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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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Mooninites...so not funny!

This morning the city of Boston was thrown into quite the panic state as weird electrical circuit board looking things were found in spots near bridges and highways around the city. Not knowing what they were, the bomb squad was called, highways and the Sullivan Square T-station were closed down, and the traffic situation was thrown into complete chaos. People had to walk to work, people were stuck outside the city with no way to get into town, and in general a whole big mess of chaos ensued. Kinda like one of those scenes from 24 only without the nuclear bomb.

So what was it? A freaking publicity stunt for the upcoming TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. So not funny. I mean, yeah it's funny if you live in Seattle and can laugh about it while working from home, but if you're a working stiff in Boston and need to get to your job for a paycheck, or because you add value to our economy in the service industry, or even if you are a nurse, doctor, or other health care professional, it isn't funny at all. Shutting down a major highway in a large city for a publicity stunt is not amusing. Especially for those that were penalized for lost wages. Not a joke. Not at all.

Turner Broadcasting, the sponsor of this stupidity, later apologized, but you gotta wonder if they are going to pay all the lost wages, plus the cost of the first responders throughout the city, the cost to the MBTA for lost income due to the subway shutdown, etc. I highly doubt it. What a bunch of freaking morons their marketing department must be.

Of course, you can already buy the t-shirts.

I can't wait to see the Globe coverage tomorrow. That has got to be funny. I don't think that the stunt was at all amusing, but the city did overreact to the suspicious package thing. I think we're all just hoping to continue to live in fear. Mumbles called the packages a bomb several times.

Yes, the city overreacted to the lightbright devices found around the city. But on the other hand, what did the idjits at Turner Broadcasting expect? You put strange looking electrical packages under bridges and highways around the city and everyone is supposed to know that it's a joke? I don't think so.

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Feb 2 is National Wear Red Day

This is your friendly reminder that tomorrow, February 2, 2007 is National Wear Red Day. Or National Red Dress Day or Go Red Day as it is better known amongst women. But heart disease, the number one killer of women, isn't just for women. So everyone, male and female, boy and girl, and even your fur babies, might consider wearing red tomorrow to call attention to the epidemic of heart disease in the USA and the world over.

Everyone (men too!) can support the fight against heart disease in women by wearing red on February 2, 2007— Go Red For Women Day. It’s a simple, powerful way to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke. By joining together with thousands of women, companies and organizations, and cities across America, you’ll help the American Heart association support ongoing research and education about women and heart disease.

As my regular readers know, I have a congenital heart defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In some patients, myself once included, it can be a silent problem that you can live with for many years without having a clue that you have a bad heart. I found out that I had HCM in my 20's when I had a routine echocardiogram and the doctor saw interted T waves. I was promptly shipped off to a cardiologist who diagnosed my HCM and put me on beta blockers for high blood pressure. I had no other symptoms for a long time, but eventually my heart, like many HCM patients, got tired and worn out working overtime for so long. Now I not only have HCM, but congestive heart failure. This is a very limiting form of heart disease, and I am fully disabled because of it. My heart just doesn't work well anymore. Eventually, it will stop working at all. I'm a prime candidate for a heart transplant.

Like most people, I never gave my heart much thought. It was just something inside that did it's job and kept me going. Now, it is such a huge part of everything I do that I can't forget it at all. My heart determines what I can and cannot do during the day. It limits my ability to go out and take some risks. It limits my ability to travel, to exercise, and to eat certain foods.

But I'm not alone in my experience with heart disease. Many women, more than women that undergo treatment for breast cancer, have heart disease. Because heart disease is silent for so long, women can walk around with a heart problem and not know until it is too late. So I urge you get your heart checked soon. Call your doctor if you have not recently seen one, and get a comprehensive exam. Keep your blood pressure and cholesteral low. Know your numbers. Take medications to ensure that your heart will remain healthy for many years to come. Know the warning signs of heart problems, cardiac arrest, or stroke. Know that congenital heart defects are on the rise among both children and adults. Too few people realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women (and men), but the good news is heart disease largely can be prevented. Spreading the Go Red For Women message Love Your Heart raises awareness of heart disease and empowers women to reduce their risk.

Participate tomorrow. Wear red to remind people that heart disease amongst women is a common problem that must be addressed. Go Red For Women Day has its own dress code. Wear your favorite red clothes or accessory—a red blouse, a red dress pin, a fabulous red handbag —put on red lipstick, or sport a red tie and red socks. Go red in your own fashion to show your support for women and the fight against heart disease.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The latest in Bush bumper stickers

They're Getting more Accurate Now!

1. 1/20/09: End of an Error
2. That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
3. Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First
4. If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
5. Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.
6. If You Can Read This, You're NOT Our President
7. Of Course It Hurts: You're Getting Screwed by an Elephant
8. Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
9. George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
10. Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore
11. America: One Nation, Under Surveillance
12. They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
13. Who's God Do You Kill For?
14. Cheney/Satan '08
15. Jail to the Chief
16. No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq?
17. Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap
18. Bad President! No Banana.
19. We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
20. We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
21. Is It Vietnam
22. Bush Doesn't Care About White People Either
23. You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
24. Impeach Cheney First
25. Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out Too
26. When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46.
26. Pray For Impeachment
28. The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
29. What Part of "Bush Lied" Don't You Understand?
30. One Nation Under Clod
31. At Least Nixon Resigned!

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Thinking of quitting your blog?

I just read a brilliant post about how to tell when it's time to quit blogging. I highly recommend people read this.

Recently, many blogs have shut down. Of course many more have started up, but those aren't as well publicized or noticed until they begin to pick up a readership. I've read some pretty interesting reasons why people have quit blogging. And in some cases, no reasons at all are given, the blog just disappears. I think that is the saddest time of all, when you have a favorite blog that bites the dust and you never know why.

One of the reasons I liked this post is because there are people who could certainly take a note on several of the points. Like jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone else is blogging about something. Remember last summer's blogfest after BlogHer ended? It was like you couldn't stand to read one more post about that damn conference. The posts were superfluous and, well, just done to death.

Another great point is to stop blogging if you don't have the temprament for it. Since the demise of Trainwrecks, that isn't so much of an issue, but so many people just couldn't take the pressure of being ridiculed on that site. I have nothing but contempt for Trainwrecks, btw.

Be careful blogging about things that are too close to home. This is one I don't worry about myself. I share a TINY portion of my life on my blog. What I don't want to share, I don't. I am not of the ilk that believes that my life is an open book. It so isn't. Nor are my kids lives. I share what I think might be interesting or a teachable moment for other parents, but lawdy, most of my kids lives are so not on my blog. For which they are eternally thankful.

Being bored with blogging. I think we can all agree that nothing is more disappointing when reading blogs that seeing an updated blog that says "I've got nothing." If you don't have anything to say, lets just keep quiet, shall we? If weeks go by and you have nothing to blog about, maybe it is time to take a hiatus or shut down your blog.

Anyhow, I thought this was such a great find I didn't want it to go unread. Hope you all get something from it, too.


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I forgot the tuna fish

One of the dinners both my kids like is tunafish casserole. I don't make it weekly, but every time I do make it they both scarf it up, which is very unusual. Most of the time, the Boy eats everything but the plate and the Girl either complains about any sauce or the food being 'too spicy'. She thinks any spice other than salt is 'too spicy'. My tuna casserole isn't special or different than anyone elses tuna casserole. Egg noodles, tuna fish, mushroom soup, and peas flavored with garlic powder and Old Bay seasoning and topped with panko and a nice thick layer of mozzerella cheese. Easy peasy, right?

Except tonight I was distracted by the bank thing (which is solved) and a bunch of other personal stuff, and I totally forgot to put in the tuna fish. Ahem.

Usually I mix the tuna, soup, peas and spices (shhh, don't tell the Girl) in the bottom of the casserole dish, then add the noodles and topping. I did mix up the soup, peas and spices, and something didn't look right, but I had so much on my mind, I just didn't clue into the fact that the tuna was missing in action.

Even after I poured in the egg noodles and mixed up the ingredients and it looked, oh, shorter than it should in the casserole, I didn't figure it out. I just put on the topping, popped it into the over, and walked right by the cans of tuna on the shelf.

OH! Light dawns over MarbleHead!

I say to the Boy, "I forgot to put in the tuna" and the kid just completely cracked up. He thinks I have alzheimers. I'm beginning to wonder if I do myself! I mean, I have been so forgetful lately and my spelling is atrocious all of a sudden. I know it's just my usual heart stuff, and it's normal for someone with my heart issues, but geesh.

How does one forget the tuna in tuna casserole?

For what it's worth, I opened the tuna, lifted up the baked casserole, and stuffed the tuna underneath, so when I dished it out, you actually couldn't tell. How sad is that?

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

TJX Identity Theft hits me hard

On going through yesterday's mail, I saw a bounced check notice from my friendly BofA. I knew I didn't write a check for the amount they claimed I did, so I went online to see what was going on. Damn if the TJX scam didn't hit me. Yes, I used my cards at Marshalls. And yes, Marshalls is part of the TJX group of stores for which all the credit and debit card information was purloined late last month. Thousands and thousands of credit and debit card account information was stolen from TJX and evidentally sold all over the world. Charges from farflung places like Hong Kong are coming to light as people's credit card bills are charged.

My charge was to Albertsons, a grocery store chain in the Western part of the USA. The charge was on 1/22 and I was not within 2000 miles of an Albertsons. Plus, the identification number they had for me did not match either my SS# or my driving license #. Plain and simple fraud.

Of course, the amount was huge for a grocery store, close to $400, which overdrafted me and caused a bunch of other things to be returned. This mess could cost up to $600 to repair. I'm not liable for it, but what a mess. Small businesses were affected, and it totally screwed up my ability to go grocery shopping this week, as I'll have to close my account tomorrow and open another one. This means new debit cards, and new blah blah blah, and it all just totally sucks.

As soon as the theft of credit information from TJX was announced, I thought to myself, "I've charged so much on my debit card at Marshalls, I'm probably screwed." But it never ever occurred to me that someone would be paying for their groceries on my dime, this alleviating the possibility of me getting groceries for my family. Thanks so much, identity theft people. I really appreciate it.

I guess you all know what I'll be doing tomorrow. It's just fun and games 24/7 around here. Shit!

If you have shopped at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Bobs, or Home Goods and used a credit/debit card last month, you are at serious risk. Make sure you check your bank statements online daily and dispute unknown charges asap. Be careful. This is the wave of the future and all the shredding in the world can't protect you from companies that do not safeguard your credit card information.

I think I might drop in on TJX, which is down the road apiece, and let them know how this affected my family. They need to hear loudly and clearly what fuckups they are for letting this happen.

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Hosting a great Superbowl Party

I hate football. Absolutely HATE it. I'm a baseball girl, through and through. But the Boy, he does love the futbol. He watches it and yells at the TV and talks incessently throughout the entire freaking football season, even if his beloved Patriots haven't made it past the playoffs to the Stuporbowl. Yeah, he's disappointed with the way things turned out this year, but it in no way dampens his enthusiasm for the Stuporbowl, which is coming up on Feb 4th.

He has also asked a few of his friends over to watch the game. Friends that probably eat as much as he does. Friends that do not yet imbibe alcohol. This means that I must host a Stuporbow party complete with many snackfoods for a bunch of loud teenage boys. Man, doesn't that sound like FUN?

Actually, I like the game for the commercials. The best Superbowl game I ever watched was during the dot.com boom when the commercials were just outstanding. Remember Herding Cats? Who can forget that commercial? Of course I have no clue as to what the product was they were hawking, but the commercial...hilarious! Since the dot.com bust the commercials have gone way downhill as far as I'm concerned. And lawdy, if I have to see one more commercial with Jessica Simpson or Britney Spears, I will upchuck all the delicious snacks I'm planning to prepare. But I digress.

On Monday, I plan to be tuned into this live chat, for I need serious help with planning a party for a bunch of teens. Gourmet Magazine’s Executive Chef, Sara Moulton, is working with Best Buy to host a Q&A chat on throwing a winning party for the “Big Game” on February 4th. The live chat will take place:

Monday, January 29, from 2-3:00 pm EST at AskABlueShirt.com

Sara will be joined by a Best Buy Blue Shirt expert who can answer consumers’ questions about upgrading their home theater just in time for Super Sunday. Which will NOT be happening at this house. We just got a new TV. We like it. It is HDTV. It works. It is fine for a football game. Evidentally, to throw a great party for the Big Game, it helps to have not only a million dollar great home theater, but also a great menu. The menu I can get on board with. The TV, not so much. I like decorations too. Maybe I will get these things and ask the boys to wear them...not.

I have nothing to do with Best Buy or AskABlueShirt, but I love Sara Moulton. She's that tiny perky woman on the Food Network that cooks normal food that teenagers like, for she has teens herself. I figure she's gonna recommend something I can take away besides chili and buffalo chicken tortilla chips (don't ask...the Boy loves these).

Otherwise, I'm gonna be serving crudites, which I would hope the boys will eat, but my son will be forever angry about. "Mom... vegetables at a superbowl party? That's LAME."

Oh well, at least I'm not offering pate, stinky cheese and wine. I'm a non-drinking mom at all our playdates and I'm proud of it, despite the controversy that dominated the mommyblogs this weekend.

In much better news, Red Sox tickets went on sale this weekend. Truck day is coming up, and I'm already psyched. Except for J. Drew, who I just KNOW is going to be injured the entire freaking season, the hypocondriac. Him I'm not that happy with... yet.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Not so Trivial Pursuit

For Chanukkah this year, the family got the game Trivial Pursuit, Pop Culture Edition-DVD Version (what a mouthful). We've played it a couple of times, but there is no way anyone can beat The Boy. That kid is the master of pop culture. If only there was a high-paying job for people that know their pop culture inside and out.

Today a friend was over and he talked us into playing the damn game. This is after at least 2 weeks of constant nagging me to play with him, which I declined because not only does he always win, he does so with way too much swagger for a 14 year old. But I said that if Iris agreed to play, I would too.

Of course he took the lead right off the bat, and started in on his gloating. It is funny because it's so darn predictable how he's going to act, but also a tad bit more annoying than one person can take. We're having a grand old time, with Iris and I giving each other hints and trying to undermine the Boy, and he's getting more and more competitive as the seconds tick by.

But it's still fun. And of course, he won hands down. We all laughed and it was great fun.

I made him lunch today, Bird's Nests, and as I was cooking them he said "I love you Mommy" and I said "I know you do." He then replied "Especially when there is food involved."


Life is just a barrel of laughs these days. We're having a lot of fun playing silly games and laughing a lot. The whole atmosphere has lightened up recently. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because we're kind of stuck inside in the cold so we have to do a better job of entertaining ourselves, but whatever it is, I'm liking it.

Finished my scarf and wore it both yesterday and today out in the frozen tundra. It is warm and fuzzy and totally adorable. I love it. It was very weird yarn to work with, a double ply where one thread was the fuzzy black stuff, and the other was a radiating color with the blobs of fuzzy fleecy stuff. Tough to work with, but it knits up fast.

Now the Boy wants me to make him a new scarf, so we have to go out to pick our yarn. I have no clue as to what he likes, so we'll probably spend hours discussing the various merits of guy yarn.

The Girl's taking pictured of herself again. The are not fabulous but she's going for an Emo look. Check out the rhododendron behind the porch. Is that not the ugliest plant you have ever seen in winter? It's gorgeous when in bloom in the late spring, but hidious the rest of the year. We've got quite a few of them and I hate every one. Stupid stupid plant.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Our Morning at Children's Hospital

Today was the day the Girl went for her tests at Children's. The day started out auspiciously when we forgot to wake up the Boy and he missed his bus. Ooops. It was kinda funny because last night the Girl and I planned when we would take showers and set alarms accordingly, both completely forgetting about the Boy. Go us! After phone calls to his housemaster and program director, I took my shower and got out in plenty of time to take a phone call from school telling me I should have him walk there. Uh, no... not in -15 degree wind chill weather.

We all hurried and dropped him off at school just in time for his latin midterm. Isn't he a lucky boy? The Girl and I took off down the road towards the hospital, but it was so cold the car kept stalling out. It just did not want to be driving at all. Plus, there is no heat in our car. Or air conditioning for that matter, but that's really not a big issue on a frozen day like today. We shivered our way to the hospital, used the valet parking to get rid of the poor car, and went inside. Ah warmth. As usual, the hospital was overheated.

We found the radiology center and the Girl still wasn't feeling 'the urge' so they made her drink two more glasses of water. While we waited I read her two books from her early childhood, Runaway Bunny and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. She was so cute, laying her teeny head on my shoulder and listening intently to the stories and then exclaiming "I remember that story" when I was done. She started to read me Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, also a childhood favorite when they called her in.

The ultrasounds too forever. First they did the usual pelvic one, and after all the poking and prodding with the transducer, everything looked boringly normal. Then they let her go pee, and she came back from the bathroom shaking and complaining that her back ached. Just in time for a second ultrasound of her kidneys, which also were normal normal normal.

Back downstairs we headed for the bloodletting department where a terrible phlebotomist stuck her arm with the giant needed of pain to take out many vials of blood. He wasn't very good, couldn't find her vein, stuck her twice, and finally got some of the red stuff.

We hit the valet parking services line, where we waited for a while to pay, and then waited for the car. Fortunately, the car was in the depths of the garage so it was nice and warm, and took us home with no stalling at all.

We arrived home, argued as to who got the couch to nap on (I won) and turned on the TV. Which has no sound. We do not know why. It worked last night. It is not working now. It is still under warranty. I'm slightly pissed off. As in ARRRRHHHHGGGGGGGHHHHHH.

So, no known results, no more clues as to what is up with the Girl, and another week of waiting for our appointment to see the Intimidating Surgeon.

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Finally, I've upgraded to Blogger2

I've been waiting and waiting to be allowed to upgrade to the newer version of Blogger, and tonight seems to be the magic night.

I've wanted the upgrade for labels. The rest is pretty much the same as it always has been, but labeling will allow me to find old posts more easily, and to categorize them according to subject.

Now I can finally get my template redesigned. I feel like I've been waiting forever!


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lincoln-Sudbury parents meeting report

I didn't go to the Lincoln-Sudbury meeting because I don't live in the towns served by the school, but I have been very interested in this story since the stabbing last week. My fear then was that the parents would blame the child that allegedly committed the crime, John Odgren, because he had Aspergers and is on the autistic spectrum. And sure enough, plenty of questions regarding Aspergers have arisen in the media, and on local blogs. One of the more harmful statements came from the head of the New England Center for Autism, who categorically stated that kids with Aspergers are not violent. Not only is that untrue, but it does a severe disservice to the Aspergers community.

Not every Aspie is violent. That certainly is true. But frustration is a side effect of serious inability to deal with social issues, facial recognition of emotions, and an inability to recognize one's own emotions. Kids with Aspergers often cannot understand basic non-verbal communication because they just miss so many of the social cues. Frustration often leads to punching walls, putting fists through windows, and hitting. Anyone who knows an Aspie kid has probably seen this behavior.

When Aspies get older, they aren't only dealing with social ostracism and their own inability to pierce the social aspects of high school, they're also dealing with the frustrations of puberty. That is one volitile mix, one that can lead to some pretty severe consequences.

Odgren was in a special program for kids with emotional issues. It is a closely supervised program and is headed by a psychologist. The classes are small, the program isn't necessarily integrated into the main school community. Most kids that attend programs like this don't go outside the program their freshman year, some never do anything in the main school at all. The programs are segregated physically from the mainstream.

Many public high schools have programs like this. Both of the school in my community do, and so do many of the neighboring schools. Some programs are for kids with emotional disturbances, some are for kids that need alternative education in order to graduate. Some take kids on the autistic spectrum, others do not. Some programs are for the physically handicapped, the blind, or the hearing impaired. But special education programs are almost always within public high schools. In Massachusetts this not only saves a lot of money for the school systems, as they do not have to pay for private placements in theraputic school, which are extremely expensive, but it also fulfills Massachusetts laws regarding inclusion.

Tonight, at Lincoln-Sudbury, parents questioned why this program was allowed in their school. This was the thing I was most fearful about, that it would jeopardize a successful program due to fear. I understand the fear. I certainly empathize with the parents who don't necessarily understand why a child with such severe problems was in this school setting. I don't either. Why wasn't he in a theraputic setting? Was it due to economics, as it so often is, or was it because Odgren had never before exhibited any aggressive signs?

It has been stated that his hyperfocus was on death, weapons, and forensics. But how many other kids are focussed on those topics and don't commit murder? It isn't fair to assume that just because a child is in a special education program means that he can't be trusted. And that seems to be what the angry parents are implying.

Life is so hard for kids on the spectrum. Any kid in a protected special ed program has enough on his plate without having to worry about whether or not his program is going to be abandoned. This discussion isn't going to just be at this school. It's going to be at our schools, at the Franklin schools, the Brookline schools, the Belmont schools, and any other schools that offer a public education to special needs kids with emotional issues. In MA we have extra protections for Special Education that other states do not offer. But IDEA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, states that children with special needs are required to recieve FAPE, a free and public education, just like every other kid in America. Every kid.

I'd be happy if people could remember that and not want to put these twice exceptional kids away in hiding like they did back in the 19th century. We've moved past that.


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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another bang-up job by the Boy

Tonight the Boy was bugging the Girl, as usual, and some altercation happened while she was holding a large glass bowl. The bowl fell on the floor and shattered.

Since it was the Boy that started the problem, it was also his responsibility to clean up the mess. He wasn't pleased with that, and had to go upstairs to calm down for a few minutes. When he came down, he got out the broom and dustpan and went at it. My big mistake was not to supervise him, but he would have gone ballistic had I told him he missed a spot. Ahem.

The Girl walked in a bit later and we hear "Boy, come in here." He looks at me and starts to argue and I make him get up and go into the kitchen. "Uh, Nice Job" she says.

I still don't get up.

He evidentally looked down at the floor and said, "Someone put that there. I would have never have left that there."

"Well, you did."

Then picks up the big piece of glass and puts it into a box under the shelf. Not the garbage, mind you, but tries to hide it in a box.

The Girl gets out the broom and dustpan and sweeps up a few of the little shards he, um, missed.

He, on the other hand, runs upstairs and hides in his room.

Then, after the Girl gets it all swept up, she picks up my hoodie that the Boy had been wearing earlier and had left dumped on the back stairs, and finds another large piece of glass in the pocket. Yeah, because glass flys up three stairs and lodges conveniently in the pocket of my jacket.

It was so pathetic, the Girl and I were in hysterics. You gotta see the humor in this.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The new high school palace will be built

I'm so bummed. Our city has been so wrapped up in the plans for the new high school that pretty much nothing else is happening. We've gone through enough trauma over this freaking school to make any citizen consider packing up and moving to Antartica. Yeah, it's that bad. The highlights are difficult to follow, so sit down with a nice alcoholic beverage and I'll try to enlighten you.

The city has two high schools. North and South. North was last updated when the original single high school was divided into two separate districts in the late 1960's. North was built on the other side of the site from the former high school and opened in 1970. The current building looks like a prison. It is a red brick monstrosity with few windows, iron stairs on the outside of the building, and is architecturally hideous. It is also a 'sick building' with terrible air quality, an inadequate HVAC system, no windows that open, many classrooms with no windows at all, and is falling apart. Evidentally schools are only made to last about 30 years, since the city has been discussing either remodeling this building, or building a new high school since 1999.

It was determined by the Aldermen that remodeling wasn't feasible and thus the city determined that a new school would be built. Yeah, that wasn't the most popular decision, plus it is very costly. Throughout the last 3 years plans were drawn up, meeting upon meetings were held, and the Aldermen decided upon a site plan that was very unpopular with the city. So unpopular in fact, that the a group was formed to get this site plan put to a popular vote.

Oh man, that was a mess and a half. Although there were way over the requisite amount of signatures for a ballot initiative, the former election commissioner for the city claimed that there were not enough votes and the initiative failed. But the committee formed to put the initiative on the ballot, and our local newspaper found that hard to believe, so they challanced the count. They did so by sitting down and counting the signatures and validating them themselves. Turned out that the election commissioner "lost" something like 15 pages of signatures that were never validated. But the recount showed that there were indeed more than enough signatures and thus the ballot initiative passed.

While waiting for the vote, which was today, lawn signs were posted all over town, the local blogs were filled with posts about the pros and cons of the site plan and the extreme cost of the plan, the Mayor made statements about how we would lose goverment funds of $46 million if we didn't vote for the site plan, there were questions about the low interest loans given by the state, and plenty of propaganda was bandied about. The city newspaper was filled to the brim with articles and editorials. The letters to the editor were chock full of opinions on this one topic.

In other words, the city was completely and totally fixated on this vote. Every conversation I've had with friends here in the city have been been partly about the vote. I've discussed the pros and cons so often I feel like I'm consumed with this damn high school. I swung back and forth like a pendulum on how I was going to vote, and only decided in the past couple of days which way I was leaning.

I voted against the school. I did so because I think it is vastly too expensive, it isn't a green school, it is planned by an architect (Graham Gund) who is very famous, but has only designed one school before, and that was for the Walt Disney Corporation. The site plan he submitted is ridiculous. It is very overpriced, it makes poor use of the site, it makes all the outdoor athletic stadiums and fields obsolete so we have to rebuild the entire site, and lastly it has classrooms that are way too small.

I do want a new school to be built, but not that school. I happen to love much of Graham Gund's work. The library he did for the Town of Lincoln is one of my favorite local buildings. I think he's very talented. But this plan isn't his best work, and it is going to cost our city so much money that all the other city buildings, schools, firestations, and city hall, are going to fall into even more disrepair. There simply isn't enough money to build this building and keep up the other buildings as well, all of which are crumbling from a lack of care.

Because we cannot raise property taxes without a vote for an override, and because the last override almost tore apart the city, the Mayor has vowed to build the school without an override. That isn't going to happen. Now it has come to light that the site plan left out a large amount of cost details, and the $146 million now looks more like $151 million. This is way outside the realm of reality based funding. I don't know who is going to pay for it, but you can bet that seniors and the poor aren't going to be happy with any additional tax burden.

Well, what's done is done. We need to find a way to end the devisiveness and keep the city from becoming even more divided. I can't say I'm happy about the vote. It has nothing to do with our immediate schooling plans, since my kids go to another school, but the point is, it isn't fair for the kids currently enrolled at North to have to suffer through another year with the present school, but the new plans aren't going to be much better. Prettier, perhaps, but not a lot better.


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Local Family Kicked of Air Trans Flight

We've all been on the plane flight from hell. Let's face it, air travel isn't fun in the best of times, and after 9/11 it has taken on a new depth of distaste. Between the checkin lines, the food or lack thereof, the teeny seats, and being squished into an aluminum tube filled with rancid air and too many people, nothing about flying is fun except getting to your destination alive, unharmed, and with all your luggage.

But for one local family visiting Ft. Myers Florida, airplane travel reached a new version of hell when they were kicked off an Air Trans airplane bound for Boston. Their crime? A crying toddler. Yep, Julie and Gerry Kulesza were removed from the plane because their 3-year old daughter Elly pitched a fit and cried before takeoff. The plane, which had already been delayed 15 minutes, was waiting to take off when the Kulesza's boarded with Elly. Elly, who had had a great day so far, according to her mother, didn't want to sit in her own seat. The flight attendants insisted that she sit in her seat and buckle her seatbelt NOW, and didn't give the family any time to calm her down. When Elly continued to cry, they were removed from the plane. Not surprisingly, the family has vowed never to fly Air Trans again.

This is a controversial topic. Business flyers probably applaud the removal of the family. Many people say that children don't belong on airplanes. When babies on planes cry, a collective groan is heard from the surrounding passengers. When boarding a plane, people that are seated near a young child or baby ask to have their seats changed. The deal is, children cry. They cry in homes, cars, schools, and on airplanes. Get over it. Everyone was a child once, and people tolerated your crappy behavior. Now it is time to return the favor.

However, with that said, it is the obligation of the parents when flying with a child to keep the child under control. Yes, it is difficult. Try flying with toddler twins and get back to me on how tough it is to control your one child. I know that children tend to be antsy during flights. So plan ahead. Bring enough stuff to entertain them. Have they carry their own backpack and snacks. Keep them occupied and interested in games, toys, and snacks. Don't read a book or a magazine, engage your child and make sure that s/he is not bothering the people behind you or kicking the seat in front of you. If your child is not behaving, take a walk down the aisle to the bathrooms, go inside, and read the riot act. But don't bother other passengers. We know you love your darling little child, but don't expect that everyone else does.

Finally, Trans Air, you suck. You didn't even give the parents a chance to calm down their daughter. Just because your plane is a tad bit late doesn't mean that you have the right to toss this family off their flight. That is way too extreme. Yes, I understand that the child was not sitting in her seat, something the parents were working on. If, instead of tossing them off the plane, you offered the child a small token, like a wings pin, if she sat in her seat, maybe that might have worked wonders. Did you even try? No, you did not.

Man this pisses me off.


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Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging for Choice

Today is Blog for Choice Day. This isn't a national holiday nor is it anything that our current government would sanction, being anti-women and anti-choice. But it is something that I ferverently believe in: a woman's right to choose.

Choice is a word that is often misused or misunderstood in the anti-choice parlance. They use choice as word synonymous with pro-abortion. I don't know anyone in the choice movement that I have been a part of for many years who is pro-abortion. I certainly am not. I do believe, however, that my own personal beliefs about choice should never be inflicted on another woman regarding pregnancy. If I chose not to have an abortion, that is my decision and mine alone. But that is not how the anti-choice people see it. They believe in government intervention into the wombs of American women. They also believe that the American government has the right to tell women in other countries that choice is not an option. They believe that every single woman has no right to determine whether or not she should become a mother, especially a mother to an unwanted child.

Well, I think this is an erroneous way of thinking. It is dangerous and frightening to me, to think that the white males currently running our government into the ground by ignoring the constitution and passing laws that are heinous and very anti-women should think that they have the right to control my reproduction. They do not. The only person who has that right is, again, me. They do not have the right to force women to carry to term an unwanted baby. A baby that might have been conceived from rape or forced sex. A baby that might be abused or neglected. A baby that could be born addicted to drugs or have fetal alcohol syndrome.

These same people don't support social services to help these forced families once that baby is born, do they? They don't take FAS or crack babies into their homes to care for them, do they? Instead they believe in violence and intimidation to try and force doctors that perform termination procedures out of business. They tell lies to vulnerable women, saying that the only sure method of birth control is abstinence. Because, after all, women should be ignoring their sex drives, the jezabels. Women should never have sex unless it is to procreate. Birth control is wrong, too. If you don't want to live with the consequences of sex, then don't participate. It's ludicrous. It's blindingly stupid. And it damaging to the culture and to our nation.

Women aren't chattel anymore, except in the eyes of the anti-choice movement. They believe that men have the right to dictate what women do with their sexuality and their reproductive rights. I don't. I won't ever. I will not for my teenage daughter, I will not for my teenage son. I am honest about sex with my children. I have never told them that sex is something special for married men and women because that's a lie. You do not have to be married to have sex. 51% of all live births in this country are to single women. This isn't a social aberration anymore, it is a fact of life. Single mothers aren't just black women in the ghetto anymore, welfare moms with Cadillacs according to Ronald Reagan, a famous anti-choice politician. Single women are choosing to adopt as well have have biological children. They use reproductive clinics, something the anti-choice movement has also tried to stop.

I am a single parent. I was not married to my children's father, nor did I want to be. I chose to have my children by IVF. I worked for 8 years to carry a pregnancy to term. During that time, I had to terminate one pregnancy due to PROM and a terrible infection that led to hospitalization for a week. I had no choice in the matter. But I did, actually. The decision was mine to make. Terminate the pregnancy and fight the infection, or lose the baby inutero and then deliver it, with the good possibility of my demise. It actually took me two full days to make this decision, and once I had the procedure, I cried and cried for days. This was one of those rather rare "Only in case of the imminent death of the mother" terminations. But that wasn't the issue. I lost a very wanted baby.

However, I've sat in the waiting room while two friends of mine also terminated pregnancies. They had pregnancies that should not have happened, and were not wanted. Both of these friends have gone on to have children that are loved and very much wanted. But at the time, their pregnancies would have been dangerous, difficult, and life altering in a very negative way. Their choices both to have children and to terminate pregnancies are what choice is all about. These capable, highly educated and successful women were able to make decisions about when to become a parent, when the time was right for them. If our government had it's way, that choice would be permanently gone and they would have had unwanted children and a completely different life.

I am an unwanted child. I have lived my entire life knowing that I was an accident, that my mother did not want me, that she wished she had never had me, and that had abortion been legal when she was pregnant, she would have terminated me. Now the anti-choice people would find it life affirming that I was born. But they didn't live my childhood, where I was neglected and disliked by my parents. They didn't get to carry the pain of being unwanted and unloved. They didn't get to feel the wondering of why my brothers were wanted, but I was not. And they haven't lived with the rejection of parents who simply wrote me out of their lives as soon as they could. They haven't read their father's obituary that did not even mention my existence.

I know what it means to grow up unwanted. I wish my parents had terminated me legally. Not that I don't want to be alive, I do, very much. But I would have liked to grow up with parents that loved me and were happy to have me instead of resentful. And I would have liked to know that every other unwanted child didn't ever have to suffer the childhood that I did. I got over it a long time ago. 11 years of therapy did help, but mostly I realized that my mother didn't have the choices that we now do, and that was wrong. Had abortion been legal she could have controlled her reproductive life and not had two children 11 months apart. Maybe I would have come along a bit later and things would have been very different. But with no ability to choose, things were what they were.

Which is why I will always be on the side of choice for women. And I urge each of you that sits on the fence to realize why keeping choice alive is so important to every women in the world.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ice cream in winter and other ponderings

The Girl is sitting in our very cold house (it's around 62 F in here) eating ice cream. I do not understand this. I know that Boston is a huge ice cream eating community and many people enjoy this frozen treat even in the dead of winter. I am not one of them. It is too cold to eat ice cream.

Things I've been thinking about:

  • When I have forms to fill out, I usually put them in a stack right in front of my keyboard where they are supposed to remind me to fill them out. I see them, but I don't get to them until the last minute because I always think I have more time. I never do. Why?
  • The Big Game (Pats vs Colts) is this afternoon, and the Boy disappeared into his room to watch it up there because he screams at the television so much that I get annoyed. Why do males scream at the TV during football games?
  • Clinton vs Obama. And John Edwards. The choices are difficult at best. I lean towards Barak Obama because he's open and seems to be thinking the kinds of things I think as well. Plus he was anti-war from the beginning. Hillary annoys me because she supported the war. I also think she's tarnished by Bill's sexcapades, although they didn't really bother me as much as they did the religious right. Frankly, I'm a lot more concerned about the sexual exploits of Bush's friends and supporters in the Republican party. Coercing children for sex is a lot more perverted than two consenting adults having sex. And lying about your sexual orientation while passing laws guaranteed to screw up the next generation of children totally bothers me.
  • Watching 24 with commercials spoils the entire show. Only seeing one episode a week isn't enough Jack Bauer for me. I'm spoiled by having whole seasons on DVD. I need marathon Jack to keep my heart a-pumping.
  • Has anyone really understand out how to figure out what your ad income from Blogher is going to be each month?
  • Why can't I decide on what makeover design I want for my blog? Any suggestions.
  • Have you tried the Black Pepper Jack Doritos? Ooo, so freaking good.
  • Why does Trader Joes only carry yeast during 'baking season'? And did you know that there was a 'baking season'? I feel so out of touch with the world. I bake all year round.
  • Oatmeal raisin cookies. What could be better?
  • What is the name of that haircut that is all over the place, where the length in the back is medium long, but in the front it is shingled from chin length all the way to the back length?
  • Do you think Victoria Secret commercials are getting a bit out of hand? As in, too sexy for their underwear?
  • When was the last time you heard "Oh my God Becky...Look at her butt?"
  • We have a gift card to Borders but it bothers me that they are so expensive so I can't really bring myself to spend it. Isn't that stupid?
  • Why are mens boxer shorts so expensive?

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

What kind of a cruel joke is this?

Guys, you probably want to avert your eyes for this one. It is a grisley rant about menopause and my vajayjay and honestly, it's not all that relevant unless you're dying of curiosity about my gynecological situation. OK?

So thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you next post.

Ahem, now that they're gone, I'm gonna scream about how much I hate frigging menopause. Just when you think you're past all the blood and guts of your reproductive life, just when your full year has gone by without even a hint of the red devil on your underwear...why does it come back to haunt and taunt you? Just what is this sick joke? Because I'm not laughing. Not even a mild chuckle. I'm sick of it all and I want it gone.

So I went for a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and I had a PAP smear. Just afterward, I noticed a tiny smidge of blood in my nether region when I went to wipe. I figured it was the result of the PAP since I had no blood before and it really was only a tinge.

The next morning the doctor's office called me and told me that the lab had screwed up my PAP, and could I come in that day for another one? Since I had a mammogram scheduled for Friday anyhow, and it was in the same building, I figured after they sqeezed my boobs into pancakes, they could do the repeat PAP. Good plan, right?

I mosey on down to the medical building and contort my body into ridiculous shapes while my boobs are squished flat and photographed. That was fun, but everything was fine. As a ridiculous side, the radiologist asked me where my biopsy scar was and I not only didn't know, but couldn't remember which of the girls they had biopsied two years ago. Isn't that just pathetic? Thankfully there was a clip left in to identify the area, and it was find and dandy.

Having a few minutes before the PAP, I ran down to the lab and had several gallons of blood removed from my arm. Not even a cookie or a drink either. I mean, couldn't they spring for one freaking cookie? The phlebotomist put all the blood into all the different vials, and pronounced me alive and kicking, and sent me upstairs for the PAP.

After waiting 40 minutes for the freaking Nurse Practitioner, I finally got in, pulled down my drawers, and she went at it. Mid speculum she said "Oh, are you having your period?" and I said "NO" really loudly, because I don't have periods anymore, right? I told her that it was a bit of leftover blood from the other PAP, and she was cool. But then, when I jumped off the table to get dressed I saw a lot more blood than I had expected. So I checked my undies, and there was a spot. Of blood. On. My. Underwear. Oh holy shit.

I got home and put on a pad, still thinking that this is residual blood, because I'm dense like that. I'm a total denial freak. Remember that boob thing? Biopsy? What biopsy?

But by last night, I had to insert my friend the tampon. And this morning, you guessed it. Full on period. Freaking blood on the sheets period. Does that suck or what?

It was over a year. I'm supposed to be DONE. D. O. N. E.

But now I have to start the count all over again. And you know why this is happening to me. This curse revisited? Because I have lost so much weight. This is my reward for losing weight. Not new clothing, not better health, although that is going to be a side effect, but my frigging period returning. Aunt Flo, I hate you. Go away and do not come back.

This better be a once in a lifetime occurance because if I start ovulating again, I'm going to scream. Or get pregnant. No, I'll just scream and cry at the unfairness of it all. Injustice. It is wrong. I want to be done forever. I do not want more hot flashes. I do not want more insomnia. I do not want more insanity. I've been there for 10 years already. I'm so freaking done.

Cosmic joke? I think so.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

School Killing too Close for Comfort (Updated)

There was a fatal stabbing this morning at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School. This is the school our high school is often compared with, as they are the same size and very similar in student body makeup.

The stabbing took place at around 7:20 am in a boys bathroom. There could be a witness to the murder, but that information hasn't yet been substantiated. What is known is that the victim was a 15.5 year old Freshman and the police have arrested a 16.5 year old Sophmore for the crime. He will be indicted this afternoon in Framingham district court on murder charges. He might be charged as an adult later on, but for now will be in juvenile court.

When I saw the "breaking news' and the story was revealed, my heart literally lept into my throat. Even though this isn't the school my kids attend, they know kids from this school through camp and social settings. It is the school my cousins kids attended. It is the school an old friend's daughters will attend. It is the school that I wanted to teach at before I quit that noble profession for a real paycheck in the software industry. This is just way too close to home for me to process.

I called the school psychologist at our school to find out how to handle this information. I wanted to know how the school itself was going to deal with it, informing our kids, or just letting them learn about it at home. And I wanted to know how we at home should talk about this crime, because it really is horribly frightening. And so unexpected.

There has been an unconfirmed rumor that the students involved were in a small classroom environment for emotionally troubled kids. I do not know if this is true or not, but I hope not. That's all those kids need is more kids harassing them for having mental illnesses. Like it isn't hard enough to go to a very competitive high school filled with ivy league bound students when you can barely remember how to dress yourself some mornings.

I pray for those kids left behind. School tragedies are all too common these days. But that's almost glib, and I don't mean to appear that way. Every school tragedy, whether a shooting or a stabbing or whatever is horrific. Every one inures us to more violence inside our schools. High school is a pressure cooker of emotions and stress. Add kids with parents who push them to excell and expectations to be the best, and you're got a firestorm of stress just waiting to blow.

We don't yet know the motive of the crime. We don't even know the identity of the murderer, although the victim has been identified. We know almost nothing other than that the school was in lockdown for hours before letting the students leave with their distraught parents. I cannot even imagine what their afternoons are going to be like. Counseling, as usual, is available to the students through the weekend. But is that enough?

I weep for my own children who are so vulnerable and precious. I will hug them tight tonight and tell them how much I love them. Please do the same with your own children.

Update: The victim was identified as James Alenson. He was pronounced dead at Emerson Hospital at 8:12 a.m. He was a special education student in the REACH program, and was evidentally mentally challanged. Most of the students interviewed didn't know who he was because he was in a small classroom environment and was always with teachers or aides.

John Odgren of Princeton is charged with murder, assault and battery with a dangerous
weapon and carrying a knife on school property. Odgren's lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro, said after the arraignment that "it is a tragedy for all involved. I know my client and his family feel for the victim and his family." Prosecutor Daniel Bennett said Odgren admitted to school officials he killed Alenson.

He also said his client has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, and is a special education student at the school and had no history of violence. He asked for his client to be allowed to go to a secure facility at Children's Hospital in Boston, to be paid for by his family.

My kids school seemed to ignore the situation and didn't tell the Girl anything, so I had to tell her. She was not clear on why I was so upset. The invincibility of teenagers... The Boy is not yet home. I'm interested to hear his take on this, as he does know several of the kids in the self-contained LifeSkills program from his bus.

Odgren at his arrest


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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Slight truce called in Twins War

Usually my kids are feuding with each other. As Tertia so eloquently put it in her post today at So Close, just because they are twins doesn't mean that they are alike. My kids are so not alike they barely seem like siblings most of the time. They don't look alike, they don't have the same interests, same friends, same taste in food, music, books, whatever. They fight like cats and dogs. They are inherently mean to each other. They snipe constantly. They are teenage siblings.

Very very occasionally, one or the other will step out of character and do something that puts my heart at rest for a bit. Tonight it was the Girl's turn to help her brother, which she did voluntarily. I almost fainted when she said, "I'll do it for you." The Boy looked stunned. He could barely believe his great fortune. She was saying she would help him. That was worth almost anything to him. He was not only grateful, but said he would return the favor and do the dishes for her. Oh my Dog, they were "getting along". That conceptual state that siblings are supposed to be in most of the time, but which my kids rarely frequent.

So what was this all about?

The Boy has his Sophmore Speech tomorrow. Everyone in his entire grade has to do this speech. They write it on any topic they choose, and then they perform it first in front of their English class, and then the winners from each class perform it again in front of the entire grade. It is a BIG DEAL. The Boy is dysgraphic. Writing for him is terribly difficult and he gets very easily frustrated. Starting and organizing his thoughts is tough, but putting stuff onto notecards is punishing for a dysgraphic kid.

His speech is on Poverty in the USA, and it's a good speech. It must be from 6-10 minutes long, and it has to have both factual information and some anecdotal information as well. He wrote and revised his speech over the past two weeks, but tonight he needed to get the speech highlights onto notecards. He was supposed to have memorized the speech, but an ADHD kid and memorization do not happen. Never mind memorizing a speech that is about 7 minutes in lenght. Impossible!

He started on the notecards as soon as he had finished his latin homework, translating 5 sentences into English. Latin is difficult and he's advanced enough that they're reading actual texts and translating them. It is challanging, but he kind of likes it.

However, writing a 4 page, single spaced speech onto notecards almost was the death of him. His handwriting is atrocious. It is about on par with a first grader. He doesn't not know how to write in cursive at all, and his printing is HUGE. It is rather sad.

He started on the first notecard and I could see him losing it by about 2/3 of the way through the card. He had that frustrated and angry face, and he was just about to say "Forget it" and take a zero on the speech, which would guarantee an F in English for this term, when the Girl popped up and said "I'll do it for you." She worked on it for over 1.5 hours, filling in 22 notecards with her very neat and easy to read printing. She was so tired towards the end of the project she could barely keep her eyes open, but she did it. She finished and went straight to bed.

It is rare that I get mushy about my kids. I'm definately not looking at parenting teenagers through rose-colored glasses. I see my kids have a lot of individual foibles. They are often rude and obnoxious. They can be very mean to each other and to me. They do terrible things without a care in the world. They are self absorbed and fear very little. They are very typical teenagers, albeit a tad bit off kilter at times.

However, every once in a while they totally shock me. Right after fighting about who gets to lick the oatmeal cookie batter bowl, they go and do something kind and considerate for each other and I realize again how much I love and admire them. They are strong, self-assured individuals that know each other's strength and weaknesses. They support each other when the need arises. And yes, they do love each other, but they would never ever admit it.

It is times like this that I feel like I can be assured that they will be able to care for themselves as adults. They'll eventually be friends again. They will help each other when they see the necessity for some support.

For all the guilt I feel about parenting, when small things like this happen I think I must have done something right after all. And that is what makes it worth going through all the constant bickering and sqabbling. I love these children. I love the adults they are becoming, too.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things that make you go "Hmmm"

What a weird day we've had today. Nothing shocking like snow in LA. Although I can remember once when it snowed in my back yard in the very west valley, which was way weird. Just strange, like who would have thunk it?

I had to get the Boy from school mid-day to go to an orthodontist appointment. He hadn't been in years because the child had baby teeth until very recently. But it was finally time for him to go and be assessed with real adult teeth. Our orthodontist is a bit odd. I guess you would have to be a bit strange in order to want to work with adolescents all day long, especially when you cause them pain and discomfort. But our doctor goes beyond that. First, he has the worlds worst toupee. I've seen wall to wall that looks more real than the rug on his head. Oh man, you cannot help but gawk. In this day and age, a decent hairpiece is easy to find, but I guess he doesn't know or doesn't care. He also is very serious about kids following 'his rules' in order to get braces put on their teeth. Like brushing 3 times/day. The boy look horrified at that one!

But it was agreed that we would come back for molds and photos in a couple of weeks, so we're going to begin the wonderful world of orthodontia. Fun!

We got home for lunch and in the mail was an omnious looking envelope addressed to the parents of the Boy from our district attorney's office. Gulp. I was like "what the hell did you do NOW?" but when I opened up the letter it appears that the Boy was the 'victim' of a crime.

Except we had no clue what crime it was. He looked at me, I looked at him, and we both were totally blank. Crime? You would think we would have remembered that. But nope.

I called the DA's office and spoke to the Victim/Witness advocate, and she told us what it was about. A friend of the Boys, a kid with a great heart but the impulsivity of an 18 month old, had brought some kind of Leatherman tool to school and had pinched the Boy and another kid with it. When a teacher spied it, the police were called and the kid was arrested for assault. OKAY.

I told the advocate that the Boy was friendly with the kid in trouble and that I've known him for years and we really don't have an issue with what happened nor do we want to be a witness to something that would get the kid in further trouble. The Boy was really upset and said he wouldn't testify, even after I explained that his testimony could HELP his friend.

What a mess. What a stupid brouhaha over nothing.

Next, I had a doctor's appointment to get to. My former internist 'retired' last summer but somehow 'forgot' to let her patients know. It was a big tempest and I had to find another internist, something that sounds easy but because there is such a big shortage of internists in this area (and around the nation, evidentally) I had to wait a very long time for someone to take my case.

The doctor I got was male, and about the age of Dougie Houser. He was very nice but it was almost embarassing to be examined by someone who could easily be my own son. Eeek!

He was very thorough, so much so that the initial checkup took 1.5 hours to complete. Who sees a doctor these days for 90 minutes? He asked a lot of the pertinent questions, he determined that my diet was good, that I was stable and doing well but the pain in my toe is nerve damage caused by my diabetes. He was very nice about my weight loss (go me!) and supportive about things we spoke about that aren't for public consumption.

Then he did a pap smear and a breast exam. Eeeek! Oh my, that was a bit odd. OK, but strange. I haven't been to a male doctor in years, never mind one that was still in diapers. He also thought it was a good idea for me to get a bunch of tests, and to see several other specialists because of my diabetes. So I now have enough doctors appointments in the next couple of months to keep the medical establishment afloat in medicare reimbursements.

There's the podiatrist and the opthamologist for checkups, and the mammogram, colonospopy, and fasting blood tests. Oh, and a repeat visit with Dougie. Yeah, I'm gonna be very very busy forgetting all these appointments. No, I'll go. I know I have to. But man, I need Me Time that isn't all about medical crap.

My toe is totally annoying me and the doctor suggested that we just wait for a bit to see if it resolves itself before we 'resort' to even more medications. Oh boy! Lucky me. Unabated pain. I'm loving it.

At least American Idol Seattle is going to be on tonight. I abhor the show but the auditions are so painfully funny to watch we always try to see the first few shows. I heard that Simon said that this season isn't good, that they have the worst contestants ever, and that Seattle was the worst city he's ever seen for auditions. Must see TV!

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No-Knead Bread, I Have Perfected You. Now with Recipe for Dave!

I have worked on making this no-knead bread both healthier and more tasty according to the family taste buds. With every loaf, I get closer and closer to perfection, but there always seems to be a bit of tweaking to explore. Until today. Today I baked up a new batch that I had made yesterday, and lordy, it was perfect. Tasty, complex, crunchy and chewy all at the same time.

One of the biggest complaints people have had with this ultra-popular recipe is that the original recipe in the NY Times was definately simple to make, but the bread was sort of tasteless. By reading a bunch of different foodie sites, I found many helpful hints on how to make the bread using the same basic recipe but making subtile changes that determined how flavorful the loaf would turn out. Some sites suggested using whole wheat flour, which I tried, but the loaf was more like a doorstop than bread. Others suggested adding certain things, from olives to herbs to fruits. I settled on herbs as one child will not touch anything with olives, and this was definately a savory loaf, not sweetbread.

My final tweak was to add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 2.5 cups of unbleached white flour (both King Arthur), a full tablespoon of salt and one packet of yeast. The water ratio was upped a bit because of the whole wheat flour, but I ended up having too sticky a dough and added a tiny bit more unbleached white. To the dough I added two long branches worth of fresh rosemary that I did not cut up. I just used the whole leaves. I had tried cutting it before, but the high heat when baking tended to disintegrate the herb leaving no taste.

I let the dough rise for 20 hours, which I find is the timing that suits our house (cold at around 66 during the day, 60 at night) and my schedule. When I poured the risen dough out on the floured board, I had to add about 3 tablespoons more flour on top and on the bottom of the loaf to keep it from sticking. I then covered it with plastic wrap and a towel and let it rise for 2 more hours. It didn't quite double, but it was ready for baking.

When I put the dough in the preheated pot for baking, I added a generous sprinkle of fleur de sal all over the top, which added much to the flavor.

30 minutes in a covered dutch oven at 450 degrees F, then 25 more minutes uncovered at the same temp.

The finished loaf had a magnificent crusty crust with lots of crispy crunch when cut and bitten. Inside there were plenty of air pockets and the dough was very chewy and rich tasting. The rosemary added a hint of herby goodness, but didn't take away from the flavor of the bread. This was the most successful loaf by far, and the kids both asked that I don't change the recipe at all.

It goes well with good olive oil and unsalted butter. The oil is better healthwise, but nothing is a good substitute for butter on a warm loaf of bread.

I promise I will not post about this damn bread anymore. I had to get it perfect. I'm a tad bit OCD. No...could you tell?

Update: Dave of http://www.blogography.com has requested the recipe in full. So here it is, with my fabulous changes intact:


2.5 cups unbleached white glour
.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 TBS kosher salt
1 5/8 to 2 cups water, lukewarm
1 packet yeast or 1/4 tbs yeast. I used active dry.
2 long sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem
fleur de sal (whole Sea Salt crystals)

In a large ceramic bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt and whisk together.
Add water and stir until moistened. Dough will be very messy.
Cover dough with plastic wrap, and the with a towel.
Let dough rise for 18-24 hours. You can do it for as few hours as 12, but the longer it rises, the lighter the dough will be. Dough will be covered with bubbles when it's ready.

Sprinkle flour over a work surface. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the top of the dough, and then flour your hands.

Fold the dough over into itself, cover with the plastic wrap, and leave for 15 minutes to rest.

Flour your hands again, and shape the dough very quickly into a ball mound. Work quickly and don't try for a perfect orb.

Throw some flour onto a work surface covered with a LINEN tea towel (you can use an apron, old table cloth, etc. but make sure the fabric is well floured or the dough will stick). Place the dough on the flour with the seam side down (the dough, not the fabric!). Sprinkle more flour over the dough mound and lightly place a second well floured tea towel on top.

Let the covered dough rise for 2 more hours or until doubled in volume.

1/2 hour before you are ready to bake, take a 5-8 quart sized HEAVY cast iron, Coated enamel iron, or very heavy metal dutch oven (I tried the Le Creuset pan but found the All Clad dutch oven easier to use and more successful in creating a gorgeous crust top and bottom) into a pre-heated 450 degree oven. Heat for full half hour.

When dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven. Carefully (it is HOT) flip the dough from the floured towel into the pot so that the seam side is now up. Shake the pot a little to distribute the dough that will even out during baking.

Sprinkle the top with the fleur de sal crystals.

Cover the pot, place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for 15 to 30 more minutes until nicely browned.

Cool on a rack for at least a half hour and then eat!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I curse the cell phone!

Ring. RING.

Mom opens one eye and peaks at clock. It is 8:00 am and she has been awakened out of a deep slumber by the infernal ring of the telephone.


M: hello

Girl: MOMMY! I'M COLD! (Screaming at top volume while giggles go on in the background.)

M: what?


M: wha?

Girl: I'M SO COLD.

M: and you're telling me this why?


M: bye

Mom turns over and goes back to sleep where she dreams she is invited to Martha Stewarts house for a full day seminar on cooking with star chefs.

Curse those damn cell phones!


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Monday, January 15, 2007

Not quite a shadow of my former self...yet

I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm on a quest to be a better eater, and hopefully that will also help with my health issues. So far I'm doing quite well, but I'm not following any particular diet. What I have done is to cut out all the junk food in our house. No more chips, cookies, or sweets of any kind. Anything we eat that is sweet we bake ourselves, and so far that has been only oatmeal raisin cookies...batches and batches of them. We've also changed the types of grains we eat, from white to brown rice, and I've been baking bread myself, bread with absolutely no fat in it.
I'm no expert on dieting, because I learned a long time ago that diets always fail. The only way I have ever lost weight is to eat smaller portions, only eat food inside my home, make everything myself so I know what is in the food we eat, and to restrict any junk food. I've done this before and lost 35 lbs the last time I did it. I'm well above 35 lbs now, and I'm feeling like I can see results when I look in the mirror.

The best side effect of this is that both of my kids have lost a bit of weight, too. Neither is fat, in fact they are both pretty normal for their height and age. But last year the Girl put on a few pounds that she was unhappy about, and without any dieting or food restrictions at all, she's down 15 lbs and looking absolutely gorgeous. Her clothing fits better, and she's happy with how she looks now.

The Boy, who is naturally thin and has a very high metabolism, has been eating the equivalent of 3 people's daily intake lately. Yes, it's normal for a teenage boy to scarf down the food, and from what I understand, he isn't eating that much more than other boys his age, but my God... it is scary to watch him inhale food. Because he eats so much, he was starting to develop a bit of a paunch and was constantly calling himself fat. Believe me, fat he is not. But he did have a bit of a tummy. A tummy that is now almost gone. He's only down 5 lbs, but on him it makes a big difference. I think it he took off another couple of pounds, he'd be right down to his regular skinny weight.

It has been a big adjustment for the kids not to have lots and lots of snackfood in the house. Both of them are good fruit and veggie eaters, and that's been helpful. Snacks before were things like granola bars and tortilla chips. Snacks now are quesadillas with tomatos and mushrooms tossed it, or a yoghurt smoothie. We've all been eating apples like they are going out of style. We polished off a box of HoneyBells in about a week. Celery and carrots are my snack of choice for the crunch. They prefer cereal without sugar. Or oatmeal.

I'm feeling great that we're all eating a healthier diet and it's beginning to show on all of us. We're pretty proud of ourselves right now. But the best thing is when I serve a dinner than anyone would consider diet fare, and both kids gush about how great dinner is. Tonight, for example, we had boneless chicken breasts with BBQ sauce, steamed cauliflower, and brown rice pilaf. Believe me, nothing was fabulous or gourmet, but they were psyched and scarfed it down. Isn't that just amazing?


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Ding dong, those bitches are dead! (Updated)

Update: Heaven Nose appears to be back up again, and gloating. I don't get what the point of them being back online is, as they have 'achieved their goal' of shutting Trainwrecks down. But whatever.

The latest craziness in the blogosphere happened this weekend with the long awaited demise of Trainwrecks. And a cheer is heard round the internet as the bitches that slammed anyone and everyone they could have finally been silenced. Nobody really knows why. The people at Heaven Nose, who have also pulled down their site piece by piece this evening, implied that the pressure they put on the Trainwreckers, including posting the identities behind the women of Trainwrecks, might have had something to do with the demise of both sites. We really don't know the particulars, but in my opinion the particulars really don't matter. Trainwrecks was down for a couple of days before the put up this message this evening:

Sorry, folks, but Trainwrecks is gone and it's not coming back. Some deeply disturbed people with an irrational fixation on this site decided that stupid photo montages, libel, and obscene anonymous comments just weren't enough, so they decided to take their little hate campaign into the real world. And since their information came from gossip and bad detective work, they didn't exactly hit the right targets. As anyone might have expected, the people who suffered the most were not even involved with this site.

Once it became clear that the people posting at Heaven Nose were willing to cross the line between a one-sided flame war and real-life harassment, our web host decided enough was enough, and we agreed. This site wasn't important enough to us to be worth having innocent people harassed at home and work. We're done.

They blamed the people at Heaven Nose, and I'm sure that the posting of personal information, something I am absolutely against, caused much of the problem. However, the women behind TW thought that they were deep in hiding, in an internet safe house, but they were wrong. Once they were identified, and that identification was heard round the blogosphere, they cut and run. And thank goodness for that.

TW was solely formed to snark on people. They worked hard to harass certain posters, and they said some very vicious things. But mostly what they did was give all the mean girls (and guys) a place to pick on everyone that irritated them. Gosh, what a great public service! I was only TWed once, and that by a reader who was rather transparent in the way they posted about me. Frankly, my feelings weren't hurt since the person that tried to TW me didn't do a very good job, thereby only garnering a few measly comments. Guess I'm not quite the trainwreck that person implied I was. And that person tried twice in that thread, and it still didn't get picked up.

But they also Trainwrecked people I happen to like. Some of them closed down their blogs because they just couldn't take the constant negative references. Some of them stopped writing about the things that the trainwreckers picked on most. Some people started getting really boring because they couldn't stand being picked apart. Hopefully, now that the Trainwreckers are gone, those folks will breathe a bit easier and their blogs will reflect that freedom.

I believe that the demise of these sites, both of them, are good things for the blogosphere. I don't think it is right to hide behind a mask in order to snipe at people you find ridiculous or irritating. If you have an opinion, say it loudly and proudly. Isn't that what blogging is all about? I try to be truthful on my blog, and in comments. I know that that irritates certain people beyond belief because what they want is a bunch of sychophants who agree with every word they read and throw out the complements as well. Feh! So not me. I've said it before and I'll say it many times again: blogging is an invitation to discourse and if you're unable to even consider another opinion, then either get some therapy or get out of blogging because not everyone is going to think you're all that. Get over it.

I love a bit of drama as much as the next person, and this certainly has been a weekend of blog drama. But all in all, it's a couple of blogs that couldn't get along, and both sites were pulled down. I don't care if there were legal wranglings or threats or whatever. The spirit of blogging is going to be much better without these sites. I'm thrilled to hear about their deaths. I just hope that nobody else feels the need to fill in for Trainwrecks.


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Oh what a night!

Last night, just as we sat down to a huge vat of homemade chicken noodle soup, the Girl ran upstairs, disappearing mysteriously. Time passed, the Boy and I dished out big bowls of soup and starting slurping it down. And lo! It was good.

But then all hell broke loose. The Girl came downstairs crying hysterically doubled over in pain. She has issues with cramps, and we're dealing with it with her new OB/GYN surgeon. But this was worse than cramps. She was shaking all over and sweating and absolutely green. Just to prove the green nausea, she vomited...not once, but five freaking times. She was shaking so hard I was afraid she was having a seizure or something.

Now, this is the child that refuses all medication. I am not too worried about her taking drugs because I can't even get her to take ibuprophan or a vitamin. She does not swallow pills unless under extreme pressure. But she had already taken 3 ibuprophan much earlier in the day. I couldn't get her to take more.

I called the GYN on call and spoke to a doctor who asked an inordinate amount of questions to tell me to just sit tight and wait to see how she felt later on. Thanks so much for that expert opinion! Meanwhile, the Girl was describing to me in detail what she had passed, which I will not share for fear of making you totally sick or thinking she is inhabited by aliens, and wanted to know if I needed to see it. No thanks! I can live without that lovely scenario.

After a bit she stopped sweating profusely and shaking like a leaf all over, and decided to try and eat a bowl of soup. For what is better when you are feeling ill than Mom's homemade Jewish penicillin. She did feel somewhat better after the soup, and then layed down on the sofa and moaned and groaned the rest of the evening.

This is not your childhood cold and flu, people. I know how to deal with that stuff. I can handle croup and chicken pox and all the other childhood maladies that we've been though. But this... whoa, it was so beyond my mothering capabilities that I was literally stunned into silence. I had no clue what to advise her to do.

Her next appointment with the intimidating surgeon is in a few weeks, and meanwhile we have a battery of testing to do next week, including an ultrasound. I'm guessing, although this is wholely based on my own menstrual maladies in youth, that she had an ovarian cyst that ruptured. I just cannot imagine what else could have caused her such agonizing pain. All I can say is, you folks with boys don't know how lucky you are.

To top it all off, her BBF called to ask my advice about a boob problem she was having. BFF does not have a mother, her father is in CA right now, and she's only got her very mean grandmother around. Poor kid, how mortifying must it be to have to ask someone else's mother what to do about a certain pain. I gave her what I think might be sage advice but told her to get to her doctor asap. Sounds like mastitis to me. Can you even get mastitis if you're not nursing?

I'm heading into the kitchen to make another loaf of the No-Rise Bread. I'm going to add some fresh rosemary to the second rise dough, and then salt the top with fluer de sal. If I do two loaves, I'm going to mince up fresh dill for the second rise. I'm finding that adding some herbs makes the bread tasty and it tends to disappear within minutes.

Has anyone tried making it into a sweet bread with currents and all spice? That might be a good experiment, too. Maybe add some pecans, too. I'm also thinking of making an olive loaf with the dough. It's so freaking versatile. If you haven't tried it, you MUST.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday wrap-up

I've got lots of little things to talk about. Nothing earth shattering, but nevertheless, here they are:

  1. Today I went below my first weight loss goal. In order to work with my nutritionist, he asked me to set interim goals. The first goal was the biggest, and I reached it a couple of days ago. This morning I'm almost 3 lbs lower. Now it's on to the next goal, which is exactly twice as much as the first goal. I am guessing that if I keep doing what I'm doing, which is not following any particular diet but cutting back on carbs, eating two meals per day with reduced portions, and snacking only on fruit. Oh, and keeping all junk food out of the house and only allowing oatmeal raisin cookies to be baked because oatmeal is good for your heart and it's National Oatmeal Month.
  2. Worthess Pet peed on the bathroom floor twice this week because his litter box, which is pristing, wasn't up to his demanding standards. The freaking cat can pee outside, but inside the litter isn't clean enough for his highness. Ugh.
  3. This is what is tearing my city apart. We're moving into the final vote, and everyone is on pins and needles. I'm thinking of voting "no" because it seems to be a ridiculous amount of money and do we really NEED a Graham Gund designed building?
  4. I've been knitting a scarf for myself and have been joking that it will be too warm to wear it as it's been ridiculously hot here. But the forecast calls for sleet and icy storms. No snow, but also no more warm weather. Who would have thought that weather would arrive in mid-January? Weird.
  5. Jo-Ann fabrics is having an 80% off sale at our local store this weekend. The Girl and I will be attending. I will get more yarn, she will get fabric. She just made herself an adorable duvet cover with matching embroidered pillows with her name on them. She also made one for her brother.
  6. I am having the weirdest big toe pain. I think I've got an infection below my cuticle because it seems to to be on fire right against the cuticle. I soaked it for hours last night, scaring the bejesus out of the Worthless Pet. Bubbles were a new thing for him, and evidentally very scary.
  7. Do you read Say La Vee? This is a favorite read of mine. Go check out the Blackbird. She's great.
  8. I'll be baking more bread this weekend. I'm working out of an artisan bread book trying out various recipes, and also doing the No-Knead bread recipe. I'll be covered with flour all weekend.


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Comment, you poopheads! It's my half birthday.

This is a sticky post and will remain on top for the entire week.

This is the start of the annual de-lurking week founded by Sheryl of Paper Napkin. Sheryl is on a blogging hiatus, but she's still sponsoring de-lurking week.

Last year I wrote a big long post about how delurking is the best thing you could do to help the environment, save the whales, stop the bird flu, and save humanity. OK, I was exaggerating a bit. But if you are a reader and not a commenter, how about a pithy little comment saying who you are, where you're from, and what your favorite cookie is. Or maybe your favorite ice cream. Or both. Whatever.

Write whatever you want.

But write, for goodness sake.

Give me the idea that you are READING and not just passing through. Puhleese? Purty Please? Purty please with a cherry on top?

All I ask is that you leave a comment. Because you have to remember, if you don't comment, you're letting the terrorist win!


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Girly stuff is too freaking cool

Crazy Hip Blog Mamas is hosting a bit of a blog contest, and the prize is an adorable pink Nintendo DS. I absolutely need one of those. In Pink. Bright girly pink. I'm all for the pink appliances. I wish I could get a pink washer and dryer. And a pink dishwasher. Wouldn't that look way cool with pink polkadot wallpaper? Yeah!

I am not much of a video game player, especially because the Boy is so freaking controlling and competitive and he makes fun of me because I can never remember what buttons to push on the Xbox controllers. I'm kinda hopeless that way. I don't want to be, but geesh, these controllers have so many buttons to push. But the cute pink Nintendo DS doesn't have a lot of buttons, and I could take it with me to my multitude of doctors appointments instead of looking at magazines from last spring. Wouldn't that be nice?

I don't know if it will ever make me a hip mom, because I might be a tad old to ever be hip again, but it would certainly make the Boy jealous. Anything that I can call mine in this house is a good thing. A very good thing. Rare, but good. So I want one. I want one so much I'll agree to get a pair of skinny jeans and wear them with stilleto boots and a little teeny jacket. In my dreams! You can take Australia out of the girl, but you can't take this girl away from her Uggs.


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Irritated beyond belief

This seems to be one of those phases that you just wish would end yesterday. I'm about to jump out of my skin because the Boy is literally driving me nuts. I love this kid, honest I do. But he can be so difficult to live with that I can only see him doomed to a lonely life because no same woman would want to hook up with him longterm. He's that annoying.

Much of it is just guy stuff. He's lazy and unhelpful and resents ever being asked to do anything around the house, even his designated chores. Everything is "in 10 minutes" or an argument. There is never a "Sure" involved. He's messy, he doesn't see things right in front of him, he leaves stuff all over the house. He never listens because he's too busy formulating an argument in his mind. It's like I'm talking to a wall most of the time. Those are guy things, and yes, they are annoying but they seem to be almost a gender specific thing.

What is driving me nuts is the constant arguing. This kid will argue about the color of the sky if he is allowed to. He will not disengage. He must have the last word. And everything out of his mouth is an argument. EVERYTHING. I say white, he says black. I say cold, he says hot. Try living with that and tell me how you deal with it. Because I'm not dealing with it very well.

Worst of all, he is snide, rolls his eyes, treats me with disdain, swears like a dock worker, and calls me names. Oh, and he treats his sister the same way. It's partly due to his bipolar stuff and working hard on getting the right medications, which so far have been hit or miss. But it is also due to being a terrible teen and finally starting (we think) to go through puberty. One other factor that I believe is relevant is that every single one of his friends is at least 2-3 years older than he is, and many are 4 years older. This is the downside of grade skipping.

I try to talk to him reasonably, but there is no reasoning with him. If I even mention that his behavior is sorely lacking humility, he goes postal on me. I can't even think of the last evening where I didn't have to send him upstairs to his room to calm down. He gets so angry, and when he's angry, it's painful for everyone around him.

I know he's frustrated. I know he's having a very hard time being on an even keel right now. I know that there is some manic behavior that he can't control, but the constant yelling and swearing are wearing me down to the point of virtual exhaustion. I seem to have lost my sense of humor and my interest in living. I'm tired all the time. I just want to bury my head under the covers and hope that he goes away and leaves me along. Lately I don't even want him to touch me, which of course makes him demand hugs and lots of physical contact with me. Ugh.

Whenever the relationship with my kids veers off track, and it does with both kids, the other one seems to pull up the slack and become so much easier to deal with. There is seemingly always one on my 'blackest of black lists' to quote my nutsoid mother. So of course now the Girl and I are getting along like gangbusters and are developing a really excellent relationship. We're really enjoying each other's company and having a great time together.

So what does this mean? It means the boy is angry and jealous and treats his sister with even more derision that usual. He is cruel to her, just as he is cruel to me. It's so demeaning to be insulted by your kid, even when I know intellectually that this is part of being bipolar. I get all the psychology and neurology of the disease. I just don't know how to balance that with the bad behavior and the bad feelings that it leaves behind.

I'm sad right now, because this is my special boy and we've always had a great relationship. Intellectually we're very sympatico and I greatly admire and appreciate him He is funny and smart and interesting when he's on an even keel. But when he is raging and behaving poorly much of the time, it makes me just want to strangle him. I can't seem to find a way to compensate for my feelings of anger and hurt towards him. I want to, but he just is irritating the ever-living life out of me right now.

One thing that I am doing that I think has a potentially positive reaction is cutting out processed sugars. He has never appeared to be affected by sugar and caffeine is actually calming for him, but I'm taking a stance and cutting all junk food out of our diet. Hopefully, that will help. So far, nada.

And this is why I'm sad, pissed off, and decidedly unfunny right now. I hope it changes soon because this phase totally and completely sucks.

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