Friday, December 31, 2010

Chirp

I feel I should mention that I signed up for twitter

I'm always on the cutting edge of this technology stuff.  Next thing you know, I'll get an AOL account.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Music

Santa brought the kids a recorder and some bath tub water flutes. This is what led to me playing “Ode to Joy” on a plastic flute during bath time last night. If this portion of my life had a soundtrack, it would involve a lot of harmonica, drum, kazoo, tambourine, and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”.


Which, of course, caused me to think about the soundtrack of my life in 5-year increments.

Second Half of the 1970s: “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd

First Half of the 1980s: “Gimme Three Steps”, “Borderline”, "Eye of the Tiger", Care Bears on 45s
Second Half of the 1980s: Bon Jovi, Poison, Skid Row, Def Leppard (on cassette)

First Half of the 1990s: Guns-n-Roses, Metallica, Nazareth, Meatloaf, Pink Floyd
Second Half of the 1990s: Counting Crows, Deana Carter, Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes, Meryn Cadell, They Might Be Giants, Garth Brooks, “The Macarena”, and “Lightning Crashes” by Live

First Half of the 2000s: Kenny Chesney,  Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry Rafferty “Right Down the Line”
Second Half of the 2000s: 4 Seasons, Albert Hammond, Jackson Browne, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, “The Erie Canal Song”, “Happy Birthday”, “Jingle Bells”

What will the first half of the 2010s bring? Who knows? Maybe I will have to start listening when Chuckles starts listening to….I was going to write the name of some currently popular singer but I don’t know any currently popular singers. Everything I came up with is lame and probably not cool at all (Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, Train, Katy Perry (on whom Chuckles has a crush ever since he saw her singing with Elmo on youtube)).

So, what is the soundtrack of your life?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Over

Yippee.  Yahoo.  Christmas is over, and I survived.  I am so glad  it is over and done.  Done done done. 

The children are nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of MORE presents dance in their heads
With her new pressure cooker, mama is a chef
and so on

They're so spoiled (it's not me...it's their six grandparents).

I hate Christmas, and I'm just glad I survived.  The stress was so, uhhh, stressful.  I was wound tighter than armature.  But I made it.  Barely. Thanks be to champagne and NSAIDs (but not together).  I spent most of today on the couch with a fever and stomach ache (psychosomatic, I'm sure). 

The kids were none the worse for the wear though.  They were happy enough to crawl on me and bring me books to read them.  Plus, apparently, I have established myself as Alpha Mom as they kept asking me whether it was OK for them to do certain things (that I was incapable of stopping if they had decided to go ahead).  It was pretty awesome.    I love those crazy kids.

Bobo's favorite toy:  Stacking Robots.
Chuckles's favorite toy:  Lego Creator Toys (various)
Mr. Long-Suffering's favorite toy:  Wireless Motion Sensor Porch Light
SarcastiCarrie's favorite new toy:  Fagor Pressure Cooker

This post is not sponsored by amazon or anything and I'm not getting anything (no kickbacks) in exchange for letting you know what we got.  It was just a very amazon Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Meme

There’s been a lot of talk on the internet and the blogs lately about what you would like to tell your 16-year old self.


People have offered up answers from “It gets better” to “I will wind up happy…eventually
I’m intrigued by the notion of going back and slapping my stupid 18 to 22-year old self.  At times, it seems like I could have made better decisioins by flipping a coin than I did using my smarts. 

But, if I went back, surely that would change where I am now. Would I really want that? Certainly I would like to warn myself: Do Not Eat The Hummus.

But beyond that, would I want to tell myself not to do this or to do that? If I had done things differently, I wouldn’t have the two great kids I have now, but I would probably have other kids that I love just as much, so while I wouldn’t have Chuckles and Bobo, I might have Elizabeth and Gracie. That wouldn’t be bad. It would be different, and I wouldn’t know about the two great kids I missed out having. I would only know about the two great kids I have.

++++

Once upon a time, my father asked me what I thought was the one decision I made in my life that had the greatest impact on where I was today. It’s a hard question, to be sure. I came up with something lame about my major in college.

My dad disagreed. He said that he thought the one decision I made that had the greatest impact was …wait…this needs back story or the sentence won’t make sense. When I was about 12, we lived in a euphemistically-labeled changing neighborhood, and we really needed to move to get me into a safe high school as mine was neither safe nor academically rigorous.
I was a good, smart kid who was capable of making terrible choices. Getting me out of the old neighborhood would limit the range of bad choices I would be able to make (or so the reasoning went). My mom gave me two choices. We could move to a really nice, 3BR-2Ba condo in a really neat building (with attached garage) that would have me going to one HS or we could live in a tiny 2BR-1.5Ba condo below street level next to a trailer park. I chose the trailer park because its HS was better (see... I was capable of making good choices too, plus I didn't have a boyfriend just then so I didn't feel the need to stay closer to him).
So, my father believes that the one decision I made that had the greatest impact was choosing to have my mom buy the condo in the better school district. It enabled me to excel academically, get into a good college, get out of the entire south side and away from the bad decisions I could make there, major in something that would get me a good job upon graduation, etc. It landed me in Ohio to meet, marry, and rear children with Mr. Long-Suffering.

What one, single decision you have made in your life has changed where you are today the most? It could be to marry who you did, to have (or not) kids, to have (or not!) a drink before driving, whatever it is you think that’s put you on this trajectory.

Friday, December 10, 2010

ONE!

We all need to be #1 at something.

I installed google analytics on my blog, oh, about a million years ago. But today for the first time ever, I looked at the report generated.

I am happy to say that if you google "corn dextrin fiber supplement" the #1 answer that comes up is a link to a review of fiber supplements I wrote while pregnant.

You know what would be better though? If I'd been #2 on the google search results.

We all have to be known for something, and now I am known for being constipated. Awesome.

Ring

Well, the feast of immaculate weight gain has begun. Someone brought cookies into the office today. I keep looking at those cookies with their tasty artificially colored red and green sprinkles. I think, “Mmmmm, cookies.” I want to eat one, but then I remember those magic words and think, “Ick, ick patooey.” The magic words? Anise flavored.

++

The other day, I was asked why I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring. I figured you guys might be wondering too (because I know you can see me through the power of the internet). Normally, I wear three rings on my left hand, ring finger. I wear my wedding ring (a nice little diamond number with nine, round recessed diamonds in 10k gold…the diamonds are of such low quality, you can see the inclusions with your naked eye), my engagement ring (a glorious brilliant, flawless, cathedral mount affair, which was a Long-Suffering family heirloom mounted into the 18k gold setting of my choice), and lastly, a very inexpensive 2 mm 14k gold band from K-Mart given to me by my kids for Easter.

I took all three rings off the other day and tucked them away for special occasions. It’s funny, but it still looks like I have rings on because of the tan line. Either I wear the rings too much or I spend too much time in the sun (not possible). Anyway, I took the rings off and proclaimed that I would only be wearing them for fancy, dress up occasions.

Now, in many families, this might make the husband a little nervous that his wife is ready to go whoring about, but not so in the Sarca-Suffering household. You see, work has come down with a new set of rules (actually, old rules that are now being enforced) about wearing jewelry in a hard-hat area…as in you may not.

I am notoriously forgetful, so I would frequently walk out onto the factory floor while wearing earrings, a watch, or my rings. Sometimes, I would remember to remove them and place them on the little clip on my key chain that I have for just such a purpose, but more likely, I would be out and about as a scofflaw. I don’t want to lose my job, so I’ve decided that the default, weekday position is No Jewelry. Mr. Long-Suffering was already respecting the rules and going ring-less, so I’ve just caught up to him.

I was telling Mr. L-S that I figured I should just get a tattoo on my ring finger. He said it’s a little trashy. I told him if it’s good enough for Angelina Jolie, it’s good enough for me. Then I was musing as to what I would get. I was thinking a little vine with some flowers wrapping around my finger in a thin line. He said, “My name, of course.” Hilarity ensued.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Romance

I bought a dishwasher. I got a Maytag Jet Clean. It's a middle of the road dishwasher. It has some things I don't like (stainless interior and hidden controls) and some things I do like (a bar/handle across the front where I can hang a dish towel). The price was right, so I ordered it online. It will be here the 15th. As my Christmas gift, Mr. Long-Suffering will be installing it for me (and for Mrs. Marie, poor thing has been doing the breakfast and lunch dishes by hand).

==================

I had my meeting downtown yesterday. It was much warmer than I thought it would be. It was in the 20s. Downright balmy. I jetted over to City Hall, dropped some things off (and the Pedway goes there!), then I headed back to the train station to go up the Mag Mile. The stores were just starting to open between 9 and 9:30. It was awesome to see that snooty woman at Cartier vacuuming the vestibule area.

{This is an aside to people who aren't used to it...in cold weather, you are supposed to use the revolving door even if there is a regular door. It functions as an air lock and is an environmental choice for keeping the warm and cold air on their respective sides of the door. Use it. Even if you have a lot of stuff with you. Make it work. Also, from a chivalrous perspective, if the door is already moving, the woman goes first. If it isn't, the man is supposed to go first to get it moving and the lady is to follow behind.}

I did my meeting on the 18th floor of a building (capacity utilization this, forward-looking into 2011 that, pricing pressures here, competition there). The view was sublime. I was far enough north that both the east and north views were lake views. The south view was a City Lights view, and the west view was a west view of Chicago. Then we went across the steel for lunch at a grille. They had a gorgeous walk in wine cooler. I had corn chowder, crab cakes, and key lime pie. It was fabulous.

Then I bundled up for the walk back down to the train station. When they found out I had walked, everyone offered to drive me, but really, I wanted to walk because I was under no time pressure and all the stores were open (and I was ALONE).

I hadn't gone far when I realized I needed the ladies' room after all the tea I had consumed at my luncheon. I ducked into Victoria's Secret assuming they would have facilities. They did not. I reoriented and thought I was going into Saks Fifth Avenue. It was really the door next door and I walked in to a store called Zara. I'd never heard of it before but I passed 3 more before I headed home.

I declined to go into H&M, Forever 21, and some Russian Ballerina Store. I did not go into the Disney Store either. I went out of my way to go to the Lego Store (up two escalators and down the hall). I love the Lego Store. I would like to know where the Lego Store found so many extroverted nerds to man their store. I mean, really! People talking (with passion) about Legos and making eye contact. I have hope for our future yet. Santa purchased something for each of my kids.

I skipped Van Cleef & Arpels and the Chinese bakery. I skipped La Perla. I stopped at a kiosk selling cell phone accessories, but they didn't have anything for my phone (which was discontinued two weeks ago...about a week after I got it). I crossed back over the river and stopped at a little tourist shop and got a Chicago skyline Christmas ornament for some friends who are moving to Long Island.

Then, I headed over to Daley Plaza and stopped at Kristkindlmarkt. I did not get any beer nor any spiced, mulled hot wine. I admired the large tree, which is sponsored by the electric company and Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Santa was not there. The photos are free, so I was going to stop and have one taken with the big guy. The kids would've been jealous, but I needed to let Santa know that I really want world peace this year. Perhaps I'll just mention it to the Elf on a Shelf at my house.

Then I wandered around the streets for a bit and wound up in the Cook County courthouse (I think) during their building Christmas party. They had two chocolate fountains (one white, one milk), a harp player, a train going around, fresh fruit, and general merriment. I found the genial mood annoying, so I bahumbugged out of there.

Eventually, I found my way back to the train and made it home long before my normal after-work arrival time. No one was any the wiser.

When I mapped it this morning, I realized I had walked a little over 4 miles in my dress shoes.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Snow!

In honor of winter finally hitting Chicagoland this weekend about a month late, I offer the following:

In the lane, snow is glistening. #firstsnow
Driving in #firstnow: The ruts are your friends.
A traditional snowman has 3 balls but only one carrot. #firstsnow

Have you heard Olivia Newton-John’s version of “Ave Maria”? Go ahead, try it on youtube. Then get Bob Dylan’s “Must Be Santa”.

I have a meeting downtown tomorrow, so my plan was to take the train up and walk. It’s only about a mile straight up Michigan Avenue (a magnificent mile, if you will) so it should be scenic and festive and pleasant. But then, I saw the weather forecast. They’re predicting 6 degrees (Fahrenheit!) for tomorrow. Sure, it’s warmer near the lake, but 14 isn’t exactly balmy. Perhaps I can just duck into La Perla and Tiffany to warm up on the way. (The Pedway, sadly, doesn’t go north.)

Fling

{This is the third (and final!) part of the story. It’s the story of how I grew up and came to be. Writing Part 2, the story of 343, was not good for me. I didn’t realize how crappy I was going to feel after I wrote it. I thought it might be cathartic. It wasn’t. It made me crazy. For days afterward, my eyes felt puffy like I had been crying, I was not sleeping, which is a shame since the kids both were, and then on Thursday night, I woke up in cold sweats, and went to the bathroom and threw up. I was a train wreck for a couple of days here. So, I quickly had to write Part 3 – The Palate Cleansing Story of Fling.}

Since Minnow and 343 each got their own entries, I feel like Fling should get one too, but he’s so inconsequential to my life. He was important at the time, but in the grand scheme…notsomuch, except maybe as a placeholder. This part isn’t so much about Fling as it is about me.

When 343 and I broke up, Fling swooped in to pick up the pieces. It’s like he had been waiting for such a thing to happen…to have his chance. It was less than a week before he wanted to come visit, ostensibly to help me through this difficult time. Fling had been engaged once too, and it ended, so I figured he must know some tricks for getting through it. Fling was in grad school, and I was 4 hours away in Chicago.

I cried for months over 343, but when Fling would visit or I would go visit him, I would just bury all my baggage way down deep and pretend to be happily dating. I knew what happily dating was supposed to look like, so I could fake it. I didn’t particularly like Fling, though I didn’t dislike him either. There was nothing wrong with him, mind you, but there was no spark. I felt nothing for him. He was a nice guy, and he treated me like royalty. I needed that.

Blah blah blah, I don’t know what happened or why I was dating him. We were so poorly suited for one another. He was nice. I am SarcastiCarrie. He was nice. As an example, one day we were sitting in a window booth at a diner and a man who was not out exercising walked by wearing bright orange lycra spandex biker shorts. And Fling would not participate in mocking the stranger. I knew then that the relationship was doomed. However, I didn’t end it. I was not yet secure enough to be single.

I only saw Fling once or twice a month on the weekends. During the week, I had all of my freedom to come and go, study, work on my thesis, interview for jobs, cry, write a million emails to 343 and save them as drafts never to be sent. On the weekends I saw him, it was nice to have companionship. I was still defining myself somewhat in terms of a relationship, but this long-distance thing gave me a chance and the mental space to become myself.

He graduated in December and so did I. We both looked for jobs. I had multiple offers on the table. I took a job in Ohio and started in at the factory February 16th (my 22nd birthday). Fling eventually got an offer that also took him to Ohio (though we weren’t really trying to move to the same state). I was near Cleveland; Fling was in Columbus. Those two places are not exactly close. We continued dating on the occasional weekend for another few months. I still spent my weekdays trying to figure out what the hell had gone wrong with 343 (and crying and trying not to call him). I spent my weekdays doing my Al-Anon program, reading, sleeping, crying, working out, petting my awesome cat, and going to work. Working was great for me. No one at work knew anything about 343 or Fling or the disaster I had made of my thesis. I got to prove myself from scratch. I was living in a working class town. I fit in there with my work ethic, K-Mart clothes, and pick up truck.

One night, I came home after a night of significant boozing with my coworkers. It was St. Patrick’s Day 1998. There was a message on my machine from 343 asking me to call him. I hesitated, but my resolve was not very strong. Behold, the power of the drunk dial. So, I called and apologized for calling while drunk, but I didn’t want to leave 343 waiting since I don’t think he had ever called me before that (though somehow he had my new number). He said it was fine. I don’t remember why he called.

After my spectacularly bad timing with the drunk dial and the person I drunk dialed, I swore off the sauce for about a year. I was just so inconsiderate calling someone who was in recovery while drunk. I needed to stop and think about how my actions affected other people. I needed to grow up.

The relationship with Fling just sort of petered out that spring. It was at least a two-hour drive to see him, and to be honest, I didn’t care that much. Minnow was dating someone (and it turned out he married her a month or two later). 343 was dating a sorority girl back at school whose name rhymed with mine. I was single and actually loving it. I still cried occasionally over how I had squandered my entire college career. I could have studied more, I could have dated more, I could’ve been better to my friends. Could’ve, should’ve. I was filled with regret, but the self-loathing was finally starting to end (thanks be to Al-Anon, again). I blossomed into a capable, independent, self-confident woman.

My lab partner from my entire college career was about to graduate in June. He was one of the few people I didn’t alienate during college thanks to my excellent analytical skills and ability to carry him through classes. He got a job at the same factory where I worked. He moved to Ohio and started in at the factory on June 29th. Mr. Long-Suffering also started in at the factory that day. They were orientation group buddies.

Lab Partner and Mr. Long-Suffering joined my softball team (since I had already been in Ohio 4 or 5 months and had a network of friends and social activities). They joined our Friday night happy hour groups, our ski trips, our bowling parties. It turns out that Mr. Long-Suffering grew up in Northwest Indiana. I grew up in the south suburbs. We grew up less than 5 miles from each other. Lab Partner suggested that Mr. Long-Suffering and I car-pool back and forth to Chicago for holidays and whatnot to save on gas, save on tolls, reduce boredom, etc.

