Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last day

Oh thank heavens this daily blogging is at it's end. I have been boring myself to tears thinking about things to write. Mulling over the mundane and inconsequential. Finding this outlet all too easy to come by for my vitriol. I have discovered that when I blog every day, I allow things to fester because I am keeping them "fresh" for when I have time to post. Can't be healthy.

Early last week, I met a college friend for coffee. K and I hadn't seen each other in at least 14 years, I guess, but we reconnected on Facebook. We had a nice visit and discussed the very different paths our lives have taken. And our conversation got me wondering, "What if?"

I don't really have any regrets about what I have done or not done in my life. Most of the time I am pretty content with where I am and who I am. But when I am having a bad spell, when I am feeling testy, I start to wonder if I would make the same choices if I had it to do all over again. I guess I start to channel George Bailey.

Sometimes I wish I had lived on my own before settling down. Sometimes I wish I had been older when I married because I know for a fact I didn't have my head on straight at 24, when I walked down the aisle. That I didn't marry a complete wastoid of a human is probably a minor miracle. Sometimes I wish had known how much having my own family would mean to me. Sometimes I wish I would have stuck with the Honors Biology classes and really given pre-med a try.

I guess I would only make different choices if I had all the knowledge I have now at my fingertips. And you can't possibly know at 25 what you will be like, feel like and experience by the time you are age 35. And who's to say that even if right this second, at age 35, I thought I would make a different choice, that things might happen by the time I'm 45 that would make me reconsider that decision.

You do what you think is right, good for you, at the moment you are making the choice. You hope for the best. And you deal with whatever life throws you in the best way you know how.

When I have these moments of doubt, I have to remember that if I had made different choices, I wouldn't have the people in my life whom I adore. There are people who's lives have been better because of the me I am right now, with the experiences I have had, the choices I have made and not made. And that is worth something. That is what I have to remember when I am feeling testy and frustrated and thinking, "What if?"

That, and that the grass is always greener where a herd of cows has shat alot.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Buffer people

Buffer people are very important to polite society.

Anyone can be a buffer. Sometimes they are aware of their buffer status, and other times they are not. The requirements to being a buffer actually have nothing to do with the buffer--it has to do with whether there are difficult people around, and by difficult people, I mean people who are really, really, really hard to tolerate. For even 5 minutes.

Some difficult people are difficult because they just talk crazy all the time. People who carry on about extreme politics or religion in a room full of people who are obviously moderate. People who use the words blackie and fruitcake for blacks and gays and think that is perfectly ok. I have an uncle like this.

There are also difficult people who just talk, and talk, and talk. And don't get it that they are blathering on to the point that the listeners eyes are glazing over and they are slipping into a coma of boredom. Un-PC uncle mentioned above has a wife like this.

Or difficult people are those who are chronically cranky, never happy about anything, easily pissed off. Or difficult people are those who gets their feelings easily hurt by even the slightest tease. This is like the person who's home we are going to this weekend for a birthday party.

And there will be no buffer people around! I'm not sure how this is gonna go down.

Being around moody, cranky, overly sensitive difficult people is like walking with nail shoes in a field of eggs under which landmines are buried. No fun.

It is only one afternoon, though, right? I can do it! I can do it! I will survive.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I've become one of those people

It occurred to me last night that I have become one of those people....the patronizing kind.

It started with turkey talk at my MIL's house. I was sitting at the dining room table with J, DPB, BB, B and M---D's uncle, cousin, cousin-in-law, cousin and brother-in-law. We started talking about cooking the Thanksgiving meal and prepping the turkey. Now I have never prepared a turkey in my life and don't really have a desire to. DPB made the comment about how gross it would be to jam one's hand up a turkey's rear to pull out all the innards. This is when I made the comment to DPB, who is young and a newlywed with no kids, that, "Once you have kids, that won't be so gross."

And this statement is more or less true. Lots of things go out the window when you have kids. Like modesty. Once you've had a baby and had the whole hospital check on your ya-ya and squeeze your nipples to help you breastfeed, you aren't quite as body shy. Then when you have a toddler as your audience in the bathroom every time you have a bowel movement, you lose shyness about that too.

And your gross tolerance goes waaaayy up. My hypochondriac tendencies throughout my life made me squeamish about all sorts of body fluids, including my own. Until I had kids. I have been peed on, shat on, thrown up on, snotted on, and bled on. Sticking my hand up a turkey's rear, particularly a dead one, is not such a big deal.

BUT, I still always hated it when people said things like this to me before I had kids. Like I lived in a bubble. Like I was just a baby myself who didn't know crap about crap.

So when it occurred to me last night that I had said this and probably come off like a jerk, I felt badly. It's like realizing you are turning into your mother. You don't want it to happen, but you kinda can't help it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm thankful for

1. My kids, who drive me bonkers a lot of the time. But since I'm being driven bonkers, I am not stewing over a sorts of stuff that are out of my my kids.

2. My husband, who also drives me bonkers, but does so from the comfort of our home. I'd rather it be this way than him be out, watching sports with the dudes, drinking endless beers, at all hours of the night. Or visiting strippers.

3. Our home.

4. That D has a job that allows me to stay at home with the kids who drive me bonkers. I am glad we made the decision 11 years ago to live off one salary. I cannot imagine being driven crazy all day by kids who aren't mine and then come home for a few hours to be driven crazy by the kids who are mine.

5. My education. I make the choice to stay home, but I am glad I have a teaching certificate and Master's degree to fall back on if and when I ever need to...or choose to.

6. My parents who encouraged me to get an education, paid for my education, and help me with my kids when I have doctor's appointments, etc. I am so thankful they live in the same city as me.

7. My friends....from Bell & Howell, from JCPS, from bunco, from MOMS Club, from book club, from playgroup, from college. They give me something to laugh at (with their funny comments, not in a you-suck kinda way), someone to laugh with.

8. Health. Despite paying a buttload for antidepressants and soon-to-be-had ear tubes, I am glad we have health insurance and some money saved to help us pay for health care expenses.

9. Myself. I think I am pretty smart and mostly a good person. I am glad I have gotten to a place in my life where I am ok with who I am and who I used to be.

10. That Obama is President-elect. (Simply because of that stupid Anti-Christ/towel-head email from way back when. I am glad to be able to say in my head..."Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!" )

11. That I am still childish and in need of work as a decent person (see #10).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Shopping Rules

I have rethought the whole Black Friday thing after getting out this afternoon for a little bit to shop. My mom was over, so I thought I'd take advantage of G napping and Nana entertaining N to return the balls to Target, look for my bunco gift, and buy a used copy of Harry Potter III.

I forgot that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and that tons of people would be out. I like to think I have mostly moved beyond my misanthropic days of yore, but being around that many people in various stores makes me HATE HUMANITY!!!

My experience today made me think that someone, namely me, should create some Rules of Shopping during the Holiday Shopping Season that must be followed or will result in being shot on sight.

Here is the shortlist:

1. During peak shopping times, shoppers cannot bring extraneous people, including useless husbands, children of any age, or more than 1 other shopping friend. These folks glut up the aisles, looking stupid, looking at their feet, or looking too long at sales and chatting about what to purchase. Stores get too hot and stuffy, and these folks take up too much space and air.

