Life on the Ridge
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green friday

Yes, I was stupid.

Robert and I went out this morning at 7 to spend money. We wanted a few things that were on special at Best Buy. What a mistake! We picked up the items within 2 minutes of entering the store. We were on a roll. We skidded to an abrupt halt when we saw the line. It snaked around the store. Robert hopped in line while I wandered around to see if there was anything else we needed. In that 15 minute time frame he made it halfway to the registers. The line was moving quickly!


At first we failed to notice how the line had ground to a halt. We were having too much fun being silly. We eavesdropped on others' conversations and then giggled about them. Okay, I giggled, Robert smirked. The lady behind us started commenting on how ridiculous the wait was. Robert glanced at his watch. We had been in line for over an hour! There was no point in getting out of line at this point -- too much time invested. Plus the items we came in to get were all gone. We didn't feel we would be able to come back in and buy them later.

So we waited, waited and waited some more. Our backs started to ache. Our feet began to throb. We wanted to run out and buy breakfast, but they wouldn't let you bring food in. Although I maintain that if they are going to only open 60% of the registers, they should provide food, drink and chairs to those in line.

After 2 hours in line we saved $60 on our puchases, $80 once the rebate shows up in our mailbox. We agreed that it simply was not worth the time and that we will not be shopping on Green Friday ever again. On the other hand I did almost finish reading James Patterson's Four Blind Mice while standing in that line. I plan on finishing it up in the bookstore this weekend.


rick goes on

Parent/Teacher Conference:
For the first time ever we had a positive conference with a teacher. Ms. Richardson went on about Rick's progress: less backtalk, more cooperative, taking criticism more in stride, fewer meltdowns. She has even been able to get him to work harder at his writing. She referred to his "Thankful" paper as flawless.


Was she talking about our Rick? Our son who cries if his routine is upset, if someone looks at him, if he has to do something he has no interest in? Was she sure? After all Rick's goals in life include avoiding writing a complete sentence and weaseling out of school work.

Ms. Richardson assured us that yes, she was talking about Rick. We went over his grades, his various papers, she actually had hard proof for us. We were so relieved. Rick has a difficult life as it is with being neurologically and emotionally different from other children. We've added the stress of skipping a grade to this. He is more than holding his own.

Psychiatric Appointment:
Rick despises going to see Dr. Hernandez. He hates the fact that he requires medication to function close to "normal". He shocked me by walking in and being friendly. He didn't yell at her. He didn't curse her name. He went in, sat down and discussed his life with her. He answered her questions after pondering them for a moment or two. They discussed adding a new med to his mix. Rick didn't want to discuss the possibility.

My turn to enter the doctor's domain. Dr. Hernandez hit the highlights of her meeting with Rick without relaying anything that he had told her. Rick is still deeply depressed, but he is not suicidal. He is better able to control his reactions to his internal highs and lows but wants additional help. She and I discussed the additional medication. We called Rick back in to further discuss the med. He interrogated her on the possible side-effects (long and short term), how long for it to take effect, how it would affect him. Rick made the decision on his own to try the new med (an anti-seizure medication that is starting to be used to treat mood disorders).

My thoughts:
With each appointment (psych or neuro) Rick's team of doctors becomes more certain that many of his problems are rooted in his genes. He isn't as odd if you watch him interact within my family. Of course, these same doctors have been able to observe me. Their conclusion is that I have enough aspergian traits to qualify for the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. The difference between me and Rick is how I cope.

Rick never learned to cope in social situations, because I avoid them. Yet as a child, I was thrown into social situations constantly. Oh the joys of having parents who were active in the community. While Rick cannot bring himself to look people in the eye, I have the horrid habit of staring. I don't know when to look away. Neither one of us can read social situations well, but because my mother is a social beast I made a study of how to act in various situations. I named the various personas I had to adopt depending on the situation. This led one of my psychologists to want to treat me for multiple personality disorder.

His obsessions are more specific than mine. Rick can discuss warfare and armament for hours. He can talk about dinosaurs for years. My obsession was devouring books. By the time I was Rick's age I had read our full set of encyclopedias once, the Bible twice, the complete works of Fitzgerald and Hemingway and all of my father's college lit books. While we lived in Indiana I read every book in the childrens section of the library. Obviously Rick's conversation is limited. This makes people view him as odd. My conversational ability is broader, but people tend to look at me oddly when I know things about such a wide variety of topics.

I am slowly learning to not feel guilt over passing my defective genes to Rick. If I do not blame my grandmother for passing them to my father or my father for passing them to me, how can I hold myself responsible for Rick's genetic make-up?


mark that off the to do list

Our turkey has been cooking for 2 hours now. Pumpkin spice crescent rolls and biscuits are done. The broccoli casserole and the squash one are ready to be baked. The sauce for the sweet potatoes is waiting to be poured over the sweet potatoes. Asparagus is clean for broiling. Potatoes are in the pot. Pies and cakes sit around making me drool.

I'm hungry!

All that's left is mopping the floor and setting the tables. Hurray!


as if

My father strikes again. Kari is devastated.

Here is a story that was published recently in the Durham paper.
Basset Hounds Outlawed In North Carolina
Raleigh, N.C.-- Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Saturday that basset hounds have been outlawed in North Carolina.

Speaking at a press conference, Cooper said anyone crossing state lines with a basset hound will be charged with hound smuggling, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"We are very concerned with basset hounds coming to this state from Florida, especially the old ones," Cooper said. "They are known for peeing, pooping and making funny sounds when they try to bark"

All out-of-staters with basset hounds will be required to leave their dogs at a pooper-scooper kennel set up at the North Carolina state line.

"It's really best that people leave their bassets at home during the holidays," Cooper said. "Bringing them to North Carolina will cause a really big stink."


that's horse crap!

Every morning between 6 and 7 Toby and I take a long walk. We cross a field to a sidewalk that runs along the very edge of the Ridge. The sidewalk winds thru an oak grotto before passing between two subdivisions that are nestled between the two sections of the Ridge. Every morning we meet and greet Bugs and Savannah, two dogs that share their love of exploring new scents with Toby. All three dogs know to do their business well away from the sidewalk. They wouldn't think of going on the sidewalk.

On our return trek Toby and I always run into the same woman out for her power walk. She never looks down at the sidewalk or the grass. She keeps pumping those legs and swinging those arms, oblivious to her surroundings until Toby "woo-woo-ay-ooooooo"s a greeting. This morning was no different. Unfortunately. She stepped into a huge pile of horse crap as she flashed us a grin. Horse shit stinks -- especially when fresh and steaming.

No, we weren't crossing the field. Seems someone thought it would be a wonderful idea to ride their horse down the sidewalk instead of sticking to the horsepath. Now if a cop caught my dog crapping on the sidewalk or in the swale and noticed I failed to clean it up immediately I would be slapped with a fine. A rider's horse can use the sidewalks as its personal restroom with no worries. This is so unfair! Horse droppings are much more massive than dogs'. plus the horse's owner can tie the bag with the mess on their saddle, I have to carry a bag and scoop with me. In my hands.

As for the nice lady, she'll never wear those Birks again.


I should be giving thanks

My mother-in-law called last night to inform me that she was making all the desserts for our dinner tomorrow. Very graciously I thanked her, but inside I was majorly ticked off. I had purchased all the ingredients for everything and was looking forward to preparing the majority of the dinner and the desserts. My MIL was given 3 things to make: gravy, squash casserole and stuffing.

