Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pardoned

I am certain all you regular readers know what the topic of today's post is. Yep, Mr. Diabetic himself, Ferdinand.

The cat has been given a pardon.

Here is what happened. We were all ready to take him in and have him peacefully sent to the yarn factory in the sky. And then, he miraculously started to do better. He wasn't messing up the basement, he didn't seem to whine as much, and his water intake and urine output had leveled off a bit. His blood glucose levels were still high, but for some reason, he was doing better. He even came out of the basement a couple of hours each day.

So, the cat gets a reprieve. It might only be a slight one, but at least the kids get more time with him. I still hope that when it is his time, he will just curl up and go, all by himself, so that I don't have to be the captain of his fate. Having that control over his life...I just don't like it.

(I haven't said this to the kids or anything, but I have heard that many times people seem to do better before dying. Whether or not that happens in cats remains to be seen.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Missed Opportunities

A Facebook friend of mine posted today that he feared that his poor decisions had cost him many things in life. "There is nothing worse than 'what ifs' in life...but as I look back, I am pretty sure I missed my opportunity," he wrote. One person commented with a frown face, while another mentioned the struggle bus. While I can appreciate empathizing with him, I chose to make my comment a bit more positive and uplifting. I said, "Knowing that now, it might help you avoid more missed opportunities in the future. You have a ton of time to get where you want to be."

I wasn't trying to be hokey or anything. This guy is 39 years old and truly has a lot of time left on this earth. And half of the battle most of the time is acknowledging what the problem is. Well, he knows what the problem is, and he acknowledged it. Now, he can go forward.

For some reason, this friend's plight struck a nerve with me and I felt like I needed to be his cheerleader. This is a guy I barely spoke with in high school, but he always seemed nice. It seems as though he has had his fair share of disappointments, but as he says, they may have been the result of his bad decisions. On the other hand, and I am no therapist here, now that he realizes this, perhaps he should try to adjust his attitude. If he can be more positive from the get go, perhaps he will view the world, his plight, his decisions, and everything around him differently. Sometimes, that different point of view lets you see everything a bit more clearly.

I think part of the reason his post resonates with me is that right now, as many of you know, I am in a state of limbo. Teaching is on hiatus for a bit, and I am still trying to figure out what I would like to do with myself. I have said that I would like to be a writer, but actually saying that and accomplishing the feat are completely different things. His post made me wonder. Have I missed my opportunity to become a writer? I don't think so, but if I look back at my decisions, both good and bad, they have not steered me in that direction. However, at the time I made the decisions, becoming a writer was not on the radar. So how can I call the decision I made at that time good or bad for making that opportunity come true? I can't.

I am a true believer in making a decision based on the information you have. If you take that information, really look at it, digest it, and use it in your decision, then you most likely make the best decision you can at the time. And perhaps my friend could say the same thing. Maybe my friend did what he could with his information, but now, after having more age, and wisdom, he thinks those decisions were bad. At the time, they might not have been.

And so I have some questions for him. Have his eyes been open to any and all opportunities? Has he considered options that he might not even look at as opportunities? Does he understand that sometimes the opportunity we think we want and that of which we need are two different things? I don't care if you believe in God or a higher power or Fate or nothing. Sometimes, things just don't go as we plan them, and even if we think we made the best decision, or a bad one for that matter, we can't take all of the blame.

I feel for my friend. All of this blathering from a casual post on Facebook. I guess I just wanted him to know he isn't alone.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Birthday and Other Stuff

Today is Timmy's birthday. He is one year over the hill, but still seems like a kid. He really is my fifth child, and I guess I wouldn't have it any other way. We have the pumpkin and red lentil stew brewing, and the Heath bar brownies in the oven. Unfortunately, Timmy has a soccer meeting tonight, so he might be eating alone!

Melina gave Tim the best birthday present ever yesterday. She asked for him to put her to bed, and he did. She allowed him to go through the whole bedtime routine -- I did not do a thing -- and then she wanted him to rest with her for a bit. She fell asleep within minutes. Tim snuck back into her room when it was his bed time, and she happily woke up with him there. First time in over 3.5 years that the child has allowed that to happen!

***
The other day, I was looking at Talia, and marveling that I had played even a tiny part in her creation. I said to her, "I look at you, and sometimes, I am just amazed by your beauty." She smiled. Without missing a beat, Tim looked at her and said, "I look at you, and sometimes, I just don't know who you are!" We all laughed at that one. Ten years out and sometimes dad still can't tell the girls apart!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tower Confusion

Melina told me the other day that she had seen the Eiffel Tower at the store. I thought she meant that she had seen it on the television or in a book.

Yesterday, at a local store parking lot, I was loading up the things we bought into the back of the mini-van. Melina was looking out the back, watching me. All of a sudden, her eyes grew wide and she pointed to something.

"Look mom," she said. "I told you that the Eiffel Tower was at the store!"

I turned around, and there, I saw the radio tower. I'd love to see her reaction if she saw the real Eiffel tower!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Comrie Girls

On Tuesday of this week, March 20th to be exact, Mike Comrie and Hilary Duff welcomed a baby boy into their lives. They named the new addition Luca Cruz Comrie, and he weighed in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Personally, I like the moniker. A little different, but not so off the wall. Not that they were asking me or anything. Also, not that I had anything to do with this, either, but I was hoping for a girl. Bear with me and read on, and it will all become clear in a moment.

Why do I care about Mike Comrie? For those of you that don't know, he was a professional hockey player. (I do have a thing for professional hockey players, i.e. Steve Yzerman, but that isn't the reason I was interested in his family life.) Well way back before he played professional hockey, he played for the University of Michigan. One winter night, while the twins were in utero, Tim and I attended a hockey game at Yost Ice Arena. Mike Comrie was the star of the moment. I don't remember exactly what he did to be considered great, because I was pretty uncomfortable sitting in the cold and on those hard seats. But the girls behind me knew what he did to be great, and they thought he was great looking. Because every time he skated by our seats, or scored a goal, or just breathed, they yelled out, "COMRIE!!!"

I have no idea if Mike knew the girls, but Tim and I thought it was hysterical. The girls twittered and cooed, fanned themselves and each other, and just about jumped out on the ice. And to this day, when we hear the name Mike Comrie, Tim and I look at each other and yell, "COMRIE!!!"

So, I just want to say to Mike and Hilary, congratulations and best wishes. I hope that all goes well with little Luca, and that you have many more, perhaps as many to make up your own hockey team. Considering Mike already retired from hockey (due to injury, I believe), he may have enough time on his hands to get started on the next one. Only time will tell if Mike and Hilary will have their own little Comrie girl on their hands. (You think they'd understand if I sent a T-shirt printed with COMRIE!!! on it?)

By the way, If you haven't been to a hockey game at Yost Ice Arena, then try to get there some time. It is an experience that makes memories, even if Mike Comrie doesn't happen to be playing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Isn't It Ironic?

Sorry, Alanis, but I needed to take that title. You probably don't have copyright on it, anyway.

I just have to share this little tidbit of my life.

I went to elementary school with a girl who was, shall I say, not so nice. She was cute, but arrogant, and pretty much two-faced. I think I went to her birthday party once, when she was still too young to realize that I, along with some other girls, did not wear Jordache jeans. She also teased girls for having hairy legs, but had the most hairy ones herself. (Karma, anyone?) I can't be certain, but when we all aged to the point that our menstrual cycles started, she wasn't very kind about the whole thing. Finding a tampon or pad in your locker with her near? Well, let's just say you didn't want that to happen.

Anyway, we graduated together in 8th grade, and if I had seen her on the street after that, I might have said a quick hello. But we moved, and so I had no reason to see her. Which wasn't so bad, if you ask me. She thought she was brighter, prettier, and just all around better at everything. And maybe she was, but she certainly wasn't nicer.

Fast forward to the times of Facebook. She wanted to friend me, probably just to beef up her already beefy list, and I said okay. After all, I was curious as to what she had done with herself.

She has done quite a bit, depending on your point of view. She chose career over family, and has quite the career, but no family. She presents herself as a big wig over in Hollywood, and I have seen her on TV, and heard her voice-overs. She has her own production company, and her website has a set of photos of her that just crack me up: she is absolutely trying her best to look seductive, but it just doesn't work for me, since she is trying so hard. However, I have looked longingly at some of her photos, at least the ones of the places to which she travels. Who wouldn't want to jet around the world and see the sights?

Well, yesterday, I just about laughed myself out of my chair. Via Facebook, she posted the latest in a long line of triumphs, i.e. red carpet sightings, national voice work, newsreels. This time? She is featured in print for a magazine. It is an ad in a magazine. For a famous tampon maker!

Now what would her elementary school self have to say about that?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dr. Mom

I hauled Aaron into the doctor this morning, thinking he might have strep. He has been battling a fever since Saturday, he has swollen glands, and a slightly pink throat. His throat didn't look strep-y to me, but his voice was muffled, and he had a headache. All of the signs suggested that he might possibly have strep, and since he was born with a small ventral septal defect (VSD) in his heart, we always try to catch the strep right away.

Zoe has also been complaining about a slightly sore throat. Hers didn't look strep-y to me, either, but her glands were swollen. She had no fever, but I thought since I was taking Aaron in, I'd go ahead and bring her with me.

The doctor assessed them both, after I gave the signs and symptoms to the nurse. Their ears were clear, their noses clear, their throats a little pink. Based on the headache, Aaron's fever, and their swollen glands, she went ahead with the rapid strep test. After the doctor swabbed the kids' throats, she told us she'd be back in about 5 minutes.

As we were waiting, I looked at Zoe. She was yawning. A light bulb went off in my head. Zoe has been complaining of a slightly sore throat for a while, AND she has been grumpy. In fact, we had to bribe her not to wake up grumpy: if she could wake up happy for a week, then she'd be allowed to stay up a bit later. It dawned on me that we had not told the doctor or the nurse that she has been tired. When the doctor returned, I asked her to test her for mono, and told her why.

