Friday, February 27, 2009


Brandon's doctor didn't seem to think it was anything to freak out about. Jen went home with a script for some antibiotics, and was told to look for improvement in five days.

I'm not convinced. It seems awfully suspicious to me that he spent the weekend with his grandparents last weekend, his grandfather was admitted to the hospital via ER on Monday with MRSA, and all of a sudden, a couple days later, Brandon developed a skin infection that has worsened dramatically over the past few days. The MRSA was originally on his grandfather's stomach, which is face-height for Brandon, and his grandfather is a very kind, affectionate man, meaning lots of hugs - hugs where Brandon's face would have been pressed near his grandfather's stomach. Brandon catches EVERYTHING. His mom and I have talked several times about the possibility that, along with the rest of his delays, his immune system could have some kind of immaturity as well.

Obviously, I'm not a doctor, but I know that doctors are rushed, and can either misdiagnose or not take something seriously enough. My practically-medical degree from Discovery Health Channel tells me that things get missed all the time. Maybe I'm paranoid. After losing my other nephew, maybe I'm more than a little overcautious. But, it seems awfully coincidental to me that the boy just happens to have some kind of skin infection days after staying with someone who has, oh, I dunno, a life threatening skin infection. :(

Patrick is supposed to go and stay there with them next weekend, and now I'm not sure that will be a good idea. Even if it clears up some after a few days, I'm still not sure I want Patrick going down there and staying when there's even a chance of him catching anything like that, because if Brandon has it, chances are that his sister may come down with it, and is incubating it at this very moment, waiting to break out in spots just as Patrick walks through the door. The very thought of him going there makes me feel scared.

I'm probably wrong, it's probably nothing, and I probably should put it all out of my head. But I probably won't until I hear that it's entirely gone, and no one else has developed anything.


I am waiting to turn on the vacuum cleaner

to take the dogs to the vet

to do shopping

to turn on the Wii Fit

because I'm waiting to hear from my sister-in-law when she leaves the doctor's office as to whether the rash my nephew, Brandon, now has on his face is actually MRSA that he caught from his grandfather, who was diagnosed shortly after the kids stayed with them a week ago, and who has been in the hospital for five days.

Cross your fingers. That boy catches everything. But please, please, not this.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grocery Roundup, Feb 26, and a PS on camp

Before I write this week's grocery roundup, I have to tell you what Josie said when I talked to her about not going to that camp. It was late, and I went into her rom (she has no set bedtime - as long as she's in her room, she can stay up as late as she wants, although we do occasionally have to remind her at about 10:30 that it's time to turn out her light soon) to talk about what we had decided. She agreed that it was ridiculously expensive, and then asked, 'Is that more than it cost when we went to Hershey Park for my birthday last year?' (We live an hour and a half from Hershey, so it was a day trip.) I cracked up! Hell, we could go to Disney for a week, airfare included, for $2k! When I told her that, her jaw dropped. I guess that it just goes to show that kids, no matter how smart they are, lose all track of how expensive things are once the cost gets over $100 or so! We decided that since she already is signed up for two weeks of 'fun' camp at the most awesome camp in the world we'll maybe do another week at the community college as a reward for all her hard work / to make up for the crappy year she's had, and maybe let her go to the sleepaway camp run by the regional goup that the church we attend belongs to that comes really highly recommended (and is pretty cheap, I believe). That will keep her busy, get her much the same experience, and yet keep her in a place and with people that will more likely share our values and, um, not be horrendous snobs.

That having been said, on to the grocery roundup! This week, savingswise, was abysmal. I have come to the realization recently that with the winter doldrums at their peak, I simply cannot make myself spend a lot of time cooking or even thinking about cooking, so I've been buying several frozen meal kits recently, and have been a lot happier. Unfortunately, they are almost all made for two people, so I have to buy two, and then sometimes I only cook half of the second one, since the kids won't eat two adult-sized portions. Still, that means $14 a meal, plus the bread or whatever else I make to go with it. I will have to return to more basic cooking soon, but really, I simply can't at the moment. Blah.

I have also returned to shopping weekly rather than bi-monthly. I was simply having to drop in for doo-dads and produce too often, and it was leading to extraneous purchases I wouldn't have made otherwise. This way, I'm in and out in less than an hour, which when I was doing two weeks' at once, was impossible.

Coupons Used: 17
Coupon Savings: $12
Bonus Store Coupons: $5
Club Card Savings: $13.34
Total Saved: $30.34
Savings Percent: 14%
Gas Points: 40

I'm telling you, people, coupons have been slim pickins lately. There have been a lot for things that I don't use, or pages where there aren't coupons at all, but rather advertisements for sales at various stores, or for take-out places. When my laptop was dying last week, I was too worried about losing everything I had to bother getting coupons online. Now that the new laptop is set up, it's time to download the coupon printer and start again, because 14% savings is pathetic compared to what I've gotten in the past. I really want to be more in the 25-30% range.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming To My Senses

OK, after I wrote that last post, and had to see it all actually in writing, the idea of that camp seemed more and more outrageous. I mean, we could all go to Disney as a family for a week for that! Plus, I'm just uncomfortable with her doing something like this at such a young age - once you've been to a major fancypants camp at TEN, what's left to top THAT?! I know, too, that they get invited back each year, so this wouldn't be the end of it - there would be that kind of money to come up with every year, plus probably twice that when Patrick gets old enough, since he's just as smart and capable as she is.

The more I thought about it, and looked at the website, the more I started to think about why the cost would be so high, and whether the camp could possibly offer something good enough to justify it, and my answer kept coming up as no. I think they're charging that because they can, because they're in Chevy Chase, which is in one of the richest counties in the country. I started having images of the kids (and parents) that would be there, and the sense of entitlement that is probably there with them, and my stomach turned a little. It all started seeming really pompous. Those aren't our values. If she was older, that would be different, like if she was sixteen and wanted to go on one of the church mission trips to Africa, or go with Habitat for Humanity for a week, or go to a special program that focused on what she, at sixteen, was thinking of for college.