My forte is baking. Cakes, pies and cookies -- I'll play with the recipe until the dish tastes just how I want. I have yet to have anyone say "Blech!" to anything I've baked. Our nephews specifically asked for certain desserts. Now they are going to be disappointed. I do not like to let them down, but my MIL leaves me no choice.

I should be thanking her for cutting down on my cookload for tomorrow, but I simply cannot bring myself to do so. Shame on me.

Davidson did not beat Duke, but they did give the Devils a run for their money! Woohoo!

Since this game is now history I can revert to being Duke blue.


how dare she!

Little girls can be quite bitchy. Cliques form and break apart. The "uncool' girls are left out. Even the girls who are the best of friends have fights.

Sidney has been lying to Kari for the past few days. She admitted the lie to me yesterday, and I asked her to please tell Kari the truth. I didn't feel that that it would be appropriate for me to stick my nose in their business.

This afternoon Kari found out about the lie (and others) all on her own. She called Sidney on the lie and wanted to know what the truth was. Sidney shrugged and walked off. She obviously went to her mother and complained. Patti came running and spent 15 minutes yelling at my daughter -- outside on the sidewalk, in front of neighbors and people working on the house next door.

I was bothered for several reasons. Patti does not have the right to yell at my daughter or correct her. Yelling at her outside in front of numerous people was inappropriate whether she was yelling at Kari or Sidney. Children do not deserve to be humiliated in front of people they interact with on a daily basis. Putting the blame for the entire episode on Kari's shoulders was also wrong. Sidney precipitated Kari calling her a liar by -- shock of shocks -- lying.

Patti reduced Kari to tears and another little girl to tears. She never came over to discuss the issue with me or the other mother. Instead she went back in her house, slammed her door and is refusing to answer the phone or her door.

Kathy, the other mom, and I are pissed off and confused. We want to know what happened according to Sidney. We have already questioned Nicole and Kari. Their stories are the same. Would be nice to know what Patti heard to make her so angry that she felt the need to correct Kari.



How many times must the word "got" creep into speech?


HD continued

My complaint has been lodged with Home Depot's corporate office. Wondering if they'll ever respond to my "issues" with that particular store. At least Lowes is nearby.

Home improvement stores are a major part of my life. I always have at least one project going on around the house that requires paint, nails, wood, something. This past weekend found me staining a table for the foyer, painting a buffet table that Robert built for me, doing the preliminary cuts for a built-in bookcase and trying out several painting techniques for our hallway. Rick had to physically restrain me from attempting to replace the lights in the hallway. My family was ecstatic when I left for the Dolphin-Chargers game at 11:30 am yesterday.


for the one millionth time

My kids repeat things more than I do. If I ever mutter any of these things I hope someone smacks me.

"I can't do anything right."
"You've ruined my life."
"Bleep, bleep, bleep!" (he actually says bleep)

"Do you know where the vacuum is?"
"It's Rick's fault!"

"Coming, twinkletoes."
"I want cold milk now."
"I wanna watch Thomas."

And it goes on and on and ....


hit 'em hard, steve

Steve Neff is one of three people I am still in contact with after college. He is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and has a strong sense of right and wrong. That's not to say that he doesn't know how to have fun. He does. And contrary to what this convicted idiot may think, Steve does have a softer side.


wa - hoo - wah

That good old song of
We'll sing it o'er and o'er
It cheers our hearts and
warms our blood
To hear them shout and roar.
We come from Old Virginia,
Where all is bright and gay.
Let's all join hands and give a yell
For the dear old UVa
Uni-v, Virginia,
Ray! Ray! U-V-a

courtesy of VirginiaSports

Virginia defeated a ranked NC State last week and a ranked Maryland this week. Hmm. Wonder how Virginia Tech is feeling about their upcoming meeting with the Hoos...


uh oh

I exploded this morning.

At 10:15 Kari pulled #25 in the paint department of Home Depot. At 10:34 a gentleman called our number. I handed him the paint strip with the amount and the finish written on it. Easy. He put our paint in to be shaken and went to the next person and the next and the next. I kept asking him if ours was done yet. He ignored me many times.

The final straw was when he went to put 15 gallons of stucco paint on someone's cart. I jumped in front of the cart and said, "NO!" in a forceful tone. He pulled back in shock. I followed.

"It is now 10:58 am. You mixed my paint at 10:34 and have yet to give it to me. Instead you have helped several other customers and handed them their paint. You have ignored me each time I asked if mine was done. You will NOT give this man his paint until I have mine. I am tired of waiting. My kids are tired of waiting."

He couldn't find my paint. Not so graciously I pointed out that it was in #1. He handed my Glidden Blue Light to me without an apology or a thank you for waiting.

The manager happened to be standing by the exit making sure everyone's visit went well and that they received help when needed and in a timely manner. I told him about my less-than-pleasant experience.

"Well, saturday mornings are always busy in the paint department. He was probably just waiting for a machine to open up."

"Were you not listening to what I said? My paint was ready to go. He had forgotten about it and me and then compounded his error by ignoring me."

"No, I'm sure he was just waiting to mix your paint."

"Sir, all I want is a simple apology."

He ignored me and went on to the next person, "I hope you enjoyed shopping in our store. Did you find everything okay?"


pluto continued

My sister-in-law is pregnant. She will be giving birth to my niece or nephew in February. And while I am excited about the impending birth, I am incredibly sad.

We will only catch glimpses of this child. We will not have the opportunity to be actively involved in his life. Instead we will be the relatives that drop in 3 times a year and disrupt life as he knows it. If we are lucky my brother will bring his growing family down to visit, pictures will fly thru the mail and across cyberspace, we won't be the eternal outsiders.

I don't hold much hope of that happening.

Kirk and Gina thrive on constant movement and have a vast network of friends. They are rarely at home. Something is always happening and catching their eye and interest. Even if we were in NC, we would be on the edge of their world. Distance cannot receive all the blame.

I bore my brother to tears. He loves me, but he can fall asleep in the midst of a conversation with me.

Hopefully I can be more interesting as an aunt than I have been as a sister. I dread the idea of having to be reintroduced on each visit. "---, this is your Aunt Eliz. Remember? She lives in Florida?"



Steph strikes again! How will I lose these many extra pounds when she tempts me with recipes such as this? The nice thing about these muffins is that they are light. Perfect for breakfast or tea. Just be careful. You'll be tempted to eat them immediately after removing them from the oven!

Applesauce-Cranberry Muffins

2c. flour
1/2c. sugar
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp cinnamon
1c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4c.skim milk
1 egg
3Tb canola oil
1/2c. cranberries, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 400*. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder & soda and cinnamon in one bowl. Whisk applesauce, milk, egg and oil in another, stir in cranberries. Add cranberry mixture to flour and stir well until moistened. bake 20 minutes.


too much excitement

Yesterday we bought Michael a painting time book -- Christmastime with Thomas. He has been itching to start painting ever since the cashier put the package in his grubby little hands. I told him that after breakfast he could begin to paint. So what has he been doing?

"Daddy, are you done yet? I gots to paint. Gots to paint Thomas." Over and over and over again.

To distract him for a bit, I asked Michael which picture he was going to paint first.

"The first one, Mooooooooooom."

