March 31, 2009

Back and Better!

I am coming up on five years of blogging in June. I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Some of you… don’t know how I started blogging and so I thought I would throw it out there, as it’s time for me to bring forth someone who has been gone way too long.

In March of 2004, I was reading my local Sunday newspaper, where they published this absolutely hysterical article from a blog written by a guy named Grau Magus. It was the ‘Retrosexual Code’. (I won’t link to anyone who has it posted, but will relink when Grau reposts it.)

I couldn’t stop laughing, and so with website in hand, I went on-line to look this guy up. I read him for weeks, never commenting, just reading what he had to say, thinking he was damn funny, and enjoying his repartee with his buddies in the comments section.

Before that time, I’d never been on a blog.

Over time, I finally got the nerve to comment. I also picked up reading two other blogs, John of Castle Arghhh!, my first mil blog, and Harvey at Bad Example.

I commented some at John’s, but mostly at Harvey and Grau’s, and while spending my time in Harvey’s comment section one day, Harvey shot me an email and said, “You really should be blogging…”

He spent the better part of a month, emailing and being very persuasive.

I knew I’d start when I was at a Memorial Service on Memorial Day, the Marines standing around, the wreaths being brought out by 60 different organizations from those with children, to Veterans of our Armed Forces, participants from age 3 to 100. I was so touched and as I sat there with my own organization I was representing I thought, “I would so blog this.”

I started a week later.

That is how my blog fathers came about… two men who were instrumental in my blogging. One being the first blogger I ever read, introducing me to the blogosphere and the other’s gentle persuasion.

Grau left blogging about 18 months ago with some family issues, not bloggable, but a couple weeks ago, I started seeing him reappear in comments.

I received an email… that he’s back. His blog URL has changed. He’s now HERE. It’s the old URL with a .org instead of a .com.

And he’s just as funny to me as ever.

I derive too much juvenile pleasure in reading how he can string so much profanity into one sentence. I think he even makes up his own curse words.

If cursing offends, well, it may not be the blog for you, but even if it does, you should stop by just to hear what he has to say because there is a lot of depth to his thought… a lot of emotion.

Absolutely NOBODY in the blogosphere can pop off a good rant like Grau. Oh others can try, but Grau is the absolute master of ranting and cutting someone to shreds.

In my opinion, the following four years with Grau could be extraordinarily entertaining as he has no love lost for ‘Comrade Obamavich’ as he calls him.

Heh. Welcome Back, Grau. The blogosphere was not the same without you.

I mean really… how many others of us have a ‘Give-a-F***ometer’? Oh we have them… but how many of us knew what to call it?

Posted by Boudicca at 09:19 PM | Comments (8)

March 30, 2009

When *I* Was a Kid, We Used Stone Tablets

When my children were younger, I used to tell people that in general, it was stress free, because any decisions we made, if deemed not correct, could be altered.

Other than a couple trips in an ambulance due to breathing issues, there were no life altering decisions that were being made.

Your two year old doesn’t want to pee in the potty? Fine. He won’t go to college in a diaper. He’ll get potty trained.

Your three year old doesn’t want to eat vegetables? Fine. You’ll work your way around it and with vitamins and other ways, such a pureeing veggies into food, most certainly your child will not end up with scurvy, beriberi, or some other odd disease from not getting the right nutrients.

You hate you four year old’s best friend? Chances are they won’t be friends next year, and if you can’t stand the punk, chances are it’s because they are spoiled or whiney, and that’s a far cry from a kid who looks like he’s doing Meth, reeks of booze, and whose parents are in the Federal Pen for armed robbery.

Your five year old is struggling to read? Unless there is a learning disability, it’s going to click. It will. Some kids just develop neurologically at different rates. And if there is a disability, we have SO MUCH now that can help. Catch it early… and they’ll struggle, but they’ll be fine in the long run. Mostly.

It’s perspective.

I was at a party Saturday night where I saw a woman I’d not seen in a few years. She is in her mid 50s and she and her husband don’t have children. She asked me how my sons were doing.

I told it was crazy and I feel half insane, but I thought the biggest stress was that for my eldest we’ve moved into the realm of all the decisions being so damn important.

We’ve moved into potentially life altering. Grades, friends, extracurricular activities, they all have to be at a premium to get into one of the really good schools.

I went to what is perceived as a very average college. Don’t get me wrong, I got a great education, I had some fantastic professors, I had experiences that kids at big schools would kill for. I like to joke that I sent out one resume, had one interview, and got one job, and that job happened to be at a Fortune 50 company. (Slight exaggeration… I had 500 resumes printed, sent out a few blindly, interviewed on campus a couple times, and then bagged the big job by accident.)

I graduated in December, by mid January my job was lined up, and I was working by mid-February.

But… as great as it was for me, as much as it all worked out, I want better for my children.

Not to live vicariously through them… but I want them to have the opportunity should they CHOOSE to take it.

It’s one thing for them to decide on their own to go to a college like my alma mater. It’s a whole other thing if they go there because they can’t get into where they had their heart set.

And therein lays the stress of the late 20th century and the current 21st century.

As I told my Tech Lead today, who has two kids, the eldest being 8, ‘no longer do you get into a great school with a 4.0, having been in Key Club, Band and some awesome SAT scores’.

When we were in high school they had just started offering AP classes and I didn’t take them because my view was, “I’m GOING to college… why do I want to take college courses now?”

IB hadn’t been invented.

Community Service hours? Those were done by the kids in Juvie Hall.

Now?

To get into the great schools, you have to graduate from high school with a 6.5 having completed two years of college at the end of your senior year in high school, meanwhile spending five hours a week working at a homeless shelter, while also working with a team of kids to invent an alternate fuel source, and spending your summers in some remote village of Africa trying to find a cure for Ebola.

Or something close to the above.

Oh and you have absolutely PERFECT SAT scores.

And you spend your time wondering, how your kids can do better when the better means they can really not be children?

When did it become mandatory for kids to complete college classes in high school to get into the great schools and some of the just good schools?

I missed that.

I was talking to on of our Eagle Scouts the other day, inquiring how it was going getting ready for college. He got accepted to University of Florida, which is a BIG deal now as it’s tough as hell to get in there.

He informed me that even though he took all those AP classes, anything in his major (engineering) he was required to retake.

So he’ll take Calculus… again. He’ll take Physics… again. And at first I thought, “Damn, it would suck sitting next to him. He’s going to be snoozing in class making A’s as he’s had all that crap before…” when I realized, the class will probably be FILLED with snoozers.

I believe… it’s become… the norm.

I wonder if college will be a cakewalk for them.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:15 PM | Comments (12)

March 29, 2009

Staking Fluffy, Shoes, and Surrendering the Sword

This is a post to get the Hamster post off the top of my blog.

I'm a bit tired and am having a difficult time figuring out what to write, not that I haven't laughed, but because its been so crazy, so daggum busy, with little bits of horror mixed in for good measure, that my brain is a bit fuzzy.

I was so stressed yesterday that at one point I wondered if I was in the process of having a stroke, that burning sensation I get across that one vein that runs along the left side of my head.

And I wish I could say I was joking, but I'm really not. It was that bad.

I'm trying to mellow out... let other people do the worrying where it should be done... trying not to fight the battles I'm worn out from fighting. Someone else needs to take the sword because I'm exhausted. My husband realizes it and has done his share of slaying of demons this week... but we're all done.

And for some of you, none of this makes sense. A few have an inkling... but I assure you, my immediate family is fine.

What I want are some happy stories. I'm going to be asking for them, the topic being mine, the story being yours in my comments, but not now as Fluffy has been so awful in letting people comment.

I really am trying to stake Fluffy in the heart. I'm trying to install Haloscan comments and have some people that will help me. If that happens, I'll have a big delurking party so everyone can do a big shout out.

Kind of like the Who's in Whoville shouting, "We're Here! We're Here!"

On a hugely positive note, my two older boys finished the swimming portion of the Boy Scout Swimming Merit Badge this weekend. I think they were exhausted, but really had a good time, as they had to jump in the pool fully clothed and disrobe (except for bathing suit) and inflate their pants while treading water.

After camp this summer, they should be at the halfway point for attaining Eagle.

Change of topics... sometimes I wish someone could live my life for a week and tell me what they think.

