Monday, December 28, 2009

Hoarders.

I'm hooked on this A&E series called Hoarders. It's like watching a train wreck happening in slow motion. I'm absolutely riveted. Fascinated. Absolutely gobsmacked.

I watch Hoarders to feel better. And to sympathize. Personally, I'm not much of a hoarder. I'm a first class, grade A, top of the line PITCHER. Even some things with mild sentimental value. Trash. I do like to digitally archive things, and I love to organize, but I hate, hate, hate, (no, I really don't feel like HATE is too strong of a word) to have shit piled from stem to stern in a house. Last week, I was watching an episode where the lady hoarded trash. Seriously, trash. As in, garbage. The stuff those nice men in the big red truck come to get every Friday. Fuzzballs and wrappers and papers and containers. Cups and pizza boxes and old toasters. Trash. The Hoarders hired crew removed, literally, thousands of pounds of garbage from her house. In the rubble, they found not ONE (that would be only mildly HORRIFYING) but TWO . . . DEAD . . . CATS! What? Two dead cats. Yes, and her response from the doorway, "Huh, I don't have cats?!?!"

Okay, rewind my life.

I was a young mother and a young wife. Big was only about 12 weeks old when duty called from my dad's home. He had fallen. He was hurt. Living alone, he became stuck on the floor, unable to get up to find help for at least three days. He nearly died. Through God's grace, the neighbor heard his dog yowling and came to see what the ruckus was about. He summoned an ambulance and me. In the weeks that followed, I was charged with cleaning his home, prepping it for sale and moving him into nursing home care.

His home . . . was just like Hoarders. He had hot dogs in his fridge from days gone by. He collected syrup containers from McDonald's, sugar packets from every restaurant, toothpicks, tiny creamers, food, trash, dog treats, newspapers . . and, my personal favorite, fish. He fished. Alot. On good days, he'd bring home his limit. On really good days, he'd bring home his limit on every license he purchased. He'd clean the fish in the back yard (party on, neighborhood cats), chop their heads off, and freeze their whole fishy bodies in a block of ice formed by floating the fish in a loaf pan. When frozen, he'd pop the block of ice-fish out and stack it in the freezer, thus repurposing the pan for the next fish-block. He had a three bedroom home. In it, was a fridge/freezer. The freezer was full of fish. In the basement, a tiny turn around of a space, was a second freezer. Full of fish blocks. He had a garage. Two freezers. With fish blocks. He had a shop. One huge ice chest and a vertical freezer. Fish. His freezers were so full of frozen fish that the doors wouldn't shut. Their tails stuck up out of the ice and were freezer burned. Cleaning it was nothing short of disgusting.

He also collected tin cans. I don't know where he got his tin cans, but I know he valued them. Highly. In 1997, MOTH and I announced to my father that we were engaged. At that time, he had NO money. Literally, not a pot to piss in. As our wedding day drew near, he offered us his tin can collection as a wedding gift. I hear you laughing, and to be honest, we chuckled too, but knowing what it's worth was, TO HIM, we gratefully accepted. Little did we know that cashing in our "gift" would be two days work, transporting full truckloads of aluminum cans to the recycle center. He had a two bay garage with a full rafter-attic system. He pulled so many friggin cans out of that garage! I can still remember looking at my soon to be husband from the back of the bed of a little white Nissan, thinking, "He MUST love me." My dad's ass was bent over in the darkest depths of that garage, and he kept throwing tin cans out for us to put in the truck. When it was all said and done, the check we received from the recycle center went straight to my aunt, the florist who did our flowers. Wedding flowers. Completely covered. With, I'm guessing, two decades of tin can collecting.

Anyway, Hoarders. It's fascinating. When we cleaned out my dad's house, "hoarding" wasn't a diagnosable disorder. He was just messy. Mostly, because of his age and bachelor status. He was given a huge "get out of jail" excuse card, just for having a penis. "Men", they would say, "don't know how to keep a home." And, that, in and of itself, is somewhat fascinating. I can't wait for the new series. Like I said, I'm riveted.

Three Christmases

December 2009.
Three Christmases. Done.
Three kids birthdays. Done.
Two adult birthdays. One down and one to go.

Presents were a hit. The kids were up early. The adults were well behaved. The ham was decent. The mashed potatoes were smooth. The cook's back hurt before she got started. Big scored a blue nano, which has been attached to her for three days straight. Middle has been busy with games, toys & an obsessive compulsion to save all the bows. Little cleaned up in the world of bakugan and legos. MOTH and Little have been lego-ing for their fourth day straight. Wii family game night is fun. I like the puzzle with the ferris wheel. It reminds me of Balboa Island. MOTH found the set of blue kitchen knives I've been searching for & surprised me with a sweet jacket. Perfect for dog walking. Mimi still has a few gifts under the tree. She doesn't unwrap for the sake of getting the gift out. She plays with each thing as she goes. Even slippers. She put them on, straighaway. Cute.

Little's birthday was a good time, too. Good cake, good presents. The girls LOVE his shiny new stilts. Really, I have cleared a path through the paper and padded the hallway walls. That will have to do!

Second Christmas at my mom's house was good. I confess. I taught the kids how to play a little poker. What's the harm, right? We weren't drinking Jack & Coke or smokin' stogies. Just a little five card draw.

Third Christmas at MIL's house was good, too. Pretty table, beautiful decor . . . . a few more gifts.

There were no outright fights and on the scale of happiness vs. disappointment . . . happiness certainly prevailed. Whew. Leaving MIL's house, my car wouldn't start, so I've been dealing with a borrowed car, a jump start, warranty stuff, a rental, the shuttle, and oh, I MUST pick up Middle from Winter Camp at noon. My mental list has slowed, but is still steadily streaming in . . . . kids dentist appointments, well child checks, payroll, I'd like to write a book, is this my year to finally be a skinny bitch?, resolutions, goals, hopes, dreams, desires . . . . I'm finishing 2009 in a wistful state . . . . Well, wistful with possible carpal tunnel from too much Guitar Hero . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This is my new parenting tactic:

1. Tell the kids what I'm about to tell them.
2. Tell them what I want to tell them.
3. Tell them what I just told them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To Think About ...

This is from a fathering newsletter that I recieve as a result of a position that I am in . . . . such good information!

"Your kids' perspective is much different from yours.

They aren't thinking about the stresses and conflicts that we see -- at least not nearly to the same degree. For them, there's really no such thing as "in laws"; it's just different sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. And they live more day-to-day, so they aren't likely to worry about finances or busy schedules. Of course, if you're overstressed, they will surely notice and be affected. You can help spare them from that by staying positive yourself.

It's not about you.

Sometimes the best remedy is simply a mental adjustment on your part -- looking more toward serving and blessing others instead of seeking what you want. Make it your goal to find joy and fulfillment in facilitating activities that will bring everybody else Christmas joy. With extended family members, look for common ground and seek to better understand their perspective. That's what dads do, and it's a great way to express your commitment to your family.

Traditions should enhance the holidays, not add stress.

As a family, re-evaluate which ones are truly worth the effort, and hold on to those. Carry them out with enthusiasm. Often, kids are a good measure for whether you should keep specific traditions. Will they notice or care if you don't do a particular activity this year? If not -- and if you and Mom have no strong ties to it -- then maybe it's something you can skip."

Crazy

Christmas break is always a little crazy. Everyone is home, for one. Lots of people in a space that is MINE by the light of day. That can make for crazy. I love having everyone home, I do. The last two days have been one thing after his mother. Some of the last few days keeps running through my mind in snip-its or one-liners.

Scrambled eggs for breakfast . . . . Little said, "can I be the cracker, can I be the cracker?" Followed by, "sure" . . . put these eggs on the counter with the bowl . . . I'm running to the garage for two more eggs . . . be right back . . . and when I walked in, literally 30 seconds later, suddenly Mimi is the cracker. Note: she's not a very good cracker. She bangs the bowl too hard, the bowl tips, eggs run out . . . or she doesn't get a good enough start & then squeezes with a single fist just a little too tight. Eggs on the floor. Shells in the eggs that manage to get into the bowl.

This morning, "Mom, can you help? Moose has a bone frozen to his lip." Sure thing. Picture to come.

I kept smelling poop. Checked everywhere. Dogs outside, no visible poop anywhere. Nothing rotting, nothing gross . . toilets are flushed . . all's well. Dogs in. I keep smelling poop. I have nasal senses like a werewolf, so when I smell poop . . . I know THERE . . .IS . . . POOP . .. SOME . . . WHERE. Dogs in. Ah, now there's poop. On the bottom of a dog foot. Easily contained, small. Done. But, I still smell poop. Little's on the downstairs potty. Done. But I S-T-I-L-L smell poop. Did poop patrol in the backyard. Still, I smell poop. Serioulsy, it took me a good 30 minutes to realize that the poopy culprit was right under my nose. Blame it on a dog, but really, tis Mimi and the droopy diaper extraordinaire.

Middle and Little are sleeping bag sledding. Yes, this is normal. We have great stairs for sleeping bag sledding. One has to stand watch so Mimi doesn't get slammed. After a few times, they always pad the bags with pillows. Still, yes, I let them.

Yesterday, I shooed them all outside for some fresh winter air. And poop patrol. One is "the spocker". That means they walk in front and spock the piles. The other is the sitter. That's the babysitter of Mimi, who is wholly unhelpful in the world of poop picking. One is "the bagger". This just means they hang onto the empty bags so the wind doesn't wisk them into the neighbor's yard. The spocker said, "there, mom, on the patio." And I went to it. And though it was Moose-poop-sized, it was really a mouse. Expired, of course. Still wet with slobber, from being, er, um played with. Hmm, I thought to myself, I wondered what she was throwing in the air out here.

