Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Last week, I heard Ella on the playground shriek, "Y'ALL NEED TO GIT OUT OF MAH WAAAAY!"
Corey and I looked at each other in shock. I told him, "Oh HELL no. We need to nip that in the bud."
A little bit of me died inside that day.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Ella then said, "Mommy, would you be a sub sometime in my classroom? It would be so cool."
"Well," I said. "I don't qualify because I am not a teacher and I think I would need to take some special classes."
"No problem, Mommy. I am going to write you a list of everything you need to know to become a sub. I'll be right back."
Ella came back a few minutes later with a comprehensive list:
You Work We Work
We Play You Sit.
And there you have it.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I probably wouldn’t be so sad if it weren’t for the fact that both of our dogs are starting to have some worrisome medical problems. Bosco had a malignant tumor removed from the top of his head a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, the surgeon didn’t remove the entire tumor when he operated. To get it all would involve removing his entire ear. At this point, the vet said that the tumor is a slow-growing one, so it may be awhile before we have to do something drastic like remove his ear. He also mentioned that if it gets worse that we should consider radiation therapy.
While the tumor stuff was happening with Bosco, Linus started to slightly drag his back legs. I mentioned it to the vet when I took him on his wellness visit. Of course, Linus didn’t drag his legs that day, so the vet wasn’t too concerned at the time and said that Linus was in excellent health for a 10-year-old Boxer. Most Boxers don’t live past 10, so every day one lives past that is a great thing. We have watched Linus get a little worse each day. Last week, he fell over while he was in the middle of doing in business in the backyard. I called the vet and got him in that afternoon. This time, the vet could see that Linus was in distress. He kept him overnight to do some tests. The diagnosis is that he has a herniated disc. Initially, I didn’t think that sounded so bad. I thought there might be a pill. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
The vet put Linus on an intravenous steroid and sent him home. Even though I kept him sedentary, he was worse than when I had taken him to the vet. At this point, the vet said that the only thing that will cure Linus is surgery. The cost of the surgery would be close to $3000. Corey and I talked about it and we have decided that we will not have it done. It would be different if he was young. However, there is no guarantee that this wouldn’t happen again. So what this means is that Linus is eventually going to lose mobility in the back of his legs. We don’t know how long that will be, but it is eminent. I asked the vet if Linus was in pain right now. He said it is difficult to tell because Boxers are stoic and have such a high pain tolerance, that it may be quite awhile before it becomes evident that he is in pain. For now, he is having a lot of trouble on our wood floors, and occasionally doing the splits. He is confused and it upsets him. I try to calm him down while I pick him up to get his legs upright again. I am hoping that purchasing some runners to put down in the hallways will help him out for the time being. However, my heart is broken.
I know that it is not practical to spend this kind of money on two dogs who are entering their twilight years. However, I feel as though I am turning my back on them. These two dogs have brought me so much happiness and comfort, that it doesn’t seem right that I am not doing everything I can to keep them whole. It was so much easier to decide what to do when our first dog was sick. McBain had developed seizures suddenly when he turned four. We eventually found out that he had an inoperable brain tumor. Corey and I had always felt strongly about not letting a dog suffer, so we had him put to sleep on December 20, 2000. Every December 20, I cry like a baby because I miss him so. We still have his ashes because I have been too afraid to scatter them for fear that we will move again. It’s a good thing, since we have moved about 6 times since he died. But at the end of the day, I know we did the right thing because we knew he was suffering. Had there been a chance that surgery would have helped, we would have done it in a heartbeat. He was young. Young.
So now, I am crying over the goldfish bowl, thinking that I have brought these poor fish into this home of certain death. I literally don’t know what to do with the fish. It is sort of lying on the sea glass and it’s clear that he’s having trouble breathing. If I flush him now, I’m a murderer, right? Frankly, I am already feeling like one where my dogs are concerned. It is a horrible, horrible feeling.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Corey and I had the pleasure of spending last weekend in Pittsburgh attending the wedding of our friend Erin and her now-husband Brian. My girls call Erin, "Fairy Godmother Erin," and for good reason. Erin is an actress, a director, a teacher, and self-proclaimed, "High Priestess of Boogie." Fairy Godmother Erin is like no other woman I have ever known.
Every friend we made in Pittsburgh was because of our friend Angel from college. Angel's friends welcomed us with open arms when we moved to Pittsburgh back in 1996. I remember being instantly intimidated by all of them. They were all REALLY smart. And interesting. And well-read. And opinionated. They also knew so much about, well, everything I didn't. I remember telling Corey after meeting them all for the first time, "There is NO WAY we are going to fit in with them. I couldn't POSSIBLY talk to them about ANYTHING!"
But I was so glad to be wrong. This group of friends also turned out to be some of the kindest, funniest and entertaining people I know. We have vacationed with them countless times over the years, eaten with them no less than 1000 times, played a lot of poker, watched some of them get married, shared in their joy when they have had babies, shared in their sadness when they have lost their parents, siblings, children and pets. And Erin is one of these friends. After showing the girls the photos of the wedding, Ella decided that Fairy Godmother Erin's husband should be named, "Prince Brian." I am sure he'll be thrilled.
When Erin and Brian announced their engagement, Corey and I knew it would not a traditional Irish Catholic wedding. It was waaaay better than that.
Bagpipe player at the entrance.
Angel is in the black and white dress with her daughter! Red Pen Mama is there with the flowered dress!
One of the kids' tables at the reception. The other kids' table was the "Hogwart" table. The Legoland table was a hit. Some of the kids made a sign that said, "Just Hitched" out of legos.
Brian and Erin's dance...
Erin and Brian singing, "Tupelo Honey" to each other while all of us held hands in a huge circle around them.***
Corey was all dignified and serious until...
...Stevo gave Corey and JJ shots of Maker's Mark. Then things started to go downhill...
Congrats to the Happy Couple!
*** To the three readers of my blog who were at the wedding, you may be thinking, "Huh, those pictures look like they could be mine." You're right. In addition to you all being smarter than I am, you also have better cameras (or better photographic abilities) than I do. Thanks to Stevo, Dawn and Erin.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
"It will be OK, Honey. Think of it as, 'easy on, easy off.'"
We have been through this so many times before. He could tell me that I have been on well over 150 flights (most without him) and that I should be sucking it up already. But he doesn't. He should go up to the gate agent and request a seat far away from me, but he doesn't. Instead, he strokes my leg and tells me that we will be home soon and that it will all be fine.
I want to be brave, really I do. I never used to fear flying--I LOVED it. That all changed Christmas Week, 1994. I was flying from Baltimore to St. Louis to attend the funeral of my cousin, who had just taken his life. I was on a Southwest flight. It was a strange plane because I was in the front row, but a row of seats faced me, like a bus. When we landed, we landed so violently that my seat belt and the seat belt of the woman next to me broke and we slammed into the people who were facing us. I ended up hurting a tiny child. I will never get the sight of her bleeding from her head out of my mind's eye. A couple of days later, when I was preparing to go back to Baltimore, I had a panic attack and didn't want to get on the plane. A fear was born.
I have done a lot to get rid of this stupid fear of mine. I took two jobs in the past that required me to travel extensively, thinking that would force me to get over my fear. That theory was shot down in flames. I currently take pills, but they might as well be a placebo as they don't really do much. I manage to keep it together when I fly alone. I don't cry, I don't make a scene. But when we fly together, I fall apart (quietly, of course, so that I don't bother the other passengers. I mean, why be labelled a freak, afterall?!)
I think he just knows that it is his job to keep me from having a nervous breakdown when dealing with the only thing I fear. Actually, flying is not truly my only fear. I have been pretty successful in not encountering many clowns in our nearly 18 years together. And I typically stay out of oceans. Unfortunately, airplanes are a necessary evil since we are so far from anywhere we want to go and anyone we want to see.
He always reaches for my hand as we prepare to take off. He holds my hand until I feel comfortable enough to let go. Occasionally, I let go immediately. Usually, I will grip his strong hand with my sweaty one for a much longer time, depending on turbulence. One time, he claimed that I almost broke his hand, but he waited until the next day to tell me.
When the turbulence is so bad and he sees my lip quivering, he assures me that everything is totally fine and that the pilot is getting above the turbulence. Then the plane levels off and all is well. There have been a few flights that were so frightening for me that he never got up to go to the bathroom. That is HUGE since he has a bladder the size of a mouse. I am sure he was tortured, but he never complained.
He is not perfect. No spouse is. I often joke that his inability to react in emergency situations will probably cause my death. If I ever have a stroke or a heart attack, I will be screwed, because he will probably be looking at me and trying to decide if I am being overly dramatic or not. But the one thing that does make him perfect is what he does when we fly together. And that is one of the many reasons why I love him.
Friday, May 15, 2009
When it isn't raining, we are running around doing yard work and gardening. I probably would have had a much more productive garden had I planted rice. My tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and broccoli are just not thriving.
School will be over for Ella this Thursday. It is shocking to me that just a few months ago, I was crying over sending her off to kindergarten. Now, she will be going into first grade in August. I have changed my work schedule a bit and will have both girls home with me on Tuesdays and Fridays this summer. Ella will go to a day camp and Genna will continue to go to daycare. I'll still work the same number of hours--they just won't be stretched out over as many days.
Corey and I were in New York two weekends ago. Corey had a meeting there, and suggested that I join him the weekend before to celebrate his 40th birthday. He was blissfully unaware that in the weeks prior to our trip, I planned for our good friends, Amy and Michael, to join us in the city for a day. I also planned a surprise birthday dinner! My friend Mark helped me plan where to go. It only makes sense since it is his job to REALLY know the restaurants in New York. We had the dinner at Craftbar . Corey was in shock when he saw Mark at the bar, because he thought that only Amy and Michael were joining us for dinner. Then he saw our friends Lisa and Albert from New Jersey walk in. Then our friend Lori from Bethlehem came in as well. After calling me a "Lying sack of shit" (NICE!) he did later admit that it was his best birthday ever.
This weekend, we are heading to Pittsburgh for a wedding. Our dear friend Erin is getting married! We are so excited to be coming for so many reasons. First and foremost, ERIN! Secondly, we are going to see our Pittsburgh friends, which should be nothing short of awesome. We still miss Pittsburgh and probably always will.
