Friday, December 31, 2004

The trials and tribulations of a junk shop materialist pursued by his possessions...

Karl's blog identifies him thusly, and this morning, as we begin preparations to leave tomorrow, I have been thinking about what I want to take home with me from the farm.

The material possessions notwithstanding (how sick is it, on many levels, that we had to buy a clam shell to put on top of the minivan to get everything home? Granted, part of that everything is four new sleeping bags, thank you Grandma and Grandpa D, but there were enough new kids' presents to fill a large suitcase...), I have also been wondering how much of the serenity of the farm I will be able to transfer back to life in Missouri.

We have fallen into an easy and natural routine here. The kids start waking up and getting up around 8:00 a.m. Every night I have to remake their bed completely, and last night I found out it is because Tommy tears the bed apart to get his brothers up... Joyce and Tom get up around that time too. Dereck and I usually wake up and and I say, "What time is it?" and he looks at his cell phone and nearly invariably says, "8:50."

This morning the phone rang off the hook, so we finally gave up and got up, though we watched Love Actually with Tom and Joyce last night and then all of us had trouble getting to sleep.

This morning, we got up, and Tommy informed me that I had to make frosting for their gingerbread houses, and Christian told me we better find his lucky orange because he was starting to get really angry about that.

I said, "Coffee."

I went down and Joyce was putting cinnamon rolls onto pans and getting ready to make bacon, so Dereck made the bacon and some eggs and we had breakfast and then Dereck and I talked religion with his parents for awhile, while I cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher and then made the frosting.

Tom and Joyce had to go and get 15 new chickens today, so the boys and I went out to do the chores. It has really warmed up, so this morning I went out in my pajama bottoms (not unusual), boots, sweatshirt, and gloves. The gloves were more for the chores than for warmth.

Sam let the chickens out and fed them, and then we all walked up to count cows. Every morning we count: seventeen cows. Usually on first count we get fourteen or fifteen, then we walk closer, see more lying down or more behind each other, and then one of us will say, "I've got seventeen." And then we do a second count, and when someone else says, "I've got seventeen too," we count one more time and then we spend some time petting Molly, who was particularly friendly today, and watching Lucas bark at the cows.

Then, we came down and I had Sam get hay for the calves in the wheelbarrow. He said, "The farm may not have made me into a man, but it sure has given me new muscles."

I got grain for the calves and their brush, and today all three of them let me brush them.

Sam remarked this morning as we were walking down from the cow pasture to take care of the calves, "Who am I? I really like the farm, and I have really gotten used to not watching television."

I said, "Good, because when we get home, you're not going to watch it either."

And Dereck said, "You know, you can achieve this on your own, Sam."

Sam was quiet after that, thinking. He said, "I don't feel like the same person anymore. I think being on the farm has changed me."

We walked together down the hill, and Sam said, "I'm not sure of anything anymore. Except that there are seventeen cows up there in the pasture."

And what is sad about that is that even though he may know it is true, every morning, he still has to walk up the hill to the pasture and check.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bertha and Dante

The children are behaving so well, we aren't sure what happened to our children, but we have decided to keep these instead.

I am telling you, it's because we unplugged them this week. Either that, or it's because they haven't been in school. But I suspect the former.

I am becoming a farm girl. I didn't get on the internet today for the first time until 6:00 p.m., and it is now nearly 9:00 p.m. (I have not been on this entire time, I was only on for a few minutes before).

This morning when we got up, Joyce was babysitting their friends' two-year-old boy Chase, and so I told the boys I'd pay them to do some chores. They got bundled up and I was loading the dishwasher, when Christian insisted that if he had to go, I did too, and then Joyce decided to take Chase to see the chickens, so we all ended up going. I went and opened the barn door and got the three pans for grain for the calves that have been weaned and are in the pasture near the house. I put a big scoop of grain into each of the pans, stacked them, put them in the wheelbarrow, threw a bale of hay into the wheelbarrow, and headed outside. Joyce and Chase opened the chicken coop and fed the chickens and let them out. Tommy and Christian threw snowballs at each other and Sam went up to count the cows in the hill, and then Christian started building a snowman, while Tommy went to get snowpants on and go sledding.

I threw the hay over the fence, and it didn't get very far, so I had to go and grab it and finish throwing it over, and then I took the pans out of the wheelbarrow, and Joyce put Chase into it. I fed the calves, and then went back to the barn for the comb, and went into the pasture to comb the calves while they eat. They have to become tamed for being shown in the spring, and Joyce noted that they now know me better than they know her.

I nabbed Dereck then for a walk up on the ridge for exercise, and we looked at animal tracks in the snow along the way, and Lucas came with us.

What next? We went to a local joint called Elaine's for lunch, and went out to see Tom's habitat for humanity houses, very nice setting for those, and then came home and Dereck and Tom went out to assemble the shell we bought for the top of the van, and I tucked in with Sam and Tommy for a nap (until they abandoned me).

Oh, yes, I had had the boys gather up every single present, and we put them into the downstairs bedroom, and then I got up and packed all of them into the big suitcase. The clothes will go into plastic bags and into the shell, except for one change of clothes for the hotel on the drive back. I had packing anxiety dreams last night, so I figured I better get to it.

We had tacos for dinner, and then I showered (finally) and put on a dress so we could go and visit the neighbors, Bertha and Dante.

Bertha and Dante are in their eighties, and they never take their Christmas tree down, and Bertha gives out more than 350 Christmas gifts every year. I told Tom I was going to send him a copy of "Christmas Every Day" by Bertold Brecht. One of the things that Bertha gives is these army issue clotheshangers, which are really very nice. But I admit, when I first heard about Bertha and Christmas, I thought maybe she was a little crazy.

So, I was kind of expecting Crazy Christmas house when we went. I could not have been more wrong. Bertha and Dante are elegant and their house with its elegant china and candelabras and beautiful chandeliers, and exquisite mural on the wall-- it was clean, orderly, uncluttered, and most importantly, didn't smell like my grandmother's house--that smell a house gets sometimes when there is food rotting somewhere.

Bertha's blood pressure shot up to 220/160 a few weeks ago, but she didn't want to bother the doctor in the middle of the night. So, she started labeling everything in the house according to who should get what when she died, and then she dyed her hair so she would look good in her coffin. And in the morning, she called the doctor and entered the hospital for 5 days.

She had been a designer, so she showed me the curtains she had made, which looked like silk, and the velvet cape she wears to go dancing, and the beautiful Italian dress she is wearing dancing tomorrow night.

She gave me a black raincoat her sister had given her that was too big for her.

Bertha actually has an Italian name: her parents were coming to America from Geneva, Italy, and Bertha was born on the ship and named for it. But her first grade teacher couldn't pronounce her name, so it became Bertha of all things! When Dante asked her to marry him, she had three conditions:

  1. She wouldn't work in the fields.
  2. She wouldn't milk the cows.
  3. Dante had to take her dancing every Saturday night.

They still go dancing, though now only once a month, and they are going tomorrow night.

I saw a picture of her in her wedding gown in their bedroom, and she was worth every condition.

Still is.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Eye of the Tiger

I am sitting here tonight wearing a large tiger's eye and silver ring that Dereck got me for Christmas. I just found the following information about tiger's eye stones, not knowing anything about them before except that my mother had a tiger's eye ring I always admired when I was growing up.

"Tiger's Eye is a good stone for those born during The Moon of Growth - (20 Apr - 20 May). Tiger eye's calming influences can help people born during this time of year cope with the rapid changes that frequently upset their lives. It can also help them to put down the new roots that will lead to expansion in material directions.Tiger's Eye is a good stone for people with the zodiac sign of Taurus."

I asked Dereck whether he had known that ahead of time, and he said no-- but it makes me like the ring even more to know that it is such a cool stone. It also goes with my amber, and all of my brown.

I have been offline so long that I shall have to resort to bullets:

  • Christmas was an unmitigated pleasure. The kids got us up around 8:00 a.m. and we opened gifts for a couple of hours (seven of us taking turns) and had coffee and then a brisket brunch. We just lazed around luxuriously for hours, walked up to see the cows, then had deep-fried turkey for dinner. Stuffed and happy we just enjoyed the day.
  • Sunday, we had company. Amy and Earl came, and Amy's friend Heather and little boy Casey; Tom and Joyce's dear neighbors Sandy and Donny and their two children, Chase, who had a fever, and Donald, twelve, who took the boys for tractor rides. It started to snow in the evening.
  • Earl made a fabulous fabulous pizza* (as part of the white pizza on the day after Christmas tradition they have started): crust you buy from a pizzeria; large, round, thin slices of provolone cheese overlaying the whole crust; pears sliced as thinly as possible and covering the provolone; pecans, coarsely chopped; gargonzola cheese; then brush the whole thing with honey. It is fantastico.
  • *editorial comment: I don't care if it isn't pizza-- whatever it is, it is really really good!
  • Earl and I sneaked out for cigarettes by the barn and Joyce caught us and shook her finger at us: "You naughty kids!"
  • Amy and Earl win hands down for the most hilarious stories: "Big Ed had just gotten out of prison for murder, for the second time, so shopping in Kris Kringle town was not on his agenda."
  • Big Ed came to visit them a few weeks ago, after getting out of prison, "But not for the bad murder." He is about seven feet tall, so Amy wondered what on earth to feed him, but she had two hundred hand-made Italian cookies in her backseat, left there by a friend.
  • Earl's Uncle Mike had said that he and Ed would be arriving at 5:00, but didn't come, so Amy and Earl went to bed. Mike arrived at 5:00 a.m., and entered the house, found a piece of mail with Amy's name on it to verify that it was the right house (Earl had left the door open for them) and then walked upstairs and knocked on Amy and Earl's bedroom door, and scared them half to death.
  • Big Ed had refused to come in the house, reasoning that if it were the wrong house, he did not want to go back to jail. Amy forgot how the cookies had come to be in her possession, and immediately offered them to Big Ed.
  • Later, when asked about the cookies, Amy and Earl said, "What were we going to do, take them away from him?"
  • "They are now in Big Ed's stomach. And we aren't going to get them back." They had been planned for a charity, so Amy figured they had gone to a good cause. You have to see their gestures and hear their voices. It was very very funny.
  • In the evening, it started to snow.
  • Yesterday, we drove down to Bethlehem, PA, to see the tour of the city and the Moravian bookstore where you can (and I did) buy Moravian stars, which have 26 points on them. They are very beautiful. It was FREEZING cold.
  • Today, we hung out here and then all went up in the truck to take hay to the cows, and hanging on the back of the tailgate made me feel like a kid again.
  • We are within two miles of St. Tikhon's and still haven't been there-- hoping for Vespers tomorrow or Thursday.
  • Tomorrow: the crayola factory for Tommy's seventh birthday.
  • Today bought: a shell for the top of the car to haul our stuff back in; a down coat for Christian; three pairs of snow pants 50% off at Sears. Wait until after Christmas to shop. Seriously.
  • Les enfants went sledding this afternoon (while I was out buying warm things) and loved it (though Tommy has no weight to help him sled).
  • I have been reading my vampire slut book: I have counted so many typographical errors as to make me crabby, and it is entirely too smutty. I am no prude, but I do like a little plot with my smut, and I like vampires with my vampire smut. So, that is making me crabby too. ( If I want another good vampire mystery, I will probably have to write it myself.) But not so crabby that I am not still reading the book.


1. Your name spelled backwards: Refinnej

2. Where were your parents born? Utah and Utah

3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Some kind of micromedia flash plug in.

4. What’s your favorite restaurant? Il Spazio, natch.

5. Last time you swam in a pool? September with Karl and Dereck and the kids before Six Flags.

6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yes

7. How many kids do you want? three

8. Type of music you dislike most? heavy metal

9. Are you registered to vote? Yes.

10. Do you have cable? Yes.

11. Have you ever ridden on a moped motorcycle? Yes

12. Ever prank call anybody? Yes

13. Ever get a parking ticket? Yes

14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Nope.

15. Farthest place you ever traveled: Banff, Alberta

16. Do you have a garden? no

17. What’s your favorite comic strip? Charlie Brown or Bloom County

18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? First verse: Yes.

19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Bath in the morning, and sometimes at night. Hardly ever shower, but when I do, I have company.

20. Best movie you’ve seen in the past month? Lemony Snicket.

21. Favorite pizza toppings? Pears, provolone, pecans, and gargonzola cheese, drizzled with honey.

22. Chips or popcorn? Doritoes.

23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? I'd have to look in my purse-- I usually forget to wear it.

24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? What?

25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? No

26. Orange Juice or apple? OJ or apple.

27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? Dereck, Tom, and Joyce, Earl and Amy, and Sam, Christian, and Tommy, at a restaurant in Bethlehem, PA, last night. The Bridge something or other.

28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Almond Joy

29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? November 2, 2004, for all the good it did.

30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Long time

31. Have you ever won a trophy? Yes, sixth grade, spelling bee

32. Are you a good cook? Yes, but not as good as Dereck and Karl.

33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes

34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? No

35. Sprite or 7-up? Dr. Pepper

36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yes, but not since college

37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Lexapro

38. Ever throw up in public? Yes

39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? Be a millionaire-- I have found true love (knocking on wood).

40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Oh yeah.

41. Ever call a 1-900 number? No.

42. Can ex’s be friends? Yes. Even ex-friends.

43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? Rowan.

44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? Bald as a billiard ball.

45. What message is on your answering machine? Boring, standard.

46. What’s your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? I don't like SNL

47. What was the name of your first pet? Tinkerbell

48. What is in your wallet? cash, credit cards, library card, pictures of kids, health insurance cards, coffee punch card, driver's license, the usual.

49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Read and then...

50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? That my children have gone for nearly a week without television and/or video games and have thrived.

And that we don't have Tsunami's in Pennsylvania or Missouri. God help those poor people.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Merry Christmas!!!!

Man, did we luck out!!!

Massive winter storm strands travelers

- - - - - - - - - - - -By KIMBERLY HEFLING

Dec. 23, 2004 EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- Frigid temperatures, blasting wind and more snow than some places normally see in a year left parts of the Midwest and South paralyzed Thursday, and transformed a section of highway in southern Indiana into a parking lot.

The winter storm dumped double-digits of snow from Ohio to Wyoming, the Texas Panhandle to the Great Lakes, disrupting pre-Christmas travel. Motorists in parts of Mississippi and Tennessee were warned Thursday to stay off highways iced up from freezing rain. Hundreds of thousands lost power in Ohio.

Southern Indiana barely had time to catch its frosty breath after a snowstorm Wednesday morning when a second, heavier gust pummeled the region, shutting down Interstate 64 eastbound from Evansville to the Illinois State line.

"We're still stuck here. It's been about 13 hours," Ken Sabatini, 52, of Leawood, Kan., said Thursday morning. He, his wife and two children were traveling to Cincinnati for Christmas. "It's cold outside and we're doing our best to stay inside the car."

Temperatures fell to 12 degrees overnight, and Sabatini said some motorists had run out of gas and were sleeping in a stranded Greyhound Bus to stay warm.

"We've got some gas left, so every hour we run it for five minutes to get some warmth in the car," Sabatini said.

The Indiana National Guard was bringing stranded motorists from I-64 to hotels in Evansville or the Red Cross offices.

Gov. Joe Kernan declared a disaster emergency for portions of the state and urged a delay in Christmas travel to allow time for roads to be cleared.

The traffic snarl began when semis had trouble getting up hills and rolled back, blocking traffic, police said. A similar problem tied up traffic on a stretch of Interstate 71 in Kentucky.

The Wednesday snowfall at Evansville of 19.3 inches shattered the record for any single day, set Feb. 25, 1993, when 10.9 inches fell. It was also well over the normal yearly total of 14.2 inches.

Paducah, Ky., got 14 inches, more than the yearly norm of 10, and state police closed down a 13-mile stretch of the I-64 in both directions west of Louisville.

Ohio was a patchwork: up to 16 inches of snow in some places, but a combination of snow, sleet and rain in the northeastern part of the state. Electric companies serving most of the state said 310,000 homes and business were without power.

"It's very, very difficult to get crews to where the damage is. It's very treacherous," said Bryce Nickel, spokesman for Dayton Power & Light, which had 20,000 customers without power.

Heavy and snow and ice caused the roof on two sections of a warehouse in suburban Cincinnati to collapse overnight. No injuries were reported.

In Illinois, where up to 20 inches of snow fell, forecasters warned that wind chills would reach as low as 25 below zero, and high snowdrifts created a hazardous morning commute, officials said.

Cincinnati was looking at about 20 inches before the system, with its high winds and freezing temperatures, moved on later Thursday.

Parts of Arkansas looked forward to only the ninth white Christmas in 120 years as the storm barreled across the state, closing businesses, shuttering restaurants and snarling traffic.

As arctic air surged southward into the lower Mississippi Valley, a combination of freezing rain and sleet made driving treacherous across northern Mississippi. The Highway Patrol urged motorists to suspend their travel "at least until midmorning," said agency spokesman Warren Strain. "We've had some eight hours of freezing rain," he said.

At least seven weather-related traffic deaths were reported -- three in Ohio and one each in New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. A 76-year-old woman in Ohio died of an apparent heart attack while shoveling snow.

Nine people received minor injuries in a series of accidents on a snowy interstate in Wyoming just north of the Colorado state line.

In Amarillo, Texas, 3.7 inches of snow fell Wednesday, more than triple the previous record for the date. Hundreds of flights were grounded and others delayed Wednesday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Workers deiced about 200 planes an hour, airport spokesman Ken Capps said.

In Cincinnati, cancellations and delays were blamed mostly on planes arriving from other storm-battered locations.

Back on the ground, those leaving the driving to others couldn't do much but take it all in stride.

Susie Brown, 32, was stuck in the Cincinnati bus terminal, waiting for a Greyhound to take her north through western Ohio, where 10 to 16 inches of snow could blanket areas west of I-71 by Thursday afternoon.

"My brother always told me that I would grow up someday to regret wanting a white Christmas," said Brown, who lives in Cincinnati, "and this year he may be right."

Friday, December 24, 2004


The time has come for Santa to wrap presents. Sometimes Santa leaves some presents unwrapped, also. Seeing as the boys are getting battle droids and storm troopers, that could be pretty fun for Santa...

But before the wrapping commences...

This morning when I awoke, Joyce was already putting the finishing touches on an apple pie. I wish I had been awake for that! But the kids helped her. I asked her whether her back hurt-- making apple pie often makes my back ache-- and she said it was her knees. She had one knee replaced last year, and the other one is still trouble. So, I suggested that the kids and I could manage the morning chores without her so she could rest her knees.

We put on boots and coats (Sam and I in pajama bottoms) and hats and gloves (not Sam, so I ended up giving him one of mine) and took the scraps of food for chickens and cattle and headed out. Sam and Tommy love the big walking sticks Tom and Joyce have, so each of them had one of those.

Sam went to take care of the chickens: open up the coop for them, feed them their scraps, and let them come out and walk around. They are free range chickens. Tommy and I found that the rain had filled the calves' food dishes, so the kids used their walking sticks and broke the ice and dumped it out. Is there a more perfect chore for small boys? We then each picked up a food dish and headed to the barn for grain. I am not strong, so I couldn't get the barn doors open very much, so we put the food dishes on the ground outside the barn, and I scooped grain and poured it into the food dishes (gave the last one to Sam to do). Then we closed up the tupperware container and each picked up a dish and went to feed the calves.

The calves are newly weaned and still very people shy. Joyce has to get them tamed for show in the spring, so we put the food dishes down and then stood in back of them so we could pet the calves as they ate, and we each got in a few head pats before they skittered away. The cattle are highland cows, longhaired, so when they are bent over their grain and apple peels they look more like the Shaggy D.A. than like cows.

Then, we headed up to the high fields to count the cows and calves up there, with Lucas, the big german shepherd with us. We headed up, and I marvelled that Joyce does this daily on her knees. The ground is uneven and covered with cow pies and meadow muffins. I pointed out to the kids where deer have been, and Tommy spotted more places on his own. Tom and Joyce don't like deer in the pasture because they carry disease, but I'm not sure how to keep them out if they can clear the electric fence.

We went up and counted the cows (don't count anything grey or really small, Sam told me, i.e. Molly the donkey or Lucas) and Tommy went over to pet Molly and kept calling her, "Bailey."

"Hey guys, come pet Bailey!"

"Her name is Molly."

"Bailey says if you want to pet her, you have to come up here!"

"Her name is Molly."

"Guys! Come up here and pet Bailey!"

"Her name is Molly."

Winter hats and hoods do not make for effective communication.

After Sam and I each got a count of seventeen cows, we headed back down for farm fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast. Yes, it does make a difference. Lucas found a patch of ice and started poking a hole in it to eat it and was skating around on it, so Tommy and Sam had a great time poking it with their sticks, and then we headed in for breakfast.

Christian does not come out with us, preferring the warmth of the house and his Charlie Brown book. He is afraid of the dementors and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named from Harry Potter, so he stays pretty close. It is interesting that Sam and Tommy do not have this fear, and Christian did not have it in the theaters, so I was speculating to Tom and Joyce that it is more of an existential fear than anything else. At any rate, it means that I spend a lot of time taking Christian to the bathroom because he is afraid to go alone.

As he was peeing, he remarked on something we learned about coyotes in a Ranger Rick magazine and expanded on it: "If coyotes breed more when people try to kill them, does the female to a dead male and take its sperm and make more babies?"

"How do you know what sperm is?"

"You told me."

"Oh." pause. "Well, no, that isn't the way it works. You can't get sperm from a dead male and make babies."

I tried to explain, without divulging what sex is, (remember: Christian is only 8 years old) that when the coyotes are being hunted the males and females who are still alive make more babies to make sure they don't die out (actually, they probably just have a lot of stressed out sex, yes?).

But returning to the breakfast table, I remarked that Christian must be a born feminist because he has already figured out what women have always known: you don't need men to be alive to procreate.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Best Money Ever Spent...

Well, all I can say is, if you have not yet invested in a portable DVD player for your long car trips with small children, get thee to Walmart some store that sells electronics and get one! We made it today in one piece (I drove so long yesterday, and I did pose the question in the car that perhaps I am a bit of a control freak, that I woke up last night with aching shoulders) after waking early in Columbus. We hit the snooze and I finally suggested that we watch a morning news program to wake up. Well, wouldn't ya know they had closed all the schools in anticipation of a blizzard that hadn't started yet. That got us moving! We were quickly dressed and on the road and drove through snow for a couple of hours (I told Dereck later that the reason I had driven was very similar to what Jackie Kennedy told the secret service at the beach: the children's safety here is MY responsibility-- not that Dereck can't drive in snow-- I just felt a personal obligation to be behind the wheel-- is the jury in yet about that control issue?) and then came out of it, hit sunny skies and blue skies and warm temperatures-- I took off my sweater at lunchtime.

Christian kept remarking on the scenery today as we came through the mountains. He was mightily impressed. He said at one point, "That looks like Mount Everest!"

But, Lucy, he and Tommy squabbled like an old married couple. At one point, they were arguing the finer points of the extended version of the Return of the King, and I shut the movie off and they did not notice for almost ten minutes.

Sam, of course, is my mellow dude.

How many movies did they watch and I listen to? And do I really want to listen to the same ones all the way home? Hmm... there are still more shopping days before Christmas, Santa Claus...

The first day was fine too-- my stomach can't take road food all that well anymore, so we stopped for a "real" dinner at Ruby Tuesday's (where? Indianapolis? No, Dayton) (by the way, today I counted more than ten cities in Ohio where I'd never want to live-- no offense, Stacey and Bill) and still had trouble getting little stomachs to eat.

I had given Tommy a pen to play with and he lost it (of course!), so I had him crawl under the table to retrieve it (I get attached to my pens) and he came up with it (it is black) proclaiming, "I can see like a bat at night!"

To which Sam and Dereck and I all responded at once, in a jarbled heap, "Bats don't see, they use sonar."

And Christian's lone voice piped thoughtfully, and intelligibly, a millisecond later: "Bats use echolocation."

Monday, December 20, 2004

The car is all packed. The errands all run-- except one. Dereck has to go to the post office tomorrow morning, and there we will stop the mail.

Today at Walmart, fresh from having deposited a Christmas check from my dad that was ostensibly going to pay for some new clothes for the kids, I came from the bathroom, through crafts, and then down through automotive on the way to pick up the kids in the electronics aisle, and I saw it. For an incredible amount of money, I could get a DVD player for the car with TWO screens. I looked, and was momentarily tempted, but because of the exorbitant amount of money, continued on my merry way.


There. There was ANOTHER display of a portable DVD player with two slightly smaller screens, for still an exorbitant price, but not nearly so exorbitant as the other, and not nearly as exorbitant as, say, a cell phone.

I whipped out my dying cell phone and called Dereck. "You should never never let me go into Walmart alone with credit cards."

"Oh no."

I explained what I was contemplating and he said "Everyone we know who has one says they are the best money ever spent."

That was enough for me. I circled back and put it in my cart. And the best part of all? I didn't add it to the credit card: I paid for it with my debit card.

Tonight, we packed up the car, and then we took the new toy and set it up in the car to see if it would work. It did. We sat in the back of the minivan and giggled like children and sat and watched Harry Potter until we froze our butts off and we decided to come back inside.

It is awesome.

Formerly, the kids were going to have to hold the laptop on their laps for two days, and sometimes the DVD player on the laptop is less than reliable.

Now, I am not even bringing the laptop. Oh, I'll still have some computer access. But I am not bringing the laptop, not bringing my AOL cd's. I've traded them in for crochet hook and yarn. Oh, I need to dig out a pattern.

I have a nephew who needs a homemade blanket.

My mom has been lamenting the fact that she and my dad sent money instead of gifts for the kids. Well, Mom and Dad, I think you officially just got the kids the coolest Christmas present ever, and it ain't even Christmas yet. But this is going to make our drive SOOOOOO much nicer. Oh, we are happy happy happy! Thank you!

So, to everyone out in blog land, drive or fly or stay where you are safely, have fun, if you are celebrating Christmas, have a merry one, if you have just celebrated Hanukah, I hope it was beautiful, and if you are looking forward to something else, I hope it is everything you wish for.

I'm sure I'll be on again-- maybe even with pictures-- but it is my hope and my desire to be able to unplug for the next week or so and focus on my kiddies and just living my life.


Shamelessly ripped off from Jay.


white-- but we are going to change that to yellow, and one wall will have rust patina OR this tissue paper thing we just saw on Trading Spaces


Seven Storey Mountain-- Thomas Merton


Dell Logo


Monopoly or Scrabble


US Weekly, In Touch, People-- yes, all three




I wear a lot of brown


I don't know




My computer. What would I save after children and pets in a fire?** My journals.

** Assuming that I did not have to also save Dereck, of course.




Not daily-- I do whenever I drive long distances, but I can't this trip, because I have gotten two tickets this year, and if I get anymore, my driving privileges may be "restricted or revoked." One of the speeding tickets? For going 34 miles per hour.






Dr. Pepper


28 April


asparagus, spinach


just full time writer-- so not too too different from what I do now.


I change it too much to choose one-- that's part of the fun




The English Patient

Chariots of Fire

Sense and Sensibility-- and I don't think I actually own any of them. And I might have seen them so many times I don't need to ever again.


Yes. And I type very fast.


the bathroom scale, an old purse, cat hair, dust bunnies, some socks, probably the odd shoe, and hopefully Dereck's other Teva...


I don't have one.


Baseball-- cubs-- Wrigley Stadium




All time: ?

Right Now: Garden State Soundtrack

In CD player: all Christmas, all the time. (five)


All time: ?

Right now: ER




Savannah, New Orleans, Banff


Paris cafes, both at home and at work.


No, they don't, and yes, I would.


Taco Bell.


Not planning to have anymore children, so I'll have to stick with Sam, Christian, and Tommy.



Sunday, December 19, 2004

Division of Labor

Today, before he left to go grade at his office, Dereck made homemade chicken soup, and I made bread (okay, I used the bread machine, by request. Sue me). He asked me to put in egg noodles around 5:00, as we would eat at 5:30 and have been invited over to hang out with friends this evening, as there is no evening Mass at the student center (doh!).

Around 4:30, after my friend Carol left (I colored her hair, what else?), I checked the soup, thinking that I would add the noodles early, because I like them absorb the soup's flavor. The soup had cooked WAY down! So, I added about 8 cups of water to the soup and a couple of bouillon cubes.

When it started to boil, I added some basil.

It's 4:45 now, and I would love to add more spices, but I'm afraid I don't have thyme...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Stolen from Kathy Howe-- even though I don't know much Josh Groban... I can't resist a good quiz...


Which Josh Groban song are you?

brought to you by Quizilla

What a lovely little Saturday, gray outside as it may be. I woke up to hear Dereck jovially greeting someone at the door and gradually came to the consciouness that it was Karl, and so I got up and got dressed and came out for coffee and some sinus headache pills, and that is how I started my day.

We are having dinner with some friends tonight, and our kids will play with their kids, but it is tempting, since Karl is in town, to call our sitter and see if she is available tonight. But I have not done it. It is just a thought bouncing around in there.

Christian has been hanging out with me all day, with Tommy and Sam intermittently coming either to show me something that they have built (Sam) or to bounce on me and kiss me and tell me how squishy my butt is (in front of company) (and that would be Tommy). Tommy's teacher gave him a book for Christmas and I read it to him last night, but even before then, I heard him reading aloud parts of it, and toward the end of the book, he stopped me to try different passages. That is remarkable progress for him-- it just makes me want to cry.

The other night when I was lying down with Tommy, he said, "Little boys want to look cute for little girls, Mommy."

"So the little girls will like them?"

"No, so they will love them."

"Do you want to look cute for little girls?"

"No, I'm not that kind of boy."

"What kind of boy are you?"

"I am just a boy."

None of my kids want to get married. Sam, because he is petrified of sex since I described it to him (I just told him a clinical explanation, I swear!), and Tommy because, "I think I would get tired of taking my kids to school every day."

"No, you wouldn't," I told him.

"Why not?" he asked me.

"Because when you are a parent, that is what you do. You love your kids so much, you would do anything for them."

"So you will do anything I say?"

"No, that's different. I meant parents would do anything for their kids that would be good for them."

"But you said you would do anything for me."

"You're just going to have to trust me."

Speaking of which, I did finally tell Tommy today about Halo 2. I don't think it has really sunk in yet, but that is okay.

We are heading out on Tuesday, and that means I have to pack (and make sure the ants in the space antaquarium are still alive without Christian The Little Shadow seeing me do it) and we have to check the weather. Today Joyce mentioned to Dereck that there might be bad weather in Pennsylvania, so we may have to temper our journey a little bit.

I've still been in cell phone denial, even though it died on me in the middle of a conversation the other night again. Dereck will have his cell phone on our trip, which makes replacing mine seem less urgent, but I asked him the other night what he thought I should do and he said, "You might as well just replace it." And that is probably about right.

Yesterday I was at the post office (stupid me) and I saw a young mother with two absolutely gorgeous children, but she just looked fried. She was neatly dressed, but her pony tail was wilting and she was eyeing the children warily as though they might suddenly start speaking in tongues at any moment. I have been her before. I am still her now, occasionally. I didn't even notice what the small boy did, who can't be more than two, but I recognized in her picking him up swiftly and stalking out that whatever he was doing, he was not listening to her and she felt self-conscious about it. At least, that is how things have gone for me before-- I was only casually watching her, lost in my own memories of early motherhood. A few minutes later they came back in and I had at first thought that she had taken him out and spanked him privately and then came back, but they came to the counter to retrieve the child's flashlight, so I was wrong, but she still looked exasperated, though she was very calm and gentle with the little boy.

When I think about how hard some of those days, weeks, months, years were with my little tiny children. It is so much easier now in terms of not having to hoist them everywhere, but so much more difficult in other ways. My heart aches for them in their little worlds. It is hard to see the big picture of the scope of their lives, it is hard to see these little moments in time as just that: little moments. And they will have others. A lifetime of little moments, all counted up with Prufrock's coffeespoons.

And I wanted to say to that young mother, "You're doing great! Look how beautiful they are!" But instead I will say to my own expression of beleaguered motherhood, "You're doing great! Look how beautiful they are!"

Because in the grand scheme of things, I am, and they are.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Selina wrote this today:

"I want to be more like Jen and be totally, completely honest without being judgemental. Sure, outright bluntness may offend some easily offended people and I might run off some patients, but sometimes a little tough love is needed. Sometimes a person won't listen to the advice of their friends or their family, but the opinion of a doctor (or therapist, for that matter) somehow carries more weight. Maybe it's the fact that you are paying for the advice. Maybe it's the fancy degree. I think it really has to do with hearing the advice from a neutral party.

At any rate, I am going to strive to be more like Jen when I see patients. No bull, straight to the point, friendly but matter-of-fact."

And I literally cringed and almost burst into tears.

There is no way that Selina could know that my week has completely fallen apart thanks to the very honesty and bluntness she cherishes. But it was nice that you thought of me anyway. Thank you, Selina.

The universe is colliding in strange ways. The priest I've been dying to talk to finally called me this morning, and if I weren't at work, I would have collapsed into tears and poured out my heart to him. But I didn't, just briefly told him what was going on and he sounded concerned. But I really needed for him to call me, and I am glad he did, and we are going to talk more when I get back from Pennsylvania.

Something is funky with blogger today and I can't get it to stop centering everything. Hmmm. Oh. duh.
Thanks, Yvonne, for the links to these T-shirts. I think the one that best sums up how I have felt all week is this:
You Were Nice This Year!
You're an uber-perfect person who is on the top of Santa's list.You probably didn't even *think* any naughty thoughts this year.Unless you're a Mormon, you've probably been a little too good.Is that extra candy cane worth being a sweetheart for 365 days straight?

Were You Naughy or Nice This Year?

What Crappy Gift Are You?

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Christmas Story

Loving, fun, and totally crazy.

Don't shoot your eye out!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Well, the kids are all tucked into bed, the laundry is folded (well, mostly) and I have been crossing things off my to-do list like crazy. Christmas cards have been written, presents been assembled and now I am trying to focus on what I need to do to get ready for our trip. Like secretly taking ants out of Christian's ant farm and putting them into his space age ant farm that he is getting for Christmas-- but leaving enough ants in the ant farm that he isn't the wiser. But I can't give him a cool space age ant aquarium for Christmas with no ants in it. And it's not like we can go catch ants in the Pennsylvania winter wild.

Thank goodness we got some ants in the mail this week. I am just continuing a steady order of ants to they'll arrive every six weeks or so to replenish the ones that die, but so far, we have been watering them every other day (you try explaining that concept to an eight year old) and feeding them bits of bread. They seem to be pretty happy, but I don't think there is a queen in there. Any ideas for how to get a queen?

The Lemony Snicket dilemna: is it okay for ages 7-8? Tommy is almost 7, will be on December 29 (so I had to make sure I had birthday presents AND Christmas presents, all to take on the road).

Tonight we had a talk about Halo 2, and I have decided that Tommy will not be allowed to play it. And Sam only sparingly, and we had a chat with Sam about that too. Tommy does not yet know that he will not be allowed to play it, but he had some difficulties at school today and so I just said, "That's it. He does not need to be playing any kind of violent video games."

I got a book of poems in the mail today. Thank you once again. And now I know your address, so watcher mailbox yer own self.

No, things are still not better. But every time I try to make them better, I make them worse. So, I am just plugging along and keeping busy and ignoring the pain in my chest.

Today is worse.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I'm having a bad day. :(

Self-examination is hard.

Another Wednesday Meme for You

src="" alt="tuesday is chooseday" border="0" />

either leave your answers or a link to your webpage with your responses.

    Would you rather be:
  1. A garbage collector OR a fry cook at a greasy spoon restaurant? I'd rather be the garbage collector because I've heard the money is pretty decent, and you get the job done early in the day-- and then there is plenty of time leftover for reading and writing. Think of the great stories you could collect, too!
  2. The person who repairs downed power lines OR the person who cleans the shark tanks (while they're still in it) at aquariums? Oh, no contest-- I'd rather swim with the sharks. That would be cool.
  3. The person who does makeup on dead people for open casket services OR the person who who has to scoop the ashes of a dead person into an urn? Um... I just don't feel that comfortable around dead people, vampire books aside...
  4. A beat cop in new york OR a navy SEAL on a covert mission?
  5. I'll cop to a slight fascination with the Navy Seals. If I thought I had what it takes, in another life, I could see a career change...

Hump Day

Oh, Hallelujah! Wednesday already.

Yesterday, after hacking up a new assortment of fun stuff into various kleenexes, I called into work, took the kids to school, and crawled back into bed until 1:30 p.m. and I am much the better for it. Much the better. The cold is still here today, but just barely. I am squishing it like a little bug.

After I got up, I cleaned my entire house (except for Sam's room, he noted), changed the vacuum bag, vacuumed the whole house (after sweeping, I know! Quel miracle!), and then changed the bottle and the bottom of the swiffer wet jet and used that on the whole house, put all the dishes in the dishwasher and wiped down all the counters, and cleaned the bathrooms. Now that Jen is graduating, I am either going to have to hire a new Jen (if I can find one I like as well as her) or just be Jen myself. I have to say, even though it is much nicer simply to walk into a clean house, I did feel better about myself as a human being for doing it myself. And more inclined to keep it clean, so I don't have to do that all again Monday before we leave.

Sam told me yesterday that he has grown out of his jeans, and I sat and watched Tommy try on three pairs that were too short the other day, so last night after I picked them up, we went to JC Penney and bought a cell phone's worth of new clothes, including a sweater for each kid, and one pair of sale jeans in a slightly larger size for me, so I can eat at the farm and still have jeans to wear if I put on holiday weight. Then, threw some dinner at them, ran and got Tommy new shoes, and got their father a present from them (gift certificate) so they can give it to him on Thursday.

We came home for half an hour, pant pant, watched Christian's new ants (they're alive! They're alive!) and then rounded them up to go to Robin's Christmas party (which is confusing because their father is dating a Robyn, who works with me by the way-- small, incestuous town-- and she has been forewarned, so I don't want to hear it when she finds out who he really is) which was nice, but I didn' t keep them there very long.

So, today I am having lunch with a woman whose son is autistic, and I have an appointment to have Christian seen by a specialist 90 miles away at 8:45 a.m. on February 7. Niiiiice.

I am seriously tempted to go and ask my boss if there is any way that I can start working ten hours a week from home so I can leave every day at 3:00. I just feel like I would be able to get a lot more done around the house, and have more time with the kids if I did that, and I could save money by not having to enroll them in the After-School Program. However, I don't want to rock the work boat... Maybe I will wait and see what the specialist says and then think about it.

What is new with you?

Your Hump Day Meme

Stolen From Kathy Howe through Jay.

LAYER ONE: – Name: Jenorama

– Birth date: April 28th.

-Birthplace: Denver, Colorado

-Current Location: Work

– Eye Color: blue

– Hair Color: my actual color? Who knows? I dyed it light ash brown this weekend, and then added blonde highlights.

– Height: 5'7"

– Righty or Lefty: Righty

– Zodiac Sign: Taurus, sign of the Bull.


– Your heritage: ? Mutt, I suppose.

– The shoes you wore today: Red Mary Janes. Kenneth Cole

– Your weakness: books-- can't leave a bookstore without spending money

– Your fears: Unemployment, harm to my children-- not in that order.

– Your perfect pizza: Artichoke heart and shrimp from the now defunct Late Nite Pizza in Athens, Ohio

– Goal you’d like to achieve: Job Security; PhD


– Your most overused phrase on AIM: ya

– Your first waking thoughts: Coffee--who has waking thoughts before coffee?

– Your best physical feature: Eyes, probably.

– Your most missed memory: ? I don't even know what that means.


– Pepsi or Coke: Dr. Pepper

– McDonald’s or Burger King: Taco Bell.

– Single or group dates: Single

– Adidas or Nike: Adidas-- haven't you ever seen a Michael Moore movie? Who can buy Nikes?

– Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Just iced tea-- is there a difference?

– Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate

– Cappuccino or coffee: yes.


– Smoke: yes, but not a lot, honestly.

– Cuss: like a sailor

– Sing: at Karaoke on Tuesday nights at the DuKum Inn.

– Take a shower everyday: er, no...

– Do you think you’ve been in love: Oh, yes, I think so. Was this designed for somebody in high school?

– Liked high school: Liked what about it?

– Want to get married: I plead the Fifth.

– Believe in yourself: Yes

– Get motion sickness: Not usually, but sometimes I do when I fly if I don't eat enough.

– Think you’re attractive: Yes, despite my curves. OR maybe really because of them.

– Think you’re a health freak: Not hardly.

– Get along with your parent(s): Yes

– Like thunderstorms: Sure-- but it's not like I'm pining for one.

– Play an instrument: piano, badly.


In the past month…

– Drank alcohol: Yup

– Smoked: Yup.

– Done a drug: You mean besides my prescriptions? No.

– Made Out: Was this designed for people in high school?

– Gone on a date: See previous response.

– Gone to the mall?: I love the mall around the holidays-- I love the decorations. Yes.

– Eaten an entire box of Oreos?: Um, not since Halloween.

– Eaten sushi: No, but oh, I wish that I had... Have I? Don't think so.

- Been on stage: Karaoke.

– Been dumped: Was this designed for people in high school?

– Gone skating: Nope.

– Made homemade cookies: Yes, actually.

– Gone skinny dipping: No

– Dyed your hair: Uh, can a month go by without my dyeing my hair?

– Stolen Anything: No.

– You sound boring: Thanks.


– Played a game that required removal of clothing: Yes

– If so, was it mixed company: Yes

-Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: Yes

– Been caught “doing something": Doing something? What the hell does that mean? Was this designed for people in high school?

– Been called a tease: Not since college

– Gotten beaten up: Was this designed for people in high school?

– Shoplifted: Not since elementary school.

– Changed who you were to fit in: Was this designed for people in high school?


– Age you hope to be married: Was this designed for people in high school?

– Numbers and Names of Children: three kids: Sam, Christian, and Tommy-- not names I would ever have said in high school.

– Describe your Dream Wedding: Was this designed for people in high school?

– How do you want to die: I don't.

– Where you want to go to college: Was this designed for people in high school?

– What do you want to be when you grow up: Was this designed for people in high school?

– What country would you most like to visit: France


– Number of drugs taken illegally: 1

– Number of people I could trust with my life: ? Not the doctors in the local ER, that much I know.

– Number of CDs that I own: Haven't counted.

– Number of piercing: four.

– Number of tattoos: two.

– Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper?: Many-- I have written for two newspapers along the way, more than that if you count student paper.

– Number of scars on my body: ?

– Number of things in my past that I regret: I don't know. Yes, I do: I regret some friendships I've lost along the way.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Dinner Time Conversation:

Christian: Maybe it took all kinds of gods to make the world. Maybe God just needed some help. The Egyptians had lots of gods.

Tommy: But they weren't real.

Dereck: When people need to attribute things to a god, they make gods in images they can understand. Like, look at the piano. Do you love the piano?

Sam: No.

Dereck: Do you love your mom?

All: Yes.

Dereck: Then you are going to make a god like your mom, right?

Tommy and Christian to me: Hi, God!

Christian: But maybe there was a huge war in heaven because the devil was jealous of God.

Jen puts down her fork and looks at Christian: Where did you hear that?

Christian: In Santa versus the Snowman.

After Dinner Conversation

Dereck: Well, he's right. That is what that movie is about.

Christian: So, maybe there are lots of gods.

Jen: But God said there aren't. He said there is only one God.

Christian: But maybe that isn't true. Maybe he just said that to trick us because he is a tricky God.

Bedtime Conversation:

Sam: I wonder why I get to sleep so much easier here than at Dad's.

Jen: (Kissing Sam tons on the cheeks, making squeaky noises.)

Sam: Mom, stop it. That's just plain weird.

What D&D Character are YOU?

I Am A: Neutral Good Dwarf Cleric

Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else. They will work to make the world a better place, and will do whatever is necessary to bring that about, whether it goes for or against whatever is considered 'normal'.

Dwarves are short and stout, and easily recognizable by their well-cared-for beards. They are hard workers, and adept at stonework and engineering. They tend to live apart from other races; generally in deep, underground excavated systems, and as such tend to be distant from other races.

Clerics are the voices of their God/desses on Earth. They perform the work of their deity, but this doesn't mean that they preach to a congregation all their lives. If their deity needs something done, they will do it, and can call upon that deity's power to accomplish their goals.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy of NeppyMan!


My cell phone is dying. Lately, it turns off at the drop of a hat. It turns off if I close it. It turns off if I am talking to: my babysitter; my mother; Liza.

It turns off and then back on repeatedly in my pocket when I am driving to the shitty cell phone company where I have my service.

They look at my phone. They tell me that a liquid has gotten into the circuits, and they are corroding.

They diagnosed death for my cell phone. They can't tell me how much longer my phone has. Weeks? Days? But probably not longer than that, because it is acting the way it is. It turned off while it was sitting on the counter, while we were talking about it.

A new battery won't fix it.

The only option?

I have to buy a new phone because I didn't buy insurance for this one.

Here are your choices: These phones over here, for $50,000, or these over here, that have digital cameras, for $55,000**.

Whichever I decide, it is going on a credit card. I said, "I'll think about it and come back."

What would you do?

**price might be slightly exaggerated, but you get my drift.

Dude? Seriously.

There must be something wrong with me. Normal people just don't behave this way. I just called the vet clinic and asked them if there were any people looking for homes for their cats. And I have 55 minutes in which I could go to the cat shelter, but we don't even know who is watching our cats next week, and we will be gone for two weeks.

I haven't actually called any of the numbers I got though.

What is wrong with me?

For one thing, I am bored out of my mind. I need to start bringing a book to work with me, I swear. Or get back to work on my memoir.


There are two perfectly good hours left in the daylight that I could go and get my children, spend time with them, shop for dinner, do a little housekeeping... And I am sitting here why???

Looking at my list of things to do. Anything pressing before new year's? No? I don't even know what some of these things MEAN.

So, maybe it's time to blow this little popsickle stand, eh? Til tomorrow? Tomorrow, when perhaps I will at least have a book with me?

It beats trying to adopt other people's cats without permission...

Pre-Inaugural to-do list!

I don't have pneumonia or bronchitis-- I'm half-way through an upper respiratory infection and should be good as new by next week, in time to drive for two days with three kids...

Things to do before the January 20, 2005 Inaugural. Better get crackin,'

there's not much time left!!

1. Get that abortion you've always wanted.

2. Drink a nice clean glass of water.

3. Cash your Social Security check.

4. See a doctor of your own choosing.

5. Spend quality time with your draft age child/grandchild.

6. Visit Syria--or any foreign country, for that matter.

7. Get that gas mask you've been putting off buying.

8. Hoard gasoline.

9. Borrow books from the library before they're banned: Constitutional law

books, Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter, Tropic of Cancer, etc.

10. If you have an idea for an art piece involving a crucifix, do it now.

11. Come out. Then go back in. HURRY!

12. Jam in all the Alzheimer's stem cell research you can.

13. Stay out late before the curfews start.

14. Go see Bruce Springsteen before he has his "accident".

15. Go see Mount Rushmore before the Reagan addition.

16. Use the phrase "You can't do that, this is America!"

17. If you're white, marry a black person. If you're black, marry a white


18. Take a walk in Yosemite without being hit by a snowmobile or a


19. Enroll your kid in an accelerated art or music class.

20. Start your school day without a prayer.

21. Pass on the secrets of evolution to future generations.

22. Learn French.

23. Attend a commitment ceremony with your gay friends.

24. Take a factory tour anywhere in the U.S.

25. Try to take photographs of animals on the endangered species list.

26. Visit Florida before the polar ice caps melt.

27. Visit Nevada before it becomes radioactive.

28. Visit Alaska before "The Big Spill".

29. Visit Massachusetts while it's still a State.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Still Sick...

I told Liza today that I've barely been online at all this weekend, and she said, "Wow, you really are sick."

Yesterday, without effort or planning, I slept in until 2:30. Today, I had plans to go down to church in Columbia, but realized last night that I actually needed more sleep. I slept into day too, and had a nap late in the afternoon, but I am still not feeling better. I am drowning in my own mucous and coughing. Not pretty. So, I have already called the dr. and left a message. I don't have a fever, but come on, this is getting ridiculous.

My dad called. "I've been reading your blog. You have bronchitis. And you know what the number one cause of bronchitis is, don't you? Smoking."

My dad is the president of the American Lung Association, Utah, so he should know.

I called them back and left a message: "Does this mean I need antibiotics?"

My mom called me back: "You need to see a doctor, yes."

Liza: "First comes bronchitis, next pneumonia."

I seem to be particularly susceptible to pneumonia, so I am going to go to work tomorrow, submit my online progress report to the government and then I am going home until I feel right again. It is the week before Christmas. Nothing *that* burning needs to get done this week (except that report tomorrow).

And I'd kind of like to be feeling better before we have a two-day drive to Pennsylvania, because that would kill me right now.

Well, Duh.

Oops! I should have previewed that post! I actually mean to say this:

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.

An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.

You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.

A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Funky Friday

I love casual Friday.

I am still hacking things up. This morning I had to do a pretty close inspection to determine whether it was yellow or green. I think yellow. But I went to bed pretty early after ER last night with a sinus headache.

But we had pretty close to a perfect date night last night (except for the sinus headache): we ordered Mexican food, and while they were preparing it, zipped up to the store for tequila so we could make margaritas. Then we settled in with our yummy food and our TV shows (Joey, Will and Grace, and ER). Bliss!

Sam's class is having a "read in" today-- they earn points for doing their work on time, so today they get to read. All. Day. I wish I was in that class! I talked to Sam last night and he said that they are allowed to bring snacks and I asked him what he was bringing. "Nothing." Now. I don't think Mark is so much of a jerk that he wouldn't let Sam take one-- I think Sam just sometimes doesn't like to ask us, and the only explanation I have for that is that he is his mother's son. Sometimes I was a bit of a martyr too, ridiculously. So, I pressed him to see if I could bring a snack. He finally asked for hot cocoa in a thermos, which I delivered this morning.

The first thing I noticed in the classroom was that all the kids were spread out all over the floor and *every single kid* except mine had a blanket and pillow. SAM!!! I am sure that he could have asked Mark and Mark would have provided because Mark would have been horrified to have his kid be the only one without a blanket. He is very concerned about appearing to be a good parent. So, I ran home, got Sam's sleeping bag and pillow and returned, and Sam said, "You didn't put milk in the hot cocoa did you?" I shook my head. "It scalded my tongue."

I kissed him and went on my merry way, reflecting that Sam didn't realize that I went to extra effort to come to his school twice that morning, but that also I was happy that he took it for granted-- because I was happy to do it, and I want him secure enough to take those things for granted. So, why can't he just ask for simple things like snacks and blankets when apparently every other kid in class can? These things, and the fact that Christian has no friends (and Sam few) at school bother me, particularly when I'm in the shower, or tired, or have a cold-- like this morning.

But then I just shrug it off and keep going because I can't sit around and cry at work.

I have two meetings today, and that is actually good, because it will make the day go faster.

I think tonight we might go to a movie and tomorrow is a Hanukkah party, and my neck hurts and I have a cold, and I don't really want to do anything-- I think that I am in danger of becoming a girl who only wants to sit in bed with a book about Orthodoxy, rather than living, and that is not what I want from my life. I want to engage in it and to have fun with Dereck and appreciate him and appreciate OUR alone time this weekend, not simply MY time without kids.

I had a really vivid bad dream last night that Mark was jerking me around about taking the kids to Pennsylvania for Christmas and when we could leave, etc. and my lawyer told me to call his bluff and just go and that would teach me how to respond to empty threats. In my dream, I was crying and crying on the phone with my lawyer. And in my dream, the kids were all sleeping in a room with the answering machine right above their heads, and Mark kept calling at 5:00 a.m. and waking them up, and finally I heard and went in to them, and got on the phone with him and ended up screaming at him (very realistic because it has happened before, though not that early in the morning) and slamming the phone down.

Whenever I dream, I dream of cavernous houses that have rooms without end. I am always discovering new ones, and in this dream, I discovered a little room that we weren't using ,and decided to use it for storage, to get some of the clutter out of the living room. Houses in dreams are supposed to be your psyche-- so I wonder what that means... Interesting...

I'll have to ask Dereck about these dreams-- he is good at dream interpretation.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004


This Morning was a protracted continuation of last night. I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, despite the Hy-Vee knock off brand of Ny-Quil, and so I slept in this morning (that needs to STOP) and when I got up this morning, I coughed up all kinds of nifty things, none of which were green, so here I am at work.

Started the tub, said good morning to Sam in the bathroom, and woke up the younger two.

Christian: "So, are dementors real?"

Tommy (with covers over head): "I am NOT going to school!"

Go into kitchen to make coffee, and Christian appears very quickly.

Christian: "So, when Harry Potter sees the Grim at the Quidditch Game, that means he is going to die in two seconds?"

Me: "Well, did he die?"

Christian: "No, but the Grim means he is ABOUT to die, right?"

Me: "Well, that's just the opinion of that one teacher. But she just thinks it's a Grim, when it's really Serius Black, because he is an animagus. That means he can turn himself into the dog."

Christian: "How did Serius Black survive all those years in prison without food and water?"

Me: "Well, even when you're in prison, you still get food and water."

Christian: "Who brought Serius Black the food and water?"

Me: "I don't know. Tommy get UP. Maybe a guard did."

Christian: "Maybe it was one of the dementors."

Sam: "Can I have a quesadilla for breakfast?"

Me: "Sure. Can you go make it? Tommy, we need to do your homework."

Christian: "Why did Hagrid tell them they couldn't be seen?"

Me: "Because he didn't want Dumbledore to know they were going to see Buckbeak get killed. Come on, Tommy, let's read your books. Christian, you need to get dressed."

Christian: "Or maybe it was because it was about to get dark and the dementors would get them."

Sam: "It wasn't dark yet."

Me: "But it was going to get dark. Okay, Christian, you get dressed, and Tommy, you need to read your book to me."

[Tommy stumbles over a word and SHOUTS in outrage, and Mommy yells at Tommy, Tommy cries, Mommy consoles, they finish the book and go get hot cocoa and breakfast.]

Christian: "What is a specter?"

Me: "A ghost?"

Christian: "So, maybe the Grim is really a specter?"

Me: "Well, except it isn't really a Grim. It's really Serius Black because he can turn himself into a dog."

Christian: "I bet, what's that Professor who can turn into a werewolf?"

Me: "Lupin."

Christian: "I bet the werewolf could beat one of those dementors."

Me: "Probably."

Christian: "Why does Snape frighten all?"

Me: "Well, because he is just kind of a mean guy."

Christian: "And maybe because he makes them do a lot of hard work."

And so on and so on and so on.

This morning, I need cigarettes and beer.

Raise your hand if you think Mommy actually yelled at Tommy because she wanted to yell at Christian, and raise your hand if you agree that this is not conducive to Tommy wanting to learn how to read?

Tuesday, December 7, 2004


Out of the Mouths...

At 9:00 tonight, there was a knock on the back door and it was Liza, but for a moment, I thought our sitter had forgotten we cancelled her because I was sick, and if it had been our sitter, I would have grabbed her by her shirt and begged her to stay.

I told Liza that I had just been talked at for four hours straight. And it was true.

My oldest can talk. Boy can he. And my father will read this and laugh and say, "What are YOU talking about, Miss Motormouth?"

But honestly. You get it back in spades.

And tonight, it wasn't me, and it wasn't my oldest. It was Christian, the middle.

First, I got them fast food for dinner because Dereck had a Religion dinner to go to (he is in the Religion Discipline-- it was for work, not some Religious thing he was doing), and then Christian did his homework and Sam worked out, and Christian talked at me the entire time. And he talked at me as I tried to download some kind of media flashplug for this computer for Tommy, and then while I tried to get the DVD on the other computer to work, before I suggested that we could watch Harry Potter in the living room while I worked out.

(I just went to check on the lovely tub I'm filling, and discovered, to my absolute horror, that I didn't plug the drain!!! You can see that my nerves are raw, can't you?).

And that child talked during the entire movie. If the captions hadn't been on, I wouldn't have been able to watch it, and even as it was, I was out of breath by the end not from my work out, but from being made to answer questions throughout the movie. And I think he has a much better grasp on the entire movie now.

I am not usually so indulgent with the kids talking through movies, but tonight it seemed like the thing to do, though I did tell them at bedtime, "I am NOT lying down with you tonight. I need a break. I need to go read my book. And if I hear anything in this room..."

"Your hand will be on my bottom?" Tommy asked.

"That's right!" I told them.

Actually, I told Dereck that I needed a break and asked him to go in if there were any noise, but the little darlings actually went to sleep quietly, despite a barking dog, whom I escorted unceremoniously OUT.

While Christian and I were in the bathroom and he was brushing his teeth, he said, "Harry's aunt and uncle sure were wicked, weren't they?"

And I said, "I don't know if they are wicked so much as mean and stupid."

Christian: "Maybe they just needed more sleep."

Me, nodding: "Could be."

Christian: "Or maybe they just needed to have more beer."

And then, with barely a pause he continued: "Maybe YOU just need to have more beer."



Has This Ever Happened to You?

My eyes just fell to a piece of paper by the keyboard that had red scrawls all over it and I felt a vague sense of dread, because red scrawls mean that I need to fix something... I looked at the paper a couple of times. It took several times before I realized that it was MY handwriting on the page. I had made the corrections. But for the longest time, I didn't look at it as anything that I had ever seen before.

Boy, how out of it was I yesterday?


Law and Order

By 5:00 yesterday, maybe a little before, I had crawled into bed with a book, having almost swooned twice when walking around. I forgot my gatorade, so I was just kind of lying there, half asleep, pathetic, when Dereck walked in. I felt like crap. We took my temperature, and it was normal, possibly due to Tylenol I had just taken-- because I had chills, aches, the whole nine yards.

It was feeling this way and not thinking that I could handle a 40 minute round trip drive plus wrestling three energetic boys into bed that caused me to decide to call their father and ask if he would keep them overnight. He agreed, and I talked to each of them who expressed sympathies that I was sick.

I had forgotten, though, that he teaches at 7:30 a.m., so he would be bringing the boys by here for me to take to school anyway. Great. Still no sleeping in.

I am feeling a bit better today-- the cold seems to moving upward to my nose rather than south to my chest. And my neck doesn't ache terribly today.

So, last night after we agreed I was in for the night, Dereck brought me some leftover stew and bread machine bread and we ate dinner in bed and watched Law and Order. And then, you will not believe what happened: another episode started on TNT immediately, and it was a 4-part episode!!!! We couldn't believe it. It was the best thing ever. Was it four or three parts? Four doesn't seem right, given what time we finished, but anyway, we ended up watching Law and Order all night. And somehow, that made being sick a little better.

My children just walked in! I got kisses and concern from older two and some kind of stony-face from youngest, so let me to see what that is all about.

Aha-- maybe if he doesn't kiss me hello, I won't notice he has gone to watch television...

And now I am making hot cocoa. Hope your Tuesday is great.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Sore Throats and Mondays...

I am home sick today.

I should have known it last night when I was drifting off to sleep with the little boys, and could feel my nasal passages draining into my throat, and Tommy kept yelling at me that I was snoring (which I never noticed).

I went to sleep essentially at 9:00 p.m. and was draggy all day yesterday, but I thought I was just feeling blue. Well, apparently, I was also fighting off a cold.

I have a sore throat. I am choking on my own mucous.

It did not take me very long this morning to figure out that going to work was a baaaad idea, so I took the boys to school, came home, and went back to bed (after notifying work, of course).

I got some much needed sleep, and I am wondering how much more I can get away with without risking my sleep this evening.

I would like to work out, get those bodily fluids moving, but just now when I moved from the couch to the computer, I felt a little woozy. Yes, I have eaten today. I probably need to push more fluids though. Too bad coffee doesn't count.

I suppose I could always return to the couch.

Yesterday, we put up our little, fake, 3-foot tree with miniature ornaments that we got this year so we could still have a festive house, even though we are going out of town (gulp, in two weeks!).

The boys were so awesome. We put in some Christmas music, and they really got into it. There was no criticism of the little tree, only the tenderest of care and cooperation as they decorated it. I am not being saracastic-- they were really amazing. They love their little tree, and Tommy kept saying, "We have the most beautifulest tree in the whole neighborhood."

I am glad I didn't attempt a trip to Columbia yesterday, now that I am sick anyway. I took Sam with me to Mass yesterday, and except for him looking the entire time like somebody kicked him hard where it counts, it was fine. I asked him about it-- did he feel like it was weird? Did he not know what to do? And he said, "Sometimes when something doesn't really grab my interest, I feel bored."

Well. Too bad. I can be sympathetic to discomfort, but not to boredom. I even let him bring a book which he was too embarrassed to read (not his father, who takes books and reads everywhere, including and especially at the boys' soccer games, prompting other parents to wonder why he even bothers to come).

I went to afternoon Vespers later with Carol and that was very cozy and nice.

All in all, a nice weekend, even getting haircuts at the Beauty Academy for the boys (which was great-- they have to do exactly what you tell them to do! Tommy got the best haircut of his life because he actually let him use the razor on him!) and running errands.

On Friday night, we all watched Willow together, and they loved it. It was great, because I love that movie, and to see my boys love a movie that I have so long loved-- well, it was just magical.

How are you this wet, cold, dreary Monday? How was your weekend?