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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Thursday, January 31, 2008

LOST Discussion Friday--Season 4 Begins!

New title, new season, new viewing date, even some new characters. But one thing remains the same. Hot diggety dawg, that man is mmmm mmmmmm good.

That is the best Lost promo I've ever seen.

OK, on to the episodes. The first hour of the Lost extravaganza was a catchup show. I think after such a long stretch of time, it was a decent idea to bring us right up to the start of Season 4. Unfortunately, there is so much left out of any of these recap shows that it isn't really enticing enough for people just wanting to get into Lost. But it did help me to remember a few of the better moments, like Hurley and the VW Bus, Sun discovering that it's Jin's baby, and of course the hot and heavy Sawyer moments with Kate. But really, I was chomping at the bit for the first real episode, which seemed to take forever to get here.

Season 4.1 "The Beginning of the End"

The episode kicks off with a car crashing through a fruit stand as the police pursue it in a high speed chase. Jack (Matthew Fox), in flash-forward, mixes a screwdriver and watches the chase on TV. The car tries to pull a Dukes of Hazzard jump, but it crashes. The cops pull out their guns, and out of the car steps Hurley, signifying that this is definitely a flash-forward. He tries to run, but the cops catch up to him as he yells, "Don't you know who I am? I'm one of the Oceanic Six! I'm one of the Oceanic Six!"

Next, Hurley is being detained by a cop, who shows him a security video where he freaked out in a convenience store and ran out without paying. Hurley saw somebody who spooked him, and the cops want to know who. The cop mentions that Hurley's celebrity doesn't impress him, and also says that he knew the late, great Ana-Lucia. Hurley claims he never met her. The cop looks wicked familiar to me, but I just could not place him. But I know we've seen him before. Anyone know?

Without warning, Hurley has a vision that the 2-way window of the detention room turns into glass with ocean water behind it. Someone in scuba gear swims up, breaks the glass, and the room starts flooding. Hurley freaks out as the cop comes back to check on the commotion. He threatens to throw Hugo in the psycho ward, and he's noticeably thrilled with the idea. He begs the cop to put him in the psycho ward. It looks like Hurley has lost some of his marbles again, or that he's so scared of what he saw in the convenience store that he feels he needs to be locked up to be safe.

Back on the island, Jack lets Hurley know that rescue is on the way as Sun and Claire dote over adorable little Aaron. Boy, that baby is getting BIG. Rose is standing nearby and mentions that Charlie is a hero for turning off the jamming signal. Ah, this is going to be mightily depressing when Claire learns about his death. There is still the small group on the beach, but most of the Losties are climbing up to the radio tower to unjam the signal and send out an SOS.

The radio tower team, with Jack in command, arrives at the tower. Ben comes from another direction and asks to talk to Jack. He and Jack exchange 'words' and Jack removes Ben's walkie talkie and gun. Ben is tied to a tree. He gives Danielle his old shpiel about how everybody is going to die, and that she needs to get Alex as far away as possible. Danielle punches him in the face for his warning, which is pretty funny. While Ben and Danielle are 'chatting' Naomi starts dialing up the freighter when Vooomp! Knife in the back. And it's Locke the Destroyer, yet again blocking the groups ability to be rescued. Lots of bitching ensues, and then it is noticed that almost dead Naomi has disappeared into the jungle, as has Locke. Two groups split up and go off to find Naomi. Jack and a few Losties vs Kate alone.

Back at the beach, after telling Bernard about his past lottery winnings, and how when they get home he'll be free of the money because his relatives would have it, Hurley decides he wants to celebrate the impending rescue by cannonballing into the ocean. He jumps in, and comes back up to see Desmond returning to shore. Desmond explains that the people on the boat aren't who they claim they are, while Hurley demands to know where Charlie is. Desmond has to explain that he's gone, and everybody is rather devastated, including myself.

Jack is chatting with "George Minkowski" on the freighter with Naomi's phone, and unfortunately the guy wants to talk with Naomi to get a lock on their location. Jack says that she went to get some firewood, and suddenly notices that Naomi has disappeared. He demands that Ben tell him where she ran off to, or crawled off to as the case may be.

After finding out that it's not Penny's boat coming to the island, Sawyer, who is still on the beach, wants to call Jack with the bad news. Sayid and Hurley aren't into that idea and throw Sawyer's walkie into the ocean. Back by the radio tower, Jack lets everyone know that they need to make themselves visible to the rescuers. Danielle, handy as ever, has found a trail of blood leading into the jungle that she believes belongs to the wounded Naomi. Kate thinks it might be a false lead, and wants to look for a second trail.

After the group at the beach grab some guns to go find Jack, Hurley flash-forwards to his future time in the mental ward. There's a creepy man named Matthew visiting him, who explains that he knows all about Hurley's arrest and commitment to the institution. He tells Hurley that, on behalf of Oceanic Airlines, he wants to offer him a special upgrade. Hurley declines and, feeling suspicious, asks the guy for a business card. Strangely enough, he doesn't have one. The man asks Hurley, "Are they still alive?" Hurley freaks out as the man swiftly exits the room.

As the beach crew walks through the jungle on their way to meet up with Jack's group, Sawyer asks Hurley if he wants to talk about his feelings over Charlie. It's a sweet moment, even though Hurley declines and decides to walk by himself for awhile. Unfortunately he gets a bit lost, and ends up stumbling upon Jacob's cabin in the middle of the jungle. A light is on inside, and Hurley immediately knows it's not a good omen.

Danielle has tracked the bloody trail into the jungle as far as it goes. It stops suddenly, which is a sure fire sign that Naomi tricked them and led them the wrong way. The satellite phone is also missing, and Ben reveals that Kate took it when she hugged Jack goodbye and followed another blood trail to hunt down Naomi. We cut to Kate, who gets a call from one of the freighter people. The man, who is named George, demands to know where Naomi is, and at that moment she drops out of a tree and holds a knife to Kate's throat.

Naomi is still claiming that she was on the island to rescue the castaways. The phone rings again, Kate hands it to her, and Naomi lies, telling George that she hurt herself on a tree branch when she parachuted in. Naomi sends him the correct coordinates for their location before keeling over dead. Was she actually a good person after all?

With curiosity getting the best of him, Hurley decides it'd be a good idea to peer into Jacob's shack. He sees a shadow in a rocking chair that looks remarkably like Jack's dead father, and suddenly a face pops up right in front of him. He runs in the other direction, only to find the cabin in front of him all over again. He tells himself he's seeing things, the cabin disappears, and Locke shows up instead. That Locke is always popping up in the darndest places.

Locke asks Hurley if he's positive that Charlie wrote "Not Penny's Boat" on his hand, and Hurley admits that it was a mistake that Jack called those people. He agrees to help Locke talk Jack out of the rescue mission.

Everyone ends up reuniting at the fusilage in the jungle. There's much happy reuniting amongst the group, especially for Sun and Jin and Bernard and Rose. Claire is on the lookout for Charlie, but doesn't see him anywhere. Hurley approaches her and breaks the terrible news. Claire is horribly shaken.

Back in the mental institution, Hurley meets another patient who says that some guy is staring at him. Weirdly enough, it's Charlie. Charlie tells Hurley that he needs to talk to him, and Hurley mentions that he's the guy who was in the convenience store. Hurley is, understandably, freaking out since Charlie is supposed to be dead. Charlie says, "I am dead, but I'm also here," and smacks Hurley as proof that he's corporeal. Charlie tells him that he's hiding from something and keeps repeating the phrase "they need you." Hurley closes his eyes, claims none of what's happening is real, and Charlie disappears.

Back in the not so crazy jungle, the happy reunions are quickly stopped when Jack walks up to Locke and punches him in the face. He steals Locke's gun, points it at his head, and pulls the trigger. Thankfully there are no bullets in it. Once again, Locke proves that he can't be killed! He has more lives than a cat, that guy.

Because Jack can't shoot Locke in the face, he decides to give him a good pummeling instead. Locke insists that he never did anything to hurt any of them, and that all the crazy stuff he's done has been in the best interest of everyone on the island. Kate reappears, letting the castaways know that Naomi successfully called her people before dying. Locke tells them that he's going to the barracks, and that if people want to survive they better come with him. Jack thinks he's lost his mind, for about the three-hundredth time since they arrived on the island.

Hurley steps in to remind everyone of the warning that Charlie gave them. If Charlie sacrificed himself to save the day, then he agrees with Locke that trouble is coming. He joins Locke's side, as do Claire, Ben, Danielle, Alex, and Karl. Sawyer also decides to join the team, much to Kate's dismay. They walk off into the jungle just as a torrent of rain starts to fall.

In the final flash-forward of the episode, Hurley is playing basketball at the psych ward when Jack comes to see him. Jack is still a professional doctor and not the bearded, drunken wreck we saw him as in the finale. Hurley asks if the reporters are leaving him alone, and Jack says that they are, though he still has to sign some autographs when he goes out for coffee. He also claims that he's thinking of growing a beard, but Hurley advises against it.

