Life on the Ridge
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I gonna go next house now


another appointment

Sheesh. I swear that we live in the offices of various psychiatrists and psychologists. Today's appointments were horrid. The temp was in the upper 80s and the a/c was on the blink. Why?!

Dr. H sat me and Rick down on the sofa and told us that we were too taut. {Huh?} We needed to learn to relax and let go. {Do I have time for that?}

I was taken aside and told that I had put myself into a catch-22 situation. I get upset, my muscles clench. After things calm down, my muscles stay tense. My brain senses this and mutters to itself "Something must be wrong. Eliz is tense again." That's when the "I don't know why, but I'm blue" starts up.

Dammit, give me a muscle relaxant then. I was taught to stand up straight, shoulders back, ignore the way my breasts stick out. Guess my posture will simply have to decline. Wonder if I'll be able to sue Dr. H in another 30 years when my back is bowed ...


are you happy with me?

Michael is always asking us if we are happy with him. This is his favorite question and is part of his potty routine. Michael uses the toilet, he emerges from the w.c. and asks, "Are you happy with me?" We then praise him.

I'm happy with him but not myself. At what point did I become so caught up in everyone else's life that I neglected my own? Why should I set aside everything that I wish to do in favor of their desires?

My life is filled with pressure right now: Rick's mental health and stability, Kari hitting her tween years, Michael developing into a challenging 3 year old, Robert's work schedule, the house, finances. The only time I have to do something for myself is when blogging and showering. Sorry, but sleeping doesn't count.

I'm just a selfish twit.


raging into the storm

I can only be strong for so long before cracks begin appearing. My meds can only deal with so many chemical changes in my brain before their effectiveness begins to decrease. Sometimes my depression is part of being my being bipolar. Sometimes my depression is just depression.

Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion are beating away at my mood. I'm plummeting from an average of 8 down to a 3. And the fall hurts. I'd cry at the pain, but I'm too angry about the entire situation.

I want to wail to Robert, to lay all my doubts and fears before him so that he can help shoulder my burden. I want to call Mom and cry on her shoulder. I want to take a long walk with Dad and explain my feelings to him. I want to visit with Kim and Steph.

And they would all come rushing to my aid. They would. But I'd be incoherent.

Instead I'm doing a release spell that Steph shared with Rick. When things are at their worst for him, he performs this spell. He says he feels his bad thoughts burning in the flames of his candle and drifting away in the wind. Sometimes the freedom from the black cloud of depression dissipate for days -- other times mere minutes. But even a few minutes can make a huge difference.


is this what you'd expect me to get, Steph?

Which Witch? Wiccan
Which Witch? Wiccan!
(Wicca: A Neo-Pagan religion created in the 1950s. Focuses on balance, nature, and harming none.) Your aim is to help and heal those around you, improving their lives as well as your own. Carefully avoiding tampering with another's Free Will, and living by the Wiccan Rede of "Harm Ye None", you strive to keep your magick harmless yet effective. Following either a Goddess or a God, or both, you acknowledge and honor the balance in all things, including the balance of positivity and negativity - two vital parts of a whole.
Which Witch Are You?


we're going to the super bowl!

The Rams won last night. They defeated the Packers for the 3rd time this season -- 7 to 6.

All eleven of the boys were pumped for this game. They focused all their energy on making plays and eating up time. The Rams scoring drive came in the first half and took up most of the first half. I'm still not quite sure how that happened, but it did. They didn't go for flashy plays, just short passes and even shorter runs and making sure they converted on 3rd downs.

We did see some excitement towards the end of the 1st half when the Packers' coach just lost her temper. Kim cursed her way around the field and out to her van. Her husband was even staying away from her. She felt we shouldn't have 3 different guys passing, that all the penalties were being called against them (LOL almost all penalties were called against us) and that the guys moving the chains were poking fun at her players. She was just a tad overwrought.

More excitement erupted during the second half. One of the Packers tackled Patrick. He didn't even bother going for Patrick's flag. He just dove for him. Patrick lay on the field like a limp noodle. No writhing in agony or moaning in pain. His dad ran over and talked to him before helping him up and off the field. No flag was thrown, although the Packers assistant did try to get an unsportsman-like call made against the Rams. Huh? What was his logic there?

Patrick came back in the game towards the end and probably saved the game with a key interception. Way to go, number 10.

Super Bowl is on Saturday at noon. The Rams will be facing the undefeated Hurricanes.


waiting for the men in white

Yesterday morning I got dressed in my dirty clothes from the day before, didn't brush my hair, and took the dog for a walk. As soon as I got back, it was time to drive the kids to school, so we all clambered in the van. After dropping off Rick, Robert asked what I wanted for breakfast. Cream of wheat -- duh. He wanted to go get something. Fine. Go to Burger King. Well, he wanted to go in to eat. Me all skanky looking. Whatever. After eating he just had to go to Lowes to look. Well, shit. I told him that we better not run into anyone I know. We come out of Lowes, it is now almost 10 and he informs me that he has a doctors appt down in Miami and doesn't have time to take me home. The big shit! I didn't get to shower and dress in clean clothes until noon. NOON!

Kari is still wheezing away. I have to write her notes in triplicate (teacher, principal and PE teacher) explaining that she cannot participate in gym class if she is coughing or wheezing.

Michael is refusing to poop in the toilet. At least we aren't having to go on a "poop hunt" thru the house.

Toby jumped up on the counter and dragged the bread down.

Rick is in a mood and a half. Let me tell you.

I think that I may run away.



Never ever let me chop down a tree again! Or rather, don't let me stack the wood after chopping the tree down. I seem to forget that my feet are attached to my legs and end up dropping those freshly hewn logs on my feet.

Oh, and if your axe is dull, hone the darn thing. A dull blade and dead wood make for a disturbing jolt thru your body when the two meet. My arms are still vibrating away.


pictures pictures everywhere

During my recent cleaning frenzy I unearthed 10 rolls of undeveloped film. We will not discuss the number of throw-away cameras I found yesterday. On Saturday I dropped them off at the grocers to be developed. The poor girl behind the counter was horrified. I didn't feel that it was necessary to inform her that this was most likely just the beginning.

Imagine my horrified surprise to open the first of the packets and realize that I was looking at pictures taken 2 years and 2 months ago. There was Michael tentatively stepping across the tile floor, crashing into the ottoman. The second package was filled with pictures of Michael's first birthday. But the winner of the oldest pack of newly developed pictures was the 4th envelope -- Kari at the age of 4. Yes, 4! How do I know? Her haircut, what she is wearing and the fact that she has all of her baby teeth. Then there's always the fact that there isn't a fence in the sideyard and there were lots of trees that hadn't been knocked over and out by various tropical storms.

The absolute horror of being faced with my gross disorganization! Let us NOT share this with my mother.


somebody has to do it

I can highly recommend the local haz-mat crew for mucking out the bedrooms of pre-teen girls. They are very thorough and unwilling to bend when it comes to tossing the unnecessary crap that accumulates under beds, pillows, chairs or lurks in closets and drawers. The entire process is extremely time-consuming, so I would recommend going on vacation about the time you have to to resort to hiring them.

Yup, I spent 6 hours cleaning out Kari's room yesterday. We tossed 2 bulging bags of garbage, plus one that was only half-filled. We packed up 2 boxes of barely-used toys and clothing to donate. We even organized her books. That was a chore. She had hidden more "meaningful" notes in those books than I had pressed 4-leaf clovers. (My mother counted close to 1000 4-leaf clovers in my books when I was Kari's age). Today I am exhausted.

Rick is jealous. He has become so used to having the neatest, cleanest, most organized room in the house that he is beside himself with jealousy. He is determined to come home this afternoon and put in a good 15 minutes of light labor to reclaim his title. I think you could eat off of his floor. Not that you'd want to, but you could.


Happy Birthday, Nana!

Nana is one of the coolest grandmother ever. You cannot tie her down, keep her quiet or stifle this woman's curiosity. Since age is starting to slow her down, she's decided to wear her purple hat at all times. If you don't want to hear the truth, avoid my grandmother.

