September 30, 2008

You can only kick a dog so many times

...before it gives up. How many times? Who knows? That's like asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. All I can tell you is that I (and by "I," I mean "Rob & I") am damn tired of getting kicked.

I won't go into specifics for two reasons. First, you really don't care all that much. Second, if you know us then you can probably take a well-aimed shot at what's wrong this time around and you'd be right. That said, I guarantee you're tired of hearing that same old song and dance so I'll spare you.

But I will tell you this: tomorrow, I have to go, hat in hand, and do something I swore up and down over a year ago that I would never do again. Tomorrow morning, I'll be staring down a barrel of disappointment, disgust, admonishment, disappointment, anger, possible refusal, and disappointment. Did I mention disappointment?

I'm hoping I can chickenshit my way out of this conversation by hearing an answering machine when I call. Then I can just say everything I need to say in about two minutes, tell so-and-so to call me back, and hang up like the phone is on fire. Then I'll cry. How I haven't broken down into a million sorry-ass pieces yet is beyond me. Maybe it's just the resignation of being in this situation again, wondering how many times we're going to get kicked before we either a) give up, or b) finally get a little more sunshine and a little less shit.

Anyway, that's all I've got for today. Well, that and I want some salsa. We were watching "Opportunity Knocks" on ABC, the kid had to taste-test some salsa and it made me want some.

September 29, 2008

The Big Family Secret UPDATED

I've got you thinking now, don't I...murderer? Transvestite? Dirty politicians? Torrid affair with the Reverend Dimmesdale? They bought brand name bread instead of store brand? I'm fairly certain numbers 1, 2 and 4 aren't true. Number 3 is up in the air and if they were all like my mom, number 5 is laughable.

No, the big family secret is that my family IS a big secret. Seriously. I kick myself daily for not grilling my grandmother more when she was alive to learn my paternal family's history. All I'm sure of is that her parents came from the Czech Republic sometime in the early 1900s. I know that my paternal grandfather's mother actually gave birth to him when she was 14 or something and so his grandmother raised him as her own, alongside his birth mother. His birth mother's name was Casey. Beyond that, and a couple great aunts and uncles, I know nothing of my dad's family.

And my mom''s less of a mystery but still pretty hazy. My mom was one of six children, five of whom lived to adulthood and four of whom are still here. Her mom is from Titusville and her dad is from my hometown of Conneautville. As of today, here's what I know:

- My maternal grandmother had a handful of sisters and one brother. None are alive now, including my maternal grandmother; she passed away in 1974. I know my mom had cousins on that side she was close with while growing up but she lost touch with them years ago and I've never met any of them.

- My maternal grandfather's family, well, I can trace them back to the mid-1800s, all of them in Conneautville. I've got a couple of surnames and burial records, but that's about it. My mom says my great-grandfather was an alcoholic (that's lovely to know) and he was a member of the CCC. He helped dig Pymatuning Lake as a part of that.

- A great aunt (which side, I can't remember) was married to the local district justice. She had two boys. Another great aunt was married to the town dentist.

And that's all I know. Sad, isn't it? It's nearly impossible to get information when all of my ancestors are gone. I've looked at census records and cemetary indexes, but that's where the trail ends. No one has any clear memories of the extended family. As far as I know, there aren't even any pictures. There's never been a family reunion on my mom's side. I've been to one family reunion on my dad's side but they either don't have them anymore, or once the connecting family member passes away, you stop getting invited.

Guess maybe the lineage will start again with me? I should buy one of those family tree programs or something. Paper would be better. I love computers, I really do, but sometimes things seem so much more...genuine on paper. You know what I mean?

So tell me, what are your family secrets? Anything juicier than a lack of family secrets?

Check this out! No wonder the Bay Area landscape looks like Sim City. New homogenous buildings everydamnwhere.

September 28, 2008

If We're Going to Point Fingers...

...let's make sure we're pointing them at the right people.

First, read this opinion piece from the so-far-left-it's-laying-on-its side illustrious Huffington Post.

Then, read Rachel's post from last week. I think I have a little Republican girl-crush on her.

Finally, read the original article from the New York Post. It's from September 11, 2003.

It cites a plan being put before congress to, generally speaking, provide a committee to keep a closer eye on the goings-on with mortgage companies (read: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to ensure they weren't digging themselves a huge hole. It never got passed. Why? Because of esteemed opinions and thus, votes by people like Barney Frank:

"These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis," said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. "The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

And then there was Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, chiming in:

"I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing," Mr. Watt said.