So, we'll see what I hear this morning from the teacher who nominated her, but I doubt we're going to change our minds at this point. There are great classes at the community college over the summer that she can take, and maybe there are other opportunities that will come down the pike. I just can't think of what she could say to change my mind.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yay! Oh, wait - shit!

(I know, right? Two posts in one day! You're welcome, because I know you wait with baited breath for my updates. Also, bats routinely fly out of my ass.)

Good things:
I got asked to be the VP of the school PTA.
Josie got a letter from a prestigious summer camp program saying that her enrichment teacher nominated ten children from the school to go, and she's one of them.

Bad things:
See above.

OK, the whole VP thing strokes my ego tickles my fancy. I mean, considering the whole world domination thing doesn't seem to be working out, I could at least be in line to dominate the school, since the VPs tend to move to the P position when the P leaves. However, this is also one of those positions where no one really wants to do it, and it could potentially be a lot of work mixed with a lot of crap from parents who don't bother to do anything but show up to events and whine that there's no free cookies and punch for Babykins. Do I really want to do this? I don't know, but I probably will do it. I'm a sucker that way. Plus, at least I'll be in control of something, since the house seems to be less under my control every day.

NOW, for the biggiie - camp. It's a sleepaway, week-long camp for high-achieving students that focuses on leadership qualities (that makes it sound like a business school) like problem-solving, presenting ideas and projects, working in a group, etc, and then the kids get to focus on on main 'strand', as they call them (rather snobbily, I think) - they can choose from architecture, medicine and the human body, or CSI Forensics and Deduction. Josie wants to do the CSI one, where they use chemistry and all sorts of other things to crack cases that they're presented with. She knows one girl who went last year because that girl's mom is a lawyer so she's loaded the co-leader of The Great Book Debate club Josie's in, and when I emailed her mom to ask what she thought, she emailed back to say that they liked it, and that Abby would answer any of Josie's questions. Josie has never been to a sleepaway camp before, but I think she'd be fine, especially since it's only a week. The problem here, people, is the cost.

Are you ready for this?

Seriously, swallow anything in your mouth, and make sure your laptop is balanced well on your lap.

I'm not kidding.

It's $2000 for tuition, room and board.

I told you. Even in tiny font, it still looks big.

Can you believe that?! Holy shit! I knew it was going to be bad when I saw the paper the 'invitation' came on. It was heavy cream paper, with embossing and pretty font. I almost didn't tell her about it at all, figuring she had said to me earlier that she didn't want to go to sleepaway camp yet, and seriously, THE COST. Then, though, I felt guilty, because I wanted her to at least know that her teacher thought that much of her to nominate her for something like this. So, before I told her, I looked at the website, and then DH came home and wanted to know what I was looking at, so I told him. He said that we should think about letting her go, and try and do some fundraising or something. So, I talked to Josie, and she understands that we can help some, but if she wants to go, she needs to do a lot of work herself. She'll have to write a letter like I did when I did the Avon 3Day, explaining what she wants to do, and why, and send it to anyone she thinks might help her out. I don't know if our church has a program that might be able to help her, or maybe the local educational store, or if anyone in our family might help out... we'll see. There's a scholarship program at the school, but they said that last year the average income of recipients was $10,000, which I'm thinking means foster kids or something. Anyway, there's no way we'd qualify for that.

Part of me wonders if this is the right thing to do. I mean, is this really worth it? It seems so outrageous. But, on the other hand, if it really is as good as it says it is, it would probably be a great experience. I'm waiting to get an email back from the teacher who nominated her, since I'm hoping she'll be able to give me more info than Abby's mom who is really generally snooty and unfriendly not talkative. I don't want to be one of Those Parents who sends their kids off to uppity programs just because they're there, but I don't want to not let her go if she can raise some money and it would broaden her mind. Plus, she's had such a crappy year, and dealt with so much, that I feel like I want to reward her with something that will make her excited about learning again in time for 5th grade.

Any thoughts on all this? Am I a nut for even considering it?

Uh-oh...turns out I'm a fatass....

Dear Mii,

I'm sorry you're such a fat little blob. Also, I wish I could say something to make the fact that you have no balance whatsoever better. I'm not sure whether your surprising ability to hit soccerballs with your head will make you feel any better, either, since I'm sure you probably have a migraine by the time I'm done with that. I promise that, someday, we (wii) will both not have to listen to the lady's voice gently saying that we're obese. I promise that I will think of you and turn the other way when the kids get out the cheesy-poofs. I will visit you every day, I swear, and we will lure each other away from the Friendly's that has so helpfully opened up down the street.

And, if any of the other Miis make fun of you, I'll sit on them.

Pudge Mama

Seriously, the Wii people are GENIUSES. I just worked on my balance for 20 minutes, and didn't even notice! Plus, it rewarded me with new games every five minutes or so! Fun, fun, FUN! Plus, it helps a lot that the computer's voice has this cute little japanamation girl sound rather than some creepy computer german woman screeching at me that I'm a total fatass. Somehow, hearing her quiet, soothing tones made it less offensive to be called obese, which, let's face it, I am, anyway. Also, I think that having the Mii on the screen helps me to otherize the weight thing a little, and feel less crappy about me. I find I want to focus on making her better, and my competitive four lane highway streak really, really wants to see the graph improve and win lots of awards, whatever those might be. Oh, I WILL be a goldmedal snowboarding champion, you'll see. Shaun White will be sorry he ever taught me to do it! Ha HA! Maybe I can't balance TODAY, but TOMORROW, hoo, boy, LOOK OUT! My fat ass is gonna be ALL OVER that hill!

