Wednesday, October 29, 2008

...and now this

(yes, this is my second post today - can you say, lhoo-sahhhh? 'cause that's me.)

Now I'm going back and forth with the plumber and the home warranty people to get our money back. The plumber is refusing to refund our money because AHS told them today that the work *isn't* approved. I called AHS. Apparently, the person who told me it was covered before 'had no authority' to tell me that, and they need to talk to the plumber, because the person who did the work didn't call for authorization for what they actually did, rather than what they had been told they wouldn't be paid for. Basically, the plumber guy screwed up, and now if they want to AHS can deny coverage because they didn't approve it before it was done. Since we had to give the plumber our credit card before they did the work, which we had been told wasn't covered, anyway, they had our number when they found out it wasn't what they thought it was, so still charged us. Since they actually did the work, we're not going to be able to dispute the charge with the credit card company, I think, like we would if the work wasn't actually done. So, AHS is waiting to talk to the plumber guy, AGAIN, to verify what was done. The plumber has no real motivation to say that it was something that was covered, since they already have their money, so if he's more interested in that than honesty, we're screwed. I do have a bill that has his writing on it that says it was a busted pipe near a joint, but I think he wrote that on just my copy, as an afterthought, so that won't help me, either.

The girl at AHS did say that if it's what it sounds like, it sounds like it might be covered, but it's all hinging on the plumber calling in, and then the company agreeing to refund our money. Basically, it's a contractual problem with AHS and the plumber, but we're caught up in it.

I am finding that I am increasingly unable to deal with stress, to the point that things like this make me almost come unhinged. Where DH would ordinarily be here soon, since he's away, I'm just here, stewing in my own stressed-out juices. I tried to call him (he's just going to a few seminars, nothing all-day), but of course he's got his phone off again. He does that all the time, to the point where I'm not even sure why he even has the phone if he's never going to answer it. This is a LOT of money, and I've been nervous all along that it wasn't actually going to work out. I have actually been avoiding calling about our refund because I was afraid this was the news I was going to get. Then I get mad at myself for being so childish and not just dealing with things - I mean, what's the big deal about calling someone? But any time it deals with money, in particular, I will do ANYTHING not to make that call. I think this is a problem.

So, supposedly AHS is going to call us back when they get the poop (haha, I made a little joke there, aren't I funny?!) on the pipe procedure. I'm sure we probably DO have a recourse if the plumber refuses to refund our money, but that would mean more calling and dealing with various people, and I'm not sure what stresses me out more - owing money or fighting with people about our owing money and then potentially still owing money anyway.

The Line in the Sand

Would any of you with younger children like to trade for the more advanced model? Say, a nine year-old girl who thinks she's Perfect? Yeeaaagghhhh!

Here's my dilemma: how old should a child be before you take a hands-off approach with them insofar as personal hygiene and homework go?

Her Highness Josie is nine and a half, and does not like to take showers, brush her teeth appropriately, or brush her hair. In fact, with the teeth, I have ridden her, her father has gotten on her about doing better, and the dentist has spoken to her TWICE. We have the 'fun' cavity mouth rinse that shows where you need to brush and everything. The problem is, she's just Lazy. The last time I took her to get her hair cut, a few weeks ago, her hair was almost waist-length, and the woman who was trimming it had to spend about ten minutes working out a bunch of knots underneath! She had been brushing the top of her hair, but not underneath, and since she hadn't been wanting braids or anything recently, I hadn't really been involved in brushing her hair. It looked OK from the top, so I assumed she could be trusted to do it on her own.

With her homework, I am about at the end of my rope. She does it without complaint, but the problem is that when she brings it to me for me to check it over, she turns into a nasty, sulky, angry bullfrog if I DARE to find a mistake. Yesterday, I was reading over her book report on Superfudge, and noticed that she had spelled every single character's name wrong, plus a host of other words. Also, there were some sentences that obviously made sense to *her*, but weren't clear to anyone who hadn't also just finished reading the book, such as 'Peter had to figure out how to live with his brother for a year and his friend Totsie.' Huh? I read this aloud to her, and she got mad at ME! Honest-to-God, I wasn't being nasty, I was just reading it aloud in a normal tone, and then I asked her if she really meant that Peter was only going to be living with 'Fouge' for a year, or whether they were somewhere together that they were going to be living for a year and then would be returning somewhere else together after that time, since she was making it sound like 'Fouge' was going to be put in a box and mailed somewhere after the year was over. After initially giggling, she was *furious* with me for not understanding, and poked her finger at the paper where she had previously written in another paragraph,'The book takes place in Maen in and out side.' Apparently, they moved to Maine for a year, but she just hadn't drawn the line for the reader. Not a big deal, but she was so angry with me for not getting it! When she gets like that, she pulls in her neck, purses her lips, and literally pouts, pokes out her belly, and drums her fingers on the table.

It makes me SO MAD.

The reason I know I wasn't being nasty to her is because I had to try SO HARD not to grab the paper and tear it up into little pieces, or ball it up and throw it away. The only thing that stopped me was the knowledge that my mother would have done that exact thing, had I ever behaved that way towards her. Nothing will stop a woman in her tracks like the fear of being like her mother, especially mine!

Since this is not the first time this has happened, and not the first time I've tried to talk to her about it afterwards, I quietly asked her if she would rather not have me look at her work, but just take her chances with her teacher and let her final grade reflect anything Ms. Miller finds. She said no, but kept acting the same way, until I finally told her that I would no longer be helping her, because it was obvious that the only thing she wants me to do is pat her on the head and tell her that it's perfect and she's a genius. So, the next time there is a book report, she is not to ask for help from either of us, and will be going it on her own. Now, obviously, if she comes to me and asks politely for help with one thing or another, and acts like a normal person while she does it, I will probably help her. I doubt that will happen, however.

So, am I doing the right thing? Is this how she will have to learn from now on - trial by fire? It's her book report, and her body, and she is ultimately going to have to be responsible for herself, it's true. Maybe it's better for her to realize *now* that she can't do everything perfectly on her own yet, no matter how smart she is, before her grades become a matter of serious importance. Luckily for her, this book report is an oral presentation, so the spelling isn't a matter of life or death, although I did tell her that there's no reason on earth she should have spelled the character's names wrong, at least. Do I let her just not shower, and see how long it takes before she does it herself? Do I let her get a bad grade on her next report, to let her learn the lesson? Nothing I do seems to be helping to change her attitude, not the talking, the punishing, her promises to be more polite in the future, nothing. I am at wit's end. There's apparently a line in the sand in fourth grade, and I don't know if I should let her cross it alone, or if I should hold her hand and make sure she looks both ways?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feeling the Love!!

OK, imagine my surprise and thrill when I get back online when I discovered that I won THREE awards while I was gone!!!!!! I think the last award I won was back in high school or something!!!

So, from now on, I would like only Perrier, green peanut butter M&M's, and Starbucks lattes delivered to my inbox as an internet tax every time you read my blog. I understand, of course, that having such a lauded blog comes immense responsibility, and I will elevate my diction accordingly.

*KAK!* Ahem, sorry, when my chiro adjusted my neck today, along with mildly reinjuring me he seems to have also dislodged a big chunk of ego. Whoops! Glad I worked THAT out.

Anyway, thanks to:

Which Box? for this baby

which I'm going to pass on to Kristi at Autobiography of A Material Girl and Stimey at Stimeyland.

and Creative Kerfuffle AND Kelsey over at Midwest Mom for this glittery thing:
which I am in turn passing on to Swistle, Sue at My Party of 6, and Erin at MO Mommy.

I Heart and Glitter you all, too!!!! You know, when I started this blog, I had no idea I'd actually Meet People and make Friends, but I have!!!!! I love hearing about all your lives, and I'm all giggly and butterfly-y inside that you like me, too! Thanks! :)

DH left this morning for travel, and won't be back until Thursday night late sometime. I will do my best not to whine about this, since I know many of you have spouses that are away a lot, whereas he is rarely gone. However, know that inside I am whining like a missed-my-nap two year-old that's been in a Target shopping cart in a winter coat for an hour and wants a candy bar. Seriously. Also, the dogs are going to keep me up half the night for the next two days woofing at every little noise, thinking it's him coming home. They've started already, actually. It's been incredibly windy today, so there are lots and lots of noises for them to bark at, too. Sigh. I, myself, NEVER get freaked out at being alone. Nope, not me. And, I especially do NOT leave any extra lights on, anywhere in the house. Nope.

Patrick is fine. I took him to the doctor this morning, who said that he was good to go to school, since anyone who was going to be infected by him would have been last week when he was coming down with it, and that he could in fact go immediately after the appointment. Well, guess who was duly deposited at the school, and can I get an AMEN for that?!?! That boy was driving me Bonkers. He's just sick enough to expect special treatment, but well enough to be hyper and very demanding. That's a BIG negative in the staying home department, thank you very much.

This is getting long, so I'll update on the school situations tomorrow rather than today. I know you're all waiting with baited breath. (Wait, did I spell that right? Is it 'baited' or 'bated'? Argh.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

She's Gone!

PHEW! My mother took off on her broom this morning. Thank GOD. Well, technically, I dropped her off at the airport after the usual hour and a half trip, but I never see the plane she takes, and I SWEAR it can't be a regular plane.

In case you haven't been reading from the beginning (and why NOT, I ask?!?!), you can catch up on my mother here. This visit was actually better than some, but only because I was distracted by my awful, awful neck, which is now about 85% better. Still, though, I just can't stand having her around. I think about this a lot while she's here, because she doesn't usually act bitchy while she's here, so there's no real-time reason for me to be so on-edge, or at least, not as much as I am. There are smaller reasons, like how she has waist-length hair that she just combs out anywhere and then pulls the hairs out of the brush and THROWS THEM ON THE FLOOR, or how she has a constant tic of sniffing after almost every sentence. The biggest thing, though, is that she smells. I don't mean B.O., per se, because it's not a traditional pit-stink... but I think it has something to do with that. I think she uses powder rather than deodorant, which makes her smell like a tube of lipstick that has somehow spoiled. It's a pretty strong smell that gets stronger the longer she is here, since she doesn't shower often, and by the time she leaves, the whole house is pretty much permeated with it, especially the living room, which is where she parks herself for the entirety of her visit. Also, she was afraid of dentists for most of her life, and a lot of her teeth are pretty far gone as a result, making her breath permanently sour. The car ride back to the airport is pretty awful, because I'm trapped in there so closely to her. I have a very, very strong sense of smell, so this is like my worst nightmare.

Mostly, though, my problem with her is this; no matter how she may behave while she's here, I can't let go of the eighteen years I spent trapped with her. I try really hard to 'get over it', but here's the problem with that - when I start letting it go, it feels awfully much like letting her get away with it, which translates for me into basically telling myself that it was OK for her to choke, hit, publicly humiliate, and emotionally torment me all that time. That it was fine that she moved her boyfriend in with us in high school and proceeded to let him completely act like I didn't exist, down to not speaking to me at all if she wasn't around, and to slam me repeatedly against a door when I was 16 while she watched. She refuses to discuss these things, and will only say that she's 'a different person now', which maybe I could buy if I didn't see glimmers of the person I lived with by the end of her visits in how she acts towards my children. When she's ready to go, she starts harrassing the kids to hurry up, and talking in a way that I recognize as the precurser to when the 'Fun' used to start. She always took out her stress on me, and I know if my kids lived with her, she would do the same to them, just by seeing those few minutes of her repressed temper. It makes me immediately furious when she gets that tone, even though she isn't saying anything inappropriate to them, usually.

I allow her to visit because I want my kids to have as complete a family as possible, something I'm acutely aware of since I only had her and my equally hateful grandmother in the entire world when I was a chlid. I think also, deep down, I'm scared of her still, and don't trust her to not get a lawyer and try to force me to allow her to see the children, which would be worse because I might not be with them if she won that battle.

At least this time, she managed not to swear in front of them continually. The last time she was here, after she left, Patrick said all sorts of words that he ought not to. Phew. Anyway, she's gone, and probably won't be back until early next year, or maybe not even until spring. Now all I have to do is fumigate the house, and all will be as it should be. Hooray!!!


In other news, after crawling around on the floor for an entire day, scouring the back yard, and eventually despairing of finding my brand-new anniverdary band, guess where I found it?! I went to make spaghetti for dinner, and this is what I saw when I reached for the pot:

Wedged perfectly between the handle and the pot, there was my band!!!! I keep that particular pot on the stove in the winter almost all the time, with the heat on low, as a humidifier, and I must have moved my hand just right the last time I plunked it down on the burner! I could have cried from joy. Hooray!!!!!

I'll save the school updates for tomorrow, since this is getting pretty long. Patrick is going to the doctor first thing in the morning, just to be safe, since he has a deeper-sounding cough than I would like. I'm hoping they'll say he's fine to go to school, since he's perky to the point of being a little annoying, and also because he's missing theme week at school. :( The important thing, though, is to make sure he's better in time for the parties on Friday (which is also my birthday - I'm going to be the big three-five!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm Still Alive!

I know, I know, I've been totally out of touch!!! Here's a quick update:

1. The home warranty company, AHS, confirmed for me that they are indeed going to cover the pipe situation!!!! Now I just have to call the plumber company and make sure that they refund our money. DH called on Friday, and they said, 'oh, yeah - just call our refund department on Tuesday and ask for so-and-so, and they'll take care of you'. So, I'm feeling VERY good about THAT situation! Hooray!!!

2. My neck is FINALLY improving. I literally wasn't able to move my head for days, and wasn't even remotely comfortable until Friday. Even at that, today is the first day that I haven't spent basically laying on the couch with the heating pad. I'm still not perfect, but maybe about 75%. I haven't been able to read, email, or do anything that involved looking downward since last week. Yeowch.

3. My mother is here. I know I've talked about her before, so you all know what I think about this situation. I'm bringing her back to the airport tomorrow, and then I'll fill you in on the whole trip. Phew.

4. The cat is doing well after her ordeal in the neighbor's shed. She seems to have gained back most of the weight she lost, which was probably mostly water weight anyway. Patrick still hasn't shown an abundance of interest in replacing Aniken, so we haven't done it yet.

5. My allergies/cold are just about gone, Josies are too, but now Patrick has whatever it is. I'm actually pretty convinced that it's a cold or something. My stomach is still touchy, probably from all the phlegm, and his seems to be, too, the poor little guy. We kept him home from soccer today, which I think was supposed to be his last game.

OK, I think that's it for now. I'll be back tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ow, ow...ow

I promise to catch up on all your yummy blogs soon, but for the moment I am totally laid up with a pulled neck muscle. I think it's partly from stress, partly from spending half the day yesterday searching for my lost wedding band (yes, I found it, but not until today, and I'll post about that fun experience later).

For right now, I have to do to bed and rest my neck, because I have to go on Patrick's all-day field trip tomorrow!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not A Rut After All?!

The plumbers just left, and it turns out that the problem was NOT a 'rut', as the guy from our homeowner's warranty company called it yesterday. There are no roots in our pipes, at least not that were causing this particular problem. Actually, the problem was that there was a place where a terra cotta joint in the pipe had cracked where it met a cast iron pipe, and had bent into a 'v' shape, thereby causing a backup.

This, THIS is covered by the AHS warranty.

So, I called said warranty company, told my story, and they put me on hold to talk to the plumbing company. The person at the plumbing company said that she hadn't talked to the guys from the job yet, but would call back when she got in touch with them. After he told me this, the AHS guy said that, if this truly was the case, then the plumbing company should refund me the money we paid them, and would get a check from AHS instead.

This sounds hairy to me. Why can't AHS just give ME the money, instead? In my experience, getting money back from someone who has already done a job is pretty damn hard. I suppose I don't really care where the money comes from, as long as we get it, but... I think getting it is going to be the hard part. Please, please cross your fingers for me that this works out. It's SO MUCH MONEY, and if we can get it back, I will cry for joy. We so rarely get good financial news, and this would truly be a miracle.

Regardless, the one think I AM sure of is that I'm going to go and take a very, VERY long shower. I haven't been able to shower, do laundry, wash dishes, or clean anything since Saturday morning. Can you picture what my house looks like right now? Ugh. I can't face it without a shower, I really can't. So, off I go.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Get Out The Red Light

'cause I'm gonna need it.

To quote our 'homeowner's warranty' representative, we have 'ruts' in our mainline pipe, which of course are not covered by our warranty. 'Ruts' is right, as in, we are in a financial hemorrhage rut.

Would you like to know how much this is going to cost? I'll bet you would.

Let me preface it by saying that somewhere down the block, someone is having a party where the guests are singing truly terrible country-western karaoke at full volume. It's so loud that we have to talk louder than usual when standing outside in order to hear. There is nothing like getting financial news to the screeching tunes of your local neighbor yodeling out the latest and greatest in the dead country-singer's collection.

The quote is for $3,650. Plus the $75 for today, which was covered by the warranty since it was a diagnostic thing.

Can I tell you how depressed I am right now? We have been trying SO HARD to fight our way out of debt, only to fall deeper and deeper every time we start to make progress. We took out a loan against DH's 401k last year to try and pay off a bunch of stuff, only to find out that we had to move and pay fees, etc on a new mortgage. We found a less-expensive house, only to have the car break and now replace a pipe. If the root situation is actually further away than they think it is (although it shouldn't be, since the only tree near the house is a small one within six feet), it will be even more expensive. It's like I shouldn't even bother to try, because doing so just brings us more misfortune. Maybe if I were a greedy, careless, spendy person, karma would smile on me. As it is, I feel like I have a constant chant in my head saying, 'it's not enough, it's not enough, it will never be enough'.

So, the only thing I can think of is to hang out the red light and stir up some business during the days. At least I would be contributing.

Duuuuuuude..... I Think I Have Brain Damage

People, I am seriously messed up on cough medicine. I took only the amount it said, but since I rarely take anything, I think it's a little more than my body was prepared for. Whoa. Duude.

I had to resort to this, because I think that all the coughing from the allergies was giving me brain damage. Also, it has an expectorant in it, which I needed. Dammit, I want to go outside, it's actually gorgeous out there, but I'm afraid if I do I will asphyxiate and die on the spot at this rate.

Poor Josie is coughing, too. I just switched the both of us from Claritin to Zyrtec because the Claritin wasn't doing either of us any good, and I heard some of the moms at Patrick's soccer game saying that they switched and the coughing went away like magic. I know it can take a few days, so I'm just waiting and hoping. If she hasn't stopped coughing by tomorrow, though, I'm taking her to the doctor. She also takes Singulair, because when she was younger she had asthma problems, although she hasn't had an attack in almost three years, and I feel like it can't hurt for her to take it seasonally just in case, especially since it's also approved for allergies.

Also, just for fun, the main sewer line to the house is all effed up, and I'm sitting here in my fog while everyone else is at church waiting for the plumber to come and fix it. We can still use the toilets, but every time we do we take a chance of it backing up into the downstairs shower, which it has done a couple of times, although it then goes back down slooowwwllyyy. I am NOT looking forward to cleaning up THAT after he leaves. YUCK. I think that will call for just sticking my arm in through the door and wildly spraying scrubbing bubbles at every surface and then running away for awhile until I can pretend that that will have made it less gross. I'm especially bummed because the kids are doing a skit in front of the church this morning, and Josie gets to stand up in the pulpit and be the narrator. It's her first time doing something like that, and I'm so proud of her, and now I'm going to miss it because the plumber will be here 'between 8 and noon'. Or, you know, sometime tomorrow. So, I'm really sad.

And grossed out.

And allergic / sick.

And high.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Now I'm It, Too!

It is 4:45am. I have been awake since about 3:30, and after a little while it became obvious that I wasn't going to go back to sleep , because my throat was coughy-feeling from being tucked in with my allergies all night, and, more importantly, I started to feel hungry, so I figured what better thing to do at this loverly time of day but get up, make some cocoa, have a snack, and check in with you all!

Lo and behold, to my delight, I discovered that I got tagged for a meme by Kristi! I have to share six things about myself, and then tag six of you lucky, lucky people out there! I'm not sure there are six things about me that you simultaneously do not know AND will care about, but here we go!

1. My dad left when I was 3, and I didn't talk to him again for any length of time until I was in my early 30s. In fact, the only reason I spoke to him then was because I was in therapy and my therapist suggested that I find him and ask him some questions I had (which is a whole other post that I will get into another time). I did, and we talked pretty regularly for about a year, at which time it just became too much pressure - he and his wife were doing things like freaking out on me when I didn't call for a week, when, hello, I had two kids AND it's not like he didn't call me for, oh, THIRTY YEARS - and I had to end it. It was a good for me to have done, though, both the initial contact and the ending of said contact.

2. I am increasingly annoyed by people who are rabid about politics. I feel like I got a lot of that out when I was in college, and now that I'm older, while my opinions haven't changed, I'm more interested in hearing the other side and being understanding of where others are coming from. I have one friend who is SO into Obama that she practically lectures me on his importance every time I see her, and I want to scream, I'm ALREADY VOTING FOR HIM, AND YOU KNOW IT, so lay off, Professor!

3. I like to be alone. As in, I enjoy the days when I literally don't have to speak until I pick up the kids from school. I mean, I talk to the dogs and listen to the radio, but after all the years of constant jabbering in my ear, I'm with Garbo - I just want to be alone.

4. I have a phone problem. The very thought of having to pick up the phone and call anyone, whether it be to make an appointment or even return a call about a playdate, makes me squirm inside. There are certain people I don't feel that way about, like my SIL Jen, with whom it is easy to just fall into conversation, but more utilitarian communications I wish could all be done via email or text.

5. My toenail STILL hasn't completely grown back in right (man, looking at that picture makes me cringe now!). It's *almost* there. The initial part that had turned black finally all grew out, but the new one that came in initially was all warped and wavy-looking, and I was actually scared that I was never going to have a normal one again. This upset me not because it was a reminder of a medical issue, but because I want to wear toenail polish again, dammit! (See, I know where my priorities are, people!) Now, finally, there is normal-looking nail growing in, so by spring my slothlike nail growing-out should be finished. Sheesh.

6. I love the way my dogs smell, especially when they've been outside on a crisp day. They smell like sunshine, and fresh air, and earth. I do *not* enjoy when my house smells doggy, which is an entirely different, cooped-up smell. When I'm on the couch, though, or on the bed, and Baci comes over and snuggles up against me, it's the most relaxing, simple thing in the world. I honestly think that that is one of the things in the world that makes me the happiest.

Now, for the Tagging!

How about...

Sher at It's Sherendipity
Kelsey at Midwest Mom
Sue at My Party of Six
Rebecca at Life With Boys
LoriD at Not The Mother Of The Year
Kate at The Blankie Chronicles

Snap to it, now!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Endings

We have a large wooden playset in our back yard. We don't have a fence, and we live on the corner, so it's pretty much open to the world, and I've told one of our neighbors across the street who has a small daughter (and a baby boy on the way any day now) that she's more than welcome to use it anytime. I mean, playsets are for playing, and they're really nice people, so why not? At first she was a little shy about it, but lately I've come across them several times when I've pulled up, and it's been nice having them by.

Anyhoo, today they were there when I came home from getting the kids from school, and as we got to talking, I remembered to tell her that if she saw our cat, to let us know, because it had been almost a week and we were getting desperate. Her eyes got big, and she said that a few days before one of our other neighbors had mentioned to her that she had heard a cat crying in yet another neighbor's band/shed/workshop behind their houses. The two of them had gone to look, and it was a small, grey cat with a shiny metal piece on the collar. I nearly fainted - she had described Sasha.

We went running over (well, she waddled - she IS due literally any day and the poor girl looks like she swallowed a beach ball), and as we went she said that it had been several days, and she didn't know if the cat would be there still. When we got there, we were able to press against one door while simultaneously pulling against the other one (they are barn-style doors that slide), and through the crack I called, 'Sasha! Kitty Mao!' Not two seconds later, there she was!!!!!!! I almost started crying. I couldn't believe it!!!!! There she was!

(Now, I don't know why she was still in there if a neighbor had heard her crying a few days earlier, and frankly, I don't care. They're all really, really nice people, so if someone forgot to mention a crying cat in someone else's garage, well, I suppose things happen, and maybe I wouldn't have thought to mention it to the garage's owner, either. Well, OK, maybe I would have, but only because I'm ridiculously attached to animals and OCD. Still, I'm so grateful that I can't possibly be mad.)

Unfortunately, we couldn't get the door open, because it was padlocked, but since it was already 4pm, we decided to just wait. There was quite a crowd, with Josie, Patrick, and I, the pregnant Jen and her 2yo Isabella, neighbor #2 Kathleen and her son, Matt, and another neighbor that noticed us all out there, Nancy. Kathleen went inside and got us some cat food, which Josie put into her hand a little at a time and fed to Sasha through a small space under the door, and Nancy brought out a tupperware lid that we could slide under with water. Sasha actually ate out of Josie's hand, which shows how hungry the poor thing was. Poor Patrick burst into tears because he was so excited to have found the cat, and also because we couldn't get her out. He really is a sweet, sweet little boy. After I calmed him down, I left for a moment to call DH and tell him the exciting news, and he said that if the guy who owned the garage wasn't back before he got home, he was going to bust open the lock and get Josie her cat. (Is it wrong that I am thrilled and swoony over my husband threatening to demolish property over a cat?)

Unfortunately again, while I was gone, the garage owner, Frank, came home and opened the garage, only to have Sasha disappear in the meantime. They didn't think she had come out, but we couldn't find her inside, either. By then, Josie had had enough and dissolved into tears because her cat wouldn't come to her. I reminded her that poor Sasha had been locked in the dark for almost a week, and that it was like us being trapped in a cave, alone. She was obviously afraid of all the commotion, the strangers, and probably blinded by the light. Finally, the owner said that he would leave a door open just in case, and we exchanged phone numbers before the three of us walked back to the house.

I waited for awhile on the porch, and paced around the house, fearful that she had run away again, but I also had a feeling that 1) she was still in that garage and 2) I needed to go over there alone to get her. So, I sat Patrick in front of the TV, told Josie to stay put, and went back over. Sure enough, there was NOT a door left open, and there was my little kitty staring at me through the crack in the door again! I went up to the house and knocked on the door, and Frank came out with a flashlight. We went in through a smaller door in the back of the shed, and though she tried to hide again, I managed to catch the little squirm and carry her home, freaked out as she was.

And here she is, along with a very, very happy little Josie Girl:

Look at that smile. :)

After a well-deserved meal, a long drink, and a good rub with a kitty wipe to get the grime off of her, guess what was first on Sasha Cat's list of things to do? Play with her feather-on-a-stick? Be brushed? Climb on her overpriced kitty condo?

No, no, no.

She wanted to go outside.

And my answer to that was, um, NO, I think not. Ungrateful little furball. But we do love her so.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hey, I'm Rich!

Well, everyone, it's been nice knowing you, but I've apparently won the lottery in not one, not two, but FOUR different countries! I know, right?! What are the odds??? I have won pounds, de niro, and whatever currency exists in Zimbabwe! I've won money that I don't even know what it's called! WOW!

I have proof, too, right here in my email. Many people are emailing me these days, detailing how easy it will be for me to collect these monies from these lotteries I don't remember entering (mental note: start taking Ginko, because my memory is apparently shot). All I need to do is reply, in Secret, of course, because we wouldn't want anyone stealing my internet winnings, to these people, one of whom is a Sultan, for heaven's sake, and tell them where to put the cash. There's only a small fee, so there's no problem, my friend.

Yeah, right.

Who are these people, and why are they emailing me?!?! I mean, it's non-stop these days!!! I am literally winning a lottery a DAY. I am the richest, most secretive winner EVER, apparently. I can't believe that anyone would ever respond to these poorly-written, grammatically-incorrect little notices, no matter who they say they're from.

Typically, these things target the elderly more than anyone. Does this mean I'm getting old? I mean, I'm almost 35. Only a few more days. Holy crap, maybe that's why I can't remember entering these lotteries!!! Maybe there is something to this, after all, then?! Hold on, let me get out my reading glasses and have another look at these emails....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Up...

For those of you who are interested, the book site is up... it's called Literally Booked, and the first Book of the Month and review are up.

OMG, y'all, I'm a CHAIN!!!!

Kind of. You know, not a gold one or anything, but hopefully not the kind that turns your neck black if you wear it in the shower, either.

Just Throwing It Out There...

First, thanks to you all for crossing your fingers about our cat, and your consolations. It makes me feel better that there are people out there who care about us!

Now, for something entirely different:

I am going to start a book site, where I'm going to talk about the books I've read, etc. I'm thinking about hosting a book club on it, too, because I've noticed from some of your sites, and others that I browse occasionally, that we seem to have similar interests / reading lists. Would anyone be interested in anything like that? I figure we could have a book, and then anytime during the month, up until a certain date, we could all post comments and ideas about what we read. Sometimes I read things, and I'm like, WOW!!! I want to talk to someone about this Thing! But there's no one to talk to about it. So, I thought this could be fun. In fact, I'm going to start it, and then anyone who wants to join in, feel free. I'll let you all know when it's up; I'm going to start the site in the next day or so.

That's it for now. I'm actually Making An Effort in the culinary department today! I'm making Braised Beef with Sundried Tomatoes, which is one of my favorite things, but since it takes awhile to be ready, I have to plan ahead, and with soccer, choirs, piano, etc, it's been hard to find time. Finally, I decided the other day that I'll get the initial steps done, and then put it into the crockpot for the simmering portion, so I won't have to be home to babysit it! It's amazing over rice, and I can't wait to eat it tonight!!!!! I make it a lot when we have guests, and it always gets completely eaten up, which is impressive because I always make a double batch when anyone's coming over!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Various Updates

On The Cat:

There is no sign of Sasha Cat anywhere. It's like she vanished into thin air. I am So Sad. I keep thinking her little kitty face is going to appear outside the window, doing her silent 'Mao!' to be let in if it's closed (we don't have screens in many of our windows, which is why she became allowed outside to begin with when we moved here - we literally had no way to keep her in, especially after that time she leaped off of the second floor porch into the tree!). I miss hearing her purring, and seeing her curled up with Josie in bed.

Josie, for her part, has been taking this well. So well, in fact, that I dared to breathe the Unspoken; Kitty Mao might not be coming back. Josie was not quite ready for that idea, I think, and looked very upset, so I immediately launched into how fat she was probably getting off of the squirrels she's been catching, etc, which made her laugh, to picture Sasha rolling around on the floor, all fat. It's been five days, though, and in all seriousness, I think that she is in reality not coming back.

I have never had this happen. Sasha, and our other cat, Fiona, who we had to give away because one she turned a year old she and Sasha had a literal peeing contest all over the upstairs of the house, were my first cats ever. I was not prepared for how much I would like them, having been a dog owner all my life. I mean, I liked other people's cats and whatnot, but I didn't know I would be Into cats. I can't imagine a dog running off like that and not wanting to come back. Hell, I can't even PEE without Baci trying to stand between my legs, never mind leaving me entirely!

I don't know what we'll do after this. I imagine that Josie will want another cat, someday. I just don't know. After we gave Fiona away, she ran away from her new house (she was practically feral, though, which was part of the problem with her), and now Sasha has left our home. Maybe it's that they were both adopted, and they had both had some history of being outside before we got them, that has led us to this point. I just can't imagine asking for this kind of thing again. But, we did love having a cat. Even DH admits that he's sad.


About the Hamster:

Patrick has not yet asked to get another hamster, so we haven't. I imagine the next time we go to the store, he will ask for one, and I will get it then. He did mention Aniken today, in his Head Count of Boys In The House, and when I reminded him that we didn't have Aniken anymore, he just said, 'Oh, yeah' and moved on. Phew.

As for the Teasing:

So far, it hasn't happened again. I had a conversation with Josie's friend's mom, who had also been in the classroom last week, and she was as horrified as I was, so I told her how I had been to the principal, and suggested that she go as well. I'll be in there tomorrow afternoon again, and if things are still the same, maybe I'll ask (or suggest) that I could wander around among the students, 'helping them' to stay on track, rather than doing the one-on-one thing for awhile. Maybe having a roving police force is more what she needs at the moment. Or a roaming sniper. Either way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Grocery Roundup Report: October 12th

This trip wasn't as stellar as some others I've had, but it's still pretty good. In all fairness, the store wasn't running any huge promotion, so I didn't have the chance to earn or use any big-time store register coupons. Still, my favorite thing for the week was the Manager's special on Smithfield sausages: they were on sale for $.99, and several of them had save-now coupons on them for $.50 each, meaning each package was only $.49! I hadn't been planning on getting that brand, but who can turn down a deal like that?! I'm sure they're Just Fine.

In summary:

-Number of coupons used: 32 (I think that's a record! The girlie at the register actually asked me if they were really all for this one trip!)
- Amount saved with coupons: $27.45
- Bonus coupons: $8.25
- Club (store sale) savings: $53.99 (there were several BOGO sales this week)
-Total savings: $89.69 (21% off)
-Total items bought: 139
-Total spent: $340.15
-Gas Points Earned: 160 (=$1.60 off each gallon of gas the next time I go)

I also have 378 grocery points: once I reach 800 I get another 20%-off-my-entire-trip coupon. I should finish earning those by mid-November, so the next really big trip for me will be just before Thanksgiving (which I'm pretty sure we're not having at our house this year).

I have definitely noticed prices going up. Granted, since I shop in two-week increments, this is really $170/week, but I *used* to buy a lot more organic items than I do now. I have recently limited my organic purchases to grape tomatoes (because they're easily available and not too much more expensive, and Patrick eats them like candy), milk and eggs, and this week I'm trying Stonyfield Farms yogurt (which is surprisingly tasty, I have to say), and our bill is *still* higher than it used to be. This is in addition to shopping at a less expensive store than I used to before the Weis opened nearby. I also didn't need any detergents or household cleaners this trip, or any puppy chow, or the bill would have been higher. I tried a new thing this time, and bought a bag of pre-frozen chicken breasts (I think they're Perdue), because it seemed less expensive, but when I went to use them tonight, they were veiny, so we lost a lot of the meat to trimming. Oh, well.

The other thing I did this week to help was I made out our two-week meal plan *before* I went shopping. Usually I do this after I've gone, and just get whatever is on sale and try to make meals out of it. This has worked with only varying success. I think this will work better. Also, I went through the flier with my coupon binder (which worked out very, very well on it's inaugural voyage, BTW; I spent significantly less time searching for tiny papers, and had handy pockets to put the used coupons in for the rest of the trip, to boot) before I went to the store to determine what I was going to get. I think this trip did take less time, too.

Several of you have said recently that you're going to give couponing a try. Anybody had any luck? Here's a starter for you: I saw in the CVS flier today that they're having bagged candy on sale for 2/$3.50, and there have been all kinds of candy coupons in the papers lately. It would be pretty easy to get each bag for less than $1. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Third Thing

True to the Rule of Threes, today the proverbial third thing happened.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, going through my coupon binder with the store flier in preparation for the bi-monthly trip (summary of that tomorrow), when Josie came running down the stairs holding Aniken, Patrick's hamster. His eyes were covered with this white sticky stuff, not regular crust but not yellow pus either; it was weird, creamy-looking stuff.

What I thought was going to be a simple trip to the vet for antibiotics turned into a funeral later in the morning. It turned out that, when I held him, in the few days since I had seen him, he had gotten dehydrated and had obviously stopped eating. The vet found a tumor in his mouth, which was probably irritating his sinuses and causing the eye issue, in addition to making it painful for him to eat. There was only one solution. Josie was with me, and she was cool as a cucumber; I was a little teary, myself.

Patrick, who thankfully hadn't come with us to the vet, cried a little, but in the manner of little boys, moved on pretty quickly and was a very big boy. While we were walking from the house to the backyard, though, I heard him talking to Aniken in the box we brought the poor thing home in, saying good-bye and that he loved him. It broke my heart, but I was so proud of him. What a little man. He also helped dig the grave, and put Aniken into it, wrapped in a paper towel, himself.

I'll probably take him to the store later to pick out another hamster. He always took great care of Aniken, taking care to hold him gently and play with him and feed him regularly, so he deserves another pet if he wants one. In fact, DH is going out tonight with friends, so maybe that's how I'll pass the evening; I'll take the kids to Target for Patrick's Harry Potter costume, then next door to PetCo to find the newest member of our family.

Friday, October 10, 2008



I haven't seen the cat in two days. She's rarely gone overnight, and NEVER has been gone this long. I think something has Happened.

I did the morbid thing and looked around the neighborhood in the streets, to see if ... well, you know. But I didn't see anything.

She wears a collar, so her name and our number are on it.

Also, this is Josie's cat. The one I bought her three years ago when her idiot guinea pigs ate their cage liners and died from intestinal blockages right before Christmas (actually, two of them died, and the third had to be... helped... in an effort that I should never, ever discuss in public). She's been a really nice cat. Josie hasn't noticed yet, because we were out most of the day yesterday, and she has a friend over now, so she probably won't be looking for her until later tonight or tomorrow morning.

I have a sick feeling.

Oh, shit.

WHAT Did You Call My Baby?!

Yesterday when I picked up the kids, Josie was uncharacteristically quiet. I asked what had happened, and she said that two kids in her class had been calling her 'a jerk and stuff'. I asked her why, and at first she told me she didn't know, but then it came out that one of them was laying across her desk and she didn't like it, so kept telling him to move. He and his friend then started calling her all sorts of things, apparently, and of course the teacher, who has no control over the class anyway, either didn't hear or didn't bother to do anything because there were more pressing problems going on.

A minute later, though, she said, 'oh, and now I know how you felt when the kids at school called you fat, because they called me that, too.'

If you happened to hear an ear-splitting rending of the earth into two pieces, that would have been my internal reaction to her telling me that. My entire, horrible, ostracized childhood came flooding back, complete with little Erik Anderson talking incessantly about my 'excess blubber fat' and having things occasionally thrown at me. Even writing this, I am mentally curled into a little ball in the dusty corner of my mind, rocking. My baby, my baby can't go through this.....

Of course, outwardly, I was all cool and calm, and asked her how she was feeling, and she said fine, so I asked her whether she felt any of the things they said were true, like was she a jerk or polka-dotted or fat or pin-striped (I added those last things in to make her laugh, obviously the little sh*ts urchins didn't actually call her those things), and she said that she didn't. She told me that she had tried to ignore them, but it didn't work, and she didn't go to her teacher. I told her that if she still had trouble, and wanted to go to her teacher, then she should go, because she deserves help and attention just as much as the brats children who get it all the time by being naughty.

As I was saying this, I was thinking about all the ridiculous things that adults used to say to me when I complained about being teased. They were things like, just ignore them (which will work for the occasional tease but not for the incessant badgering I received on a daily basis), or my personal favorite, he's only doing that to get your attention because he has a crush on you. Yes, I'm SURE little Erik had a thing for me, which is why he and his friends ridiculed me up and down the halls of my elementary school for five straight years. That makes PERFECT sense. However, I also began to understand why they said those things to me. I was hurting, and really, there was nothing they could do to make me feel better, so they told me lies. What I don't understand is how they ever thought that I would buy these lies coming out of their mouths. I mean, really. How stupid did they think I was?

In addition, I understood the value of these lies to the liar, because they prevent you from saying the things that are REALLY on your mind, like 'I'm gonna kill that little f*cker next time I come in there!!!!, or 'just wait until HIS turn for one-one-one reading comes around'. Because, of course what I WANT to do is stuff an entire bar of soap into their mouths. In reality, there's not a lot I can do other than coach her in ways to react, and ways NOT to react. This is harder than it used to be, because schools seem to favor bullies so heavily. I know that sounds strange, especially with the whole anti-bullying campaign thing going on in the country now, but it's true. I can't count the number of times that I've heard parents tell me that the bullying situation in their classroom was 'resolved' by the principal calling both students into the office and having the bully apologize for 'accidentally' pushing the other child. Also, I've heard a lot of stories from parents whose children finally either pushed back or yelled something at their teaser, only to be punished themselves because the bully, being more practiced at the art of not getting caught, hadn't been seen, while the pick-ee was the one who got noticed reacting.

What I finally came up with to suggest to her to say was, no matter what he says to her, is 'I'm fine as long as I'm nothing like you.' That's not a typical insult, it has no 'bad' words, and, being an unusual thing to say, will probably at least get their attention. It was all I could come up with on the fly. We've dealt with bullying before, in another school, but that boy really DID have a thing for Josie, and was pushing her to get attention, in addition to calling the house wanting to talk to her, etc. The teachers wouldn't really help her, because they kept passing the buck as to who should deal with it - the recess teacher said that it was a classroom problem, the classroom teacher said if it didn't happen in the classroom she didn't want to hear about it, etc. In the meantime, Josie was coming home with bruises and scrapes from being shoved to the ground! That time, I had her yell out 'Here's Brian again!!! I guess he's still in LOVE with me!' whenever he came near her at recess. It worked like a charm - he was embarrassed, and left her alone after that. (This was the school I pulled her out of to homeschool for the rest of the year, BTW.)

This situation is more tricky. I'm hoping it was a one-time thing, but in that classroom, you really just can't tell. I probably will be spending some time with the offending boys when I volunteer, and if it continues, and Josie is OK with it, I will make it plain that I have their parents' phone numbers in the school directory, and I will be calling if I hear about this again, in the hopes that the threat to call their parents would stop them. Honestly, I'm not sure actually calling their parents would help, but the idea that I would do it might. Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Here It Is... and, Uh-Oh

This is my new car!!!! Isn't she preeeety?!

Note the large Doggie Loading Zone:

Plus, the back seats fold down, so the entire back of the car can be packed full o' crap, should the need arise. Mostly, though, it will be packed full of Dog. Plus, the back window opens, so they can drool out the back of the car rather than down the inside of the windows.
This was their first inaugural doggie ride. Keeping the rear seats in their upright position forces them to pretty much sit while I'm driving, which is actually a lot better than the way they used to bounce around in the back of the minivan.

Now for the uh-oh: Patrick saw my last post title this morning in the emails with your comments, and he REALLY wants to know what a MILF is. I have a feeling that since I wouldn't give a committed answer, it's not at all unlikely he's going to ask his teacher. THAT'll be a fine how-do-ya-do when I pick the kids up this afternoon! Oh, dear. Also, he discovered the word f*ck the other day, completely by accident. He was doing rhyming words for homework, and calling out words that would rhyme with truck, whether they were real words or not, and he must have liked how it sounded, because he kept SAYING it - 'f*ck, truck! f*ck, truck!' I told DH to let it go and not make a big deal, since he didn't know what he was saying, but NOOOO, DH had to yell at him to stop, that that was a very bad word. Great. Now he has a word to use that he KNOWS is bad. So, if your kid comes home saying some kid named Patrick said to tell you that F*CK is a bad word, can he/she use it, you'll know who to thank. You're welcome!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm SO Not a MILF Anymore...

Obviously I've been spending too much time in that germ-factory they call school, because now I'm sick! As in, my throat is hideously swollen, my head is full of something that is suspiciously like leaded cotton, and my neck hurts. And yes, I would like some cheese with this whine... maybe some of that yummy port wine cheddar spread? Mmmmm. I could just eat it from the container so as to not eat the pointy crackers, 'cuz I keeps it real like that.


I got a new car today!!!!! I spent a lot of time online looking at this and that, and today I got back early from a trip downstate to meet my SIL Jen and niece Bug at IKEA, which is one of my very favorite stores. Traffic was good, so it only took me just over an hour (that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it), and I decided to stop in and look at some of the cars I'd seen online.

My friends (as John McCain would say - and did, a nauseating 1000 times the other night), car salesmen are the most obnoxious group of people alive. That has to be the worst job EVER. Also, did you know that many dealerships do not post the asking price of the used cars on the cars themselves anymore? They don't!!!! SO you HAVE to talk to one of these people, whether you want to or not, which I did not because I just wanted to look at the DAMN CARS. Just to show how obnoxious some of the people I met today were, one older guy that came to talk to me about the cars I was trying to look at asked me RIGHT AWAY what my husband did for a living!!! He didn't ask what *I* did, or anything about me. Now, I don't work right now, but asking that question in that way was SO PATERNALISTIC, like he was asking me what my Daddy did. I said, 'Excuse me?', and he said 'Oh, sorry', but I turned heel and walked away. He asked if I wanted his card, to which I chirped, 'No!' and told him that the next time, he shouldn't assume that the only thing that matters is what the man makes. He looked very flustered, and rightly so. I mean, really!!!!

Another place I went to was a repair shop that also sold cars, a little place, and there was an old Subaru wagon I wanted to look at. I sh*t you not, this guy came out and said, 'Yeah?' Nice. When the back hatch door wouldn't open when he turned the key, he said, 'Well, shit! This is a shitty thing!' On top of that, he knew nothing about the car, not even how to work the fold-down third row of seats. Uh-huh. I told him I wasn't interested anymore, and he said, 'I don't blame you! We just get them at dealer auction, anyway.' Nice.

The final place I went was where I ended up getting the car. There was a really nice guy there, about 24 years old or so, who was polite, not pushy, and talkative. The blue book value was clearly marked on the car. The entire transaction took less than two hours, which I think is some kind of car-sale record. I mean, that's all we all really want, isn't it? A plain, open shopping experience with someone who acts like a normal person, and maybe doesn't ass-rape us in the financing department, is all that's called for.

Do you want to know what I got?

I'll bet you do.

I'll bet you're like, man, I wish I wrecked MY car so I could get a new(ish) car, too!!!!

Drumroll, please!

It's a ... Pontiac Vibe, manual transmission, bright blue, with a sun roof, rear window that actually opens for the dogs, and lots of space!!! I love it!!!! There's enough room to put the dogs in the back even when the rear seats aren't folded down, as long as they sit in one place rather than bouncing around (Baci already has a car harness, but I might get one for Tyler, too, just to make sure they don't get any fancy ideas at red lights when the rear window is open - there's a place to fasten them to, amazingly enough), and it's got the roomiest back seat I've ever seen. The rear windows go all the way down, not just halfway like a lot of newer cars, and it's only 4yrs old with 56k. Hooray!!! We talked them down to $10k for it, which is below the blue book value, so I feel like we got a fair deal, too. AND, the A/C WORKS. Even the heater works!!! Oh, happy day!!!

So, I'm not a MILFmobile driver anymore, but at least I'm not MINIVAN driver anymore, either!!! HA! Plus, that MILFmobile seatbelt was rubbing my neck like an old thong that you keep trying to use even when it doesn't QUITE suit you anymore.

Anyhoo, y'all can stop by and try out my cool new ride, if you're in the neighborhood. You know, so my non-minivanness can rub off on you a little and such.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Now Presenting... The MILF Mobile!!!!

Unfortunately, my car is totaled. Our state just passed some new law that says that if the car is more damaged than 75% of its worth, which my 100k+ mi 2000 minivan was, it's a loss. Crap. They actually took into account the broken a/c and heater, which was busted before this, unless it's even MORE busted now, which is possible, I suppose. Anyway, even with all used parts, it was going to be $4500 to fix it, and it was only worth about $5k to start with.

So, I'm getting about $3k towards a new car. Well, new to me, anyway, since it will have been previously new to someone else! Oh, well. I don't mind having a used car, and if the a/c and heat work right, it'll be a better car than the one I just lost! Also, it will not be a minivan. I've had one of those for nine years, and since I no longer have a stroller or any of the larger baby crap, and most of the time I'm driving I'm by myself, there's no need for me to be using so much gas and have such bad mileage. I'm looking forward to driving something smaller than Rhode Island!

I have to send in my title to the insurance company, and they'll send me a check, which should take about a week total. In the meantime, look at the total MILF Mobile I get to drive, thanks to Geico!

It's a Pontiac G5, which I think means something like that the hamsters under the hood run 5x as fast as my old car! Plus, the radio keeps playing even after I shut off the car! After the minivan, it's like driving freakin' KITT!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!! The a/c works and everything!!!! Plus also, I'll bet the front left tire won't lose air all the time, either! AND, I'm betting that the windshield wipers don't randomly go off, either. Dude, I am STYLIN'.

At least, for the next week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We're Fine, But...

I had a car accident today. It's my first in about five years, and only my second ever.

I was on my home from an awful trip to Target with Patrick to pick out birthday presents for a birthday party he's going to tomorrow for twins in his K class. It was awful because he's reached the age where he's old enough to care what people get, but not old enough to understand the concept of what kinds of gifts are appropriate / we can afford, so he just points at everything we walk past, saying he wants to get them that. And, of course, just as we got to the hair care area to get my hair stuff, he had to go to the bathroom, which is conveniently located outside the register area, so you can't get there without going through the registers. Also, I am hugely PMSing, so I didn't have to world's highest amount of patience with all of the jabbering and pestering.

We got into the car, and were halfway home in heavy traffic heading into the downtown area when the car in front of me stopped short, and I didn't have time to stop. I banged into her, and she in turn banged into the car in front of her, which was stopped in the middle of the busy road trying to turn into a driveway. Of course, I try to do my best at everything, so the other two cars were a Mustang (this was the car I actually hit) and a Buick.

Everyone was OK, although the airbag in the Mustang, which was driven by a nineteen year-old girl and her boyfriend, deployed when she hit the Buick. It must have a really touchy airbag, because there was barely a scratch on the Buick. The front ends of both my car and the Mustang were pretty smashed up, and I proceeded to leak what I later found out was antifreeze all over the road. Sigh.

A few minutes after it happened, an off-duty EMT showed up by chance, and informed us that he had already called paramedics and the state police for us, did anyone want him to check them over? We had already decided amongst ourselves that we weren't going to call the police, and no one was hurt at all, so that ended up being a big hassle. I *am* grateful to him for checking on us, since not everyone would do that, so it was very nice of him, but I think his youth and excitement at being the first on a 'scene' caused him to overreact just a smidge. So, thank you Mr. EMT, I ended up with a $130 ticket for failing to control my speed and avoid a collision from the state cop you called.

Actually, though, in the end it might have been best that the cop was there. He was very, very nice, and since everyone at the scene was nice as well, and had all our papers in order, it was an easy experience for him. And, in the end, I think he saved me, because....

(before I continue, let me say that five-and-a-half year-old boys all need to be sedated, All The Time. My boy, especially, seems to need some kind of shock collar that automatically buzzes when he does something stupid, which lately is every five minutes)

while I was busy leaning into the car on my cell phone, which had OF COURSE run out of juice while I was making the appropriate calls so I was tied to the a/c power, trying to hear the insurance information, I could see Patrick out of the corner of my eye, standing next to the car, playing with the gravel on the grass at the side of the road (there was a very wide shoulder, and the police car was parked about two yards behind me, so he wasn't anywhere near traffic). I let him do it, because 1) I was tied to the car, 2)the poor kid had been stuck with me there for about 45 minutes, and 3)he was at least behaving himself. Or so I thought.

A minute later, there was a man walking towards me, hollering and waving his hands. Apparently, my little urchin was tossing the stones into the street, and had hit some cars. This guy was PISSED, and had actually pulled over to scream at me and my son about this, while I was trapped on the side of the road with a leaking radiator and crumpled front end!! I was Petrified. That guy was mad, and he was yelling that 'your kid threw a boulder at my car!!!!' Thank God for that police officer, because he was there in a flash, herding the guy away from me and back towards his car. I head the guy yelling that he was 'freaked out because he got hit by a boulder that THAT KID THREW AT ME', but the cop got rid of him. Then, Mr. Police came back and had a little talking-to with Patrick, which I was already having as well. Of course, this was the End Of My Rope, and I started to cry. I already felt terrible and shaken, and that scary stranger was enough to send me over the edge. The guy had every right to be mad, and I wouldn't have been upset if he had pulled over and scolded Patrick like a normal person, but seriously, while it was a stupid thing for a kid to do, and big deal, it wasn't a Big Deal, especially not enough to pull over and freak out on a five year-old and his mom who were just in an accident. Also, what the hell kind of crazy delinquent mother did I look like THEN?! I can see the paper headlines now - Local Woman Causes Multiple Traffic Outrages In Friday Rush Hour.

Anyway, the officer was great, and the tow truck showed up, and the car's in the driveway. The insurance adjuster will show up sometime early next week and look at it, wherever I have it towed to for repairs. I'll have a rental car until it's fixed, thanks to the insurance company. I hope my insurance doesn't go up because of this, but I have a feeling it might. DH got hit in April, and now this... I have a feeling we're screwed. I've been with Geico since I started driving in '97, but still. Sigh.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times

Today, I volunteered in both kids' classrooms, with Patrick in the morning, and Josie in the afternoon. I had originally planned only on Josie's class, but at the walk-a-thon yesterday (the grand prize for which was won by a girl with thirteen aunts and uncles, BTW) Patrick's teacher came over and asked if I could help her today, so I went in.

Like last time, when I arrived in Ms. N's class, the little K students were getting ready to sit in a circle and sing their morning songs. There was a neat list for me of things that she needed help with at the table in the back of the room, which was light copying, putting homework into kids' binders, and then working with the kids individually on a pattern project where they took colored stars they had made and glued them to a paper band, which I then stapled into a crown that they could wear. It was adorable, and the kids were happy to do it, as usual. When circle time was over, the kids divided into three groups - writing, reading, and centers, and did what they were supposed to do while classical music played from Ms. N's player. It was a very nice hour and a half. Ms. N is a very sweet, rainbows-shooting-out-of-her-butt kind of teacher, but you can also tell that there's something a lot more sassy under there, too. I like her a lot.

I then ran some errands, came home to let the dogs out, and went back to the school after lunch to help Josie's teacher, Ms. M, with reading.

There was no one in the classroom when I got there, so I waited for about ten minutes, and when the kids came in from lunch/recess, many of them said 'hi' to me (they remembered me from the field trip) but Ms. M marched right past me without a glance. I know she saw me, she just didn't speak. She then proceeded to IGNORE ME for close to fifteen minutes more while she attempted to get the group of kids to settle down and copy their homework down into their binders and begin independent reading. I say 'attempted' because it did not work. Period. I would say that out of 25 kids in the class, MAYBE five of them did what they were told. The rest of them kept talking, walking around, and, in two boys' case, throwing things at each other (paper, pencils, etc, in a play way, not a fighting way). Meanwhile, she was mitigating an argument between two girls, and occasionally throwing out commands for people to sit down, be quiet, etc, which the children basically ignored. Once she was done with that, she finally came over to me, said something about them being crazy after lunch, and said that I would be working one-on-one with kids, whoever I chose, and that they should read aloud to me. Since there was nowhere for me to take the kids, literally not an extra pair of chairs or surface in the room, I simply chose a child from Josie's cluster of seats and brought her to the front of the room to sit with me on the floor while Ms. M took the first reading group to the table. I'm not kidding you, she had to stop every few minutes to ask for quiet, and it was so loud in there from children talking and horsing around that the kids I was working with had to read to me in a normal tone of voice rather than a hushed one!

Josie was the third child I took, and in the hubbub I asked her if it was always like this, and she said, 'yeah, pretty much.' I asked her if she liked it in this class, or if she thought she might like it better in the other class, but she said no, she was fine where she was.

It only got worse from there, too; after the first group finished at the table and the next one went up, I was sitting on the floor with R, a boy with serious ADD, and one of the boys threw a spitball at him, which actually landed on me!!!! Can you imagine, actually doing something like that to someone who's SITTING WITH an adult?!?! I knew who had done it, too, and he knew I knew, so rather than get up and get Ms. M, who obviously wasn't in control of anything, I simply stared at the boy for about three minutes straight, while he sank lower and lower in his seat. R was upset, though, and stood up in the middle of the room and yelled to his teacher finally, 'MS M - WHO THREW THIS AT ME?!?!' She actually said, I kid you not, 'I don't know, R, sit down.' ?! He had something thrown at him, complained, and she didn't care. This says to me that either it happens all the time, so she doesn't care anymore, or she has so little control that that's the least of her problems. I think it's a combination of both, really.

After a few more minutes, Ms. M abruptly stood up and announced that it was the end of reading time, put away your books, it's time to do testing drills. She didn't look at me, and since I was scheduled to be there 90min, and I had only been there an hour (with almost half of that being waiting or being ignored by her at the beginning), I figured I was supposed to help. WRONG. She completely ignored me again, until finally I decided that I must be supposed to leave, so I got my purse, and only then did she say a terse, 'thank you'. That was it.

I was entirely shell-shocked. When I went back in another hour to pick up the kids, while we walked home I asked her again whether she was OK in that class, and whether she felt like she was able to learn in there. She said that she was used to it, and just tuned it out, which seemed to be true, since literally (and I'm not bragging here), out of her table of five kids, the ADD boy R was talking to himself, the other three were loudly talking and laughing with each other, and she was sitting there reading silently. I don't think this was because I was there, because she comes home with perfect scores on behavior every day, and although I know she's far from perfect, she's never been a discipline problem in school.

I'm slated to go into this class every Tues and Thurs afternoon for reading, lucky me. I'm torn between running for the hills screaming and barging in there every single afternoon!!! It's obvious that there's no effective discipline - even one of the girls in the class smart-mouthed her back when she asked a rhetorical 'why do you all think you can act like that?' with 'because you're too soft!' The girl got a nasty look, but she was speaking the truth. Also, several of the children are entirely disrespectful, sassy creatures. I was tempted to go straight to the principal's office once I escaped the classroom, but decided that I should wait until I go in again and can speak of a pattern that I've personally seen, rather than based on Josie's stories and my one time in the room. I know this isn't a new teacher, because she actually taught at the school Josie was at last year, but lost her job when the school was redistricted. The ignoring parents thing isn't new for her, either - she wasn't very friendly on the field trip, either. Maybe she's got a lack of confidence thing going or something, which would explain both her behavior towards me and the kids' lack of respect for her. Either way, WHOA.

Anyone with older kids have any input on this? I mean, I know better than to think that a K class and a 4th grade room would be alike, but to me this seems extreme. As long as Josie doesn't mind, and is learning, I suppose it's not a huge thing for her, especially since her most challenging work is done outside the classroom with the enrichment teacher, but still. And I have NO idea how to talk to the principal about this. I don't want to sound preachy-parenty, but I think if this really is a pattern, something needs to be done to help restore some kind of order in the room.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Egging Me On

Our house got egged. I hate living in a neighborhood. It actually happened the other night, but I didn't realize what I had heard until a few days later when I went to open the window, and there's egg crusted to the bottom of it (I couldn't see it before because the sheers blocked my getting a clear view of the window). I was sitting on the couch, at about midnight, and heard a really loud bang on the side of the house, outside the dining room windows, near where our air conditioner is. It scared the shedoobie out of me, so much so that I actually froze on the couch and waited to see what was going to happen next. I had heard voices outside earlier, on the sidewalk, but didn't think too much of it. There was no other noise, and I didn't hear any more voices, so after a few minutes I wrote it off as a nut falling off the tree and hitting the a/c in the window, and moved on, albeit a little uneasily. Now, I can see that there's yolk splattered on the window, egg white dried in the sill, and an eggshell on the ground. Nice. Our house is on a corner, so it's an easy target. I'm also wondering if it was maybe some kids who knew the kids who lived here before us, before their parents split up and had to sell the house, like maybe blaming us for their friends moving or something. Hell, maybe it was those kids, themselves. Anyway, argh. I'm hoping that Halloween isn't going to be an eggfest at our house. I'll be waiting with the hose sprayer, I think, just in case. It's not like this isn't a nice neighborhood, but of course there are teenagers in all neighborhoods, so... argh. At least it was eggs and not rocks, I suppose.


This afternoon, I have to go up to the school and do the annual walk-a-thon with the kids. Basically, the kids are supposed to get people to sponsor them with a certain amount of money, and then complete the walk (I think it's a mile for older kids, half a mile for the K kids). Of course, there are the standard ridiculous prizes for kids who raise the most, like a bike and a boombox (that I believe are donated), which basically just translates into the rich kids at the school getting prizes they don't need. Families with multiple siblings never win these things, because the monies are split between several kids so *those* kids can each get the lesser '$1-$10 raised' prizes so it's not one kid getting a goodie bag and the others not getting one, and kids with very small families (like mine when I was growing up), who have no one to ask for sponsors, are screwed too. I have a real problem with the whole prize thing, as you can tell. I think it's ridiculous to always have to have a prize, and it rewards the kids for.... what? Having parents that can get their friends to write checks? or that can write a huge check themselves? It's not like the elementary school kids are doing any of the fundraising themselves, because they're not allowed to go door-to-door, even if their parents would let them. So, the kids are getting rewarded for just showing up, which is what *all* the kids do, regardless of how much they raised. Plus, almost no one I know actually goes out and asks people for money - we all just write a check for whatever amount we can and suck it up. Everyone I know has kids doing fundraisers at this time of year, so if we all ask each other for money, it's the same thing as all of us just writing a check for our own kid, anyway. It'll be the same at Christmas with the catalogues. At least then, though, there will be an actual Thing they can purchase, rather than just asking for donations, which is what a walk-a-thon basically requires.

OK, that's the end of the tirade for today. Tune in tomorrow for more b*tching and moaning!