Michael actually rolled his eyes at me too. He is contentedly painting now. Painting Thomas while wearing Thomas overalls, a Thomas shirt, Thomas sneakers and Thomas underwear. Thomas is Michael's obsession in life.


an apology?

Rick apologized this morning on his way into the laundry room to wash his sheets. "Sorry, Mom, but I've hit puberty."


another way to pass the time

My kids were shocked at my score on this game: 1255 dawgs destroyed. Rick claims that the only reason I scored 900 points higher than he did is that I cut my teeth on stone age games such as Pong.


sometimes I feel like Pluto

Poor Pluto is circling the Sun from such a distance that all it receives is a bit of wan light and no warmth.

The majority of my family lives in NC. They all get together for impromptu BBQs, football games, basketball games, shopping, just hanging out. They visit each others homes. They share jokes and stories and laugh uproariously at things I just don't get -- because I wasn't there. A comraderie exists between them that I envy.

I live in SoFla. I get the occasional phone call from my brother. A rare email from my uncles. A letter now and then from my grandmother. My parents are the only ones who call regularly. Once a year my parents come down to visit. My uncles refuse to set foot in the state of Florida. My brother is too busy to come here (NY, PA, VA, Mexico, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the Antilles -- yes; FL -- no). My grandmother's health is too poor. Instead I am expected to pack up all 3 kids and one husband and head north several times a year. If I miss a birthday by a day, I am scolded up one side and down the other. If anyone forgets mine, "What do you expect? You live so far away."

Is Pluto a planet? An asteroid? Flotsam the sun has picked up from somewhere else?

I am a daughter, a sister, a grand-daughter and a niece. But I feel like flotsam sometimes. I'm so tired of feeling like an outsider in the one place where I should feel the most at home. My mother keeps telling me that I'm now a Sickles and a Floridian. I'm a Sickles by marriage and a Floridian only under great duress and with immense protest. And why does it matter that I'm married and living far far away?

My parents are so concerned that after they die my brother and I will drift apart. They are always telling me that if this happens it will be my fault. What? I call him on a weekly basis (sometimes daily). He's never at home and never returns calls. I email him several times a week. He might email me back, but when he does, he signs the note with his full name and his position at work.

When we do visit relatives, everyone is too busy to see us -- even on weekends. After all they have a life when we aren't there, why should it change when we are there?

I'm bitter and incoherent. I cannot find words to adequately describe my pain.



Toby had to go in for his ear recheck this morning. Once again he thought going to the vets was tons of fun. He walked in and jumped right on the scale. He weighed in at 57 pounds until a chihuahua clambered up beside him. Together they tipped the scales at 61.3 pounds. Toby's ears are infection free. Hurray!

Toby did have to receive several vaccinations. After each shot Dr. D treated him to a doggie cookie. But oops! Dr. D had to send someone to get the heartworm preventative shot. After that was injected Toby started sticking his nose in everyone's pockets. He was determined to savor a fourth cookie. He's not stupid.

Robert installed a kitty door on the door between the kitchen and the laundry room. He made sure to purchase a door that could be locked. Robert has a thing about the cats wandering thru the house at night -- perhaps something to do with their wild rampages over and under our bed at 3:30 every morning. Binky refused to gracefully give in to being cooped up in the laundry room. Within 5 minutes she had figured out how to negotiate the locking mechanism. Smart kitty!

Frog had to be taught how to go thru the kitty door, but after a few days he had the hang of it. Unfortunately for Frog, Binky decided he needed to stay cooped up. Yes, Binky also knows how to lock the kitty door. I can't tell you how many times Frog bonked his head trying to get out thru a locked door yesterday. Binky stood there and snickered. I scolded her sharply and unlocked the door so Frog could exit. Still didn't happen. As soon as Binky saw the door moving up she pushed down. Poor Frog, not only is his intelligence less than Binky's, so is his weight. Nothing he could do against sumo-kitty.


simple gifts

The silence of the breeze crossing the Ridge.
A kiss from Michael.
How grass feels beneath my feet.
The season's first bloom and it's last.
Richard taking my hand when we walk with Toby.
The sharp scent of snow.
Kneading dough with Kari.
A cup of tea.
Curling up with Robert.
Just being.


what planning!

Rick's school knows exactly how to make my life just a touch more frustrating. Next week Rick will get out of school at 1:30. Doesn't sound too bad since Kari gets out at 2:00, but the drive time between their schools means that Kari will be sitting on the front porch by herself for at least 10 minutes. If I want to pick Rick up earlier, I must do so at noon. What?!? How obnoxious.

On top of this madness I have been told (by note) that I have a scheduled PTC at 2:30 on Wednesday. Are they nuts? So now I must pick up Rick at 1:30, rush home to pick up Kari and then rush back to Rick's school. Did they actually think that I would go for this?! I hope all three of my dragonets act horribly while I'm meeting with the principal.


puttering in the kitchen

Baking day today! Today has been dubbed poundcake experimentation day in this particular household. We all love poundcake. Since I'm a good Southern woman, I firmly believe that poundcake can be eaten for breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee or a strong cup of tea with a splash of milk and a bit of sugar.

Anyway we'll start the day with the tried and true. My great-grandmother Ida Hamlin was a wonderful cook. I treasure my memories of standing with her at the Hoosier cabinet in her pantry watching her mix up various mouth-watering offerings. No one has been able to duplicate her biscuits. Kari has come the closest. At least she has the texture down pat and just needs to work on the taste a bit. Mama's poundcake is a staple here. Impossible to mess up.

Mama's poundcake

Cream together 2 sticks butter, cup shortening and 3 cups sugar. Add 1-teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Add 6 medium eggs, beating in one at a time. Sift together 3 times: 3 cups flour, teaspoon salt and teaspoon baking powder. Stir in 1-cup milk divided into thirds alternating with flour so you end with milk. Bake in a well-greased and floured large tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cake stand in pan for 10 minutes before inverting. Note: we add an extra 1/2 tsp of almond extract. To keep the cake moist for a longer period of time, slice an apple and place on top of cake. This will also add a bit of an apple flavor to the cake.

A cream-cheese poundcake, a chocolate one, one with sour cream and another with lemons and a fruit glaze are in the works too.

Now where's my napkin? I'm drooling at the thought.


written in cement

I read this on a sidewalk here in SoFla just last week:

"Todd loves Christina."

"Todd loves Christina forever."

"Christina loves Todd."

"Christina loves Todd forever."

Imagine my fit of giggles this morning when reading these same words etched in concrete but edited with paint. Seems Christina no longer loves Todd. She now loves Andrew. Yep, "Christina loves Andrew forever maybe." Couldn't she just have "erased" the forever with her handy-dandy can of spraypaint?


how loony are you?

To borrow a phrase from Forrest Gump, loony is as loony does. You know how true that is in fact, you've embraced it. Because while you certainly have your moments of insanity, you know when to say when. Sure, you get a kick out of occasionally doing and saying things other people think are goofy or off-the-wall you're a real sucker for being the center of attention now and again but there are plenty of times when you'd just as soon be calmer and more serious. The same goes for expressing your emotions. No stranger to strong feelings, you choose your battles and control your highs and lows, saving your emotional outbursts for when you need them most. After all, fun and craziness are all well and good, in the right time and place, but balancing your "up" and "down" times earns you more respect in the long run. Not nearly as nutty as a fruitcake but maybe giving Pralines 'n' Cream a run for its money you're the perfect mix of impulse and restraint.