:) :) :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas

The only holiday where you sit around a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mmm-hmmm. One of the hardest parts of being a mom is witnessing heartbreak.

Big didn't make the traveling basketball team. Three tryouts. She gave it 110%. Every tryout.

I think in her heart of hearts, way down deep, she may have known. There were 37 girls trying to land 10 spots.

The worst part, I think . . . is this: At the end of the final day, the coach stood before the girls and said, "we were hoping for more. You guys look flat today & we can tell that many of you don't want this bad enough."

And, I think, that's a really shitty generalization to make. Maybe there are a few girls out there who are flat. Maybe they are going through the motions. Maybe their dad is on the sidelines, and he's the one wanting to rebound and box out. But that kind of comment falls on the wrong ears. Only the girls like MY girl, that did WANT to make it, that WASN'T flat, that gave it all that she had PLUS some, really heard that comment. The wrong girls took that to heart.

That's the bummer of it. Really, big bummer.
I'm kind of in the bitter barn today. Edgy. Mimi is challenging me. This morning, our routine sucked eggs. I ran a few errands, but couldn't get this resounding thought out of my noggin:

Sometimes, don't you just want to say what you think?

Sometimes, don't you just want to let folks have it with a verbal lashing? I might practice a little.

As much as we give thanks and use humor to cope with the great things in our lives, I really think it's very appropriate to use a little humor to cope with things that just plain piss you off. Here is what is on my mind today, perhaps given the spirit of Christmas cards and reconnecting with people that don't really know you anymore. Maybe that is for a reason.

One of my Christmas letter deletions went like this:

Dear Friends,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here's a picture of us. Yes, we have a friggin' huge dog. Yes, I know . . you wouldn't do that. Oh, you counted! Yes, we had another baby. She just turned two. You didn't know? Ah, it's because we didn't tell you. Probably, because we didn't want to deal with your response. Yes, we know how it happens. Yes, we know how to fix it. No, we're not mormons. No, we're not Catholic. We know, four is alot.

Dear Self: you can't send this shit. Press backspace and start again.

Dear Friends,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here's a picture of us. Yes, we have a friggin' huge dog. You haven't heard from us in a while? We know, it's busy. We're busy . . . . between kids activities and work, and keeping a household running, well, you know. Just imagine the laundry. Somedays, it feels like I'm running a laundromat. How do the Duggers do it??

Dear Self: you can't send this shit. Do you really want to send a letter?

No. So I sealed the enveloped and put them in the mail. F-mother-of-flower-child made my card list for me. I had 50 cards. Well, 49 really, becasue I wanted to save one. My initial list had 8 people on it. Her version ballooned to 45. Then, I found a few more people (thanks, mom).

At the final go, some of you didn't make the cut. Think of it this way: you see us, therefore know what we look like, and don't need a card to remind you. Or, I know you'll throw it away, so you can't have one.

And that, friends, is how things are in the bitter barn today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Every week in our home has victories and landmarks. Some times, they are small & we have to look really hard.

This week: 3 of 4 children appreciate the beauty of Chinese takeout.

Hooray.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

M U R D E R E R

True, but I prefer, E U T H A N I Z E R.

Middle's mice have been looking really bad. Nearly 3 months ago, one of them started losing hair. It's been eating and grooming itself and been very active. But the hairless spot now spans its entire head and down it's back. It's pink and skinny under there. And apparently, very itchy. Because she's been scratching a hole in the back of her neck. Last weekend, the last straw. It scratched a true, bloody gash in the back of it's neck and sprinkled blood droplets all over the inside of the cage. Ewww. I know.

Several weeks ago, the other one (there is no delicate way to put this) grew a tumor. It started out small. About the size of a marble. But quickly grew to nearly match the actual size of the mouse. It split like a cell dividing in the center. It turned blackish-purple and lost all of the hair surrounding the tumor. It began to bleed and became too large for the mouse to navigate the tunnels and fun things in its cage.

Weeks ago, I began talking with Middle about the end of their lives. About the good times, the humane way, being a responsible pet owner. Yadda, yadda, yadda. She concluded that when the time came, we should take them to the vet, like we did with Zeeke & have them "go to heaven" that way. I agreed.

Only (I see you all nodding your heads) . . . you don't REALLY take mice to the vet for euthanasia. Imagine my shock when she came to me with tears in her eyes this morning and said, "They both look really bad, momma. Can you take them today?" I was planning to watch a little HGTV today, do some billing, bundle up and pick up dog poop in the back yard. Instead, I'm google-ing "humane ways to kill a mouse." It's surprising, and somewhat disturbing . . . the number of websites and step-by-step instruction guides on how to whack a mouse. Really. Disturbing.

MOTH laughed on the phone, as I ranted. Clearly, MAN work. See, this is what I get for breaking my "no caged animals" rule. Poetic justice, if you will. I opted for a modified version of suffocation and hypothermia. Coffee can. Snow bank. Yes, I put them outside. Why? Because outside today, it was -12 with the wind chill blowing around the northern-most and shady corner of our house. That's way colder than the inside of my freezer, as google suggested. Plus, I just kind of get the heebie-jeebies thinking about hypothermic cancer mouse laying frozen stiff and dead next to my spring veggies and all white meat chicken nuggets. Ewww.

MOTH and I had, perhaps, one of the largest marital arguments on record today. Because he found it necessary to open the double plastic bag wrapped, frozen coffee can to ensure their deadness. Seriously. Why? My arguement. No way in hell they could have survived that. They've been in a friggin' snow bank for HOURS. They are mouse-sicles of the highest order. Plus, what's the PLAN. If, by chance, they are not dead . . what's he gonna do? Warm them, feed them and rehabilitate them so I can try to RE-KILL them tomorrow? But, oh, the sick one of us just . . had . . . to . . . open . . the . . . can. And he just had to describe to me what happened to their eyes. Now, I'm scarred for life. Scarred. For. Life.

As if being a mouse killer wasn't a traumatic enough day.

Dear Middle, I'm sorry. Love, Mom

Dear Middle,

I'm really sorry. I hope that you don't read this until you are 25 or 27 or 31. Perhaps by then, you'll understand some of the "umph" behind why parents lie to their children. By then, you'll know about Santa, the Toothfairy, our Pacifairy, Father Time, Mother Nature & Old Man Winter. You'll have a keen understanding of fairy, fact & fiction. With any luck, you'll understand money and when you put parents and money in the same equation, you'll be able to undertand that saving some money actually allows YOU to do fun things.

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

She's a rock star and it's okay to hate what you love.

It's the time for tinsel and shoppers rushing around with fantastic packages. Shopping bags at the holiday time really are marvelous. I love the handled ones. And the carrying bridge if you have a big-ass bag from Crate and Barrel.

I went to The Container Store last week. It was like an organization orgasm. I have no doubt I could spend the better part of a day in there. I'd like to walk in every row and see everything. It was fabulous.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the title. She's a rock star. That's right. She's a rock star. Middle moved up again. Up another level in gymnastics. She was nervous and full of knots today all day long. She showed up at her first practice. She's the itty tiniest one. Which makes my breath catch in my throat just . . . a . . . . little . . . bit. She's the youngest. There are 8 or 9 girls in her team/class. The oldest is, I'm guessing, about 12. She's my height (which, I know, smartass . . . doesnt' say much . . . but it's my guess.) And she did GREAT. She belongs in that class, although, my prediction is . . . not for long.

And, it's okay to sometimes hate what you love. When our late doggie Zeeke was alive, I hated that he was always underfoot. He liked to be right with me and was always vacuuming the floor around me for scraps and snacks. I frequently tripped on him and was always saying, "scootch, buddy . . . look out, Long Dog." Now, the floor is dirty and I have to sweep. I miss him being under my feet and vacuuming the kitchen floor. I could train Moose to vaccum, but watching him stoop his neck down to get something off of the floor is like watching a giraffe drink from a water hole. It takes a few minutes, and it's a sight to see.

I also love computers. I love the internet. I love digital scrapbooking. I love speed, email, blogging, cyber communication. I hate that I had the payroll file all squared away and looking pretty. And it got lost or file-un-saved, or some sort of bullshit snaffu . . . and everyone got a duplicate paystub of last month's check. Shit. So I re-worked it. And cursed the whole time. And was just a wee bit bitter to have a to pay a babysitter so I could work from home.

Up side. Down side. Dog under foot all the time but a clean floor. Computers keep us in touch, but sometimes create a hell of alot more work. Working from home . . sometimes not the tight piece of cherry pie that it seems. And I suppose that is all okay. To sometimes hate what you love . . . and sometimes love what you hate.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

24 shopping days left . .. . and the status is . .. .

24 shopping days left. The lists are in.

Santa:
for Big: A Nano
for Middle: An easel, new acrylic paints & paintbrushes. Her letter is so cute. "Real live big girl paints in tiny tubes."
for Little: A Ben 10 Watch, Bakugans & a Star Wars Helmet Head
for Mimi: Tent Tunnels & _______________ (something else??)

Mom & Dad:
for all of them: guitar hero & a game for each
for Big: assorted stuff from Aero
for Middle: a manatee, art paper without lines, writing paper with lines & a balance beam
for Little: Legos, TAG & a new Jedi Reading Leapster Cartridge
for Mimi: little people and a homemade bowling set

Sibling to Sibling: They are done shopping and are working on wrapping . . . . this is a JOB, but I think they all did a great job!
for Big: fingerless gloves from Little, a scarf from Middle and ??? from Mimi
for Middle: an art trunk from Little, I can't remember from Big (It will drive me nuts all day) & ?? from Mimi
for Little: a bumblebee costume from Big, Bakugans from Middle & ?? from Mimi
for Mimi: a puzzle from Middle, balls from Little & something from Big that I also can't remember . . . DAMN, I'm getting old (yea, Happy Birthday to me & Mimi today)

Tier 3 gifts:
Everyone has at least one package from the UF. That's the underwear fairy here. And new jammies for Christmas Eve. Well, everyone except me . . . but I'm getting mine today . . . .

Mimi's birthday is today. She's getting a laundry basket. It has balls in it -- from Middle & Big. Little chose a tea set for her. I have a set of sensory balls.

Middle's birthday is around the corner. She has a leotard & hot pants from me.

Little's birthday is on Christmas. He has legos and bakugans. He's crazy, by the way . . . about legos and bakugans.

Whew.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My kids' new favorite snack mix . . . .

Snickerdoodle Chex Mix

1/4 cup (but I use less) sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups of Chocolate Chex
2 cups of Cinnamon Chex
1 bag of popped popcorn
1 tsp of cinnamon
a handful of baby marshmellows (my addition, not in the original chex recipe)

In a little bowl, mix sugar & cinnamon.

In a giant microwavable bowl, mix cereal & popcorn. Melt the butter in the microwave (about 30 seconds on high). Drizzle it over the cereal mixture. Toss it all around until coated. Sprinkle half of the sugar/cinnamon concoction on - microwave on high for a minute. Take out, toss, add the rest of the concoction. Microwave another minute. Let cool. (Spread it in a thin layer on cookie sheets if you are impatient . . . . or leave it in the bowl if you don't want extra dishes OR are afraid dog-zilla will munch the mix off of the thin layer, wink, wink).

When cooled, add a handful of baby marshmellows. Mmmm. Delicious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Prep

Okay, time to be overwhelmed. Time to spin your wheels helplessly as your list continues to grow. Time to lose your mind, and as you attempt to find it, allow multiple distractions in the form of sorting, organizing, or "getting ideas". Price checking works, too.

Time to wonder about Christmas. Time to think about the true meaning, ponder gluttony & doubt every decision you've ever made about gift purchases. Time to wonder if you can just sponsor a child on someone's behalf. Time to waste time with internet searches, flipping pages of catalogs & talking with relatives. Time to launch into at least one "spirit of Christmas" schpeel and lesson to the children. Time to illustrate to them how lucky they are. Time to issue warnings about behavior and what Santa might really be capable of.

Time to identify avesion techniques of women. Time to sort through 12 months of photos to find decent ones of each child for a card. Or, worse yet, time to schedule a family photo shoot. Perfect. We're all fat and un-tanned. These will be good. Time to be a pessimist, need more time in the day (uh, not with daylight savings time) . . and time to really waste time by putting up Christmas trees and digging through ornament boxes. As your mind clogs up about your above mentioned fat and un-tanned body, time to bake. Eat an extra cookie or two. Mmm. Pumpkin pie. Time to PAY a babysitter so you can go spend too much money on un-needed gifts that will see the inside of Goodwill in under a year.

Yes, indeed . . . time to be overwhelmed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Games . . .

How the hell did I forget Pictionary and Connect 4???

Big really wants the new Connect 4 x 4 . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I just got off the phone . . .

I just got off the phone with Homestead. We re-hashed again how long the list is and the frustrtion factor with NOTHING IS ON SALE!! I went on a shopping mission today. I was out to purchase the karyoke machine. I stood in front of it, read it's specs & was ready to load it into my basket, when a friend of mine from school, Kristi, walked by. She said, oh, we thought about that and ended up buying the Wii Sing game. It was only $20.

I felt like the hand of God delivered her to the karyoke machine row. Small blue birds were circling my head singing and a light magically opened though a skylight. It's light fell through and illuminated me as if on centerstage. A choir of people sang, "aaaaahhhhhhh".

And I saved $179.

At about 5:30, I sent her a thank you note. People are placed in your life for a purpose.

At our house, Santa has a personal hygiene theme. Every stocking is filled with one or two things that keeps 'em believing . . . but mostly things that are needed . . . toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, socks. I can't even find a toothbrush on sale right now. I scoured the endcaps at Target. No red tags. Only Irish Spring Deodorant Soap is clearanced right now. Well, glucose tablets and some condoms.

I'm spinnin' my wheels. I think I'll order all my games on line tonight so I can begin to feel my wheels actually TURN, instead of just spinning.

Games We Love

I took one peek into the TWO game closets that I have in this house & decided that the most effective post might be to close my eyes and begin typing. So, I closed the doors and came to the computer. Here we go, Homestead.

Fabulous games that I KNOW we love:

Qwirkle. It now comes in cubes. We might need to get that.
Blokus. It totally tricks kids into using geometry, and they think it's a game. Ha!
Dominos. Of course.
And if you love dominos, you'll need to try tri-ominos. That's really fun.
Boggle Jr.
Scrabble. It's a holiday tradition. We record one game from every holiday inside the box lid. This particular game has been handed down into our family from MOTH's side. The first dated game is from almost 40 years ago.
Bananagrams. Good fun, folks. Good fun. And such a cool storage baggie.
Sequence for kids - we really like the states & capitals version.
Trouble. It's like Parcheesi. My kids can count to 6 about the same time they say "mama".
Tangrams, Mighty Minds & Super Minds.
Big plays Mancala with MOTH. She promised to teach me how last weekend, but we had an unexpected visit on Saturday night.

We also have a myriad of standard family games: Parcheesi, Life, Candy Land, Payday. We like Checkers & Parcheesi so much that I burned (yes, burned) the game board into our coffee table.

We also like card games. We play ALOT of BLINK. It's a really good one for littler kids (like 3-ish). The bigger kids play War, Speed, Golf, Caravan & Spoons at least a couple of times a week. Big plays Solitaire and will play double Solitaire w/ me or grandma. Uno has always been a family favorite. We also like Skip-Bo, Memory & Old Maid.

Now for my possible list of games. Mindware has been one of my favorite places to game shop for a couple of years now. I also like HeartSong. I want Yahtzee. I think the big girls would like Monopoly Deal. I love the idea of Perplexus, Coloroku, Rush Hour, Crazee Cube, CrissCross, Equate, Dizzios & Flip 4. I also would love to get Majhong but am afraid it wouldn't be as much fun with tiles as it is on the computer. I secretly shop for smart games year round. I love, love, love seeing kids playing a game and learning without thinking about it.

Also on my list are these fabulous game storage boxes. Which one of us really has a Scrabble or Monopoly Box without scotch, electrical & duct tape on the corners??

Friday, November 13, 2009

E . x . h . a . l . e .

Ah, that's a resounding exhale as some of the stress of the week leaves my body. Out with the red air. In with the blue. I've hopped a few hurdles this week. Doggie transition time. Kids with the doggie. Even though he seems great with kids, I hold my breath until I KNOW. Until I've seen him react in every situation. Seem him be around kids in bright colors. Hats. Kids that run. Kids that bump into him. Rowdy, rambunctious kids. And, he's passed the test. He tends to think Little is playing when he's not. Yes, Little has gotten caught this week. In a playful moment, Moose just knocked him over. Plain and simple. I find it odd because he's ever so gentle around Mimi. He has a blurred line about how big Little is and how tough Mimi is.

It was an odd week at school this week. On for two days, off for Veteran's Day. On again for two days. Our rhythm of practicing spelling words when down the tubes. But, we passed. Little was star of the week this week . . . so lots of extra prep went into what he was bringing, sharing, showing. Heavy exhale. The prized lego y-wing that went to school soundly wrapped in the carrry all cake pan made it home in one piece. Praise the Lord.

I'm working on my December lists. I'm making a few purchases here and there to stuff stockings and build a stock of things. I'm all about preventing last minute shopping bedlam. I'm making final decisions on games. It's a family tradition. Every year, MOTH and I give each child a great game. Board, card, manipulative, math . . . some kind of great game . . . that we play together. (Yes, Homestead, I'll do a post on great game suggestions. I promised I would.) I'm close but not complete.

Though busy, I'm still rejoicing in the little things this week . . .

Big is stressed out about an upcoming "date" with Grandma. It was intented as a gift and should be fun, but she has herself tied in knots over it. She's asked several times if she can just not go. Here we are, between the rock & the hard spot, AGAIN. No comment will be taken correctly. Any words will be wrong. Shit, is what I have to say about that. These gifts that are happy for one person . . . really can be very stressful on the other end. She's stressed about her second quarter reading goal. She's stressed about research for a project she's doing. It's a virtual trip . . and she's spending Christmas in Australia.

Middle has made the best friend of her life. She's a nice girl from a solid family, and I feel both humbled & blessed by their presence in our life. Tonight, she is sleeping over for a birthday bash, getting pedicures from older siblings & watching Hanna Montana. Her sweet innocence is contagious. I love her messy hair, the thundering sound of her getting out of bed at night, her love of gymnastics & skill with power tumbling. I love that she adores reading & is thoughtful every day.

Little is just plain sweet. He's not adjusting well to the time change. He's up at the ass-crack of dawn every morning. He's gotten into the unfortunate habit of coming up within inches of my nose when he wakes up . . . to see if I'm awake yet. Uh, ya buddy . . . . I'm awake now. Crawl in.

Mimi has globbed onto a stuffed Mouse that my mom bought for her last week. She's got an armload of stuff she hauls around right now. Paci. Bee (her blanket). Mouse. A clicker (yes, we are puppy training, remember?) And usually some sort of drink or snack. She's been walking Tana to school. It's a funny picture, I agree. It speaks to how well behaved Tana is on leash. I'll post a picture.

MOTH has been working his ass off. Nearly two weeks ago, their driver had a seizure while driving that caused a single car, but really massive accident. He's fine . . but needed medical clearance to come back to work. The last two weeks have been long . . . . like the first 9 years of our married life, before they had "help". Several days, he was gone at 6 am, and darkening the door at 9 pm. UGH!

Now, I've exhaled and purged my mind through rhythmic tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard. Time for bed!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moose. The Final Chapter . . . For Now.

Touch and go has turned around. He's off lead. He's playful. He and Tana and getting along. Last night, they slept in the same room.

Good things:
* He loves the kids & is tucking them in every night & waking them up every morning. Good on school mornings. Not good today -- Veteran's Day & we had no school, but Moose wanted everyone up to see him go potty. Waking up to a child laughing because 130 pounds of dog has his ears turned inside out is a good way to wake up.
* He's already taught Tana not to zoom around the house after birds & squirrels. He thinks that means, "play with me", and he lauches into chase mode.
* He's asserting his dominance with the annoying yappy dog that lives above us. For four years, he's come to the back fence & yapped and yapped and yapped when we are out to play. Now, Moose gives him a series of baratone "woof, woof, woof" and he settles right down. That was a bonus we did not expect. The neighbors will thank me soon!
* Day three and four and his quirks are coming out. He likes to sit on laps. He likes to sit on my lap when I'm on the potty. He likes to sit on everyone's lap. He's a little big for Little & Mimi. He mostly leans on them, but it makes them giggle.
* He's great in a kennel. Nice and quiet. I'm hoping he'll teach that to Tana.
* He's great in the car . . . . took Grandma to the airport yesterday. He draws lots of stares but is a good rider & has nice manners.
* He loves toys. More than any other dog we've ever had. He likes to sleep with the squeeky chicken hanging out of his mouth like a pacifier. It's cute.

Bottom line: He's a keeper.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moose. Chapter Four.

When we got home.

When we got home, we unloaded from the car. A man with a black lab walked by. The reaction was NOT good. I learned very quickly what 130 pounds of pulling dog feels like. It was a baptism by fire experience and a call for the importance of obedience training.

The kids were introduced next. Mimi was great. She took a kiss, held a paw and walked away. Little was fabulous. He is the same height as Moose. They see eye to eye, if you will. Kid introductions were fabulous.

Tana. Not so good. We put both dogs on leads. We stocked up on training snacks & treated them frequenty with calm behavior. We soothed & smoothed and positively reinforced. And when Moose saw Tana, we went bananas. And we pulled him out of the situation. Again, and again, and again.

It took a solid two hours to get them within 5 feet of each other. With treats. And praise.

When they finally were that close, we let Tana be the dominant dog and show him around the house. We did the lower level. On leads. With Tana going in first everywhere. She really showed him around. He wanted to go up. Tana went up first. Tana showed him the back yard. But Moose seemed super short sighted. He'd take a whiff & a sniff, follow Tana and then pull to her. He wasn't showing aggressive behavior, but was certainly unsettled.

As the night wore on, bile began rising in my stomach. I had the sinking feeling that we'd gotten into something we didn't want. I looked for skin reactions on the kids. Tried to concoct things I could cite if we had to return him. My heart ached for him, and for us. Emotions were everywhere, many off the charts.

Sunday morning came with a gorgeous orange sunrise, coats, hats, leads & two dogs in the backyard. Better. Certainly better. With rest, his behavior looked more like play. He was wagging. They came nose to nose several times over. What first was 5 seconds of nose to nose time, both in my arms stretched to 10 seconds, to 30, to a minute . . . and by noon, we had Moose off lead in the backyard. With Tana.

By Sunday afternoon, it felt like we were on our way . . . . more to come . . .

Monday, November 09, 2009

They warned us.

They warned us that Danes love couches. They warned us.



We love how he crosses his front legs when he lays down. So cute.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Moose. Chapter Three.

The pick up.

Our original plan was to drive to Boulder to pick Moose up. Originally, we were scheduled to arrive at a RMGDRI event at 6 pm.

After the first leg of the transport, the phone rang. We all caught our breath. MOTH answered. Trouble. Two dogs unable to travel together. Moose and one other Dane coming to this area. Alternate plans were made for the other Dane. Moose has an on time scheduled arrival.

Change of plans. Since the two danes are not coming together, there was no need for us to drive to Boulder. Denver instead. Perfect. Five pm. A location was set.

We departed on time. And ran into traffic. Which stayed thick. We were late. But so was transport.

We parked at our selected meeting grounds. Tranport had arrived before us. He was out walking you. When we saw Moose, air got caught sideways in throats for the fourth time that day. He looked like a bear on a leash, ambling at us, sniffing & pulling his lead. When he came face to face with us, he sniffed Big, took a treat from me, put a gigantic paw up on Middle's tummy and yawned. He nuzzled and snuffled and leaned in for side scratches.

Transport said that he, apparently, bonds quickly. He said there was a protective scuffle at the time of transport tradeoff. It was Moose, protecting the driver. Or so he said.

We loaded him in the car on a dog bed. He easily filled the whole back end. We gave him the most gigantic rawhide chewie bone that we could find. We headed home. He happily chewed and napped for the ride home.

When we got home . . . .

Moose. Chapter Two.

I read the entire profile, probably 50 times, over the course of 2 days. But there were a few extra questions for his foster mom:

* Has he ever shown any sign of aggression toward children or other humans? She said, "No."
* Has he ever shown any sign of aggression toward other dogs? She said, "No."
* Has he been exposed to young children? She said, "Yes, ranging in age from newborn to 12 years."
* You live on property with acreage, but we don't. In your opinion, do you think he would do well as a city dog? She said, "Yes, he will be great."
* Is he containable? We have one fence that is lower than the others. She said, "he stays right with me when we are out and never goes anywhere he shouldn't. I think he'll be right with you, too."
* Does he walk on a leash? She said, "he's learning basic commands."

Moose. Chapter One.

The story of your adoption.

In 1999, MOTH and I were at PetSmart. The Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue was doing a community event. At the time, Big was a baby. We had Zeeke, our miniature daschund and Kori, a rotten little miniature pinscher. We had just moved into our first house. We knew we were planning to have more children. We were both working full time jobs. We wanted to adopt a Great Dane at that point in time.

Luckily, we thought that through. We decided to wait. Maybe not ever actually go through with it.

Zeeke's illness in the winter of 2008 started the talk about the circle of life, actions of death. It began a long conversation with our children about dogs and their needs for homes. It began as a dialogue about Zeeke. He was an adoption shortly after our wedding. He needed a good home. He was living with an Akita that wanted to snack on him for breakfast, lick him for lunch & eat him for dinner. It sparked some interest in providing a home (someday) for another dog who needed a good home. I don't mean to imply that ALL dogs don't NEED (and deserve) good homes.

Let's be real: Sidebar. Some people adopt children. The Angelina Jolie or Katherine Hiegl types out there who travel the globe rescuing human souls. Some rescue mothers who need guidance & a hand-up. Some rescue dogs. Deep within the hallways of my heart, it fills a square and makes me feel GOOD to help. And by that, I mean help in general. Old people in Wal Mart parking lot, cats stuck in trees, dogs who've been abandoned, babies who need to be held.

So, there's our note on intention.

In August of 2009, we began researching breeds. And missions. Organizations that we believed in, who held their animals at the center of their care. We really liked RMGDRI's website, mission, postings, requirements. I talked to our vet. I think I blogged about that earlier. We weighed options. Cost. Time. Future vacations. Kids. Responsibility. Yes, I still get a little bit of a knot in my gut. Change makes for some sleepless nights and anxiety.

In September of 2009, we submitted an application. It's a lengthy piece of work that forece us to take a hard look at the animals in our life? What kind are there? Why? If they are gone, why? Are YOU responsible or is Mother Nature? Did you really do the best you could for them, during their time on earth? A few weeks after submitting our application & paying an application fee, a case worker was assigned to us. She called. Several times. We went over the application, current animals, pet insurance, estimated food costs, common ailments, general care, obedience. Yes, it was comprehensive. If I could lie and say I didn't know what I was getting into, this would have been an eyeopener. Good job, RMGDRI. I have a feeling that many prospective adoptive families back out at that stage. We nearly did.

Then came the home visit & more conversation from the foster care coordinator. She brought a Dane to our house. We watched our dog with the Dane. Our children were allowed to interact. We got a very real feeling for just how garhugic Danes are. Picture a deer. There you go. During our home visit, the visting Dane backed up (like a yellow truck . . there should have been a sound . . BEEP . . BEEP . . . BEEP) and sat on the sofa. Sat. Like a person. Hind legs on the floor. Front legs on the floor. SAT ON THE SOFA. And looked around as if he were searching for a cup of coffee or a book to read.

A week or so after our home visit, we received an official approval to adopt from the rescue. This means that you have access to the in-depth profiles about Danes that are available to adopt. On the website, the descriptions are real, but they paint every Dane in a positive light. When I scolled through those descriptions, any of them could have come to our house. It wasn't until we read our first in depth profile that we thought -- uh, no. That won't do. And sent it back. And requested another. And another. We feel lucky. Some families go through this "process" for half a year before they find a Dane that looks like a match for their family on paper. Yes, it's kind of like a dating website. Phrases like "not recommended for families with children under 5" were an automatic out for us. Any history of aggression -- toward dogs or humans. Out.

Last week, Zeus posted. About 90 minutes after his profile posted, I checked the site, saw him & requested his profile. I was number 3 in line. Two days later, we recieved his profile. On paper, he seemed too good to be true. Our hesitation. We thought his weight might be a typo. Even for a Dane, that's BIG! We had a phone conversation with his foster mom. It wasn't a typo. She assured us that he's really a big baby and is the perfect fit for a family.

He sounded too good to be true.

We signed a contract. Paid an adoption fee. And arrranged to meet the transport convoy at 5 pm.

Friday, November 06, 2009

He's Our Boy!



The transport chain begins in the morning & we'll have him this weekend :) I'm so excited!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

December Lists . . . Revised

Yea, digital piano -- OUT
Yea, new keyboard -- OUT

Some responses came back on ninetendos from parents at school. I'm leaning toward out, but could be swayed the other way, but only for a great coupon or fantastic pricing.

Revisions thus far:

Big: Nano (*Santa), bike ??, jammies, purse, game
Middle: Body ball (*Santa), beam (mission accomplished this week from craigslist), jammies, purse, game
Middle's birthday: Uh, long pause. Leotard, I guess. I'm shopping ebay next.
Little's birthday and Christmas: I figure I need 6 toys to spread around between both. I have 4.
Mimi's bithday & Christmas: I figure I need 6 toys to spread around between both. I have 3, could stretch to four.

I still really want the karyoke machine. But, I have to wonder . . . is this MY want? I think I would like to sing Cowboy Cassanova first. (The devil in disguise, a snake with blue eyes . . yes, it reminds me of my old boyfriend!)

Now . . . . tell me, fellow bloggers, what do YOU do with family tradition & gifts from other kids . . . for example, each of my bigger kids LIKES to get a gift from them to EACH other sibling. I'm big on making them . . . but sometimes we don't. Big used part of her mall gift certificate from her birthday to buy a book for Middle. She spent babysitting money on a Star Wars pop up adventure for Little. It gets really stinkin' confusing, though . . . so tell me, what do YOU do.

Also, what do YOU do for teacher gifts? What is your price point & who do you include? Homeroom only or support staff/teachers too? Let's plan that next. I did some pricing today at costo. How about Spaghetti Dinner Baskets? Assuming I could find reasonable containers (baskets) . . or bags . . . . it would be about an $5-$8 gift if I included noodles, sauce, a baby parmesan & a loaf of fresh french bread. How about that?

Also, who makes the gift list within your family? Last year (and I bet she's reading) we made a gift alliance with MOTH's twin sister. It went like this: don't spend your money on us. In exchange, we won't spend our money on you. We made a similar allliance with my brother that goes like this: don't spend your money on us. In exchange, we won't spend our money on you. Exemptions, of course, are the children. We'll spend money on our neice(s) and/or nephew(s) . . . you can (but are not required) to do the same. MOTH's twin sister's dog, MRFE, stands to earn one hell of a chew toy basket. You do the math.

No children/one dog vs. 4 children/1 (hopefully 2, by then) dog(s)

Heavy Sigh from the rows of Costco today . . . but good news, too. We're family no. 2 on the waitlist for the big Blue Merle drink of water I posted yesterday . . . please keep the positive doggie prayers coming for our Nebraska boy. Zeus, incidentally, is his name . . . which seems like a lucky dog-adoption name for us. When we adopted Zeeke 11 years ago, the sweet boy that died in March (God rest his furry little soul) . . . his original name was Zeus. Is that a sign?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A prayer to the puppy Gods . . .



Puppy Gods . . .
Oh, puppy Gods . . .
We think this dog is for us . . .
So hard to know for sure . . .
When he's fostered in Nebraska . . .
But . . .
Please, oh, please, puppy Gods . . .
Let the stars align in order for us to meet this sweet boy . . . .

Sunday, November 01, 2009

December Lists . . . Draft One

Okay. It's November 1st. 53 Shopping days left until Christmas. And y'all know I really prefer to be finished by December 10th AT THE LATEST.

So, here is my prelimary list . . . I always have to break things down into who they are coming from so Santa's secret doesn't slip . . .

Big: She really needs a new bike. That would be a great surpise gift from mom & dad. I'm almost certain she'll ask Santa for a Nano. I bought her xmas eve jammies at Kohl's last weekend. I have a purse to stuff full of fabulous girlie things. I'm still searching for her family tradition board/education game-type toy. In the spirit of my painfully practical past, she may get a new desk chair.

Middle: She's asking Santa for an inflatable body ball. I'm searching for a used balance beam on craigslist for her. She gets a purse with girl things too. Jammies are bought. She loves connectagons . . . I might get her a new set of those. I have a cute necklace. I'm definately getting her a new leotard. She wants a Shawn Johnson one. I'll have to see what happens for her birthday in order to fill out to/from tags . . .

Little: He's still in toy mode. Star Wars legos. A storm trooper voice altering helmet. A big transformer. The 35 round nerf rapid fire rifle. Yes, I realize I may as well paint a target on my ass. Again, I'll have to wait and see what he asks Santa for in order to figure out what's from me, what's from Santa . . and what gets held back for his birthday.

Mimi: Has a Little People schoolhouse that I didn't give her for Easter last year. She has a set of tunnels and tents . . . . from Santa or Me. She loves her kitchen, but needs more food. I'm searching for wooden cuttable food. Thankfully, she's still little enough to to NOT get the "my-birthday-is-in-December-and-it-kind-of-sucks" . . . She'll be happy with a box of balls (which I am currently collecting).

I really want to get them (collectively) a digital piano or full size keyboard. We have a keyboard. I moved it up to my office about 3 weeks ago and it's in constant use. Thing is: it's a clunker. In order to get it to play correctly, you have to turn it on, then shove a makeshift tool into the headphone hole, count to 3, turn around to the left, hold your tongue to the left side of your cheek while to close your right eye. Then, usually, it plays -- but it constantly flashes the low battery light.

I think the kid in ME wants the digital karyoke machine at costco. I know the kid (and rocker) in MOTH wants Guitar Hero. I'm surprising MOTH with a new watchband for his very most favorite watch (it's been broken for a couple of years) . . . and I'm buying a few things, for myself, of course . . . this is how I get what I want . . .

And, that . . is my first crack at December list making . . .

To Ninetendo . . . Or Not to Nintendo

Can I get some mommy feedback on Ninetendo systems, please? I'm contemplating Ninetendo systems as Santa gifts. That could/would be this years' "the proof is in believing" gift . . . something totally unwanted, unasked for and surprising . . . . anyone? Anyone?

Halloween

 


Here are my 'spookables' this year . . . . we started our evening by visiting great grandma. It's not every day that you get to have your picture taken with a 99 year old woman.

Big was Velma . . . great costume that I highly recommend. Middle was a Japanese princess. Costume absolutely thrown together at the very last minute. Little was black spider man. Mimi was a giraffe. Yes, same costume the other girls have used gazillions of times. Worked perfectly, again.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Me-Ology

I've just recieved a rash of these forwarded emails . . . I'm boycotting them, but will post my deepest and darkest here:

FOODOLOGY:
*What is your salad dressing of choice? Ken's Light Caesar
*What is your favorite sit down restaurant? Ai Sushi
*What is your favorite fast food restaurant? Culvers . . . or Subway
*What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of? Salad
*What are your pizza toppings of choice? Double Mushroom, cheese, no sauce
*How many televisions are in your house? 2
*What color cell phone do you have? Black

BIOLOGY:
*Are you right-handed or left-handed? Right
*Have you ever had anything removed from your body? plantars warts, pre-cancerous moles, excess gum tissue & breasts
*What is the last heavy item you lifted? Mimi. She's really heavy.
*Have you ever been knocked unconscious? No
*Have you ever fainted? No

BULLCRAPOLOGY:
*If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die? Nope
*If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Suzi
*How many pairs of flip-flops do you own? 3
*Last person you talked to? Big

FAVORITOLOGY:
*Season? When it's fall, fall . . . but in the spring, I sure like spring.
*Holiday? My half-birthday and birthday eve
*Day of the week? Thursday
*Month? September
*Color? Blue
*Drink? Water with no ice

CURRENTOLOGY:
*Missing someone? Yes
*What are you listening to? Middle racing around the house, Big tinkering on the piano, Little karate chopping everything and Mimi chasing everyone bigger than she is.
*Watching? Days go by
*Worrying about? Adopting the right dog
*What's the last movie you saw? Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
*Do you smile often? Absolutely
*If you could change your eye color what would it be? They'd be hazel
*What's on your wish list for your birthday? Strength & serenity
*Can you do push-ups? Yes ma'am!
*Can you do a chin up? Yep.
*Does the future make you more nervous or excited? Excited.
*Have you been in a Car wreck? Yes
*Have you caused a Car wreck? No
*Do you have an accent? Only when I'm making french toast.
*Last time you cried? Last night watching Private Practice.
*Plans tonight? Carving pumpkins with the youngins, reading stories & going to bed.
*Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom? No.
*Name 3 things you bought yesterday? We were snowed in yesterday. Good for the pocketbook.
*Have you ever been given roses? Yes
*Met someone who changed your life? Yes
*For the better or worse?? Both.
*How did you bring in the New Year? Sleeping.
*Would you go back in time if you were given the chance? Only if I could know then what I know now.
*Have you ever dated someone longer than a year? Yup
*What songs do you sing in the shower? None.
*Do you like to cuddle? Yes, especially babies and dogs.
*Have you held hands with someone today? Definately
*Who was the last person you took a picture of? Mimi.
*Are most of the friends in your life new or old? Old.
*Do you like pulpy orange juice? Yes
*What is something your friends make fun of you for? Being organized
*Last time you ate peanut butter and jelly? Ooh, the late 1980's ??
*What were you doing 12 AM last night? Snoozing.
*What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? I should be working on payroll while everyone else is sleeping.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why?

Why blog, I mean. Why?

Catherine Newman authors a couple of mommy-time blogs. Her writings appear in wondertime and something else that I can't remember right now. She says (and I am loosely quoting) . . . that blogging is narcissistic. And time consuming. And it gives complete strangers, not to mention your in laws ammunition to pummel your parenting style. It gives them permission to judge and to speak out.