Nana is a person whose front door sticks because she rarely opens it. Everyone comes to her back door to be greeted with a hug and a giant smile. She bustles you into her sitting room, taking your coat and your purse somewhere along the way. She insists that you sit and chat awhile -- even if it's simply for fifteen minutes. Nana always has a cake on top of her fridge, sweet tea in the fridge and coffee percolating. She makes everyone feel welcome and liked. A talent that I don't have, but would love to develop.

If Nana had been born later in the 20th century, I do not doubt that she would have gone to college, gone to medical school and become a doctor of some sort. Most likely a pediatrician or an OB/GYN. Nana was a once a young woman with large dreams, but the Depression kept her from realizing those dreams. Despite this she managed to work in the field of her dreams. She was the office manager for a group of pediatricians for years -- decades actually. She mothered them all. The doctors, office workers and patients all adored her. How could you not? She would cuddle and coddle to everyone's hearts content, but if someone needed a good scolding, she didn't hesitate to provide it. I had several people in college notice my picture of her in a collage by my door and recognize her. An instant bond was there -- all because my Nana was their "Ma Carter."

Now I must go and figure out the best time to call Nana to wish her well for another year. This is going to require some serious planning. She has sunday school, church, her best friend of 60 odd years taking her out to lunch, friends coming over in the afternoon, dinner at my parents, cake with various people after dinner... Oh who cares. She'll love chatting with me whenever I call.

I love my Nana.


a vampire perhaps?

Michael loves to sink his teeth into things. He doesn't let go either whether it's Kari's arm, Rick's leg, his shirt... We're very disturbed by this.

This morning he grabbed a cereal bar out of his basket and came running to me while waving it above his head. "Mom, open this, please." After I calmly informed him that he needed to wait until I finished cooking breakfast for everyone else, he looked up at me and said, "But my teeth really want to bite this now. They can't wait."


did you hear the thud?

The Raiders were humiliated by the Rams this afternoon. Thoroughly humiliated. Going into today's game the Raiders had a 3 and 0 record against the Rams. The Raiders were pumped and confident until the Rams got hold of them and refused to let go.

At the halfway point of the first half, the Rams scored on short pass from Patrick to Brian that Brian ran for an additional 40 yards down field. Randall kicked the field goal. Rams 7, Raiders 0. The Raiders' coach went nuts. He accused the referee (who is also the commissioner) of cheating in favor of the Rams. He even had the audacity to tell his team to forget pulling the flags -- "Just yank on their shirts. It's not necessary to pull the flag." Needless to say the referee was not too happy with the coach's lack of good sportsmanship nor with the tactics he was encouraging his players to use.

During the second half the Rams came in psyched up to win. They were confident, but not cocky. They were filled with purpose and focused solely on the game. The Raiders came in a bit discombobulated. Their coach was forbidden to coach them on the field, instead all plays were being conveyed thru the assistant coach.

Coach Rossman of the Rams was determined to try new plays to get all of the players involved in the offense instead of relying on Brian and Oliver to score. Rick was selected to go out wide and shallow for a pass. Rick was so shocked that he caught it that he almost forgot to fun with the ball. Somehow he managed to gain an additional 20 yards before being tackled. On the next play, Mike J. caught a 5 yd pass for 6. Mike T. scored on the 2 point conversion. Rams 15, Raiders 0.

The Raiders had never been down by 2 touchdowns. Never. They were shell-shocked. They decided not to give up though. They desperately wanted the win. But you can't win when you repeatedly get called for off-sides (5 yd penalty), unsportsmanlike conduct (15 yd penalty), illegal blocking (5 yd penalty, TD called back). Then they made a stupid decision -- pass the ball to a receiver who had 3 men on him. Brian intercepted the ball on the 40 and ran it back 50 yards. A Raider defender forced him out on the 10.

The Rams took 4 plays to score before Brian connected with Nick P in the endzone. Nick managed to not draw a penalty on this TD (he's notorious for celebrating) although he did run over to make sure his mom noticed that he scored. Laura was excited to yell, "I saw! I saw! I saw!" Randy missed this extra point. Rams 21, Raiders 0.

On the kickoff, the Raiders bobbled the ball and only ran it back 4 yds. Time ran out while they were in the huddle.

Rams advance to the next round of the play-offs. They'll be facing the Hurricanes -- the number 1 flag football team in the league. The Hurricanes are undefeated and have only had one team score against them all season. Which team? The Rams of course.

We could be talking Super Bowl.

On a pathetic note:
The parents of the Raiders players need to take a good hard look in the mirror and recognize that they are not teaching their children good sportsmanship by denigrating the other team, constantly complaining to the refs, not to mention the use of foul language. They also need to understand that these games aren't all about winning. This league was set up to allow these kids to learn about football, the joy of competing and as a way to meet other kids with similar interests. I was upset to see parents throwing hats down on the ground and stomping on them when the Rams scored. I was angry when those parents stomped off after the game grumbling about how the game was stolen from their kids by the ref. What are their children learning from them when they do this? Would you want to continue playing if your parents reacted like this?

More football:
Duke was once again humiliated. This time Maryland was the one jumping on the Devils and rubbing their faces in the orange clay of NC. Bet they are counting the days until basketball season in Durham.

Davidson totally destroyed Wesley this afternoon -- 31 to zip. The Wildcats don't play close games. They either blow out the opposition or are in turn blown out. Currently the Cats are in third place in their division of the Pioneer League.

Virginia is currently being tortured by Georgia Tech. At half-time the Hoos are down 23 to 0. How embarassing!

Speaking of the blush of shame ... how do you think FSU is feeling about now?

And what was the deal with the WV fans booing their team whenever they didn't convert on third down? Their expectations were a bit high, don't you think? After all the Hurricanes are the top-ranked team in the nation.

No "must see" games on tv for me this evening. After Robert goes to work I'm going to pop some corn, sit on my bed and watch Trading Spaces. At least 2 of the kids will be there beside me. The entire family is addicted.


Happy Birthday, Jordan!

Jordan turned 3 today! Hurray!

Jordan is a sweet-looking, curly-haired little girl. So sweet. So innocent. So snuggable. But don't be fooled! Beneath her peaches and cream exterior lurks a mischievious child. She's smart and stubborn and thoroughly adorable. Just like my Michael.

Three year olds are such fun!


Kari feels put upon

Twice a year we update and change around the chore sheets. The kids choose their chores from a list that we made up as a family of things that must be done on a regular basis around the house. Last time Kari was the lucky person who chose first.

Now Kari's eyes are bigger than her stomach. We all know that means too much food on the plate and not too much in the tummyy. Everything just looked too delicious to pass up. Kari's approach to chores is pretty much the same. She chose things like recycling, feeding the animals, watering the garden, helping in the kitchen, vacuuming the hallway and straightening the bathroom. No matter how big we print her checklist, how many times we remind her, how many times I end up putting the recycling in her room (visual reminder) -- she just doesn't seem to be able to keep up with it.

Talk about frustration. She just had a minor meltdown about the recycling.

"Where does all this come from?" big wail and tears streaming down her face.

"The paper comes from the newspapers we read every morning. You haven't recycled them for 4 days even though I pile them up very neatly next to the door. The cans come from stuff I've used in baking and soda. The same for the bottles. You just wait until the end of the week before you even think about putting them in the bins."

"No I don't! I do this every single day."

"Really? Let me show you something, Kari." This is where I picked up an empty olive oil bottle and showed her the little sticker with Tuesday's date written on it.

My daughter growled at me. She really did. A deep, rumbling, from the gut kind of growl. The kind of growl that if you heard in the woods you'd be petrified -- afraid to run and afraid to stand still. "Do you not trust me to do the recycling, Mom?"

"I don't trust you to do the recycling in a timely manner. Now it's 10am and the recycling truck will be here in 15 minutes. Get a move on, little girlie."

Stomp, stomp, stomp. Papers fluttering everywhere. "I am so put upon."

Michael's little ears perked up at this phrase. He started singing the song from a Thomas the Tank Engine episode. "Kari's been put upon, put upon, put upon. Kari's been put upon. Poor old Kari."

