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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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Laundry success story

Like most bloggers today, I often get asked to test products, and 90% of the time it's a product I have no use for, so I decline or ignore the marketeer. But when Mom Central asks, they often have a product I'm either interested in trying, or have used successfully in the past and would be happy to promote. Recently, they asked me to try Clorox2 Stain Fighter and Color Booster in our laundry. I agreed, seeing as we need a stain fighter and a color booster for every load, and this is the pleasant result.

My son is a slob. Oh, not just a regular kid slob. The kind of kid that spills a bit here or there and throws the clothing in the laundry? I wish. My kid he spills everything. All over himself. His pants. His shirts. The floor. You name it, he has spilled it on himself.

My daughter is not as much of a slob, but she has her moments. Take last weekend. She was filling up the ink boxes on our printer in a desperate attempt to make it work (she failed) and she spilled about 2/3 of the bottle of blue ink all over her pant leg, the table, and the wood floor. While I was freaking out about the table and the floor, she was freaking out about her pants. Quite the team we make.

Fortunately, I had recently purchased a bottle of Clorox 2 with the coupon Mom Central sent me, so I had the two slobs gather up a basketfull of dark clothing and do a load using the Clorox2. There were arguments. "Nothing will get this ink out." "This isn't dirty, I've only worn it for a week!"

I persisted, and a load was done. Hallaluja!

When the load was finished, we of course fought over who was going to bring it up from the basement to hang on the line because that's how we roll in this family. Never a chore without an argument. But the Girl wanted to see her pants and how they survived and I wanted to see if some of the stains long set into the boy's t-shirt had been removed, so the clothing came up and we hung it on the line.

Lo and behold, there were NO ink stains left on the pants. Not a one! The Girl was thrilled.

Even better, the Boy's t-shirts had lost their dingy look, were much brighter and miracle of miracles, the set in stains were gone! Gone. Even he had to admit that his clothing looked better. That's saying something, folks.

Since then I've done a load of my own, less disgusting clothing, and the colors came out brighter, the clothing looked newer and less laundered. This isn't faint praise. Most of my winter clothing ranges in the black, brown, and gray tones, so I can't really tell much, but my one bright red shirt looked redder and more robust.

I like this Clorox 2 stuff. It seems to work well, especially on the kids brighter colors. It certainly cleaned their stuff up a lot more than plain detergent. So I'm saying that this was a real success story!

Their product literature says:

With its new 2X formula, Clorox 2® Stain Fighter & Color Booster* is better at removing tough stains vs. the leading detergent alone, including:
  • Coffee
  • Red Wine
  • Berry Juice
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Mustard
  • Ball Point Ink
  • Make-up
  • Dirt
  • I think we tested at least half of those stains just on one of my son's shirts!

    Don't just take my word for it. I've got three coupons from Mom Central for a free sample of Clorox 2 to give away. Just leave me a comment telling me your worst laundry story. I'll choose winners on Tuesday night by midnight. Remember, the dirtier the better!

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    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    I have an idea

    I need your input, people. Because I have a good idea, but I don't have a clue of how to initiate it. So I need ideas.

    We live on a large tract of old, rich farmland. We have enough space for a very large vegetable garden, one that would get a full day's sun, decent rainfall, and would produce well. I've always dreamed of putting in a very large garden, but I don't have the ability to dig up the lawn, rebuild the soil, plow the rows, and plant the garden. I'm not strong enough, I don't have the financial wherewithall to hire a professional, and I have extremely lazy children that will not garden. This past summer I stared at the garden space for countless hours, dreaming of what could go in there if I only had help.

    Larger back lawn, you see about 1/3 of it here, and it's MUCH deeper as well as wider.

    My brainstorm today was to do a small 'community garden'. In exchange for the shared space, I'd 'lease' the land to 4 or 5 families, we'd plan a garden, and share the produce. It would be like a teeny tiny CSA. There isn't enough land to support more than 5 families, I don't think, but we could plant 2 dozen tomato plants, beans, peas, peppers, cukes, eggplant, brussel spouts, lettuces, and maybe a few exotics. We probably don't have enough land to support 4 rows of corn, the minimum you can plant for a decent output. But I don't know. I envision 2 plots, one for herbs, lettuces, and short plants. And a larger garden for taller plants and tomato cages.

    Smaller side area for herbs and greens. This is about 1/2 the area.
    In winter, with barn, that shrub is the same as the one with cat above so you can see size of smaller patch from different viewpoint.

    My questions are:

    Would you, if you lived in a fairly wooded area, take advantage of a private community garden? (Our town is very tree-centric and most people don't have enough sun to grow much of anything.)

    Would you be willing to share produce with other families?

    Would you put in the work in order to keep the garden pest free and the plants producing well?

    Would you share in the cost to rototill and rebuild the soil?

    How would you find willing participants?

    How would you make up a summer contract for each growing season?

    How much time would be required as work time for each family?

    Would you only work with people you know, or would you be willing to trust strangers knowing that you're on the property much of the time?

    What else can you think of as a detriment to doing this?

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    Friday, November 28, 2008

    And we're OFF!

    The holiday spend like you're insane season has begun. It's black friday, which is not a racial slur, but is a term used by retailers to connote the day that they usually turn in their old ledgers from red ink (deficits) to black (profits). It's the day that retailers hope and pray will allow them to remain open another year. Well, good luck to them. I think it's going to be a really tough year for so many small business owners. A friend of mine who owns a small gift store in a neighboring town is really hurting right now. People just aren't spending what they have in the past, and if they are shopping, it's on less frivilous items. This is going to be the year of the LCD Flat Panel. Between the stupid change we all have to make to go digital in February, and the price of cable going through changes, people are going to be replacing their televisions in droves.

    Me, I have an HDTV already that we use with the strange antenna, and that's what is going to have to suffice for us. As far as Chanukkah is concerned, it will be extremely lean. My kids are old enough to know how bad the economy has hit our family and they really don't expect anything. They see their friends getting cars and laptops and all sorts of booty, but I think this year will be a lot leaner for even the rich kids in town.

    Other than a new washer/dryer, there isn't anything we really need as a family. We have our teeny car, our teeny house, plenty of clothing, and each other. We're always going to want, but we don't need, and since I've declared this the year of need, we're resorting to items like socks and underwear for gifts. Reminds me of Danny Kaye singing, "Dear Aunt Sally, Thank you very much for the UNDERWEAR. I always wanted..... UNDERWEAR." If it's good enough for Danny Kaye, it's good enough for my family.

    I've never experienced the Black Friday shopping frenzy and I daresay I won't ever in my lifetime. I get that people want bargains, but I don't think I'm interested in hitting a store at 4 am. Even to save a buck or two. But you never know. If I could get a set of front loading washer and a dryer with a steam setting for $299, I MIGHT be tempted.

    Happy shopping. Keep my mantra of Want vs Need in your mind.

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    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    My Thanksgiving in a few words.

    Woke up. Parade. Snuggled with kids and cats. All My Children tornado repeat! Nap. Cook. Tour of convenience stores searching for marshmallows. No marshmallows. Compromise with brown sugar, butter and pecans. Cook more. Finish Newsweek. Set table. Eat. Eat more. Eat more. Clear table. Look at jackets online with Girl. SLEEP. Wake up and eat pie. Yell at Boy for smoking outside. Twitter. Find adorable Advent calendars for Chicky Chicky Baby. Post. Grey's Repeat. Yawn. Boy eating second turkey dinner. Finish cleaning up kitchen. Bedtime!


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    Happy Thanksgiving

    To my American readers, have a wonderful and peaceful holiday and don't eat too much. For everyone else, hope your day is going well.

    Free the birds, tuppence a bag.....

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    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    I'm a single lady

    Not a fan of Beyonce. Yeah, she's talented, but she just doesn't do anything for me. However, this little video has captivated me and I find it to be one of the best time wasters ever.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Now dance!

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    Talking Turkey About Death

    My blogless friend Ora has asked to for a space to blog this Talking End of Life post. As a cancer survivor and the wife of a man dying of stage 4 colon cancer, I know this is a HUGE issue for Ora. So please read and give her support.

    I saw an article this morning in the Boston Globe that really got me thinking. You’ve listened while Margalit talked about me and my kids and my husband with Stage IV rectal cancer and all of our marital problems. So this article really got to me. (Ed. Note... I've never really talked about the marriage part of the equation here, but it's bad. VERY bad.)

    I’m totally conflicted. I guess that is the place many people are in about a loved one dying, but my problem is that I don’t love him anymore. I care for him as one human being to another, but he’s done and said so many nasty things to me over the years that I actually had filed for divorce this past summer, while the tumors were stable. So while the ethical side in me doesn’t want him to die, the “I don’t care anymore” side says to hurry up and die already. Eek. This is the definition of conflicted.

