anywhere else to be anyway, and I couldn’t keep Claire inside while I shoveled.

She definitely gets her genes from two full-blooded Midwesterners, because she did not want to come in out of the cold.  That, and I blame the fact that it was 18-degrees (Fahrenheit) when I went to the hospital to have her, and I refused to wear a coat.

She wanted to make snow angels on the driveway and got very upset when I wanted to shovel them up. “You need to go play over there,” I’d say with a smile, pointing to the mounds and drifts of snow on the lawn. “I can’t shovel it if you’re standing in it.”

“But why are you going to shovel it, Momma!? Don’t ruin it!  I want to play in it!” she’d scream with glee. It didn’t much coaxing to get her to play elsewhere.

She only got stuck once, and I rescued her pretty quickly. Even being trapped didn’t deter her. She was just beside herself with excitement.

It took me an hour to shovel, but she wasn’t done. “Now it’s MY turn to shovel, Momma!” she begged.  She cried genuine tears at the thought of leaving all the wonderful snow behind. I promised her we could play in it again on Thursday.

And, speaking of Thursday…

When we realized that it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, we began to hope for a second snow day. The thought of harnessing the horses and dragging out the sleigh to take Claire to school on Thursday was daunting.

Last night, we finally got word: Thursday, October 29th will go down in history as the Second Snow Day (in October!) in a row! This time, the auto-dialer called us just after 6pm to confirm what I’d already seen online and confirmed by calling the hotline.  (I was hoping we wouldn’t get another early-morning call!)

By evening, we had over a foot of snow, and it was still snowing.

In the wee hours of the morning, just after midnight, I took this photo.

Second Snow Day of October

Click photo for more detail.

I played around with the exposure to show you what looks like an old-time newspaper clipping. I love how the tall pillar-like growth of snow is balanced on the fence in the background and the railing of the deck.

Later today, we’ll be playing in it again. One of us will be shoveling, while the other one plays in a Winter Wonderland.



At 5:29 this morning, the phone rang.  I thought someone had died.  Phone calls when it’s still dark outside are rarely a good thing.

Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by an automated voice telling me that classes in my school district were canceled.  It was an official snow day!  In October!?

Claire doesn’t even go to school on Wednesdays, so the irony of being told I could sleep in by a phone call before 5:30 in the morning made me giggle.

And then I snuggled under the blankets and slept in…again.

The screams you heard this morning were those of pure joy.  Claire couldn’t contain herself when she saw this:

October Snow DaySleigh-bells ring!  Are ya listenin’?

CD Review: Rockin’, Rollin’, and Ridin’ with Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck

COVER ART ROCKIN' ROLLIN' AND RIDIN'  high resRebecca Frezza & Big Truck has a new CD being released on November 10th. (Big Truck Music, $8.99, run time 23 minutes, for ages 4 to 8) called Rockin’, Rollin’, and Ridin’. Claire and I had the opportunity to check it out!

It is upbeat and has catchy tunes and lyrics. Do you know Gordon (Roscoe Orman) from Sesame Street? Even HE’s on it! He helps sing one of the songs called, “Hey-O.” It’s one of those songs where Rebecca sings and then has you repeat after her. This is one of Claire’s favorite songs on the CD! It’s interactive, which I like.

I do have to tell you, though…this CD comes with side-effects. Its songs will work their way into your head. One morning, I was shocked to have Rocketship stuck in my head while I was getting ready. “Rocketship, Rocketship to the Moon! Rocketship, Rocketship to the Moon! Rocketship, Rocketship to the Moon! Flyyyy!”


Admittedly, there are worse things to get stuck in your head.

So, if you like up-beat songs with fun lyrics, you should check out this CD when it comes out on November 10th. Claire isn’t quite 4-years old yet, but she loves it!

And then I dare you not to sing Rocketship while brushing your teeth in the morning.

The Casual Perfectionist received a free copy of the CD in exchange for an honest review. Photo provided by Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck.  This review also appears on Mile High Mamas.

The name-calling loop hole

I am the oldest of four kids, and even I was shocked to discover a name-calling loop hole that Claire found.

Yesterday, I was telling her to do something, and she yelled, “You’re a monster!”

Just as she said the word, I said, “WHAT!?”

And she drug out the ending of the word and added, “Hunter!”

I laughed out loud.

“You’re a monster HUNTER!” she said again, hoping she wouldn’t end up in the time-out corner for name-calling. “You know…you hunt for monsters,” she said, still back-pedaling as fast as an almost-4-yr old can pedal.

Her points for creativity saved her.

This time.

The exploding paper shredder

**I’ll preface this by saying that everyone is physically okay, and there was no damage to the house.**

Saturday started out innocently enough. I’d marked on my calendar that it was the local “Shred-a-thon,” which is where you can bring up to three bags of shreddable items to be shredded for free by the Police Department.

When I worked from home, I had massive amounts of confidential documents to shred. When they were a month old, they were to be destroyed. On a weekly basis, I shredded a pile. I did this every week. Along with that, I’d shred our own personal things.

When I quit my job, I didn’t have as much to shred, and I fell off the shredding wagon. Things would pile up, and I’d tackle them in a weekend and then repeat the next month.

Because the Shred-a-thon was coming up, I hadn’t shredded things in a while. I had one bag of things to take, and it wasn’t even a very big bag.

Saturday rolls around and my husband lets me sleep in. I jolt awake, look at the clock and bolt out of bed. I jump in the shower. I want to make it by the deadline!

As I finish my shower, I run into my office, and there are Daddy and Claire, shredding the documents. They’d tried to surprise me by having all of them done so I wouldn’t have to go! How sweet of them!

I go back to the bedroom to get ready, and that’s when I hear a large, terrible, crashing noise. I had no idea what had happened. My first thought was that something large had fallen over in my office, even though that’s not physically possible, since we have things tethered to the walls. To be honest, it sounded like an explosion, but I know that’s not possible either.

I run to the office. As I get to the door, I see Claire running toward me, out of the smoke filled room. There are bits of shredded papers wafting through the air, and they’re on fire! My husband is standing in a cloud of smoke, trying to put out the flames in the paper shredder bin. I grab Claire and pull her out of the room. I run back, ready to run to the garage for the fire extinguisher, as I scream to him to see if he’s been hurt.

He says he’s okay, and in a flash, he’s outside with the shredder.  He yells to me that he got the fire out.

Would I have had time to get down two flights of stairs to get to the garage and back up with the fire extinguisher had this been a more massive fire? Maybe, but probably not. Do we have a fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink LIKE WE’VE MEANT TO HAVE FOR EIGHT YEARS? Uh, no.

Guess what’s on our To Do List now?

After he has the paper shredder outside smoldering on the flagstone patio, away from the house and any other combustible materials, he comes back in. I do a medical evaluation. A large portion of hair has been singed off his right arm, and his baja sleeve has been melted. He runs his hand under cold water while I get the aloe.

I do another inspection of my office to be doubly-sure that no burning pieces are left anywhere, and I open the windows and close the door in hopes of airing it out.

Claire had been sitting right next to the shredder when the explosion happened. The force of the blast and the excitement it caused made her jump off the chair and land across the room. She’s physically okay, and she hasn’t had any nightmares yet. She did, however, spend the rest of Saturday asking if other things will blow up.

We are so lucky. Daddy wasn’t severely hurt. His hands never blistered, and he’ll live without arm-hair. Claire wasn’t injured, even though she was sitting right next to the blast. The explosion didn’t catch anything else on fire.

So, what happened?

Well, we aren’t exactly sure, but these are the turn of events as we know them. The shredder isn’t a new shredder. It has been known to get hot, but it has a safety turn-off. When it’s too hot, it turns itself off, immediately, and usually in the middle of a paper. It’s an annoying feature, and one we take for granted, but it’s always worked in the past. My husband finally remembered to lubricate the mechanism. It’s needed it for a while, and he’d done that earlier in the shredding session. There’s always a lot of paper-dust created when we shred documents. This isn’t abnormal, but goes into the equation.

For whatever reason, something sparked and it caught the paper-dust on fire, which then exploded. Paper-dust burns incredibly fast, which is good and bad. It’s good in that it was over quickly, and bad in that it happened without notice and with an amazing amount of force.

Unfortunately, this happened just as my husband was feeding a paper into the machine, which put his hand and arm a little too close for comfort.

For the record, shredders have always made me nervous, but I always thought the danger lurked in being sucked in by your tie or your hair or a necklace. It never occurred to me that the paper dust could explode, but it makes perfect sense.

So, after 8+ years in this house, we’ve finally had our first explosion. It’s nice to finally check that off the list so that we can get on to more calming matters. October is also Fire Safety Month, so once again, Irony tries to step up and make us laugh as the smoke clears.

We can laugh about this now. We can joke about the fact that because I announced this on Twitter, I almost ended up on the local news station. We can joke about the fact that singed arm-hair isn’t very exciting, but had he lost his eyebrows, it may be more newsworthy.

I laugh about it now, because if I think too hard about it, I’ll start shaking again. I laugh about it now, because if I think about it too hard, the tears will come to my eyes again.

It’s amazing how tiny that line between tragedy and comedy is, and we are so lucky.

So, I’m in the market for a new paper-shredder. You’ll know when I get one, because you’ll hear me using it. I’ll be the one out in the middle of my driveway with that thing plugged into an extension cord. I’ll be the one holding the fire extinguisher.

Ballerinas on the other side of the glass

Today, Claire and I got to try out a new ballet school. This one is a “real” ballet school, where they take everything very seriously…yet they have fun. This is the perfect combination for my little girl who loved her Rec Center Ballet Classes, but got a little perturbed with the other girls who “don’t pay attention and do the right moves, Momma!” …not to mention the whole fiasco with messing with her hair!

This ballet school isn’t very far from our house, and has come highly recommended. We went last week to take a peek and loved what we saw. We were invited to try it out today before making our decision, but I had a sneaking suspicion it would go well.

And, it did!

Claire LOVED it. The teacher said she did really well, and I’m so proud of her! The most shocking turn of events was when Claire actually allowed me to put her hair in a bun before we left the house. I knew it wasn’t up to “standards,” but I also knew that they allow the preschool class to wear a ponytail if all else fails.

We got to the school a little early so that a professional could help me with the shoes and Claire’s hair. What? Have you ever tried to figure out ballet shoes? Oh, they seem so simple now. (Here’s a hint: There really ISN’T a right and left. They really ARE the same.) And, I could rock a mad bun in my own hair a million years ago, but doing a bun on someone who up until that very morning refused to allow such a pastry-named hairstyle grace her tresses? I needed the help of a third party.

In true form, Claire was a perfect angel for the wonderful lady who came to our rescue. She looked like such a big girl in her outfit, with her hair all done up in a bun.

The class went without incident, and Claire professed her love for it immediately. We went ahead and filled out all the paperwork and made things official.

Before we left, we had a chance to watch the older dancers practicing. One of the ballerinas smiled directly at Claire through the observation window, and Claire was completely mesmerized. The look on her face was priceless. Maybe one day, she’ll be on the other side of that glass smiling at the brand new ballerinas.

Even a pen can be a deadly weapon.


Image caption: "A laptop battery contains roughly the stored energy of a hand grenade, and if shorted it ... hey! You can't arrest me if I prove your rules inconsistent!"

Do you read xkcd?  No?  You should.  He makes me laugh.

Thirtysomething, for real this time

Do you remember the show Thirtysomething? It came out in 1987. I was 13 years old. I have very vivid memories of this show. I remember watching it, and I remember liking it. I even remembering thinking to myself what it would be like to watch a show like this when I was old…you know…thirtysomething.

Well, I’m thirtysomething. I’m technically in my mid-thirties.

Guess what has finally come out on DVD!?

This weekend, I received my very first DVD of the Series Collection of Thirtysomething. (We use Netflix, and I love them.  This is NOT an ad for Netflix, and they are not a sponsor!)  Daddy and the his brother (who was visiting from out of state) were out on the town; Claire was asleep in bed, and I had the TV all to myself. I watched the first disk straight through.

I laughed.  I cried.  It was just as good as I remember. Actually, it was better than I remember. After watching it, I didn’t really remember much of the story lines at all. It all seemed brand new to me, and so…relevant.

They nailed what it’s like to be thirtysomething.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what attracted me to this show when I was in 7th or 8th grade (and it was on for four seasons, so it would have taken me through high school.) All of those specifics are lost to me, and they’ve been replaced with a show that made me gasp out loud at how unbelievable relatable it all was. I turned the disc in as fast as I could and already have the next one waiting for me. I can’t wait to watch more episodes again! (Even thought it’s like watching it for the first time.)

Yes, they’re all dressed in laughable 80s garb, but the issues they’re dealing with? It’s like they took what it was like to be thirtysomething and made it into a TV show.

Who knew?


Here at The Casual Perfectionist, I don’t post a photo with every post. Over at Mile High Mamas, I do.

Whenever possible, I just use photos of my own, so as not to step on anyone’s toes or scrutinize the fine print.

Can you believe I don’t have a single photo of a donkey?

In a situation like this, I’ve been resorting to using a stock photo service that allows its users to use photos for free.  Imagine my delight when I found the PERFECT stock photo (by perritorit) to go with my post on the Mile High Mamas website today:


What in the world am I writing about today? Long-time readers of the blog may have heard this story before.  It makes me laugh, and I think you’ll enjoy it too. Pop on over and check it out!