Needless to say Kari was not amused.



another saturday

Today could be the final game of the season for the Rams. First round of the playoffs, single elimination, they are playing the Raiders -- a team that seems to have the Rams' number. Rick will once again be rotating with Michael from center to guard. On the defensive side of the ball he'll be playing defensive end. Wish the Rams luck!

Kari and I will be finishing up her Halloween costume this afternoon. I certainly hope that football won't be too distracting. Kari is going as what we would call a good witch, although perhaps the more proper term would be a healer. She'll even be carrying an embroidered pocket with her medicinal herbs bundled up inside.

And I simply must go to the grocers. My MIL was shocked at how little was in my fridge. Did she look in my pantry or my freezer? Good thing she didn't. I'd probably be missing a few meals. My MIL likes my crepes and Rick's meat loaf and my blueberry muffins....

How to get everything done and still watch my football games on tv, do the laundry and ironing, walk the Tobadiah 3 times, fix dinner and watch the kids... If only Robert didn't work all but 8 hours of today....

BTW Rick woke up at 11:12am yesterday. I wasn't too far off with my guess of 11.21am.


free day

Rick has no school today. He's taking full advantage and has slept in for 2 hours so far. I'm wondering how long it will be before the Sleeping Prince awakens. To play fair I have to keep Sir Michael Jumps-a-Lot off of Rick's bed. If I were a betting woman, and I am, I'd bet that he'll wake up around 11:21am.

We always have a project for these teacher workdays. Today's is repainting a screen that I made 10 years ago from 3 hollow-core doors. We're going for a Matisse-look. Think of his Icarus painting. Rick is sketching out 3 different versions: one to represent him, one for Kari and one for Michael. I'm thinking this could be really cool and quite the focal point. Right now, my art work is a focal point in the entry and in the living room. Since I'm not an accomplished artist by any means, this is kind of funny.

Until Rick awakens, I'll nose around other's blogs and make ornaments for our Christmas trees. I need lots of ornaments since we have 6 trees.


the big discussion: the meeting

aka at the river styx
I find it vastly annoying to have to sit in an office and explain to the principal that (1) our son is highly intelligent, (2) has aspergers syndrome (he had never heard of it), (3) his scores do not reflect his potential or even what he has learned and (4) that Richard is suicidal and is just escaping hospitalization. My frustration level increased when the principal walked out of the meeting without an "Excuse me, I'll be right back." We didn't see him for the rest of the meeting either.

And then there's talking out of the side of the mouth. How do these people live with themselves at night? We asked that Rick be mainstreamed ASAP in literature and with the next change in math curriculum (2 weeks). "Great! Fine! Glad to do it!" Ten minutes later -- a different story. "We can't move him into the math without testing him. His scores were too low to place him on grade level." Yet he was able to make an "A" in the pre-req class? Umm, what's the problem here? When we asked how soon he could be re-tested they said they could start on Monday. By the end of the meeting they were backing down and saying that moving him into the mainstream lit class and starting testing would be too much for him to handle, perhaps after Thanksgiving would be better.

I do have to say that his teacher was wonderful and completely willing to do whatever it takes to get him full-time into her class. She suggested various modification plans that would work with Rick's learning style and his personality. She wants to build on Rick's trust in her and their student-teacher relationship. She started crying when she found out that Rick was suicidal. Everyone else has been like "I so don't see that. You must be lying."

Dr. H. had to work hard to get the concessions that we did. He told them that he would be waiting for their written out contract of what we discussed and also would be keeping in weekly contact with them to make sure that these things were done. He stressed that Rick is a very fragile person at this stage in his development, that we do not have much leeway for error or second-guessing.

Afterwards Dr. H, Robert and I had a brief chat about how the meeting went. Dr. H doesn't feel confident in the school. Like us and my parents, he feels that they are too strict about sticking to certain rules even if it is to the detriment of the student. This is a bad situation for any child. For a child like Rick the rigidity can be disastrous.


the big discussion, the introduction

Today at 11:30 we meet with Rick, his psychologist, his teachers, his principal and the director of the school. Won't this be fun?


Rick is having severe difficulties in school and at home. We have worked with him for years to help him be able to function socially with his peer group. We saw great improvement during the early part of this year. More importantly Rick did.

At the end of last school year Rick had been mainstreamed, his grades were high (highest average in the school), he'd skipped a grade. Things were peachy. At the beginning of this school year we were told that his test scores had plummeted and that because of this and his misbehavior at the end of the last school year he would be having a split day between the "normal" school and the school for "OHI" or difficult students. What?!

Since then Rick's grades have slipped, his self-esteem is almost non-existant (other than on the football field) and he's expressing suicidal thoughts. We have asked the school repeatedly what he needs to do in order to be mainstreamed. We have pointed out that he needs specifics, that their mission statement declares that they teach to the individual not the group, that his relationships with his peers are suffering. No response other than the standard "We love Richard. Richard is so intelligent."

That brings us to the meeting this morning. Rick has been really talking suicide. We have to be on our toes 24/7. He can't be left alone. We're all exhausted. His doctors believe that Rick has run out of ways to cope with the situation and is talking trash to get a reaction and the help he needs. This is the only reason he hasn't been hospitalized. Will the school officials still throw out generic statements without any intentions to truly help him academically and socially (something we are paying $13000 a year for!)? How will they react to having a psychologist present and a psychiatrist on the speakerphone? Will we be able to goad them into action? After all they are way too content with their inaction -- especially since it brings in $$$.

NOTE: We recognize that ultimately Rick is responsible for his own actions. We recognize also that the majority of the responsibility for Rick's education -- academic and social -- is on our shoulders. However, state law requires Rick to attend school for 6 hours a day, 180 days a year. We have little control over this environment. We are struggling to gain more control and to hold the school to it's promise of an education based on the students needs, talents and intelligence as well as to providing the social skills classes for which we are paying.


quick! she needs oxygen

Kari is still cough*gasp*wheezing away. Until last night I never considered that these asthma episodes are causing brain damage, but now I know that it's a definite possibility.

We were discussing political advertising, signs in particular. With the upcoming elections signs are breeding faster than cockroaches. "JEB", "vote for ART", "McBride/Rossman", "I'm not just a politician, I am also a lawyer ..." are to be found taped to windows, stapled to trees, small signs, large billboards. They are everywhere.

Kari wanted to know who Jeb is. What?! Bush vs McBride has been a huge topic in this household and Kari has even popped out with her own commentary. How could she not know who Jeb is? For a brief second I was able to comfort myself with the thought that Kari was in her oblivious mode, but no, she had to disabuse me of that notion.

"Is he like Madonna? He only has one name. Is he going to be singing somewhere?"

Brain cells have most definitely been killed off recently.

Rick just had to ask, "Who is George Walker Bush, Kari?"

"I don't know. Does he play for the Dolphins?"

Rick cackled. Michael snored away. Kari looked confused. I just beat my head against the steering wheel and thanked the gods that be that I had a red light.

"Kari, who is president of the United States?"



"Who is governor of Florida?"

"Janet Reno probably, but that's cause Elian isn't old enough. Hey, Mom, is George Herbert Walker Bush the father of George Walker Bush?"

Thank goodness the light turned green.



I adore snow. I miss walking in it, making snowcream and snowforts. I miss snowball fights with my Aunt Evelyn and washing my brother's face with the icy white stuff.

Yesterday Richard and Steph were laughing about the forecast of snow for the New England area. I was simply jealous. Snow hasn't thought about attempting to fall here in South Florida since 1979. A record 3 flakes fell that year. School was cancelled.

Steph very kindly shared NH's first snowfall with me this morning. Kari is convinced that this is a fake background.

So keep in mind that for Yule -- a good snowstorm is more than welcome.


deep breath

whistle... wheeze... gasp...wheeze... cough... wheeze...

The family lungs are on strike today. They have no desire to do more than a half-baked job at breathing. Rick and Michael are wheezing. Robert has had to use his inhaler more than usual. Kari is at home today.

All humans in this household have asthma. A bit ridiculous I know. We all have different inhalers so that we don't get confused and use someone else's. Until this summer I gloated about being the only one in our family that didn't have asthma. Boy was I wrong. Mine isn't too bad. Most likely allergy related. (Yeah, an allergy to South Florida).

Kari's asthma is the most difficult to deal with. When she has an episode, she has a MAJOR episode. Once we even had to hire a nurse to come relieve us. Kari was incapable of moving. She just wasn't getting enough oxygen into her body. Nothing like seeing a 4 year old with an oxygen mask. She checks her breathing with a peak flow meter twice a day -- religiously. She's been hovering at the lower end of green. This morning she was at the lower end of yellow. Out comes the nebulizer. Obviously her inhaler isn't getting enough of the albuterol into her lungs.

Our nebulizer is affectionately referred to as Darth Vader. That whole weird breathing sound thing. Anyhow after her first treatment, Kari is now in the lower third of the yellow. Her lungs are functioning a bit better. Now to get some hot tea into her and wait another 4 hours to give her another treatment.


to pass the time

What Obscure Animal are you?


recipe worth trying

Steph is always sending me drool-worthy recipes. I have hundreds of must-try dishes on the back-burner. Steph also seems to instinctively know when I'm trying to figure out how to use up something creatively. How she knew about that 5 lb bag of apples, I'll never know, but there's a delicious cake on my counter due to her insight.


4 cups fresh apples, diced
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts or pecans)
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg

Mix together apples and sugar and let stand for 1 hour. Sift together flour, baking soda and spices. Beat eggs and add along with oil and vanilla to apple mixture. Stir in flour mixture and nuts to apple mixture. Bake in a greased, tube pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees. (This is very moist, spicy and WONDERFUL - add a spoonful of whipped cream, 'Cool Whip' or vanilla ice cream on top and a cup of hot tea and listen for the oohs and aahs)!

And there will be oohs! and aahs! Believe me. If you like gingerbread and you like apples, you'll like this cake.


run-of-the-mill violence and terrorism

Each time I turn on the television to watch the news, I am appalled. Murders, beatings, bombings, kidnappings predominate. Even watching the weather report is uncomfortable. Meteorologists seek out the violent storms to share with viewers -- even if those storms are thousands of miles away.

Politics and religion are hot buttons for many of us. Fortunately the majority of our population would never consider bombing a heavily populated location, blowing ourselves up or taking others hostage to make our point. Thankfully most of us understand that this violence does not help our case, instead our frustration with our own ability to help others understand our viewpoint is underscored. Media attention comes our way but does not side with us. Terrorists seek to change how we think and react by resorting to control thru fear.

The D.C. sniper is the current hot media topic. His actions are causing tremendous upheaval in the Maryland-DC-Virginia area. He is acting without apparent rhyme or reason. He is ruling thru fear.

Violence appears to be on the increase in many neighborhoods -- locally and throughout the world. I could babble for days on this violence and how the media exploits this and how we, the people, give in. Instead I'm going to let Richard's comments on violence in our streets speak for me.
I believe that those tranquil places will only be taken over by violence if we allow that to happen. A street does not become truly dangerous until decent people start to avoid walking it. Any park will remain safe as long as families continue to visit and picnic there, and do it with a quiet but firm resolve to keep the peace.

The crack-ridden neighborhoods of the 80's and early 90's have been mostly reclaimed by strong grandmothers and old men who decided, "This was a nice neighborhood and it is still OUR nighborhood. It won't happen here anymore!"

I used to live in a little city that had the highest annual murder rate in the country about 1984. Something like 50-75 murders in a population of 17,000. I know whereof I speak. Today, I could walk those streets safely because of those old ladies who stood on the corners with signs and refused to let it continue.

Terrorists, hah! Lightweights by comparison to gangsta-guys with guns and a big profit-motive. Nutcases will always be among us. Our refusal to let America become Beirut is thanks to its people.

My heart, as yours, goes out in sympathy to those who suffer the loss of loved ones, but we must never accept it as normal and give up.

My parents often express worry about my taking the dog for a walk around the block by myself, whether I do this at night or during the day. I can understand their worry, but only to a point. I feel safe in this neighborhood. The people who live here are friendly and greet me and Toby with a wave and a "hello". Yes, we have had a bit of a problem with vandals, but the damage is immediately fixed. The vandals can't even admire their work.

So, Barbara, I too agree with Richard. We cannot accept violence as normal. We cannot allow the possibility of violence to dictate how we live our lives and whether we should venture out to the store for that gallon of milk. By giving in to fear and paranoia, we would lose our ability to function as a healthy society.

We thrive on hope and possibilities. We wither in the face of unrelenting fear.



Ashland is a small town outside of Richmond. Just a regular suburb with a college, a newspaper, hotels, families and railroad tracks going thru the middle of it all.

But the mad sniper has ruined the tranquility of life there.

The last big bad thing I remember happening there was the measles outbreak of 1990. My brother almost died from the measles that year. My ob/g was worried because I didn't have any immunity to the measles, was 7 months pregnant and had been exposed at just the wrong time. Kirk survived -- although I don't think he's looked at ice quite the same way since the hospital was forced to put him on a bed of the cold stuff. I managed to avoid coming down with the dreaded spots. Rick was born perfect.

All Richmond area schools are closed today. People will be skittering around for days if not weeks. Another safe haven has been shown to be not quite as safe and idyllic as previously thought.

Shattered tranquility.

Terrorism comes to visit and just won't leave.


the weekend is over!

Doing a happy dance. Yes, I'm actually glad a weekend is over. This one sucked in a major way. Illness and I do not get along. I suck at being sick. Just ask my kids and my husband. Heck, even the dog and cats will tell you that I'm a lousy patient -- moaning and sobbing without end.

My mother-in-law called to make sure I was okay and to see if there was anything she could do for me. Wasn't that sweet of her? Her real question was "Are you pregnant? Maybe? Is there a new baby on the way?" Ummm, no! My mother called with the same question. Sheesh.

Let me explain to you how sick I was. I felt so horrible that I missed Rick's football game on Saturday and the Dolphins' game on Sunday. I didn't even watch Trading Spaces. The porcelain gods demanded my constant kneeling and prayers. Seems they have felt neglected by yours truly.

I have paid my dues!!!

Now MY personal weekend can start. Rick and Kari are in school. Robert is off of work. He and Michael can truck on over to Markham Park with Toby and watch the r/c planes for a few hours.


gag and giggle

I'm seriously trying to maintain my sense of humor now, but have you even attempted to do this while puking? It's very difficult. I despise vomiting.

Once upon a time in my oh so distant past, induced vomiting was a ritual. My body image was so distorted that I refused to believe that my weight was normal for my height and build (and the fact that I ran 6 miles and lifted weights daily). Nope, I was tremendously obese. My weight plummeted to under 100 pounds fully dressed, which means I was wearing sweats and sneakers while weighing myself.

My wonderful football coach discovered my vile secret and worked with me daily to overcome the compulsion to puke. I had round-the-clock support. After more than a year of therapy, my bulimia was gone or at least lost somewhere in dieters' hell. I still abuse food upon occasion. It's all about control now though.


This morning I have been praying to the porcelain gods to release their hold on my stomach. I swear they have caused me to pull various muscles in my abdomen and my lower back. Bastards! They even have Michael's tummy in their clutches. Poor baby has only been sick to his stomach one other time in 3 years.

These gods left Frog out of their tortuous equation though. Poor kitty was in the bathroom with me during one prayer session. He was so startled by the "buicking" noise that he tried to flee. He forgot about the door being closed. BAM! He sat down on his furry butt, shook his head and ran again. BAM! This time he fell right over, shook himself off again and then proceeded to run circles around the bathroom.

Have you ever tried to laugh while vomiting? If it ever happens to you, make sure you have lots of tissue on hand for you and a sponge for the tile.

I now have the world's most sparkling white bathroom.


Happy Birthday, Alexa!

Alexa is 3 today. You must love all October babies. They are the absolute best. I'm not biased in the least. Anyway ...

Alexa is an old soul living in a toddler's body. When she looks at you, you just know she has your number. At least she doesn't call you on it! She's a caring child and very sensitive. Hopefully the world's stressors won't change this about her. Her mom is raising her to respect herself and her environment.

May Grandmother Moon help guide her thru life's twists and turns. May Mother Earth always nurture her physically and emotionally. May the rays of Sister Sun always reach her -- even on the gloomiest of days.

We love you, Lexie!


Happy Birthday, Dad!

My father is one of the coolest guys on this planet. Don't equate cool with hip either. Dad is so far from current that it is almost funny. BUT he is lots of fun, not judgemental, knows way too much about lots of odd things and he looks like Fred Flintstone. The only negatives I could say about my Dad is that he is ridiculously stubborn and absurbly afraid of anyone in the medical profession. We're talking he'd rather not be able to see than to go thru cataract surgery.

Dad taught me to think. Okay, Mom did this too, but Dad is the one who truly opened my eyes to the different sides of an issue. He taught me to question everything and encouraged my curiosity. I was even once compared to him by one of my professors: "You remind me of one of my former students. Your minds are agile enough to grasp anything and you are intelligent enough to graduate in the top 5 of your class, but you refuse to knuckle down and concentrate on your academics. You spend too much time socializing and involved in sports." When I inquired as to who that student was, Professor R. told me. He had a good laugh to about comparing me to my father unintentionally.

Life is about more than what you know. It's about enjoying life and the constantly changing dynamics of everything around you. We should never stop nourishing our minds and our mental skills, but our true growth comes from living.

Now remind me to tell you about my wonderful irritating mother sometime.

{Ooh, bad daughter. Dad's birthday was actually yesterday, but I was too caught up in life to include him on my blog. Oh the shame of it.}


climbing out

Okay I am refusing to dwell on the negative possibilities. They are way too scary and depressing. I promise myself to live moment by moment and to enjoy these moments. I do this for Rick, my family and for myself.


and down came the rain

Taking Toby for a walk is always an adventure. This morning was actually quite boring. He was just ambling along, following his nose. I was strolling alongside him, enjoying the 70 degree temperature. All of a sudden a gust of wind brought us a soaking rain.

I discovered Toby hates the rain.

Since we were walking away from our house at that moment, Toby jerked back on his leash and popped his collar right off. As I stare dumbly at the empty collar, Toby is hightailing it to our front door. He howled and yowled until Rick opened the front door to find out what was going on. Toby bursts thru the door, skids across the tile floor and falls into the carpeted hallway. Rick is knocked aside and almost on his butt. I walked up to the front door, made sure everyone was okay, then sat out front and watched the rain.

I love the rain.


holding pattern

Round the clock surveillance -- this is what my life is right now. I seem to have become the coordinator for this effort. The responsibility is pushing me down into the itchy Florida sand. Robert is grounchy beyond belief. Rick is trying to be Mr. Sunshine, but he's so bad at pretending that it's painful to watch. Kari has retreated into her books. Michael is in "hold me" mode.

Why does it seem that the mom always gets stuck holding on to everything?


ripping our hearts out

Rick is having the worst week. He's mired in depression and raging against the world in general and himself in particular. All we can do is love him and offer our support. We have to be careful to not step into the role of enabler. Currently I'm sitting around waiting for my phone to ring with Dr. H's return call.

A portion of Rick's message on the bathroom mirror: "... my life sucks ... I will die ..."

I wish that I could twitch my nose and his life would miraculously be righted.


trick or treat

Fall is here. Temperatures have dropped into the mid- to upper-80s. Summer is gone. Time for the blonde hair to go also.

My hair went from dark blond with lighter highlights to brown last night. Quite shocking. I scared myself this morning when walking into the bathroom: who is that dark-haired person in the mirror? My trio of dragons weren't phazed in the least. They are too used to my ever-changing hair color.

My neighbors aren't. Yet.

Toby and I were out for our morning constitutional, enjoying the colors of sunrise, when one of my neighbors trotted up with her lab mix puppy. She greeted Toby with a pat on the head and a "Good morning, Toby." To me she says, "Wow, you and your sister really look alike. You could be twins if it weren't for your hair."

My sister? I have a sister? "Where did you meet my sister? Were you up in Raleigh recently?"

Total confusion clouded her face before she peered a bit closer. "Eliz?"

Perhaps I'll avoid red for Yule this year.


injury report

Everyone knows how I feel about Fiedler. Perhaps I'm just blind, but I fail to see the greatness in him that so many others do. I'm not even comparing him to Marino either! While I'm very sorry that he's injured and his broken thumb requires surgery, I'm ecstatic that Ray Lucas is getting a chance to show what he can do. There will be major pie in my face if Lucas doesn't perform, but who cares! Lucas will get a fair shot to prove himself.

Dad thinks he is the world's punniest person. This is what he sent me in regards to Fiedler's injury.
Next Monday's headline: Ray Fiedlers While Jay Burns
I'm sure he'll be sending more my way over the next month.



Horrible day in school for the Rickster. He cried, he sobbed, he yelled, he refused to do work. Did they call us? No.

Horrible afternoon at home for Sir Rick. His parents asked him to -- gasp! -- finish his schoolwork. They told him no tv until he finished what he had refused to do at school. Horrors! Rick began steaming when caught in a lie.
"I finished my work. I'm gonna watch the Simpsons now."

"May I see your homework?"

"No. Because I didn't finish it. OKAY!"

"Please finish it first."


Off Rick stomps to his room. He comes back out with a much tattered math workbook and a page of completed problems. None of which were correct. He shoves the notebook in Robert's face. He throws his calculator at Robert and hits him in the eye. Much shouting follows these actions. Rick denying that he did it. Umm, hello, I saw the whole thing! Robert has a bruise to prove the calcutor introduced itself to his eye. Rick maintains still that he nicely and politely handed everything to his father.

What are we going to do with him? He refuses to admit that he ever makes a mistake. He has great difficulties learning things that do not interest him in the least. If it doesn't involve history, art or architecture -- he could care less. Argh!

Suggestions anyone?


Q-tip needed here

Richard is not an idiot. He is an extremely intelligent 12 year old. His brain just moves too fast upon occasion. Yesterday was one of those times. His friend 'Bastian was coming over for the day. An hour after he was to have arrived, Richard called him to find out where in the heck he was. 'Bastian's dad -- Alan -- is NEVER late.

What Richard heard via the phone line: Alan had to call the police to the house to break up a cat fight. Yup, 'Bastian's mother and one of her best friends were clawing each other's eyes out. Big, loud, limbs flailing scene. They'd be here as soon as the cops had carted the battling women off and dumped them in the pool to cool down.

Robert and I were totally confused at this. "J" is a sweetheart. Very quiet and gentle. We were a bit flabbergasted at the image being painted of her by our son.

What actually happened: An old friend of 'Bastian's mother had overstayed her welcome. When "J" told her she couldn't continue parking herself in their house, this friend refused to leave. "J" and her now former friend got into a major yelling match. Alan called the police to escort the woman and her belongings off their property and to a neutral location to allow her to cool down and come to her senses.

Richard's version was definitely much more exciting.



This is where I admit to falling asleep after Jason Elam managed to put the ball thru the uprights with less than 2 minutes remaining. Yes, sleep just invades quickly where I'm involved. Didn't know that the Dolphins won until I read the paper this morning.



This was such a ridiculous football weekend for me.

Saturday there were 3 games I wanted to follow. Of course all three were playing simultaneously. Now how to do this ... Ah! I kicked the kids out of the family room. Their behavior would be too distracting to my gameplan. TV on, computer on, away message up. I watched the UM-FSU game on TV, listened to the Georgetown-Davidson game and followed the line from UVA-Clemson game. My complete attention was required!

UM never truly showed up for their game. They had to wait and pray til the final seconds ticked off the clock. Davidson showed up for theirs, unfortunately they lost in the final minutes to a better prepared Georgetown team. But UVA didn't let me down at all. I'm extremely impressed with Groh's young team -- and they are young! Besides, it's always fun to beat Clemson.

Robert yelled "Get your head out of your ass" so many times during the UM game that he was forbidden to utter that particular phrase during the Dolphin-Bronco contest. He was not amused in the least by my decree. I told him he needed to stretch his mind and come up with more creative turns of phrase. He surprised himself with how creative he could be. Unfortunately I can't remember any of his new phrases. I was too busy laughing at just how well he can string together words to insult the idiots on the field.

Did anyone else watch this game? Can someone please explain to me why the announcers like Fiedler so much? Please? I just don't see it.

Poor Ricky Williams. He has had two sub-100 yds in rushing for 2 consecutive games. At least we are getting to see that he is more than a running back. He can catch and run too. And what is with Patrick Surtain wanting everyone to pronounce his name in a new way? Have we been mispronouncing it for years and he just gathered the guts to inform us of the error of our tongues? Mare needs a swift kick. So does Todd Wade. Robert Edwards needs more playing time. Chris Chambers took a nasty hit during the game. Hopefully he will quickly recover from his concussion and the jackass that hit him will be fined again for helmet-to-helmet hitting. Shall we up the fine to $20,000 for him? How about 3 downs and you're out? I think Gadsden was a bit shocked on one catch. He was able to catch the ball without 2 or 3 defenders trying to pull him down. He actually was able to run for a few yards after he snared the ball.

Have I mentioned recently how much I adore Sam Madison? Is there any other player out there who is more fun to watch?



My dream life is active. My husband is amazed at how I'm able to remember at least several dreams from the previous night.

Last night I dreamed that our bed was floating in the ocean: calm waters, cloudless skies, messy covers. Anyway that wasn't the bizarre part. In my dream I was balancing backwards on my toes at the edge of my mattress (how is this even possible?), my arms outstretched and then I did a beautiful backward dive with a flip and a twist. First, I don't like swimming, don't know how, therefore diving is not in my realm of knowledge. Second, although I like walking along the beach, getting in the ocean is not pleasant. I get itchy and develop a rash. Third, where were my pillows?

In another dream there were horses pulling a wagon along the road. They stopped at a shady intersection to let another horse trot through on his way somewhere. That's the extent of this dream, but I'm sitting here listening to Toby lick and nibble at his front paws and I realize what provoked this dream. Toby must've been laying on the floor next to our bed, cleaning his paws and making these strange noises.


Happy Birthday, Michael!

Oh no, our baby is 3 today. Is this possible? I may have to sit down and wail.

Michael is developing into an extremely independent person. He believes that he can do anything as long as it doesn't involve pouring milk into a glass -- Mommy is his designated milk pourer. He uses words that are hysterical coming out of his "oh so young" mouth.
"How are you feeling today, Michael?" asks Dr. H.
"Discombobulated." Michael had gone to sleep in his own bed and when he woke up from his nap he was at the doctor's.

"Do you understand me, Michael?" Robert and I frequently ask.

"Aaaah! Michael, what is this scribble on the wall?" wailed his mommy just last night.
Michael comes running down the hall with a marker still in his grasp, "Abstract art, Mommy. Do you like it?"

Michael is a joy. Exhausting, but a joy.



Woke up on the wrong side of the bed, was dragged out the front door by Toby, almost fell on my face. I looked up into a gorgeous pastel sky and noticed that the clouds were giving me the finger. I swear they were. That action is too recognizable to mistake - even after numerous eye-rubs.


raiders run over rams

The Raiders are not undefeated -- except against the Rams. The team we are playing on Wednesday is the #1 team in the league. The Raiders are a mere 4 - 4. Okay, so after today they are 5 - 4. The Rams drop to 6-3 but hold onto 2nd place.

If only Patrick didn't have tickets to today's UM-FSU game and could have been there to QB. If only Oliver could have contorted his body a bit more on two of his runs, he would have definitely scored. If only Brian hadn't been spun around by the Raiders (a 360 is illegal in flag). If only Rick could have been a split second faster when pulling the QB's flag. If only that one pass at the end hadn't been intercepted on the goal-line. If only the Rams hadn't lost 14-7.

But games aren't won with "if onlys".

That's okay, the Hurricanes won't expect a high pressure system to descend and blow them out to the North Atlantic.


are the skies black up there?

If they are, I'm sorry. My mood is so foul that I seem to be affecting the weather patterns in this part of the world.

Let me give you an idea of how black my mood is. I actually called my husband at work to warn him. He has received sufficient warning to tread lightly. When he asked why in a voice syrupy with concern, I snapped "because our youngest son is a BRAT!" then hung up on him. He took the hint and didn't even attempt to call back.

How could a sweet and cherubic almost 3 y.o. taint the optimistic and happy mood I was in at sunrise? Easy. Act like a typical toddler. He coloured on walls, he dumped his books on the floor, he pulled the cats' tails, he tried to ride Toby, he climbed under and over everything in the bookstore, he wanted to taste-test all the fruits and veggies at the grocers... If you need more reasons, I will gladly grab you by your collar and shout them in your face.

Perhaps the highlight of my day was when he informed a salesman at a card shop that I am a fire-breathing dragon. Wonder why ...


blog hopping

There are days when I hop merrily from blog to blog. Nosiness is part of my personality.

While skipping along, I found a blog that had quoted one of my posts. To top this off, my fellow blogger is also a fellow South Floridian! Wow! Never have I run into someone else from down here while out on one of my jaunts.

If you get a chance, pop over and visit. This diva is always in. She'll give you a completely different view of this part of Florida. She's a single mom who works in the oh so glamorous area known as South Beach. You must read her entry on "Club Lust". I shared her post with a friend who has performed down on SB. Put her into giggles too.


the friday five

1. If you could only choose 1 cd to ever listen to again, what would it be? something by Beethoven

2. If you could only choose 2 movies to watch ever again, what would they be?Sense and Sensibility and Bull Durham

3. If you could only choose 3 books to read ever again, what would they be? the Hobbit, my Jane Austen anthology and my book of Chinese poetry.

4. If you could only choose 4 things to eat or drink ever again, what would they be? tea, New England clam chowder, Mama's pound cake and blueberries. What a gross combination of things!

5. If you could only choose 5 people to ever be/talk/associate/whatever with ever again, who would they be? must lump my kids in as one, Robert, Steph, Kim and Nana

Gods, wouldn't I become a narrow-minded person? Sheesh.

Found out yesterday that I'm referred to as the "lady with that garden" by various people in the neighborhood. Seems they are envious of my blooms. LOL.


on a roll

The Rams' improve their record to 6 and 2 after trouncing the Browns 18 - 0.

Michael M. had several magnificent runs, the longest put the Rams on the 1 yd line. He also performed stupendously on defense. The Browns had no clue as to how to protect their flags from him.

Nick P. scored his first TD on a long pass from Patrick. Nick leaped into the air, pumped his right arm, shouted "yeah!" His spiking the ball and the resulting penalty didn't dampen anyone's spirits.

Patrick, our QB, scored his first rushing TD of the season.

Oliver is stepping up to challenge Brian's rushing superiority. Something clicked in Oliver's brain. He has discovered he can elude defenders while gaining yardage. What a concept!

Brian had his usual solid game. This was the first game where he didn't score a TD, but I can say that he was more excited to see his cohorts score than he is when he does.

Rick is now on of the receivers on kick-off. Scary thought to me. He didn't get to run one back last night, but he did a great job blocking. He sacked the QB at the beginning of the second half and broke up a pass towards the end of the game.

Their next game is Saturday morning -- against an unbeaten team. GO RAMS!!!


coming soon...

pictures of a coincidence LOL

Impatiently waiting, Kim! Gotta have that pic!


lessons learned

When I was little, adults knew everything. Now that I'm an adult, I'm still learning. Total shock. Perhaps I'm not truly an adult yet?

Do not walk the dog past a hedge of crown-of-thorns -- especially if there is any chance that a stray dog or an oblivious armadillo could happen by. Yeouch!

Do not listen to Howard Stern within the hearing range of a three-year-old.

Potty training is a smelly job that somehow only mommy can help with. What is with that? I'm so tired of hearing "Come on, Mom. I have to pee." And if I have to close my eyes and cover my ears while Michael is doing the deed, why do I even need to be there?

When putting aside items to donate to the local women's shelter, do not leave them where the children can see them. This inevitably results in dress-up play and my careful folds becoming a wrinkled mess.

Ay - yi - yi. Anyone want to join me at a pity party? Donuts and coffee will be served. A nice selection of teas is also available. (Yes, Steph, I do have more than Earl Grey on hand -- in the hopes that one day you might visit!)


a pseudo-legitimate excuse

Once a schoolyear I surprise the kids with a "get out of school for a day" note. They love it. Their teachers think I'm nuts. (I am, but still!) Tomorrow is Rick's day to sleep in. He's fairly excited about the prospect of doing absolutely nothing for a day and not having his little sister around to pester him.

Yup ... October 10th is Rick's Mental Health Day. Wanna celebrate with us and veg?


vision quest

Dr. M was able to finish Nana's cataract surgery yesterday. Nana came thru with flying colors THIS time. Thank goodness. He cleaned out the rest of the schmutz that was in there and put in her new lens. After Nana has the surgery done on her other eye, she'll have 20/20 vision.

Mom finds this to be hysterical. Nana and her cronies will have perfect vision in their 80s, while the rest of us are suffering with eyeglasses or contacts. So not fair. One of Nana's buddies who is in her 90s was complaining last week about how she had to give in and go get reading glasses again. Poor baby. She needs reading glasses.

I'm all in a pea-green huff here but very thankful that Nana's vision has been restored. No longer will she have to rely on others to cart her around. She can return to her usual hyperactive lifestyle and her chauffeuring duties.


happy birthday, Kirk!

My little brother is now 33 years old. Where have the years gone? I remember when Mom and Dad brought him home. He was one of those babies that just was not cute in any way. In fact when the nurse told Mom that she had a beautiful baby boy, Mom took one look and replied, "You have to be kidding me!" The nurse was appalled.

But Kirk has grown up more than adequate in the looks department. (He swiped all of them). He's actually intelligent (don't tell him I said that). He's tons of fun to be around -- very outgoing, social, daring -- all the things I'm not.

I adore my baby brother -- even if he is 33 and not a baby anymore.


just want to say...

I paid over $100 for this book 15 years ago! Ticks me off that I loaned it to my roommate who loaned it to someone who loaned it to someone else ... Never saw it again and now I need it. Hmmph. Another fifty some dollars out of my pocket.


potty update

Only one accident yesterday! Way to go, Michael!


ants begone!

Whenever rainfall becomes scarce, ants move into our house. Whenever it rains too much, ants move into our house. Since we live in South Florida where only two seasons happen -- rainy season and dry season -- ants are a major problem.

Kari shoved a chocolate chip waffle into the disposal but failed to -- um -- actually dispose of the waffle. Our various ant colonies thought we were hosting a party just for them. All fifty thousand of them. Horrors!

the ants march in
the ants march out
they carry waffles upon their snouts
they see each crumb
as a gourmet's delight
that must be gathered
for future nights.

Robert blasted them away this morning. We had to go away from the house for 3 hours while the smoke "bombs" did the dirty work for us.

At least Toby had a blast at the park and was able to socialize with several other dogs. Sheba was coldly polite. Sammy was simply rude. Toby didn't care. He chattered away at them and sniffed them all over.


minding his 'pees & poos'

After 3 years of changing his diapers, I'm putting a halt to the whole diapering process. That's it. Michael knows when he has to go. He gets everything ready on the bed beforehand. He simply wants to maintain status quo.

Michael is now out of diapers. Completely out. Not a diaper is to be found anywhere in this household. Nope. Not a single one.

We have a potty chair in the family room... one in the laundry room... those insert thingies on the toilet seats in the bathrooms. Michael is unable to argue that there is no where to go. He has more options than the rest of us whom have been trained for years. We even have 16 pairs of underwear for him. He has no choice but to grow up and use the toilet.

Why do I get the feeling that Michael will be torturing me all week for this?



The men in my life just don't pay any attention to the general silliness that surrounds a football game. The comments made by various spectators are just as entertaining as what is occuring on the field. They add color to what can sometimes be a lackluster sport. The intense debates that can result from a seemingly minor comment are amazing.

Richard and Robert were instructed to share Bubba's observations. Since I failed to specify game, I was treated to off-color ones. Yes, they were hysterical, but still -- not quite what I was looking forward to all afternoon. Now I realize that instead of calling Robert on the cellphone throughout the game, I should have been calling Bubba.

From Rick: a description of Bubba's spitcup and Asshole's reaction to having to move the spitcup out of the aisle; disappointment that he didn't catch any twizzlers tossed by the TwizzlerMan; wondering why we refer to the Encroacher as the Encroacher.

From Robert: An average-looking woman is walking up the steps and Bubba starts commenting on her breasts and how perfect they are. When Robert looked quizzical, Bubba explained that they were perfect and just how he likes them -- in pairs.

Rick: the weather was perfect for watching a game.

Robert: hottest game so far this season. It was so hot that Bubba's belt started to melt and attached Bubba to the back of his seat.

Now you know why I'll never let anyone go in my place again!


the dolphins win!

The Miami Dolphins!
The Miami Dolphins!
Miami Dolphins Number One!

Steph, I'm so sorry that your Patriots just weren't up to the task.


bob the builder

Hours were spent yesterday cleaning the living and dining rooms. Hours.

This morning I overslept to 7:30, stretched, stumbled from my room into the living room and was rudely jolted awake by the absolute mess before me. Dirt stretched in every direction across what had been a gleaming expanse of white tile. I had visions of Binky and Frog hitting the road with little hobo sacks flung over their shoulders.

Then I looked closer.

The dirt didn't look like what usually happens when the cats get into my potted plants. This was a well-planned road system. A wide road went from the front door to the sliding glass door. A beautifully curving lane crossed from the living room to the dining room. A roundabout created the intersection between the two. Who in the world could be responsible for the destruction of my NCO room and yet clever enough to create these roadways?

Ah, the culprits were hiding under the bench in the foyer: Bob the Builder and Scoop! They were filthy from their endeavors of the morning. But wait! You'll never guess who came to a screeching halt as he was sprinting out of the kitchen with a filled water bucket.

You got it -- Master Michael!


Oh, and in case you missed it --- Happy Birthday, Terri!


my football schedule for the day

9am: Rick's flag football game

10:30am: Messiah's game

NOON: Duke vs UVA -- who do I pull for? Oh yeah ... Go, Hoos! (will also be flipping over to the Maryland-WVA game)

3:30: my only option is the Penn State-Wisconsin game.

I have to listen to the UM game on the radio. Why all the games are on PPV is beyond me! Must wait until tomorrow to see the actual game on tv. That's simply wrong, especially since Rick has asked to go to the Miami-Patriots game with his dad. Waaaah!

Rick caught a pass! Rick caught a pass! Hurray! Now he knows he can catch it -- and in a crowd too! Woohoo!

Rams 25, Seminoles 13. I missed the entire first half since Kari had to be somewhere 2 towns away at kickoff. GRRRR! We were all impressed with Oliver's play today. The boy has been practicing running upfield. But my jaw dented the ground when Oliver broke up three passes in a row. You'd have thought after the first 2 were deflected the other QB would catch a clue. Nope. The highlight of the game came when one of the girls for the Seminoles was flagged for tackling. Beautiful tackle too.

Messiah's game was called due to lightning.


please explain

I was in an accident on 16 August. The next day my poor much dented van was towed to a repair center. We were told yesterday that we could come pick it up around 6. At 6:45 they were still working on it! What's the deal with that?

Robert drove my van from the garage to the football field where Rick was having practice. What did he notice? The tires were underinflated and there are electrical problems. There also wasn't much water in the radiator. Waaaaah! My van has not been completely rehabilitated.

So did those mechanics think we wouldn't notice the flashing lights and the obnoxious dinging sound of a wacky electrical system?

Happy Birthday, Terri!
Happy Birthday, Caitlin!
Happy Birthday, "Big Mama"!

Obviously the 5th of October is a fabulous day to have been born.

Anyone in the mood to iron?


from my window

From my window I can see
Raindrops falling from the sky
Birds flitting from tree to tree
Butterflies sipping nectar
And an armadillo trotting by

"Mommy, can we play in the rain?"


the friday five

1. What size shoe do you wear? a women's 7 or a men's 5

2. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Must we discuss this? I had 3 pairs of shoes 4 months ago, then somehow my shoes multiplied. There are 16 pairs of shoes in my closet now.

3. What type of shoe do you prefer (boots, sneakers, pumps, etc.)?Anything without a back. I must be able to kick them off easily.