    In a sidebar to the article, the Globe showed questions from Engage with Grace which I’ll answer below. But the whole point was that the caregiver should have this discussion with the patient. Hubbie and I have had pieces of this in the past, but since he is mostly in denial about dying, it’s hard to pull it all together. Plus, he has communication issues that make it impossible to have a conversation with him.

    The questions are:

    • On a scale of 1 to 5, where does the patient fall on this continuum? 1 is :let me die in my own bed with any medical intervention and 5 is: don’t give up on me no matter what. Try any proven and unproven intervention possible.
    • If there were a choice, do you prefer to die at home? Or in a hospital?
    • Could a loved one correctly describe how you’d like to be treated? Yes or no. Yes
    • Is there someone you trust whom you’ve appointed to advocate on your behalf when the time is near? Yes or no. Yes
    • Have you completed any of the following: written a living will, appointed a healthcare power of attorney or completed an advanced directive? Yes or no. Yes

    One and two are the hard ones for me. Right now he is in the "do anything that the doctor can think of" category. This is not like traveling to Mexico for some quack’s peach pits or halfway around the world for something else untested, but it does include clinical trials (those that will take him with brain metastases) and whatever combinations that the oncologist can think of (and that we can get the insurance company to pay for). We do both agree (at least he didn’t disagree) that we can’t be beggaring the rest of the family for some small percentage likelihood of grabbing an additional month or two. But…. he’s not willing to stop trying, and we’ve run out of things to try. And he doesn't listen to the doctor, nor does he process what the doctors tell him. So I fear what is next.

    I am absolutely positive that he wants to dies at home. I am equally positive that it’s not something that I want to deal with, especially with my daughter in the home. His dad died from the same disease and he died at home, with hospice services in the house (and with a wife that was always flitting off to do something else, but that’s a whole ’nother story!) So hubbie wants to go just like dear old dad (and I did love his dad!)

    I’ve been a support group for caregivers of cancer patients for many, many years now. I’ve seen how many caregivers try to take care of end-of-life issues at home. In the “nicest” of cases, it’s not too bad. But do you really want your last days with someone (even if you still loved them) to be spent changed diapers and taking care of medical matters? And if it’s a worse problem, the home caregiver is NOT a skilled nurse who knows how to handle all of the medical concerns, even if the insurance companies these days are dumping more and more of the care onto the family.

    Out-of-house hospice is a rare service, but it absolutely is the best way to go, both for the patient and for the caregiver. The patient gets the services that s/he needs and the caregiver can focus on the emotional care, rather than get totally worn out by the physical care.

    But this is the part that we haven’t discussed. Why? Because he’ll just throw back at me that I was divorcing him and want him gone. So now we’ve come full circle. I do want him gone, but I don’t. But I’m certain that it’s gonna happen within the next year.

    Ed comment: Having her husband at home is extremely stressful and difficult when he's well, and he's declining fairly rapidly. Her husband isn't the nicest guy (I'm being polite) and he blames EVERYTHING on Ora. Her stress level is through the roof, she has other problems she has to worry about, a full time job with a lot of stress right now, and one kid with severe special needs that she is solely responsible for. Plus a teenage daughter named Judy Attitudy (thank you Dr Phil... I love that expression!) Caring for a dying spouse that is mean, that she can barely be in the same room with, and who would make sure that his dying would be HER fault, too, just isn't fair. There is only so much one person can take. She's had her fill and then some.

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    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Justice for Anne Coulter

    You know, when you hear that stuff about Karma biting you in the ass, well.... do you believe it? I rarely do, because I don't think that most horrible people get their just desserts. But then something happens and I think Karma is a really good thing.

    Anne Coulter. Meanest mouth in the USA. Most horrible woman ever living off her looks. Biggest asshat in the conservative stable of loudmouth hate pundits.

    Poor Anne broke her jaw and her mouth has been wired shut. Is that not the BEST example of just retribution ever?

    When we go around the Thanksgiving table on Thursday, this is one of the things I'm most thankful for. That, the election, watching Elizabeth Hassleback squirm, and having feelings of hope for the first time in dozens of years.

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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    10 AM and the day already sucks

    I'm not having a good day today. I knew I wouldn't. I had to deal with a bank error that cost me a ridiculous amount of money in bounced check fees. Yes, it was the bank's error, not mine.

    I've had to deal with the Housing Authority, aka "we refuse to help anyone and we love to be really rude about it" which of course ended up in me having to again redo a form since they again changed the rules. They will do anything to reject people. It's not like I'm asking for something that I'm not entitled to by law. I just want disabled housing where I can get in and out of my house without risking my life. Currently, I do not have that.

    I've had to deal with my landlady, who wanted desperately to blame me for the bank's mistake, but alas, she could not. Pity.

    I've had to deal with my son, who doesn't want to get up in the morning and who, even though he promised up one side and down the other to NOT beg me for rides in the morning, begs me for rides every morning. It's fun!

    My home health care person didn't show up this morning, and didn't call until 10:30 to tell me she would be coming this afternoon instead.

    The printer died a horrible death and I now have hands that look as if they were painted with camoflage designs. Lovely!

    I've been playing phone tag with someone I really want and need to talk to and it's driving me nuts.

    I didn't sleep a wink last night for worrying about all the things above, and now I'm totally exhausted and the Girl is expecting me to take her on various and sundry errands after school. She has, after all, paychecks to spend.


    Wasn't Jack Bauer awesome last night? What, you didn't watch Jack's redemption? tsk tsk tsk. Jack was so Jack. And the previews for the new season? Look SO freaking good. Jack is back after last year's really crapola season. In January Jack, LOST, and Life on Mars return and I'll be watching only heart thumping TV. I can't wait!

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    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Apples to Apples

    Last night I was feeling particularly poorly so a friend dragged me out of the house to Barnes & Noble to keep her company while she shopped. When I left the house, the Girl was at work at the Boy was out at a friend's house. We looked at books for a bit, she bought a few things for her kids for Hanukkah, and we came home. When we drove up to my house, there were more lights on than when I left, so I figured that someone had come home.

    Sure enough, the Boy and three of his friends had decided to 'hang' at our house. They bought themselves Pringles and bottles of $.99 soda at the local junk food emporium, and they were just getting ready to start a game of Apples to Apples. They invited us to join them, and we set about playing one of the strangest games ever.

    Now, I'm pretty honest that my Boy is kind of a geek. Not really a science/math geek, more of a music/movies/tv geek. But he's a geek and so are his friends. They're nice kids, good kids, but so freaking geeky. So playing board games is something they enjoy a lot, and since we have a lot of board games here at Casa Casino, they tend to congregate here when they want to play. Apples to Apples is a frequent favorite, and playing it with them requires special geeky thinking because they rarely pick out the most obvious winner in each round.

    If you haven't played this game before, it's incredibly fun and older kids love it. There are two colors of cards, red and green. The green cards are descriptive words like "interesting" and "vital". The red cards can be nouns of any kind, like the names of famous people, places, and things. So you might have a hand of cards that has "Marilyn Monroe, Mud, Las Vegas, Mold, Popcorn, Creamed Corn, and Mark Twain."

    Each player has 7 red cards. A green card is played, and you must throw down one red card that most matches the adjective on the green card. The winner of the last round is the judge of which card wins this hand. For example, the green card tossed down is "crunchy" and you have to chose one of your 7 cards from the list above, and be prepared to support why you chose it. So normally you would throw down "Popcorn" because that's your only card that describes crunchy.

    You see? Easy peasy. Except when you play with the Boy and his friends. They like to chose the most bizarre answer and have a good story to support it. They're more into the crazee version of Apples to Apples. At first it's kind of daunting to play with them, but after a while it's so infectious and you end up being just as much of a nutcase as they are.

    If you don't have this game in your house, I HIGHLY recommend getting it for your family. It provides a lot of good, hilarious fun. It's very easy to play and easy to put away, too. Honestly, it's the best family game currently out there on the market. Plus... no small pieces.

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    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    C is for Cookie

    Have I told you about my new best friend. I like to snuggle with him. He's kinda soft and very nice, but he will not share his cookie with me.

    I think he must be a monster.

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    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Special Snowflakes

    Or How to Teach Your Kids to Stay Out of the Big Leagues if They Can't Compete

    An article in one of the student newspapers at a high school in our city spoke of the anger students have when (gasp) teachers park in the student lot. Can you imagine the GALL of these teachers, parking their cars where all the special snowflakes park? The article was picked up my our local newspaper's blog, and the commenting commenced. I don't know if your local paper has a blog, but mine has had one for about a year now, and it's one of my greatest sources of entertainment. The comments are fabulous! We've got a committed (or they should be) cast of characters, most of them curmudgeonly conservatives, and they have an opinion on every topic. Believe me, every freaking topic brings out the loony in these folks. It's like an unedited letters to the editor column gone wild. I love it. I really do. I also participate, but not on every topic. Strange, but there are some topic on which I have no opinion at all. I know!

    So, the commenting is pretty much commonplace until some special snowflake comes on. He's articulate, has a good vocabulary, but his arguments... well they are fairly specious. You see, SS thinks that students should have equal rights with teachers. That students deserve the same treatment as teachers and staff.
    The fact of the matter is, there should not be designated areas for students vs. staff. Instead, it should be like most parking lots in the world - “first come, first served.”

    This is not intended to sound pretentious or conceited, though I expect that some TAB bloggers will not agree. That’s fine. But in an organization that supposedly values “equality and opportunity for all,” among other virtuous sentiments in the mission statement (which, FYI, was carefully crafted by a team of administrators and teachers for the NEASC evaluation), it seems odd that STUDENTS - the real reason why this school exists and these teachers are employed - are treated unequally compared to staff.

    Ok, I expect complaints about “hierarchy.” In short, that teachers are in charge and should receive benefits. That’s also fine but, on that note, there are numerous parking areas on campus that are solely for teachers, and these areas are conveniently located near entrances and elsewhere. Another part of the mission statement, “respect for self, others, and the environment,” implies that staff members would RESPECT the fact that students PAY to park in LIMITED areas and, therefore, not take up those finite number of student spaces available. (Not to mention, of course, that there is NO penalty for these staff members violating school policy).

    And then all hell broke loose! We had one commenter after another tearing apart this poor kid's argument that teachers and students should be hierarchical. As if!

    Now, I didn't (yet) participate in this discussion because honestly, it's just stupid. First off, the parking lot the kids are bitching about is across the street from the school, is the hangout for all of the sketchy kids (including the Girl) who smoke dope and cigarettes and god only know what else there, is next to "the shed" which is a program for the sketchiest kids in the school, is only available to seniors, and in general is about an uninviting a place as can be. If, and I say "if" with a huge dollop of disbelief, a teacher chose to park there, they are doing it because there is no available space in their own, much larger, cleaner, safer, and more pleasant parking lot.

    Special Snowflake couldn't drop it, however. And this is where he starts ticking me off:

    I’m sorry, but you guys are unbelievable. Not only are you NOT part of the Newton South community (and, therefore, have ZERO perspective on this), but also you are making broad, uninformed, non-inclusive statements about South teachers, students, and their relationships. (I might add that you, Tim, are uneducated, too, since you don’t seem to be able to spell).

    Tim, you write, “A teacher is more important than a student.” I won’t get into the whole “teachers are employed because of students” thing, but I will refute your comparison of teachers to priests and doctors. I respect a person’s choice to enter the teaching profession, but that does not make any individual more important than anyone else - including students. You are clearly underestimating the role students play in creating a positive community within a school. Some students, I dare to say, are MORE important to a school than any individual teacher.

    Jane, you write of “hardships” that teachers experience. I’m sorry, but if someone is unable to walk a certain distance (especially under bad weather conditions), the Registry of Motor Vehicles allows for those experiencing such a “hardship” to apply for a Handicap plaque that allows them to park within close proximity of many establishments - INCLUDING Newton South. As for those teachers that couldn’t possibly spend an extra 2 minutes “searching” for a space, it seems to me that a certain effort is assumed by any employee of any organization when they sign on to complete a specific role - i.e. TEACH in a public high school where PARENTS pay their salaries and STUDENTS have rights.

    Come on, complain some more. I’m all ears.

    Some caveats.
    Tim, a kind of nutty but continual commenter, is Greek. As is "born and brought up in Greece" Greek. English is his second language and anyone that reads more than one post of his can figure that out, but he tells you anyhow. All the time. So insulting Tim isn't winning any points.

    There are 2 (count 'em, TWO) handicap spaces at the front of the school. Those spaces are almost always filled with either Special Snowflakes waiting for their friends to come out of school, or the parents of SS's waiting for their little blizzards to arrive for pickup. When they are asked to move, the majority are furious or refuse to move even when shown a handicap placard.

    SS seems to forget that he and his compatriots are CHILDREN, and in the Commonwealth they don't have any rights at all until they are 18.

    Lastly, I HIGHLY doubt that teachers are parking in the senior lot. As an adult, I know I wouldn't leave my car there where it isn't under camera survelience. No way, Jose.

    OK, so the second SS comment really gets the juices flowing. People are calling him 'whippersnapper' and are fairly irritated by his total lack of respect for his elders, never mind anyone else. Because it's all about him. Man, I love the teenagers!

    His next response is even more foul.


    Thank you for your support.

    But, I’m sorry, last time I checked, you didn’t write the Newton South mission statement. That’s right. You don’t get to decide who is “equal.”

    “Newton South High School, a community of students, parents, faculty and staff, is dedicated to equality and opportunity for ALL.”

    This reminds me of some class called “U.S. History.” The Declaration of Independence mentions that “all men are created equal,” yet, throughout history, certain groups have clearly been deprived of their rights. Like whom, you may ask? African Americans, homosexuals…oh, and women! Did those groups just wait to “grow out of it?” Definitely not. To this day, those groups are STILL fighting for their rights as U.S. citizens - regardless of age, social status, or ranking in society.

    And guess what - South students (no matter how pretentious and spoiled you think we are) will also continue to defend themselves.

    SS is now speaking for all students. But.... I have two students and they don't feel this way at all. Not in the least. Nor do their friends. Most of whom do not have cars and aren't special snowflakes. As for the mission statement, special snowflake didn't write it either. Our temporary principal 3 years ago wrote it, and drove the entire school CRAZY for a whole year over the freaking mission statement. When the Boy was a freshman he would come home almost rabid over another stupid assembly where she would talk about the mission statement. And after a whole year, that is what she came up with! Amazing.

    But our special snowflake isn't through burying himself.

    If a city employee is not in good health, he/she should not be employed in a position that requires them to complete normal, everyday tasks (like, walking from your car to a door). Teachers already receive health benefits - what more can they ask in terms of health care? (Like I said earlier, get a doctor’s note for the RMV and hang that golden handicap plaque on your windshield).
    Oh man, what a freaking asshole. I'm sorry, but what kind of parents does this kid have that he thinks he's so damn special? That he can decide who can and can't work. Has he never been informed about hidden disabilities. I swear, I DARE HIM to say that to me. I'd deck him.

    Fortunately, I'm not the only person who is now sitting at the computer with steam pouring out his/her ears. Teachers started to get involved. One told the kid off, another one tried to temper the arguments. But now SS is starting to get comments calling him 'a little prick' and tempers are short. Does he quit? Why NO!!!
    You’re all talking about TEACHERS teachers teachers.

    That shows how little you know about a school. A school is NOTHING without so many other people (and I don’t just mean students).

    and even parents

    To everyone on here besides the NSHS teachers, when was the last time you spent some quality time at Newton South, or any other high school? Don’t speak about something you don’t know about. I don’t care who you are or what type of power trip you’re on. It’s that simple.

    And guess what? Parents DO pay the salaries and all school employees should remember that. It’s not a threat - it’s just common sense. When teachers go off complaining about a student or parent, they should remember that the only reason they can pay their bills is because of the snotty children that live in this town.

    This is NOT a business, it’s a public school. Teachers are NOT the employers and students are NOT the employees. If you think that’s the case, then you better cut the kids a check every other Friday, and then we’ll park wherever you say to. But until you stop and realize that - no matter how you feel about “equality” and the like – students are not passive elements in the school community and that they DO have a say in their LIVES, don’t say a word.

    To be honest, in the classroom, it’s not a question of “equality.” It’s about the teacher getting paid to perform a certain function (i.e. teach) and the students benefitting from that. Some do that better than others, and many go above and beyond, but no matter how much work they do, they cannot argue that they are more important in any way than any student. And if they do, then they shouldn’t be working in this town. And there are definitely many teachers in Newton that agree with me on this.

    OMG. Who handed this kid a shovel? I guess Mummy and Daddy haven't told special snowflake about that evil word, taxes. About how the state picks up some of the cost of education and that taxes, not parents, pay teacher's salaries. Many people are NOT parents but pay taxes. Many people that are parents don't pay property taxes because they rent. This isn't rocket science, but SS seems to have missed this explanation. Plus...parking? Is it REALLY this big of a deal to this special snowflake. There is always plenty of parking in the senior lot. And if there isn't, there is street parking. He might have to (OMG) walk, but there is street parking. But then, in the very last post, comes the real reason he's gone this far.


    I certainly agree with mark in terms of this being a fascinating thread, although it’s such a “simple” issue. It’s entertaining, to say the least.

    You’re also right about everyone using each other against everyone else. Unfortunately, in my short life, I’ve noticed that this seems typical in Newton.

    I will defend the Principal, though. It seems to me that the chief executive of an organization (i.e. school principal, district superintendent, city mayor, etc.) should have SOME sort of privileges for taking so much sh*t all the time. This is clearly a debatable issue (like everything else on this blog), but that is how I feel about it, and I do have an enormous amount of respect for Newton South’s principal.


    To answer your question - yes, if students pay for parking, they are entitled to those student-only spots. This year, at least, there are not too many student parking permits issued. However, the only student parking left after 8am is across Brandeis Rd in the “Senior Lot,” which many students would rather stay away from - for a variety of reasons that I will not list here, but that Newton South community members might know. When staff members park in student spots that are on the school’s side of Brandeis road, it forces some students to go across the street.

    Also, I think that the parking fee and bus fee are very similar ($180 per semester, $360 total for the year). That’s a good point.

    Actually, Gail, I don’t disagree with you (though I’m not certain I’m in a position to agree) that if the South Administration decides there needs to be more spaces for teachers, then they should refund students and take the spots. My issue - and that of many of my peers - is that I don’t want to park across the street or in other areas that assumedly illicit activities are going on in AND I don’t want my car to be in danger while I’m in class. (Parents might not be too happy if it came home with a smashed windshield…which has been known to happen at South)

    He doesn't want to park in the senior lot because it's sketchyville, and he's obviously scared of what will happen to his car. But he thinks it is OK for teachers to park there instead. There ARE spaces, just as I said there are. But because the school does absolutely NOTHING to curb the kids that hang out there and their questionable activities (and remember, my kid is one of them), then we'll just blame the teachers for taking up the safer parking spaces. Cause that's fair and equality in action.

    So, I've got a couple of points here. Kids shouldn't be responding on town blogs when they don't really have their facts straight. They get reamed. Not that I did the reaming or have ever done the reaming when this has come up before, but it happens and I don't think kids should be getting attacked by adults like this. Although this little snowflake certainly did his best to rile everyone up.

    Parents need to teach their kids that they aren't special or better than adults, that they don't deserve anything but food, clothing, a free public education, and shelter (that's the law). Anything else is frosting on the cake and is not DESERVED.

    And a lesson on how public education is financed might be valuable as well.

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    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    It's the most expensive time in the year

    Doom and gloom are everywhere. Stores keep going out of business. Unemployment is up and will be even higher soon. Detroit is about to experience pain even worse than when Michael Moore filmed it. People are pulling their kids out of daycare, and not re-enrolling in private schools for next year. Vacation spots aren't getting reservations, restaurants are half-empty, waiters aren't getting tips they can live on. It's a vicious cycle at this point, and you would hardly believe it if you walked into any retail establishment. Because Christmas has come on full force and it's got a taste of desperation this year.

    Have you noticed? It's weird... layaway is back (thank God because I loves the layaway) and stores are pushing it. The ads on TV emphasize sales. The Black Friday sites are up and already buzzing. Every store is already having huge sales. If you had any money it would be a great time to shop.

    Ah, there's the rub. I believe most of us know that maxing out credit cards for one single day is kinda dumb. I mean, the credit crunch is part of this huge mess we're all in. But the mindset of the past 10 or so years, where you don't need money to have good stuff because you can just charge it and pay down the bill monthly for the rest of your life is hard to break. People are already totally fixated on Christmas and let's face it, Christmas in this country means Shop till you Drop.

    This is a dangerous place to be. Shopping when you can't afford it is just plain dumb. I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree when it comes to finances, but even I know credit is evil. Credit entices you to buy things you don't need. Credit lets you live above your means. Credit can bring families down. Credit is a vicious slave master. Don't fall into the trap.

    Nobody has to spend thousands of dollars of gifts. Nobody. Not even Donald Trump, who has the money. Gifts are lovely. I like gifts. A lot, in fact. But I don't NEED things that are bought with little thought just because I'm on somebody's list.

    I think that this is the perfect thought for Christmas gifts this year. Instead of reindeer sweaters and coffee table books, perfumes and golf accessories this year should be the year of need. I'm not advocating forgoing Christmas or Hanukkah. Heaven forbid! But I'm asking you to consider spending a lot less on silly stuff that nobody needs. And even more radical, if the person on your list is someone that doesn't NEED anything, donate the money you would spend on that person to a charity in his name.

    Think how much easier this would be than agonizing over catalogs and websites. Instead of wondering what to get Dad again this year, donate the money instead to a local food pantry. They NEED that money to feed people. Dad doesn't need Red Sox golf club covers. He really doesn't. Mom doesn't need a spa day. Honestly, nobody NEEDS a spa day. Human beings got along just fine for thousands of years without spa days.

    If everyone bought into this idea, think how much help would be donated to the people in need in this country. The unemployed, the sick, the disabled, and the abject poor. They need heat and food and clothing. You can, without much effort at all, help out by donating instead of purchasing things that won't or can't be used. After all, which would make you feel better?

    I'm thinking that this should be a movement. The Needs Movement. This is the Christmas of Need. We know that so many in this country are in need. We know that the need is palpable. If you're able to help out, do so locally. In the past it was great to give to the poor abroad. But this year, this year of Need, we all need to help out our neighbors, our communities, our country. This is the year we are hurting, right here in the USA. Your food pantry, your fuel assistance program, your clothing exchange need your help. Don't forgo them for gifts nobody needs. Do the right thing.

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    I got it!

    Yesterday Junie, my home health care aide, yelled at me to get the camera. Even she was amused by Ms Pepper's Flying Circus.

    We are SO thankful that we don't have a christmas tree, being Jewish and all. Can you imagine this kitten with a tree in the house. She'd knock it over every day, no matter how wired it was to the walls.

    This laundry rack is her absolute favorite thing to play with. She climbs it all the time, and she likes it best when there are clothes on it, so she can hide at the bottom under the clothes and pop out to surprise whomever is going by. She pulls off all underwear and socks from the bottom rung and carries them proudly through the house. I have to go searching for them and find them in the strangest places.

    Her favorite thing to do is chase Worthless Pet around the laundry. He has no clue of what she's doing for he's a dim bulb at best, and apparently is unable to lighten up enough to really play. His part is to punch her, hiss, and meow pitifully. She's got him wrapped around her teeny tiny toes.

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    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    The day she became real

    Years and years ago, when the book first came out, everybody recommended that I read "The Explosive Child" by Dr Ross Greene. Every therapist, every teacher, every friend, literally everyone that we knew that knew the issues I was having with the Boy and his explosive, but yet undiagnosed behavior was pushing that book. So I bought it when we were still living in CA, and I read it. I tried and tried to follow Dr Greene's recommendations, but honestly, the freaking baskets killed me. You have to read it to know what I'm talking about, but his basic theory is that parents have to choose how to react to every explosion or issue and toss them into one of three baskets, ignore, come back to later, respond to now. That's not really accurate, but for the purposes of this post, work with me.

    When things got bad in CA and we decided to move back to Boston, one of the great deciding factors was that Dr Greene was located in my very city. How convenient, I thought. As soon as we came back, I called his office and to my absolute disgust I found that he didn't take any insurance. The guy charges and arm and a leg, and his office help, who are one step away from total bitches, said that we had to pay them in full, and then submit the bill to our insurance company who may or may not pay the bill. I checked with our state medicaid insurance and guess what? They didn't cover Dr Greene due to cost factors.

    That didn't stop me from reading the book a second and third time, hoping that I would find the secret to dealing with explosions, but of course I never did. I did, however, find a great psychopharm at Children's that finally diagnosed the Boy and the rest is history. I still own the book, although I haven't looked at it in a few years. I know a second edition has come out and I've not seen that at all, but I still recommend this book as a starting point for families in crisis with explosive kids.

    Today, in my parents group, we were discussing this and that, and one of the parents was talking about her daughter and related a story that was in the Ross Greene book. This mom told me that she took her daughter to Dr Greene when he was first starting out, and that yes, it was indeed her daughter's story that was in the book. Small freaking world, eh?

    The thing is, her daughter, who is now married and a mom herself, is JUST LIKE the Girl. I mean they could be clones, not in looks, but in how they view the world. They both have the same NVLD diagnosis, and we can finish each other's sentences with the exact reactions that both our girls would have. She is the ONLY parent that get it for me. I know many parents of special needs kids, but their kids are all different. Even the kids diagnosed with Aspergers, who are supposed to be interchangable with NVLD kids, are totally different. We get each other because our daughters have the exact same symptoms and issues and this has got to be the most comforting thing in my life right now. She gets it. She totally gets it. And I get her daughter's stuff, too. Stuff that is still going on even though she's an adult woman now. Because NVLD is a lifelong disability that doesn't change or disappear or is even helped with medication.

    Joining this parenting group has been the biggest Godsend in my life. I love the other parents, they all have kids just like mine and we GET what each other are going through. The kids have a range of issues, but the actuality is that they are all explosive, and when you know other normal regular families, good families, that have kids like this, it's just the most amazing feeling of finally belonging to a club that gets it. I know most of the people that read my blog must think I'm the worst parent in the world, that my kids are terminally fucked up, that I sit on my ass and bitch about them all day long, and that I don't love them. I've seen enough negativity about my children elsewhere to know how judgemental some people, especially those without teens, never mind teens with mental and neurological issues, can be. All I can say is, judge all you want. I know a bunch of parents who are the nicest, kindest, most supportive people ever, and they all have kids just like mine!

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    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    The birthday I don't acknowledge

    Today is my mother's birthday. I think she's 85, but I'm not sure. She always lied about her age and honestly, I have no clue how old she actually is. My mother is crazeeeee. I don't have any contact with her because she's so toxic to me that I can't be involved in any way in her life. The last time I spoke to her was Easter Day, 1980. Since then, it's been radio silence. We've been in the same room several times for a funeral and bnai mitzvah. But I kept away from her and she kept away from me. So far away I don't think she even knew who I was.

    I come from a damaged family. It's generational, it's been going on longer than the USA has been a country, and it's not going to stop any time soon. Like so many families touched by mental illness, we can't seem to get along, nor can we be together at all. We're all damaged, even my perfect brother for whom nothing ever goes awry except male pattern baldness. My sister, who is 62 (I know, she is SO OLD) and my youngest brother who is 47, could sit next to each other on a bus and have no idea that they are siblings. They haven't had any contact in over 45 years. It's terribly sad. But it's necessesary to protect ourselves because the bad is very very bad.

    It's sad that my mother spends her birthday alone. She did this to herself in a weird way, by refusing help and refusing to acknowledge that she's crazeeee. She decided that her daughters were a total pain in the ass early on and never failed to let us know how much she resented our existance. She used to say "If birth control pills were retroactive I'd be the first one on line" right to our faces. So pleasant. So crazy.

    Growing up knowing that you were a mistake and unwanted is a terrible thing. It changes your life in ways that are impossible to get over. You can go to years and years of therapy, but the fact that your parents see you only as an error they made in the heat of the moment is painful to the max. I'm not angry about it. My father is dead, and my mother couldn't care less how I feel about anything, so what's the point of carrying all this anger. But I do carry sadness. I didn't have a normal family. I didn't have a feeling of being loved or cared about. I wasn't nourished mentally. I was rejected physically.

    When I had children I vowed that I would never, not for one second, feel this way about my kids. Sure they drive me crazy at times, but they are so sure that I love them, and I tell them that every freaking day, even when I'm beyond furious. Especially then. I love my kids, but I don't always love their actions. We still hug and snuggle, and that's pretty unusual for 16 year old kids to want to do with their ancient mommy.

    What I do regret most about my own mother is that my kids have never had the opportunity to have grandparents. My mother is way too toxic, and their other grandparents live abroad and don't travel. So they have nobody to look out for them, to buy they special cards, to attend grandparents days at school, to take them shopping for something special, and to sit with them when they feel poorly. They don't get grandparently advice. They have little knowledge of what it means to have an extended family.

    That sucks. It totally and completely sucks, and every November 18th I think about how my own mother screwed up my kids lives without even knowing them. So it's no Happy Birthday from me. It's just another damn day. And it's cold.

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    No election downtime for my city

    Remember that big election we had a week or so back? That one that took all of our time and energy for say, 18 months? Yeah, that one.

    Remember how we all swore we were going to enjoy the election downtime, get back to our regular lives, and relax until the coronation swearing in? How we were kind of numb to not checking Daily Kos and Huffington sites every hour? How we weren't going to know what to do with our spare time?

    Well, in my little city we are still in the midst of election fever. It's time for candidates to throw their hats into the mayoral ring, and we're getting videos on YouTube, lots of early campaigning, and even more speculation as to who will be on the final slate of candidates.

    The race is the talk of the town. We're very very unhappy with our current Mayor and everyone is counting the days until we've seen his backside. But with every race, there are questions: Will Ruth Balser renounce her allegiance to the current mayor? Who is Setti Warren besides a guy just back from Iraq? Is Ken Parker old enough to run for office? Where did Elaine Gentile come from and who is she? Will Tom Scheff run again? Who will be on the Police Chief search committee? Will Geoff Epstein take over the school committee? Can we get rid of the Aldermen?

    Ooops! Some of those questions aren't a part of the Mayoral campaign. They're just the latest and greatest issues in our local town politics. This city is a hotbed of political intrigue if you have the least bit of interest. There are a cast of characters that we've all grown to know. Grown to know but not grown to love. The city is deeply entrenched in "that's the way we've always done it-itis" and change might suit Barak Obama, but we do not like change here. Of course we're dying from the stagnation, but the Aldermen... they don't seem to get it.

    We've got the people that blame everything on the liberals. They're hysterically funny for the most part. And not particularly informed on the issues. They just hate the liberals and like to see their names in print in the newspaper. Hello Brenda Lowe! Then we have the tax reducers, the people that think we can have the same level of services for much lower taxes. They are our pie in the sky residents.

    Of course we have the city columnist that has nothing positive to say, blames the liberals, hates to pay taxes, and is homophobic. He's a laugh riot, but he's mostly just a laughing stock. His columns on anything political always revert back to accusations of promoting homosexuality, overt liberalism, and his special hatred of our school superintendent. Tom Mountain, when will you disappear?

    Big topics of discussion besides the economy here?

    The proposed dog park. We appear to be the only small city in the US that can't seem to understand the basic need for a place for dogs to socialize. And we do NOT want to pay for it. Because they're just dogs, you know.

    The cost of the new high school. OK, it's half way built already but we still are rabid on the topic of the cost. It's ridiculous, we all know it, but it was shoved down our collective throats and we can't seem to just take this virtual rape.

    Garbage. We're testing a new robotic garbage collection machine which requires people to have one city-provided can. The angst! The trauma!

    School renovations. Three elementary schools are in desperate need of renovation. DESPERATE. Many more on are the fix-er-up list. We have no money to fix anything. Plus we need one more school due to a mini-baby boom around here.

    Pot holes and bad roads. We have them in spades. We can't seem to get them fixed. Money. What a surprise!

    Aldermen. Do we need so many? What is their purpose besides falling lockstep behind the mayor?

    Those seem to be the hot issues right now, but more will appear. We like our politics hot and controversial here in the naked city. When garbage and dogparks are big issues, we're always ready to argue hot and heavy, especially on our three city blogs. Yes three, because one just was not enough!

    Oh God, I'm exhausted already and we've got plenty of time until the next election. It should be exciting!

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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    What's going on?

    I've got something very interesting in the works. Can't share, of course, at least not yet, but it's keeping me happy and feeling encouraged.

    Kids are both stable and pleasant. The Boy continues to be unable to get up in the morning and I continue to amuse the housemaster's office with funny notes as to why he was late. They usually involve alarm clock disasters, traffic, or a disinterested in ruining my entire day by arguing at 7 am excuses.

    The Girl has brought home an amazing assortment of baked goods from Panera this past weekend, which we have been enjoying. Have you tried their gingerbread bagel? To die for. Honestly, it's the best "designer" bagel I've ever had. I usually stick to the Jewish standby bagels: sissel, pumpernickel, sesame, poppy seed, salt, plain. But this gingerbread... you don't even want to sully its delightful taste with cream cheese or butter. Plain is best.

    I continue to enjoy Amazing Race, which featured beautiful Kahzikstan in yesterday's show. Did you know the national dish is stewed fatty sheep butt? YUM! As each couple opened their clue to tell them where they were going, they all made Borat remarks. I have a feeling that Borat is not that popular in Kahzikstan itself.

    My shoulder continues to hurt like a mother, making me believe I actually did something to it other than the flu shot, from which I have finally recovered. Or at least I think I have. I cannot life my arm up past waist height, and it kills when I'm trying to sleep.

    I had the insurance guy over for my yearly Medicare Advantage review and I'm changing from Harvard to another company. Harvard increased it's premium and various costs by so much that I don't even feel badly about abandoning them. I have no idea how they can even justify raising their rates by so much across the board, charging for hospitalizations, and much higher copayments, and even charging for ambulance rides when they know the only people who use these plans are the elderly and disabled, not known as the wealthiest groups in America. My insurance guy says he's seeing close to 50 folks a week who are abandoning Harvard. It's just way too costly. To pay for Medicare, and then to pay for a private pay for service company on top is just about impossible for most folks. But that's the only way to get prescription coverage on Medicare, so we do it.

    If you have parents who are on Medicare, they have only 6 weeks to determine which plan is best for them, and it's terribly confusing and complicated, so if you can help them out, please do so. It's a mitzvah. It's also a rude introduction into what private companies do to wrench out every penny from your parents. Pray nobody gets sick.

    I'm off to the JCC with the Girl to get some well needed exercise. Yes, I'm actually using the gym. And I'm not the fattest person there.

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    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Firefox and passwords: What's the deal?

    I am a dedicated Firefox user. Long term, too. I've been using it for years now, and I really love almost everything about it. Yes, it's a bit of a memory hog, but I can learn to get around that problem. Otherwise, I'm damn happy with it...except for one teeny tiny thing that drives me absolutely bonkers.

    Remember a few month back when we all downloaded V2.0 and were so psyched with the latest and greatest version? Well, my issue started back then. It seems that V2.0 doesn't like to remember my passwords. I have to sign in every time I use Yahoo for email. That, my friends, is annoying. So I added Roboform and put in all the passwords to the various frequently visited sites I use. Except that Roboform and Firefox? Not the best of friends. Oh, they like each other well enough much of the time, but when they have issues, they have big issues. Issues like not remembering my passwords even though they are loaded time and time again. I don't like that.

    Everytime Firefox comes out with a revision it's downloaded automatically as soon as I try to open up my browser. We all like that, it's easy and fast. Well, I'm not such a great fan of the autoload because every time there's a Firefox update, it screwes up my passwords anew. The other day there was a new revision, and this time it was like Firefox was hell bent on making me cry.

    Usually, with Roboform, once you've filled out a form on a blog where you comment, that form is refilled each and every time. Except... when it doesn't. But when it doesn't, you just have to enter the first letter of what goes in the form, and the selection box brings up your name, email address, and blogID. Except when it doesn't. This time, a bunch of weird strange names, emails, and blogIDs come up. They are blogs I don't know, have no relationship with, and have no clue why they are showing up in the selection boxes. It's as if there is some gremlin in my computer changing my name to mark@mailexchange.com when in reality, I'm just lil' old me.

    It's not a huge deal, and eventually I'll figure out another work around just in time for Firefox to do yet another auto download and screw it up again. It's sort of a game, but a really annoying one.

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    Saturday, November 15, 2008


    So I do a freaking meme yesterday and then I get tagged for a meme today. What are the odds? I swear I won't do any other memes anytime soon. But it's such an easy Saturday post, and I'm sort of going through a pre-alzheimer's syndrome, so I'm going for it.

    The Rules are simple:

    Step #1 - Link to the person who tagged you. (That would be Not a Mean Girl who is a very nice and funny Plurk buddy.)

    Step #2 - Write Five Fun/Interesting Facts about your self. This could be tough. I'm not that interesting.

    Step #3 - Tag Six Other People and link to their blogs. Then let them know you’ve tagged them by twittering them or leaving a comment on their blog. Well, I'm not going to tag anyone specifically, but if you need a NaBloPoMo post for the weekend, I suggest this meme. And the other Meme. Or any Meme at the half-way point!


    1. I am a farmer at heart. I would like nothing better than to have a nice big piece of land and have horses, a few cows, goats, sheep, chickens and a big huge garden. I just need said piece of land to be near the ocean, so I have my eye on Newbury, a rural community right on the ocean in Northeastern MA.

    2. Not a fan of trees. Growing up in Southern California, where the trees are all stunted and you can always see the sky, I find that living in New England, where trees crop up if you sneeze, to be very claustrophobic enducing for me. Especially when you can't see the sky half of the year.

    3. One of my greatest regrets in life is that I never learned how to use big power tools. Because I'm often channeling Norm Abrams and I want to build gorgeous furniture. Not that I know anyone who could teach me, but I think it would be so awesome to be able to build my own furniture, and I'm not talking Ikea!

    4. I grew up with maids and a nanny and have no clue of how to clean a house. I've never had to learn. I've always had hired help. When I was working and wealthy, I had cleaning services weekly. Now that I'm not working and poor, I have a home health aide who comes weekly to clean up. I can dust and vacuum and sweep, of course, but to actually clean with precision. No freaking clue. Which is why those cleaning sites freak the hell out of me. Shiny sink? I'm just going for an empty sink.

    5. I love daytime TV. LOVE IT. I have my favorites and I never deviate from those shows. I watch All My Children and As the World Turns. I can't stand Oprah or Dr Phil. Judge Judy totally cracks me up and I wonder just where she finds those morons that appear before her. Does she require IQs of under 90 in order to appear? I'm tired of Ellen but I'm liking Bonnie Hunt. I would rather die than watch Regis and Kelly. And I'm disgruntled by the new rules on Millionaire, which make it too easy. Plus, the daytime commercials are so much more entertaining than they are the prime time. I find that napping comes really easily during daytime TV, too. Plus I can have it on and not watch it when I'm working, but just look up when something interesting comes on.

    See, I'm not all that interesting. I bet you're way more interesting than I am. Hint hint!

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    Friday, November 14, 2008

    She's rocking the Joe's Jeans

    I was contacted some time ago by a marketeer that did everything right. It's so unusual to actually receive mail from a marketeer that has read my blog, that knows I have teenagers and not infants, and has an idea that her product would be of benefit to my family. When I get mail like that, I'm always pleased to try out a product in exchange for a review. In this case, the product was a pair of jeans from a company called Joe's Jeans. They let you pick out a pair of jeans you'd like, and then send them to you to try. I looked carefully at all the types on the well-designed web site and chose a pair I thought would be great on the Girl.

    Note the matching socks. I bet she has another pair just like them on her floor!

    The jeans arrived today. The Girl brought in the FedEx box and I opened it, unsure of what was inside. When I saw it was the jeans, I had her try them on right away. She loved the style I picked out for her, and thought the denim material was really soft and comfortable feeling. She tried them on and modeled them for me. Totally true to size, they fit her perfectly. Like a glove. And she said they were really comfortable, too.

    Oh look, an audience! Meow...

    The quality was really nice, with strong seams and, as I said, very nice quality denim. The back pockets were very well finished with straight seams even on the design work. Because the Girl is a bit of a shorty, the pants were long on her, but like most teenagers she likes pants that droop around her shoes. Me, I can't stand when my pants are too long but that happens very rarely on my 5'9" frame.

    She does have feet. Really.

    I took photos as she was trying them on, so the pants still have the tags on them. For some reason, the photos came out making her look a bit wider than she is. The jeans are a size 28, which is the equivalent of a size 2. But in person they look fabulous and she's happy happy happy!

    And of course, she's rocking the North Face Jacket she paid for with her own money and never takes off.

    Thank you, Joe's Jeans. We're in love with your product!

    Get 25% off all products on Joe's Jeans website using the promo code "joesfriends".

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    Book Meme

    I haven't done a meme in a long time, but this one struck me as something fun to do, and thought provoking as well. Plus, it's always good to find some new book recommendations. No tagging, just do your answers in comments or on your own blog with a link in comments.

    Favorite book when you were a child:

    The Maida series by Inez Haynes Gillmore. I read my mother's copy of Maida's Little Shop when I was sick one winter, and fell madly in love with the series. First published in the 1920's, these books were hard to find even when I was a kid, and I slowly collected most of the set. I still read them occasionally, and am still enchanted by the sickly little rich girl with her own candy shop.

    Your top five authors:

    Only five? How mean. Any author whose books I read and reread is a favourite. Five? All right. David Lodge, for his dialogue, his incredibly sense of humor, his understanding of the University from the inside, and his hilarious characters. Robertson Davies, for his ability to teach the most obscure subjects with humor and great understanding. Naguib Mahfouz, for his ability to take me away to another place in time and paint it so realistically. Rohinton Mistry, for evocative stories of a time tainted by politics and class. And Ian McEwan, for his stark prose, bizarre humour and for the ability to make me gasp, sob, and giggle all in the same book.

    Book you've faked reading:

    Rememberence of Things Past by Marcel Proust. I own all of the books. I've attenpted to read them. I've taken many fine naps with the books on my chest. But I've never gotten more than 20 pages into any of them. Dull dull dull.

    Book you're an evangelist for:

    East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Woods. Masterly storytelling, fantastic evocation of Victorian England with all it's rules on sexuality, love and class. The first of the sensation novels, East Lynne was one of the most popular books of it's time, but alas fell out of favor by everyone but English majors. I can't say enough about how wonderful it is.

    Book you've bought for the cover:

    Tuxedo Park : A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II by Jennet Cronnin. The subtitle grabbed me, the photo of the house sucked me in completely. I couldn't wait to read it, and devoured it in a day or two. It's not easy reading by any means (the science, oy, the science) but it was so interesting. Good photos, too.

    Book that changed your life:

    The Child in Time by Ian Mcewan. When I was working in the Netherlands I bought this book at an English bookshop and read it all in one night. I have never been so affected by a book. It completely changed my outlook on marriage, redemption, corrupt government dealing with schools, and the love of a parent for a child. It is the hardest book to read I've ever encountered, but one I read it, my feelings on becoming a parent radically changed.

    Favorite line from a book:

    "What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian?" Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his fingertips. "It's Yossarian's name, sir," he explained.--Joseph Heller, Catch 22

    Book you most want to read again for the first time:

    The Descent by Jeff Long. A beautifully written doomsday account of the world's end. Even if I didn't know the author (and I do) I would have loved this book. But re-reading it just isn't the same as when I read it the first time. Can you say Creepy Good? As a friend of mine said about this book, "He's one sick fuck." Ayup.

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    I'm sorry, John McCain

    I got flu and pneumonia shots yesterday afternoon. Today the left arm where I got my flu shot is killing me. I mean it freaking hurts like a son of a bitch. Plus, I can't lift it up over my shoulder. Which makes me feel really badly about all the times I made fun of McCain and his weird arm movements. I am not a nice person. I'm sorry, Senator McCain. Hate your politics, hate your views of women, but I now know what it feels like to have a really bum arm. Mine will be better in a couple of days. So I really feel like a total asshat.

    That is all.

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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Growing up isn't always fun

    Today the Boy came home from school and announced that he had a sucky day and he would appreciate it if I kept that in mind when dealing with him. Fair enough, since I had my own version of a sucky day, and in addition was in pain where I had my flu shot yesterday. I felt crapola and so did he.

    He went upstairs for a bit and then asked if he could bring his hard drive downstairs to watch a movie on the big TV. Late afternoon TV consisting of Dr Phil and Oprah, I said sure. Any movie has to be better than those two.

    He set up his hard drive and choose Kung Fu Panda to watch. He asked me if I would sit and watch it with him, but I'm leaving in a few minutes for a meeting and didn't want to commit to a movie just then. Besides, Kung Fu Panda? Um, didn't we outgrow such movies a long time ago?

    We no, we haven't. Not in this house, anyhow. Both of my kids are huge fans of animated movies. Good ones like Wall-E and Finding Nemo are played over and over ad nauseum. They use them for "nap movies" where they know they'll drift off after 20 minutes of the movie and have a lovely nap while I get sucked into watching the damn movie. Every freaking time!

    When a new animated film comes out on DVD my son is the first one to go on his secret download site and get the movie. He has a lot of movies. Way more movies than anyone could actually watch. His Disney collection is legendary amongst his friends, and they actually get together, this crazy bunch of teenage geekage, and watch Disney movies all night long.

    What I've discovered is that when things aren't going that well for the Boy, he turns to these movies as a sort of comfort item, like an adult blankie or stuffy. Not that he still doesn't have his stuffy, because he does. But when things are rough, watching a simplistic movie with adorable characters, great sing-along songs, easy plots and a lot of laughs makes things a little lighter for him. Usually he's a fairly dark sort, but he visably lightens up with the animation carries him away.

    Growing up is hard. Being a teenager is so filled with conflicting emotions. There's a girl... and it isn't going well. There are friends that don't get along. There are projects to do, driving to learn, growing up to do, drama and more drama, and for teenagers there is so much going on just socially that they fill up to the brim and need to release their emotions. They chose a lot of ways to do that: drinking, drugs, sex, food, anger, stupid dares. My kids often watch movies that are made for kids. I'm OK with that. Even if I do get sucked in every damn time.

    OK, I admit it. I like the movies too!

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    For once I don't have to

    Every year for so many many years I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner. It's my son's favorite meal, by far, and both of my kids look forward to the turkey, which they both love. The Boy loves everything I make, from the sweet potatoes to cranberry stuffing to 2 or 3 cranberry sauces. And of course they both love the pies.

    If I do say so myself, I make a mean Thanksgiving dinner. I don't much deviate from the traditional meal, although I've never in my life eaten that green bean casserole with the canned onions and I'm not intending to try it any time soon. But I do make roasted brussel sprouts that both kids rave over. We're big on the sprouts in my family.

    I work hard on the turkey. I use only fresh herbs and pure italian olive oil to make an herb paste that I rub under the skin and then again on top. It adds fabulous flavor and looks absolutely gorgeous. I also make the stuffing from scratch using cranberries, apples, pecans, fresh herbs, and a few day old baguettes. Totally yummy.

    It's hard to do everything myself but I do it without complaint because I know how much my kids adore this holiday and this meal. So much in fact, that they ask me to make it again for every Jewish holiday, too. But this year it's just too expensive and I was thinking about not doing it rather than to spend so much money on one meal.

    Fortunately, one of the moms in my parent support group runs a foundation just for the moms and their families, and she offered to get us an entire Thanksgiving dinner cooked from a local high quality market. My mouth dropped open with amazement when she asked me. I was so shocked and so thrilled to say "yes". I don't have to cook. I can just unpack the dinner, get it all heated up (she says it takes a couple of hours to get it all ready) and serve it. Is that not the BEST present ever? EVER? I'm so excited.

    But the kids? They were kind of woebegone when I told them. "You're not cooking?" the boy said with great disappointment. "Nope" I told him. And then he said the words that make being his mother totally worth it. "But I like YOUR turkey the best. Nobody makes it as good as you do. You're a better cook than anybody."

    Well, that's not really true. I'm an average to good cook, but honestly I make one hell of a great Thanksgiving dinner. Too bad you're not going to get to have some this year because I am taking the day off. I am NOT cooking this year.

    Oh, the dinner only comes with one pie, so I told the kids that I'd make another one, either pumpkin or apple depending on what we get. No problem, we have all the stuff here for pies and how easy are they to make, anyhow?

    Knowing me, I'll have to make cranberry orange relish anyhow. I love that stuff. I could eat gallons of it! But the rest of the dinner... I'm not cooking. Except maybe for the roasted brussel sprouts....

    I am absolutely hopeless!

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    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    I never forget

    My father was a pilot in WWII. He flew a B-24 and was shot down over the French Alps, walked to Switzerland where he was interned, and then walked back to Italy to rejoin his unit.

    He is the hatless guy with the arrow pointing at his head.

    He and his brother, my Uncle Charley were both vets in WWII. They were part of what has become the greatest generation. For those that have read Brokaw's book by the same title, my father was typical of his time, a reserved, cold, unfeeling father who never talked about his war experience. I never knew about it until I began to research it myself a year ago.

    I can't call him a hero because I'm not really sure if he was or not. But he was incredibly brave and a bit foolhardy and his crew remained friendly with him his entire life. Not that we ever met them or anything, but again... removed.


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    Shopping report from the Mart of Wals

    I haven't given you all the lowdown on our trip to Walmart. Good freaking God, that store is cheap. CHEAP. Like in ridiculously inexpensive. No wonder people love it. And this one was sparkly clean and well kept up, with nice friendly helpful Wallys helping you to find merchandise. It was actually, dare I say it, a pleasant experience.

    I came looking for cleaning supplies, paper goods, and a warm hoodie. The women's clothing was right up front and the Girl, who was my shopping support, immediately found a couple of things she could not live without. Man, I love that she has a job and can pay for her own impulse shopping. She bought a pair of velveteen sweat pants and a glove and scarf set. She was eyeing the leggings and the flannel pajama pants, but she didn't have enough cash, so those stayed on the shelves.

    While she was looking, I found the aisle with the toilet paper and the paper towels. The paper towels were a lot cheaper than in the grocery store, but the toilet paper (Scott soft) was pretty much the same price, only a few pennies cheaper. But it was convenient to get them both, so I piled up two packs of TP and an 8 pack of paper towels. As a rule I don't use that many paper towels, but the cleaning lady does, and I'd rather she use those than leave me yucky rags to wash.

    The next aisle had laundry stuff, and I was a bit disappointed to find that they had hardly any detergent without perfumes. I don't use Tide because it's so overpriced, and the detergent they had on special, Gain, only had dyes and perfumes. We're too delicate for that stuff, so I had to look carefully and found All Clear and Free in a huge bottle with a pump for under $10. It says it does 96 washes, so that ends up being cheaper than I would normally spend in the market.

    On the other side of the aisle were the household cleaners, and I hit paydirt. They had all those Clorox Green Works cleaners on special, and I got a bunch of them. I like them, but not as much as I like Method. But they were markedly cheaper than Method products, nothing over two bucks, so I got one of everything we needed. Lastly I found Murphy's Oil Soap for the floors, which was a great price, so I picked that up as well.

    The Girl found 2 binders, 2 spiral notebooks, and an assignment notebook that all matched (very important) and she'll use them for school along with the el-cheapo supplies I already provided her. She was way happy about having matching school supplies. You got me, I used Pee-Chees all though high school and was fine with them.

    I looked at the hoodies and found a really nice warm one with a fake shearling lining for $20. I really needed something for this weather. I have warm coats, and I have a great rain coat, but to just go outside for a walk, I was always trying out this and that and nothing was just right. I needed a hoodie with a zipper to use as a light jacket. And now I have one, in a less than charming forest green. It is so warm. I used it to take the Girl to work and I was hot by the time I got home.

    This Walmart didn't have a grocery store, but they did have some food. I got milk, cheese, frozen brussel sprouts (I eat them as snacks at night because I am very odd), a huge pack of popcorn that was cheaper than buying it in a jar and making it yourself. I'm NOT a popcorn lover, but my kids both like it for after school snacks and it's cheap and light and easy to clean up. I bought a few other odds and ends like wide noodles and cream of mushroom soup (for tuna casserole, of course).

    We were in and out of the store in well under an hour, the traffic was easy to deal with, and the parking was good with plenty of handicap spaces. It took 20 minutes to get there, and a bit longer to get home due to traffic at "The Collection", but that's well within the realm of satisfactory considering that we don't have a grocery store that close.

    All in all, it wasn't a bad experience. Did I feel a bit guilty for spending money there? I did until I saw the prices. I just couldn't believe how much you can get there for only a few bucks. The quality isn't fabulous, but women's jeans for $10. That's a great deal! We'll go again, but I don't think I'll make it a habit or anything. Just when we need cleaning stuff, because it feels great to save that much money.

    I know many of you commented and emailed me about making your own cleaning products. I read them all, and totally chickened out. I can't see that it would save that much money considering that you have to buy all these supplies just to make it. Plus, I have no place to go into a big cleaning supply making frenzy. But bless all of you who do make it. I think it's great and I'm really proud of all of you for going green and saving money. My two favorite things. Maybe next month I'll be braver!

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    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Completely disgusting

    I thought I was suffering from post-election let down. Not that I'm in any way disappointed by the election... everything I voted for will be a reality soon enough. But after 2 freaking years of obsessive political reading, searching for tidbits to share, raving about Obama and roaring about Palin, my mind kind of shut down once the election was over. It was sort of a 'now what?' kind of moment, even though I know there is much more to talk about and obsess over.

    Then I started getting chills and feeling kind of crappy. Not crappy enough to lounge around and drink large cups of hot tea, but crappy enough to watch The Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan, not Patty Duke) on TV. By myself. With no kids even making me watch it. So, crappy enough.

    Yesterday and today I couldn't really get off the sofa. I lay reading magazines and watching endless PBS shows on war. I happen to like shows on war, mostly because I think our education about war is seriously lacking. Or at least mine was, considering that my history book ended with WW2 when I was in high school. Anyhow, I spent most of the day Sunday in a reclining position, only getting up to drive kids hither and yon.

    Today, I didn't get up at all. I slept the entire day away. All of it. I woke up, looked around the room, turned over and went back to sleep. Consequently I am disgustingly filthy, my hair is a huge rats nest atop my head, and, worst of all, I have my very first cold sore. I've never had one ever, but man, they hurt! It's right in the corner of my mouth and every time I yawn I feel like I'm getting stabbed in the lips. Ouch.

    Now, I wouldn't have shared this but it's Nablopomo, and there is absolutely nothing else in my head at this moment except my desire to sleep for another 40 or so hours.

    In other words, this is all you get. Sorry.

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    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Conscience vs Cash

    As an uber-liberal boycotter of everything from Nestles to non-union lettuce, I've tried very hard to live within my conscience. I fail occasionally, as we all do, but for the most part I make it my business to live within the realm of the politically correct. Of course this means not shopping at the dreaded WalMart, because they remain non-union and don't provide health insurance for most of their employees. I've been successful at this boycott mainly because the closest Walmart is far enough away from my house that it's totally outside the bounds of my usual stompling grounds. And I'm more of a Target girl anyhow.

    But with the economy getting worse and my measley dollars shrinking before my eyes, I believe I might have to cross my own PC boundries and shop occasionally at the dreaded Walmart. The truth is, cleaning supplies are so freaking expensive, and I of course use Green cleaners because, as we have learned, I'm beyond politically correct and all the way to PC obsessed when it comes to chemicals in my home. Heck, even the freaking cat has asthma.

    I can't afford green cleaning products in the grocery store, and my last foray to Target had me gasping at the prices. I like clean houses, dishes, and clothing as much as the next person, but damn! When did Method add gold into their products? This stuff is freaking expensive, even in Target. So I didn't buy anything and now we're out of laundry detergent and we have nothing left to wash the floors and clean the counters with, so it's time to bit the bullet.

    Yes, it is true. I am going to Walmart this afternoon. I tried to go yesterday but I just couldn't raise the energy for the drive and the shop. However, I have no choice. I am down to my last pair of undies and we need the stuff. I wish we didn't, but the fact is, clean clothes are a necessity.

    I have been in Walmarts before. I have even bought things at Walmart. But it's been years (since we lived in CA and there was one in Mt View not far from where we lived) and truthfully, I was appalled at how dirty and disheveled the store was. Maybe it was just that store, but I got it into my head that Walmart was gross because of their politics and that solidified my unwillingness to shop there.

    I don't like that I have to go against my conscience in order to afford cleaning products, but as President-Elect Obama has said, we all have to make sacrifices. So I'm going, but if this store is dirty, I'm gonna sulk.

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    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    January is coming, but not soon enough

    Bet you thought this was a diatribe on saying Goodbye to the Bush administration. Nope, he's pretty much already gone, with the worst possible lame duck record imaginable. I'm much more excited, at least today, about this.

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    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Is it any wonder I'm going insane?

    I just got home from a quick run to the post office after dropping off the Girl at work (she's talking to me now) and doing a quick reconaissance at Linens N Things to if something I have had my eye on for the past couple of years is marked down to a reasonable price. Phew... talk about your run-on sentence.

    When I got home I found a note on the kitchen stovetop from the Boy.

    That says, for those that can't read dysgraphic handwriting:

    Hi Mom, Me andSome friends and I are cooking at Izzy's house. I will be home before 12. I took a package of chicken from the freezer.

    Love, (Name redacted)

    OK, kudos to him for leaving a note. In a place where I would actually see it, too.

    But... he took a package of chicken from the freezer? I wonder if it's the package of chicken I was planning on cooking for dinner? The one that really shouldn't have left the house because, as we all know, everyone in town is richer than fuck and I'm the one that can't afford to lose an entire dinner to his friends.

    Oh, and there's that pesky little rule that says that he's NOT supposed to take anything out of the freezer without asking permission.

    Now, in the eyes of the Boy, this note IS asking permission. I know that will be his argument when we 'discuss' this later tonight. I'm not crazy, right? This isn't asking for permission, he's stating a fact.

    Just checking...

    Onto Linens-n-Things. What a freaking crock. We have a store right down the street and this is the 3rd week of their "going out of business, all things must go" sale. They have hired these poor shlubs to stand on corners advertising this great sale opportunity. "40%" all the signs say. Everything marked down. Bare bottom prices.

    Lies, I tell you. Lies. First, last week one of our local news channels discovered that they had actually marked UP prices so that the marked down prices were actually higher than the original prices. For example, something that sold for $29.99 was marked up by the company running the bankruptcy to $39.99 by just putting a sticker atop the original price. Then, when the item was marked down to that ever generous 10%, the customer ended up spending more than the original price. Well, that pissed me and about 2 bazillion other potential customers off, so LNT closed the stores for a day for "inventory" and reopened with original pricing. Or so they said. Again, lies!

    When the signs attached to the store trumpeted out everything 40% off, I decided that today would be the day I would check in to see if my dream item had been marked down to a price I could afford. Wishful thinking on my part, but you never know.

    NOTHING in that damn store was marked down more than 20%. Nothing, not even the Halloween decorative items. I walked through the whole store. Carefully. I found an item that would be PERFECT for the girl's room decor, once she cleans up the 20 loads of laundry from her floor and paints her room. But they were marked down 10%. No way!

    My item, a Cuisinart toaster oven to replace the toaster oven that died 3 years ago, was more expensive in LNT than it is online at Amazon. Even with the markdown. What a freaking ripoff. I've heard about closeout sales doing this, but I've never seen it before first hand.

    Needless to say, I didn't buy a thing, not even some Method dish soap that I can get cheaper at Target. I'm livid. I hate being ripped off, even if I didn't buy a thing. So I'm warning everyone to stay out of this stupid store because you're not getting any bargains.

    Lastly, tonight I witnesses a fender bender right in front of a cop directing traffic. Or at least he was HIRED to direct traffic. What he was actually doing was standing with his back to the traffic having a very loud animated conversation with a young black fellow. Lots of laughing and gaffawing ensued as I was driving past with my windows open for some air.

    This accident occurred at the intersection of the entrance to Bread and Circus Whole Paycheck and Walnut, where a hired police officer stands much of the day to direct the traffic into and out of the store. You pay for that, people. Why do you think the food is so expensive. Service!

    Anyhow, traffic at 5 pm in that particular area is heinous in the best of times. In rain and darkness, it's even worse. Because the cop was NOT paying attention to the traffic and was instead discussing the minor play by play errors of the Patriots or something equally inane, a car tried to leave the parking lot and meld into the traffic stream. Of course some Masshole wouldn't let the car in, and kaboom. A fender bender.

    The cop didn't even turn around until people started yelling. All this and more for $60/hour.

    But I must say that I'm thrilled with the Obama family for trying to find a rescue dog. If they come home with a golden doodle (and they ARE adorable but...) I'm going to be annoyed. I hope they can find a lovely rescue dog that is 'hypoallergenic', even though I believe that is a myth. You are either allergic or you are not. As in, I'm allergic to cats and I have totally lost my inability to breathe like a normal person. But even living with two cats, I'm still allergic. Dumb, but allergic.

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