May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

For years I would comment at the oddity of how I knew nobody that lost their fathers in WWII. I chalked it up to being a young man's war... boys sent to fight before they had the opportunity to fall in love, marry, have children. Boys sent to pay the ultimate sacrifice before they were able to realize all that life can provide... lives cut so short, so very short.

My grandfather, being the exception in my mind, his having had two young children when he was sent off to fight as a Seabee in the Pacific., the horrors of war upon him in Peleliu and the surrounding islands. I view him as regarded as the 'old man' being in his mid 20s.

My girlfriend's father was in the European theater for DDay, before he was married. My husband's father was in the Pacific on the USS Chase, before he was married. My girlfriend's husband rode up front with Patton, in the 3rd Army as a tank commander, before he was married.

So this has been the norm in my vision of WWII, unmarried men.

This is not the case, however, just my myopic view of a war where so many men and women made such great sacrifices, that still in 2010 we speak of it with reverence. My myopic view of a war, where everyone I knew came home, yet when I went to visit the Memorial in Washington, thinking it would be just another historical monument like the Washington monument, I found myself beside myself with grief and anguish at all that had been done... the blood that had been shed, for my Country, for OUR Country.

A Memorial that still chokes me up as I remember my visit.

The Memorials I need to take my sons to see.

And then I remember the day I realized that some Dads didn't come home.

I was at a funeral in January of 2006 for a friend of mine who had passed, a survivor of the Bataan Death March. His step grandchildren spoke. Veterans spoke. Old friends spoke.

It was a difficult funeral, even in his advanced age, having lived life to the fullest, it was difficult.

But there was one part that was the most difficult, in my prior post I referred to it as 'this one is going to leave a mark', and I will finally tell it here, having vowed I would never write it for public consumption, something that felt so personal.

But it's Memorial Day and we must remember.

The family filed up to speak, one by one, until they asked if there was anyone else that would like to speak. And on unsteady legs, she stood, she walked to the front, her body wracked with grief. She had been crying so very hard. She was in her early sixties. She held tissues in her hands and outwardly wondered to all of us... could she do this?

And she spoke of attending a reunion for Bataan Death March survivors many many years ago... 10 years or 15 years... so long ago... and of writing on an index card and posting on a bulletin board, "Did you know my father?" and she stated his name and gave her hotel room.

And she waited.

And he called. My friend called. He'd seen the card and he knew her father, a man she never knew as she was a baby when he went off to war. And he met this woman, still grieving the death of a great man she never knew. And... he became her surrogate father.

All those years, she was folded into his family, and he told her stories of the great man she never knew. And of his last hours, for he was there. He told her all she wanted and needed to know...

And she in turn viewed this man as hers. This friend of mine filled shoes that had been empty for her entire childhood, her young adult life... always empty.

So when she went up to speak on his behalf and to tell us all what a great man we had all lost, she was grieving two people. She was grieving the father she never knew and grieving a man she grew to love as her own, a man who had given her a glimpse into a horrible world of a man she loved and doesn't remember hugging. A man who loved her as a daughter, the way her father was never able.

She was grieving all over again.

And I cried.

It was probably one of the most gut wrenching things I have ever witnessed, watching her struggle to speak, to try to convey. She succeeded as it is burned in my memory.

And my myopic view of WWII changed forever.

We must never forget.

Posted by Boudicca at 12:10 PM | Comments (7)

May 30, 2010

Punching My Ticket to Hell... If There is One.

I don't like people trying to convert me... for anything. Trying to convert me to your faith is insulting my intelligence. It is acting as if I've not given thought to my own spirituality... that you think I am shallow and must see the light.

I am patient and listen, but deep inside, I do want to tell them exactly where they can go.

My husband is Catholic. I am not. I am not for many reasons, none of which are publishable here, because it is MY choice, no one else's. My husband knew when he married me that I would never convert nor would I ever believe as he believed. I respect his faith as he respects mine. I respect his faith so much, my Mom made sure a Catholic priest was at our wedding as well as a minister of my then faith, I made sure we went through all the pre-Catholic marriage indoctrination, we got a blessing from the Pope, and I met with a Catholic priest... a man now that I would seek advice from should I run into a problem with my own spirituality.

Does my husband regret this decision in marrying a non-Catholic, a man of such faith in his Church, coming from a family with such great faith that his mother actually died IN church?

I think he might at times.

He takes the boys to Church every Sunday. We have them in Catholic schools and I told him upfront, the kids could be Catholic, I would assist when possible, but he was to NEVER ask me to go to Church with them. I do not do organized religion. I do not do Church. That's his gig, not mine.

And so every Sunday the four of them go, while I do my thing, go running, go to the gym, read... be alone. And I do think deep inside he wishes we all went to Church as a big happy family. He must. Its what he knows... what he did as a child.

There are devout mothers that this offends, my not going. They are horrified that we do not go as a family. They say things to me like, "Do you realize how lucky you are to be married to man who would go to Church like your husband does?"

I smile sweetly.

I was informed today I was on the top of the prayer list for one of these women... the top of the prayer list that I would see the errors of my ways and convert to Catholicism and attend with my family every Sunday. I would see the ways of righteousness and the path to Salvation.

I find it amusing as the Catholic priest I know and confer with, loves me as one of his own. He seeks me out at times and I ALWAYS seek him out, and he hugs me hard and asks how I am as he pats my shoulder, always saying to me in a deep Irish brogue, "You are a good woman, Bou. You are a very good woman."

And today I'd had enough. We were at a church gathering at my husband's Church.

Finally I turned to her and said, "Do you not think I've never heard the Holy Spirit? Are you sitting there trying to tell me, that I do not feel the Lord speaking to me? Because if you are, then you are sadly mistaken, because I truly believe, of all the people sitting here on Catholic grounds today, at this big festival, that *I* may be one of the few who has not only heard him, but listened."

I then told her THIS story, one of my many stories when I did things I had no reason to do, other than following a feeling in my heart. (For some reason it got converted in archives with weird characters. It makes it tough to read...)

And it's not the only story I have. My friend found this story amazing enough that I suspect she'll leave me alone.

But I'm not sure. My husband looked at her and said, "Do you think that just because people are Catholic or come to this Church that they listen to God? Do you think that just because they are HERE that makes them a good Christian?"

Her husband agreed with mine. She became more silent. I was slowly stewing.

I finished it off..., I said to her, "I'll make you a deal. When the Catholic Church sees to it that the Pedophiles are executed, I'll convert. But... not until then."

She seemed absolutely appalled by this. Like I give a crap...

Posted by Boudicca at 06:05 PM | Comments (10)

May 28, 2010

Get Me Off the Crazy Bus

It's the end of the week and I'm dead dog tired. This summer cannot possibly come fast enough...

My eldest got his Driver's Permit today. In Florida, you are eligible to learn to drive starting at age 15. We waited awhile to get his permit and will wait longer before he gets behind the wheel.

I don't have the nerve to teach him to drive... at all. My nerves are absolutely shot. I spent most of my time with my coping meter dang near close to pegged out, while trying to maintain an outside demeanor that all is right with my world, when in reality I am paddling like hell to stay afloat on the inside.

I can tell when I'm reaching my limit. I've taken to saying at work, when I'm just about pegged out, "I'm pulling a Scarlett O'Hara. I will think about this tomorrow."

I'd love to blame the issues I have right now with coping and stress on work alone, but it's not. It's actually probably more home related. There is a lot of stress here with school and the kids... I've not been in a good place.

I got in a fight with the head of the Science Department at my son's high school. I won (of course), but did I really? Confrontation of that magnitude is draining and that much energy for me to go in and truly slice someone apart can take me days to recover from. So... I won the battle, but at great cost to my physical/mental well being.

I'm not 21 anymore.

Bonus for me, I saw a weak link in the high school and understand where I need to keep my offense. I have hopes this is the end of it... (Special Shout Out THANK YOU to CalTech Girl, who talked me down from my tree, told me all the areas in which I was right, gave me more ammo, and was able to shed light on what I might have been seeing.)

And there is more... but, folks, I am wondering, WHAT are we doing to our children?

What?

College is so competitive now. It's not like when I was a kid. I watched college football, listened to who was going where, got some idea on what kind of programs were offered, ordered some catalogues, looked at the front picture and thought, "OH, that's a cool design for a building! I'll go there!" and sent in my apps.

Shoot. I didn't even get turned down by any and do you think for a minute I had the grades, the classes or the SAT scores of kids today?

NO. I didn't take a prep course for the ACT. (I didn't take the SAT.) I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning after having done God knows what the night before, grabbed a grilled cheese and a pencil, drove to school, took the test and then probably went to the beach where I slathered myself in baby oil and baked in the sun, while the local radio station told us to 'flip' every 30 minutes.

Good Lord. Listen to me. This is the modern day version of 'when I was a kid...'

But it's true. Sure we had kids that were amazing and went to great schools, but they weren't as amazing as kids are today. It's just THAT competitive.

IB programs, dual enrolling, AP Classes, weighted GPA, SAT prep classes, repeat takings of the SAT test to bring ONE score up 20 points, applications with essays, interviews... and on and on.

WHAT planet have I arrived on? Where.AM.I?