*gasp**pant* apparently too fat for so much excitement *gag**choke*

My one conundrum is that since I have one leg longer than the other, I think I'm going to have to wear some kind of shoes when I work out, because otherwise my balance may never improve, or I'm going to learn to balance crooked. Maybe I can get a pair of crocs and stick my lift in one or something. (mental note: get another lift)

Is anyone else working out on the Fit? How have you done? I can't believe I found one; after looking for two weeks off and on, and learning that there was nary a one for a 40mi radius, I stumbled on a small pile of them at Best Buy yesterday when I was buying that @#%@$%#$@$ing money software (which is refusing to work in ever more creative and annoying ways, I might add). Apparently they had gotten 40 of them the day before, and there were 6 left less than a day later. MINE! I also got Shaun White and My Fitness Coach, but I didn't realize at the time that the Fit came with the fitness cd already, so I may return that. Does anyone else have MFC? Is it worthwhile, or does it really just cover what's already included?

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's Astartemeister...Makin' The Copies....

I think I'm finally finished copying all the files I need off of my poor dinosaur of a laptop. Just to give you an idea, it took easily twice as long to copy the files onto the usb drive as it did to download them onto the new machine. Phew. All the photos made it, where the Ancient One wouldn't turn on at all, but after some juggling and holding the power cord in a certain position, I managed to get everyone speaking to each other again for one last time.

The only reason I may have to go back into it is because, get this - not only does Microsoft Office no longer come in the full version out-of-the-box, it also doesn't come with Microsoft Money, so I had to go out and pick up a new version of Quicken (which is what we actually use). No problem, right? I got home to install it, and - surprise!! - the basic version I bought doesn't have the capability to read information from earlier Quicken files! I'll have to upgrade for that, which the program was supposed to helpfully tell me to do when it opened. Nope, and nope. I saw plenty of places on the webside to purchase full versions of things, but none where I could just upgrade to a point where I could read all my previous information. I ask you, why should I have to pay for the privilege of having the software talk to ITSELF, anyway?!?! Is this the high school version of software, where the older, more advanced programs won't deign to speak with the freshmen unless paid first?! ARGH! So, I have copied the necessary files, and am going to attempt to get the program to read it, but if that doesn't work, I'll have to do some manual entry. Sheesh. Then, in 60 days, I'll have to go out and shell out the dough for Vista. SHEESH!

That having been said, I heart my new laptop!!! The shiny keys are so smooth, and the touchpad is glossy and smooth. It runs so much faster than even DH's work computer, and I actually even like Vista thus far. We'll see.

I went to the grocery store today, so tomorrow's post will be a grocery roundup. It wasn't great today - we were having yet another blustery day, and my coupon clip dropped and a bunch of my coupons blew away!!!!!! I said many bad words. Still, the deed is done, and will be duly reported tomorrow. I know you all wait with baited breath.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Surprise Purchase

I am writing to you today on my brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box laptop! I wasn't really planning on buying a new one at the moment, but my old one basically blew a gasket last night. It's needed to be plugged-in full time for about a year now, and last night it started not recognizing that it was even plugged in at all. Sigh. I have to pray that I can get it to work long enough in tiny increments that I can get all our stuff off of it. We do have another one in the house, but it's DH's work laptop, so I'm not comfortable loading all our financial stuff on there, not to mention our photos, etc.

My new baby is an HP, and you can't tell from the pictures on the website, but the insides light up when it's on! The keyboard is shiny, and the whole thing looks a little like bronze-ish stainless steel. Very cool. Plus, it's smaller than my last one, and a lot smaller than DH's thing. It's not as small as a netbook, but it's definitely one of the smaller laptops. My old one is OLD, as in about 6 years old, and couldn't even run most of the new software that's coming out. I couldn't use any games, and it was s-o s-l-o-w. It's nice to have something new, even if we weren't really ready to buy it.

Since when, though, did buying a computer become a stressor akin to buying a freakin' car?! Best Buy is the most obnoxious place to get something like this, ever!!! Maybe everywhere else is just as bad, but ARGH. We went to the one in town first, which was literally out of stock on every. single. one. that we asked about. Why can't they just put a sticker on the ones that they no longer have in stock? And why were they out of so many things in the first place?! I told them how frustrated I was, and was told that I could order one online and have it delivered to the store, but they didn't know when it would get there. I asked if they could call the store in the next shopping area, half an hour away, and see if they had any, which they did, and there were, but the stores no longer hold any merchandise for each other, even for HALF AN HOUR. So, instead of being able to drive down there tomorrow, I had to immediately hop into the car and drive all the way down there to make sure I could actually have one. There, I was confronted with a guy I will call with Salesman Zit. Why, oh why, does BB have to be so literal when they speak of their Geek Squad? This guy practically drooled when he talked, and couldn't have been more condescending. I wanted to grab him and say, 'hello, you're an HOURLY EMPLOYEE AT BEST BUY, smartypants', but I didn't want to take a chance of rupturing one of his zits. Seriously, Proactiv would have had a field day with this poor specimine. I got rid of him, and found another guy, who was slightly older (read: probably a whopping 25) and less obnoxious, who finally found me something in stock. Still, of the three laptops on my list to look for, this was the only one they had. WTF?

AND, did you know that Windows no longer comes standard on machines? Oh, sure, you get a VERSION of Windows, but it's a TRIAL version that will expire in three months! What's up with that?! I like Bill Gates, and I love that he's so generous with his foundation, but maybe he could ask me for a donation rather than raping my wallet repeatedly at a chain store. That is SO uncool.

I will be spending the next few days trying to unload my old computer and get this one set up with all the links and files I had on my old one. Sigh. If you hear screaming and rending of teeth, that would be me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Today is two anniversaries.

Those of you who have been here since the beginning will remember hearing that my nephew was killed in a sledding accident. Today is the second anniversary of his death, which actually has two anniversaries for me, since that year the 19th was President's Day, so it's like there's a holiday anniversary and a regular, dated one. He was on his family's property, and went sliding on a hill that he had been on since he was a child. The difference was that there had been an ice storm, and the slope was so slick that he lost control and went into the trees. He suffered massive internal injuries, but was awake enough to call the house on his cell phone and have his twin sister and my SIL come and find him. It took a rescue crew with ropes and pulleys to get him up the hill, but even if they had gotten to him immediately, it wouldn't have helped. His spleen, liver, and several other internal organs had been ruptured. He was awake until he reached the top of the hill, just as his father got there after racing to the scene from his work, and died in his mother's arms. He would be eighteen today, in college like his sister or in the air force. He wanted to be a pilot. I can only imagine how his life would have turned out. He was a rare, wonderful boy who was loving and gentle with his little cousins, and delighted in teaching them how to play Santa, bouncing with them on a trampoline, and taking them on walks. I miss him every day, although finally, after two years, it has receded into a more manageable feeling. Last year I was sobbing; this year I guess I've accepted it as reality, and so have been able to frame it a little differently in my own mind. I try to imagine him swimming in heaven with all the dogs that have gone before and after him, in a giant pond like the one on his family's property, laughing and splashing. I wish our children could have grown up with him, and I fervently hope that Patrick will be able to remember his cousin. Josie was older, and I know she won't forget what he was like when he was alive, but I'm hoping that Patrick is able to retain some memory of Ryan other than what he sees in photos, and that he's 'the one who died'.

One year ago today, we found out that we would be forced to move from our house across town by the county, who is planning on tearing it down and making a road in its place. Hooray for progress, I suppose. I honestly believe that Ryan sent them to us, because now that all is said and done, we are in a much better home, in a much better situation, and had it not happened then, we would still be in limbo like our old neighbors, who stalled and now are facing a governmental shortfall and probably a lot more red tape coupled with a much lower offer than the one we were made. We were very, very fortunate, and for it to all have started on that particular day, of all days, seems like more than coincidence to me. The phone literally rang as I was looking at photos of Ryan on our wall.

So much has changed in the past two years, and it breaks my heart that Ryan's not here to see it. He has two new sisters. We lost both our dogs, one within weeks of his death. His twin is college, and is in a serious relationship with one of his best friends. We now live in a place that he never went to. That was the hardest part of leaving our old house; it was the last place that we had all been together as a family, for Patrick's birthday. I know he is always with us in our hearts, but how I wish I could hug him and tell him I love him, one more time.

We miss you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dear So-and-So

Dear Recycling Collection Miscreants:
Why the hell don't you pick anything up between November and April?! We have ice storms every year, leaves continue to fall until December, and yet you don't come to collect it! We aren't allowed to have messy yards (ie, downed limbs, bags of leaves, etc), yet you're too busy doing whatever it is you do, probably going to Disneyland on my winter tax dollars that you aren't earning, to take my leaves and branches that I have bagged up for you.

Dear Garbage Collection Mafia:
Since the yard people are on vacation, can't you do a sister a solid and take the freakin' trash?! Yes, it's leaves, but it's still trash, and it's all bagged up at the curb waiting for someone with, I dunno, A TRUCK to take it. Are you allergic to paper bags? I put some in plastic bags, and some in paper, so you can take your pick. I saw you out there, checking out our bags, and heard you hollar to the driver that they aren't 'real trash'. Not only did you leave the bags of yard stuff there, but you also decided to punish me by not taking the 'real trash' as well!!!! WTF?! That busted shovel didn't fall off of the shovel tree, for chrissakes! Here's the deal - I watched The Sopranos faithfully for years, and I know who's really in charge of waste management. How much do you want? I'm going bald from pulling my hair out, and rather than buy a wig, I'm willing to pay you the eff off so you will Do Your JOB!

Dear Tooth Fairy,
PLEASE stop collecting Josie's teeth at such an alarming rate! What do you think we are, bankers?! One a week we can think about, but THREE MOLARS in one week?!?! Also, the orthodontist said that when all her baby teeth are gone on top, it will be time for braces. DEAR GOD! So, until you can start leaving ME money under MY pillow (I baked those teeth, after all), stay the hell away!
Not Made Of Money

Dear US Elementary Schools,
Please stop having card exchanges on Valentine's Day! Now that we have the 'everyone gets a card' rule, um, everyone gets a card, so all they're doing is exchanging meaningless pieces of paper they don't even have to look at to see who they got a card from. I understand the meaning behind the 'all or no one' rule, don't get me wrong, but they don't even want them in the first place! I am *literally* throwing my (and other parents') money away every year, and I can't afford it (see note to Tooth Fairy, above).
Bah Humbug

Dear Showoff Parents,
Contrary to your belief, no one will die if you do not bring in 'extra cupcakes' for the class on holidays. If you didn't sign up for it, don't bring it! The kids ended up with two mini-cupcakes, one big cupcake, carrots and chips and dip, grapes, a giant decorated cookie, and ice cream for their party on Friday. Most of it has to be bagged up to be brought home because it's an overflowing dinner-plate full of stuff! Whatever happened to a cupcake and a juice for a party?!
This Is Why Kids Are Getting Fatter

Dear Mice,
GO AWAY. Stop pooping in my cabinets, stop leaving gifts behind the stove, and stop NIBBLING ON THE MUFFINS that I made yesterday!!!! I have killed one of you, and released another behind Lowe's (hey, at least it's warm, and the birds seem to like living in there). I promise to catch and release however many of you there are if you would kindly proceed into the trap to the left, where I have placed leftover pieces of MUFFIN that you generously left behind. The shuttle will take you to Lowes promptly. K'thx.
My Cat Sucks

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Super Saturday Shots

Here she is!!!!!

She and Baci are getting along great, and I'm irrationally proud of him for being simultaneously thrilled and yet gentle with her, allowing her to grab onto his lip, ear and whatever else she can reach and yank on it. They've chased each other all around the house, him galloping around and her flailing along in her puppy way. Just to give you an idea of size -

... that is a regular-sized soccer ball, and she's standing on her hind legs in this photo. Also -

- there's nothing wrong with her appetite, because the first thing she did was dive headlong into Baci's uneaten breakfast and chow the entire thing down!!! He was admirably fine with it. The little pig wolfed down her dinner a few minutes ago, and then immediately tried to climb up into his bowl while he was still eating!!! and he only growled quietly and ignored her. I'm sure she'll get over it once she becomes accustomed to having her own bowl, etc, rather than sharing with other dogs at mealtime.

There's barely anything wrong with her hind leg at all. She can run, jump, stand on her hind legs, and steal food off of the coffeetable just fine, thank you very much. The only noticeable thing at all is that the fur on that leg is shorter than the rest in a strip around the leg, where an umbillical cord was rubbing around it. I would say that she's 98% on usage, and maybe a little bowlegged, but most puppies are, so it's hard to tell whether it's regular stuff or a slight deformation at this point. It's certainly nothing that anyone else would ever point to as a disability.

And, after a long day of riding in the car, checking out a new home, and playing hard with someone approximately ten times her size, it was time for a sleep, curled up with her new brother:


The new organ went over like GANGBUSTERS. Josie almost fainted when she saw it, and then jumped up and down and squealed. Interestingly, Patrick is just as interested in it as she is, and has been out there playing with it almost as much. We think next year he'll be mature enough for lessons. Josie, though, couldn't be happier, and is working on her thank-you note to the church as we speak.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Be Goovin'

And by we, I mean WII!!!!!!

Yes, people, I did indeed break down and get the Almighty Wii. When your friends who don't even have CABLE have something, it's time to admit that you are hopelessly, pathetically Out Of It. So, the other day, I took the kids and my tax return and toddled on over to the Walmart. We left with extra controllers, a charging station, Wii Party Pack, and two games - Raving Rabbids and SuperMario Party 8. Plus, the system came with some sports games. I wanted a Wii Fit to go with the whole thing, but nowhere in town has one. Believe me, I've checked. Apparently now that I am the last person to get a Wii in town, I will have to get in line to get the peripherals, which would put me, you guessed it, at the back of the line. So, I may be procuring that little doodad online.

I ended up returning the charger I bought the next day. It was by Energizer, and it stunk. In order to charge, you had to remove the rubber controller holder thingy, which would have been a pain and probably would have resulted in broken rubber holder thingies, plus the little nodes on the back of the new battery-cover didn't really match up well with the charger unit. Add that to the fact that you had to use special battery packs rather than regular rechargable batteries, which I didn't see in the store, and you have a crappy unit. So, I returned it and got another battery charger, but unlike our smaller regular Energizer charger, this one is totally souped-up and charges the batteries in 15 minutes flat (although it says for optimum charge to leave them in for 25 - why not just day that?! I mean, who wants partially charged batteries?!). So, we have a ton of rechargable batteries and two chargers, and that should suffice.

Also, Josie doesn't know it, but we're having an organ delivered to the house today. Providence again - I offered to help clear out one of the storage rooms at the back of our church, and there was a storage bench in there that would have looked good with our piano. I asked the education director whose it was, and she told me that it goes with an organ that was donated to the church years ago by an elderly couple and is never used, they've been trying to get rid of it, did I know anyone who would like to give it a home? HELLO!!! So, she spoke to the property committee, who spoke to the woman who donated it (who is in her 80's now), and they agreed that we can keep it at our house with the understanding that when we're done with it, we will pass it on to anyone else in the congretation who would use it. YAHOO!!!!! Josie has no idea what's going on, so when she gets home from school today, there it will be waiting for her. The only thing that they asked is that we take a photo of her face, and send it in, but of course she'll make a thank-you card as well to send in. Holy cow. We are so fortunate!!!! I can hardly believe it. I can't wait to see her face. :)

So, we have a Wii, an organ, and soon a puppy. It's a big week, and certainly a LOT better than last week!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Grocery Roundup, February 10

I haven't done one of these in awhile! I've been trying to stretch out the time between major grocery trips, in an effort to clean out the pantry and make sure we actually use everything we get.

This was a rushed trip, but I loved it! I had to get the kids in just over an hour, and I made it through the store with time to spare! I tried to only buy things that I had coupons for, and other than produce and milk I succeeded at that pretty well. I bought fewer things than I usually would have, but I think that will be fine. I may just have to go back in a week for a few things, which is OK.

Items Purchased: 79
Total Spent: $215.65
Coupons Used: 27
Coupon Savings: $24.70 (this includes doubling of coupons)
Bonus Coupons: $3.20 (these are store-issued register coupons, I finally found out)
Club Card Savings: $27.24
Total Savings: $55.14
Percent Saved: 20%
Gas Points Earned: $.50 off per gallon

I missed my goal of 30% off each trip by a mile, so I need to get back online and get better coupons, particularly if I can find some for pet food. I'm finding that it's cheaper to get certain things at places other than the grocery store, like makeup and pet products, but if it means another trip, especially if it's all the way across town, I'm more likely just to get it at the grocery store. This is silly, since not only does it cost more, I'm also unable to get larger sizes, which cost even less per pound (for pet food, anyway - I don't want to buy pounds of makeup!).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Aaaaasss Yyyyouuuu Wiiiiissshhhhhh.....

If you get that reference, ten points!!!

Yesterday evening, we all went tubing with our church's family ministries group. To summarize:

Josie: Wooooooh!!! This is the best night ever!!!! HAHAHAHAAHAHA!!!
Me: At least she'll be laughing when we die! AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

Who the hell knew tubing was so scary?!?!?!?! Since no one told me, I will do you all a solid and pass on some necessary tubing info:

1. Yes, it is indeed possible to go down a hill so fast that your eyelids take flight. It is not pretty.
2. Just because you're sitting on a giant inner tube floating down the side of a mountain on a trip that should by all rights be relaxing does not mean that you will not hurl your cocoa when said tube hits a bump at 90mph.
3. Luckily, your teeth will be so tightly clenched that this will not matter. (Your dentist thanks you for the extra business, BTW.) Also, you will not be able to pee for a week. You may, however, poop a diamond, and if you do, you're welcome.
4. Your children will delight in trying to kill you by a) going down the slope that is so straight that you would swear it's actually inverted and b) trying to drag you down it afterward. You will, of course, be required to go backwards.
5. Teenage tube slope staff get their jollies by watching people try to stand upright on the wet, icy conveyor belt that takes people back up the mountain at an 85 degree angle while said people are trying to hold onto their own tube as well as their kid's tube, mittens and kid. For extra kicks, they jump onto the belt themselves, adding more weight and making the whole belt jolt the whole way up the hill. They probably then post the whole mess on YouTube.

No one told me that tubing is not relaxing. It is simply easier than trying to balance on skis. I haven't gone that fast in my CAR. BACKWARDS, no less. One time (at band camp) Josie and I went so fast that we shot right off of the end of the slope and hit the inflatable things at the bottom so hard that Josie ended up underneath one of them! Oh, the hysteria!

Yes, it was fun, mostly. Really, the fun part was watching how hard the kids laughed all the way down, over and over again. I think, really, that my biggest problem is that I'm too much of a wimp an adult to enjoy those things as much as I would have when I was younger. I was worried the entire time that something horrid was going to happen. It didn't help that I had to sign a waiver OKing the statement that we wouldn't hold the place responsible if someone was seriously injured or dead by the end of the night. Um, yeah, I know that *could* happen, but maybe don't remind me of it as I'm stepping out onto the slope, m'k?! Nothing says fun like 'don't blame us if you die, 'cause we TOLD you so, stupid!!!'!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Dark Before The Dawn

Well, today was the day. I spoke to Patrick this morning about how badly I wanted to be there, and how important I thought it was, and he agreed to behave himself so we could all be there.

It was, of course, peaceful, for Tyler at least. For several long minutes, we actually thought that he had passed simply from getting the sedative, but then he took a semi-deep breath and let out a snore. He fell asleep with his head in my hands, and we all held him and petted him until after it was over.

I am a mess. DH isn't much better. The kids are OK. Baci seems fine, and honestly the last few days he had been bothering Tyler less. I think he knew that the end was near, either way.

Here's a photo of happier days - Tyler and his brother, Cyrus, who we lost to cancer in 2007, playing with DH in the snow after a storm just before Patrick was born. Neither of them is even gray in this one.

Tomorrow will be a new day, and next week will see a new life enter our home. Today, though, tissues have taken Tyler's place at my side here on the couch.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Small Joys

In an effort to distract myself from my sorrow over Tyler, I have been looking online at local lab breeders.

I know that adoption is a wonderful option, but it's not one we feel comfortable pursuing at this time. Since we have many small children coming through here, plus another dog and cat, I simply cannot have a dog here that I don't know the exact temperament of. I can't take the chance of not knowing that its last owner beat it after it stole a plate of pasta, and it freaks out when it sees noodles, or some such obscure thing. Also, I want a dog younger than Baci, so he will be sure to be the alpha, rather than having an animal come in here that would try to be the boss of him, since that wouldn't be fair. Finally, with labs, you have to be so careful with their hips, and I really want to know who the parents are to be as sure as we can that dysplasia (sp?) doesn't run in its family.

Last night I came across a breeder that had two 4mo old chocolate labs, which I thought would be perfect. Already potty trained, large enough to easily keep up with Baci, yet still puppies. Sounds good, right? The price of these boys about make my tongue fall out of my head, but thank heavens for tax returns. I was all ready to start thinking about boy names when I found this from the breeder in my inbox this morning:

"I have abother option to offer you. In addition to the two chocolate boys, I have a 8 week old black female available. We call her Bubbles. She is the only puppy who survived in her litter. Her mother did not produce enough milk for her puppies and we lost them. The only issue is that Bubbles has a rear leg that is not quite right. She moves fine, is very playful and lovable. She gets along great with the big dogs. the vet examined her and feels she may have had her leg constrained in utero by another puppy or her umbilical cord. Her rear leg has a little excess skin over her knee and her joint is a little tight. She needs to have a little puppy physical therapy to help losen her leg up. This is involves just doing a few circular motions with her knee. The vet recommended swimming for her when things get warmer. Bubbles has not been AKC registered because I knew she wold be destined to be a pet. I own both of her parents. We are just asking that she finds a good home that can give her the attention she deserves. I can't give a hip guarantee on her but her mother is OFA hips Excellent, Elbows clear and her dad has PennHIP scores average for the lab breed."

Wheeee!!!! That would be a FUH-REE pedigree puppy!!!!! And, we had been thinking that we would like to try a girl this time, but it hadn't come up. What a wonderful option - we get to adopt a sweet baby girl who needs a home, yet get the luxery of knowing the parents and background. We are planning on picking her up on Valentine's Day. How appropriate! It's the perfect time to pick up the precious gift of a new family member.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


DH and I decided yesterday that it's time for Tyler's final appointment with the vet. It was a hard decision, since he still has good days, but his hard days are getting more frequent, and I'm afraid that something catastrophic will happen at some point soon. His eyes are sunken, and his back hips often just don't seem able to do what he wants them to do. Also, he has stopped all pretense of lowering himself to the ground, and basically just flops to the floor in a thud when he wants to lay down. Really, though, the deciding factor is the wheezing; he can't even take a walk around the block anymore because he wheezes for about an hour afterwards.

The hardest part about all of this is that his spirit is still there, so he's still loving and happy to see us when we get home from somewhere, and still wants to be petted and rubbed. He longs to not be left behind on walks and rides in the car, and I feel terrible seeing his face staring at Baci and I as we leave to go on an adventure without him. Part of me wished he seemed less interested, so I could be sure that I'm doing the right thing. My mother actually said something helpful in this department (amazingly); it's the worst decision to have to make, but it's a final gift we can give them, to spare them from a time when all their days are bad ones. I suppose I can try to be selfless, in return for the selfless love he has given all of us over all these years. He has always been unfailingly patient with all children, even when they were little and grabby or used him to climb on. He always responded with a lick and sigh, with a look to me that said, 'I'm a dog. It's my job.' Where his adopted brother, Cyrus, was a goofball to the bone, Tyler has always been the more serious, prissier dog, laying with his increasingly white paws crossed, and meticulously washing first Cyrus', and now Baci's, ears, faces, and any cuts or scrapes they may have. Even now, as I write, I can see Baci laying with his head on Tyler's paws, getting his morning ear bath.

I can only imagine what Baci will think on Saturday when DH comes home from the vet without Tyler. We decided that DH and Josie will take Tyler, since he has always preferred DH slightly to anyone else, and I will stay here with Baci and Patrick. I want to go, but I'm not sure Patrick is ready for this particular kind of appointment, and I think Baci is going to have an absolute bird the first time he is really and truly alone, particularly if his first time is after watching us leave without *him* but with Tyler, which has never happened. Plus, I want Tyler to have a quiet end, not a circus. I may change my mind on this, if Patrick seems to want to go, but I doubt it.

I haven't cried about this yet, although writing here I feel like I may start. We've had a lot of time to prepare, so it's not like with Cyrus where the cancer took him suddenly within a couple of weeks, leaving me bewildered and devastated, particularly since his passing was within weeks of our nephew's death. We've also started talking about what we will do once it's over, since having Baci alone isn't really a great option. We have always enjoyed having two dogs, and I remember the doggie joy of having two young dogs in the house that love each other and roll around the house playing. Granted, with labs, they more crash than roll, but you get the jist. So, soon there will be happier news of a new puppy in the house, but for the moment, there is only the quiet love and resignation as we prepare for Tyler to rejoin his brother, as well as our nephew, in heaven.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Talk

DH went to Dave's house yesterday to talk to him about Ryan. Dave said that he hadn't seen a note on his door, although I still kind of doubt that since I had taped it A LOT and it was gone afterwards, but I really don't care. I can see how this would be the kind of conversation that a person would want to avoid.

Anyway, DH said that it went really, really well, and that poor Dave's face fell a mile when he heard what had happened. He was almost in tears. He said that now that Ryan's mom has moved 45 minutes away, he hasn't been able to spend as much time with Ryan as he would like, and he feels like he's failing as a father. He knows that Ryan doesn't get a lot of attention at home, and has been worried about his lack of many friends in his new school. They talked a long time about things Dave could do, like when he *is* here taking him to places where they can both be involved with a lot of other people who would be good influences on Ryan and maybe help both of them. He said that they used to go to church on Sunday mornings, but that lately they'd been just sleeping in instead, and DH said that he *almost* invited him to come to our church, since we have an excellent children's program and parenting classes every Sunday morning that all our friends there go to (in particular, there's a new series coming up about how to raise kids to be respectful and aware in a digital age, which I think is going to be really interesting, since it will talk about older kids as well as younger ones), but he couldn't quite bring himself to do it at the moment. Dave said that it will probably actually be helpful that Ryan can't come here anymore, since it will be a continual reminder that his behavior needs to change, and he will be affected by it every time he's here and ends up bored, or sees Patrick playing outside, or something. DH told him we definitely don't want either of them to feel like we're washing our hands of Ryan, because we do care about them, but we just can't know when we'll feel comfortable trusting him to be in our house again. Dave said that when DH left, he was going to call Ryan's mom and talk to her, and that he expected her to be terribly upset as well, since she's an animal lover and has two pugs. We all agree that it wasn't a thing where he meant to kill Luke on purpose, just that he needs serious help in making better decisions. DH told me that he also had to stop Ryan from throwing some 2x4's that we have on the upstairs porch over the railing to the yard below, where they could have killed the dogs (rather than having the dogs catch them, like he was probably thinking) or, God forbid, a person who happened to pop outside to call the dogs or something! So, they both need help, and Dave said that he was first going to try to get the story out of Ryan to see whether he would admit freely to what he'd done, and what his attitude about it was (whether he would tell the story like it was funny, or if he sounded malicious, or if he would lie about it compeltely). How Ryan reacts will depend on what Dave does, because it will mean the difference between him having supressed anger problems and taking out aggression on others, or whether he is simply not getting from cause to effect very well in his head. Regardless, he said he was going to talk to Ryan's mom about talking with the school about the guidance counselor involved. Phew.

So, it went very, very well, and DH was almost in tears when he got home because he felt so bad for Dave. I know it has to be tough to be a single guy, with one kid who you don't even live with, to know how to really make a lasting impression on him. I think I'm probably going to stop by there later on and invite him to come to church with us. I think the social thing will really help them both, because where we go really and truly is like a big family, and we all care for and discipline everyone's children, and do things together frequently outside as well. It's a great support system, and I think that having a lot of like-minded reinforcement in a tough situation can be really helpful. If they weren' t church goers already, I wouldn't mention it, but since they are, it can't hurt. Plus, I don't think Ryan and Patrick would be in the same class, since Ryan is ahead of him in school, but also I don't think Patrick hates Ryan anyway. He just knows that he can't come over anymore because he makes bad choices. So, as much as I don't want Ryan in the house, I'm over feeling like I don't even want to look at him ever again. He's just a messed up little kid who needs some better guidance. Now that I'm over being furious, I'm really, really sad for him, and I'm sorry that I don't feel like I can be more of a part of his life anymore.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


We have yet to get word from Ryan's father. We know he knows there's a problem, because the note I taped to his door on Sunday ('Please call us. It's about Ryan. We need to talk about what he did to Patrick's hamster.') is gone, but there has been no response. DH and I walked up there three times last night, and there was no answer at the door, and the lights appeared to be off, although he could still have been in there hiding out. He can be kind of childish, so that wouldn't surprise me too much. My hope is that he wasn't home yesterday evening because he drove down to Ryan's mom's house to have a talk with them. I'm taking this as a sign that, at the very least, he knows Ryan has done something serious this time, and is embarrassed to talk to us about it.

What should I do? Let it go for awhile, and wait and see, or continue to go up there frequently until we get him? It's pretty obvious that he doesn't want to talk about it with us at the moment. With any luck, Ryan will have been honest with him about what he did, if they've talked. I mean, it's not like he can just move away, so we'll see him eventually, although I would prefer to speak to him before Friday, when Ryan comes back. I do not want that boy showing up on our doorstep, because it's probably one of those conversations that I would rehash forever in my mind, whether I overdid it or held my tongue. On the other hand, since I don't know what his parents will have said to him, maybe it would be best if he *did* show up here and I talked to him, to make sure he understands the severity of what he's done and how much he has upset people. Also, it would be appropriate for him to apologize, although I'm not sure he actually would, since even for lesser things he would rarely do more than mutter.

My other option is to leave another note on Dave's door, explaining exactly what happened, and letting him know that Ryan will no longer be welcome in our home. I really want to say to him that we think he could use some counseling, either from the school or otherwise, but that might come across badly in a letter. On the other hand, maybe I don't care so much how it comes across.

Either way, I am at least no longer feeling sick over it. I literally was so upset that I was close to vomiting for a long time. I feel a lot more calm, like something awful has happened, and it's time to move on. I suppose that's one good thing about being so awfully upset - it burns through fairly quickly.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Picture Meme Day!

I got tagged by CK to do the 4-Square Picture Meme! I have to go into the fourth folder in my photo files and pick the fourth picture. So.... here it is!

This is DH with Baci the day we got him, two years ago. Look at his sweet puppy face!!! He was all of about 12lbs then, and 10 weeks old. Oh, and DH doesn't look bad, either. :)

I have no idea who to tag for this, because I've seen a lot of these lately, and I don't want to double-tag someone. How about, if you haven't been tagged, consider yourself so!

It's 12:53, and I'm still in my pjs. I have come to the conclusion that I actually don't like being in my pjs this long, because it makes me feel like a schlump even though I'm still doing a bunch of stuff, like the taxes and dishes. I also planted several peat pot trays of flower seeds this morning, and only have a few flowers left to do. They're the more fussy ones, where the seeds have to be soaked in water first, or they want to be alone in the basement for awhile, etc. I'm going to wait to do the veggies until sometime next month, I think, because I don't want them to get too big while still inside the house. At least I learned several important lessons last year, like Don't Fertilize Seedlings Because They Will Die Faster Than You Would Think Possible, and the ever-important Don't Put Your Seedlings On The Porch Roof To Harden Off, Because They Will Cook Like A Christmas Turkey Within Minutes On Tar Shingles.

So, anyway, now I'm going to get dressed and do laundry and run a few errands before I have to get the kids from school. I might also get some Starbucks.

That Shred DVD is staring at me from the shelf. I'm going to use it, I swear, but I have to stop being scared of it first. I think tomorrow is The Day. That woman on the cover looks like she's gonna bite me or something, though. She looks a little too happy about the prospect of my imminent agony.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Today began as a good day. The sun was out, the temperature was 60 unbelievable degrees, and everyone was seemingly getting along.

Late in the afternoon, our neighbor Lisa stopped by with her two kids, Little I and Baby B. Little I is two, and thinks that the sun rises and sets on Josie, so after a few minutes we all went upstairs so Little I could see Josie and play with Luke, Patrick's hamster.

Thank GOD Josie heard us talking downstairs and had gone to get Luke out, because she was able to hide Luke quickly back in the cage when we got up there. Luke was dead, in a very strange position, all stretched out like he was jumping, rather than how I've usually found hamsters, curled up in a ball. It was scary, and no way should any little kid see that.

While Little I played happily with some toys, and Lisa and I talked, in the back of my mind I was trying to figure out what on earth happened. Could his teeth have grown too long? He wasn't old, by any means, and he looked so strange... also, I was *not* looking forward to telling Patrick, who was playing in the attic with Ryan, his weekends-and-holidays-with-his-dad friend from up the street. I was glad to hear that they seemed to be playing fairly well together; since we spoke to Ryan's dad about a month ago regarding his behavior here (not listening, being rude, occasionally making Joshua cry) things have been a lot better. At least that was going well, and I decided to wait until after Ryan left to talk to Patrick.

Big mistake.

Imagine my shock, horror, and disgust upon finding out that the reason Luke looked so strange in his cage was because he didn't die naturally. When we all sat down on the floor in Patrick's room to talk about what happened, I first asked whether he was the one who had taken Luke's metal wheel out, because I was trying to figure out when the last time anyone had seen him alive was. Patrick's words were, 'I tried to tell Ryan to make different choices.'


'What choices was he making?' we asked.
'He was throwing Luke around my room. I tried to get him to stop, and then he finally did.'

Ryan killed Luke. On purpose. By throwing him around like a ball. Ryan is eight years old. He knows better. Oh, my God. Poor little Luke, who always just sat in your hand and looked around, never bit anyone, treated like that. I am sick over this, just sick.

DH and I turned on our heels and practically ran up to Ryan's house, but he and his father had already left to go to a Superbowl party. I hope they enjoys that party, because when they get home, Ryan's father is going to get an earful, and Ryan is going to be informed that he never to come to this house again.

I know that children do things to animals sometimes, and it doesn't necessarily reflect who they're going to be when they grow up, but it does mean that he can't be trusted around our animals ever again. It also says a lot about what's going on over at his house(s). I don't think there's abuse in his home(s), but I do think that he feels powerless and angry, and wants to take it out on something. He needs some help. I do not want Patrick witnessing anything like this again, and we all had a talk about the importance of getting us if something is going on that you can't control, like someone or something being hurt.

Patrick seems OK at the moment. I think DH and I are more upset than he is, really. Not only did something happen right under our noses, but it's one of our neighbor's kids who did it, and it indicates a serious problem that we now have to talk to his father about. I don't know how his dad is going to react, since no one wants to hear that their kid abuses animals, but he was appropriately upset the last time we had to talk to him about Ryan's behavior, so hopefully he will be this time as well and not freak out on us, or say that Patrick's lying, or some such thing.

Crapity crap crap crap.

Poor little Luke. I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you. You were loved, and we'll miss you.