December 31, 2009

Bou's Decade in Review

I was over at Helen's Shannon's and she had a great post with the last decade of her life. Whereas mine has most certainly not been as crazy as hers, I thought it a fun idea, and decided to try it.

I've spent most of the day thinking of the past decade.. what it brought me. The best two pictures are at the end. Honestly though, I've never had a post with so many pictures of me in my life. Feels... Odd.

We rang in this decade with the death of my Mother in law. Actually, we rang in the New Year at my sister in law's home in Delray (now Lauderdale), something that I remember seriously pissing me off. I had three kids, 6 mo, 2 years and 4 years (they had none), and we were driving 35 minutes to celebrate New Year's Eve with drunks on the road and with my functioning on no sleep. We ended up having a fantastic time with my being so happy we did it, as it was the last holiday spent with my Mother in law, and she spent a good portion of it loving on my children.

By 6 Jan she was dead, a massive cerebral hemorrhage. She died on the altar of the local church, leading the rosary on the day of the Epiphany.

It was to be a defining event for the next 10 years, something I never would have expected and in retrospect, something that brings my blood to boil, as it highlights the vast selfishness of my father in law. Her death has... nearly ruled our life.

Whereas my Mother in law probably spent all of a fleeting second in purgatory, should you so believe in such a place, surely my Father in law will spend lifetimes, contemplating all he has taken from the rest of us, for the last 10 years. He has never allowed the rest of us to grieve.

I have said often that I could blog exclusively on him and his assholery, but I will sum it up here and then move on to the rest of the decade: her death, his vast grieving and refusing any kind of counseling, selling their home immediately since he couldn't live there without her one second more, we went through her things (he did nothing), moved him out (he did nothing), moved him far from us at his request (far from their home together), although he still demanded our time, open heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, near death due to a drug overdose by healthcare workers... still his fault but you have to know the situation to understand why, car wrecks, Parkinson's, being hit by a car, brain tumor, calls to 911 "I've fallen and I can't get up!", loss of license, girlfriend, girlfriend hates us (we're so OK with that...), loss of girlfriend, assisted living facility (we did all that work too, including selling his home, researching a place to move him... three times... fixing his home, moving him out, moving him in)... I guess that's it in a nutshell.

Those events are not in order and I read them and laugh. Most of it never ended up on here because some was before I started blogging and the rest... this is my happy place. We just... went with it or as Bones would say, "It's how we roll."

But Pop single handedly tried to monopolize our lives and manipulate his children for the last decade.

We all came out stronger. The relationships of the siblings came out better (my sister in law in Ft. Lauderdale and I are thick as thieves)... although there was concern on my part between two of my husband's siblings who nearly killed each other this past March when moving him out... fighting over a jar of jelly.

Yeah, that didn't make it here. What a scary weekend that was...

Off of him, and onto what truly happened here... in this home... the mostly happy times.

My Mother in law dying was a catalyst to my asking Company X to lay me off early. I was working 20 hours a week, driving 30 minutes each way to what we called, 'The Swamp', and I had three kids. Ma was my 'go to' girl and I couldn't cope with her death, my three babies, my father in law... and life.

The company was closing down and I was targeted for August, but my boss was good enough to push it to April. My girlfriend, Son#4's Mom, looked after Bones while the other two boys were in preschool during these last four months of my working... Jan-April. An angel from Heaven she was... and also Bones' Godmother.

In April 2000, I became a full time Mom... the best and hardest thing that's ever happened to me.

The early 2000s are a blur. I remember good times, but I call this, 'my dark period'. I fell into a pretty dark place, I was probably clinically depressed. It was induced by lack of sleep, the sheer busyness of having three small children, and no help. I have no family in town and my husband was always at work.

9/11 was the following year and that marked my turning off the TV. My already overloaded and sleep deprived life went into a deeper funk, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So by October, I'd turned off the TV and never looked back.

I read and write now.

In 2002, I took up Karate with Ringo. We took Shotokan for three years. It was an excellent outlet for me... a good way to burn off the angry energy and although I don't miss it AT ALL, it probably saved my life.

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In competition. I think I took First place here although my stance is too high, obviously. I enjoyed Kata, hated sparring. I'm as limber as a brick. I am, however, very focused.


Ringo enjoyed all of Karate. Extraordinarily limber, he did very very well. He can get so focused, he makes me look like a scatter plot.

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Sometimes, Mr. T took as well.

I was working out 15 hours a week, between cycling, running, biking, weight lifting, and Karate... the endorphins kept me in a much happier place. I officially became an endorphin junky. During this time I also listened to a lot of self loathing music very very loud to block out all thoughts and it was probably the catalyst for what I suspect is the beginning of my hearing loss. (I don't wear iPods anymore... I protect my hearing.)

Anyway, by Feb 2005 our dojo imploded in dojo drama as Ringo was getting ready to test for Black Belt and I was about 9 months away. It closed. A black belt in our style once told me I'd forever regret not getting my black belt.

Not only have I never regretted it... I have never looked back. I'll take a gun instead.

I became a gym rat after that, using the elliptical and lifting weights. It worked until... I started having shoulder problems. I quit lifting in December 2007.

In late 2004 I received a call from some former co-workers asking me if I'd like to come back to work outsourcing to Company X. I told them 'no', that I had a family now, a life, and they came back at me with 'name your terms' and I came up with something absurd like, 'I make my own hours, come and go as I please, no more than 10 hours a week, summers off, $xx/hour" and... they called my bluff.. said "Yes, send us your resume and you start in 2 weeks".

You have been with me as my boss has fought cancer, the bookends nearly had heart attacks, and I've spoken of my Tech Lead... a man I've known for over 20 years... I often say, "We grew up together." He is known to take a lot of deep breaths as I reverberate in his cube at times. It is for him that I developed the expression, "It does not matter how loud you think, I still can't hear you." I could not ask for a better Tech Lead. I think he deserves a medal.

I've been there ever since, although now that my kids are older I work more like 20-25 hours, but I still come and go as I please. They even give me raises...

In 2004, I was also asked to be the Treasurer of my kids' school. It was a 2 year gig that turned into 6... this being my last year. Although there have been times I've been frustrated with it and with certain people, I've never regretted staying on this long and I attribute it to some great relationships I've made with some amazing people, including a teacher I suckered into doing a marathon... and has become a friend.

My eldest started Kindergarten in 2000 and is now in 9th grade. My 2nd son was in preschool and is now in 7th. My youngest was just born... and is going into Middle school next year.

I spent the last 10 years raising my children. There have been ups and downs, great highs and great lows... but overall, I'd do nothing different.

I love my babies.

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My favorite picture of Mr. T's Eyes.

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Classic Bones.

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Viking Ringo, circa 2006.

I have had a lot of loss this decade. I lost the grandmother closest to me in 1999, but in the last 10 years I lost my last grandmother, my uncle to pancreatic cancer at age 53? (my Dad's younger brother), my great aunt (my closest grandma's sister), and some good friends.

It was a decade of funerals... some celebrated and some so sad I thought I might crawl in the casket with them and die of heart ache.

From the awful premature death of my Uncle came the reacquaintance with his daughter, my first cousin, 14 years my junior. None of this was blog fodder then and it still remains off limits, but I will say that she was estranged from us through no fault of ours or hers (or my uncle's really), but in seeking out more about her Dad, she found us... and we love her dearly. We love her husband... and their new baby. Through the loss of my Uncle... we found more family.

I took up quilting, and marathon running. Y'all saw me through that last gig. How insane was that?!

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Mile 26.1. I looked way too happy... I couldn't walk for four days, literally.

In the last 18 months, I filled up my closet with running shoes that look to be in perfectly good shape, but have literally hundreds of miles on them... so they aren't good for running anymore. I'm looking to get them to some homeless folks.

I think one of the biggest life altering events for me this decade, however, was my taking up blogging. That was in 2004 as well. Dang what a busy year 2004 turned out to be!

Y'all have seen me through most of it... starting at my old home HERE on blogger. I was there a year before I found my new home here.

So half of this decade... has made the blog... from rats in my car, to The Life of Bones and all that he's been up to, to Ringo and his violent Stick Figure drawings, to Mr. T and some of the crazy school projects, to mold in my bathroom, to losing my gall bladder, to my husband's nasty car accident, to five hurricanes (that includes my folks getting hit by Ivan and Tammi by Charley... we took the other three hits).

Y'all saw me through some seriously crappy weather.

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TGOO with debris from Hurricane Ivan... this was pretty much in his front yard, the circle in his cul de sac. He is facing their home, you can see the driveway.


Dang. You don't get much sexier than this.

You saw me through pets... four hamsters, a few fish and a dog that lasted a week. You saw me through their deaths (the hamsters and the fish, not the dog, although that was a close one) and the start of the Hamster Cemetery in my back yard... Who knew that for $35 you could have a hamster euthanized???

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Our first Hamster: Fiona, named after Princess Fiona of Shrek. This was her death vigil... letters of love from my boys.

In this decade my sister got married, bringing Flam into the family, and then they had my niece, The Great Flambina in January, the next love of my life. My brother in law and his wife had two kids this decade, the latest being my nephew born in May, who also has managed to steal a part of my heart I did not know was up for grabs.

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I call this Spun Sugar. The Great Flambina sleeping.

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We call this one, "Boy Mom" as I was watching her and let her get all dirty. I think under that pacifier may be more dirt...

Y'all saw me through all of this... and I met bloggers. I met some amazing warm and funny people... people I have come to call friends... people I would call on in a heartbeat if I was in need. That says a lot coming from me.

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Taken for a Guest Post at Elisson's.

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Taken preparing for our First Real Family Vacation... skiing this past Feb in Colorado.

Mostly though... everything is ground noise. Mostly, this was the decade of raising my children.

The below were all taken the year I started to blog, to give you a reference in how much they've grown.

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Ringo 2004 in Review

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Mr. T 2005 in review.

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Bones, 2005 in Review. My favorite is that goalie picture in the center. Could we get any more serious about the game?

And so I give you this picture of us taken in January 2000 as it was my husband's 40th birthday gift and a picture of us taken today... nearly 10 years later.

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January 2000... ages 34, 2 (a week short 3), 7 mo, and 4 (two mo short of 5).

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December 2009... ages 44, 12, 10, and 14.
Obviously not a formal setting. I had my husband snap this an hour ago. (The hair will be donated within the next 30 days. I can't take it anymore!)

Happy New Year to all of you and may God Bless. May this coming decade go well for all of us. I always have... Hope.

Posted by Boudicca at 11:55 PM | Comments (19)

December 29, 2009

Time

My sister had me put in my stocking a cocoa bar with sea salt. I tried some of it today.

The blend of sea salt and cocoa is very odd. The jury is out yet as to how I feel about it. It won't stop me from eating it, afterall, it is... chocolate. However, every time I take a bite, something inside me screams, "This ain't right!"

It is, however, better than the chocolate covered bacon. Seriously, not everything has to be covered in chocolate.

Really.

This is my 2009 Christmas picture that has caused so many people to take notice that my kids really are growing... in particular 'the man'.

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Just for comparisons... the below was taken in July 2006, but three and a half years ago. For those who wonder how quickly time goes, how quickly kids change... let this be a benchmark for you. I'll be trying to find a picture of what they looked like when I started to blog. They were in 2nd, 4th and 6th grades in this picture.

They are currently in 5th, 7th, and 9th.

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Posted by Boudicca at 11:04 PM | Comments (13)

December 28, 2009

Nasty Letter with Language Alert

Dear Obama Administration,

Do you really think we're that f***ing stupid as to believe that 'the system worked'?

Do you really think the American public is truly a bunch of lemmings that we will follow your words and take them as fact just because... you said them?

Let me make this perfectly clear, unless your f***ing system included a Dutch man leaping over two seats and taking out the terrorist, your f***ing system didn't work.

Got it?

You all make me sick, covering your a$$es when Americans almost died on American soil... AGAIN.

You should be ashamed. Now grow the f*** up, admit the mistakes, fire who needs to be fired and make sure this doesn't happen again.

Signed-

A Repulsed and Angry American Citizen

Posted by Boudicca at 11:14 PM | Comments (12)

This Season's Thoughts

Just a little randomness...

I want to be able to screen my future seatmates on all commercial flights. As in, I want to decide who I sit next to. Forget aisle, middle, window, I want to decide who I can sit next to because I can't take down a terrorist with my size.

I want to sit next to a big guy... preferably former military with good hand to hand combat skills.

Or perhaps a big Dutch guy who can leap over two seats and take someone out...

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We are coming upon one year since Obama became President of this Country and I have yet to hear him speak. I refuse to acknowledge him as I think he is single handedly the biggest mistake this Country has ever made and it makes me physically ill.

Did I mention I am an Independent? (No, I did not vote for him.)

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I don't like Maureen Dowd. As liberal as some of my views are, I have some extraordinarily conservative views as well. I can't be pigeonholed. Yet, Maureen's column is so incredibly liberal to me, I can't read it.

However, I read today's column and I like her brother. He can have dinner at my table.
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My sister in law and her kids may be coming to visit. There are five of them. I heard it through the grapevine. She has yet to make a decision. I wonder when she was going to tell me? She and her family stay here, in my home.

We were discussing this at dinner tonight when Bones reminded me of earlier this year when my brother in law called to say they wouldn't be coming. I didn't even know they were. They were going to be leaving that day when they decided... not to come. Interesting. By the way, they would be coming from New Jersey.

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My Christmas cards started to arrive to their final destinations today. I received no less than three phone calls and email regarding the change in Ringo. The classic was from Writersblock who wrote, "Holy cow, Bou! Who is that MAN in the picture with Mr. T and Bones?!"

Once everyone has their cards, I'll post the picture here.

It's the haircut...

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My folks leave tomorrow. We're all sad. Bones wishes they lived closer. Hell, we all wish they lived closer.

What a mess for them to finally fly instead of drive, now having to contend with the aftermath of this terrorist pinhead in Detroit.

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I'm addicted to this stupid game Bananagrams. TGOO is leaving and now I won't have anyone to play with...

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School starts in a week... holy crap. I need summer...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:28 PM | Comments (4)

December 27, 2009

Death by Banana

I was talking to my girlfriend today about the Mom who is dying. They have been best friends for 45 years.

I cannot imagine losing my best friend. Do people even recognize something as horrible as that? Do we as a society make sure everyone who loved that person is entitled to the deep mourning and grief? Because I'm recognizing it for my friend. I'm worried for her... losing her best girlfriend.

I think for the first time I was happy that I know so much about Hospice and dying and the process and what to expect. Usually it's information I just have tucked away, being around so many people dying through the years. But this time, the information has been useful and it's made me think more about my volunteering at Hospice after my kids leave home.

We think that the Mom is essentially bleeding to death. She has internal bleeding and she is slowly just... bleeding to death. And as long as they keep her out of pain and she does not suffer, then it is what it is.

I'm not going to blog on it anymore, unless there is a finality. This is my catharsis and I put it out here last night as I couldn't get it out of my head. There is no use dwelling on it here... as I'm dwelling on it enough here in my real world.

So it's done.

On a lighter note, Morrigan got my boys a game called Bananagrams. Each person creates their own crossword puzzle.

I LOVE IT!

The boys... don't love it like I do. I had to beg them and TGOO to play with me over and over.

I have decided that this will be a great game for Morrigan, TN and me to play.

TGOO said if we play it, to give him a heads up so he can hide all the knives in the house.

It can get a little tense when TN, Mo and I play Scrabble. TN always accuses us of cheating. You make a COUPLE little mistakes once... like keeping a tile flipped over and using it as a blank (it REALLY was an accident)... and he holds it over your head forever.

So... next visit home, this will be the new game to play... and TGOO will lock up the knives.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:08 PM | Comments (6)

December 26, 2009

Lost

I found out tonight that a Mom at school will die in the next 48 hours. It is bringing back many memories for me... most not so good.

Cervical Cancer. This will be the first woman I know to die of it. Hell, I don't know anyone who has ever HAD it, let alone die of it. When I found out that was what she has been fighting these last few years, I said with horror, "This is the 21st century! Women don't die of cervical cancer!"

Goes to show what I know.

Not much.

She skipped her doctor's appointment for three years. She is dying... she is 45.

Five years ago, a Mom I know died of Leukemia. She never helped her family prepare. I went to visit her a week before she died; I took the anniversary meal to her and her husband... their last anniversary. I bought candle sticks and candles, cooked dinner and got a dessert. I took it to her, stood in her bedroom doorway and spoke as she really didn't want visitors. Her husband had me pop my head in, I said hello, she was in pain, she was dying.

Her husband walked me out and I asked how their sons' scheduled counseling appointment went with Hospice. They had canceled it. They had other things to do and just didn't go. I was angry, but internalized it. A plastered smile across my face, I hugged him and said I understood... I did not.

She died. There were no plans. A girlfriend of mine planned her entire funeral, went to the store and bought her clothes for her casket as she literally had nothing but stretchy pants and t-shirts in her closet.

There was absolutely no preparation... on any level.

For those of you have been reading me long enough, you'll remember how angry I was. I sat down and planned out my funeral. My husband was kind of aghast, but it was a process I had to go through.

How could a Mother die and not prepare those around her for trying to survive... without her? How?

Yet I see it happening again. This Mom's children did not know she was dying until today. The husband has been in denial, yet for the past few years, this woman has been playing Cancer Whack-a-mole, as it moved from spot to spot all over her body. Brain, breast, bladder, pain... all over. Each time the doctor knocking it back... until all the radiation and chemo destroyed her insides and she bleeds internally without a way for anyone to stop it.

There is no little Dutch Boy who can put his finger in this dike.

It is done.

I have spent the evening mulling it over, a bit angry again perhaps, horrified, calling the one person I knew who could help the kids... one of their teachers.

I've been internally processing the information.

Two points do not make a trend... but this is two Moms now that I know that haven't helped their children prepare.

And I decided tonight... it's not because they didn't want to. It's because the horror was so vast they could not.

They were not ready to die. They did not want to die. She does not want to die. They have children.

And in the world where it is right, you watch your children grow up, see them through high school, watch them as they go to college or learn a trade, sit in the aisle as they get married, hold their children, and die in your sleep of a very very old age.

You don't die when your children are in elementary and middle school.

It is not the way things are to go...

And so I am realizing tonight, that the absolute horror of it all, of leaving their children behind when they themselves are not ready, gets in the way of tying up loose ends.

There aren't supposed to be any loose ends at 45.

Their own personal grief and denial... akin to a two year old's 'wishful thinking'... regarding their own death, is what I am seeing.

I am no longer angry at these two Moms. I am probably even more deeply sad that I was before and quite frankly, I didn't think I could be much sadder.

It is the tragedy of it all... the tragedy.

It would appear that I will be attending a funeral either as a close out to this year or as start to the new one. My heart is so heavy for that family tonight, it hurts to breathe.

I am left... not understanding... why bad things happen to such good people.

Why.

Posted by Boudicca at 11:40 PM | Comments (7)

Christmas Thoughts...

This was probably the most stressful Christmas to date. Shopping for both food and gifts was not complete until the Eve, by 2PM. My working more and the kids' more busy schedule has had a huge effect on timelines around here.

That makes me more stressed which in turn leads to less sleep and the physical effects as well. I tend to walk the house more at night, checking on my family, I am more inclined to awaken in the middle of the night in a full blown anxiety attack, eye twitches, headaches and invariably, I also get sick. (Which I am... I have a cold.)

But I think that the Day itself, was probably one of the most relaxing for me.

My kids had a fabulous Christmas. It was a scaled back Christmas by far, with a couple major gifts, all found on sale, leaving me believing in Santa, and a lot of clothes, a combination of 'like to have' and 'need to have'. My kids are growing and new jeans, shirts and underwear always top the lists. Everything fit nicely under the tree, other than a couple boxes that were just too big.

And my kids were thrilled.

I have had a wonderful time with my folks. Mom and I went shopping. TGOO and I went to his new favorite store, Gander Mountain. (It's a Sportsman's Toys R Us.) We baked, cooked, ate, and... laughed.

So for some randomness... thoughts:

The funniest movie for Christmas, in my opinion, is now Elf. I don't know whether it truly is that funny, or if it's Bones that makes it funny. I can't quit laughing over my sitting on a chair, talking to my Mom, and having him appear out of nowhere and whispering gruffily, "You sit on a throne of lies. You stink. You smell like beef and cheese. You don't smell like Santa". Everytime he does it, I laugh so hard I think I'm going to cry.

TGOO pointed out to me during a visit to the mall, that Ugg Boots and shorts appear to be in style here. I hadn't noticed, but he is right. I told him I think they were just jealous that they couldn't wear cold weather clothes. In all honesty, these girls look like trash.

My sister in law got us a huge ceramic rooster for the kitchen. She said every Italian kitchen needed one.

Now we have one.

Of course this led to all sorts of jokes between TGOO and me when people weren't really paying attention, well, other than my Mom who kind of gave us a 'watch yourselves' look. TGOO said to my husband at one point "Hey, you want me to carry your cock to your car?" I started referring to it as our cock in the box. It only degraded from there. I'll spare you...

It is a very cool cock rooster.

I don't think there is a better afternoon nap to be had than a Christmas afternoon nap. Seriously.

I filled the stockings with chocolate soldiers and Santas. It was odd to hear Bones say, 'Hunh. Look at all the chocolate people". It sounded so... weird. "Here, let's act like cannibals. Eat some chocolate people." It just made me sit there thinking, "Hunh".

Is my Christmas tree the only one that makes noise? You turn my tree on and it sounds like it's going to take off as there is evidently a very vocal 'train' ornament. I have a noisy tree.

In 12 years, the noise will be off the tree and 2/3 of the ornaments will have a new home. I'm kind of OK with that. I'm looking forward to a silent tree in my next phase...

Moose Munch is totally the Breakfast of Champions. You haven't lived until you've tried it.

My ice maker and washing machine are broken. My microwave is on the fritz; all are 13+ years old. Anyone heard what is going on with this cash for clunkers appliance program? I think I'd like to participate... I need to get these suckers to eek through until the program.

Posted by Boudicca at 12:00 AM | Comments (7)

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We have been caught up in Christmas preparations here for the last few days, Christmas Eve dinner at my home and all the last minute shopping and baking.

My Christmas cards are actually being put together during Christmas Day when everyone is chilling. True Christmas cards...

The kids are all nestled, all snug in their beds, and they haven't a clue what sugar plums are, so those aren't dancing in their heads.

We are off to bed to await the early morning wake up call.

From my Home to Yours, have a most Merry Christmas!

** Sidenote: My boys have stocking stuffers from last year. When I went through MY closet, I found things I forgot I bought last year. This is why I don't hide anything...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:36 PM | Comments (16)

December 21, 2009

Bipolar Post

To Senator Nelson of Nebraska... you suck. A pox upon you and your ilk. May you frickin' ROT, selling the rest of the Nation down the river for your State's personal interests.

You should be ashamed. Yet you're not. And the fact that your selfishness is being played all over the Country 24/7, the backdoor deals you made for the citizens of Nebraska, and that you hold your head high and see nothing wrong with it... you have no shame. A classless wretch... I'm horrified for the people of Nebraska that you are the kind they have as a leader.

Then again... they elected you. You disgust me.

On a lighter note...

My folks are coming tomorrow, so I have spent the evening moving Christmas out of the room they will be staying and into my bedroom.

It is not that there are that many gifts, but that the main gifts are big and bulky, each child receiving one, plus the one big Santa gift, and then four or five smaller gifts, plus the gifts I have for my inlaws and my folks.

And so I started to lug them into our bedroom, with a big blanket to cover them, as I had nowhere else to put them, when the following conversation occurred between my husband and I:

Husband: You're doing this NOW? (It was 11:00)

Me: Yes, the kids are in bed and I need to get it done now.

Husband, getting out of bed: Fine...

I had most of the big boxes lined up in a far corner and had a big blue blanket thrown over them when I looked over and saw him disappearing into his closet.

Me: Wait. What are you DOING?

Husband: Putting Christmas in my closet...

Me: NO! NO! You cannot! You cannot put Christmas in your closet! We'll never find it again!

Husband: What?

Me: No. You NEVER REMEMBER where you put ANYTHING! If you put Christmas in your closet, we'll never find it!

Husband: Bou. I'm putting it in this basket.

Me: Great.

Ten to one says we're missing something come Christmas Eve. It's not that he has a big closet. No. It's a standard walk in where you can stand in it and that's it.

It's not that it is messy. No. I am married to Monk. His closet is neat.

But as we get older, we remember less and less and... damn, at some point, you just don't hide things anymore.

I mean, please. I could have hidden stuff in my closet too! But there's really no way in hell I'm going to miss Christmas under a big blue blanket... is there?

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I'm aware there are spam problems. I'm working on it... No, I do not make up the Spam messages...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:28 PM | Comments (6)

December 20, 2009

A Recap of This Year

This is new... I'm going to recap for you, the most commonly heard phrases in this home this year.

Bones: "You're not the boss of me." This is the most commonly used phrase since he turned two. It was his first string of words ever put together. In close second, "It's not my fault."

Mr. T: "I need to check Edline to see if I am still going to make Principal's list". This phrase is said absolutely EVERY week as he hovers over his grades. It's insane.

Ringo: "I don't have a girlfriend." Finally I said to him the other night, "Why do I suspect you will still deny it when you do?" He grinned.

Me: "One more time. I can't hear you." In close second, in response to Bones, "Then exactly whose fault is it?!"

Husband: "They really are... they really are going to pass this HealthCare bill." That has been said so many times the past two months, it wins. I think it's a daily phrase.

Posted by Boudicca at 02:38 PM | Comments (4)

Theories Dealing with Grass

My eldest was out with friends last night, so the rest of us went out Christmas shopping. My husband and I took the two younger boys out to eat at TGI Fridays.

On a side note, as awful as my boys can be to each other, the ugly things that brothers will say and do, it is this time of year that makes me see that they really do care about each other.

Bones still believes. This is our last Christmas. He truly believes and has somehow rationalized the entire Santa thing in his head... at least for this one last year. We're all living off of it... the last year with Santa in the house.

He wants to see Santa in the worst way, the WORST way. He says over and over, "We have to ask for a PS3! How will he know that we all want the same thing?"

I, for one, will not miss standing in the Santa line. After 14 years, I am done. That's the tough part about being the youngest kid. By the time things get to him, I'm done with it.

How many times could I hear the story read to me about the cat and the mat and the cap in First grade? How many times did we study Johnny Appleseed? How many of the same stinkin' projects... having three kids in school is like that movie Groundhog day. You do the same frickin' stuff over and over until you want to scream.

Exciting for Bones? Yes. But sorry, I'm not so thrilled with the prospect of his making a sombrero for Spanish next year, should he be at this same school. We've done the sombrero twice and I'm not jonesin' for #3.

Anyway, so unfortunately for Bones, the visit with Santa has pegged my "DONE!" meter. Fortunately for Bones, my husband and I hide it well.

And this is what warms my heart: My older boys have no desire to see Santa. Please. The thought of being caught having their picture with Santa, being caught by buddies at the Mall, cannot make them happy.

Yet they say nothing.

Realizing the potential life scarring embarrassment, we are scheduling it for 9:45 PM, right before the Mall closes, the line should be short, and all their friends home. I wait in line with my cell phone. When I get to the front of the line, I call my husband and say, "NOW!" and they quickly show up, Bones says his stuff, the obligatory picture is taken... and it's done.

And I love the fact my older boys do this for their brother, the brother who bugs the ever living crap out of them.

OK, for my real story.

Background: Mr. T is horribly allergic to grass. It's a topical allergy. If he goes outside with no shoes, his feet break out in a dry itchy rash.

So he said to me last night, "Mom, you don't ever have to worry about me smoking weed."

Me: *blink*

Mr. T: Yeah, my friends and I were talking at school. You know that grass allergy I have? If I smoked weed I'd probably have some sort of allergic reaction and die.

I laughed.

Mr. T: So, you don't have to worry about me.

In all honesty, he was the last kid I worried about doing drugs. The one I worry most about is Bones.

I know that T's theory is flawed, but I'm not saying anything. If that is motivation to keep him on the straight and narrow, that's way OK with me.

Good Grief.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:51 AM | Comments (3)

December 19, 2009

Served Cold

I had to attend a Christmas cocktail party on 'the island' last night. I never enjoy those things. I don't identify with people raised by nannies, worrying about what to wear constantly, and having personal assistants to maintain their 'busy' schedules.

I don't identify and... I don't want to. I like my life with my crazy kids, out in the sticks, and laughter at the dinner table. I'm Ok with the handprints on my walls, the boys' socks on the bathroom floor, and snacks always on the kitchen table. (I'd like Bones to keep their bathroom cleaner... but that's another story.)

I'm very alright with our big worries about money... because I'd rather have what I have worrying about paycheck to paycheck than I would the other side where they live.

And so we went to this for business reasons and while the host and hostess were warm and gracious, I found some in attendance... not so much.

A couple in their mid-70s to early 80s were introduced to us. The woman looked at me and said, "Do I know you from somewhere? You are so familiar." I asked her if she was in some of the organizations I'm in, which do take me to 'the Island', and she wrinkled her nose as if it was nothing she could be bothered with.

That was rude in itself. A simple no would have sufficed. As my Mom is apt to say, "Money does not buy you class".

I was wearing black slacks with a beautiful black sweater, the collar lined in a black fur, and 3 1/2 inch heels. I wore my hair down and crazy which means I had it sprayed and curly with just the top pulled up off my face. My husband likes it that way best, as do my boys, and the men I work with. My boss calls it my 'sexy hair'. In all honesty, its kind of my lazy hair. It's far harder to iron it all flat. But it is youthful looking... and natural.

At 44, I still have no gray.

She had short cropped salt and pepper thinning hair and stood at least 2 inches shorter than I, when I wasn't wearing heels. (I'm 5'2" in bare feet.)

And the following nasty conversation occurred... as is:

Me: I will think of it. I do think I've met you before.

Her, rather snarky: Well, it was obviously not at the hairdresser's.

Hmmm. How to take that? Without skipping a beat:

Me, smiling sweetly: No most definitely not. I am growing my hair out so I can donate it to make wigs for cancer patients. (I of course wanted to add a *cough* bi*** *cough* to the end, but refrained. Someone had to have a modicum of class.)

Her: Oh.

Me, smiling sweetly still: Oh yes. There are some great organizations that take hair like mine and make wigs. You know, I was so surprised. I let it grow too long and figured I'd just grow it out, but, what I didn't realize is how difficult it is to grow one's hair as we get older. I feel SO FORTUNATE that I am able to grow it this long, but it has taken far longer than I expected. I suspect I'll get it cut in January. I think I'm just about there.

Her:

Me:

And she talked to someone else and I spoke to her husband.

Good Grief.

Posted by Boudicca at 03:37 PM | Comments (11)

December 17, 2009

The Evolution of the Oddest Christmas Eve Dinner... EVER.

When we're in town, Christmas Eve dinner is here and Christmas Day is at my sister-in-law's. It works out perfect as I hate cooking on Christmas Day and she can't cook on Christmas Eve as she's a general manager for a very large department store.

I plan the meal starting right after Thanksgiving. It started out pretty normal. Per the usual, I started with dessert. Planning the dessert is first and foremost.

So in love was I with the pumpkin pies my Dad made over Thanksgiving, that I deemed them one of the desserts for Christmas Eve as well as Southern Living had on the front cover a picture of a chocolate cake that looked to die for. And so it was... ginger snap crust pumpkin pie and chocolate cake for dessert.

The following day, I decided I wanted a meat for Christmas Eve. I said that to my husband. "Hun, I'm having a ham for Christmas Eve."

Good grief... you'd have thought I personally crucified Christ. I married into a devout Italian Catholic family. You DO NOT EAT MEAT on Christmas Eve.

NO.

And so I decided, "Ok, I tried it. I lost. No meat."

Great.

Pop came over a few days later and we started to discuss the main meal for Christmas Eve. If I couldn't have my meat, then my husband was in charge of figuring out what we were going to have. I wanted meat, they wanted fish... he had to figure it out.

In my mind, I was still winning this battle and having meat.

Pop and he decided to sit down and bond on Christmas Eve. They are making Pop's calamari sauce, a sauce I believe he has not made since Ma died, 10 years ago this January. That left me to create... a list.

Vegetables. I said to the both of them, my father in law sitting closest to me with his back to my husband, "Salad or brocolli?"

My husband said, "Salad." My father in law mouthed to me, "Brocolli" and I said, "Look at that. Brocolli it is..." to which my father in law grinned and then whispered hoarsely in his Parkinson ladened voice, "The little flourettes."

So that was that. Little flourette brocolli, I'll still make a salad, calamari sauce, pasta, chocolate cake and pumpkin pie.

And then Sunday... my sister in law said to me quietly in the kitchen, a woman who never asks anything of anyone... "Bou, are you making those... cheese... that cheese stuff this year?"

"Cheese grits?" I asked.

"Yes! I LOVE THOSE!" she replied.

And I said, "Why yes... I am!" which I wasn't, but she asked and how in the hell do you say no to someone so kind and who asks and who LIKES cheese grits as much as I do?

At dinner, something came up about my Dad's King cake... TGOO makes King cakes that are out of this world and the kids LOVE to see who gets the baby.

And so the pumpkin pies got tossed and we now have the following menu for Christmas Eve... a carbo loaders fantasy... a marathon runner's dream:

Salad
Italian bread
Brocolli
Calamari Sauce
Pasta
Eggplant Parmesan (probably)
Cheese Grits
Chocolate cake
King Cake (which is a Mardi Gras/Easter type dessert, but it's a Christmas Eve special here... who gets the baby Jesus hidden in the cake?)

There you have it. Southern meets NOLA meets Italian.

Pass the Tums.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:30 PM | Comments (9)

December 16, 2009

Florida Education: The Joke's On Someone

I'm going to bitch for awhile on something I am seeing in our high school system here in Florida.

I tutor math for high school students, nothing new to any of you. I have a 50/50 split between private school versus public school. My public school kids are just going to regular public schools, not one of the elite schools like Suncoast. For those not in the know, we have a school, Suncoast, that is rated #3 in the nation. It is a TOUGH curriculum and when you leave there, you have an EXCELLENT education. I know a sophomore there right now taking AP Calculus I, AP Physics, and on and on... when he leaves, he will have taken 2 years of college. I know a Junior there that took engineering courses at our local university per the program... he took it with college kids this summer and received full college credit. He was 15. (He got an A.)

So there are some excellent programs for kids who are uber smart.

And then there are the rest of the schools.

First, one of the schools my son's friends go to had a gang fight today, complete with knives, the police and pepper spray.

Right.

We have a friend who is a Sheriff's deputy. He couldn't send his kid to the other local school that all my son's friends go to because... he'd done a gang bust there and all the gang bangers know him... and his son carries the same exact name, which is unfortunately not Smith or Brown. So his son goes to private school.

That right there is why I don't want my kids going to any of the 'regular' public schools. But if I can get past the gangs, the knives, and the police, and the pepper spray... I can't get past the education I'm seeing.

The kids in our public schools are required to take something called the FCAT. You MUST pass the FCAT to graduate from high school. The schools teach to the FCAT. It's a point of contention for many Florida parents...

I was assisting one of my public school HONORS Algebra II students on Sunday, getting ready for Semester exams. This conversation occured... no lie. And on side note, I LOVE this kid. She is a GREAT kid. So this is no cut on her... but the school.

Me: You need to pull an A on this exam to get a semester grade of a B. You have two Cs and this A is what you need to pull a low B.

Student: Oh no, I brought in tissues and hand sanitizer and got an extra 5 points, so I got the B this quarter.

Me: *blink*

Student: Yup!

Me: You have a B this quarter? *deep breath* OK. Great. You still need to pull an A though, because then you will FOR SURE have a B for your overall grade on your transcript.

Student: Oh no, Mrs. L, it's OK. I can get a C. I get a 2 grade bump up on my semester exam because I got a 4 on the math section of the FCAT. So if I get a C on the exam, I really get an A.

Me: Wait...

Student: It's true! So I just have to make a C and I'll have a B average!

I wanted to slit my jugular with a spork.

Are you frickin' KIDDING ME? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I'm aghast. I'm absolutely aghast.

So now I have my private school students absolutely busting themselves, and this includes my son, to learn the information and make the grade and they are competing to get into colleges with kids who are getting extra points by bringing in hand santizer and tissues and receiving 2 grade bump ups in their semester exams because of the FCAT.

How in the hell does one wrap their mind around that?

I told my private school kids that their SAT scores will be higher as they actually KNOW the information. They have far better study skills for college. They won't be looking for handouts from professors. They will adjust better.

And I know it's all true, but that's a tough pill to swallow when you watch everyone around you coasting and they're bragging about their high GPAs.

Seriously.

I could have screamed.

Perhaps I should rationalize and say they deserve it easy since they have to put up with the gangs... but I'm not buying it either.

Pisses me off...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:56 PM | Comments (16)

December 15, 2009

When Over Achieving Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

A couple Fridays ago, Mr. T had a school dance, HIS first of the year since he had swine flu with the actual first dance and missed it.

He was excited. You don't do dances in 6th grade and have to wait until 7th. Having to miss the first dance, there was great anticipation with this one.

Imagine my surprise, when at the end of the dance, I was met by the principal and told he needed to speak to me about my son.

My response? "Mr. T?"

As if Ringo or Bones was in there. It was HIS dance and I had to question? Strike 20 IQ points for that one.

But it was instinctive. This is the kid who NEVER got a time out in elementary school, got sent down to the principal's office in 5th grade once for making fun of a kid's watch when the other kid had started picking on him, and got a detention once in 5th grade for talking to the kid next to him in church.

In K-7, that's the extent of the trouble he has caused.

And now I get flagged down by the principal after the school dance?

My son came over and the principal said, "Tell your Mom what happened."

T: I threw up.

Principal: No, tell her WHY you threw up.

Me:

T: Because I got in a soda drinking contest with Nick and I threw up after...

And this would be the story. There were dixie cups. I don't allow coke in my house. It's bad for you and that's my big battle. NO coke.

So here he is at the dance, there is a lot of coke and he and his buddy decide to have a coke drinking contest with these dixie cups. First kid to 30 cups wins.

His buddy 'John' makes it to cup 12 and starts to feel like crap and stops.

His buddy 'Nick' makes it to cup 27 and starts to feel like crap and stops.

At that point T says he feels like crap too, but he's going to win.

Gotta love that competitive spirit.

He gets to 30, feels like complete crap, sits down and proceeds to vomit all over.

Guess what? He told me later, "It's better to win and vomit then to lose by a half a cup" a thought echoed by many many a boy since then.

To the boys in his class, he was quite the hero. To the girls? They appear to be grateful that they weren't slow dancing with him when he decided to go all volcanic.

My eldest actually said to him, "Not me. I'd not want to get to 30. I'd want to overachieve... and get to 31!"

Mr. T replied, "I was trying. I was. But man, I could not make it past 30."

Yes, I'm a bit concerned about college. Why do you ask?

Posted by Boudicca at 10:02 PM | Comments (11)

December 14, 2009

I Think I See Ashes and Switches

In an effort to show you the brotherly love in this household, I give you Bones' Santa Letter, an extra credit paper written for Language Arts.

Yes, this means his teacher saw it.

Yes, his teacher knows Mr. T.

No, Bones is not getting an iPod. That is just asking for a child with hearing aids by age 14.

Dear Santa,

I would like it if you would get my cousins an Air Plane ticket because it is too expensive from here to New Jersey. I know they would like to come to Florida for Christmas but canít. I also would like it if you got my brother a new phone. Ringo is always talking about how his phone stinks and it keeps freezing and stuff like that. I think he would like a new phone so he doesnít have so much trouble with it. I also would like it if Mr. T could get plastic surgery to improve the way he looks. He is getting sick of me vomiting every time I see him. Iím running out of vomit, so help me out here.

I would like a PS3 for Christmas. It comes with Internet and you can play all the good games on it. My brothers want it too. I also would like an IPod. I am always thinking what if I could listen to music whenever I want. I mean come on, that is pretty cool. Last I would like my family to have the best Christmas ever. I would like the best Christmas ever because some times I am sad and then I realize that Christmas is just around the corner. When that happens I am happy again.

God bless you,
Bones

Posted by Boudicca at 09:48 PM | Comments (10)

December 13, 2009

Am I?

I evidently didn't get it right the first go round in High School. I am now the expert in all Algebra II. Let me tell you, I am GOOD. I can also now tell you about the Phonecians, the Byzantine Empire, the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, the Hindus, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists and I can add on Confuscious. I can expound upon Henry II, Urban II, Queen Isabella, the Magna Carta, the eightfold path, the five pillars of faith, Charlemagne, and Otto the Great.

From the early civilizations at 2000 BC up to Queen Isabella... I have learned it all tonight.

Or what I could.

My son has a mid-term in his Eastern Western Civlization class, the Honors class taught at his school. Let me tell you something now, this is NOTHING like I took in High School.

Good Lord.

I am telling you, it is INTENSE. He is comparing religions, cultures, and people. He's learning who did what to whom and why. He has to not only answer the questions, but write a paper.

He is not in public school. I went to public school. NOTHING I took in public school came close to what my son is studying. He is having to bust his ass.

He thought he was going to fail this test until I stepped in today and told him to take a deep breath and that I'd help him with his study guide. He has an A in the class this quarter. How does a kid make a B and an A and then fail the exam?

But I looked at his review sheet and sure enough, it was SO detailed on what he HAD to know, it was a real possibility he was going to fail. So I studied with him.

He feels better. I feel smarter. I wonder how kids do it today. It is much more intense than it was when I was in high school.

I was wondering today, did I appreciate Christmas and our lives when my children were little? Did I fully appreciate that we so got into it that our house was the most decorated home in the neighborhood? That I called FPL once and wondered if we needed a power pole just for our home? The constant Christmas music and cookies, and... happiness of my children? Of us?

Did I appreciate it? Did I stand back and take a deep breath and want to not forget the moment?

Did I?

Because I don't remember.

Because now Christmas is my working so much, pulling kids from one lesson to another, driving kids to school, helping with homework, and trying to get in shopping, baking, decorating.

And it's not so fun.

I'm stressed. I'm stressed trying to hide it all from my kids. I'm stressed trying to make it all transparent, to keep the holidays wonderful for them as I struggle to stay sane.

My eldest has stepped up to the plate. He goes outside to help with yardwork, he is learning to ride the mower so he can cut the lawn, he comes inside and washes dishes for me, sets the table for the big Sunday family dinner, tells his brothers to quiet down and leave us alone as we're busy, reminds me I have to put the angel on the Christmas tree, as I cook dinner and clean.

I look at my son, who informed me the other day in all seriousness that he may want to be a heart surgeon, but that could change to anything tomorrow, I assure you, and I realize that he's growing up and soon I won't be driving him to school. I won't have him making me laugh in the car with his crazy stories from class or lunch. I won't be helping him make outlines about the Byzantine Empire. He won't be saying, 'No. Mom. Stop' as I try to come up with a new name for his band that doesn't exist.

And I wonder. Am I appreciating it enough? Through all the stress that I have, fighting the migraines and the eye twitches and the worry, am I appreciating the wonderful things as well?

Am I?

Posted by Boudicca at 09:55 PM | Comments (11)

December 12, 2009

Did Norman Have Chocolate?

My brother called me from California tonight. This is pretty much our conversation:

TN: What's up?

Me: Well, about three years ago, I got all Norman Rockwelly and decided that as we decorated the tree we'd have homemade cookies and hot chocolate. One time and now it's a tradition. We have to do it this way, complete with loud Christmas music, every year.

TN: That's cool!

Me: So today I baked and Mom got us some really nice hot chocolate for Christmas last year and I have some left so instead of the stuff where we just add water, I'm heating milk and adding chocolate shreds to it.

TN: Yuck.

Me: No, it's really good! A cup of milk and then you add 5 tablespoons of this shredded chocolate and stir it.

TN: Wait. FIVE tablespoons?

Me: Yeah.

TN: How much milk?

Me: A cup?

TN: FIVE TABLESPPONS OF CHOCOLATE!

Me: Hunh. When you put it that way, that's a lot of chocolate isn't it?

TN: YES!

Me: Wow. No wonder it's so good...

That's a lot of damn chocolate...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:02 PM | Comments (11)

December 09, 2009

... and I didn't kill one plant.

I'm alive.

I've never seen so many damn poinsettias in my life. Two nursery box trucks arrived, each with racks and racks of poinsettias. Triple high racks... good Lord I have no idea how many racks.

We just kept unloading and sorting.

It went very well, but it absolutely exhausted me and I had a board meeting tonight, so I spent last night getting the books together for the meeting.

My role in the poinsettia fundraiser was to organize it and make it happen. I told a friend of mine today, I didn't have to do anything with money. I didn't collect it, make sure it was right, keep track of it... NOTHING.

No money.

That in itself was such a relief. After being Treasurer for nearly 6 years, I'm tired of keeping track of money. Processes... I'm good at creating and improving. Taking money and keeping track of it... bores me.

So this was a great experience and I'm in the process of documenting my system and working to improve upon it. Next year will be better...

No pictures of plants. I was so consumed with getting the job done, that I forgot.

Bonus for me... I met some GREAT Moms. I was afraid I'd not meet any Moms I loved as much as the Moms at the school my younger kids currently go to.

Not so.

I met some women that had me laughing so hard, I was nearly crying. So it may have been busy, but I laughed a lot... and you can't beat that.

Eye twitch and all...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:52 PM | Comments (5)

December 07, 2009

A Truck Load of Fun

Conversation at work today:

Me: I'm not coming into work tomorrow.

Tech Lead: OK.

Me: I'll be in Poinsettia Hell.

Tech Lead: Hey, at least your Hell will smell nice.

Me: There is that...

How is that for a silver lining? Six hundred and fifty poinsettias arriving at 8:15.

I smell blog fodder...

The migraines have subsided but I have a twitch in my left eye, three days now. I'm thinking... that's not good.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:35 PM | Comments (10)

December 06, 2009

What? I Can't HEAR YOU!

I took my eldest to an enormous all day concert today. It was called The Buzz Bakesale and is put on by one of our local radio stations, The Buzz.

We got there at 1:00 and got home at midnight. It was roughly 10 hours of... alternative music.

By 9:00 I was tired and cold and I smelled like pot. What in the hell are concerts going to be like when they legalize pot?

By 9:30 I was shivering and done. My husband sent me a text that said, "If you breathe in deeply, you won't care anymore..." referencing the fact I was going to come home smelling like weed. I thought it was funny.

So I'm hoarse from trying to talk to my girlfriend. There were four of us... her son and my son are best buddies. The boys had lawn seats and hung with their friends and she and I were homebase with covered seats, a bonus when it started to rain.

I think I am losing part of my hearing. I have a difficult time with ambient noise and the deep voices my son's are acquiring are difficult for me to hear as well. It could be normal 44 year old wear and tear, but I keep threatening to get it tested since right now I just get angry that they aren't talking loud enough for me to hear. If I know it's my fault, I might ease up about being so bitchy about it.

Anyway, any hearing I might have had at the low tones... well... it could be gone now. Holy crap.

On a final note, there was a band there called, Sick Puppies. They are out of Australia. I listen to them on the radio sometimes, but quickly googled them to get some background. In reading I saw that they got their name when the guy who formed the band noticed his Dad was reading a book called Sick Puppy by Carl Hiasson.

Now my son and I have a running discussion that really annoys him. I'm bent on finding a band name for his one day future band. The following conversation is an actual conversation we had:

Me: You know bands today come up with weird everyday names. You can name your band anything.

Ringo: I know.

Me: Seriously. Like, you could name it I-95 South.

Ringo: I'm not naming my band I-95 South.

Me: Or... Don't Turn Left on Red.

Ringo: Mom, Stop.

Me: How about... Have it Your Way

Ringo: MOM! STOP!

Me: Or... how about My Florida Dot Com.

Ringo: Did you get that from the license plate in front of us?

Me: Yes.

Ringo: No. Stop it already... it's annoying.

And so it goes.

On the ride home the conversation went like this:

Me: You know, Sick Puppies got their name from a book his Dad was reading called Sick Puppy by Carl Hiasson.

Ringo's Buddy: Really?

Ringo:

Me: See. His Dad kind of helped him with his name. I could help you.

Ringo: She does this. She comes up with these stupid names... like I want to name my band *reading a street sign* 'Andros Isles next right'.

*laughter in the car*

Ringo's Buddy: You're kidding. That's classic.

Ringo: No. No it's not. It really annoying.

Me: So be it. I could be a big help....

Buddy's Mom: oh look! It could be Mr. Lee's Chinese Restaurant!

Ringo: Great...

Evidently I won't be assisting with band names. I keep telling him it's 'brainstorming'. He keeps saying "No, it's just really annoying..."

Posted by Boudicca at 12:43 AM | Comments (14)

December 03, 2009

When Tiger Becomes Relevant

I wasn't going to blog tonight, but remembered something really funny that happened and thought I'd put it out here.

I went to my husband's place of work today as I had business there. I walked back to the back to where one of his employees was and she said very loudly so my husband could hear, "Hey! There is a woman back here that you need to come smooch!"

With that, my husband comes back to the back, quietly and says to her in hushed tones, "Kim, I have someone with me. Tiger Woods is ALL over the TV when you yell there is someone back here I need to smooch? I had to quietly say to her, "It's my wife!""

I could not quit laughing...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:45 PM | Comments (3)

December 02, 2009

Some Women Grate

Poinsettias are coming to a head! So far we have nearly $11,000 in orders, which is... 582 plants. I hear we are down by 40%.

I'm telling you now, I have been BUSY and I cannot imagine this order being upwards of 1000 plants like last year.

And this is essentially what happened between me and the defense lawyer and why I more than likely did not get picked. My tone waffled between flat and sometimes harsh and her tone was very conciliatory. She wasn't an aggressive woman, which unfortunately, probably did not bring out my best as she was pissing me off anyway. She was definitely a Public Defender.

At the beginning, the judge read us many questions. In order they were as follows:

Occupation
Marital status (state if living with someone)
Significant other's occupation
How many adult children and if you have them, what do they do for a living?
Do you have family or are you close friends with anyone in law enforcement?
Have you served on a jury and if so did the panel come to a verdict?
Were you the Foreman?

For the record, out of 28 women, I was the only professional woman there, with the exception of one nurse. Every woman was a waitress, worked in a daycare, or was older and had never worked. I would estimate that every single man was a professional of some sort. There were IT guys, a military pilot, an executive... I cannot recall one that was not.

I found that odd. This is 2009. Out of nearly 14 women, only two of us were professionals. And you could have heard a pin drop in the room when this conversation took place... I was Juror #1:

Judge: and your profession
Me: engineer
*silence*
Judge: *pause* really. What kind?
Me: I work in the aerospace industry.
*big pause*
Judge: Really. Do you work for company XYZ?
Me: Yes, as a subcontractor.
Judge: Hunh.

And then the Prosecuting attorney asked questions for 30 minutes and then the Defense attorney grilled us for 90 minutes.

So she started with me.

Atty: Mrs. L, you stated that you don't have any family or friends that are in law enforcement.

Me: No, I did not. I stated I did not have any CLOSE friends who were in law enforcement.

Atty: So you don't know anyone in law enforcement?

Me: I never said that. I said I don't have any close friends or family in law enforcement. I have lived in Palm Beach County for nearly 24 years. I know scads of people in law enforcement.

Atty: Are they acquaintenances or friends?

Me: They are NOT close friends as the original question stated. I would put them more in the friend category because they are the parents of my children's friends.

Atty: So would you believe a law enforcement officer over a regular person?

Me: I'd look at the facts.

Atty: But if it was their word, would you believe the officer over the regular person?

Me: I will look at all the facts. I will look at the FACTS. But if you are talking a 'he said/he said' scenario, where I don't have any facts to go by and I have to choose one, I'm going to pick the person who took the Oath to uphold the Law.

And it went kind of downhill from there with me whenever she asked a question because when she changed the question to the folks in the back as to whether a law enforcement officer would lie, I felt like she was trying to trick me with her questions, twist my words, or had some other meaning I wasn't catching and it really pissed me off that I had to literally think with every question, wondering what game she was playing.

By the end of her question answer session, she was grilling juror 2,3,4, and 6 in my row, but had repeatedly skipped me and number 5 who I suspect was mentally ill.

I got lumped with the whack job.

I was tired of sitting, my back hurt, I was cold, I was getting a migraine, she was irritating me, I was convinced this guy was innocent, I had a kid in high school in the library waiting for me since 3:30 and it was nearly 5, my blood sugar was dropping, and I was trying to figure out what in the hell I was going to do if I got selected because I had to take Bones somewhere at 5:30 and I had already put my husband on alert to pick up 'library kid'.

I straightened my legs out, bent down and stretched my back, sat back up and stared into space when as an absolute frickin' after thought the attorney said, "And Mrs. L, how do you feel about this?" I said, "I agree..." and she moved on.

I wonder if the guy got off.

Posted by Boudicca at 11:10 PM | Comments (8)

December 01, 2009

A Long Day for $15 and a Movie

I have another migraine. This one started when I got called into the courtroom for final selection of a jury. The room was so damn cold, after 2 hours I was clenching my teeth to keep my teeth from chattering... and it went down hill from there.

What an odd and very long day.

I was dismissed and I'm kind of bummed because I think the guy was really innocent. And believe it or not, I was dismissed by the Defense Attorney. She didn't like one of my answers.

But she was wrong.

And in the end, I feel certain I would have found her man innocent. I hope her poor choice didn't send her man to prison... for life.

We were grilled for nearly two hours before final jury selection. I'm not kidding... have you ever heard of such a thing? We got in the room at 1:15 and they did NOT select a jury until 4:40.

And here is the big question that got me X'd off the jury.

If I had a regular person say one thing and a policeman say one thing, would I be more inclined to believe the police officer?

At which point I went toe to toe with her for a couple minutes about what she really wanted to know. I wasn't hostile, just blunt.

And I finally said, "I will look at all the facts. I will look at the FACTS. But if you are talking a 'he said/he said' scenario, where I don't have any facts to go by and I have to choose one, I'm going to pick the person who took the Oath to uphold the Law."

Benh.

Wrong answer.

At first, nobody dared give the same answer I did. I was the first asked. I was the leper.

But halfway through, people started more and more saying a bit more and finally some guy in the back said, "If you are asking me if I am going to believe a man who took an oath to uphold the law over a felon, then "YES", I am." The man in question was a felon.

She eventually changed the question to, "Do you think a policeman will stretch the truth ever?" and then on to, "Do you think a policeman will lie?"

Those are far different than the question she asked me, to which both answers for me would have been yes.

Every question, I told her it's about the facts.

And as we got more and more information about the case, through our 2 hour grilling, I became more and more sure, that I'd have found him innocent.

From life in Prison.

Where I feel certain he did not belong.

Because if anything, I was so aghast at some implications, the State would not have found him guilty without a shadow of a doubt.

And now I will never know... his fate.

Meanwhile, the weirdest thing that happened:

We were 1.5 hours into the grilling. I mean grilling. And one of the female jurors in the back GOT UP and started to walk out.

The Bailiff freaked, ran after her, commotion in the courtroom, the judge (a woman) yelling, "Wait! You can't leave!"

We're all turned around and the woman is talking to the Bailiff when the judge addressed her, to which the woman responded, "Your Honor, I have to go to the bathroom. We need a break. I am on my period."

*blink*

So we took a break and everything resumed 10 minutes later like nothing happened...

The title: we got paid $15 and got to watch The Terminal with Tom Hanks as we waited to get called.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:22 PM | Comments (10)