Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Preparations for the Big Man

Last night, the girls prepared for a visit from a jolly man with a red suit and reindeer. They opened up the fireplace door:

Then the girls got some snacks ready for Santa and the reindeer:

Their efforts were rewarded. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It Was Probably a Poor Choice of Words on Herr's Part

Herr had the girls clean up the basement so that he could teach them how to play a new game, called Elefun, that Ella got for her birthday. Instead of actually going down to the basement to supervise, he did his parenting the Hausfrau way, by barking orders from the first floor. After listening to the girls mess around and laugh for about 15 minutes, Herr shouted down to the basement, "Are you girls jacking around or what?"

"Where's Jack? I wanna play with Jack! Is Jack here?" cried Genna.

"No, Genna, when I say "jacking around," I mean that you and your sister are messing around instead of cleaning up the room like I asked."

"But Daddy," said Genna, "I am not jacking off."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Can't Breathe

My sweet little princess, my little sunshine, my happy-go-lucky daughter who makes my heart melt when she smiles turned five today.

I only cried for about 10 minutes on the way to work.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Peeking Inside Pandora's Box

About 15 years ago, my parents went to the attorney who handled my adoption and my sister's adoption. Mom and Dad gave me my birth mother's name and date of birth, and from there I located her. While I do not have a relationship with my birth mother, I do have a friendship with my birth sister. M wasn't interested in knowing her family history at the time, so my mother kept M's birth mother information--and lost it.

I always found it strange that M had no desire to find about about her birth family since her hobby is genealogy. She has managed to trace our father's lineage to pre-civil war, and our mother's family to the late 1700's. Last year, M finally expressed interest in knowing about her birth family. A few weeks ago, my mother was able to get the information from the county court house.

In a matter of a few hours, M's network of genealogy friends had located a BOOK dedicated to the lineage of her birth mother. A BOOK! Things got even more strange when one of M's girlfriends realized that she actually KNEW M's birth mother because she had gone to high school with the birth mother's sister (it's a small world since M and her friends live in Michigan and the birth mother's family are in Illinois.) M has been able to find out a lot about the family with this book and other research she did. When I spoke to her over the weekend, I asked her what she planned to do with the information--would she be contacting her birth mother any time soon? I also warned her that she needed to make sure that her friend kept her mouth shut and didn't interfere. If the family didn't know about the adoption (like my birth family), the friend would run the risk of causing major upheaval in the family. My sister said that she was too busy to really do anything about it right now because she is very busy with her classes, her boys, the holidays, trying to plan trips to visit Mom, etc. I told her that maybe she should think about contacting the birth mother after the holidays. I was glad to hear she didn't want to rush things. I just didn't want her to get hurt. She has gone through a lot over the past few years, and I didn't want things to turn out badly for her.

Through it all, my mother has been so excited for both of us and has always regretted not having the information to give to us sooner. I initially didn't tell my mom about becoming friends with my birth sister right away because I worried she would think I was looking for a replacement family that would take over once Mom died. Eventually, when I told her, she insisted on meeting my birth sister and LOVED her.

Mom called me tonight and told me that M had just called her to say that her birth mother had just called her. Apparently, the friend decided to not keep her mouth shut and told the sister of the birth mother. Apparently, the birth mother was thrilled and that the entire HUGE family that has a BOOK devoted to them is excited about M. Apparently, they spoke for an hour. At the end, M said," My Mom said that she wants me to come down and visit her in North Carolina."

Mom said her heart broke just a little to hear M refer to this woman as "Mom." My heart broke a little for her too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Snow Day!

Last Sunday we were doing this:

What a difference a week makes! It snowed all day today in Bethlehem! Herr taught Ella and Genna the finer points of making snowballs.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Some Truly Shit-Tastic Parenting Happened Today

Back in the 90’s, my friend Becky thought that the lyrics, “Don’t call me daughter” from Pearl Jam's "Daughter" was really, “Don’t Call Me Doggie.” A few years later, my friend Katy was surprised to find out that the classic Who song, “ New Orleans ” was really, “Who Are You?” My husband finds both stories to be HILARIOUS and tells them whenever an appropriate event calls for them.

This morning, while yelling at the girls for the umpteenth time to cool their jets so I could concentrate on driving them safely to school, I was somewhat aware of the cool song playing on “Kids Stuff” on Sirius. It seemed vaguely familiar with a rapid techno-beat. What a nice change from the usual Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner that are the mainstays of the channel. While I continued to yell at the children, I was struck by the interesting lyrics, “smash my picture, smash my picture.” Once I was done yelling, I faced forward and rocked my head to the beat of “Smash My Picture.” It was probably the extended dance version because it seemed to go on forever.

It wasn’t until I heard Ella really getting into it by singing, “Smash my Bitcha, smash my Bitcha, that my stomach lurched. I remembered that on Saturday night, I was driving home from suburban Philadelphia and asked Herr to change “Kid Stuff” to anything that would keep me awake for the hour drive home. He had put it on “90’s Alt.”

I am not sure what was more sad: the fact that my four year old daughter was singing, “Smack My Bitch Up,” by Prodigy at 6:30 in the morning, or the fact that I had FORGOTTEN the song ever existed.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Two Weeks Later and Mom is Still Nuts

I have hestitated writing much about my mother over the past week. I really didn't want to turn my blog into a site about my Mom which would probably be a most depressing piece of drivel. That said, I will provide a brief update: My sister has been there two weekends in a row and we are no further along in trying to help my mother. It certainly isn't from a lack of trying. We are trying to set up home healthcare (currently it is a minimum 3 month wait), but we can't because they need financial information and my mother hasn't done her taxes in seven years and is in fear of the IRS auditing her. We even offered to fill out the tax forms and just not send them--as long as we have the factual amounts on a 1040 EZ, I am reasonably sure that a home healthcare agency will not check in with the IRS to see if a refund was actually granted her in 2006 (there is no way she owes taxes as she makes NO MONEY.) My mother claims that is dishonest and she won't do it. I told her that it was dishonest to choose to NOT do her taxes for 7 years, but that sailed right over her head.

Mom also doesn't want to tell us how much money she has currently. Mind you, she called me a couple of months ago and told me that she had lived way longer than she expected and is very worried about running out of money. At that time, I told her that if that was the case, we needed to make some arrangements for her care. When I asked her how much she had, she refused to tell me. I told my sister to try to find out what is in her accounts this weekend because the sooner she is out of money, the sooner we can get her on Medicaid. I also asked her to find out the balance of her car and we would work on getting it paid off and sell it. When I looked into Medicaid a few years ago, one of the requirements was that one couldn't have a car worth over a certain amount of month (basically you have do drive a shit car to qualify for Medicaid.) Even though her Lincoln Town Car is old, it isn't a shit car--therefore, no Medicaid.

About an hour ago, my phone rang and it was my sister, telling me to talk to Mom because Mom is mad that she is going through her things. I explained to Mom why Sis is trying to get this information. Mom accused us of only being interested in a potential inheritance. That is when I laughed and laughed, making her angrier.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mama Drama--Chapter 2

After my mother told me that she has lung cancer and has only 8-10 weeks left to live, I left a message for her doctor to get details. Something she had said made me suspicious--she told me she found out about the diagnosis from an X-ray and that the growth was the size of a golf ball. I told her that, while I wasn't a doctor, I didn't think that a golf ball-sized growth constituted such a quick end. I also asked her why there was no biopsy, but she started to cry and went on about how she didn't want treatment and I moved on.

Dr. Chuck didn't call me on Monday, but my mom's old friend Sharry did. Up until a few months ago, Sharry had been a savior to my sister and me because she lived in town and helped us tremendously with Mom's care by taking her to appointments, stopping by, etc. When Mom dropped her bombshell, I asked her if she had told Sharry. She told me that things had not been well between the two of the lately and she couldn't bring herself to tell her. I told her that she might want to make the effort to work things out before she is gone. I happened to know that Sharry had become quite upset with her when she found out Mom had been drinking again.

After exchanging pleasantries, I asked Sharry what I could do for her. She asked me if I had spoken to Mom lately. I decided to go for broke and told her everything. After I explained the recent events, she said that Mom had called her on Saturday (Keep in mind--that is one of the days that she lost) and told her that her car had been stolen and that she was angry with me for calling the maintenance office. Then she told Sharry that she has THYROID cancer and has 6 months to live. At this point, I started to laugh. I knew then and there that she had been self-diagnosing.

Dr. Chuck called me yesterday and we spent nearly an hour talking about Mom. I told him everything, including Sharry's information. When I was finished, he told me that he hadn't seen Mom in 4 months and that the last chest x-ray she had was in February and it was clear of cancer. She does have advanced lung disease from her smoking, but no cancer. He also indicated that her thyroid has been a mess (which I knew) because he was certain that she wasn't taking her medication properly. He then informed me that based on what I have told him, he is certain that Mom has Korsakoff's syndrome, which is essentially a dementia brought on by alcoholism. Dr. Chuck said he became an expert in the illness because his father had it. She confabulates, meaning she makes up stories and in her heart believes them to be true. He mentioned that he worries about her a lot because she has missed a few appointments of late. He very much would like for us to get her in to see him to get a blood test, a ct scan to make sure there isn't a brain tumor, etc. I asked him how we were going to get her in there when he also told me that we should NOT confront her about knowing the truth. He didn't really have an answer.

Later last night, we talked to our friend Chris, who is a Psychiatrist. Before I even told him what Dr. Chuck's diagnosis had been, he said, "Your Mom has Korsakoff's syndrome." Chris was a wealth of information because he actually treats people with this condition. He also gave us an idea of what our priorities should be right now, like getting rid of her car. Since she is blacking out, the car is a weapon. While it seems easy enough to take the car, it isn't. At that point, she would be homebound, and we have to make arrangements for someone to deliver food, meds, etc. I am sure that we would have to provide state agencies with proof of income (taxes, etc.) Too bad she hasn't filed taxes in SEVEN YEARS and has refused to allow us to do them for her. Chris also mentioned that it isn't that simple to put her into a nursing home. By having her go cold turkey and not drink at this stage of the game could kill her. As a result, we would need to admit her to a hospital and have them wean her off the booze. Chris also mentioned that we need to find out what the laws are like in Indiana with regard to people being committed. In New York, where he used to practice, he had the ability to make a simple call to get someone committed if he felt that they were incapable of caring for themselves. He also has that ability in Canada. In Indiana, it might not be so simple.

Being 12 hours away sucks. What really sucks is that my Mom's brother lives 3 miles away and will never help. He would laugh and hang up on me if I called and asked. Can't say I blame him--she wasn't too kind to him over the past few years. While I felt better that Chris was able to help me, I was sleepless trying to sort out what I needed to do.

I finally spoke to my sister this morning and explained what was going on. I repeated almost everything Chris said, including the fact that we need to now take the emotion out of the equation. At this point, it is clear that she is not 100% of the Mom who raised us. She is not going to get better, she is going to lash out at us, and we need to work through it without being angry AT her. That will be hard.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mama Drama--There is No Short Version

It all started on Friday when my sister called me from her car.

"Hey Hausfrau, Mom called and told me that her car was stolen."

I laughed. Rude, right?

"Is she SURE? Did she call the police?"

"Well," said sister "Mom said that she hasn't called the police yet because she's tired and hasn't had a bath."

"Of course. Did she speak to the management office of her apartment complex?" I asked.

"She said she did, but she also mentioned something about the fact that the maintenance crew is paving the parking lots."

"Oh, maybe they towed it--wouldn't they have told her that if she called the office?" I said.

My sister was obviously frustrated with the whole thing and busy and, well, DRIVING. I told her that something wasn't right and that I would call the office.

I spoke to Jennifer the office manager and asked her if they had started to tow cars due to the paving. She said that they wouldn't tow cars--they would simply go to the residents and get their keys and move the cars for them if they weren't moved by a certain time. At that point I asked her if my mom had called her to report a stolen car. Jennifer said that she had not spoken to my mom at all, but she would call the two maintenance guys to confirm and call me right back. Ten minutes later, she called to say that they had found her car in the next parking lot over and that they had stopped by Mom's apartment to tell her and that she was happy.

I knew THAT wasn't true. I knew my mom would be pissed that I had called the office to have them look for her car because that would mean that I caught her in a lie about calling them to begin with.

I called my sister back to tell her that they had found the car. She said she knew because Mom was on the other line and she sounded angry. A few minutes later, my sister called me back to say that Mom had walked around and had found her car and felt really stupid because she didn't remember moving it on Thursday night. She had just gotten back to her apartment when the two maintenance guys knocked on her door to tell her that they, too, found her car. She had yelled at my sister for having me call the maintenance guys. I told my sister that Mom had lied a second time to her because she is physically unable to walk out of her apartment, go down the stairs, walk outside and look for her car, go back up the stairs and get into her apartment in the 10 minutes this all went down.

My sister and I spoke for awhile about our concerns that she has now lost track of Thursday, apparently drove her car and doesn't remember any of it. We weren't sure if she had been drunk or perhaps had a stroke. Sis said she would be heading to LaPorte after her vacation in the Adirondacks next week and would try to get her in to see her doctor. I tried calling Mom all weekend, but she wouldn't answer the phone because that is what all mature mothers do when they are mad at their daughters.

My cell phone rang at work this morning and it was my sister again, starting off a conversation with, "I think we have a MAJOR problem with Mom."

"What now?"

At this point, I only heard about every third word of the conversation because my sister is in the mountains. From what I could glean was that my mom had asked that she call every night to let her know that she was safe on her trip (my sister has never driven this far by herself before and she is going to be camping in the woods with her boys, etc.) Apparently my sister called Saturday and spoke to my Mom. On Sunday, my sister got to our relative's house rather late in the evening. Our cousin said that Mom had called there three times FRANTIC because she hadn't heard from Michelle AT ALL on her trip. Michelle called her and basically said, "WTF?" I guess Mom started to hysterically cry.

By this point, I couldn't hear much more of what my sister was saying so I told her I would try to call Mom and try to find out what is wrong. I called Mom once and left a long message, hoping she would pick up but she didn't. I called a second time and left a longer, rambling message:

"Hi Mom, it's Hausfrau. Look, Sis and I are very worried about you, and I need you to pick up the phone. She said that you called her and were crying, you don't remember driving in your car on Thursday--we're just really worried. Here is my office number...here is my cell number...please call me--we are very worried about the fact that you have lost track of a couple of days--"

Mom got on the phone and in a voice that sounded like a low growl, she said, "It was ONE day that I don't remember!"

"But Mom, Sis said you don't remember talking to her on Saturday and you don't remember driving your car on Thursday-that's two days."

"IT WAS ONE DAY--Saturday that I don't remember--not two days! My car WAS stolen!"

"But Mom, listen to me--"

"Fuck you. I don't want you to call me anymore."

And she hung up on me.

After recovering from the shock of my mother telling me to fuck off and hanging up on me, I decided to call my friend Nicole who is quite logical and would be able to honestly tell me if I had that coming. She was also aware of the car episode from Friday.

"Hey Nicole, if you called your mom today and told her that you were a crack whore, would she tell you to, 'Fuck off' and hang up on you?"

"Uh, nope."

OK--what if you called her and told her that you were going to start dealing meth--would she tell you to 'fuck off' then?"

"No, I can't imagine too many things that would make my mom say those words to me."

"What if you killed someone?"

"No, no she wouldn't."

While part of me was heartbroken that my mother said those words to me, a part of me was relieved. My sister and I have dealt with her depression, her illnesses, her bitterness, her lies, her wrath, her anger, her drunkenness, and her despair for seven long years. I have been so tempted to walk away--my sister even did so for several months a few years ago. I was angry when she did it, but I didn't blame her. It is incredibly sad to deal with a person who has pushed every friend and relative away. She has burned so many bridges--the only two left standing are my sister and me. And while I would love to do nothing more than walk away from this mess that she has created, I know that my mother raised me right. She raised us to finish the job and take care of family. I was also raised to not drop the F-Bomb, but that's neither here nor there.