But I will settle for the fact that some people had to walk in my shoes for a few hours tonight and got to see what my husband and I have had to put up with for way too long.

Eyes were opened.

Let us see if it helped. I definitely felt smug.

More tomorrow... perhaps a final staking of Fluffy. I'm working on it... I am.

OH! And I so did not have the final four being UConn, Mich State, NC and Villanova. Hunh.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:46 PM | Comments (9)

March 26, 2009

Whole New Meaning to Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie

I thought rather than leaving my comment fights up as the top posts, I'd leave you with one last thought tonight.

Puberty in the eyes of a boy on the cusp.

My boys are pretty open with me. They'll ask me anything, the two younger boys, more so than the eldest.

They often tell me more than I ever expect, but I meet it all with an understanding or a laugh, figuring its better to know more than to not know enough.

Which brings me to tonight's conversation with my middle son.

He informed me today, that he learned last year that puberty of a boy to a man is divided into three parts. Part one he gets hair on the top of his parts. Part two the hair spreads and...

... Part three it looks like you're growing a hamster.

I strongly suspect the hamster part is his word choice.

So there you have it. The three stages of male puberty.

I may never look at a hamster the same way again.

Posted by Boudicca at 11:41 PM | Comments (5)

More obsessing

I'm playing. Please do me a favor and tell me what you think of this comment stuff.

I'm trying to stake Fluffy in the heart.

So.

Please leave me a comment, let me know if you're having problems, feel free to de-lurk if you've not left a comment before.

I'm hoping no registering is required of you.

Let me know of any funky stuff on YOUR end as I'm trying to handle the funk on this end.

Thx.
-----------------------------
GAH! That wasn't supposed to appear!

HOLD OFF on the comments. Dammit.

-----------------

This isn't working. One of my readers said that they were trying to leave a comment in the new comment section three posts down and it was trying to let them be the administrator.

Wrong answer.

so I deleted all that crap.

Back to the drawing board.

thanks for playing...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:59 PM | Comments (1)

testing more

OK... let's see what this comment deal is here.

-------------

This makes no sense and totally sucks.

----------------------

It is 11:50, I'm beat, I have a crazy two days, and we are officially in comment limbo until I can figure out wtf I'm doing.

Done.

Toast.

Going to bed.

Tomorrow.

Ciao.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

Fix It

I'm playing with my blog...

Looking at comments...

Crap. I broke it.

It's fixed now.

Here's the deal. I don't like the commenting system, so I'm trying to input Haloscan. That said, there are not a lot of hours in my day to deal with it, but tonight was a good shot.

Didn't work yet.

I'll keep trying.

-----

trying something else...
-----------

crap

--------

what in the hell???

Posted by Boudicca at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2009

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

I'm so irritated by all that has transpired today with my father in law, I could spit.

I can't even go into it.

--------------------
We realized today that we're the only group that has not been hit with lay offs... my little group of 10.

Oddly, we're all scratching our heads. We don't get it.

Don't get me wrong... none of us wants to lose our jobs, but when every group is being annihilated and you're in some funky zone where nobody is throwing anything at you, you start doing the 'WTF?'

Someone tried to convince me that it's because of what I do for a living... what we do. Its not blog fodder as there are parts of my life that don't actually make it on here (believe it or not), but I guess lets just say I don't deal in paper airplanes. My stuff is fielded.

Usually the red headed step children of engineering, the type of job I do, it's also one of the most crucial, and so we are safe so far. Everyone needs to know how to fix their stuff...

I don't expect it to last. We think through the end of the year and then we'll be bled.

Meanwhile, I have a buddy who had absolutely one of the most crucial jobs out there, and a cool damn job at that, and his contract was pulled and ends next week.

So I don't think for a minute I'm safe. If he got nailed, its a matter of time before someone lifts up my rock and flushes me out.

But on a funnier front, wanting to end this miserable week on a high note, we have been following with great enthusiasm the divorce of THIS man.

Y'all can figure out for yourselves why.

And the following conversation ensued at work... approximately... to the best of my recollection, keep in mind, it was me, my female engineer counterpart (my age, we job share a part time job), two male engineers in their 60s (one of them my boss), my Tech Lead (my age), and our assistant a female in her mid 50s.

Bossman: Wow, did you hear? She wants something like 53K a month. That's pretty expensive... stuff.

Me:

Bossman: I mean think about it, he's in his late 60s. What are we talking about, maybe once every two weeks?

Me: Well... I don't know. With the invention of Viagra, it could be 7 times a day.

(laughter in the room)

Bossman: Well he DOES travel...

Me: So what does she look like? A Stepford Wife?

Bossman: Oh yeah... YOUNG.

Girlfriend: Blonde, young.

Me: You know... everyone has their selling price. Anyone can be bought. For 53K a month... I think I could be bought.

Girlfriend: Oh Yeah... I could get a push up bra.

Me: I'll bleach my hair and be anything you need me to be for 53K a month.

Girlfriend: Just close your eyes.

Me: Lay back and think of England.

Girlfriend: Beige, I think I'll paint the ceiling beige...

(Tons of laughter in the room...)

Me: Hell, for 53K a month, I think my husband would PIMP me out.

(More laughter)

Today we found out it was 53K A WEEK.

We didn't even know what to say.

I mean... really? What could we say? We'd pretty much said it all...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:46 PM | Comments (7)

March 24, 2009

Questions

Crazy hectic here as one of my husband's peers will be staying with us this weekend, starting tomorrow night.

Lots of dusting, polishing, and ship shaping.

This is the 2nd week in a row I've had to visit my father in law's new residence and lodge yet another complaint.

I left with the personal cell number of the director.

I called later the nurse that heads up 'wellness' to make sure she knew of my conversation with the director... not that I want to go over her head, but she's never in when I need to speak to her.

I hung up with her personal cell phone number as well.

They've both asked me to call any time... even 2AM as any problem needs to be remedied IMMEDIATELY with the staff member not doing what is right... rather than waiting until they are gone.

We will see.

This transition has not been as smooth as it should have been and we're all flat worn out.

It makes me wonder two things.

1) What happens to those who have no one to fight for them?

2) Will my children fight for me?

Number 2 may be rhetorical as I feel more and more steeped in my belief that I will never let my life get so far that I need someone to fight my battles.

Boudicca had it right... in her final response to the Romans.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:30 PM | Comments (8)

March 23, 2009

Absolutely NOT Related to Imelda

Bob over at the Lost Fart of Blogging had asked in one of my comments what was up with my feet.

The struggle continues. I’ve still not run since the marathon, but suspect I will start again in the next few weeks.

They look terrible.

Which brings me to my latest plight… shoes.

My husband owns his own business. When you are a small businessman, it is required that you attend functions, meet people… network. For the most part, he goes alone as I would rather be home with the kids, I’m truly not that social (although I am perfectly capable), and he’s far more extroverted than I. (I loathe small talk.)

I do, however, attend a few things with him a year. He picks and chooses what is important to him and I will acquiesce as is the right thing to do for some sort of marital harmony.

We are past the point of seven years ago when I actually heard myself say to him, testily, “I’m not going… and you can’t make me” as if I were 3 years old.

I went.

Guilt.

But he has learned to pick and choose and I’ve learned to give thought as to what is truly important to him and therefore, should be important to me.

This weekend there is a very big meeting, one that falls into the ‘very important to him’ category. I’d hoped that I’d managed to dodge it all together; I figured if he’d not put it on the calendar, than surely I had somehow become… exempt.

Except, I’d forgotten about his poor planning gene… and then one night, there he was asking me to attend a couple of the functions for this very very big multi-day meeting.

I finally told him the truth as to why I didn’t want to attend, having tried to avoid the issue, as simplistic as I can be, I’m not into fashion, I just do not like how my clothes fit and worse yet, the shoes I wear are all open toed and I could not would not be caught dead at a function of the kind he was speaking of, while wearing open toed shoes with the horrible feet that have become… mine.

He looked at me kind of stunned. Finally he said, “Wait. SHOES are what is keeping you from attending?”

“Yes, that’s pretty much it”, I replied.

I’ve cut the budget WAY back. His business is tanking, I’m probably going to lose my job, expenses keep going up, our savings have been nearly lost by thieves in suits, and I buy absolutely NOTHING that is not food or gas.

I am in charge of the budget in the house.

He finally said, “Go buy shoes. Find a pair of shoes, spend the money, get something to wear, and come with me.”

And this moves me into a whole new realm with my new nasty feet… I have to have a wide shoe, it must be closed toe, and I do not like that rounded style toe, that appears to be a cut made for slippers, nor do I like the pointy look that I call “Witchy Poo”.

So I drove to Nordstrom’s as they have the best selection of shoes for someone with my foot size. They actually SELL wide shoes for women.

I explained my dilemma to the shoe salesman, “8 Wide, black, heel, closed toe” and he came to me with three boxes…

… all of them black patent leather.

And that is when I realized… I really don’t like black patent leather either… unless of course it’s a 3 inch FMP… and these were not.

I said to him, “I can’t wear that for this event. That’s a summer black and it’s not Easter yet…” to which I got a *blink*.

Evidently nobody adheres to that anymore.

He pulled out the first shoe, low heel, it had the rounded toe *gag*, black patent leather *gag* and a big ass buckle on the toe.

Gah!

I said, “No, I can’t wear those. I’m going to feel like a pirate…”

He actually stared at me for a couple seconds, said, “OK” while inside I know he was thinking, “FREAK!” and put them away.

The 2nd pair was also black patent leather, but was wedgy in the heel, truly hideous, and I said, ‘No, those are just ugly.”

He stared at me again… said, “OK” while inside I know he was thinking “FREAK!” and put them away.

And so he came to the 3rd box, which had a nice low heel, was black patent leather and had a buckle as well, but was not so bad.

I tried them on, they fit; I bought them.

They were expensive.

Of course, considering I prefer going bare foot, all shoes are expensive to me. These were just not Payless Shoe prices. These were ‘real women’s shoe prices’, nearly $100.

Gah!

I got them in the car, looked at the bag and knew instantly I made a mistake.

NO.

I can wear a pair of shoes I don’t like or am not in love with that I pay $20 for at Payless. I cannot buy a pair of $100 shoes that I’m not in love with.

For $100, I should love them in orgasmic proportions. (Yes, I’m aware I typed that and my folks read my blog…)

So first thing this morning, after my game of Breast Cancer Limbo that I play with my radiologist, which I appear to have won this year, much to her relief and MY relief, I set out for Nordstrom’s where the shoe salesman was working.

I picked out a pair of shoes on my way, a pair I’d glanced at yesterday, asked for them in an 8 and when he looked at me quizzically as to why I was returning the other shoes I said, “I cannot do black patent leather, in particular with that buckle as I don’t know whether I look 6 years old or if I’m trying to pretend to be a pirate.”

I got ‘the stare’ again, knowing full well this time he was thinking “FREAK!”

Screw him.

Those shoes made me feel like I should either have a jump rope in one hand, an Easter basket in the other, with my hair in pig tails, or a swashbuckling sword on my hip and an eye patch with a big gold earring in ONE ear.

These new shoes are a nice mat black open shoe with an ankle strap, with a closed toe.

And they weren't $100.

I’ll attend these functions in these shoes and my new requirement for shoes are, “wide, closed toe, no witchy poo, no slipper cut, no patent leather, and no buckles on the toe”.

FREAK!

Posted by Boudicca at 07:15 PM | Comments (19)

March 22, 2009

My Clothes go well with my Glasses... They Stay On.

Has anyone else been noticing the proliferation of articles about women who are stripping now in bad times?

OK, maybe not proliferation, maybe only two, but still... its two more than I'd seen in the past.

The first one was about some place in Rhode Island, some strip club, that was looking for more strippers, bartenders, waitresses, and received something like 5 times the number of applicants per job opening.

Now there is some article about how more women are turning to stripping in this bad economy as well as adult movies.

Obviously they are not 43 year old women who have borne three children. Who in the hell would pay to see a body that looks like a crumpled up old brown paper bag?

So as I sit here realizing I will more than likely lose my job by the end of the year, I think we can all feel certain that I will... NOT... be stripping.

Good Grief.

By the way, I had to get new glasses as I lost my last pair. It had gotten to the point where I didn't want to drive at night and my prescription from 10 years ago wasn't cutting it.

I was at work on Friday extraordinarily frustrated with a project that I'm working on.

I stormed into my Tech Leads cube, a frenzy of frustrated energy, arms flailing, as my TL quietly looked up from his desk, waiting to hear what crazy thing was going to come out of my head.

With great exasperation I said, "OK. WHY did you assign this one to me? GAH!" to which he replied, "Umm... because you have glasses now and you look really smart?"

To which I grinned and did the womanly, "FINE!" and went back to my cube.

If all else fails, I can evidently always LOOK smart. Even if I don't feel it...


Posted by Boudicca at 07:55 PM | Comments (7)

Not for the Faint of Heart

What's the expiration date on drugs you can take to OD? I mean seriously, if I start hoarding now, when I get to that point in my life where I'm elderly and near death, will the drugs be too ineffective for me to end it once and for all rather than deal with someone else having to tend to my every primal need?

Gah.

Its rhetorical. Don't answer.

Today's conversation is brought to you by the Letter M for Memory. Or the lack there of.

We picked my father in law up for dinner tonight. On our way to the restaurant, the following conversation ensued to the best of my recollection.

Pop: Bou, thank you for doing all you've been doing. I really do appreciate it.

Me: It's cool. I know you do.

Pop: No, I mean I really appreciate it. I know you've had to come down and straighten things out and that my son is at my old house all the time with painters and trying to get it clean.

Me: Pop, Its OK.

Pop, waving his hands: I just... get so frustrated. And the anxiety.

Me: I know. But hopefully, there is some semblance of normalcy now. Isn't there a consistency? A routine? Pop... are you making friends?

I feel like I have a 5 year old at times... ushering him off to school. "Are you making friends?"

Pop: Its hard. They never remember.

Me: *blink* I'm sorry... what?

Pop, exasperated at the situation, not me, flailing his arms, talking as loud as his raspy voice will allow: They never remember you! You meet them, you talk to them and the next day? THEY'VE FORGOTTEN YOU!! You have to meet them over and over again. Each day... you have to meet them again!

Me:

Pop:

My husband started to talk to his Dad about it as we've met a few people who've remembered us again. It seems there is a 95 year old man that never remembers Pop, but that amounts to... everyone.

Me: That kind of sucks.

Pop: Yes. And you know what else? Its really depressing to see the ambulance and EMTs show up EVERY DAY.

Me: Every day?

Pop: Yes.

Me: People dying?

Pop: Probably. I don't ask. Its depressing.

Me: Its a big facility....

Pop:

Me: Right.

My eldest boy and I were sitting next to each other in the back and just looked at each other making a horrified face, raised eyebrows and all.

Gah!

I so love being 43.

Posted by Boudicca at 07:38 PM | Comments (6)

March 21, 2009

They Are WHO?

Roses has a post up that I thought was interesting... regarding looking up parents on the internet.

She's the second person I've heard of that does this and its really making me think. Its not something I've done, but part of me is thinking this is rather foolish of me. I mean the internet is right here at my fingertips and I've not bothered to check on people who coach or teach my kids?

Her post shows how seriously, we should be considering it.

But this brings me to a rather funny story.

There is a Mom at our school who is from Ireland. I don't mean ancestory, I mean 'right off the boat'.

I don't know her well, but from what I know, I adore. She is smart and absolutely hysterical and... she calls it as she sees it and Good Lord who can't love a woman like that?

Heh.

Thick thick Irish brogue, she has, it makes me laugh all the more when she tells me stories, not at her brogue, but because the way words are accented, it makes the stories that much more... life like.

When I saw her last, she had just come back from Fort Lauderdale as she is a singer and was performing. She has a baby, just a few weeks older than The Flambina, and she is a beautiful child... I love seeing them together as it is something that artists would paint.

It is that sweet.

And so we were talking and she said she'd just come back from Lauderdale where she thought it was quite lovely as it was a big city and people were varied and independent and also helpful.

And she said to me, holy crap, "And here we are up in XYZ, where every woman looks like a Stepford Wife" which came out, "StAIpford Wiiife" and I laughed because I swear on my three boys, I have actually said that to people, but without the accent.

It is what I hate about where I live... all the blondes with fake boobs, Lily Pulitzer type clothes, hair always perfectly coifed, make up as if they just put it on.

I laughed really hard when she said it, told her that I thought the same, and then laughed again because if she was telling ME this, I most definitely didn't look like a Stepford Wife, with my hair up in a pony tail, make up smeared from rubbing my eyes at work, jeans and a button down, and comfortable shoes.

I most definitely have the lived in look.

So we went on talking, the first really long conversation I'd had with her, she was nursing the baby, I stroked the babies toes, and we laughed at the absurdity of that around us when she said something like....

"And have you ever looked up some of these parents on the internet? Oh Good Lord..."

Say that to yourself with a heavy Irish brogue and you get it.

I kind of looked bewildered as I'd truly not given thought to looking people up.

She continued, "My girls, they are very active in sports. My husband and I, we want to know who is looking after them, so we look them up..."

Hand to her chest, as if somewhat breathless she said, "And you would not believe what we have found... convicted felons and what not..." and then taking her voice to a hushed tone, nearly a whisper, "some of the coaches... they are Swingers..." and it came out "Swangers" which for some reason made the whole thing that much funnier.

Actually, I had heard about these swingers at another function I was attending. A bunch of us Moms were sitting around at our big school fundraiser, just talking during downtime, when someone mentioned that one of their neighbors, a couple, were swingers.

Of course the rest of us looked at each other and did a collective, *blink*, as we are mothers who 1) are not Stepford Wives and 2) kind of live under a rock.

Soon phones with internet access came out as they looked up the 'club' one of these parents owned and it just deteriorated from there.

I don't know who this couple is. I kind of tuned out the name, but I will say, when I met someone from this Mom's neighborhood the other day I found myself thinking, "Whoa? Swinger?"

Heh.

Anyway, I just thought it was funny. The things the internet makes us aware of...

Posted by Boudicca at 07:30 PM | Comments (7)

March 20, 2009

If A Gator Eats Someone in a Tent, Is it Like a Pig in a Blanket?

I wasn't going to post tonight, but read something at Jimbo's and couldn't pass it up.

My older boys are on a camping trip with Boy Scouts. Its about 10 minutes from my home... out in one of the big nature preserves. I live out in reclaimed Everglades as it is.

Now... I was going to go with them. This was the trip I'd picked to chaperone. We all know that my husband hates camping and I've come to love it. I'm perfectly content with no cell phone, no TV (I don't watch it anyway), no communication with civilization AT ALL.

Give me a good book and maybe some chocolate chip cookies and I'm good to go.

So imagine my surprise when he said to me two nights ago that he intended to take my boys, leaving me with our youngest.

My reply? "Who are you and what did you do with my husband?"

But he was dead on serious and so I cooked them all a nice hot filling supper tonight, helped them load up my mini-van, and off they went to go camping for the weekend.

The boys excited...

... my husband... perhaps not so much.

He called me once as we borrowed a small tent for him and he couldn't find the posty things you stick the tent into the ground with. He found them.

I called once to make sure it was going well.

He said to me, "I worry about some of these parents, Bou"

This is where I think of Jimbo.

Me: Why?

Hunhead: Because they put their tents right up against the lake.

Me: And?

Hunhead: Hun, there are big huge GATORS in the lake.

Me: Oh! Yeah, I'd not be so close to the lake...

Heh.

I don't see Jimbo sleeping in a tent anywhere near a lake with gators... I can't quit laughing.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:52 PM | Comments (10)

Bridges Not Falling

This week has been hectic, leaving me longing for summer when lives will calm down.

It was a 'lots of homework getting home from Boy Scouts at 9:30PM only to hear "Mom, I have a bake sale for student government tomorrow! Remember you said you'd bake brownies?" night'.

Yes, I'd committed to brownies.

But I will leave you with this... the adage about not burning bridges so holds true.

I find it always amazing when I come to a point in my life when someone from my past steps in unexpectedly, and offers an assist I didn't know I needed, and I can say to myself, "Thank God, I didn't burn that bridge..." as I am known to have a short fuse, nasty temper (I don't suffer fools), and a razor sharp tongue.

Causing a *blink* reaction more so is when you realize that odd relationship you formed with a mother when the kids were but pre-schoolers has come back and is in need.

Preschool mother relationships are usually more stress free and have many happy memories. Our children were cute, sweet, and loved us unconditionally. There was no middle school drama, hormones, or homework and battles over big ticket items like... the future.

Battle lines were drawn over whether vegetables were eaten, who drew on the wall with the red pen, and who cut their brother's hair while also giving his stuffed goose a close shave too?

So when you see a mother from your child's preschool past, unless she was a real loser, or her kid was, it will bring a smile to your lips and warmth to your heart.

Better still is if said mother's little girl was madly in love with your eldest boy... to the point of distraction... 3 year old love.

The memories are even better.

And then maybe when the drama is crazy in an organized sport your youngest has chosen to play, and you are on the side lines trying to figure out what's going on, and your son could be adversely affected by the bad actions of parents with boorish behavior, and maybe that Mom from 11 years ago happens to have a husband who is a coach and sits on the board... its not a bad thing.

And its not a bad thing when maybe your youngest son, who has a wonderful sweet disposition, but is maybe not the most athletic, needs a bit more help, and said coach also has happy memories of preschool and the family and now has met the youngest for the first time, all these many years later, and maybe happily takes some extra time with a grin on his face.

And maybe its not a bad thing when said coach also realizes the family is trying to be so supportive and he remembers to give out playing time to your kid. Playing time is supposed to be equal, but sometimes kids are forgotten, but maybe that old relationship is still good enough that your kid definitely sees some time on the field, time that maybe he'd not see since there are so many kids and... kids get forgotten.

Luckily... said coach rarely forgets ANY kid as he's that great of a coach.

But it never hurts... to not burn bridges.

Posted by Boudicca at 06:11 AM | Comments (2)

March 19, 2009

Fate

Have you read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving? It is one of my favorite books.

John Irving, as I've posted before, is one of my favorite authors, as twisted and odd as his stories are.

I posted a link a long time ago to Mr. Irving reading the Christmas Nativity scene, one of my favorites in the book.

I always list that book in my top five whenever I quote here my favorite reads of my lifetime, although in the past couple years that list has added a few more. And the resounding reason I love that book so much, other than it just makes me laugh so hard in places, is the theme... something you really don't understand until the end.

The book made me think.

And it falls in line with my overall thought on life... Everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences. People are put in our lives for a reason.

In the darkest moments of my life, I have been known to take a deep breath and think, "There is a reason for this... what am I to learn?"

More times than not, I can figure it out, but sometimes I realize that perhaps I'm not supposed to know... that maybe the truth and reason will be revealed to me later. I'm perpetually amazed when it is... and how my life has come together like pieces of a puzzle.

And so I take you to a small article I saw last night, that has me reading it... again and again... to see if its a joke. Alas its not... every major news source is carrying it, unless of course, it is one man's joke on the media.

But I don't think it is.

At first blush its just a 'Thank God' story of one man saving another man's life. A man falls and gets hurt in a subway station. Another man jumps in and saves him.

Not living in NYC or a place with a subway, I don't know how often these things happen. I'm guessing not often.

But it is the end of the story that I keep rereading. Because...

... the man who jumped down onto the rails to save the other man's life is in an Off Broadway play, where he repeatedly lifts someone who cannot walk.

He has essentially been training for this moment.

And I'm left thinking, "Coincidence? I think not..." It could be in a John Irving book...

(Sidenote: I know munu comments are down. Again. If things are calm this weekend, I'm installing Haloscan comments. Bear with me... things have not been calm here in awhile.)


Posted by Boudicca at 06:11 AM | Comments (5)

March 18, 2009

Scary Dances

Today it became evident that my job is a potential fatality in this economy.

It is literally a day by day situation… Company X is pulling contracts at will.

I truly thought I was safe through the end of the year because my group has been funded so. We have a contract, money is in the pot, we have a ton of work, I’ve had to ramp up my hours to keep up, things are crazy. (I've increased my hours 100% over the last month.)

And today, one of the engineers on an upper floor came down and said, “My contract is gone. Company X pulled it.”

My boss said, “Well, we’re safe, we have money through the end of the year…”

And the engineer replied, “yeah, we did too” and that’s about the time you heard the air stop moving in the room as we all quit breathing.

So.

We are waiting. We’ve been hearing all over that Company X, owned by Fortune 50 Y, is going to take a big hit, one that we find somewhat incomprehensible. I have worked for, either directly or in a subcontract position, with this company since I graduated from college, and never have we had the cuts we’re about to see… and so deep.

My dear friend who still works there, a woman I admire so much for her professional skills, and her intellect, a woman that I would use as my mentor if I were back on that track, has told me that no one is safe this time.

No one.

And that is how I feel where I am.

It’s no longer contract by contract or year by year or quarter by quarter… we have officially moved into day by day, and although my boss swears that they can’t live without us, my group is too integrated in day to day field operations, all of us know its not true.

It just feels that way.

Nobody is indispensable.

I love the engineers I work with. I respect them and I have become an integral part of some of their projects. I have known some of them for 20 years… I know their wives, of their children, of their grandchildren. Some of them are forged new relationships, where we are slowly getting to know about each other, as we laugh at stories of new toddlers, Dads trying to find shades of pink that ‘match’ to surprise their daughters with new painted bedrooms… it is what makes what we do tolerable… the people.

And so I’ve been giving heavy thought to this tonight as to what it means to me and what it means to ‘my engineers’ as I have come to think of them. I work for them, but they are my guys.

I’ve realized that they’re in a lurch if I get walked out quickly, if a contract is pulled and I’m told, “its gone…” , so tomorrow I’m going in specifically to make copies of every file I’ve worked on, that is on hold status, and sending it to them, so they don’t have to recreate what I’ve done.

Their work load won't change... their due dates will remain the same... I just won't be there to assist.

I’ll call each of them and tell them what I’m doing. It’ll be part of my closing routine on Fridays… to email them the latest files of the week in case I get walked out suddenly the following week.

Because… we’re playing this day by day… even though it’s starting to feel like hour by hour.

I feel numb.

(More happy places tomorrow... it's been a long day.)

Posted by Boudicca at 09:22 PM | Comments (5)

March 16, 2009

X Marks This Happy Place

And so today we move into the realm of My Happy Places III.

Tomorrow is the last installment and then you're pretty much where I go... in the good times.

I try to keep the crap times off the blog. This really IS my happy place.

Bones took up Lacrosse earlier this year, as I had posted. The Rich White Boys sport, as I like to call it, although my son does not have rich white parents, which is why he probably will not be playing again.

He has a nickname on the team, "X". His coaches call him that.

"X! We're waiting on you!" or "X! We're gathered over here!"

I asked him how he received this name 'X' and he informed me it is the position he plays. It is closest to the goalie, a defensive position.

I wonder as of late if this is the equivalent of putting someone in right field... a position that is not reserved for the best players. But he is having fun... and that is what matters.

This is "X" with my niece after the game. My niece and I had a great time at that game... eating chocolate chip muffins, playing in the sand, she sat in my lap and we laughed and she jumped up and screamed and hollered and made a fool of herself for her big cousin... who she kind of worships.

I am showing this picture to show how thin "X" is in real life.

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This is "X" with his gear on...

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And getting ready for his big game...

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He loves to play... I watch him on the sidelines sometimes and I can hear that song over and over, "Put me in coach! I'm ready to play..."

I need a picture of him just in his pads... he goes from looking like a little kid to looking like an Transformer.

My Happy Place with X.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:24 PM | Comments (6)

March 15, 2009

Happy Place Part II

Today we continue our journey into 'My Happy Place'. Places I go of late that make me... happy... when things around me are... not so much.

These were taking in Colorado, our first true family vacation where we weren't visiting family or going to Disney World for a weekend. With the economy, it appears it will be our last, so it was good it was such a wonderful time.

We went snow mobiling which I found completely overrated as I like to be in control and I never once felt like I was. Plus... it was cold and snowy and the visibility was poor.

I lived in fear of losing my 2nd son off the back of the machine.

That said, there are happy memories as many funny things were said and if misery loves company, we had a GREAT time together.

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Update: CRAP. I had no idea this had posted early... so I'm continuing...

Morrigan had said, 'Why don't they make snow angels?" and I said, "Um... because they are boys..." (The implication was that they were too daggum busy pelting each other with snow, shoving it down each other's shirts, and throwing each other into it, to take the time to actually make something as sweet as a snow angel.)

But then I suggest it and it looked like I had dead boy bodies all over the back of the condo.

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There were a lot of snowball fights...

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My husband also asked that I take some action pictures of the kids skiing. Since I was the best skiier of the crew, I was sent down the mountain to get them coming down.

Good Lord.

I was making my way to the edge of the slope where the snow was all fluffy and not packed down and I couldn't stop and I ran into this little tree... as in it went between my legs and finally I stopped in a heap.

I wish someone had it on film. My skis went every which way, I was a ball in the snow while the four of them watched me from atop try to sit up so I could take pictures of them coming down.

Seriously. I looked like I was Queen of the Dorks.

This is us before the entire episode.

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As I tried to catch Mr. T on film, this woman kept falling and falling in front of him. To see the entire series is to see a woman who looked like a bigger dork than I did as I took out that tree.

Something difficult to top.

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And my Florida boys obviously got used to the cold. This was the last day...

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Posted by Boudicca at 07:57 PM | Comments (9)

March 14, 2009

My Happy Place- Part I

I thought I'd put some Happy Place pictures out.

Its not that I'm in a bad place. No. I'm doing better as things start to gel, but the last few weeks have truly sucked sewage laden pond water.

So... some pictures of places I go in my head... throughout the week, more than likely.

Tonight's post will be about my niece, who is so smoochilious, it scares me to love someone so much.

I call this one, "Dumb and Dumber" as she has that dumb baby look that babies have when they have yet to acquire expression and I am overcompensating to express for both of us.

(Side note to Morrigan: I got that shirt in 1992.)

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This is my schmoopy niece on the quilt that I made her. I love this picture.

Think... when was the last time any of us ever slept like that? When was the last time any of us just laid like that for a couple minutes and then were capable of unwrapping our bodies and still walk without pain?

No, I was not dropping acid when I created this quilt. I was trying to think of something colorful and fun and you can't tell, but the circles are fuzzy on the edges, so its got a 3D effect, which is great until she pukes on it.

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Who sleeps like this?

Who?

If we slept like that, we'd all have to get a prescription for a muscle relaxant or we'd all be walking around as some pathetic imitation of the HunchBack except we'd be the HunchNecks.

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And then we come with the most current set that left me doing the big *BLINK*.

First, no clue what she's sitting in. I think my brother got her this as he has a buddy whose baby sits in one. Its this little funky chair for the little people.

She is actually focusing now, but you can't really tell by this picture. She's a little chunk of love in this picture.

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And lastly, what in the hell is she wearing on her head? Is she a bunny? A lamb?

A fool?

Good Grief. I can't quit laughing.

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Oh and here's a picture of the Bunny Lamb yawning.

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And so end's tonight's version of "My Happy Place"


Posted by Boudicca at 09:01 PM | Comments (8)

March 13, 2009

Living In a Teenage World

Ringo informed me that he wanted to straighten his hair for the Variety Show last night.

His hair used to be straight, at least we thought so. But it seems to us, that within the last two years, as he has hit puberty, his hair has gone crazy.

Crazy curly.

It went with straight with a slight wave, to big time crazy curls, ringlets around the back of his head.

He hates it.

Last night he took my flat iron to the show and told me the girls had volunteered to straighten his hair for him.

Four girls, it turns out, played with his hair, straightened it, fixed his hat...

... my boy is not stupid. They gushed all over him. Ran their hands through his hair.

He got to school today with his hair back to crazy curly and everyone told him how much they liked his hair straight.

So today he had to get his haircut as it was out of regs and his teachers were nice enough to give him until after the show to get it cut, and the entire cut was about it being short enough that he could straighten it and be within regs, but long enough so that when it was curly, he'd not look like a big dork.

I think we cause substantial stress to our barber.

How important is this to him? He is going to get up 20 minutes earlier so he can straighten his hair before school.

Its a teenage thing...

Posted by Boudicca at 06:34 PM | Comments (5)

March 12, 2009

All About Ringo... on Many Levels

Some days, someone is just looking out after you.

After school today, I had come into my bedroom to check my email, only to have my eldest come running in, in an absolute panic, which is enough to freak me out as he's so laid back sometimes I think we need to take his pulse.

"Mom! Mom! Mom! The bathroom is flooding!"

That'll get your adrenaline flowing.

And sure enough, there was water pouring out of the commode... except from the bottom where it seats on the tile, and there was an inch of water in the bathroom, some places nearly 2 inches as obviously our floor is not frickin' level.

I quickly went behind the tank and turned off the water and then spent the next half hour with a mop, pushing water off the floor into the shower.

I shudder to think what would have happened if my son hadn't seen it, hadn't called me in immediately.

Its always something. We have a call into a plumber as TGOO said the wax ring the commode sits on must be shot. When something goes wrong in the house... I call my Dad. Heh.

Tonight was Ringo's big performance and he did so well. I was so proud of him.

He wore his great grandfather's hat (I have pictures to download) and he just looked good.

Quiet in school, he has no problems on stage. He does not get nervous, there is no stage fright, he is confident in himself and what he does.

I was not like that at 14. There is no way in hell I'd have performed in front of a small group, let alone hundreds. Yet, it does not phase him, he enjoys it, and... he really did well.

I hear someone's 18 year old sister is in love with him.

Umm. No.

Luckily she will have graduated from high school by the time he gets there...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:35 PM | Comments (7)

March 11, 2009

Octogonal Pegs

Today has been an exceedingly frustrating day for me.

I wanted my son to retake Algebra as he is just now pulling A's and B's, having pulled some C's the first semester and the high school won't let him. He can only retake it if he has a C or below and his teacher isn't going to flunk him so he can retake Algebra.

Trust me, his current teacher called me at home about it. She wants him to retake Algebra as well.

You have no idea how much I seriously considered having him bomb some tests to retake it... but its not the right thing to do and she and I both discussed how he is working so hard, that it will be demoralizing for him to suddenly be getting Cs when he knows he deserves an A.

She can't do it... I can't do it... I'm pissed at the situation we're in.

So he has to take Geometry although I think he will suffer for it all, in the long run.

I wanted him in Honors Biology, and they won't put him in Honors Biology unless he's taking Honors Geometry and I'm sure as hell not doing that to him. Every class he has is honors... and now I'm going to add two more? This transition year?

No.

I'd rather him pull A's in the regular classes than B's or C's in Honors.

And we'll see what the Public School has to offer if he gets accepted into the one he applied to... a Science Magnate. If they'll work with us more... then that may be where he belongs.

I just find the entire situation frustrating... these round holes into which they try to cram every student.

He is a square peg... maybe octagon. He's not fitting in that round hole.

On a more positive note, his big Variety Show is tomorrow night and tonight was the dress rehearsal.

He put on his Avenged Sevenfold Tshirt, a black shirt over it, jeans and... a hat... one I had never seen.

I said, "Where'd you get the hat?"

Ringo: It's Dad's grandfather's hat... cool, isn't it? I got it when we cleaned out Pop's house last weekend.

Me: *blink*

Ringo: Feel it. I don't think they make hats like this anymore.

I felt the velvet, checked out the silk lining.

Me: Your Dad's grandfather is YOUR great grandfather.

Ringo grinned.

Ringo: I think it was made in 1900, Mom.

Its a bowler type hat, I flipped it over and saw it was in fact made in Italy by a well known Italian hat company... and it was stamped in gold that it was sold at a haberdasher, probably around 1900, as he suggested.

My son's great grandfather was an Italian immigrant.

He put it on and it looked like... he belonged in it, the hat of his great grandfather.

He is wearing it with his funky grungy clothes to play his music. I laugh as his jeans are baggy, and with the hat, he looks a bit like Charlie Chaplin.

With a bass guitar...

There will be pictures.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:48 PM | Comments (7)

March 10, 2009

No Habla Espanol

We are in the process of selecting a high school for my son for next year.

Florida sucks. I'm not going to get into it, but you can choose the school you're zoned for or apply to another HS.

Or go to private HS... which is an option for us. The local Catholic HS has a TREMENDOUS band and many positive attributes that help make the cost seem more bearable, although it does mean I'll be working A LOT MORE if he goes there.

A quick sidenote, what I love about this HS is that if you're in band for FOUR years, you don't have to take PE. Chorus, Band, Dance... no PE. If you drop out your senior year? You're taking PE with the freshman.

Needless to say, their band is about 1/7th the size of their school... everyone is in band, Jazz, Percussion, Concert, Pep... they have different bands. Its very very cool and its cool to be in band at this school.

Anyway, my son took the test to get in and scored very high, which I was not surprised as he tests well and consistently scores in the 99% in standardized testing.

So we got the list of classes he will take if he goes there and its all Honors, mostly, with average Geometry that I am changing down to Algebra I (see post below), regular Biology (he tested out of freshman science, but I'm having him put in Honors Biology) and... ready?.... Honors Spanish II.

I have NO CLUE how he tested for Honors Spanish II. None. They said in the literature I was handed that if he wanted to take that class, he had to take a placement test.

No placement test was taken.

I was stunned and even more so when I found out his best buddy who lives in a Cuban household didn't even get Honors Spanish II, something his buddy's folks found to be a riot.

So I called to have him placed in Honors Spanish I because he is absolutely NOT prepared for this class and will absolutely drown in it.

He has had Spanish one hour a day, three days a week for five years and this year it got bumped to five days.

He swears he has learned his colors over and over for six years. They don't learn accents. He says he can't speak it at all.

And he ends up in Honors II?

I asked his Spanish teacher about his placement as the HS started to fight me on putting him back in Spanish I and she told me... they put him there because he has Spanish five days a week now (something new to our school), she's a certified Spanish teacher and because...

... he tested so high on his ENGLISH.

*blink*

Why not put him in Honors German II if we're basing it on his ENGLISH scores?

Gah!

The head of the department called me today and acquiesced and my son is in Honors I.

But since when did we start deciding on language placement based on how well a kid reads, writes, and interprets his Native tongue?

Am I missing something? If so, please feel free to enlighten me...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:04 PM | Comments (10)

March 09, 2009

Death By Italian Bread Crumbs

I’m going to do what I call, ‘telling tales out of school’.

I’m going to dump some oddity in-law stuff on my blog.

I loved my mother in law. She was a GREAT woman, and having put up with my father in law, who was a very nasty difficult man, verbally abusive, for so long, she was aptly nickenamed Saint Lou.

But she was also an enabler and many of the issues I see within their family, I place firmly at her feet as well as she enabled the boorish behavior from her husband as well as her children. My husband and brother in law, both having married strong women, are more considerate of others… let us call it ‘wifely training’. For instance, they would never walk into someone’s home 5 hours late for dinner… as my sisters in law did this past week.

But we won’t go there.

The one characteristic that I used to laugh at, however, was my Mil’s frugality. She was a product of the depression, having been born in 1925. Although my father in law LOVES to proclaim the depression mentality, his own sister declares it utter crap when it comes to them as their father had a damn good job that paid well.

Not so for my mother in law.

She saved everything. Every scrap of paper could be used for making grocery lists or taking notes. Every tablespoon of food was saved in a small glass jar to be eaten later. (And it was.) Every plastic bag from a loaf of bread could be used to store something else. Everything could be used and reused.

Her fridge was FULL of little glass jars with a tablespoon of this or a tablespoon of that… NOTHING was wasted… ever.

She was, in essence, an environmentalist before her time, although it was more to her remembering her past than it was the thought of Earth… but as the years progressed, it was Earth in which she thought along with her ‘waste not want not’ views.

An interesting lady, with a brilliant mind, a mathematician by degree, a teacher by trade, I’d find her studying Chaos Theory so she’d… keep up. We’d have discussions on fractals because… we could.

I loved her dearly. (As I love my sisters in law as well... I'm just a little pissed at them right now.)

So it was the saving thing that cracked me up. I understood it… I do it to some degree… but I understand the limits.

She… had no real limits and this has been passed down to her daughters… from where this current story unfolds.

You don’t argue with her daughters. Having inherited their father’s argumentative controlling disposition, I quietly listen to what they have to say, and then do my own thing later.

For instance, I suddenly became owner of a box full of spices from my father in law’s home. I had my middle son sit down with me as I looked to find the dates on these spices.

Keep in mind, my mother in law has been dead for NINE years. Pop has not cooked since.

Some of the spices were 20 years old. Yet… I know, I was expected to use them. The daughters would be horrified that I would throw out spices, even some that were 15 years old and NEVER opened.

So I accepted them graciously, and when they were gone, dumped the spices and recycled the containers.

Not worth the fight.

Or, take another instance, where one daughter brought to me a container of sesame seeds, probably two cups worth. They sat on my counter as I stared at them, fully aware I was going to dump them first chance.

The other daughter said to me, “Bou, throw those away. They’re brown. I have sesame seeds at home… and THOSE are old.”

My reply?

“There was no way I was keeping them for three reasons. First, the handwriting on the label is YOUR MOTHER’S. She has been dead NINE YEARS. Second, she dated it and its dated NINETEEN NINETY-FIVE. Third, the bakery in which they were purchased went out of business in 1997. Do you want this container as it has your Mom’s handwriting on it?

Daughter, “No…”

Me, “I just thought I’d ask… I’m pitching the whole thing.”

And this all brings me to the story from today.

I decided to cook chicken parmesan. I got out the egg, the Italian breadcrumbs, the flour, cut the chicken, put olive oil in the baking dish (I bake mine, not fry it) and put the chicken together, shoved it in the oven and…

… 15 minutes into it, I started to think.

I walked outside where my husband was working with my second son on a Spanish project. Said I, “Hunhead, those bread crumbs. I didn’t have that many left I don’t think. Did you buy some more?”

Hunhead: No…

Me: So my container is now a mixture of MY breadcrumbs and some from… your father’s home?

Hunhead: *blink* … Yes.

Me: So I’m cooking with breadcrumbs that are probably NINE AND A HALF YEARS OLD?

Hunhead: I guess you are…

Me: Did you know some guy died last year from eating pancakes made from old Bisquick?

Hunhead: *blink*

Me:

Hunhead: Well, I think they smell OK.

Me: Yeah. I bet that Bisquick did too.

We ate it anyway as I’d cooked it.

If we’re dead tomorrow… you know it was Pop’s bread crumbs.

These folks are making me insane…

Posted by Boudicca at 10:08 PM | Comments (13)

Math- Free Advice

I’m offering FREE advice here, so its your decision whether you take it or not.

It is mandated in most public schools that 8th graders take Algebra I with 9th graders now taking Geometry.

I am firmly against any such mandate as Math comes with a neurological maturity. I have found that MOST children are NOT ready for Algebra I in 8th grade, let alone Geometry in 9th grade.

But that is my personal opinion.

The advice I am offering? If your child is not pulling a solid “A” in their TEST GRADES at BEST a HIGH 'B', not their grade for the course, but TEST GRADES, in 8th grade, make them retake it in 9th grade. Have them take Honors Algebra I, but have them retake it.

I am seeing over and over again when I tutor, Geometry, Algebra II, and Trig students with piss poor Algebra skills.

Algebra is the basis for all high school and college math. If you truly do not understand the basic manipulation, if you don’t completely grasp the fundamentals, you are doomed to struggle for the rest of your math career.

Period.

What I am finding is that 8th grade math grades include extra credit, credit for doing homework, credit for crap done in class…. All rolled into their test grades. It is possible for a C student to pull a B. It is possible for a low to mediocre B student to pull an A.

Folks… if you have a kid who has an 85 test score average… that means more than likely, there are some C test grades in there mixed with some A’s. Very rarely do you have a child that scores 85 on everything.

A ‘C’ in Algebra means they really didn’t grasp the concept. If a kids scores a ‘C’ on a test, they might as well have failed it.

… and it is going to come back to haunt them.

I am making my eldest retake Algebra next year. Right now, he may have an A (I need to check) but the first term he was pulling B’s with F test grades mixed with A’s. There were myriad reasons, none of which I will ever get into here, but whether it was an outside influence or his own personal doing, every grade lower than a ‘B’ tells me he has a hole in his math knowledge.

You cannot have that in higher math. Those holes from the first couple terms are going to KILL HIM in Alegbra II and Trig. And the thing is, I don’t know where those holes are exactly.

I would much rather him take Algebra AGAIN, as a freshman, have it rebuild his confidence and hammer home the skills… even if its review, so he’ll be ready for higher math.

He gets it. His math teacher, not a believer in Algebra I mandates for 8th graders either, gets it, and we’re all on the same page.

Listen to me… if their TEST SCORE AVERAGE in Algebra I is not a solid A, a HIGH B at the lowest, seriously seriously consider their retaking Algebra. Remember, not their GRADE IN THE CLASS, but their TEST SCORE AVERAGE. Don’t let the fluff they add fool you… it may make the kid motivated to do his homework, but it does not truly reflect what they know.

TEST SCORES.

Do with the information as you may… I have too many data points that support me.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:54 PM | Comments (16)

March 08, 2009

Thoughts on the Circle of Life

Today was another day with some time spent with my father in law.

We need a break. We need a long damn break, but we all know there is more to do. We're fried, frazzled... done. My husband said to me today, "I can't stand it anymore. I need a break."

I sat and observed much today. The decline has been marked the last couple months. He ages in spurts. His bad hips, with his Parkinson's, added to with neuropathy, and a dose of mental illness (not dementia) have made his decline steady, with spurts of exponential decay.

I suspect that dementia is next... I fully expect that dementia will be setting in within the next few years and then its going to be a frickin' mess.

I've never watched anyone age like this. I've been around elderly people for the last 15 years, embracing it.

Add the family issues and I swear, I wish there were cameras rolling. People would pay to watch this crap.

Anyway, practically living at this assisted living facility, watching how different people age, watching what is happening to my father in law, it has been hard for me to take lately.

I am developing a vast fear of... growing old.

I don't mean age wise. That's a number.

I mean my body growing old and falling apart.

And I don't mean aches, pains, etc.

I mean truly falling apart, with the confusion, the incontinence, the inability to bathe one's self, the inability to... just take care of one's self.

I am extraordinarily independent. I don't need anyone for anything.

I don't.

And it scares the ever living crap out of me to think of me otherwise... to think of myself having to depend on someone monetarily, physically, emotionally... for anything.

Ever.

To have to depend on others for basic needs until I die... I can't even go there or I start to have an anxiety attack.

And so this is the punch line... it made us laugh anyway.

There is running commentary with my sister and I, that we will grow old together. We may still be married, but tough luck to the men we are married to because its a package deal.

Mo and I are growing old together.

I sent her a text message today, as we drove my father in law down to my brother in law's home for dinner.

It read:

"We won't be growing old together because I decided that I am committing suicide first."

She called me about an hour later laughing.

We both laughed.

Morbid humor. But... I'm OK with suicide for someone that is terminally ill and is suffering. Why should they suffer? (Thank God for Hospice!) And I decided, if you're on the last years of your life, and you're completely dependent on everyone to meet your basic life maintaining needs... I'm OK with it then too.

I just... am.

And a sidenote, although this last week has left me a depressed and not in a good place, y'all know from reading me long enough, that it will pass.

It's just going to take some time. I'll get through it. Bear with me...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:27 PM | Comments (12)

March 07, 2009

Trying To Move Past

Family has been here helping to get my father in law's house prepared to put on the market.

Great time to sell, huh?

In particular in Florida.

It was not a good experience on any front. There is no silver lining, no happy angle in which to look at it. If I had had a crystal ball and had been able to see how horribly it was going to go... I'd never in a million years have believed it.

Ever.

It's over, permanent damage done. I am left thinking terrible things like maybe its time for someone to just... die.

I feel guilty for it only for two reasons... one he is the grandfather of my children and two, Karmic retribution is a bitch.

My niece is 6 years old. I showed up this afternoon, to find her at Pop's new place in Assisted Living, with family.

She immediately glued herself to me and I took her out on the back balcony where someone had set two chairs. I told her it would be our balcony, where we would drink water and eat cookies.

She sat in my lap and told me all the horrible things she'd heard and witnessed... and I spent the time listening, trying to make sense of it all to a 6 year old.

I told her we need to learn from it... and in the end, we make choices and we can decide what type of people we want to be.

She and I made a pact that we're not going to grow old and be crabby people. It was her idea, it made me laugh, and I think she felt better.

Dealing with all of this has consumed my life this week and I have spent time trying to find the happy place in my head... some place to escape mentally to not have to deal with the swirl of dysfunctionality and nastiness that was surrounding me.

I'm still feeling... prickly... rubbed raw. You can't witness the things I witnessed and not feel... anxious.

My husband is an amazing man.

He deserved better than what he got as a parent.

I will leave it at that.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:09 PM | Comments (10)

March 06, 2009

With The Eyes and Puke... Is Head Spinning Next?

I'm exhausted.

So.

A picture.

She's really cute when she doesn't look possessed.

I love kissing their little necks. Unless they are flat on their backs, puke doesn't typically make it back there.

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Posted by Boudicca at 10:33 PM | Comments (6)

My Happy Place

I could cry when I see this picture, I love her so much.

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When Morrigan took this picture she laughed and said, "You're going to hate this picture. You have a double chin."

We both laughed.

Now its one of my favorites...

By the way, this is the offending cardigan sweater from the early 90s...

Posted by Boudicca at 12:04 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 05, 2009

Insanity

I currently have a rabid Republican and a Socialist staying under the same roof.

That roof would be owned by... yours truly, the professed Independent.

As if I don't have enough frickin' stress in my life.

I'm in hiding.

I found a small corner in my home. My home has never felt so small.

Call me when they leave... or maybe I can go stay with one of you?

Posted by Boudicca at 11:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 04, 2009

This Guy is a RIOT

Insanity reigns here and so blogging is not of the familial type.

Instead I give you a frickin' funny Youtube video my Dad sent me today. It may have made its rounds... it has embed disabled.

Holy crap.

This comedian pokes fun at this generation who has to have everything instantaneously and how unappreciative we are of what we have... like complaining about a delay for a NYC to CA flight that will take 5 hours when it used to take '30 years'.

Funny stuff... holy cow.

Go HERE.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 03, 2009

HB- Ringo

So my eldest turned 14 today.

I'm not sure how that happened... that I ended up with a 14 year old because I could SWEAR TO YOU that just yesterday I had a little schmoopy baby like the Flambina.

Yesterday I had a baby with reflux, a baby that laughed so hard that it would make everyone else laugh, a baby that at 12 months of age, sat down at someone's table and ate a cup of ricotta cheese and two cups of steamed broccoli for dinner when we weren't watching. (I have no idea why the person we were visiting had a bowl of ricotta cheese on the dinner table.)

And now, he's 14 and he's a GREAT kid who makes some weird decisions that make the rest of us shake our head.

In exasperation today I was telling a guy friend of mine the latest saga (soon to be recounted here) when I said, "I don't get it!" and he replied, "Bou, he's 14..." as if being a 14 year old boy completely explains the bizarre and amazing choices.

Evidently being a 14 year old boy means you don't think. Any males out there who want to verify it, feel free, as you've all been there, done that.

I was stopped today by the Vice Principal who informed me that Ringo carved this guitar doodle into his desk and then carved his initials.

OK.

Let us think about that.

Who in the hell carves something into a SCHOOL DESK and then essentially signs it?

Who?

And who in the hell does this at a PAROCHIAL SCHOOL?

Who?

Gah!

And so he got in the car today and I said, "We need to talk about your desk in homeroom" and the following conversation ensued, to the best of my recollection.

Ringo: *blink*

Me: Did you carve something into it?

Ringo: It was my Math desk, not homeroom. Yeah, I carved my initials.

Me: Why. What were you thinking? I mean, why not just carve your thumb print or better yet, why not just carve a picture of your face, exact replica, so EVERYONE KNOWS YOU did it?

Ringo:

Me: Think. What else did you carve on the desk?

Ringo: Nothing. There was this guitar guy and he was kind of cool, someone else had already carved him in there, so one day I just put my initials over the top. And every day, I'd write over my initials and then one day, it was permanent.

Me: *blink*

Ringo:

Me: You're frickin' kidding me. When did this happen?

Ringo: Last year in Math.

Me: And they just now saw it? You know you're going to have to pay to reface that desk?

Ringo: I didn't draw guitar guy!

Me: I don't care! They think you DID. You SIGNED IT. YOU PUT YOUR INITIALS. As far as they're concerned YOU DREW guitar guy.

Ringo: But I didn't...

Me: No, and I believe you, but you did CARVE your initials in it with pen and that is just as bad.... and did you ever trace over guitar guy?

Ringo: Yes.

Me: Rest assured your name has been traced over by many kids who sat in the desk, so it may have been lightly penned in, but I GUAR-AN-tee you that its not light now as kids continue to trace guitar guy and now your initials as well. By the way, you're the ONLY kid in middle school with your initials.

Ringo: Well... if they're going to reface that desk, they need to check all the desks because someone carved a picture of a pot plant on the desk in Mrs. B's class...

Key here is that Pot Plant guy didn't sign his initials.

And so it goes... once again, my 14 year old is in trouble, but not mega trouble, just enough trouble where he's no longer flying under the radar, just enough trouble to aggravate me, just enough trouble to... be in trouble.

I want to take up with his classmates this "most likely to be a spy' superlative he was given.

I don't think a spy would leave his initials carved in anything... proclaiming where he'd been.

Ever.

And so my eldest is 14, my rock 'n roll kid, playing bass and drums, doing his own thing, wondering what is up next year for high school.

Hitting 5' tall finally, in the puppy stage where his hands and feet and voice are all of a man, but his body has not yet started to stretch... something that is coming soon.

Happy Birthday, Ringo. Just yesterday I was kissing your little neck and making you laugh hysterically. Should all the children in this world be loved as much as you... I suspect that there would be far fewer problems and this world would be a much better place.

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Posted by Boudicca at 11:03 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 02, 2009

Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jig

And so I am sitting here trying to get motivated to go to work. I woke up at 8:50AM when the phone rang, Thank God.

I got home at 2:45AM. My flight was canceled and then I found a new flight and it was delayed 2 hours and then I made it home.

More on that later.

I miss my niece. I miss her tiny little face. I miss the chicky fuzz on her head.

Her little hair is so smooth, but when she just wakes up, it all sticks out and I love to run my lips over it.

I miss her little eyes trying to focus. Her smell. I even miss laughing when I was holding her, my hand on her little diapered buns and she passed gas so loud and so hard I thought she had to have the intestines of an adult.

Anyway.

I'm here. Trying to get myself motivated to brush my teeth and go to work. I'm not ready to face that music yet... work is very stressful lately.

My son turns 14 tomorrow...

Fourteen years ago he was 1/2 pound smaller than my niece.

...trying to wrap my mind around that...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:24 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 01, 2009

SNOW!

It's snowing in Atlanta which means...

Ready?

The city is shut down! Tah dah!

My flight leaves at 8:10 and already flights before me and after me have been canceled or delayed. I called my husband and said, "Get ready. I may have problems getting out today..."

If I didn't have kids, I'd of course be content to stay. The Flambina and I are having a great time.

In the last 12 hours she's started to smile more, track, and nailed me in the face once (unintentionally) with a mitted hand.

She grins and will briefly return the smile.

I find myself doing the overexagerated faces to make her notice me. Its like my face is made of silly putty.

I dread going home. Its not my kids. But the more people you have in your life, the more potential for constant chaos.

Someone is unhappy, someone has friends causing issues, someone has a problem with a teacher, someone needs to go here or there, someone is sick, someone always... NEEDS something and as everyone gets bigger, the needs are larger as well.

Work, inlaws, kids, spouses, inlaws, school, inlaws... see a trend?

So this weekend has been my happy place.

I'm watching the snow fall in the largest flakes I've ever seen in my life, making me understand why Eskimos have so many words for snow, while the birds sit all puffed up in trees and my niece sleeps, eyes fluttering as she chases butterflies in her dreams or groans and frowns as her nightmares could not possibly extend beyond someone stealing the breast from which she feeds.

I love the babies... even if you're up until 130 pacing.

I love the babies.

Pictures coming... probably to this very space.

Posted by Boudicca at 01:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack