Thursday, December 28, 2006

It Is Time

I’m late today! I’m sorry. I get sidetracked SO. EASILY.

Today I decided (based on my “skinnier” jeans no longer fitting) that IT IS TIME.

Time to quit talking and get moving.

Yep, it’s time. Wait…Didn’t I post something like this last week?

Well, to tell you the truth, I was going to wait until the weather got nice again before I tried to lose the last twenty of the fifty pounds I gained…in 2005. I mean, hello? I have NO equipment (not yet!), NO money, NO time…and this morning it was snowing, melting, and re-freezing out. My old favorite – walking – is totally out. I’m no snow bunny. I’m not a bunny at all.

Aside from searching sporting good stores online (oh, and that pesky work thing) looking for a reasonably priced elliptical, I have been spending a lot of time here. FitSugar turned me on to SparkPeople and I’m LOVING IT.
I love everything about it so far. The tools, the people, the articles. The support I seem to feel just by BEING there. The first two weeks are all about getting your head right TO lose weight. I know from prior experience that I have to "get right" before I can start. I'm a planner by nature!

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE check it out (wait, maybe I should try to be getting PAID for this advertisement).

If it kept me from blogging, it’s gotta be cool, right?

AND…AND! I added them to my sidebar. (Maybe…I’m trying to, but Blogger seems to have an effin problem with it.)

And the answer to my thing yesterday: Number 6. Sooo close, Kristina! Yes, #2 WAS the completely logical place that he moved them FROM.

So…maybe I overreacted a *bit* - I don’t like change and I don’t want to spend the next How-Many Years opening the Logical drawer looking for my potholders only to say “Oh, right – illogical drawer!” I suggested that he could keep his crap, I mean junk, in the drawer as well, but at least a couple potholders need to stay. Reasonable. Efficient. Logical.

So that’s my sheer randomness and neglect for the day. I promise to pay more attention to you tomorrow. Mwah!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Of Course it's Long - It's Been, Like, FIVE DAYS

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Aside from the fact that my step-dad pissed me off for infinity around 11 pm the night before Christmas Eve, dinner at Mom’s went well. With that side of the family, it’s the usual suspects at every dinner, so it wasn’t a real surprise to see anyone. But it’s always a treat! All I really had to do was ignore everything SD said, which is hard, but it can be done – and graciously!

The kids were very rude when they got back from their bio-mom’s house. They came in and ripped open their presents, with no regard for the tags – or the person on it. There was one point where Ninja Boy half ripped the package open and, upon discovering cotton, THREW the package toward me – as if to say “It’s clothes – you deal with it.” I was ready to grab everything he’d just opened and fiercely take it away. I come from a family where everyone takes turns opening gifts, thanks the person who gave it to them (genuinely) and patiently waits their turn. Even my 4-year-old nephew understood this concept and followed through rather well with it. This was my “jackass” moment for Christmas 2006. The moment where I realize the $300 I’d spent on the kids is going to be torn through and complained about before I even get the wrapping paper cleaned up. I felt like going home and pulling half the gifts out from under the tree just so I didn’t feed this greedy, thankless attitude. I understand how they get this way – they are not expected to wait their turn OR give thanks when they are at BM’s. I also know that after opening so many presents, it gets to be kind of a mundane task. (Especially when people in BM’s family give him cash or toys that he isn’t into – it’s hard to fake happiness, although graciousness shouldn’t be faked.) I won’t stand for it. I am going to devise a plan next year that will kill the present overload. I don’t know what – or how – but I do know that getting 50 toys in one day is ridiculously excessive. No wonder they are so damn spoiled.

Christmas morning, when the kids opened presents at home – they were much more gracious. Even though Sunshine got a TV and Ninja Boy didn’t (he has an older one already), they held off on the arguing and finger pointing. We told the kids that they needed to send emails to everyone, thanking them for their gifts. I think this should really be done for every gift received (until I’m standing behind Sunshine, telling her how to spell every. single. word. waiting for her to type them out), but especially when they didn’t take the time to personally thank them when they had a perfect opportunity.

"It's a TV!"

I knew she'd love that game!

We got a call Christmas morning from the in-laws, “Are you guys planning on coming out today?” Hmm, is that why we REPEATEDLY ASKED his siblings EVERY DAY last week when they were doing dinner? They never gave us an answer, so ‘NO,’ we didn’t PLAN on doing anything with them.

ALREADY Confiscated!

Man, do I need a new camera!

We were both apprehensive, but decided we’d just go out for a couple hours so the kids could see their cousins. HHH was there and hasn’t changed too much. I guess I can’t say she hasn’t changed – she went through a lot with the drugs and prison, and I wasn’t there to see what she was really like during that time. BUT, personality wise – she’s same woman she was when we were friends. She still picked on her kids, showed everyone her blown-up picture of Britney’s Oopsie, and is still louder than a Harley. But she was courteous and almost pleasant. She is going to church now and listens to Christian music – that’s pretty much all she talked about. I have seen this a hundred times where someone goes to prison, finds Jesus and comes out talking about how much their life has changed…until they can hook up with the ‘old crowd.’ In fact, several of those times, it was HHH cleaning up her life only to destroy it just months later. I’m holding out hope, though, because if everyone expects you to fail, wouldn’t you? So, I’ll offer my congratulations on things coming to order for her and hope that she’s serious and planning on being a real mom to her kids.

Things ended up going so well over there that we stayed much longer than we’d planned – 6 hours! Six. Freaking. Hours. Then The Man invited his little sister and nephew over. They didn’t leave until 10 pm. I think The Man and I ended up getting to bed about midnight. I do not question at all why I don’t remember shutting my alarm OFF Tuesday morning.