Later in the day I was on a conference call and saw that my Mom was calling in on my cell phone. I didn't play the message right away because I figured that either A) She was going to yell at me some more or B) She was going to start the call off with, "Hi Honey--it's been forever since we talked. What have you been up to?" Instead, the message was a very tearful apology. She asked me to "please, please, please forgive" her and that she is in "trouble." She also mentioned that she will have my sister help her with the "trouble" when she comes to visit this weekend. I called her right back and she started to cry. She insisted that the car was stolen and returned and that she wasn't crazy, but that she knows that not remembering Saturday was a problem. She also said that she is ready to go into a nursing home. That's what she wants my sister to help her with. I told her that while I agree that an assisted living situation is probably a good idea, we would need to talk to her doctor. I asked her if she had seen Dr. Chuck lately.

It was at that moment that Mom told me that she has lung cancer and she has 8-10 weeks left. She has known for three weeks and hasn't told anyone. She wants to go into a nursing home so that my sister and I aren't burdened with her "mess." I asked her if she was considering treatment of any kind and she said no. She said she is done. She also said that I am not to tell my sister and ruin her vacation. I told her that she needs to tell Sis before she leaves to go back to Michigan on Sunday or I will. In the meantime, I have placed a call to my Mom's doctor to verify what she has said. I have Medical Power of Attorney, so they should be able to tell me. While it's not that I don't believe her, I want to make sure her story is straight. After all, she lost track of Thursday and Saturday.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm Just Glad I Didn't Turn Out Like Cletus

To celebrate the long-awaited Simpsons movie, Herr went to this site and turned himself, his wife and his two loving daughters into Simpsons characters. He spent waaaaaay too long snapping individual photos of us ( I tried to get him to use a photo of me as a 22 year old Hausfrau, but he would have none of it), uploading them onto the site and then adding features to create his vision of what we would look like should we ever be so lucky to appear on The Simpsons.

All in all, I am pleased with the results, even though in real life my lips and teeth aren't that large and my skin isn't, well, yellow. I also don't spend a lot of time with my hands in front of me clawing like a lobster. I'm just sayin'.

After Herr finished all of us individually, he played around in Photoshop and put together a family portrait.

I now present...Team Hausfrau.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's Been Awhile

I haven't felt much like writing lately. I've had a lot to say, believe me. I always have something to say. Something will happen in the course of the day that makes me annoyed , batshit happy and I want to write about it. There's just one problem: my sister found my blog.

Let me start of by saying that I love my sister. We get along just fine despite our many differences. That said, I have kept this blog from my family since I started it. My family, as a group, is a trainwreck on the Crazyville Express Line. I have used this forum to sort out my feelings about various family members, particularly my mother. The people who read my blog (I think I am down to about 7 readers now) are my friends. Most I knew before I had this blog; a couple I have gotten to know because of my writing. None of them were my family. I liked it that way. I felt free to express myself. Now that I have been outed by my sister, I can't help but think that I am going to be tempted to edit everything I want to say--even if it is something trivial. As a result, I have things that I want to say, but I haven't written them down.

When she told me she found my blog, I told her that while I chose to put it on the internet for others to see, my name was not on it and I expect her to not share this blog with any member of the family. She has agreed to not say anything. I do feel bad that I was initially angry with her for finding my blog. She wasn't actually looking for it--I accidently put the web address on something that she saw.

I know that I ultimately shouldn't care. I write the truth and most of what I have written about my mother I have said to her face. But I know it would be more upsetting to her to see it in print.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Cannot Believe I Forgot To Do This!

All of this working I have been doing caused me to miss a MAJOR milestone. You guessed it--my second anniversary of writing this blog occurred in June and I didn't even notice. I'm also coming up on my 200th post. I will be expecting a party.

I recently realized that I have made a major error in childrearing. I forgot that I am suppposed to be potty training Genna. I came to this realization when we were in Indiana and some friends of ours from Cincinnati came to visit. Abby is two months younger than Genna and was going to the bathroom on her own and doing the job correctly. She even pooped. Without being prodded. Without being reminded every 10 minutes to go. She was wearing panties--not even a pull-up. Needless to say, I felt like such a loser. I can't believe I forget to get started doing this! It's not like I love chasing her around the house when it is time to change her diapers. I would love nothing more than to not spend $50/month on diapers and the $100 on wipes (Ok, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but we use a lot of wipes.)

Potty training was relatively easy to do with Ella because I was home with her full-time and she was going through her "less is more" phase of nakedness. I'm not sure how potty-training will happen consistently when I'm working the hours that I work. Does daycare help out with that? I don't even know! I'm sure they do, but I will probably have to give them about 7 changes of clothing. I have a hard enough time remembering to bring her bib and diapers into school when I am supposed to. I am the Mom they have to write notes in bold red Sharpee Marker to remind me to bring things . Three times. Now they have gotten smarter and start writing me notes in Sharpee Marker about two weeks before Genna actually needs it.

I'll be able to handle the weekends--it's daycare I am not sure about. Anyone have any advice? How do I keep things consistent? I used to say that I would pay $20 for Ella to teach Genna when the time came. Would that be bad?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Going Home

I have been spending the last few weeks mentally preparing myself for the trip home we are taking today. The trip to Indiana itself is no picnic, but we are splitting it up and staying in a hotel tonight. Genna is just not much of a traveller and tends to make long trips sheer hell with her screaming and kicking of seats. We are renting a minivan in order to give all of us room to stretch out. We won't hear a peep out of Ella, unless she wants snacks, because she'll be in the third row with the DVD player and a lifetime supply of princess and fairy-themed movies. I'll be in the middle row with Genna trying to read my book and ignoring the fact that she is drawing on the windows, the upholstery and herself with washable markers. When she gets bored with that, I'll let her start eating Play-Doh. When that looses its appeal, I'll have to actually entertain her.

We had initially planned to fly, but the thought of the guaranteed delays and probable cancellations with two children and a cranky husband made me think that it would probably take just as long to do the driving ourselves. I started to imagine my last trip home to see Mom in February and couldn't imagine how I would cope with an experience like that again, much less with the girls and Herr. While I have very little patience on a good day, my husband's patience has disappeared over the years at the same pace as his hair. He's bald.

We are spending the first part of the trip visiting my mother. I have been talking to Mom twice a week for months, and every single time, she has asked me what the travel plans are. Yesterday, she called me twice while I was at work and left voice mails on my cell phone:

"I'm just calling to see if you guys are on the road. I can't wait to see you, but I really want to see the babies. I'm so excited."

I called her back the first time to remind her AGAIN that we were not leaving until Thursday. It was clearly news to her. I didn't bother to call her back when she called the second time a few hours later and left a nearly identical message. I told my friend Lorrie that I am probably going to end up taking whatever alcohol my mother is drinking these days and bring it back to her place to drink myself. If it turns out that this isn't an alcohol issue, then my sister and I obviously have a larger issue on our hands.

Based on her phone calls from yesterday, it is pretty clear that she has also forgotten my little chat with her about NOT overdoing it when we get there (ie: letting the girls crawl all over her, deciding to cook a seven-course meal, or starting to clean the apartment that hasn't been touched since I visited in February.) This always happens. Even though our visits will be in small two-hour increments, I guarantee that she will be so exhausted on Saturday, that she will sleep all day. There won't be anyplace for the girls to play because my mom's closet of an apartment is full of landmines like scissors, lighters, medications and other sharp and poisonous things. Last year she "childproofed" her apartment with hilarious results.

The trip won't be stressful the entire time--when we aren't cleaning Mom's apartment or attempting to have a serious discussion about her finances or the need to move into an assisted living situation,we will visit friends and stay with friends of mine who have older kids whom the girls adore. We'll go to Lake Michigan. We'll go to Redamaks (every night if Herr has his way.)

We'll head to Bloomington on Tuesday and stay the remainder of the week with Herr's mom. It will be waaaaaay different. I won't have to worry about the girls' safety, there will be no need to find things to do to entertain the girls for hours on end, and we'll probably get to have a date night because Grandma will babysit. And even though I will ultimately have a good time, I know that, deep down, I am going to be angry that I can't control my mother's fate, and sad that she has gotten as bad as she has. And she won't let us help her.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Birds and the Bees

After working out Saturday evening, I was in my room getting ready to take a shower. Ella came in to visit (she had been tucked into bed for awhile, but decided to see me when I had come back.) I didn't mind until she started to ask me all kinds of questions.

"Hey Mommy, why is your belly all sqwobbly?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's all kinda big and SQWOBBLY."

"Oh, that's because I gave birth to you and Genna."


"You two were in my belly before you were born." There wasn't much point in explaining that, in addition to giving birth twice, my belly had also become enlarged from about 10 years of carbs and beer. She wouldn't understand.

"Ohhhhh. I forgot I used to be a baby in your belly. Was I dirty when I was born?"

"A little, but the nurses cleaned you up and Daddy got to hold you and then I held you. You were nice and clean then."

"What about Genna? I'll bet she was REALLY dirty."

"She was, but the nurses cleaned her up too."

By this point, I could just see the wheels moving in her head.

"When can I have a baby in my belly?"

"Not for awhile. You have to be a grown-up for that."

"Oh. Maybe Genna could go into my belly and be my baby."

"Honey, she is going to be way too big to be your baby. Besides, she's your sister."

"What about Ava? She could go into my belly and be my baby."

"Honey, Ava is going to be too big as well. She's 6 months younger than Genna. Besides, you have a long time to worry about having a baby."

"But MOMMY--WHERE am I going to FIND a baby to be in my belly?!?!?!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It Came out of Nowhere

Ella was talking about her day at school yesterday. I'll be honest--she is quite verbose, so it can take quite awhile to get to the meat of her stories. I have been known to drift off into space for vast stretches of time until she pulls on my arm and tells me to pay attention. At any rate, she was babbling on about her day when she suddenly said, "And I fell on my tookas at school, but I'm OK."

"What did you just say?"

"I fell on my tookas, Mommy."

"Who taught you that word, Ella?"

"Miss Aimee at school."

And that is when I started to cry. You see, my dad used to say the word "tookas" instead of "butt" when I was a kid. While I was mortified to hear him say it in front of my friends, I would give anything to hear him say it now. I can't believe a silly word reminded me of how much I have missed my dad since he died six years ago. He would have been thrilled to hear Ella say it.

God, I miss him.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

April with Hausfrau--a Pictoral Review

The month of April FLEW by and now we are into May. So much happened! When we haven't been working, Herr and I have been busy working in our yard. We had hired a landscaper to do our backyard a few weeks ago, but he never showed up and couldn't remember who we are, and cashed our check anyway. After fighting to get the money back, we are now doing it on our own, which is fine, just not part of the plan.

Our month hasn't been all bad--not by a long shot! Our friends came to visit from Maine and we did some of this:

These, my friends, are Mojitos--made by our friend Joe. And yes it was 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend we went camping in Cook Forest up in Clarion County, PA. We met up with our Pittsburgh friends and our friends from New Jersey and had a blast.

There is a stocked pond near our cabins where children are allowed to fish. The girls had so much fun fighting over sharing a fishing pole and trying to get a fish. Genna had a blast exploring with her friend Ava too.

While the guys played poker at the "Fart Shack" (the cabin designated for such activities) we girls and kids played cut-throat Chinese Jump Rope, which I haven't done since 4th Grade. So much fun.

This weekend was spent working on our yard since the landscapers will not be coming. It will be slow going, but we are making progress.

The next couple of weeks will be pretty busy as my MIL will be coming this week (on Herr's birthday) and I have my aunt and uncle from Alaska visiting next week. Before you know it, Memorial Day Weekend will be here!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hausfrau's Interview Tips

Recently, I wrote a post highlighting some do's and don'ts with regard to resume writing. I would be quite irresponsible if I didn't also give some advice concerning telephone interviews. On the surface, a telephone interview is easier than a formal face-to-face meeting with a hiring manager. You need not shower for a telephone interview, and you may do the interview from the comfort of your favorite chair. That's where the simplicity ends.

Telephone screens are difficult for the candidate for one huge reason--the candidate can't see the face of the interviewer. Most people who do face-to-face interviews with me have a vague idea of how the interview is going because of the expressions on my face. Let's put it this way: when I was a kid, my mother once slapped me in the face when I was walking past her down the hall. When I started crying and told her I hadn't said anything, she told me, "You didn't need to. It was the look on your face that I was slapping off." This explains why I suck at poker.

When a face-to-face interview is going well, I am like the candidate's long-lost cousin. When it isn't going well, I first start to squint my eyes with my mouth slightly open (hopefully not drooling) and then I start to really take my time writing notes and thinking of questions to ask. This is because I have made my decision within the first 30 seconds of meeting the candidate and I am trying to fill some time instead of having them leave after 4 minutes.

Because a telephone interview can be tricky, I do try to make the person comfortable by engaging them in more chit-chat than I normally would in a face-to-face. This is important because there is a greater risk of something unexpected happening like a crying baby, a ringing doorbell or a barking dog. I don't want candidates freaking out over things they can't control. That said, there are a few things that I want to make sure candidates are/aren't doing during the telephone interview.

1. Please don't open up a can of soda and take a huge gulp before answering a question. It's gross and all I can do is imagine how soon the belch will arrive. Then I will get the idea in my head that it isn't a soda, but that it is actually a beer. Then I will be bitter that you are drinking a beer and I'm not. By that time, I will have forgotten what the question was because I will be too busy trying to figure out what kind of beer you drink.

2. Did you know that chewing gum sounds MUCH LOUDER over the phone? Especially when it makes those neat little snapping noises.

3. Turn down the television. Hearing the Magnum PI theme music will only irritate me that I am having to work while you get to be home watching WGN.

4. Stop typing on your keyboard! How in the hell can you concentrate on the questions I'm asking you? Am I that boring? Are you trying to find the answer to, "So tell me about the profitability of your branch in 2006" on Google?

5. Can you please address your nicotine habit AFTER our discussion? Don't you realize I can hear the lighter ignite, and the exhaling?

6. Don't go near a flushing toilet in your house when we are talking on the phone. I will think it is you and will end the call immediately. Only my friends may pee when we talk on the phone.

7. Be on your toes and don't let your guard down for one minute. By being too comfortable in your own home to do a telephone inteview, you run the risk of saying something stupid. And I will be there to hear it. If it's really good, I will write it in quotes and email it to my colleagues. Some recent gems include:

"Well, my boss was a Jew. But he was cool. You know, *laugh* for a Jew." (When asked about his sales goals for his office)

"Damn, I can't remember." (when asked about her financials)

"If you guys end up hiring me, I've got a referral for you. She's really young and pretty. Who couldn't use a pretty blond?"

"Well, I didn't put down that I worked at XYZ Company on my resume because it is a real shit hole."

Call me a Pollyanna, but I would like to think that none of those things would have been said in a face-to-face interview.

I hope this advice will help you to succeed on your next telephone interview!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hausfrau Update

First off--HAPPY EASTER!!!

It's been awhile since I have blogged. Work and life have severely restricted my time and ability to write and read some of my favorite blogs. It hasn't all been bad though. I think everyone needs an occasional break. Since we are having a very laid-back Easter with just the four of us, I have time to write!

The last few weeks have been full of working on the house and doing yard work. One of the projects was to "create a laundry room." I was quite spoiled in Cincinnati with the craziest laundry room in the world. It was about 20 feet in length and 7 or 8 feet wide with a bathroom. The house we bought here literally had a closet for a laundry room. There was no place to fold clothes and our washer and dryer were too large to be in the closet with the doors closed so we removed the doors. Here is what it looked like when we moved in:

To the left of where our dog is standing in the picture is a door that leads to a formal living room. The formal living room has been used ONCE since we have lived here and it already has another entrance, so I suggested that we wall up the back entrance and that would create room for counters and overhead cabinets. After some healthy debate (I won), this is the end results of our work:

The counter is where the doorway used to be. I am thrilled that I now have a place to fold clothes as opposed to previously weighing the options of finding a surface in the house with the least amount of dog hair. It's the little things, people!

Now we are anxiously awaiting to work outside. We have so much to do, but we tend to be impatient. It's going to be a long summer.

It hasn't been all work though. Last Sunday was my birthday and I was lucky enough to have one of my oldest friends fly in from Kentucky to spend it with me. We spent Friday getting pedicures and exploring Bethlehem. We went to Philadelphia on Saturday and met up with my friend Lisa for a day of shopping and exploring. We went to my usual favorites like Daffy's and discovered some cool new places like Smak Parlour which has all handmade clothes. We ate dinner at a fantastic restaurant named Fork. However, we made our most important discovery, which was Brown Betty Dessert Parlour which has THE BEST CUPCAKES IN ALL THE LAND!!!! I tried Lori's Pineapple Poundcake Cupcake and made a pig of myself with my chocolate cupcake. The cakes and cookies on display were absolutely incredible. I hope this place is around for a long time. Sunday morning Lori and I walked over to Jones, which is a fantastic place to have brunch. Their monkey bread is out of this world. So are the mimosas!

When I came home on Sunday afternoon, Herr surprised me with some great gifts. First of all, he gave me this dvd. He also got me the Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins cd which is great because I haven't been able to get their music out of my head since I heard it a few weeks ago for the first time. Jenny Lewis has the kind of voice that I always thought I had when I sing in the shower. Trust me, I don't.

The next few weeks are going to busy and extremely fun. My best friend June is coming to visit this Friday. By herself. It is going to be fun, but very strange to not have a house full of five children under the age of five. The following weekend my friends Jen and Joe are coming from Maine, at which point we will have a house full alcoholic beverages and seven kids. The week after that we are going to stay in some cabins at Cook Forest in Clarion County, PA. This has always been an annual weekend with our friends, but we stopped going after Ella's first birthday. We are so excited to come back and join our friends. Before you know it, it will be summer!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How Bored I Am (Sung to the music of How Dry I Am)

I'm watching "The Wedding Planner" this evening. You guessed it--Herr's out of town for one of his "conferences." At least that's the excuse I'm using. Truth be told, this is the ELEVENTH time I watched this movie. It's a guilty pleasure. Sue me.

In other news, Ella is continuing to draw huge breasts on her stick figure drawings. She has also added some glasses.

It's been a slow news week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ella's Artistic Endeavors

The girls' school is a sweatshop of arts and crafts production. Not a day goes by that we don't pick up the children and are bogged down by the tons of construction paper, staples, glitter, glue, marker and whatnots. Frankly, I'm fine with it because it is one less mess I have to deal with at home. Typically, the artwork is quite cute. The teachers have started to attach direct quotes from the children when they create their masterpieces and attach them to the art when completed. As one would expect, any direct quote from a four-year-old can be funny.

Last week was no different in terms of the volume of artwork sent home. One of the advantages of having so much of this is that I can be quite choosy when it comes to picking out pieces to save. This, for example, is clearly not one of Ella's best efforts. Methinks she was hurrying with this project so that she could go over to "dramatic play" and engage in some dress-up. The quote on this one is, "I made a school bus. It don't need windows because I like school buses."

On Friday, I walked into Ella's class to pick her up. She asked me to wait because she wanted to finish drawing her mermaid pictures. I agreed and gathered her bedding and lunchbox and came back to her finishing up some small details on the picture. I noticed that something looked REALLY odd about the picture so I asked her what was up with the mermaids. She said, "This is a mermaid. She has hair and hands and mermaid breasts." For added emphasis, Ella pretended to twirl her nipples. Note: I do NOT know where my daughter came up with that move unless Ariel does it in the movie.

Mermaid Breasts.

The teachers started laughing and ran to tell some of the other teachers what Ella had done. Then she promptly wrote Ella's quote and taped it to the picture.

Then Ella asked if she could have breasts to help her swim in the ocean like a mermaid. Mind you, we're still at daycare. I told her that if she is anything like me, she will remain an A Cup through college and will go through a growth spurt in her 30's.

I think it is safe to say that this little gem is a keeper. Can't wait to see what comes home this week.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Taking the "PAL" Out of Principal

When I was a kid, the principal at my elementary school was Mr. Howes. He was a kindly balding man who was compassionate but firm, friendly and kind. He also didn't put up with much shit and had no problems using the paddle (they did that in the mid-70's, remember?!) Everyone loved Mr. Howes. Everyone believed that he wanted his school to be the best in my town. I am sure we all put him up on a pedestal, and he never let us down. I wish I could say the same for the principal at the middle school my children will be attending in a few years. It seems that the principal was busted for selling meth on Tuesday night. At school.

I am angry on so many levels. First of all, I am pissed that my tax dollars are paying the salary of a man who makes $97,000 a year while maintaining a side business selling meth. I am pissed that he showed such incredibly poor judgement by doing this activity at the school. As parents, we entrust our schools to keep our children safe and help them to thrive in an educational environment that is free of undesirable elements. I am amazed that the staff is so free in saying that they thought something was wrong with him, or witnessed his downward spiral, yet no one ever reported it--not even to the DARE representative who is based at that school. Frankly, their statements are only making me less comfortable in sending my kids there when the time comes.

I am utterly dismayed that when the police arrested him, they found him naked in his office, watching porn. While the whole act of watching porn on one's computer at work is nothing new, doing it naked is quite a bold move. I can't get on to some of my favorite sites at lunchtime to do internet shopping, but he can watch porn.

It is so hard for me to not judge this man. I am sure he is a good man who got caught up in a lot of bad shit. I can't help but think of the children and families he has helped over the years and how betrayed they must feel. Unfortunately, I am sure this case will only get worse. The press felt the need to report that he was watching gay porn as opposed to just porn, so I am sure it will be a matter of time before some parent reports an "inappropriate" relationship with his or her child.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that no one should be placed on a pedestal.

UPDATE** Now the Bethlehem School Board has hired an unnamed law firm to investigate how John Acerra started down this path of selling meth. The article in this morning's paper says that the law firm will take as long as necessary to get those answers. Fantastic. Now the school board will be wasting EVEN MORE taxpayer dollars. Last I checked, this is the Police Department's job. Frankly, I don't care about the whys and the hows. I just care about the simple fact that it happened. We need to throw the book at him, have him rot in prison and move on. We don't need anymore irrelevant crap uncovered so that more comedians like Jay Leno can make this ordeal the butt of their jokes. Acerra just needs to go away.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When Worlds Collide

Visiting my mother is always a trip for one reason or another. Sometimes it's a trip because my mom is literally on one. This time, she was recovering from a surgery she had the previous week. The surgeon had guaranteed that she would be pain-free after two days. I stopped by nine days after the surgery and she was crouched in pain. Instead of stalking the surgeon to get some answers as to why she is not feeling better, she put together her own pain management plan by alternating between oxycontin and gin. Two years ago, I would have been crying and screaming at her for being so stupid. Now, I just take her car keys, dilute her gin with tap water and go on with the visit.

We spent the morning visiting and talking about family. We talked about some major family gossip that is so scandalous that it cannot be written on a public site. We talked about my sister and her two sons and how Mom worries about them now that Haus Sis is divorced and on her own. We talked about the girls and Herr, etc. In the middle of all of this discussion, she suddenly piped in with, "I would really like to meet your birthsister."

I feel it is only fair to back up a bit. Awhile back I wrote about the fact that my birth sister, "L" and I found each other a couple of years ago. At the time, I had decided not to tell my mom about it. Had I found L five years earlier when my Dad was still alive, they would have been the first people I called. My parents were so helpful in trying to find my birth family when I was younger. With Dad gone and my mother in such poor health, I didn't want her to think that I was in the process of setting up a replacement family to take over once she died. I did tell Haus Sis and swore her to secrecy since keeping her mouth shut is not one of her strong suits. And while L has met some of my friends, I have not made it public to my family that L exists and is in my life.

And yet, my mother found out. Around Christmas, Mom and I were on the phone and we got on the topic of secrets. I told her that I had a secret to tell her and that I felt really bad that I had been keeping it from her for so long. She said, "Jesus Christ. Are you going to finally tell me that you've reunited with your birthsister and that you two see each other when you come home?"

Haus Sis swears she didn't say a word, and I think I believe her. My mother, of course, has NEVER given up a source. Ever.

And so my mother wanted to meet L. It so happened that L and I had plans to meet for dinner that evening anyway, so I called her and asked her to stop by my Mom's apartment before we went out. She agreed, and met my mom a few hours later. Fortunately, Mom was only on her second martini, so she was fairly well-behaved and didn't share the story about how she and Dad had me tested for retardation when I was first adopted. She kept the stories of how horrible I was growing up to a minimum. After about 30 minutes of shooting the breeze, L and I left because I knew Mom was really tired. At dinner, L and I talked about how interesting the meeting was. L admitted that she was somewhat jealous that I can tell my family about her but she cannot. She also admitted that she had been initially scared to meet my mom, but that it had turned out well. It was at that moment that I felt really bad for not thinking about how weird it really was for L to meet my Mom.

The next day, Mom was babbling on and on about more family gossip while I was cleaning her bathroom. From the living room I heard, "By the way, your sister's hair is gorgeous."

I said, "What, did Haus Sis get her hair done? It is about damn time since she has had the same stupid style for more than 20 years."

Mom said, "No, Dumbass--your SISTER. L."

"Thanks for calling me a Dumbass, Mom. I guess I am not used to thinking about the fact that I have more than one sister."

Mom said, "L is absolutely beautiful. Are you two SURE that you two are sisters?"

"Thank you for alluding that I am a troll, Mom. Yes, we are sure we are sisters. It's not clear that we have the same father, so at the very least we are half sisters."

"I didn't mean to imply that you are ugly, Honey. It's just that L's features are so beautiful and different than yours. She just doesn't look like you is all. I can't wait to call your Aunt K and tell her that I have another daughter in the family."

"But Mom, that's just it--she's NOT your daughter."

"I know, but I really liked her. She would fit into our family quite well. And her features are simply stunning, don't you think? I mean, she REALLY is beautiful."

Can't you just smell the crazy?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Two or Northwest Airlines Sucks Ass

When I found a ticket to fly home for $144.00 recently, I was pretty excited. My Mom had surgery the week I went to Vegas, and I wanted to get home the week after to help her out. I find myself really pinching pennies to go home because I know that I will spend that time cleaning a brown/red layer of cigarette smoke off of every surface in my mother's apartment and running her around town to doctors or to get booze. It's horrible for me to say that I would rather spend more money to go somewhere else most of the time. I love my mother dearly, but visiting her makes me incredibly sad for too many reasons to print. At any rate, I found a cheap ticket and got a good deal on a rental car. For less than $250, I would get to go home.

I showed up at the airport on Thursday afternoon after working a couple of hours at the office. I was to fly from Philadelphia to Detroit with a brief layover and then move on to Chicago Midway. All told the trip would be less than 6 hours, and that included an hour drive from Midway to LaPorte. I guess now would be a good time to admit that I despise flying. I am terrified to do it, despite the fact that I purposely took two jobs in the past that required a ton of travel. It was my hope that those jobs would force me to not be scared shitless afraid of flying. It didn't work. Just before the flight, I called my best friend and had the exact same conversation we have had in the past when I am going to fly:

"Hey June. Do you remember what you're supposed to do if I crash on this flight?"

"Yeah--where do you keep it again?"

"Bottom drawer."

"Oh yeah--just so you know. Mine is in my craft basket."


After that call was placed, I sat and stewed until boarding time.

I wasn't really upset when the plane didn't arrive on time. I felt it was delaying the inevitable and I was really enjoying my Vanity Fair. I didn't want to die before finishing it. When it finally showed up 30 minutes later, I was the only person who didn't appear outwardly annoyed. I sighed, put my sweating hands together and said a quick prayer to God, Allah, and Oprah and boarded.

The 757 was completely full and took forever to load. Once we were settled in, I got my magazine out and pretended to read. For a really long time. After about 20 minutes, the captain got on the intercom:

"Good evening, passengers. We, uh, have a broken instrument, an altimeter, that needs to be replaced. A plane like this has three of them and we can't take off if one is broken. We are finding out right now if we have the means to fix it. I'll give you an update just as soon as we know something."

Forty-five minutes later, the pilot got back on the intercom and said that the part would be arriving in 15 minutes and that we would get going.

Thirty minutes later, a flight attendant got on the intercom and said that those of us who were hoping to catch our connecting flights in Detroit would probably miss them and that we should probably get off the plane, where there would be gate agents to help us make alternate arrangements. About 1/3 to 1/2 of us got off the plane and rushed the counter. The two gate agents could not have been more irritated with the current situation and made sure that their faces showed it. Since I was pretty far back on the plane, I was automatically pretty far back in the line. We all tried to make the best of it by joking around and telling our sob stories about how we were trying to get where we were going.

When the line didn't move an inch in 30 minutes, someone got the idea to call the customer service line and make alternate arrangements that way. About ten of us did it all at once. After all of us had been on the line for 15 minutes, each and every one of us was mysteriously disconnected while we were on hold. When we all called again, the same thing happened. I was officially pissed. After an HOUR in line, the female gate agent told us that the plane was finally leaving and that we should get back on the plane. When several of us yelled, "What are we supposed to do if we've missed our connection?!" the gate agent replied, "Well, we don't have no flights leavin' Philadelphia anyways tonight. You're better off goin' to Detroit anyways."

So back on the plane I went. The guys who had been sitting in my row were nice enough to keep my seat open. Once we all got back on the plane, I opened up my magazine and pretended to read again. For a long time. The Captain got BACK ON THE INTERCOM and said he was delayed AGAIN and would leave the gate as soon as he could.

After another 20 minutes, we finally left the gate and took off. I was tired, irritated, hungry and really thirsty. When the flights attendants came by with the beverage cart, they made an announcement that they were out of the complimentary snacks, but for $3 we could buy a Barbie-sized bag of trail mix. Apparently they had quite the little fiesta while we were in line in the airport. The guy next to me kept wanting to buy me a beer, but I knew that if I drank one, I wouldn't stop.

We arrived in Detroit a little before 10PM and were told to go to another gate and the agents there would help us. At this point, I was ready to just rent a car from Detroit and drive home. It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive, and I was perfectly willing to do it. I stood in line for another hour, hoping that they would have car rental vouchers. When I finally got to the front of the line and told the gate agent what I wanted to do, she said she didn't have any car rental vouchers, but that there was one more seat left on the 9AM flight to Midway the next morning. I took it, but I had it in my head that I would be getting a rental car after leaving the counter. She gave me a hotel voucher, a dinner voucher, a breakfast voucher, and a coupon for a discounted ticket I could use the next time I flew with NWA. I told her she could keep that.

I ran to the first level of the airport to go to the Avis desk, except there wasn't one. Instead I had to pick up a phone.

"Hi. I have a reservation to pick up a car at Chicago Midway tonight, but I'm not going to make it. Could I get a car here instead?"

"Oh, I don't do that."

"Then why am I talking to you? Who do I call?"

"You need to call reservations."

So I called reservations. I spoke to a nice young man who understood my dilemna and told me it would be no problem to change my reservation and that it would just be a little bit more than the $102 rate I originally had.

"OK, how much is it?'

"Um, it's going to be $412."

"FIRST OF ALL, DO NOT tell a customer that the rate is going to SLIGHTLY change when it is, in fact tripling in cost. Forget it."

I called Herr, practically in tears. He told me to just go to the hotel and get a good night's sleep. When I got to the Day's Inn shuttle, there were about 30 people from my flight trying to get on. After it was full, there were still a lot of people who needed a ride. The driver said he would be back in about 45 minutes. I took a cab.

When I got the the Days Inn, I handed the hotel voucher to the lady behind the counter, at which point she said,

"I'm sorry, but we don't have any rooms left."

At that point, my head exploded. I am quite impressed that I was very calm when I told her that a hotel should NOT give vouchers to airlines to give out to stranded passengers if they don't have the rooms to give. I told her that I wasn't going back to the airport and that she was going to have to find a room for me. While I glared at her, the phone rang, and she was informed that a quickie had just left and that there was suddenly a room available. Actually, I don't know if it was a quickie or not. All I know is that one minute there wasn't a room and the next minute there was. Draw your own conclusions. The lady behind the counter told me that they would need about a half hour to clean the room and that I should use my meal voucher in the restaurant/bar.

I was quite grateful that this hotel had a restaurant. I don't think I have ever been to a Days Inn that had one. It was totally what you would expect from a restaurant that has a specials board featuring "Chicken Casadillas." To my surprise, the elderly man who had been in line with me in Detroit was sitting at the bar with 3 martinis lined up in a row. He saw me and shouted, "Come here, Honey--I'm buying you a beer!" So I sat next to him, had a beer and ate a grilled cheese sandwich. And it was lovely. Life is always better after eating a grilled cheese. After I finished, I went to my room. I didn't care that the carpet hadn't been vacuumed since the Regan administration. And for people who know how uptight I am about hotel rooms, that should surprise you. I called Herr back to tell him that I had a room and that he should call me the next morning super early so that I could get to the airport.

At 5:15 AM, my cell phone rang. It was Herr, telling me that NWA had just called and that my flight to Midway was cancelled due to unscheduled maintenance and that the soonest they could get me to Midway was Saturday afternoon. I told him that I had no choice but to drive from Detroit and I asked him to reserve a car for me online. It turned out that reserving the car online was more than $150 cheaper than what the Jackass had quoted on the phone the night before. I took a shower, ate some breakfast and headed to Avis.

Once I got to Avis, I had no problem getting my car. While I was sitting in the car looking for I-94 on the map of Detroit, I saw a car quickly coming toward me. You guessed it--an Avis employee hit my car with another rental car. After an accident report was filled out and the poor kid probably got fired the second I left I was on my way. Unfortunately, what should have been a 2 1/2 hour drive was more like a 3 1/2 hour drive because the windshield wipers weren't working properly and I had to keep pulling over to clean the windows. Fortunately, LaPorte is on Central Time, so I felt like I gained an hour when I crossed the Michigan border into Indiana. After all of that, I was finally home.

I guess it should come as no surpise to anyone reading this post that Herr called me at 7:15 AM Sunday morning to tell me that, you guess it, NWA had called to say that my flight was cancelled due to unscheduled maintenance and that they had booked me on a Delta flight that went to Atlanta and then I would catch a flight to Philadelphia. And it was leaving earlier than my original flight. While I was freaked out that I had to haul major ass on I-90 to get to the airport on time, I was relieved that I was on a completely different airline. There was no way that lightening could strike to that degree again. And it didn't. My flights home were uneventful. The best part was that I had my choice of a full size bag of Sun Chips, a granola bar, cookies, or crackers for a snack. And I didn't have to pay for them. Actually, the best part was the simple fact that I got home.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hausfraus in Vegas

Herr and I returned from Las Vegas late Sunday afternoon well-rested and rich exhausted and reeking of stale cigar smoke. It was extremely difficult getting up this morning and back into the Monday-Friday grind today, but it was completely worth it. We had a blast.

We stayed at the Bellagio and had a great view of the strip, as you can see from the photo above. We also had a good view of the Bellagio fountains. The hotel was wonderful in almost every possible way. The only thing negative I can say about the place is that it is too.damn.big. It literally took 20 minutes to go from our room to the street in order to get anywhere.

Our friends Frank and Laura didn't get in until Friday afternoon, so Herr and I amused ourselves for the first 24 hours. In typical fashion (for us), we found the first outdoor bar we could find (next door at Caesar's Palace) and enjoyed some beers in the 65 degree weather. Then we decided to grab a late lunch at Mesa Grill, which was better than I expected. We had a goat cheese fundida that was so good that I wanted to lick the skillet. Not wanting to pass out at 5PM because of the time change, we took naps and got up in the early evening. That evening, we went to Paris to check out the Eiffel Tower and the casino. While I was cashing out the $2.50 I won in the nickel slots, a guy came up to Herr and asked him if we wanted free tickets to see The Producers that night. It turned out it was a media showing that night as opening night was going to be the next evening. The tickets included passes to an after party. The show started in 15 minutes, so we hurried in as I didn't want to keep David Hasselhoff waiting. That's right-- David Hasselhoff was starring in it. I wasn't passing this up!

I learned a couple of important lessons that evening. The first lesson was that a few men still actually have (and wear) their Knight Rider leather jackets, purchased in the height of the show's popularity in 1984. The second lesson was that one needs to wear their absolute best clothes at all times in Las Vegas, even if it's just to go get some coffee or chase the housekeeper down for some extra towels. One never knows when one may be given tickets to what may be the premier event for all of Las Vegas society. That way, one won't feel EXTREMELY out of place and uncomfortable in one's otherwise comfy capri pants and flip flops while mingling with the Las Vegas media and locals who are dressed to the fucking nines. Despite my discomfort for feeling like I was born into the Clampett family, the show was fantastic. Hoff was extremely funny, AAAAANNNNNDDD Mel Brooks was two rows in front of us. Upon leaving the show, we opted to go back to our hotel and bag the after party since we just weren't dressed to meet David. Call me a fool for missing out on an opportunity. I just couldn't do it.

Friday night, Frank, Laura, Herr and I went to Rosemary's for dinner, which is out in the Las Vegas suburbs. Go there. Wow. Wow. Wow. We went there based on the recommendation of some friends who ate there a few weeks ago. The food was spectacular and the service was truly amazing. You know you're going to experience good service when you sit down at a table and the server trades your friend's white napkin for a black one so that her black outfit won't get white lint on it. I'm just sayin'. Frank is a chef by trade, so when he's really happy with a meal, I know that it's even better than I thought. Try the scallops. And the chestnut soup.***UPDATE: Rosemary's Restaurant called me on Tuesday morning on my cell phone to ask me if we enjoyed dinner on Friday night. That is a first!!!

The rest of the weekend was spent walking up and down the strip A LOT, window shopping, drinking, eating, people watching, walking down Fremont Street and playing nickel slots. I am not a gambler, but I managed to win $102 on nickel slots at the Alladin on Saturday morning. My winnings allowed me to purchase these in a black patent leather due to my feet feeling a little sore from the shoes I wore Friday night. My new shoes came along with me to Olives on Saturday evening. We sat out on the deck and watched the fountains go off every few minutes, which was quite fun. The food was good, but our server was a disaster.

All in all, Vegas was a great getaway for a few days. We didn't spend our kids' college funds on the blackjack tables, although we did pay $6 per for bottled water. We got to enjoy some warm weather while it was 10 degrees in Bethlehem, we got to eat some great food, and we got to spend time with good friends we just don't get to see enough. That's pretty damn great if you ask me.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Two Years Old!!!

Genna turned two on Saturday. While some of the days have dragged, it has been a whirlwind two years. Since Genna was born, we have lived in three different houses in three states. Herr has gone to work for one company, got laid off from said company a mere 12 months later, and has gone back to his old company. I've gone from being a SAHM to a NSAHM (a Never Stay at Home Mom) to a Mom working part time outside of the home. Ella has grown by leaps and bounds. Genna has gone from the potted plant stage to a kid who never sits still, speaks her mind (quite loudly)and loves a good tickle.

We had a small party for Genna which was sort of nice. Unfortunately, my neighbor came to the party and made my friend so uncomfortable and upset that she left. It wasn't until Herr, his mother and I started to compare notes with regard to the neighbor that we discovered how truly awful she was. Herr and I felt horrible that we didn't step in and say something. That won't happen again. While I won't go into the sordid details in this post, let's just say that this woman completely babies her child and made backhanded accusatory comments about my friend's kids. The woman completely lacks the ability to self-edit. We've had some small issues with these neighbors, but this was the icing on the cake.

Fortunately, Genna and the other kids were much too young to sense the undercurrent of tension. As far as Genna was concerned, she got to eat a Cookie Monster birthday cake, open presents and run around like a loon. That's good stuff people.

Herr and I are heading to Vegas for a long weekend on Thursday. We are looking forward to hanging out with our friends Frank and Laura who live in Seattle. We are lucky enough to see Laura fairly frequently because she travels to New York for buying trips. Unfortuntately, Frank never goes on those trips. It will be fun to catch up, eat, drink and people watch. It will also be great to hear from Laura what will be in style over the next couple of seasons. I do, however, have some bad news: Pleated pants are coming back. I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you.

In the few hours that I am NOT spending the kid's college funds on the slot machines or buying shoes this weekend, I will finish the book I am reading for a new bookclub I have joined. Well, I'll try.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's Fashion Week!

It has been a Fashion Week here to beat the band at Hausfrau Haus. The boldness of Ella's creations have reached new heights in her quest to achieve the perfect Oililly meets Goodwill look. I think she has succeeded:
Ella's collection proves that clothes know no season. This little stunner shows such versatility. She is able to be a "girl on the go" and show up to Pre-K, ready to learn about the penguins in the arctic. She'll stay warm when she goes outside for recess, thanks in large part to the high quality tights with the cute little horses on them. In a flash, she can go from coed to party girl at McDonald's simply by removing the sweater.

When Ella first started this collection, she wanted to not only create ensembles that are fun for her to wear, but her sister as well. She took charge of putting together a collection for toddlers like Genna. And while she has also offered to design a collection for her parents, they have politely declined.

Ella also has taken the sleepwear industry by storm. Ella has completely done away with the "less is more philosophy" from the Fall 2006 collection. Why NOT wear two and sometimes three nightgowns together with some pajama pants?! Credit for the pajama pant inspiration is given to Herr due to his insistence that Ella keep her legs warm in bed. Top this little number off with a shimmery pink jacket, and it's off to slumberland! Sleepwear industry insiders are predicting double-digit increases this year!

While Herr and I frequently laugh at Ella's get-ups, I am secretly so proud that she has this quirky fashion sense. She doesn't have any of the hangups that most girls have--that will come, I'm sure. I hope that teenager Ella is going to be like Molly Ringwald in a "Pretty in Pink" sort of way and not like Bai Ling, who provides so much material for those Fug Girls.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hausfrau's Resume Tips

Fifty percent of my time at work is spent reading resumes. Over the course of 12 years in Human Resources, I have learned a thing or two about resume writing. I've even conducted workshops. After reading through a pile of truly shitty astonishing resumes today, I felt compelled to note just a couple of things that should NOT be on a resume. Maybe a few of you are looking to update your resumes. Perhaps this will help you. What can I say--I'm a giver.

1. NEVER list hobbies or interests on your resume. Unfortunately, no one in HR cares that you sing in a barbershop quartet on the weekends. No one in HR cares that you volunteer at a soup kitchen. No one in HR cares that your interests are, "hiking, reading and spending time with family." People in HR want to be able to read a resume to see if the candidate's skill set is a match. They have jobs to fill and they don't have time to sift through a massive list of hobbies that are used as filler on a resume. While this may sound harsh, have you EVER heard of someone getting that sweet job in marketing because of their cooking club affiliation? Yeah, I thought not.

2. NEVER put your photo on the resume. I realize that this has historically been a requirement in countries like Japan and France. It isn't here. Your Glamour Shots photo is NOT going to entice someone in HR to pick up the phone to call. Instead, it will be emailed around to various colleagues within the department. And much discussion will occur concerning the choice of hairstyle, blouse and lipstick that the candidate chose for the photo session. Also, please don't put things like your social security number and your age. It's for your own protection.

3. When indicating that you are fluent in something, please make sure that you are referring to fluency in a LANGUAGE. Please do not write that you are "fluent in Micrsoft Word." That's like saying that you are fluent in sending faxes or getting to work on time. Let's also be clear that Klingon is NOT considered a foreign language in the workplace. The only resumes that get forwarded throughout a company for a good laugh faster than a resume with a photo is a resume that features ANYTHING with Star Trek.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking, "I would never put this stuff in my resume." Unfortunately, for every person who doesn't do this stuff, there are three who do.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Have You Seen Me?

I really hope you have. Dr. Hibbard went missing sometime this weekend. Normally, I wouldn't care less about a Simpson's action figure's disappearance. However, Dr. Hibbard is Genna's lovey.

Most children crave the warmth and coziness that teddy bears or a blankie provides. Ella has a couple of lovies, Lambie and Bear. They are "unstuffed" animals made by Gund. If one is ever lost, I can get a replacement lickety-split. Genna, on the other hand, prefers an old stuffed carrot rattle she has had since she was about six months old and Dr. Hibbard, whose nose has been partly bitten off. The rest of the nose was cut with nail clippers so she wouldn't gouge herself or someone else.

Dr. Hibbard was purchased by Herr at a Burger King several years ago when he started collecting the Simpson's Playsets. I am sure that was a special day for Herr since he A) More than likely indulged himself with a Double Whopper with Cheese and B) got to add to his growing collection of Simpson's crap collectibles. Over the span of six years and three moves, Herr's collection was relegated to a Rubbermaid tote in the basement. One October afternoon, Genna came upstairs after playing with her sister. She was holding something and kissing it. She was talking to it and putting it up to her ear as if it were telling her a secret. "It" turned out to be Dr. Hibbard.

Herr and I thought that Genna's lovies were a bit strange, but we rolled with it. We thought it had something to do with the fact that she never really "took" to any of the stuffed animals we gave her as a baby the way Ella did. We thought that she was a late bloomer in the bonding department, so why NOT a Hibbard instead of a stuffed rabbit?! Every night, she would say, "Where Carrot? Where Hibbard?" and we would make sure they were on her pillow in her crib. She would grab one in each hand, turn on her belly, and tuck her hands into her belly. Every morning, she would be gripping Carrot and Hibbard in her hands and insist that they be a part of her daily routine. We even found it cute enough to take pictures of her hanging with them during meals.
In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I should keep an eye on it in case it gets lost. Several mornings I pulled Genna's crib from the wall upon hearing her panicked cries of, "HIBBARD!! Get Hibbard!" while desperately pointing to the floor. I even looked on Ebay a month or so ago, but didn't see one that was the same. I figured I had some time. Apparently my time is up.

If anyone knows where I can score Dr. Hibbard (with the skull in his hands--not the Jekyll and Hyde version that is currently on Ebay) PLEASE let me know.

***UPDATE*** My pal, Chag, emailed me to tell me that I had been mispelling the dear Doctor's name--it's Hibbert. This was great information BECAUSE Chag found an identical Dr. Hibbert action figure on Ebay. At precisely the same time I was getting ready to buy it, I saw Bosco playing with something in the living room. After I saw him prancing around, I ran after him. Sure enough, he had found Dr. Hibbert. Fortunately, Bosco didn't maul him. Unfortunately, the Ebay Dr. Hibbert was already sold by the time I got back to buying it. However, there are A LOT of Dr. Hibbert dolls on Ebay. I still plan to stock up. All is right in our world again.