4. Describe your favorite pair of shoes. Why are they your favorite? My Birks. Comfort, easy to kick off. Duh!

5. What's the most you've spent on one pair of shoes? Hmmm. Probably $80 for a pair of riding boots that were 50% off. I refuse to buy shoes at full price.



Hurray! My van will be ready to pick up tomorrow afternoon. Hurray! Of course the problem is that I don't have anyone to take me to retrieve my much-missed van. Waaaaaaah! Robert is simply going to have to leave work early. I need transportation!

Woohoo! I'm going to have my wheels back.


to cheer myself up

Must write about something amusing. My mood is too foul for words.

Tuesday morning at 6:15 Toby and I were cruising around the neighborhood. Since he woke me up from a sound sleep, I was walking in my pjs, no shoes on my feet and a much faded NCAA hat on my head. I was simply gorgeous. Toby was too energetic for me -- lunging and ai-ooing at anything that moved. A lady came out of her house a few driveways away from us. She seemed a bit concerned about her robe. She kept looking down to make sure that it stayed closed as she toted her garbage out to the swale. When she bent over to put her garbage down, we were mistreated to a view of her bare bum. NOT a pretty sight. She was extremely embarassed when she straightened and realized that there were other people outside. She glared at me and then informed me that appearing in public without a bra was gauche. If that wasn't the pot calling the kettle black ...

Michael has discovered that he can crawl underneath our bed and pet the cats who cower under there. Yesterday he became stuck. Yep, his diaper became hooked on something and he was stuck. I laughed for the longest time. His little muffled voice kept insisting that nothing was funny.

We like to play "that looks like" in this family. Yesterday in the grocery store Michael pointed to a box of Fruity Pebbles and exclaimed, "Look! Kupa's picture is on dat box!" So nice to know that I'm not the only one who recognizes the resemblance.

Feeling a bit smilier now.


tripping thru life

Becoming more organized is my goal. For the past month I've been very conscious about how I'm doing things and working on improving.

Now what is going on with the rest of the clan? Is it truly necessary to leave all the cabinet doors open? Must they move the kitchen chairs around and to places where it's guaranteed I'll come around the corner a bit too fast and fall over them? And how many pairs of socks do the males in my life own?

Yesterday afternoon I was concentrating on what Michael was babbling about to me as we were walking in the front door. I failed to note that Rick and Kari had simply dumped their backpacks immediately on stepping inside. Now they never do this, so why did they feel the need to do so yesterday? Even Toby and Frog were rolling on the floor laughing at me. I was writhing in pain that was stabbing thru my hip, my arm and shoulder. Michael asked if the men were coming to take me to 'spital.

Wonder how the kids are going to feel when the come home and discover all their scattered books, clothes and toys have been put in plastic bags and stored up in the attic until further notice.


little boy blue

I have a horrible tendancy to lecture. This morning I lectured Michael on how important it is to pick up his trains (Toby likes to chew on them). I must have been extraordinarily long-winded.

Michael looked up at me and very seriously said, "Shut your pie-hole, Mom, bitte!"

He spent three minutes on the boring time-out bench and then had to pick up his trains. I put them out of his reach.

No child of mine will get away with being disrespectful to an adult!

Now shut YOUR pie-hole. Your giggling is plucking my last nerve.


thud OUCH thud OUCH thud ...

The walls are reverberating from my head repeatedly slamming into them. How can people be so dense?

I discussed many of our concerns about Rick's education with the director this morning. I was very nice. My parents would have been so proud of my restraint. Hopefully my point was well made.

*Stanford 9 scores have dropped more than 50% over the past 2 years.
*writing skills have not improved.
*critical thinking has not been a focus.
*placed in a lower math class despite a solid performance the previous year.
*a teacher told him that he must teach to the class as a whole and not to the individual. This is contrary to the school's mission statement.

The last issue was addressed within an hour of our discussion. Rick is supposed to begin a math independent study tomorrow. Should be interesting to see if anything else is addressed quickly.

Dr. H will be calling them on Monday to schedule a meeting with Rick's teachers, Rick, the director, Robert and myself. I'm constantly amazed at how many words can be spoken without anything of substance being said. Hopefully this meeting will not be one of those times.

Homeschooling here we come.


a gathering storm

Educating Rick has been a tremendous challenge. It will become even more difficult if I cannot get his school to understand that he is suffering irreparable harm in their hands. His current school has done wonders with helping Rick regain his self-esteem and providing a safe environment for him to begin to develop social skills. Last year they mainstreamed him and moved him ahead a grade. He maintained an A average in his courses. His assessment test scores (sat, fcat, etc) dropped sharply though -- from the 99th percentile down into the 30s and 40s.

This year has been skirmish after skirmish. I'm tired of conceding. I allowed them to put Rick back into a remedial math course -- based on his horrible scores. I gave them leave to put him in a lower language arts class so he could work on his writing skills. Bad moves on my part.

He didn't finish his math homework at school, which meant I had the opportunity to go thru his math text. Rick is 12 years old and in the eighth grade. His math text covers basic skills such as multiplication and decimals. No wonder he is bored. Last year he received As in algebra and this year they have him doing this? Where is the logic?

Rick's writing skills are not the best, but he worked hard at his writing over the summer. He wrote in a journal on a daily basis -- not just basic sentences either. He wrote his thoughts, impressions and ideas. His writing is very clear, but the reader becomes bogged down by all his misspellings. (oops! so much for the phonics-only attitude of some of his teachers). The school's director promised me that Rick would be working on his grammar and spelling skills diligently in the language arts class where he was placed. Rick came home in a snotty mood, complaining that he wasn't being given anything challenging.

Turns out that the class he was placed in is reading books far below his reading level (Rick reads and understands at the college level). The teachers ask them various plot questions, no thematic discussions, and their answers are given orally. Perhaps I'm wrong, but usually written skills are developed by writing. Critical thinking is developed by analyzing, not by breaking something apart and putting it into a timeline. The class Rick wants to participate in has to write paragraphs discussing theme development, symbolism, etc. The books are ones I read in high school.

I'm not quite sure what the director and principal of his school is thinking. I'm terrified that when Rick transfers to another school next fall, he'll be far behind his peers. At that point what will happen to all the emotional and self-esteem gains that he has made over the past year?

They've already told me that if we pull Rick out of school, we are legally bound to pay for the rest of the year. My viewpoint is that they have failed to uphold their end of the bargain. They have not provided him with a quality education.


rams over the seminoles

The looks on the boys' faces when they realized that they would be playing girls was worth a thousand words. When they recognized those girls had talent their expressions were priceless.

The Rams and the Seminoles entered tonight's contest with 3 and 2 records. The Rams started without their star player, Brian, who was attending his grandmother's funeral. The star player for the Seminoles had to miss this game because playing would have meant missing cheerleading tryouts. Hey, a girl has to have her priorities. Right?

Brian's absence allowed other players to show off their skills. Nick Parker had an outstanding game. We're talking interceptions, a td and a PAT. Kyle ran half the distance of the field for a TD during the first half and then scored again on a 2 pt conversion. The defensive line for the Rams sacked the Seminoles QB in the own endzone. Safety! Brian did arrive in time to score a third Rams' touchdown by snagging a pass and running 40 yards plus. Nick P. put the ball thru the uprights for a second time.

Final score: Rams 24, Seminoles 0.

But don't be fooled by that lopsided score. If the Seminoles' coaches had looked hard at the offense and noticed what was working and what wasn't, those girls would have romped all over our boys. The coaches allowed the 3 boys on their team to hog the ball and pass only to each other. This play usually resulted in 3 and out for their offense. When the girls were involved, they had outstanding runs. Their ability to bob and weave and therefore elude defenders was truly amazing.

Here's to hoping those coaches leave their blinders on again this upcoming Saturday.

Afterwards the two teams always line up, shake hands and mutter "good game" to each other. Tonight the spectators were treated to an extra flash of entertainment. Two of the girls went thru the line and then did cartwheels, backsprings and other cool moves from the 50 yd line down into the endzone. When they finally stopped spinning, they did hysterically funny imitations of various td celebrations done by NFL players.

Can't you just imagine the expressions of horrified fascination on the boys' faces?

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson