Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Sons #1 and #2 are hosting the Second Annual Halloween Bash. It is going well. I took Sons #3 and #4 trick-or-treating, in the course of which we saw:

a couple of teens starting to TP a house ( I recognized one of the teens, and knew the residents of the house, who were home at the time)

one crying toddler

a couple giving out quart-sized bags of candy to each kid, and taking their pictures. We got to see the Sons' photo from last year.

And two houses with CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. First the Branson commercial, and now this!

The Halloween Bash should be over in about half an hour, which means we have reached the portion of the evening which is candy-fueled and loud.

Or, actually, I think it's been candy-fueled and loud since about 6, but I lucked out and missed about 90 minutes of the Bash, to hike the neighborhood with my youngest two.

Happy Halloween, guys!

Oh, and I carved a puking pumpkin, this year. Takes no time at all, and boys think it's the cooliest. I highly recommend it.

My spam has changed

Since that fateful day I turned 40, I have noticed one big difference: my spam has changed.

These days, in addition to the regular spam I've always gotten, I have also been getting a lot of the following:

Dating Over 40!
Who's Your Secret Crush?

type stuff. No big surprise there, right? But there is one other category that kinda has me scared. Why am I all of a sudden flooded with emails offering me help with HERNIAS?

I guess I better lift with my legs, not my back, right? I don't want to start clicking on that stuff.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Come to Branson, MO, for Christmas

Andy Williams told me, today, that I should come to Branson for Christmas.

"NO, ANDY! NO! It is not even Halloween!"

Report Cards for Parents

Ah, another school district has decided that what kids need is parents afraid of the system. They're talking about sending home report cards for parents, grading us on things like whether our kids seem to have had an adequate breakfast, and whether they completed their homework, and whether they're dressed appropriately for the weather.

I have 2 kids in high school. Their definition of an adequate breakfast is not necessarily what my husband would call an adequate breakfast. But it is food, and it gets them through the morning. Actually, sometimes it gets them through the entire school day, aside from a bottle of OJ in the hall, because my 2nd son thinks there is only one thing on the entire cafeteria menu he can choke down.

The weather has turned cold. That means Hubby and I are bundled for the weather. It also means we frequently start the day with a reminder for the Sons to wear a jacket. Do they? Sometimes. Because they don't want to carry a coat all day, or wear one in class all day, but they don't use a locker, at school, because they feel they don't have enough time between classes to stop at a locker. They just carry all their gear with them, all day.

I ask them about their homework. Do they have a lot? Have they organized their time so they can complete it all? Do they understand the assignment? Do they need a trip to the library, or for me to print out something for them? Do they have any questions Hubby or I could help with? Do they need a proofreader? Are they turning things in on time?

And sometimes, you know what? THEY LIE.

And the way I see it, they might learn more from lying to me, skipping an assignment, and getting a lousy grade, than from me going through their backpack, forcing them to do the work, and handing it in for them.

These report cards forget that the biggest thing parents are trying to teach their kids is personal responsibility. Teachers and administrators seem to think that parents should do everything for the kids, instead of encouraging kids to do things for themselves.

This reminds me of something that happened years ago, when the Sons were in private school.

Son #1 is the kind of kid to pick things up, walk around, and then put them down somewhere unexpected. If I can't find my nail clippers, it's because he was clipping and walking, and then finished his nails and dropped the clippers on the rug somewhere. And of course there was that time he took my car keys and left them in a pile of toys...took me 2 weeks to find the damn keys.

Anyway, this is a habit of his.

When he was in 3rd grade, he used to cart his backpack and lunch bag around the house in the morning. Often, he would drop his lunch in some mysterious corner of the house, and after dropping him off at school I would find the lunch, while cleaning. I'd then drive back to the school (a 45 minute round trip) to bring his lunch.

After a while, I decided he was gaining nothing from this experience. And, you know, I had a preschooler at home, who didn't need to spend his mornings in the car, when he could be coloring or building with blocks or being read to. So I told Son #1.

"The next time this happens, I'm not going to drop everything to bring you lunch. You're going to be hungry at school, if you forget your lunch. So you better remember it."

And of course he didn't. For several days in a row, I found his lunch in the downstairs bathroom, in the toy room, wherever, and I put it in the fridge. And each morning, I'd remind him of his freshly made lunch, sitting next to the backpacks by the front door. And again, he'd wander around with it and drop it.

On the 4th day, we were scheduled for a teacher conference. Mrs. Rizas tore me a new one.

"I KNOW you have four children. I am sure you are very overwhelmed. But No Child of Mine would EVER come to school without lunch."

I explained that I was trying to encourage Son#1 to be responsible for his own stuff--that he was too old to be expecting Mom to rescue him from his own cluelessness, and a little hunger might remind him.