My son is making straight Bs this Semester. (His A in band doesn't count.) B's in average classes, B's in Honors classes... consistent... Bs. (He has organization issues we're trying to work out.)

When is that something to be ashamed of? When? When is a straight B student, taking classes that are completely jacked up from what was offered when I was a freshman, a seriously bad thing?

He got in my car the other day and looked out the window and said, "I completely screwed up this year. My handwriting sucks. I can't read it and I can't change it. I can't stay awake in Spanish. It's so boring... I can't stand it. I made all B's... again... and NOW I can't get into ANY great schools..."

He is a freshman... he is 15. He is not a very mature 15. Adult conversation? Yes. Very. Confident speaking in crowds? Yes. But his priority right now is very social. He loves hanging with his friends.

And he's realized "I can't get into ANY great schools" because he's a B student.

There are TONS of A students. He's not one. And so he is coming to terms with the fact he won't go to some great school.

Meanwhile, I have a son that's so motivated and driven... I'm scared for him. I see what's coming... I see it like a train... not content to just be smart, he has to take full on college engineering courses his sophomore year in high school, full on college classes taught at a high school by college professors... because he wants to go to Georgia Tech so badly, and this is the way he sees himself getting in.

Push hard. Push harder. Be better. Be smarter. More. More. More.

And I want to scream at him, "STOP! YOU ARE 13!!!" I know he cannot cope with the stress. I know the program he wants requires 3 hours of sleep, great stress to where kids are on anti-anxiety drugs, and has a 2/3 drop out rate.

But I act supportive and cheer them on and fight the battles they can't win, but want to, because they're kids.

And I wonder... what in the hell are we doing to our kids?

And... it's not me. It is not me pushing.

Upon all of my eldest's classes being raised to either AP or Honors classes (one of them an Honors Junior class), the Principal pulled my eldest into his office and said to him, "Ringo, do YOU want to be in these classes or is it your MOTHER that wants you to be in these classes?"

Jesus Chr1st. I wanted to f*cking scream. I will fight to get my children in there if THEY want it, but do I want it for them? NO. Good Lord NO. I don't want him in AP history. The teacher SUCKS. But he insists. I don't want him in Honors Spanish II, but he is fighting for it. I don't want... I don't want... I don't want my second son taking Precalculus his freshman year.

NO.

But we are on this crazy bus where children are expected to read at age 4, and everyone is ready for Algebra in 8th grade, but the best and brightest are pushing through to Alg II as soon as they can, and you have to be taking college classes in high school and clep out of two years, to be getting in the best state schools, let alone anything OUT of state.

Don't even talk to me about what's required for Ivy League or those right up there with them.

It just... wears me out. I miss my childhood. I know my children love their childhood... but I think they'd have liked mine better.

This sucks.


Posted by Boudicca at 09:14 PM | Comments (13)

May 25, 2010

Books, Forts, And More of THE Talk

With final exams and the end of school and ... it's just crazy here.

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I've started the book, The Time Traveler's Wife, recommended to me last year. It's a very odd premise, but I like it.

I'm not sure what it is I like most and No, I've not seen the movie. But there is something... kind of sweet about it. I'm still trying to figure out why I like it so much...

And it's not the type of book I typically read. I'm usually all about Mitch Rapp and his ilk.

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My work place is hiring. We're over run with work right now, we're all exhausted and we're being pulled in fifty ten different directions. What we do is somewhat specialized, there aren't a lot of folks who do it. And it's something we can teach people to do, but it would be nice if we didn't have to, because quite frankly, who in the hell has the time? (Some of it is not teachable... either you have the skill, or you don't.)

Anyway, my boss finally put something out on Monster to see what we might receive.

We are getting a lot of apps from NASA and it's making me very sad. I'm pushing pretty hard for one of the NASA guys whose resume I liked. However, here is some odd stuff we've seen:

1) Putting your salary at $80,000-$1,000,000 gets your app thrown in the garbage. Perhaps it was a typo? Don't know... but a cool mill? Really? (Not from NASA.)

2) It's cool that you speak multiple languages, very cool that you speak some Eastern Block languages and that you are probably a native. Makes us wonder however how smart that is... considering what we do. Perhaps leaving that little tidbit off is not a bad thing when applying for jobs in our sector. You can spring that on us during the interview... sell yourself first and then we can talk about your linguistic capability and cultural past. (This person was NOT from NASA.)

3) Asking for big money is going to make us laugh. We do government work. If you want $75/hour, you don't want to work with us. Hell, we don't bill out the government for that much money. Good Grief. (Not from NASA)

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I bought a blueberry green tea and I'm not sure what I was thinking. Every time I drink it, I'm afraid my teeth have turned blue, like drinking a blueberry slushy.

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My two younger boys have not slept in their beds in two days. My husband flipped the couch on its front to wash the floor on Sunday and all the towels, blankets, and sheets came out... instant fort.

They've been sleeping in their fort, complete with small fan.

I hear the first night sucked. The second night, they made mods to make it more spacious, more comfortable, and warmer.

I'll take pix... I think they want to make it permanent. I think I'd like my couch back.

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And for those who stuck around this long... a sex talk post.

At dinner tonight, the three boys and me, Bones asks me what jizz is. (I know, take a breath, I actually KNEW what he was talking about.)

He blurted it out, Mr. T started to laugh, and Ringo sat there staring him down speechless.

I replied, "OK, I'm going to explain all this to you, but you need to know, that right about now, your older brother is dying 100 deaths."

He mumbled, "yes..."

And so, without going into too much detail on this blog, it would appear that they thought it was crap, although Bones had heard from a friend it was something different and he wanted clarification.

Mr. T insisted it was crap.

And so you can imagine both their surprise when I explained scientifically what it was.

Ringo was quiet, concentrating on a piece of bread, perhaps hoping he could get it to levitate.

It would seem that... there is a video called Jizz in my Pants and I'm not about to link that here. All the kids in middle school have watched it and based on the faces that the guys make in the video, surely 'they must be crapping in their pants' according to Mr. T.

No kidding.

Don't think for a minute I'm not aghast at this entire thing. At some point, Ringo was able to become invisible. Actually, I quietly asked him to go next door to run an errand as I knew the conversation was going to get even more uncomfortable for him.

After he'd left and the boys and I had had some serious talks, Bones said, "Mom. How you can you talk about this like it's no big deal? I mean, you just say it, you're not even embarrassed."

Mr T replied, "Phht. Because she's MOM!"

You will note, that NONE of these conversations take place with my husband around.

EVER.

As a matter of fact, Mr. T said, "I remember when we had THE talk, Mom. You were ironing..."

Great. Memories.

But as horrified as I am about this line of questioning, on some level, I'm glad it came about. I was able to explain to them what it was so they won't be using this language out and about, flinging the word around. I could tell I'd saved Mr. T... he doesn't cuss or speak dirty like a lot of kids in 7th grade, so I think deep inside he was happy to know so he'd not use that word in the wrong way, "Hey, give me a second, I need to go take a Jizz..."

I so see that could have happened! Blech...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:57 PM | Comments (13)

May 23, 2010

Flexing One's Muscles

A girlfriend of mine said once that I don't realize it, but that Bones is more like me than I realize. Take out the lack of focus part in school, and evidently I'm the tree and he's the apple that did not fall very far.

I look for it now. He'll do things and I'll say, "Would I do that?" Mostly I hear myself say, "Absolutely not", but sometimes he'll do something or say something and I'll say, "Yeah, that was me..."

We were in the parking lot at Publix the other day and he was chattering as he does, I was listening, when we passed a vehicle, got to my car, both stopped in our tracks, turned around and looked at each other and before I could say a word, he did, "What in the heck is that?"

It was... a Ford Flex.

My husband and my sister have been hearing me talk about this Ford Flex now since the incident. At first I was aghast.

Bones comment, "Mom, it looks like half a hummer, like someone chopped off that top."

My take, "It looks like someone grabbed the ass of a station wagon and pulled."

We are currently a one car (mini-van) family (something I don't want to delve into right now as its too upsetting) and as we drive around now, my husband will point out all the Ford Flexes around town, something I had not noticed.

The one we saw originally was either all silver or all white and had a funky grill... so it kind of looked like a huge appliance on wheels to me. Since then we've seen it in a couple different colors.

For the last few days I've said, "Good Lord. WHO would WANT to drive a FORD FLEX? WHO?" I've been laughing...

My sister informed me that she saw one with a fridge inside.

My husband informed me they do have a lot of space and they don't remind him of a hummer, a limo, or a station wagon that had its ass pulled out, all suggestions between me and my kids. He, always being steeped in the serious and analytical, in particular when it comes to cars, finds nothing funny about the Ford Flex.

The car cracks me up.

And now I want one.

No sh**, I want a Ford Flex. I went on line this morning to look it up. This is what Wikipedia said about it (no, I do not use wiki as a source of great truth, but this was funny):

Interior The 2009 Ford Flex includes seven-passenger seating, including adjustable and removable footrests for second-row passengers. The second and third row seats fold flat into the floor. The vehicle includes a class-exclusive optional interior "mini-fridge" refrigerator in the middle console mounted between the second-row seats. A voice-activated communications and entertainment system, called Ford Sync, integrates the functions of cell phones, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, compact disc, DVD and other media players, navigation systems, and was developed in collaboration with Microsoft. The interior is lit with programmable "mood lighting" available in seven colors, along with a multi-panel Vista Roof, similar to that on the Ford Edge, for skylighting. The Navigation system has a built in hard drive for music and picture storage.[6]

I bolded the mood lighting.

