Friday, December 22, 2006

Parents don't need this advice!

We're being told to limit children's use of noisy toys? Good God, I've been trying to send that memo to the grandparents for fifteen years.

Talking with the teachers

After hearing all the rumours about Great Mills High School, and then having Son #1 come home and confirm all those rumours in anecdotes great and small, Hubby and I have been a little uneasy about the whole experience.

Over the past week or so, I have met personally with 2 of his teachers, and am very impressed with both. They have a firm grasp of who Son #1 is, and are willing to do whatever it takes to see him do well in class. And they like him.

Last night, in the car, Son #1 was telling me about his friends at school. One, in particular, was annoying him, because "He treats girls just like Mercutio did, in Romeo & Juliet!" He kept on relating the stuff he'd learned in English class to his high school social scene. It was awesome. So, naturally, I had to email his teacher about it. Because I know that his written work is not generally indicitive of his mental grasp of material.

She emailed me back, thrilled with his comments about the play. She obviously feels the way I do, that he is getting the material on a deeper level. She also told me he is "a joy to have in class".

Did you hear that? MY SON, that one, is a joy to have in class. I am so happy to see someone else knowing him and feeling that joy. He's a great kid. I think, maybe, that crazy, chaotic, "bad" school is going to be a good place for him.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sex Ed!

Today, I am going to the school to approve Son #1's participation in Sex Ed. Oh, joy...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm trying to imagine just what this would look like

Apparently, Muslims are developing more negative attitudes towards America.

So, bombing our buildings, killing our civilians at home and abroad, attacking the Cole, flying innocents into the World Trade Center, etc, etc, ET FRICKIN' CETERA: that was all just a mildly miffed Muslim world. NOW, they're REALLY angry.

I can hardly wait to see what THAT is gonna mean.

Monday, December 11, 2006

problem solved!

I found cucumber flavored, unsweetened bottled water at Target today. It is perfect.

Perfect because it is unsweetened. I am getting enough sweet in cookie form, these days.

But especially perfect because of that magic word, "cucumber", on the side of the bottle. I'll never have to share this with any kid. It's an iron-clad guarantee!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Public School Quotes of the Week

Son #1 reported that one of his fellow students never does his homework. He doesn't participate in classroom discussions. He doesn't pay attention to lectures. He curses at the teacher and shouts during class. He often skips class altogether. This week, his teacher had had enough, and asked the kid what he expected to be able to achieve in life, with that kind of attitude.

"I'm gonna make as many babies as I can, and the government will give me money for every one, and people like you will pay for it."

Also this week, his health teacher said, "Most people can handle marijuana". Is that so? Most people can smoke marijuana and have no ill effects? Like, getting arrested, or becoming a slit-eyed no-account loser, or just having their skin develop that ashy sheen? If marijuana is so damn great, maybe they should pass it out to everyone. I'm thinking the schools are only about a hair's breadth away from that, anyway.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Am I talking to feel my lips waggle? #73

Me: "I told Uncle to come for Thanksgiving dinner around 2, so why don't you come at 2?"

Mom: "Your father says we'll be there at noon."

Abortion--it's all about the repeat business

So a study is out saying that a lot of women who have abortions have more than one.

This is not news to me, as the first person I ever met who mentioned having had an abortion, told me that she had had five of them. The study also found a significant proportion of women having abortions were over 30, already had living children, and were using birth control when they got pregnant.

The planned parenthood people, naturally, say that what this means is abortion clinics need to be telling women about birth control. But that the big, bad, conservatives won't let them.

First of all, that is bullshit. Saying that doctors can't tell woman to have an abortion is not the same as telling abortionists they can't encourage a woman NOT to have one.

Secondly, it kinda busts the image of the pathetic young girl too naive to avoid pregnancy. These are women who know all about it, and still choose to kill their children. That is disturbing. Too bad becoming a mother the first time around didn't teach these women that as adults you've got to deal with the cards you've been dealt.

And, lastly, yeah, there's the whole "birth control doesn't always work" thing. Some of us are just really fertile. But that isn't a license to kill, Ms. Bond.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm a giant reed diffuser

Today I broke down and bought a pair of those reed diffuser things at Target.

They look really cool and smell fantastic. And when I got them home I spilled a little. Since it was on my hand already, I ran it through my hair.

You can see where this is going. Every time I shake my head, I smell vanilla & mint. It is awesome. I am probably giving myself brain damage, but it smells fantastic.

How long before I'm buying that stuff, just for my hair? Your guess is as good as mine.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Son #1's school experience, thus far:

According to Son #1, public high school's academic load is "chump stuff" compared to homeschool.

Torn jeans and T-shirts are completely wrong. You must wear black, blacker than space. This requires a trip to the mall, which is an hour from home, and much more expensive than, say, the thrift store.

Racial tension is everywhere. But the kids who tease Justin for being latino, or Son #1 for being white and the wearer of a wicked Jewfro, are balanced by the kids who give him a new nickname. He is, in goth circles, "DK", while the African-American kids call him "C-Dogg".

While, back in the day, people cornered each other in the hall to find out who liked whom, today that is all done by text message, with similar results.

The bisexuals play spin-the-bottle after lunch.

Some classes are completely out of control, dominated by obscenity-shouting thugs, people who don't bother to do the (minimal) required work and then complain when they don't understand anything, and those who leave for the bathroom and never return. Substitute teachers are a fact of life. The principal relies on in-house sheriff's deputies to cart off the most unruly kids, so that teachers can at minimum enter their own classrooms. And yet, this is somehow seen as a more legitimate route to college than homeschooling, in the eyes of the State.

Son #1 comes home every day with stories about his school, his friends, his classes, and the rest. I am honored and thrilled to be intimately included in his life. I am also mortified, on a daily basis.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just another FUBAR day...

Couldn't sleep last night, again. Or, more accurately, could only sleep in bursts of an hour or less, punctuated with periods of wakefulness. Got maybe 4 hours, all told.

Went to the school to register Son #1, at our appointed time. The registrar had an emergency, though, so he wasn't there, and nothing else can happen until after we deal with him. IF he shows up today, we'll register The Son, but otherwise we wait until Wednesday. So, we headed home... find the heating duct guys here, waiting. Didn't know they were coming, wouldn't have been here to let them in if the registrar had been where he was supposed to be. So they slapped on the new registers, while I tried to sort out the heap on my desk. How hard could it be, right? Screw, screw, screw? So, they left. Hubby came home. At this point I actually LOOKED at the registers. They are not the right kind. So, those need to be replaced.

At this point I have a son who is still not registered for school; a headache and general brainlessness due to insufficient sleep; heaps in the center of every upstairs room so as to make space for the HVAC guys to replace the registers they put in this morning; boys who are a bit behind on the school schedule because I was gone/the HVAC guys were loud/they had to pile their belongings away from their windows before school started; and, of course, the original pile of papers on my desk, sections of which are starting to get cranky.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Betty Color?

It's Saturday, so after the gym, taking the younger sons to tae kwon do, and making a quick lunch, we watched the last half of West Side Story and spent the rest of the afternoon stacking the logs Son #1 split. It was a very relaxing day, and productive, and I feel great.

Apparently, some of us need a little more to feel great. Betty Color.

There was a time, I heard, when most men were happy to see pretty much whatever was down there. I think we are making this too hard, ok, ladies?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The scariest thing in the candy haul

Last night was Halloween. This morning, Son #4 found a "Happy Easter" lollipop in his sack. So, Happy Eastoween, everybody!


One of the perks of blogging is I get to link to other people's great writing and take a tiny sliver of credit for it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

If I were his gay lover, there's no way I'd marry him

Because it would just be a new and novel format for ex-Gov. McGreevey to cheat. So, don't do it! Step away from the Unitarian minister! This guy is a serial bastard.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Whose schedule gets priority?

Son #1 and I celebrate birthdays just a few days apart. This year, my mother wanted to come down and take us out to dinner, but the whole Waste of Time Gang was ill for Birthday Week. So, we put it off.

Mom was ticked that we had the nerve to get sick, because my sister had planned a day off of work for it, and everything. But, um, germs come when they choose, you know?

So, it's been a few weeks, we're all well, Mom & Dad went on vacation and returned, and it's generally just getting far from Birthstravaganza. Mom wants to come down and take us out to dinner. So she called tonight and named her date.

Unfortunately, the Sons have school during the day and sports practice every weeknight. So we are unavailable before about 7:15. I suggested getting together over the weekend, since we are less busy then, but my sister works then.

Mom kept pushing for me to shift that we would be available on a day my sister is not working. She finally decided that the only time that suited her was a weekday lunch. The Sons and I will lose half of a day of school, and my father will skip his physical therapy appointment, because Mom has Halloween clutter in her car that she insists we need.

I suggested that she wait until AFTER dad works out and the Sons and I finish school, but no go. Because, you know, my sister has off during the day.

I can't imagine my sister is that committed to spending her precious day off at an applebee's lunch with a bunch of people who have other places they absolutely need to be. So, really, it is just my mom's box of stuff, deciding for us.

Some people, most people, might drop it off at the post office and schedule a get-together at a time that actually IS convenient. But, not my mom.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

pill-poppin' momma

Several of these, I take in an effort to stay off of prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs. Which are covered by insurance. Spending more, and taking fistfuls of horse pills, in order to avoid taking a single, scary pill, does seem, at times, to be a bit silly. But, um, it's what I'm gonna do.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

1st Blogiversary

About a year ago, I launched this blog, inspired by my husband's office's Halloween party food contest. I submitted some rockin' devilled egg bloodshot eyes.

This year, it is a "scary dessert" theme. I think my homage to Carrie fits the bill. So, Happy Blogiversary to me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How does "Crazy" sound?

They're talking about renaming schizophrenia, because it is stigmatizing. They also say that the hallucinations and such aren't symptoms of schizophrenia, but rather a reaction to terrible life experiences. Should we call it "can't handle life so goes nuts syndrome"? Is that less stigmatizing, or more?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Classic Mom

Mom called today and asked if I wanted a Curves membership for my birthday.

I told her no thank you. So she started the hard sell on how great Curves is, and how much I'd love it. So, I explained that I had joined another gym across town, and didn't want to also belong to Curves.

"But do you GO?"

Ah, yes. Love that. At least this morning, when I was at the gym, another woman commented to the group of people in the room that she knew which treadmill is "Christine's machine" before 7 am...In some circles, at least, I am known as a gym rat...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It takes two, baby

Yesterday I heard that a neighbor has noticed my puny weight loss. And I also got a phone call from someone I've never met, because of something he read in my blog. Thanks, guys, for making my day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And I thought going to the groomer was bad

Crapmaster O has been fighting getting his claws trimmed, lately. Son #2 and I have gotten tired of wrestling with him. So yesterday we took him to Petco (it is, after all, where all the pets go) and let the groomers there take care of it.

Otis is not a fancy dog, so we didn't spring for all the extras. Just clip those toes and we would be happy. It was a much more enjoyable experience for us people, and probably for Otis, as well. But I must admit I never thought of myself as the type of person to use a groomer. Heck, you could count on the fingers of one ink-stained hand how many times I've had my own nails professionally pampered. So I was feeling a bit sheepish.

Then we turned a corner in Petco and I saw this book.

I feel ever so much less crazy, after seeing that.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

You can tell a lot about a person, from the way they handle dissent

For the past week or two, I have been receiving mass emails encouraging me to protest a redistricting plan in our neighborhood.

It's a plan that I hadn't heard about, but after reading about it (and reading, and reading; these emails just keep coming) I realized pretty quickly that it's actually a piece of redistricting that I wholeheartedly support.

I talked about it with a neighbor, and he agreed with me. Not that he was going to say anything about that to the people spamming the neighborhood...and neither was I, until today.

The last email I received encouraged us all to read a letter to the editor by the same person who has been sending the emails. I read it. The gist was, "Why don't developers ask the community what we want?"

And I realized, not only does this person not know that she's sending emails to someone on the opposite side of the idealogical fence, she also is under the impression that the whole neighborhood agrees with her.

I sent her the following email:

I've been reading your emails
and so I also read your letter to the editor in the

Not everyone agrees that development is a bad thing. I
am looking forward to those pieces of development. I
think the super Wal-Mart is going to be a real benefit
to my family, too, not to mention all the new jobs
development creates for the community as a whole.

We're not all going to agree on development issues,
but thanks for bringing this one to my attention.


I thought that was pretty reasonable and mild-mannnered. But boy, did I get bitch-slapped when she responded to me. I have put the stuff that made me laugh in bold, so you can get the joke, too...

Dear Christine,

Thanks for your e-mail and your thoughts. I have to say your e-mail is
first one that I have received that supports the Super Wal-Mart. But it
also obvious to me Christine, that you have not read the e-mails,
flyers, or
letters well
. Most of us are not opposed to development when
development is
put in place with proper guidelines and sanctions - that has not
very often in this county. Not sure how long you have lived here; I
lived here 42 years and have wept at some of the unnecessary
destruction to
our natural habitats not to mention to neighborhoods. If you have not
by St. Andrews Estates then I suggest you do so and talk to the people
live there and whose backyards were raped by the current developers of
Wildewood. St. Andrews Estates is only one small example of
wanton, selfish development.

Do many of us prefer that the corner of Shady Mile Drive not be
or that Shady Mile Drive not be widened and then possibly opened up to
4, the answer is "yes" we do oppose these actions. But we have accepted
Paul Summers is within his legal rights to develop that corner; we
want the zoning to remain residential mixed vs. commercial mixed.
Residential mixed does allow for small businesses and homes to be
constructed. Actually, many of us would like to see office buildings
constructed there as there would be less impact on traffic and the
would be relatively quiet at night and during weekends. Tammie Sebacher
I have suggested this to Mr. Summers and Mr. Kabat.

As far as the super Wal-Mart goes, I'm afraid I don't support your
Wal-Mart is understaffed now as it is, and one large component of this
Wal-Mart will be a grocery store. Christine, we need another grocery
along this corridor like we need a hole in the head, not to mention the
impact on traffic in front of Town Creek Manor. The kind of jobs that
Wal-Mart creates are really not very beneficial to the county's economy
although they may benefit a few individual people and do purchase TDRs.

Sadly, especially in this country we are consumed with ourselves and
guilty of not having a more global view of the world. I would be happy
introduce you to a long list of people/families whose lives will be
by potential large scale commercial development (if this is approved)
at the
corner of Shady Mile. And by the way Christine, personally I will not
be as
affected by this development as the many others whose homes abut this
property as I live further back in Town Creek. But, I am compassionate
enough to know how people's lives will change and not for the better.
beyond yourself and think of your neighbors.

In conclusion, I do thank you for writing and although I cannot agree
your opinion; I do respect your correspondence especially as you
represent a


I just love that my disagreement instantly makes me unable to "look beyond myself and think of my neighbors".

YUP, she calls herself compassionate, so I guess she must be. Me, I'm just pure evil, but at least I represent a minority (that minority being people willing to disagree with her, I'll wager).

I also am amused to read that she actually lives far from the proposed development site. So, her opinion, holy as it is, is more "what the community wants" than the opinion of those who disagree with her but who actually live here.

See, told ya it was funny.

Ronald McHummer

This is actually an anti-McDonald's protest site, but I just liked it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Michael Kiefer

When the towers came down, the Pentagon was in flames, we weren't quite sure that my mother in law was safe or when my uncle would be able to fly back home, I gathered my children and reeled in shock at an evil I couldn't understand.

Five years later, I still don't understand it. I think of those men, praying to their God as they planned to kill thousands of innocent people, and I can't see how anyone could make that choice and think it was a moral one.

Fortunately for all of us, there is decency and strength, bravery and commitment every bit as incomprehensible as the worst of humanity. And we saw it, every one of us, on that same day.

Michael Kiefer is listed, by some, as a victim of the 9/11 attacks. But the truth is more than that. As a firefighter with FDNY Ladder 132 in Brooklyn, Michael Kiefer was one of those who made a heroic effort to save lives that day.

He was twenty-five years old, looking forward to marrying his sweetheart in 2002. He had every reason to be selfish, and yet he was not.

Perhaps, devout Catholic that he was, he prayed to his God as he ran into those towers, to save innocent people. That, I can understand. A little bit. And honor, and praise, and be thankful for, on the behalf of all those he lost his life to try to save, and all the rest of us who are still inspired to tears by his bravery and sacrifice, five years later.

Thank you, Michael. Your honor, your decency, your bravery in the face of unspeakable horror, are all still remembered. YOU are still remembered. God bless.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's not all about me

Monday is the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I'll be one of the bloggers writing a tribute to someone who lost his life that day. I hope I can do it in a way that honors him, and I hope you join the effort on your own blog, too.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Freecycle Pet Peeve

Freecycle is awesome. Post your unwanted stuff online, and people who want it pick it up. They get free stuff, you get rid of stuff, everyone's happy.

I've been using Freecycle a lot, lately, mostly to get rid of things we're not using (although I've also managed to pick up a few quirky necessities of my own).

One thing bugs me, though. Who are these people who expect me to DELIVER? I mean, yes, a foosball table is large. A sectional sofa, also darn large. But if they are also free, that means that I am giving them away and getting nothing in return, save the additional space in my house.

So, tell me again why I should be the one who drives it across the county?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Interior Designer?

Hubby is doing some work for an interior designer, who has offered, in exchange, to give us some advice on the house.

Hubby is concerned that I might feel like my femininity is being usurped by this lady.

What he doesn't realize is that my great desire is to set fire to 95% of our household goods, and start over with...heck if I know, but something that seems to go together, instead of Early Do You Want This?

Ah, to be a millionaire...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I spent the morning at the hospital getting blood tests. In about 10 days I get my results. Hopefully, I will come home from that appointment with either a definitive diagnosis and drugs which will fix everything, or: antidepressants, appetite suppressants, sleeping pills, and beer goggles for Hubby.

Holy crap on a cracker, update

I spoke to the mother of That Wandering Boy and according to her, he didn't walk home, his dad came to get him. Which is a major relief. But she also is under the impression that he told the kids, before he left. Which I know is not the case. Ugh.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Subtle" doesn't work, instance # 78364

"Can we come down on Tuesday?"

"Well, Mom, actually, Tuesday is our first day of school, and Monday we're having new windows put in, so all our furniture is pushed to the center of the floor, so we're pretty busy."

"Yes, well, what time Tuesday would be good?"

"Well, actually, we're starting school Tuesday, so we're pretty busy."

"Well, you take a lunch break, don't you?"

"Yes, but, you know, we're really busy this week."

"We'll be there around lunch time. We'll bring lunch."

Long story short, it's a good thing I only planned a short day of school, because my parents and my sister were here from noon to 4.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Latest sign of the Latino population explosion

Son #4 wanted a dragon tattoo, but instead the machines were all filled with the Virgen de Guadalupe. Son #4 was quite disgusted, but Son #1 sees this as a feature, not a bug.

Hit the gym before 6am I arrived home at 7:30, ready for the day and with Full Civilized Face on. Today is also installation day for our new windows, which shall be the shizzle, dawg. I am PUMPED.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Holy crap on a cracker

This morning, we awoke after the sleepover and were congratulating ourselves. The partygoers seemed to enjoy themselves and get along, they quieted down as soon as I asked them to, and no one brought food or drinks into the freshly carpeted basement. It was awesome! We finally figured out how to host a successful sleepover!

Then, the boys started waking up, and we found out that one was missing.

Apparently, he felt sick in the night and, without telling us or any of the other children, he walked home. About a mile and a half. Around 2am.

Within a few minutes, the boys noticed his absence, so they looked for him. When they couldn't find him, his brother called home, and found that he'd made it. Older brother's main concern? He was afraid I'd be mad at him for using my desk phone to call home. There is something seriously bizarre about these kids.

This morning, his father came to pick up the remaining son. He was uncharacteristically quiet. Which, I suppose, is an indication that he is ticked at US because his son snuck out of our house while we slept.

YES, Hubby and I feel responsible. And YES, we are extremely grateful that That Boy made it home safe, and we didn't have to talk to the sheriff this morning. But, who would have thought that you had to tell a 12 year old that when he comes for a sleepover, he is required to SLEEP OVER until either his parents come for him or he asks one of us for a ride home? Holy crap on a cracker. Holy heaping crap.

Sleepover, schmeepover

Son #2 turns 13 tomorrow. He, his brothers, and every other boy between the ages of 10 and 15 within a fifty mile radius are in our basement, as we speak. I could handle the airsoft gun battle in the yard, even though I'm sure our neighbors were convinced it was the apocalypse.

But few things stink like waking up at 1 AM, to the thudding of a radio directly beneath your bed, with the bone-deep knowledge that you're absolutely, positively, not going to be able to get back to sleep for the next 4 hours.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Clearly, I was meant to live in a hovel

because deciding how to fix this place up is stressing me out.

I mean, I can't wait for the new windows. And I am loving our clean, dog-pee-free carpeting. And I am really looking forward to the newoven/new fridge/new kitchen counter and floor/new bathroom floor/repaired shower/new basement ceiling/non-rotting columns out front/decent lighting throughout the house. REALLY looking forward to it, all of it.

But when I start to look into picking, say, new kitchen countertop materials, I feel bewildered by the options and completely unable to choose.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Brother-in-Law is here

And has managed, in less than 24 hours, to talk (loudly) about oral sex, Jennifer Love Hewitt's breast implants, every bowel condition known to medical science, the fact that abortion is perfectly acceptable and embryonic stem cell research is morally ideal (and Bush is singlehandedly preventing all scientific progress) because "it's just a cell! You can't SEE it, it can't say 'ow!' or anything," etc.

It amazes me that a man can live 56 years and STILL not realize that some topics are not suitable for conversation with children...and that some topics are best left to parents to communicate with those children. But I can't change him, and am not going to try. Instead, I pull aside Son #3 and remind him to avoid discussions of religion and politics...especially with Uncle. Fortunately, #3 is too busy preparing his next statement, to pay attention to the more vile things Uncle has to say. And I must admit I am proud of him for standing up for his beliefs, and just as proud of the other three for muttering "we're all entitled to our own opinions..." in the back seat of the car.

He also mentioned that MIL told him that our boys "can't write". Thankfully, when I explained that that means they have atrocious penmanship, he laughed it off-as he and his brother and plenty of other successful people also have horrible handwriting.

Am I a little miffed that she has presented my family as illiterate oafs to Miss Ullman and anyone else who happened to attend that particular dinner? Yup. But, hey, school starts Monday.

All in all, he summed up our home as "a great place for kids to grow up, if only you weren't Republican". I think I can live with that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mother-in-law's birthday

The party was a lot of fun, and we met Tracey Ullman, who knows MIL from the spa. I resisted the urge to bow down and worship Miss Ullman...yay me.

Also there was an old friend of MIL, who assured us that with her connections in the university admissions community, she could get all of our boys into top colleges, on full scholarships. Hubby was thrilled to bits, until he remembered that this is the friend that MIL describes as "a compulsive liar".

MIL kept pestering Brother-in-Law #1 to marry his girlfriend (blonde, tiny, wealthy, horrible children). He did not seem the least bit inclined to do so, and in fact the girlfriend seemed very uncomfortable and worried she'd bear the brunt of MIL's tactlessness.

But it does remind me, that when Hubby told her he wanted to get married, she said:

"I've seen 'em come, and I've seen 'em go. Keep looking."

She who laughs after 18 years of marriage, laughs best.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It's a doggy miracle

Since the new rugs arrived, Otis has not messed the carpet. We've blocked the stairs, so he can't even think about ruining the den, at this point. And we're working on teaching him to keep his food in the kitchen.

It is great! The house is no longer disgusting. Let's hope it sticks.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What do you buy for your mother-in-law's birthday?

Wealthy. Tiny, crammed apartment. Picky. Inscrutable. Bold. Opinionated. Eighty. What, exactly, do you buy for your mother-in-law's birthday? She has everything she wants, and has specifically asked not to be given gifts. So we sent her flowers, figuring they'd be lovely but temporal. Now, hubby wants to bring something for her to open at her party...a good urge, but we are both at a loss.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Saw the doctor today...

after a 3 month's wait. And I need to go off all medications for 2 weeks and get blood tests to see if it's my ovaries, my adrenal glands, or my thyroid that's been giving me the holy fits, these days. Or maybe it's a combination of several. Or maybe all of them are totally screwed. Regardless, and as per usual, I am one of those famed, pathetic, nearly legendary people with an Actual, Honest-to-God Glandular Problem.

So, step off, already. I know I look like hell.

Baby Brother Syndrome

Hubby's big brother is visiting this week. We mentioned to Son #4 that Hubby was also the "baby" of the family, and that even at 42 he still gets treated like a kid, much of the time. I told Son #4 that when he's an adult, if I treat him like a kid, he should let me know so I can try to remember he's an adult.

"Ok, Mom, can we start NOW?"

I think he was joking, mostly.

Do What I Say Party

At least when Republicans get caught ignoring their own morals, it's over something truly tempting, like illicit sex or massive amounts of cash. But a car? Obama, please.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Total Transformation begins...

The new carpet is down in the den. Two of our three hideous couches left the building last night. The living room rug has been replaced with one that DOESN'T reek of dog pee. And the window replacement guys are coming in a week or so.

I'm posting all sorts of unwanted crap on eBay and Freecycle, letting my office space encroach ever so stealthily onto living room territory, and fantasizing about our emptier, fresher house as I watch it take shape.

When people come to pick up our freecycle goodies, they are invariably greeted by a smiling child, whose first words are "Hi! We're refinancing!"

The boys are keeping an eye on the dog, too, with the understanding that at the first sign of indoor urination, he is to be killed, wrapped in the wet rug, and thrown onto the lawn. Am I kidding? Sorta. Maybe. We think.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I'm with the drummer

Hubby got a last minute call to substitute for another drummer last night, and I left the Sons home so I could go watch him play for about 90 minutes. He really is great and needs a regular band. Plus, I scored this awesome picture of him, which is now my desktop. Woooooooooo!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Garage Phone Update

OK, the plot...thins?

We found the missing garage stuff. But we still have no idea where the mystery phone came from. And since we have no crime to report, the police won't help us trace it. Darn, I was getting excited...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Holy Crap

And, yeah, on the "much less important" front, it's too bad for Joe Lieberman that they didn't announce this last week.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Garage phone

Yesterday, as we prepared to make the big trip to The City, we realized that some stuff was missing from the garage...funny thing was, something had been put IN the garage, too...a mysterious mobile phone.

We are going to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that the stuff we can't find was actually stolen, and then the police will trace the phone for us.

This is gonna be fun.

Happy Anniversary Pop Quiz

Last night, Hubby and I celebrated 18 glorious years of marital bliss. Yay us!

By coincidence, last night we also had to drop Son #3 off at my mother in law's apartment in The City for a week of camp. So, we splurged on a fantabulous dinner at one of the best steakhouses imaginable. It was awesome.

It was also amusing, that the Sons' grandmother demanded a handwriting sample from each boy upon arrival, and also hauled out a couple of rocks she picked up in Hawaii for a "do you know what kind of rock this is?" quiz (yes, of course, they know all about volcanic rock).

It's a shame she can't appreciate the fact that YES, they are learning, and that penmanship, though worthwhile, is not the only thing to ask of a child. Also a shame that she missed Son #4's comments, upon driving past the Museum of the American Indian: "That's a strange building, but not as weird as Frank Gehry's architecture."

I hope Son #3 makes it out of Grandma's apartment alive, that's all. Spy Camp better be worth it!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hornets' nest

I COULD link to the Reuters photos that were doctored to make things look more hell-in-a-handbaskety. I could. Especially since it sounds like they were taken by the same guy who staged the Cana photos.

But instead, I'll tell you that over the past 6 days, the Sons have killed 101 hornets IN OUR BASEMENT. They seem to be flying in next to the exhaust on our dryer. Hubby has sprayed back there, but it's still Hornet City, between the paneling and the outer wall.

The Sons are killing hornets one at a time, all in the basement, and so far we haven't had any get farther than the den. Also, no stings, as of yet. Hopefully, the big spraying festival will, at some point, kill off the nest, but in the meantime the Sons are happy to kill the hornets as they see them.

Kind of like the Middle East, you might say. I can only imagine the photos the little hornet newspapers are running, these days...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The best argument yet

...that we're in the early days of WWII Redux. I see what's going on in the news and am amazed that no one seems to understand it, until tonight...VDH understands, and sums up well.

Needless to say, it scares the crap out of me. The Sons, and all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pro-choice = Anti-woman

I believe we are all equal, all of us, as people. That should make me kind of a feminist, right? But the abortion issue has always been the major stumbling block for me. I just can't sign on to a philosophy that says it's ok to kill people because they are helpless and inconvenient.

People laugh at "feminists for life", but to me, any other attitude towards abortion is not just unspeakably cruel to the children involved--but a backhanded way to infantalize women.

The first thing you realize, as an adult, is that the shit you do today has consequences. If you forget to pay your mortgage, if you don't brush your teeth, if you stay home from work to play nintendo, whatever, it's going to bring down some negatives on you. As an adult, that means that nobody's responsible to bail you out of your own mistakes; you live with them, or you figure out how to not make them again, or they screw up your life, but it's all yours to handle.

It's a scary proposition, maybe, but it's also exciting. Being a grown-up is great--just ask a kid.

Kids know, instinctively, that adults get all the respect. They get the good stuff that comes with being an adult. They don't realize, until they're adults themselves, that a lot of that stuff is just work, responsibility, and no summers off.

That's my point, though. As a kid, you can make some real boner decisions, and still squeak by. Mom and Dad can cover for you, pay your fine, bail you out, send you to another school, whatever. As an adult, when you screw up, there's nobody to fix it but you. Not really.

By the time you're interested in sex, you know it's more than fun. SHOW me a sexually active teen who hasn't yet heard that that's where babies come from. I dare ya. If you're having sex, you have no room to pretend that you didn't know pregnancy was a possibility.

And if you get pregnant, if you get somebody pregnant, that is not the time to decide that you're really not ready for all this adult stuff, and you want to back out and be a kid again. You can't call do-overs on the big stuff; you really can't.

If you want respect, if you want to be an adult, you have to take stock, think hard, and move forward. Easy access to abortion says for women, "in this area of life, we are not able or willing to handle the consequences of our actions. If our actions create negative consequences, we are not required to handle them." Why would any adult sign up for that?

We as women are capable people. We can handle life. We can handle reality. We can handle the consequences of our actions, even if they are catastrophically hard and lasting. We don't need to cede our maturity when the going gets tough.

Oh, and just get me started on how "choice" for women seems, so much of the time, to really mean "bullying", by her boyfriend, her parents, her inlaws, even her boss. But, hey, let me get back to silly crap for a while, before all my friends stop reading my blog...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cana photos

I've been looking for something articulate about the business in the Middle East, and I think I've found it here.

Swim Team Pot Luck Banquet: a haiku

Long night, hard benches
Clap until meaning is lost
And eat much mayo

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Men Make No Sense

No sense at all, I swear.

This week, Hubby hired a maid to clean our basement. He cooked dinner, twice. He took the Sons to the pool, twice. He took me out for lunch at our favorite restaurant, just the two of us. He can't stop complimenting my hair, even. He's been batting a thousand, consistently, on all fronts, for days.

And until I spelled this all out for him, he had NO IDEA that any of this would make me happy. He had NO IDEA that I would be delirious with joy to have, for example, most of Sunday to myself in a silent house in which I need not cook, clean, or ride herd, so I could meet my Monday deadlines for work.

I don't understand this, one bit. I mean, I have spent the past few days feeling like I have a wife, ok? Free to think! Free to work! Accomplishing stuff! Earning money and praise in the Outside World! And he...doesn't immediately see how fabulous that is? I don't get it.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Total, unadulterated happiness Amazon order arrived. I have been dancing to George Harrison ever since. And I've got more, too! But George, he is IT.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nuance, baby. it's all about the nuance.

I am, by nature, pretty darn conservative. But that doesn't mean I can't listen to other opinions.

In fact, my biggest problem with most ultra-liberals I meet isn't their liberal position (unless it's on abortion...I have a hard time with that one) but rather their inability to entertain other viewpoints.

Thankfully, I've found women who can differ, respectfully, and discuss, patiently, and perhaps just as important, change the subject to the latest M Night Shyamalan movie when necessary. You go, Kate!

And in that vein, visit kaka mak.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

As I watch myself roll through some crazy emotional crap

Hubby is there, pretty much, to be the hand that holds the kite string. Yesterday, he said, "I think you're just going through a rough patch. I think there's nothing in your life worse than the rest of the stuff we've had to put up with over the years. Depression is just part of life, especially for creative types like you."

Ah. That "creative types like you" part is enough to keep a smile on my face for days, even though I'm only doing hospital web site content revisions for the next week or so. I may spend my time cutting the passive voice from someone else's old page about surgery, but deep down, I am a Creative Type. Woo!

A cool site to remind me

...that I am not a freak.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Quote of the Day:

When we picked up Sons 1, 3 and 4 from their grandparents' house, Son #1 was overwhelmingly affectionate. He has hugged and kissed me more in the past 3 days than in the past 3 months, I think, and tells me repeatedly how much he missed me.

Why, you ask? It's the menu.

"We lived on Ho-Hos and french fries, Mom. And lasagne. By the third day, I would have paid good money for an apple."

You know I'm back, because I'm listing stuff on eBay

Got back from Colorado on the 21st (awesome trip, too much to blog about today) and have been tidying...looking around the house for stuff to list on eBay, in my desperate efforts to make this place look less like a pit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My other job is Insurance Administrator

I just got my new fax machine yesterday and I swear it will pay for itself in skipped Staples fax fees, stamps, gas, and time before this leg thing is through. Hubby said today that I am working full-time as an insurance benefits administrator, and it sure is starting to feel that way.

On the bright (but still medical) side, I also have been spending a lot of unexpected time at St Mary's Hospital, getting drug screened/infectious disease tested/quizzed on the proper way to lift a patient and protect their HIPAA rights...all because I am doing a freelance writing project for them. It is, in a word, silly.

I keep saying, "You realize I'll never be in contact with any patients, and in fact will only be on hospital grounds, in the administration wing, perhaps one or two hours per month, for meetings?" And they respond, "Yep. Regulations. Take this sheet down the hall." I have already put in about 2 hours just in paperwork/employee physicals. So, let's just hope I end up having a long and profitable relationship with the hospital.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

hubby got hired! update

After calls from the singer, drummer, and guitarist in which he was told "the job is yours, man, you're our new bass player," after going out to dinner with the singer and guitarist and hearing, again, "the job is yours, dude," after several practices, after joining the singer at open mike night and being told repeatedly that he "played the shit out of that bass,"; after all this, last night Hubby got the call..."we want you to be our bass player, but we don't want to fire the current bass player. We want to wait until he quits."

This is the bass player they say sucks. The one they say they can't stand as a musician, or on any personal level. The one they know has been stealing money from the band, when he's not just sponging. And, naturally, the one who is obviously not going to quit, because as a member of this band he is tranformed from an unattractive, untalented, mooching jackass loser, into The Bassist Who Gets Attention from Sexy, Drunken Groupies.

Hubby saw this coming. I didn't. I guess it's because these musician types make no sense to me, at all, whereas he's been dealing with their oeuvre since he was a tween. So, he seems less ticked about it than I am.

Perhaps it also helps that his YouTube clips have already attracted the attention of another local band that has asked him to try out for their bassist slot.

But, good grief. How many bands are going to "swear! Man, you are awesome! You are our new bass player!" and then back out before a single paid gig? This makes 2 so far in 2006. I'm going to stop talking about it with Hubby, because it feels like I'm just rubbing it in. But, ugh. Man. Ugh.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Peace Activists in Action

Hubby says they're only doing it to get laid. And if Christiaan Briggs is any example, they take it really hard when they get turned down.

So, ladies, if you can stand it, do what you can for world peace--give a piece to one of those whiny peace activists before they get riled.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

One small step for civilization

I'll admit, I'm feeling cranky. Something about lack of sleep, terminal exhaustion and hot flashes. Combine that with yet another interviewee who "forgot" we had an appointment, and I was on a hair trigger when I pulled up at the stop light.

Next to a white guy, trying really hard to be ghetto. Car seat flattened all the way back, arm hanging over the car door, all the windows down, and rap music blasting so loud I could hear it clearly inside my car.

I snapped.

I rolled down MY windows, tuned to the classical station, and blasted violins as loud as I could. He looked over and lurched forward, just about two feet--as far as his car had room to go. He cranked. I cranked. And then the light turned green, and I drove next to him for about a block.

Immature and pointless, I know, but it felt good.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Who's your daddy?

Today Hubby was practicing bass and guitar in the living room. Son #4 walked in and asked him to turn it off. "It was OK at first, but now it's getting a little annoying." Son #1, after a brief bass session, was in the kitchen watching the news for information on Korea's missile testing program.

Pretty weird. Our kids want us to turn off that noisy rock'n'roll music so they can hear the news.


I almost never get my hair cut. I tend to push that to the back burner, and have to have been pretty frustrated with my hair for at least a few weeks before I will ignore all urges to the contrary and actually go in for a cut. Mainly because of a horrendous haircut I received about 17 years ago.

This is cheap, and frees up some time, but it makes it hard to establish a relationship with a stylist. I'm that-woman-I-see-every-three-months-for-a-quick-cut-and-eyebrow-waxing.

I have found 2 great stylists here in the Happy Boondocks. One is quite expensive, and her son spends his free time beating the tar out of Son #1. So, not a great option, even though she is a genius with scissors.

The other is affordable, and baggage-free, but SHE QUIT. She no longer works at the Hair Cuttery. I don't know where to find her. Like I said, if I did this more often she would have told me to follow her, but since I hardly ever show up I am stuck.

So, yesterday I went back to the Cuttery, mainly because they have a photo on display these days of a haircut I have always wanted. In fact, in the weeks before we moved to Thailand, I went to a very expensive salon in an attempt to get this very cut...and the hilarious failure that ensued is fodder for a piece I am going to write and sell, so I'm not putting it up here. Suffice it to say I got a radically different 'do, and was mortified.

Yesterday, I also got something far from the photo fantasy cut. I keep running my hand over my hair and saying "whoa, this is not what I'd planned at all."

Two observations:

Firstly, it helps to have a Buddha-like detachment from my appearance. I KNEW, going in, that even if she cut my hair exactly the way I wanted, I would not be transformed into some fabulous-looking glamor queen. I was aiming just for "nice haircut, Frumpzilla". Pretty low standards, right there. So I have discovered that low standards is a one-way ticket to Dontgiveafuckville. The haircut I got is actually very similar to the one, 17 years ago, that made me cry, and I can't rouse myself past mild amusement. The joys of being nearly forty and grossly overweight, folks...not great on a daily basis, but good for mental health.

Secondly, I need to quiz my new stylists. Just because she owns a pair of scissors, doesn't mean she understands that curly hair looks longer wet than it does dry. Forget assuming a professional knows her stuff. Be rude, and let her know.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cracked Foam

Is, in my mind, another way of saying "ain't no way we're launching".

I'm not sure why we can't get this right. The "environmental wackos are forcing us to use substandard materials" argument makes a lot of sense, though.

I love cashing checks as much as the next person, but

Wouldn't it be simpler to just tax everyone less, instead of using tax money to send monthly checks to people who have children? Canada's child tax benefits are another way to take money from people who earn it and give money to people the government thinks deserve it.

I still haven't heard a good reason for governments to be in the meddling business. But, hey, Canada, knock yourself out.

Friday, June 30, 2006

hubby got hired!

And is now a working bass player. We've been looking forward to this. So, check out some of his old stuff.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Grossly inappropriate for a kid's t-shirt, #2

I first started carrying my camera around because of a thrift store discovery--a T-shirt that would fit a preteen girl, that spelled out "I'm waiting for my conjugal visit" in sparkly letters.

Today, at Ross, I found the young boys' equivalent shirt. But at least I had my camera, this time.

Insufferable, insecure Starbucks people

I'll admit it, I am one. Hubby is more of a Dunkin' Donuts kind of guy--he wants coffee, hot, black, bitter, fast, and in a large container that won't mess up his truck (like his women?). I, however, want to listen to mellow jazzy music while I wait for a fancy, iced mocha thing. Or maybe herbal iced tea. Just gimme some atmosphere, ok?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My super-elastic expanding office

We moved Son #4 into his own room last week. It had been the sun room, used for miscellaneous storage. Yesterday I moved the last big thing out of his room--my filing cabinet. It is now right behind my desk, meaning I file things the second they're ready--not weeks later, when I walk into the storage room. This is an awesome development.

It also required that I move my desk, which meant that I needed to move the couch...if you give a moose a muffin, he's going to want some jam to go with it.

So now I have a larger, more comfortable, organized office, and a smaller, more cramped official living room. I am bucking for a total removal of the living room furniture, since we never really use that for guests, anyway...some day.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Just a temp

Today I took Hubby for yet another doctor visit. While we were gone, there was a powerful rainstorm. The Sons came home, followed by a dog. Now we have an unidentified dog in the house for the foreseeable future. We've posted online, taped fliers around the neighborhood, canvassed door-to-door, and taken her to the vet to scan for microchipping. At this point, there's nothing else I can think to do.

So, Otis, New Dog and I just went on a walk--two dogs on the same leash. Fun.

Not that I will admit it to the children. "Conoco", as Son #3 calls her, is Just A Temp.

update: After just about 24 hours, "Whoopie" went home with her family. All's well that ends well.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summertime, and where's the damned remote?

The public schools got out 2 days earlier than I expected, so swim team started early, too. So our school year is over and a bit ragged at the end, there.

Let me just say once and for all (and with no small amount of shame and frustration with myself for feeling this incompetent):
--Dad went into the hospital mid-March, for 7 weeks.
--By the time he was home, I was full into May Madness at work.
--The day (the actual, very DAY) I said "I'm almost done with all this work, so I'll be able to catch up around the house and finish the school year on a strong note," Hubby broke his leg in 3 places, requiring surgery, umpteen trips to the doctor, and more bedrest than he can let himself take. He is scheduled to have the pins removed from his ankle during the week Son #2 and I are out of town, and is really not supposed to put any weight at all on that foot until then. He is exhausted and in pain and there's only so much I can do in my role as support person to help out, there.

In the face of this, there's an Adam Sandler movie coming out, about a guy who gets a universal remote that actually controls the UNIVERSE. I want one. I would like to put the world on "pause" until the house is clean, rewind back to make sure Hubby doesn't break his leg, and fast forward through most of these swim meets.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

No respect, no respect at all

One of my humor pieces got picked up, so naturally I sent the link around. Mom was mildly disturbed that I wrote about her again (although, to be honest, it is only a fleeting mention and fairly flattering) and Sis wants to know "when you're going to write about me."

I gave her "when I do, you'll be the first to know."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Meth use isn't an epidemic, after all

...according to this study

So, does that mean that they'll stop harassing middle-aged moms who just want to buy enough cold medicine to be able to go to bed and recover for a few days? Probably not. We'll still be justifying our families' illnesses to some schmuck in a pharmacist's booth, because Someone, Somewhere, Might use cold medicine to make an illegal drug.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My editors can't spell, Unintentional Pun edition

It happened again. This time, my editor wrote the following article title:

"Illusions of the Eye: Staring Reggie Rice".

The thing is, I don't usually read through my articles when they're published. I just flip open to the page to make sure they're there, to see if the pictures came out, etc. So if there are editor errors in the body of the article, I might not even notice.

But this is driving me nuts.

I am the lowly freelancer. As editor, it is their (better-paying) job to find MY errors and correct them. Not to create new errors of their own.

Ugh. Grrrr. Grunt. Argh.

Just add it to the stack of clips I can't use, I know.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Whadda MAN

Hubby and I saw the X-rays of his ankle today. The screws are holding his leg together, basically. I am in awe.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gee, Christine, you haven't blogged in a while...

Hubby went to upstate New York to fill in for a drummer friend. On arrival, he hurt his leg. He stayed up there, camped for 3 days, played drums, kicked butt, drove back down here, and thought, "Hmmmm...perhaps my foot should not be blue."

We spent an afternoon in the emergency room, where they diagnosed a broken tibia. Hubby complained about pain higher in the leg, and was brushed off.

The next day, the on-call doctor said the same. And again ignored all mention of pain elsewhere in the leg.

The third day, our insurance changed, so we had to visit yet ANOTHER doctor. Who said, "This is not just a broken tibia. You need more X-rays."

Hubby's leg is broken in three places.


Tomorrow he gets pins in his ankle. The Mom-in-law is coming down to watch the Sons while we are gone. Which means that today, I clean. A lot.

Friday, May 26, 2006

My geek is away, so I took a test.

i am a total geek

Why do I pick at old, psychic sores?

Sometimes I find myself googling people I haven't seen in years. People who, if they showed up on my doorstep, I would not be happy to see. Why do I do this?

Why do I have this compulsion to check up on people who have been so hurtful in the past? Why am I concerned with people who did their level best to make my life less than it is today?

I know I don't want to deal with them, don't want to talk to them, don't want to follow their path for me. But for some reason I feel the need to reach out for them a little bit, just to make sure they are around, and OK, in their way.

Sometimes I don't make any sense, even to myself.

In the Washington Times this morning

Senate declares "up", "down".

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I guess "My mother was a saint!" hasn't kicked in yet

Yesterday, after spending the morning fighting for an article I wrote, and shoving the boys through school, the Sons and I took a skipjack tour of the river, and then they accompanied me for an Advertiser interview. We dashed home long enough for me to make dinner, and then they had a long tae kwon do class, during which, admittedly, I talked with a couple of friends. We got home at 9:15.

Stumbling through the kitchen just before bed, I said to Son #1, "Man, I could use a day off."

His response?

"You? Why?"

All work and no play makes Mom a dull girl.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Flicks for Married Chicks: Poseidon

We, as a group, tend to rank on our husbands. We complain. We notice the little frustrating things about living with a man, instead of the good parts. Fortunately for us, there exists the disaster movie. There's nothing like an evening of watching men save women and children from certain death.

Yesterday, after homeschool review, Lisa and I went to see Poseidon, which turns out to be a leader in the Men Are Awesome, I'm So Glad I Have One category.

*Men, through their athleticism and just generally big old manly physical build, can do stuff we can't. Sing it, girls! "I am shooooorrt. I am not muscular, I am Womaaaaaan!"

*Men will step up to save us because they feel they should. Perhaps this is the same instinct that makes every mother in a crowd jump to attention when they hear some kid cry out for "Mom". Their instinct is to protect us, and thank God for it.

*Men can cut through the emotional bullshit of a tense situation and do what needs to be done. Wonder why your guy doesn't talk about his feeeelings all day? Because his brain is wired to ignore that stuff and save your butt. Enjoy it.

*Men know stuff we don't. I know, there are exceptions, but in my case, at least, I am constantly reminded that while I was learning to hem, get tarnish off brass, French braid, embroider, and write haiku, Hubby was gapping spark plugs, splicing rope, driving a tow truck, shooting guns and other such manly pursuits. Where men look at schematics and instantly understand where everything leads and what it's all for, I stare incomprehending, and mutter "this goes left, to that big block thingy." Ugh.

There's more, I know. Men are great. I am so glad I have one.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

When the mice are away, the cats play, too

The Sons spent last night at a friend's house, so Hubby and I went to see 9 Day Bender, the band that should and will have Hubby as bass player. Hubby will be going to New York with them this weekend, on the drums.

We had a great time, and I got to dance, which is something I sorely miss. I think, though, that I need to get myself some clubbing clothes, if we're going to be leaving the house on a regular basis. Or, at least I should be willing to sort through my closet and put on something that is designed for more than comfort.

Hubby's conviction that everyone wants a piece of me, and his complete inability to understand women of almost any stripe, is a neverending source of amusement and surprise. He is, I am reminded, a man, and therefore just can't help being clueless about the ways women interact.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The eternal conundrum of the freelancin' mom

If the boys are awake, I am on duty. I feel like I should be making sure they do their school work, and keeping the house clean, and feeding them.

If they are awake, they are talking, or watching TV, or playing Contendo, or practicing a musical instrument, or stomping around, or otherwise making noise. Not all at once, but generally someone is doing one of those things, most of the time.

At the end of the day, then, I have been inundated with noisy, demanding people. By 9 pm I am lucky if I have two brain cells left to rub together.

The house quiets down, the boys are tucked in, and I am, in theory, free to write.

In practice, however, it usually means I am free to collapse into my bed, or, even worse, buzz around disjointedly, not accomplishing anything.

Today I submitted an Advertiser piece and a short write up for the Tester. I also received another Morning Edition rejection email. They are as regular as the waxing and waning of the moon. But man, I still have so much work to do and it's only 8:30 and my brain is shot.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was our traditional mellow anti-holiday. We slept in. We called the grandmothers to wish them well. We went to Outback for dinner on the gift cards we've been holding since Christmas. We watched the youtube "mother's day" video, and Signs.

Hubby tells me that I am interpreting last night's events all wrong. "You got hit on right away. And it's not like there were a lot of guys in the bar. And the hook hand guy was really nice!"

I think I have found the ultimate fitness incentive program, nu?

It's one thing, to "know" you look like hell.

It's a totally different LEVEL of a thing, to see that the rest of the world pretty much agrees with you.

Hubby and I don't get out much. He is kind of a homebody, and we are on the broke side, and there's the whole responsible parenting thing. But I do remember, years ago when I was a single girl and kinda cute, spending my weekends dancing and flirting and generally feeling like hot stuff.

Soooo, the tide is turning. The Sons are of an age that they are well and truly able to fend for themselves for as long as we'd like to be gone. Hubby has discovered that the best way to get back into a band is to hang around where musicians go, and get his awesome, bass-playin', drum-beatin', guitar-mastering self planted deep in the minds of every single musician in the tri-county area. And a young guy Hubby once gave a couple of bass lessons to, when he was but a 6th grader with a dream, is performing with his band at a bar not far from home. So tonight, at last, I get to leave the house for more than dinner and a crappy movie.

Movies being, in my mind, a pretty lousy way to pass the time, unless you are making out in the back row of the theater.

We hit the little local bar. It is a nice place, despite the fact that just a few weeks ago a guy was shot and killed in a fight in the back parking lot. Damien, the Hubby's bass playing protege, is awesome, and his band plays some great ska. We are having a blast.

Damien gets off stage and Hubby offers to buy him a beer. We hang out, chat, drink, smoke and generally relax. While Hubby and Damien are loading the band's equipment into a waiting car, I sit at the bar and listen to the second act. The barmaid, who has been sending free Jagermeister shots our way, smiles at me and asks if the bass player is my son.

My freakin' SON.

Holy crap on a cracker, I need to get out of that bar.

Sooo, we head to a second place. Nice little local dive. The band, Niki Barr, is awesome, playing mostly original stuff with the occasional cover of something we recognize.

Two men flirted with me. Respectable, right? Plenty to make a woman feel like she's still got a little bit of what her momma gave her, right?

not tonight, ok?

The first guy was a fairly attractive, light-skinned Hispanic with an accent and a helluva lot of jailhouse tattoos. And then there was the second guy.

The second guy?

The second guy had a hook.

As God is my witness, I am going for a run this morning.

Friday, May 12, 2006

My editors can't spell

This week it happened twice. Two different articles, two different publications, and in both cases the editor changed my correct spelling to an incorrect spelling.

What do you do when you editor can't spell? Is there a gracious way to tell her that cuisine cannot please your "pallet" or that a lace curtain is not "shear"?

Once I send in my articles, they are in the editors' hands. I respect that. But by the same token, she is a professional and should recognize her own weaknesses, and ask someone (even if it is not me) if the word I used is really the word that belongs in there.

Now, I am in a position where two different publications this week alone have published something with my name on it, that makes me look like an idiot. Ugh.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fish prints

Today Son #3 and Son #4 are going to be making fish print t-shirts at the Bay ecology class they're taking. Son #4 is game. Son #3, however, thinks it is creepy to kill something, dip it in paint, and press it to your shirt.

"I don't mind killing a fish to eat it, but I don't want to kill something to make art."

I gave him the classic "this is what your teacher has planned, the fish is already dead, you can't make the fish be UNdead by not using it on your t-shirt, it'll be ok," song and dance that we as parents give our kids. But in my heart, I agree with him completely. I wouldn't have planned this, and I feel bad for the fish.

It's funny: since we don't send our kids to school anymore, these moral quandaries have not come up in a long time.

Also funny: just when I think we are becoming bloodless uber-conservatives, something like this happens to remind us of the mile-wide hippie streak in our souls.

Eh, watch us show up this afternoon and they'll be using fake fish...


It was, indeed, actual dead fish. And knowing she had several conscientious objectors in the group, the teacher provided shells, sea grass, and other cool things to print with. So we are now the proud owners of two horrendously ugly t-shirts that my kids don't particularly like and I am afraid to wash with other clothes, but at least Son #3 did not have to disrespect the life of a former fish. All's well that ends well.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Kennedy + Alcohol= fun for all

Patrick Kennedy says he has no memory of the accident, this week, in which he crashed into a police barrier and stumbled out of his car, claiming to be late for a vote. He also says he did not drink that night. My question is, how does he know?

bumble bee

While the boys were at tae kwon do, I sat outside using someone's wireless internet connection. Got some work done, and was visited by several bumble bees, who love to lick my delectable ankles.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moussaui verdict

I admit I have gone from "kneejerk Catholic anti-death-penalty loyalist" to "let 'em fry conservative Mom" over the past 20 years, but in this case my biggest concern is that now we have someone the nutballs can use as an excuse to kidnap/torture/behead decent people in a bid for his release. And since our prison system is built on making criminals live longer than they would out on their own, it could go on for many a decade.

Not that they really need an excuse.

With due thanks to the Mamas and the Papas

I read a headline in the Washington Times today, and it made me want to sing.

All the priests are gay
And the nuns are dikes
We’ll elect a bishop
Californians like
If we read the Bible
Wouldn’t be this way
Episcopalian bishops
Are in the news today

Walked into a church
I passed along the way
You know the preacher looked real buff
In an effeminate way
I’d be lying to you
If I didn’t say
He’d make a great bishop
Since all the priests are gay

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

the braces are ON

Son #2 got the lower set of his braces on this morning, so we went for our traditional milkshake. He also told me just how wonderful McDonald's fries are...and then insisted that that did NOT count as a hint. Needless to say, we shared some. I am really enjoying these one-on-one times with Son #2. He and I have not had too much time alone, over the years, so it's nice to just sit and relax with him.

Plus, he likes pepper on his fries. So life is good.

"each of the applicants presented impressive skills and experience"

Of course, when you read that in your rejection letter, it's supposed to make you feel good. But knowing, as I do, that of the 9 of us who were called in for an interview, several didn't even submit clips (thus hinting that they have no writing experience at all, can't even gin up a quick paragraph for application purposes, and at the very least are incapable of following instructions) makes me a little less happy. Oh, well, the hospital job was looking a bit too intense for this year, anyway.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What would I do with an office, if I had one?

My office is tucked behind the living room couch.

Yes, just like the maximum security inmates always complain, I can span the space with my outstretched arms. I can hear the TVs (all three of them, sometimes) and have no graceful way to avoid conversation, should anyone want to talk at me.

Sometimes I imagine how nice it would be, to have a room with a door. Quiet. With a closet, maybe, for all the unfinished projects.

But then again, I am pretty centrally located. I Hear All. I See All. Perhaps this open door policy is the key to life as Mom.

We'll have to re-arrange the seating on the three ships

Now that they've discovered just how unsanitary telephones are.

Another fringe benefit of my career

Not only do they track mud, miss the toilet seat, demand monotonous food, and spend your fun money on stuff like enrichment classes and toys, they just suck your soul dry. Mazel Tov.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The illegal immigrant boycott today

Today is International Workers' Day. The immigrants are boycotting SCHOOL today, too, to show how much they contribute. I can hear the update now: "All urban schools will be on an early dismissal schedule, because holding classes exclusively in English will make things go much faster."

back up to Mom & Dad's

Today made my first trip up to Mom & Dad's since he went into the hospital. We brought Fractured Prune donuts and helped move a couple of fallen tree limbs off of the property. That marked 8 trips up to see Dad in the past 7 weeks.

I don't regret them, but by the same token I have not done that much driving (or that much sitting and making small talk with my mother) EVER, I think. By dinnertime today I was testy as all hell, and Hubby was understanding about it..."You haven't caught your breath since the middle of March." God, I love that man.

At the end of it, I think I have learned the keys to a successful parental visit:

*Don't let them come down. If I go to them, I have some control over when the visit ends.

*On a related note, and this is a classic, but still noteworthy: don't tell them of any plans until after the event. If I had mentioned our intention to go to the Celtic Festival before we went, she would have insisted she join us, thereby making the mellow day we had an unreachable fantasy. Or whined about NOT being able to join us, in a million phone calls.

*Don't tell them when I'm coming. If they know, Mom will plan a meal, which we will not start eating until approximately 2.5 hours after I arrive. By then I will be exhausted and starving, and frustrated that I am stuck staying at least for the next hour.

*Don't eat. If they're cooking, let the food cook. If they're not, let them know you just ate on the road. Let the boys have a cookie if they like, but DON'T get stuck having a meal...this always ends up dragging on forever, and generally includes at least one surreal "Are you ALLOWED to have asparagus?" moment.

*When she asks what Hubby is doing, look her straight in the eye and say "He's at work." Whether or not it is true, it is the only response that she will not complain about for more than a minute or two.

*Bring the kids who want to go, and the kids who have no other plans, but don't force the boys to skip out on a fun thing to sit at their grandparents' place. Son #1 was thrilled to be with his friend for the day, and I know I could have made him miss out on that if I had wanted to, but why? Seeing grandparents should be fun, not something that ruins your weekend.

*Eat out afterwards. Trips to Momville are less driving, less traffic than trips to DC, and there are no crackheads on the road, but there is no getting around that it is still 3.5 hours in the car and a chunk sitting at my parents' place. By the time we get home, I am exhausted. Dinner at CiCi's is not much more than at home, and there's no work involved. Or complaints about the menu.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Swingin' grownup party night!

The boys were all invited to a sleepover last night. Hubby and I went out for Thai food and watched Sopranos. Had to walk the dog after midnight, but otherwise it's been mellow and recharging.

Finally got up the nerve last night to tell Hubby about my mom's comments about her grandmother, and my appearance. He brushed the whole thing aside. "What is she talking about? She's just working out her own insecurities on you. You're a lot better looking than your mother."

It's funny. I really do think that, for the most part, Mom's comments are much less able to immobilize me than they were before Dad's hospitalization. But she still can get in, if she really wants to. I guess I should keep that in mind. She just may up the volume, to make sure I hear her. But hearing her doesn't mean I have to accept it all.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

am I still a writer...

...if I only write a couple hours a week? If I take frequent breaks to scrub toilets or empty the dishwasher or nag the boys about the condition of their fingernails?

Yesterday I wrote up an advertorial piece and did a phone interview for an article about Big Brothers/Big Sisters. This morning I edited a creative nonfiction piece that has been accepted for publication in an anthology. This afternoon I will meet with the PAO about a weekly column I'll be writing for the base paper. And tomorrow I will write the BB/BS article while the boys are in TKD. I feel like I'm barely writing at all.

Then again, it IS nice to smell cleaning supplies around here. It's a delicate balance.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"The worst part of all this for me..."

Dad should be coming home today. I went up Saturday and he looked great. Almost himself.

So he was finally talking about the whole hospital experience, a conversation I have been looking forward to, though not willing to press him for. I figured he'd talk when he had something to say.

And so he did. He mentioned that he had no recollection, at first, of not only the day of surgery, but several days before and after it. So he woke up after having been returned to ICU and had no idea where he was or how he got there. He assumed he had been in a horrible car accident. That incredible disorientation, combined with the hallucinations caused by the drugs, (and the amazing number of invasive tubes and wires, while strapped to a hospital bed and surrounded by my weeping mother and sister and an ever changing roster of priests,) was his worst moment. Fair 'nuff.

Mom said HER worst moment was when they told her to say goodbye, before the surgery.

My worst moment, as several of you know, was when my mom called to say he'd had a heart attack (when he actually hadn't), a deadly case of pneumonia (before he actually had pneumonia), and, the winner and still champeen, a stroke (which, again, he did not have). If this sounds like the worst part of it for me was the fact that my mom made up bigger, more operatic problems to enhance the whole illness experience, you are right! ding! ding! ding! ding! ding!

A minor, but nagging, additional crappy part was just dealing with my mother's constant criticisms of

*the hospital
*my father
*their friends
*my uncles
*my father's dead relatives
*the entire extended family

and, of course, me. If I have to hear one more time about how UGly my great grandmother was, and how she used to stare into the mirror and CRY about it, and "you're the spitting image of her, Christine", I will scream.

When I saw them last, my mother recounted a dream she had this week about being on the playground, and everyone was teasing her about her grandmother. "Stop teasing me! It's not my fault she's so unattractive!"

I am going to take that as lightly veiled concern that MY appearance is an embarrassment to her. Because, honestly, what else could it possibly be?

And, the third worst part was the weekly confrontation with my absolute inability to drive well in DC. I have taken quite the tour of Anacostia and environs over the past 6 weeks, and am glad to be here blogging about it today.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Commercials work, ok?

I saw a commercial for this today and HAD TO HAVE IT. It is installed in the master bath and Son #3, who shares the bathroom with Hubby, is happy to be in charge. Oh, the joy of a shower I never ever will have to scrub...I can hardly wait.

So, in the spirit of blogger humility, here is Neglected Shower, day one.

Update: After 29 days, this is what I have:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

For a guy who says he doesn't want to waste my time...

the owner of L&G Billiards sure was happy to waste a big chunk of it today. We had an appointment for an interview. When I arrived, he refused to speak to me or even acknowledge that, since we had an appointment, it was rude of him to let me show up and then show me the door.

Every few months, I run into one of these guys--business owners convinced that their time is too valuable to call me back to cancel, but my time is so completely worthless that it's ok that I drive around town to see them. At least I am out of the stage where I had to pay a babysitter for the privilege.

Inconsiderate people suck.

Those darn voice recognition things

Had to call Sears today to get an address for sending a payment...ended up with one of those Press or Say One machines. It took forever.

I was press-one-ing while the boys made a ton of noise. Every time I told them to be quiet so I could hear the phone, the machine would hear me and re-route me to another line. I eventually did get the address, but not before I practically had a stroke.

Definitely a total waste of time.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Not the kind of father who goes places or does stuff or looks at you

Today I am going up to the hospital to visit my father for the fourth time in 15 days. He is finally out of ICU but may have pneumonia. It's very frustrating, because it's hard to tell what we as a family could do differently, that would result in him healing and going home quickly.

Son #1 pulled me aside the other day for a conversation:

"So, Pop-pop can't walk around, or do anything much, right?"


"He can't talk to you yet?"


"And you drive two hours up there and two hours to get home, right?"

"Unless I get lost in DC, yeah, then it's more like two-and-a-half, yeah."

"So you drive four hours, instead of staying here."


"Can he at least see you?"

"Yes, he can see me."

"That's an awful lot of driving, just to look at somebody

"Yeah, but you would do the same, right?"

"Oh, yeah, yeah, I would do the same."

This is how civilization is transmitted, I guess.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The "Next Blog" button

I have mixed feelings about the "Next Blog" button. I find myself obsessively clicking it, looking for that great new thing, like vegan lunch box. But most of the time it's either spam, some guy with only a single blog entry, or a foreign language. Oh, well.

Oh, yeah, and porn.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Can you say "Stockholm Syndrome"?

Jill Carroll was released. You remember her, the Christian Science Monitor reporter who was videotaped by her captors, who said that they would kill her if all Iraqi female prisoners were not released in 3 days. I am thrilled that she is on her way home. But it cracks me up that she said "they never even threatened to hit me". Because, you know, hitting me is so much more serious than killing me.


Now that she's out of the area, she has retracted all the statements she made while in captivity. They were all made under duress. So, still thrilled she's home and hoping she's ok.

Don't you know WHO I AM?

Gotta love these congressmen convinced they are not just public servants, but superstars. Cynthia McKinney has so much on her plate, she can't be bothered to wear her ID pin, because, after all, all the police officers should know who she is, right?

That woman is ego in heels.

Good thing I only hear NPR in the car

On NPR yesterday, Bill Richardson explained that "the alternative that all these people don't want to address is deportation".

I've got news for you, Governor. We who are against illegal immigration are happy to address deportation. We agree with it. We support it fully. Legal, law-abiding immigrants who want to become part of American society--and legal, law-abiding people who want to be here as legal residents and send every last penny back to their families abroad, ALSO support deportation for border-jumpers and those who would turn America into some sort of retro-Mexico.

We are a nation of immigrants, it's true. I come from a family of immigrants. None of my ancestors were in the US five generations ago. But when my great-grandparents came here from Europe, they knew that they were gaining something at a cost. They came here and became Americans, and their children were raised as Americans. We can be proud of our European heritage and curious about the lives we might have led had our ancestors stayed in Europe, but we only wave one flag.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cleaner in 10 minutes

Have been feeling a bit fragmented lately--so much to do, never really accomplishing much.

I always feel like I should be able to hand each boy a dust rag and expect the whole family to work together, steadily, until the house is clean. But that is just not the way my house runs. Try it, and not only do I not get what I want, I also get a major case of furious mom.

So today I took a "10 minute" day. The idea is that I set a timer and clean one room for 10 minutes, then take a minute or two to plan the next 10 minute spot. I ended up spending 120 minutes on hardcore cleaning in 9 different rooms, all broken up between meals and school and checking my email and running errands and doing an interview. Then it was time to make dinner.

The 10 minute system does not yield a clean house. But it does get a dent in the mess, everywhere, while still allowing me to keep half an eye on the kids. Most of the house is in much better shape than it was this morning--something I can't always claim, especially on days when I have an interview. Plus, I am not insane with frustration at the attempt to tackle one big project while the kids destroy the rest of the house. If I could manage this every day, the place would probably sparkle.

Ah, discipline. Yeah, there's that.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Pork: the new health food

Thank God almighty, they are creating pork brimming with omega-3 fats. They wonder if the public will embrace it. I think the bigger question is, will the public STOP embracing the pig farmers, long enough to let them get some work done? Yay! Pork, pork, pork!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Full House

Great Hubby quote for the day: "We have to move, this house is full."

An alternative plan is to buy the house next door and build a pedestrian bridge between the two.

Or, yeah, I could continue with my eternal de-cluttering project. Guess which option I'm going with, for now?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

no blogging for now

Dad is in the hospital with lung complications after his emergency quadruple heart bypass. I am tired, worried, and distracted...not really in a bloggy mood.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Tampa Lamp-a!

I love my shells. I love my lamp. And I love the empty space the shells were monopolizing, on my end table. Which leads me to the pefect 5-minute craft: Tampa Lamp-a! I stuffed it all in there, glued a piece of paper to the bottom of the lamp, and am admiring it as I work.

And now, it's time to find a great way to show off The Sponge.

Update: Son #4 is turning into Mini Trump: "I like what you did with the shells. It's a quality lamp, at a reasonable price." Sometimes, talking to him is like talking to a fifty-year-old.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Son #1's alternate plan for mud

After a discussion of golems and other mud people, he suggested this no-fail plan for sand castles:

"First, get a pile of mud. Then, tall it up."

Reminds me very much of the Monty Python sketch, "How To Do It".

You volunteered me?

A few weeks ago, I received a flier recruiting volunteers for the annual Friends of the Library Book Sale. I am a volunteery-kind of person, and I looked over at my two strapping oldest sons and thought: Perfect! They can serve their community in a small way, and support an organization that has given us, as homeschoolers and book junkies, a lot over the years. I told them I was signing us up.

I purposely requested a brief (2 hours) period before the sale...not a lot of work, not a lot of hustle, just a chance to hump books around the room and maybe pick up a few bargains. I am such the understanding Mom. I am making this so easy.

Today, Son #1 is all cranky about it. I have ruined his Saturday. And Son #2 suggests we bring Gameboys.

I can hardly stand the joy.

Update: Son #1 threw himself into the task with gusto. Son #2 spent most of his time with his hands in his pockets. Will I never learn?

Also noteworthy: Of the other volunteers, half were high schoolers looking for Maryland's required volunteer hours. The rest were sent by the states attorney's office. We were the only ones there who did not have a form for the coordinator to sign.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ya know how seeing an Outback commercial makes you want to eat there?

I have a hard time believing Free Porn Weekend is going to do anything other than make EVERYONE in their church (and anyone who reads their announcement in the newspaper) think about porn. Aaaaand, maybe hunt up a bit, too.

But, hey, here I am linking to it, so these raunchy thoughts are courtesy of, ME.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lunchtime, and life, as Son #4 sees it

These days, lunch time means I've been dodging in and out of the kitchen to turn off the spiking oven or turn on the oven that has decided it is tired of cooking. These fish sticks look fine to me. Who are these people to demand crunchy fish?

After many trips back and forth (turn on the oven, eat my lunch, turn on the oven, play Same Game, turn off the oven, turn on the oven, eat and play, turn on the oven, nag the children, beep, nag, beep, nag, serve, Son #4 summed up my uninspired luncheon thusly:

"Fish sticks and potato wedges. Who are you to resist it?"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Infernal TiVo

Hubby came home for lunch and introduced me to some new features on TiVo. I am hooked on SameGame.

All productivity and life balance shall cease. I hang my head in shame.

Everyone's a critic

Took the boys up to make 60th birthday dinner for my mom. It was a fairly uneventful evening, except for the "Son #3 CAN'T want to be a dentist. That's a terrible job, and they have the highest suicide rate of any profession" rant.

I tried to argue, Son #2 tried to argue, Son #3 reiterated that he really DOES want to be a dentist, but somehow that was just stones in the riverbed under my parents' constant flow of insistence.

Then again, they never really seemed to love their careers. They look down on my uncles for their career choices. They have needled my sister into a half-ish life. They were quite upset with our decisions to work overseas, have a big family and to homeschool. And they pulled out ALL the stops to get me to not marry Hubby, lo those many years ago, and only after about 14 years of marriage were able to admit that maybe I made a good pick.

So, maybe Son #3 should do whatever the hell HE wants, without so much grandparently input.

Friday, March 03, 2006

What a day's worth of dishes looks like

Today we did some school to finish out the week, went to the library to pick up research paper resources, skating and the park, made fried fish for dinner and then I took Sons #2 and 3 to fencing class. Which means I didn't do any dishes before 8:15 tonight. An hour later, I just had to take a photo of what a full day's worth of dishes looks like.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

KMart does it again!

I like a store that's honest about its customer service policy. If there is any convenience at KMart, they are as surprised as the customer.