The real reason Jack is visiting is to see if Hurley is going to tell anyone the secret of the "Oceanic Six." Hurley apologizes for going with Locke and admits that he should have stayed by Jack's side. He says, "I think it wants us to go back. It's going to do everything it can." Jack cuts him off, claiming that they're never going back to the island. As we know, his feelings will certainly change after he finds that mysterious obituary in the paper.

The episode wraps up back on the island, with the helicopter finally arriving to save the day, or possibly kill everyone, or possibly something else entirely. Jack and Kate run to find it, and a man who just landed in the jungle confronts them. "Are you Jack?" he asks. The screen cuts to black, and that's the end of the most anticipated season premiere of the year.

On a scale of 1-5, with five being fabulous, I give this episode a solid 4. It wasn't heart-thumping, but it brought a lot of information together in a short period of time.

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It's Bloggy GIveaway Time

Comments are closed. Winners to be announced Saturday afternoon. Good luck!

Good golly, isn't it a fine fine day?

(Actually here in New England the weather sucks, everyone in my house is sick, and the house looks like a cyclone struck it, but....)

"It's a great day for America", to quote Craig Ferguson. Why? Because today is the first day of the Bloggy Giveaway and I'm going to show you what great great prizes I have.

First, for your kindergarten kid, we've got a brand new copy of

Jump Start World, First Grade.

This plays on both Macs and PCs.

Voted one of the best video games for 2007 – Jinny Gudmundsen for USA Today

A revolutionary learning system for broadband Internet users! This series of 12 Adventures takes place in a wildly imaginative 3D world. Skill mastery is ensured as kids must complete all educational missions before the next Adventure Pack is downloaded. Personalized with artwork, photos and custom rewards.

What you're getting: The first two adventures, which contain over 80 games, puzzles, and missions. Never been played, brand spanking new. But... the back cover has a rip on it. Full disclosure and all.

My kids LOVED Jump Start games when they were little, and when I brought this home they both wanted to play it. I had to fight them to keep them away from it!

Next, we've got a brand new, never been unwrapped, copy of

Frat Boy Digital Printable Scrapbooking Kit.

Yup, you get a CD from Glitz Design with way cool designs to print your own paper at home. The kit comes with paper designs, journaling cards and fun accents. The color scheme is in oranges, lime green, reds. Very cool! Very Retro. (Sorry for the lousy pics. You have no idea of how hard it is to photograph cellophane and I didn't want to unwrap it.)

And lastly, for you to enjoy any way you want, a

$10 Visa Gift Card.

I know! Think of the possibilities. Coffee at your favorite shoppe. A little extra at Target. Something special just for Y. O. U. Tuck it away for a little surprise when you're having a lousy day. But spend it on you, OK?

How to win

Comment on this post. Oh, you can comment on other posts too, but THIS post is the one that will let you win these prizes.

When you comment you need to do two things:

Leave a WORKING contact address. This means, your email addy is either in your comment (and yes, you can fudge it to avoid spamming) or on your blog linked to your comment. If your email is not easily obtained by me, you aren't going to win. I still love you and everything, but I need to contact you and I just don't have the stamina to search the blogosphere for you. BTDT.

Tell me which of the three prizes you want. If you aren't picky and would like any of the three, I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always... oh, sorry. But if you have your little heart set on one item, tell me.

See, easy peasy so far.

Now, when and IF I contact you as a winner, you lucky stiff, I will leave two email addresses. You MUST RESPOND TO BOTH OF THEM. Why? Because my freaking email often shoves unknown mail into my spam folder and you know, searching through thousands of spams to find your mail...well, it's not gonna happen. So make sure you respond to BOTH emails with your snail mail address.

How I'm going to pick the winners:

The contest will close on Friday at 5 pm. You've got plenty of time to enter, but please, only enter once. Repeats will be discarded.

On Friday evening, I'll run a random number generator to choose three numbers. I'll count the reponses, and those three numbers are the winnahs. Now, you that are chosen know what you have to do. It says so right up there. See?

If I do not hear from the three winners within 48 hours of the time I send out the emails to you, I move on to the next winner, generated by the..... you know. So you have 48 hours to send two emails with your snail mail address. I am counting on you to do it!

Any questions? Email me and I'll respond asap.

Good Luck!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yippee--It's LOST Discussion Thursday

Finally, we got some LOST loving going on. Tonight we got to see the last two episodes of last season, both to whet our appetites for tomorrow's season premier, and to help us to remember the finer points of last season's finale. My heart is still pounding. This was the best season finale ever.

I'm going to link you to both the next to last and last episode recaps I did last year, so you can read up on my thoughts and questions and be all ready for tomorrow night's first recap of the season. I'm totally and completely psyched to find out some answers. Of course I'm realistic, we're not going to know who was in that coffin anytime soon, I bet. But at least we're going to move forward in the storyline!

For those regular readers who started after LOST was over last season, well suffice it to say I'm a bit overly obsessed with this show. I love it. I watch it very carefully and I tend to have a lot of questions along with a bit of a recap. I hope to encourage you that aren't big LOST fans to give it another try, or start by looking over my recaps for the couple of years. You're bound to get hooked.

Let me know if you're a new Lostie recap fan. And feel free to search my archives for Lost Discussion Thursday. You'll find some pretty good reading there.

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A sad farewell to John Edwards

Today's announcement that John Edwards is going to drop out of the presidential race isn't surprising. He had almost no media coverage (positive or negative) and his populist message focused on poverty in America is still like talking to the deaf; nobody wants to hear it. But Edwards represented me. I'm living in poverty and although my poverty isn't that horribly uncomfortable compared to many families, I know what it is to have to make choices that should never have to be made. I've got pneumonia right now, but I'm unable to see a doctor due to the way the health care system is set up to be uncooperative at best with handicap transportation.

I believe in John Edwards. I think he really cared about the disenfranchised in the US. I believe he could have let this country forward in a way that would make the biggest difference for it's citizens.

But now I'm in a quandary. I have to choose someone else to vote for, and frankly, my choices aren't dancing in front of me. Hilary... I just don't think I can do it. I like Bill, I think he's brilliant and funny and very interesting. Having read his books, I feel that I know the man. But Hilary is an enigma to me. That shell of being a political wife for so long seems impenetrable. I'm sure there's a person behind there, but I don't think it's the person I want to vote for. She needs to tell me what she's going to do to help me, and her health care plan sucks. She's not going to change the poverty levels, she's not going to change low income housing jamups, and she's certainly not going to change the farm bill. We have different needs and interests.

Obama? I'm just not confident that he can beat a Republican, especially if it's John McCain, which is looking more and more possible. I just don't know. I feel like I've got a lot more research to do before Super Tuesday, and I feel like my choice was swept from under my feel.

Thank you, John Edwards, for at least bringing the discussion of poverty in the US to the forefront, even if nobody else even bothered to listen.

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The one where I do the unthinkable

You know, I believe I've mentioned two or three times that I've been sick. Oh, more like 300 hundred times? Well, geesh, give me a break, it's been 7 weeks and I still feel like death warmed over.

Yesterday at my Cardiac Rehab group, when they were doing my vitals, the nurse listened to my back because my breathing is so shallow and the coughing so forced, and she said, "You have pneumonia." Well, Uh-Duh. How long have I been saying this? I can't freaking breathe. She told me to pop on over to my PCP for a chest X-ray, but I believe I've mentioned this damn PCP is nigh on impossible to see. And I've got an appointment next week. So do I just stick it out?

Up till today I would have stuck it out, but I'm in such crappy shape today I did the unthinkable. I ate Jello. Jell-freaking-O. I hate the stuff. It totally creeps me out. I have to be near death's doorstep to put Jello into my mouth. But this evening it was the only thing I could think of to eat that wouldn't either make me choke or make me puke.

Are you having fun yet?

If you've wondered just what I've been up to, or where I've disappeared to, well the answer is either the sofa or my bed. It actually takes too much effort right now to read your blogs. I know you're posting and I promise I'll try to get back and read everyone, but comments? Not a chance. Way too tiring.

I did get out today to take the Boy to his shrink because I so wanted to talk to the doctor. And after 2 freaking years of telling him that the Boy's eating habits are just out of any possible grasp of 'the norm' he finally heard me. I know that if you have a teenage boy, it's expected that they eat a lot, but I went to the store on Friday and bought $250 worth of food to last until the beginning of next month, and it's gone. GONE. I'm barely eating, the Girl wasn't eating at all, so he just at the entire store. 6 muffins, 6 bagels, loaf of challah, loaf of marble rye, 2 boxes of saltines, OJ, cranberry juice, cran pom juice, 12 cans ginger ale...gone. 8 packs ramen, 8 boxes mac and cheese, tortillas, cheese....gone.

This just blew me away because this is binge eating. You can't be hungry with all those carbs. Plus I told him over and over not to eat this or that and he did anyhow. He admitted that he felt guilty for eating the food but he can't stop himself. I freaking KNEW IT. I've been screaming eating disorder for years. So we're going to do a bunch of medical tests to check thyroid, cholesteral (the Boy has been worried about his cholesteral) blood sugar, etc. and when those come back, we'll figure out what to do. Because this is just NOT working right now.

Back to bed. But are you guys playing the great Bloggy Giveaway?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Interview with Melanie of Artful Kisser

Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month has introduced the Great Interview Experiment, where people volunteer to be interviewed, and in turn to interview someone else. I was interviewed a couple of days ago by Nathan at Okay City. He did a great job and I was really proud of the result.

Now it's my turn to interview Melanie of Artful Kisser. Melanie is from Melbourne Australia where she's a fairly new mom to the very adorable Eddie (Edwina) and partner to The Partner. Melanie says about her site, "A newish mother in dire need of a creative outlet for all the thoughts running amok in her head. Juggling an active and vivacious toddler, a verbally dyslexic partner, a shambles of a career and her youthful dreams into the harsh reality of now being a thirtysomething. I promise no insights or anything remotely interesting."

Even though she promises nothing insightful or interesting, she posts some really amazingly indepth tales about her life, politics, pop culture, and her delightful daughter. I'm new to her site, but in order to do the interview I read her entire archives and now I think I know her like a sister. So, here's my brand new sister Melanie!

1) Explain your Andy Dick attraction.... please!

Do you ever have those moments when you're blogging and you think "Should I write this? Is this what I'll be remembered for? Do I want to be remembered as the only woman in the world who wants to get horizontal with Andy Dick???"

I need to preface my explanation by saying my statement was in the context of naming 5 men I would be deeply ashamed to admit to my friends that I would like to shag. A shame file of sorts. I was probably thinking of Andy Dick's days on News Radio. The skinny, geeky, bumbling, naive, lisping, foppish, bespectacled hopeless case appealed to me. Recent footage has bumped him down the list somewhat. For shame...for shame....

2) You write a lot about becoming a mom. Now that you have a couple of years of parenting under your belt, what's the one piece of advice you would give an expectant mother?

That first year was incredibly hard for me. If I could go back I would tell myself "Don't have any expectations and don't even try living up to other peoples expectations. Enjoy every moment for what it is. Each day is a wonderful new adventure and housework, schmousework! In the whole scheme of things who gives a flying fig when those dishes are done? And most importantly avoid other blogging mummies who only ever post Stepford Wives photos of sheer domestic harmony because they will bore you to tears and ultimately do your head in."

3) I see you're a big Nigella Lawson fan (I've met her father and Uncle, BTW). Do you have a favorite recipe from Nigella you can share?

I feel like I've practically met her now through you, Margalit. Small world... I can't say I've ever really used her recipes, other than her watermelon daiquiris. Delicious on a balmy Melbourne day.

100ml (or to taste) white rum
Juice of 1 good-sized lime
4 teaspoons icing sugar
Approximately 10 x 5cm cubes of frozen watermelon

Put all the above ingredients in a blender and blitz to a pinky foamy puree, it will look like a liquid sorbet. Pour into four waiting martini glasses. Add mint leaves for garnish.

4) You've posted about your stats and about the blogosphere being less than kind. Do you worry about all these undertones or do you shrug it all off? Do you see any changes in the blogging community as we move forward?

I've always been curious about stats, when it appears that someone from Timbuktu, for instance, returns to my blog and spends a good deal of time surfing without ever commenting. Who are they? And what am I writing that interests them? It just seems kind of absurd to me that anyone outside of Melbourne, Australia would derive anything entertaining or valuable from what I've written. And most would probably agree!

In terms of the blogosphere being less than kind, I've learnt that many people fail to behave online the same way they would behave in person. I've also learnt that gut instincts are often fairly accurate, even if you have only a vague sense of something being not quite right. I committed social cyber suicide by refusing to cover for a married girlfriend (whom I had known pre-blogging) when she sprung it on me of her liaison with a foreign blogger. It wasn't my place to judge or out her and I didn't, but I was livid that she put me in that position. I paid for it in the blogosphere, but if I could survive that, I can survive anything now.

I do feel the blogging world today is not so controlled by the chosen queen bees and king dicks as it was a few years ago. There are more players in the game. It's much more of an open forum and there's a greater sense of community. Not to be the suck up, but Neil's ideas, including this interview experiment are an example of how things are becoming more inclusive. The times they are a changing.

5) Who is responsible for the Pavlova, the Aussies or the Kiwis? And please, a recipe?

Ooh, controversy. I believe at the time that Pavlova danced in Australia and New Zealand, chefs were whipping up desserts in her honour willy-nilly and over the years what has evolved is the Pavlova we have today. I'm not sure it can be claimed by one or the other, though that never stopped Australia. Just ask Mel Gibson, Split Enz, Nicole Kidman, Olivia Newton- John, Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts etc etc etc. I think Stephanie Alexander's recipe is the best which you can
find on Nigella's website (http://www.nigella.com/recipes/recipe.asp?article=136) funnily

6) Speaking of food, every Aussie I know is insane over Tim Tams. Describe why, please.

Put quite plainly, there is nothing in the world that will make you feel better before or during your period or during a break up the way a Tim Tam can. It's just two chocolate biscuits with a chocolate filling dipped in chocolate, but man, they must put some good drugs in there. Great with red wine. You bite the ends off the Tim Tam and suck the wine through it. That's only if it's a particularly nasty break up though.

7) Talk about Elizabeth Hasselback. I know you love her so.

The darling of American daytime telly. I do watch The View, mainly for Whoopi and Joy, but Elizabeth just drives me crackers. I'm all for open dialogue and giving everyone a voice, particularly those with different opinions but Elizabeth brings nothing informative or remotely entertaining to the table. And yes, she just gives me the irrits.

8) You've posted about your lack of love for other bloggers "About Me" section on their blogs. Can you give some constructive criticism to help bloggers improve their "About Me's"?

Probably not... I guess it does come down to self loathing. I have an aversion to people who love to describe themselves a la "I'm such an insane person! I have a fabulous personality. I have the bestest sense of humour. Wanna hear a joke?" But aside from that I really do dislike reading an "About Me" that is lifted word for word from every other blog I've ever seen. My advice would be to be honest about who you are. Be concise and punchy. Omit pfaffery for pfaffery's sake.
And leave your ego at the door before you touch the keyboard.

9) Your partner is Polish. Are you teaching Eddie Polish? What Polish cultural things are you imparting to her?

She picks it up at family gatherings where Polish is the main language spoken. I can mostly understand conversations but can't converse. I discreetly use it at the supermarket when my nerves are a little frayed. "Cicho" (quiet) gets used often. Culturally they're keenly aware of retaining their customs through language, food, music, dance, festivals and obviously the church and religious holidays. I'm not sure if they're cultural things or it's just my partner's family, but
they are very loud, exuberant, open, welcoming and eternally hungry people and she does get that from them, not so much from me.

10) What is Kransky and how do you make it?

My partner's family probably refer to it more as Kielbasa and it is essentially every part of the pig minced up with garlic and seasoning and encased in the pigs gut. Unbelievably delicious boiled and at Easter when it's freezing outside.

11) Are you following the US Elections? Who do you hope will be the next US president and why?

It's very hard not to follow the US elections, given the length of campaigning in addition to being genuinely interested in the outcome given the effect it will have on the rest of the world. I'm all for having someone in Office who can inspire the common person and create hope in a nation and I think Obama does that, but certainly I admire Clinton. She's got guts and she's already demonstrated her ability to do the job and do it well.

12) You blog about Australian politics. If you became Prime Minister, what are the three changes to government you would make?

  1. Become a Republic. It's crazy that we're a Constitutional Monarchy and that the Queen of England is our Head of State.
  2. Revamp the Constitution to reflect Australia today.
  3. Most particularly recognition in the Constitution of Aboriginal people and for our rights to be enshrined in the Constitution. There is currently nothing there and it's a big reason why we're at such a disadvantage today, compared to the Maori in New Zealand, for instance.

13) You're an illustrator by trade. What kind of illustrations do you do for work? For pleasure?

I would love to be a professional illustrator, but am actually a mediator by trade, ie. resolving disputes between parties to a conflict. I draw anything and everything but lack the discipline
required to ply it as a trade. For pleasure I am prone to being inspired by things I see in everyday life but inspiration is momentary, lasting maybe a couple of weeks at the most. Currently I'm inspired by the effect of age and weather on old signs and replicating that in illustrations.

14) What book and recording has made the most impact on your life. Tell us why.

