Sunday, November 30, 2008


Recently, our child-parenting class at church has transitioned into working on a series of books intended to help us face our shortcomings, for lack of a better word, and move towards improving ourselves. This month's topic is Forgiveness. Several people shared various times in the past when they either were able to forgive someone just in time, such as one woman who was able to forgive her abusive-alcoholic father when he was on his deathbed, or another friend who missed the opportunity and has always regretted not making peace with a loved one. I didn't think of my example until later, so I thought I would share it with you all instead.

One question we talked about is, why is it harder to forgive those close to us? Obviously, it's because those who are closer to us are also typically the most trusted, and the most able to hurt us, so when they do, it's deeper. This made me think about my father, who I have never talked about on here.

My father left me when I was three years old. My parents divorced, and soon after he called on phone to tell my mother, who in turn made him tell me, that he was leaving for Texas. That day, after I spoke to him, I ran to the wooden hutch in the kitchen and bit it while I cried; I inherited that hutch from my grandmother, and my tiny teethmarks are still in it. I didn't see him or hear from him again until high school, when he contacted me via his aunt, who had for some reason decided that it was time to contact me. Until that point, I had heard from no one. My father was one of nine children, I had/have numerous cousins, but none of them, or his parents, ever kept in contact with me. My great-aunt wrote me a few letters, just enough to make me think that she was really interested in me, and to promise to send me a package for graduation, which never arrived. My father began writing to me soon after she did, and my mother promptly went after him for back child support (he had stopped sending it years and years before). We met once, when he came to town to see some of his wife's family (he had gotten remarried right before he left town when I was little) and stopped to see me as a side trip. It didn't occur to me at that point, young as I was, that there was anything weird about my being a pit-stop. My boyfriend and I met them at a restaurant for an awkward dinner and trip to the mall; we corresponded for a few months more, and it petered out. I was a freshman in college when he abandoned me this second time.

Fast forward ten years. I started therapy to deal with what I thought were anger issues surrounding my mother. It turned out that I had depression (surprise), OCD (that *was* a little surprise, actually, and was probably triggered by the abuse when I was younger), and oh, by the way, some SERIOUS abandonment issues. Turned out, I was a little... um... slutty in high school, doubling down on boyfriends and such, because deep down, I was determined to never, ever allow myself to put all my emotional eggs in one guy's basket again. I literally felt like I was someone's garbage, thrown away, abandoned to fend with my mother on my own.

My therapist suggested that, someday, I might want to find my father and talk to him about these issues. Being the go-getter (aka, OCD-thinker) that I am, I went right home and did it that night. It wasn't hard - I knew he had lived in Florida the last time we had written, and sure enough, he was still there, just on the other side of the state. Our first conversation was awkward, chilling, frightening. He didn't remember how old I was. He was glad to hear from me. He and his wife lived alone.

As the months passed, other details came out. He had left because in light of things I was saying when I went to visit him, he said it was obvious that I was being fed hateful things at home, and was being used as a pawn, so he thought it was better than he leave altogether. His wife, also, had left children behind, twins, and they had a strained relationship with them, as well. He says he never hurt my mother or I, but became curiously furious when I asked him, more so than I would have expected, so I wasn't sure whether to believe him - everything else he said, I believed, for several reasons. All the things he told me were like receiving pieces that I didn't know I was missing to the puzzle of my life. He knew things about my grandmother, mentioned things that she had said or done, that I understood immediately to be true, for instance how she broke up his marriage to my mother by putting ideas in her head that he was cheating on her with a neighbor man; this is *exactly* something my grandmother would have said and done, and something my mother, who was and is very insecure and gullible, would have allowed herself to be bullied into believing.

There were other things, though, that disturbed me. He kept saying that he would put me in touch with the rest of my family, but always found ways around doing so until I realized that I was never going to get anywhere and stopped asking. He finally said that he was the black sheep of the family, but wouldn't tell why, and I remembered my mother telling me once that before she had married him, his own father told her that she shouldn't marry him because he was 'strange'. He and his wife took in foster children, twice, older boys, but ended up returning them to the system. He and his wife took to sending us things, large boxes of things, for holidays, but would only ask me what the kids might want *after* the things had been purchased; he would get angry if I told him that they wouldn't like things he mentioned, and tell me that they had already been bought. He kept saying things like, 'well, you always were' when I would describe things that Josise was good at, as if he had actually known me past preschool.

The final straw, though, came just before Christmas a few years ago. I had been allowing longer and longer amounts of time to pass between calls to them, because I was growing uncomfortable with their intensity. He wanted and expected things of me that I was unable to give. Basically, he wanted to be a Dad, when I really felt like I was just getting to know a stranger. One day, I called after about two weeks, during which time they had left a few messages. I had been busy with holidays, and the kids had been sick, and I had been stalling a little. His wife answered, and she went *nuts* on me. Why hadn't I called, my father was so upset, he couldn't figure out what he'd done, why would I wait so long to call?! She was really, really upset, but all I could think was, well, he waited thirty years to have a relationship with me, so he could maybe wait a few weeks until I had time to call him back. I waited until after the holidays, and then wrote him a letter telling him that I was uncomfortable, and he was expecting things out of me that I couldn't give. We had nothing in common - he had dropped out of school after 10th grade, we had no similar interests, no common hobbies, so there was really nothing there to build a relationship on other than my initial curiosity and his too-late desire to be a father, so it wasn't terribly painful for me to write. I didn't miss the calls at all. Although I hadn't told him not to , he never wrote back, and I haven't heard from him since. I'm not surprised, but I'm not upset. I was the one to walk away this time.

Strangely, though, I feel as though that year healed huge parts of me, and I was able to forgive him for everything by being allowed to understand him as an adult. He was obviously regretful, and while in the end I really had no desire to be close to him, I could appreciate why he had done what he had. He is a poorly educated man whose family, for some reason, has turned against him - he did what he thought was best, given the information he had. I can understand, and forgive, that.

What strikes me about this is, I am still unable to forgive my mother. I can forgive this man who left, but not the woman who stayed. I am still working on this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I have absolutely nothing of interest to day today. Sorry.

I do want to say that I am grateful that I have met each and every one of you, and I love being witness to your lives, as I love having you as part of mine.

Tonight as I read to Josie, I will be grateful for the miracles she and her brother represent, as well as all my nieces and nephews, the youngest of which have been moved to a less-critical care part of the NICU today, minus the oxygen support.

I remembered when I caught Baci Bean standing with his front paws on the counter, happily licking the remnants of Patrick's Nilla Wafer Truffle, that I am grateful for my furry balls of love---

(wait, that came out wrong - get your minds out of the gutter, people!!)

and for their willingness to clean up any and all messes at a moment's notice.

Happy Turkey Day, and may you find at least one string of working Christmas lights when you get out the decorations tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

At A Loss

I am at a loss to describe how I am feeling right now.

I have a childhood friend who has had serious medical issues over the years. She has severe endometriosis, which is when the tissue that would ordinarily grow in your uterus decided to grow willy-nilly all over your insides, as well as on any scar tissue you may have, such as one from a surgery. When we were kids, before endo became a more well-known problem, many people poo-poohed her as she practically writhed in pain every month when her period arrived. As years passed, she lived in constant discomfort and growing pain. She has sought out medical help from many avenues over the years, and each step has made things progressively worse. One surgeon not only missed tissue that needed to be removed, but also botched the incision, sewing nerves into the stitches and leaving a staple inside her. The next doctor fixed that, and removed all the endo she had at the time, but it just came back, worse this time, because she had scars for it to attach to as well. Another doctor put her on hormones to put her into medical menopause, hoping to stop the growth of the tissue that would grow with every ovulation she had. These drugs drove her nearly nuts with longing for a baby, and the doctor told her that sometimes having a baby can reset the body so the endo will no longer grow. So, she went to a sperm bank, got IVF, and had a baby on her own (she hasn't had a partner in many years because of her illness, etc).

Far from resetting her body, the endo is now growing out of control, and since she ended up having an emergency c-section, she now has yet another scar for it to grow on. For the past three years, she has been reduced to living with her mother, who has no patience or understanding whatsoever, and basically living day-to-day on painkillers and prayers. Because of her long-term painkiller needs, her body has developed a crazy-high tolerance to medication, resulting in her being labled a 'drug seeker' by several ERs that she's gone to when she's tried to explain what she takes and why; they think she's lying and refuse to help her when she goes in, saying that she's in intense pain and her prescriptions aren't helping her.

Most recently, as a last-ditch effort, she has had a surgery to try and repair damage that was done during her c-section, and rather than make yet another incision in her abdomen, they went in through her vaginal and rectal walls. Don't ask me why, I'm not too clear on the explaination on this one, but apparently it's basically a desperation procedure that is only done when nothing else has worked. She had this operation about three weeks ago, spent a week in the hospital, and has been bedridden ever since in incredible pain. The medications she's on have completely upset her bowels, and her muscles have clenched so tightly from the surgery that she's been unable to use the bathroom normally since the procedure. She's had to use a cathader and attempt enemas on her own at home to move anything at all. Last night, she went to the ER because she had a fever and was in blinding pain, and was told after they heard what she was already on that they couldn't do anything more for her than had already been done, what she is already taking should be enough, and she should go home. As she burst into tears in the ER waiting room, the nighttime guard asked the attending doctor if she was OK, and the doctor said, 'oh, she'll be fine'. She is not fine.

She has been texting me a lot over the last few days, and I called her this morning. After we spoke, I told DH that I was afraid that she's going to die, one way or another. Minutes later, she texted me that she wished she didn't have her daughter, because it would be so easy to take a whole bottle of her pills and be done with the pain. I don't know what to even say to her anymore. She's a nurse, so she knows exactly what's going on with her, and what her prognisis is, and what kinds of drug options there are for her. Basically, she's looking at a life-long condition, and every step she has taken to try and fix herself has only made things worse. Living with her mother has been the worst thing for her, because her mother is one of those 'get over it' kinds of people who yells at her to get off her ass and get a job, but not one that is 'beneath' the family, whatever that means. I can't tell her that things will get better, because the words just sound trite. I can't even say I would blame her if she did do something drastic, because I can't imagine what I would do myself in the same situation - no support, no partner, a lost career, a child to support, no prospect of relief from pain... what kind of life is that? Obviously it's important that she hang on, for her daughter at the very least, I'm just saying that it's understandable that she feels that way at the moment.

I wish I knew what to say to her. I know listening is important, but in this instance I'm scared that it isn't going to be enough. She has asked me several times whether we would take her daughter if anything happens to her during various procedures, and of course the answer is yes, but DH said today that we might not want to even discuss that with her at this point, because it might give her an 'out', a feeling of freedom to take her own life knowing her daughter would be loved and cared for. What do I do? She lives hundreds of miles away, so I can't just pop over there, and at this time of year getting there would be difficult, but maybe I should do it anyway. I just don't know what to do other than just listen. It just doesn't seem like enough.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Off Our Rockers

What is it about this season that makes us do things that we would ordinarily never, EVER do? For instance:

-- The mall is selling fancypants meat sticks again. What is it about Christmas that makes people ga-ga for tiny sausages and cheeses in gift baskets? When the little stands leave the malls at the end of the season, no one will complain. No one will wonder next summer, where did the tiny meats go?! I could use a hit of un-refridgerated meat and cheese. Yet, they return every year, and people scarf it up. Nevermind that meat is available ALL YEAR, at this fabulous place called the Grocery Store.

-- The radio plays the most obnoxious songs possible. Paul McCartney singing 'Wonderful Christmastime' with a giant synthesizer? FABULOUS! I ask you, at what other time of year does ANYONE want to listen to synthesizer music?! (Frankly, I don't want to listen to it now, either, but someone certainly must, since it's on every. other. minute.)

-- We eat raw eggs. All through the year, we screech at our kids to get AWAY from the FREAKIN' BOWL for the MILLIONTH TIME, because you'll get salmonella and we'll have to go to the ER!!! However, for the next six weeks, many of us will guzzle down as many gallons of raw eggs as we can drink. Oh, AND we'll mix them with cream, just because we can! (I, personally, will happily take yours if you don't want them, because I am not fat enough already, and my giant pimple needs friends.)

-- Civilized people have fistfights in public places. At a Walmart near one of our old homes, two women had a knock-down, drag-out fight over something or other that was a)probably crap and b)would more than likely only be played with for a few days, like a Pimp Me Elmo or something. What on earth?! There are great sales at other times of year, and craft stores regularly have half-off coupons, but holy cow, for the next few weeks, you'd better bring a body guard if you're even THINKING of getting near a Wii-Wii In Her Pants Baby Alive, because Lord knows every girl needs to play a video game about changing a diaper as soon as possible. (Do you know they're even making a doll that poops now, too?! Maybe we're supposed to feed it the tiny meat sticks.)

Anyway, I wonder about these things as I'm sitting here, hiding from the world with my laptop. Tune in around Easter, when we'll discuss things like 'Buying That Annoying Grass Crap That No One Can Ever Get Out of the House, But Everyone Buys Anyway', and 'Bunny Foo Foo, The Easter Bunny's Evil Twin'.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grocery Roundup, Nov 23

Before I say anything, can I just share that I got my period while I was shopping today, so I bought a lot more.... urm... JUNK than I normally would have. Like my new favorite treat, vanilla-yogurt drizzled pretzels. VERY good, and not overdone. Perfect for shopping while munching. However, I am sure I horrified the checkout girl today not only with my ginormous, overflowing cart and stack o' coupons, but also because while I shopped, Mt. Pimpmore erupted on my face. Thank you, Aunt Flo; you can always be counted on for one kind of public humiliiation or other. Sigh.


Today's stats:

Total items purchased: 152
Number of coupons: 43
Coupon savings: $39.60
Store coupons: $8.30
Club card savings: $123.21
Total savings: $171.11
Percent saved: 38%
Total spent: $275.20
Gas points earned: $1.60 off each gallon
Earned an additional 10% off another trip, which has to be made by the 26th. (I may call a friend and see if anyone wants to borrow my card, since I won't be able to get as much benefit out of this as someone with a large trip would.)

Today was a good day! I redeemed my 20% off my entire order coupon that I earned over the last few months, which saved me an additional $76.55 on top of my coupons and such. One thing I've been noticing is that the coupon amounts have been getting a chintzy, because this is the most coupons I have ever used at one time, I think, but the last time I had a 20% off day I saved ten percent more than I did today. Sheesh. Today's trip was largely dry goods and produce again, since we still haven't been eating a lot of the meat we have frozen, and yes, I splurged on fruit. Luckily, I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner, just bringing a few dishes, so I didn't have to buy a Bird or anything.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Veery Leetle Babies

Here are my nieces!

These two are Mackenzie Lynn... (4lbs, 4oz)

... and this is Alexa Russell (3lbs, 10 oz), who is still on the CPAP machine to help push the air into her lungs.
They both look really good, despite Alexa's giant CPAP. Their skin is pink and healthy, and they were both wiggling and grunting in their beds. I got to help feed Mackenzie by connecting her feeding tube (that's what the little red wires are coming out of their mouths) to the syringe with her 5cc of formula (!!) and holding it so it would drip into her mouth. They should be able to come home in about two weeks, or whenever they can maintain their own body temperatures / vital signs and gain weight. I've only seen babies this small on TV, so it was amazing to see how perfect they were.

And, my theory was right - looking at them put all the other emotional mess I was in right out of my head. I feel a lot, lot better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Babies, and School Math Night

First of all, I would like to announce that my new nieces were born at 8:30 this morning, approximately two months early. Their names are McKenzie (4lbs, 4oz.) and Alexa (3lbs, 7oz.), and so far seem to be healthy. The doctor expects them to be in the hospital for about three weeks. I'll post a picture on Friday when I go to see my SIL Kathy, as long as I'm also allowed to see the babies. I don't know how that works, whether I'll be allowed in because I'm family, or if I'll be able to see them through a window, or if I'll just have to wait until they can come home.

I am a little excited about this. To be honest, when I heard this morning that they were coming *now*, I was devastated, both because it's so early and also because to me, this marks a new beginning for our family; the birth of people who will never have known Ryan. This, for me, puts him firmly in the past in a way that he hasn't been until now. What actually cheered me up was going to MOPS like I usually do every other week, to work in the nursery with the babies there. There's nothing like being with infants to make you appreciate the warmth and love they represent. I know that it will be OK. I just have to wait myself out. I know, too, that these children will probably have a healing power that will soothe our entire family. Please send good vibes our way, so that the girls will continue to be healthy and come home soon.


In school news, the kids' school held a Dinner and Math night, where the PTA provided chilli and hotdogs for everyone, and the children then took us to their classes to give us a lesson on whatever math they are working on. Josie showed us how to do a decimal puzzle, where you have to add and subtract to make a cube of numbers work out, and Patrick made a picture using shapes and glue. It was a sweet evening, with lots of smiling families and teachers. But...

I'll bet you can't guess whose teacher didn't even show up.

Oh, wait, I'll bet you can.

That's right - Josie's teacher didn't even come. Luckily, the other fourth grade teacher picked up the slack, since they co-teach social studies and science, so all the students simply went into her room instead. This made for some crowding, but it worked out OK. I am TRYING to give this woman the benefit of the doubt, like maybe she has another job that she had to get to, or maybe her car broke down... and maybe, just maybe, MONKEYS WILL FLY OUT OF MY ASS. Yesterday afternoon, when I went in to read, after about 20 min, I heard a small commotion in the classroom (I was out in the hallway with a student), which I ignored because she had been yelling at someone or other every few minutes anyway, and I pretty much tune her out at this point. However, when it didn't stop after a few minutes, I stopped the girl who was reading to me and peeked my head into the classroom - just as Ms. said, 'ALL RIGHT, CLASS, the assessment will begin in 5...4...3...' The woman was starting a science test, during what was usually reading time, without even making sure that she HAD all her students!!!!! She knew I was there, she knew that I had a child with me, and yet she STILL couldn't bring herself to speak to me or mention that, hey, she needs to take a test now. What was she going to do, just let the girl miss the test?! Because that's what would have happened if I hadn't gone back in there to see what was going on.

Also, one child, R, who is pretty seriously ADD / socially delayed, is now in the other class because a) Ms. couldn't/wouldn't stop the other kids from picking on him (signs on the back, throwing things at him, etc) and he wasn't getting any attention from her at all as far as extra help went. I'm glad for him, but I'm sad for everyone. He was a sweet, innocent, caring boy, and everyone has lost out in this situation. The brats that were teasing him have lost out on an opportunity to learn compassion and friendship, and the kinder children have lost a friend. I think that Ms. is starting to get a lot of attention, and not the good kind. I have small hopes that maybe she won't be back after Xmas break, but I don't know how likely that is, given union contracts and all. A sub certainly couldn't do any worse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Living Vs. Dying, A Mother's Choice

Today, in lieu of my petty, ridiculous complaints, I am posting this. I just finished reading it, and can barely breathe. This is World Hunger Relief Week, and this article says it all.


(CNN) -- Some mothers choose what their children will eat. Others choose which children will eat and which will die.

Those mothers forced to make the grim life-or-death choices are the impoverished women Patricia Wolff, executive director of Meds & Food for Kids, encounters during her frequent trips to Haiti.

Wolff says Haitians are so desperate for food that many mothers wait to name their newborns because so many infants die of malnourishment. Other Haitian mothers keep their children alive by parceling out food to them, but some make an excruciating choice when their food rationing fails, she says.

"It's horrible. They have to choose among their children," says Wolff, whose nonprofit group was formed to fight childhood malnutrition. "They try to keep them alive by feeding them, but sometimes they make the decision that this one has to go."

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. declared in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech that "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies." Four decades later, King's wish remains unfulfilled. The global food market's shelves are getting bare, hunger activists say -- and it will get worse.

Food riots erupted across the globe this year in countries such as Egypt and India. Food pantries in the United States also warned that they were running out of food because of unprecedented demand. The news from the World Food Programme is even grimmer: A child dies of hunger every six seconds, and hunger now kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

As World Hunger Relief Week is marked, more people are asking: Why are so many people starving and what, if anything, can be done to eradicate hunger?

The end of food?

Wolff thinks hunger can be conquered. Her group produces "Medika Mamba," energy dense, peanut butter food that's designed to ensure Haitian children survive childhood. Medika Mamba is easy to make, store, preserve and distribute, she says.

"It just takes the will to do it," she says of eliminating hunger. "Look at what we did for Wall Street. We didn't have enough money for infrastructure, schools, but all of a sudden, we had all of this money for Wall Street."

Raj Patel, author of "Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System," says the right to food should be seen as a human right. But, he says, powerful corporate food distributors control too much of the world's food supply to ensure a robust global food supply.

Patel says "2008 was a record year in terms of harvest. There's more food per person in 2008 than there's ever been in history. The problem is not food, but how we distribute it."

Other causes for the rise in global hunger have been documented. They include:

• Surging oil costs have made it more expensive to harvest, fertilize, store and deliver food.

• The rise in droughts and hurricanes worldwide has wiped out crops and made farming more difficult.

• The world is running out of the raw materials -- water, oil, good farmland -- needed to keep the food system intact.

"A lot of people have begun to understand at various levels that the food system, as it is, can't go on," says Paul Roberts, author of "The End of Food."

Every time an American bites down on a steak or hamburger, they're contributing to global hunger, Roberts says. As other countries become more affluent, they're copying our meat-heavy diet. The problem: It takes so much grain and other resources to produce meat, he says.

"If the rest of the world were to eat like we do, the planet would collapse," Roberts says. "There's been this unspoken assumption that the rest of the world won't eat meat like we do. That doesn't go over well in countries like China."

Fixing our food system would be similar to weaning ourselves of our addiction to oil, Roberts says. It's going to require innovation, heavy business involvement and changes in public policy.

People are going to have to find ways to grow food with less fertilizer and water, and use less energy to store and transport food, he says.

Much of this innovation will have to be driven not just by activist and aid workers, but by savvy business people, he says.

"It's going to have to be profitable or the market won't be interested in it," Roberts says. "And if the market isn't interested in it, it's not going to happen."

In the meantime, Wolff offers some of her own solutions. She says the practice of big foreign aid agencies shipping in food to poor countries like Haiti needs to be modified. Food has become too expensive to produce, ship and store, she says.

"You can't count on big aid agencies showing up to save everybody," she says. "Not everybody can do it, and when they do it, it's not soon enough and not long enough."

She suggests that more groups teach local farmers in poor places how to produce their own crops. In Haiti, for example, her group employs 22 Haitians who make Medika Mamba and teaches other farmers how to grow crops for the mixture.

"Instead of throwing fish in the crowd, we should be teaching people how to fish," she says.

Until that day takes place, Wolff, who is a pediatrician in St. Louis, Missouri, will continue to make her trips to Haiti, where mothers are forced to make their grim choices.

"It's the most difficult thing I've ever done," she says. "You realize how absolutely blessed you are by the fate of your soul coming down the chute in the United States of America," she says. "You wonder: Why did this happen to me and not to them?' ''



Monday, November 17, 2008

Pissy Bitchfest

Why don't men think?!

Whatever became of The Man, the guy that you grew up and married, the one who understood how to Work Things? The one who knew to check things out before buying other things that were supposed to work with the initial things (versus breaking them)? The one whose mind wasn't supposed to be a sieve until old age, when yours would be too, so you wouldn't notice?

Where are those guys?! I don't know anyone who is married to one, and I want to know where they went. I mean, was it the feminist revolution that killed them? Did women become so forcefully capable in the '80s that they now feel that their job is no longer to be in charge... of ANYTHING? Were they so sissified in the '90s that they have been bred out of existence?

In the words of Where Have All The Cowboys Gone, where is my Marlboro Man?

My husband, though I do love him, really is grinding my gears lately. For starters, his mind, which was a sieve when I met him, has now become a gaping black hole that sucks in even things that OTHER people know to be lost forever in the abyss. Take for instance our fireplace: this spring, when we moved into this house, the previous owner showed him how to work it. About a week later, he himself went downstairs and turned off the gas to it. Does he remember how to work the damn thing now? NO!!! Not only does he not remember how to work it, he doesn't even remember going down there to examine the pipes, ever, neither of the times I KNOW he did it! So, we now cannot use the gas fireplace. He's currently online looking at instructions for the insert. I don't know why, since that will not help him with getting the gas into the fireplace, because the gas lines are not PART of the fireplace, but far be it from me to ask questions at this point.

A few weeks ago, for my birthday, he got me a game I've wanted, SimSocieties. Did he check to be sure that it will work on my ancient laptop? No. So, I installed it, and it has totally fucked up my computer. AFTER this happened, THEN he went online to check the game out, and reported to me that the game is full of bugs, everyone has been having problems with it, and my computer definitely can't handle it. Now, every time my laptop goes to 'sleep', it has to be rebooted because the screen freezes permanently in place, thanks to some of the drivers the game told me I had to update. I have tried removing things, but as DH nonchalantly put it, 'oh, with Windows the only real way to fix it is to wipe the platform and reinstall.' Thanks, Einstein. That's just great. I've been trying to use the game on his newer laptop, which is actually a machine that he brought home from work, but I think it's even starting to make problems on there, too. Of course, since he didn't check before giving it to me, even though he said he HAD, we can't return it, because I opened it to install it, so I have a gift that not only can I not use, but has near-ruined things I ALREADY OWNED.

Let's broaden things out a bit. The previous owner of this house was a general contractor. He knew just enough, apparently, to screw things up. For instance, he hot-wired the hot tub out back, and did it totally wrong, so the thing only heats water if the hot tub guy comes out here to fiddle with it AND the power doesn't go out. We have to have the whole thing rewired. For that, we will have to pay for a permit for the work to be done, plus electrician fees. Why do men do things that they KNOW they shouldn't do? I can't imagine ever meeting a woman who would say, well, I know all about drywall and stuff, and I can change out a light socket, so I'm sure I can wire this hot tub.' No. A woman would say, 'hmmm, I could set the house on fire or ELECTROCUTE SOMEONE, so I think I'll just call a professional.'

So, now, not only am I in charge of things that I am aware of, like appointments, lessons, etc, but apparently I am now needing to be in charge of things that I wasn't even present for.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Case You Were Concerned...

The other day, Patrick was reading the milk carton.

'Organ-ic milk, grass fed milk, no anti-bo-days, no Hermiones.' Proud smile.

So, in case you were concerned, organic milk is now blessedly Hermione free.

This, I imagine, will be good news to all Harry Potter fans, Ron Weasley's entire family, and, of course, Miss Granger herself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Today after I took Josie to the orthodontist (who, thank GOD said that her retainer is fine for now, no braces until she loses about eight more teeth, come back in six months, PHEW), I did a little shopping.

First, I went to Joanne's Fabric, where I needed to get a pattern for the dress I want to make with that red-with-scottie-dogs fabric I bought for Josie a couple of months ago. I ended up leaving with this:

These ornaments are all unbreakable plastic and soft stuff, able to withstand The Tail of Death, aka Baci, as he flails past in yet another fit of doggie joy. Aren't they cute?! The little sweater and mitten are my favorite. We have to decorate all sides of the tree this year, since it will be in the bay window in the dining room rather than in a corner, and these were half off. Also, note the giant pile of patterns - they're $1 apiece for Veteran's Day week!!! WOOHOO!!!! I think they're McCall's. I got a bunch for Josie, but also a couple for me (I don't usually make things for myself, but I'm going to try), as well as two for my new neices-to-be, because one has a pattern for those things you put over shopping cart seats and the other has patterns for the things you can put over carseats so you don't have to put snowsuits on the babies - there's instructions on how to make them for stroller seats, too. I figure I'll make them for gifts for when the babies are born.

Then, I figured I'd go over to the Pfaltzgraff outlet to look for new plates. The ones I bought at Pier 1 a few years ago are now pretty chipped, and so are the bowls I got to match them from Kohls. After about an hour, I wandered over to Plow and Hearth, and GUESS WHAT?!?! They had two boxes of really pretty, plain plates that had been the 'display plates' on sale:

Get this - I got both boxes, eight complete sets of dinner plates, bowls, lunch plates and mugs, for TWENTY DOLLARS! Whoot!!!! They sell for $40 a set regularly! I tried to take a close-up photo to show how speckly and pretty the stoneware is, but it really doesn't quite show up as well as I had hoped in the picture. I'm planning on driving to another store to try and get one more set, in brown, so we can have enough to easily have a bunch of people over without having to use every dish in the house. I figure, if I get the brown, we'll have four of each in coordinating colors, and it'll be easy to get things like larger bowls and whatnot that will match as well. Score!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grocery Roundup Report: October Nov 10th

Before I say anything else, can I just take a moment to say that I am SO SICK of being sick!!!! I have been battling this stupid cold thing for about a month now, and always just when I think it's over, it comes back!!!!! I bought some eccinachea (I know I butchered the spelling on that baby) from my chiropractor this morning. I hope it helps. I don't know how long it takes to kick in, but, man, it better be soon. The taste of phlegm is getting rrreeeeaaaaallllyyyyy old. Seriously.

OK, now for more pleasant (and less germy) things!

Yesterday was the first major grocery trip I had taken in a month!!!! I know!!!!! We did small milk-bread-fruit runs, but other than that, we had actually been doing OK until about the end of last week on just about everything else. Hooray for stocking up, because we were pretty broke after I paid bills last paycheck, two weeks ago. Still, I didn't have to buy any meat yesterday except for some chicken, because I manged to get so much at the brown-bag meat sale last month. We don't eat a lot-lot of red meat, so it takes a long time to go through it, especially because I usually buy large steaks when they're on sale and then cut them in half to freeze.

Unfortunately, with everything that's been going on lately, I also hadn't been cutting out my coupons and going through my organizer to weed out expired stuff like I usually do, so I had a HUGE stack of about ten inserts to cut through, sort, and then weed out the expired stuff. It took me a long time, like over an hour. Argh. It's worth it, though.

Without further ado, here are the numbers:

Items purchased: 125
Coupons used: 42
Coupon savings: $46.20
Club savings on sales: $38.04
Total savings: $84.24 (22%)
Cash off per gallon when I get gas earned: $1.40 (I have a 13gal tank, so that's about $18, if I don't earn any more between now and then. The way gas prices are going, though, I will be trying to earn another $.40 so I can get basically free gas next time.)

I also finished accruing points towards my 20%-off-the-entire-trip coupon, which I have to use by the 26th. Since that will be around the next time I will need to shop, it works out perfectly. I'll probably focus on cooking with more meat until then, since I'll be able to get it when it's discounted next time.

While this isn't as much money as I usually save, I spent less, so the percentage was about the same. Plus, I did splurge on a few seasonal items.

How are you all doing, those of you who have started cutting?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Silent Saturday

Friday, November 7, 2008

Clean a Room, Make a Quarter!

Oh, I hate migraines.

I ended up with one yesterday that started while I was walking home from school with the kids, so I was totally screwed. Fortunately, I get mainly ocular migraines, so while I end up partially blind and kind of disoriented, I rarely get the pain that most people end up with. Unfortunately, I was nearly blind by the time I got home. It took most of the rest of the day to clear it up, and even then it was with several extra-strength Tylenol, a soda, and an ice pack. I knew it was coming, because my period is approaching somewhere on the horizon, the weather has gotten hot and muggy AGAIN, and I've been doing way, WAY too much lately. Sigh.

This morning, I felt better, but took more meds just in case, and went on a search for a b-day gift for my SIL Kathy, who was supposed to be coming into town for a pedi today. We were going to have lunch today, and she was going to call me to tell me when. Did she call, I ask you? NO. ARGH. I even got her a really good gift, too - a new Pandora bead for her bracelet in the shape of an adorable baby carriage! Hmph. To be honest, I wasn't *shocked* that she didn't call, but it's still rude and annoying.

Luckily, I decided not to sit around for her call for a long time, so I got started on the kids' rooms while I waited. I had been threatening Josie for about two weeks now that I was going to go in there and just start throwing anything that looked like trash to me away, and today, I DID IT. That place was a DUMP. She does a lot of arts and crafts, so there were scraps of paper and string and just junk everywhere. The big problem with this is that the whole mess of stuff was getting Dirty, because there was so much of it scattered everywhere that there was no way to dust or even vacuum properly. So, I cleaned out her AND Patrick's room, which I did just mostly to get rid of small clothes and broken toys, etc. It took me a couple of hours, but I'm about done. Seriously, UGH. Little does she know, now that this is done, her chore for today will be to dust her room, meaning she will have to move her collection of fantasy figurines, clear off the desk shelves, etc, to do a good job. HA! Plus, I made a little money, because I figure if I'm cleaning, I can keep what I find, including quarters. Hey, she gets allowance for cleaning up, why shouldn't I?!

We have NO plans for this weekend, other than the usual church and Josie's last soccer game on Sunday afternoon. Thank God. All I want to do is Hang Out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Think The Phrase Is, 'I TOLD You So'

Parent-Teacher conferences were the other day, and I was right - Josie is going to get her come-uppance very soon. She talks too much in class, doesn't listen to directions enough, and goes too quickly, thus her grades have slipped. I'm not talking Bad, bad grades, just slipped ones, like from straight-A's to mostly B's with a few A's. I'm not mad, obviously, because those are still fine grades, and actually, I'm a little GLAD. AS you all know, I've been talking to her regularly about working on those things, and have been getting the Big Pfft from her. Well, you should've seen the look on her face when I told her that her teacher said the Exact Same Thing!!!! AND that her grades have gone down!!!!!! She stared at me like I was Swamp Thing coming out of the sewer! 'Wha-wha-whaaaaaa?' I didn't even talk much about it to her that night; she asked what Ms. Miller had said, and I told her casually, and left her to stew in her own juices.

The next morning, though, after breakfast, we did talk to her about it a little, and I told her that I understand why she does those things, because I used to do them, too. You think something is easy, so you do it quickly, and only later find out that those words you skimmed included the word IMPROPER fraction for a change, so you screwed the whole section on the test, which is exactly what she just did. I told her that it would be a good idea to take a breath after she reads directions, and then read them again. She was looking kind of peevish, of course, but I could also see that she was genuinely disturbed, so I told her to cheer up, that it's better to be told, 'You're too smart - go slower!' than 'Hey! Stupid! Go faster!', so that in the grand scheme of things, her problem isn't a terrible one to have. I also reminded her that those enrichment classes that she likes so much at school are there for kids who already understand all the material in class and are ready for more, so if she does poorly on the classroom work she may find herself pulled out of enrichment, regardless of whether she got things wrong out of carelessness or not. That sobered her up, too. I know she would HATE to watch other kids go ahead of her. She's very competitive (dunno where THAT came from).

Patrick did fine on his conference, of course. He's in K, so there really isn't much to say, since he's not a hitter or a biter or a rampant nose-picker. His reading and math are the top of the class, and he's getting the hang of not being so hard on himself / embarrassed when he does something wrong and gets called on it.

Volunteering is going much the same, except get THIS. The weekend before Halloween, when my mother was here, Josie's teacher emailed me to ask if I could 'do the class party' for her, ie bring in the cupcakes, juices, etc. Oh, sure. So, on Thursday, I brought in the juices when I went in to volunteer, since I knew I wouldn't be able to carry three boxes of juices AND the cupcakes as well the next day. I noticed that the principal was in the teacher's seat, and that the kids had some papers on their desks, but things didn't seem *too* out of the ordinary, especially since I know the P has been in and out of there recently in an effort to prevent total class mutiny. I put down the boxes and my purse, and looked around. Finally, one of the *kids* said, 'Um, we're doing testing today.' Had Ms. Miller said anything? NO. Had she even acknowledged me? NO. The principal was staring at me, though. I finally had to call over to the teacher and ASK if she didn't need me, then? All I got was, 'Oh, no, not today, thanks. Sorry.' before she turned her back to me again! I stared at her, and then called over again to tell her that I had put juice in the room, to which she said, 'Oh, OK, that's fine.' That was it. Patrick's teacher was walking past at the same time, and she was Shocked. I ended up going back to her room to do a few things instead.

The next day, Halloween, I went in with my costume, Josie's AND Patricks on my arm, two big platters of cupcakes, my purse, and a bag of apples for Patrick's class. Josie's class is first in the hallway, so I stopped there, and while Ms. Miller watched, struggled to unload the cupcakes. I had to ask where to put them, and she actually tried to STACK them on top of each other!!! Seriously!!! I had made the cutest things, little mummies and spiders and webs, too. She finally threw one set on top of some inboxes and another one on the counter in front of it and walked away. No thank you, nothing. As I left, I called out, 'you're welcome!' in a cheery voice, but I wanted to smack her. I heard one of the girls asking her what her costume was going to be, and she said, 'No, I don't DO Halloween.' I wanted to turn around and tell the girl that this IS her costume - she's a witch dressed as a teacher!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I Can't STAND It!!!!!!

I am practically BESIDE myself waiting for the polls to all close. It's 7:05. I don't know how I'm going to make it through the rest of the night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Remember that commercial? God, that cracked me up!

Anyway, now I'm Older, but it was TOTALLY worth it! I had the biggest weekend EVER. After spending all morning in the school for the kids' half day on Friday and partying and parading with them, we went to my friend Megan's house for pizza and beer before trick-or-treat. Then, we split up - the kids with DH and Megan's DH, and she at her house and me at mine to hand out candy. I went through EIGHT BAGS of candy, I shit you not. We still could have used more, too. I wasn't giving out handfuls, either, just a few pieces to each person that came through.

(aside: don't you HATE those teenagers who come up to you, sans costume, holding out their hands like they are OWED candy? I can't stand that. Buy your own damn candy, or get a costume, at least!)

On Saturday, we went to the Parade of All Parades. Every year, a local social club sponsors a parade here in town that the entire county turns out for. Literally every business, school, and club for miles around takes part, and it goes on FOREVER. We stayed for three hours to see our friends, who were on float 78, and they weren't the end, either! Also, bands, cars and walkers don't get numbers - only floats get a number. I have no idea what time it finished up, but it's like that every year. To make it even better, some friends of ours coincidentally bought seats right next to ours, so we had a little party going on right there in the square!

Sunday was my SIL Kathy's baby shower. I was dreading it, not only because of all the people that were potentially going to be there (there were EIGHTY on the guest list!), but because of all the feelings I've been having about the whole thing in general. Plus, just for added concern, it was at the same firehouse hall that held my nephew's funeral reception. No emotional stress there. They go there all the time, because my BIL is still on the EMT squad, but it was my first time back there since then. Anyway, it actually went really well, and I had a decent time. I mean, larger gatherings are NOT my thing, but 'only' about forty people actually came, so it wasn't too bad, and I got to see Kathy's SIL, Tina, who I really like and rarely get to see, so that was great. Plus, also I got to see Jen, who I love. Boy, did Kathy get a load of gifts!!!! It took her an hour and a half to open them all!!! Did you all know that there's such a thing as a Baby Spa?!?! It's a little tub that actually has a spa whirlpool attachment on it to soothe the baby!!! Holy cannoli!

Then, for the crowning event, when I got home (drumroll, please..)


I know!!!!! WOW!!!!!

DH totally pulled it off, too. I had NO idea whatsoever! All the people we're close to in our parenting group from church were there, and they had waited sort of a long time for me because I stayed after the shower to help clean up! They had brought food, and little perfect presents (like flowers and a bottle of wine and a tiny vase), and it was wonderful!!! You guys, I totally had the Sally Field moment and everything. I have never lived anywhere where a whole group of people would actually go out of their way to do something like that for me, and it felt so beautiful. I am so happy right now, still, just thinking about it. I have also never had a surprise party before, and in fact the last time we tried to have any party for me at all, when I turned 30, Josie caught a bug and barfed all over everywhere, so we had to cancel at the last minute, but even then only a few people had bothered to say that they were going to come.

So, of course we had to end the night with a Happy Ending. I mean, after that, the boy deserved some kind of prize, and that's what I had to offer. Hell, it's still a pretty good prize, even if it IS 35 years old now! Experience comes in handy for SOME things, anyway. :)