Hmm. I control my ups and downs? Ba ha ha ha ha...


recipes galore

Holiday season is fast approaching. The scents of baking breads, cookies, cakes and pies should be filling your kitchens. And don't tell me that you just can't cook, because I wouldn't believe a word you say.

If you just can't find the right recipe to try, head on over to Mama Moon's Kitchen. She has tons of wonderful recipes.

How do I know? I'm slowly working my way thru them. Steph is always sending me recipes that she finds (she seems to attract them). She knows that eventually I won't be able to resist and must go in the kitchen and mess it up making one of these concoctions. The only recipe that disappointed me was her spice muffin one. I fixed that on the next go around though by dipping the top in butter and then a sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove mixture. (or was it ginger instead of nutmeg?)


the doggie spa

Wanna see where Toby will be staying if he doesn't get to go on our trip to NC?

He'll be staying at the luxury pet resort -- Tail End for 8 fun-filled days. He will even be treated to a full doggie massage on the Saturday before we return.

Do the doggies' butts get covered with white towels during their massages?


attitude adjustments

Rick has had a major turnaround. He is happy as a jaybird. Not only has he been mainstreamed (and performing above level thank you), he has made a new friend. Now if those pesky girls would leave him alone his life would be perfect. Got it, girls. Give him another year and then he'll welcome your attention. But if your name happens to be Jessica and you happen to be in some of his classes, you can call and talk to him anytime you want.

Michael has new attitude towards using the toilet. Seems using the toilet and being able to play with all of his trains is preferable to "accidents" and not being able to play trains.

Kari is struggling to remember that chores come before fun. She'd rather fight with me over the timing. Let's see -- do chores and go out to play or argue with Mom over when to do said chores AND get grounded for arguing. Hmmm. Which would you choose?

Toby is driving me nuts. We get one potty-trained and the other decides that being housebroken isn't for him. Then there's the jumping up to snag food off the counter issue. Help!!!!!! Dad wants us to bring Toby with us to NC for the holidays. After all Sir Bailey and Mr. Sami will be there. Tobadiah shouldn't be excluded.


and the earth shook

If you just felt the earth shake, I'm sorry. Binky felt the need to jump down from her perch in the window. We keep telling her she needs to lose weight, but you know how cats are.

Binky is HUGE. She shouldn't be a big cat. She has a little frame, little head and a very short tail. Her ideal weight is around 8 to 9 pounds. Binky crushed the scales at 18 pounds last week.

We call her the Tick. Binky looks like a tick that just had a good meal. Giant rolypoly body -- that's my Binky.


kari's accomplishment

Kari skipped home. Her feet never once touched the sidewalk either. She was high on her report card.

All As.

She was totally excited about making the all-A honor roll. Between this and being asked to be a member of the school's math club, Kari is full of herself.

Look for a picture of another accomplishment sometime next month. Kari is almost done piecing together her first quilt. She's excited about this too. Make sure you don't tell her how tedious the quilting is going to be. Shhhhh.



I wonder sometimes if there is a sub-category of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for those of us transplanted from the north into South Florida. Every autumn I feel a bit sadder. Every winter I'm downright morose. Could this be from too much light rather than too little? Do I need dark therapy to help me deal with this problem of mine?

Football weather is just not to be found here. Going to a Dolphin game should require sweatshirts or sweaters. Sunscreen, sleeveless shirts and shorts mean baseball weather to me. Where's my fall color? I want to see reds and yellows and oranges. Instead I have green palm fronds waving at me everywhere I turn. Several of my neighbors planted maples in the swale. Even the maple trees are a tad confused at this time of the year. Instead of changing color, the leaves turn brown and drift to the ground. New leaves bud almost immediately.

Perhaps it's just a chronic case of homesickness.


just shut up, eliz

Sometimes I just don't know when to keep my mouth shut.

Yesterday's weather for the Dolphins-Ravens game was on the chilly side for South Florida (62) and the wind was whipping thru the stadium during the second half. Because of this Bubba was eagerly checking out the chests of the Dolphin cheerleaders. He handed his binoculars to Asshole and asked, "Do you see any nipples jutting out?"

Asshole looks and looks. Nothing. Homer looks and looks. Nope. Not a one.

These three guys were sitting there discussing this as if it were a national disaster. Maybe it's a guy thing. Who knows. After a few minutes of conjecture, they all turned towards me and asked how in the heck the cheerleaders were able to diguise how the chill affected them.

I couldn't help it, it just popped out of my mouth and it's all Brian's fault -- "Possum fur nipple warmers. They are wearing possum fur nipple warmers."

Bubba, Asshole and Homer gaped at my statement. A huge fight over the binoculars ensued. Bubba won. He closely inspected each cheerleader's uniform in hopes of being able to spot the outline of the so-called PFNW. He couldn't spot a one. Abruptly he turned back around and asked, "There's no such thing as a possum fur nipple warmer is there? You were just messing with us."

Poor man. I had to inform him that although there are such things as PFNWs, the cheerleaders were either comfortable due to all their body shaking or they were using bandaids to hide the evidence of any slight chill. Seems bandaids aren't as exciting as possum fur.


costa rican tilapia

On Wednesday Rick informed me that I'd been volunteered to fix a dish for his class. He then handed me the recipe and told me to double it since there are 12 in his class. Bossy little man isn't he?

So this morning found me slaving away in the kitchen cooking. Cooking is not my forte. Baking is my passion, but cooking is what I had to do. Blech.

I was up to my elbows in rice, tomatoes, cilantro and onions. Robert snorted at my inability to peel an orange. Those navel oranges are simply impossible and I refuse to use my clementines to feed a bunch of young teens. Absolutely not. Robert condescended to rip the rind off those uncooperative fruits for me. Although I was personally sickened by the combination of ingredients that were going into this dish, I did set aside a portion for my lunch. Cannot resist a taste you know.

Ten minutes after the fish came out of the oven, I was stuffing my face. I was shocked at how delicious everything was. Rick's class was lucky I decided not to hog everything for myself.

I'm not sure where Richard found this recipe, but he did have to go searching for it for his project on Costa Rica. Make certain to set aside a good 30 minutes of prep time. And do not marinate the fish more than 15 minutes.

Costa Rican Tilapia

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, divided
4 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided (I omitted this)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
6 tilapia fillets, about 5 ounces each
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chopped onions
2 oranges, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves ( I used fresh cuban oregano)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. For the tilapia marinade, combine lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons cilantro, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar in a shallow dish. Add tilapia and marinate 15 minutes, turning once.

2. To prepare the bean and rice mixture, cook the rice according to package directions and keep warm while the tilapia is marinating. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Add remaining garlic and onions; sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, oranges, tomatoes, beans, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook, uncovered, until hot, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Transfer hot rice to a 9 by 13 inch or 3 quart baking dish. Spoon the bean mixture on top of rice and gently blend. Slightly overlap tilapia fillets on top and scraped marinade over fillets. Bake until the flesh of the tilapia just begins to flake at the nudge of a fork, 16 to 20 minutes.

Garnish the top with orange slices that are tucked between the fillets.

Serves 6.

Bon appetit!


the jury is still out

The dragonets prowled cautiously around mama dragon yesterday.Occasionally they would spit fire at each other or bare their claws in preparation to strike, but mama was there to stamp any misbehavior to dust. Toby spent the majority of his day hiding in his cave (under the dining room table).