This is the most difficult question to answer, because I could ponder on it for hours and never come up with a solitary answer. I'm a firm believer in books meaning different things to me at different times in my life and I'm sure I've read tonnes of books that I just wasn't ready for. Those that touched me at the time included:

  • The Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky. I was 3 and learnt I could achieve great things even if most people and logic told me I couldn't.
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen. I was 16 and such a romantic it's embarrassing.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I was 18 and still utterly hopeless.
  • The White Hotel by D. M Thomas. I was 22 and enraged with the world and its atrocities.
  • Voss by Patrick White. I was 26 with a broken heart but my ideals still in tact
  • Birth by Catherine Price & Sandra Robinson. My bible for a year during pregnancy and birth.
  • A Heart So White by Javier Marias. A recent discovery. I'm simultaneously mesmerised and pulverised by his words.

A recording that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it is
"Weeping in the Forest" by Archie Roach, an Aboriginal Australian
singer. He has the most powerful and compelling voice filled with
beauty and pain that speaks for generations of Aboriginal people.
Archie's voice demonstrates how dispossession, denial of culture and
family tear a race apart in ways that words alone are unable.

Thank you so much Melanie for being such a great respondant. I can't wait to read more of your blog.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

You know what tomorrow is, right?

Tomorrow is the first day for Shannon's Bloggy Giveaways.

What's that?

It's a contest. A huge contest. Probably the biggest contest in the blogosphere. Hundreds of blogs each hold their own contest for free prizes. FREE STUFF, people. Can it get better than that?


This time around I have three fabulous prizes to offer. What are they? Oh, not so fast, buster. You gotta come here tomorrow morning to see what I'm offering. And I'll tell you now, you're going to want to enter for each of my three prizes.

What do you have to do to win a prize? You have to leave a comment. But...not just any comment. You have to tell me what prize your heart desires, AND (this is very important) you must leave me contact information. If you just leave your blog info and your blog does not have your email on it, I won't be able to find you. So, right now.... I'll wait....... go put your contact information on your blog. You can do it so that you won't get spammed. You know, the old margalitc at yahoo dot com kinda thing. That's fine. But no email, no prize.

How do I decide who wins amongst such delightful contestants? I use a random number generator to choose winners. Because, you know, I'm lazy. Let them do the work. You reap the benefits.

Once the random number generator chooses you, yes YOU, the lucky winner. I'll contact you. I'll send you two different email addresses. You are to (and this is VERY important) respond to both email addresses. Not just one, both. Because email isn't as reliable as it once was and I want to make sure you don't land in a spam folder, so I'm giving you two chances instead of one. I'm nice like that. Your response will have a gracious thank you telling me what a wonderful and delightful person I am, and you will include your snail mail address. SNAIL MAIL, people.

Once I get your address, I'll mosey on up to the Post Office and mail off your prize. Voila!

DON'T FORGET! The Bloggy Giveaways Carnival will be going LIVE at Bloggy Giveaways tomorrow morning, January 28th, at 8 am CST. Get ready!

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dude, where did the day go?

I should have listened to Jack Nicholson. Remember, he told us all that Ambien was some crazy shit. He warned us. He sure did.

Evidentally Heath and I didn't really take Jack's medical expertise at face value. Heath... well we know what happened to him, and Ambien was one of the medications found in his bedroom. We also know that Heath was a horrible insomniac. Yeah, me too. And when I'm sick and coughing, it's even worse. I can't lay down, I can't get comfortable, everything hurts. I shift from one side of the bed to the other. I get so frustrated. It's beyond annoying. Maybe Heath felt the same way. Reports said he had pneumonia. He could have been up coughing his brains out, too.

Around 5 this morning I gave up and took a half of an Ambien. Took about 20 minutes and knocked me out cold. All freaking day. Now I'm in a bit of a fog, trying to follow the fast conversations going on around me between a bevy of teenagers I've just fed a vat of chicken soup. I like when my kids have friends over so they leave me alone. Which they did. I slept.

Now tonight I'll have to do it again. Which is why I hate taking meds for sleep. One night is never enough.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to sleeping all day. The Boy didn't take his meds. He "forgot", and because I was dead to the world, I couldn't supervise him. He's a bit annoying right now.

The Girl and her friend made cookies. She's still not eating more than a spoonful or two of stuff. My guess is that she'll be all better by tomorrow. I hope so, because she's a shadow of her former self right now. I hate it when she's sick. But I even hate it worse when the Boy is sick because he becomes a demanding, whiny, complaining bundle of needs. He is a guy, after all.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Mommy's having a very weird day

Last night, no sleep. Roiling stomach, neck pain back so badly it's now running down the nerve past my elbow and into my hand. OUCH. I feel like crapola.

The Girl has an appointment this morning. She gets up, comes in and talks to me for a second, turns a delightful shade of gray and says "I'm gonna throw up." She runs to the bathroom and sure enough, barforama. But she doesn't have a fever or any other symptoms so I figure she's eaten something wrong or she's just nervous or whatever.

We get to the meeting building and she looks at me and says "I'm gonna barf again. Can we just stay here for a minute?" We hang out, the feeling passes and we get into the elevator. She promptly barfs one, two, no three times! In the elevator. It was like being back in my college dorm on a Friday night.

I get out of the elevator and tell them that she's barfed all over it. They look at me with daggers and call the cleaning service. I think they hate me. She gets out of the elevator and goes into the bathroom and barfs again. She washes up as best she can, but she's pungent.

We finish the meeting and are waiting for The Ride to come. She barfs outside on the sidewalk. She couldn't even make it to the plantings. Then she barfs again on the snow. I finally get that the child is sick.

The Ride comes and the driver is a doozy. Most of the drivers are either Haitian or African, and for the most part they're pleasant and respectful if not the world's best drivers. They tend to get lost a lot, they're always late, and they often are confused about who they are picking up. It's bad management. But this guy. Oh my God, this guy was insane. First, we get in the van and he proceeds to do paperwork for at least 15 minutes. He totally ignores us. I ask him if we're waiting for someone else, and he says no, but still goes on with the paperwork. The Girl is looking particularly green at this point and I worry she's going to hurl in the van. He finally pulls out and gets on the highway! I ask where the hell we're going, as the building is on the same freaking street we live on. He ignores me and keeps driving. He's speeding like a demon, hitting the brakes so hard that he knocked the gingerale out of the Girl's hand and didn't notice the huge bottle rolling around the van.

He gets on the phone while he's driving, which is so not allowed. And he's having an argument with the guy he's talking to. He gets to a stop sign and starts to go straight and I yell, "TURN RIGHT" because that's where we live. He starts to argue and I say "Turn right" again. He turns, but he's still yelling on the phone. I tell him to take the next right at our driveway, and he drives by it. I yell "RIGHT. UP THE DRIVEWAY. GO UP THE HILL." He's still on the phone. I say it again. I can't possibly make it up our driveway myself, nor should I have to. It's his job. So I tell him again to go up the hill and he turns around and yells at me that he's on the phone. I say "I don't care, I'm the customer." and he gets really ticked. I again tell him to go up the hill and he's pissed. PISSED. I'm interrupting his important conversation I guess.

He finally drives up the hill and starts cussing me out. I tell him to pull into the right parking space and he purposely pulls into the left, which makes me have to walk even further. I'm shaking I'm so upset, but I get out of the van and thank him. Because I'm an idiot, evidentally.

I walk into the house, call his office and report him. This is NOT a guy who should be driving the handicapped around. Not for one more minute.

He got fired.

He sat in my driveway on the phone for a while, and I was a bit worried that he would come and kill me or something, but he eventually drove away.

And it's only noon!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

I wanna rock n roll all night

I had an amazing childhood when it came to music. I grew up in the 60's in California. I know, it sucks for all you thirty somethings, but man, it was so excellent for me. I got to go to concerts all the time. I saw the Beatles at Hollywood Bowl, the Jefferson Airplane at a private concert, I went to the TAMI show where James Brown performed, I saw some real winners like the Association and Laura Nyro. Actually, I love Laura Nyro now. I even got to see Leslie Gore in the round singing "It's my party..." When my kids look at some of my concert stubs they can't believe some of the people I've seen live.

My parents never really got my affection for rock music. My mother was a big Frank Sinatra fan, and my dad was huge on the big band sound. That was also fortunate, because he took us to see Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie and Duke Ellington. We evensaw (oh my God, I can't believe I'm gonna admit this) Tom Jones in Vegas. I know, how mortifying!

When I was a kid, you could only purchase LPs. They weren't even in stereo when I started buying records. I had a tendency to, um, remove myself from me educational opportunities whenever a new album that I had to have came out. I would go into Hollywood because the record stores always had the LPs at noon, whereas in the burbs you had to wait a whole day! I know, the insanity, the brutality of the burbs! I remember bolting to Hollywood Blvd to get Axis Bold as Love. My love for Jimi Hendrex continues to this day.

My parents, who were fairly dimwitted about everything their children were doing (blind would be a better description, actually) never had a clue. But they had their own interests. They collected art of various sorts. One of the paintings they had hanging on our back landing was actually done by the same artist that did the LOVE album. That totally impressed me.

Anyhow, Mrs Chicky has presented a great little meme where you get to design your own album cover using set parameters, and I've just done mine:

You want to play, don't ya? This is how I did it.

1. The first title on this page is the name of your band.

2. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album. Click the "New Random Quotations" button for more.

3. The third picture on this page will be your album cover. You then take the photo and add your band name and the album title to it, then post your picture. Please don't forget to give credit.

** This is rock and roll. Rules are made to be broken! (According to Mrs. Chicky, anyhow.)

I don't do well in tagging people, because when I'm tagged and can't get it together to do a meme I feel severe Jewish guilt. So, if you want to do it, just go right ahead. It's a lot of fun.

But remember to tell me where to find your album cover so I can check it out. OK?

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Overview of all Presidential candidates on health care

Here's a great link to see first hand how each of the candidates running for President think about health care and health care issues. In my humble opinion, Mrs Clinton's stance on health care might be her undoing.

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The Silent Treatment is Back in Force!

Lucky me, because it's all my fault. All. My. Fault. No matter what IT happens to be, it's my fault and don't you forget it!

Act 4 was this morning. I tried to talk to the Girl before the meeting about the outcome, because I had a feeling that it wasn't going to play out the way she wanted it. Man, my crystal ball was in overtime because the director of this particular program didn't even want to consider the Girl as it wasn't what the team had recommended. But I'm so glad we went because this director is sharp as a tack and very straight with kids, and she totally laid it out on the line for the Girl. Meanwhile, the Girl's eyes are filling with tears and she's just burning with anger because she was sure she could coerce people into doing what she wanted, and it didn't work.

This director advised me to get a CHINS on the Girl (child in need of service, a legal petition to the juvenile probation office for 'stubborn child', which would make the Girl have to report to the PO and if she wasn't doing what was expected of her, she would go in front of the judge, who could possibly put her in a residential program.) Anyhow, the director wouldn't even allow the Girl to think that this program was right for her at this time, although if she finished the other program, it could be the next step into getting back to school. She also told the Girl the true rendition of what happened at the meeting on Thursday, refusing to allow the Girls interpretation of the meeting to be considered correct. It wasn't correct, she didn't listen to a word anyone said.

Consequently, it's the silent treatment redeaux. No problem on my side because I know she'll eventually cool off, and regardless, she has no choice but to go to the program we all wanted for her in the first place. So far she's absolutely refusing to cooperate, but she'll melt. She always does.

Being a teenager sucks so much. I feel for her, even as she's threatening me that I'll be sorry I stuck her in that hellhole program. She's gonna show me! She's so angry but she's also unwilling to take responsibility for her actions, the actions that got her to this place. She eventually will, but not anytime soon. She's just too pissed off.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Where I get to bitch about the mental health system

We haven't had a good mental health care rant in a while, have we? Well, I do believe it's time for yet another installment of "What the F is wrong with these people?"

Cast of Characters:

The Girl
Her mom (that would be me)
Her program director (AKA the moron)
The SpEd department head (SDH)
The therapist (shrink)
The evaluator
The Mental Health Care Crisis Team
The Outplacement
and a whole bunch of secondary characters

Act One:

Thursday we have a big IEP meeting to discuss the Girl's very bad transition back to school from the hospital. We do this because I pulled her out of the Moron's program after he had told her a bunch of crap that was ridiculous, thus setting her off in a very bad space. We've had problems with this guy for 1.5 years and that was the last straw.

At the IEP meeting are a bunch of high rollers who are attempting to figure out what to do next for the Girl. The Girl refuses to attend. They first recommend a program that she and I are both set against. We ask for more options. We talk a lot, and it all boils down to her not being ready to be back at school. We call her in, she sits with her Ipod in and refuses to participate. She is bullshit about people making decisions for her. No decision is made at all, and we arrange for an evaluation on Friday with the mental health crisis team. (In MA, we have regional mental health centers that do this type of evaluation to determine what might be the right path to follow. This is how all mental health admissions to hospitals and treatment programs are made.)

On Friday an evaluator showed up and school and talked to the Girl. After the talk she was supposed to notify me (the mother) of what her recommendation was. But this evaluator was so anxious to go off on her vacation to China, that she never called me. She evidentally might have talked to the Girl's shrink, but she was also so anxious to go on vacation that she didn't get in touch with me either. So I had no clue as to what the recommendations were.

Act 2:

Acting on what I thought were the recommendations from the Team meeting (not the eval), I took the Girl on Tuesday morning to visit one of the two programs I was considering. Now, I've documented well the Girl's attitude this past weekend, and she was dead set against visiting this program. She sat like a lump and refused to talk for a bit, and then she started to warm up and let people know her objections to the program. We left there telling them that we would be getting back to them as soon as we made a decision, which would happen after we visited the other program.

Act 3:

Phone rings this morning. I'm dead asleep. Cheery voice says, "Is the Girl coming to XX hospital for her 9:00 intake?" The clock says it's 9:20. I have no clue what this cheery voice is talking about. She tells me that according to the Evaluator, the Girl is to attend this hospital based program that I have no intention of approving, starting on Thursday and she's due for her intake this morning. I tell the voice I know nothing about this, I'll have to check and find out what's going on. I go back to sleep.

The phone rings again. It's the transportation office wanting to know if I have the information about the Girl's ride to the hospital. I know nothing. I tell her that I have not gotten the eval, I don't know what the options are, etc. She tells me it's a five day program. Which is a total waste of money as far as I'm concerned. FIVE freaking days? No thank you.

I call the Crisis team and get (yes, this will sound racist but I'm so ticked off it has nothing to do with race, it has to do with the lack of ability to SPEAK and UNDERSTAND ENGLISH) so Asian guy with a pretty lousy command of the language. Everything I say to him is turned around and made my fault. I say "I never spoke to the evaluator" and he says "But she wrote in her report that she spoke to you." I keep telling him that her report is a pack of lies. He tells me that the Girl told her things that are patently untrue. I'm seething. I have to ask him to repeat everything I say because I know he didn't understand me. And I was right, he had no clue as to what I was saying. So I ask for his supervisor. She gets on the phone, I repeat the whole story, she's aghast that I have not gotten the eval, that the evaluator went on vacation without getting in touch with me, that the shrink is also on vacation, and I am left to try and resolve this entire mess by myself. She cancels the hospital treatment program.

I call the SpEd director who is just as befuddled as I am. She thinks the Girl is starting the program the evaluator recommended and has no clue that I was going to check out the other programs even though this is what we decided at the meeting. I was really clear about it, in fact. She wants me to meet with the transportation people tomorrow the second we've finished with looking at the other program. In other words, no time to even discuss the options.


Act 4 will take place tomorrow.

Bows all around.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WFMW: Cat treats for cats that get blocked easily

One of the more joyous aspects of cat ownership is that the cat urethra is tiny and easily blocked. Usually the blockage are crystals of magnesium, and they can block a cat so badly that they need hospitalization to be unblocked. The last time this happened to the Worthless Pet it cost me over $1200, money saved for a new sofa. So we sit on him instead. KIDDING.

I discovered a product that my cat LOVES and that works for keeping him unblocked. By that I mean, he pees at least twice a day and that's big for a cat. This product is found at PetCo (it's for pets) and is called No-FUS Feline Urinary Support: with real cranberry and herbal extracts. This stuff works like a charm! If WP is showing even the slightest sign of being blocked, we step up his daily intake from 2 tablets to 4 or 5 tablets, and he's right as rain in a day. It keeps your cat's urine acidic, which helps flush toxins, impurities and excessive mineral deposits out of the body and helps prevent ''blocked cat'' syndrome.

But the best part is, you can also use this as a cat incentive to come inside. Just shake the bottle and the cat comes running. Meow!

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It always comes back to get me

Since I've been feeling better the last few days after massive amounts of rest and actual sleep, of course I was up all last night and all of today coughing up a sea of phlegm, all of it really creepy color. It's back. This marks the third time I thought it was going away only for it to return even stronger. My lungs are shot. Honestly, I can barely breathe again.

But that didn't stop me from getting up at the crack of dawn to make sure the Boy was up and ready for his first day back at school. He got up, got dressed, brushed his teeth and washed his face almost voluntarily, and took off for school without a cross word. Will wonders ever cease to amaze me?

Once he was gone, it was time to get the Girl up to interview at a potential program this morning. She was less that enthralled to go, but at least she went semi-willingly. I didn't have to drag her out of the house or anything. Once we got to the interview she was looking mighty pissed off and refused to speak. At first she was totally tuned out, but slowly she got drawn in to the conversation, and by the end of the hour, she was making jokes. She still doesn't want to go there, but her options are rather limited due to her lack of output the entire term. She is starting to take responsibility for her failure to do her work, and now she's decided she wants to make it up. Possible? Yes, but probable? Um, no, not really. We'll see.

We have a second interview on Thursday morning, and with that one under our belts, we'll know what she'll be doing as of next week. I just wish the whole experience was easier for her, but she's sort of made it more difficult than it has to be.

Meanwhile, I'm having the most outrageous hot flashes ever. Every night I go upstairs to bed and my room is so hot, even with the window wide open, that I can't lay still to get to sleep. Last night I put the fan into the window, blowing in 24 degree F air and I was still hot. This is not normal. I like to sleep in a cold room anyhow, and I don't like being hot, but my house is almost impossible to regulate. The thermostats are both on the first floor, and the attic has 20 inches of insulation, so the warm air congregates in the bedrooms. But mine is the hottest, by far. It bothers me to know that I'm sleeping with the window wide open, and sometimes both windows wide open, in the middle of winter. It's such a waste of heat, but what can I do. Last night, with the window open and the fan on, it was still 78 degrees F in my room. To me, that's roasting hot. I much prefer sleeping in a room that's about 62, nice and crisp and cold. But to achieve that in this house, I'd have to turn the air conditioner on, and I am not willing to go that far. The fan was over the top enough for me.

But it's not just about the insane heating in this house. I sit downstairs at my desk and it's 68 degrees and I'm so hot I have to take off my clothes. I open windows downstairs, too, much to my children's chagrin. They like it warm, I would rather be in Alaska freezing my butt off in some nice igloo. My inner thermostat is obviously off. I wear t-shirts and shorts around the house and complain about how hot I am. It is so weird.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

It's about more than Uncle Dick and the twins

Today Julie of MotherGooseMouse is being honored with her own virtual baby shower. Moms of boys have been asked to post about what it means to mother a male child, and what challenges and joys being the mother of a boy brings.

When I found I was pregnant with twins, I was really into having two girls. I wanted daughters (lordy, I was insane) in the worst way. I mean, I'm a girl, I know about girls...boys were scary. I didn't know how I was going to be able to raise a boy, so when I found that I was having one, I wasn't exactly thrilled. But my cousin took me aside and told me something that has been absolutely true throughout my 15 years of mothering a son. She said, "Boys always love their mothers." At the time I thought she was delusional, but she was so right. Boys, or at least my son, is incredibly loving. He snuggles and hugs and tells me he loves me every single day. He doesn't hold a grudge like SOME children in my family.

I've been reading many of the other posts for Julie, and so many of them are written about babies, but I want to tell Julie about what it means to have an older son. When your son reaches the teen years, they share with you things that you never knew about them. In addition, they share interests that you tried desperately to pretend weren't happening, like memorizing the entire 9 years of Seinfeld episodes and relating them to pretty much everything. My son likes to share activities with me, especially cooking. He's become a great cook, and he's often the one that volunteers to make dinner.

Boys are slobs, but girls are so much worse. Teenage boys aren't known for their excellent hygiene, and yet the will clear up their messes while their female counterparts sit there waiting for turn down service.

Boys love to argue. They want to correct everything you say, they want to be right, they like to compete. Girls like to yell and sulk and take everything personally. Boys look at things more globally, and they don't get angry for long. The desire to be right is very important, and yet they apologize when they've started trouble with their competitive nature.

Boys will wear the same underwear for days and be clueless as to why mommy is grossed out by this. Boys NEVER do their laundry until they have not one stitch of available clothing, no matter how many times you nag them.

Boys are hilariously funny. They have a daredevil attitude on the outside, but on the inside they are more cautious than girls. Boys have such great friendships, with no drama and no gossip. They are easy on each other. They like to pay boardgames and tease each other on every round.

They love love love to eat. The amount of food that you will buy each week, only to be consumed before you have a chance to cook it is frightening. Boys will open the freezer, take out some burgers and make them 45 minutes after you've finished dinner, claiming they're starving. They drink gallons of milk and eat entire boxes of cereal on one sitting. They eat 24" subs for a meal and then want dessert.

Because they love to eat so much, they love mommy's cooking. Even if you're not the greatest cook in the world, they'll say you are. They brag to their friends about what a great cook you are, and you end up cooking for crowds of starving boys.

Boys are excellent. My cousin was so right. Boys always love their moms.

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Her resolve is crumbling

The Girl just called me into the living room because she had a funny story to tell me. I think to myself, "she forgot she's not talking to me" because she's laughing and is in a good mood. She tells me the story, which is hilarious but sad, and then says to me, "OK, now I'm not talking to you again."

She's crumbling. She has been talking to me and then telling me she's not talking to me anymore. She's proud that she's lasted 4 whole days.

She's so freaking funny.

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Watching my city freak out

Does your city have a blog? If it does, and you're not reading it, you're missing some of the greatest free entertainment ever. Our city blog is owned by our local paper, which comes out weekly. For years now we've had a great variety of crackpots who believe that the letters to the Editor are for them to spew forth whatever they're pissed off at that week. Then, about a year ago, the paper put out it's blog. It was slow going at first, like any new blog, but then several salient issues in the city brought out the commenters.

Of course, being our fair city, the crackpots soon found the blog, and let forth on the particulars of the lake front and the new high school. Of course they all hate the mayor (and who doesn't in our city) and they also hate the school department en mass, the schools which are way too liberal for these people, the newer and richer residents who drove up the housing costs, people that move into town with children that drive up the school population, and pretty much anyone who isn't white, Christian, and a tax hater.

There are several of my favorite crackpots, one of whom this week decided it would be a good idea to make a video for the local city TV station spewing more of her vitriol on the topic of the secret cameras in the high school. Of course, being this crackpot, she had to add in some nice racist comments, accuse the paper of purposely censoring her comments and calling the editor the Grand Wizard. She's a laugh riot, this one.

Don't you wish you had her letters to the Editor to read each week? And she's one of a little cabal of crackpots.

The best part? The comments on the blog. Some of them are hilarious. People who have no concept of blogging are screaming about censorship, not understand about the terms of use. People who think our favorite crackpot has really gone over the edge. This is entertainment! This blog has become my favorite read these days. I never know what's going to make people go ballistic next, but there is a guarantee that they will!

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Tooting my own horn

I got an email this morning that told me I had reached the #1 position on blogged.com for parenting blogs. I'm not quite sure what this means in the grand schema of things, but number one on any list is good, right? I'm really pleased, especially since I slogged through their list and recognized a lot of blogs that are well known and highly praised.

This blogging thing is interesting. I do it for me. I think it's pretty obvious that I use this space as a place to vent about anything and everything that is driving me nuts, and to share the things that amuse me and occasionally startle me. Blogging has never been, at least for me, about being popular. I think it's apparent that I say what I think and I'm not obsequious in the least. I don't kiss butt, ever. Never have, never will. But when someone tells me that I'm doing a good job, and when I find myself on blogrolls of people I don't even know, it's really exciting. I like that I'm writing about teenagers in a way that other people rarely do. I like that my little family has made an impact on the parents who blog.

And with that, the big news of the day is, a certain someone spoke to me. Not much, and not very nicely, but she talks!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Silent Treatment: Day 3

Amazingly, the Girl is still not speaking to me. I swear, I never thought she could hold out this long, especially without the telephone to bitch to her friends about her mother, the meanest person in the world. That would be me. Ahem. She is talking a bit to her brother and his friends who are over because they have declared our house their second home. Lucky me!

I actually tossed two of them out a bit ago, since the Boy didn't do anything he was supposed to. Like wash his dishes from days ago. Or clean up his mess. Or do his laundry. Or..... what does it matter? He didn't do it. Of course he lied and said he did it, which is par for the teenage course, but he didn't.

I've spent the whole weekend in bed. I figured the only way to beat this dreadful disease it to succumb to it. And actually I feel a bit better. The cough seems to be subsiding, I'm still wracked with wheezing and other crackly sounds, but my head feels a bit clearer. I think what I needed was to just completely collapse, something I never really give myself permission to do. The downside is that my hair is so filthy from laying around that it appears to have been dropped in a nice layer of EVOO. In other words, I am disgusting. Why is it that when you are sick, it just feels better to lay in your own sweaty filth than make an effort to take a shower? We all do it, but why?

Off to make a big pot of chili. Whenever I'm sick I make chili. There's something about eating a nice hot (as in spicy) bowl of chili to clean out your sinuses and make you feel totally and completely grossly happy.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

My my my, it's very quiet around here

The Girl is giving me the silent treatment. The serious silent treatment. She has not spoken to me all day, which must be KILLING her, because there is nobody else to talk to, what with the phone taken away and all. Oh well, stewing is good for the soul some days, and she's got two more to go, so she better get it all out now.

The Boy is out and about, busy and happy and doing well. He saw Cloverfield last night and enjoyed it to the fullest. He was almost bursting with the "it was SO cool Mom" and "the special effects were awesome, Mom" reports. He's been dying to see it for months, and just had to see it on the day it came out. Such a geek, my son is! Now he's sleeping over a friend's house, and it's going to be a guy's geek night. They've got the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3, the Wii, and God only knows what else, and they'll be gaming the night away. I do believe he's even missing the big GAME, of which we are no longer speaking. I am sick sick sick of Patriots talk. I am not a football kinda girl, and although I support the Pats and am happy for their incredible run this year, unless you live in Boston you just cannot believe how insane this city gets around playoffs. It's enough, I tell you. Enough.

I've got a Tu b'Shevat post up at New England Mamas, so dew drop inn.

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Working in education taints you

I used to be a teacher. For 7 years I taught high school English and Social Science. I wanted to teach. I really bought into the whole "helping people" thing that they pushed at Ed School. Funny thing is, most of the people in my M.Ed program had no intention of teaching. They wanted to be administrators and they needed the degree to get out of teaching and over to the dark side. That should have clued me in, but I guess I was blinded by altruism or something.

I loved most of the kids. Even though I complain bitterly about my own teenagers, kids in that age group usually totally enthrall me. I find them hilariously funny, extremely creative, and very interesting. I really love teenagers. I just don't love them 24/7 when I'm financially and emotionally responsible for them. But the experience of working with so many different kinds of teens really did prepare me for parenting my own kids. I understand the motivation of teens, I get what their little minds are cooking up, I understand that they need me even as they pull away. I get them. But the thing is, when you're a teacher, you get to leave at the end of the day, and you get that 3 months off every summer to rejuvinate and regain your sanity.

Unfortunately, parenting teens does not come with 3 months off every summer. Oh, man if it only did. Can you imagine the hordes of parents come the third week of June wandering through airports like zombies, heading off to faraway places to hibernate on the beach? Wouldn't it be fabulous to have groups of worn out mommies all congregating on the beach with their cocktails and sharing horror stories of what their miserable kids did during the school year. It would be like mommy and me groups, only without the me and the stupid competitions. Nobody is going to be comparing developmental milestones. They'll be too busy sharing the lies, drinking, and drug involvement that their kids participated in. Oh, parents of teens are worn to a frazzle just trying to keep up with their kid's antics.

When I worked in schools, my kids did incredibly stupid things. I student taught at a SpEd school for ED kids who were culled from all the Boston public high schools and crammed into this little building under the Tobin Bridge. These were kids that were just nuts. It was before the era of drugs, so they were incapable of controlling their behavior. I had a girl who masterbated most of the day. I had a boy who was a pimp in his neighborhood, but who couldn't even identify letters of the alphabet. He was loaded, always with $100 bills in his pocket, but he didn't even know how to spell his name, Mark. It was tragic. I had a kid that later became a famous bank robber in California, known as the Polite Bank Robber because he always said please and thank you. He joined his father and brother in prison. I had a kid that was so nutty that he scared the entire staff. One day this Eddy pulled a gun on me. In my stupidity, I figured it wasn't loaded and pushed it away. It was loaded. About 2 months later he shot and killed his grandfather. I had a kid who rolled joints in class, but if I saw him, he would stuff the pot down his pants and dare me to go and get it.

In other words, I dealt with some seriously hurting kids. Most of them didn't have stable families, most of them were poor, some of them were black or hispanic, but most of them were white. They were NICE kids. Really, they were. But they just were so sick, so tainted with mental illness that they could not control their behavior. What it all boiled down to is a bunch of kids were were shelved by the system into our little school, which was really a holding tank for kids that weren't in residential treatment but couldn't really be in school either. It was absolutely tragic, and yet I did it day after day after day.

So when people wonder how I do it with my own kids, well, my background prepared me for parenting crazy kids. Did I think I would have such lunatics? Actually, yes I did. It runs deep in my maternal family and I was pretty sure that they weren't going to escape it. But I don't believe my kids are tragic. They have a very strong parental advocate, they have a billion people from various agencies working with our family to ensure that we'll get the services we need, and if truth be told, the agencies are panting to work with us because they're so used to working with families in crisis and parents who are incapable of parenting their children. They see the before families from Supernanny, where the kids are all acting like vicious apes and the parents just sit there in shock. I'm not like that. Oh, there are those days, but mostly I run my family with rules and consequences and I don't take much crap. I'm tough but fair. I work hard at picking my battles and I will compromise on my wants to make it easier for the kids.

However, I really DO need some time off. It's been 16 years since I've been on a vacation by myself and I'm about ready to just get on a freaking plane and go wherever it flies. I'm desperate for some time off. I love these kids with my whole heart, but I need some me time. NOW.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

It's 4:30. Do you know where your children are?

I know where the Boy is. He's off with friends to go see Cloverfield at Fenway. He made a plan, he clued me in, he left phone numbers, and when he'll be home.

Um, the Girl? I have no clue. She didn't come home from school today, she didn't call, and as far as I know, she could be anywhere. She's pissed off at me, and I'm guessing that she went to her friends house for the night and decided that I should stew. No matter, I'll find her and get her returned and then the grounding starts. I'm thinking about a collar and leash, or an electric fence. Do they make those for teenagers?

Today we negotiated a program for the Girl. Unbeknownst to me, the Crisis team at our mental health center also negotiated a program for the Girl, so on Tuesday we'll be looking at both programs and evaluating which one will work best. She knows nothing about this and I know she's furious because she feels she's being forced to go someplace she doesn't want to be, but tough luck. She had a great chance to return to school after the hospital, and she totally blew it. Now she gets to reap the consequences.

In other news, I think I have pneumonia. My chest is so tight, my cough so strained, and my energy level so sapped that I don't know what else it can be. I can barely make it from room to room without feeling like taking a nap. Permanently. The only saving grace of this day is that my friend Jean came over with 3 packages of squashed bug cookies for me. She's such a wonderful person.

I'm now going to do a online grocery shop for about 500 gallons of juice. I need them to deliver before the deep freeze makes our driveway impassible. Damn. Winter sucks.

Ooooo, guess who just came home? And she doesn't know why she's grounded. My oh my, this is gonna be a fun long weekend. Anyone have a giant size box of Calgon I can borrow?

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Another good reason why parenting teens sucks

Look at the time of this post. It's 12:29 am on a school night. That would be twelve frigging thirty in the morning. Guess who just sauntered in from school? At 12:30 am. In the snow. Why, it would be the Girl. Guess who followed on her footsteps? Why that would be the police, who I just called because the story she told me, and the actuality of her night were two very different things.

The story: Her friend D had tickets to the Bruins game. He asked her weeks ago if she could go. She had gone before and came home before 11, so I said she could go, especially since she was SO pissed off earlier after the IEP meeting. I try to be reasonable once in a while. She was going with D and N, they were taking the T to the garden, they would be home by 11.

The reality: She didn't go with D or N. D was home sick from school. N was just a cover. She went with the dreaded JF and R. I don't like JF, who appears to have no parents. When she was over and hour late, I started calling. First I called D's house phone, got his mom, who woke him up to see if he knew where she was. He suggested that she might be with W, the boyfriend from hell. So I called W, got his father who was clueless as to who the Girl was, etc, because he is NEVER home and works 24/7 and has no relationship with any of his kids, all of whom are hurting buckaroos. I talk to W who mentions that he thinks she's with JF. I then call JF's cell, which is conveniently 'not working', so I then call his landline. Shockingly, no answer. There is NEVER an answer because I do not think he has parents.

At this point I'm panicked. I don't know where she is, I don't know who she's with, and I've taken away her cell phone because she was with kids who had a cell phone, so I could get in touch with her. But of course that all turned out to be a big lie. So I moved on to the police, asking if they could go to JFs house and see if he's there. Just as the police arrive, she comes waltzing up and has no idea of why I am spitting mad. I mean, "What the F?" I ask her who she was with and she LIED to me. Grounded for a month. Bam! Then I tell her that I know she wasn't with who she said she was with, and she starts to insist but she looks at me and backs down. She admits she lied. Grounded for a month! But she's still yelling at me, like it's MY fault that she's home so late.

She tries to give me this big story about how they went the wrong way on the T, blah blah blah. So didn't fall for it. Grounded for a month! I'm sorry, I'm not a moron and I wasn't born yesterday. The T is pretty well marked and there is no way she is going to end up in Cambridge, where she claimed she went. Yeah, and I've got a bridge I want to buy in Brooklyn.

I send her up to bed and she proceeds to tell me she's not getting up in the morning to go to school. Um, excuse me? If I'm not mistaken, I'm still the decision maker in the family. So freaking grounded. She's getting up and walking in the snow and I don't care if she's miserable. She deserves a little misery after this escapade.

Are you looking forward to the teenage years yet? They're SO much fun!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mobile post sent by margalit using Utterz Replies.  mp3
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Want to hear my voice?

See that new badge thingy on the right hand side? The one under the I'm Here Too! label? It says Utterz.com on the bottom. I joined another Web2.0 social networking site, Utterz. This is way cool technology so I am demanding that you all do this too. It's a way of leaving voice posts quickly and easily on your blog. This way people can hear a quick comment you have. It's like vocal twittering. Only cooler because you don't have to type. You just call in your utter, and it gets posted in a minute or two. You can add pictures, a title, tags, etc. The badge will contain up to 10 of your utterz, but they also post each one at the very top of your blog. See? There's one up there! It's actually the same one as on the badge but eventually the badge will have more of my utterz.

So go listen to my pathetically weak cold voice complete with sniffling, wheezing, but strangely lacking a hacking cough. I must have had a good minute! I don't usually sound this congested. But I do have a little voice compared to my booming opinions.

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Bazillion adults, itty bitty conference room

Today was the big IEP meeting day. First up was the Girls, which she declined to attend. We were discussing just what the heck to DO with her, since I pulled her out of the program. There were more than enough "experts" there, coming up with some pretty crappy suggestions for alternative programs. I started out by saying that the one program they were really pushing would not be palatable to either me or the Girl for a variety of reasons. This program is not held at the high school which she is not about to consider due to it's location. She wants to be at school. This program also has, out of the 20 kids currently attending, two girls that she has been friendly with in the past, but who have gotten her in HUGE trouble. The Girl's NVLD seriously affects her ability for social situations because she misses so much of the non-verbal communication. It's estimated that at least 60% of the non-verbal cues blow right over her head, meaning that she has a lot of trouble distinguishing fact from fiction with her friends, and she's very easily persuaded to do things that are wrong, illegal or morally troubling because her "friends" tell her it's OK. So there is no way that I want her in a program where she's just going to go backward and get in serious trouble.

With nothing resolved we decided to consider several options, but truthfully, the Girl is furious about all of this because she's set her heart on the one program that is absolutely unfeasible for her, the Boy's program. They don't take siblings, the siblings in question do not get along well, and it would be a disaster for the Boy, who is just about to return to school.

The last 10 or so minutes of the meeting I had them bring in the Girl, but she was totally shut down and would not speak. She wore her IPOD and refused to take it out, and she was pissed. In speaking with her therapist later, who was also at the meeting, we determined that she was so tuned out that she didn't even hear what was said.

When that meeting ended, it was time for the Boy's re-entry meeting. While in the same house conference room, the environment was lighter, more humorous, and a lot less angry. The Boy is excited to return to school, he's done remarkably well in this alternative program, he's working well with his tutor to catch up, and everyone was really pleased with his attitude and his demeanor. When asked right at the beginning if he felt he had completed the work expected of him at the program, he said, "Well, I've created the cure for cancer, so I guess so." The kid is clever, I'll give him that!

He'll be heading back to school on Tuesday after the long weekend, and we're all very hopeful that he's ready now to start anew.

However, his return to school leaves an opening at the program that we're trying to get the Girl into. She is NOT HAPPY about it, but then again, he wasn't happy about it either, and it took him weeks to buckle down and get to work. Like her brother, she's just not ready to be at school right now. A bunch of stuff is happening to her social life, and this is a kid who takes every other kid's issues and internalizes them, so she's a hurting buckaroo right now. It's apparent to all concerned that she's blown this school year, missing the first term and then blowing the second term by skipping classes and doing no work. She's got all M's (medical excuse) on the first term, and this term she's got all Incompletes. Meaning, she's missed half a year of school. In her favor, she had so many credits from last year that she can stay on track by only making up a few credit hours, which they would do with tutoring. To me, this is the best alternative, although she's totally not interested in it at all.

Needless to say, after 3 hours of IEP meetings, I came home and passed out on the sofa. I woke up to make some important phone calls regarding the meetings and then crashed out again. This stuff exhausts me. It's so stressful.

Lastly, the SpEd teacher I reamed out did attend the meeting but did not say one freaking word. Not one. Which has to be a record for him. I believe I finally silenced his crap. Good on me!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Who needs Bobs or Bernie and Phyls? (NSFW)

Everyone who shops at Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel ends up with the same basic furniture. Oh, it's OK, but nothing special. Jordans also has some nice stuff, but I find most of their furniture to be 'pedestrian' and not all that original. Bobs or Bernie and Phyl? Their commercials are so offensive I've never set foot in either store. But then again, I tend to like original looking pieces if I'm going to be laying out a large chunk of change on a sofa. I like artisan made furniture and I especially like antiques, but mostly they're out of my price range. However, today I was browsing Craigslist as is my evening entertainment habit, and lordy, look what I found.

Now this sofa is a conversation piece. I can't imagine what the conversation would say beyond "ewwwww" but one never knows.

Who would buy this? The price is $600 and the person modeling the sofa is the 'artist'. This was evidentally a project for art school. Wouldn't you have loved to see the professor's face when this beauty was turned in?

Come on, you know you want this. Nothing like stuffing your body into a huge vajayjay with a clit for a pillow! It gives you that warm, cozy, back to the womb feeling.

What would we ever do without craigslist for entertainment? You just never ever know what you might find!


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WFMW: Cleaning pots, pans, and glass stovetops

I cook a lot, and because I do, my pots and pans often get amazingly dirty with burned on 'stuff' on the bottom of the pans. I use very heavy All-Clad MasterChef alumimum pans, and they aren't the easiest to clean, nor are the supposed to go into the dishwasher. For years I tried various liquid cleansers, but they never got shiny clean.

Then a friend recommended BarKeepers Friend, a very soft cleanser that, for some unknown reason, cleans my pots and pans better than anything else. Once you wash the pot, you sprinkle in a tiny bit of the cleanser and the inside of the pans sparkle like they are brand new. The outside needs a bit more scrubbing, especially if you're not the neatest cook in the world. But with a bit of elbow grease and some very hot water, your pans will shine just like they did when you took them out of the box.

But the coolest thing I've discovered is that BarKeepers Friend makes short work of cleaning my glass cooktop. My stove came with the house. It was brand spanking new, so I kept it even though I do own a gas stove. But this one was so new and clean, so I figured I'd try it before I brought a gas line into the kitchen. I love the stove. It gets hot. Really hot. It doesn't burn anything because it cycles well. But... man, that stovetop is a pain to keep clean. Until I tried Barkeepers Friend on it. From scrubbing until my arms fall off to barely working at all to get off the burned on guck, my stovetop comes totally clean with almost no effort at all.

So my Works for Me Wednesday suggestion is to get yourself a canister of BarKeepers Friend and try it on on your pots, pans, and stovetop. You'll love it!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Please pass the cloned beef, Mom.

Today the FDA decided to allow human consumption of cloned foods, including beef and milk products. Yummy!

I don't know about you, but I have as much trust in the FDA as I do in Tom Cruise's sanity. And after viewing this piece of bizarre, I think you'll agree that Tom Cruise's sanity is in deep deep doo-doo. So you can imagine how much faith I have in the FDA's decisions on what is safe and what isn't for our families. For me, cloned beef isn't gonna happen. I have no intention of consuming any cloned product, no because I'm against cloning, because I'm not. Because I don't believe that the FDA has the consumer's best interests at heart in cases of just normally grown foods, never mind cloned or genetically altered food. Silly me, I think food should be food, not a science experiment.

Several things bother me about this latest gaff from the FDA. First, cloned animals are still extremely rare, with about 400 cows and 200 pigs alive right now. So the fact is, cloned animals aren't going to be on the store shelves anytime soon. So why did the FDA decide to pronounce the cloned animals as safe? Because they're protecting big agriculture, as usual. You know, the same companies that provide us with unsafe meat and poultry. As I said, the FDA has never been about protecting the interests of the consumer. Nope, they're all about helping the corporate agriculture companies to protect their money interests.

There hasn't been any significant testing, and the testing that has been done has not been rigorous. The data is insufficient, and yet the FDA pronounces the beef products as safe when they know no such thing. There aren't enough subjects to test, what with cloning being such a difficult process and all.

They have no intention of allowing the corporate aggies to label the foods as cloned. Yes, you won't know what you're eating. Unless you keep Kosher or Halal, both dietary religious platforms ban cloning. Go Jews!

Dairies that refuse to use cloned milk will have to label their products as "clone free". And what dairies are those? The small farmer, who once again has to carry the burden of ensuring that the food he provides consumers is safe.

Me, I think the whole thing stinks of cow patties. I understand why people would want to clone animals. Prize race horses, show dogs, even family pets that are beloved all would be good reasons to clone if you can afford it. But to put cloned animals into the nations food supply with little to no reassurance of it's safety? Only the arrogant FDA, especially THIS FDA under the Bush administration which has been allowed to run wild and free would attempt this. The scum.

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