We did this carpooling thing for months and months until finally on one trip back to Chicago, I realized I wanted to spend my time in Chicago with him. That was twelve years and two weeks ago. We’ve been married for more than 9 years now. I often tell Mr. Long-Suffering that I don’t need him around. I want him in my life. (And I mean that as a compliment to him. And to me. I’ve earned it.)

{Oh, and you know how I gave you an update as to where Minnow and 343 wound up today? Well, I’m not even curious what Fling is doing these days. But Mr. Long-Suffering is trying to fix our dishwasher right now...something about the circuit board and ribbon cable being more expensive to repair than to replace the whole thing. I think I know what supremely romantic appliance I am getting for Christmas.}

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tweet

If I was on twitter, you would receive thousands of fascintating twits from me every year. They wouldn't be quality twits, but they'd be mine. And you'd be reading them.

  • I need 10 cc's of Holiday Cheer. Stat!
  • Achieved. Just heard Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" on the radio.
  • Then I heard "Jingle Bells" by barking dogs, really.
  • "The Twelve Days of Consumerism" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear
  • "Baby, It's La Nina-Induced Cold Outside" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear
  • "O, Come All Ye Secular Humanists" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear
  • "We Three Kings of {redacted ethnicity for PC reasons} Are" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear
  • "O Little Town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear
  • "Hark, the Harold & Kumar Angels Sing" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear
  • With Taylor Swift, The Cast of Glee, and Wham! I have had enough of "Last Christmas" already, and it's only the 3rd of December.
  • "All I Want for Christmas is a Good Night's Sleep" #songsyouwon'thearthisyear

Feel free to join in...in the comments...since I'm not on twitter. Feel free to make up your own song titles for the Dysfunctional Family Christmas Album.

PS - To Cloud- not the same university. Yes, I went in Chicago, but the other one. I went to the one in the Big Ten.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

343

{This is long. That's your warning. Part 1 is below the photos from Thanksgiving.}

Imagine: It’s 1994 and I’ve just dumped my boyfriend of 3.5 years because I’m infatuated with someone else and want to “see other people” and “expand my horizons”.

My parents have always been supportive in their own way, but they aren’t even remotely cheerleader-y. I didn’t know then that I am smoking hot (I know now). I didn’t know how smart I was. I didn’t know how to try hard at something, succeed, and feel proud (things had always either been easy or I didn’t do them). I wasn’t the smart daughter, I wasn’t the pretty daughter, and I sure as shooting wasn’t the friendly daughter (my sister was those things). I had yet to learn the social graces (I know them now). Back in 1994, I didn’t have much in the way of self-esteem. I’m immune to most criticism and peer-pressure these days. I march to the beat of a totally different tympani player. Heck, sometimes, I don’t even march. I skip. It’s all these years I’ve spent in the manufacturing plant. They’ve hardened me….but in a good way. I have excellent self-esteem now.

Things were different on the south side than they were in Livonia or the North Shore or San Jose. HS Football games routinely had police to prevent large outbreaks of gang-related violence. You didn’t go to the other side of the viaduct if you were white, and you didn’t go to the other side of the same viaduct if you were black. Fights broke out on the playground, in the cafeteria, on the bus. Girls in junior high had babies.

I had a somewhat rocky home life so going off to college was a perfect time to reinvent myself. However, I was a girl from the south side who went to public high school and paid to take her AP exams with financial aid help. I was smart, driven, motivated, and poor. Of course, I chose to go to an elite university that was rife with kids whose parents were paying full-tuition for them (and buying their books, paying for their laundry and picking up the cost of pizza and beer). How did I not realize that I could not possibly fit in with my K-Mart clothes, my work-study job, and my used textbooks? Again, naiveté.

I don’t know the exact first moment I met 343, but I remember the first weeks. It was a blurry time, filled with NEW and exciting and free. I already could tell that I was not going to fit in with the crowd at the Private College. 343 wasn’t your typical private school guy. Sure, he’d gone to a private college prep HS, but it was a Catholic school in the City and his family was working class Catholic from the South Side too. He was also helping put himself through school.

Those first few days of new student week were a whirlwind of defining yourself, meeting people, getting acquainted, and I’m sure I was supposed to be touring the library, finding my classes, and taking placement tests or something too. I spent the week staying up late, walking around, having deep and meaningful conversations about what it means to be, and having the first booze I had had since middle school. It was so enlivening.

343 was in my new student orientation group. Neither of us was really interested in listening to the speaker – the university president who retired shortly thereafter. The president was droning on and on (and on and on) about something and the future and ethnographic studies. I still can’t hear the word ethnography without thinking about how 343 and I snickered and mocked through the entire speech. I’m still the snickering and mocking type. At one point, I had to go to the bathroom. I found two twenty-dollar bills in the toilet. 40 bucks! Big money! I fished it out, and 343 and I ordered Giordano’s for dinner. Woo hoo. Good, Chicago-style pizza. Free!

343 and I became an item after a week or two. He had a hometown girlfriend, and I had Minnow. We agreed that when we were at school, we would be with each other but when we were at home, we would be with our hometown honeys. (How'd that work out for ya?) 343 was a really great guy*.

By Christmas break, it was over. It was a wrenching break up for me. I was dumped. I had never been dumped before. My self-esteem was so low that I think I was tying my own self-worth to how others perceived me and whether or not I was good enough to love. The break-up proved to me in the way only an 18-year old can believe that I wasn’t good enough to be loved. And it showed me that I had made a terrible decision dumping Minnow. Somehow I was still tying all my self-identity up in how I was or was not coupled. And my grades that quarter were pretty bad too.

A few weeks after we returned from Christmas break, 343 and I were on again. We were off again by the time school was out for summer (but my grades were much, much better). Whenever I was in the presence of 343, I was a totally different person. I wasn’t better…not like I am when Mr. Long-Suffering is around. I was clingy, annoying, insecure, fake. A few weeks into the summer (the same summer I tried to be friends with Minnow and last saw his parents), we were on again.

We stayed together through Christmas 1995 and got engaged to be married. (The ring, by the way, was gorgeous. It’s almost the exact same style, size, shape of the ring I wear today. My tastes in men may have changed, but a diamond is forever.)

Somewhere in Spring of 1996, we were off-again, only to be on-again a month or two later. The next year was more of the same. When we were on, we were on. When we were off, there was yelling in the street at 2am, tears, slammed doors, name-calling. When we’d reconcile, he would promise it would be better. Things would be different. We’d work on it harder. When things went south (again, inevitably), I would cry saying that I didn’t think I could do this for the rest of my life. I was right. I would not have been able to do that the rest of my life. Or possibly, my life would have been smaller.

I’ve mentioned Mimi on the blog before. She is my mother and my children’s grandmother. The doting Mimi of today is a far cry from the mother of my youth. My own mother tied most of her self-worth up with who she was dating or not. My mother had never lived alone. She moved from her parents’ home straight with my father. When they divorced, she had me, and when I went to college, some man she was dating moved in with her. I was following in her footsteps in all the wrong ways. During those years between my parents’ divorce and me leaving for college, I took good care of Mimi. I was a nurturer, a worrier, and her caretaker.

Not only was I repeating her mistakes in tying my own self-worth up with who I was dating, I was trying to take care of 343 the same way I had taken care of my mom. Dating FAIL.

So, we continued on and off. Off and on. I have no idea what our friends thought. This situation had alienated most of my few friends. No one ever really said anything to me about the destructive spiral I was in (and if they had, I wouldn’t have listened). No one ever really mentioned that I was a complete and total doormat. (No one except 343 when we were off-again. If I had listened to him half as much as I loved him, I probably would’ve ended it once and for all because he was right about it all. I was a doormat.) Things were dramatic. Turbulent. Erratic. Passionate. Possibly even exciting, if we’re being honest.

Things had never gotten violent (yet). But it’s the yet I feared most.

The summer between junior and senior years, I went off to have an internship and so did 343. He was in DC, and I was in Michigan. We talked when we could, but his schedule was hectic. I enjoyed this kind of freedom too. It was nice to know that I had someone who loved me no matter what and the security of being coupled but the freedom to come and go as I pleased and to work late when needed. It’s almost as if I liked the idea of having a fiancé without all the difficulty of actually having a second person in the relationship. Since 343’s career would cause him to move around a lot and mine would keep me tied to the industrial Midwest, the summer of 1997 was actually a lot like how my marriage would have been.

