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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Monday, June 30, 2008


Living in the heart of suburbia, albeit only a mile or so from the Boston city limit, you would think that our wildlife would consists of skunks, squirrels, and perhaps a raccoon or two. You would be wrong. For some reason, the wildlife around here gets more and more prolific each year. In our quiet little burb we've had moose, coyotes, more wild turkeys than could feed the town at Thanksgiving, deer, and foxes. I'm just waiting for our first bear or cougar to wander into town. After all, if a moose can visit Bloomingdales, we're due for a nice bear to come a'calling.

I love wildlife. I have a real issue with those people that want to shoot to kill anything that isn't named Sweetums and has a jeweled collar. We've got our share of these kinda folks right here in town. My feeling is, live and let live. After all, who's habitat did we take? Who was here way before us? The little furry animals, that's who. With their cute little faces and their fluffy tails. What's not to love.

I'll tell you what's not to love. Certain furry fellows that live in our very yard with their large, and getting larger by the second, families. Oh, they're cute all right. And they look like they need a nice cuddle. But the fact is... they're out to get you. They are the outlaws of the back yard, and I cry "foul". Or "shooo"... what ever will make them take off for parts unknown.

This is the creature I'm talking about. He's an eating and breeding machine. We have an adorable family of seven to which he belongs. They live right behind our house in the bushes. They have no fear of Worthless Pet, who is too old to chase them. He's got the whole "live and let live thing" going with the desperado.

To protect us from his evil deeds I have to sit out at dusk and discourage his wanderings. For he will attack all that is near and dear to me. That will not due. I don't care if his cousins are Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, Peter the Desperado needs to find a new family to terrorize.

But man, isn't he just the cutest?

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Things are not great right now

We've had a really tough couple of weeks. I mean really tough. I've worked hard to be positive through it, but I'm wearing thin with the positive stuff. I'm certainly not able to share everything, but these are the highlights:

The phone company shut off the phone because I couldn't pay the bill. I sent them a check, but don't have the money in my account to cover it. Thus, we haven't had a phone in more than a week, which is very difficult because:

I need to deal with the school but can't call them
I need to deal with the electric co and the phone co but can't call them
Both kids are going insane without a phone
I'm going mildly insane without a phone

The cell phone has run out of minutes and again, no money. So I can't refill the minutes for this month.

I got a shut-off notice for the electric company on Friday and am PRAYING that I can get to them before they cut off the electricity. I have NO WAY of paying the bill. My caardiologist's office was supposed to send them a letter more than a month ago telling them not to shut off the electricity because I'm disabled. By law, they're not allowed to shut off utilities if someone is sick in the house. I think the doctor forgot. But can I call her office and tell them to send the letter again? No, I can't.

The kid's health insurance was shut off. Not for non-payment, but because they made some kind of weird executive decision without notifying me that changed their their coverage to only mental health. Not only is this illegal in MA, which is providing their health insurance, but it makes no sense. The new health insurance has no medication coverage, so when I went to pick up the prescriptions for the Boy this week at CVS, they weren't covered so I can't pay for them. Hence the Boy has been unmedicated for a full week. Ask me how that's going!

However, due to the no phone, I can't call and find out what the hell is going on.

The Girl starts summer school tomorrow morning, but I do not know if the school has bothered to pay the tuition (doubtful but required) or has arranged for transportation. I can't call them because....

The Girl, thinking she was being nice, told my home health aide to go home without doing a lick of work last week. Said aide had been caught in a thunder shower and was soaked when she appeared at the door. While the Girl was being a swell kid, she also signed the aide's time slip, so I got no help all last week at all. Not a lick. Result? Dirty house that I've been cleaning non-stop just to keep up. So not happy. Plus, home health aide could not call and reschedule because... and I couldn't call her agency and reschedule because....

It's been a long long week. I'm depressed and angry and sick of running out of money. SICK OF IT. Every week the prices increase and my ability to pay for stuff decreases. I don't get an increase in my cost of living because of a price increase. I'm competing with way too many people for freelance work right now. It's so similar to 2001 and the dot.com bubble bursting, when everyone was out of work and no jobs were around. There really isn't a lot out there right now, and for each position there are hundreds of applicants. Of course, those ever-eager-to-screw-the-workers employers are lowering their freelance rates to rock bottom prices. When you see employers offering $1 per post, it's just not worth responding to their ad.

The weird thing is, we keep going. The kids are getting along fairly well considering the lack of medication, telephone and food. It certainly isn't remotely peaceful, but it never is. Anyhow, we're all dealing with the situation. Nobody likes it, nobody has any suggestions to make it better, but we're dealing.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tossing and turning all night

I'm a wicked insomniac, which I've documented about 10 million times. Believe me, there is little more to say about the fact that my sleep is so screwed up that I can barely function much of the time. You don't want to read it and I don't want to repeat myself ad nauseum because really, what is there to say besides "I didn't fall asleep last night."

Last night was one of those nights but I decided instead of even making an attempt to sleep, I'd just get stuff done that I've been meaning to do, but really haven't had the energy. You see, I have more energy around 3 am than I do the rest of the day. Weird? You betcha!

So first I cleaned the kitchen. The Girl is supposed to do it, but the job she does is so bad, so negligent, so ridiculous that I honestly can't even call it cleaning. It's more moving dirt from one spot to another, forgetting to wash half the dishes, and doing a craptastic job with the ones she does wash. Now, I had just spent two hours cleaning the kitchen the night before last, but with the Boy in the house 24/7, it's similar to living with an entire army unit. He's that much of a slob. He actually THROWS stuff on the floor rather than to walk two steps to the garbage can. It's bad, people. Bad.

So first I clean up the sink and the counters and then I get all industrious and clean those stupid little vents in the oven that are right behind the handle so you can NEVER get them really clean without spending hours with Q-tips. Which is, of course, just what I did. My middle name is Anal.
I scrub all the woodwork, and I do a quick sweep and mop of the floor and the kitchen is looking good.

And then I start baking. Does this make sense? Well, when you have a teeny tiny kitchen (our kitchen actually isn't small at all, but it was designed in 1920 and it hasn't changed much since then, so we've got MAYBE 6" of counter space counting the kitchen sink.) In other words, I can't cook if it isn't clean first.

I made some delicious oatmeal maple scones with a maple drizzle on top, very similar (but better) than the ones in Starbucks. Then I baked a loaf of whole wheat bread because the Girl had used up the last of the loaf I made yesterday. Because the oatmeal scones looked so good and because I'm a lover of scones, which are so freaking easy to make, I then made up a batch of lemon poppy seed scones.

One can't eat scones without coffee, so I opened a brand new can of Sumatra dark roast, ground the beans, made a pot of French press and then drank the entire pot. All this before 8 am this morning. Now I'm trying to figure out what to bake next. :-) I started going through my cook books and started thinking about making this huge cake that is in Dorie Greenspan's new baking book, but alas, we have no chocolate, only cocoa. So more cookbook perusing is in my immediate future.

I cleaned up the kitchen again after I finished baking, sat down for about 5 minutes and then popped up again. I'm in kitchen frenzy mode. As soon as the bread is finished, I'm going to pop in another batch, maybe of oatmeal or challah. One can't have too many carbs around with the teenagers at home.

I pulled out a slab of beef from the freezer that I had forgotten was in there and planned to make it for dinner tonight with roasted herbed sweet potatoes and whatever veg I can find in the freezer.

And lastly... I made two batches of pizza dough which I put in the freezer.

Good God, stop me now before I bake again!

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Friday, June 27, 2008

OK, I was sorta kinda wrong...maybe

I've never been enamored of the Girl's boyfriend. He hasn't given me much cause to adore him, and frankly, he's given me plenty of cause to worry about her safety and health. He's just not what I envisioned when I thought of her first serious boyfriend. At all. But there's no accounting for taste, is there?

He was over last week during the last segment of the long-running Insane Dad soap opera, and we had a fairly good talk. He wasn't stoned, for once, and was able to articulate his thoughts and his feelings, which was so far unique to me. He actually was kinda pleasant. OMG. I can't believe I said that. But it's true.

However, what comes next is mind boggling.

The Girl comes home yesterday afternoon bursting with laughter. She can't wait to tell me this. She says "Guess what Boyfriend bought with his birthday money?" I guess a car, but nope...I guess a boat, but nope. I guess seasons tickets for the Red Sox (not very plausable), but nope. I give up.

She is laughing so hard she can barely breathe. She says, "He bought a chicken coop and some chickens." My mouth is hanging open. I can't believe her. It's true. He went to city hall, got the permits, checked with all his neighbors, ordered the coop and the chicks online, and had them all delivered yesterday. Without telling his parents. (They are OK with it and rather astounded that this is what he wanted to do with his birthday money.)

Of course I now love him because I love chickens. And I think that a kid that can go to city hall and get permits and talk to all his neighbors and make a plan to have a chicken coop and chickens built in his backyard is... well, mega cool. Plus, and this is the best part, he knows of my love of chickens and is raising one for me. So we'll get fresh eggs out of this deal.

I can't wait to go over and see the coop. The company he ordered it from comes out, builds the coop and the fencing, provides the chicks (Rhode Island Reds), even puts in the straw for the laying stations, and brings enough chicken feed for a month. Of course now he has to figure out where to buy chicken feed and he's going to have to learn how to keep the various suburban wild animals out of the coop, but the back yard is fenced plus the coop is fenced plus they have several cats of the rather mean variety, so I think that one might be already solved.

A chicken coop. What every 16 yr-old boy wants for his birthday. Isn't that hilarious? Which means that I might have maybe prejudged him a little bit. A teeny tiny little bit. OY.

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Last night the Girl came home with something a little extra. A very large, very sick, very old Border Collie she found wandering around at the bottom of our hill. The dog almost got him by a car so she coralled her and caught her by the collar and brought her home.

Now, that seems like a fairly normal thing for a kid to do, but there's one thing you probably don't know. The Girl? Not a fan of the canine. She can't STAND dogs. Once again proving that she has not a whit of my DNA, for I am a huge lover of the canine. As is the Boy. But the Girl? She's a feline person.

She comes home with this mega-dog who has apparently found some pond or river to swim in and has that air of dog in rancid swamp about her. Additionally she is FILTHY. The second she walks in, Worthless Pet blows up to 5 times his size and starts the hissing and huffing and puffing. His claws fly out, but this dog, she is very very hairy. Like Lassie-thick coat. His claws do nothing but pull out dirty hair. He is not amused for this dog looks at him like he's messuggah and immediately jumps on my sofa. Have I mentioned that she is filthy? Um, yeah.

Fortunately, the Boy has been languishing on the sofa licking his grounded wounds, and has left a bottom sheet on it. So it's not a complete loss, but it now reeks the reek of dirty dog, and I am skeptical that Febreeze is going to handle this.

Doggie has two collars on her, but no ID. This astounds me. Are people THAT stupid? A tag costs what? Five bucks. She does have her rabies tag, which is fortunately attached to the vet right around the corner. The vet that does not open until 8 am this morning. Yeah. I call and leave a message telling them that this dog is staying with the Worthless Pet, who is also a patient of this particular really expensive vet.

Doggie is having the time of her life. She's given dog food that she loves, a big bowl of water that the Worthless Pet immediately decides is his and stands sentry by until he is physically removed from the premesis, and a sofa to jump on and off of. What could be better?

An oriental rug to pee on. Oh yes she did. Just squatted down and did her bidness right on my rug received straight from Afghanistan. So not pleased. We blot and blot and spray with Natures Miracle, but I think we need to have the rug cleaned.

Meanwhile, big Doggie does not stop panting for one second. She's not well, that's obvious. She's very old, both eyes have cataracts in them, and she knows not one command. Not even sit. This is going to be a long night. So of course, both of my children give me bright shiny smiles and say "I'm going to bed now." I swear, they know how to get under my last inch of skin, those two.

I am now left to care for said dog, to sleep on said stinky smelly sofa, and to be kept up most of the night by said panting. Isn't life fulfilling?

She's a very nice old doggie, and I'm sure she's nervous as hell being in the house with a vicious dog killing cat, two weird and loud teenagers, and an old lady who keeps looking at her and sighing miserably. I would guess we're not her choice of the family of the year, either.

We'll hang on for another hour and a half and then I'll take her over to the vet and we'll look for a chip and contact her owner. Who better be REALLY grateful and offer to clean my sofa and my rug. If they don't offer, I'm gonna ask. It might be rude, but I'm exhausted.

Update: Took dog into Vet's office and his mommy was there looking for him. I opened the door and she yelled "Trader" and he just wandered up to her like it was nothing that he was gone overnight. Dogs! Anyhow, she's gonna clean my rug. She rocks. I rock. We were both up all night. We are both beyond exhausted over this damn dog. But he's home.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Great Summer Tips

Longer summer days means dramatically more time spent outside in the sun with our kids: from hanging out on the beach or at the pool, to running in the yard, to hiking through the woods. Amidst these summer activities, safety issues lurk from insects to sun burns to keeping hydrated. Mom Central, The Clorox Company and the MommyDocs have joined together to get the word out about these important summer safety tips:
  • Have a Sun Protection Strategy: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15. Look for products that provide "broad spectrum" coverage to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Use this sunscreen routine with your child--daily application 30 minutes before going outside and reapplication every 2 hours (or sooner if swimming, toweling off, or sweating). Creating a routine will establish good habits for the future. In addition, don't forget a wide brim hat, sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection, and sun protective clothing. If you have a very pale person in your family, like me and The Boy, SPF 15 isn't enough coverage. SPF45 does a much better job at protecting very fair complexions from sunburn and sun damage.

  • Keep Pests off Your Family: In the summer, many insects can bite or sting your child. For pesky mosquitoes and ticks, consider a DEET containing insect repellant. Apply sparingly to exposed skin (avoid backs of hands and around the eyes and mouth) and/or to clothing once a day. As the percentage of DEET goes up, the duration of action increases. To prevent unnecessary exposure, always use the lowest percentage that will last for the planned length of time spent outdoors. Never go above 30% or use on children under 2 months old. I've found that using DEET repellants on clothing alone works very well and is a bit safer than putting what is essentially a poison on a child. When you're playing on lawns or walking in woods, wearing shoes and socks covered with DEET, and pants tucked into the socks, also sprayed with DEET, will keep most ticks at bay.

  • Keep the Pool Cool and Clean: Small backyard wading pools provide a great way for kids to have fun and cool down when the temperature rises, but they can also harbor germs, such as bacteria. To keep the pool free from unwanted "swimmers," after each use disinfect it with bleach by cleaning with a solution of ¾ cup regular bleach to one gallon of water, then rinse well and dry thoroughly. Safety must: Always supervise children regardless of age when they are around any water; whether it's a bucket, a small backyard plastic pool, or the local community pool.

  • High Heat Means Hydrate: Excessive heat exposure may cause your child to experience a heat-related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. How to prevent this: take breaks in the shade, avoid playing outside during peak sun exposure hours, and drink, drink, drink! Make sure your child is taking in plenty of fluids before he become thirsty. If your child starts to dehydrate, remember to replace potassium and magnesium as well as liquids. A banana can help to prevent muscle cramps, especially when eaten with a big glass of water. If you're counting on fluids like Gatorade, take a look at the sugar and sodium content, as well as the dyes used. Do you want your child drinking that much sugar? While sodium (salt) is helpful in aiding your body to retain water, too much sodium isn't good for you either. Try to keep sodium levels down to 2000 grams/day, or if there is high blood pressure in your family, under 1200 grams.

  • Rid Rashes and Relieve Itchies: Running through the yard in bare feet, taking a nature walk on a trail, and picnicking in the park are some of the joys of warmer weather. But all of this outdoor activity can expose your child to a host of plants including those which cause poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. If an allergic reaction occurs, ask the pediatrician about an oral antihistamine and/or a topical skin care product such as a steroid cream or calamine. If the rash is extensive, looks infected, or is not getting better, call your doctor right away. Benedryl can help with the initial itchyness. Make sure that your child isn't spreading the rash through scratching. Note: your family can be sitting at home all summer long and still get poison ivy! How? If you have a pet that roams outside and walks through a patch of poison ivy, they can and will pick up the oils from the leaves. Rubbing against your legs or sitting on your lap after contact with this noxious weed will spread the oils directly to your body, and voila! You've got the rash from hell. Trust me on this. I've experienced this first hand and it was not pretty.
Have a great summer!

For other recommendations and reviews, check my review blog. There's a lot of new stuff up there.
All these safety tips can also be found on MommyDocs.com.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Guess who I met tonight?

One of my blog idols! Yup, I did. I totally did. And I'm so happy I could dance on the rooftops. Tonight I got to meet the gloriously funny and absolutely gorgeous Jen Lancaster of Jennsylvania. What? You don't read her blog? You don't read her books? FOR SHAME. For shame.

Jen's on a book tour promoting her latest book, which is on the NY Times Best Seller List. Oh yes it is! Isn't that totally amazing? She came to Boston to speak at Borders on Newbury St. When we arrived it was already so packed that people were lining each aisle all the way down the room. Of course, being needy, I had to ask for a chair because there was no way I was going to be standing all the time. My poor feet are already swollen to gargantuan size.

There were hundreds of women there. Oh, and a few men too. But really, mostly women. An amazing amount of blond women, as a matter of fact. I was sitting next to identical twins. They were very blond. And nice. It was a party atmosphere. We were all ready to hear Jen read from Such a Pretty Fat.

She came out wearing an adorable green and white print dress from Macy's (in Atlanta) and proceeded to get us laughing up a storm before she even started reading. She had to add a few caveats to those that haven't followed her books, explaining about her Barbie fetish, her addiction to spelling out dirty words, and her failure with the Atkins diet 11 times. Yup, eleven. Takes her a while to catch on, evidentially.

Then she did a short reading and took questions. I asked her a question regarding her post a couple of weeks back about BlogHer ignoring her offer to speak at the past several 'conventions', and she knew immediately who I was. It was so cool. We have so much in common, we like the same bloggers and dislike the same bloggers. Heh. No, I'm not telling you who we dislike. I bet you can guess though. :-)

I waited in line forever and a day to get my books signed. While in line I met the most adorable young (19) girl from Texas A&M who came to Boston all by herself for the summer. All the women around her were talking about what she should do and see while she's here, and how she could get around without a car. It was such a fun conversation that we barely noticed that we waited for more than an hour to get the books signed!

When I got the the front of the line, I got a huge hug from Jen, which was just so lovely. I really like her so much. I wish she didn't live in Chicago. I want to be her best friend! We chatted some more, and then I had to leave. I was kinda sad because I wanted to take her home and open a few bottles of my favorite Pinot Grigio and dish. Oh well, at least now I can say I have a friend on the NY Times Bestseller list.

If Jen comes to your town for a reading, go. Just get off the sofa and go. She's worth the trip. Oh, and remember to bring the camera. Because I forgot!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WFMW: Keeping Track of Library Books

We're big library users. HUGE library users. We go at least once a week, and most weeks we're there more often. Our library is the busiest library in our state, and one of the most used libraries in the country. We have an incredibly wonderful library with a huge inventory of books, media, tools (yes, you can take out tools!), and large halls for art shows and presentations.

One of the problems with having so much access to the library is that we're constantly taking out and returning books, and we tend to lose stuff in the clutter is our house. When we lost a DVD for a couple of months in our house and the fines were, oh let's say big, I finally cracked down and instituted a new procedure.

All of our library stuff, books and DVDs, are kept in big canvas tote bags that hang from a hook over our closet door. If you use a DVD or a book, you take it out and circle the printout with your initials on the side. When you return it to the bag, you cross out your initials so the next person can use it.

With two DVD players (son's XBox is his) we were really unable to keep all the stuff together. Now, when I go to return a pile of books and DVDs, or even CDs, I know where to look for anything that's missing.

It works for us!

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To Protect and To Serve...only when dry

I've been seeing such weird things lately, maybe I ought to get out more often. Today's sighting was pretty darn funny.

We're driving down Huntington Ave right by the Brookline line when it starts pouring. Torrential rains, an absolute downpour. We drive under the bridge as Huntington heads into Mission Hill and there are not one, but two Boston motorcycle cops standing around chatting each other up, keeping dry. Everyone else had bicycles under the bridge.

Evidentially when it rains there is something in the BPD contract that says they do not have to endure the rain. Nice.

Damn, I love this city.

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Bloggy thoughts

You know how people go through bloggy angst and start posting the "I don't have anything to post because I'm in a non-interesting phase" posts? Well not me!

I've discovered that all I have to do to make my blog extremely successful is to post stuff about the Boston Celtics. Like sightings of Celtics players at the RMV. Why?

Because I have never ever had the kind of traffic I've had over that post. It's been picked up all over the freaking place. I usually have decent traffic, but I've never seen anything like this. Thousands of hits by early morning. It's not even noon yet and I've pretty much doubled my usual traffic. I'm getting referrals from sites I've never even heard of. Cool, huh?

From now on, I'm scouting sports stars. We have quite a few living right here in town. I'm going to become a Yooooook stalker. Or maybe a Tek stalker. I know where they live. :-)

It never occurred to me that stalking sports stars would be all that interesting, but boy, was I wrong! From now on it's "I spy with my little eye..." Too bad the sports guys all have pools or access to private pools. I'd love to spend my days at the Gath hanging out with the stars. I guess not, huh?

Oh well, I know where the Celtics training gym is in Waltham. Gotta go!

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Even the big guys have to get their license renewed

Today was my 5th trip to the registry of motor vehicles to get my car registered. And guess what? They finally registered it! I guess the fifth time is the charm. I could tell you the reasons why they finally decided to register the car, but who cares?

Because the real news is that we ran into Kendrick Perkins at the RMV. He walked in when they called his number and I was all "Wow, that guy is HUGE" and The Boy, who was accompanying me on this most delightful adventure, looked up and said, he looks really familiar. Then Kendrick turned around and we could see his face, and the whole place lit up. People were smiling. He signed an autograph or two. Little kids with their parents were jumping up and down.

All I could think of is how miserable he looked. I mean the guy just won the NBA championship and where does he end up the following Monday? At the RMV renewing his license. What a total bummer. What ever happened to that "I'm going to Disneyworld" thing. I've never seen a commercial that showed a sports star saying "I'm going to the RMV to renew my license." Have you?

This is kinda the face he had on. I don't blame him one whit. It seems unfair that he had to do his license, but I guess that's the one task that, no matter how famous or rich, you have to do yourself.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's gonna be a long summer

We're at the first weekend of our school vacation and I'm ready to get in the car and drive away. Far far away.

Let's see now, we've got one kid grounded for stealing money out of my wallet and one kid that thinks that this is a place to stop and occasionally sleep, but otherwise isn't relevant to her life. I feel like we're ships passing in the night.

Years ago I saw an article about how important it is to have a family dinner every night and I was like "So why is this news? We always have dinner as a family. Doesn't everyone?" As usual, I have had to eat my words recently. I can't even think of the last time we've sat down as a family and eaten the same meal together. It's been weeks and weeks, though. The Boy is continually hungry and starts his first dinner around 5, then a second one and then a third or fourth, but none of them coincide with what I'm making or when I'm eating. The Girl eats nothing that I make and exists on plain pasta with cheese. She eats that pretty much every night.

The only meal that I make that I know they will both eat is pizza. Not exactly you're healthiest meal, although I've tried to up the ante with whole wheat crust and fresh veggies on top. But I admit that it's worrisome that we don't eat together any more. Plus, the kitchen is in a constant state of crisis.

Then there's the "oh I made plans" stuff. My children both make plans without talking to me first. It drives me batty. But I can't really restrict them from being with their friends over the summer except when they're grounded. They need to have something to do. I can't entertain them much anymore. I just spend my time with them either driving them nuts with chores they refuse to do, or with nagging. At least that's how they see it.

It will improve. We've only just started on this journey through summer, and there will be things to do and places to go. We'll get through it and we'll be fine. We're an amazingly strong little family, despite all of our quirks. There's a lot of love here in this house. There's also a lot of work to be done over the summer, and we'll do it together, one complaint at a time.

In the meantime, keep us in your thoughts. Because it's possible that we might kill each other before the summer ends.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's finally time to talk about money

I promised a post about money a few days ago and then life got in the way. Boy, did it get in the way. However, what I've been thinking about besides the craziness of life around here is the whole money situation with blogging, bloggers, and blogher.

The question is, how come it's perfectly OK to post an appeal for money to get to blogher and nobody gets all up in arms or preachy about how you spend your money. How come it's so OK that people jump in and send money hand over fist for those poor poor folks that can't afford to attend a pseudo conference that is much more about drinking and socializing than it is about any learning? As in, they don't even have a keynote speaker. As in they started begging for money for the October blog tour last month but have no speakers and no agenda lined up.

I honestly do not get it. Are you bloghers so mesmerized with this organization that you refuse to see the flaws? That you will not only pay for your own plane fare, hotel, and conference fees, which must add up to at least $1000 for a weekend, but that you will send money to other women to attend as well?

And again, why is it OK to beg for money to get to this ridiculous drinkfest, but it isn't OK to have items on a wish list or to ask for help because you can't feed your children? Just where are the frigging priorities, people? When a blogger posts for help because of circumstances beyond their control, like illness, gas prices, food prices, etc. they get ignored. I've seen it over and over again, and I'm not talking about myself here. But if they want to go to this stupid "conference", oh boy, let's get out the checkbook and write a check. Nobody can miss this!

It's weird. To me, it seems really twisted. I've seen amazing things away from the mommybloggers domain on raising money for people in need. On the anniversary of NYC Watchdog's son PuppyMeister's death I'm reminded on how that corner of the blogosphere lept into action and donated an amazing amount of money. I donated. It was the right thing to do, even with my financial situation. But I've also seen bloggers being torn apart for being poor. Heck, I experienced that in spades a while back on Karen Rani's old blog. People telling me how to run my life, people who didn't even care about my health telling me to get a job, people telling me how to feed my childen. What the f is that all about, anyhow?

It's OK to attack people left and right for things that they have little to no control over (my health, my work situation) but God forbid anyone should have an ounce of empathy for someone living in poverty. Poverty is shameful amoungst the mommybloggers. Nobody gets that often it is unavoidable. They assume that if you're sick, you're faking. If you are on SSDI, you're on welfare. The craziness of the blogosphere on finances just confounds me.

And yet... "I can't go to Blogher this year" is the rallying cry to sharpen our credit cards and start heading over to paypal en mass.

What the f?

Is it just me, or has blogher zombified into believing that it's a requirement for blogging? Because I don't get it otherwise. A conference filled with unprofessional speakers. A conference that can't even find a keynote. A conference that does not show it's members it's financial statements. Can't anyone SEE what a hoax this all is?

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Friday, June 20, 2008

If I weren't living it, I wouldn't believe it.

Remember insane dad, the guy that blames a group of kids, including the Girl, for all the troubles in the world? The guy who calls and screams irrationally at me blaming my kid for things she just didn't do?

After I called the police again and reported him for harassing me...again, we didn't hear anything for a while. I relaxed my guard and started feeling comfortable. Until today.

Today I get a phone call from the mom of the Girl's friend. She tells me that she is getting weird email and calls from Insane Dad. Now, her daughter isn't friendly with ID's daughter anymore. She hasn't been in a long time, since middle school. Plus, her daughter goes to the OTHER high school so she can't really be involved. So, this mom has no clue as to what Insane Dad is talking about, and gets kinda pissed after he blamed her daughter for everything but 9/11. She hung up on him. He called back. She hung up on him again. He's been calling on and off all day. She won't answer the phone.

She wants to know if I got any email from him. I saunter over to the computer and there it is. An email from this guy. In it is a URL for a web site he created today. No, I'm not giving you the URL, but take it from me, it was unbelievably slanderous towards 10 kids in our city that he names with full names. And photographs of each kid, labeled with their names. In essence he called my Girl a drug addict that was in rehab, another boy threatened his daughter with a switchblade, another girl was a ratt (sic), another one hit her.... and NONE of this is true. This is just a teeny tiny sample of the vitriole on this web site.

But that's not all! He posted pictures that he culled from the kid's facebook pages. Pictures of them doing things that are illegal (ahem) and in bad judgement. Pictures that a CERTAIN GIRL was told to take off her Facebook page about 200 times, but as she said "I was too lazy to do it." They're gone now!

Besides the fact that most of these kids are under 16 years old, and he took not only words from their respective sites, he also took photographs. Can you say illegal? I sure can.

As soon as I saw and read the site, I called the hosting company, homestead.com, and asked them to take down the site. They said that they would investigate and that if the site contained illegal information, they would inform the FBI. That was around 4:50 pm. The site went down around 8. We printed out several pages of the site, but it wouldn't print out everything and me, thinking that it would take longer, planned to get screen caps. But they took it down so quickly I didn't get a chance. Kudos to homestead.com for such quick action! Because of them, about 1/2 of the kids didn't even get to see the site.

In talking to the Girl's boyfriend's father (who is SOOO pissed), he told me that he also contacted homestead.com, so they got two complaints pretty quickly. He also told me that he has the site in cache in another computer, and he'll be making copies.

Two of the kids involved, and a mom, went over to Insane Dad's house to try and reason with him. There is NO reasoning with this guy. He's nuts. He went on and on and on about his 'version' of the story and even when they totally refuted his story, he wouldn't back down. Well, uh duh. He's INSANE. He told them that he isn't going to stop until everyone else does. A direct threat! Oh boy.

Then two other kids went over, and I believe they are still there. One of the kids may not be the greatest judge of his impulses, if you get my drift, and I'm a bit fearful that the police will become involved...again. Update... they did call the police on them. He didn't get a chance to say anything. Of course the police sided with Insane Dad. Do you think it's possibly because one of the kids is black and the other is hispanic? Nah... couldn't be!

One of the kids involved... oh my her mother is going to be pissed. She's the youth probation officer for our city. I can't even imagine getting on the wrong side of her. They're at the Sox game tonight, but I'll be chatting with her.

Another girl's father is a big private eye in Boston. He tried to talk to Insane Dad. I haven't heard the summation yet, but man, I would't fool with this guy either. In essence this dad demanded that Insane Dad take down the website, but ID refused. I guess he didn't know that we already had it taken down. Heh. One step ahead of the crazy.

Insane dad won't let up. He'll post that site again and again. We'll have to chase him around the internet shutting it down. Most hosts aren't as prompt in their actions as homestead.com. This is going to suck forever.

We're hiring an attorney. It's the only thing we can do is prosecute him. I have a phone call into an ADA already. It has to stop. It just has to. The amount of stress this is causing me is exceptionally bad.

The thing is, he can't be stopped. I know it seems ridiculous, but no matter what I've done over the past 3 years to get this guy out of our lives, he keeps coming back. He's nuts, and he's slippery. He always gets away with everything. Hopefully this time he took on too many families. He needs to be put away for a long long time.

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Allergies are driving us all nuts

I don't think anyone in the USA can not complain about this year's allergy season. Or better yet, the allergy season that sucked my brain right out of my left ear. Here in New England it was bad. Really really bad. So bad that some people I know were looking for Sinus Tylenol in the gallon sized jug.

My eyes were so red that even my kids noticed and they don't notice anything about me unless it involves food. That they notice.

I was the queen of the itchy drippy nose, the sniffles from hell, and worst of all... itchy ears. I hate hate hate when my ears get itchy. I can't even concentrate when that happens, it's just such a bummer for me.

The Boy gets terrible headaches, the Girl ends up with weeping eyes and so stuffed up she can't smell it when her frigging cat pees outside the box.

Saddest of all? Even the cat had allergy problems this year, which led to cat asthma. OMG, when your cat, along with you and the kids all have asthma and allergies, you gotta do something drastic. Moving to another part of the country isn't the answer either. I've tried it several times. The pine pollen in North Carolina almost did me in. All the tree pollen in NoCal was so bad that I was on bedrest with the windows tightly shut for weeks.

Nope, moving isn't the answer. But you know what MIGHT BE? If I play my cards right? Well, I'll tell you.

Last week I was invited to a meeting at Mom Central, which is conveniently located across town. One of the items they talked about was an American Standard AccuClean built in heating and air conditioning system. One that filters the air in your home to remove all the allergens. At least 98% of the allergens. In addition, the Accuclean removes over 99% of the common flu, or influenza A virus from the filtered air in your home.

Now, I don't know about you, but I was almost panting when I heard about the AccuClean. First of all, a built in air conditioner.... what can I say? Quiet reliable clean cold air. Heaven in a box. And the fact that it will filter out the pollen from my garden, the lawn, and the bazillion freaking trees we have on the property. Total heaven in a box. Plus, with a new heating system that doesn't require old clunky radiators, we would gain actual space in our teeny tiny house. Oh yes, this sounds better and better. Although we have gas heat, it isn't particularly clean, especially with radiators that probably have about 20 coats of led paint on them.

Since my biggest triggers are mold and mildew, I can't even go into our basement. But with an AccuClean, I could. I could actually go down and see what the heck those damn kids have done with all the dishtowels they claim aren't down there waiting to be washed. I guess they don't believe in clean dish towels.

So why am I, a poor as a church-mouse mom of twins, so psyched about this AccuClean system. Oh come on, you knew this was coming. There's a contest! Oh yes there is. If you live in the greater Boston area, you can enter this contest. The winner will get one shiny brand new AccuClean system installed in their very own abode.

You can betcha I entered toot sweet. But if you live around these here parts, and are an allergy sufferer and think having an AccuClean system installed is the greatest thing since sliced bread, enter here.

But if you don't want one, that's OK. I do. And I want to win!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

17 in Gloucester MA

You might have read about it in Time Magazine. Or heard it on your local news. Or even some national news program.

Seventeen girls under the age of 16 at Gloucester High School are pregnant. Read that again. Seventeen girls under the age of 16 at Gloucester High School are pregnant.

School officials picked up on the fact that young girls were falling pregnant back in October. The numbers kept rising. The school nurse was astounded by the numbers of pregnancy tests she gave, and the reactions to the negative tests were of disappointment, not joy. Something was amiss amongst the female students. It appeared as if pregnancy at 15 or 14 was something to desire.

Then, following some questioning, the pact was revealed. A pact between the girls to all get pregnant and raise their babies together.

Think about that for a second.

These girls have, in essence, changed the way society thinks of motherhood. Not only have they determined that as very young teens they are able to become mothers, they have also determined that fathers are irrelevant, and that they can follow Hillary Clinton's statement that "it takes a village to raise a child."

Now you have to remember that I'm a single mother that has raised my children alone since infancy. However, I was 40 when they were born, had a very successful and enriching career, and wasn't in my freshman year of high school. Nor do I believe that father's are irrelevant, I just know that in many cases women can and do a better job of raising their children with absent or uninvolved fathers. Even women who are married to men who are disinterested in fatherhood take on the roles of both mother and father. It happens. But don't, not for one second, think that I approve of what these girls are doing. Teen pregnancy is not something I would ever want (or accept) from my own daughter. I think these girls are ruining their lives.

But we all need to step back from our own tangled feelings and emotions and look at what is happening in Gloucester. A fishing community since it's inception in the 1600's, Gloucester remains a mostly white collar community of around 30, 000 residents. It is largely Catholic, largely insular, and since the fishing has been doomed by stringent laws and the lack of fish, it has become a town filled with unemployed and underemployed residents. Fishing is a terribly dangerous occupation and few families in Gloucester have been left unscathed by the loss of fishing boats in it's shrinking fleet. Gloucester, for all it's natural beauty, has never been a happy town. Hardworking and hard drinking would be an accurate description of it's occupants.

Growing up with the fear of death, the rampant poverty and lack of state services (thank you Mitt Romney), these girls have taken it upon themselves to create their own community. They have looked out at the high rate of broken marriages and relationships and have determined that perhaps there is a better way to receive unconditional love. They have watched their own community stagger and then falter due to economics, and they were looking for a way out, a different way, a better way to live. Hence the pact.

Seventeen new babies.

School officials have been slow to offer birth control in this heavily Catholic community. It still is not available in the school health clinic. But even if it were, these girls were determined to be mothers. They worked at it. They weren't in relationships, in fact one of the fathers is a 24-year old homeless man. These girls wanted these babies. I have to wonder if that is such a bad thing. Wanted children are loved children. We all know that.

The school offers free on-site day care for these babies. So does our high school. Thank goodness it does, because one of my daughter's best friends is due in August with a little boy. Another classmate of my son's is also pregnant. We were aghast that two girls we knew were both pregnant. And now Gloucester. Seventeen girls. Seventeen babies. That daycare center is going to be overwhelmed.

My heart is breaking for these girls. I don't think they know what they are in for. Infants are hard. Toddlers are different, but equally as hard. Pre-schoolers... OMG.

Obviously the town is going to have to step up to the challenge of all these new babies, all being born together. These new families are going to need housing and food and clothing. These moms still have to attend school and do their schoolwork all the while parenting a baby.

Teen pregnancy is a fact of life. The statistics say that the rate of teen pregnancies is steadily falling. The anti-choice people blame that on abortions, but the rate of abortions is falling as well amongst teens. The availability of birth control plays a large part in the falling rates. However, Senator John McCain is against all forms of birth control for women (he really is!) If (God Forbid) McCain was elected president, Roe v Wade could be overturned and birth control made illegal for ALL women, not just teenagers. Let's move right back to the stone age, when he was born.

I can't profess to know what is going to happen once these babies start arriving in Gloucester. It might be a wonderful joy, it might be a scary nightmare. What I do know is that something is amiss in our society when a bunch of young teens think that becoming mothers is a way to find the love that they are apparently missing in their own families. If they have not been nutured and adored by their own families, they will look for that love someplace else. That I know for sure. I live that. My desperation to be a mother was indeed formulated on needing the love that I didn't get as a child from a dysfunctional family.

We need to do better. We need to step up and be better parents to our daughters. We need to ensure that what happened already in Gloucester doesn't happen next year in Des Moines, Provo, Great Falls, Stockton, Urbana, Portland, Walla Walla, Boise, Youngstown, Detroit, Memphis, Raleigh, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Abeline, Norman, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, etc.

Don't just hug your daughters. Tell them about birth control. Take them to the GYN and get them a prescription.

Don't assume your daughter isn't sexually active. Assume they are. Talk to them about sexually transmitted diseases. Tell them about pregnancy. Tell them about the options.

DO NOT put your own issues above their choices. As a very wise father of a newly pregnant teen told me just this week, "I didn't want to be the person she blamed me for if I forced a choice on her. I didn't want her to hate me or resent me for the next forty years down the line because I pushed my views on her choice." He let his daughter make the right choice FOR HER, and for the baby. He is a very wise man. Who won't be a grandfather anytime soon.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Stress Collection

Because I haven't had enough stress this week, I decided to try and register my car again with our wonderful Massachusetts RMV. Let's look back at previous trips to the RMV and how, despite my best efforts, my little car still hasn't gotten it's brand new MA plates. All caught up now? Good!

I'm essentially a doobie and want to stay on the right side of the law, so I decided it's time to take trip number 4 to the RMV today. I had all my paperwork. Or all the paperwork that they told me I needed the last time I was at the RMV.

I got my number because the RMV works on the bakery principle, and sat down on the world's most uncomfortable benches to wait my turn. About an hour trickled by, where I got to watch every man in the place on his Blackberry. I didn't realize that Blackberry ownership was required if you're male and live in MA.

Finally the sign showed A113 and they called me up to window number three. Ooo, I thought, I like the number three. I'm SURE I'm gonna be lucky this time.

Ha! What a maroon!

I walked up, slapped down my paperwork, and Ms Window 3 looked at me, and looked at the paperwork, and looked at me again. My heart started sinking. I knew what was coming. She picked up the last form they told me I needed, looked carefully at it, and handed it back to me. Both copies of it. Which came straight from my insurance company, fedexed to my home. She told me that they couldn't accept this form because the change date on it wasn't with 30 days of the date today. WTF?

I didn't even know what a change date was. And told her that. I also told her that I didn't fill out the form, my insurance company did, and what the hell was WRONG WITH IT? She suggested that I contact my insurance company and get another form. Because all they have to do all day is redo forms for pointless reasons. Asshats!

Then she tells me that I need yet another form. I swear it, I felt my blood pressure rise to the very top of my head. WHAT? Another form? I was just here, I asked what forms I needed, you GAVE ME THIS FORM, and now you tell me it's the wrong form and I need another form. One that needs to be signed by the person who gave me the car. The very guy who lives in Maryland? How convenient!

I ask to speak to a manager. One comes wandering over, and of course she has nothing pleasant to say. I mention (scream) that this is my 4th visit to this RMV office and my car still isn't registered. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

I ask the manager to please write down every form I need in order to register my car. She refused. 3 times. She would not write down what I needed. She just said that if I got the new form from the insurance company AND the form from the guy in Maryland that I could register the car. I begged her to write down the forms I needed. Nope. No can do.

So I got her name (Carolyn) and told her that when I came back with the papers and they refused to register my car again that I was holding her personally responsible. And I burst into tears.

So yeah, more loving on the RMV. Turns out I'm not the only one that is having a bit of a problem with the MA RMV. What a shock!

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I've been tagged

As a rule, I'm not much of a meme girl. Mostly because I have very little memory left and they require me to remember things long gone from my poor shriveled brain. But this one I can do.

Daisy at Compost Happens tagged for a meme called 6 Unspectacular Quirks. Only six? This can't be that hard!

The directions:

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers' blogs, letting them know they've been tagged.

I cannot leave the house without spending quality time with my Q-tips. That's right, I'm a Q-tip addict. My ears are always itchy was down in the canal. I must massage them daily. 2 or 3 times a day.

I would rather drink water than anything else. I do NOT like soda (pop) and avoid it like the plague.

I cannot fall asleep without reading. Even if it's only a couple of paragraphs, I have to read or I will stay awake for hours and hours.

I can't stand anything, like socks or shoes or sheets or blankets touching my toes. They are very sensitive little piggies. They like to be freeeee!

I can't follow directions that are just pictures. If I do not have words, I cannot figure out what to do. Which makes Ikea quite the challenge for me.

My all time favorite card game is, and will always be Go Fish. I know this is sad, but memory, people. I cannot remember how to play any of the millions of games my children try to teach me. I can always remember the rules to Go Fish. Or War. Or Gin. That would be my car playing repertoire.

Tagging is always hard for me, especially since Daisy tagged most of my usual victims.

Robin from Around the Island
Janice of Chasing Myself
Fairly Odd Mother
Monty at the Daily Bitch
Neil of Citizen of the Month

You are all thusly tagged. Now go and tell us all how weird you are!!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WFMW: Perfect Pot Luck dish

It's that time of year, when we're all invited to a bunch of pot luck picnics and dinners. I used to wrack my addled brains trying to come up with something that wasn't hard to make, but that would be different, unusual, and delicious. After a bunch of slaw recipes from hell, I found this recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles, and voila! A great dish, easy to make, tastes fabulous, and oh... it will stand out amongst the potato salads and macaroni salads. The best thing is, once you have brought it to a potluck and your friends have polished it off, the next party you're invited to, people beg you to bring your sesame noodles! Yes, your special potluck dish is born.

Cold Sesame Noodles

Note: this can be made vegetarian by leaving out the meat

Serves 2-3 on its own or 4-6 as a side dish

  • 2oz/50g lean bacon (optional)
  • 1 Tbl peanut (or other light) oil
  • 1/2 inch/1cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped (no need to peel)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4oz/100g fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 tsp Mirin or sherry (or other light white cooking wine)
  • 7 inch/18cm cucumber, diced (no need to peel or seed unless it's one of those big waxy, seedy ones. If it's au natural just dice that sucker up)
  • 8oz/225g dried soba noodles (skinny ones that look like spaghetti)
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), very thinly sliced
  • handful of chinese pea pods (optional)
  • chopped bok choy (optional)
  • 3 Tbl sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbl light soy sauce
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Grill or broil the bacon until the edges crisp up, then cut it up into very small pieces.

Heat the peanut oil in a wok (or deep frying pan if you don't have a wok) until very hot, then add the ginger, garlic and bean sprouts.

Stir-fry for 30 seconds, splash in the wine and toss 30 seconds longer.

Scoop into a small bowl and leave to cool.

If you've got a big seedy waxed cucumber: cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seedy center and finely dice the flesh. Set aside. If you are using an English cuke, you just dice the whole thing up.

Boil the noodles until al dente or as directed on the package, separating the strands with a wooden spoon, then rinse them under cold water and drain thoroughly.

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl, mixing very thoroughly. May be served straight away or refrigerated up to 6 hours.

Enjoy. Recipe can be easily doubled or even tripled for a hungry crowd. You can add any fresh vegetables you like. Yellow bell peppers, bok choy, asparagus, green beans, pea pods, etc. It all works well!

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The Case of the Schitzophrenic School System

First, I wanted to say Welcome to all the brand new Needham readers who found my blog. I'm very happy you stopped by to visit, and I hope that you learn something valuable about your high school's special education department. It stinks like moldy cheese. Or my kids sneakers.

Yesterday I told you the tale of Needham High's "support" team for a kid with multiple physical and emotional issues. This kid was denied an IEP by Cathy Heller and the rest of her obviously bullied team of NoBots. Cathy didn't see why this kid needed an IEP because she's a blind, deaf, and dumb maroon, as Bugs Bunny would say. She's also a bitch incarnate.

Today, the same family went to the middle school for their daughter's IEP meeting. She will be attending Needham High in the fall, and needed to have an IEP in place. The daughter is much less medically fragile than her brother. She's also in a much better place in her education. But she is still very sick and she has obvious deficits that are shown by her testing.

Because it's the middle school, the support team was totally different. Except for our favorite bitch on wheels, Cathy Heller, who came to represent the high school. Of course Cathy was dead set against giving the kid an IEP, because that's what she does best. Deny services. She's such a great educator. She should feel so proud of herself.

But guess what? The middle school team, who are not browbeaten into submission by Ms Heller, decided that the daughter did need an IEP. And granted her one.

Ms Heller was not a happy camper. I bet she wasn't. Because the middle school kid is much less medically involved and in less trouble academically, and the middle school found her eligible for services, unlike the high school. Ms Heller has some 'splaining to do, because her denial of the IEP to the first child now, in retrospect, makes her look like the vindictive asswipe she is.

Additionally, the mother went to the head of Pupil Services over at the superintendent's office and had a little chat about Ms Heller and her team. Heh. I bet that was fun! And then she notified the school committee about Ms Heller's refusal to grant an IEP to her son. I bet that was even more fun.

So, we've got one kid on an IEP, and one kid that the family is retaining legal counsel to get an IEP. Ms Heller, you really picked on the wrong family. Bullying your staff is one thing, but trying to bully parents of two drastically ill children with a terminal disease and a shortened lifespan. Just plain stupid.

Here's hoping that Ms Heller is on a quick retirement track. She's totally burnt out and really should not hold this job. She has no empathy at all for the families she represents, and she's unwilling to budge one inch to make accomodations for such a special kid.

Oh, and the kid's on a 504. So when the parents sue for damages, guess who will be responsible? I hope Ms Heller has a nice house that she can sell to pay off this law suit. Bitch.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Brain dump or temper tantrum? You decide

I have just spent some of the most frustrating time of my entire life in a meeting at Needham High School. I'm naming names. I'm doing so to send a warning to anyone who lives in the town of Needham and has children with special needs in elementary and middle school. Because the high school? Their special education department sucks. It's led by Kathy Heller, who has a chip on her shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. This is NOT a nice person. She's a rigid beyotch who has no empathy whatsoever for her students and their families. She deserves to be fired after her performance today.

My client has two children, both of whom had cystic fibrosis. The son also has diabetes, mal-absorbtion problems, liver disease, an enlarged spleen, ADHD, depression, and executive functioning disorder. That's quite a list, huh? This child has repeatedly been denied an IEP. Not once or twice. Repeatedly. And once again, he was denied today, even though the school KNOWS that his illness does affect his learning. See, they don't care. They are so afraid to spend money on an IEP for this kid because they have been seriously out of compliance for years with IDEA and FAPE. Oh yes, they have. Moreover, if they were to give him an IEP they would also have to give his sister an IEP. And... if those kids had an IEP and needed extra help like tutoring during hospitalizations or even an out of district placement, the school would have to provide this by law. So Needham has determined that if they don't give the kid an IEP, heck, they don't have to do a damn thing to accomodate the kid.

Now this is the amazing part. The kid, at the very same time we were in the IEP rejection meeting from hell, was in the hospital having emergency surgery. His feeding tube had fallen apart inside him and the kid was SO anxious to learn about the IEP decision (which he desperately wants), he decided to have the surgery without anesthesia. Unfortunately, there was a problem and he was rushed to a second surgery with a general. Poor kid. His dad was with him so his mom could attend the IEP meeting. Imagine the stress this woman is under. Her kids already have a very abbreviated lifespan, and while her son is in surgery she's getting beaten up yet again by Needham High School's very own wicked witch of the North, Kathy Heller.

Yesterday we had a pow-wow at the client's home and her husband made it clear that he was done fighting this. This child would have an IEP anywhere else in the US. To deny one is patently ridiculous. And illegal. The dad was going to come to the meeting today and say "If you are not going to offer us an IEP, we're all wasting each other's time. My lawyer will be in contact with you." He couldn't do it from the hospital, so the mom did. And the delightful Ms Heller was all "fine". That idiot was BEGGING for a law suit. Plus, we told her we were going to sue for damages because they were so out of compliance. She showed absolutely no consternation. She didn't care. At one point I actually said "I have NEVER seen a school system begging for a law suit before."

The mom had an army behind her. There was an educational advocate (me), a parent support counselor, and a social worker that has worked with this family since the initial CF diagnosis 14 years ago. We have all sat in on many IEP meetings. We've all been to many different school systems. Honestly, I've never seen a stupider bunch of people sitting in that room pretending that an IEP was not as good as a 504 for protecting this kid. Let me just mention that until the end of April, when I got the case, the 504 said absolutely NOTHING. It didn't even mention his CF, ADHD, depression, hospitalizations for depression. It was literally a joke. We went over everything we wanted in the IEP and they put much of it into the 504, and then they sat there and said "Well, Kid has a working 504 now, so he doesn't need any accomodation." Yeah, he's had the 504 for 6 freaking weeks and I basically wrote it.

Oh, and Ms Heller had the audacity to leave the meeting early. I just wanted to trip her on the way out. Of course when she left, so did the nurse and the vice principal (who is leaving) and a couple of other people. I mean the gall to get up and leave when the meeting wasn't even over. I HATE that woman!

I am so furious I just want to hit someone or something. Once the meeting was over and the mom picked up her cell and found out that there was a second surgery, she just broke down. My heart was breaking for her. It was so horrible. She was sobbing those squeeky hyperventilation breaths. And then we (meaning her support people, not the Needham nasties) were crying too. Just imagine this.

I do want to say that not everyone in the Needham High School is an asshat. Mr Dornan is a delight. Bob McGuinnes is a savior. One of the two school psychologists is wonderful. The other one needs to remove the pole from her ass. The Vice Principal should just have left already. She obviously didn't care one whit about what happens to this family. She was too busy telling us about how the Kid was making such huge progress. Sure he was, with hours of special help from the learning center both during and after school. Oh yeah, he gets special help, hours of special help each week. But he doesn't deserve an IEP.

Needham High School. You really really suck.

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Later on today, after I get home from a couple of meetings, I'm going to sit down and write a post about money. Money that seems to be going down the drain, into the gas tank, and to the grocery store. Money that is no longer in your pocket.

Please put on your thinking caps and let's have a nice, non-violent discussion about the ins and outs of living in this vicious economy. Any suggestions you have for making things a bit easier would be greatly appreciated in the comments.

Stay tuned!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Game 5, NBA Playoffs

Well, the games are returning to Boston where hopefully the referees are less blind deaf and dumb. Did you SEE some of those calls? Oh, you're wearing green. It must be a foul. On the bench, suckah!

All I have to say is, Kobe Bryant is disgusting in HiDef. Has nobody told him about that wonderful invention, the towel? The sweat pouring down his head and body is nauseating. I have renamed him the SweatMeister. Totally gross.

Paul Pierce was awesome. Plays the entire game like the champ he is, despite the bad calls. I don't even know how Garnett could keep his temper in check. I've seen some poor calls, but geesh, this was beyond poor. It was just plain bad.

Nobody thinks that the Lakers can win here at the Gaaahden. Let us all pray. I just want to wipe that smug whiney smile off the SweatMeisters face.

Bring on Game 6!

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Sex and the City movie review

This review is gonna be short. Not so sweet, though. Today the Girl and I went to see SATC. As big fans of the show, we couldn't wait to see the movie, but since I'm crowd phobic, we had to go once the big crush was over. I can't stand being in a theatre where every single seat is filled.

Anyhow, the costumes were fabulous. Unbelievable. Gorgeous. For me, 1/2 of the show is about the costumes. Oh, and the shoes. Equally fab.

The plotline. Not so fabulous. Kinda meh, in fact. I didn't like these women in their 40's as much as I liked them in their 30's. Except for Charlotte, who will always be my favorite. There's one scene at the honeymoon resort that had me laughing my ass off. She is just delightful. Carrie... I try to understand why she is so grating at times, but the fact is, she and Big are perfect for each other and all these breakups are ridiculous. I never much liked Samantha, but at least she was more human in the film, in a stable long-term relationship. Until she blew it off. Miranda, whom I always adored, drove me nuts. The whole Steve thing? Um... really. No soul searching at all, Miranda? And as a mother, she seemed distant at best. Brady was cute though. Not as cute as baby Rose or Lily, Charlotte's progeny, but cute.

The acting. Jennifer Hudson? Sucked. I'm sorry, but I've never seen her in anything before and she was pretty horrid. Everyone else was true to form, but for some reason bitchier and more edgy. More Sanford was needed.

It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, but don't expect anything deep or meaningful. This was chicklit on film at best, and much of it could have used some editing.

Again, the costumes were fabulous!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reviewing summer reads

I've been promising this group of reviews for weeks. I'm a lazy shit. Get over it. Actually, life kept getting in the way, but the pile of books has been sitting on my desk for weeks, waiting for some free time, and here it is!

These are all books that have been recently published and are all great for summertime reading. I'm not much of a 'chick lit' lover for summer, I'm much more likely to read detective novels and mysteries with psychological intrigue. I want to be totally hooked on the summer books I read. This group of books definately fell into that category.

Rubicon, by Lawrence Alexander. I could go all snarky here and say that this was a book that is almost a parody on our current government, but it goes so much further than that. It's the tale of a power-hungry Republican government (remind you of anyone) that has broken laws, pushed an agenda past Congress, and now is out to take over the US government by killing all the candidates running for office, thus tying up the elections so the president can take over as dictator. While the premise seems unlikely, reading this book is scarily like much of what has happened in the past 8 years of the Bush administration. It isn't hard to believe that if Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld all kept pushing Bush forward, the plot of this book could have become reality. This is a well written and very engaging novel of intrigue and suspense in the highest echelons of government. It is a great summer read, and I give it an A.

All the Way Home, by David Giffels. A perfect gift for Father's Day or any day for the man in your life who is a home improvement nut. If your guy is at all interested in home repair, this is the book for him! It is the memior of a young couple from Akron Ohio who decide to sell their first home and find something bigger after they discover that they're expecting their second child. Driving around Akron they spy a falling down wreck of an old mansion and fall madly in love with the house. It is absolutely unlivable as is, but in fact the owner is still there, living without water, toilets, electricity, etc. After the closing from hell, David commences to take on the huge duty of ridding the house of squirrels and raccoons, replacing walls, floors, and ceilings, and basicially rebuilding the house from the bottom up. While the physical rebuilding is going on, the couple's marriage also needs rebuilding. Two miscarriages have left their relationship fragile and difficult, especially while living in this crazy wreck of a house. But in the end David becomes the father he wants to be, and the house survives. Another great read, filled with pathos and laughter. I give it an A-.

The Scandal Plan by Bill Forman. The story of a presidential campaign that was failing because the candidate was too nice. His advisors come up with a plan to show him in a less positive light, just so people would see his human side. They make up an affair he was supposed to have had in the past, but the whole plan backfires and hijinks ensue. Of course, the more problems that fall into his lap, the stronger the candidate grows, until he has taken over the lead. What to say? I didn't particularly like this book. The premise was silly and reminded me of Wag the Dog. It was just as improbable. I didn't like the characters, especially the driver who became central to the plot despite his complete lack of English skills. Like nobody noticed? The characters were too one-dimensional, the plot was silly, and the writing was not great. I'll give it a C-.

Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall. I'm sure you've read about this book or seen Ms Wall on television recently. She is directly responsible for the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of Warren Jeffs, the self-appointed Prophet of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church. This is the autobiography of Ms Wall's upbringing within the church, and her forced marriage at 14 to her cousin whom she hated. Her cousin raped her repeatedly when she was first married and had absolutely no knowledge of sex or what was expected of her. She begged over and over again to Jeffs to get out of the marriage, but was deemed a troublemaker and forced to return to her cruel husband. Finally she found a way out of the cult, and started off a new life with another man who also left the church. This book is a chilling damnation of the church, telling the story of Wall's family being forced away from her father and her older siblings. To this day Wall has no contact with most of her family who have ostracized her on Jeff's command. This is one of those books you cannot put down. It's terribly sad, but it will make you so angry. I give it an A.

Knock Yourself Up by Louise Sloan. This non-fiction guide for single women who want to become parents discusses home insemination, advanced reproductive procedures, and adoption as paths towards motherhood. Filled with warmth and humor, this guide covers ground that other books just don't dare to tread. Interviews with many single moms, some by choice and some not, punctuate the book's topics, leaving much to think about both pro and con for each method discussed. This is a nice book. It's cozy and warm and not too clinical. It's the type of book that you want to give your friends and family to try and understand just what you're going through. Because there are so many choices to make with the context of having a baby as a single mom, Sloan presents each without negativity. I appreciated the humor and the gentle nature of this book. I give it a B+.

Moose, by Stephanie Klein. What superlatives can I throw into this review? Right off the bat I'll tell you that I loved this book. Loved it. Klein writes a stinging memoir of her summers in fat camp, but the book goes so far beyond fat camp. It's a revelation of what it means to be a young teenager with parents who aren't all that supportive and believe with all their hearts that looks are much more important than what's inside young Stephanie and her sister. Stephanie talks about middle school and the cruelty of her classmates, but she also covers the diet specialist her parents drove her to, the specialist that implants some of the weirdest notions of dieting ever into Klien's young mind. Stephanie reveals sneaking food, hording, and even her flirtation with bulemia all in the quest to be thin. Thin, for Stephanie, promised popularity and good grades, and boyfriends that were interested in her mind, not just her body. Thin was confused with being a good person. Her learned condemnation of obesity has followed her into adulthood, where she is still struggling daily with weight issues despite having lost her weight long ago. If you are the parent of a teenager, this book is required reading. If you are the parent of a teenage girl with self esteem issues, get a copy for your daughter, and make her read it. I can't even begin to say how important I think this book is. For all it's humor, and it is funny, underneath the jokes is the painful story of growing up in a world where looks are more important than anything else. Klein treads were so many other books just won't go, to the anger and resentment underneath the humor. The jolly fat kid pulls off her mask and we get to experience with her how painful it is to be unacceptable in a world gone mad with vanity. This is an A+++++ book!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day when you don't have a father

Oh I know. Everyone has a father. Somewhere. Even if the father is a sperm donor, he's still a father. (Eye roll). Believe me, I've heard all the lines about fathers. All of them.

You know what? It doesn't matter what the line is, it doesn't apply to our family's situation. It just does not. So save the lines.

I had a father. I grew up with him. He was a short, square man who looked like a combination of William Bendix (you probably have NO clue who that is) and Ed Asner. A typical Jewish father from the 50's, he was overweight, had a lot of hair all over his body, wore the requisite hideously ugly plaid sports coats, and worked way too much. My father wasn't a nice guy. He was a mean bastard most of the time. He had absolutely no patience for children. Nor much love for them either. He was a misogynist and could not stand his daughters. Um, I'm a daughter. We weren't close. Heh.

My father was violent and angry. He hit first and never bothered to listen. He didn't care if we had an opinion. What he said was the law. Any trying to get around the law let to fists and kicks.

There is no love lost for my father's memory. When he died, I didn't even bother to think about the funeral. Which was kinda funny, since his obituary never mentioned either me or my sister. Because we were absolutely worthless as far as he was concerned. His death made me sad, but not because we didn't have a reunion after a 20 year absence of contact. This isn't Dr Phil or Oprah. I never wanted to lay eyes on him again. I was sad for all that I didn't get from him. There was no love, there wasn't even an acknowledgement that I was worth the oxygen I took from the air. He had no use for me in life, nor in death. But I mourned what I never got, a father who cared about me, who wanted to know who I was and what I believed. A father who loved his grandchildren and wanted to be a part of their lives.

My children's father is absent. 100% absent. He has no interest in our children together. He has not since right after they were born, when he said "I can't handle this" and took off for parts unknown. I understood why. Without going into much of a backstory, he had already done the very sick baby thing in a former relationship. He didn't want twins. He especially didn't want premature twins where one was a very sick baby. I get why he left, and honestly, it's better that he did. I did not want my children growing up as I did, unwanted and resented. I know what that feels like. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Consequently, fatherhood is something that I have a difficult time with. I find it hard to say positive things about fathers in general, and the fathers involved in our family in particular. My children know something about my father, a man they never met. They know he was terrible to me. But I never wanted them to feel about their father the way I do about mine. It's different. The whole situation is different.

So I've gone way out of my way to try and stay positive about their father. He isn't a bad man. He's a man who knew what his limits were, and did, in some weird way, the right thing by leaving. Oh yeah, he could have helped financially which he really never had. That would have made a real difference. He could have responded to the photos and letters I've sent over the years. He could have had his family be peripherally involved in our lives so my kids would have grandparents. He didn't do any of those things. Which kinda sucks for my kids.

But on the other hand, he's never lifted a hand to them in anger, nor has he ever called them names or said how worthless they are. He's absent in thought and in deed, and in some strange way, I'm so thankful for that. My kids have been able to maintain a decent idea of him. They're not particularly interested in him, having never grown up with him. They don't ask about him, nor do they perk up when I mention him or his accomplishments. I don't think that when they're 18 that they'll go off to try and meet him. They might someday, but right now, they know that having me as a constant is enough for them.

My kids have known a couple of very dysfunctional families with fathers that are a lot like mine. When we lived in CA there was a family in Shallow Alto with one of the most odious human beings that ever lived who was the father of two boys and the husband of a women we knew. We saw his behavior first hand often, and it was frightening. This family was richer than anyone we had ever known, and more miserable. It was the most perfect example of 'money doesn't buy happiness' I could ever had come up with. It was a great teaching moment.

Here we also have family friends with a toxic father. One that hits both his kids and his wife. My children despise this man. They have witnessed enough of his behavior to have formed their own opinions. They have said many times that they are happier without a father than to have one that is so vicious and downright mean. I agree with them. It is better to be without a parent than to be stuck with one that hates you.

Obviously, Father's Day is a non-holiday in our house. We don't send cards. We don't even mention it as a day that people celebrate. It is inconsequential to us. But the comments come anyhow. All I can say is that we have no fathers in our family. I try to leave it at that, but under my breath I mutter, "Thank God."

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Bullets, then sleep

Because I'm semi-coherent on a good day, and today would not really qualify as a good day, I'm going to present bullets of things that have crossed my cloudy mind. Deal with it.

  1. You know those Easy Buttons they have at Staples? They have really funny ones at CVS that say things like "Sweet" and "Whatever" but my all time favorite? "It's not MY job." Guess who it reminds me of?
  2. The Celtics. Awesome. I'm much much more of a baseball fan, but I like the game of basketball. it's easy to follow, it's exciting, and it's fast. I started watching the Celtics again a few years ago after a long hiatus, but I didn't realize how much I'd like watching the playoffs. OMG, I'm hooked! Tonight's game was insane. If you're missing the playoffs, even if you're not a big fan of any sports, watch these games. They are so exciting. These two teams are so evenly matched that the score goes up and down and then ties. It's way cool.
  3. Insane Dad: not a peep out of him. I did my due diligence today, but the youth officer never even called me back. Jerk. However, Insane Dad must have gotten the message from the police that he needs to stay off my ass. And the Girl's ass. Sick thing? We were the ONLY people he called and threatened, although there were quite a few kids that were involved in this mess who he could have contacted. Nope, he went after ME because I don't have a man by my side. Heh, wrong woman to pick on. I can be a total and complete bitch if I have to be.
  4. Finals: Whose stupid idea was it to arrange final exams just like college so the kids are running around town instead of studying? Just asking.
  5. Weather: Can I have some more, please? Outrageously gorgeous today with perfect temps and the most brilliant blue sky. I'll take a month of this weather for nothing, Alex.
  6. Sorbet: New favorite? Coconut. Totally yummy.
  7. Family Therapist: Left us the sweetest notes. OMG, I teared up reading mine. You wanna know what it said? "Dear Margalit, It has truly been a pleasure working with you and getting to know you over the last 6 months. Your dedication to treatment, your devotion to your children and your overall strength of spirit is truly inspirational. I feel I have learned so much from you both professionally and personally. I hope you remember one thing through all of this, and that is to remember to take time for yourself and to recharge your batteries. I hope it can be an important priority in your life. The Girl and the Boy are both extremely lucky to have such a compassionate and hard working mother, and you deserve all the best. Best of luck in the future." How awesome is that?
  8. The heat has done such a number of my poor feet. I just can't take that kind of searing heat. My ankles swell up, the tops of my feet puff up, and they hurt. It's painful. Even flip flops hurt. I hate this.
  9. This upcoming week is the last week of school. So much to do and I just can't seem to get it all done in time. Girl still has no place to attend school in the fall. School system seems to be blaise about it. I'm up in arms.
  10. Obama's Baby Mama? What the hell are these stupid conservative morons thinking of? Why don't they look at the Robot Cindy (drugs are my life) McCain. She goes beyond the role of Trophy Wife and into the realm of Blow-Up Doll. The woman is a living Barbie doll. And they go after Michele Obama, an educated, vibrant, and important working mother. They call her a baby momma? How embarassing is that to the Republican party? How stupid does that make them look? Oh, about as stupid as their current leader, the Shrub.
  11. Twitter is so passe. Plurk is the new social networking of choice.
  12. Did I mention we have litters of baby bunnies living under our bushes? Oh, these are the most adorable bunnies ever. They come out early mornings and late afternoons and hop all over the yard. It's like our own private showing of Animal Kingdom. Too cute.

So, what's up with you?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today could appear in the annals of Worst Day Ever contests

Updated with links on the paragraph that starts "Our Mysterious caller" for those that haven't followed the BF story for the past year.

It didn't start out that bad. Oh, I got maybe an hour and a half of sleep because our air conditioner conked out. It went through 2 seasons and died. I am so not a happy camper about cheaply made products that die. So I was a tad bit tired when it was time to get up and go to an 8 am meeting with the Girl at school. Because honestly, there is nothing I like better than a meeting at 8 am that she doesn't want to be at. But I digress.

We arrived right one time, remarkably. We sat, we sulked, we agreed to send the Girl for a visit to the program she and I do not want. Because there is nothing more compliant than a teenage girl who has her mind made up, you know.

I leave her in the capable hands of her liaison worker, who I like very much. She's smart and capable and not a spouter of the company line. She admits that big mistakes were made by the school. She's advocating for the Girl even though she knows that the program they're pushing isn't even on our table. It's her job, she's losing it due to budget cuts, she's not about to be a shill for the school. I like that.

They go off to visit the program.

I go off to have lunch with the Mom Central folks, who have opened an office in our city. They invited a few bloggers to come visit, where they made an awesome presentation. They're doing good things, people, and if you hear from them, or are offered placement in one of their campaigns, listen carefully. They're not just bullshit Blogher dilettantes. They have a great business plan, good client base, and a wonderful way of working with social media that doesn't take advantage of bloggers, nor suck bloggers in with a stupid advertising model that limits what you can say and do. It isn't about advertising at all. No restrictions on your blogs.

Six of my favorite New England Mamas were there, and it was great catching up with the girls and seeing a brand spanking new bambino. Oh, what a handsome boy our Topher is. So well behaved. The only guy amongst a large group of women, he had the whole office going gaga over him.

I also got a chance to chat with Erin and the most beautiful Super-Mom ever. So far so good, right?

I rush home to find the Girl's tutor sitting in her truck outside. Fairly Odd Mother had followed me home to be the wonderful donatee of some great homeschooling books we no longer needed. I'm decluttering again!

The Girl starts working with her tutor while the Boy decided to take a nap. As soon as the tutor leaves, the Girl wants to lay down as well, but nope... time for family therapy! And people say I don't have an exciting life. Our family therapist brought pizza and ice cream since it's her last day with us (sob). We ate and gabbed and complained about the heat. She gave the kids gift cards to Borders and me a gift card to Cheesecake Factory. Mmmm, Mojitos, Iris!

As soon as she left, I took the Girl and we went to the Big Orange Building of things we all need and want. But they were out of air conditioners. That gives you an idea of how hot it has been. If the Depot has no ACs or fans, it's freaking hot!

So after I peed, because I must visit every bathroom in every building I ever walk in to, we got back in the car and went down the road a bit to the Big Blue Building. They had a very limited supply of air conditioners, but they had them. Cheap. We made a friend of some really nice guy who repairs and installs ACs, and had a grand chat about air conditioning and the sorry state of appliances in this day and age. I do love chatting up an expert on something very guyish. I can always hold my own. In fact, I was giving advice to yet another guy about his air conditioning needs, and the first guy was duly impressed. You didn't know this very weird little thing about me. I love tools and repairs and all sorts of home improvement crap. I really do.

We purchase our brand new with remote, because after all, we are lazy people, air conditioner, plus 2 pieces of sliced lumber for installation. We drag the AC to the car, where we cannot get the damn thing in the trunk. Have I mentioned we have a TINY car? From Mini van to mini car. It's kinda shocking! We wedged that box into the back seat with the Girl pushed so far forward her knees were hitting the dashboard. Tres comfy!

Then off to Old Navy, in the same basic strip mall, for some promised flip flops. They were having a 40% off sale, so she got her flip flops and I got a pair of flip flops even though I swore to my podiatrist only recently that I would no longer wear flip flops. Apparently I am a big fat liar. They are so cute! I also got the Boy several pairs of boxers with skulls, because what young man does not need skull underwear? Ahem.

The Girl, in her never ending quest for shorts she can tolerate, tried on pretty much every pair of shorts in the damn store rejecting them all for a 'weird fit'. Back to sulking. She's so frustrated, because she's got a very small waist and very voluptuous hips and shorts are just not made to fit that kind of a body.

We drive back with our purchases in hand, and upon our return home, the Boy comes bursting out of the house yelling, "You won't believe who called like 10 times." I have no clue. Who would call ME 10 times besides a bill collector? And they usually space those calls out. I've heard!

Our mysterious caller? The insane father of a former friend of the Girls, a friend she has not seen or spoken to in months. A girl she cannot stand. A snitch. A girl who got her in a whole passle of trouble with her lies. A girl she blocked from her facebook months ago. Ok now!

He left a threatening message implying that the Girl had done something horrible to his precious daughter. Well, the Girl was with me all afternoon so I knew she hadn't done anything. But we were confused. He was all accusatory and threatening that he would have her arrested, blah blah blah. So the Girl, being a teenager and all, got right on the jungle drums and conjured up a bunch of friends, none of whom had heard from Insane dad, nor knew what he was going on about.

Finally, through detective work on Facebook, she found out what the deal was. His precious daughter had posted a very suggestive photo of herself (not even a remotely unusual occurrence) in a bikini. Other kids had made some negative comments on her Facebook page. The Girl is not even in her friends list, and has blocked her, so she is unable to even be a part of this conversation. But he blamed her for what other kids said about his daughter. They didn't say nice things. They were mean and rude. But she was just as mean and rude back. But it's all moot. My kid was NOT INVOLVED. But she's the only one he blamed.

Once we had gone through the thread, which was indeed ugly, I tried to call him back. He was nuts. He screamed at me, he threatened me, and not for the first time, he threatened the Girl, and he was just bizarre. I kept saying "What did she do?" knowing that she was not involved. But he was yelling back "You know what she did." Um, yup, I do. She was doing absolutely nothing. I couldn't even talk to him he was so rabid. And then one more big threat, and he hung up on me.

So I called the police. And I found out how to take out a TRO on this guy, because he's so crazy that he makes me fearful that he might try something very weird. He has before. If you think back to all the craziness last summer, it's that same father. But I'm done. DONE. He needs to back down and leave us alone.

For once I KNOW that my kid wasn't involved. She was with me every second of the time from 2isn on. We were in several stores with surveillance tapes. We can prove she wasn't involved. But I don't want to have to prove it. I just want this jackass to leave us the hell alone. Is that so much to ask?

Air conditioner is installed and works a bit too well. It's icy cold in here and I turned it down to 79 degrees for the night. Brrr.

That was my day. And you?

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