My bag is still packed and ready to go. The best thing is that I've also packed bags for the 3 dragonets. They WILL be leaving for an overnight trip to Grandma's and Papa's on Sunday.


hanging in there

I have never invited people over unless they were family or friends of the kids. This morning was definitely not a me sort of event. Who would ever expect me to invite other women over for coffee and muffins? My mom and mother-in-law are still reeling from this. They are both very social women. They thrive on female companionship.

Anyway I made 4 different types of muffins this morning: pumpkin, donut, applesauce and blueberry. I also had a hot fruit compote and my Mama's poundcake. Patty brought over coffee from Dunkin-Donuts. We share a love for the stuff. Starbucks just tastes burned to me.

Anyway, I had lots of fun. Everyone stood and stared at each other for a few minutes. I was the common thread -- no one else had actually met. When the coffee was ready and everyone scrambled to fix their cup their way, a dam was broken. Words flew fast and furious after a gulp of sugared and milked caffeine. We chatted about our kids, the Ridge, Martha's law school finals coming up, Joyce's grandchildren, our dogs, politics, the Dolphins. A jolly time was had by all. Robert was quite shocked when he came home to discover that 6 women were still sitting around the dining room table gabbing and giggling. He greeted us all with a nod and a grunt. Michael was more concerned that we had left him a slice of pound cake.

Looks like we'll be doing this again. I've been told that cooking duties will always be mine though.


still sputtering

My kids aren't perfect. Their behavior last night proves this beyond any doubt.

All three knew that I had invited the neighborhood stay-at-home moms, the retired women and the going-to-lawschool mom over for breakfast. They were warned to not mess up my straight and sparkling clean house. I underscored this warning by kicking them outside for several hours after school.

Did this stop them from getting out all of their belongings and scattering them throughout the house? Did this mean that they could write mean things about each other on the mirrors in the bathroom? Did this someone give them permission to spill hot chocolate all over the kitchen floor and NOT wipe any of it up? (To hide the hot chocolate spill they placed the newspaper and other magazines over it as if I'd never discover the deception).

Where was I when this was going on? Walking the dog for a grand total of 15 minutes.

Man did I chew their hides. They were supposed to help me clean up their mess, but no, they had to argue, to punch, to pull each other's hair. Preteen siblings just can't get along.

On to the second disaster of the evening. I had 6 dozen muffins cooling on the counter and 3 broccoli casseroles cooling on the stove. I had to go take my meds so I instructed my children to keep Toby far away from temptation. I came back into the kitchen to discover my freshly baked muffins scattered over the floor and a very happy basset chest deep in broccoli. Where were my kids? At the kitchen table eating dinner and completely engrossed by the Simpsons.

I experienced the mode of spitting mad. I ranted and raved. I sobbed hysterically. The kids were sent to their rooms and told to not show their faces for the rest of the evening.

Rick informed me that he hated me and that I had ruined his life. He says this to me when I'm standing in a kitchen with 6 dozen muffins rolling around, broccoli casserole coating the floor, a house that is messy from him refusing to pick up his stuff and he tells me this?!?

More hysterics after he is marched to his room by a fire-breathing mama dragon.

The cherry on top of this sundae was when I called Robert to find out what time he'd be home. His work put me on hold and left me there. Robert never came to the phone. He didn't answer his cell phone either. All I needed was a good venting.

I packed a bag with some essentials. It's now sitting by the front door. Today had better be a nicer, more Eliz-friendly day, otherwise I'm outta here.


something wonderful

I've read this story several times since 24 October. Each time my eyes tear up.


politics and children

Rick's friend Michael has an intense interest in politics. He proclaims himself a democrat but it actually open to any candidate whose agenda meets with his approval. Michael was horrified when he discovered that Rick couldn't tell him what a minority whip's job was or the name of the attorney general. He was further disgusted when Rick admitted that he has little, if any, interest in politics or discussing politics.

Michael did have fun grilling me on various issues in the past gubernatorial campaign here in Florida. His mom thought is was great fun to watch me sweat bullets, after all she gets to dodge them on a daily basis. I have never spent so much time discussing the FCAT, illegal immigration, income taxes, etc with a thirteen year old. What was amazing is how open Michael is to another's views. He takes them in, analyzes them and then asks even more questions. (I now feel great pity for my parents. Oh the pain in the butt I must have been to raise.)

Several months ago Michael wrote to President Bush. He wanted clarification on why we should go to war against Saddaam Hussein. He wanted answers as to what threat Iraq poses us as Americans. He was curious as to why other nations aren't chomping at the bit to go to war against Iraq. Framed on his wall is President Bush's response -- an outline of the situation and how we are impacted. It then goes on to say that his job as our president is to oversee the protection of our people, our lands and our interests; that sometimes the decisions do not make sense to many people, but that these decisions were reached after untold hours of fact finding and deliberation. Michael's job as a teenager and a student is to study, learn as much as he can, learn to make good decisions and to become a productive citizen of this country.

I was impressed that a child would feel the need to understand politics and have no qualms about directing his questions to the head honcho as well as stating his own opinions. And then there was the response time on the half of President Bush's staffers. The letter may have been a standard-issue response, but Michael had the response within the month. He also feels empowered by the response. He, a non-voting citizen, was worthy of notice. With serious mein, MIchael told me that even if the letter didn't truly answer his questions, he now realizes that all Americans are important to this country and it's president.

Now he hopes to catch the ears of Jeb Bush. Wonder if I should warn him...


beads, bangles, glue and glass

Guess what we're working on. Come on and guess. This is easy.

We are making ornaments for our trees!

I'm feeling quite industrious. In the past month or so, I've managed to complete 3 needlepoint stockings, 24 beaded ornaments, make 2 dozen holiday cards and address envelopes. This weekend all our presents were wrapped. Right now they are in bags by the front door waiting to be shipped to NC.

My mother is quite disgusted with me. LOL. She doesn't think it's fair that I, the procrastinator, am so far ahead of her in holiday preparations.


hot and humid still

Even in South Florida the weather is supposed to cool off a bit starting at the end of October. Someone forgot to send Autumn a reminder. Our temp is supposed to soar up to 88 today. Aren't you glad you don't live here?

Supposedly a cold front is coming thru tomorrow. Our temps will then drop into the 70s. Yeah, right. I'll believe that when I feel it. I am hoping Bill Kamal is correct though. The neighborhood women are coming over Thursday morning for coffee and muffins. Wouldn't it be nice to eat out on the patio and look towards the Ridge or my garden?


digging in the dirt

The past two days have been spent digging in the dirt. I probably have another good two days of the same before I am satisfied with my garden.

I do have some "holes" that are begging to be filled RIGHT NOW, but I'm practicing patience. Some plants simply need time to grow, some will arrive in December and I'm trying to find the perfect oak sapling. There's also the task of finishing the stone path thru the garden. My back aches with the thought of the muscles required for this project.

Today though I'm resting. A friend called this morning to see if we wanted to come to their house and cookout. Of course! What fun. Robert will finally have to get out and meet some of the other men around the circle.


veterans' day

I'd like to say thank you to all the men and women who have served our country.

My family who has served (I included rank when I remembered what it was.):

The men:
Colonel Wm Carter, Vietnam and the Gulf War, Army, retired after 26 years
Master Sargent R. Carter, Vietnam, Air Force, retired after 22 years
Master Sargent C. Carter, WWII, Army, retired after 22 years
W. Carter, WWI, Army
WW Carter, Civil War, Union Army
Major J.R. Harris, Civil War, Confederate Army, wounded twice
H. Carter, WWII, Marines
F. Carter, WWII, Army
A. Nelson, WWII, Navy, served in the Pacific
C.F. Bard, WWII, Army, artillery, served in Europe, later in Japan
W.J. Clark, WWI, Army
W.J. Clark Jr, WWII, Army
H. Cheek, WWII, Army
Colonel LD Kirkland Jr, WWII, Army, retired after 26 years
M. Wilkerson, Civil War, Confederate Army, killed at Gettysburg
J.H. Coley, Civil War, Confederate Army, "I killed as many Yankees as killed me."
E. Coley, Civil War, Confederate Army, wounded 4 times, died in VA
T. Sickles, Vietnam, army -- MP
W.J. Russell, War of 1812
C. Russell, WWII, paratrooper -- died in the battle of Aachen
S. Davis, Marines
E. Mogelgaard, Gulf War, Air Force

The women:
F.R. Nicholson, WWII
C. Nicholson, WWII
A. Nicholson, WWII


S - T - R - E - T - C - H

Yesterday was spent outside and I'm paying for it today. My body is tight and sore from spending hour after hour working in my garden. I weeded, finished expanding one side (that meant ripping out grass), planting, moving plants, removing ailing plants and pruning my roses. I also decided that it would be a great idea to widen the rock path. What the heck was I thinking? Digging, putting in leveling sand and then placing the rocks is hard work. I only managed to get about 5 feet of path done before calling it quits. Only 20 feet left!

I cut my basil bush back so far it is unrecognizable. The thing grew to 4 ft in height and 6 ft in width. It was a monster bush! And not in the least leggy or twiggy looking. The sad part was having to bring out a saw to help prune the basil back. Part of today will be spent picking thru the basil leaves for cleaning and drying. My cuban oregano is next. At least that plant stays close to the ground, still is 4 feet wide. Unbelievable.

One of my neighbors stopped by and offered her husband's assistance in ripping out the existing garden and planting a more South Florida appropriate garden. Guess she doesn't like my northern look in the tropics. She needs to get over herself. I want roses and blooming plants. If I wanted palms, philodendrons and ginger, I would have planted those. Besides the plants in my garden may be reminiscent of the North, but are actually appropriate for here. Some won't even grow in northern Florida. So there!

I'm waiting for testing roses to arrive next month. And, Kim, we need to figure out a Thursday or Friday to hit Muncys. My David Austin Roses will arrive in February. My "Republican" roses will show up in March. Yes, you will be able to find Nancy and Ronald Reagan and Barbara Bush growing out back. JFK blooms for those who come in thru my front door. JFK was planted in memory of my grandfather who thought the world of the Kennedy family.


oops! I'm off by a day

the friday five

1. Did you vote in your last elections? Of course!

2. Do you know who your elected representatives are? Yes!

3. Have you ever contacted an elected representative? If so, what was it about? Senator Muskie: "Trick or Treat"; Governor Dalton of VA: "Your son is picking on me."; Jeb Bush: in regards to the sorry state of affairs in So. Fl. schools; Governor Caperton of WVA: spoke with him several times and even sent pictures of his son playing football (wonder if he received them...); Judge Ann Marie Calabria: her daughter married my brother; and there are various others. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson is still alive in Charlottesville?

4. Have you ever participated in a demonstration? Yes, I participated in a protest against a KKK march. There were a lot of factors about date chosen that made it a dangerous thing. The KKK marched, but there was not a soul there to see them do so. Who wanted to see them when they could go to a protest party?

5. Have you ever volunteered in an election? What was the result? No. I was asked to help with a family friend's campaign, but I declined. When she wanted a reason, I informed her that I didn't agree with some major points in her campaign and that for me to assist her would be hypocritical. She did go on to lose. Seems lots of other Republicans had a major problem with her agenda too.


the edge of our Ridge

I always imagine that these 2 oaks are dancing. Notice how "he" dips "her" back?



Rick takes what is said at face value.

If a joke relies on a play on words, Rick will take forever to figure it out. He started laughing at dinner last night. Why? He finally understood a joke someone told him the week before. Of course, we all were tickled by this.

When he was in second grade, he was behaving horribly one day. Robert informed Rick that if he continued on this path, he would find himself grounded. Rick was horrified. He came running to me in tears. He couldn't "see" the path he was on, and he just knew his father was going to dig a hole, put him inside it and then fill the hole up to his waist (Rick's take on being grounded.)

Once I asked him to rinse out a t-shirt that had fresh kool-aid stains. Rick put the t-shirt on the floor by the back door, brought in the hose and used the water to spray the shirt out. Why? When I rinsed the floor after cleaning it, I would sweep the rinse water out the back door.

Rick also has difficulties when authors take creative liberties with facts or historical events. Just a bit ago someone on the Scooby-Doo show mentioned that this one particular amusement park had the world's fastest rollercoaster. Rick was highly distressed by this statement. He went on a rant about where the world's fastest rollercoaster is located (Fujikyu Highland park in Japan), its name (Dodonpa), speed (107 mph) and height (cannot remember what he said and I really do not want him to begin lecturing me again).

Hopefully reading The Hobbit and other novels will open his mind creatively. Funny that someone so literal paints abstracts.

(and yes, I know that I'm months behind in updating, but we're in the process of moving from that site to another)


things that horrify me

This weeks top 3:
Parents who believe that entertaining 16 year olds requires booze, pot and a stripper. I am so relieved that Karan reported them.

People thinking that this, lynchings, should be commemorated with a picture, not to mention a postcard! ~found By Sand and Sea

Yesterday I overheard a prostitute telling someone that she was an "oral massage therapist" and that her sessions were only $100 for however long it took to orally relieve any tension. Actually this cracked me up, but the fact that she was trolling for Johns at my grocers horrified me.

Happy Birthday, Kari!
Kari turns 10 this afternoon.

She had her party last weekend, but we'll still do something special tonight for her. She has presents to open (her favorite), dinner at her favorite restaurant (Legal Seafood) and yet another cake. Kari's a tad spoiled.

Kari is a pied piper. Wherever she goes, she accumulates people. Robert and I are amazed at this ability since we are not extremely social. Teachers and other adults use such boring words to describe her: sweet, caring, talkative, friendly, open. She is these things and they are what makes her a pied piper.

Kari also has the world's messiest room. Several times a year we go in search of her floor. I wish I were joshing you, but I'm not. You may ask either of her grandmother's. And why Kari feels the need to store books under the cushions of her chairs is beyond us. How comfortable can that be?

You'd think that since Kari inherited my looks, my facial expressions and my love of books and baking that we'd be more alike than most. Wrong! Somehow Kari turned out to be a female who adores clothing, jewelry, scented lotions and long bubblebaths. She even has asked to wear a touch of make-up (like her cousin Caitlin). I rarely wear make-up. The only jewelry adorning my person is my wedding ring. Scented lotions make me itch. Bubblebaths take too long and someone always interrupts me.

Currently Kari is growing her hair long. Why? Her plan is that on her 13th birthday she will have someone cut her long locks off so that they may be made into a wig for a child who needs one. She read about this in a magazine while waiting for Rick's EEG to be finished. Kari also has quite a collection of old towels to take to the SPCA. She hit up various neighbors for them. She also has saved some of her allowance to buy Christmas treats for the animals at the shelter.

Kari is developing into a beautiful person - inside and out.


political asides

Miriam Oliphant, creator of Broward County's voting fiasco in September, is taking all credit for how smoothly the gubernatorial election went this week. Hmmm, she was forced to step aside while someone else oversaw the elections. Some of the inexperienced people she hired (such as her mother) were let go in favor of rehiring those with the know-how.

My neighbor's absentee ballot was returned to her due to insufficient postage. Hmmm. Did the mailman not notice that she did place a stamp on the envelope?

Democrats in Broward County stayed away in droves on Tuesday. Seems they weren't too impressed with their own candidate.

The fall-out from the constitutional amendment regarding the reduction of class-size has already started. Looks like a mess is headed our way. Money that was meant for other programs will be funneled into education. Wonder which section of the population will be hit hardest. I'm thinking the senior citizens.


shaking the sickies out

Toby has a yeast infection in both ears and a bacterial one in his right ear. Poor boy. I trundled him into see the vet first thing this morning. The vet cleaned out both ears. Toby loved this. He kept moaning in ecstasy. His tail could not have wagged any faster. Dr. M then massaged medicine into Toby's ailing ears. Toby moaned some more. Then we put Toby on the floor to shake.

Oh man, was that funny! Toby started off slow and built up steam. He shook his head so hard and for so long that he scooted 10 feet across the floor. People were laughing. Toby stopped with a snort and then started all over again. His direction must be guided by which way he starts the shake, because Toby ended up right back where he started.

So lets see who has to be given what meds for the next 10 days: Toby has an ear cream (2X a day), Kari must be given nebulizer treatments (3X a day), Rick has various meds plus nebulizer treatments (only 2X a day), Michael has a decongestant. Thank goodness Frog and Binky aren't ailing! Sheesh. I couldn't handle all my kidlings being sick at once.


what are they thinking?

Kari came home yesterday with a permission slip requesting our permission to let her participate in the math club. Only a select few are asked to participate each year. Kari was recommended by her teacher. Students in this club must demonstrate an ability to grasp the abstract and above average problem-solving abilities.

And they think Kari fits this profile?

Kari doesn't know what to do when there aren't enough forks in the basket when it's suppertime and she must set the table. She inevitably has to ask us where there are more forks. Does she look in the dishwasher? Does she look in the dish drainer? Of course not. Kari is confused by answering machines too. "What do I do? Their machine picked up?" We won't go into how befuddled she is when the cellphone rings.

My mother-in-law claims Kari is dumb like a fox. She's right. Kari loves to appear helpless in order to trick others into doing her work for her. Whenever she pulls the above tricks on us, we shake our heads and walk away.


the weather is so delightful!

At 6:30 this morning I stepped outside into a breezy, sunny day. The temperature was a delightful 59*. Much more comfortable than usual. Toby was frisky and also delighted with the cooler temperature. I had to drag both of us inside, but the children had to get ready for school.

Kari dawdles when getting dressed. Putting on a shoe can take upwards of 20 minutes. Her average dressing time is 47 minutes. Oh how I wish this weren't true. I sent her outside in her pjs to check out the coolness. She started shivering and prancing around to gain warmth. She ran inside and clothed herself in record time. Why she needed to put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a sweater is beyond me. I had on shorts and a tshirt.

Rick teased her unmercifully. He talked about how when he camps out with Uncle Bill in December, he doesn't complain about the freezing temperatures. I didn't bother reminding him that they sleep in a cozy log cabin with a wood stove. Nope. Bad mother that I am, I let him glory in his moment of superiority.

All my windows are open this morning. We'll run around closing them when the temperatures climb back into the 80s.


christmas is coming

I come from a family of readers. We all enjoy different subjects, but we swap books like kids swap Yu-gi-oh cards. As long as the book is well-written, we are guaranteed to enjoy it. So I need book suggestions! Please, I'm begging you!

And then there are the creative types. What to get them ...

Let us not forget my father! He is the world's worst person when it comes to buying him a present. If I have to resort to buying him another pair of sweatpants or running pants, I may scream. It's been 6 years since I was creative and even then -- what is so creative about buying an Oregon State pennant circa 1942? Hmmph. For those not in the know, Duke played Oregon State in the 1942 Rose Bowl that was played at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC. Dad has a ticket, a program and the newspaper from the game. These items are framed along with a Duke pennant.

Oh and there are only 48 more shopping days (stores are closed on Turkey Day).

grumble grumble grumble...



Ann Marie Calabria's run for the NC Court of Appeals was successful despite the Charlotte Observer and several other major newspapers endorsing her opponent. Judge Wanda Bryant, incumbent, was an excellent judge, but it appears that being a Democrat was her downfall.

Way to go, Jeb! I'm so glad he was re-elected. Did you know that he is the first Republican governor in our hot and humid state to ever be re-elected? Guess that proves Florida is truly a state of Democrats. So where were all these Democrats yesterday?

What I'm not so happy about is that an educational amendment strongly pushed by the McBride campaign won handily. Florida is going to have to raise taxes and possibly introduce a state income tax in order to raise the billions it will take to enact the smaller class size now mandated by the state constitution. We have major difficulties finding teachers to fill positions now, how will we be able to do this to meet the requirements? And are there enough portables and land to put the portables on to also meet the demand of smaller class size? I'm scared.

Mandatory pre-K 4 also passed. Hmmm. More classrooms and teachers will be needed for this also. Where is the money coming from? Where will we find the space to put these children? I'm thinking the voters failed to think.

And may I also say Congrats! to Elizabeth Dole?


Did you?


bah humbug

The Dolphins stunk it up last night.


one day while he's out

I simply cannot resist. One Saturday while Robert is at work, we will rush to redecorate the family room with him in mind. He's used to me moving furniture and repainting on a whim, but an entire room redo will shock him. Completely stun him.

Rick has designed a new entertainment center. He and his grandfather will start building it this weekend. It's a really cool drawing. We're hoping that it translates to wood well.

Kari and I will be putting up casing around the windows and then constructing cornices. The cornices will be basic (I'm not checked out on a jigsaw yet) and covered with a plaid fabric that Rick has approved.

My mother-in-law will be doing slipcovers and pillows for the sofas.

Robert's football jersey from college is going to be framed by one of Rick's friends and Rick. We're going to do an entire display of Robert's jersey, helmet and offensive player of the year award. Rick's trophy and football picture will also be displayed.

Since Robert is also into airplanes -- what air traffic controller is not? -- we will be suspending a Sopwith Camel kite that I built from the ceiling as well as a Curtiss Jenny model and perhaps a GeeBee model. My parents live 800+ miles away, but they are sending framed pictures of GeeBees.

At Kim's suggestion we're going to build in some bookshelves for Robert's sci-fi book collection and other sports memorabilia.

So when are we going to do all this? Perhaps Thanksgiving weekend. At least that's the plan. The timing will be determined by the entertainment center.

Wish us luck!



Did you think I'd forget to remind you to get out and vote tomorrow? Not a chance!

As a Broward County resident, I get to vote on something like 43 different items. Don't you think that's a bit ridiculous? The experts are predicting long lines, short tempers and another Florida disaster. These same experts also say that even if a voter goes in totally prepared and knows exactly what s/he is voting on the process will take 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes?!? That is beyond ridiculous. Why? Why? Why? As if Miriam Oliphant's primary disaster and the Presidential Election fiasco weren't enough, we'll most likely be providing more fodder for the comics out there.

Oh well.



This morning my boys had their annuals. What fun! Doesn't everyone love being in a cramped exam room with a sulky 12 y.o. and a screaming 3 y.o.? Where was Robert? In the waiting room watching Toy Story 2. Ooh was I steamed.

Why did Rick have to decide that mom was the one to go with him? He's always had his father before.

Anyway both boys are healthy as horses. Rick grew 6 1/2 inches and gained 21 pounds in 12 months. Michael grew 2 inches and gained 5 pounds. Rick refused to answer any of Dr C's questions. Michael screamed and tried to escape. The wee one even knocked me down: bruised my butt, my head and my pride. The nurse was convinced that I needed to ice all three. She had the doc come in and check the huge lump on my head.

Plotting revenge today.


lazy sundayzzz

Most of my day has been spent in our oh-so-comfy bed: reading, snoozing, snacking and drinking 2 over-sized cups of coffee. I watched the New England-Buffalo game and barely restrained myself from calling Stef. (were you shocked,Stef?) Robert left the room while I cheered on Vick and by default, the Falcons. I didn't bother getting dressed until about 30 minutes ago. Now that is lazy.

And I feel a bit more refreshed.

Tomorrow is still going to be my ME day, although Rick wants me to go to the doctor with him. He believes that I'm more sympathetic when he's having half his blood removed for testing. (He claims that the vampire masquerading as a nurse bleeds him dry.) Robert has to go too. His job is to be in the exam room during the physical. Afterwards I'm going to ditch them all and go play: get my hair done, drink coffee while perusing books on homeschooling, sit under a tree at the park and meditate, play in my garden. My hair is top priority. You already have heard how I adore having someone else wash my hair for me.

Michael has spent most of the day running around in his underwear. When I convinced him to get dressed, he dragged out all of his new clothes and tried them all on. He couldn't decide what he wanted to wear. Finally he settled on a dinosaur t-shirt and Thomas shorts. Both were worn backwards. He also insisted on sporting his VA Tech hat that is far too small for his head.

Kari spent the day on the computer. Why I let people give her computer games for her birthday is beyond me. She can sit here for hours playing Age of Civilization (or whatever it is called). Now she has Nancy Drew games to add to the list. She wants the Sims for Christmas. For Yule she's asked to donate 10 trees to be planted in an area deforested by fire. She's a good kid.

Robert consolidated all of his r/c airplane stuff into one room of the house. No more basswood splinters trying to break thru my callouses as I stroll around the house. No more tools to trip over or search for (hey, I am woman! Watch me drill.) His major accomplishment today was convincing Michael to poop in the potty rather than on my floor.

I love my man and our kidlings.

Now I must run. My 12 y.o. cousin wishes to chat, and she and I are setting up a family website after all. So much fun!


just can't help myself

My kids are too cute.

Richard, Michael and Toby collapse after a tough morning of rough-housing. We had to reduce the number of candles on Kari's cake in order to give her a fighting chance of blowing them out. Poor thing is still wheezing and coughing a bit.

Okay, so I'm biased, but you simply must agree that they are among the most adorable-looking children.



The Rams lost to the Hurricanes in the Super Bowl this afternoon. Final score was 6 to 0

The majority of the first half was played between the 40s, 3 downs and out. If we intercepted the ball, they would return the favor. Basically the two teams were playing even. Then the refs got involved in the game.

I'm amazed at how uneven the calls were. For every 10 calls against the Rams, the Canes MIGHT have had A flag thrown against them. Even the other parents were yelling at the refs to be fair. Does that tell you anything?

The Hurricanes play rough. So rough that during the second half their QB was removed from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. Unfortunately they let him back in after one play. Towards the end of the game this same kid suckerpunched one of our linebackers. Michael J. has a beautiful shiner. Chris R. also had to leave the game for a series after the same QB stiff-armed him in the groin. Coach Randy went off on the refs. Watching him get mad is highly entertaining. Normally he is the calm, cool and collected type -- until someone messes with one of "his" kids. When that happens he gets all red in the face, veins start bulging and his voice gets louder and louder. The ref starts walking backwards, giving him room to explode.

Rick did have a good game. Today he played almost strictly defense. His goal was to get to the QB. In order to do that he had to worm his way past 2 guys who were twice his size. On one drive (a total of 4 plays), Rick sacked the quarterback (nasty boy), then pulled the flags of the next 2 ball carriers. Yup, my boy has some potential. He seems to know where the play is going and if he doesn't sack the QB, he interferes with the passing or at least scares the crap out of him.

Man, I'm going to miss these games.




already tired

Toby woke me up at 6. He was prancing and whimpering. I would not have been surprised if he had somehow managed to cross his back legs and bounce. Poor doggie's bladder was full. He barely made it out the front door before he let loose.

Michael came sprinting out of his room at 6:20. He was full of energy and raring to go. He had to have been up for awhile already. He's like me. We do not move quickly in the morning. Have you ever watched a slug move? We're slower.

The kids left our family room in a disaster and I have 2 hours to get it straight and go to the grocery store. Rick's coaches want him there at 11:15. The game isn't until 12:30 and they had a long hard practice last night. Those kids are going to be worn out before the Super Bowl even starts. What are these coaches thinking? Anyway Robert didn't quite finish the dishes, Rick's art supplies are everywhere, Kari's shoes and socks and books have tripped me up a good dozen times already and Michael's toy trunk is empty. That'll teach me to go watch tv at 9.

Must switch the laundry around now. The buzzer just sounded.


murphy's law

Doesn't it figure? I had plans for this afternoon: getting my hair cut. The whole point was to let someone pamper me for a brief period of time, even it it just involved someone else washing my hair and then giving me a trim. Having someone else wash my hair is the most decadent, most relaxing thing -- to me. I love it.

La Diva of South Beach suggested this. My inner-self said yes!

But no. Robert came home sick. Michael is also sick. Kari is running around with her friend Sidney. Rick is biking. I get to clean the house in preparation for tomorrow's celebration of Kari's and Michael's birthdays. Since Michael decided to help by decorating my walls and floors with poop, I have a particularly smelly job. (Potty training is not my cup of tea.)

The boys have their annuals scheduled for Monday morning -- bright and early, the first appointment of the day. I have already informed Robert that he gets to take them. Rick is too old to want his mother in the exam room with him. I'm taking that day off too. I will not be available to anyone.

So there!


the friday five

1. Were you raised in a particular religious faith?
I was raised Presbyterian.

2. Do you still practice that faith? Why or why not?
No. Although I even used to teach sunday school, was a youth group leader and was asked about becoming a deacon, I stopped getting what I needed from the church. Too much focus on living for one god. Shouldn't we live for the earth? And then there's that whole male thing. I have difficulties with a male oriented religion.

3. What do you think happens after death?
"The worms crawl in. The worms crawl out..." Our physical bodies just rot away and become one with the earth. Okay, if you are in one of those fancy-schmancy metal caskets, you wouldn't become part of the earth again. That's a waste. I do believe that our spirits live on.

4. What is your favorite religious ritual (participating in or just observing)?

5. Do you believe people are basically good?
I think good and evil are learned. There are basic rules to maintaining a functioning society, but after the basics are covered culture kicks in.

"Earth laughs in flowers." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson