April 26, 2006

Free Video hosting?

As I'm archiving photos, I realize it would be fun to also have
available the few videos we've taken with the camera. I did a quick
Google search for "free video hosting", and am wondering if anybody has
specific experience with any of the sites, recommendations, cautions,
etc. It does, however, have to be free (I know there are a ton of
places that will host for $$$, but that's not in the budget. :) )
Thanks for any help anyone can offer....

The Scope of the Problem

Since I've complained so many times about the foul Spanish Bluebells, I thought I'd give you a bit of a visual (I was stupid and went out twice yesterday, so I'm taking today off. The reading on my "Peak Flow Meter" this morning was not pretty. You'd think someone who's tolerably bright, who knows they're allergic to trees, would know better, especially when there are currently four trees blooming *right in our yard*, but alas, no.)

Anyway, the first picture is of the herb bed. All of the bare dirt visible on this side of the fence used to be covered in bluebells. Many of the herbs were not visible. In the background are the nasties I still have to get to; since they aren't choking anything, I may just decapitate them if I run out of time this year.

The next picture was taken by literally turning 180 degrees, to look at the as-yet-unfought battalions massed under the maple tree. Of all the places I have to dig them out of, this is lowest on my list; I don't want them to go to seed, of course (my least favorite part is fishing tiny little "bulblets" from the dirt, knowing that if I don't, they'll be full-sized by next year. They come well-equipped for survival, like rattlesnakes!). But there's not much that'll grow there anyway, so they aren't actually hurting anything. Well, except for the other bulbs I have planted there.

Standing on the edge of the previous pic's frame, this is the bed along the north side of our property. The blue is bluebells, and the white is, too. This is priority #3, after the front beds and the east side.

If you've never been here, in the background are my compost bins (thanks, Matt!) and our "castle" raised bed. In the foreground are Laura's rockies.




Finally, this is where I've been decimating the enemy in the last few days. The plants in the foreground are some of the free perennials I got this spring; they are grateful for the elbow room they just got, though obviously I have a ways to go.

Not visible is the heap of the fallen; it is actually just to the left of this shot, and is about 2.5 feet by 3 feet by 5 feet. At least I get to recycle all that organic matter.

April 25, 2006

Mending Tape Redux

Ty cogently asks,
Where can one purchase this magical tape? It sounds like exactly what the book doctor ordered.

I realize I didn't include that helpful information. Sometimes you can find the stuff at office supply stores; I got mine at: Discount Office Supplies.

April 24, 2006

Mending Tape

It has come to my attention that children are hard on books. Even
those sturdy little board books from the library take a beating, both
before we get to them, and certainly while they're here ("Books OUT of
the bathroom! Books don't LIKE water!").

I've also figured out that part of the library's budget goes to
replacing them fairly often. So, both to help stretch those tax
dollars and to lengthen our enjoyment of the ones we own, I've invested
in some book mending tape.

Libraries generally don't like patrons mending books, in large part
because they don't have the right tape; ordinary "Scotch" tape curls,
gets brittle, and quickly breaks, leaving an even worse tear than
before (because now the edges of the tear are reinforced!) This stuff
cures that problem. It is what vellum is for paper: absolutely yummy
to handle and use. Of course, the best course is to teach the little
buggers how to feed and care for books, but encouraging readers is
bound (ahem.) to cause a few casualties. If you have small children
(with books) in your life, I highly recommend it.

April 23, 2006

The End of the Season...

Whew! You might have noticed I haven't posted much this week; it's not
for want of wanting to.

Matt's been gone for the last three days at State, and Emily is on the
move, so I've been a little crazed. Except for the week he's gone in
June, though, the speech season is officially over at last. Bring on
those weekend barbecues, folks, we're finally free. :-) That's not to
say we're not still going to be frantically busy, as usual, doing all
the things we've been procrastinating in favor of school and speech,
but it's definitely easier to be social now.

It was a nice end to the season; he has several seniors, some of whom
realized upon arrival back at the high school that this was IT, the
end. Many of them were in finals as well, no small feat. Congrats to
all, and remember, you can always relive those special times by coming
back to judge!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....Emily has mastered the art of
directional rolling. She can't crawl quite yet, but between reeeeaching
over from a sitting position, bouncing a bit on her behind, and rolling
to and fro, she can now successfully get to a distant objective. Once
she reaches it, she tends to roll over--like a sea otter--onto her
back, prize in hand, the better to thoroughly chew, drool, and
generally teethe on said prize. I expect to spend a few days
surreptitiously storing away Laura toys which may be unsafe Emily
objectives. It's either that or hold her all the time, which she is
finally starting to get (occasionally) tired of.

Not coincidentally, Emily is also deep into the throes of separation
anxiety. "Anxiety" doesn't really convey the problem, though. Anxious
is when you bite your nails; there should be some other word for
sobbing hysterically within three seconds of being put down. In case
you're wondering, three seconds is not long enough to answer any calls
of nature, so, "Separation Anxiety Means Never Going to the Potty".
Actually, especially since I find I need to stay hydrated in order to
remain a good food source, that's just not possible. So my nerves are
a little shot from the amount of (unavoidable!) crying I've endured
over the last few days! (Fortunately, "Mah" did very nicely come over
each day while Matt was gone so I could shower safely. Since Emily's
also been teething, laying her down for any amount of time to
sleep--alone, at least--has not gone very well lately, either. And she
screams bloody murder when I strap her into her high chair to take a
tub bath. While that works in a pinch, it's pretty wearing on all of
us!)

Life is not all bad, though. Laura missed her Daddy quite a bit, of
course, but she came up with a new game to cope: "Bye, I'm Leaving!"
She gathered up some gift bags full of toys, slung them over her wrist,
and made a big show of hugging and kissing Em and me goodbye. She then
went to stand by the door, waited a moment, and returned triumphant (I
assisted with a big, "Welcome HOME!" I'm no dummy....). My favorite
(apart from all the extra toddler lovin'), was when she patted Emily
and told her to "be a good girl for Mommy", and then said, "Oooh, those
chubby baby cheeks! Ooooh, those chubby baby thighs!" when she was on
her way "out the door." Who d'you s'pose she's imitating *there*?

While I'm on the subject, I don't think I mentioned the other cute
thing she did recently. Emily and I are still fighting the cold (what
it lacked in intensity it is more than making up for in duration.
Blah!). When Laura has a cold, we often put "owie goop" (not to be
confused with "baby owie goop", a.k.a. diaper rash cream!) on her nose.
(We use Aquaphor.) So when I was coming down with the dreaded virus
and was feeling low, Laura came up to me, rubbed her nose's end with
her finger, and dabbed at mine. She was sharing her goop with me! (I
asked, to make sure I was interpreting the gesture correctly.)

In spite of the cold, I foolishy gave in to the urge to work outside
today. Fortunately, it doesn't take too much energy to sit up to type,
or you wouldn't even be getting this much of an update. :) (I hope to
take most of the rest of the afternoon off; I'll just be breathing.
In. Out. Repeat. I love allergy season.) On the up side, I am
definitely seeing progress on the Bluebell Battlefront. The herb bed
is almost clear (all the herbs are freed, I just have some more to do
around the long-suffering rhododendron and along the fence). My next
campaign is to free all the new perennials I got this spring from the
Interlopers; another of their foul tendencies is to stretch their
leaves out as far as possible, so in spite of putting the new babies in
dirt that was free of bluebells, everybody is now fairly crowded in
terms of air space. Onward, Garden Soldiers! (even though it's
*really* difficult to be continuing the battle, since I'd rather be
digging actual veggie garden area, I know this effort will pay off big
time down the road. And if I can discipline myself to actually STOP
after only an hour, maybe I can work on it every day....)

April 17, 2006

April Photos

O.K., I've actually got some NEW pictures up for ya. I'll even provide direct links; I am liking using Blogger for this!

Easter Egg Hunting
Emily at Easter
Daddy Time

There's other recent stuff there, and more to add, but these are, IMHO, the highlights. Enjoy!

Easter weekend

I have the cold now. Yay. At least it's moved up towards my head,
instead of slinking around my lungs like it's been the last few days.

Saturday was NFL Congress. Matt didn't qualify anyone, but he was all
happy because he came right home that night and reserved tickets for
his flight to Nationals, before the price went up yesterday!

Sunday, we went to church. They had an Easter egg hunt on the grounds,
which Laura was old enough to really get into this year (she is still
in the "thrill of the hunt" stage; mean/greedy Mommy and Daddy crack
open the eggs, release the candy, pocket it for later, and give her
back the eggs. And she's happy!) Pictures will soon appear on the
photoblog; I figure I'll be good and post old pictures for a week, and
then post new ones the next week until I'm all caught up. That way the
archives will be easier to navigate, too.

After, we went up to my family's quiet Easter at my Aunt Barb's. Emily
was feeling photogenic, so we got a lot of pics of her, too. Barb is
at the other end of the child-raising process from me, so it was fun to
be tantalized with what to do with an empty nest (her last chick flies
away this fall). I'm sure she won't run out of ideas any time soon.
:-)

April 14, 2006

Aspirations

Picture yourself getting a pizza. You're in a restaurant, and the
pizza arrives. It is still steaming hot. You go to grab a
piece--ouch! it burns your fingers a little!--and put it on your plate.

The cheese, though, is still connected between the point of the piece
and the mother pizza. You go back to the middle of the pie, grab the
string of cheese, and pull. It pulls, but even more cheese extends the
string. You do this again, and *finally*, it breaks, just as your
fellow diners were starting to wonder if all the remaining cheese was
going to be sucked into your piece's string like fiber into a thread.

O.K. You have the picture? Clear as a bell? This happens to
everybody, right?

That is EXACTLY what it looks like when we suction out Emily's nose
with the bulb aspirator. Except it's not cheese. It *is* endless
though...sometimes I have to check her toes when we're done, to make
sure they haven't disappeared like a sweater's edge when it unravels.

This gross-out moment was brought to you by Oglefamily. "Parenting:
It's Not for the Weak of Stomach!"

April 11, 2006

Firsts....

Emily said her first word: "Mama!" I figure it's countable, since I
have a reasonably objective witness (Matt, who, since he's been holding
out for "Dada", of course, wouldn't lie about it.) Besides, she was
being carried away from me at the time, and held her arms out towards
me as she said it. Smart girl.

Emily has also taken at least 4 partial naps in the Pack-n-Play over
the last few days, which is approximately two more than Laura took in
her entire infancy. This bodes well both for the transition to the
crib proper, and for ME getting to have some free time while they're
both napping. At least on days when I don't need a nap myself, which
will hopefully become less and less rare as Em transitions more to
solid food.

Laura has taken to reading to Emily and me. She's getting pretty good,
since she seems to have a knack for memorizing books whole (of course,
the fact that she convinces me to read them to her first-- a LOT--
doesn't hurt that process.) I also frequently smile as I hear her
reciting books whole to herself as she falls asleep (she takes a LONG
time to fall asleep, whether at night or at nap, but as long as she's
happy, who cares?). She often goes through quite a medley of her song
repertoire, too.

Her current thing that cracks me up is talking on her little phone:
"Hewhoa. This is O. G. Ogle. Yes, baby got shots. So, I'm calling.
Uh-huh. Uh-huh. O.K. That'd be fine. O.K., bye!"
[hangs up. Waits. Picks up receiver again.]
"Hello? Are you coming over? O.K., that'd be fine. Yes, I'm just
here, eating my cwah-wa-wer (exaggerated crunching of the cracker).
And Emily Baby is over dere and she is fine and Mommy is in her chair.
O.K., talk to you later, bye!"

And then I think about those little updates I get from BabyCenter.com
that say the average 29-month old should be able to say simple
sentences like "Go car!" Ooooookay. I guess nobody here is "average"
in the first place.

April 9, 2006

The Battle Continues...

Yesterday, I had to take a break from the fight against the foul
bluebells. Not only was it pretty rainy, but we were due to attend a
birthday party for one of Laura's cousins, Christopher, who is now 5
(first cousin, once removed. I think. He's Matt's niece's son. *You*
work it out, and get back to me.)

We had a good time. We got to see Doug and Dianne's new house in
Donald, reconnect with the family, and watch the kids play. It's been
really nice--and we're noticing it more each time the family
gathers--to have a passel of kids who can all play together. Our
niece, Kelia, is coming up on seven, plus several of the other nieces
(and the one nephew, now!) --they are closer to our age-- have had
kids. So they're not all first-first cousins, but at least there's
someone around who's about the same age. (Especially for our
girls--there's a baby boomlet, with one in between Laura and Emily and
one who was just born last month. Both girls, too! Yeehaw!)

We came home entirely too late, scraped together supper, forced Laura
to eat (non-violently :-) ), and poured the girls into bed.

Today, we both wanted to go to church, not least because it's Palm
Sunday, but we looked at the girls--spraying snot everywhere,
intermittently--and decided not to infect the nursery. They are
actually doing a lot better, and in retrospect, it hasn't been a
particularly ferocious cold, but I've whined before about catching bugs
from the church petri dish, so I didn't want to be a hypocrite. So,
seizing the moment, we bundled 'em up and went out to the back yard
instead.

I did another few yards of freedom-fighting for my herbs, eradicating
the insurgent flowers (it would be great if the blue and white
varieties would descend into civil war, as long as there were no
collateral damages....Of course, the white ones aren't so insidious, so
I think I'll be able to "work with" them, perhaps helping them set up a
democratic constitution, et cetera.) It is exciting to see the bare
dirt emerge; if nothing else, the pestilential posies are so efficient
as weeds that not much else sprouts under or around them, leaving me
with little additional weeding to do.

Meanwhile, Matt was helping to reap an unexpected bounty; our newest
neighbors across the street were getting rid of some gravel (the round
kind), which has been used for paths in their yard. Coincidentally,
our plans here call for some paths, so we volunteered to take some of
it off their hands. Of course, we're not ready to make the paths just
yet--not until I win the battle, among other things!--but now there's
probably a cubic yard of gravel on our (formerly) RV pad out back. It
was fun watching them run the wheelbarrows across the street. :-)

Laura enjoyed herself immensely; she was given a toddler-sized bucket
(okay, it was an old sherbert container) and carefully filled it up
with "rockies" to carry around. We told her she was being VERY
helpful; true, though not in the sense we wanted her to think we meant
(she was helpful in that she was not falling into the basement window
wells, or tripping down the stairs, but instead just happily and safely
playing with gravel.) Emily fussed for a bit but eventually was
successfully laid down to sleep in the Pack-n-Play near where I was
working. I hope to repeat this scenario sometime soon (perhaps without
the fussy time, but with the outdoor nap.)

Relive the magic...

For the last week or so, I've been working on archiving our digital photos. I'm fairly good about saving them on CD so we have a copy in case of hard drive or other disaster, but I hadn't done anything about preserving them offsite. (and, Scot that I am, I haven't gotten around to even printing up hard copies to put in other people's hands.)

Then, I had a brainstorm: Blogger lets you do unlimited photo blogging. For free. And their servers aren't in my house. So, killing two birds with one stone, I figure I can back up all the pictures worth saving, and at the same time, have a place for you, the loyal reader/viewer, to see our pictures.

The initial results are at: http://oglefamilypics.blogspot.com/ . I'm still fiddling around with stuff, but if you're pretty bored and want to watch as I add our backlog of pictures (beginning two and a half years ago, give or take), now you can. I hope to eventually scan and add in pics from our wedding, and perhaps even photos from our kid-hoods. I find I love the feeling of knowing they're recorded elsewhere, current events being what they are (and always have been!).

I will post here when I get significant chunks uploaded, and/or when I'm finally current (we have about six months worth of stuff you haven't seen yet...that's my carrot!)

April 7, 2006

The Battle Begins

After Matt got home today, I girded my loins and began the battle. Here is The Enemy, also known as the Spanish Bluebell. I am convinced that this plant is Phillip's revenge for the whole Armada incident. (They are a pretty plague in the UK, too.)

They actually *are* pretty, as flowers, but that doesn't make up for their less attractive features. A witchy blonde vixen has nothing on these pests: animals won't eat them. Slugs won't eat them (except in extremis), but they love the hiding places provided by their abundant foliage. They don't care about soil quality, quantity, or moisture level. They will grow in dense shade or boiling sun. They are virtually impossible to kill, even when they are dug up (the link above actually suggests microwaving the bulbs before composting them!) They crowd out most other plants; it's impossible to sprout seedlings near them, and they give slug access to all kinds of other, mature plants (not to mention shading out and choking the roots for same). And, like Tribbles, if they're alive, they're reproducing, by basically every method known to botany for bulbs: seeds, bulblets, and, I swear, photocopying. If you have a place where you want a monoculture, they'd be ideal. But that is not my goal.

While I was busy being a slug last spring, thanks to Emily's occupation of my body, the bluebells saw their opportunity and entrenched their positions: they went to seed. For the last few years, I've at least held them at bay by hacking them off mercilessly before they could spread that way, but alas, they're out in front of me at the moment. It will not be an easy fight, either; today I spent about an hour and a half out there, working at a steady pace, and I cleared perhaps two square yards. There are many, many, many, many square yards to go on our property, and the foul Enemy are blooming already...thus beginning the countdown to the buggers going to seed again.

I'm pretty tuckered from digging, lifting out the bulbs, schlepping them to the temporary compost area, and digging some more. But, if I get nothing else done this spring, I've just gotta do this!

Matt's Blog

Matt's getting in on the action: he has his own blog now. He's also on MySpace. Check 'em out!

April 6, 2006

Days of Whining, Noses

Sorry. Lack of sleep generally makes me punny.

Of course, Emily caught the cold, too. Did you know an eight-month old
could "hock a loogie"? Me, neither, until this morning.

If you've seen _A Fish Called Wanda_, there's a scene where Kevin Kline
sticks french fries up Eric Idle's nose, then stuffs something else in
Idle's mouth. Idle tries mightily to breathe anyway, but he's pretty
thoroughly blocked. That is exactly how Emily looks while trying to
nurse with a code in her node! "Ooooh, foodfoodfoodfood. Food? Food!
GASP! pantpantpant" Then she looks at me as if to say, "Why are you
tormenting me like this? Oh, well....Foodfoodfoodfood. GASP!" etc.
If you're ever tried to chew your food politely, i.e., with your mouth
closed, when your nose is completely blocked, then you probably have a
pretty good idea, too.

There are compensations. Since we probably caught this crud at the
library (the girls' doctor refers to it as "That huge petri dish"), at
least the good thing is we get to hear Laura singing the "I Love You"
song; it was refreshed in her memory when we went to story time. Matt
has figured out that if he sets up the shot, Laura will finish it:
M: Skidamarink-a-dink-a-dink, skidamarink-a-do....
L: I love you!
I'm only sad that I didn't think of it first! Plain writing cannot
convey the cuteness of hearing such words delivered by a stuffed-up
toddler voice.

April 3, 2006

Spring Break, the Rest

Well, we're all kind of tired and Laura has a cold, but we got tons
done.

I picked up some more plants Saturday: lilies, crocosmia, violets, and
some others. Never let me complain about our soil again! For one
thing, I found out last week that we have silty loam, which is about
the best dirt you can have here short of shipping some in from the
Midwest (the government has an agency that maps out soil, probably foot
by foot, as to specific composition and therefore type. Really. They
have a program that lets you zero in on your own property if you
want.). For another, the soil I dug those plants out of was pure clay!
Oh, you could tell they'd tried to amend it with sand, but I could
have thrown a couple pots with the stuff that stuck to those plants.
It was incredibly heavy for its volume, and Oh! the difference between
it and the dirt I dug here for the holes for those new plants! Heaven,
by comparison.

We did many, many chores and odd jobs, though as usual, there are still
items left on the List. We were pretty ruthless about prioritizing,
though, and spent a few minutes Sunday night trying to pat ourselves on
the back. We would have, but our arms were pretty tired, too!

Over the course of the week, we also spend some time goofing off.
Recent or current reads include:

Three Christopher Buckley books: _Thank You for Smoking_, _Florence of
Arabia_, and _No Way to Treat a First Lady_. I find his humor
irresistible and his characters lovable rogues. They are excellent,
intellectual fun, and dead-on satire.

Anna Quindlen, _Blessings_. This one's a novel; I've only ever read
her essays, which I love. I do occasionally--though seldom--disagree
with her views, but most of the time I find myself figuratively
slapping the page and saying, "Yes, exactly!" If I ever did a Vulcan
Mind Meld with an author, it would be her. We'll see if I like her
fiction that much.

Kevin Phillips, _American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the
Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush_. This one is pretty heavy
going, but promises to be fuel for many, many discussions to come. The
author was a Republican, too, until, as he puts it, "Number 41 made me
an independent."