2. Cell phones cannot be taken out of purses or coats, and CANNOT BE USED unless done so immediately outside the building. Today I listened to this lady yakking on her phone, wondering where the magnetic fishing board game for $4 was. I knew where it was sold out. If ding-dong had gotten off the phone and opened her eyes, she would have seen the big honking sign that said, "Fish Game SOLD OUT." Because she was on the phone and wandering aimlessly as she chatted, she was another person glutting up the aisles.

3. Only very old people, handicapped people, and pregnant woman are allowed to park in the first 50 spaces nearest the stores. Everyone else has to park far away, get off their lazy butts and WALK. No idling the car waiting for someone to back out, thereby causing a gigantic traffic jam.

4. Anyone who doesn't know where they are going and crosses multiple lanes of traffic to get to a store will immediately be pulled over my the Shopping Police and thrown in jail until at least the 4th of July.

Today exasperated me so much I don't think my psyche can handle Black Friday. It's probably safest for others if I stay home. If I go out into the thick of it, I might end up doing all my purchases at a gun store.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buyer's remorse

So far, I have returned 1 item I purchased for N for Christmas (some pajamas with feet), but I intend to return the big bag of balls I bought as a shared gift for the kids (for the makeshift ball pit in our basement). Both of the kids enjoy playing in it, but they are hell-bent on dumping out every single ball. There are enough balls in the pit now that when they are dumped, I can't see my carpet, so I don't think they need anymore. I don't know what I was thinking.

I did see that the Mega Blocks wagon I bought for G for $29.99 was recently half off, but I was too lazy to take it back. However, I have a haircut on Black Friday so I might just have to run by ToysRUs to see if it is still at the reduced price.

For some crazy reason, I feel like seeing if there are any good deals to be had on the craziest shopping day of the year, especially since N's birthday is in February. If I can go ahead and get some things for her at a steal, that would be awesome. Of course, I'm likely to buy stuff only to have to return it because she gets identical gifts for Christmas, but I think I'm willing to take that chance.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clean slate

Around this time every year, I purchase something for myself that brings me a tremendous amount of satisfaction: a new day-planner.

There is nothing like having an absolutely clean day-planner, although, in truth, I admit that this and opening up a brand new jar of peanut butter are in a dead-heat. See, I'm not high-maintenance.

At the back of my current day-planner, I have dr. visit cards piling up: my ob/gyn appointment in March, the kids' dentist visit in February. The last day of December is packed full of notes about the early weeks of January: G's playgroup, N's days off from school, D's haircut.

First, I go through my planner and mark family birthdays, wedding anniversaries and the anniversary of my FIL's death. Then I transfer appointment cards, taping them into their new homes. Finally, I jot down all those miscellaneous notes.

I know time doesn't just start anew on Jan 1, but there is something nice about seeing a new year laid wide open in front of me. It is full of possibility, and I always think good possibility, not bad. I start to think about vacations, parties and seeing the kids get older. I saw the date of N's preschool End of Year program, and I can't help but be excited by the prospect of seeing her "graduate" from preschool. And then there is her dance recital in June. That will be fun. And I think about G getting bigger, walking better, and being able to do more with him, watch him explore his world in a different way.

When the days are dreary (like today), it is especially nice to have a happy little reminder of something fresh, new and unknown.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Drunkard's Path

I deserve the Wife of the Week Award. I nominate myself, second myself, and accept it on behalf of myself. Why?

I volunteered to cut the grass today since D has a sinus infection.

Our outside to-do list had been written for awhile, just waiting to get done. But it kept warming up, and we always wait for somewhat consistent really cold nighttime November weather to tell us that we really need to close up shop now.

I had already cleaned and put away all the kids' toys. We needed to turn off the outside faucets, pull in the hoses, open the faucets (don't want frozen pipes), put all the outdoor furniture on the patio (to cover with a tarp at some time TBA), and cut the grass one last time.

Given how much D has been drexin' around with this sinus infection, I knew that cutting the grass would only make him that much more pathetic. So I did it.

It took an hour and was quite a workout.

But while I was cutting, it occurred to me that most men would have a conniption over the way I cut grass.

You see, our yard is anything but flat. It is lumpy, humpy and hilly. And I have virtually no upper body strength of which to speak, despite lugging around 26 lbs of G. So I start mowing in one direction (like vertical) and then switch (to diagonal or horizontal) whenever I have to go down a hill, resulting in grass cutting lines that go all over. No one would ever hire me to landscape a golfcourse. And if I can't push the mower up, I pull it backwards. And I hate dodging tree limbs, so I maneuver this way and that to get the grass cut under the tree without losing an eye.

It gets the job done, but it ain't pretty. There is a quilting pattern I've seen my mom do, and which I attempted once, called Drunkard's Path, and I thought that was a most fitting description of my rare ventures in lawn maintenance.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A piece of quiet

I am finally having some seconds to myself, so I better take advantage and blog. This evening is my nephew's 2nd birthday party, so I doubt I'll feel like rehashing the day after watching my 2 kids and my 2 nephews and my nephew's 2 cousins destroy my brother's home.

This morning, I LOST it! Ended up screaming, which I rarely ever do. I had just had it up to here with the 7 or 8 cat vomit piles on my basement carpet, G crying and being totally uncooperative about me cleaning up said piles, and D honking and snorting with a sinus infection (day 7, but feels like day 2,007). Suffice it to say, all the genetic males in the house were cruisin for bruisins. The screaming affected everyone but was directed at the cats, who get fed and then proceed to yak it all over the house, only to come back immediately after Barffest 2008 meowing for more food.

My goal for the day was to take the kids to a local elementary school's craft fair where pictures could be taken with Santa for $10.00. At first I had suggested that D come with us, but I instead told him to get his butt to the immediate care center for some frickin' antibiotics. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I've given natural vaginal and cesarean birth to 2 children, breastfed for a total of 26 months, and had 25 years worth of periods, cramps and cysts. Sinus infection=no sympathy.

So off to the fair we went. I had to be in the picture with the kids because G wasn't having any part of sitting solo on Santa's knee. N got to do some kid crafts, and I bought her a brownie so she was happy. It wasn't too long before G had had enough and was ready for nap. But we got the pictures taken. Mission complete.

Now G is down for his nap, D has taken his first dose of his antibiotic and has gone to his hole in the basement, and N is zoning in front of the tv. Silence is golden.

Friday, November 21, 2008

To tube or not to tube?

We saw the ENT today about G's chronic ear infections. He said G definitely meets the criteria, which is 3 ear infections in 6 months. G has had 5 ear infections in 6 months, and 1 infection per month since September.

His ears were fluid-free today, although I would expect this since he has only been off Augmentin for 2 days.

I went ahead and scheduled the surgery for Dec 2nd, but I still feel a little uncertain, and it's mostly due to incomplete information.

Here's the deal:

1. We could just watch and wait. My gut tells me G is not magically going to stop having ear infections, especially since it is cold/flu season. But I guess it is within the realm of possibility that they could decline in frequency.

2. If we watch and wait, and he continues down the path of monthly ear infections, we will eventually have to go to antibiotic shots, which are painful and sometimes require multiple trips to the doctor's office.

3. We can watch and wait, and still think he needs tubes in February or March. I know for certain I will not go another 6 months with monthly or every-other-month ear infections.