But I do it anyway. Personally, I'm long past fearing my inlaws. Anyone else can go ahead and judge, too. Now's the time I should bust out some infamous one liner about rocks and glass houses. Whatever.

External processing. That's part of it. Thinking. That's another part of it, at least, for me. Not everything I put into courier new sytle type is profound. Or even interesting, to some. Most of what I post is perfectly safe. There is some anonymity. Some things really are about ME. See, blogging is also selfish. I'm not doing my nails or soaking in a jetted tub full of calgon. I'm not picking through the halloween candy and stashing all of the kit kats for my personal use later. I'm not ragging on my husband, smacking my kids or gabbing on the phone bitching. I'm externally processing. I'm certain some of my posts will horrify my children later. But once they pick their jaws up off the ground, they'll see that my typing was done with forethought and love. Lots of love.

Without getting too zen & pre-menstrual, blogging helps me remember that I'm a part of a bigger puzzle. It keeps me connected with a few people that I really, really, really love. Homestead, 3J's, F-mother-of-flower-child. I hardly EVER see you ladies, but I peek into your lives every day or two, and you into mine. It helps to have a voice of reason . . . words to compare, letters to share, stories to swap. It's like facebook, but naked. Blogging exposes you, highlights strengths and amplifies flaws, and reminds us mommy-types that we are all in the same boat.

We have all veered off a path, however temporary, in order to raise our youngins. We all wonder what the hell we will put on the table for dinner. We all just want to make it to bedtime and avoid having sex. And everyone I know, really just wants to watch good 9 o'clock television with a cup of tea, slippers, pjs and ponytails.

And that, I think, is why we blog.
Last night, Big was boo-hooing over homework. Some complicated 4th grade stuff (actually, that I can't remember until middle school . . but that's beside the point.)

I was helping her. Explaining. Showing. Being patient.

Little was coloring a pumpkin next to her. Tears started to come. He got up and brought her a box of kleenex. More tears came. He was silent but put his arm around her back and started rubbing her back. It was so cute . . . he never looked up from coloring, just rubbed her back and let his presence be there.

When finally, she said thank you to him, he put on his dad's preachy face, and said, "Well, ya know, in vegggie tales we learn to persevere. And that means to keep on keepin' on . . . even when things are hard or you really don't want to."

And with that, we all busted up laughing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ribbons and Trophies . . Smiles and Cheers



She scored big at her first official gymnastics meet. Four ribbons, one for each event . . . and a trophy! Yeah! We're beaming with pride, but she's still our little girl. She holds the trophy and says, "momma, you can feel her little nose."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The perfect cupcake

Can anyone help me? What's the secret?

How many gazillion batches of cupcakes have I made in my mothering career? Countless. Yet, suddenly, the are sad specimens with a dippy hole in the middle. Box mix. Same results. Scratch cupcakes. Same.

I want the perfect cupcake. Round top that barely pops out. Perfectly frostable. Something frosting is proud to perch on . . . not the dippy hole where frosting is the camoflauge to a bad baker!! I want a heavy batter with a thick sponge.

Help, help, help . . .

A note for Homestead: why? I bet Homestead is asking 'why'. RIP cupcakes. I'll post a picture. I'm not sure why my children like to do this at Halloween. They just do . . . but we're also making witch hat cookies & lady's fingers from pumpkin biscotti.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A big decision . . .

I warned you I was thinking about adopting another dog.

I warned you.

We submitted an application to a local rescue.

We've been assigned a case worker.

We conference called with our vet.

We shopped PetCo, PetsMart & some online places for food, big ass kennels & elevated dishes. I've done a butt-load of research on common ailments: hip dysplasias, arthritis, life span, bloat. I'm not one to enter into a decision like this lightly. These are big animals and it is my absolute heart's desire to provide a forever home. Not a temporary landing pad. That's not enough for me.

My conversation with our vet (who happens to be a personal friend of mine, too) went like this:

"We have an application out to adopt from RMGDRI."
"Really?", she said, "are you planning on coming into a truckload of money?"
"Break it down for me," I said.
She pulled charts from two of her recent surgical patients. One Beagle. One Dane. Both uncomplicated surgeries. In surgical time, anesthesia, and IV fluid alone, the Dane surgery was $3000. More. $3K More. She talked about kennel care, ailments, arthritis, x rays (did you know that xrays are NOT part of the annual care plan for ANY other breed??)

Ouch.

Then, we reviewed our application, provided references. Conferenced called again. Next step is review of our application and references by the Board. Then a home visit.

But my next step, as a money planning person . . . is to tweak our family budget. My best estimate, even for wellness care & food alone, is that we need to have an EXTRA $60-$100 in our budget, MONTHLY.

Monthly.

Still, I'm really loving the look of this sweetheart:

Christmas Prep Week #4

Call me anal. I know I am. I like organizing. It floats my boat. It's not to hurt YOUR feelings, it's my sanity line. And control. And before you get all psycho-babbly on me, let me just say. At least I'm not in denial. It really is WHO I AM . . . .

Christmas Prep Week #4

Yes, I'm thinking about Christmas.
Yes, I'm getting excited.
Yes, I'm doing research on great gifts for the chillin's.

And this week, I'm preparing to be prepared. So that I can be prepared. Or something like that.

We need: baking supplies, tape, wrapping paper & boxes

We need: cookie decorating party invitations & provisions

We need: batteries. Every size is safest.

We need: scavenger hunt gifts & clues. So fun. My kids LOVE Chrismas scavenger hunts!!

There's my shopping list for today. Woo-hoo! Let the reindeer games begin!!

Stuffed Chicken Rolls

You're gonna need:

1 pkg, 6 oz, of chicken or turkey stove top stuffing
2 eggs
4-6 chicken breasts
1 can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
paprika, salt, pepper

Thaw chicken breasts. Pound them as thin as possible (aim for about 1/4 inch thickness).

In large bowl, add 6 oz package of stuffing mix, both eggs & 1 cup of warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Then, spread the stuffing mix over the flat chicken breasts. (It's really yummy to add a slice of provolone or swiss between the chicken & the stuffing). Roll the chicken from short end to long end to enclose the stuffing (& cheese) mixture.

Place the chicken rolls in a baking dish, seam side down. Mix soup and milk. Pour over the rolls. Sprinkle with paprika & pepper.

Bake at 400 until chicken is cooked through. 30 minutes for super thin chicken -- up to an hour if it's still thick.

Finish with steamed asparagus or a green salad . . . YUM!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ribbons

I'm not sure why eating veggies in fun shapes makes a meal different . . . but this is fun . . .

You need:
fettuccine pasta
carrots, peeled
zucchini or some kind of squash
chicken breast, thawed and rolled super flat
pesto or butter & sea salt
tomatoes, black olives, peas or whatever is on hand

Cook the pasta per package directions. Once the chicken is rolled skinny, slice in super thin lengths. Cook in EVOO. Use a vegetable peeler to peel thin lengthwise strips of the zucchini & carrots (don't use the core); add them to the noodles for 3-4 minutes of cook time. Drain the noodles & veggies all together. Transfer it all to a bowl, toss it all together & serve it up. My little people are not big pesto fans, but butter & sea salt is also just right on this. Use cherry tomato halves, black olives or peas as a colorful last minute garnish. We sometimes omit the chicken for a yummy vegetarian creation. Saves well . . . . Great as cold leftovers or warmed. Mmmm!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Son of a gun. I spoke too soon. Last night, I posted that all was well, kids on the mend. Apparently, I blog-jinxed myself. The fever came first. The vomiting started at 2 am. Little's miserable A-G-A-I-N!!

Shit, shit, shit.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ahhh . . . .

That's a heavy exhalation of relief . . . .

The kids are all well, again.
My sore throat is bearable.
MOTH's sore throat is bearable.
We had a good weekend. Busy. Lost both soccer games, but played well.
I'm just about out of things to paint.
That means I have to just about be done thinking and getting lost in thought.
Back pain is (sort of) controlled again. Another injection. Menapausal symptoms are here in full force . . . but at least I'm walking.

I'm trying not to get my heart stuck on this guy:



More to come on this one . . . .
I'm in pantry-clean out mode, again.

Sharing recipes with Homestead, again. It's an annual event. Her recipes have changed. Mine haven't. But, I'm posting some tried & true kid friendly hits this week. Share with me, PLEASE!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Son is a Good Boy

My son is a good boy. He's a well behaved child with firm boundaries and nice manners. His behavior is good far beyond general pleasantries. Sure, he says 'please' and 'thank you', but he's also a caring little guy. He's respectful of authority. He's tender hearted. He's good at most things he tries, isn't easily discouraged and loves with all his heart.

Can kindergarten spoil him?

This kindergarten year, there were four little fellas in his class that started hanging together. A, E, J and my guy, Little, as you know him. They kind of look alike. They seem like good little dudes. Little calls them his "bra-thas" . . spoken like a tiny little mobster. Two weeks ago, E's parents pulled him out of kindergarten and shunted him back to preschool for another year. Tough decision but I absolutely applaud it. He wasn't ready. In lots of trouble. W-I-L-D. Not naughty . . . just not ready. And then there were 3.

This week, Little came home and told me that J bit him. "What?" I said, nearly dropping the dish in my hand. Yea, J double jaw locked into his trapezius and left teeth marks. "Did you tell?", I asked. And Little said to me, in a moment of true childhood honesty, "no, because I want him to still be my friend."

Sometimes moments of childhood honest take your breath away. Because one part of me knows what to do, and the other part understands why that's so wrong FOR HIM.

This morning over english muffins & hot chocolate, Little said, "what does this mean, mom?" And as I turned to look at him, the little dude was flipping me off. My little man is now solely responsible for two near broken polish pottery dishes. So, as I began to explain to a five year old why a gesture for "fuck off" is inappropriate, the true story unraveled. Apparently, when Middle passed A (the friend of Little) at school, he flips her off. "What?", I said. Middle admits it's true. She doesn't know what this finger in the air means. Darling girl thought he was waving, were it not for the evil scowl on his face.

Ah, a rough breakfast. Lots of talk about the difference between telling and tattling. And when to do each, or what, and to whom. Lots of talk today at breakfast about 'special' kids. Some got stuck in the birth canal and their brains fire a little slow. Some look and appear fine, but might have trouble in their brains, too. But what's the explanation for "just plain rotten!"

And in my mind, I just want to shout, "Take the high road, Guys! You'll be successful people with six figure careers. Heck, maybe you'll be their therapists when they are inmates."

I can't wait for parent teacher conferences. I'm making a list.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Heeding your own advice.

It was almost 3 weeks ago. One of my very bestest friends got "in trouble." Not child porn. Not sexual misconduct. Nothing felony. But, to her, t-r-o-u-b-l-e. With her boss. At work.

And in the days that followed her being busted, she cried and cried and cried on my shoulder. And down my front, and in my hair. And in my coffee . . and, well, just about everywhere. It was the kind of crying that made me question what kind of a friend I am. Because, in the midst of all the crying and the recaps and repeat conversations about how she was FEELING, these words came out of my mouth.

They mean something to me now, because they came out so firey and suddenly that even I stopped to listen.

I said, "Maybe you should stop feeling for a little while. Maybe you should be a woman of action. Maybe you should make some proactive moves to make yourself look good and prove to your bosses that you give a shit."

Now, for almost three weeks, those words have been ringing in my head. Not because they came out of my mouth. Not because they came out of my mouth TO HER. But because I should do that, too. I should be (more) of a woman of action. I should take some proactive steps. Alright, my steps aren't to prove to my boss that I give a shit. Mine are to create happiness. Choose happy.

I've been pondering while I paint. Painting is what I do to think.

Tomorrow is Monday. I'm taking proactive steps. They start tomorrow morning (after I chaperone the field trip to the pumpkin patch in 40 degree weather.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Consider this a warning.

I might get another dog.

Consider this a warning. In the last several months, I've had several people say, "I didn't know you were going to do that." "When did you decide on that?" "How come you never tell me anything?"

So, it's official. Puppy prozac is not working. Not noticably, anyway. Tana remains lonely and crazy. Except for last Saturday, when Charlie came to play. And she was happy. And she didn't howl and she didn't bark & whine. She played and played and chased and ran. And then she slept well. The next day, she woke up sad.

Do this math. $142 for pre-medication blood work. $49 for one month of puppy prozac. And after one month, another $128 of liver function study to make sure she's tolerating the meds.

That's an adoption fee, folks. And if what she needs is a playmate, why have her on meds? So, consider yourself informed. I might be adopting a dog.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My Secret Stash.

I have a secret stash of great chocolate. Not your everyday chocolate. Swiss chocolate. Some ghiradelli. Good chocolate.

Usually, I splurge on a piece late in the afternoon or for dessert after the kids are tucked in for the night. A piece. It's my rule. Sometimes it's a guilty pleasure surrounding a celebration. Completing a tough phone call. Holding my ground. Obtaining a goal.

But the stress of sick kids is catching up with me. Today I celebrating waking up, making it through soccer with assorted fans on the sideline and finding a scooby costume. I just celebrated getting Mimi down for a much needed sick-kid nap . . . by eating dark chocolate with creamy mint filling.

This has to stop. Seriously.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

It's done, it's done!!


Hearing about other people's dying children makes me want to hold mine close.

Having one, okay, now two sick children in my arms makes me never want to let them go. I've spent the whole watching Spiderman, coloring, playing jenga, stacking blocks & playing finger puppets. Mr. Potato Head has been brought back out. We've made cookies, collected leaves & used up all the glue. We have cut, pasted, painted and then cut some more.

I've renamed Tinky. Her new name is Mimi. Think Me! Me! It's what she says & it fits perfectly. She's adorable with her big brother. He has tremendous coughing fits where he doubles over like he's a college football player that's been hit in the nuts. She puts her hand on his back, doubles over with him & musters the biggest, most fake cough ever . . . "ka-huh-ka-huh".

Mimi is into underwear now. Other people's. Underwear, that it. And she loves to wear big brother's pajamas to bed. She wears alot of batman. And she thinks his boxer briefs are her everyday shorts. In the spirit of parenting by the path of least resistance, I'm letting her. It's adorable. In this picture, she's actually wearing Little's boxer briefs AND Big's bikini's. This will make a fantastic high school year book picture, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Swine Flu

I learned alot about Swine Flu yesterday, and in the spirit of teaching, here are my top three things to communicate. Pass it on.

a. Swine Flu is an enormous misnomer. It should be called Swine Cold. As far as illness goes, there isn't much flu-like symptoms. No body aches. No vomiting. No diarrhea. Sore throat, cough & fever. It acts like a 7 day long bronchitis. Swine Cold.

b. In order to get an "official" diagnosis (ie: lab testing) and obtain prescription flu medication, your child (or you) must be seen within 24 hours of fever onset. Serioulsy. What rookie mom takes her kid in for fever in the first 24 hours? I asked this of my pediatrician yesterday. She nodded and said, "yeah, that's why it's rampant in children."

c. Tamiflu can be nasty stuff in children. So nasty, in fact, and with such wicked and wild side effects that many moms are choosing to let the illness run its course. Who really needs behavior changes & night terrors in attempts to get well? Is that worse than a cough, fever & sore throat?

Finally . . let's hear it for handwashing, lysol and clorox. Do all that you can do to prevent being sick. That's good advice in general. But when it comes right down to it, when you have a sick child in your arms, I (I guess I can't speak for YOU), but I can't help but hold them. I can't help it. Little is downright pitiful today. Yesterday's coughing spasms left him with ruptured vessels in both eyes. For a mom of an asthmatic, I can judge his level of illness by how willing he is to sit still for 30 minutes and do a respiratory treatment. This morning, he asked for his "nebbalator".

In the spirit of Nurse Nightingale, I'm throwing the windows open and washing the house with fresh, clean mountain air. It's the perfect opportunity to fog the house with lysol and go outside so we don't breathe the fumes.


Be well . . . .

Monday, September 28, 2009

No Words.

I have no words. I tried to have words last week, but even though I made a few entries and purged a few thoughts from my tired brain, I didn't get out what I needed to say.

A friend of a friend of a friend. A family I know of . . . . at least three, maybe four times removed from us. Still, within the seven degress of separation. Twelve year old daughter. Family went shopping. Asked her if she wanted to go. She said no. When they came home, she had taken her life. And there can be no words for that.

And another family. Two degrees of separation. Young mom with four beautiful children. Girls. All gorgeous. Third one age five. Asthma. Had an asthma attack that could not be controlled and she died in her mother's arms in the waiting room at the ER. And there can be no words for that.

And another family. Adult man. Groomsman in a wedding on Saturday. Suicide. Leaves behind a wife and two children. And there can be no words for that.

On Sunday, I witnessed a four car high speed car accident.

So, while I have no words . . there is some raw emotion. This, on top of a crap-ass week full of working a (*&^&*)(()(+_%$$$ job, and being smack dab in the middle of the biggest human rescources nightmare of the century, complicated by a tragic personal connection.

Friday, Little got sick. Fever. Upper respiratory crud. Had a long weekend. Asthmatic kids have rough lives when sickness hits. It just hits harder and lasts longer. Today, I took him to the pediatrician for a refill on nebulizer meds.

He has frickin' swine flu. And for this, I have words . . . . "Are you fucking kidding me right now?"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Searching . . . searching . . . searching . .

The last few days have been so funky . . . just funky . . . . like the planets are not aligned or some kind of freak flash forward event is occuring around me.

My son slapped a little girl. Bad, bad, bad. He didn't hurt her. And, no, she didn't provoke him. No one could be more shocked that I. He's in a great class at school with a great teacher. And two fellow little boy classmates that are rotten to the core. Poor boundaries, to say the least. Apparently, some of the, um, I'll call it The AE Effect, has rubbed off. That's a rough conversation to have at home. A rough couple of days. Sucks to be the parent sometimes. Shit.

I tried. I tried to be social. I took Tinky to a mom-and-me trampoline class. She's a natural kamikaze on the tramp, has been to trampoline parties and can hold her own among school aged kids. Child number 4 phenomenon. I did small talk with the other moms that were there with their kids. I was polite and I was nice. And I left sort of annoyed. I can't really put my finger on the true emotion. But I think I got judged. As soon as conversation turned to, "oh, this isn't your only child", suddenly the "join our club" neon sign fizzeled out and they kindly walked to the other end of the gym. Does anyone wonder why I'm an introvert? Shit.

I've been searching my soul and trying to read my own mind. About life. And love. And work. And money. It's hard work. I haven't come to any conclusions, but I've come to some bridges. And decided to take some action. I've learned that I have a lot to learn. It's interesting that the word introvert came out in the last paragraph. Cause some of my revelations have come around by reading a psychology book about personality types. And why some simply don't work well together. At the close of chapter 4, I learned, "that's okay." But, still. Shit.

In the last few days, I received an apology from the prinipal after last weeks' words. That was nice. Well, maybe it wasn't so much of an apology as a pat on the shoulder with a 'no hard feelings, right?' And what's a mom to say to that? With Tinky, I have another nine years at that school. How can there be hard feelings?? Shit.

Speaking of hard feelings, those have come in and out of my radar all week. Family hard feelings. Little's feelings about school. Big is turning 10 on Sunday, and boy, howdy, does that girl have feelings. The kind of feelings that come with breast buds and underarm hair. And to that, I say, shit.

The weather went from 75 on Sunday to 38 on Monday. Shit. As in, shit, it's cold out there. I'm searching for hats and mittens and all I can find is floppy sun hats & flip flops. I need hand warmers. I have sunscreen.

On the upside, making soup was really fun. And it tasted damn good. Feelings are okay, but action is better. I've been knocked down, but watch this . . I'm getting up again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

DWTS

Where have I been? Seriously? I must have missed three weeks of People magazine & a boat load of TV previews. How did I NOT know that Dancing With The Stars, season 9 premier was tonight. EEK!!!

Thank goodness MOTH was checking the weather.
Thank goodness.

I was able to tune in. Imagine my surprise and excitement . . . Natalie Conklin . . . Macy Grey . . . I'll probably be singing her songs all night. Iron Chef Mark. Holy Cow. Middle splits. And let's not forget Chuck Liddell. UFC meets DWTS. I can't wait for more!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Puppy Prozac

Anybody out there medicate their pooches?

I just started giving Tana-dawg puppy prozac. She nuts. She's absolutely losing her marbles. Okay, let me clarify. She's always been, um, active. Yes, active is the word. She's busy. Especially in the summer. She spends lots of time outside (as I believe dogs should). She chases bugs. And birds. And squirrles. And shadows.

But, since the departure (God rest his soul) of our little mini dauschund, I've been seeing more 'reactive behavior' than ever before. She gets on the furniture. And while I realize this may be normal for YOUR dog, it's not for ours. Until now. And she counter surfs. Again, not normal for our dog. And she howls and barks like crazy when she's left alone. Despite behavioral changes over the last 6 months. And despite bark control, anxiety control, giving separation clues with no separation . . . she's still bonkers. Just plain nutty professor bonkers.

Operation puppy prozac. Day number 2. I hope that she chills just a bit . . . that I can leave the house and not hear her howling like a coyote from 1/2 mile away. I hope that she chills enough that she remembers to eat. (Although, I've always secretly wished for the kind of mind that simply forgets to eat . . . who are these people? Tori Spelling? Seriously? No matter how much I have going . . no matter how many plates I have spinning . . . I always remember to pack a snack.) I digress. I hope puppy prozac helps my pooch come back to earth and lead a normal doggie life. The alternative is to search for a companion. But I'm not ready to go there . . . yet.

A little bit grumpy.

I'm a little bit grumpy today. Every now and then, we all need (and maybe deserve) a grumpy day. And, even after my recent posts about not bitching . . . . I feel the need to vent.

I do alot of volunteer hours. At school, primarily. I do it because I like it. I like it alot. Being totally accessable to my young children IS my primary job right now. Even though I have a job and I work (somedays alot), but "REAL" job is my kids. Our student body is big. About 650. Our volunteer pool is small. The PTA active list is even smaller. For some events and the true "dirty work", it's a reliable 5 member team. And we do everything from planning to prep, set up to execution. When we are done, we unlock janitor closets and mop, sweep and clean.

One of the, er, higher up officials at school yesterday came uncorked. At me. To me. In my face. I think the phrase is 'ripped off my head and shit down my neck.' I ate crow for a multitude of things. Minutia. Took it like a woman. But, today, retrospective clarity began to set in. And I got pissy.

I'm 35. (I know, I know . . . pick up your jaws . . . . I know you are surprised . . heck, I just got carded to buy superglue.) And, when I was summoned into the chief's office, I seriously felt my mind and body transport back to La Jara Elementary when Mr. Shawcroft would call me in, gaze across his expansive desk at me and threaten me with the paddle. I had a lump in my throat that lastest the better part of the day.

As I wallowed and sifted through thoughts today, I ran errands. A local craft store (which shall remain un-named, lest I be sued for defamation of character) was on my list. For knobs. Cute little ceramic knobs that will complete my kitchen. Yesterday, you have to understand, I was at another location of this said craft store, where I made my purchase of knobs. A big sign in their row had them labeled as 50% off. Yes, that had a big impact on my selection. But when I got to the register . . . I think you know it, full price. The non-english speaking cashier spent long minutes scouring the add for details while a line continued to grow behind me. Nervous legs tapped on a team of angry grandmas, their arms bulging with knitting supplies, fabric bundles and autumn craft supplies. Their angry looks bored holes through me as I continued to hold up the line, summon a manager, plead my case, void a charge, re-ring something else . . . . . . all while Tinky threw her paci overboard, stood up in the shopping cart, screamed for Juicy Fruit, kicked off her shoes and threw a handful of flyers on the floor. I left the store victorious, my knobs for the advertised price . . . but with a pool of nervous sweat trickling down my back, and simple exhaustion setting in. At 10:18 am. Not a good time to be exhausted. So, today, I embarked on a mission to purchase the remaining knobs from a second location of said craft store. Same deal. Mis-advertised, mis-communicated and just plain screwed up.

As sometimes happens with me (I see you laughing and nodding your head in agreement), words came forth. Bubbling forth with only moderate control. They involved a manager. Again. And the advertisement. Again. And a line of pissy grannies wanting only to make their knitting club on time. And frustration. This store has lost a customer. Me. This store . . . needs to step into the 21st century. In this day and age, we have digital zappers that expedite checkout. At the swankiest joints, we even do this marvelous thing called "self check". So how a store, in this day and age, has managed to stay in business while charging full price against advertised items and paying non-English speaking personnel to place a totally 60's price tag on every itty tiny magnet, while they manually ring up and manually discount every stinkin' item is beyond me. Oh wait, now I know. They charge full price for knobs that should be half off. Silly me.

Grrrr. I'm still kind of growling a low rumble and holding my lips in a tight left twist. So not like me, to hold on to something . . . . maybe venting it out will help . . . .

Friday, September 11, 2009



My favorite pictures of my kids are ones I snap of them being K.I.D.S. The totally innocent shots. The preciuos shots of babies sleeping. The innocent shots of them picking their nose. I have a great one of Little when he was still in diapers. Watching TV. Remote in one hand . . . and his other hand down his pants. Here's my newest favorite. Before he discovered I had a camera, I captured 31 images . . . I'll post a slideshow in the next few days.

One Light Bulb at a Time

A forwarded email worth your time:

A physics teacher in high school, once told the students that while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train very much, a billion of them would . With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good American .
Good idea . . . one light bulb at a time . . . .

Check this out . I can verify this because I was in Lowes the other day for some reason and just for the heck of it I was looking at the hose attachments . They were all made in China . The next day I was in Ace Hardware and just for the heck of it I checked the hose attachments there .. They were made in USA . Start looking .

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job . So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track . Let's get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey's candy . I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now . I do not buy it any more . My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico now . I have switched to Crest .. You have to read the labels on everything .

This past weekend I was at Kroger . I needed 60 W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets . I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labeled, "Everyday Value . " I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price . The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - the USA in a company in Cleveland , Ohio. So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here .

So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets . . . yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA ! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA - the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!

If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!

(We should have awakened a decade ago .. . . . . . )

Let's get with the program . . . . help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and
create more jobs here in the U . S . A

Monday, September 07, 2009

A fabulous visit . . .

My neighbor, F, Mother of flower child, had company this summer. And I stole her.

F's sister and her family visited from Switzerland. It's not the first time in my life I've secretly wished for a sister. (Though, now, I suppose it's not such a secret.) Anyway, F says that they "never get tired of each other." F loves her sister's kids. Loves. I mean LOVES, LOVES. Deeply. And you can tell. N, the sister, who is also known in my world as Swiss Miss, also loves F's children. Deeply. And it shows.

They talk. Alot. About important stuff. And they shop and play with kids. They do stuff that sisters do. I imagine they bounce important stuff of of each other and know secrets about each other that nobody else knows.

Swiss Miss has lovely children. Three girls, the youngest of which fell right in step with my older girls. But they all jumped right in, from teen on down, they played and helped. They asked permission to begin eating. They willingly cleared their own plates. They asked where to find the garbage. We talked about differences in school between two countries. They taught us how to say "kitchen cabinets" in German. Which, I suppose is nothing special to common folk . . . but it caused gales of laughter among these children. We went swimming. We talked about gymnastics, and (because of my sudden turn-on to food network), they taught me about their favorite foods. "Mashies" is a common word in our house now.

It was a long goodbye. It is hard, hard, hard. Hard to find good friends. Hard to find good friends who are at the same place in life that we are. Hard to find good friends who are at the same place in life that we are whose children are not behavioral nightmares.

I'm left feeling sad and happy. Such a honor to meet and know them. So sad to see them go. And, Swiss Miss, if you are reading . . . you and your girls are welcome in my house anytime. I'm hoping your sister will always be my neighbor . . . . but whether or not they move, move on & move out . . . . I hope to see you all again someday!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Downside to Being Your Own Boss

Most times, it's good. Things I love about my job are that: I get to set my own hours, I work for stints of time throughout the day (althought I'm not sure I would choose that . . . it just so happens that I'm working between bottom wipes, "can you get me a juice" and kid pickup) . . . also, I never miss a kid pick up. I'm always at soccer. I don't miss violin. I'm available to my kids. Almost all of the time.

But, back to my previous post about bitching. The worst thing is the bitching. By employees. And excuses. I despise them both. So this week, I've been pondering that mindset. Back in the days when I was working in hospitals, I didn't bitch. I'm not a bitcher. Only when something gets me really fired up do I actually complain or bitch. I'm much more of a girl who finds a solution. One who makes a plan. Executes an idea. Circumvents bitching with action.

MOTH says bitching is how most women roll. Seriously? Chicks get things done with this kind of attitude? By bitching?

And now, I want to know . . . in your experience, is this TRUE??? Be warned, if you comment 'yes' . . . I'll want details. So be prepared to spill.