That said – I was L-A-T-E on Tuesday. Not my normal late, where I’m not really late, because my boss doesn’t really EXPECT me until 8 – but I’m supposed to be here at 7:30. No, I was LATE – where I had to skip lunch and stay an extra 45 minutes to make it up. Oh, I also forgot my badge, so I had to get escorted into the building and write out a timesheet STATING that I was late getting in, skipped lunch and stayed late.

Yes, I was one of the unlucky bastards who got stuck working yesterday. The Man had the day off (as he does AGAIN on Friday!).

Not only did The Man stay home with the kids on his day off (daycare was still an option), he CLEANED. He did laundry, he did the dishes, he got rid of all the garbage left over from Christmas. He cleaned off the refridgerator and the microwave. He made the kids clean their rooms.

However, this miraculous deed was overshadowed by the fact that he nearly gave me a heart attack.

I tried calling the house about 2:30, then again about twenty minutes later. A little after three, I started getting obsessive and calling the house, then his cell, about every ten minutes. By the time I left work at 4:45 I was getting really concerned. Halfway home, I was crying. The entire hour ride home, I called non-stop. Thousands of situations ran through my head, sometimes scaring myself, sometimes trying to convince myself it was okay. But where the hell could he and the two kids be that they weren’t answering the phones? I sped down all the roads in my neighborhood – something I NEVER do. I pulled up to the house, thankful that at least it hadn’t burned down, and the Christmas lights were all on, but the upstairs was dark. The Man’s car was in the garage. I dialed the house again, just to see…walked in and saw Boy sitting downstairs, playing with his toys. I could faintly hear the telephone ringing upstairs. Ninja Boy said, “Hi Amy!” and seeing the look on my face said, “Dad, Amy’s upset.” The Man jumped up and prodded, “What??? What’s wrong??” “Why the hell weren’t you answering the phone?” I sobbed. “What phone?” “ANY PHONE!!!” He could not understand why I was so upset – not for the life of him. The prick even got mad at me for being so upset with him. All THREE of my cordless phones were in my bedroom (one on the bed, under the blanket), along with his cell. The door was closed. “You should put the damn phones away when you use them!”

I finally get to break out the Ball Puncher!

I know he didn’t mean to upset me, and he was probably hurt that I didn’t mention how spectacular the house looked, but I was so upset that I HURT. My chest hurt, my eyes were swollen - I was still shaking after I’d found everything to be okay.

And I thought I had no imagination!

Anywho…The Man also surprised me with…A JUNK DRAWER! He felt we really needed a place to store all of our “junk,” (because, you know, putting stuff AWAY is just LAME) so he moved my potholders from a completely logical place to a completely illogical place. See if you can guess where he moved them to. And also, where would you keep them if it were your kitchen??

Friday, December 22, 2006

Before the Vacay...

Well, I made it through covering for everyone today…Obviously.

I find it ironic that the other woman I work with had her back go out…last night…when she really wanted today off, but couldn’t because there was only ME covering for EVERYONE!

Hope she feels better! **wink, wink** I know what’s up! I don’t really care, though, I made it through just fine. It was quiet today and I kept busy. What more can I ask for?

So, as I originally planned to post today, here is my elf name. I have no clue what this is supposed to insinuate, how they come up with it, or even WHY I’m posting it except it’s fun. And who doesn’t wonder what their name would be if they were an elf?
Your Elf Name Is...

Grumpy Snow Bunny

Speaking of elves, that Recon over at Monkeys For Helping had me in fits with this:

And, why I’m so excited I could scream: We finally got SNOW!!! YAY!!!

I don’t care that the roads are shitty. The first day of winter did not let me down, and I will not cry myself to sleep Sunday night, wondering how Santa’s going to land his sleigh with no snow.

This is what the roads looked like when I left work yesterday:

And this is what my work looked like when I came in this morning (kind of lame considering all the red in the traffic report, but I DON'T CARE, SNOW IS SNOW):

And this is what I looked like:

Okay, so I didn’t look like THAT. You get the picture, right?

So, that’s that. (When is “that” not “that”???)

I got my snow…I’m done shopping…I’m done FREAKING WORKING.

I’m out for the weekend!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a great weekend!

Are you fricken kidding me?!

This has me all up in arms now this morning. I had planned on just posting my elf name, but “NO”… gotta see this headline and say “WTF?”

"Gibson and Cara Reynolds of Collingswood, N.J., are outraged by opposition to using embryo screening to allow dwarf people to have dwarf children. “You cannot tell me that I cannot have a child who’s going to look like me,” Cara Reynolds said. “It’s just unbelievably presumptuous and they’re playing God.” "

The rights of unborn children are a debate that I don’t really want to have here, as I get it enough on other people’s blogs. But, I will say that while I don’t think abortion is right, I don’t think it should be illegal for various reasons. That said, I don’t think that you should be allowed to “choose” anything about your baby. When I was pregnant, I declined any tests that would determine if there were defects, because I didn’t want to be faced with the decision of “Well, it’s going to be a hundred times more expensive and difficult to raise this child…but it’s MY CHILD.” I’m sure that I would have chosen to proceed, but I didn’t even want to have it brought up.

I’m not saying that people who got the tests, or even people who chose to abort because of the tests are wrong. Not at all, I’m not in your shoes, I don’t know what your life is, I’m not here to judge. That was just my own personal take on it.

But I do happen to think it’s wrong that people would go as far as to CHOOSE what their baby will be like. I especially think it’s wrong to choose to defect them for your own want. It may be difficult for a person with dwarfism to raise a ‘regular sized’ kid…but wasn’t it kind of difficult for a ‘regular sized’ person to raise a child with dwarfism?

That really goes for anything in my book – blindness, deafness, whatever. If I heard someone say, “Make me a baby that is a male with blonde hair and blue eyes,” not only would Hitler come to mind, but I would think “What a selfish and bold person to try to do God’s job.” That doesn’t change when you ask to have a child with a disability. In fact, I think it is worse. Regardless of easy your life was…you can’t say it will be as easy for your child to deal with the disability – you are requesting to have a child that will probably spend its life going through various surgeries, trying to correct the problem.

As far as the Reynolds (picture) claiming that people in opposition to this practice are “playing God,” isn’t that what you are doing, people??

What happened to the old-fashioned child bearing? Quitting your vices, eating healthier, being a better person – in the name of your unborn baby. And handing it over to God to decide its fate. Sometimes, it’s tragic. More often, it’s not.

Children have more need of models than of critics. ~Carolyn Coats

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Sometimes, I’ll just be sitting there – maybe doing nothing at all - when an alarm goes off in my head and says “HEY!! BREATHE!!” My body will respond with a gasp for air and I realize that I had stopped breathing. For no reason at all, just STOPPED breathing.

This scares me! I wonder how long it had been since I did last take a breath. And, f I am doing this when I’m very awake, what do I do when I’m sleeping?

My worst time with my breathing is while I’m driving, so I try to take especially deep breaths during my two-hour commute. (It fills the time, anyway!)

I’ve been trying to keep up with my interest in yoga (which comes and goes) mainly for this reason. When I was actually getting up and DOING it in the morning, I felt wonderful. I felt healthy and energized. I even felt taller. (?)

Another thing that I really need to keep up with (for it’s proven good effects on my body) is meditation. It sounds so corny to meditate (at least to some people) – I hate the looks I get from people when I say that I like it. But it is a great way to relieve stress. I found The Stillness Station on iTunes and listened to it (during my time off last September) while I waited for the kids’ bus to arrive. My mom said, “I feel like she’s going to lean in and kiss me!” But, Stin has a very calm and sweet voice that I found relaxing. It was so much easier for me (The Neurotic Multitasker) to use guided meditation than to sit and “reflect.” It just ‘structured’ my thoughts rather than letting them bounce between all the other things going on in my head. The Man actually told me that he noticed how much calmer I was.

Back when I was really interested (and didn’t have a fine at the library) I read a few books about yoga and related subjects and learned that breathing is the number one reason why yoga is so effective. Oxygen is vital to your body - to your organs, to your blood, to your bones. Oxygen fuels our body and gives us energy.

In one ‘ancient’ book, they described a breathing exercise in which you lie flat on your back and breathe deep into the different sections of your chest.
Imagine your lungs are divided into three sections:
1. There is the bottom, the part you feel in your stomach (your diaphragm). When you breathe deeply here, you aid your digestion and calm your heart rate. To exercise this area, take a deep breath, inflating your stomach it to its fullest, then deflating it with a long, steady breath. It seems redundant to explain this, but most people do not breathe this way, and this is how “normal” breathing should be.
2. There is the middle, which is under your xyphoid process. To exercise this area, imagine there is a small balloon stuck under your ribs and expand only that area (as if to inflate the balloon) when breathing in, pull your ribs toward your spine while slowly exhaling. This is the part of your lungs that you use when you ‘stress breathe’ – take short, shallow breathes. Stress breathing is harmful to your body - it does not allow the oxygen to reach the parts of your body that need it. When you practice deep breathing here, you fully exercise the section that is used to working a lot, but not working hard.
3. Then there is the top. This is the one that surprised me the most. The very tips of your lungs actually don’t get worked much. The book described it as; where your lungs are normally pink (unless you’re a smoker, of course), the tips that don’t get used very often become weak, gray and sickly tissue. They attribute this area’s weakness to lung infections, colds and mucus build-up. When I exercised this part – breathing as with the rest, only focusing on the very tips (it really helps to visualize your lungs as you do it), I felt like they had been given an actual work-out – they felt tired, but in an invigorated way.

A couple things to note is that you want to practice each in their own time, take plenty of breaths per area and the also recommend doing it on an empty stomach.

Remember last Saturday, when I posted my horoscope about “stop evangelizing and lead by example?” Well, I’m trying. I looked for new podcasts last night and found some ones that I think will be more motivating. My problem with doing it this way is this: The first yoga-themed podcast I subscribed to was Yogamazing with Chad Rough. I quickly grew tired of this and never even practiced using it. He is informative, but how am I expected to hold my iPod, watch the video and keep my earphones in all while trying to do the poses?
Next, I found (Note that I get these on iTunes, where they are FREE – not the websites where the previews are free.) iTunes had three sessions from them, all twenty minutes a piece. Listening to it, I could already tell it was going to be easier to use because they simply tell you what pose to move into (and, like a teacher, reminding you to BREATHE). But a newbie like me doesn’t know every pose. That problem left this podcast pretty unusable, too.
Next, I found Discovery Home & Health Yoga Classes. (Can’t find their website, but they are listed under this in iTunes). This EXPLAINS each pose – why and HOW – in two to three minute videos. I think learning from this will help me be able to use the twenty-minute verbal sessions with a little more ease.

So, you see, I am trying. I am preparing, which is the first step…I just wish I could move on to the next, which is actually waking up in time to do it.

I finally got information about that ‘studio’ in my town – turns out it’s just a ‘wellness center.’ They don’t have yoga. But they do have massages, waxing and Chinese medicine!

I think tomorrow will be the perfect day to start my venture. I’m going to use my DVD, because even though the girl annoys the piss out of me, I know the routine, so it will be easier to follow. It is going to be a long weekend and what a better way to start it than feeling healthy, energized and…taller?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Later Gator!

Woo-hooo! It’s Wednesday!

I get to leave work in ONE HOUR, my friends!

I get to SHOP!

I get to clean my house (without people following me around, messing it up as I go)!

I get to…

We will return tomorrow with our regularly scheduled bitching!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Down With Families

Corporate America is Killing the Middle Class Family.

There, I said it.

You may disagree, but I wholeheartedly believe that corporations are driving middle class families into poverty. They run on the belief that “If they can’t afford us, we don’t want them!” They pretend to be for the consumer, but they really only want the consumers with money to burn – not anyone looking for good, quality service for fair rates.

Case in point: Qwest Communications.

I have been a customer with Qwest for YEARS. First, as a minor living with my mother, then as an adult. They have remained my telephone and DSL provider through two moves. Not because of their great service, customer service or deals (all non-existent), but because I was too afraid of change to switch. Also because Comcast was the other provider in my area and, though I’ve never been a customer of theirs, I would expect the same service and attitude from them.

Recently, my phone bill has been getting larger. First, I was locked in to the DSL price of $29.99. When I bought my house, they didn’t offer the 7mb service in my area, so they downgraded me to the 1.5 and upped my bill to $34.99. Last month, it went up to $49.99. Fifty freaking dollars a month to use the internet for a few hours a week at home.

I’ve called customer service a few times regarding this. The first time I called, they said they couldn’t help me – they told me it was probably best to switch companies if I couldn’t afford the bill. The second time I called, they told me that “If you add Direct TV to your ‘bundle,’ you’ll save X dollars a month!” “No, sweetheart, I won’t SAVE anything. I do not have cable because I cannot afford it.” “Oh, but it would be the same price you’re paying now.” How the hell does that work? If you “bundle” more services, they give you discounts! “I called because I CAN NOT AFFORD TO PAY THIS MUCH – NOT TO ORDER MORE SERVICES.” Also, I refuse to order any other services from them because everyone I know that did got SCREWED. This dumb broad could not get it through her sales-minded skull and after she tried to get me to add my cell service I hung up on her.


Well, I…uh… forgot to pay my bill last month (it was still in my CALL THESE ASSHOLES file). So when I got my $195.00 bill for December, I called again. I told them, “I called my local company and they can give me the exact same service as you do for the price I had before. I saw your ad for $26.99 DSL and I want that price or I’m leaving your company.” They said there is a two-year contract that I’d have to sign in order to receive that price. Again, I have been a customer for EIGHT YEARS, but in order to receive decent prices I have to PROMISE to stay with them for two years. I know better than to deal with the salespeople there now, so I was talking to the manager when I asked, “So, being that I have not switched companies through eight years and two moves…what if something happened, say my husband or I lost our jobs, and I could not afford to pay my bill?” “Well, then you would be charged a fee.” “How much?” “$200.00” TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS? I’m telling you here: The only reason – which I have proved for almost a decade – that I would end my service is if I could not possibly pay my bill. And you are telling me that in that event, your company would turn around and STICK IT ME just a little bit more?” “Well, yes, ma’am, that’s what I’m saying.” In her defense, the manager was very sympathetic and reasonable. She even left a note on my account that said, “Customer is extremely unhappy with the company.” I said, “Because they are anti-family.” “Yes, ma’am, I added that all.” She really did seem like she wanted to help me. She said she was a single mother and could relate to money issues. She was probably the nicest person I’ve ever spoken to there! But, she still couldn’t help me. She said “Maybe someone will see that note and call you or something." Uh, yeah, I’m sure, “Mr. Nacchio, there’s some middle-class bitch in Minnesota who doesn’t like our rules…I think we should change them!” "Not NOW, I'm teaming up with other major corporations that like to fuck the poor over!"

They could have some exceptions to the rule. What if I got an actual pink slip? Would that nullify the fee? Probably not. They don’t care who you are or what’s going on in your life, they just want your money. They are just a corporate vacuum sucking what they can out of consumer’s pockets – putting up this façade of “We love our customers!” when in reality, they love people who want to give them their money. They could give a shit less if you are unhappy with your service or can’t afford your bill. They would rather you just GO AWAY then. Shrivel up into your poverty-laden hole and leave them alone. But, if you want to add Direct TV or cell service, you go ahead and give them a call and with a twinkle in their eye they will say, “Sure thing! I can do that for you! And…Thank you for calling Qwest!”

Burn out the families, Qwest. Take what you can from them, give them your shitty service and keep upping their bill until they can’t take it anymore. Then tell them to find someone who cares. Tell them there’s nothing you can do about it – that they’re company rules. You selfish bastards.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, Monday

I’ve actually been terribly busy at work lately –something I’m not used to.

In fact, I started reading blogs – then typing my own – to occupy my time here. I have one of those jobs where I need to be here regardless of how much work there is to do. Our lull has been going on for months. MONTHS. There have been rumors flying about losing jobs and who’s going to stay if there are cuts. I have a cool boss, though, and he didn’t jump to letting anyone go. Now – sadly, because of a co-worker’s medical leave – we are starting to get busy again. I am the only person in the office that can do three of the jobs here, so I’ve been quite busy filling in where I can. It’s been nice. I’m having a hard time neglecting the internet, but I think I’ll make it.

So today, as of now, I have no stories or anything.

No time to write anything thoughtful or heartfelt.

I have tidbits:

#1 – Kristina – No, I have not checked out that yoga place to see if they are still open. They are, like, 7 blocks from my house. Very sad, no? But! I did see in our “Community Education” book, someone is offering beginner’s classes at like $4 a piece – in March. I will go by that studio this week, though, because….

#2 – I get a half-day on Wednesday. Yay!!! I’m still trying to figure out everything I want to do. I have some last-minute presents to pick up and wrap. I was supposed to do lunch with The Man that day (the reason I PICKED Wednesday) but he has his company lunch, so that’s out. Sadly, I will probably go home and clean. That’s what I do when I’m home alone – clean. Ugh. At least I feel all “Martha-y” when the fam comes home to a clean house with dinner in the oven – I really don’t get a lot of days that make me feel like such a good mommy. (I say this even though I plan to HIDE that day – Sunshine has a non-school day and my daycare girl’s house is TWO blocks away!)

#3 – Had a talk with The Man about the “family” issue again and he wants to bury his head in the sand and forget they even asked. I poured my heart out and laid out a ton of options, but he still thinks it would be best to avoid it because he agrees we have no idea how sis will behave. I agree maybe a barbeque or something later on might leave less pressure than Christmas. As long as it doesn’t get back as “Amy won’t let him see his family,” I’ll be okay. So that’s our solution. Hide until it’s over. We’re so brave and grown-up!

#4 – Holiday pics are in! So I will leave you with these…

(My brother and sister)

("Yes, that's them, officer.")

(Sunshine's Toothless Pic)

(Ninja Boy looking like a gentleman)

(This is the one we ended up using for the card)

(The only one Sushine gave a genuine smile in)

(This one would have been great if they'd been looking in the same direction!)

Hope everyone has a great start to their week!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sat. Morning Freak Out

Daily Taurus Forecast

Quickie: If intense and deep emotions are leaving you feeling confused, take more time.

Overview: Some of your recent actions have started to pay off, and now you can see how many possibilities you have. You want to get out there and spread the word. Hold off on any evangelizing though -- lead by example instead. It's more effective.

WOW. That freaks me out really bad when they hit so close to home.

I have been super emotional lately. I have been kinda preachy lately., you know me better than I know myself.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

There Go My Flawless Plans

(Get it? It's a metaphor. I know ... I'm a geek.)
I met The Man some years ago while living with his sisters. His older sister lived in a house with his younger sister and truck driver step-dad. I lived there with them and did daycare for her kids. It was a strange housing situation, but it worked. I was young and needed a place to live and for some reason didn’t mind the fact that it was filthy beyond belief in that house. (I suppose I figured the ‘streets’ were the less appealing option.) When The Man and his now ex-wife split, I took on watching his kids for free to help him out – because he was my friends’ brother. One thing led to another and The Man and I started dating. To leave out years of details that don’t really apply to this story I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that they all became meth-heads. Both sisters, the ex-wife, and pretty much everyone else we’d hung out with.

The Man and I had a light-bulb relationship in the beginning, but for the most part, we both distanced ourselves from the group. The last time I saw his older sister, who we’ll just call HHH (she’s never killed anyone that I know of, but I would not put it past her), we were in an actual fistfight.

Lil' Sis supposedly cleaned up and moved on from the meth group. We still talk to her once in a while and are on pretty good terms. HHH, after losing her three kids, got busted yet again and served time in prison. My MIL got the kids out of foster care and adopted them. When HHH was released last summer, she moved right back in with her momma.

The last time The Man and I talked about her, he was adamant that he didn’t ever care to see HHH again. I think his mom pretty much knew this, though nobody had said anything to her, because they just stopped calling us. This pretty much ended our contact with his mom’s entire household. I told him then, “I don’t want to stand between you and your family, but I don’t ever want to see her again.” He totally agreed.

So… Here we are: The first Christmas that HHH is “free” and “part of the family” again. When The Man talked to his brother about Christmas, his brother said they all want to come to our house – but only if HHH could come. Hmmm…let me think…the last memory I have of HHH is her running out of a house with her fists flying – which led to her pulling my hair and trying gouge out my eyeball. The last time I actually spoke to her, she was making up stories to break up The Man and me and was on her way over to “kick me in the head.” Yeah…I TOTALLY think this is a great idea. “Hey, HHH, why don’t you come over and plop your fat ass down on my couch and talk about how much you hate me? You can finally ‘kick me in the head’ like you’ve always wanted to do!” What’s Christmas without some Psycho Family Drama?? Oh, right, peaceful and fulfilling – meaningful.

I don’t know what to do about this, seriously. I DO NOT WANT HER at my house. PERIOD. I would not choose a serial killer as her alias if she were even close to being a decent person. She is the epitome of evil. She is a heartless, conniving bitch. She gets what she wants by tearing through anyone in her way. She befriends people solely based on what she can get from them and uses everything she knows about them to burn them when she no longer has a need for them. I think I’m starting to sound bitter, but I’m actually the one that ended our friendship, not her. That is what made her so hateful toward me. I could not have for seen at that time that The Man and I would actually start a life together and I may have to see her on certain holidays.
Good Lord, It's a spitting image!

When The Man told me about this last night, I was like, “What do you want me to say to that?” I don’t know what he was expecting so I told him flat out “I don’t want her here.” I don’t know where they get off giving me the ultimatum “Either invite us ALL or we won’t see you on Christmas.” I feel like they are forcing me to say no. I can’t tell if The Man is really upset about it or not. I really don’t want to cut him off from his family and I’ve suggested other ways to do it, but they just won’t work for them. I am completely willing to see her again if I have the option to LEAVE if things get crazy. But, “They can’t do it their house – they don’t even have a tree!”

My dear mother suggested we invite them all over to her house on Christmas Eve, which seemed like a great idea to me. Her SIL is a loud-mouthed, obscene crackhead herself, so I think she and HHH would click. But my worry with that is my mom lives in a beautiful house on a private lake and they live in a mobile home in the boondocks. I’m sometimes embarrassed by my mom’s house because I feel it gives the impression that we have a lot of money – or that we’re snooty. Mind you, I did not grow up in this house – not even CLOSE. My mom has worked very hard to get where she is and she continues to work very hard to PAY for it. But she is very proud of it and loves to show it off and I am worried that they will think we’re trying to demean them by inviting them there.
NONE - I SO need some help with this!
Any suggestions AT ALL will be appreciated more than you will ever know!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is There a Santa Claus?

I think a lot of us struggle between wanting to shield our kids from the sadness of the world and wanting to show them how well off they are. Becki’s “Question of The Day” yesterday was: “How do you balance teaching your kids the true meaning of Christmas while preserving their belief in Santa Claus--or do you let one slide in favor of the other?”

I wish I had a straight-up answer to that, because I would like to teach my children how to be compassionate people (and still keep their belief in magic). For now, I’m trying to lead by example. I want to show the kids that even though we don’t have a lot of money, there are things that we can do to help other people.

I received an email a couple times already this year that I keep telling people about. This is the first year that Ninja Boy is “in the know” about the Claus-Man, so this really hit home for me. I wish I could have been able to explain it to him this way just for impact. (The Man told him while they were fishing and told him if Sunshine found out about it, Santa would stop delivering to him.)

Anyway, I thought it sent an important message to share so here it is:

Is There A Santa Claus?

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.

I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.

I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm.

Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.

"No Santa Claus?" She snorted..."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car."

Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.

The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he just didn't have a good coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement.

I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy, one that had a hood attached to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat.

I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.

Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes.

That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

*Someone* Is Getting Coal This Year

I have been ripped off.

In my own home.

My own KITCHEN, no less.

Who…WHO…could have pulled off such a stunt as to take two ten dollar bills directly from my purse without being seen?

Who else but Ninja Boy?

It makes me sad that my first post about Ninja Boy has to do with him being naughty, but I didn’t make his choices for him.

Let me introduce you:
9 years old.
Skinny as a rail.
Digs video games and sports
Medicated for his ADHD
Can be very affectionate and also VERY moody.
Recently developed a habit of thieving (and its conjoined twin: lying).

So, Ninja Boy has been having a rough time lately.

He has been not doing his homework – and not just “not doing it” – we ask … we’re involved … we check his homework notebook and there is nothing there, we have no choice to assume that he’s telling the truth. He developed a story for his dad about why he didn’t have any. Then he went to school the next day and told his teacher that he didn’t have time to do his homework because his dad made him work. (Still hoping we don't get a call from Child Services!) Then the next night we got to work on homework from 5-8:30 – on the ONE NIGHT that I ask them to let me watch TV in silence. Ahem, anyway. I was rational and we didn’t punish him. I explained, “This is what happens when you put off work – you end up working twice as hard to get it done at the last minute.”

That night we also found out he’s been asking a friend at school to give him money. Apparently, this child just brings cash to school to hand out to whomever asks. Well, NB is just the type of kid to take advantage of a situation like this. Still feeling semi-rational, I laid out the image of the “free-loader.” The “Mooch,” if you will. I said “If I had a friend that always asked me for my money, I wouldn’t consider them a very good friend.” Because, at nine, you can rationalize with them, right?

Well, unfortunately, that was the same night he took a dollar off the computer desk. I can understand that someone his age may not comprehend that they are not to take money that is lying around. He sees a dollar and thinks, “Hey, a dollar.” Not, “I wonder who this belongs to?” But, while I was still feeling understanding, I was damn fed up with all the naughtiness flowing through the air. He was grounded for approximately 4 weeks. (It’s hard to tell sometimes.)

After getting “talking to’s” from both The Man and me, I thought that would nip the problem in the bud. He was grounded, he’d been yelled at, talked to and spent the whole night doing homework. I thought FOR SURE he’d go to be that night and think “Geez, what a rotten day! Now I see what lying gets me!”

Ah, ha. Ah, ha. Ha Ha. (You can say it, I know you were thinking it.)

So, the other night, The Man handed me exactly $38.00 in cash and I gave him ten back and threw the rest into my purse. Yesterday morning, I was gathering my things and noticed I had only eight dollars. I asked the kids if they knew what happened to the tens, then called The Man to see if maybe he’d grabbed it before he left.

When it became obvious that it was the work of little hands, I declared that we were NOT. LEAVING. Until the money was returned. (Mostly for fear that it would be spent in the Ala Carte line.) I knew from my Secret Parenting Handbook that if I went into a room and closed the door, the money would miraculously appear. Though, they really should have come up with a better place to “find” it than the stairs I had been up and down four times already. I was teetering the line between Just Mad and Absolutely Furious and I’m pretty sure they could tell. A few more minutes of yelling/spitting threats and I had my confession.

When it was just change or a dollar that was lying around and went missing, I didn’t feel like I needed to make a huge deal out of it. Now, it’s invading personal space (my purse) to actually TAKE a pretty large sum of money.

After a quick consult with The Man yesterday morning, I left Ninja Boy with “Dad said he will deal with you when he gets home – but I can tell you for sure there will be NO VIDEO GAMES until AFTER Christmas.” I also told our daycare provider what was going on right in front of him. I’m not sure publicly embarrassing him was the most moral way to go, but I hope it showed him that when you do something wrong, people find out.

The thing that hurts me the most about it all was not really the lying or stealing, but that he has no remorse for doing these things. He never even faked a “Sorry.”

The Man suggested we make him do community service for a dollar an hour until he makes up the twenty he took, but I think that may be excessive. He already lost all his belongings and needs to 'earn' them all back. He's grounded to his room for three days (two left) and from video games until the new year. However, I really liked his suggestion of bellringing.

See, he can be totally sweet.

My Question to you: Have you ever had a problem with stealing/lying and how did/would you solve it?

Monday, December 11, 2006

First Annual Virtual Cookie Exchange

It’s the First Annual Virtual Cookie Exchange!

I am fond of many, many cookies – especially at Christmas time.
But this one is definitely my new favorite.
We first tried this out for a real cookie exchange last year and learned something: Don’t bake twelve dozen expensive, laboring (okay, they weren’t that hard) cookies for people who are baking you
Pillsbury. However, a Virtual Cookie Exchange is the perfect opportunity to share this recipe. They don’t keep long, so they are best to make for parties or the like.

(To visit the "VCE Headquarters", Visit Jenn)


· 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
· 1 cup sugar
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
· 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 egg
· 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
· 48 undrained maraschino cherries (about one 10-ounce jar)
· 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces (not imitation)
· 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

*In a mixing bowl combine flour and cocoa; set aside.
*In a large mixing bowl beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened.
*Add sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
*Beat until well combined.
*Add egg and vanilla. Beat well.
*Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

*Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheet.
*Press down center of each ball with thumb.
*Drain maraschino cherries, reserving juice.
*Place a cherry in the center of each cookie.
*In a small saucepan combine the chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk; heat until chocolate is melted.
*Stir in 4 teaspoons of the reserved cherry juice.
*Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the frosting over each cherry on unbaked cookie, spreading to cover cherry. (Frosting may be thinned with additional cherry juice, if necessary.)
*Bake in 350°F oven about 10 minutes or until done.
*Remove to wire rack; cool.
*Cover and store at room temperature up to 2 days.

Makes 48 cookies.

And because I care so damn much, here’s the Nutritional Information (I think a serving size is one cookie):

Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories 81
Total Fat (g) 3
Saturated Fat (g) 1
Cholesterol (mg) 11
Sodium (mg) 45
Carbohydrate (g) 12
Protein (g) 1
Vitamin A (DV%) 2
Calcium (DV%) 1
Iron (DV%) 2

Friday, December 8, 2006


As of this morning, my brother Tommy has been living in Heaven as long as he had lived on Earth. Taken by a stealthy heart disease that would later put my mother through two surgeries.

I’ve written, throughout my life, about his death. Today, to honor him, I’d like to write a little about his life.

Born to a mother a whole 15 years old and a con-artist father in the Navy, there was not much expectation for Tommy’s future. Nowadays, children from those kinds of families typically turn out like the children who raised them.

However, our parents made a fateful move from California to Wisconsin, back to my paternal grandparents’ house. There, Tommy had our Bumpa. A strong, sensible and extremely intelligent retired Navy Commander, Bumps tapped into Tommy’s brain and found someone a lot like himself.

Tommy was loving. He always took care of my brother and me, no matter what. Whether he was watching us while Mom was working, taking us ice skating or flying alone with us across the country – he was always responsible and caring, despite being only two years older.

Tommy was a genius. I’ve never seen a test score to prove that so, but I don’t need to. His brain was a sponge for information. Before he even started school, my grandpa would hold up United States puzzle pieces BACKWARD and Tommy would name the state and capitol. In elementary school, he wrote stories at levels far beyond the rest of the kids. He had to have been in fifth grade when we got our first computer and within days he was a master. He experimented with Prodigy – a primitive form of what is now the Internet. He figured out the password to Rodney Jokes – a program that generated dirty Rodney Dangerfield jokes one at a time. He used Dr. Halo to create elaborate drawings of his absolute favorite thing: fighter jets.

Tommy was also extremely curious, and sometimes naughty. When he was five years old, he used to play “Fireman,” where he would put paper in the toaster to light it on fire, then stomp it out with his rain boots or extinguish it in the sink. As he got older, he became “Mr. Fixit” and would disassemble our toys – though they were rarely reassembled, Tommy learned how they worked. He built elaborate airplane models with extensive detail.

He invented insane ways to torture his siblings and just silly little things to make people laugh. He “chubbed” ears, “chunged” arms and sometimes even “dunka-chunged” them. He would hold our brother Tony down and whip him with his ‘skater hair.’ Or, hold him down and shove Warheads in his mouth. Or hold him down (did I mention he was much bigger than us?) and act like he was going to spit on him. He would stand outside my bedroom door at night, point his finger at me and close one eye to ‘aim.’ I had to scream or he’d charge my bed like a torpedo. (Then of course, I’d get in trouble for yelling when he “wasn’t doing anything", but it was better than getting “torpedoed.”)

He was a crazy kid. A smart kid. A loving kid.

That cold December morning, we lost someone great. Someone who should have grown up to be the next Bill Gates or war hero – who’s full potential will never be known. Yet when he died at thirteen, had more knowledge than I will probably have my whole life.

I miss you so much, Tommy, and I sure hope you can fly up there.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Model Citizens?

According to the United Health Foundation, we Meenasowtins are the healthiest citizens in the country. "Ha!" to all you who thought casseroles and lefse were bad for you!

Not sure about that picture, as I was born in Wisconsin and lived there for a large chunk of my life. At least I have an excuse for when I'm heavy!

I can see us being the healthiest state thanks to Minneapolis, what with the smoking ban, the huge list of health clubs, and the fact that it’s chuck full of yuppies. But, I have a feeling that the rural areas of Minnesota were left out of this study. I go to Wal-Mart. I can see with my own eyes how unhealthy the people in MY neighborhood are.

I don’t think it’s entirely their fault, there is a huge lack of opportunities for a healthy lifestyle in my town. Aside from the fact that it’s Frostbite Season, we have one Anytime Fitness, which is a simple, to-the-point working out gym. No spa, no daycare, just equipment. I’m sure that place works great for some people, it’s just not for me.

What I wouldn’t give for a YMCA. I used to love going there with my mom. I’m sure my kids would dig it, too. Swimming, basketball, racquetball, varying classes, rock climbing, indoor track PLUS equipment. And you get a special rate for family membership!

I’ve decided to give the yoga thing another shot. Maybe publicly stating this will be a bigger kick in the ass. I have my yoga DVD, but I don’t get many chances to do stuff like that at home without being watched. So I’ve decided to check out the little studio in our downtown. I’m just praying it’s still there – places like that don’t do too well in towns like mine. I’m pretty sure I can sneak out for an hour on Saturday mornings. I’ll let ya know how that turns out.

In other news, Jenn over at ClubMom had a totally awesome idea: A Virtual Cookie Exchange.

It sounds like a great way to get some yummy recipes, and you don’t really have to bake anything! (Or dispose of the horrendous cookies that sometimes come from real cookie exchanges.) And as Becki put it “Virtual cookies have no calories!”
So, Monday, December 11, I will be posting my favorite cookie recipe along with a track back to Jenn’s blog – where she will list everyone else participating (looks like there’s going to be about fifty!).

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

My Two Front Teef

My Sunshine lost both her front teeth last Friday. I made the inevitable “All I Want For Christmas” joke and assured her that she would hear it about 50 more times this month. I left the kitchen and heard her tell The Man, “Daddy, I don’t want to athk Thanta for teef, I wanna athk him for a jewelry bokth.” The Man told her “That’s just fine, your teeth will grow in without Santa’s help.”

I can’t help but laugh every time she smiles, or talks. Her temporary lisp and gapped smile just melt my heart. Sunday night, we were watching The Polar Express. It was at the end, where the boy opens up that last gift. Sunshine was staring wide-eyed at the TV screen and whispered, “I fink ith a bell! Yeah, it ith the bell!!” I realized that this is the only time in her life that she is going to be like this. We only have a few weeks before the teeth will start growing in and she will move on to the next stage in her life.

It hurts me that I don’t recognize all the stages of her childhood the way I’m recognizing this one. She is always in the middle of some kind of change. All children are. Ninja Boy didn’t even remember when he had lost four of his front teeth at once. I had to pull out an old picture to prove it. I saw that picture and remembered that he, too, was growing up so fast.

Now remember to hug your kids and recognize what stages they are in today.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Five Things...

It’s a REPOST!! Thankfully, it’s from the “OLD” blog so newer readers won’t be as deterred.
After a DEEP conversation about the amount of time I spend on the internet, I felt I needed to change “his” list – and also ask my dear readers what their loved ones think about the amount of time THEY spend on the internet.

Five Things about my Love:

- List five annoying things that your spouse or significant other does regularly. Try to be relatively kind and/or humorous. Unless it's a really heinous offense - then by all means, let 'er rip.

1. Answers the phone when it's for me – even if I don't want to talk.
2. Watches a show a TV until I'm into it, then changes the channel… this goes on indefinitely or until I say something.
3. Drives like a madman.
4. Refuses to kick his shoes into the closet or hang up his coat or put dirty clothes in the basket – but will be the first to tell the kids to do theirs.
5. Spends money that doesn't exist.

- List five things that you believe your spouse or significant other would say about YOU. A little introspection never hurts.

1. I honk the horn at people while he's driving.
2. I fall asleep early a lot of nights by which I mean every night.
3. I sometimes speak my mind a little too loudly.
4. Sighing. He never knows what it means and it drives him crazy. (It usually means "Sigh…I can't believe I'm not done cleaning yet!")
5. Doing the channel-changing thing to the radio.
6. Apparently, me being on the INTERNET bugs him more than anything else.

- List five UNIQUE reasons why your spouse or significant other is the greatest. Unique means I don't want to hear about what a great father he is, we already know that!

1. He tickles my back every night until I fall asleep.
2. He makes dinner every night.
3. He changes my oil every time it's needed (which is every month and a half!). And keeps up with the rest of my car's maintenance.
4. He gets along with everyone – even when he doesn't want to.
5. He pays attention to things I like so he can buy me perfect gifts.

Why do I feel it’s necessary to reassure him that it is him that I LOVE??? I only HEART the internet!

So, what's it like at your house? Answer in the comments or on the poll.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Let it Snow ... Please.

There are thousands of people across the United States cursing the snow right now.

I am not one of them.

It’s now December and we have yet to see a lasting snowfall in Central Minnesota. In fact, the storm that is “slamming” pretty much anyone else who sees snow every year is completely missing us!

To be completely honest, I don’t like snow all that much. I hate driving in it. And I’m not one of those people who skis, snowboards, snowmobiles, or really does any other kind of winter activity. In fact, I usually hole myself up the house and start packing away fat…on my ass. You know, for the long winter and all.

The fact of the matter is that I have lived in the Midwest my whole life and I need a White Christmas. I need snow on the ground to feel festive. I feel like I’m being robbed a little.
Good news for me, then, that we’re supposed to get ‘a few snow showers’ this weekend – says The Weather Channel. That can mean anything from light flurries to just short of a blizzard.

30% Chance … I guess we’ll see. It should make for an interesting weekend, anyway.