4. We will not know what D's health insurance will be for 2009 until Dec 15th. It will probably be worse than what it is now. We have already met our $4,000 deductible for 2008, so doing surgery in 2 weeks means we pay 20%. If we wait until Jan 1 or later, we will pay 100% and who knows what our deductible might be. (Even more than infections or surgery, I really HATE having to think about costs, but I simply feel we have to consider it in our decision-making.)

5. We have a strong family history of ear problems. I had 3 sets of tubes, adenoidectomy, and then a final surgery to repair the hole in my eardrum that wouldn't heal. My dad has ear problems. Both of my brother's sons have had to have tubes due to chronic ear infections.

6. I can't help but wonder if G's poor sleeping isn't due to fluid in his ears, even when he doesn't have an active infection.

I dislike the idea of surgery, but I also dislike the idea of antibiotic overuse.

And while surgery is costly, taking G to the pediatrician for ear infections is costly. It runs $78 per ear infection visit, and $50 for ear-recheck visit. The antibiotics have ranged in price from $4 to $71. And up until this month's infection, we paid 100%. So ear infections thus far have cost us between $500 and $700.

So I guess I am to the point where I feel tubes are the best option for G. Continuing ear infections and doctor visits start to wear on both a child and parent after awhile. But I still can't help but worry whether this is the best decision. Such is life.

What would YOU do?

N's games and banter

I don't feel like writing a tome like I did last night, so I thought I'd post some things N has said or done recently.

  • She is all about counting these days. I didn't think she would ever stop forgetting 15 on her way to 20. Then suddenly she is counting to a 100. She has even started counting by thousands up to 10,000. Most of the time she does really well, but sometimes she says the numbers funny, like she'll say 22 as tooty-two, and 33 as threety-three, and 55 as fivety-five. One of the things I miss about her being younger was the cute and unusual ways she would pronounce words, so these are a nice treat for me.

  • The other night she and D were wrestling after supper. At one point I heard her instructing him on how to put the 2 purple pillows around her and squeeze. She said, "Pretend I'm in a sandwich maker, and I'm trying to get out." I thought that was a pretty good idea for a superhero torture device.

  • Evidently, she is retaining some of the things I've told her about Harry Potter. Yesterday when she and I were playing in the basement, she got D's old Snoopy bank. She put it in the office, grabbed her slide whistle, and said, "The 3-headed dog is in there. I'm going to play music to put it to sleep." Per her instructions, my job was to wear a blanket over my head to be a ghost, hold the mini-cymbals in my hands, and bang them when N (the princess) got beat up by the witch.

Sometimes I worry that N doesn't have much of an imagination. Perhaps because I let her watch so much tv, I think that she doesn't have an original idea in her head. But then I read these things that I blog, and I don't stress over it so much anymore.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Former student sighting and education quandry

Tonight at the grocery, I ran into a former student. While in the produce section, a young man called over to me, asking if I used to teach at M middle school. As soon as I looked at him, I remembered his name. He is 18 now, which makes me feel very old. He was just a pup when I taught him.

I told D when I got home that I recall this kid as always being very sweet, very nice, but pretty thick. Well, I can't say if he was thick or just disinterested. His printing was atrocious, illegible, something that a colleague once attributed to students being exposed to drugs in utero. N's printing at age 4 is more legible than this kid's printing was at age 11. So maybe there is something to that drug exposure thing?

It is funny how being a teacher really changed my view about education. I still think education is critical to success in life, but I think the educational system is a joke, more or less. Or should I say it is a joke for some.

I never realized until I taught how educational policy tries to right the wrongs of poverty and class. The school in which I worked was a magnet, so it pulled in the brightest of the bright and the richest of the rich. It also pulled in the kids from the housing project directly across the street--the poorest of the poor, and the...well, I don't want to say dumbest of the dumb. A child brought up by parents who aren't well-educated and struggle on a daily basis to get by simply can't and don't value education the way upper middle-class parents can and do. They don't have the luxury to value education.

For example, I know that reading to my children is important, dare I say essential, in helping them learn to speak, read and write. But I read all the time about parenting classes for low-income folks and that they don't realize how important reading is to their children. Or maybe they realize it but never learned to read well themselves. Or maybe they want to read, but their lives are so complicated by poverty that reading just doesn't take priority.

I taught plenty of 6th graders who were functionally illiterate. Some were probably reading at a 1st grade level. And I mean I taught entire CLASSES of students who all were in a similar boat. So while I would have liked to have said, "Send them all back to elementary school," this just isn't feasible. So how do I grade students who are many levels below the reading level at which they should be? This always proved a quandry for me. They had to get a grade from me, and some were able to do the work, although not at a level that I required of my advanced students (the upper middle-class students).

It made me realize that grades per se aren't very important at all, which is funny since I was the kind of kid who nearly had a stroke if I got a 92% on a test (B+). I had kids who managed to pass my Language Arts class who couldn't read worth a darn. And I had advanced students who failed my class (and many others), but will go on to college and become accountants. There are many things that grades don't measure, such as effort, ambition, parent-involvement, to name just a few.

I think about my parents, who both came from very poor families. My maternal grandfather died when my mom was 6 months old, leaving a widow and 5 children under the age of 16. My paternal grandfather was an alcoholic who drank many, many paychecks away. Both of my parents graduated from high school. Mom took some college classes but always struggled. Dad completed his college on the GI Bill after serving in the Air Force. Both of them made education a top priority for my brother and I. Nothing else came first....except going to church.

Seeing this student tonight brought back all these thoughts I had struggled with while teaching. And it makes me wonder how I will be with N and G?

My gut feeling is that N and G will do well in their educational lives because they have 2 well-educated parents who promote education and reinforce what they learn at school. And if my kids struggle, I will use whatever resources are available to help them. But that is the benefit of being educated. I know there are resources, and I know how to access them and utilize them.

I also know there are many, many parents who don't have this knowledge or confidence at their disposal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rock rolling

I find that I feel a lot of mommy guilt associated with mothering N. And I think I know the reason.

When I was pregnant with N, I began the downward spiral of depression and anxiety, but I didn't realize it until well after the fact. I was so excited to be having a daughter, and yet I was stricken with utter fear...extremely unhealthy fear.

During the pregnancy is when I started on the path of Unrealistic Expectations of Self. I had always set high standards for myself and whatever job I set out to do, and I had, by and large, always succeeded. But being a mom isn't like any other job a person does.

So when N was born I became very strict about my behavior. I had to be perfect. I had to do everything for her myself. I intended to do everything the American Academy of Pediatrics said to do to the letter. I had to fix her torticollis with my own hands, every day, many times a day doing physical therapy on her. Now most of this was hormonal and chemical, but a good chunk of it was cognitive too.

I remember when N was about 6 or 7 months old and was fighting sleep. I would rock her, and rock her, and rock her. And once, in my frustration, I growled, which left her wailing. I remember the anguish I felt because I had scared her. And I thought I was a horrible mother for getting angry at this baby (not realizing that experiencing negative emotions about one's child(ren) is TOTALLY NORMAL).

It wasn't too long after this I had my nervous breakdown. And then from the time N was 9 months old until she was 18 months old, I was very, very undermedicated. I could sleep and I could eat, but I was depressed. Thank god I journaled and took pictures during this time because my memories of her at this delightful age range are tinged with sadness. I distinctly remember the winter months at the dining room window with N. She was watching cars go down the road, and I just stared blankly, feeling hopeless.

So I feel like I missed out on a good chunk of time with N. Even though I was physically there, I know I wasn't emotionally there. Lord knows I tried to be. Maybe N sensed it, and maybe she didn't, but I know I didn't enjoy my time with her, and so I feel a little cheated. I know this is part of the reason I just savor G's time now. Because my time with N as she was learning to crawl, and learning to walk, and learning to talk, was stolen.

I have guilt about that that remains on my heart to this day. And maybe the fact that I have this guilt makes me susceptible to feeling guilt about lots of things associated with my relationship with N. I think I still feel some amount of guilt about having G, about stealing away more time with N by adding another child to the mix.

This is why I try really hard to play with her and be available to her, even though alot of the time I really am sick to death of playing pretend or whatever. I feel terrible guilt at times when I tell her I need to stop to get some things done, even when most of the reason I am doing those things is because I am just tired of playing with her.

And so I have this guilt with her that I simply do not feel with G. Is it because he is the 2nd, and I'm much calmer in general? Is it because I am now medicated and have CBT under my belt to help me with my expectations associated with mothering him? Is it because she and I just have a typical, emotionally charged mother-daughter relationship? Maybe all of the above.

I spend a good bit of my time talking myself down from this guilt precipice, but it is a constant struggle. It is my sisyphean struggle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The $388 oil change

I should have known the gods were against me. They were warning me that taking the car in for an oil change was not going to be pretty.

It began last Tuesday.

The "plan" was to drop the car off at the Mazda dealership, walk the kids over to the mall, and hang out there until the oil change was done. When I arrived at the dealership, someone had parked right in front of the service door, so I couldn't just run in really quickly, hand 'em the keys, and then get the kids. I had to unload the kids, the stroller and the bags only to get up to the door and see the sign that read, "Service has moved up the road to 1234 Packupallyourshitandtryitagain Road." Suffice it to say I was not happy. So I packed up all my shit and tried it again, down the road where the new service department was relocated.

I pulled into the garage and asked for an oil change. I was told that all the technicians were in the process of moving their tools and "stuff" to this new service department and that I couldn't get an oil change. Now it used to be that the dealership would take appointments for everything, including oil changes, but sometime ago they had stopped this practice. If the practice was still in place, I would have called and learned all this via phone. Instead I had packed up half my house only to find out my "plan" for the day was screwed.

Ok, so I asked if I could get an oil change on Friday. The guy assured me this wouldn't be a problem. So I called Friday morning and was told they were still in the process of moving tools and whatnot but they would be ready to go by Monday.

I didn't call yesterday because that would be pushing my luck. I called today and got an appointment for an oil change (Hooray!). I desperately needed my windshield wipers replaced too. I had a coupon for a $25 oil change and $9.99 tire rotation, so I thought I'd get out of there around or possibly even under $50.

But no. I seem to be on an unlucky streak of late in all matters concerning money. The service guy called and said my battery was about ready to die and that my coolant system was on the fritz. PLUS, my front swaybar links and bushings are loose and my rear shocks are leaking. D had been complaining of my car making noises, and the swaybar and shocks appear to be the cause of the sound.

Since I don't want to be stuck anywhere with a dead battery with 2 kids, I told him to replace the battery. And go ahead and do the coolant thing since he promised it wouldn't take too long. He told me he would talk to me about the other stuff when I came to pick up my car (he would have to order the parts so he couldn't do it today anyway).

Back at the service counter I forked over $388 for the oil change, wiper blades, coolant flush and new battery. And the swaybar and rear shocks: those are gonna cost $493 and $537, respectively. SHOCK(s) indeed!!!!

So let's see. In September, we spent $500+ on D's car repairs. In October, D bought new glasses, which was $434. And November, we're looking at $1400 in car repairs on my vehicle. I keep trying to put money away, but this fall has been kicking my savings plan's ass. Oh, and my washing machine needed a part that cost us about $75. And G is likely gonna need tubes, so I don't even want to think about how many hundreds (or thousands) that is gonna cost us.

Hell, even if I wanted to take up a drinking habit, I don't have any extra cash to put towards the purchase of spirits.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kid pics

The half-crazy but very cute girl-child who lives with us.

Oh, isn't it wonderful to be able to walk?

I love the Baby Frankenstein walk.

Homes for unloved toys

I hate clutter. I hate junk hanging around that hasn't been used in ages. So all the paraphernalia associated with kids is sometimes hard on the neat freak inside, especially this time of year because I know more is on the horizon. G's birthday is in September, and N's birthday is in February, so that is a lot of new stuff coming into our home in a 6-month period.

If things haven't been played with much or at all in the last year, they are being placed for sale on craigslist and cheapcycle. I recently sold a Little Flier Bouncy Horse that we bought N for her 1st birthday (that her butt touched all of 5 times) for $45. I think I bought it new for either $49 or $59. So I didn't think that was bad.

I also sold some of her costumes. N is like me when it comes to clothes...she likes to be comfortable above all else, so the lace and frou-frou on costumes drives her nuts. She might put them on but after a few minutes she complains about them itching her, and they wind up on my floor.

It feels really good to get rid of some things, but a part of me feels a little guilty for selling stuff. I guess because some of the toys are relatively new (like less than a year old) or barely used. I try to tell myself that not every gift N gets is going to be something she likes or will play with, and so it is better to sell them to another child who might actually get some enjoyment out of them, rather than the toys just taking up space in my house.

I like to try to sell them online before I put them in one of the local Spring/Fall consignment sales. I get 100% if I sell them myself, and just 70% or less if I go the consignment route.

And I don't just get rid of the kids' stuff. I recently sold D's big honking speakers on craigslist. I've got an old record-player/cassette player in D's closet that I want to put online too. Maybe while I've got my camera out and computer on, I better try to find a new home for that. I kept hanging onto it in case I ever want to listen to my Jeff Buckley EP, but if I haven't listened to it in 12 years, chances are I won't anytime soon, right?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Are we almost done?

Day 16. Is November almost over?

I have been fortunate so far to have had flashes of inspiration or somewhat exciting happenings with which to regale myself and my 2 readers.
But not today.
Today is slim pickins'.

So I will discuss a couple things that I wrote down as possible blog entries that either I don't have enough opinion on to write a full-length post or the passion behind them is now passed so my motivation is gone.

1. Beauties and the Beast?

I haven't seen Knocked Up or the Kevin Smith Make a Porno movie, but I don't live in a bubble. I have at least read the reviews and know who Seth Rogen is. He is an average-looking dude.

In readings these film reviews, I have seen some rants about how he is paired with beauties like Katherine Heigl and Elizabeth Banks and all the brou-ha-ha that goes along with castings of this sort. I may be the only one, but I don't think either Katherine Heigl or Elizabeth Banks are beautiful. Nice-looking, but certainly not drop-dead-gorgeous. Heck, to be honest, there are very few Hollywood folks that aren't just average without benefit of makeup and hair people and stunning gowns/tuxedoes. Oh, yes, and the allure of filthy stinky wealthiness.

2. Effigies and lynchings

Prior to the election there were a number of lynched effigies of both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. All were in poor taste (a gross understatement). But I didn't fully agree with those who saw the effigies as equally distateful, and here's why. White middle-class women were never historically and consistently lynched in US history. Black men were. So while the effigies of Sarah Palin were stupid, the effigies of Barack Obama re-opened historically sensitive wounds. There is no comparison to what these effigies represented to anyone who knows anything about Black history in America (and my knowledge is scant, at best). The people who said the ones about Barack Obama had nothing to do with race, just politics, are idiots.

3. Ex-herm

Sometimes I think it would be interesting to take a Bible studies class. And sometimes I think, "Why would I want to subject myself to such a thing?" Maybe I've just heard of too many people who take "read the Bible as totally literal" type classes, and I just can't do that.

I am quite ignorant of things biblical. But I heard a program on NPR the other day in which John Dominic Crossan, a theologian, discussed his book The Historical Jesus. This is on my list of must-reads, as is Stephen Prothero's Religious Literacy.

More and more I feel like I read about fundamentalism and because I'm ignorant of the Bible, I don't know whether there is any substance to what the fundamentalists say or think. I can't quote the Bible (hell, Linus does a better job than I ever could), so maybe what I'm thinking is entirely wrong. It is easy for me to lump everyone else as being uninformed or misinterpreting the Bible, but if I don't know it, how can I be sure?.

Probably my favorite class in college was Theology in Modern Literature. Maybe it's a Catholic thing, but I tend to find god alot in the secular books I read. But I think to be a better rounded and informed person, I need to know more of the Bible.

Ok, well, I've ticked off my Post-It note list on my dayplanner. I'll have to come up with something new for tomorrow. Maybe I'll blow something up in the microwave or have a really bad hang-nail.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The bite at the pharmacy and doc's office

We have reached our $4,000 deductible and are now paying only 20% of our health care costs (until we reach $10,000, and then insurance will kick in at 100%--well, thank God for small miracles!). By the time we get to that point, we will be eating beans and rice every night for dinner. If G has to have ear tubes, we'll likely be on this diet before Christmas.

But since we are only paying 20% I decided to refill my Astelin Rx (nose spray) before it expires in early December. My allergist gave me an Rx for a steroid nose spray too, but I simply can't afford to fill that one every month. If I have to choose between my brain working properly, having an unplanned pregnancy and having a bit of a stuffy nose, you know which one I will choose. D and I have used up all the Astelin samples I begged off my doctor.

My Lexapro costs me $80 per month, and my birth control pills are about $28 per month. My allergy shots cost me $13.00 every time I go. Before G started with all the ear infections, I was the only one in the family who hit our insurance pretty hard. He is quickly catching up.

N is the only one of us who has spent $0 health care dollars this year (insurance covered her 4-year well visit at 100%). And she eats virtually no fruits or vegetables, picks her nose on a regular basis without the benefit of handwashing, and does anything to avoid taking a bath. Apparently, she knows how to live a healthy lifestyle.

By most standards, I think I would be considered pretty healthy overall, which scares the shit out of me when I think about how much we would have to pay if we were really sick.

I read in the paper on Thursday that Senator Max Baucus is pushing for a complete health-care overhaul in the US so I sent him an email. While I did say I thought an overhaul was needed, I also stressed that Congress should pass legislation that all people with HSAs should be able to save their entire yearly out-of-pocket maximum pre-tax, instead of just the deductible.

We can save about $5,800 pre-tax per year, but with a $10,000 out-of-pocket max, that still leaves a big chunk of change that we have to pay for.

I know there are people far worse off and everyone is feeling the pinch from rising health care costs. We pay cents on our health care premiums, so while other people may have cheaper co-pays, they pay bigger chunks of their premiums per paycheck. So this isn't a complaint post, so much as a "this scares me" blog.

Because more and more, without your health, you really don't have anything.

Friday, November 14, 2008

So close, and yet so far

Lately I've been thinking about how I've changed throughout the course of my life. Some of the changes have been a good thing, and some of the changes have just made things more complicated.

I am far less insecure than I used to be. For the most part, I am pretty happy with myself. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time wondering what various people thought of me. Now, I don't care so much. I've gotten to the point where I first wonder, "What do I really think of so-and-so?" instead of, " Does so-and-so think I'm cool/nice/fill in the adjective?" When I do have moments when the 2nd question precedes the 1st, I am usually pretty quick to catch myself and turn things around.

I still stew alot, though, if I have hurt or think I've hurt someone's feelings, which probably relates a bit to the previous paragraph. That doesn't mean I apologize. I might beat myself up reliving the hurt feeling event, but I generally come to the conclusion that what I did or said what was best for myself/my kids/my situation.

For awhile I had gotten to where I worried less about money, but this economy has me a bit stressed. It is increasingly hard to save money...or enough money as I'd like to save to feel secure.

Of course, having my kids has changed me a lot. I always knew I wanted to get married, but I never thought much about having children. I was never a person who ooohed and aaahed over babies. I'm still not into babies (except my own babies). Having children was never a big deal, a big goal for me. But having my children made me wonder if those years weren't just a big case of "the lady protesting too much." Because it still puzzles me that I went from being uncertain whether I wanted any children to wanting 3.

Inside, I feel like a combo of who I was at 16, who I was at 22 and who I am at 35. At 16, I felt on top of my game....confident, a leader, a person with lots of energy and friends and interests. At 22, I felt jaded, artistic, unsure of anything I wanted or needed, desperately in need of direction. And how I feel at 35...a little more wise, a lot more tired.

It makes me wonder if I will always carry these young "versions" of myself as I age. And one day look in the mirror and think, "Who is that old lady looking back at me?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One of the best things about preschool

When I was teaching, I did the Scholastic book clubs. I know some people hate doing these because of handing the fliers out, collecting the money, logging the orders and then divying everything up when the goods arrive. But I loved every aspect of it.

So this was one of the things I most looked forward to when N started preschool last year. I would have been the book club mom for her preschool, but there was already a mom in charge of it. Darn.

I get really excited when I see N waiting in the carpool line with the fliers clipped to her bookbag. I am really good at telling N, "No, you can't have this, that and the other," but I am a sucker for books, especially fairly cheap books. I always allow her to purchase a couple books each time she gets a flier....mostly because I love looking through them myself and ordering.

And I recently realized that the books she doesn't select for purchase can usually be had at the public library. I just go online and reserve them at our local branch, instead of having to peruse the shelves myself, which can be difficult when G is knocking books down left and right in his attempt to annihilate the library. And if N doesn't like these, we aren't out anything except a little trip to the library to pick them up.

Of course, I am already thinking ahead to how I will budget book order purchases when both N and G are bringing them home from school. But, imagine: Multiple book club fliers! Yeeha!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My new favorite thing to watch

I tend not to like passive activities like watching tv. Having to sit still makes me edgy and anxious (although I wish with a passion I was better able to just chill). However, I have found my new favorite thing to sit and watch: G walking around butt naked.

He is on a fairly strong antibiotic that has, within 3 days, made his tush raw and red, so I decided to let him air out after a particularly nasty diaper change. It was then that I discovered what may be the cutest thing in the entire world--a baby boy toddling around with his carrot and peas dangling and dancing.

Now if D decided to walk around in the buff, I wouldn't find this display appealing. This would be gross (not that D isn't a good-looking guy, but no woman in her right mind wants to watch a naked man amble around the joint). Too many freckles and moles. Too much hair.

But seeing a baby do this is cute to the nth degree. His little Frankenstein walk, his rotund belly peeping out over his legs, his perfectly smooth and white skin (except in that delicate diaper area--poor thing). And I can't help but get tickled by seeing his little parts do their jiggling. Watching N was cute, but a little boy has a sideshow going on at the same time as the main event.

Endless entertainment for mom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Waste not

It occurred to me the other day while grocery shopping that I have lots of food items in my pantry that just sit there. And sit there. And sit there.

I, personally, am getting tired of spending $80 for what used to cost me $40 six months ago. While I realize the prices aren't going to go back down, I could save a little bit of money if I would just use the stuff I have more efficiently. Um, I mean if I would just use the stuff I have. Period.

For example, I have a can of tuna fish sitting on my lazy susan. The thing gets spun pretty darn frequently when I grab diced tomatoes and canned peaches. But I keep buying lunch meat and peanut butter even though I have this perfectly good can of tuna fish that I could eat. So now I've got the tuna fish and a can of tomato soup sitting on my counter so that I will remember to eat it (because tuna fish sandwiches go really nicely with a bowl of tomato soup). I've got about 4 more cans of tomato soup on that same lazy susan that need to be there's at least 4 more lunches.

I do this periodically. I try to clean out virtually everything in my pantry so that I can go to the grocery and really restock. This boils down to about 2 weeks of eating rice, canned pineapple and Ovaltine just so I can get rid of shit. When I go to the grocery feeling all psyched because I'm "starting fresh," I end up with a $300 grocery bill, which just leaves me depressed.

But I just can't help myself once I get on this kick of using up the foodstuffs.

Awhile back, D sent me a link to this site called, which allows one to type in a food or ingredient one has in the pantry, like chili sauce, and it will spit out a bunch of recipes using that item. I thought it sounded brilliant until I realized it would only spit out recipes using chili sauce, not a recipe utilizing all 12 obscure or unappetizing items I have in my pantry. If I have to go out and buy 4 more things to use up my half-used bottle of chili sauce, I'd just as soon let it sit there for another year. Where is the genius chef site that will make a meal out of this?

  • A chicken flav Ramen noodle package of just noodles, no flavor pouch (that was used in another recipe).
  • 1/2 cup of lentils
  • that damn jar of chili sauce
  • nearly full jar of red curry paste (bought to make a recipe that sounded good but kinda sucked)
  • almost a full bag of salted soy nuts
  • 1/2 a bag of bulgar wheat
  • a smidgen of tapioca pudding pellets (or whatever the word is for them)
Items that are actually sitting in my pantry as I type this.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life advice by Kenny Rogers

Just a bit ago, my mom took N to the park. G is sleeping, so I decided to scrub the master bath. And I mean scrub. After using the wire bristle brush to clean paint residue from my basement bath, I decided to use it to scrape out 7.5 years' worth of soap scum. I am ashamed to say it will take another few cleanings with the brush to get the stuff. My arm simply cannot do anymore today.

While scrubbing, I started thinking about taking G to the ENT. He has another ear infection. His 5th ear infection in 6 months. His 3rd type of antibiotic in 3 months. As much as I hate the idea of surgery, I think tubes might be the best bet. This thought occurred to me after G's 1-year-old well visit, when the doc said he still had fluid behind his eardrum, that his speech and hearing could potentially be impaired, even if he miraculously stopped getting infections.

I do not like the idea of surgery. When I found out G was breech, I took lots of steps to try to get him to turn and avoid a c-section: laying upside down an inverted ironing board, seeing a chiropractor, and undergoing external cephalic version. None of these things worked. I had to accept that and move on.

With G, he has family history stacking his odds in favor of tubes. My dad has ear problems to this day--he had to visit his dr. again when he 1st antibiotic didn't clear up his recent ear infection. I had ear problems as a kid (3 sets of tubes). I can shove JuicePlus down my son's throat all day long, but I cannot fight genetics.

So while I was mulling all this over while cleaning the john, a song popped into my head, a song so appropriate for our visit next week to the ENT and the prospect/likelihood of tubes.

You've got to know when to hold 'em.
Know when to fold 'em.
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.

You never count your money
When your sitting at the table,
There'll be time enough to count 'em
When the dealin's done.

I wonder if I will ever get to a point in my life when I know when to fold 'em without first staging a massive battle between me and forces beyond my control?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The problem with daily blogging

I don't usually blog every day, but for some strange reason I decided to do NaBloPoMo. Wacked out hormones, I reckon.

There is a problem for me with blogging every day, and that is it gives me a place to complain ALOT rather than sucking it up and only blogging about the things that REALLY bug me (like saving up for a couple days rather than giving play-by-plays).

There are times that parenting is really wonderful, and times when it completely sucks ass. Sometimes these opposing sides of parenting are experienced within the framework of 24 hours. Sometimes within the framework of 60 minutes. In my house, it seems like we work on a much shorter time 5 minutes. Ok, that is exaggerating. More accurate is 10 minutes.

Well, here comes trouble who just crawled to me and then WALKED to the cat. Yep, he is nearly bipedal. So this is gonna be a long November of bitching.... and cleaning shit up.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Today is one of those days when every single member of my family has been bouncing on my nerves. All. Day. Long.

Probably 90% of the problem is mine. Due to the jitters of yesterday, I couldn't settle down to sleep until midnight or so. Lack of sleep is always a factor in bad moods (moms and kids alike).

I had heard that WordGirl was gonna be at the local museum, so I at first I thought N and I could go and have some girl time today, but then I thought it might be a fun family time since G took a morning nap. I asked D if he wanted to go for it to be a family affair, or if he wanted to stay home with G. He said go.

I did the normal badgering of the daughter to get dressed so we could go. We got in the car. Happy family fun time, here we come!

We hadn't been on the road 5 minutes before D complained that he had a headache. I asked him if he wanted to stay home (although if he did I was gonna be pissed because he had said he would go). He pointed to the road. By the time we got on the expressway 2 minutes after that, he complained about his stomach hurting. I told him, if you want to go home he better speak right this second so I could take him home. We proceeded onto the museum.

We got to the museum and bought tickets to the children's art center. (I figured if N had enough fun seeing WordGirl and doing the free activities we could just save these tickets for another day). When we saw WordGirl, N acted all "attitudish," rolling her eyes, like she didn't want to be there, but after a moment she agreed to see WordGirl. G didn't want to stay in the stroller so D let him push the umbrella stroller around.

N saw WordGirl but didn't want to do any of the free activities. I asked her if she wanted to go to the children's art center. She took of in that direction.

Once we turned in our tickets, and she saw how many kids were there, she pouted and basically cried nonstop for 20 minutes until we left. Goddamit! I hate to spend money on something and then have to leave without getting my money's worth.

So I was initially irked by D in the car which subsided. Then I became highly aggravated at N while at the children's art the kind of aggravation where you just want to beat your child with the nearest and biggest stick you can find. Bounce, bounce.

When we got home, things settled down a bit.

But then I tried making Christmas cards with N. I should have just given her 3 cards and said, "do whatever you want," but I attempted to make them a collaboration of the two of us. Clearly I smoked some dope today because I forgot that 4-year-olds don't collaborate. They boss others around. And I wasn't in the mood to be bossed around.


Then G wanted to take a late nap, which I allowed because otherwise he would have been ready for bed at 5:15, and likewise up for the day at 5:15 tomorrow. But he was a bear when we woke him and screamed through most of dinner. And N wouldn't eat her supper but kept insisting on dessert.

This here nerve is frayed almost beyond repair, I think. I am really, really hoping both the kids go down easily so D and I can watch Sweeney Todd. I need some vegetative time.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Tonight I have the jitters. I think it is a little bit of everything and a little bit of nothing. I simply can't seem to settle myself down.

I had been pretty well ok until about 4:00. Well, probably not true due to the following:
  • G has a cold (so I am fretting over ear infection and journeying ever further along the road to ear tubes).
  • G is still nursing a couple times a day but doing so for shorter and shorter periods of time (so I know my hormones are in flux and liable to make me batty at a moment's notice).
  • I was due to meet someone to sell some items I posted on craigslist at 4:30 so I had that on my mind.
  • I wanted to stop at the bank beforehand to buy the kids some savings bonds before meeting this person at 4:30.
G woke up fussy from his nap...which either means he didn't get a long enough nap, he simply feels crappy due to a stuffy/runny nose, or his ears are bothering him. A fussy baby alone is enough to make one's nerves fray.

I got to the bank and started to fill out the paperwork for the bonds, but G wasn't happy being held. He was determined to wreak havoc on that BB&T office. He crawled into people's offices, pushed the lobby chairs out into the middle of the lobby, and banged on the glass doors. N was better behaved but she kept pestering me with, "Mommy, I want a mint."

The teller said she didn't have mints (I think N had gotten a mint from another teller at this branch way back when), so I requested either a sucker or sticker for N and some vodka for me. No vodka on hand---CRAP!

Ok, so the bank got me frazzled a bit. Then across the way to meet the person who was going to buy some costumes from me. I waited almost a half-hour, but she didn't show. I had given her my cell phone number so I was worried she might have left too soon (since I was a couple minutes late to the bank errand).

Frazzling continued.

Then tonight while I was fixing some corn to add to our leftovers, I started helping N write her letter to Santa. OMG! She started asking for shit she had NEVER given any hint as to wanting or putting stuff high on her list that she had maybe seen once and listing stuff low on her list that she has been talking about for weeks.

1. Mermaid Barbie (my mom bought her one of these today)
2. Barbie & the Diamond Castle doll and movie and unicorn (I think it is a pegasus, but she called it a unicorn) (My MIL has one of these dolls for her)
3. soccer ball (WTF? N hates to expend energy almost as much as her daddy)
4. guitar
5. American doll
6. camera
7. Care Bears movie (Pulled straight outta her ass)
8. Home on the Range movie (Another one from her butt)
9. a diary (Um, N, you can't write)
10. a baby doll
11. Kim Possible soft doll (I don't think these exist)
12. more Playdoh
13. more markers
14. Princess Jasmine toothbrush

So this sets me onto worrying whether she'll be happy with the toys that she gets for Christmas. Aggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I almost bought some beer when I stopped at the grocery tonight but I didn't get a cart and couldn't hold anything else in my hands besides the full handle-basket and 2 gallons of milk.

If only that teller had had some vodka.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dollhouse diva

I am starting to think god is telling me to be a dollhouse creator/redecorator.
In 2 years, I have been given....yes, given at no cost to me...2 big and beautiful dollhouses.

Both were in pretty desperate need of repair.

The first was given to me by a neighbor and required new paint, new shingles, new flooring and new wallpaper in nearly all the rooms. These pictures are the after shots. My mother even made little curtains for all the windows.

The most recent one belonged to my paternal aunt. It fell off a table and one whole side of it from the 2nd floor up had fallen off. I didn't take a picture of it before Dr. Dollhouse and some superglue got busy, but this is the state of it as of this moment:

And this one came fully furnished! N has been in hog-heaven with all new furnishings and dolls to play with.

It still needs part of the roof glued back on, some plastic windows replaced, and more flooring. I added the vinyl and paisley upholstery fabric on the bottom right on Sunday. I am debating whether to go to the trouble to paint the walls. The side walls that make the rooms are really awful, although I like the woodgrain look of the back walls.

I just know how much work I put into the first one, and while it still looks nice, N has been a little rough, and G (when he gets into her room) has been REALLY rough, pulling off all the deck railings and some of the front porch railings.

When I worked on the first one, N was still taking naps and G wasn't even in production. I had loads more time. What little time I have now should probably be spent on making my real home look decent.

And yet, as I type this, I am wondering if we have any primer in the storage room because it really wouldn't take that long to paint the side walls....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tears...the day after

Today a few tears were shed in our household. The historical election of 2008 just got everyone's emotions in high-gear.

This morning, I asked D if he had told N about Barack Obama winning the election. When he told N, she said, "But I wanted John McCain to win," and then got quiet. All of a sudden, she walked up to me and burst into tears, saying over and over again, "But I wanted John McCain to win." It took a good 10 minutes to console her and calm her down. D said, "Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it," but I reminded him that they would likely talk about the results at preschool and better for her to be so upset at home than at school. I asked her if she wanted to draw John McCain a picture to send to him since he was probably sad too that he hadn't won. She told me what she wanted to say in her note to him. And here it is:

N's picture of John McCain

Dear John McCain, I am sad because you didn't win. I wanted

you to win and that's why I cried.

She even put a "Thinking of You" sticker and a "Feel Better Soon" sticker on his note. She mailed it this afternoon to his D.C. Senate office.

After I dropped her off at school, I proceeded to run some errands, all the while listening to BBC World News Hour on NPR. I'm not normally a weepy person, but listening to the reports and interviews with people as they watched the election coverage and after the election was called did get me a bit misty.

In less than 50 years, the US has moved from denying Blacks the right to vote to seeing a man of Black heritage become president. This fact combined with the powerful voter turnout and activism during this election do make me proud. It makes me feel that the US made a major developmental leap. We are a nation in its infancy, in a sense, but perhaps this takes us from crawling to toddling.

But I worry about so much enthusiasm and optimism on the part of the electorate. While I think Obama will do a good job....certainly no worse than his predecessor...I also know he isn't perfect, and he can't change the course of the entire US in 4 years. I worry that because he is the first Black president and one who invigorated his supporters with hope, he will be held to absolutely impossible standards and expectations. He is not going to make our society perfect. That is too much burden to place on one man's shoulders.

Although I didn't watch John McCain's concession speech, I have heard it was powerful and revealed the true maverick McCain, the one who apparently was hidden under a rock during the campaigning. I can't help but wonder how he feels, and if he thinks he was steered wrong. Of course, he probably had to accept being steered wrong to get the support of his party (all candidates do to some extent, I guess).

Suffice it to say, I am glad this election is over and the talk around our house can go back to the mundane and non-political.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Are we that lazy?

Sometimes when KET is showing GED Connection, I turn on Qubo so N can watch even more cartoons (because 3.5 hours straight simply isn't enough). Today she and I got to see the world's neatest invention for the world's laziest people. Surprisingly, Billie Mays was not doing the promo.

It was this blanket with arms called the Snuggie. The big draw of this blanket is that one doesn't have to "go to the trouble" of uncovering one's arms to use the remote control.

Holy Crap! If I get the Snuggie, not only can I keep my ass warm and cozy on the couch, I don't even have to shrug my arm 1 inch above the recesses of normal blanket fabric to change from Channel 3 to Channel 32. If I can just stop breathing and producing body heat, I might be able to completely avoid any kind of caloric expenditure. What a fantastic energy saver!!!!

I know what Santa better bring me for Christmas.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sci-fi & fantasy addict

D and I are creating a monster, I think. N got to a point awhile back when she wanted us to make up stories to tell her before bed. We exhausted our innate story-telling resources after about 2 nights. D told her the story of E.T., and she loved it. "Brilliant!," I thought. So I decided to tell her The Lord of the Rings...all 3 books, which required some re-reading on my part to keep everything cohesive.

At about the same time, D started telling her the Star Wars trilogy. My MIL has saved some of D's Star Wars toys, which N plays with when we visit on Sundays, so she was familiar with the main characters. For some reason, though, N has been harping on D to tell her more, more, more. She simply can't get enough of the story.

Tonight, she was absolutely pooped at bedtime. Today was the first time she has ever walked around the zoo without having the double-stroller to fall back she was beat. D started reading her a Star Wars book my MIL gave her for Easter; he barely got 3 pages into it when she zonked out. She still (yes, still) uses a pacifier and was sucking away, making this squeaky sound that signals she is well on her way to dreamland. D turned off the light while she was squeaking. As soon as the light went out, she pulled the pacifier out of her mouth, said, "Star Wars," put it back in her mouth and fell right back to sleep. Her eyes never opened.

D mentioned to me the other day that he has wondered whether he is ruining the movies for her when she gets older. I don't think so...because she is envisioning the stories in one way, a 4-year-old way, and she will be much older when she sees them. I think (and hope) the movies will be magical for her because she already feels connected to the stories and has her own ideas of how characters and planets look. For the longest time, she kept insisting that Merry and Pippin in TLOTR were girls, and she referred to them as Mary and Jill. I finally had to explain that their real names are Meriadoc and Peregrin.

I have tried to find a Lord of the Rings book for young children, but I don't think there is one around. We have The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe picture book, and she really enjoys that. It is hard for me to describe the way certain characters look to her, like Gollum. There is a book we've read called, The Terrible Baby, and I told her Gollum looks kinda like the baby in that book. I didn't even try to describe the orcs because they scare the hell outta me. I think I said they looked like trolls.

As a child and high schooler, I did NOT like sci-fi or fantasy. In high school, I suffered through some Arthur C. Clark books (and I mean suffered). Being married to a sci-fi dork necessitated that I, if nothing else, learn to tolerate sci-fi stuff. Plus, there was a kid I taught my 1st year in middle school who introduced me to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, which I absolutely love (and have read the entire series now).

A true love has now developed. I count His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman as one of my all-time favorites. I figure N will decide in her own time whether she really does enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, but it is ultra cool to have a 4-year-old who can explain how Chewbaca put C3PO back together again on Cloud City and how Frodo and Gollum fought before the ring fell into the volcano.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Working Mother magazine

D had all these sky miles from some airline or another that he was never gonna use (these were from back in the day when he traveled a bit for work). We had the option of getting some magazine subscriptions as a way to use the miles up. Since I considered the miles "unused money" of a sort, I was determined to spend as much of it as possible, so I ordered a variety of magazines, like Parenting, Cookie and Working Mother.

I like to keep magazines in the living room so that I can read short articles while sitting with the kids. Some folks can read novels but that requires more concentration than I can muster with the tv going, G crawling over me and N asking me question after question.

Unfortunately, I have found that reading Working Mother gives me anxiety and makes me flat-out tired.

Yesterday I read two articles: one a profile of the cover gal and the other a narrative about a mom getting adjusted to leaving her baby at daycare. The cover gal bio left me pooped. She is some kind of VP of Communications, has 2 kids and had to nurse her mom through 2 bouts of cancer. I zoned out halfway through simply because I didn't have the energy to keep reading about her life. Since I poop out on Wednesdays when N has school in the a.m. and dance class in the late afternoon, it makes sense that a woman who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare for her day would make me nearly catatonic.

The second article about adjusting to daycare made me fretful because I kept putting myself in the mother's shoes. I know if I had to work I would have no choice but to adjust to leaving my kids, but the idea of choosing to leave my kids at daycare gave me the heebies. I know N will start kindergarten in a year and will be away from me all day, but she will be 5. G is just a year old, and I have a hard time leaving him with my mother for a couple hours while I go to a preschool party. The thought of leaving a 3-month-old baby makes me want to cry.

I try not to make a judgment while reading these articles. These ladies are making choices best suited for them. But I personally couldn't make the same choice. After an aquaintance of mine who works told me that she pays $250 a week for her 2 kids to go to daycare, it occurred to me that it wouldn't pay me to work. As a teacher, I remember barely pulling in $1,400 a month, and that was with a Master's Degree. Sure, I was taking out a big chunk out for my 401(K) at the time, but still. With gas, clothes, cost of convenience foods since I wouldn't want to cook as much as I now do, and having to spend more for doctor visits for sickly kids, I just don't think it would be worth it financially. And I would have school work to do on top of the housework that now takes me all week to do. For me, all the paperwork, phone calls, emails from parents, and meetings outside of the 7-hour-day factored in HEAVILY in my decision not to work.

So, I will be passing along all of my Working Mother mags to my sister-in-law who works outside the home and is happy to be doing so. I'll go back to checking out People from the library and reading my other parenting rags.

But for the pet peeve record: I hate, hate, hate it when parents call daycare, "school." It ain't school, it is daycare. I don't know why it bugs me so, it just does. It makes me think they call it school to assuage any guilt they have about leaving their kids at daycare.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Anniversary Cards

Today D and I have been married 11 years. We haven't done much of anything to celebrate. We bought each other cards, which are still sitting unopened on the kitchen table. Sneaky D did go out and buy me flowers when I took the kids to Meijer earlier in the day.

I HATE to buy anniversary cards because either the people who write the drivel on them are constantly high or they have no clue as to what really being married is like. I'm sorry but after 11 years, most days I don't feel like this:

You are the man I adore, who's eyes sparkle like the heavens which brought your love to me, who's arms envelop me in feelings of safety, who's mouth kisses me with gentle softness to remind me of your passion, who's heart will be mine even beyond the grave.

Wreetch! Oh, excuse me, did I just yak in my socks?

I wish someone would write an anniversary card that says what is true, what is real, but leave out all the unpleasant true, real stuff like, "So help me God, if I have to pick up a mound of your dirty underwear from our bedroom floor, I'm gonna shove it down your throat." (BTW: D is extremely tidy so this is not something I'd ever have to say about him.)

I wish they'd just say something like:

Marriage is just a promise, so simple, so delicate. A promise between 2 people to be together no matter what. To move beyond just the new and passionate to a place that is stronger. To a place that has a shared history of joy and sorrow and everything in between. Marriage is being able, at the end of the day, to be glad we are with each other despite, or perhaps, because of, all the human frailties you and I brought to the table when we made a promise of marriage.

But even that is a little too gooky for my taste, and I wrote it.

Ah well.

I love you D. Here's hoping for 11 more, but let's just do our best to get to year 12.