She again commented that I must be "overwhelmed" by the daunting task of raising 4 boys. She had, in compassion for my neglected child, provided him with cheese crackers and juice each day, at lunch, so he would not be hungry.

And I again corrected her. I was not neglecting my oldest son because I couldn't manage to make him a lunch. I was allowing natural consequences to teach my son that if you want lunch, you don't leave it in the bathroom. And, actually, since she was feeding him lunch every day, he wasn't worried about misplacing the lunch I'd made him. The way it played out for Son #1, if he didn't bother to bring his lunch, his teacher would make him one. One he didn't even have to carry!

Needless to say, she never understood my side of things.

I understood her plenty, though. And from then on, I gave up on trying to encourage my son to remember his lunch. I nagged. I inspected. And I often ended up turning the car around, to bring the lunch he'd left in the car. But I didn't get yelled at by his teacher again, that year. I knew it wasn't in my son's best interest, but I also knew that his teacher's decision that I was a poor parent was more dangerous to him, that year, than his own irresponsibility.

These report cards sound like a crap idea.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mom First, Christine Second (Or, Give Me One Good Reason Not to Eat My Dog)

This morning I woke up before 7, broke out my 40th birthday present, a rug shampooer, and cleaned the dining room and hall rugs.

Then I spent the afternoon at a tae kwon do tournament in which Son #2 was competing. Sons #3 and 4 were supposed to be there, too, but they have strep throat (and, in #4's case, scarlet fever, as well).

On the way home, I stopped to pick up dinner. I bought subs and pizza. I ate a couple of french fries and about 3 bites of sub, and then set my sub on my bedside table, where Hubby and 3 of the Sons were watching TV, so I could take Son #1 to a Halloween party.

I was gone approximately 25 minutes.

When I returned home, my sub was gone. Tomato, bread, and french fry was ground into the bedroom rug. The dog had a very satisfied air about him.

And he had dragged fried peppers onto the freshly shampooed dining room rug, which now has red stains on it.

I am staying up 'til midnight, to provide Son #1 with a return ride home.

All this, on the night when I had ORIGINALLY planned to go with my friend Fiddlin' Writer to see That Band I Love.

Points to the first person who can correctly identify That Band.

Extra points to the first person to convince me my dog is not intentionally driving me insane.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I don't care what you say--I love our SuperWalMart

The WalMart has officially become a SuperWalMart. They have EVERYTHING. EVERY THING.
Today, I stopped in for a few things, and ran into Son #1's first grade teacher---who still rocks, even though Son #1 is 16 now.

As we entered the store, she turned to me and smiled.

"I HATE this store. But ain't it great?!"

I totally agree.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ooh! Just who I'd hoped!

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

You're sweet, but not naive -- though you like to be babied like a child at times. You prefer to have a bad boy by your side, but sometimes have problems understanding why he has to run off to take care of business. You want to settle down, yet deep down inside, you are excited by the surprises life throws your way.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great Moments in Parenting, #2

Son #1 is having an emotional freakout. These generally consist of yelling at me.

I am calmly, quietly, going about my business (cleaning the kitchen, collecting laundry and trash, wiping urine off the toilet) while calmly, quietly repeating:

"If you want to do well, study. If you need a break from studying, do something else for a while. But yelling at me will not help you. Do something productive with your time, instead of freaking out and yelling."

"I CAN'T DO THAT! I am ALREADY a loser, compared to Dad, OR EVEN YOU."

And here I stand, with a vinegar-soaked washcloth, wiping boys' piss off of the toilet I scrubbed 2 days ago, while being yelled at by a teenager.

He is right. I want the fuck out.

Son #4's Top 5 Worst Halloween Treats

#5-pennies (although, with enough of those, you can BUY a treat)
#4-granola bars

He swears he got a piece of celery, once. Shame on that horrible, horrible neighbor.

Friday, October 19, 2007

WWOZ-great music, BUT

I found this great online radio station, WWOZ.

I listen to them when I can. Lots of great Louisiana music.

However, there is a substantial downside: it also broadcasts all sorts of local events. Like, for instance, the blues festival, the pepper festival, and everything else I wish I could jump in the car and go see.

Oh, well. Southern Maryland has its charms, too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm not whining, I'm Informing the Public

Today was my official "you are 40, so get a mammogram" baseline mammogram day.

All in all, it was less painful than some people have made it out to be, although I am still sore. I have kept my "nipple markers" as a memento.

So, if you are 40 or so, go get a mammogram. Gotta check the girls, ok?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This is Riptide: A Rockumentary

Went to see Hubby's new band, last night, and had a good time.

Caught myself, this morning, all but insisting they Change Things to Make Them Better, Because I Know More Than The Guy Who Is Actually In the Band and Making Decisions.

Dear God, I am turning into Jeanine Pettibone.

But, hey, I always thought David St Hubbins was the hottest member of 'Tap.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Your Boyfriend's Here."

Yup, Hubby just called from Boatman's, where he is setting up for his gig tonight. Rick, the Wheelchair Dancer, is already there--2 hours before the bands will start to play.

I am practicing my "No, I am busy" look.

But YOU, you need to come to Boatman's tonight and see Riptide, and see Rick, and have fun with me.

Absolutely, you do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

How nerdy are YOU?

Me, I think they pegged me just about right. I don't know enough to be a real nerd. says I'm a Kinda Dorky Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Riptide Rocks!

...because they have Hubby as their new bass player.

They'll be playing
at Boatman's, this Saturday night, 9pm-1am. And I will most assuredly be there.

So, come out, OK? I need some dancin' buddies.

Son #4 has declared it so

The People of Rhode Island are losers.

Their state is so small, it does not even rate its own page in the atlas.

"And, dudes, it's not even an island!"

Rhode Islanders, you have officially been schooled.

Happy Effin' Birthday

Yesterday was my 40th birthday. It was OK.

One of my favorite people took me out for lunch, and ice cream, and cigarettes. And a present! Fiddlin' Writer knows what I need, on those Big Milestone Birthdays.

My favorite person took me out for dinner. He also cleaned the den, and our bedroom, and gave me earrings. Can you guess who this is? Or that there are about a million more reasons why he is one of the most spectacular people, ever?

The Sons each gave me a hug. Which was perfect.

And then, just as I was thinking I had gotten away with 40 unscathed, a Son had one of his patented meltdowns, including yelling at me that nothing I had taught him or his brothers was worthwhile at all.

I went directly to bed. When birthdays go south, best to just duck out.

(he apologized, by the way, both for the content and the timing of his comments. So I guess it actually was a pretty damn good day)

I'm glad I got that over with! Now I can get back to daily stuff.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dance, yes. Ride, not so much

This Friday, Hubby and I went to see The Idle Americans.

They are awesome. They are the half-band-brothers of ACME Blues Company, and my readers already KNOW how much I love ACME.

So, anyway, the music was great, because it had to be, because these guys are talented and charming as all hell.


(readers outside the Southern Maryland area can just, um, excuse that last one, ok? I know it's not YOUR fault)

One downside, though.

Friday night, the only person who asked me to dance was an actual, bona fide, Jerry's Kid.

I have confirmed, without room for doubt, that although I love to dance, and will dance with just about anyone, I am really pretty selective regarding on whose laps I will gladly sit. I think Hubby has full and exclusive lap privileges, from now on, no matter how insistent the guy is that "I'm not asking for a Lap Dance, it's just that this is how I dance!"

Well, if some amazing fantasy man invites me on his lap, I'll reconsider. But no more charitable lap sitting, for me!

On the plus side, Hubby and I have now devised a code for "this guy is giving me the creeps, help me out!"

Because "You need to get me out of here" was, apparently, too subtle for Hubby, when I said it, Friday night.

I guess the problem is, my "smiling politely while trying not to slide off a moving wheelchair without clinging to the stranger beneath me" face is not all that different from my "having fun" face.

I'll have to work on that.

Fair Impression of Neil Diamond: with video!

Hubby has created his own blog, and wouldn't you know his first entry is about the Neil Diamond impersonator we saw at the fair, a few weeks back. Ya gotta check out the video.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I'm breaking ALL the rules, baby!

Study came out saying that teens' first reaction to cigarettes was crucial. If they felt relaxed by it, they were much more likely to end up addicted.

For the record, let me just say that:

First cigarette, at 15, was awesome.

Second and third, at 18, were fabulous.

Fourth, at about 38, terrific.

Every time I NEED a cigarette, I feel fabulous afterwards. The couple of times I smoked because someone handed me a cigarette (not because I found myself clawing for a pack of Marlboros) it didn't feel good OR bad.

So, what does that make me? Am I an addict with an extremely long time between addictive behaviors? Or am I just....I dunno?

Come on, sciency folks. 'Splain.

Keeping the Sons on their toes

Last night, we were watching (insert predictable crime show, here) and the plot was, one parent died, and the kids were stuck with the other parent.

Hubby and I commented that the sons sure would be bored, with me, because Hubby is a notorious risk-taker, with many a near-death experience behind him, while I am, well, a mom with a literature degree who keeps her risks safely in her head or on paper. As the Sons were trying, lamely, to convince me that nooooo, I am not boring, they wouldn't mind living with me, they love me, la la la, Hubby piped up with:

"Yeah, but WHICH one of us nearly got her ass handed to her, in bar fights, TWICE this year?"

The boys all looked at me in awe. I am their biker bar brawl mama. Wooooo!