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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Friday, June 30, 2006

Britney's stylist found outside hospital

Today I had a day of errands. Isn't it always like that right before a long weekend? We had a lot of places to go, appointments to get to, some last minute picking up stuff to do, and of course we needed to hit the library to get some new reading material for me. My pile has dwindled to only one book on my nightstand and I can't stand for that. I need a good, juicy pile of books.

So anyhow, as we were leaving the hospital in the Longwood area, there was a couple walking down the street. He was wearing khaki shorts and a short sleeved cotton shirt. He had sandals on his feet. He looked cool and comfortable walking mid-afternoon on a summers day.

His partner? Not so much. Walking a step behind him, she was wearing an abaya, (large, black cloak, worn either loose and flowing or wrapped around the body) Al-Amira Hijab and a boshiya (veil). You could see nothing but her eyes and about an quarter-inch of brow.

I understand why Muslim women choose to wear hijab. The Quran states that believing Muslim woman should wear "hijab". Interpretation of this single word is the reason behind the vast difference between what Muslim women wear in different countries. It has been interpreted as simply dressing modestly to wearing an outfit that covers the entire body and face. In Saudi Arabia Muslim women are required to cover themselves completely by wearing an Abaya and a Boshiya (veil) and it is suggested women in other Muslim countries wear the Abaya without a Boshiya. Women must wear full clothing underneath the hijab.

What immediately got me though, was that the man was in completely modern American type clothing, and the woman looked like she just stepped out of the Tales of the Arabian Nights. I've been in Muslim countries, and I respect that women choose to dress modestly. It isn't much different than Orthodox Jewish women who cover their hair, don't wear pants, wear long skirts and long sleeved, high neck tops. I get modesty. What I don't get is why it's OK for a man to completely disregard the cultural and religious dress of his country of origin, but expect his wife to obey the rules and be hot and uncomfortable at the same time. Men in Saudi Arabia traditionally cover their heads with a kaffiyah and wear a long white dishadasah. They do have a style of dress that is very un-western. They don't wear shorts and cotton shirts with sandals. So how come it's OK for a man to disregard this code of dress, but a women must hide behind a completely black outfit over her regular clothing, covering everything including her hands? Why is that fair?

I started thinking about how this whole style of dress that Muslim women wear is incredibly convenient, in a way. Which brought me directly to Britney's interview with Matt Lauer. OK, I had just been reading Us Magazine's take on the interview (harsh would be the best word to describe it) and I thought, if Britney, having given up Kabbalah, had chosen to go Muslim instead of born-again Christianity, she wouldn't have had half the problems during that interview. Think about it. Britney's chomping gum? Invisible under the veil. Talking to Matt alone? Not allowed. Her father or (ahem) husband or brother would have to accompany her. Boobs careening out of trailer trash shirt? Who would know when she's fully covered in black. Eyelashes falling off? Not even visible under the veil.

This is the celebrity answer to looking like crap. You want to go places without the papperazzi following you? Do what Saudi women do. Wear hijab and blend right in with the pavement. Brilliant! How come nobody thought of this before?
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Can you see me doing the happy dance?

Well, I am. All round the kitchen, into the dining room, sailing along into the living room and the front hall. Because I. Am. Happy.

I got good news today. Madame Flute, Cello, her son, and Engineer, the husband are moving. Tomorrow! Now, they're not the most horrible neighbors on earth, but there were some issues that drove me up the wall and down the other side. The recitals, when the clients blocked the driveway for hours. The clients who constantly parked in my handicapped space because they were "only running in for a second". And lastly, the clients who sat on our front lawn having garden parties whilst their little Tiffany was in taking her flute lessons. It was the clients that drove me over the edge, not the neighbors. But the clients are moving with them, hurrah!

They're going to do a bunch of work to update their place before it can be ready for occupancy. Construction noises might drive me nuts, but it has to be done. They have to delead before they can sell it or rent it. And the kitchen on their side. Oh, 1966 wants the avocado appliances back.

I'm just hoping a family with YOUNGER kids will move in. Not babies, but maybe someone who wants to put in a pool (hint hint) and adds some liveliness to the place. We need some younger voices around here.
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Do you qualify for US Citizenship?

Apologies to the non-US readers. This is a very American-centric post. You don't have to feel at all guilty about skipping this post....or you can prove how smart you are against us dumb Americans. Oh, you know you want to! So read on.

Tonight I was talking to a friend, and we got to discussing what it takes to pass the naturalization test to become a US Citizen. I actually had no clue, having been born a 4the or 5th generation American, depending on which side of the family you're looking at. So I looked it up and then took the test. I was surprised at how easy it was. I thought they would ask much more in-depth questions, but then again, I was born here and took so many years of US History in school that I ended up teaching both Civics (Government) and US History to high school students for quite a few years. I read that most American cannot pass the test on the first try. The passsing grade is 80%. I won't tell you what I got, but I passed it with flying colors. Then again... taught it, learned it, now doing it again with my kids.... So I'm not a good test subject. Or I'm too good of a test subject. I wish I could give this to Bush. I bet he can't pass it.

Go take the test. Go ahead, I'll wait. It doesn't take long. OK, it can take forever because there is no end to the test. So do 100 questions. That's 20 different pages of questions, 5 per page. Be sure to check your answers on each page and keep track of how many you missed. The real test has 100 questions, so it's like you're doing it for real. And if you get doubles, hey... more power to you!

Dum de dum, la la la...

Oh, you're back so soon! How did you do?
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I feel kind of stupid

Would you consider me to be a complete sap if I admitted that I miss the Girl already? She's only been gone 10 hours and I'm fighting back the tears. I know this is silly, she's gone to camp for at least a month every summer since she was 9. I'm used to it. But this departure was a big different for us, and maybe that's why I'm feeling so blue.

First, we didn't know for sure whether she was in or not until late last week. So everything was a real dash to get ready. Then, this morning when we arrived at the bus she was crestfallen not to see anyone she expected to see. Of course, the bus isn't the whole camp, most parents chose to drive up to Maine rather than spend the money on the bus, so we don't really know who is going to actually be attending or not. But there was a clique of huggy girls her age and not one of them gave her even a backwards glance, and I think that scared her. She sort of shut down, and that's not usual for her, and then she started making negative comments about some of the people there. One girl was someone she's known since preschool, but she wouldn't even go over and say "hello". She sat like a lump on the curb and looked miserable.

This isn't like her at all, so it broke my heart. I know she'll be fine. She's such a social kid that she can't go one sulking for more than a few hours before she starts making friends. But that was my last glimpse of my baby girl for a month, and that's the face I'm going to remember.

And here come the tears.
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Catching up

The Girl leaves for camp tomorrow morning at 7 am. She started packing at 6:30 this evening. We finished about 10 and she went right to bed. She's taking one huge duffel bag on wheels, and the biggest fricking suitcase made by mankind. Of course she's bring sheets and blankets, pillows, towels, as well as clothing, shoes, entertainment, etc. But this kid is not a light packer. No siree.

She was hilarious trying to close the giant, overstuffed suitcase this evening. I'm too tired to download the photos, but they are funny.

Work continues to be insane. My boss reads my blog, so I can't say anything more, but take it from me....aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh.

Worthless Pet killed a sparrow and left it as a gift for us. He is so thoughtful.

I have one large tomato, still green, on my early girl plant. My cherry tomato plant has at least 8 green babies in various states of growth. With all this rain, weeks have run amok and we're going to have to bite the bullet and weed tomorrow.

West Nile Virus has been found in mosquitos in the next town. Lucky us. Luckier them. It's a mosquito paradise around here, with all this wet.

While at the doctor's office I got to read this weeks issue of Star Magazine, something I rarely get to peruse. The best article? Star's teeth before and after whitening and caps. David Bowie, sue your parents. They were negligent for allowing that mouth to remain in such ugly shape.

I have marked more clothing in the past couple of days than in my entire parenting life before hand. No, that's not true, but it seems that way. Two filled laundry baskets filled with clothing. 10 of everything. Each sock marked separately. Fun filled evenings around here.

I've just today finished reading a remarkable book, A Hundred and One Days, by Asne Seierstad. She is also the author of The Bookseller of Kabul. A Hundred and One Days is an absolute MUST READ if you want to understand what is happening in Iraq right now. It is a true eye opener, not only of the days leading up to the American invasion of that country, but the following days "after the war'" once the Americans had overtaken the Presidential Palace and the rest of the country.

The author is a Norwegian journalist reporting for various Scandanavian, Dutch, and Canadian media outlets during her 101 day-long stay in Baghdad. She writes of her day to day dealings with the Ministry of Media, trying to cover stories but being stymied by the fear of Saddam Hussain's government and the illegality of Iraqis talking to foreigners. She puts a remarkably human face of the Iraqi people, describing their lives, their fears, and especially their reactions, which range from jubilation to disgust at the American invasion and subsequent takeover of their country.

he book consists of three sections entitled 'Before', 'During' and 'After' respectively. Seierstad doesn't deal directly with the questions surrounding the morality of the Iraq war, but does what all good journalists should do - report the facts and events on the ground as she sees them. Inevitably though, Seierstad hints at her own feelings about the war, particularly when the harsh, blood-stained reality rears its ugly head.

Seierstad is also perceptive enough to have exposed those issues which the coalition forces did not grapple with before taking the decision to go to war; the potentially explosive Shia-Sunni rivalry and the growing influence of Islam. Indeed, the apocalyptic views expressed by some of the Baghdadis Seierstad meets regarding the aftermath of Saddam's overthrow have become eerily true since 2003. Throughout the book citizens who speak to her tell her their fears about the country entering into civil war once Saddam is overthrown.

Above all, this book shows that war is not only a destructive force for those directly involved, such as the citizens of Baghdad and the soldiers on both sides, but also for those who find themselves drawn into the war through choice - the war correspondents. Read it for a deeper understanding of what messrs Bush and Blair's 'War on Terror' does to those people who they insist need to be 'liberated' from tyranny.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Papi: A legend in the making

Have you been watching Big Papi this summer? The man, he is amazing. He puts the clutch in clutch hitter. He makes a walk-off look like the easiest thing evah. His smile, it's like the sun is shining. When he hits those bases after another homer, he tosses his batting helmet because his teammates in the dugout hit him on the head so hard, he fears a concussion. They love him as much as I do.

David (Big Papi) Ortiz lives in my town. I keep hoping I'll meet him one day in town, because I'd love to just give him the biggest hug and thank him for making my summers so exciting. He's the father of two little girls who live here with his wife Tiffany and himself, and a son back in the Dominican Republic. Those lucky kids. He cooks, he loves hip hop music, and at 6'4" tall, and a supposed 230 lbs (I'm guessing that's on the light side) he is a baseball player most teams only dream about. That man can hit a home run with what looks like little effort. When he realizes he's taking yet another turn around the bases, he holds his hands up over his head, fists clenched, and a look of pure magic on his face.

His stats, they are encouraging. .267 average. 22 home runs. 66 RBI. In 2005 he delivered 3 walkoff hits. Three. Papi, he is amazing.

Today he had the game-winning hit against the Phillies in interleague play. Then, another walkoff to win the game. It just doesn't end with him. The man, he is the best player the Sox have had in years. This is the second walkoff in a week. He is My Daddy.
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Who remembers what Alone feels like?

I'm relatively lucky during the school year because I have alone time whilst the kiddies are off learning how to swear and make gang signs with their hands. But unfortunately, they come home after a long day of text messaging their friends during class, and my sweet alone time ends. But during summer vacation, there is no such thing as alone time.

Summer vacation just started. They got out of school last Thursday. By Sunday morning I was laying on my bed begging to be left alone, just for a few minutes.

Girl: What are you doing in there?
Me: Thinking
Girl: But I have to talk to you!
Me: Give me a few minutes.
Girl: But I need to tell you something.
(Me thinking, oh, she might have something juicy to share): OK, just let me get dressed first.
Girl: Hurry up

a few minutes pass

Girl: Mom, what are you doing in there.
Me: I told you, I'm thinking.
Girl: No you're not, you're sleeping
Me: Nope, I am just laying down and thinking.
Girl: But I NEED you.
Me: OK, I'll get dressed now.

I get dressed, which takes all of 5 seconds.

Me: OK, you can come in now.
Girl: Are you dressed?
Me: Yup, what did you want to talk to me about?
Girl: I have my shopping list and I need new bathing suits.
Me: That's IT? You bothered me to tell me stuff I already knew and had discussed with you?
Girl: Um, yeah. I missed you.

Rolling my eyes, I give up. There is no alone time.

I'm a quiet person. I love being alone. I'm my own best friend. I can entertain myself very well for months without human contact. I love being by myself. I'm the introvert's introvert. I always have been. I read, I watch TV, I futz around the house, I read blogs, I blog myself, I work some, and I spend a lot of time thinking. I'm no philosopher, I mostly think about stuff that goes on every day. But I like to digest my days quietly, by myself.

Having two teenagers is often trying just because they're not quiet, and they have no idea of what alone means. Twins don't get the concept of alone like other people do. My kids have a problem with personal space. I mean, they don't always respect it with each other, or with me. I need a lot of personal space. Try talking to two teenagers about it. It's like bouncing things off a brick wall.

The Girl leaves in 3 days. I do miss her when she's gone, but it's so quiet without her. The phone stops ringing all day long. I don't have to beg her to do stuff. She isn't blasting KISS 108 at top volume. She isn't arguing with the Boy. It's more peaceful, for sure.

The first summer they both went away for a month of camp I got so depressed I had to take meds. I literally lost it. I realized then that my identity was too locked up in being their mom and that I needed something else in my life. The quiet was oppressive. I was scared and lonely.

Then, the subsequent summers? Not so much. I love the time away from the kids. I love being able to eat and sleep when I want. I love being allowed to spend an entire day reading a book and not being bugged to hit some store. It's a real conflict for me, asking for the kids to leave me be, but on the other hand, glad that they're here when they are here, but happy when they're away too.

I think this must be the beginning stage of empty nest syndrome. I'm not sure I'm going to like that at all. But the again, the Boy is planning to attend college here in town, so I don't have to worry....much.
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Grocery Shopping:
The new entertainment experience

Today we hit a new grocery store, the SUPER Stop and Shop. Not the Super, the SUPER. This store was so fricking huge that when we got inside the door, I looked at those hoveround carts longingly. If we ever go back again, I'm using one of those babies.

This store has a Staples, a bank, a pharmacy, a bakery, and practically every food item ever made around the world. Seriously, the international aisle was two aisles long, both sides. They had food from Malta. Who even knew Malta had it's own cuisine?

We chose this store because we had to buy a lot of stuff for the Girl to take to camp. She needed enough stuff to make the trip worthwhile. We got all the accoutrements for her hair and body care, but what she was most interested in were batteries, disposable cameras, and candy. Lots and lots of candy. Enormous amounts of candy.

See, in camp, candy is like money. You can buy and sell your friends with candy. You can entice people to do what you want with candy. The kid with the most candy is the popular kid. OK, candy in most camps isn't allowed. But for some bizarre reason, this camp has no ban on candy. So instead of smuggling in small amounts of gum and candy, we bought out the store. The Girl likes weird candy to begin with. She's not into most chocolate, although put a Reeses PB Cup in front of her, and she's your slave for life. What she likes most is what I consider gross fruity candy like Smarties, Starbursts, Skittles, CremeSavers, Caramel Chews, DumDum lollypops, Razzles, and Double Bubble Fruit Flavored gum. So we got some of each, and put them together in a gallon sized ZipLoc bag. She still has two bags left over, that she'll probably leave home to eat when she gets back. Nobody needs this much candy, but it's a commodity. She'll come home without one piece, I guarantee you.

Normally, I'd never let her near all this candy, but it's camp, and it's shared, and she's going to be doing a ton of exercise so she'll be fine. Her teeth, woe be them. I would guess a dentist visit will be the order of the day when she gets back.

Tomorrow we start packing. She has to do laundry, loads and loads of laundry to do. Sheets, towels, clothing, bathing suits. It's all on the floor of her room waiting for the washer and dryer. I'm guessing she'll wait till the last possible second.

Funny thing is, we got home, got the stuff put away and we all collapsed into exhausted sleep. This store was like climbing Mt Everest. It was just ridiculously huge. I gotta wonder why a store needs to be that big.
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I'm not exactly worthless, but...

I am worth $1,786,106 on HumanForSale.com

I guess that's OK. Anyone want to purchase me? I could easily pay off every debt I've ever had. And I cook and bake.
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She's a maniac, maniac...

After spending the entire day with a ton of friends at the movies and helping one kid's family move, the Girl went out to eat sushi with another friend. She came home with such a swollen belly that I teased her about my new grandbaby named Sushi-Q. The child must have eaten half the fish in the harbor.

My grandchild Sushi-Q's first blog appearance

Then she started in with her friend, begging to sleep over said friends house. Down on their hands and knees they pleaded with me. It was so silly I had to say yes. How could you refuse that face?

Total amount of time I saw her on Saturday: 45 minutes.
Total amount of friends she saw: 6
Total amount of fun she had: Priceless!
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Remembering 9/11 on the 5th anniversary

One of the blogs I read has come up with a novel and fitting way for bloggers to pay tribute to the 2995 people who died on 9/11. I've decided to participate, and would like to invite you to consider participating as well. You can read all about it here and here.

I think it's terribly important to honor all of the innocent victims of terrorism that fateful sunny September day. This is the day that changed America, and the world. This is the date when it became apparent that terrorism was going to expand beyond suicide bombings and blowing up cars. This was the date that we learned that fanatical islamic terrorists had so little value for human life that they could do such a horrific act and their supporters would dance in the streets with joy. This is the day when Americans saw their President as the fool he is, continuing to read children's books to kids while the World Trade Center was under attack. This is the date that the cabal that is the Bush administration saw their chance to start a war in Iraq, a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, and call it a war on terrorism. This is the day when not only innocent people in NYC and Washington DC lost their lives, but is considered only the beginning of the continuing body count, a count that has been disallowed by the Bush administration from being shown on national television.

For me personally, this is the day when a former coworker and friend died when his plane slammed into the WTC. leaving behind infant twins. Because I lived in California at the time, I saw the entire attack from beginning to end on television. My friend Nina was stuck in the city downtown and had to walk to Queens over the 59th St bridge to get home to Long Island. Talking to her that night was frightening. Seeing a friend's photographs of that day was literally sickening. This is a day where I started crying and didn't stop for weeks. It was a day when I believe I lost the last vestages of my innocence and my belief that people are basically good. Now I believe that there is a lot of evil in the world, and much of it is based on religion. It doesn't matter what the religion is, there is violence attached to it.

Consider participating to honor our fallen friends.
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Friday, June 23, 2006

The luck of the Jewish

Poor Girl. She had to babysit today at 2. Right before she was to leave the sky turned a bit darker and we heard distant rumblings in the sky. She said, "What do you want to bet the second I step outside it's going to start raining." She even waited a couple of minutes before she started to walk over to her job that is a couple of blocks away. Sure enough, she walked outside and the sky started to open up. At first it was only a drizzle, so she set off. Within minutes, this:

The Boy and I stood on the back porch and watched in amazement as our yard flooded. It didn't take 5 minutes to turn from dry grass to a river and a pond. We had close to 2 inches of rain in about 10 minutes. It rained so hard we even got a tiny bit of water by the bulkhead in our basement, which hasn't happened before.

It was raining so hard we couldn't see across the yard. It looked like the sky opened up and dropped an entire ocean's worth of water in front of us. We couldn't move we were so astounded by the rain, the thunder, and the lightening. What a show we had. At one point our very reclusive neighbor poked his head about to watch, too.

It's still raining, and we're expecting more thunderstorms throughout the weekend. The Girl got home from babysitting. They drove her home after they put all her clothing through a dryer cycle. That kid is so philosophical about it all. She says that it's just the way it is, whenever it's going to rain, all she needs to do is go outside and it will start to pour. I guess she does have the luck of the Jewish.
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's Transition Thursday

Today was the big day of transitions here at Chez Changes-are-Good. This morning was the middle school graduation, and now we finally are DONE with middle school forever. YAHOO! The graduation ceremony was fairly short and sweet, and they had a bit of a meet and greet afterwards, but NO FOOD. What kind of a graduation ceremony doesn't have anything to nosh on or a bit to drink in the heat of summer. Harumph.

The Girl looked lovely despite all her complaints about her hair, etc. She definately had the nicest dress of all her friends, although some of the girls, wowee! I guess I hadn't seen a lot of them together, but this school was zit central. Poor kids, it's such a horrible age.

After graduation we got home and changed and I had to go to my last therapy appointment. Actually, I could have skipped it. We basically finished terminating last week, and there wasn't much else to say. I'm glad it's over. I'm looking forward to having that time back in my life.

The guy that took me home got lost and took me on a tour of our town. It was kinda pleasant to sit back and admire all the garden, but man, a lot of houses are for sale right now. Prices are dropping, too. It's a buyer's market all of a sudden.

And the biggest news of all is a great transition. The Girl is going to camp for a month, leaving next Wed. She's really looking forward to going as she loves camp. It sure will be quiet without her around, but the Boy is so happy to have alone time with me. I'm putting him to work, though. He doesn't know it yet. He'll be working through the SAT books and he'll be doing some work for my company surfing the web. It will keep him busy.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Do you have days like this?

Days when you wish you played the lottery so you could win the lottery and just get the hell outta dodge?

Who would have thought that middle school graduation would take more effort (and money) than when I got my grad school degrees? Who would have thought that the trauma would be so magnified as the end of the school year approaches? And lastly, who would have thought that everyone around me seems to be having a nervous breakdown and needs to be locked up for a few days of rest and relaxation?

I'm fine. It is just the rest of the world that's gone nuts.

I had to actually go out and buy a new outfit for graduation. My old clothes are way too big and I haven't bought one new thing other than blogging t'shirts in years. But there was no way I was showing up at Alpha-Mom's R Us to watch my kid graduate in a ripped old t'shirt and shorts. Not that I didn't consider it, but even I have my limits. I got one of those crinkle skirts in aqua and brown, my new favorite color combination, and a brown tank top to match. I'll wear my brown slide sandals, and I'll even carry a purse, not my usual backpack. Yup, I'm a grownup now!

I don't know what the heck I can do with my hair to make it look normal, never mind decent. We're going on 2 years without a cut or color. It's now about 10" of salt and pepper gray in the front, with a nice whitish streak on the side, and much darker in the back. Then, there's another 6 or so inches of brown, and after that, another 4 or 5 inches of auburn. I know skunks with better hair color than I have. I might just bite the bullet and cut off the auburn layer and most of the brown layer. The gray is just long enough to put back in a pony tail, but it isn't long enough for much else. I just don't know.

I will, however, get a pedicure tomorrow, as my toenails will show and need to look delightfully decadent. I'm thinking bronze.

I did do another, much better trim of the Boy's hair today. It looks WAY better than it did, and even he begrudgingly agreed. Tomorrow I trim the Girl's hair. Life sure is busy around here.
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Someone isn't very happy

We go through this every summer. During the school year, I don't care about the boy's hair as long as I can see his face. But eventually it gets so long that shopkeepers start referring to him as my daughter, and people mistake him for a girl fairly regularly. He loves his hair long, but once it gets too long, it starts getting very poofy and out of control, and then he starts whinging for a haircut.

Yesterday was the day. I bought him in to get his haircut and he told the stylist he wanted it shorter, but still long. She gave him a semi-mullet. We were horrified. Once I got him home, I took a scissors to his head and cut the sides and back so at least he looks less like he comes from a mountain tribe in the Ozarks. Lordy, a mullet in 2006. What was she thinking?

He is not a happy camper. He asked me last night if he could borrow a razor to shave his head. No, I think not. But something needs to be done. He's got big hair on the top now, and I think we need to thin it out some.

Poor kid. He said, "I don't have beautiful locks anymore. I look so bad. Oooohhhhhh."

It's not THAT bad, is it?
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Now they've gone too damn far

Some things are just sacred and you don't touch them. You respect them for what they are, because they're a rite of childhood. The fluffernutter is one of those things. It's a New England tradition, it's a sandwich that may not be healthy, but it's so delicious, so sticky sweet, so cloying with marshmallow goodness that who really cares if it's good for you?

Some moron in the Massachusetts State legislature has decided to care. Outraged that his son was served peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches at a Cambridge elementary school, state Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, a Democrat, said he will offer an amendment to a junk-food bill this week that would severely limit the serving of marshmallow spreads in school lunch programs statewide. "A Fluff sandwich as the main course of a nutritious lunch just doesn't fly in 2006," Barrios said. "It seems a little silly to have an amendment on Fluff, but it's called for by the silliness of schools offering this as a healthy alternative in the first place."

Mr. Barrios apparently has nothing better to do than to criticize a sandwich. With all the things going on in our state, why not pick on a sandwich instead of health care, failing welfare reform, DSS cutbacks, and the frightening rise in violent crime. Because, after all, a sandwich is so much more important.

It isn't as if there are no lunch alternatives served in school cafeterias across the state. There are plenty of healthy hot meals served, salads offered, fruits and veggies, but no... Barrios has decided that one small part of the school lunch program should be considered evil and must be stopped. Apparently he's never bothered to eat a fluffernutter with his son Nathaniel. Obviously he has no clue as to the depths one will go to in order to get real Marshmallow Fluff, which is not available nationwide. Seemingly, he has not talked to children and parents in his district before he raised such a ruckus about this delightful sandwich.

I was raised in southern California by a Bostonian father and a Brooklyn mother. My father was a fluffernutter expert, a gourmet in fluff, as it were. Fluff in the 1960's was certainly not widely available outside of New England, so when he traveled to this region, or had friends or colleagues who were traveling to New England, Fluff was always in the suitcase on the way home. I think my mother found Marshmallow Creme in the grocery store in LA once, but it wasn't Fluff and my father was unimpressed.

Now, it has to be said that I don't like peanut butter. In fact, it totally grosses me out. The smell makes me slightly nauseated. I never touch the stuff....unless it's in a fluffernutter. That's the only way I'll touch peanutbutter. So I have a reason to decry the banning of the sandwich. As a kid, if they had only offered PB&J as the alternative sandwich, I would have gone hungry. It's bad enough that peanut butter isn't allowed in elementary schools anymore, but now we're going after Fluff? How dare they? Ban Fluff? Them's fighting words!
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Summer's first Camp-in

The high today was 96 degrees. I did not poke my head outside the back door all day. It was too hot to even look outside. With a bad heart and asthma, heat is the enemy. It makes my breathing shallow, my electrolytes all out of whack, and my ankles swell up to mega-cankles. I really do not do outside in vicious heat. Which left inside.

Inside was not much cooler because I could not talk certain persons in the teenage realm to get off their collective butts and go down to the basement and retrieve the air conditioners. I asked nicely. Then I asked nicely again. Then not so nicely. Then with a threat. And lastly, I kicked one person off the TV and another off the computer and lo and behold, up came the air conditioners from the dark dank resources of the house's underworld. All was right with the world until I realized that one of the two giant extension cords seemed to be missing. We searched high, we searched lo, we searched drawers and cupboards and closets, all to no avail.

This could have been a big problem, but we discovered that we could plug in one of the air conditioners into the wall if we could find an adaptor, and an adaptor we did find. Life was sweet.
The next problem was getting the machines into the windows. The living room one went in without a groan, and I patched the little leaks with foam and tape and turned the sucker one. Hummmmm, and cold air burst forth with the joy of angels.

The dining room? Not. So. Smooth. The window has an errant storm window attached to it. Why, I do not know, since our windows are all brand new and triple paned, but hey, what's a fourth pane worth anyhow? Slowly I began to remember that last summer this extra pane became a pain... in the ass. And here it was again, stuck into the down position and refusing to budge. The Boy volunteered to go outside and stand on the bulkhead and help push up the damn window. The Girl started bitching and complaining and being an all around ass. Anything to get out of work. At one point I stood behind her giving her the finger that only the Boy could see, and he's cracking up and she's bitching about how tough her life is because we don't have central air, sob sob sob. I'm telling you, the trauma of this girl's life, it is sad.

Finally the Boy and I got the window pane up and I picked up the air conditioner and placed it in the window because the Girl has such a horrible existance that she had to go upstairs and sob uncontrollably about it instead of helping. Lo, life was hard for the young teen. So I get the damn thing in, and again patch with foam and tape and turn it on and another hum of joy was heard. And G-d said, "let it be cool" and it was cool.

The Girls comes downstairs, just to make a statement about how cool is so not what she's all about, in flannel pajama pants and her North Face fleece jacket. She proceeds to lay down on the sofa with a big comforter over her and take a nap. It's about 90 degrees in the house, she's sweating profusely, but man, she's making a point. Good lord, will I survive her hormonal phase?

Because it was so hot, it took several hours to cool the house down to where I could have the oven on and still feel comfy. After dinner I had to turn down both units because it was getting cold.

So, what does this have to do with camping? We only have two working air conditioners. They cool off the entire downstairs to a very comfortable level. But upstairs it is hot. Boiling burning hellfire hot. And hot is not condusive to good sleep. I can't breathe when it is that hot, even with fans. I need it cooler. The Boy likes it cooler. The Girl, she just likes to sleep downstairs where the action is.

Right now I have two bodies sleeping on the floor. The Boy is in the front hall on a camping mat with his blue chuppa/blanket. The Girl is in the archway of the living room on a variety of sofa cushions and pillows. She likes luxury in her campouts. She also has a comforter and another one "just in case". I'll end up on the sofa, where I can read with a small light and not disrupt them. Worthless Pet wanders from person to person like he's won the lottery. Bodies to sleep on. Can you believe it?

Last summer we did this almost the entire summer. This year, we're getting a couple of air conditioners for the upstairs. I need to wait till they're marked down at Home Depot. At a point in the summer where the big crush for air conditioners is over, they tend to get really cheap. Last year we paid $125 for both! I'm hoping to get that deal again this summer. Then it will be whole house air conditioning for $250, which is one hell of a bargain.

One problem is, the downstairs is an open floorplan of sorts, while upstairs is 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a large landing with a window. I only need 2 5000 BTU units to cool off the entire floor, but where to put them. One in my bedroom, one in the Boy's? One in the hallway, one in my room? I don't know, but I do know that the ones upstairs are going into the attic for storage next fall. Easier to get them down than up!

Brr, it's a tad bit nippy in here.
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Saturday, June 17, 2006

When a movie makes you really depressed

Is it a good movie? This evening the Boy and I watched Grizzly Man. Yes, I've read tons about it and everyone seems to have the same opinion: "What the fuck was WRONG with this Timothy Treadwell guy?" That seems apparent to me. He was an unmedicated bipolar, living his summers in Alaska with very dangerous bears and not really getting how his relationship with these majestic animals completely and totally crossed the line.

I have a lot of respect for people that choose to live with wildlife. That people decide to give up their lives in the hope of protecting animals is not a bad thing at all. But when someone decides that he has a special communication and relationship with probably the most dangerous animal there is, and nobody steps in to say "honey, you might need to rethink your priorities" I get a bit huffy.

It's like that silly Britney Spears interview Matt Lauer did the other night. She has nobody looking out for her. She went on national television wearing a totally white trash slutty outfit, chewing gum, and making the excuse "we're country" as the reason for driving with her son on her lap. Maybe I'm a bigger sap than you are, but I feel sort of sorry for her that she has nobody advising her. Why isn't there someone saying "hon, we don't chew gum on TV" or "Hon, you don't want those giant nursing balloon boobs hanging out on national TV"? Why was she allowed to speak for herself without advisors helping her to craft better responses? She sounded dumber than Bush, and that's saying something!

So I don't get why someone didn't help Tim either. He had perfectly respectable parents who didn't seem to be remotely responsable for his mental health. They talked about his alcoholism and his brushes with drugs like it was just normal boy stuff. Meanwhile, their son is talking about how the bears saved him from drinking. Okay....

There seemed to be at least three or more women in his life, some claiming romantic relationships, others not, who appeared to understand his mood swings and his inability to rationalize his weird relationship with these very wild animals. Why didn't they find some help for him. When his doctor prescribed an 'antidepressant' according to one woman, he decided not to take it because he missed the highs and lows. Yeah, what adult untreated bipolar doesn't? The trick is to treat the illness before the highs get so entrenched that you need them to feel alive.

I dunno, maybe it's my own personal bugaboo with bipolar disease that gets me so upset and angry when I see a life wasted by the lack of intervention. I just don't get why parents let their children suffer with bipolar disease. I don't get why society still has such a stigma about medication that they prefer pushing biofeedback and additive free diets as better than proven medication help. I don't get why friends didn't try to intervene and say "you need help, Tim." And I certainly don't get why his girlfriend Amie Huguenard returned to Kodiak Island with him and died at his side, eaten by a rogue bear. I just do not get it at all.

I hated this movie. I loved the scenery and the wildlife, but I'm so freaking angry at the way Tim died. It all seemed so unnecessary. Such a huge waste.
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Friday, June 16, 2006

Some family fun for this weekend

I am an insomniac, so I watch the ABC news in the middle of the night. I'm gonna be honest, I couldn't care less about the news, but the talking head delivering it is just so adorable that I'm a close to a stalker fan. If you're up really really late, check out Ron Corning. He's too cute for words.

Anyhow, they tend to have a bit of fluff on the news at that time of night, and last night they had a great story on how to make a safe but big explosion. Nobody loves an explosion more than my family... we're really big on making a big mess out in the back yard. And this one looks to be particularly fun, according to the shots they had on the news.

You only need two items, a 2-litre bottle of diet Coke and a large pack of Mentos.

You open the coke, put 13 mentos into the coke bottle, and let her rip. The Coke explodes upwards of 20 feet. How can you deny this kind of fun to your kids? Here's some video from the news to illustrate how to make the explosion.

Who needs to travel to Las Vegas when you can have the Bellagio fountains in your own backyard? These guys are real artists.

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This is a story you just can't miss

Have you read about the saga of Evan Guttman, the guy that mistakenly left his Sidekick in a Manhatten Taxi, only to have it stolen by a young mother, who used it to take photos of herself, her child, her boyfriend, and her brother? All of those photos and her text messages, emails, etc. were uploaded to T-Mobile, the service provider Evan had registered his Sidekick with. So Evan, using another Sidekick, found all the data from his Sidekick, including the photos, names and addresses of the thieves, etc.

He took this information to his local police precinct and filed a report. A report the police totally fucked up, listing it as a closed case of lost property. So poor Evan had to try and deal with some very obnoxious Manhatten police and one very helpful officer that advised him how to proceed, even after being detained at the precinct by one very arrogant officer.

In the meantime, Evan started a web site to try and talk the thief into returning the sidekick. The website, which is updated very often, has step by step accounts of the entire affair from June 6th, when the device was stolen, up until today. But the web sites aren't all. Since he originally told his story, he's been written up in the NY Times (who wrote the story without ever talking to him, intimating that he might have contacted the wrong person about the theft, which he has not. Had the Times writer contacted him, she would have discovered that the thief admitted her guilt, as did her brother, mother, and everyone else in Corona NY where she lives.), been interviewed on various radio shows, and has been the subject of quite a few internet forums, many of which were pulled down after they broke due to the huge volume of traffic.

Currently, there is one forum that is still up and running, although it has the usual conspiracy theorists and doubters. The vast majority of the international audience following this story have been supportive, helping to host forums, find attorneys, provide legal advice, etc. It's quite a good story of right over might.

So far, nothing has happened to solve the problem. The 16 year old thief's mom is threatening harassment suits because he has posted all this information onto the internet. She's whistling dixie. The boyfriend has left threats in email. Evan has copies of everyone admitting to taking part in the crime. And the police, embarassed by the negative international publicty, have reluctantly reopened the case and classified it as a theft.

Stay tuned for more updates as they occur!
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An alternative to Father's Day

I bet this is gonna surprise the hell out of you peeps. We don't celebrate Father's Day in our family. Honest! The weird thing is, this year we probably could, if I felt I had a reason to expend any energy on this Hallmark holiday. But, for a variety of reasons, I couldn't care less. Similar to my attitude regarding Mother's Day, except I'm here day in and day out, unlike the ex, who is absent in thought, word, and deed.

Never one to refuse a challange, when I received a letter from the state telling me that they had finally given up on locating the ex after 13 years of 'looking' I decided that I would make a concerted effort to find him. I have looked on and off over the years, but never really took it up as a challange until I got that letter.

It took me about 4 hours. During that time I had not only found my 3 former stepsons, but his other ex, his parents, and friends of his. It was a bonanza, including photos of the whole family, and 4 separate web sites belonging to the steps.

So what do I do with this stuff? So far, I've done next to nothing. I showed both the Boy and Girl the web sites, the photos, and let them read what they could about their brothers. The Girl was interested and surprised at how much the Boy resembles his brothers, especially in coloring. The Boy thought the brothers were interesting and shared many things in common with the two younger ones, but he showed a lot of anger towards his father. Anger I haven't seen much of up till now. I don't blame him, but it was surprising to see him express it so succinctly. I figured that it was important to let him express his anger, and then later he talked about how he would like to go to London and meet his brothers someday.

I suppose I should do something with the information, but since I've never been out of touch, and have sent updates and photos twice yearly updating the ex's family about us, I don't really think that writing him directly is going to make any difference. At this point, it's almost too late. I don't know if there would be any way to integrate him and the boys into our family.

So Father's Day is out. Nothing to celebrate, nothing to mourn. The ex looks healthy and happy. The boys are beautiful, all grown up and two already out of college and starting interesting lives of their own. I'm happy that they are all doing so well. It was nice to see, and it certainly provided a lot of closure. I guess I've moved on after all.
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Finger dragged across my throat

Termination. Quite a powerful word. When I think of it, I think of Jim Morrison singing "This is the end, my beautiful friend, the end...."

Next week is my last week in therapy. I'm terminating. Done. Gonzo.

Today we talked about the wrap up, and I realized how far I've come in the past 10 months, since I started this round of therapy. I had specific goals, as one is supposed to do these days in therapy. Of those goals, I fulfilled every one. This doesn't mean I don't have more work to do, because we all do. Nobody but nobody is perfect and I'm happy to admit to my flaws. I work on them, and I'm certainly cognizant of them, but this past 10 months I've just moved right along and started taking control of stuff that I had sort of lost along the way.

Working certainly helps. It has aided in my financial stress, allowing me not to freak out so much about money for the first time in a couple of years. It has given me a sense of accomplishment, and it's allowed my mind to ramp up after a year or so of plain mental stagnation.

I've purposely moved beyond being just the Girl's mom or the Boy's mom. I'm creating my own identity after 13 years of being mom first and me second. For me, one of those 'my kids always come first" selfless moms, this has been an amazing move forward, and I'm liking it a lot.

My parenting skills have improved vastly in the past couple of years. I have gained a lot me self-confidence about the choices I make regarding my kids. As they get further and further into the teen angst stage, I've taught myself when to be involved and when to back up and let them solve their issues themselves. I've let them mature and looking back over this school year I've seen tremendous growth with both kids. I'm not taking all the credit, but I seem to get this developmental stage more than I did the preteen stage. We're doing really well as a family, functioning smoothly and seemingly seamlessly right now. It won't last, but it's good now.

I'm so much happier than I was when I started this round of therapy. I feel like my life is just better all around. I'm not as anxious, or as volatile as I was last fall. My fuse has grown dramatically. I'm easier to get along with. I'm also having a lot more fun. Some of this is because I feel more confident with the ICD implanted. I don't feel like I'm going to keel over and die anymore, which is a great relief. Some of this is giving up driving, which has allowed me to be calmer and less rage-filled. Although when I was going to therapy someone made a left hand turn from the right lane directly in front of the handicapped vehicle I use for transportation. Instead of getting ticked, I just laughed!

This termination thing feels good. I'm very ready, and I'm feeling like we're humming along so well that I don't need to spend time focussing on me. I'm fine. Really fine. And that's the coolest thing of all!
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Just how public are your private records?

I've talked before about how concerned I am regarding internet security and identity fraud. I think any country that relies on social security numbers as the main source of identification in both social and financial arenas is doing things ass-backwards and just plain stupid. Yes, fellow Americans, I mean our government allowing our social security numbers to become part of a public record both inside county courthouses and on the internet. What? You think your social security number isn't available to anyone with internet access around the world? Are you sure?

Betty Ostergren, a 56 year old resident of Richmond Virginia, is committed to making important people angry. She puts their Social Security numbers on her Web site, or links to where they can be found. She does this because she is trying to embarass government into making privacy a priority. And she's making an impression. She isn't trying to make government officials like CIA Director Porter J. Goss, former secretary of state Colin L. Powell, or Florida Gov. Jeb Bush be victims of identity theft, as were millions of plain, hardworking Americans in the past year. She is on a crusade to scare and shame public officials into doing something about how easy it is to get sensitive personal data.

Ostergren discovered that a wealth of documents -- including marriage and divorce records, property deeds, and military discharge papers -- containing Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other sensitive information is accessible from any computer anywhere. Many of the online records are images of original documents, which also display people's signatures. She began organizing citizens and complaining to officials on the issue in 2002, when a title examiner called to warn her that her county was about to put a slew of documents online, including pages with her signature. She swung into action, bringing enough pressure on the Hanover County Virginia officials that they halted their plans. Then she broadened her attack, targeting other counties in Virginia and elsewhere.

Today, she is eager to guide reporters to her favorite example: the Social Security number of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), which is viewable via the Internet on a tax lien filed against him in 1980. She says that if she could easily find Tom DeLay's social security number online, couldn't internet identity thieves do just as well with your records. I think she's got a good point.

Ostergren found that for decades, Social Security numbers, mothers' maiden names and other crucial forms of personal identity were routinely included in dozens of documents with little thought to the consequences. That, in turn, enabled companies such as ChoicePoint to send their workers to courthouses across the country to grab such personal data for their databanks. The information is collated, or analyzed, and sold to other companies and back to government agencies. Just what I wanted to hear. All those things I assumed would remain private, like my mother's maiden name, are out there for anyone willing to dig them up in a county courthouse. Once that information is found, it becomes a valuable commodity and can be sold over and over again to financial database organizations. Now I get why I'm on every junque mail list for credit cards ever created, regardless of the "Do Not Contact" letter I've sent.

Florida is one of the few states that has legally required the blacking out of sensitive data from public records. Why Florida, which has never been known for it's forward thinking? Thank Ms. Ostergren. When she finds a well-known figure, she decides whether exposing his or her number on her Virginia Watchdog Web site might further her cause. Which is how she came to link to Jeb Bush's Social Security number.

She notified Bush through someone she knew in the administration of his brother, President Bush. Soon after, she noticed that the governor's number was blacked out on the county Web site in Florida where it was listed. So she posted it on her site. Ostrander says:

"I decided since he protected his own hind end and nobody else's, I'd put his on there," she said.

Ostergren gets my vote for Woman of the Week. She's my new hero!

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Whoa, jumbled into jelly

We've got office politics going on at work, and the thing is, we don't really have an office. I mean, shouldn't you have an office if you're gonna have political infighting? I'm staying as neutral as I can, but geesh, this is nervewracking. I spent the entire day on the phone dealing with this, and other stuff that wasn't relaxing either. And then, when I thought it was safe to eat a bit of yogurt and watch ATWT, the Boy came home early from school and started right in on the 'can I play my Xbox' whinge. I am so hating that thing this week. He got a new game and thinks that it's his right to hog the TV 24/7 so he can beat the game. Arrrggghhh.

I'm slowly but surely adding ads onto the blog. I know you've noticed. I should have made some grand announcement or something, but I just didn't. So sue me. I need the extra income and I'm hoping that adding affiliates will enable me to earn a bit of extra dough. So clicky click click, peeps. And yes, I know that the buttons on the right are screwed up. I'm too tired to fix them right now. I need to go to bed.

But not until I mention that I got the most incredible honeydew melon today at the store. Have you been eating melon this season? Every single melon I buy, no matter the type, is just more amazing than the last one. I don't know that the heck is happening, but I wish you could freeze melon to eat it all year round. It's that good. Strawberries have generally sucked so far, although they're still coming from California. They haven't yet ripened fully here. Local ones are usually great but then you have to endure mosquito bites galore to pick them. What's a girl to do?

We finally bbq'ed tonight, since the weather has actually been cooperative and dry for 3 days now. Of course, the Girl refused to eat a burger. What kind of teenager won't touch hot dogs or hamburgers? I made french fries because I make, if I do say so myself, the worlds best fries. She eats those. And the green beans. And a pickle. Another incredibly balanced Girl meal!

That's about it. Now go eat some melon.
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Changed my mind

I started to write a post all about a mom's interference into her daughter's life. Mom seems to feel the need to call the daughter's friends whenever there is a problem, instead of teaching her daughter to fight her own battles. But then I changed my mind. Mostly because it's petty and stupid and my posting on this isn't gonna change anything, but also because I'm so fricking sick and tired of teengirl angst I just can't take much more.

But there was another thing I wanted to get off my chest, and it's more about me, a topic near and dear to my heart. I talk too much about my kids, and don't always have much to say about how things affect me. Today in the mail, the graduation edition of the high school newspaper arrived. It was as thick as a regular newspaper, and in fact was divided into sections that look very similar to the Boston Sunday Globe.

On the front page was an article about the boy I didn't get. Don't get me wrong, I love my own Boy with all my heart and I'm very proud of him, his accomplishments, and who he is as a person. But when I was thinking about having kids, I did have a kid in mind. You know, that perfect child you dream of that isn't just gorgeous in appearance, but is charitable and kind and intellectual and a great student and a wonderful athlete and well liked by adults and kids alike.

We all knew such a kid in high school, or at least I did. The kid I knew was Burl Cannon. Smart as a whip, a great student with a great sense of humor, eyelashes to kill for, handsome, and a great guy. I must have filed away Burl's attributes in the "must have" bin, because as I started planning a family (that's a joke, all you infertiles), I surely had Burl in mind as the son I hoped to have.

So I'm looking at the paper and the Phi Beta Kappa headline pulls me in. It's the story of the boy I didn't get, the Burl Cannon of this year's graduating class. Mr Perfection. Listen to his accomplishments:

  • Taken all honors classes since freshman year
  • During entire high school career only one grade lower than an A-, a B+ in sophmore Honors English.
  • Took AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP English, BC Calculus and Ceramics this year and got all A's.
  • Class officer Junior Year, Senior Year
  • Managing Editor, School Literary Magazine and paper
  • Member of Improv Show
  • International club treasurer, Junior Year, and President, Senior Year
  • Freshman football, lacrosse, and wrestling
  • Soph, Jr, and Sr Wrestling.
  • Worked part time at tony Pizza restaurant
  • Taught himself Portugese to communicate with Brazilian coworkers in restaurant
  • Taught himself to play the drums
  • Attending Dartmouth College next year after acceptances at Yale, Brown, and UMichigan.

The only thing this kid didn't do is build houses for Habitat for Humanity and run the Marathon. Now, I'm sort of a realist. I realize kids like this don't grow on trees, and most of us don't get kids that are so academically motivated. Let's get real, if you get a kid like this, it has little to do with your parenting skills and more to do with the personality of the kid.

But, I'm gonna be honest here. I really did want a kid that is amazingly academically inclined. I had dreams of discussing all sorts of esoteric things with my children as they grew into their teens. What kind of drugs was I taking? I'm lucky if I get anything other than grunts and swearing out of my kids before they boot me out of their personal space. I have a gifted child. A very gifted child. His IQ makes teacher's eyes bug out, but he's L.A.Z.Y. and makes a minimal effort at everything. Even so, he got his student of the year award, which kind of steams me, because now he thinks he never has to make any effort whatsoever to be rewarded. Not so, but getting him to learn this is going to be really really painful.

I'm not disappointed in what I got. In fact, I think most of the time (but not always) that I hit the jackpot with my kids. They are thoughtful and nice and will be good people when they are adults. It's more about me, how I wished for a kid that would put me on the mothering map in a positive way. You know, the kid that would earn me mom creds with the alpha moms driving their Lexus SUVs wearing yoga pants and drinking no-fat soy lattes, no foam, from Starbucks.

I live smack dab in the heart of alpha mom country, and they have an amazing talent to ignore anyone who drives an old car, or who wears non-designer jeans, or who doesn't talk 24/7 on their cell phone making lunch dates and hair appointments. I'm totally shoved aside by the alpha moms, even when their kids are friendly with my kids. Most of the time I'm glad to be left asunder because I don't think I've got much in common with alpha moms, but I would like, just once, for my kid to outshine their kid. Probably won't happen because their little Taylors and Mikaylahs are tutored out the yinyang with private lessons and Kaplan classes. We can't compete with that. Compete. What a weird thing to think about vis a vis parenting. But it is a competition, isn't it?

So I got a bit choked up reading about all the successful kids in the senior class and wondering what they might say about my kids. It's all good. No matter what is said or isn't said, I still love them. That's what counts, right?
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Motivating the Worthless Pet

Ringo, our cat, isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. He has little interest in anything other than sleeping and eating. OK, he's a cat, and what can doesn't like sleeping and eating? That's what they live for, right? But some cats do amazing things. They wake up their owners if there is a fire, they scare off intruders, they hunt things larger than themselves, and sometimes they even let their owners pick them up and give them a cuddle. I know, can you imagine that?

Worthless Pet does like one other thing. He likes to go outside. I don't know what he does outside because we rarely see him out there. He tends to walk down every paved pathway checking out the neighborhood, even beyond our large plot of heaven. What I do know is that he is usually around to welcome anyone who drives up, and he has no issue with anything unusual or odd coming to visit, as long as it isn't a (gasp) D. O. G.. If one of those scary creatures comes a calling, Worthless Pet scampers inside and refuses to go out for days.

So, I have a feeling that if we are invaded by something like this guy, Worthless Pet is going to live up to his name. No way can I see him treeing something like this, and then waiting for animal rescue to come and get the poor thing down from a tree.

But you gotta wonder just what this guy's mommy taught him if he's so scared of a freaking orange cat. Too funny!
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Damp but happy

The Girl just returned from her camping trip, happy and filled with stories of fun times. It poured yesterday so she and her friend found the Lodge at Cardigan Mountain, near their campground, and befriended the chef. He fed them pie and gave them candy and other treats. Could a better time be had on a camping trip?

Photos to come, as her friend had the camera. I can't wait to see them.
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Mold under the armpits

It poured all day today. Again. This. Is. So. Not. Fun. First, I finally brought back an ancient rose bush on our property, and it's full of teardrop shaped buds that look like they are rotting from all the wet. I will be so pissed if all my hard work to bring back this pile of thorny sticks to a huge thriving bush goes to naught due to the rain.

Next, my joints are aching. I don't think our bodies were made to deal with this amount of dampness. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm feeling pain in joints I forgot I have.

My girl has been camping in the rain. She is going to come home Sunday afternoon filled with complaints. I'm not ready to feel empathy. The rain sucks. What else is new?

Big wedding tomorrow evening. It's in a tent. With no heat. And guests from all over the world flying in. Hopefully, someone will think to put down plastic runners across the grass because all those high heels are just going to sink in the mud.

We are getting very stir crazy. Cabin fever. We want to go outside and kick around the football in honor of the World Cup. Bahwahahaha. So not gonna happen.

I wish I could think of what else to write about, but the mold under my arms is itchy and I just want to see the sun again. Is that too much to ask?
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Friday, June 09, 2006

This makes me greatful

I'm a lucky duck. I get to work in my house with a nice window right next to my desk that looks out on mountain laurel and rhododendrons with little birds flitting by. My working environment is a vast improvement over this:



Guess who is going camping this weekend. Our motto here at Chez Drowning from All the Rain is "be prepared". Nothing like wearing a full rain suit indoors!

And she's gone, lopsided and weighed down with everything but the kitchen sink for two nights under the stars. OK, under the fog and probably drizzly sky.

The Boy was being artistic this afternoon when he came across this in the garden and took some photos. I think they all came out pretty cool, but this was my favorite. (It is a spider's web covered with raindrops.)

Happy Friday afternoon. Enjoy your weekend!
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

A few disjointed ramblings

Today is better. Not great yet, but better. I read both kids the riot act, and let them know that I'm not taking much more of this behavior. Maybe it sank in, at least a bit.


Am I the only person alive that things that the murder of al-Zarqawi isn't going to change a thing in Iraq? Today's continuation of the bombings all over Baghdad certainly comfirm that thngs aren't going to change anytime soon. I'm so discouraged because this is such a huge sinkhole of wasted effort, money, and especially American and British soldiers. They need to be home. This war is just a joke. I can't even stand watching the news and hearing about more civilians killed every day, never mind the constant loss of soldiers.


My job is beginning to really ramp up, and it looks like I will be spending a lot more time blogging over there and doing research for the blog than I had originally thought I would. It's good, I'm really liking the work and I'm finding it all quite interesting, but still, time is my enemy.


My feet are the size of elephant's feet and sitting most of the day isn't helping matters at all. I need to figure out a way to work and keep my feet elevated over my heart. Anyone have any tangible suggestions for me?


Babies, and more babies are arriving to my infertility blogging friends. It's all just so exciting. Persephone had her twins (both boys) last week, and yesterday Cecily's daughter Tori arrived. Congrats to the new moms, and I can't wait to see more pictures. I'm loving the babies. I'm still waiting for word on Loobylu. 40 weeks and 1 day. The countdown continues.


I'm really not sleeping well at all, which is affecting my sunny personality. I'm grouchy and grumpy and everything sets me on my last nerve. But at least today, after a mid-morning meeting, I got to stop at a lovely crafts store on the other end of town, and spent a bit of time ooohing and aaaaahing all the gorgeous stuff.


Speaking of stuff, and crafts for that matter, have you guys tried Stylehive yet? Do you see the orange banner on my sidebar? If you click it, it will take you to stylehive, which is a collective shopping/browsing experience. All the cool kids are doing it, and man, is it addictive. My passion is art glass. I'd spend every last penny I had on it, if I had any last pennies to spare, which I don't. I love modern crafts in general, but glass... it just moves me in ways that nothing else does. I just love it. It's cool and clear and pretty and so colorful and fragile. Anyhow, if you watch the flash show on my stylehive, you'll get the idea. I put all my art glass links on the badge. I've got a lot of other things to look at, as do plenty of other people. It's so much fun, too. Try it!


Worthless Pet is totally freaking out about the rain. Yes, still raining here tonight. It's supposed to be horrible tomorrow (Friday) with more flooding. Yippee, maybe I'll just buy a canoe. You don't need a driving license for that, right? We haven't had any water problems at all, but we're lucky. So many people are flooded out. It's such a mess, and it just doesn't stop raining. Tonight the 5 day forecast said it would be partly sunny on Sunday, and then another storm. Funny thing is, we had similar weather last summer, only without the serious flooding.


That's about it. Lots more going on, but nothing I can share here. Teenage angst redux.
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Just one of those crazy days

Maybe it's the rain. After all, it's been raining for something like 5 weeks, and this is the third bout of serious flooding in the Boston area. That much rain can really depress even the sunniest disposition. Maybe it's that school is almost over, which means finals week is coming up, and the kids are starting to panic. Maybe it's that I'm so busy right now that I don't have the energy to mediate the constant sniping at each other. Or maybe it's that my temper has shortened to such a degree that if a pin drops I'm ready to start shooting. It could be a combination of all of the above, but tonight I really thought I'd murder both of them. I honestly didn't think I could take one more second of two reasonably sound, almost adults bickering about everything from the color of the sky to who has worse finals. Really guys, life isn't a competition.

Tonight, for the first time in I can't even remember how long, I sent the Boy upstairs for a time out. By the time your kids reach their teens, time outs really aren't the discipline of choice. But I just couldn't look at him another minute without having murder in my eyes. He was relentless. He interrupted every single sentence I uttered at dinner. He told me how to cook things, what I was doing wrong, and how I could improve. Smart ass stuff guaranteed to push my buttons. And then he went after the Girl with such a vengence that I really wanted to strangle him. I could feel the bile rising, so I gave myself a bit of a time out hiding in the bathroom. But I could still hear him. At one point he had gone so far over the edge that I told him he had a half hour upstairs and if he argued, every word out of his mouth would be another 15 minutes. So what did he do? He argued! About arguing. "When did I argue?" he argued! Gack!

And then he caught himself and even he had to laugh because it was just so over the top. Upstairs he went, evidentally watching the clock because the second his time was up he came bounding down the stairs for round two.

Unfortunately for him, I wasn't having any round two. All the time he was upstairs it was peaceful and quiet downstairs. The Girl was reading and I was replacing all the work I had lost today from the three power outages we had at the worst of the storm. Oh, maybe THAT is why I'm in such a foul mood. Anyhow, he comes down and immediately starts in. He wants Oreos, and he wants to eat them in the living room. Not gonna happen in my lifetime, bud. Arguments ensue and I told him that he couldn't speak one more word, period. Not a sound.

In the meantime, the Girl, to get back at him, picks up his charging cell phone and starts playing snake on it. He's seething, but he can't say anything or he's off to bed. This was pure torture, but he really did earn it. He finally worked off his time, said some completely nasty and mean things to the Girl, and was shunted off to bed at an early hour, protesting the whole time. I told him to take his cell phone and play snake on his own time in his room, but he was sooooo done with the rest of society.

He leaves and goes immediately to sleep. Oh, I guess he was just tired and we all had to suffer. Then the Girl falls asleep on the sofa. She's tired too. Hmmm...

It's kinda like when they were three and would just drop from exhaustion after hours of driving me insane. Hump day indeed.

It's gotta be better tomorrow. Oh shit, it's not gonna be. She's got no school, he's got a half day. Please, rescue me!
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why are weeds so noxious?

When I was a kid, we had a gardener that came weekly. Actually, we still do have a gardener that comes weekly, but all he does is mow, and take down an occasional branch or tree. He's sort of worthless for anything else. Anyhow, growing up in southern California like I did, we didn't have grass, we had a ground cover called dichondra. It really didn't need to be mowed much, so the gardener trimmed the shrubs and cleaned the beds, but he didn't weed the ground cover. I'm not sure if this was some deal he made with my father, who could be quite the sadist when provoked, or he just didn't see this as part of his services. Whatever, it didn't much matter. Because when there were weeds, there were us kids to pull them out.

This was a punishment that my parents meted out when they thought we were being particularly obnoxious. Being the mean parents that they were (and they were really mean), they made us weed 'by the bag'. We'd be sent outside with one of the weed forks and a big brown grocery store bag, and we couldn't come back in until the bag was filled to the brim with weeds.

This doesn't sound so horrible now, as an adult, and it certainly was motivating factor for me to put down weed killer on my lawn each spring. But to a kid, this was a punishment that was so horrid, it seemed that death would be better. You see, LA in the summer is really really hot. Our lawn was in full sun, as our trees hadn't yet grown to full height. So we would be scooting all over the rather large expanse of front lawn, pulling those freaking weeds out with such a vengence you just can't imagine the hatred we felt. It really really sucked.

So why am I thinking about this today? Because I had the gall to ask my son, the Boy, to please help me pull some weeds around the tomato plants. Yes, call CPS now, because I'm obviously an abusive mother. Just ask him. First he did the Ahhhhhhh sigh, which means that he's just too exausted by life to even consider stepping outside and getting his hands dirty. But after grabbing him by the elbow and standing over him like a slave overseer, he bent down with a grunt and pulled out a few weeds. It was grueling work. He had to weed a full 10 feet of 2' wide bed, half of which was filled with tomato and nasturtium plants. The torture. The humiliation!

It took him less than 10 minutes to get the bed cleared, and in brown garbage bag terms, he might have pulled 1/4 of the bag, tops. And yet he acted like this was one of the worst things to ever have been asked of him. It brought back those memories of how much I hated weeding when I was his age. Is weeding really that horrible? Or is it just one of those things that teens think someone else should do, like dishes, garbage, cleaning, laundry, and homework?
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6.6.06 and I'm still alive

There are some people that are freaking out over the date. Yup, 666, the mark of the beast. I'm pretty ignorant of why this is the mark of the devil. I don't own a "new" testiment so I can't really look it up, but I do know it's the mark of the devil and that people, especially pregnant people, are hoping that this day will pass without armageddon coming. I heard that people are actually betting on the date, so if the apoclypse comes, how do they collect on the bet? Just wondering.

I know that a few pregnant women online have said that they absolutely do not want their babies born on this date. But the thing is, it's not REALLY 666, it's 662006. That pesky 200 is there evidentally to stop the Omen from happening. Who would have thunk it? I have to say, I would have no problem with this birth date, but the Girl's wacky math teacher's birthday is today, and she's been freaking out about it in class for weeks. I have to admit I found it very amusing that her birthday is today. Could it be more deserved?

It isn't just expectant moms that are fearful. People have cancelled travel plans, afraid to fly on such an auspicious date. I guess the devil might swoop down and pull airplanes out of the sky or something. Then there are the folks that are so fearful that they plan to spend the day praying in church. I figure that this is probably better than playing duck and cover every time you hear a car backfire. Pat Robertson is expecting his premonition of terrible weather to begin today. So tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanos, and hurricaines should be hitting our shores with great violence any second now. According to Pat, anyhow. We all know how sane he is. He probably sees signs of an upcoming "tribulation period" that leads to the Antichrist's arrival in a movement toward one-world government, a single economic system and single religion. That religion isn't Judaism, btw. Or Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

Some funny 666 facts: It's a number that the Reagans didn't want as an address when they moved out of the White House in 1989 to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air. So they changed their address from 666 St. Cloud Road to 668. In 1980, a TV host and others rigged the number 666 to come up in a Pennsylvania lottery drawing. It's a number that is part of every UPC barcode on groceries (a coincidence according to the code's inventor). With biblical coding, 666 also is the number for the WWW of the World Wide Web. Heh heh heh.

Anyone panicking here?
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Wanna see our town nutcase in action?

Every city and town has one. The rabid anti-liberal, homophobic idjit that writes columns and letters to the editor every single week, but just doesn't get that he's standing alone in his viewpoint? Our city has the sad Brian Camenker, anti-gay activist, anti-sex ed in school activist, anti-Aids activist, anti-liberal activist, and basically anti everything that is, in any way, liberal in thought. Between him and his hero Tom Mountain, our weekly rag's conservative crackpot columnist, reading the local paper is almost like a sport. I look forward to getting it weekly just to read the propaganda Camenker puts forth. He's really nuts. NUTS. And now, he has been crucified on the Daily Show. Can life get any better?

Oh, and I'd just like to add that my daughter attended the same middle school with Camenker's daughter, and was in some of the same classes and never once came home with any papers like he claimed his daughter did. Nuts I tell you. Nuts.

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