When school started back up in the Fall, we were living together. It was weird. After the whole summer apart doing our own things, I had trouble adjusting back to coupledom. 343 had developed some paranoia along the way. He didn't trust me, didn't trust what few friends I had, was suspicious. Somewhere in here I had done something stupid and irresponsible with my thesis and lost my advisor, so I had to start my two-quarter project thesis over. No one can self-sabotage the way I can. (See how my self-esteem has improved...I think I'm the BEST...at self-sabotage.)

I don’t remember the fight that ended it all. I had made a big pot of chicken soup for 343. He always liked my chicken soup. He was in the living room on the fold out couch where we had been sleeping until we could get a bed. 1-800-MATTRES, leave off the last S for savings.

I remember the light in the room. The living room faced east, but it was a courtyard building so there was a wall directly to the south of the window. It was a really bright white light, but it was filtered and a time of day that made it dark in there, though it was still light outside. He left, and he never came back. Not really, at least. He came back and got his couch. I returned the ring.

A few days later, I sent an RSVP to my BFF declining an invitation to her wedding. I just couldn’t go and be happy for her. I was crushed. I cried for a few days non-stop. I would wake up in the night, go into the bathroom and cry. I would have to get a drink of water just to have enough left for tears.

He had left his kitchen table in the kitchen, but I felt weird about using it, so I put a folding table up in the kitchen next to it and used the folding table instead. I couldn’t afford the apartment on my own, so I started looking to find someone to sublet. I had no idea where I was going to go, but I knew I couldn’t stay – mentally or financially. I started a mad search for a job. I bought waterproof mascara, so I could cry and interview. Surprisingly, I got a lot of job offers.

The pot of chicken soup sat in the refrigerator for weeks unopened. It felt like a betrayal to eat it. It felt worse to throw it out. When it was time to move, I was going to throw the whole thing out - pot and all, but a friend convinced me the stock pot was too nice to waste. So, I kept the pot and flushed the soup down the toilet when I moved out. Poetic, no? (I still have that stock pot. In fact, I handed it to Chuckles last week when he had a mysterious vomiting illness.)

I had enough credits to leave school at the end of the quarter, so long as I could finish my thesis up. I worked my tail-end off finishing everything up by the middle of January, and I high-tailed it out of town. The quarter had ended in December and I got an incomplete on my thesis, but they put it in retroactively so I was able to move to Ohio and start in at the factory just in time for my 22nd birthday. I had given up the apartment in December, so I spent a month staying with different people while I finished my thesis. Essentially, I was homeless but for the kindness of friends and family.

The asterisk up above? 343 was a really great guy*. The asterisk is a place holder for “when he was sober”. 343 was a really great guy when he was sober. When he was drunk, he was a colossal jerk. An asshole even. He might agree with that statement; he might not. He might feel bad about the way things happened. He might not. He might remember them differently. He might think I was a clingy stalker who wouldn’t leave him alone for 3 years. He might regret jerking me around. I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him since graduation.

I came back from Ohio to walk at my graduation ceremony that following June. Senior week was a lot like Freshman orientation had been. There was no work to be done, no deadlines, no papers, just a lot of time to stay up late talking about what it means to be. He and I went for coffee. 343 was chain smoking and drinking a lot of coffee. I don’t remember what we said, but it was over. It had to be. 343 was sober now, but I knew that since I was a part of his drinking past, there would always be a codependent part to any relationship we would have (thanks be to al-anon). The how and why he quit drinking are his story to tell, not mine, so I won’t, but I’m glad he did.

I sent him an e-card to congratulate him when he hit one year of sobriety. I haven’t communicated with him since.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and acquaintances and people who come into your life and then disappear. Maybe it’s because we just celebrated Thanksgiving or because I am going to turn dirty-jive next year. Perhaps I’m suffering from some sort of maudlin ennui. I’ve been thinking about how people who were once very important to you can disappear without a trace.

343 has a common name. Have you ever tried to google 343? You get a lot of hits. Many companies have model numbers with 343 in them. It turns out 343 firefighters died on September 11th. So, I have never really kept up with him or known what he’s been up to. But once I found out about Minnow’s wife and parents, I was curious what had happened with 343. Did he stay sober? Did he finish up school and graduate? Those aren’t really the kinds of things you can find from a google search anyway.

A quick look on facebook tells me he got married last year. His wife is currently expecting their first baby. She looks absolutely lovely in all the belly shots posted on twitter. He taunts her by eating her favorite sushi in front of her. He founded his own company. I saw his blog. He’s still sober. He’s still chain smoking. He’s still haunted by some of the same old demons. I wish him nothing but the best.

Scenes

Making stuffing. Nothing says love like a pound of mozzarella cheese.
With No. 1 Son.
With No. 2 Son.
The table set for ten. There was also a kid's table behind me (you know, a card table covered in a nice table cloth set up in the middle of the living room. I just graduated from it myself quite recently.)

Canned cranberries on a pretty plate in front of some Waterford crystal with the can marks still clearly visible. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving at my house without it.

Minnow

Before Mr. Long-Suffering, there were 3 boyfriends. Two of them were serious, multi-year affairs and one was a short fling (short, by my standards, is about 6 or 8 months). We will now give them nicknames to differentiate. In chronological order: High school boyfriend will be known as Minnow, college boyfriend will go by a number…how about 343, and fling will go by the name Fling.

So, Minnow and I were on the math team together. We founded the Bridge Club (playing cards not building coalitions) at our high school together. If it weren’t for the fact that he was male and I am not, we probably would’ve just been really good friends. But alas, the romantic aspect was present, so we dated for about 3.5 years. We went to prom twice. I wore the same dress both times.

Minnow went off to college after my sophomore year, so we did the long-distance thing for two years. Now kids, this is back in the day before rampant email (it was still nascent email at the time) and this is just at the beginning of discount long distance (on landlines). I was paying about $0.15 per minute for the long-distance phone calls.

Usually, I would say that the long-distance thing doesn’t work out and when you go to college you should go and be open to new people and experiences. However, if your boyfriend is going to an all-male college and you are busy at home with a job, several extra-curriculars, and school, it could work out since no one is going to meet someone else. So, it went well.

I liked Minnow a lot. We had quite a bit in common. His family was very nice. They were very stable. I liked that. They ate dinner together every night. Minnow’s parents knew what classes he and his brother took in school, showed up for some functions, supported them in their endeavors. They were good parents. In fact, I am trying to be like them as I raise my own kids.

Eventually, I graduated from high school and went off to college myself with every intention of sticking with Minnow while he finished his degree at the all-male college and getting married a few years after he graduated. I even thought about moving into married student housing for my last two years at university, etc and on and on as the dreams of a teenaged girl oft are.

He lasted a week, ten days maybe. I was horrible to him. I know it now. At the time, I was so infatuated with someone else (the someone else was 343), I didn’t see how truly awful I was. I called him and told him I wanted to “see other people”. This was after 3.5 years. He deserved better. Just awful. He came to visit once (since we were still seeing each other and I was also seeing other people). He brought a blender with him to make me my favorite banana shake. I wasn’t my very best. Minnow had been my best friend for years and years, and I wanted him to be happy for me and the new life I was living and the new people I had met and the new “school” boyfriend I had. But, obviously, he couldn’t be happy for me for that. Somehow I was a self-absorbed 18-year old (redundancy alert).

{As an aside, my “school” boyfriend and I both still had hometown honeys. So, we made the agreement that when we were at school we were exclusive to each other, but when we were at home on breaks and whatnot, we could still see our old people. How we thought that would work, I don’t know. Call it naiveté.}

Let’s say things went sour with the “school” boyfriend and by the beginning of summer after freshman year, I was single again. Minnow wanted me back, but after my taste of freedom, I didn’t want him back as a boyfriend. I wanted him as my friend. We tried the just friends thing for a week or two. It didn’t work out, but I still loved hanging out at his house with his pesky little brother and his awesome parents for that week or two. And his mom’s cooking. She was such a good cook.

I might have exchanged emails with Minnow a time or two after that. We ran in some similar circles online for a while. I think I last heard from him in 1998 when he was in grad school. At the time I was pleasantly single, and he was dating a girl somewhat seriously.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and acquaintances and people who come into your life and then disappear. Maybe it’s because we just celebrated Thanksgiving or because I am going to turn dirty-jive next year. Perhaps I’m suffering from some sort of maudlin ennui. I’ve been thinking about how people who were once very important to you can disappear without a trace.

I had googled him a few times over the years. Not much came up. Well, I recently looked Minnow up on facebook. He’s not there. I googled one more time and my mad keyword skills must be getting better because a whole trove of stuff came up this time. Including an obituary.

Now, I bet you know where this is going, but it’s not. It wasn’t his obituary. It was his wife’s. The somewhat serious girlfriend from 1998? They got married in 1998 right around when he probably graduated from grad school. She passed away on Nov. 23, 2006. I don’t know how she died. They did not have any children. I almost want to send a sympathy card, but it has obviously been far-too-long since her death to do so and to do so now would be completely inappropriate since I don’t want to rekindle anything. I would just like him to know that I am sorry for his loss. Sorry I treated him so crappily, and hope he finds some happiness.

Now, that little bit of googling caused me to look his brother up on facebook. Just to see whatever happened to the pesky little brother. It appears that the little brother is all grown up now. He’s an officer in the Navy. He is married and has a couple of kids. I scrolled through his list of friends, and I noticed he had friended his mom. How sweet! I always looked up to her. She was a strong woman, a mother, she worked outside the home but seemed to balance it all so well. So I clicked over to her facebook page. Her profile photo is a picture of her grandkids. Wow, a great mom and a great and doting grandmother! Her relationship status was “in a relationship with” someone who wasn’t Minnow’s dad. Then I noticed she was using her maiden name on facebook. Of course, this made me fear that Minnow’s dad had also passed away and that I hadn’t sent another sympathy card (although it was probably too late to send one again since his mom was already dating again).

So, I did a little local obituary search for his Dad. Nothing came up, but a public record came up instead. Minnow’s father filed for divorce from Minnow’s mother. The divorce was final in 2001. I saw them in 1998. They had just finished celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary with a weekend trip to Cybaris. It’s like the kids grew up, graduated college, and they got divorced? How does that happen?

Next Chapter: The story of 343.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snippet

Overheard at my house on Thursday: I have a pound of butter on the counter, and I'm not afraid to use it.

And use it I did.

As usual, I had one thing missing from my Thanksgiving dinner: six extra people.

We had:
an artichoke dip from Target's Archer Fams which was notgood with Hawaiian bread
a veggie tray with ranch dressing and French Onion Dip

crescent rolls from a can
corn bread muffins
cranberry relish
cranberries from a can served in a pretty dish with can marks still clearly visible
deep fried cajun injected turkey
stuffing (homemade with mozzarella cheese and country sausage...a recipe that is quite good)
gravy made from turkey neck simmered in canned, low-sodium turkey broth since the fried turkey makes no pan drippings
Hungarian sausage homemade at the church at the end of the street boiled and then grilled
garlic mashed potatoes with butter and half-and-half
green beans with pearl onions and balsamic reduction
green bean casserole with the French's onions on top
candied sweet potatoes
sweet potatoes with ginger snap crumble

pecan pie
two pumpkin pies
apple pastry
whipped cream and ice cream

Korbel champagne
coffee with choclate syrup, whipped cream, and an assortment of boozes for the Irishing

What we didn't have: salad.

What we are thankful for: family, friends, security, and me yelling from the kitchen during the toast "Health".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

731

Bobo turned two years old yesterday. Chuckles promptly vomited his entire festive Thanksgiving Feast from school (where I had volunteered as a Milk Mom to help serve the fesat). The good news is they were both able to consume cupcakes before bed and no one missed his field trip today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soup

Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup

4 tsp olive oil
1-4 leeks rinsed well, tough green parts removed, sliced thinly
8 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or chopped roughly
2 cups water
2 cups broth (or one can broth and enough water to make 4 cups total)
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1” pieces (about 4 cups)

Heat olive oil in a small stock pot, sautee leeks and garlic about 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer (uncovered) for 20-30 minutes until squash is fork tender.
Blend until smooth with an immersion blender or put in a regular blender with center of the lid removed and a towel over the hole to allow steam to escape.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Un-Worry

Once upon a time (which we will call Spring), I was worried about Bobo. That might be my understatement of the day. I worried about his growth, his ear infections, his development, his autism, his health, his hatred of books, his dismissal of people, his refusal to eat, his love of binkies, his not-sleeping-through-the-night-ness, his sickness, his health, his life, his liberty, and his pursuit of happiness.

Officially, as of today, I am no longer worried.

Tonight, Bobo didn't want to go to bed. "No bed. No nigh-night. Rock Caca Room." Which basically means he doesn't want to go to bed but wants to rock in the rocking chair in Chuckles's room. However, Chuckles was already in bed with lights out (8:05...but don't be jealous...I'll see Chuckles again before too long...usually 2 am, 5:30 and from 6 on).

So, Chuckles was in bed, and Bobo did NOT want to go to bed. So, we danced the sleepytime dance, read Where's Spot, and then started in with "You can have your binky if you're in bed for sleeping. Night night. All your friends and blankies are in bed." He said, "No. Book." And picked up a book and started to "read". On the very first page of the book, there was a picture of a sleepy little baby overtired and crying. Bobo looked at the picture and said, "No baby. No Cry. Go night night. Bed. Binky." Then, he went to where we keep the binkies, got one, and tried to shove it into paper baby's mouth to make her stop crying.

He, however, still did not want to go to bed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Redemption

She lost. Whew. The headline of the paper today was:

Adams first Republican to win countywide office in 60 years

Link to the atricle

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Electoral

I voted my conscience. Rebecca Sink-Burris (L) got my vote. You might recall that I couldn't decide between her and Dan Coats. According to the WaPo, Dan Coats (R) won, so I don't feel as though I threw away my vote.

I have to say that Sink-Burris did really well in a statewide election. She got 5% of the vote. That's really good for a Libertarian candidate.

Candidate Votes %
Coats 888,280 55%
Ellsworth 649,791 40%
Sink-Burris 86,759 5%

How sad is it that when I googled Election Results 2010 Indiana, the first site that came up was WaPo and not something a wee bit more local?

So, you may recall that I mentioned that one of the candidates for local office was currently charged with a whole host of falsifying documents crimes and other unseemly things....so, of course, I voted against her (I didn't so much vote for the other person as vote against her). Of course, innocent until proven guilty, but she wouldn't even say whether her father was deceased (something about claiming a homestead exemption and senior citizen exemption in someone else's name blah blah blah and she wants to be the TAX ASSESSOR???). Her own party basically said that they can't endorse her, but they encourage you to vote a straight party ticket while holding your nose and not actually voting in that race.

Well, the race is too close to call at this point. It's too close to call!! Which sickens me. The last prelim results posted to the County election website were at 3pm. If someone were to get those results and then decide to "get out the vote" this election might swing. Lake County politics is not known for its clean elections. My county touches Chicago and our machine is every bit as well-funded and tactically deceitful as anyone else's machine (complete with actual election ballots found in an actual bag at the bottom of the harbor).

Time for bed. Night night.

PS - Bobo has been saying, "Ding Dong. Bowl." all day. I am pretty sure he either saw the Wizard of Oz without me knowing about it or he wants to go Trick Or Treating again and get shiny packages out of people's bowls. (I do not think he is aware that the shiny packages are filled with candy. Please don't tell him.)

Moo

Sunday, on the spur of the moment, we took the kids to Fair Oaks Farms to see where our milk comes from. I had a coupon for buy one-get one admission (Thank you Entertainment book fundraiser from the school).

Fair Oaks is not organic milk, but the cows get to walk around and live in relative comfort (for dairy cows). The cows don't get antibiotics (unless they're sick) and they don't get added hormones, but their feed is conventionally grown, so the milk isn't organic. It's just....less tainted.

Anyway, they runs tours and whatnot.

I really enjoyed the farm. We didn't take the tour to the milking turntable because it involved a 45-minute bus ride and Bobo is not so much for the sitting down these days. But they had plenty of other things to do like drive tiny tractors, eat ice cream, climb a rock wall, sample cheese, jump on a giant inflatable pillow (which was a real hoot), drink milk, a 4-D mooooovie, and much, MUCH more. If you act now, they will throw in the string cheese maze for free!

I went to the birthing barn and watched a cow give birth to twin bull calves. 60 pounds apiece. It's the first time I have ever seen something born in real-life. Yikes. It was a little gross as I imagine traditional childbirth is (and beautiful too...yessiree I am sure childbirth is beautiful...and slimy). Anyway, we didn't know a second calf was coming and then the cow midwife (she wasn't a vet, just a woman who helps the laboring cows) stuck her arm (up to the shoulder) into the cow. I figure she was trying to get the placenta. When her arm came back out, she had hold of a hoof. She grabbed both, and pulled. I mean, really, pulled. And out slid another calf.

The mother cow was quite interested in her first calf and was licking and stimulating it. She wasn't all that interested in that second thing that came out of her. I was really hoping she was going to maternal up and that we wouldn't see neonatal cow death. So, the midwife dragged #2 around to the front end of the cow and eventually, she gave her calf a cursory lick and went back to #1. After about a half hour, #1 started to get up and walk away, so #2 got a lot of attention then. Everything worked out OK in the end. I never saw the calves nurse though. They get to stay with their mothers on the farm for about 80 days.

Aquaria

We took the kids to the Shedd Aquarium today. My company is a corporate partner, so the tickets were free. We got all access passes. All Access. Woo Hoo.

The kids? Well, they were most impressed by an area where you could put on a penguin costume and go down a slide on your belly. So, right, glad I didn't pay $26 each for those tickets.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Progress

I ran another 5k over the weekend. I improved my time almost 3 minutes. From 40:11 to 37:14.

Many people ran in costume. I chased a giant M&M for 3 miles. I vowed that if I caught her, I could take a bite. Will run for chocolate. Four or five guys dressed up as KISS (in full jumpsuits, wigs, make-up, and carrying guitars). They also ran it under 20 minutes, so impressive all around. The guy who ran in the 70-and-over age bracket beat my time, but I'm closing in on him. The best costume though was a Golden Retriever dressed up as a frilly pink poodle.

Today? My legs are like Twizzlers. And every time one of my joints in my knee or hip is bent, it’s like Crunch. Even my Skittles have been jostled into Mounds. I've been trying to think of myself as Good-N-Plenty, but some days, I just feel Chunky. But Mr. Long-Suffering thinks I'm cute and the kids give me a Bit-O-Honey, which makes me feel Almond Joy and sends my feelings into the Milky Way. They really are my 3 Musketeers. Now all I need is a Pay Day for a 100 Grand, and I will be all set like Baby Ruth.

Happiness

Chuckles had a bowl of cereal this morning (Honey Sunshine) topped with M&Ms. I am a winner mother with a good sense of humor.


The kids pulled in 144 pieces of candy last night. That number makes me so geekfully happy seeing as it is (a) a gross and (b) 12-squared.

Bobo dumped his bag onto the living room floor last night and shuffled his feet through the pile as he had been doing to piles of raked leaves all weekend. He did not say, "Trick or Treat" at a single door, but he did say, "bell" and "Ding Dong" about a million times. At one house, he pointed to a chair on the front porch, said, "Chair", and climbed into it and sat down for a rest. This irked Chuckles because, I mean, there is still free candy that people will give me if we keep moving. Gotta make good time.

Both kids stayed out almost the full two hours. They needed mittens. For the 5th consecutive year, Chuckles wore my mittens around because I forgot to bring his and had mine in my pocket.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hope

Election Day is coming, and I'm excited. Hope and Change. If you find my somewhat right-of-liberal views annoying, you should stop now. I don't want to upset anyone, but I am a Libertarian and I blog about that in addition to the stuff about kids, gardening, cooking, etc.
Libertarian views in a nut shell: Fiscal Conservatism with Social Liberalism. Also, Just Leave Me Alone to Live My Life.

Yes to the following Liberties: Gun Ownership (I'm OK with restrictions for felons and criminals), Free Speech, Property Rights, Gay Marriage (though some of the most Libertarian will tell you that the state has no business in civil marriage of any kind and I can see the argument, though marriage is so entrenched in society it would be hard to un-do), Abortion-on-Demand with minimal restrictions, low interference from the state on just about everything, local control of more, central control of less (but I can see how the Fed is required for some things like enforcing the 14th Amendment in the South during Jim Crow).

No to the following intrusions on personal liberty: Speech and dress codes (ala Burqa ban in France and speech codes in Canada), high tax rates, government mandates of all kinds, unnecessary licensing requirements, liquor laws (why doesn't Indiana allow wine.com to ship to me?...because the wholesalers and distributors have convinced the politicians to allow them to keep their monopoly in the guise of public interest), zoning laws, property covenants, unions, incentives that reward undesireable behavior, politicians who buy the votes of the electorate with my money.

So, I am hopeful that some things in Indiana (and the Nation) will change after November 2nd. I think we might get our first Republican county-wide official elected this year since the 1950s. The democratic candidate for assessor is currently charged with a felony and probably doesn't actually reside in the county. Her own party machine isn't endorsing or backing her, but the higher-ups are urging people just to vote a straight party ticket. If she wins, it will be a sad day for an imformed electorate.

I'm not sure for whom I will vote in the US Senate race. The democrat and republican have both sent many many mailers to my home and their positions on the issues are very similar (almost indistinguishable by my way of reading...rhetoric about working families, low taxes, pro-jobs, anti-abortion). I think, in this case, the devil is in the details. One says he's pro-jobs by spending tax dollars to pay people to do things. The other says he's pro-jobs by lowering S-corporation tax rates to encourage job creation in the private sector.

Evan Bayh decided not to run for re-election after it was too late to hold primary elections, so the democrats put up Brad Ellsworth (he's for bank bail-outs, pro-Obamacare, and anti-gay marriage). Dan Coats (a former US Senator) is running as the Republican (he's backed by the Tea Party, who I swear to you is not a bunch of angry racists no matter what Newsweek's coverage tells you). Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris is also running. Her views most closely represent my views (although she's Pro-Life too, sort of...she doesn't seem anti-abortion...it's like she says I'm Pro-Life (who isn't?) and then sounds sort of reasonable on the issue...very strange position), but she has a snowball's chance of being elected. So, do I vote my conscience, or vote as closely to my conscience as I can with a candidate who actually has a chance in a tight race? Therein lies the rub.

Pain

Speaking of the blind following of rules, handwriting practice. Chip starts his letters r and n and the bottom line, pushes up, then pulls down, then pushes back up and curves them over. Every time he does this on his handwriting worksheet, I erase it and tell him to start at the middle dashed line and pull down. He whines, he pouts, he cried because I am so mean, he draws out the worksheet for an hour when it could reasonably be done in 3 minutes. There is just a way you do things. And you need to learn and develop muscle memory so that one day you can just sit there and write without thinking and have it be legible. I do not believe that longhand is going anywhere just because of electronica.

My point is that things are going well. Quite well. Swimmingly. I am happy (mostly). I am contented. I have pangs of wanting a third baby, but I don't think I actually want a third baby. Although, who wouldn't want to be able to say My Three Sons?

Joy

Last Week, Moxie posted the question: What's going on with you?

SarcastiCarrie answered: My life is absolutely wonderfully fabulous right this very minute and I want to stop time right here and stay here forever and ever and ever. But, alas, that is not how life goes, so tomorrow, something will hit the fan and someone is going to the pediatrician and so on.

Well, the fates did not strike me down after that comment and the only reason Chip wound up at the pediatrician is beacause he got his first varicella vaccine at 51 weeks of age and the State says it doesn't count if it is given prior to 51 weeks 4 days (I shit you not). Never mind that his brother had chicken pox, and he didn't get it, which proves his immunity and also should count as a booster shot. He got the shot, got a sucker, got his FluMist, and we all carried on with our lives. I did not even storm the statehouse and demand they make an exception, nor did I ask for the exemption papers to decline vaccinating. I believe in herd immunity. I don't believe in the blind following of rules, but sometimes, it's just easier.

UPDATED: I forgot to mention that what brought the issue to a head was a phone call from the principal wherein she threatened to "exclude him from school until we resovle this matter". Threats. Great. I did sign a paper saying that they do NOT have my permission to give Chip's vaccination records to the state through electronic records sharing. So, whatever. It's over an done. Maybe when I am out of the throes of childrearing I will fight for commonsense vaccination programs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fear

I have mentioned before that I work in heavy industrial manufacturing. Mr. Long-Suffering does too. Twice a year, he works a big blitz at work. Two years ago, when I was enormously pregnant with Bobo, he had an accident. He was injured at work when something broke loose and went flying across the building. He was very lucky. He was hit in the arm.

This morning at my desk, I got the same email forwarded to me by 15 different people. It was a safety notice of a fatal accident that happened during the big blitz that Mr. Long-Suffering is working this week. The guy who was killed is named also named Mr. Most people know Mr. and I have different last names and most of the people prefaced their emails with “That wasn’t your husband, was it?” It was not my husband, but I really think those people should have called instead of emailed. There’s an etiquette and a protocol to these things. If you're notifying a woman that her husband might have just been killed, you should call. Or stop by her office.

It was some other mechanical engineer named Mr. working on that exact same piece of equipment, and if it had happened on day turn instead of midnights or if Mr. Long-Suffering had been working midnights (like usual) instead of days this week it would have been him. Tearing up a little at my desk. OK, actually, tearing up a lot.

Guilt

So, why did we, after 5 years, baptize the kids?

Guilt.

Mr. Long-Suffering had been getting occasional digs from his parents for 5 years. He had finally had enough.

Neither of us is what you might call religious. We've never regularly attended church together, though he went as a child and I went some as an adult (just to learn about the Bible so I would be better at Jeopardy! Oddly, the church doesn't actually teach you about what is in the text of the bible.).

Mr. Long-Suffering is an introvert and rather sensitive to criticism, and the fact that he was disappointing his parents was crushing him. The comments only came up 2-4 times per year, but he internalized their disapproval, and it wore on him. Plus, in his family, a baptism is a custom, a tradition, and he felt like it was something we should do because it is what people do.

This is not a custom or tradition in my family. My sister and I were not baptized nor christened. My niece was not either. We did not regularly attend church as children, though occasionally, my grandmother would drop us off for Sunday school, or we'd go with the neighbors. I am a polite non-believer (of all religions, though I do think Judaism is pretty neat). Agnostic really. I'm culturally Protestant. Some of my family is devoutly religious. My own father is an ordained member of the Presbyterian church (though how that happened was sort of an accident....million-to-one shot doc, million-to-one).

Mr. Long-Suffering and I were married in the Lutheran Church (LC-MS) 9 years ago, and I did agree to raise my kids in that Church (though truthfully, I somehow never thought it would happen).

So, when Mr. Long-Suffering floated the idea of getting Bobo and Chip baptized, I said, "Sure, OK, you plan it, and I'll show up." That was about 2 years ago. The idea surface every few months since then. I always said, "OK, I won't stop you." Though, truthfully, he's not the planner in this relationship so I never thought it would happen.

Now that we have Mrs. Marie, though, we have a lot more mind-space time. I have 3 hours per week to myself now, and I assume Mr. L-S does too. So, he arranged a baptism. I planned a party. I even made sure our family went to church the weekend before the baptism so we'd see the place, get the lay of the land, meet the pastor, etc.

So, it's done. And I feel just awful about it. I really didn't want to baptize them. It sort of goes against everything I believe in. If they decide that they are believers when they're grown, they could get baptized then. On the other hand, I remind myself that as a non-believer, it doesn't really mean anything and nothing has changed, so no big deal, symbolism, blal blah blah, pleasing the elder generation. If they decide they are non-believers when they grow up, it's not like they can un-do it (though really, as a non-believer, it doesn't mean anything any way, so no harm - no foul).

The funny part about it is that Chip has been dumping buckets of water over Bobo's head three times in the bath and saying it's a baptism. Which is really adorable.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Champange Punch Recipe (Bellini Recipe, Peach Champagne Deliciousness Recipe)

This is the recipe I ended up serving, and it was wonderful. I googled and I googled and I ended up just winging it. You can increase/decrease to the number of people you have.

This served 20 adults for 3 or 4 hours.

The night before, make an ice ring:
Put a pound of frozen peaches (or your own peeled, pitted, and wedged peaches) into the bottom of a Bundt pan (or any other decorative pan or tupperware). Cover peaches with Sierra Mist Natural (I recommend this only because it is made with sugar not HFCS. You could use 7-Up.). Place in freezer overnight or until frozen solid. To remove, put pan in sink of tepid water to loosen and then put it in the punch bowl trying not to splash (or put it in before the liquids).

4 bottles of chilled, cheap Champagne or Sparkling Wine (I used 2 cheap, 2 moderate bottles because that is what I had on-hand: 2 J Roget, 1 Korbel, and one Frexinet), any brand, any Brut, semi-dry, spumante, etc.

1 bottle of peach schnapps (the cheaper the better...mine was $9.99, but I am pretty sure a cheap-o bottle can be had for $7 or $8).

4 twelve-ounce cans of Peach Nectar (at my grocery store, it was found on the Latino Foods aisle). All the brands said 100% nectar on the front and had sugar/high fructose corn syrup listed as an ingredient. I don't know whether it was sugar or HFCS, but how is that 100% nectar?

1-2 cups of Sierra Mist Natural, to taste

One ice ring with frozen peaches

serve with ladle from (borrowed) punch bowl (or heck, a stock pot would work) into Solo Cups (or you know, champagne flutes if you're feeling fancy)

This recipe would be very easy to scale down to one bottle of champagne (and in fact, I made a three-bottle batch and then a one-bottle batch after it was clear that the punch was moving).

Friday, October 01, 2010

Oh No! Not Again!

We have a child in our house who has learned the word "no". Send help. And wine. And maybe chocolate.


PS - No champagne punch recipes? Really? Are my 6 readers all a bunch of teetotallers, because I don't know if we can have that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Well now

So, two posts down, that guy leaning against the truck, he totally was checking out my @$$. True. True that. And why wouldn't he be?

Next! I love mapmyrun. I go out and I run and I come back and see how far I've gone, or I plan out a route before I go. Tonight, I said I wanted to go out and run about 3 miles. I ended up needed to go to the bathroom about 35 minutes into it (it's usually about 40 minutes), so I went right home. I mapped my run. I ran 2.99 miles. (So a good ti:me and a good time.)

Next! Physical therapy is going well. I'm not excellent about doing my exercises outside of PT though (who has time? and good form?), but I'm making excellent progress. Today I was lifting weights with the arm that was, for all intents and purposes, dead to me just a month ago.

I think weaning was a factor in the bum shoulder. I maintained such good body mechanics and posture when nursing (with a nursing stool and multiple pillows on my lap and behind my back) and I always did a c-support with the hand on the side I was nursing (I only know how to nurse in cross-cradle). The support hand would throw my shoulder back into good posture. Must find a baby to nurse now. Anyone have a spare? Oh wait, I'm not lactating any more. Oh well. Exercise then.

I had a wonky mole removed. It's benign. I'm allergic to Neosporin, so they prescribed something that had no generic for me to put on it. It was $200. Yikes. There is another form of it that has a generic and would have cost $6. Why would they prescribe a white cream instead of a greasy ointment with a generic when the active ingredients are the same? The biggest bummer of the whole thing? I had an allergic reaction to the $200 Bactroban cream. Dang. I have 45 mg of it that will go to waste and now I'm going to scar (at least it's my arm and not my face).

The kids are good. They are being baptized on Sunday. I could write an entire post on this, but I am sure I would offend both the religious types and the secular humanists with my gross generalizations, so let's just say the kids are wearing matching outfits (white shirts, courduroy trousers), I am wearing a sheath dress that would go great with a pillbox hat, Mr. Long-Suffering will be wearing whatever I tell him to, and we're serving fried chicken, cake, and champagne punch at the reception afterward. I need a good recipe for champange punch, so please leave one in the comments. I googled for it. If no one comes up with one, I'm going with strawberries, sprite, champagne, peach nectar, and an ice ring.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Life and Times...

Well, where have I been?

We took a little getaway vacation this weekend. We stopped at the Volo Car Museum and saw famous cars (like Doc Hudson, the Batmobile, Mach 5, the Flinstones car, Herbie the Love Bug, The Blues Brothers car, the General Lee, the station wagon from Ghostbusters, the Delorean with flux capacitor from Back to the Future, and much more). They also sell classic cars there. We did not buy anything, but my very first car when I was 16 was a 1968 Chevy Camaro RS 327 with the small block Chevy engine. They had one at the car museum. I got my picture taken with it.

Then we stopped in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for dinner at Popeyes. We got balloon animals. We walked around a bit and look at the spillway, beach, boats, and a horse that was on the street to give carriage rides. You can feed him carrots.

Finally, we checked in to our hotel, Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, WI. We parked our car on Friday and didn't see it again until Sunday afternoon when it was time to leave. The staff there was friendly and attentive to children. There were plenty of activities for the kids including nightly bonfires (and they sold little s'mores kits in the gift shop), crafts, mini-golf, scavenger hunts, and an arcade. It was just wonderful (as any place with an indoor pool would be). We got a lot of time in as a family. We even got some sleep. The kids each got souvenir Pillow Pets, so everyone was happy.

We're back living regular life now. It's good. Bobo had speech therapy today. I had physical therapy (every time I have PT, I wind up with crushing head pain for several hours afterward...whatever they're doing to my neck and shoulders is working...and moving the pain elsewhere).

I'm supposed to be running right now but it's a severe thunderstorm warning. I'm not that dedicated. I do have another run planned for the end of October though. It seems I am quite goal-oriented and won't actually run if I don't have some kind of training plan for something. Who knew?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Word List

My BFF from the old neighborhood sent me a list of words her 16-month old knows. So, it got me to thinking about Bobo's language skills. The kid is clearly "all there" in the brain department, he's just a man of few words (redundant).

Speech Therapy is going well, but I don't think it's the reason he's talking more now (because really, I couldn't have thought to TALK TO HIM or to REPEAT THE SAME WORDS OVER AND OVER and what not). So, here is Bobo's expanded vocabulary list.

Mama (which can mean anything from referring to Mom, or "Mom, look at me", "That is a car like the one my Mom drives" or "I am not wearing a hat!")

Dada

Keys (give them to me so I can beep the horn)

Beep Beep

Car

Yogurt

Cheese (which is really quite a shame since he and dairy don't so much get along)

Papa (for grandpa)

Mimi (which is my mom and also Mrs. Marie)

Buh Bye (said like a teenage girl)

Mine (which does not specifically mean “mine” but rather, “I have been wronged, avenge me”)

Up

Down

In

Out

Boat (For the record, he also calls life jackets "boat", but really I can see his point.)

Yeah (and he has not learned the word that is the opposite of this yet, so let's not tell him about the word that starts with N and ends with O.)

Got Poop (which is often correct, and when he’s wrong, I think it means he tooted. If he was developmentally on-track with everything else, I would start him potty training now, but I'd rather focus on language acquisition and worry about the potty after we're able to have more in the way of conversations.)

Cookie

Cracker

Nana (which is a banana, but it doesn’t mean we should give one to him, just that they exist on the counter. Do not get this wrong and try to feed him a banana. You will be sorry. And you will be cleaning the ceiling fan.)

Woo-Woo (this is, oddly, a telephone. I'm guessing it's either because of the ring it makes or because we say "hello" when answering it)

Wall (wallet…give me your purse so I can get your wallet, woo-woo, and keys...and then I will beep the horn...again. and lock your car in the garage from the living room couch.)

Bay-Bee (that’s anyone smaller than Chuckles, but quite possibly as big as Bobo)

Buy (that’s bike)

Wa-wa (water, give some to me)

Opie/Open

Muh (more)

Cat (which means Cat…and Dog)

Duck/Quack (I have no idea what he’s actually saying but that’s what he means)

Brella (umbrella)

Ball, Ballloon, and Buh-Bull (bubbles)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life's Lessons

Sometimes, you win.
Sometimes, you lose.

Sometimes, you're really, really happy just to finish the race (without doing any walking and under 45:00) before they take down the finish line.


Sometimes, you have to explain to Chuckles why you would want to run when you know you won't even win.



Chuckles had been riding his Big Wheel with me while I trained for the 5k. So on Sunday, he entered the Big Wheel 500...a half mile track race for plastic-tired children. He did his half mile in 3:50. He took 3rd in his age bracket. He's bringing his trophy for show-n-share tomorrow.

If he was training with me, how did he wind up so much faster?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Viral (and I'm not talking illness)

I guess since I got invited to the screening, I feel like I should help pimp my friend's movie, so consider this the closest thing to advertising you will ever see me do.

The movie is an independent film called "Losing Control," a romantic comedy about a female scientist looking for proof that her boyfriend is "the one."

It stars Miranda Kent (Campus Ladies), Reid Scott (My Boys, The Big C), Kathleen Robertson (Beverly Hills 90210), Theo Alexander (True Blood), Bitsie Tulloch (lonelygirl15, Quarterlife) and Ben Weber (Sex and the City). The movie just finished, and they are having a private cast & crew screening to celebrate its completion. In addition to cast, crew, family and friends, they also will be inviting people in the industry who could be influential in getting the film distributed.

The screening will be on September 30 at the Zanuck Theatre at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. I was given the option of having an official invitation sent to me. If any of you blog readers know anyone in Hollywood who you think would be a good match for this event, please let me know and I will set you up. So, if you're a mover and a shaker or your husband or wife is, or your sister-in-law or the cousin of your co-worker works for Lion's Gate, let me know.
http://www.losingcontrolmovie.com/

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Shoulder Work Ahead



Well, back in January, I slept funny one night shortly after weaning Bobo and woke up with excruciating pain in my left shoulder. I'm sure the next day I had to take Bobo to Urgent Care since that was our hobby back then. I took ibuprofen and Aleve every day for a week or two and the pain receded to a dull stabby sensation. I babied the shoulder. I didn't use it. I didn't hold Chuckles's hand with my left and I only carried Bobo on the right.

Now that my life is drama-free, I figured I should go to the doctor and have it checked out, since it's been, what?, 8 months...9? Who can keep track? I can't even close the liftgate at the back of my not-minivan. I can't close the refrigerator door with my left hand. You get the idea. It's very inconvenient.

So, I went to my primary care physician (who did not want me to take my pants off!) and who I had not seen in 18 months. When she walked in the room, before even saying hello, she asked me if I had been going to the dermatologist and had that looked at. It was on my mental list of things to do. Anyway, she checked out my shoulder, gave me a script for Mobic, an NSAID, sent me for an x-ray, referred me to physical therapy, scheduled a consult with an orthopedic surgeon, and is having me go to the derm to have that thing removed from my arm. I don't see how I will possibly be able to attend work at all for the next month.

Plus, a friend from high school just finished executive producing a movie and invited me to the premiere/screening in LA. I so want to figure out how to go, but I can't figure out any way that doesn't involve me taking a day or two off of work and flying out to LA. That would just be too weird. What would I even wear?

Oh, so right. I filled the Mobic script and for the first time in my life, I understand why people become drug addicts. Apparently, I had been living with chronic pain. After about 5 days on the mobic, I don't have chronic pain. I don't feel all stabby about the left side of my body. I can use my arm and not wince in pain. I can hold CHuckles's hand. They will not be able to pry these pills from my hands. No, they will not. I went to physical therapy today and he measured my range of motion, etc. I totally should have gone there before starting the drugs because I'm all like, "look at me lift my arms above my head without screaming!"

The x-ray shows that I am developing arthritis. Isn't that something that old people get? For the record, I am not old. I'm not even 34-2/3 yet. So, physical therapy. The PT determined that my should hurts from poor body mechanics. I'm a sloucher and it's giving me a hump back and shoulder pain. I have to learn how to stand up straight and keep my head over my spine. It's going to be a long road. But I'm a full 3" taller when I stand up straight (and look 15 pounds lighter).

On another note, I ran 3 miles the other night. Twas awesome. I was like a bullet train I was going so fast. The cooler weather has set in, so it's not as unpleasant now when I go out. I'm still not a fan, but I'm doing it. And it's OK. There is a 5k coming up that is literally going to run down my residential street in front of my house. I'm going to run that.

That is all.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Burning Question, Need Answers

So, in teaching Chuckles to tie his shoes, Mr. Long-Suffering and I seem to have come to a disagreement. He says I tie shoes backward. I say there's more than one way to tie a knot. (And also, he is wrong.)

Tying shoes involves making a loop and pinching it with one hand and then twirling the lace in the opposite hand around the loop and then pushing through the gap you just made.

Which hand makes and holds the first loop? Left? or Right?

You must tell me so I can be the winner, or I mean, of course, we don't keep score in our marriage, just let's clear this little situation up so we can move on to more important things.

=====

nej asked whether I gave any consideration to skipping Chuckles ahead to first grade. And, yes, of course, I did give that consideration and dismissed it almost immediately. (My consultation of Mr. Long-Suffering in these kinds of decisions is more a formality than anything. It's more like informing him of the decisions we made.)

Indiana has some crazy rules about birthday cut-offs. For many years recently, the birthday cut-off was as early as June 1st. As in, you had to be 5 by June 1st to start school in August, so there were kids with June, July, and early August birthdays who were fully 6 before starting kindergarten. The birthday cut-off day was slowly moved to August 1st, but that June date has left a legacy of people holding (boys mostly) back a year.

In fact, Chuckles's kindergarten teacher had a son with an April birthday who she thought about holding back but didn't (and it worked out well) and twin boys with July birthdays who she gave the gift of time (and that worked out well too). With a May birthday, if we moved Chuckles into first grade, he could wind up in class with kids who were born in 2002. That is a huge social and physical difference at this age. The classmates could be 1 to almost 3 years older than he is.

So reasons not to move Chuckles ahead:
  1. He's just a little kid who still needs to learn impulse control.
  2. I'm not ready for him to be in all-day school. (I know, it's not about me.)
  3. I don't want my kids to be 5 school years apart in age (totally arbitrary reason).
  4. I don't want to short-change any of Chuckles's childhood. He needs more time to kick around poking worms in the dirt.
  5. I don't want to push him too hard. (And no one at the school has mentioned moving him ahead, so I really don't want to be that pushy mom.)
  6. I would rather he be a stand-out in kindergarten than be middle-of-the-pack in 1st grade (because I think success here would set him up for success down the line).
  7. I think our (suburban, well-funded) school district might handle this welll, and I want to see how it goes.
  8. He might only be doing so well because he went to kindergarten with Mrs. Marie at his day care last year. I mean, it's not like he picked this knowledge up through osmosis of his superior somethings. He might be totally average as far as intellect goes and just have these specific skills because it's stuff he's learned already. Maybe he's not innately smart, just well-schooled.