Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

We are having a lovely day, and I hope you all are, too! The kids have actually been getting along, there have been no fights, all phone calls have been made, and we have decided that we're getting the usual Chinese take-out for dinner. Yea and verily, it is Christmas, let there be 24-hrs straight of A Christmas Story and way too much cocoa. Ahhh.

Yesterday was one surprise after another. First thing, as I was getting ready to do the usual bi-weekly grocery run before making a dish to take to my SIL Kathy's house, the phone rang, and it was my other SIL, Jen, saying that Kathy et al had had a rough night with the babies, and they decided that they weren't going to host Christmas at their house as planned. Also, she informed me that Kathy has basically said that no one is even really welcome at their home because the doctor has told her not to let the babies have visitors due to it being cold season. So, could the family come here instead in, oh, say, three hours?


Of course, we said yes, I mean, what was I going to say?! The house wasn't in too bad of a shape, because I had cleaned it late last week in hopes I wouldn't have to do a lot over Christmas, and I was on my way to the store for food, anyway, so.... it's probably best that I didn't have a lot of advance notice, since I didn't have any time to stress out about it! I literally had just gotten the groceries put away and hopped into the shower when people started arriving. Then, poor Jen became increasingly ill while she was here with what turned out to be food poisoning from some leftover chicken nuggets from Wendy's (but which we thought was flu at the time, so you can imagine). So, she spent most of their visit in the bathroom. Her husband was almost out flat with back problems. Everyone was mildly upset at not being allowed to see the babies at all, and being thrown out of whack, but we squeezed in here and still had a mostly pleasant time. One of the best moments was when I went down into our finished basement with my niece, Katie, who is 2, and played with the color-changing, star-projecting ladybug nightlight we got her. She was *entranced*, and it was so great!!! Kids that age are so fun to buy for.

(oh, the movie just got to the point where he drops the f-bomb!!! HAHAHA!!!!)

Jen and family left around 4 to head over to visit some of her DH's family (thankfully she had gotten most of the food problems out of her system by that point), and DH's parents stayed until it was time to go to the children's service at the church. They came with us, but left partway through because all the poinsettias were too much for his dad, who had some kind of asthmatic reaction to them. They did get to see most of what the kids were doing, though, and he was fine once they left.

My baby totally rocked the house on the organ with Little Drummer Boy!!! The choral director opened all the pipes for her, and she blew everybody away. That's my baby!! She also played the bells in the bell choir, and sang with the kids' choir. The Boy, though, is lucky we even brought them home. When the Cherub choir left their pew, where they had all sat together, and lined up to sing, what did he do? He picked his lip. The whole time. I know, I should be glad it's wasn't his nose. He looked like an Idiot. Then, when they were done, did he come back to sit with us, like he was supposed to? Like all the other children did? NO. He blew right past our pew, where we were several people in (but he knew where we were), and went to sit with his friend, his mother and grandfather, all of whom we know. We were trapped, and couldn't go to get him, because the service had continued, and we couldn't go up there without walking around the whole place and making a scene of it. That boy refused to come and sit with us for about fifteen minutes!!!! Sigh.

(It was...soap poisoning!!!)

The rest of the evening went very smoothly, though, and we had a really wonderful day all in all. All of our friends from church were there, and everyone was hugging and laughing and happy. After we came home, we all got into our jammies, and snuggled on our big bed to read The Grinch and 'Twas The Night Before Christmas before the kids got into bed. Then, of course, DH and I spent about an hour getting everything out, and I went back to work trying to make some sense of my poor, poor kitchen. We only have an 18in dishwasher, so it takes a LONG time to do all those dishes. I actually just finished them all this morning.

I'm trying not to be negative about Kathy and her abrupt decision to cancel Christmas. I mean, isn't that something she should have thought of before? The whole reason we were going there in the first place on Christmas Eve, rather than doing it at DH's mother's house like always on the weekend before when it's good for everyone, is because that was what *she* wanted!!! Everyone who came to our place actually stopped there first to drop off gifts, and they weren't allowed to even SEE the babies, not even from a distance, even though Jen hasn't seen them at all yet. I can see not wanting them to go to public places, or be around people who are ill, but... we visited them in the hospital, for heaven's sake, weeks ago, and just made sure we scrubbed up well beforehand. I guess what gets me, to be honest, is that it doesn't bother her to cancel things. She's not sorry she didn't get to see everyone. We didn't do anything until the afternoon, and it would have been easy for her, or her husband, or our niece (who she said slept all the way through the night) to come up and see everyone for a little while, even without the babies. When I talked to her this morning, briefly, she said that DH can drop off their gifts on his way home from work one day next week. I mean, I could make a trip to drop them off myself, but since I will always have the kids with me, and I can't drive all that way and make them stay in the car, and then turn around and come back home, that's not going to happen. Besides, I would only be welcome to come inside myself if the babies were asleep and away, apparently, so who knows when a good time for me to stop by would be. So, I hope she likes those carseat covers I made, and that the babies get to use them, and... yeah. I'm trying very hard not to feel like I shouldn't have bothered. I made them for the babies, not her, and whether or not I get to actually see her open them, or even see the babies use them, should not make a difference to me. I should not need the satisfaction of seeing them do it.

Of course, the good thing about all of this is that my IL's did come up to see the kids, and the weather was good, and it was a family occasion that we all pulled together to enjoy. Having everyone here was fun, and it was easier for us to not have to travel, since we had things to do in the evening, and it was closer for Jen to get to her SIL's house. Our house is clean and comfortable, which Kathy's is not, and there are lots of things for kids to do here, whereas at Kathy's there isn't really anything for them to do.

Well, Josie is upstairs playing her new MP3, Patrick is playing with a neighbor boy with his new electric car set, and I have a sneaking suspicion that DH is asleep. Hopefully, they've all forgotten that I exist for the moment while I hide here on the couch and watch my movie for the millionth time, until it's time to feed the raging hordes again. :)

I hope you're all as happy as we are today, and I can't wait to read about all the wonderful experiences you have had. Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sewing Machine Abuse - Now With Pictures!

For the past two days, I have been going nuts trying to finish my new nieces'/SIL's Christmas presents. My sewing machine apparently doesn't like to sew anything thick, because I had to stop pretty frequently to realign the bobbin with the needle (or, I broke a needle, which happened FIVE TIMES). Also, note to self, regardless of how silky and soft furry fabric is, it makes a MESS and jams up said sewing machine, causing many Words to be uttered and Threats to be made to said machine. Ahem. But, look what I made!!!

When she opens the box, she will see these:

They're carseat buntings!!!! The insides look like this:

and the fronts are this:

Put them together, and you get these (mildly cooperative elf not included)!
Ta daaaaa!!!!

However, the elf DID get a parting gift for helping model these babies:

This is what I made with that little scottie-dog fabric I bought a couple of months ago!!!! You can't tell from the (overexposed) picture, but the fabric is that kind that shimmers between deep red and dark purple/black. I can't take credit for the little jacket - that came from Target - but since the dress is sleeveless, I thought it would be perfect. She wore it last weekend when she played the prelude at her piano teacher's church. I promised her that the next time I make her a dress, which should be next month (after I make Patrick a Batman cape complete with masked-hood for his birthday, sshhhhh!), that she can (gulp) help. If you see a sewing machine thumbing it down the road, little knapsack on it's back, you'll know that mine finally ran away from home.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yesterday, I volunteered at the kids' school all day, spending the morning in Patrick's class and the afternoon in Josie's. There were a couple of other parents there as well, and one of them I went to lunch with while we were passing the hour and a half between when the kindergarten kids went to lunch and the fourth graders got back from recess (staggered times). I learned something at that lunch that is just killing me.

I had thought that a boy I really like in Josie's class, S, had a crush on her because he always wants to come with me to read, and asks a lot of questions about her and what we do at home. I wish this were the case. In actuality, it's more me he wants to be with.

It turns out that his mother died a couple of years ago from cancer, and as a result his father and two older brothers have become alcoholics who show up to even kids' sporting events drunk, including a baseball game last year that S and the son of the mom who was telling me the story were in together, where the father and brothers were ejected from the game due to drunk and disorderly conduct. The poor boy, it's no wonder he acts out sometimes at school and always wants to hang out with me while I'm there. He wants mother-types to pay attention to him. He lives up the street from us, a couple of blocks down, and occasionally when we're talking he says that he's going to come over to our house. In the past, I've always joked about what he thinks he's going to do here, and that he'd be bored. The next time, though, I'm going to tell him that he can come over whenever he wants. If that boy wants attention from a mom, he can definitely get it at our house. After that story, I don't care if he moves in with us. Even if he and Josie didn't have a lot to do together, Patrick would be thrilled to have him over to play video games with.

It just breaks my heart. That poor family.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Animals and Good Fortune

Yesterday, we caught una rodencia (I have no idea if that's even a real word, but it sounds better than rodent, don't you think??) in our have-a-heart trap under the kitchen sink. I don't know what made me look at it, really, since it had been empty for days and we had kind of thought that the cat had already caught whatever left us all the little gifts around the tupperware, but all of a sudden I just had a Feeling, and sure enough, there was a tiny little grey mousie looking up the tube at me when I opened the thing up to look. It had cute little pink paws and nose, and black eyes. We did the wildlife release program on the way to school, way at the back of the second yard (we actually have two back yards, one next to the house and the other beyond the garage, so we have a kind of garage sandwich), and it bounded away from us and the house. I should probably re-set the trap, since where there's one there can be more, but I'm kinda lazy, so maybe I'll wait and see what happens. The funniest part was, the cat had been in the cabinet, just down at the other end, and when I pulled the trap out, she poked her head out the far end, as if to say, 'HEY!!!! I WAS SAVING THAT!!!!' She looked *pissed*. I told her that she had had a week, and too bad for her.

On the way home from school, poor Baci got bit by another dog. A BIG one. A guy catty-corner from us has been rehabbing the house, which I'm not sure but I think he's trying to flip, and was outside with his bull mastiff. It's a beautiful dog, about 120lbs, I'm guessing, and brindle. It was wagging its stubby tail, sort of, and woofing, so I asked the guy if it was friendly, since Baci was wagging his fool tail about OFF at it. He said yes, so we went over. MISTAKE. Thank God I was in front, and that I had left old Tyler dog at home, because it could have been much, much worse had this happend to him, or heaven forbid, one of the kids. The two dogs sniffed each other's faces for a minute, and Baci started licking the Mastiff, when all of a sudden I heard this huge growl and he lunged at Baci, who started yelping and backed away. The guy had thankfully kept a hang on the leash, so was able to hold him as Baci got away, and the kids were still behind me. I said, 'well, I guess not,' and we left. I mean, it happens, and we were on it's turf and all, but I was mildly surprised that the guy didn't seem surprised *at all*. Now, why say it's friendly if you're not sure? He didn't apologize, nothing. We walked home, and poor Baci wedged himself up against the kitchen cabinets as I looked him over. Amazingly, the dog must have missed, or Baci must have pulled back just in time, because all he has is a big scrape on his right shoulder, and a place where a patch of his fur was ripped off. Obviously, we will not be going over there again, and the kids are under strict orders not to go to pet it, no matter how friendly the guy says that dog is. Poor Baci walked around with his tail between his legs for awhile, but he's really none the worse for wear. Phew.

I know a lot of my posts lately have been of the 'poor me' variety, and it's pretty inexcusable. On the whole, I am actually a very happy person. Maybe it's due in part to my being able to exorcise my demons on here. Anyway, I have to say that really, the past few months have been probably the happiest of my adult life. This town that we moved to two years ago has been a huge blessing for us. I always thought that I wanted to live in a city, but I didn't realize that the loneliness of city life was more city-specific than just the way that adults lived. Since we have moved here, we have met the most wonderful people, and made such good friends, that I would be a idiot to be anything other than grateful at the end of every day. When we lived nearer to DC, the entire area was in such transition due to the nature of the work there and the military presence that it was near-impossible to make good friends, because either people were at work all the time or they were going to be moving again in a year, so you'd just get to know someone and they'd leave. There was also a lot of shallowness and rudeness that I had accepted as the way that life was. Now that we're away from all that, yes, I miss the retail and restaurants and proximity to cultural things, but our quality of life is so much better. I actually have friends here, people who would drop what they were doing to help us out, and have done so on several occasions. People pay attention to each other, and respect each other, and aren't constantly trying to out-cool each other. It's so relaxing, and real, and homey. So, to Marty and Karen, and Shannon and Bill, and Chris and Rob, and everyone, I am so thrilled that we've met you and your kids, and know how lucky I am to count you as friends.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Re-Gifting the Inlaws - Is It Too Late?

There are trade-in plans for cell phones, rental cars, and lots of other things. I think it's about time that someone invented one for in-laws. I am royally, royally pissed off at mine. In fact, I have been furious since last week, and it's taken me this long to cool down enough to even talk about it.

About two months ago, they (ie my MIL) emailed me looking for dates for events that the kids were having this season so they could come to them. When I told her that there were three - the school musical, the church Christmas pageant, and the Christmas eve family service - in her words, they wanted to do them all. About two weeks later, she backed out of the church pageant because my SIL's husband's sister was having a surprise 30th birthday party. BUT, she was still coming up on Thursday for the school thing, and have dinner with us beforehand.

Two days before the performance, I emailed them to make sure they were still coming, saying I knew they had been driving up this way a lot for the new twins, and were they still planning on coming here still. Nothing. I knew then, but I waited. The morning of, I got an email saying that it was going to be really rainy, so they weren't going to come. They ditched Josie on the day of her school performance because of RAIN. They never even bothered to call or connect with her at all. I had thought (hoped) that Josie wouldn't remember, because I hadn't said anything, but she did, and for the first time, she realized that she had been ditched, and cried because she had really, really wanted them to come. It was the first thing she asked when she woke up, if they were still coming for dinner and to hear her poem read that night, since hers was one of seven selected from the entire third and fourth grade to be read.

My baby cried. Strike one.

Then, they had another opportunity to come here to support her a few days later, at our church pageant, where she had a solo, but I don't think it occured to them to ditch my SIL's husband's sister for their grandchild. No. Granted, they had said they were going to go, but I'm SURE no one would have cared had they not gone, and everyone would have understood. I doubt Chrystal would have cried had her brother's inlaws not shown up. But, NO.

Strike two.

I'm telling you, if they don't come here on Christmas eve, and either of the kids cries over it, I will be PISSED. What's *supposed* to happen is that we're having Xmas eve brunch at Kathy's house, with the new twins, and then afterwards they will come the rest of the way to our place for the rest of the afternoon/evening, and to the service to hear Josie play in the prelude and both kids perform in their choirs and the kids' bell choir. I know they're getting older, and rain is unpleasant, but come on. They could have at least come to the church pageant; it was a beautiful day, and it was a great performance. I had even emailed them a response that Josie had cried when she heard they weren't coming, but that she understood. I never even got a response.

DH and I have talked about this, and we know what's happened - the new twins were born. It was like this before Ryan passed away, too. He and his sister were It for them, and unfortunately it took Ryan's death to make them wake up and spend more time with the other children. Now, though, there are more twins, and they're new, and will fill some of the void left by Ryan, so... yeah. Except, this time, my kids are getting old enough to know they're being ditched. My other SIL, Jen, and I have talked about the noticeable difference in how our combined children are treated compared to the older two, so it's not just my kids.

They're not bad people, and they're not being hurtful on purpose. They just don't think. Somehow, that doesn't really make it better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Am A Genius

OK, probably not so much, but I did have a STROKE of genius this morning, so I think that counts. And I'm sure you're probably all already doing this, and I'm a ding dong, but here it is anyway.

I put a packet of cocoa in my mug before I brewed my coffee this morning (we have one of those pod coffeemakers). It brewed coffee right into my cocoa!!!! Whoopeee!

I know this probably seems like an incredbily idiotic thing to get excited about, but it's one of those mornings where the world should all go back to bed. It's raining/sleeting/snowing outside, not hard enough to really cause problems yet, but definitely enough to be gross. Snow, I like. Winter rain is just shitastic. Plus, I woke up fifteen minutes late this morning, so thank heavens the schools here offer free breakfast to the kids, because they didn't have time to eat here this morning. I am still in my pjs, because I didn't have time to get dressed, and really, once you've driven the kids to school in your pjs, why bother getting dressed once you get home? So, I am here in my pjs, reading all your blogs, drinking my fabulous creation, under a blanket, with Baci snoring happily on my legs. I know it's LAZY, and I do have the sense to feel moderately guilty about it. But, I've been crazy-busy lately, and damnit, I'm gonna drink my coffee!

AND, even better, I'm listening to my fabulous new cds that came in the mail yesterday from Kelsey at Midwest Mom!!! She sent me TWO!!! I'm listening to the one for grown-ups at the moment, and I have it on repeat, because I LOVE IT. The second one has all-kid music on it, which I also love!!!! Thanks, girlfriend!!!!

AND, the winner of my embarrassing holiday story is... CK!!!! So, send me your address, chickie, and I'll send you a present!!!!!! I was planning on giving out two, but since she's the only one who actually posted an embarrassing holiday story, I'm just going to give her an extra-big one instead!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Funniest Thing I Have Ever Read

I am totally stealing this from my friend, B, who was shopping with her little man today. He is three. Caution: do not eat or drink while reading this. You will snarf.

Shopping with E:

I throw a small box of OB in the cart. E grabs it and here's what follows:

E: What dis?
B: OB. See those letters? OB.
E: Oooooh, OB. I yike dis box mommy.
B: I'm glad Eamon.
E: Dis for your jina mommy?
B: Yes, but we don't talk about it with other people around.
E: Why, mommy. Why dis for your jina?
B: Shhh, we don't talk about it with other people around. (We're now in the busy dairy section)
E: (increasingly loud) Why dis for your jina mommy!
B: (Trying to ignore him) Shhhh, Eamon.
E: (pissed off shouting) MOMMY, WHY DIS FOR YOUR VAGINA! (why does he say the full word at the top of his lungs?)
Woman next to us cracks up.
Man passing us looks away uncomfortably.
I take the box and put it in the back of the cart, out of his reach, and give him a box of bunny crackers.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Musical Extravaganza!

This weekend has been a whirlwind of Musical Stuffs!

Saturday night was (finally) the kids' Christmas pageant. It was called It's A Wonder-Full Life, and it was about a boy who wished he could get rid of all the religious stuff and get straight to the presents because he was tired of having to work so hard in his church Christmas play every year. Josie was in it, and played a child whose part in the play-in-a-play was Mary, so my little Pea was dressed up as the Virgin Mary! It was so cute!!!! Also, she had a solo, and she sounded so beautiful!!!! And, I am NOT AT ALL biased. At ALL. Nope. It was a great, funny play, with a lot of laughter and costumes and choreography.

This morning, the adult choir, which I am in, did a Christmas Cantata that took the place of the regular sermon - basically, we sang a sermon comprised of various pieces about the shepherds, since it's the third week of Advent this Sunday, and the third candle is for the shepherds. We had been rehearsing and rehearsing and REHEARSING for the past few weeks, including two hours on the past few Saturday mornings in addition to our regular times. Our music director is also the choir teacher at a local magnet school for the arts, so his chamber choir also came to sing with us, AND we had an orchestra play with us, too!!! It was great. I love being able to be a part of things like this. Choir is really both a source and an outlet for joy to me, and this is one of the best times of year to be there. The pieces we did today were really, really difficult, and they pushed my range WAY higher, which is also good (now that it's done). Tomorrow night a group of us are going caroling at a local elder-care home, which I am both looking forward to because I like caroling and I like to make people happy, but am also dreading a tiny bit because, well, it is what it is. I remember going to those places as a high schooler and having a lot of the people not even really know we were there, which made it a really rough experience. I know we'll have fun, though, and the people will appreciate it.

Also this morning, Josie played the prelude at her piano teacher's church (her teacher is the music director there, across town from where we go), on the ORGAN!!!! Apparently, as long as you aren't fiddling with the buttons, it's a lot like playing the piano, except you play an octave higher or something. So, my baby played the huge pipe organ at a 200+ year old church today. I wasn't there, because I was doing the cantata, but DH took her, and she said she had a great time and really liked it. Her piano teacher told DH afterward that he thinks she should take organ lessons as well, and could probably get a job playing organ for a church as a teenager on Sunday mornings, and make a good deal of money. He really is a lovely man, is constantly telling us how gifted she is and what a pleasure she is to teach, and typically extends her lesson well over the allotted time at no charge, sometimes spending a full hour with her just because he wants to. Josie, in turn, really loved the idea of taking organ lessons, and of course loved the idea of being able to do it for a living someday, so now I'm debating as to whether to let her do that or not. I don't think her regular teacher teaches organ, just piano, so it would mean another lesson during the week, and of course more money. On the one hand, he really thinks that she's gifted, and I've had several other people tell me that as well, and I don't want to hold her back, but on the other I don't want her to be overscheduled, either. Then, too, there's Patrick to consider: Josie has a lot going on, and he really doesn't have anything, other than the kids' choir at church. He could probably use a physical outlet during the winter, but that would mean even *more* money out of our pockets. Maybe I could get him into something at the Y again, that would be cheap. Ugh, and I don't want to live in my car, either. Down by the river. (five points if you get that reference!)

Any thoughts? Should I let her take organ? Is it too much? Am I holding her back if I don't? Ugh. She already has Battle of the Books once a week from January through March, kids' choir once a week, and piano once a week. Then, in the spring, there will be softball that will take the place of BotB. Maybe if I could talk her piano teacher into combining her lesson with organ, that would just make what she already has a little longer rather than adding another day. Sigh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Egad! Rodencia!

Oh, holy hell, I just finished decorating seven dozen cookies, and went to empty the dishwasher so I could load it full of baking stuff, and what should I find in my cabinet but mouse poop all over the giant cabinet space under the counter, from under the sink all the way to the wall, where we keep the pet stuff, bowls, plasticware for the kids, and all the tupperware. For heaven's sake, we have a CAT! Isn't this HER job?!

So, tonight, the cabinet is cleaned and empty but for some plastic bottles of dog vitamins, and the door will remain open so the cat can get in there and crawl around. She's in there now, actually, so hopefully there will be a gift for me in the morning. Otherwise, it's off to Lowes for some traps. Sigh.

I shouldn't be surprised. We had a few mice at our old place, too. Still, what do I have to do, hermetically seal the place in a giant ziploc baggie?!

Please Pass The Cheese

I am pooped, emotionally and physically.

This week has been crazy. Josie had piano, rehearsal for the Christmas pageant at church, the school music performance (for gr 3 and 4), family movie night at the school tonight, and the actual pageant tomorrow night. DH had band rehearsal. I had choir rehearsal, and an extra rehearsal tomorrow morning because we're doing a musical Christmas contata tomorrow in place of the sermon. Also, I have to bring in a couple dozen cookies for the cookie sale fundraiser tomorrow morning, and I am in charge of refreshments tomorrow night at the pageant.

On top of this, I have a few friends who have just drained me emotionally. My one friend with her surgery that I wrote about is doing better physically, but isn't taking care of herself, isn't taking it easy like she's supposed to, and is still in a poison environment with her mother. She calls me regularly to unload. Another friend is having a life crisis with her marriage, sexual preference, and a love triangle; occasionally I agree/offer to help her contact the third person because she's in such a misery that I can't stand to see her without trying to do something, *anything*, to help. Then I end up feeling like shit afterwards, because I'm not sure it's good for her, and it makes me feel amoral. I want to be a good friend, but I have problems setting boundaries, I think. I tend to give people my shirt and only later realize that, oh, wait, I kind of needed that! Does anyone else do that, do things you're not perfectly comfortable with for friends?

Also, the situation in Josie's class is kind of stagnant at the moment. There is a full-time second teacher in the room now, which is good, but unfortunately I think she's taking cues from Mrs. Not only does she *also* not speak to me when I get there every other day, but when I introduced myself as Josie's mother and explained what I did with the kids, and I held out my hand to shake. She looked at my hand, and then held out hers in that kiss-my-ring way that some old ladies have - except she's my age, and she's a new teacher. I'm not kidding, she barely touched me. Maybe she thought I had cooties. Anyway, the classroom seems mildly better, and I'm interested to see what's going to happen. I heard through the school grapevine that sometimes this means that Teacher #1 is going to get the boot in favor of Teacher #2. Supposedly this Mrs.2 is going to be there through Christmas as an aide.

Then, last night, when we went to Josie's school performance (which was sweet, and Josie's poem was one of 7 chosen out of the entire 3rd and 4th grades to be presented in addition to the music - that's my baby!!!!), it was POURING rain, I mean the kind of rain that makes you want to build an ark, except that it was also FREEZING. The paper she brought home from school said that she had to be there by 6:45 or her speaking part would be given to someone else, and the music teacher said that they should be there by 6:35 to be safe, so we left here at 6:30. We slogged our way to the school only to find about 150 people standing outside, getting soaked, because the doors were still locked!!! The principal was in there, she just wasn't opening the doors! Everyone was PISSED, to say the least. Once we finally got in, I ended up sitting in front of the treasurer of the PTA, who had apparently told her son's teacher that she wanted to talk to the principal. When the P came over, she said that she hadn't opened the doors because some of the teachers hadn't come yet (Josie's never came, of course), and there was no one there to supervise the children. ?!?!?! HELLO ?!?!?!?! She didn't apologize, didn't acknowledge that maybe she messed up, nothing, even when faced with many wet and cold children. WTF?!

Anyway, so DH has taken the kids and a friend to movie night at the school, and I am going to open a bottle of whine wine and decorate about 5 dozen cookies, and maybe finish the Christmas cards if I have the oomph left. If anyone has some cheese, I've got the crackers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grocery Roundup, Dec 9, and Awesome Music Link

(I know, two posts one right after the other... I had actually written the PIF one last night, but was having problems getting it to post. Still, Dork.)

This was a rough trip. We were almost entirely out of snacks AND we needed toiletries, OUCH. Plus, I bought some things I don't usually get, like juice (I'm trying the V8 banana drink in hopes that it will not taste like a carrot's ass) and ice cream. Plus, DH told me that we were out of frozen veggies, when in actuality we had FIVE BIG BAGS of them behind the ice cream. So, with that in mind, we're probably set until the new year on many things because I bought doubles of other things as well that were on sale.

Items purchased: 164
Coupons Used: 40
Coupon Savings: $30.09
Bonus savings: $9.05
Club Card Savings: $74.45
Total Spent: $378.53
Total Saved: $113.59
Percent Saved: 23%

I am disappointed in this, to be honest. For one thing, that's a lot lower percentage than I usually save. For another, I got Reba Redneck at the register, and she was NOT good with coupons. For instance, when she encountered ones that didn't scan through easily, she set them aside and then, before I knew what she was doing, added them up in her head in a wad and put them in as a big store coupon. This kept them from being doubled, AND I know that she added them wrong, which I pointed out to her, so she put in another $.40 off after that, but still, I'm pretty sure it was still wrong, and it cost me money. :( OK, so it was probably only a dollar or two, but still. It's the principle of the thing. Hmph.

Anyway, here's something else: this is the coolest Christmas song I've heard in YEARS, from Straight No Chaser. Listen to the WHOLE THING, because it's not what you expect it to be.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prizes and Awards, Oh, My!

Well, I can say that I feel nothing if not loved and lucky over the last week! I got two awards, and won TWO PIFS!!! How can this be?!?! So, I have a lot of gifty karma to catch up on!!!

First, I would like to thank CK and Sher for giving me the kick-ass awards below:

Awesome, right??? So, the rules are that I have to...

1. Say one nice thing to a man in your life.
DH is the nicest, most patient person I know. He's a wonderful parent, probably better than me at times, and is most definitely the only person who could put up with me on a regular basis.

2. List at least six ways that you measure success in your life (or for your blog).
I feel successful when/because
- my kids are secure in their lives and in the knowledge that they are loved
- I accomplish things that I set out to do
- I make other people's lives easier by helping / volunteering
- people actually seem interested what I have to say! :)
- my relationships with my friends and extended family are kept up
- I overcome fear to try new things (like I'm going caroling as part of a quartet next week, and if I don't faint/throw up, I will have succeeded!)

3. Assign this award to six other blogs and leave them a comment telling the blogger that you’ve assigned them this award.

1. Kelsey at Midwest Mom

2. Jean at Stimeyland

3. Erin at MO Mommy

4. Kristi at Autobiography of a Material Girl

5. Cherish at A Girl and Her Blog

6. Rebecca at Life With Boys

Unbelievably, I also won Cherish's and Kelsey's PIF contests (!!!), so I need to run one of my own. Hmmmm..... we'll need two winners.... OK! What is your most embarrassing holiday moment? Winner number one will be for The Most Scarring For Life, and winner number two will be for Snarfed-My-Coffee-Funny. (If you all are too hilariously scarred as a bunch, I will resort to random selection.) Now, come on, SPILL!!! I know you won't disappoint me! The contest will end at 11:59EST on Saturday the 13th.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Threw Up, v.2008

Whew!!! The inside of the house is officially entirely decked out. The problem is, as usual it is now almost impossible to keep the house neat AT ALL. On normal weekends, the house gets messed up, but during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hoo boy, get out your shovels because you're gonna have to make a path! Between decorations, shopping bags, craft stuff, things that the kids bring home from various places, and MAIL (holy God, the catalogues!!! Do I *really* need the Hearthsong catelogue to come every. freakin'. day?! I think not.), the house goes completely to pot over the holiday weekends. This is partly because I refuse to kill myself trying to keep up, and partly because I refuse to clean on weekends (unless someone is coming over, and that someone is someone who doesn't usually come over so I feel like I have to clean up for them, which hardly ever happens). At this time of year, I'm so busy with school and church activities that I barely have time to put on clean clothes, never mind clear off space so we can eat at the table like normal people. No, no - we will be eating in the living room for the next several weeks, I believe.

Anyway, since so many other people have posted such lovely photos of what Christmas means at their homes, I figured I'd post what Christmas is at our house. I tried to take photos that didn't show the mess. You're welcome.

So, this is the tree, unlit and lit:

See, I told you that you can see these LED lights from space, particularly the blue ones! There are all colors on there, but the blue ones are pretty bright.

This is my favorite nativity scene:
I really like cute nativities, and I have sort of a collection of them now. This is the best one, though. I love the expressions on the faces, and the little animals.

This is one of my best Christmas purchases EVER. It's an LED flickering candle that turns itself on and off!!! It goes on every night at 6, turns off six hours later, and then turns itself back on the next night!!!!! How fabulous is THAT?!?! I love how houses look with candles in the windows, but the cheaper ones ran out of batteries all the time, were tippy, and I had to remember to turn them all on and off every morning and night. Right. These will last all season, aren't tippy at all, and come with a big suction cup to help them stay put! The only problem is, the suction cup isn't long enough to reach over the sill to the glass, so the ones that are directly on the sill can't use the cup. They're currently $6 at Michael's. I know, steep, but I figure I was replacing the crappy ones all the time due to breaks and paying for all those batteries, so it works out the same in the end.

And this is my favorite decoration:

Isn't it beautiful? It's glass, and I've actually managed to keep it in one piece for about eight years now. It's about the size of my hand, and weighs about what a paperweight would. I just loce the way the snow blends into the branches, and how the ribbon on the packages looks like the most perfect frosting. Just perfect.

And now for something totally different. I present to you, Captain Underpants Vader:

If there's a category of merit badge that specifies Being Prepared for a Jedi Situation, he would win, hands-down.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fothermucking Fudpuckers! and associated angst


Surprise! The plumbing work we had done in October is NOT covered by AHS, there will be NO refund, and we have been running around the mulberry bush for two months to find it out!! Hooray and merry Christmas!!!!!

Yes, even though *one* person said that it was definitely covered, two more said that it was 'most likely' covered, there was in fact no chance at all that it actually was, because the pipe in question was inside the foundation of the house. Apparently, it's like renter's insurance - anything on or inside the place is covered, but anything outside or under is not. Sigh. You know, I probably wouldn't be this mad if 1) people had returned our phone calls and not forced us to constantly call them, 2) there was actually an account manager assigned to certain accounts, rather than just having anyone talk about any account, so there was continuity in response and so that we wouldn't have to go through the entire story every. freakin'. time. we called, 3) if the plumber had actually done what he was supposed to do in the first place, which was call AHS *before* the work was done once they realized that the job didn't entail what they had originally thought, 4) if the plumber himself had ever, even once, called AHS to talk to them (the only reason we got a decision today was because DH finally was transferred to an adjuster, to whom he faxed photos of the work that I had taken), because the only people who called AHS from the plumber's office were secretaries who had never seen the job and who told them random information, like the work was done in the yard (?!?!) .

(Pant, pant, pant. Ranting takes a lot out of a person, particularly when that person's keyboard has a heavy dog ball dropped on it every thirty seconds so half the line has to be retyped. Person should sit at a table in the future.)

So, we are out $3600. Ho, ho, ho. Please send vodka. I apparently can't afford my own anymore, but I desperately need A LOT of it!

In other news, I also got a bill today from the quack doctor who misdiagnosed my gall bladder issue as reflux for a year. His office actually had the gall (haha! I'm so clever!) to bill DH and I for missed appointments (which I had most certainly CANCELLED, thank you, as soon as I got out of the HOSPITAL, HELLLO), to the tune of $50! Um, no. I had ignored the bill for DH's 'missed visit', but yesterday another one came, and today one for me came. Apparently, whoever I called to cancel our membership (or whatever it's called) in his practice didn't cancel our six-month pill-pushing well visits that had been scheduled. I seethed for awhile, and then decided that it was high time for me to exorcise my demons on this issue. SO, I got out paper and pen, and wrote a long letter saying that I knew I had cancelled our appointments on July 10th, because that was the day after I was released from the hospital after being admitted with near-pancreatic failure due to his incompetance, and that I had withdrawn from their practice because not only did he misdiagnose me for a year, but when he finally showed up at the hospital, he admitted to me that he didn't have my chart, had no idea who I was, and didn't know why I was there! But then, I told them, I wasn't surprised, since he had tried to tell DH that he wasn't diabetic when he has been for TEN YEARS, and had never once been prepared for an office visit with my name and condition. Since I was on a roll, I told them that it would be a cold day in hell when I paid these two bills, and that while I had been advised by the doctor on-call that day to contact the state medical board, I had not, although I probably should have. SO THERE. I have never written a letter like that, but then again, I have been fortunate enough to never have been half-killed by a doctor before, either. I wonder if they'll have the nerve to respond? Because if they do, I will TOTALLY go to the state medical board. Writing it made me feel like the Grinch whose balls grew two sizes today, so hell, bring it on! I've got cohones now!

(for those of you who don't know, fudpucker is the mixed-up way I now have to say Pudfucker, which is a common New England swear, so I can still use it in front of the kids. It's the best swear word, EVER. Try it - it's both funny AND expressive! as in, 'you stupid pudfucker!' -or- 'oh, pudfucker!' -or, if you should drop a waterbarrel, ahem, on your toe, yelling 'PUDFUCKING BARREL!!!!' is definitely appropriate. See, it works in every situation!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Vet Appointment, and A Surprise

The other day I took the dogs to their annual vet appointment for shots, etc. Baci, being a puppy (albeit an 86lb one), was of course fine, but... Tyler, at 11.5, is not so fine. As labs are prone to do, he has developed a lot of large, soft lumps in various places on his body, which don't seem to be bothering him too much, and aren't of great concern. However, this appointment is the first time he has actually lost a significant amount of weight. He is at his lowest weight ever, that I can remember, at 63lbs. She feels that his lumps have begun to grow inside, where they are a lot less likely to be benign. When I made the comment that DH and I were thinking that he probably has about one good year left, she hesitated and said, 'yyyeeahhhhh...' I guess that about sums it up. Yeah.

On the up side, he is now allowed to eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, until. I'm sure he will appreciate the bounty of table scraps he is about to receive.

In addition to this worrying condition, poor Tyler Bear's arthritis has been acting up horribly, to the point where he groans in his sleep whenever he shifts at night. We give him special doggie asprin, which keeps him pretty limbre during the day, but I guess like any old person (or, on some days, me) when he sits still for too long, it's not good. So, when I was at Petsmart the other day, I looked for a new doggie bed. We have two already, one of which is orthopedic, but I would like to have something more cushy and yet supportive, since the one we have is getting old (like Tyler, I suppose). I found The Bed, the bed that I wish I could sleep on myself. It's about five inches of orthopedic foam, topped with a regular thick cushion dog bed. It's the first bed that I've ever found that I couldn't feel any hint of the floor through no matter how hard I pushed on it. I didn't get it then, because it's (I hate to admit this) $90. I know, I know, but he's old, and, well, he's Tyler Bear. He's been the best dog ever. He wags whenever he hears our voices, on command, and even in his sleep sometimes. He listens to everyone, including the kids. He lets Patrick walk him with no tugging at all, even though he could easily drag him down the street if he wanted to. The kids used to ride him, pull on his ears, and play in his water bowl. He's practically their grandparent, come to think of it. When he was a puppy and DH and I went to the breeder, HE actually chose US. We had sat down in different places, and Tyler ran back and forth between the two of us, first climbing on and licking one and then the other, over and over, the entire time we were there. The other puppies played and frolicked around us, but Tyler was Ours from that moment on. Now that he's outlived his brother by two years, and put up with Baci for almost that length of time, he deserves all we can give him.

So, when my mother asked what I wanted for Xmas this year, I told her I wanted a gift card for Petsmart, and I told her why. She actually said that she thought of Tyler as another family member, and that since she didn't have any pets, SHE would buy it for him! Who is this woman?! Someone has secretly replaced my mother with Another Person, obviously! So, she's sending a gc this week, and Tyler Bear Dog will have his new bed this weekend. We'll put that one upstairs in our room for overnight, and move one of the other ones down here into the dining room for when he wants to be alone (otherwise, we get him to lay on the couch).

Oh, Baby Bear, I will miss you so. I hope you prove us all wrong and live to swim another summer. Until then, I'm squishing in on that bed with you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why Don't Things Work Anymore?!

I give up. Why is it that things break constantly now, or simply don't do what they're advertised to do? And why, oh why, am I not even SURPRISED when this happens?!

Things that I have discovered do NOT work:

- the trigger thing sold at home repair and craft stores that is supposed to fix strings of lights (this seemed like it might work, since it's supposed to make the string forge a connection past any broken lights, but no)

- Christmas lights. Every year or two, they all break. This year, EVERY STRAND except one was busted. This may have something to do with the roughness of our movers, but STILL. When I was a kid, my mother insisted on throwing a giant garbage bag over the entire tabletop tree we had and tossing the whole thing in the basement year after year, and I don't remember ever having to replace the freakin' lights on it.

- Saran wrap, or any other kind of plastic wrap. The one exception to this that I have found is the press-n-seal kind, but other than that, it doesn't even seem to stick to itself anymore, never mind and dish or plates! The only thing it wants to stick to is ME. Damn crap.

- Any kind of cream for eye bags, circles, or puffiness. Nope. Maybe I am just perpetually exhausted-looking, but it's a common complaint - an online friend of mine was just complaining about this same thing the other day.

I'm sure that there are more things, but I can't remember what they are at the moment because my brain is also one of the things that used to work that doesn't anymore.


One thing I want to mention - if any of you have a Five Below store near you, GO IN. They have everything from Wii accessories to socks in there, and it's all less than $5! I'm not kidding - books, including those huge fold-out books that are popular for kids at the moment, toys, games, legos, Xmas stuff, iPod stuff, sports play, everything. I actually don't feel all tense when I go in there like I do when I pop into other stores, like Target, where I can hardly ever escape without spending $100. I thought to post about this because Swistle has been talking about table books, and I've seen several of them there.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Luke, I Was Your Father (sort of)

As many of you know, Patrick's hamster, Anniken, came to an untimely end at the vet few months ago when a tumor was discovered to be the cause of his weight loss. Since Patrick had done an excellent job, for a four- and five year-old, of caring for the little dude, we told him that when he was ready, he was absolutely approved for another pet.

Today was The Day.

During a regular trip to Petsmart, we noticed a new addition to their hamster collection - long haired ones. We particularly fell in love with this one, the only albino in the group:

As you can see, he has some hair to spare!!! He looks like a giant cotton ball that has gone through the dryer. Even better, since he has such trailing hair on his bottom, it hides his, um, boy bits like a little skirt. Excellent!!! (BTW, why on earth ARE their boy bits so HUGE?! I mean, proportionately, a guy would need a SLING to carry those things around!!!)

What is the newest little dude's name, you ask? Well, since the previous guy was Anniken (actually, ahem, for those in the know, it was really Anniken II, ahem, but what certain people don't know didn't result in hours of sobbing the week after Anniken I was purchased), this guy is OF COURSE Luke Skywalker. I mean, really, what else could his name possibly BE?!

At any rate, he has been very sweet, and despite what I imagine must have been a very traumatic day (rudely awakened, plopped in a cardboard box, driven in a car held by two maniacally giggling children, put into a home that smells like predators, etc), he has not once made a move to nip. Best of all, his adoption has resulted in this:

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!