When we return from Pittsburgh, I have to start getting serious about planning for the Hopkins Family Odyssey. What's that you ask? Why I'll be glad to tell you. A couple of months ago, I got it in my head that it would be a great idea to take the girls on a three-week road trip before schools starts on August 10 (not sure that I've told my boss yet, hmmmm). At any rate, we will head north to Indiana to visit my mom, the go to Michigan to see my sister before she gives birth, then I will go into Canada to visit my friend Katy for a few days. After that, we will go to Maine for several days to visit our friends. At that point, Corey plans to fly to Maine and drive with me the rest of the way home. We will make stops in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and then home.
After telling lots of people of my grand plan, it started to sound like a lot of driving. For me. Not quite sure why I didn't really pick up on that initially. At any rate, the only real planning I need to do (aside from getting the time off from work) is to get passports for the girls. That will involve Corey coming with me in person to apply for them since both parents have to do it together. And now because I have dragged my ass to get it done, I am praying I get the passports in time. Corey is trying to convince me to cut the trip short and skip Indiana, Michigan and Canada, but I don't know. I really wanted to do that part of the trip.
Corey found out recently that he (which automatically means "we") are going to Dubai in February. Corey's going there for a conference. I am going for no other reason but to be a tourist. We are staying here, so I am sure that will be a crazy experience! We can't wait. Our plans to go to Europe this spring fizzled, so this will allow us to go somewhere really amazing. I do hope to be able to see some of the not-so-new parts of the city.
All of this daydreaming of travel sure beats my reality. I guess it is time to get back to doing some laundry, picking up the house and going to bed at 9:00 PM the way I usually do!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Note to self--never tune out shrieking. When one tunes out shrieking, one is also tuning out any ACTIONS taking place, such as footsteps, water running, and on and on.
I came upstairs and saw a bare bottom race past me. Said bare bottom leaped into the bathtub. There was water EVERYWHERE. The bare bottom belonged to Ella. Ella knows better. When I asked her (more like screamed) why on earth she was running around and getting the entire bathroom wet instead of , well, bathing, she said that Genna told her to do it. Genna, the four- year-old, told Ella the six-year-old to run back and forth to the sink, fill buckets of water and THROW them on Genna. Because Genna told her to.
This sort of thing happens every.single.day. Genna calls the shots. Ella knows that Genna's ideas are not good ones, but she is compelled to follow Genna's lead. Ella does Genna's bidding. It's going to be a big problem in a few years.
After yelling at both of them, I singled Ella out and told her that as the older sister, she KNOWS better than to listen to ANY of Genna's ideas because they always turn out poorly. Looking back, that was a really rude thing to say. But I did. Sue me. I then shut the bathroom door and sat on the toilet to calm down while they stood outside.
There was a knock at the door.
"Mommy?" Ella sniffed. "I have to tell you something. Sometimes I get these really bad ideas in my head and I am not doing a good job of ignoring them. I am so sorry and I promise I won't listen to my bad ideas or ANY of Genna's ideas anymore."
And then Ella spoke to Genna:
"Genna, you need to stop having bad ideas in your head. When you get them, shake your head so they will go away. If they don't go away, do NOT say the ideas out loud to me. I don't want to hear them. You keep getting me in trouble."
Then Genna spoke up:
"Hey Ella--let's stand on the train table and spin around and around and get really dizzy."
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
FROM: Misfit Hausfrau
DATE: April 13, 2009
RE: Next Year's Easter Egg Hunt
While the girls were more than satisfied with the quantity of Easter Eggs found on the front lawn this year, we do need to address the quality of the candy inside of said Easter Eggs. The candy in the eggs, quite frankly, was much too good for the girls' untrained palettes.
There was no need for Reese's Peanut Butter Miniatures and Hershey Chocolate Eggs. In addition, they did not need the Lindt Chocolate "Carrots," Cadbury Eggs and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs (again with the Reese's!) in their Easter Baskets. Such delicious candy is proving to be hazardous to the inhabitants of the house when the girls are in bed, in school, or not within earshot of the kitchen, which is the current location of the girls' stashes.
In the future, please purchase hard candies or things like jelly beans and Skittles. The girls will be just as happy since they only see candy twice a year. The asses and guts of the adults in our home will thank you as well.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I have looked forward to this day for a long time. Honestly, I never thought it would come. As a kid, I put it in my head that I would never marry, never have children and die before I turned 40. It's a good thing I didn't become a psychic. I would have been out of business within a week.
I started celebrating my 40th birthday in February with a Girlie Weekend in Mexico. In the back of my morbid head, I thought there was still time to not actually live to April 1, so why not do the celebrating early. It also helped that it was President's Day Weekend and we got cheap flights.
I didn't really freak out until the gifts started coming in on the day of my birthday. And the phone calls. I got phone calls from relatives who NEVER call me on my birthday. I got really cute gifts from my neighbors. My friend Amy flew to Nashville to surprise me the weekend before. My friend Katy called a spa near my home and set up a spa package for me. Even Corey went over the top with a beautiful (but too expensive) piece of jewelry. When I told Corey that that the trip to Mexico was gift enough, he said, "But it's your 40th birthday. This is a BIG DEAL."
A Big Deal. I realized on Tuesday that the "Big Deal" about turning 40 is the realization is that life is going by FAST. Too fast. My first 18 years went by at a pace that was torturous. I thought I would never turn 18 and escape from my hometown, escape my life. The last 20 years have positively flown by. I can only imagine how fast the coming years will come and go. That's what scares me. I'm having a pretty good time right now. I have a good life. I love and am loved. I just don't want that to end.
Friday, March 13, 2009
In addition to my commuting expenses, we had a lot of major purchases because of our move (Hellooooooo Sears Kitchen Appliance Department!) We also had a mountain of expenses pertaining to the move that were reimbursed. And, to be honest, there are a significant number of frivolous or just plain stupid purchases that were made on that card. And don't even get me started with Continental Airlines. They have almost $700 of my money because of two plane tickets I purchased last summer (for me and Genna) literally minutes before Corey told me our house was sold and we needed to postpone my trip to Indiana with Genna and go find a home in Nashville. Did you know that once a ticket is purchased that even if you cancel the trip, the new tickets purchased must be for the original people on the original tickets? Every time I try to book my old ticket, it gets screwed up and the credit still exists. AND it costs an additional $150 to change the original ticket?! I'd like to use my credit in April when I go to New York, but the flights are almost cheaper than the $150 it would take to change the $336 ticket I previously purchased. AND, I would have to pay $50 for a customer service rep to book my travel over the phone since their website can't seem to ever find my old ticket. Flights from Nashville to Newark are about $180 currently.
So back to my summary. The grand total is almost my salary for last year, which was a good year, even though I was part time. I skimmed through the pages of purchases that were broken down by category, $8891.64 spent on gas/automotive, $5497.80 for travel, blah,blah,blah. Then, I noticed a category for , "Monthly Bills/Internet." I noticed a $15.00 charge for Classmates.com. I rolled my eyes at that one. Who needs Classmates.com when there is facebook now? How is Classmates.com even surviving? Glad I cancelled that. Then I noticed a $69.99 charge for Register.com made on 9/21. I had never heard of Register.com, so I decided to check them out on the internet. It turns out that Register.com is a web hosting site. While I have this blog, I don't pay for it, so I knew this was a mistake. I couldn't believe I didn't notice this on September's credit card statement. I went ahead and called the website, thinking this was some huge mistake and that I would get my money back.
Me: Hi! My name is Dawnan, and I just noticed that I got charged $69.99 by you guys and I don't have an account with you so...
Mohammed (Cust Service Rep#1): OK, I need your email address to pull up your account.
Me: OK, it is firstname.lastname@example.org.
M(CSR#1): Umm, we don't have an account with that email address.
Me: Well, that's good. That means I really don't have an account with you all, so how 'bout I get my money back?
M(CSR#1): Actually, Ma'am, I'll need to pull up this account by your credit card number.
Me: Well, OK, it is xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
M(CSR#1): Got it. Now, what did you say your email address is?
Me: It's email@example.com.
M(CSR#1): Umm, so you don't have the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org (I forget exactly what it was, he rattled it off too fast.)
Me: Uh, no. Whose name is on the account? Please tell me that the people who used my credit card number didn't sign up a porn site.
M(CSR#1): (Laughing) No, they didn't put up a porn site. They actually didn't even put up a site at all.
Me: Well, then who in the hell used my card?
M(CSR#1):Ummmm, I need to put you on hold. I'll be back.
Hold music... Not Herb Alpert...I'm getting sleepy...
(CSR#2): Thank you for calling Register.com. My name is Tom/Dick/Harry. May I help you?
ME: Are you kidding me? Where's Mohammed? I just spent 10 minutes on the phone with Mohammed. Do I have to start all over again?
(CSR#2): Why don't you give me your account number?
Me: But I don't HAVE an account number! Someone used my credit card number in September to set up an account on your site, but it isn't mine. I want my money back.
(CSR#2): OK, I will need the credit card number then.
Me: Argh. Ok, here it is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx.
(CSR#2): Ok, got it. I see the charge. I will go ahead and remove your credit card number so it won't be used in the future and we will shut down the account.
Me: So who opened up an account with my credit card?
(CSR#2): I can't tell you that.
Me: WHY NOT? Someone stole my credit card number in September and used it to purchase a bogus site through your company. I deserve to know the name. Mohammed told me the email address, so why can't you tell me the name?
(CSR#2):He told you the email address? He wasn't supposed to tell you ANYTHING! Look, what happens if it turns out that it was your neighbor who stole the credit card number and you go and punch them out. I'm the one that gets sued, not you! I'm not going to be liable. This happens all the time. Someone steals a credit card number, they use our site to see if the credit card number will go through, If it does, then they start shopping.
Me: Wait, WHAT? Let me get this straight. YOU are PROTECTING the thieves? Are you going to turn this information over to the police?
(CSR#2): (Laughter) Not without a warrant I'm not.
Me: So when can I expect my money back?
(CSR#2): (More laughter) Ma'am, you're going to have to take this up with your credit card company.
Me: Well, what if I said I wanted a refund because your web hosting sucks? Then I could have my refund, right?
(CSR#2): Ma'am this $69.99 charge from September is a renewal charge. The account was originally opened September 21 of 2007.
Me: Wait, WHAT? 2007? So I have actually paid $140 to Register.com in the past two years?
(CSR#2): Looks that way. You may want to start looking at your credit card statem-
Phone is slammed on the desk.
It's bad enough to not notice the charge form September. To not notice the original charge is inexcusable. We are lucky that these are the only fraudulent charges on our credit card. At this point, I have signed up to have our credit card statements mailed to us again. When I started to go green and had them emailed to me, I obviously started slacking. It will also be a lot easier to track our purchases on the credit card since I no longer commute and we are hardly putting anything on the credit card anymore. I am still feeling really, really stupid.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Apparently, I am the Mr. Wilson of my neighborhood.
It should be noted that Corey and I have completely hit the lottery as far as neighborhoods are concerned. Up until now, we have only made friends with one set of neighbors out of the countless places we have lived in 15 years. However, I can honestly say that we like almost all 30 families in our neighborhood (with a few exceptions.) Bottom line: almost all of our neighbors are really good people. I can give you an example: Last Friday, I was stuck at the gyno for more than two hours. I was in a panic because I needed to pick up my daughter from school at 3:25, it was 2:45, I was 30 minutes away from school and I hadn't even gotten into the paper robe yet. I placed one call to my neighbor Carrie and asked her if it was her turn to carpool a group of kids home from school. Even though it wasn't, she made a series of calls to the moms of the neighborhood, and picking up Ella from school was a done deal. Not a problem.
I can give you another example: our neighbor, who is coaching a t-ball team, was kind enough to draft Ella for his team. Even after he saw her try out. He did it because his wife told him to. His team won the championship last year. Now that is just plain neighborly. I have never experienced that in a neighborhood before and I like it. I love it. I love my neighborhood.
So why am I Mr. Wilson? Good question. First of all, I freely admit that I am an uptight Yankee. I previously parented in New Jersey, PA and Ohio. In these places, parents sometimes participated in the, "forced fun play dates." These were tightly controlled scenarios where children were only allowed to play in an enclosed area that the parents could scan every square inch. Children are not allowed to even THINK about leaving their yards until they are 10 because the world is a big scary place.
Our new neighborhood is an entirely different world. I am not sure if it is indicative of Tennessee or not, but the children in our neighborhood roam the streets like packs of wild animals. And when I say children, I mean children as young as three years old. Our first week in the new house, I was startled by a large gang of kids who were in the middle of our street. Four boys were on bikes, the others on foot. Then came an ATV, ridden by a boy without a helmet. I ran to the back of the house and stuttered to my husband, "Wwwwwhhhere have you moved us? There are children. Middle of the street. Playing. No Helmets. Death. OhmyGOD!"
It has taken several months to get comfortable with the idea of Ella gallivanting in the neighborhood the way the other kids do. While I love the fact that these kids are outside playing the way I did as a kid, I am still nervous. I so want my kids to have a carefree childhood, where they explore and have adventures. It's just that I want their adventures to happen in our yard. I am trying to let go and give Ella freedom, but it is difficult.
The dirt bikes and ATVs, however, absolutely drive me nuts. No one has enough yard to properly ride them, so they take them to the streets. Only one child wears a helmet. I worry every day that the other kids are going to get hurt--especially when I see one kid on the ATV with another one standing behind him on the seat, covering his eyes so he can't see where he is driving. I did a whole lot of yelling from my porch on that one.
I never actually worried about Ella getting hurt because she is afraid of anything that moves. She doesn't even like riding her bike because she's afraid. So to see her standing on an ATV on Tuesday and driving it down the street without a helmet made me absolutely lose.my.shit. After screaming for her to get in the house and go to her room , I realized that I couldn't actually punish her because I have never told her that she couldn't ride an ATV. And as far as driving it standing up, she was only doing what all the other kids were doing.
The other issue that has totally turned me into the neighborhood Mr. Wilson pertains to a certain family a few doors down. They were nice enough to introduce themselves to me the first couple of weeks we were here. They are pastors of a church and have a teenager. Once they said they were pastors I was immediately on guard, thinking they would recruit. Once I found out that their church services are done only in Spanish, I realized that they wouldn't not be knocking on my door and inviting me to services. What is bothering me about them is their dogs. They have a dachshund who frequently escapes the house. Instead of catching him, they leave him to freeze (this has happened four times since November that I know of.) Did I mention that he barks nonstop?
After the latest debacle with their barking dog, I finally reported them to the HOA last week and a letter was going to their home. The next time it happens, I will call animal control. These people obviously shouldn't own dogs if they aren't prepared to chase them down the street at 7:00 AM.
I am trying to relax. I really am. It's just that it isn't working.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
"Mommy, when can I get married?"
"When you're 30," I said.
"How about when I'm 39?" said Ella.
"Or, when your post-graduate studies are completed," said Corey.
I looked at Corey. "But I never completed a post-graduate program."
"Well, you shouldn't have gotten married."
"But Mommy, Ariel was 16 years old when she married Prince Eric. Why can't I get married when I turn 16?"
"Well," I said. "That's because Ariel was a mermaid. You're a human."
"Yeah, but she got legs and became a human."
"Yes, Ella, but she was BORN a mermaid. Even though she got legs, she was still a mermaid, so that's why she got to get married."
I turned to see Ella with her arms crossed and a, "hmph" look on her face.
"Well, when am I getting swim lessons?"
"Soon," I said. "But that isn't going to make you into a mermaid. You have to be BORN a mermaid."
And then a fight erupted in the back seat when Genna piped up by saying in a sing-songy voice, 'You can't get married, you can't get married."
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Isla Mujeres is a 5-mile long island off the coast of Cancun. We took the ferry there. It is a very relaxed place with a couple of resorts, but mostly small hotels, bed and breakfasts and homes.
The trip was all kinds of awesome. The first night, my friend Lori and I stayed at Casitas del Mar, a cute little apartment run by a couple named Joyce and Bob. We had a view of the ocean from across the street. The rest of the time we stayed at Villa La Bella, a cute bed and breakfast right on the Caribbean. My friend Katy was able to join us last minute, so we had to find her other accommodations since there was a limit of two per room in both places. Joyce from the Casitas hooked Katy up with a master suite apartment in a fabulous private home owned by an adorable couple in their 70s from Tennessee. The pictures of these places just do not do them justice. Also, you need to keep in mind that we paid next to NOTHING for these places. The Casita was $85 for the night, the B&B was $150 (we had the honeymoon suite because it was all sold out) and the place where Katy stayed was $75 per night. Katy's room was so beautiful was that she actually cried.
Lori, Katy and I spent the entire time drinking Sol, margaritas and pina coladas, exploring, finding sea glass (I brought home a five pound bag of it!) and stuffing our faces with the cheapest and absolute best authentic Mexican food we have ever had in our lives. We rented a golf cart for two days and drove around the island like fools and got to see some really neat things. We went snorkeling, which for me was huge. While I love going to the ocean, I fear it and I am not a good swimmer. I was convinced the life jacket I was wearing was going to fall off of me because two of the three clasps were broken. Eventually, I got off the boat and was amazed by the fishies.
We walked away happy and relaxed. We have a couple of great stories as well. One of my favorites was about the little pottery store that we walked into on Thursday. The lady who ran the store ran up to Katy and told her that her mama painted all of the pottery in the store and even produced a photo of her slaving away on the pottery. Lori and Katy settled on very distinctive huge plates to hang in their kitchens and I got a fish-shaped plate with the Mayan calendar on it. We haggled and each got a "gift with purchase." Of course it didn't really surprise anyone when we saw Katy's one-of-a-kind plate in the next store for $10 less.
The absolute best story isn't really mine to tell, but since Katy doesn't have a blog anymore, I'll share. When Katy asked the couple she stayed with what they did for a living before they retired in Mexico, they didn't really answer. They did mention to Katy that they lived on a "houseboat" for 12 years, but sold it and and bought the house in Mexico because their grandchildren didn't want to visit them anymore on the boat and thought they were weirdos for living on a boat. We decided that their grandchildren were wretched brats who didn't deserve these sweet people. At any rate, they were kind enough to give Katy a ride to the ferry at 6:30 AM on Saturday so that she could catch her flight home. In the car, the man said, "You know how you asked me what I did for a living before we moved to Mexico? Well, I used to be a truck driver, but I couldn't find any good places to eat on the road, so I opened up a chain of restaurants. You may have heard of it--Cracker Barrel."
And the houseboat he and his wife lived on was a yacht.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Seriously, what the FUCK!? I know that an airplane in-flight is loud. Very loud. However, it doesn't mean that a person should think that continuously farting during a two hour flight is OK. Let's be clear: it is NEVER OK. It miraculously didn't smell when the flight attendant came down the aisle to issue snacks and drinks, so Stinky McCrappypants KNEW that he/she was being an asshole, in addition to smelling like one. The smell did eventually stop after I kept exclaiming, "OH MY GOD!"
I spent the entire flight narrowing down who could have possibly allowed this hot-dog-water-then-canned-nacho-cheese-then-dead-animal-stuck-in-your-ass-until-you-can't-hold-it-in-another-second-so-let-er-rip-on-the-plane stench to waft over the front of the plane. There were 20 suspects. Let me first start off by saying that it wasn't me (8A). It also wasn't the British couple in 8B and C. They were gagging right along with me, as were their daughters in 7B and C. And while this may sound sexist, I truly believe that there is no possible way that this chemical warfare came from a female over the age of two. I say that because this offensive rot was definitely from the fart subcategory, the SHART. There was shit in that fart, people. A woman would just never do that. That said, that ruled out 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4C, 5A, 5C and 6B.
In addition, I ruled out the man in 3B. I am pretty sure he was Avery Brooks, one of my all-time favorite men of mystery on one of my favorite 80's detective dramas, "Spenser for Hire." You may remember Hawk, Spenser's friend and mysterious confidant. He was a man of few words, but very efficient in taking care of problems. There is no way that Hawk expels gas. I am certain that had Hawk been sitting in my seat, he would have calmly found his Magnum hidden in his briefcase, and capped the ass of the fool who was committing this criminal activity.
At any rate, that leaves five individuals who could have inflicted this torture. I have a feeling it was the person directly in front of me. Let's call him Euro-gibber. He was nothing but trouble the minute he got on the flight and it never stopped. He jibber-jabbered on his cell phone so that all 200 passengers on the plane could hear--thanks! He also cornered the flight attendant after take-off to vent his frustration on the 20 minute delay we experienced prior to take-off. He then went on a rant about his entire travel experience, remarking that everyone at Continental is stupid. When are people going to learn that one should NEVER piss off a flight attendant?! Did he really think she as going to be sympathetic or attempt to help him when he just called her and her brethren STUPID? I noticed that there was no stench while that was going on.
I exacted revenge on Euro-gibber by giving him a flat tire. It was the best thing I could come up with since millions of my brain cells were destroyed on the flight. His glare wasn't nearly as lethal as his stench.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Ella, on the other hand, is learning a lot of stuff. TONS. I am amazed that she is reading and starting to write sentences in her homemade paper and glue "diary." She will literally spend hours at the kitchen table, asking me to spell words for her so that she can write them out and learn them. We are so very proud of her and her achievements, but there are times when it is very difficult to not giggle or bust out laughing at her mistakes.
This week, Ella brought home some of the work she had done. I guess one particular assignment was writing rhyming words that end in -ar. On the paper she had car, far, bar, star and then the word, "cuntainer." The teacher wrote the word "jar" above it. I couldn't help it, it made me giggle.
Later on, we were playing a word bingo game. On one side of the bingo card is the picture, the other side is the word. We have Ella use the word side and match the words when they are called out. When she got the word, "brush," she did a very good job of sounding out the word phonetically:
"Buh buh, rrrrr, uhuhuh sssss,huhuhuh."
"Now put it all together honey, " I said.
"DOUCHE!" she bellowed proudly.
One look at Corey and it was over. We could.not.stop.laughing. I felt so bad because Ella knew we were laughing at her, but we just couldn't stop ourselves. I just pray that this isn't going to be one of those things that she remembers 34 years later.
Monday, January 05, 2009
When I was growing up, the main living area of our home was immaculately clean. It was so neat and tidy that my mother would regularly have me make and remake and remake my bed over and over and over again until it met her exacting standards. The pack ratting and hoarding was limited to our partially finished basement. My father had made very deep shelves that housed hundreds of canned goods and packaged foods that could have fed an army. I figured out at a young age that people who don't have much to eat when they are young become obsessed with having enough when they are adults. Especially if they are really poor adults.
My mother was also a collector of some really strange stuff. At one point, she had every issue of National Geographic. She collected the December issues of every women's magazine she could get her hands on. My father also got in on the collection fun by collecting books and built up a rather impressive library in our basement--mostly of his college text books that would never be pulled off the shelves and opened again. When Mom would start a hobby, she would go into it with great gusto. The basement was full of fabrics, artificial flowers, yarns, embroidery floss, unpainted ceramics. There were piles of ribbons and wrapping paper that were neatly removed from Christmas boxes. We didn't really rip open presents the way most people do.
As I got older, the overflow of stuff moved upstairs. My grandmother moved into her own apartment when I was 12 or so. Instead of getting to move out of my sister's room and reclaiming my bedroom, it became the, "ironing room." Over the years, it filled up with piles of clothing, bedding, laundry baskets and the like. The basement became even more packed with stuff. It doesn't take much time to fill up a space when one saves every single box that comes into the home. Every night after dinner, my mother would send me downstairs to get the perfect plastic cottage cheese container and lid for leftovers. Or maybe it was a margarine container. I just remember the perfect towers of containers with corresponding lids, and dreading the prospect of having to go downstairs a second or third time because I didn't grab a properly sized container.
After my sister and I moved out of the house, it became worse and worse. It got to the point to where there were rooms that could not be entered. By this time, my mother had lost interest in housekeeping, so the house was a disaster.
When my father died and my mother became more and more sick, my sister and I begged her to sell the house. It took forever, but she sold the house, and sold the majority of its contents in a series of at least a dozen garage sales. She demanded top dollar for her items that reeked of cigarette smoke, age and lack of use. My sister and I were completely frustrated with the process. There were many visits where I would take things out of the house when she wasn't looking and throw them away.
At the time, I didn't give her nearly enough credit for parting with these things. This was a woman who had lived in her home for 35 years. Her home and these things were all she had. All I saw was a bunch of crap that my sister and I were going to have to deal with if she died. It was with much relief that she moved into a 600 sq.ft. apartment, where her existing overflowing crap is limited to just that space.
While she was going through the process of selling everything, my mother asked me to take some things like family photographs, a few pieces of furniture, some dishes and knickknacks. I complied because I knew I had room for the items because we had just bought a house and I understood that she didn't want family photos thrown in the trash. In the coming months, I would bring things back with me to New Jersey. She would ship items to me that had to sit in the garage to air out for a week because the packing peanuts smelled like cigarette smoke. Once the smell was gone, I would put everything in the basement.
When we moved to Cincinnati, I didn't open many boxes that had come from our New Jersey basement. It was a good thing since we only lived there for 15 months. Our house was much smaller in Belthehem, but it had a decent basement, so the boxes I hadn't opened in Cincinnati remained unopened in Pennsylvania.
We're back to having a larger house, but this time there is no basement. Boxes I could forget about no longer had a good place to go. I told the movers to put all of the boxes in our spare bedroom walk-in.
Yesterday, I made my way into the spare bedroom and started to open these boxes. I had no idea just how much stuff was in that closet. There are boxes of depression glass and milk glass candy dishes. They instantly reminded me of the holidays, when these bowls were filled with peanuts and starlight mints that stuck together after a few weeks of humid weather. I found silver tea sets for tea parties we don't have, and silver gravy boats and ladels for all of the gravy we don't eat. I found the box of all of the sympathy cards that my mother got after my father died. I am not sure what the appropriate amount of time is to keep items such as this. I threw all of them away, except for the sympathy letter from Dick Cheney (really) because that was just plain funny.
I was suprised to realize that I had boxes of our own memories that I hadn't dealt with in years. I haven't put a single photograph of my children into a photo album. Instead, they are mixed up and gathering dust in shoe boxes without lids with their edges curling. We still have an urn with the ashes of our first dog! I've never scattered them because I haven't been convinced that we would stay somewhere forever. I found a keepsake that I shouldn't even have--I don't even KNOW what to do with that! I also decided that collecting old trunks is not a very practical or fulfilling hobby if one doesn't actually refurbish them to be useable for storage.
I made a pretty good dent in the closet, but I found myself getting fairly choked up from time to time, mostly because of the photos. Seeing my father and mother during happier times made my heart ache. I found photos of my old college roommate, Steven. I found out that he had died a couple of months ago after a long illness. Seeing him being so silly in the photos of us together, riding a camel at the zoo made me profoundly sad.
I will be spending the coming weeks making some hard decisions about this stuff. I've joined Freecycle, got an Ebay account, contacted a consignment shop, and will probably scan the majority of the photos. I figure that I will sneak the proceeds into my mom's check book when she isn't looking. I'm not going to scatter McBain's ashes yet. Maybe I will once we have lived here more than two years and I feel comfortable that we will stay. Everything else can eventually go.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
At any rate, I spent the past week spending time with family. There were no surprises, which is a good thing. There is comfort in knowing that the part of the trip that includes my mother-in-law will always be nice and that the part of the trip that includes my mother might not be. She didn't disappoint.
Going home means that there is a lot of time in the car. While I drove to and from the Hoosier State, I spent a lot of time reflecting on 2008. It also gave me time to think about how 2009 is going to be different. I am turning 40 on April 1st. Look out. I have plans for this year--big plans. These plans, or resolutions if you will, are going to improve my life and the lives of my family. They will make us happy. They will make us healthy. There is a good chance that these plans might make me annoying. The important thing is that I am going to follow these plans through, no matter how cranky I get. Over the coming weeks, I will share my resolutions.
Resolution #1--No More Stupid Purchases
A couple of years ago, Corey and I decided to try to implement as much organic food into our home as possible. While it takes a little while for the pocketbook to get used to it, we don't even think about the cost now. Our tradeoff is that we don't eat out much. What is more challenging is purchasing non-organic foods that do not have high fructose corn syrup. It is in EVERYTHING--particularly breads. Our grocery store does not have a very good selection of breads that do not have HFCS and Whole Foods is not exactly around the corner.
A few months ago, Corey suggested that we start baking our own bread. I thought it might be fun, but I didn't want to buy a bread maker, so I asked his mother if we could use hers and see if we like it. She brought it to us in October and I put it on our kitchen counter. I went out and bought all kinds of flours, yeast, molasses, etc... Then, Corey said, "We should (notice the "we" part again) look into finding recipes to make our own hotdog and hamburger buns." Again, a fine idea. I went online and saw a really cool pan on the King Arthur Flour website for making hot dog buns but it was out of stock--and about $50. So then I went onto Ebay, where it seemed to be a GOLDMINE of bun pans. Who knew? We found a used one for $15. How cool was that? Then, after I "won" it, I was surprised to see that the shipping on it was $15, but whatever.
This is what we got:
The pan is quite sturdy and weighs about 10 lbs. It is perfect for baking hot dog buns if, say, your oven is as large as one that is found in a RESTAURANT. When we went back to the Ebay posting, it had the dimensions of the pan as clear as day. When I emailed the seller and asked her if she had smaller pans, I could feel the laughter in her tone of the email, confirming that she did NOT have anything smaller, and reminded me that there were no refunds.
I wish I could say this was out first and only stupid purchase, but it is not. In our excitement, we miss the details, and then we pay the price--literally.
As for the breadmaking, I am sure it will come as no surprise that I haven't actually used the breadmaker yet. I moved it to the spare bedroom when we had company and I needed the counter space and haven't brought it back out.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some items to put up on Ebay.