Who puts mood lighting and why? Let me get this straight... the back two rows of seats fold down flat, so essentially the entire back end becomes as big as a king sized bed and... there is mood lighting.

I guess this is a car we don't let our teenagers drive.

Or

"Hey, hun, let's add some spice to our lives... and do it in the back of our car. There's mood lighting, a fridge, and music..."

I'm at a bit of a loss, but push past the mood lighting and someone put some SERIOUS thought into this car. You can go to the Ford site HERE to see the features.

And so I declared this morning to my husband, 'I want a Ford Flex!'

He stood there for a minute and replied, "You're kidding me..."

Me: No. I can't quit laughing. That's what I want.

Husband: You want to trade in your mini-van and get a Ford Flex?

Me: Well, not right now, I still only have 145K miles on my car. I need to get it to 200K before I get rid of it. That's two years and if I still need a big car, I want a Ford Flex.

Husband: Tell me right now you don't think for a minute that a Ford Flex is sexier than a mini-van, because it's not... it's the same plane.

Me: Oh no, I realize that, I just think it's more fun...

Husband, realizing I have trouble parking... anything: You would struggle with the shape of that vehicle.

Upon opening the Ford site, I saw it gets 17 mpg in city.

Me: Crap. It only gets 17 mpg. Well, there goes that idea.

Husband, walking away: Right...

I was so close to finding my next vehicle! So... CLOSE!

Dang.

Posted by Boudicca at 08:56 AM | Comments (8)

May 22, 2010

Saturday Randoms

Have you seen a picture of the 'mascot' for the upcoming Olympics in London?

Mascot.

What is that about and when did it start? I'm content with the Olympic rings and the standard music. When did we need mascots? When the gymnastics competitions are going on, do the mascots stand around and cheer them on? When Michael Phelps is swimming, what are the mascots doing?

And did you see what they selected? Who lied to them and said these were good? They aren't even anything real.

They have ONE EYE.

That makes me think of TWO things... a cyclops and something very crude.

London Mascots.jpg

WHAT... were they thinking?

Is this a warm fuzzy? No. It's a deformed dick.

Enough said. (Sorry for the crudeness... kind of.)

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I got pulled out of my new project that I call, 'The ring of fire' and got pulled onto an Army project. We're on mandatory overtime, 12 hour days, until it's complete.

I've never worked with the green guys before.

I don't know much, and it's a short lived gig for me, one of their contractors just needs some experience my group has, but I will say that I think that the Army probably gets the short end of the stick in a lot of things.

And I'll leave it at that.

I, however, do have the song "Be... All that you can be...' running through my head non-stop.

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I'm in a current battle with the head of the science department at my older son's school. Quite frankly, in the 10 years that I've been fighting for my children and their education, I have absolutely NEVER been so pissed.

And I've tolerated a lot.

For instance, the fact that my second son logged on to check his grades, only to find he had an F in a class. He's a straight A student. Come to find out, the teacher is having some personal problems and didn't have time to get the grades right. She assured me he had an A.

I took a deep breath and moved on.

Or... well, let us just say educating Bones is a challenge. The teachers do an awful lot for us, my husband and I spend an awful lot of time at home working on HIM as a person, his responsibilities, and when a teacher gets petty and can't be the adult in the relationship, I take a deep breath and realize... they are human.

But this new thing has set me off and I've now involved the principal.

As I told a friend of mine, "What she has not realized yet is that I have absolutely no qualms of verbally slitting her jugular and walking through her blood as I leave and I will NEVER look back with regrets."

Don't f*ck with me.

My downfall is how I write and speak. My husband read the latest letter and told me I write too much as if I'm writing a novel, not so much length, but 'flare' as he put it.

I said, "Oh you mean I use big words?" I write like I speak. Piss me off and my language takes on a most definitive precise and elitist tone, and can be sarcastic and cutting.

There is no misunderstanding the tone when I write either.

I toned down the letter some, but left it as is. I want this all documented. I want everyone to have hardcopies. There needs to be NO DOUBT on how I feel about this situation.

Three more years and I don't have to deal with the foolishness.

And do you know what conclusion I've come to this year?

High school is a waste of time for the intelligent.

It is just marking time until you are 18 and can go to college. High school math and sciences are necessary as building blocks, math in particular. My son has such a fantastic English teacher, he's ready for college English NOW. He can get the history he needs in college, for I have found that they relegate history to something coaches can teach. If a coach can teach the subject, then let's move on to college.

Jaded? Perhaps. I'm just... not impressed. Anywhere.

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My 2nd son is running for class president for his 8th grade year and it promises to be damn funny.

We're really excited! He may lose, and that's cool, but we're going to have a helluva lot of fun as he loses! (or wins...)

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It is hotter than three hells, the oil thing is not getting better, and if we get a hurricane, it promise to suck. Very much. You folks up in CT can share our oil then...


Posted by Boudicca at 02:39 PM | Comments (6)

May 20, 2010

Hunh.

I don't keep up with the society crap much, as you all know, but I did see tonight's headline that Bret Michael's had a TIA and they discovered a hole in his heart.

I wonder if its the same kind of hole Bones has. As Bones ages, some say he will have a higher incident of stroke because of it, others say he will not...

Interesting.

Update-

Hunh. Found another article that said that is exactly what Bret has. PFO.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:55 PM | Comments (5)

Thursday Scouting

It's been a day of highs and lows. It's been... I guess normal then.

To end on a high, both my older boys just got a promotion in Scouts. They are now the rank of Star and will probably make Life in January and start working on thinking of an Eagle project.

Mr. T has been asked to be the Assistant Patrol Leader, the second in command of the entire Troop. Ringo has requested to be Quartermaster, but I'm not sure what will happen there.

Both boys were elected by the Troop for Order of the Arrow, a National Honor Society for Boy Scouts. It's a big deal and they'll be doing their ordeal this Fall. Both boys were very honored.

They have away camp this summer where they are going white water rafting. It should be a good time and they're both excited...

They both realize the opportunities making Eagle Scout will afford them. As I said to them, "It doesn't entitle you to anything, but if you're applying to college and it's between you and someone else, and EVERYTHING looks the same, except you have Eagle Scout, it's not a bad thing to separate you."

Not to mention the great leadership skills they've been learning.

What I've really noticed though is... parental participation is so important. Although I'm the one who usually attends the Thursday meetings, my husband has been very involved as well. Scouting really isn't his gig, but he's supportive and camps and helps out when it's needed. I've really stepped up to the plate, however, to help behind the scenes. The very active Dads direct, and I do more things that are paperwork related.

Those of us who are active, our boys are active. Even though it is up to the boys to make their rank, the parents who look over their son's book and questions the plan, helps organize time and helps them to see what course needs to be charted for the next badge or rank advancement, really keep their sons motivated to stay in and attain rank. Very very rarely do we have a boy that makes Eagle Scout who didn't have a parent that was active in SOME WAY within the Troop.

Very rarely.

We currently have five boys that will be making Eagle Scout from our Troop this coming school year. Five boys. That is a big deal. We have a very high success rate and when you meet these boys, you see boys who walk tall, speak to adults on an adult level, make good grades, and have serious plans for themselves.

My boys look to these older boys. My boys see this is something completely attainable. My boys look at it as 'if they did it, I can too...'

But what is interesting is to see the new little guys who have just crossed over and they're now looking at MY boys as the big boys, the boys... THEY want to be like.

And it feels good.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:28 PM | Comments (5)

May 19, 2010

The Two Jules

So tonight I embarked on a rarity for me... I decided to watch a movie at home. This is difficult for me because I don't watch TV at all... I only read or write, and I spend all my time thinking I need to be doing something else, such as folding laundry, balancing the school's books, paying bills, helping kids with homework and what not.

But this past Friday night, I found myself alone, and remembered standing in line at Publix two weeks prior, hearing a woman I have absolutely never seen in my life, carry on to the Publix cashier about how she saw the movie Julie and Julia and loved it.

This woman went on... and on... and I thought, "I need to rent this movie".

And so I did.

On the Friday night.

Except when I got it home, I saw my book on the table, and remembered I was in this chapter of intrigue and opened it and... forgot I got the movie and then it got late, and then the family got home and suddenly it was Wednesday and the movie is now due.

So this evening I came into our bedroom, sat upon the Big Bed surrounded by cushions and pillows and beckoned for my husband to please start the movie for me...

... for... I don't know how to work the VCR. TVs have become way too complex since I quit watching it on 9/11 and now I just flat can't be bothered. I know the green button on the silver remote will turn off the TV in the family room. I know there is something attached to said TV called a Blue Ray, but I know it's not blue and I never see rays popping out of it, but it's supposed to be better than a DVD player, which is evidently better than a VCR, which makes me realize my first sentence was incorrect... I don't know how to work the DVD player... we don't watch anything in the VCR anymore.

As of last week, I can pretty much strip down one of our latest and greatest fighter engines, with some help with a couple guys at *ahem* Nellis *ahem*, but I can't work our TVs nor our DVD player.

We just recently received a new TV in our bedroom, passed to us by my father in law when he moved into assisted living, into his smaller place. The TV is used to watch the weather before we retire for the night.

And when my husband came in to turn on the DVD, it didn't work. The DVD, not the TV.

And so I nestled into the pillows and read a magazine as he played with cords and buttons and I rested my head on a pillow and remembered my adage, "Mornings are only good for two things and they both involve a bed..." which in turn can become, "Beds are good for only two things, and not one of them involves watching a movie."

Good Grief. I started to fall asleep and realized... I absolutely am good for nothing left in a stationary position after 8:30 or I am for sure going to fall asleep.

I'd decided I'd barely make it through the movie... and I was wrong!

I loved it! I am in love with Julia Child and her zest for life! I decided that Stanley Tucci is a hotty. I'd like to learn to cook like she did, but I have no desire to get heart disease. As much as I like cooking with butter... butter isn't good for the heart.

And I didn't sleep. That's always a bonus...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:42 PM | Comments (5)

May 18, 2010

The Future of Bones

Sick as a dog, I am. I fought it as much as I could, but the vast stress and lack of sleep finally caught up and so I find myself plodding along, glassy eyed, looking forward to sleep, while still trying to hold up my end of life.

Tonight we were invited to hear the vocal performances of the school that Bones will be attending for the next few years. It is a school of the arts. And although I do not make it a habit of posting where my children are actually located, I am going to share the following three videos which will give it away.

Bones will be singing with this group for the next three years, definitely for 7th and 8th grade. They just returned from NYC where they performed in various churches.

So I give you, Bones' future. A glimpse... of potential.

It warms my heart... and gives me hope.

O Weep Mine Eyes


Annabel Lee

And my favorite... and I wish they'd panned to the boys on the right doing the duet. They are fantastic.

Slow Me Down Lord

I'm excited for him...


Posted by Boudicca at 09:42 PM | Comments (10)

May 16, 2010

Memories In Print

I drove this evening, down to our family dinner in Fort Lauderdale. I've been driving lately as my husband has had work to do, so he's been sitting in the back with the boys, working on some lectures.

My father in law and I have been growing closer and closer as he ages. I am stability. He prefers being near my husband and me more than anyone now, as he knows of the reliability.

Pop is a WWII veteran and a purple heart recipient, from when his ship, the USS Chase, was hit by a Kamikaze.

I don't know why I'm writing this... to preserve it? I have a need, so move along if you don't feel like reading, I have an extra post after this one I wrote ealier today, but something inside me is telling me... I must. Pop is 84 and struggling with Parkinson's. The boys were in the back of the car watching a movie, so nobody could hear the conversation between Pop and me.

Pop: I like it when you drive. Shhh... don't tell my son.

Me, laughing: It's cool, Pop.

Pop: I'm serious. It calms me. You drive like I would drive.

Me, thinking I'm not so thrilled with that 'compliment': Thanks.

Pop: You just stay in a lane, keep it at 70 and go. You watch for traffic. You aren't in a rush. You are so calming when you drive... I could sleep.

Me: Thanks, Pop. *grinning*

Pop: But don't tell my son. That's between us...

Me: No sweat...

*Minutes pass without a word being said. I'm driving and he's looking out the window, lost somewhere in memories.*

Pop: My Dad was a good guy. You never met him. During HIS war, it was trench warfare. Did I tell you, he saved himself and seven other guys?

Me, glancing over: No... He was in WWI?

Pop: Yes, he was in WWI. He had this bad feeling. He kept telling them, "We have to move, we have to move". Finally, he said, "We're moving" and he moved them to another trench. An artery... artery...

Me: Artillery...

Pop: Yeah, artillery shell came and hit that very spot where they had been. He just knew. Their moving saved all their lives. His nickname was Bosco.

Me: Bosco? How in the hell did they get that out of OUR name?

Pop: *laughing* I don't know... That was a bad war too. They used chemicals in that war you know...

Me: Yeah... I had read...

Pop, talking and remembering, as the elderly do reliving their past: Some of his buddies got gassed. Never breathed right after that...

Me: No... i guess not...

**update: I forgot this section and remembered when I was showering...***

Pop: My Dad got out and was a carpenter. He could work with his hands. He could fix machines and such. He used to carry around a bag that looked like a doctor's bag, and he'd fix people's office equipment like typewriters.

Me: Like a 1930s Xerox repairman!

Pop, laughing: Yeah, like that. He used to wear a suit every day. He wasn't educated, but he always wore a suit when he made his calls.

Me: Things were more formal back then.

Pop: Yeah, they were. He was busy. He was NEVER out of work. No matter how bad things got, my Dad had work.

*long pause*

Pop: We all had nicknames you know. There was that guy I played football with. He ended up being a bodyguard in the mafia, for Little Pussy. Don't ask me how he got that name. We all had nicknames back then. I asked him how he could do a job like that, being in the mafia. You know what he said to me, "If it's not me, it'll be someone else. It might as well be me." He played football like that. He was fearless... the mafia, they were bad. You didn't cross them, but they looked after the poor too. They gave turkeys to the poor at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was safe to walk the streets, they kept the streets safe.

Me:

Pop: My war was different. I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I'd died that day. Do you think it was fate, Bou?

Me: Definitely, Fate, Pop. It wasn't your day.

Pop, looking out the window: If I'd died when that kamikaze hit my ship, you'd not have met my son. I'd not have married Lucy. Things would not be the way they are now...

Me: Fate. It wasn't your day, nor your Dad's in the trench.

Pop: We took the Marines and Navy Seals where they needed to go. The SEALS would leave at night in their little rubber rafts and come back in the morning. The Marines... you know, I had a Marine I got kind of close to. You get close to folks you're living with on a ship. They'd hang out with us sometimes as we did our jobs. That Marine said he hated being on ships. It scared the hell out of him. He wanted to be in a foxhole. *Pop looking at me laughing* I told him he was nuts. I'd much rather be on a ship. That Marine said he was afraid of being hit by a Kamikaze. He was right, I guess, but I'd still rather be on a ship than in a foxhole.

Me: I think I agree...

Pop: Those Marines we picked up from Iwo Jima, they got a dirty deal, Bou. They were supposed to go home. We ended up taking them to Okinawa...

*Pop looked out the window, remembering things I could never understand*

Pop: It was tough back then. They got a raw deal.

Me:

Pop: Did I tell you how much I like it when you drive?

Me: You did Pop...

Pop: I do, and I'm not just saying that to butter you up...

Me: *laughing* It's all good Pop.

Pop: I hope I didn't bore you this afternoon...

Me: No. Actually... it was quite the opposite...

I always listen to his stories. It can be the same story over and over... I don't care. For awhile I thought I listened out of compassion, or because I had hope that one day when I told the same story over and over, that someone would be OK listening.

But what I am finding is... I'm never tired of hearing the same story over and over. And when he tells the story, there is something else I glean from it, that he left out before.

The picture just keeps getting bigger... and bigger.

And one day... he wont't be there to tell them.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:42 PM | Comments (10)

Am I a Rorschah Test?

I think I posted before about how my kids don't think what I do is cool... at all. If I were cool, I'd work on the AC-130, which has huge monster guns.

As I told VW yesterday, with boys the rules go as follows: 1) it's all about the snacks and 2) weapons rule.

And they have to be REAL weapons, not something like, 'OH yeah, well MINE is invisible!" That doesn't cut it.

What I didn't write about was part II, Ringo at Lunch.

It would seem about a week later of the boys riding me relentlessly about how I should work on the AC-130 to be 'really cool', Ringo was at lunch with his two buddies, whom I will call Rick and Nick. Ringo likes Rick, although I've not met him, and I hear he's a good kid from some teachers, and I hear he comes from some SERIOUS cash. I've met Nick, his family is Cuban immigrants, and I really like him a lot.

So the three boys were at lunch, talking about boy stuff when as it was related to me, Rick said, "Yeah, well, we were landing the other day and we saw some F15s in a diamond formation." He looked at Ringo and said, "You probably don't even know what those are."

Ringo, being Ringo, deadpanned, "Sure I do. My Mom works on the F22." And according to him, there was a silence at the table, the quick stoppage of all masticating and talking, until one of them finally swallowed and said, "YOUR MOM?" to which he continued to deadpan, "Sure. She works on the back end... you know where the fire comes out?" and then proceeded to take a bite of his sandwich as if he was talking about sweeping the floor.

Delivery of information always has great influence on how it is perceived, and according to Ringo, the boys could not get enough information at that point, or rather Rick could not, as Nick had actually met me, Nick's only reply being, "Dude, that's the most legit thing I've ever heard..."

Legit, I guess, is a good thing.

So that's been the joke as of late, how it took a couple teenage boys to make me 'legit' in the eyes of my eldest, who has now taken on this ENORMOUS fascination of all I've done with my career, every aircraft I've ever worked, every base I've ever set food upon, etc, etc. It's been kind of funny.

Rick, however, isn't letting this go.

On Friday night, I picked up Ringo and his buddy, Paul, from the movies. They'd gone with a group of friends. They got in the car and the following conversation transpired:

Ringo: You're picking us up from the beach tomorrow, right?

Me: Yup. What time?

Ringo, sheepishly: 5?

Me: 5? Good Grief. Really? Can we not make it 4:30?

Ringo: Well... ummm... can we do 5? Because... well... Rick thinks he's coming and I told him you'd pick us up at 5. He wants to meet you.

Me: *blink*

Paul: No kidding. I heard the entire conversation. Dude, what is up with that?

Ringo: I dunno. It's what she does for a living. He's all like, "Is she really working on the nozzle? I want to meet her."

Paul: Yeah. Crazy stuff.

Ringo: I mean, it's not like she FLIES it or anything. Geez.

Me: Wait! I'm still here! I'm listening to this!

Ringo and Paul: Oh. Yeah. Sorry.

Rick ended up not going to the beach. I did call my sister and related the story. Having spent 6 hours at an Eagle Scout project with Mr. T, in the hot FL sun creating an amazing garden for a local elementary school, I was pretty beat. (Ringo spent the first 4 hours with us, before escaping with his buddies.)

Said I, "I guess I need to shower and get cleaned up before I pick Ringo up from the beach. I hate for his buddy to think all female engineer types look like frumpy greaseballs..."

Watch me meet Rick one afternoon after work, when I've run my hand through my hair 1000 times, making it so stringy I'm forced to tie it in a knot away from my face, when I've rubbed my eyes so much from stress and tiredness that there is not a stitch of make up left from nose level up, and I've chewed off all the lipstick, leaving only teeth marks on my lower lip as I tend to think while biting on my lower lip.

THAT will be the REAL perspective...

Outstanding.

Said Mo, upon hearing how Rick will PROBABLY meet me, "Ahhh, yes, nothing like putting one's best foot forward for brains and beauty combined..."

In all honesty, I have NO CLUE what this kid is expecting, but I strongly suspect it's not what he's getting. I don't know if he's expecting some kind of absent minded professor sort or what, but me thinks someone is going to be sorely disappointed when he meets a slightly dissheveled, 44 year old, Mom person.

Just a bit...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:19 AM | Comments (8)

May 14, 2010

As She Lay Dying

This is a very real conversation that happened today at work, pretty much spot on for recollection. It was between me and a guy I work with in the Great White North at Company X.

Me: Do you know Maahir?

CX: Sure I do. He works for me.

Me: I didn't know that.

CX: Yup.

Me, CX knowing what I've been working on, and having been one I've relied on for advice on how to make my fix work in the field: He just got sucked into hell with me. Tell him I'm trying, but let him know we're around circle 12, having bypassed Dante's 9th a long time ago.

CX: *laughs* It's not going away, is it?

Me: No. And I'm afraid he's going to get nailed on Monday because someone didn't feed him all the information he needed to do his portion. I'm running interference and making phone calls... I don't want him to take it personally.

CX: Bou, he knows the game. He rarely gets all the information he needs. He knows who the problem is and it's not you.

Me: Well, it does suck. Is he a good guy?

CX: *pause* His wife is dying.

Me:

CX: Yeah, there's nothing they can do. Inoperable cancer. They've done everything they can... she's not long and he's watching her die slowly and can do nothing about it.

Me: CX, he's our age...

CX: *laughing* Hey, thanks for putting me in your category!

Me: Please, we're but a half generation apart. We're the same age...

CX: Putting it that way, I feel damn good. But yes, he's "our" age.

Me: I'm sick for him... this makes me sick.

CX: So they can bring it on, Bou, he knows the real game. None of this phases him...

Me: ... he has perspective.

CX: Yes.

Me:

CX:

Me: Thanks for letting me know.

CX: Yes, he's a good guy.

And I was transported back in time, 15 years ago, I believe. Walking into the local hospital to visit a friend, the smell of disinfectant permeating the air, the hollow click of my heels on the tile floor as I made my way down the hall, looking left and then right, trying to find the correct room. My eyes fell to a room that was darkened. I barely glanced in to see the light filtering in through blinds mostly closed. The TV was on, but there was no sound. A light flicker from the TV gave the room a bit more color, but barely any... the room was shades of gray.

As I passed, I saw the man sitting by the bed, staring into space, holding a woman's hand. She was unconscious, from both drugs to keep her from pain and fear, and from the cancer that was ravaging her brain, from breast to brain, she lay dying.

I knew her husband.

I didn't have what it took to go in. A couple with children but in their early teens, he stayed hour after hour day after day, staring into the darkness, holding her hand... as she lay dying. An engineer used to fixing things, he could not fix it, he could not make it go away.

I felt dirty having stumbled upon their last hours, something that was for the two of them, instead a passing near stranger having caught a glimpse through the hallway.

We work with people day in and day out, but do we know them? Do we know what goes on at home? Do we know what steels them to make themselves awaken in the morning, put feet on ground, and endure another day?

I did not stop, obviously. Horrified but what I realized was playing in the room before me, the dance of death, a dance being danced by a couple too young.

A memory forever burned into the recesses of my brain, never shared before now.

And my heart goes to Maahir. I cannot think of many things worse...

Posted by Boudicca at 05:33 PM | Comments (6)

May 12, 2010

When You Find Your Heart in Your Throat

This is the full post that I was going to put at the bottom of the previous Wednesday Random Posts.

I've been struggling to write this in my head for a week now, since it happened two weeks ago, and it's tough because I kind of sound like a victim or a martyr; phrasing is difficult. So if it comes across that way, it's not meant to... it's meant to tell you that... sometimes YOU may do something that seems so small, but to someone else, YOU may have made a permanent memory.

And that happened to me two weeks ago. I nearly cry when I think of it...

I think everyone here knows I do a lot of volunteer work. I've been doing volunteer work my entire adult life. With kids in the picture now, I do it for their schools or with what they are involved with. I do it to keep a pulse on their lives, I do it because I was always taught if something needs to be done... do it, and I do it because I truly do enjoy being involved in something bigger than me.

Life is not about me. My life is about my family.

And so I have found myself probably putting in nearly 50 hours of volunteer hours at my eldest son's school through Band and still doing my probably over 200 hours I do at my younger boys' school and I do it because... I just do it.

I have never once thought, "Oh someone should thank me" or "Why don't I get paid for this?"

In my mind, something is not truly from the heart, truly altruistic if you look to get recognized in any way shape or form. If I do something, I do it behind the scenes and don't look for any recognition AT ALL.

Don't get me wrong, it PISSES ME OFF if someone tries to take credit for something I do, and I'll go straight for jugular no holds barred on that one, but for actual accolades? I don't need it.

It's not what drives me. Getting the job done right, being proud of what *I* did, seeing other people enjoying what has transpired, my product being fully utlized... those are drivers. A simple thank you is cool, I never turn one of those down, but I don't "NEED" anything to drive me.

I drive myself.

That said... it's been six years since I took on the Treasury job at our school and it's a big damn job. It takes a lot of time, I'm not an accountant, I was forced to learn software on my own, no book, no help, I don't know jack about business (by choice, I never took a business class as it bores me to tears), and the big fundraiser the school does that I work from Friday AM until Sunday at 10PM, sends me looking on line every year for a sensory deprivation tank. To know me is to know that my type personality prefers quiet organization. Loud chaos with light and motion can send me into an anxiety riddled frenzy.

But I do it and... I've come to love it.

I've come to love the folks I work with. I love the staff at the school, I love the teachers I've become friends with, I love the men who run the fundraiser... I have truly come to love these folks. I care deeply for all of them and I greatly enjoy their company, their wit, their insights.

My Dad used to tell me all the time, it's the people that make the job, and that's how it is with volunteer work too.

It's the people and quite frankly, I have felt privileged to work with the people I've worked with for the last 6 years.

It has been a real honor to get to know some of these folks.

And I'm passing the torch in June to my successor, I real honest to God CPA, and I'm HAPPY to pass it on... as it is time. It's time for me to wrap up the books, the computer, the statements, and pass them to a younger mother, a mother probably more capable and with more potential than I had... but a mother that could never have more heart than I had for the job.

What I lack in skill... I can usually make up for in passion and heart.

That was a long way to get to what happened two weeks ago...

I was walking into school to pay bills and the Vice Principal stopped me. This is the conversation verbatum:

VP: Mrs. L, someone dropped this off for you!

Me: *blink* A package?

She handed me a soft package wrapped in pretty paper with hearts and flowers. There was a card attached.

Me: Who is this for?

VP: you.

Me: It can't be. Maybe I'm supposed to give it to someone?

VP: All I know is, a Mom rolled down her window, tossed it to me and yelled out as her son got out of the car, "Can you give this to Mrs L for me?" I do believe it's yours.

I looked at the package and sure enough, on the card was my name.

I kept trying to figure out... Why? What did I do? It's not my birthday. It's nothing... why? And who was it that sent it? Was it a joke? I do have a girlfriend that loves to buy me gifts as a joke. Currently I am drinking coffee out of an Alice in Wonderland coffee mug as she said I have a knack like no other for finding rabbit holes and tumbling into them.

I quickly opened the card and found it from a Mother I have met... TWICE. She is a new Mom, having a second grader... I have met her TWO TIMES. The first time I don't remember, but the second time was during the week long fundraiser. She is one of our newest members of the 'all weekend society'.

And the card read something about how volunteers make this world go round and she appreciated all that I do.

SHE appreciates all that I do. SHE, who has met me twice, but knows what I've been doing... SHE appreciates it.

I quickly opened the packaging and she, being a great seamstress, had made me a beach/handbag in teal, with brown trim, very vogue and very in, with my initials monogrammed on the front. I know teachers that have them; I know she does these things for people she appreciates.

I know I'm not the only one.

And this is kind of where I get all tear jerky and feel like a martyr or a bad person, because I swear that in 6 years I have never thought, "Why doesn't anyone ever do for me?" Never.

But I opened this gift, and I reread her card... and it still brings me to tears.

Someone, a near total stranger, recognized that I'm just being me... just doing what I do... and appreciated it enough to take time out of HER busy schedule to make something for me... to thank me... for being me.

I of course sat down and wrote a thank you note.

Never in 6 years... a near stranger.

And I need to tell her in person... her thoughtfulness is touching and changing lives.

Because... I think she kind of changed mine two weeks ago. I can feel it.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:18 PM | Comments (6)

Random Wednesday

I'm going Random on Wednesday. There is just too much in my head for a bunch of little posts, so you get one longish weird post.

Of Sheep and Men

So I've been detailing the dissection of sheep stuff this week. First was the Pluck and then today the heart. Here is my take.

Don't eat Sheep.

I know it's not a food most in America pine for and one not readily available in our supermarkets, but after what I saw today while dissecting these hearts, stay away.

These sheep had heart disease.

Folks, I'm here to tell you, either we got our sheep plucks from some sheep heart disease housing center, American sheep are fed fatty foods, or sheep are just fatty meat.

If you're looking to eat healthy, if we opt for #3, sheep are fatty meat or #2, American sheep have bad diets, stay away from their meat. I tell you what... I was aghast. First there was the large layer of fat surrounding the hearts themselves, fat that I had to help pull away in some cases so the kids could actually GET to the hearts. Second, there was the state of the heart, some with such horribly necrotic tissue, I feel certain they had had a horrible case of angina. Nitro pills ground into their food would have improved the qualities of these sheeps' lives.

I haven't googled it due to time constraints, but perhaps this is what sheep are known for, fatty hearts.

Either way, I'm swearing off Sheep Meat. Eat More Chik'n.
-------------------

A Bunch of Frickin' Freddy Kruegers

The cutting of the Plucks did not phase me. The absolute vast mutilation of the hearts after the learning process was done, but 25% of the boys in the class, had me going to some happy place in the recesses of my brain. Little chopped up pieces of heart was a bit more than I could take.

I can't relive it. I'll end this random post... now.

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

Coupons are Friends to the Wallet, but NOT Your Waist

Twice now I have been at Publix and had the honor of being directly behind folks with some mad coupon clipping skillz.

Here's a PSA.

Just because you have a coupon for it, doesn't mean you should eat it. Just because you can buy 5 frozen pizzas and get 5 for FREE, does not mean it is the right thing to do... eating pizza every single day.

I got behind a guy who bought $250 in groceries for $40. I was thoroughly entertained and as he looked at me apologizing, sifting through coupons as the cashier rang him up, I said, "No, this is fascinating... take your time."

Forty bucks.

He was proud.

The Cashier was amazed.

I thought some sort of bell should be rung, giving him the frugal shopper prize.

A young guy...

... on the path to heart disease.

He needed Dr. Oz at his grocery cart. There was NOT ONE fresh fruit or vegetable in the cart. There were 10 frozen pizzas, scads of frozen TV dinners, cereal, milk, juices... and not one thing fresh.

Today, I got behind a woman on the same mission. Not quite as good as he was, she had a $200 grocery bill, but I suspect $400 in groceries and the make up of her cart was exactly the same.

Frozen foods... nothing fresh. NOTHING FRESH.

This time my kids were with me, and they watched... in absolute horror. AFTER she left, Bones leaned in and said, "Mom, do you think she knows all that food day after day is bad for her?"

Mr. T chimed in "Mom, eating all that frozen food isn't good for your body. I mean, I like pizza, but she had TEN of them... And I didn't see anything to make a salad. She did have 10 gallons of ice cream that must've been on sale..."

Bonus points for my kids to realize they need to eat out of the fresh food category.

Seriously, they need coupons for fresh fruit and vegies. If this country is SERIOUS about getting this next generation to eat right, maybe coupons is the way to go.

I don't know. I just know that instead of actually being proud of these folks for saving so much money, I got depressed.

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

Eyes of the Beholder

I think Mickey Rourke is hotter now than he was way back when he was the BIG star. Color me blind, but perhaps its the fact I think he looks like he's traveled through hell to find some sort of inner peace... and he seems to still be on the journey.

THAT to me, is hot. Save the pretty boy easy life for someone else. I'll take a man who's lived a life and learned... good and bad.

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

Small to One Person... Larger than...

Hell. This one deserves it's own post. Just trying to figure out how to express it without sounding... like a victim?

Posted by Boudicca at 08:40 PM | Comments (11)

May 11, 2010

Pluck Pluck For the Fun of It

There were three plucky Moms there today to help with this sheep innards dissection.

Once I got over the shock of having been coerced into it, it was cool.

With gloved hand I had my hands between the heart and fat sack to show the boys where to cut and exactly what was what. I held a trach while a kid split it in half lengthwise, telling the kids if we sliced it widthwise instead we'd have what looked like calamari. And as yet other kids went on about how gross it all was, I assured them that in some countries these parts were eaten readily and if we'd just had the stomach, we could talk about haggis.

A couple girls were grossed out by all of it and one had to leave, not from our conversation, as I was pretty good around them, but just because the entire Pluck made them queasy.

The boys in general thought it was cool and my mantra over and over again became, 'KEEP the sheep juice ON the table!"

I will say though, as the boys grabbed the lungs and squeezed the juice out of it (the lungs were rinsed), I was thankful I'd already had breakfast. That was ... nasty.

Tomorrow we dissect the heart and then I believe my job as 'paper towel hander outer and sheep juice patrol' is over.

I said to my eldest, "You never asked me to help with doing the Pluck."

He looked at me thoughtfully and said, "You know, I think I just forgot we were supposed to ask our parents. I know that I did ask you to do a lot of things... and you never said no. I know that for sure."

That made me feel good.

Meanwhile, I washed my hands over and over and even though I had gloves on, my hands did not feel clean. I got to my cube and one of the guys asked, 'How'd it go?'

I replied, "Doesn't matter how much I wash them, they smell like Pluck!"

Needless to say, the conversation took a far worse turn...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:05 PM | Comments (3)

May 10, 2010

Feeling Plucky?

The equivalent of the Redneck Phrase you don't want to hear, "Hey, y'all watch this!" for Mothers is, "What are you doing tomorrow, Mom?"

Do you lie? Do you seem busy for fear of what you're about to be asked to do? Do you mentally clear your schedule because you know your children are only children once and you will do anything for them... since you know the time is coming where they 1) won't give a crap what you're doing and 2) won't want you to be around them?

And so today as I walked out of the threshold of the house to the back porch to put supper on the table, came the words from Mr. T, "What are you doing tomorrow, Mom?"

I'm working full time now. He knows this.

I stopped mid stride, frozen with what to say next. Do I be there for him or tell him I'm busy?

And so... I did what I swore I'd always do as a Mom first, I said, "I have to go to work, but I can clear my schedule. What do you need?"

To which the reply was..."Great. I need you to come to science class. We're dissecting a Pluck."

*blink*

My first thought was "WTF is a Pluck?"

My second thought was, "Are you frickin' kidding me? I'm taking off work for dissecting something? Really? Good GOD!"

I smiled sweetly and said, "OH! So your teacher needs assist in the class, does she?"

Picking up his fork getting ready to shovel in food, not missing a beat he said, "Yup! She asked for parent volunteers."

Me: I thought you're doing something with... sheep. What in the hell is a pluck?

Mr. T: Oh, it's lungs, heart and liver...

Me: Lovely.

So, that's my plan for tomorrow. I'll be assisting a bunch of 7th graders in the dissection of sheep parts, and then going to work.

Seriously, I hope they have so many parents I get turned away. I'm not looking forward to this... AT ALL. I work on inanimate objects FOR.A.REASON.

I suspect, however, I will not be so fortunate. I suspect I'll be the only parent feeling Plucky tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:24 PM | Comments (6)

May 09, 2010

Thoughts on this Mother's Day Thing

Today is Mother's Day, a Hallmark holiday. It's a holiday I have never truly embraced, but over the last few years it has begun to amuse me.

Over the last few years, as my boys' senses of humor have become more pronounced, their personalities more firmly in place, the holiday has taken on a different quality. No longer are they guided by Pre-school teachers making hand pictures out of noodles or heart pictures out of popsicle sticks and thumb prints.

And it's not that I didn't love those precious gifts. I saved EVERY SINGLE ONE, including the crazy paper hats that each boy made for me in Kindergarten, that we mothers wore to our 'Mother's Day Tea'. Nearly 2 feet in diameter, these hats take up a lot of space... made of white paper, and decorated by my sons with paint and tissue paper flowers, I suspect they will be buried with me... or least burned with me to add to my urn.

My obit might read: "And dear Mother was cremated with the three paper hats made by her three boys in Kindergarten. The ashes of Mother and her hats were scattered over Hadrian's Wall, a place she had hoped to hike, but never quite had the chance as she was always too busy selling hydrangeas or poinsettias as a band parent, balancing school treasury books, running marathons or half marathons for charities, running the money room at school festivals, putting on fashion shows for various organizations, acting as the loan roadie for a bass player at jazz band gigs, carting kids to music lessons, band concerts, lacrosse games, teaching math to her kids in the evenings, planning end of year band celebrations and award ceremonies, chaperoning field trips or trying to assist in keeping the F22 fleet flying to name a few things with which she was involved."

Yeah, guess what? When Bones graduates from high school, screw the HS gift for him, I'm buying myself a ticket to Great Britain and hiking Hadrian's Wall.

Back to my point, I loved the little gifts, having saved every last one of them, but since they are older, the gifts come from their own thought processes.

The cards have a funny edge to them. Sometimes the cards blare out some sort of whacked out song, like only Hoops and YoYo can do. Other times, the cards are just darn funny, with my boys adding their own dry wit at the end.

I have grown to absolutely LOVE flowers, something I always thought frivolous and stupid, and now make me so happy... flowers in my garden can make me smile for hours, and so they buy me flowers and chocolate and a charm for my bracelet. I know my boys and there are arguments about which charm will be bought.

I know this without having been there with them.

I can hear it, Bones: I like this one!

Mr. T: That one's stupid.

Ringo: Whatever.

Bones: No it's NOT! This one is GREAT! You just said that, Mr. T, because it was MY idea. If Ringo had said it, you'd be OK with it.

Mr. T: That's not true!

Bones: Yes it is!

And then someone would poke someone and a full on brawl would start unless my husband stepped up and physically separated them.

It's not uncommon for me to go grocery shopping and to find Mr. T on one side, and Bones on the other, with my mumbling under my breath, "Don't even LOOK at each other..."

Anyone who thought World Peace was starting in this family is sorely mistaken. If it was possible to have a nuclear arms race within a household, Mr. T and Bones would have thought of it.

They don't make breakfast in bed for me, Thank God nobody led them down that potentially awful path. I don't eat in bed. Blech. And surely I don't want them to try to fix me anything. I'll pass.

It's cards, candy, flowers, a small gift and lots of "I LOVE YOU!"s.

I'm content with that.

As I said, I find it amusing.

Recently in our paper a columnist wrote an article railing against Mother's Day, saying they wanted a full day where the mother truly had no worries, no balls in the air, no responsibilities, not stupid little gifts.

I read it with great interest, but with a HUGE disagreement.

A bit over nine years ago, I had three small children, ages 18 mo, 4 yr and 6 yr. My mother in law had just died and I was a frazzled mess. I was in a very very dark place. My husband one day threw his keys at me and said, "Get out. Go to the Mall. Go shopping. Go to the bookstore. Get out of this house and don't come back for a few hours."

I threw the car keys back at him and said, "I'm taking my mini-van, for if I don't see baby seats in the backseat, I'm not coming back. I'll take I-95N to Maine and then take the ferry to Nova Scotia and never look back."

And that's how I feel about this thought about one whole day where someone else is picking up 100% of the slack, where I would have no balls in the air, no worries about who is doing what to whom, or who needs to get where at what time, or what homework needs to be completed by Monday.

If someone were to pick up all that goes on in my day, for one whole day, I might never come back. If I were alleviated of all responsibilities... for an entire day... I might say "Are you frickin' kidding me? I've tasted the good life I'm DONE!" and
walk when it came time to pick back up.

It's better the way it is. Tell me you love me, give me flowers and candy, write witty things in your card, and let me continue on with my life.

In 7 years and 1 month they'll all be out of high school and will be leaving my home.

I can pretend it's Perpetual Mother's Day then.

But for now... keep it status quo.

Otherwise... I might not come back....

Posted by Boudicca at 03:59 PM | Comments (7)

May 08, 2010

Jose Can You See?

Kind of wondering if I'm going to have any readers left as the crickets continue to chirp on this site.

I've been in what I've been calling, "12th Circle of Hell" and am transitioning into an entirely different hell on Monday, one that I hope will be far less stressful. As I said to my Tech Lead the other day, "I don't think I'm supposed to know where certain major arteries in my heart are located..." Believe it or not '12th Circle of Hell' was not supposed to exist... it's an old project gone very bad with someone else at the helm, one that got thrown back to me and I've been struggling to fix. As my counterpart at Company X said (she inherited the problem and came to me to help fix it), "This has gone sideways, diagonal, in circles, zig zag..."

I said, "Well, bonus for us, I think we've been able keep it within the same plane..."

Come tomorrow she and I should hopefully have emerged somewhat unscathed. Time will tell... I think in the end I came out OK, but during it took some serious hits that could have been pretty career limiting. We shall see...

It's made me realize that I can't do this job full time and have a family. I can't be a full time Mom and a full time employee with this particular project. There is too much stress within my own family, constant pressures in raising children, that doesn't allow for me the down time required to stay sane.

I can only deal with one part of my life going to hell at a time. Something has to give. Fortunately, I'll be coming up for air at work soon.

With that... a Bones' Story:

It is May. School has been in session for how long? 7.5 months? Yes? And I JUST heard this story last week.

It would appear that Bones hates his real name. This is new to me too, even more shocking as he's had this name for close to 11 years, and including preschool, eight years while able to speak.

And I'm just finding out he hates his name.

Why? Because one syllable of his name rhymes with 'gay' and some of the boys at school have taken to changing his name so it has the 'offensive to all fifth grade boys' word in it. According to him, no one in the world has quite the awful plight he has with his name.

You'd think I'd named him Sue, with the way he carries on.

Really.

And the discussion of one of the nastier boys in his class taunting him with his 'new nickname' came up in the asexual mom-mobile the other day as we were running errands.

Bones: Mom, I HATE my name. I HATE it.

Me: It's no big deal. This is what kids do. It'll pass and besides, you have a great name.

Bones: No. I don't. Carl keeps calling me gay***. I hate it.

Me: How long has this been going on?

Bones: It started last year.

Me: And I'm just now hearing about it?

Bones, all indignant with attitude: I hate it so much, that when school started I told them that my name was really Jose.

Me: *blink*

Sidenote: Allow me to recap what Bones looks like. He has blonde floppy hair, bright blue eyes, and white skin, so white I call him Casper at times, rosy cheeks, and looks like he stepped off the Emerald Isle.
For you visual learners:
IMG_0004_2.JPG

Mr. T, looking up from reading: It's true. I couldn't believe it.

Me: Did they believe you? You told them your name was JOSE?

Bones: Sure. They called me Jose.

Me: *blink*

Mr. T: It was the dumbest thing I have ever witnessed.

Bones: Yeah, they called me Jose UNTIL MR. T TOLD THEM IT WASN'T TRUE!!!

Me: Bones, you've known these kids since you were in KINDERGARDEN and suddenly your name is really Jose?

Mr. T, completely spooled up and animated: I KNOW! Are they the dumbest group of kids ever? What a bunch of pinheads!

Bones: But it worked!

Me: Bones...

Mr. T: And... AND...AND!... LOOK AT HIM! HE doesn't even LOOK Mexican and all those stupid kids BELIEVED HIM!

Me: Bones. I can't believe this... you convinced them your name was Jose?

Bones: It was working...

Mr.T: Only because they're so dang stupid...

So, we will see what happens at this new school. I could very well show up to school one day to pick him up only to find a bunch of kids yelling, "See ya, Jose!!!!"

Because... you know... Mr. T won't be there to correct them...

Posted by Boudicca at 08:22 PM | Comments (13)

May 04, 2010

iPadding Around

My eldest got in the car and informed me that he and a buddy of his 'convinced' their Religion teacher that tomorrow, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, that they should not have class, but instead go outside and eat chips and salsa.

His teacher's reply? "Well, I can't tell you I'm canceling class for that... but if you happened to have an extra bag of chips on you, I guess we'd have to go out and eat them, wouldn't we?"

So Mom went to the store tonight to make sure that a certain 15 year old 'just happens to have an 'extra' bag of chips on him' during religion class.

For some reason I think this is hysterical.

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For our Pakistani born naturalized US citizen who seems to be a novice at building the Rube Goldberg of bombs, the only real punishment for him would be to put strap him inside his rigged truck exactly as he designed it, in the middle of the desert away from everyone, and wait to see if everything he set would work.

If he lives through it, he gets to go to prison.

If he dies... well... he's no longer a terrorist is he?
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In other news, I decided to do a review of the iPad, a product I still think is poorly named. Considering it is the modern man's version of the yesteryear's stone tablet, I think it should be called the iTab.

But they didn't ask me.

I was skeptical as was my son. As my 15 year old said, "The commercials make it look so stupid..."

Not that I've seen the commercials, but I've seen the ads on line and although it seemed like technogeek fun, it seemed like just a huge iPhone to be.

Big Whoopty.

However, I'm a believer. Whodathunkit? Obviously I don't need to quit my day job and seek a job with Apple as they have a lot more going on upstairs than I do.

I think the single app thing is limiting. I think the next gen is going to be cooler. That said, it may be just like a big iPhone, but dang, it's nice. As TGOO says, "It needs a camera so I can Skype". (He and Mom Skype with the Great Flambina every day.)

Bonuses: Goodbye daily planner. The phones as a daily planner that you carry are so dang small. Hello? I'm over 40. I like large print. I buy my books in large print if I can. Big humongo paper planners are fine, but they are cumbersome. This replaces it. The size of a regular planner, it's big, it's versatile, and you can keep your life organized on it.

Music. Yup, you can play it. It's not a feature I need, but a bonus if you happen to want a flat radio.

My husband said, "Please, that's what the little notebooks are for..." when I spoke of going on line with it and how nice it is. True, but there isn't that cumbersome screen thing. It's flat. It's hard to describe... so if you can find a store that sells them try it and you'll see what I mean. It takes computing to a nicer less cumbersome level... while portable. Sure, you can answer your email on your crackberry or iPhone, but dang, if you have an iPad it's BIG. Big screen. Big keys. Nice.

Book reading apps: Ok, I'm not big on this whole 'download a book' thing. I'll be honest. I'm a full sensory girl. I like every sense to be in tune when I'm doing something. So when it comes to reading a book, I love the smell of the book, the feel of the texture of the paper, how it sounds as you flip pages, how the book looks... and if I'm eating chocolate, that completes the sensory experience.

Plus, as I can get a book free at the LIBRARY!

I've been rather lost on folks wanting to download their books, that said, I see a purpose.

I was recently talking to someone who travels a lot. He said it is really nice to have a bunch of books downloaded so he doesn't have to haul them with him in his luggage. Point taken. And to answer Teresa's question (I think it was hers...)... from what I understand, it's not like reading a computer screen, although I may have to purchase ONE book online to test it. You can increase font size and it's not the bright light black print.

I'll let y'all know how that goes...

There is an ability to watch movies too, which I told my husband was cool. Of course there isn't a DVD player on it, which is kind of sucky, that means you have to BUY the movie, but once again, if you were doing a long trip and you wanted to take this along, its a nice sized screen. It's not the cumbersome watching of a movie like on a computer. It's JUST the screen. And my husband does have movies downloaded on his Mac so he can just put them on his iPad... I think.

The iPad is light. It functions like any other i product where you can expand things with your fingers.

Essentially, it makes traveling with tech much easier, even though it is single app.

I'll be bringing it home to my folks home so TGOO can play with it.

Very very fun... like I said, I'd probably not have bought it myself, not this generation, but I can TOTALLY see why people are.

Absolutely...

Posted by Boudicca at 03:43 PM | Comments (13)

May 03, 2010

Mulling...

My folks sit and wait for the vast economic destruction of their hometown. As if Hurricane Ivan wasn't enough... I am sick for the communities on the Gulf Coast.

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I'm sad that Lynn Redgrave didn't win her fight with breast cancer. It has nothing to do with it being her. I'm sad when any woman doesn't beat it.

I consider breast cancer somewhat of an inevitability as I approach the age my grandmother was when she was diagnosed. To me, it's not about 'it won't happen to me', but staying vigilant.

Last month I got the all clear again... I'm still cancer free.

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I need to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. It's not the job I'm doing now. It's fine to pay the bills and it pays well... but there is more to life than this.

I think.

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I'm in the process of trying to get an educational change for my 2nd son. He wants to go to a high school where he would be on a fast track for Math Science and Engineering, dual enrolling or having professors from the local University, FAU, coming to teach him. He would have many credits of actual college sciences under his belt... not AP, but no kidding in the classroom credits.

Lockheed Martin engineers come into this school twice a week to tutor these students first hand in Physics with Calculus... their Sophomore year.

To do this, however, he must start in Pre-Calculus his freshman year. Currently he leaves 8th grade with only Alg I, which means he will do virtual learning of Alg I this summer, Alg I again with his classmates, Geometry and Alg II in the evenings of 8th grade and the following summer, in preparation. I am trying to get it changed so that while his classmates are in Alg I, he can take virtual Geometry on a computer in the classroom so he doesn't have to jump through hoops with his taking Alg I twice and Geometry at night and Alg II the following summer.

We'll see if I can get this passed. Once again, we have a non-round peg student being shoved into a round hole. Let us see if they'll help to create a square hole for him...

BTW, I don't want him to go this route. I want him to enjoy life and not have the pressure... but this is HIM wanting this. If it's important to him... I'll make it important to me. I've let him know that the minute he wants off that crazy bus, I'll find another path for him.

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My husband received an iPad for free at the convention he was at this weekend.

It's really cool.

It's cooler when it's free...

Posted by Boudicca at 03:39 PM | Comments (9)

May 02, 2010

Around Town and Embracing Happy

I went to work today to get things off my mind. You know you need to go to work, when you awaken at 430AM and you're writing code in your head, when you're actually solving a problem in your sleep. And my brain was spot on.

I went into the office in the early afternoon, applied what I dreamed and came home. (For security reasons, I cannot work from home... or I'd been on the computer coding.)
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I was selected to drive us all down to Lauderdale tonight for dinner as my husband had work to do on his laptop, a lecture he's finishing. It's not a problem, hell, I put 300 miles on my car last week in ONE DAY, driving down to Lauderdale is a non-event.

So with Pop sitting next to me, the kids, my husband and Pop's buddy in the back, we made our way down there.

Pop informed me quietly that he prefers it when I drive. He thinks I'm a better driver. I felt smug.

Watch me get in an accident now. Karmic retribution...
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This school year needs to be over. Bones' teachers are sick of him and don't want to deal with him anymore.

In the last two years, he has had four teachers, and three of the four teachers felt the following way:

First 6 weeks: Oh! I love your kid! He has so much energy and he comes up with the funniest things! He's an absolute riot and a real treat to teach.

By November: Your son is a great kid. He really is. He comes up with the funniest things... we're doing OK. He's a good kid.

By December: Things are tense. They are ready for Christmas.

By March: Eye contact is hardly made. They don't want to admit they are secretly starting to hate my child.

By April: It's full blown. They can't stand him. They don't want him in there. Nothing he says is funny. They don't care if he passes or fails.

By June 1: They are pushing him out the door.

His first grade teacher was not like this. By the end of the school year she was still smiling and loved him and said she thought great things would happen.

His second grade teacher said she loved his energy and enthusiasm and to this day when she sees him, she's all smiles and excitement.

His third grade teacher adored him the entire year. She said he wore her out at times, but she absolutely loved him.

Fourth grade was divided into two teachers, one useless piece of junk that should be fired and one great teacher. The great teacher still sees me in the hall and asks enthusiastically how he's doing. She helped me through the year and was genuinely nervous for him for fifth grade.

His fifth grade teachers can't stand him. We are full on into no eye contact with me, blame him for everything, talk about him in front of other students so we hear what they think (exceedingly unprofessional), he catches them conversing together, staring at him in disapproval. Again... it has been a miserable year.

And so I have great hope that at his next school, where he has a teacher for every subject and nobody has him more than an hour a day, or if on block scheduling... every other day, that they won't get sick of him and will be able to help him and still like him at the end of the year.

I'm not stupid. I know he's a lot of work. I don't think my son is a saint.

But neither do I happen to think these three teachers are good teachers either.

I have hope for next year...

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If you have to put a bumper sticker on your car that says, 'I love my wife' you are either 1) a Newlywed or 2) trying to convince yourself you do because you secretly loathe her with a purple passion.

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And I will end tonight's post on my new phrase, "Embrace Your Happy".

Yesterday a columnist in our local paper wrote a column that started out with Sandra Bullock and the horror show of her personal life, but what it really was about was how we map out what is going to make us happy, we chart that course, but ... we have no control.

Sometimes things go sideways. And we find ourselves places we NEVER expected ourselves to be.

Yet, we are so happy.

Allow me to quote Ms. Streeter, for I found this to be profound:

"You just have to embrace the happy you’re given, thank God for it, and keep moving."

I emailed her and told her I thought it was one of my favorite articles ever. It hit a deep chord with me.

Go HERE to read her entire article. That girl has an awful lot going on upstairs... and I think she unlocked a VERY important key to life.

Ciao.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:29 PM | Comments (9)

May 01, 2010

It's Snowing

I hope to be blogging tonight, but life as it is, has dealt us a tougher hand this week than expected.

Work is insane. A dear girlfriend of mine, who works for Company X, and knows what is going about at work, did call me this week to make sure all was well. "Are they treating you right? Are they being good to you?"

An affirmative to both, but pressure and stress is pressure and stress, with work hours until 10PM and office hours after dinner to attend meetings until late.

It's all good. I'm learning. I'm contributing. It's all good.

Kids are well and we've had much on the front there as well... which is probably where the basis of the next post will be. Each child is so different, like looking at snowflakes... each come from the same cloud, but could not be more different than the next.

More later...

Posted by Boudicca at 05:48 PM | Comments (1)