Sure enough, Zoe has mono. Aaron might have mono. Neither of them have strep. And I am confident in my ability to diagnose. I understand why they call us Dr. Mom.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Stint as a Fashion Model

So, seamless underwear is pretty comfortable. I thought I'd let you know, in case you are interested in buying a pair or two. I put mine on this morning, when I headed up the street to pose as a model for a fashion show.

Here's the thing. I am not model material. I have regular brown hair, big hazel eyes, and stand at slightly less than five feet one inch. I have never been mistaken for anyone other than Tina Fey (who isn't bad looking, but she is known for being funny, not beautiful), and I have never had any dreams of rocking the runway. I do, however, live next to the person coordinating a fashion show for charity. She needed some people who could fit into the clothes that would be on display.

After I laughed at her message, the one in which she asked if I'd like to be a model, I thought about taking risks and enjoying life. Never, and I mean never, would this opportunity come along again. Besides, I could look forward to having my hair and makeup done. Something I definitely don't do regularly. My idea of makeup is wearing lipstick. Here was my chance!

Sometimes the vision you have and reality do not match up. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. Let me explain in the most simple of terms:

My hair vision: Hair worn down, little bit of volume at the top, perhaps either flat-ironed or maybe go crazy and wear it in curls. The vision softened my 38.5 year old face.

My hair reality: Hair worn up, after having it flat-ironed. Severely pulled away from my face. The reality made me look older and worn out.

My makeup vision: Smoky, dramatic eyeshadow and some liner to accentuate the fact that I have large eyes. Darker lips.

My makeup reality: Teal, sparkly eyeshadow, mascara, no liner. Pink lipstick.

My clothes vision: Something fitted and hip, a fun dress or pants outfit.

My clothes reality: (1) Flowing shirt/dress with tailored jacket; (2) Long flowing dress that looked like an updated Muu muu; (3) Short dress that went in at the waist and had a large hole at the front.
I went for a run this morning, pre-showtime, and I am glad that I did, because as much fun as I did have, I was more serene when things didn't pan out the way I had envisioned. I don't know what the hair guy was thinking. No wait, yes, I do. Everyone else was tall. His impetus for putting my hair the way he did was to give me height. In the end, though, he sacrificed what looked nice for height. However, when I did a Google search for models, I looked at some of the hair dos, and realized that what he did was spot on, for a runway in bigger cities. Not here.

And the makeup? Well, there were 9 girls and 1 old lady (me). Literally, I was the old lady. The first two other girls to arrive were 15 and 20, as the designer had put out a model call, and they had heeded the call! Their ages together didn't add up to mine! Anyway, the makeup artist should have been able to divide 2 hours of prep time by 10 people. 120 minutes, 10 people to take care of, that means 12 minutes per person. She spent the first 30 minutes on one person, another 35 on the 2nd person, and then realized that she had booked a personal appointment at the same time. She had the lady come in, and she spent 45 minutes of our time on her. You can see how much time was left for us. Hence, the smear of makeup that she passed off as having "made me up." I truly think I could have done better myself.

As I said above, I did have fun. Partly because I had never done something like that before. Plus, I had nothing to lose. Some of the girls were scoping each other out, which didn't phase me, as I am not a model and never will be. Let them get all jittery and nervous and insecure at the thought that someone else might be better looking. I, for one, just didn't care. I got a couple of good laughs, too, at conversations that went on in the room. These ladies were so young, and I was just so far away from that point in my life, I just shook my head and laughed. To them, it was obscene that they had to get up at 7 am! And how can there not be cell phone service in here?

I gave the girls the camera, but it was too hectic to take pictures, so I only have a couple of blurry ones that my friends were able to capture. If I had been happy with the product, I would have likely found someone to take a bunch of pictures, some of which I would share. These friends that were able to make it, said I was awesome. While I think they would have said that even if I wasn't, I can honestly say that I didn't fall down while walking in my three inch heels, and I actually walked on a 25 foot runway. Those things, indeed, mean I was awesome, if I do say so myself!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Leaping

When it comes to emotions, I sometimes leap, then look.
Someone tells me something,
I take it to heart, then I think about the meaning.
Not my best characteristic, and so I try to change it.
But change is hard.

Sometimes I write to help someone else feel better.
Today, I write to tame the flutters that reverberate in my chest.
There are so many there,
Caused by many emotions.
Most of which I don't feel like sharing yet.

Yes, we're okay out here (thank you for your concern).
I just needed to put my flutters into words.
Sometimes that is all it takes
To alleviate the pain.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Cup Does Not Runneth Over

Much of my life is an open book. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably realize that. There are certain things I don't discuss, such as very personal relationships within my family, but for the most part, I am willing to share my life.

I found out yesterday that I have need for a seamless pair of panties. Why do I need them? That is for a post that will arrive after Saturday. Check back here if you are just dying to find out. My first thought, What in the heck are seamless panties? (Sorry, Tara, but you know how fashion challenged I am. My most fashion forward pair of jeans came from you, remember?) I could imagine what seamless panties are and why you'd wear them, but I had not actually heard the name.

Google came to my rescue, and not only showed me what they were, but where I could go get them. Thank goodness just about any place has them. I strolled on over to a very close department store this morning and asked the elderly saleslady if they indeed had seamless panties. What are those? she asked. My sentiments exactly.

Anyway, we found some seamless panties. I bought 3 pairs, all of which I tried on over my usual cotton panties. (No, I do not wear cotton briefs. They are cotton bikinis. I am a little bit more contemporary than my mom. Sorry, Mom!) They seem to fit fine, and aside from the fact that they are not all cotton, something I prefer, they will suffice. I don't need to wear them all day. (Scandalous?!? Not that it is any of your business, but I will be wearing panties all day, just not the seamless pair. Just wait until next week...it will all become clear.)

While I was at the store, I thought I'd get a couple of new bras. The last time I bought a bra, it was a new nursing bra. I still wear it, although I am not nursing, simply because I don't have any bras that fit (aside from running bras). Of course, the nursing bra doesn't actually fit, either, so oftentimes, I just go without. But sometimes you can't do this, so I planned to try a few bras on. The lady asked my size, and I stumbled with that one. "I think I am somewhere between a 34 A and B," I said. "Well, there isn't anything in between those two," she replied. Duh! I was just saying I was sort of between sizes! It means I need to try on both!

I should not really have been surprised, but only the A cup fit, and just barely. In fact, there is plenty of room to stuff the bra, if I feel so inclined (I don't. This isn't junior high). But I certainly didn't want to head over to the juniors section and find a AA bra. And I had no plans to hit the pharmacy for Band-Aids. (Missed that joke? See a previous post here.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Nowhere

Arguing with a three year old is like arguing with a politician. Any politician, regardless of affiliation. You will see why in a minute.

Today, on the way to the dentist, Melina started telling me about Finding Nemo, the movie. This is a movie that I have seen countless times, while Melina has seen it about three times. I know the story, the characters, the outcome. Apparently Melina does not believe that I do.

Melina: Mommy! Nemo was in the ocean, but then they put him in a fish tank.
Me: I know. He did not like the fish tank, did he?
Melina: No. Can a fish like Nemo live in a fish tank?
Me: If the tank is the right one.
Melina: Okay. And Nemo has a friend Dorothy.
Me: I think you mean Dory.
Melina: The blue and yellow fish. Her name is Dorothy.
Me: Yes, the blue and yellow fish. Her name is Dory.

And this is where the politician-like behavior comes in. Melina scrunched her face up, and looked off to her right. I could see the wheels turning in her head. She was trapped, and scrambling to come up with an argument that would back up her case. In her head, she was right. She just didn't have any way to prove that she was. There were no facts, and no other people in the car, to help her. What to do? Well of course, she just made it up.

Melina: Well, her middle name might be Dory.
Me: Oh, really?
Melina: Yeah, her middle name is Dory. That is why you think her name is Dory. Her real name is Dorothy Dory.

There was just no sense in arguing with her. I, too, had no way of proving that she was wrong. So I took the somewhat higher road (although no less politician-like) and changed the subject.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just Desserts

Tim and I went out the other night for dinner. I know, I can't believe it happened, either. No kids, just us. We'd been meaning to do so for almost a year. I'd bought a certificate, a Double Deal or something, so we could spend $50, but we'd only paid $25 up front. Of course, the people had my money for almost a year, so they made some interest on it.

Anyway, Tim and I love the place we went to, but it is a bit pricier than the standard pizza that we eat with the kids, if we go out. The menu changes, although I don't know how often. It doesn't matter...Tim and I are open to trying new foods.

The dinner did not disappoint. The flavors were awesome, the presentation spectacular, and everything was cooked just right. And while we almost never order dessert, we thought we would in this case. We're never quite sure when we might get some more alone time.

The dessert menu looked good. They had flan, dulche de leche, some ice cream concoctions, cheesecakes, and a flour-less chocolate cake. Each dessert had some flair and bling to it, so the pictures were really quite nice. Tim and the server suggested the cheesecake, but I really only like my mom's cheesecake; every other cheesecake I have ever tasted (including the famous New York Style Cheesecakes) has never measured up to that of my mom. I ended up going with the chocolate cake, made with orange zest and served on a bed of freshly made strawberry syrup.

Unfortunately, our desserts was just desserts. In my humble opinion, the cake was nice and moist, but the chocolate flavor did not pull through properly. I ate about 1/4 of the cake and told Tim he could have the rest. It wasn't until later that I realized that I could have done something about it. I could have said to the server that the dessert was not what I anticipated, and could he take it back? However, I think that is just rude (unless something was incredibly wrong with it). Also, I think the cake was not up to my standards because I am a baking snob.

What? A baking snob? Those of you that know me well are probably nodding your heads along with me right now. I can't come up with new recipes, but I can follow a recipe and make it my own like there is no tomorrow. I rarely find a baked good that lives up to my standards, although some do come close. Several places I have lived make Killer brownies, but when you hold them to the brownie I make at home, which I might add is simply a variation of the one off of the Baker's chocolate box, they don't compare. Same thing with many of the cookies I make. Again, I don't make up the recipes. I just find the good ones and make them the best that they can be. Sure, there are better bakers out there, but I ain't half bad.

Thankfully, the kids and I had made a homemade batch of brownies with white chips in them for their dessert that night. After getting into my pajamas, I grabbed a small brownie, bit into the decadent chocolate, and sighed. It was a good night after all.

***
Let me just say, too, that clearly I wrote just desserts because I wanted to talk about desserts and I thought it might be a nifty play on words. If you wanted to say that someone had it coming, you would use the proper just deserts. You can find online plenty of places that explain where the phrase comes from and how to use it properly as well as how many people spell it improperly. Just thought I'd try to educate you, in case you didn't know.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lovely Moments

The kids have this thing they do. They all get together and perform a show, usually at nighttime, just before bed. They call it the star show. I cannot really remember why they call it that, but the show usually includes some form of light, i.e. baby music toy with lights, shaking light saber, or flashlight. Something at the back of my mind makes me think the light involved in the show is supposed to be coming from the stars. Heck, it is nighttime, right?

Anyway, the show is usually painful to sit through. The kids have their dolls perform a skit or commercial, most of which doesn't make sense to us. If Aaron is involved, something odd will happen: strange made up words will show up or other things that make a 7 year old laugh and no one else. While Tim and I are thrilled that the kids use their imaginations and cooperate to bring these star shows to life, we usually hurry them along with the excuse that it is time for bed. I just admitted it. We are guilty.

Last night, the girls set up all of their Barbie dolls on what looked like a stage made of cardboard bricks.

And after Tim and I had put Melina and Aaron to bed, the girls said they had something to show us. The girls crawled under the table, while Tim and I looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and settled in for another star show.

Much to our complete surprise and delight, the girls started singing The Melody Within, something they are working on with their music teacher. Their little voices rose out from under the table, one mingling with the other, harmonizing when they needed to and sounding, literally, like the voices of two little angels. Tim and I smiled the entire time, and seriously, I was almost in tears. Why, you ask? Because I have been begging these girls to sing for me. I hear them in the bathtub and try to sneak a listen, but somehow, they know I am out in the hallway eavesdropping. They both have a gift, something I do not have, and I enjoy hearing their voices. Several times I have asked them to sing for me, and I have been politely denied.

After they were done, I gathered them up in my arms, and gave them both a big hug and a kiss on the forehead. I told them how lovely the song was, and that it was a complete surprise to me. "Mom," Zoe said, "That was the point!" And so it was.

***
At random times of the day, Melina blurts out "I love you, Mommy!" I cannot hear that enough. In the car yesterday, on the way to pick up Aaron, it was just the two of us. At first, I couldn't hear what Melina was trying to say. Finally, she whisper yelled, "Mommy, I just love you!"

Lovely moments like those from the girls and those from Melina make up for the sometimes lousy ones that come in between.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reading Aloud To Your Kids

A while back, before the mass public started to crave The Hunger Games, my friend told me about the books. I requested them from the library (I didn' t have to wait at all for them to become available) and read all three books in the trilogy. I enjoyed them, but told the girls that they would need to wait to read them. I didn't feel as though the subject matter was quite appropriate for their age (almost 9 at that point), and to be honest, I knew they would not understand the story and any nuances that went with it.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. The Hunger Games movie is set to release at the end of March, and the girls had seen on the computer part of a trailer for it. "Please mom," they said. "Can we please read the book?"

I have to give my kids credit where credit is due. I cannot monitor them all the time. They could, if they were sneakier, get the book from either the library (although there is now a major wait) or by some other means, and read the book by the light of a flashlight at night. Many times I am asleep before they are; I might not know for ages that they are doing it. But, they don't. And so I jumped on the opportunity to do some reading aloud.

We found a paperback version of The Hunger Games, and finished it in less than a week. In fact, I think it was mostly over one weekend. The kids kept saying, "Just one more chapter, mom!" And it was awesome. The whole experience was awesome.

The second time around was, for me, actually better than the first. I concentrated on really trying to make the kids understand the vocabulary (there were quite a number of words that the kids had never encountered) as well as the whole idea of a government that is not for the people. (Okay, okay, you conservatives out there will doubt that our current government is for the people, but as usual, that is not the topic for today. Let's leave that for another time). The dystopian society in general was a shock to them, as was the concept that people routinely did not have enough to eat (although we do discuss this at home from time to time). They had never heard of rations and became annoyed at the Capitol.

Furthermore, the girls were in awe of everything that Katniss could do. I was pleased to be reading a book where the main character was a strong female, and I applauded (as did the kids) her guts. We discussed whether or not we'd have the same amount of courage that Katniss seemed to possess. I imagine that, like us, most people would not. We also picked apart everything that went on within the book. Because I have already read the following two books, it was easy for me to make sure to point certain things out to them that might be important later on.

For those of you that have not read the books, I am not going to say whether or not you will like them. I still hold to my original belief that Suzanne Collins' writing style is a bit too terse for me, but because her story was so gripping, I was able to enjoy the books. I don't want to give anything away, either, so I am not going into the finer points of the triology. But enough cannot be said of reading aloud to the kids. It doesn't matter at what age you do it. When they are young, like Melina, I think it is mostly for the child's benefit. But as I reaffirmed with this book, at the age of 10, the experience benefited us all.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Apparently, I Am A Robot...

Because when I try to comment sometimes on blogs, I cannot type the two words in the box correctly. I think the words are nescrift and yuosef, but I am almost always wrong. And then, I get sent back to the box (again), only to try (again) with another set of letters that I just won't get right. I have seen one site that uses common math. What is 3 + 4? the prompt will say. Well that is something I can read! And answer for that matter! It would be nice if people could have both options presented, and then we could all choose.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

This One Is For FRN

FRN (Faithful Reader from the North) loves me. Well, yes, mostly because she is my sister, but probably some of it has to do with the fact that -- because of this blog -- she can laugh at my life and not just her own. I keep her in stitches, whether I mean to or not.

I jumped in the other day on one of her FB conversations, and found out, to my surprise, that she does not love Star Wars. I love it, so since she loves me, shouldn't she love Star Wars? That reasoning would have flown way back when she was 5, but now, it just doesn't. My favorite character from Star Wars? Yoda, of course. He has always been my favorite Star Wars character. Part of it is how cute he is, and part of it is his voice. I love that voice, and how he speaks. Love it I do.

In any case, since that conversation, I have found Yoda everywhere, even when I am not looking. One of the oddest places was at the library. Not odd, if you are in the Star Wars section of the library. I was not. But right there in front of me in the kids section was a book entitled, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger. It looked interesting, to say the least, so I brought it home. I haven't yet read it, nor have the kids. We'll keep you posted.

Thinking of Yoda brought to mind an old poem I once wrote. Yoda was not the main character in my poem, but he did show up late in the game. So, this one is for you, FRN! (And perhaps, Yoda.)

***

Untitled

Gray stone
cold, lonely, covered with green moss --
shag carpeting from the Troy home --
velvety, as is the hair that hangs down my sister's back.
Warm and comforting against my cheek;
scent familiar, cool
like the lilacs behind Meadowbrook.
That red school
with the huge sand box.
It lived next to the supermarket that sold bad pork chops,
and across from the veterinarian.
The same one that killed Holly,
the neighborhood Superdog,
torn from our midst that September day.
Hoping against hope I went to school,
tears flowing fast,
pools burning on the edge --
Mercurochrome on an open wound --
lashes stuck together; Mom says its not pinkeye.
Knowing, felling, seeing,
the pain evidenced in Holly's eyes.
Eyes that haunt, taunt,
flash brighyly in the night,
illuminating the room, filling it with rays.
The light bothers my friend;
he tries to close the shades,
block the light from hitting his eyes.
A mask will help, says I.
Westley wore one, why you not?
And Yoda crawls back,
under the moss, the stone,
curls tightly his toes, and sleeps.
It will be another 10,000 years
'til we see that Rip Van Winkle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Move Over, Will Ya?

On the way to the vet today (the outcome of that visit is for another post), Melina and I heard a siren. We were stopped at a light, so I looked around, and didn't see anything. Melina chimed in that she didn't see anything either. Her input was actually helpful, since we were in the minivan. I put my window down, but couldn't pinpoint where the noise was coming from. I carefully went through the intersection when the light turned green, and kept my eyes and ears open.

Not more than 15 seconds later, I could see an ambulance quite a bit in the distance behind me, with both its lights on and its siren blaring. It was going at quite a clip, too. Since I was already in the right lane, it didn't take much for me to pull over and wait for it to pass. Unfortunately, I was the only one to do so.

Everyone else on the road, many of whom were probably on the phone, didn't move over until the absolute last minute. The ambulance had to honk its horn, basically telling everyone to get out of the way, and then had to apply its brakes when the idiot in front of the ambulance still didn't move over. I sat on the side of the road with my mouth wide open.

When did we become a society like this? This isn't the first time people haven't moved over for an ambulance, but it irks me every single time I see it. Can you imagine needing an ambulance, waiting for it, wondering when it will get there, and knowing that because of the selfish nincompoops on the road that day, the ambulance might not get there in time? Sorry, sir, the driver would say. I'd have been here to help you out and save your life, but I was behind a car that just wouldn't move over.

Maybe we should outfit ambulances with cowcatchers. Then, the ambulance can go right up to the offending car and push them out of the way. Or, give the drivers huge taser-like appliances with which they could stun the cars and at least make them stop in their tracks. Maybe the easiest thing to do would be to at least give the drivers the right to call-in the license plate of the car that doesn't move, such that a nice fine arrives in the mail the following week. I don't have the answer, obviously, but perhaps if I complain loud enough, and long enough, and to enough people, things might change.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fans of Ferdinand Unite!

Do you happen to be a fan of cats? Do you happen to be a fan of our Ferdinand, in particular? If so, please let me know. Sign a petition, call up the governor, do what you need to do to save this cat, because I am just about at my limit.

I know, you thought I was at my limit way back at the golden showers incident. (Well, it wasn't quite a golden showers moment, if you know what those are, but when it rains urine, golden showers is an apt description, don't you think? [Google golden showers and see if that just doesn't either creep you out or give you a good laugh.]) I thought I was at my limit, too, but I guess I am a person who has developed a lot of patience over the years. I've had to do so, or I'd have already a gone crazy with 4 kids and 3 animals, not to mention a husband who is just slow about everything. In short, I wasn't at the limit, and could be pushed further.

Add to that ginormous amount of patience a little side of guilt, and here we are still taking care of Mr. Diabetic. (Who wants to give up on someone you said you'd take care of?) I feel for him, really I do. Supposedly, diabetes is treatable. I know this is true for both humans and cats. Well, we've been trying to manage it since October, and we've still not gotten him to that point. We are still experimenting with how much insulin to give him, and in the meantime, we can tell that his condition has deteriorated. His fur is getting drier, his water intake is still considerable on a daily basis, and the neuropathy in his legs has progressed.

Furthermore, while we were given a slight reprieve in the piddle on the floor department right after he got a shot for a UTI, Mr. Diabetic is back at it. In the last couple of days I have had to clean up 2 large puddles and 2 piles a day in the basement. Ferdinand is so predictable now, that pretty much every morning Tim and I start our breakfast conversation the same way:

Me: Another puddle in the basement. Another pile, too.
Him: Great.

We have that same exact conversation in the evening when he comes home. I don't know why I feel like I have to share the details. I never bothered telling him how many dirty diapers the kids had each day. Perhaps it is my way of saying, This was the day I had. Back off, unless you have something good to say. On the other hand, I think I tell Tim so that he knows what Ferdinand does all day, and should he have Ferdinand at the vet, he can answer the vet's questions adequately.

Besides his potty-ing, there isn't much that he does do. He's been banished to the basement, where it is cool, so he sits on the couch all day, only getting off to get food, water, or use the floor as a litter. Which makes us wonder, if he can jump onto and down from the couch, don't you think he could go into the litter box? (An aside: the combination of cat urine, cleaning component, and bleach has now taken the paint off some parts of the basement floor!)

It all comes back to what sort of life is Ferdinand living. Is his quality of life, as they say, any good? Tim and I agree that we don't think so. He whines a ton, especially if he is thirsty. And it is unclear how his legs feel to him. He walks funny, sits funny, and lounges most of the time. To be honest, I think that whatever time he has left is going to be up soon, if we cannot come to some sort of manageable solution asap.

So, if you feel the need to save this cat, let me know. Give me some suggestions or guidelines to go by, and perhaps the kitty will be pardoned. In the end, I just want to do what is best for him. And as cavalier as I might sound, inside, I am really not. I've already been through the deaths of several pets before, and it is never fun. Which is why I am stalling...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Getting Older

Every once in a while, a post comes along where you open yourself up to ridicule. This is one of those times. The information I divulge herein could be used for blackmail or extortion or just plain embarrassment, and yet I keep writing. TMI? You betcha. Don't say I didn't warn you to turn back and find another blog to read. Because I did.

Onward and upward. (Maybe I should say downward.)

There are so many things that I knew would happen as I got older. I knew my hair would thin, and eventually go gray. I knew that I would get wrinkles and that my skin would get drier. I knew my boobs would sag, although I really had no idea that they would vanish into nonexistence after nursing four kids. I knew I'd be more tired, and have less arm strength. I knew I'd be more nostalgic and more emotional. I knew the older me would be the same me, but at the same time, a different me.

However, there are also the things I had no idea would happen. I probably should have had an inkling that these things would occur, but I did not. (If I had paid closer attention to the aging people around me, I would have known these things; this speaks volumes as to my ability to observe.) Like the forgetfulness. In my opinion, I am too young to be hauling my calendar around with me. But if I don't write my appointments down, they won't happen. Well, they will happen, but without me. I've had to learn the hard way. Also, I did not realize that the need for bifocals might come along so soon. Both Tim and I sometimes take off our glasses to look at something up close; we see better that way. I remember my dad doing that! He's old. I'm not. (Sorry, Dad!)

And then you have the things I just hoped would never happen. I probably realized they might, but I hoped and prayed that maybe I'd be lucky and they would skip me over. For example, incontinence. Thankfully, I don't have that, yet. Two of my brood were pushed out of a very small hole, and things just haven't felt the same since. (The same can be said for my abdominal muscles, which the girls shredded by just being, and then being extracted.) I'm betting I just jixed myself on the incontinence issue. Let's hope not.

Another example is the hair that gathers on women's faces as they age. I posted back in November about the length of a mustache hair I found. On my own face. I've found several more since then. I can't complain too much...the hairs are still quite light in color. But I do keep the tweezers at the ready in the downstairs bathroom. Again, perhaps I jinxed myself.

Sometimes, though, you just aren't prepared for what life throws at you. I have had to deal with what I lovingly refer to as the pillow. That is what my belly feels like when I am bloated, and something that I have, for the first time in my life, had to deal with. I was somewhat prepared for this. My grandma complained about being bloated, but she was much older, and I am pretty certain she'd already been diagnosed with diverticulosis.

Since I am not that old (under 40 still means young, right?), and not experiencing any other symptoms, I thought logically and tried to find a reason for the pillow. Sure, my monthly cycle has been a bit different (again, something I knew would happen), but bloating did not correlate with PMS. And no, I am not pregnant. I wasn't eating a bunch of fruit or cabbage or sunchokes, either. It took me a bit of food logging, but I eventually found the reason for the bloating and gas.

The culprit? Peanut butter. Yes, you heard me right. Peanut butter. You don't believe it? I didn't at first, either, but it is true. If I have a PB sandwich, I am somewhat poofy in the abdomen by nightfall. If I have a PB sandwich and then some peanuts as an afternoon snack, well, you just better not come over and visit.

It all makes good sense to me. Peanuts are a part of the legume family, and legumes are known for causing gas. What I find interesting is that I have been eating PB for more than 35 years, and I am just now having a problem with it.

Couldn't my surprise that comes with age have been an uncommon amount of extraordinary wisdom instead? I fear for what lies up ahead.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lenten Fridays

Today is a Friday of Lent, and because we send our kids to a public school, there happen to be two meat choices on the lunch menu. I think the people that set up the menu must have been reminded about Lent at some point, because the menu for the rest of March just came home, and there is a meatless choice for the next couple of Fridays.

To be quite honest, my kids rarely buy lunch, considering what I think is healthy and what they (meaning the school system) think is healthy differs markedly. Furthermore, I don't expect everyone to cater to our beliefs. I support the separation of church and state. But there is a large Catholic population in this area, and I do know that a good percentage of the children that go to our school rely on buying school lunches. In my mind, it is good to know that the powers that be care.

However, I really do wonder about this whole meat free Friday thing. In fact, I have big issues with it. I remember, as a kid, going meatless on Ash Wednesday, the Fridays of Lent, and furthermore, many Fridays throughout the year. Did I care? I wept with joy at the thought of not being forced to eat meat on Fridays! There was a reason I turned vegetarian once I left my parents house. I just didn't care for meat. So if the point of fasting is to gain spiritual focus, which includes using self discipline and performance of penance, than the point was lost on me. It was easy to give up meat. Now giving up ice cream, that would have been hard.

Another senseless point is the age requirements as set by Canon Law. Apparently anyone healthy between the ages of 14 and 59 are required to perform abstinence during the Fridays of Lent. Well, I can tell you this: my 10 year olds are eating peanut butter and jelly today. They would have preferred to have some salami or even buy the coveted pepperoni pizza stick on the menu today. But they are old enough to give something up, and more importantly, they care about it. For them, the abstaining from meat is a hardship. They don't need to be 14 to understand that. And they won't magically be able to not do it once they are 60 years old. My dad is 77. He is well out of the age range according to the church. But the man loves meat! In my mind (and I don't know what he does), he should not be eating meat on the Fridays of Lent.

You can call me blasphemous, call me Beelzebub. Whatever. I just don't think that the Catholic Church has progressed well into the 21st century, or maybe I just shouldn't be a Catholic anymore. Come to think of it, I disagree with many of their teachings, some of the bigger ones included (another post, another day). But does abstaining from meat make sense in this day and age? How about cell phone/smart phone free Fridays instead? That scenario, I could see being a hardship for many, possibly truly teaching the lesson of self-discipline and penance much more than not eating meat.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

First Days

I don't always get the chance, but I like to post on the first day of the month. There are so many things I think about at the debut of a new calendar month, many of them simply pedestrian, some of the others, not. The dog needs to get his heart worm pill on the first day of the month, and I should change the filter in the furnace and the room freshener in the family room. There is a reason I put mundane tasks like that on day number 1. It is easier for me to remember to do them.

But I always seem to think that once we turn over that calendar page, we have the option of starting over. You can say that I am old school, but I still rely on my paper calendars. Something about turning the page and hooking it up on the nail, it is ceremonial to me. We get a new lease on life. A new beginning. In the winter months, those new beginnings save me from wallowing in the doldrums. Other times, it just gives me a reason to start anew: perhaps I've been working too much, or not doing enough, or engaging in behavior that just isn't good and should be stopped. (Do not go into the gutter here, I was specifically thinking about biting my nails, thank you very much.)

So what might I say about today? This first day of March has started out sunny and cool. I haven't given the dog his pill already, because I found out that we need to get more from the vet. I checked to see if the furnace filter actually needs changing (it doesn't), but much like the heart worm pills, I don't have the freshener I need. Probably because I was occupied with something else for the last couple of weeks (helping with the school sound familiar?) and the actual act of writing on my list that I needed heart worm pills and the freshener (and I am sure a bunch of other things) just never happened.

All of that leads me to believe that my new beginning for March, the thing I need to think about the most and try my best to do for the next 30 days is simply to slow down, take the time to do what I need to do, and perhaps along the way, smell some roses, as they say. With the weather we've been having as of late, they just might be blooming when the calendar page gets flipped again.