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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ouch, I'm one hurting fool

I thought I'd try a change of scenery and come downstairs. Not all that sure it was a good idea, but I'm so sick of my bedroom. My left shoulder hurts. I mean it really really hurts. A dull ache all down my arm, and the whole left shoulder is out of control hurting, even with ocycontin. I look like a cyclone struck me, as I can't take a shower for another day. But last night I ripped off the dressing a day early because I'm allergic to adhesive and it was just burning and itching to distraction. So the wound is a bund of steristrips over the stitches and it looks rather disgusting.

Remember how I was worried about the iV's. Turns out I had a lot of very good reasons to worry. My right arm looks like I was beaten up by a boxer. The wrist has a huge bruise where they tried and failed to put in an IV. Then moving up I've got another huge bruise midarm, and my elbow area is just astounding in it's color. Black and grey. Not even blue and green. All of those attempts were, as I had predicted, unsuccessful.

Then we love over to the left arm. A huge bloody bruise on the wrist, where the A-line went in, a second and third attempt mid arm, and then the actual iv stick in my other elbow. A terrible place because the damn IV machine beeped all night long.

Then my oxygen sats went way down and I was beeping because of that so they kept shoving oxygen in my face and then doing my sats. They are low. Low enough to consider home oxygen. Yippee.

The prodecure went just fine, the ICD works according to the tests they have put me through and now my life changes. I don't even know by how much yet, but it will indeed change.

Thanks for all the comments and good wishes. Keep 'em coming. We need them.
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Friday, December 30, 2005

Update #2

This is the boy again updating you on my mom's condition. She has stayed in bed all day and watched TV. We just finished eating dinner in her room with her. She is still in alot of pain but can move and walk around very slowly. I just wanted to update everyone out in blogland of my mom's condition.
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Thursday, December 29, 2005

shes home!

This is the boy updating you on my mom's surgery. She got home from the hospital about 20 minutes ago. She is doing fine, but in a lot of pain, and is expected to make a full recovery. She asked me to post on her blog to tell all of you wonderful people that she's okay.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Did you know it gets light at around 6 am?

I guess most of you do, but I don't. I'm usually passed out in a complete Ambien stupor at 6 am. But not this morning. I had to get up early because I've got a crappy meeting to go to, and I was too damn lazy to prepare for it last night, so I had to cram all of this stuff in this morning. It meant searching the house for some records, finding other records that I had carefully filed away in the big black fireproof box, and then getting everything together into a lovely see-through file folder. Ah... what an exciting life I lead.

My house is being cleaned as we speak, I'm waiting for my ride, the Boy has been rudely kicked off his Xbox by moi, and the Girl is upstairs primping. That child takes hours to get read to go absolutely nowhere. To be 13 again....NO THANKS.

The Worthless Pet has finally shown an interest in something other than sleeping and eating. He's discovered the world's greatest cat toy. Is it something I spent money on at PetCo? Why no. It's a piece of sugarless hard candy in a gold wrapper. It goes flying really far and he chases it all over the downstairs. He also has decided that it's fun to go running down the hallway and pounce on the hall oriental at full speed, so that it not only bunches up, but rides a few feet with him on it. Sort of like surfing, kitty style. This from a cat who has never played with anything before, deigning to maybe bat at a string if you insist.

I've shown the Boy how to post here, so he'll write an update after my surgery tomorrow. He's coming to see me sometime in the afternoon, and will update afterwards. Don't expect anything pithy. Otherwise, nothing new, funny, or pathetic to report. We're just living the la vida loca in the breakdown lane here at WWIT.
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Surgery draws near, kids start freaking out

I guess it's not surprising that my kids are getting more and more obnoxious by the minute. They've had a big holiday in the wings, they're out of school for a week, and I'm having my surgery on Wednesday morning. So it's within the realm of possibility that they might act out. However... I'm on my last nerve ending myself, and the constant bickering and the arguments over the stupidest things, plus throwing stuff at each other is so frigging over the top right now. I just can't take much more of it. I love these kids, but there are days when I want to return them to the hospital, or sell them into white slavery. I just want some peace and quiet and they are so loud. As in, I can't hear myself think.

Tonight I was talking on the phone to the person who is caring for them while I'm in the hospital. Every word out of my mouth was challanged by the Girl. She needs to know everything that I say, and she wants to get into the conversations herself. I'm mortified that she still behaves like this, but no matter how many times we sit and talk about it, she can't help herself, she just has to be in the know 24/7.

Tonight we played dreidel and they started getting mad at each other and the gelt started flying so I had to put the game away. Then we played Yatzhee for a while, but I bowed out after they started getting pissed at me for rolling two yatzhees in a row. Like it's planned???

Anyhow, I'm just 'sharing' how tired, annoyed, and frazzled I feel right now. The hospital is starting to look really welcome!
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Monday, December 26, 2005

Quiz Answer

Of course you all know the answer is M. But what I forgot to mention is the pair of underpants I found under my desk this morning. Why, I have no clue. But I'm so tired of crap everywhere. Enough is enough. We're going to shape up over vacation. I'm planning to lay on the sofa and direct traffic while recovering from surgery. "You, pick up those pens off the floor..." Can't wait!
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A short quiz

There are many things in my living room and dining room that don't belong. See if you can guess which items are currently littering these rooms. Hint: there is more than one right answer.

a) A blow up tube sled

b) A roll of toilet paper mauled by a pet

c) two brand new pairs of pajama pants on the coffee table

d) Black nail polish on the coffee table

e) a cereal bowl with milk left over from breakfast

f) a yogurt container left over from breakfast

g) A box of cheerios left over from breakfast

h) A large bag of torn wrapping paper and bows on the dining room table

i) A pair of sneakers abandoned on the floor

j) A pair of Uggs abandoned on the floor

k) a cat on the dining room table

l) none of the above

m) all of the above

Correct responses win an all expense paid trip to Virtual Cancun via Virtual Airlines.
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Sunday, December 25, 2005

UUUURRRRPPP. Oh excuse me!

I just finished eating about 20 lbs of latkes. And sour cream. And apple sauce. I think I might explode. I love latkes. I love sour cream. I don't eat either of those two foods unless it's Chanukah, and I give myself permission to indulge. Eating this much fat and carbohydrates is really bad for my heart, never mind my blood sugar. But heck, it's a holiday, right?

Last night the kids and I made a big batch of Peppermint Bark. This time we made both white and dark chocolate layered and topped with the crushed candy canes. Man, that is nectar of the gods. But we've been really good about only eating small amounts of it. I'll buy more candy canes marked down tomorrow, but I'm not making this stuff year round. It's supposed to be a winter treat. So maybe one more batch, and then we move on to Valentines Day candy.

Kids had a uberblast opening their pressies. We decided that they would leave at least 7 presents for the rest of the week, but I let them open a bunch tonight. The boy got pretty much everything he wanted and he was thrilled to death. Ditto for the girl. She especially loved the brown velour pantsuit (thanks Nita) and modeled it for me. It makes her look about 18, gulp. She loved the earrings, too. But what she loved best was the new CD player she got (plays MP3s, too) and the arm radio that she plans to use when she walks to school in the morning.

I opened a few of mine because I deserve to! I got a brand new blender. YAHOO. I'm so psyched. My old blender has an interesting story to it. I lent it to a 'friend'/neighbor many years ago, and she used it for about a year before I asked for it back. She then informed me that she had broken it, so we went shopping for another one, which she bought and kept. So I haven't had a blender in years and I've been dying to make smoothies for breakfast for me. Doctor recommended, you know. I'm way psyched about the blender. I also got a book I've been DYING to read, so I'm all set for the hospital. But the best thing was I got the coolest gift bucket of girly stuff like lotions and soaps and pedicure stuff (thank you Emily). If you guys ever saw my disgusting feet, you would know how much this is both needed and appreciated. Let me just say that rarely have you ever seen dryer skin on feet than I have. I look like I'm part lizard from the ankles down. It's bad. But I'm hoping for a vast improvement!

The Girl made me the coolest present. She went to the Clayroom and picked out an adorable box shaped like an ice cream cone. She painted the cone so it really looks three dimensional, and the ice cream is black raspberry flavored/colored. Way cool. She also made me a pretty shell bracelet with pearls, and two lovely cards. The Boy did absolutely nothing for me, as usual. But he got a couple of gift certificates to Barnes and Noble and he said he would use one on me to get me a book of my choice. I guess it's OK, but I wish he would get off his ass and at least make a card or something. Guys!

All in all, a very successful first night, and we're all fat and happy here.
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Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's a virus

This morning the Boy got up and he was feeling even worse. He was so dizzy he almost passed out and he got a nosebleed, which lead to uber drama and complete panic. He doesn't do well with illness, but blood is way over the top for him. He was close to hysterics, but I got him calmed down, cleaned up, and then called the doctor.

We hightailed it to the pediatrician this morning for a strep test. Negative, baruch haShem. But he's got this weird virus that's going around. The doctor said that the dizziness is part of the drama of this virus, and that his blood pressure is really low, so she recommended eating salty foods and drinking a lot to keep hydrated. The Boy was so excited because this meant he had permission to eat Ramen, something I don't usually allow due to the ridiculous salt content. So we stopped on the way home and got him a box of Pringles, some Gatorade, and 4 packages of Ramen. Now life seems better.

I've got a vicious headache, though.
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Friday, December 23, 2005

Joy oh Joy, the Boy is sick

The Boy came home from school today complaining he wasn't feeling so great. Then he started moaning. Next came the groaning. And the inability to do anything other than lay on the sofa and make pathetic noises. His throat is sore, his skin is clammy, he's all stuffed up, and we all know that if he is sick, then I'm going to get sick. Right in time for my surgery. Shit oh shit. I can't deal with another cancellation. I'm stocking up on the vitamins (pronounced vit-a-menz, like the British, just because) and hoping for the best. He's been drinking out of my water glass. I'm so screwed.

What is interesting about this though, is that even with absolutely no real exposure to sick men, he's learned how to behave just like one. Is it genetic?
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Can't believe I made it this far
Warning, really big rant here.

I've actually made it to 23 December without blowing up with my annual Christmas rant. This is a first. It usually hits me a bit earlier in the season, but I think this year perhaps because I've been so cloistered at home, it's not quite as apparent to me.

But Jesus peeps, isn't there ANYTHING else to blog about right now but Christmas? There must be something going on in your collective lives beyond this damn holiday. I just read a blog that blasted Happy Holidays and told me that the "Reason for the Season" was the birth of "our" lord, JC. Well, guess what peeps. JC is NOT the reason for the season for well over half of the world's population, nor is he OUR lord. He's YOUR lord. Not just the Jews, folks. You've heard of some of the other of the world's major religions. Like Islam. Heck, do you think THEY care if you have a reason for your season? They don't. Their reason is Ramadan and the Eids, and they already celebrated them this year. How about them Hindus? Are they going around screaming about their holidays? I think not. But there sure are a lot of Hindus in the world.

I'm aware that the Jewish world population is small. Heck, if you delightful Christians hadn't KILLED half of our population a few decades back in the name of Christian superiority, maybe we might have reached a full percentage point in the world religion roundup. Yeah, it's not YOUR fault, is it? But can't you just keep your damn holiday to yourself. One or two posts, sure I can swallow that. But when I am OBVIOUSLY not Christian, and it not only says that in my bio (look at the sidebar, kiddos), but it says it repeatedly in the posts, why do you think it's OK to wish me (repeatedly) a Merry Christmas? Is it because you're all so distant from anyone who is not Christian that you just make assumptions that this greeting isn't offensive to some? Or is it because you just don't give a flying fuck whether or not you're offending people, you're trying to make a point that Christmas is the reason for the season. People, WINTER is the reason for the season.

I'm tired of the stinky Christmas crap on TV. I'm tired of the constant Macy's ads, as well as all the other dreck I see in the newspapers, on TV, and everywhere I travel. I hate this frigging holiday because it's shoved down my throat whether or not I want to celebrate it. I don't want to celebrate it. Really. I have NO INTEREST whatsoever in Christmas. Just like YOU have no interest in my holidays. Because if you did, you would know that MY reason for the season was a couple of months back, in the early fall. Those are MY holy days, and I bet most of you don't know a damn thing about them, or if you do, you only know something about one or two, but not all of them. How come I have to know about ALL of the fricking Christian holidays but you can't know even the slightest thing about mine? Anyone see any problems here?

I'm very happy for all of you that celebrate Christmas, but I DON'T, so quit trying to make me feel like a piece of shit for not believing in your religion. I don't care that you're supposed to proseletyze, go find someone else to bother, and someplace else to do it. This is a JEWISH blog, and I'm so over Christmas.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled brag sessions about your trees. Yawn.
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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Featuring Moi!

Hop on over to MommyBloggers to see me participate in the Holiday Question Smackdown. Every day for 5 days we get to answer 5 questions. Want to participate? Directions are right there. So march!

Hippy Holidaze!
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pre-Op appointment number three

I guess it's lucky that my surgery has been postponed twice, because today's anesthesiologist (and I know that's not spelled right but just go with the flow, people) told me a lot of stuff that the other two didn't mention. How convenient that they forgot to mention that I might be intubated into recovery and if so, I could be sent to ICU. And how convenient was it to forget that I was getting a central line, a second IV in the pulsepoint of my wrist, and a third IV in the crook of my elbow.

Joy oh joy. I'm so looking forward to this part of the surgery. He also told me that I would have a sling, something nobody else mentioned, and that my stitches would be the melting kind, but I would need to come back in a week for a postop check.

Plus, they made me do another set of clotting tests, which meant more blood work and I had to pee in two, not just one, but two different cups. You try that sometime. First you do the antiseptic wipe twice, then you have to pee a bit in cup one, put it down fast, get cup number two in position and pee some more, then wipe the two cups and cover them, put them in plastic bags, then put the plastic bags in another plastic bag, and walk down the hall proudly holding a big freaking plastic bag o' pee. What a total PITA.

The best part of the whole experience was that they were running so late (only a two hour wait, and not one freaking US, People, or other gossip rag) so they put out muffins, bagels, scones, donuts, and pastry, plus coffee and juices. Now perhaps you see this as a delightful seasonal treat, but the fact of the matter is, most of the patients there can't eat the damn things. Cardiac patients aren't really encouraged to scarf down the carbs, you know. But shedding all caution to the wind, I gobbled up a blueberry scone and downed a huge 20 ouncer of pumpkin spice coffee. Only raise my blood pressure by about 20 points, but who gives a flying "f" at this point. I did the sudoko puzzle, and the crossword puzzle, read the entire newspaper with a couple of excellent recipes for cookies I want to try out, and still I was waiting. With the broken iPod, waiting that long really sucks.

So next Wednesday I'll be at the hospital (say it with a Spanish accent, it sounds much nicer) getting my heart carved up. Aren't we having some fun here?
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Johnny, what the hell are you doing?

My beloved Johnny Damon is moving to New York to join the dark side. He signed a 4 year contract with the pinstripes. It's a travesty. Not only will he have to have a shave and a haircut to play on Steinbrenner's team, but they have a notoriously horrible locker room. There's no fun in the Bronx, not like there is in Fenway.

I can't believe it. My god, what on earth is this man thinking? Is money that important that he's leaving Red Sox Nation? OK, it's $56 million over 4 years but geesh, it's also the evil empire. This totally and completely sucks.
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I'm so over wrapping paper

Today I spent a goodly amount of my day wrapping presents. Our cup literally runneth over. I'm just so astounded by the good will of so many people, known and unknown, that stepped up to the plate to help our family have a holiday. Unbelievably, not one package, card, or phone call from anyone in my family, but the friends, the many agencies involved in our family's business (wanted or unwanted) and you internuts out there, you did something that I just couldn't on my own.

Someone recently asked why it's so hard to ask for help. I've struggled with this for a long time. I come from the dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families, and one of the things drilled into my head from early childhood is "what goes on in the family stays in the family". In other words, do not think of telling anyone how dysfunctional we are. Nobody in my family asked for help, ever. No matter how bad it got, asking for help was verboten. Somehow, this stuck with me for a very long time, long enough to get myself in a lot of trouble because I just didn't believe in asking, no matter what. Through serious depression, through anxiety disorder, through agoraphobia, I was afraid to ask for help. I was unable to take care of myself at times, after a major knee surgery, but I kept myself quiet and never asked my friends to help me. I turned to the red cross before I would ask anyone for a ride to the grocery store.

Being sick this year has changed much of this. One agency that helped us out and is now long gone convinced me to ask for certain things to make my life easier. One was getting a home health care worker. I was so sure I didn't qualify that for months I wouldn't fill out the application. But finally I realized that I couldn't keep the house clean unless I had help, and so I bent over and asked. Lo and behold, Mary arrived and my house is in order. What was it that made me so afraid to ask for simple help with cleaning? I think that once I admitted I couldn't take care of us anymore, bad things would happen. But bad things haven't happened.

This year, as money got tighter and tighter with mounting heating costs, I knew that there wasn't going to be anything extra. A simple movie was out of the question when we didn't even have enough to pay for food through the month. Then, the whole wish list thing came about. I didn't think we'd actually get anything. I figured most of the wish lists you see on blogs were for family members to know what to buy for the grandchildren and nieces and nephews. But I was wrong. I just put it out there, and people were so gracious and so kind. This is unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life. Mostly, I find that people aren't all that interested in helping, but we know that's because I want them to offer and I'm afraid to ask. But I've learned that it isn't such a bad thing to ask for help. Honestly, this is one of those lightbulb moments for me. Sad that it took so long to get over the conditioning of my childhood, but I'm getting there, step by step.

In the meantime, we have so much to be thankful for, and this year my kids are going to make out like bandits. It's going to be the best holiday ever!
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Monday, December 19, 2005

Man I'm lubbing the internets today

You guys (gush gush gusy) are so wicked pissah. I lub you all. You're making my kids wishes come true and that's just the bestest thing I can imagine. Special thanks to our beloved Belinda, who has come up with the perfect gift for our family with my upcoming surgery and recovery. She hit the nail right on the head and we're the happiest clan on the planet right now. And more special thanks to Emily, who went so above and beyond the call of volunteerism and brought over a big bag full of secret wrapped packages we're all dying to open. Tomorrow, Nita is coming over with some things for the kids, too. My kids are all excited about Chanukah, we've got all the hanukiot out on the sideboard ready to light, I've hidden away a bunch of Hanukah gelt where they haven't yet found it (no easy feat in our family) and I've got 15 lbs of potatos ready to fry. Urp!

Thanks, and thanks again, everyone. It's going to be the best Chanukah in a really long time. Maybe ever. It's a Chanukah miracle!
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Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Girl is Back

And there's gonna be trouble, hey la hey la, the Girl is back.

She went to the movies with her friend after they went out to lunch. Well, la di da! La di da! She saw "The Family Stone" and said it was really sad. Funny, I thought it was a comedy, but she said they all cried. She also said that she "tried" to call but the phone was busy and she "never" leaves messages. I gave her about 50 reasons why she will now leave messages, and some of those reasons are called Chanukah Presents, if you get my drift.

The Worthless Pet, who hates when she is gone, immediately tipped over the garbage pail in the kitchen twice. In the couple of years we've had him, he has never shown the slightest interest in the garbage, so he's definately letting her know how annoyed he is that he was stuck with me all day today. I'm definately second best, and that's just fine with me. Then Worthless Pet starts following her all over the house, which drives her nuts. At one point, after about a half hour of tripping over the damn cat, she says "Mommy, Ringo is trying to tell me something. What is he trying to say?" and the boy and I answer at the exact same time "Timmy's in the well."

I think the Boy has inherited my sick sense of humor. Goody!
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Where the hell is she?

The Girl has been missing all afternoon. She was at a sleepover last night with a girl who lives pretty much around the corner. But she just didn't come home this morning. I called the house a couple of times, and nobody was home. I left a message asking if she planned to move in with this family or was going to eventually come home within the next 24 hours. The whole thing is just weird. I don't get why a parent would take a kid anyplace without at least letting me know where she was going. I'm sure they just went to the mall (if the mom is insane) or to the movies or something like ice skating, but heck, how about a phone call?

Would you take a teen someplace without notifying the parent first?
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Yawn

This morning the Boy had a doctor's appointment at 7:30 am. Yes, a scheduled appointment at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. The doctor, besides being a sadist, was completely dressed in suit and tie and raring to go. The appointment was originally scheduled for 8 pm on a weeknight, but they cancelled it and rescheduled it for this insane time. Getting the Boy out of bed was quite the workout. Moaning and groaning and telling me that it was impossible to get up this early. He's complaining? The last time I was out of the house at 7:15 was probably 5 years ago. I don't do early.

The weirdest thing is, now we have this immense stretch of time to fill. When you sleep late, the day goes by so fast, but when you're out and about at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, what is there to do to fill the day if you don't shop? We hit Dunkin Donuts, of course, and got the requisite lattes, but now what? Blogging before 9 am? Isn't that against the law or something?

We've always been to this psychopharm's home office at night, so this morning was the first time we actually saw it in daylight. As we drove up, both the Boy and I said the exact same thing, "Its PINK". Yes, the psychopharm's very large home is rose pink with lavender shutters and trim. They even have a lavender hose out front. Where does one buy a lavender hose, one wonders? All the wreaths on the windows have large lavender bows to match the trim. As we're walking up the walk to the office entrance, the Boy turns to me and says, "If I didn't know Dr. X was married and had kids I'd think..." and I said, "Yeah, me too!"

One very cool thing about where we live is that every year around this time the local paper publishes the assessment of every home in our city. So of course, it's sort of a city game to check out how much everyone's house is worth. We looked up the psychopharm as soon as we got back. $1.4 million. But not nearly as expensive as his neighbors, coming in at over $2 million. Nice 'hood they live in. Very close to Jason Veritek (the Red Sox catcher and team captain), but he's only in the mid $1 million category. No where near as cheap as David Ortiz (power hitter on the Red Sox) whose in the low $1 million. I love this time of year. We usually take a ride through the really expensive neighborhoods and check out the assessments as we drive by. It's sort of a license to be really nosy.
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Friday, December 16, 2005

Phunky and definately not chic

I've been in quite the funk this week. Not a lot going on to make me down, but there you go. I've eaten a whole bag of Cherry Cordial Hershey's Kisses all by myself, hiding them from the other folks in the house. And I'm feeling rather good about it. The weather outside is frightful, just as the song says, but inside isn't all that delightful. It's cold, the ceiling in our downstairs bathroom is leaking through the light fixture, there's not a glimmer of sunshine peeking in the windows, and even the cat has taken to the Boy's bed and won't come downstairs.

Ellen lost by a hair, and I'm sort of down about that because it proves once again that the Weblog Awards are tilted towards the conservative blogger. Maybe next year the liberals can make a dent. We just all need to band together and nominate the liberal blogs and vote, vote, vote.

I saw Condi Rice this morning on the Today show, and not only did this reinforce my belief that morning television is horrible, but also that she's the sleeziest, slimiest, most two-faced cretin representing women in power. I hate her. She sat up there and defended Shrub's policy on allowing the National Security Administration (NSA) to eavesdrop on the phone converstations and private consersations of ordinary Americans all in the guise of national security. Not only is this unconstitutional, but the NSA is an international agency and is supposed to be spying on our enemies overseas. She went on to defend the US policy of torturing the detainees, like that's an OK thing, and didn't have an reason why it took John McCain to get Shrub to admit to torture and to say it's "bad". Only took how many years? Everytime I think this government has stooped to new lows, they surprise me by going even lower.

Mitt Romney, the flash-in-the-pan Governor of Massachusetts has bowed out of a second termn run. He claims he's done everything he set out to do for the state in his initial term, but the truth is, this was just a stepping stone job in his bid for the presidency. He's handsome, he's tall, and he's a complete pig. You want to know what he did for MA in this first term? Well, he totally decimated the social service of this state. He took from the poor, in food, in shelter, in housing, in social services, in family services, in the court system, and in anything else he could think of. He took and took and took from all the services that help the homeless, the powerless, the children, the elderly, and the poor, and then he decided to leave town. He's going to be a perfect candidate for the Republican Party. If only he weren't Mormon, he'd be running right now.

Going to be making peppermint bark this afternoon. Maybe that will cheer me up.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Surgery Update, Part 3

My surgery has been rescheduled again. Maybe the third time is the charm? Anyhow, it's on the 28th of December. I've already arranged for the kids to go where they need to be, and because it's during vacation, this will be so much easier to coordinate.

So again, let's all pray that this one is the keeper and I get the damn thing over with.
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Just call me Suckah Mom:
Why I'm completely nauseaus right now

And that's not soccer, that's sucker. I love my baby boy to death, honest I do. But there are times when I want to wring his skinny little neck. Today he had a huge party at school. Fair enough. But I got a call from his advisor last night that the Boy had promised that I would make THREE pizzas for the party. Uh, guess who forgot to inform me of this promise?

I talked to the Boy about it and he said that he had indeed promised that I would make pizzas, but he kinda forgot to remind me of this fact. All well and good, but hell, how was I supposed to make pizzas late last night? And even more vexing, how was that pizza supposed to get to school? Gee, I guess we didn't figure out that little problem, did we sonny boy?

I spoke to the advisor this morning and told him that I would make a couple of pizzas and bring them in, but there was no way I could get there at noon. He told me that the party started at 1 for the families, so I planned for 1.

This morning I got up early, made 2 batches of pizza dough, let it rise while the plumber was here installing my new garbage disposal (at long last!), and then made two pizzas. One was an artichoke and mushroom, the other was an extra cheese with pineapple. They were ready exactly on time, but were too hot to actually take off the stones, so I had to bring the stones with me, along with the pizza cutter. I had the plumber carry out one pizza, and I took the other one. As I drove up to the school I saw a friend of the Boy's wandering about outside and motioned him to help me carry a pizza. We hauled the pizzas halfway to hell, and eventually ended up at the party where.....

There was a whole turkey dinner complete with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatos, carrots etc., these amazing buffalo chicken nachos, shrimp, some rice dishes, two different lasagnas, and a whole bunch of other entrees I didn't even look at. Like those pizzas were really needed.

In the two other party rooms were desserts. More desserts than you can imagine. There were at least 4 cheesecakes, tons of homemade cookies and brownies, 2 different carrot cakes, some kind of peach cake that looked great, a ladyfinger stuffed with cherries cake, several regular cakes with frosting, and at least 10 pies including pumpkin, apple, apple-raspberry, and a couple of other pies nobody even cut into.

Of course, I had to eat a small piece of both carrot cake and cheesecake. I can't eat cheesecake. I know I can't eat it, but it was sitting there calling to me. "Boy's mom... come and eat me. You know your heartburn won't be that bad!" So, evil cheesecake made me eat a slice. Man, do I regret it.

Schmoozing was pretty good. I talked to the Boy's Latin teacher who was gushing over him and really just couldn't say enough good things about him. His program director was very enthusiastic about him, too. All the teachers came to tell me what a great kid he was and how much they liked having him in class. Quite a turnaround from middle school! And so nice to hear. I met quite a few of his classmates, many of whom were adorable. I love teenagers. I finally feel like I'm in my element parenting teens.

All in all, a successful afternoon for a sucker mom, especially one with really bad heartburn!
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Chanukah Recipes

As requested, here are a couple of my Chanukah recipes for latkes and sufganiyot. First thing you have to do is buy the gallon size bottle of vegetable oil, a ton of potatos and onions, and get frying! Toss out your scale, stock up on acne medication, and perhaps the giant size bottle of Tums. What? You're eating HAM instead? :-)

CURRIED SWEET POTATO LATKES

For those of you who would like a change from the traditional, here is a recipe for curried sweet potato latkes from Joan Nathan, author of Jewish Cooking in America, The Jewish Holiday Cookbook and The Flavor of Jerusalem.

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and grated coarsely
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • peanut oil for frying

In a bowl separate from the grated sweet potatoes, mix the flor, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Add the eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. add the potatoes and mix. The batter should be moist, but not runny; if too stiff, add more milk.

Heat 1/4 inch of peanut oil in a frying pan until it is barely smoking. Drop in the batter by tablespoons and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat several minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Yield: 16 3-inch pancakes.

By the way, I made this with parve soy milk to have with a fleishig meal. I also used "Egg Beaters," and it turned out fine. Also, I didn't have curry powder, so I used tumeric, allspice, and fenugreeek, and it tasted fine.

As I said, we didn't wait to put them on a serving plate with applesauce. On the other hand, I don't think they would go too well with applesauce. Perhaps a Major Grey's chutney, or some other Indian sauce.

LATKES

Source: New York Cooking by Molly O'Neill

  • 2 1/2 pounds Idaho baking potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup matzoh meal
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups olive oil
  • 1 large jar (16 ounces) applesauce

1. Pick up the potatoes and admire their heft, their pure starchiness. Then scrub them with a brush.

2. Place the onion in a food processor. Pulse the blade a few times until the onion is diced into crunchy bits. Remove the blade and scrape the onion bits into a small bowl. Return the food processor bowl to the machine. No need to wash it yet.

3. Cut the potatoes lengthwise to fit in the food processor feed tube. Find the medium-coarse food processor shredding disk, which you've never used. Put it into the machine and turn it on. Begin feeding the potato slices into the machine.

4. When the potatoes are shredded, put them in a colander over a large bowl. Dump in the onion bits and mix everything around with your hands, squeezing the potato moisture out as you work. Let the mixture drip for a few minutes while you put on a recording of Kitty Carlisle singing "Beat Out That Rhythm on a Drum."

5. Pour out the potato liquid from the bowl, but leave the starch that clings to the bowl. This is good for you. Dump in the shredded potato and onion mix. Add the eggs, the matzoh meal, the parsley, the salt, and the pepper. Stir the mixture eagerly. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes.

6. In a large cast-iron skillet, pour in 1/4 inch of oil. Over high heat, get the oil very hot, but don't set off the smoke detector. Using a 1/4 cup measure or a long-handled serving spoon, start spooning the batter into the skillet. Flatten each with a metal spatula to a diameter of 4 to 5 inches. Do not try to make the latkes uniformly round. Reduce heat to medium and cook the latkes until golden brown on one side. Then turn over and fry them some more. When crispy on the outside and moist inside, about 5 minutes per side, remove and place on several thicknesses of paper towels. Keep doing this until you run out of batter.

7. Serve the latkes immediately with applesauce and sour cream.

Makes about 16 latkes, which is all you should eat the first night. By the end of Chanukah, you should be able to eat twice that many.


SUFGANIYOT

Here is Joan Nathan's recipe for Sufganiyot from The Jewish Holiday Kitchen and after the recipe is her note on the history of the Sufganiyot.

Makes 30 - 35

  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons softened margarine
  • Plum or strawberry preserves
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • Granulated sugar

1. Dissolve the yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar in the milk.

2. Sift the flour. Place it on a board and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, the egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, and the remaining sugar. Knead well. Add the margarine and knead until the dough is elastic.

3. Cover and let rise 2 hours.

4. Sprinkle flour on the board. Roll the dough out thin. Cut out with a glass into rounds about 2 inches in diameter. Cover and let rise 15 minutes more.

5. Pour 2 inches of oil into a heavy pot and heat to 375 degrees.

6. Drop the doughnuts in the oil, 4 - 5 at a time, turning when brown. Drain on paper towels.

7. With a tiny spoon, take some jam and fill the sufganiyot. Insert the spoon in the top of the doughnut, revolve it inside the doughnut, and remove it from the same hole made on entering.

8. Roll in granulated sugar and serve. You can make larger sufganiyot if you like. Whatever you decide, eat them immediately!


Modern Israel's legacy to Hanukkah is sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts rolled in sugar. Sufganiyot are descended from one of the oldest sweets known to mankind .... the Greek loukomades, a sweet fritter dipped in honey-and-sugar syrup. Loukomades were originally wheatcakes fried on an iron grill, then covered with grape-derived molasses. The honey syrup used today as a coating was borrowed form the Turks; the cooking method has changed to deep-frying. This Israeli holiday fare reflects the melding of East and West. The fritter is of Sephardic origin, and the jelly filling and granulated-sugar coating replacing the honey syrup come from Western immigrants, most probably Germans, who ate an apricot-filled glazed doughnut on Hanukkah.

APPLE-CIDER DOUGHNUTS WITH MAPLE GLAZE

Yield: 12 servings

  • 3 tablespoons sugar, for preparing pans
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup nonfat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

Maple glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Coat the molds of a mini-Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray or oil. Sprinkle with white sugar, shaking out the excess.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, apple butter, maple syrup, cider, yogurt and oil. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Divide half the batter among the prepared molds, spooning about 2 generous tablespoonfuls of batter into each mold.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched lightly. Loosen the edges and turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. Clean the mini-Bundt pan, then recoat it with cooking spray or oil and sugar. Repeat with the remaining batter.

To make maple glaze:

In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Gradually whisk in enough maple syrup to make a coating consistency. Dip the fluted side of the "doughnuts" in the glaze to coat. Then set them glazed side up on a wire rack over waxed paper for a few minutes until the glaze has set.


CHOCOLATE SUFGANIYOT (ISRAELI DOUGHNUTS)

Source: LA TIMES, 12/17/97 Cocoa Puffs by Judy Ziedler

Yield: 24 sufganiyot

  • Oil
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Combine 1/4 cup oil, 1 cup sugar, eggs and egg yolk in bowl and beat with electric mixer until fluffy.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir into oil mixture alternately with buttermilk.

Heat 2 to 3 inches oil in heavy deep skillet to 340 degrees. Drop batter by tablespoons into hot oil and cook in batches until doughnuts are evenly fried, 2 or 3 minutes per side. Do not crowd pan.

Drain on paper towels. Roll in remaining 2 cups sugar.




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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ellen is closing in on Garfield

But she needs your votes to get ahead of the Republican guy that posts on Garfield. So please, run over to the Weblog Awards and vote for the Reign of Ellen.

Now, back to ridiculous comments on my blog....
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Boy, there sure are a lot of Christmas Posts out there in Blogland

I've been surfing this afternoon, and pretty much every blog I've visited has had something about Christmas as their latest blog. I've seen plenty of photos of trees, decorated and about to be decorated. Lots of photos of kids and Santa. Lists of gifts kids are getting, and lists of things kids want. Funny tales about decorating disasters and lighting errors. Talk about whether or not to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". I've read about your favorite Christmas movies and songs, and even TV specials. And I have to admit, I've skimmed a lot of posts about what your families are doing for the holiday, because I really can't relate and find them kinda...well... boring.

It's weird. I don't really have much to do with Christmas in my real life. Most of my friends don't celebrate it, nor do our neighbors. We live in a town that is almost 50% Jewish, and that tends to keep the Christmas excess to a minimum. It's easy to live like this if you don't celebrate Christmas. But as part of the blogging community, I'm feeling like I should just shut the fuck up for this month because I evidentally have nothing much to say. We don't decorate for Hanukah. The only thing we do is get the Hanukiot (menorahs) out of the cabinets and off the bookshelves, cover the sideboard with a thick layer of tin foil, put the Hanukiot out, and light them nightly. We have 7 Hanukiot that we normally use, and the last night of Hanukah, when all the candles are lit, it's quite lovely to see. I usually get out all the Sivivionim (dreidels) that we've collected over the years, and spread them in between the Hanukiot. Everyone gets a large net bag of gelt (chocolate money) and we play Sivivon for gelt. That's pretty much it. Really hard to stretch that out into a whole post, never mind several posts.

I can't post here what the kids are getting because they both read my blog. Hahaha, Boy and Girl. You're going to have to wait! But we don't do big presents, mostly it's clothing and items that they need.

I've already wrapped a few things I've bought, but for the most part I've not gotten them anything yet. I'm waiting until the apres Christmas sales! That's the joy of a late Hanukah!

I did buy potatos, onions and oil, so we'll have Latkes for Hanukah. I love them with sour cream, the kids like both sour cream and apple sauce. I'll order some Sufganiot (jelly donuts) from the Kosher bakery and we'll eat fried foods and feel disgusting. What a great holiday, eh? Actually, I love latkes and could eat vast quantities of them. I make several kinds, including my personal favorite, curried sweet potato. Yum.

And to be totally politically correct, I'm going to say Happy Holidays!
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Truth or Fiction?




Bolstered by the fun over at Old Old Lady of the Hills, I'm going to try out this little game with all you readers. Three of the following stories are true. One is false. Your job, knowing what you know about me, is to identify the false statement and leave a comment, telling why you think it's false. OK?

1. I visited the set of Petticoat Junction, met Bobby Jo, Billy Jo, Betty Jo and Uncle Joe and was astounded to discover that the train that rumbles through town is plastic.

2. I had a long torrid love affair with a French-Canadian Shamen who led vision quests through the Senora Desert.

3. I traveled from Lisbon Portugal to Kabul Afghanistan in a Volkswagon Beetle with 3 other friends, all of whom had Israeli stamps in their passports and had to skirt around certain countries that would not allow us to enter, making the trip almost 4 months long.

4. My cousin played on the US Olympic Hockey team that beat the Russians, shocked the world, and won the Gold Medal in 1980. as seen in the movie Miracle.

Hmmmm.... what could it be?
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Monday, December 12, 2005

I didn't need a quiz for this

I could have told anyone that the city I belong in, the city I love most, the only city I'd ever want to live right in the heart of is:

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.
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Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Dog Show


Despite an amazing screwup of The Ride, the handicap public transportation service I use to drive me around, we did arrive at the Bay Colony Dog Show and had the best time. The first thing we went to see were the agility trials. We initially stumbled upon the beginning group, and they were a riot. The dogs were jumping over the wrong fences, and couldn't do the weave, and were having the time of their lives jumping and barking and running around like complete idiots. Totally dog! There were a lot of golden retrievers in this trial, and yes, they're beautiful dogs, but they are slow in agility trials, and not all that bright compared to other breeds like the australian shepard dog. Now those were agility champs.

The next thing was the advanced/expert trials, and this was my favorite part. Not the dogs, but the handlers learning the field before the trials began. It was hilarious. About 50 adults roaming one after the other thru the field, and pointing and talking to themselves, and turning around like they were doing tai chi in front of the tunnels. It was the weirdest dance I've ever seen. We were just in hysterics watching it. Then they brought out the dogs, and man, they were fast. A lot of them disqualified by making mistakes, but the ones that made the course did so in a flash. We just thought this was so fun to watch.

We then wandered around and looked at all the dogs being groomed and hanging around before we went to the individual breed events. I fell MADLY in love with an English Setter and he with me. I felt like stealing him and just taking off. What a gorgeous dog with such a nice personality. The Girl was passionate about the Old English Sheepdogs, who look absolutely ridiculous with their hair all teased up. But they are so sweet. The Girl's friend who came with us was into the Newfie's, Mastiffs, and Great Pyranees. Evidentally, if a dog doesn't weigh 200 lbs, she's not interested! The Boy was jonesing on the Irish Setters, a breed I've actually had much experience with as I had a couple of those nutters.

We saw the German Shorthaired Pointers, the English Pointers, the Gordon Setters, and the English setters do their individual events, and then watched a Best in Breed with a bunch of Hound dogs.

Then we wandered around some more and pet more dogs and looked at all the dog related merchandise for sale. We found the perfect housewarming gift for Belinda when she moves into her new house. We looked at a ton of Ninja Poodles, but it's really hard to tell what they actually look like when they're in their show clip. The poodle puppies were adorable in their puppy clip, though. We saw the cutest matching coats and leashes in sizes from Chichuahua to Mastiff, and they had matching booties as well. Very cute. Lots of Christmas Costume stuff, too.

It was then time for the Best in Class events, starting with Hounds, and moving on to Terriers, Toys (what is it with those mop dogs like the shi tzu and the silky terriers, anyhow?), Working, Sporting, which is my absolute favorite, and then we thought that our ride was going to arrive, so we picked up our incredibly valuable chairs and went to the door. However, the Ride didn't show up, which was the third screwup of the day. I called them and they went through this whole litany of excuses for fucking up, then told me the driver would be there in a half hour, so we went back and watched the Best in Show groups. They did it in two parts, but the end result is that the English Springer Spaniel won Best in Show. He was a gorgeous dog, but I had my eye on the Bloodhound as the winner. He came in second.

We went back to find out that the damn driver didn't arrive, called again, and then again, and they finally picked us up two hours late. We didn't get home until 7 pm and we were starving.

The kids all had a great time, and we were totally doggy satiated. Going to the dog show is a blast, and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet been to one. It's a great way to see all different breeds up close, to talk to breeders about their dogs, and to watch professionals work with the dogs. The judges and handlers were from all over the country, and they seemed to have a really nice rapport with each other that was nice to see.

We got home and ate dinner, and I passed out on the sofa. This is tiring business and an extra two hours sent me over the edge. But I'm in doggy heaven right now. Woof!
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We're going to the dog show!

I love the doggies. Big doggies, little doggies, hairy doggies, flat coated doggies. Doesn't matter to me, I'm a huge fan of the canine. Many years ago, when I was a wee lass back in California I used to try to show my German Shorthaired Pointer, Fritzl Von Schpeckels. He was quite the dog, absolutely gorgeous and from excellent bloodlines, but he was just not show material. He wanted to play with all the other dogs and he got too excited to behave. A shame, because he was just gorgeous and as sweet as sugar when he wasn't around other dogs.

I'll report back when we return. For now, I'm just dancing the dog show jig! Weeeeeee...we're going to the dog show!
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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Could somebody please explain Curling to me?

We got home a little while ago from a shopping excursion trying to find sleds for the kids. We did not buy the pieces of foam that sold for $30, nor did we buy the luge sleds that cost $40. I believe my kids will be going down our hill on cardboard boxes this winter.


Anyhew.. when we got back the kids were tired and sat down to watch a bit of TV. They chose to watch curling. Curling! What the hell is that sport about? There seemed to be teams of 4 people, both men and women. There are 3 broom guys, one behind the huge puck/ball thing, and 2 in front of it. And a 4th guy who pushes the huge puck/ball thing down the ice with the broom folks brushing the ice in front of it, trying to get it into a target. That's pretty much all we gleaned from this sport.

We did get totally into that new lugy-type sport called the skeleton. I'd love to do that. It looks like so much fun to go belly down on this tiny sled around a luge track at around 80 mph. Scary but fun.

So, who knows anything about curling?
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Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow, schmow!

Gack...what a nutty day. I had to take the Girl to her doctor's appointment this morning at 8 am. We left the house in what should have been plenty of time. It had already started snowing, but nothing much, just an inch or two on the ground. The roads were slippery and we got there within the time alloted, and finished up her appointment in time to get her to school by 10. On the way we saw a minivan slip off the road and had to call 911. The car was full of kids, too. We were slipping and sliding on the road on the way back. Totally not safe driving, even for a good snow driver like I am. Dropped her off and went straight home only to get stuck going up our hill. The car was slipping and sliding and I KNEW I shouldn't have driven, but I eventually made it up the hill after battling it for at least 10 minutes and made it home. Everything was uneventful until the Boy arrived home a bit late, having had to walk up the hill as his bus couldn't make it. He was wet and tired and grouchy, and woke me up from a sound sleep with a litany of complaints. Nothing on TV except the news, screaming about the weather.



Looking out the window right before the Girl's school let out, I realized it was a complete whiteout and that there was no way I could either get her at school, or have her walk home. She called to tell me she was going to take a bus that was close by, but the busses hadn't come yet, and all the kids were waiting in the gym watching a movie. Then she called again an hour later to tell me that the busses still hadn't arrived. I was getting angrier and angrier at the superintendent, who should have called school early on, so this wouldn't have happened. At 4:50 pm she arrived home soaking wet, having walked a few blocks from the bus. She was 2 hours late and she was exhausted from walking through a foot of snow. No taxi's were running and nobody's moms were picking kids up because of the weather. We had a foot of snow in little under 4 hours. It was a complete mess.



But that's not even the worst of it. My friend's daughter got on a bus that skidded into a tree. They sent a second replacement bus and that one broke down in the snow. They then sent a third bus that got stuck in the snow and she ended up getting a ride home from the police. What kind of ridiculous school policy is it to put kids in such danger in order to keep the schools open? I am livid. But not nearly as livid as my friend. We'll be on the phone to the superintendent's office first thing, believe me. This never should have happened.

We finally got plowed out about an hour ago, but tomorrow is an inside the house, drink hot coco and watch old movies kinda day. No way am I going out in that mess.

Sunday we're going to the dog show, but we're taking the Ride. They can deal with the roads.
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Attention Comment Spammer

I've put moderation on my comments, so nothing is going to show up on the web site unless I approve it. I apologize to all my other readers because I know this is a hassle and an annoyance that could easily be avoided if the spamming bitch (and I do know who you are) would stop with her vendetta. If I receive one more delightful comment from you, I will be sure to mention what you're doing in a place that promises to embarass the hell out of you. You know as well as I do where that place is, and what you've been doing and why. Delightful to read in this holiday season, especially for one that professes to be a Christian.

Everyone else, go about your business. Show's over folks. Move along.
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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Flashback Friday


This week we were asked to choose a holiday song and tell why that particular song has meaning for you. And it doesn’t have to be warm and fuzzy. It can be goofy, silly, sad, reminiscent, cranky, or any other adjective you can think of. The song I've chosen is David Paskin's December Dilemma, lyrics found below.

David used to be a cantorial soloist at our former shul. He also has released several children's albums that contain strong sentiments about being a Jew in contemporary society. Besides being a wonderful singer and storyteller, David is a delightful person and he has consistantly entertained me and my family over the years with very moving music, much of it sending very positive messages about my religion and my faith.

This particular song, December Dilemma, describes pretty accurately what it feels to be on the outside of the Christmas saga in the USA, and how, as a Jew, you can look beyond the constant Christmas music and the decorations and the commercials and the specials on TV and claim your own pride in your beliefs. When my kids were little, we used to sing this song over and over, and the last line was shouted with great glee.

We still feel that way. We're proud to be Jews, we see the beauty in our own faith, and we don't assimilate nor do we mourn the loss of Christmas. We love that other people have Christmas, we love looking at the lights on the houses and peeking in the windows at Christmas trees, but we don't want or need those things. We have a sukkah to decorate, and we have candles to light, and man, do we have great holiday food. We're going to live our lives as Jews, and we're happy to do so.


December Dilemma
words and music by Rabbi David Paskin

It's the middle of the month of December
The streets now are dressed in red and green
There's a sign up in a store-only nine days more
It's depressing if you know what I mean.

In the mall take a picture with Santa
On every corner you can buy a Christmas tree
The weather says it will be white
on that very special night

Why can't that night be special for me?

CHORUS
What am I gonna do? (2x)
My friends are waitin' on red and white and I'm just feelin' blue...please tell me...
What am I gonna do? (2x)
Sometimes it seems like such a bore to live as a Jew.

My friends think that dreidel is corny
I have to say I partially agree
While s'vivon is nice they'd rather string the Chirstmas lights
Hey yeh, but...Rudolph is no Judah Maccabee!

On the radio they're singin' Merry Christmas,
on T.V. every channel's got the Scrooge
So I sing my Maoz Tzur what it means, I'm not sure,
my dilemma now has gotten really huge…CHORUS

Then one day while my Rabbi was speaking
she saw a mournful look in my eye
She said, "Son I have a clue about what you're goin' through,
and I have a remedy for you to try."

"Think back on all those times with your family
Lightin' candles every week on Friday night.
In the Sukkah, Rosh Hashanah, reading from the Hagaddah
and eight nights of Hanukkah light.

"Could it be - there's more to the picture
More than first catches the eye.
With a gift like the Torah who needs just one big hurrah
Each day the only limit is the sky!

"You don't have to...stand in line or watch the time or hope you find a parking space
No need to...spend your cash on costly trash hoping that it doesn't break.
And there's no...wrapping paper, "tell me later!" temporary loss of sanity.
There's no...assembly or, "what's for me?!" it even comes with batteries."

So I said, "Rabbi, what exactly are you saying?"
And she said, "Son, let me make it crystal clear,
If you're feelin' kinda down, you need not but look around
Being Jewish is full of joy and cheer!"

I think I know what I'm gonna do, what I'm gonna do
I'm gonna spend my time all year long celebrating with you.
I'll tell you what I'm gonna do, here's what I'm gonna do…
I'm gonna live my life as a...Jew!

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Vote for Ellen!


If you're unfamiliar with The Reign of Ellen, it's a can't miss blog currently up for a Web Log award. You can vote for Ellen here. You're allowed to vote every 24 hours, do please head over and vote so Ellen's husband Jason doesn't have a heart attack worrying about winning. Ellen, she's way calmer!
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This is a major disaster, folks

The Supreme Court today ruled that the disabled are no longer eligible to dismiss their past student loans, and that those elderly and disabled that are collecting social security can have their social security checks reduced by 15% in order to repay old student loans. This probably doesn't mean squat to any of you, but it means that I am now going to be unable to provide enough to feed my family. My social security payments are not huge by any means, and I worked 25 years to get them. I'm unable to work, and I can't get any more money or I will lose my social security. When I say I'm on a fixed income, I mean it. If the supreme court thinks that I'm ducking my student loans, they're wrong. I paid ALL of my student loans off years ago. But my parents, those delightfully evil people, promised to pay off one single loan, and they defaulted on it. I didn't learn of their default for years, but the loan caught up to me, and because they had not paid it for close to 20 years, and because the interest was so high when I left school in the mid-seventies, the loan amount had more than tripled from the original loan amount, leaving me in serious debt. I can't pay this loan. They started deducting money from my SSDI several months ago, and I had it stopped, but now they can start taking the money again. How much, you ask. Well, they can take $300/month of my check, which leaves me with a grand total of $119 for food, utilities, and incidental for a full month.

I'm so angry about this I could just scream. Please folks, contact your congressmen and women and ask them to please overturn this decision. They do have the power to do so, by passing a new law. You have no idea of how devistating this news is to me. I can't qualify for food stamps, I no longer have health insurance, and now I can't feed my family. We're going to have to go into a shelter because I can't afford to keep paying these outrageous housing costs when the government thinks it's just fine to keep taking money away from my family. We need this month desperately. They're going to deduct close to $25,000 for a loan I wasn't even supposed to pay. I can't do this, people. I just can't.

Please help by contacting your congresspersons immediately and begging them to overturn this dispicable ruling. To once again pick on the disabled and elderly instead of going for the rich to pay for this stupid war is outrageous. We need you to help, every one of you.
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Another day, another Meme

Candace tagged me today for this meme. I haven't done this one yet, so I'm being a good girl, and participating but that's only because Lost is a rerun tonight. Sob.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Lets see if I can remember. 10 years ago I was teaching at Northeastern University and running my own business. My kids were three and were in preschool at the Gan. If I remember correctly, I was working at Open Market in Cambridge but was still a consultant and hadn't yet gone to a full time employee.

What were you doing one year ago?

Pretty much the same thing I'm doing now. Reading a lot, going to a ton of doctor's appointments, taking care of the kids, and sleeping when I can. I was househunting, knowing that we would soon have to move, and I was trying to figure out how I could afford to move. I was also filing for SSDI and dealing with a ridiculous amount of social service agencies and arguing constantly with the Boy's clinical worker, who was a complete and total asshole and made it her job to fuck up my family as much as possible. I was also getting her fired! Success!


What are 5 things you enjoy doing?

Reading, gardening, blogging, cooking and baking, watching TV.

What are your 5 bad habits?

Insomnia, overeating, laziness, terrible money management, watching way too much TV.

What 5 things do you find yourself saying a lot?

Will you PLEASE empty the dishwasher/do the dishes/do your laundry/pick up that crap on the floor.
Did you brush your teeth?
God, I'm so tired.
(When reading craigslist) What a frigging moron!
What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? (said to slow drivers)
(Said passing a cemetary) You know, people are dying to get in there.

OK, time to tag some more innocent victims:

Nita, Jen, Belinda, Carrie, and Jennifer
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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wiseass comment of the night

We got the most outrageous pumpkin ice cream today at my favorite store, Trader Joe's. After dinner we were all eating a bowl and after I was done I asked the boy to please take my bowl into the kitchen. He replied in a lovely southern drawl, "I can't man. Lost my legs in Nam."

What did I do to deserve this?
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Shower update

Well, things aren't looking up for the Boy. In our family therapy session, we focussed on his personal hygiene habits, complete with the faking a shower story. He hates to be the center of attention when it's going to mean a change in his behavior and he was pissed to the max at being told he wasn't going to be screwing around with showering anymore. Consequences were to remove his Xbox controllers, but even that didn't seem to get him to the point where he was going to agree to showering so I put the parental controls on the TV. That's really a mega huge consequence in our house because it means no movies, Xbox or TV. That pretty much takes up all of their available free time and makes them have to, gasp, talk to each other and find something to occupy their minds.

So today, the Boy's therapist was here and he had spoken at length to the family therapist and he started right in on the showering. The Boy ended up in tears, but I think he's agreed (at least in principle) to shower at 7:30 nightly. He's not happy about it, and he has persisted in saying that he wants to shower at 10 pm, which I won't agree to, but the consequences were upped again when the therapist said that his guitar lessons would be cut off if he didn't follow the agreement. That's serious business and I am so hoping that the kid finally gets that I mean it, that I've got support behind it, and that I'm not giving up on this, or giving in either.

Now the kids are playing a movie trivia card game and entertaining themselves just fine without the television. Actually they're nicer to each other without the television to fight.

The Girl went to one of those paint your own pottery after school today and evidentally made some exotic gift for me for Hanukah. She usually does an excellent job at this, and I've proudly displayed everything she's made, so I'm psyched to see what she came up with. She went with a friend who had never been before, and had so much fun.

She came home all excited because she's raised her math grade from a D to a B- since midterms. I'm so proud of her, and she's even more proud of herself because she just has to raise it up a little bit more to go into honors math in high school. Now that would be such an accomplishment for her. She's just wowing me with her commitment to good grades. What a kid!
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Froogle seems to be back up, too

For those of you who wrote telling me that my wish list wasn't working, thank Froogle. They seemed to be down all day today, which, compounded with yesterday's Blogger made for one heck of a bitchin' computer experience. Just loving the internet these days, aren't you?

What's it going to be tomorrow?
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Monday, December 05, 2005

Thanks, Blogger

I so appreciate the fact that you crashed for hours today and didn't bother to put up a little teeny tiny note on the dashboard saying that you were down. So helpful! Such great customer service. Are you guys trying to one up Typepad? Cause you're doing a bang up job here.
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From both sides of the fence

Melissa is pondering the gift of charity on Suburban Bliss. I've got a fairly unique perspective on the whole issue of charity as I've been in the position of the macher, the big giver in the past. But now I'm in the position of being the receiver of charity, charity without which our family could not survive. Before I get into all this, let me preface it with the facts. I am not on welfare, although I have been in the past. I don't get foodstamps, either. Unbelievably, I make too much money to get a government handout like food for our family. But the way the government looks at poverty in this country is another post or 3, and not appropriate here and now.

What we live on is SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance. When I became disabled last year, I filed for SSDI in order to help with my volumes of bills and living expenses. Because I had worked hard for 21 years and had made a fine income well over 6 figures for the last years of my career, I get quite a decent amount of social security. In addition, both of my kids get a small check each month to pay for their support, especially since their father does not acknowledge their existance never mind send money. With our combined SSDI, we make a tad bit over the federal poverty guidelines, guidelines that do not take into account things like your geographic area or cost of living increases. They remain stagnant and have for many years.

Because I'm over the guidelines, I can't qualify for medicaid, subsidized housing, or foodstamps. I have no health insurance even though I'm sick enough to be permanently disabled. See any dichotomy here? Don't even get me started on this rant!

We do get some help. Jewish Family Services runs a Kosher food pantry and we get a monthly delivery of staple foods. Pasta, canned tomato sauce, rice, peanut butter, juice, raisins, etc. They have recently begun adding eggs, apples, and chicken. No goodies other than graham crackers. With this food, I can keep our monthly food bill below $300 but it's not easy and we do run out of food by the middle of the month. I stock up on staples that we all eat, cheese, yogurt, fruit, veggies. But it's not enough. My kids are hungry a lot of the time. Plus, this is exactly the diet that has put me into the prediabetic condition I'm in, and it's precisely what I should be eating. But I can't afford anything else.

Eastern MA has an agency chartered with helping pay heat bills. Every year I apply, every year I get turned down at least 3 times for bogus crap. Their standard operating procedure is to deny everyone and hope they disappear. One year I did just give up, but the last couple of years I've hung on to the bitter end. You file in September, if you're lucky they'll pay you sometime in July. That's how bad it is.

That's all the help we get. But during the holiday season, the Food pantry takes names and ages of the kids and asks what they want. My kids always ask for clothing because I can't afford to buy them most of the stuff they want. It's what they want, and what they need. But I want them to have more. I want them to have new games and stuff to play with. They need sports stuff, they need sleds, they need things for the outdoors. Those things are so far down on their list of wants, but it's what I want for them. That's why I put up a wish list of impossible items, so they might just get something fun after all.

Melissa is having issues with just buying the stuff the kid's ask for on her giving trees. She questions why a kid would ask for a pair of pajamas when they could ask for a toy. Of course, to me the pajamas make the most sense. The kid is cold when he goes to bed. His family probably doesn' t use much heat. He values being warm more than he does playing a game. I get that. To me, if a kid asks for a practical gift, it's what he needs, but isn't necessarily what he wants. We compare our kids with modern conveniences to those living in shelters, but that comparison isn't fair. You can't get a shelter kid a DVD because chances are, there won't be a place to play it, and even if there was, chances are even greater that it will be stolen. That's just the nature of institutions. She questions whether a pair of mittens is enough, but for a kid who has cold hands, they are more than enough. When kids have only a little, they don't ask for the moon. They understand the nature of poverty much more than you realize. My kids love to look at things we can't have, but they don't ask for them. I have to literally force them to go beyond simple things for a wish list.

One last thing that I mentioned in Melissa's comments is the rotten truth about some charities. Here in Boston, the Boston Globe newspaper sponsors a Globe Santa program. People send in money from all over the place, from small to very large amounts. They raise huge sums of money every year for this program, and yet what they mail out to the families is complete junk. I know that sounds like I'm a spoiled brat, but last year was only one of several examples I can give. We had our social worker certify that we were needy and applied for the Globe Santa program. When our package came, inside it was 1 broken calculator, and 1 extremely soiled stuffed animal. That was it. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not giving my kid a broken calculator nor an I giving a dirty stuffed animal. They went into the garbage. This was the 3rd experience with this program, and our last. I'd like to know where that money is going to, that they buy crap from the dollar store and make people feel like they're giving something spectacular to the poor.

I don't like being poor. I don't like having to ask for gifts for my kids. I have no family that sends presents, so it's all on me, and I'm just not able to afford presents. Food comes first. That's obvious, right?
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Crosscountry Game

When he was not annoying the hell out of us today, the boy invented a pretty fun game that I thought I'd share. He calls it the Crosscountry Game. You only need a road map of the United States (or whatever country you choose) and your brains.

The object of the game is to pick a route from one state to another, across the entire country, and name three cities in each state you choose. You can change your directions to any bordering state of the state you're in, but it's smartest to go pretty much straight through the fewest states you can.



For example, say you're driving from North Carolina to California. Your first 3 cities would be in North Carolina, then you could choose between South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, or Tennessee as your next state, and so on.

This was a lot more challanging than you would thing, and we're all very good in geography. It's also a lot of fun. But you need to have a roadmap so you can check the answers.
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

I got nothing

Snow was on the ground when I woke up this morning, which gave me the excuse to roll over and go back to sleep. That probably wasn't the best idea, but man, if anyone needs to sleep a 12 hour day, it's this old hag. By the time I got out of bed, showered, got dressed, and straightened up my room, it was 3 pm and the day was gone. Shit, and there were things I wanted to do today and just never got to.

Because the kids were stuck in the house most of the day they drove each other crazy bickering and at one point I was considering the option of mass murder. How much time do you think I'd get in the big house? I said some classics today, including this one to the boy: "If you change the channel one more time when someone is watching the television, and I DO NOT CARE if you're only switching it for a second, it's rude and you DO NOT NEED to check up on the scores of every damn football game played in the free world, so if you change the channel one more time, I will take the clickers away from you and you WILL NOT be allowed to sit and watch TV while holding a clicker. Do you understand me?" The moron actually had tears in his eyes at the thought of not being allowed to hold a clicker while he's watching TV. That's how annoying he is.
I swear it, I'm going to train the testosterone out of him if I have to die trying.

Then, later he pulled the shower trick. By now, he KNOWS I know when he fakes taking a shower, but he still does it all the time. He turns on the shower and lets it run while he is really watching TV in my bedroom. I catch him doing this all the time, but he still thinks he's going to get away with it this next time. Like hell he will. He gets out of the 'shower' and changes into his pajamas and I call him downstairs and he refuses to come. So I start the "I'm putting on the parental controls" threat (are you getting that his life revolves around the TV in it's various guises?) and down he comes, hair dry as a bone. He claims he already dried it, but nope...not buying it. So I send him back upstairs and he comes down again with wet hair, but he still didn't take a shower. He did wash his hair, so he's going for 1 day of parental controls and a supervised shower tomorrow. I can't believe I still have to frigging supervise his showers at 13.

And don't even get me started on Ms Snippy. Suffice it to say, anything out of her mouth today was a cutting remark and I couldn't wait for bedtime.

Good times, folks. Good times!
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