Barney Frank has changed his tune. According to The Crypt,, "Frank said the latest bailout was 'confirmation of the irresponsible failure to regulate' on the part of the Bush administration."

Hm. Where do I begin?

First of all, I'm a firm believer that people need to be held responsible for their own actions. If you live in California - let alone a pricier region like the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, et al. - and you're making $35,000 a year, you have no business buying a $500,000 house. Mortgage payments run anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 per month. You do the math. I'll wait.

Second, to quote that Melvin Watt up there, there shouldn't be any "...bargaining power of poorer families..." because when you're poor, you need to recognize your situation and improve it before diving into a mortgage. Yes, owning a house is great and wonderful but it's a huge responsibility! Upkeep, taxes, the ARM. I don't own a house and can't really begin to wax knowledgable on the specifics but I can operate a calculator and I know that you shouldn't think it a good idea to throw half of your annual income at a house and then throw your hands up in the air at the lenders and government and say, "Now what do I do?"

And as for the lenders...meh. You can't tell me they didn't see this coming.

I do hold the government somewhat responsible. However, that wonderful rag Ariana Huffington co-founded and is editor-in-chief of, needs to start wagging their fingers and "tsk-tsking" at the other side of the aisle.

But, I'm just a mommy blogger, what do I know?

September 26, 2008

When All's Said and Done

I'm tired, I'm bored, and my mind's a bit scrambled. Today, I offer you nuggets from my brain.


It's Debate Day. I sincerely hope McCain wisens up and goes to the debate. He needs to. It's all nice and valiant to say, "Washington needs me. Must go fix economy." But let's be honest here: it either will or won't get fixed and his presence, which has been fleeting over the last six months or so due to campaigning, isn't going to make a huge difference. He needs to skidaddle back down to Mississippi and tend to business; otherwise, I think he's making a fatal error. I'd rather see my guy at high noon with the guy I don't want in office than trying to be heroic in Washington. Who does McCain want to fix the economy come February? Himself or Obama? GO TO THE DEBATE, MAN.


I'm so damn tired of David Blaine. He's like that creepy kid you knew in high school but never spoke to for fear of having a spell cast over you. Always kind of mumbled to himself, didn't have many friends, yet thought he was really something special? Don't give me that look, you know you knew someone like that. David Blaine is just another magician trying to outdo other magicians. The difference is, he makes a national and televised spectacle of himself and always nearly dies because of said spectacle. You almost feel sorry for the guy. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend at our junior prom:

Ryan: Hey look, there's Joe Schmoe.
Me: Yep. Looks like he came stag.
Ryan: I feel bad for him, no one's talking to him.
Me: So go talk to him.
Ryan: Well I don't feel that bad.

Hey, I'm just being honest.


My husband's been offered a job at another company. He said, earlier this week, if he was offered enough money he might take it. His potential new boss calls this morning and leaves me this message for Rob: he'll pay him [exactly what he's getting paid now], insurance coverage will start in 60 days, and he'll be a shop guy.


Why would he leave the company he's been with for five years - and who are due to give him a raise very soon - to go work for a smaller company and be the EIGHTH guy in the shop (which, if you can't do the math, means he'll get no work and be low man on the totem pole) for the same amount of money? Someone needs to tell Coulda-Been New Boss to put down the bong.


I'm thinking of starting another blog, in conjunction with this one, regarding TV and movies. I'm a Certifiable Spud and I love both mediums. There's something on almost all days of the week that I watch - or will watch once all the supersized premieres are over - that I could comment on. I worry people will prefer Matt Roush over me. Funny how those folks at TV Guide always get more traffic than me. What do you think?


I'm hoping my mom will buy us gym memberships for Christmas this year. She knows how badly we both want one and how, at this point, just can't squeeze it into our budget. I would totally go to the gym every night - I love getting breaks from the chaos and an hour's trip to the gym would be jolly welcome!


I'm currently plotting on our tax refund for next year. On my short list: a new couch and furniture for the kid's room. For them, this means a twin bed for Beth, new pillows, night stands, a dresser, and possibly a new toybox. Ikea, here I come! I love their children's department.


That about covers it. Or, I'm thinking I'll go sit on the couch and read my new issue of Self. Or maybe watch the news; that's sure to infuriate my right-wing, the-media-is-biased self!

September 24, 2008

10 Things I Believe In

10. I believe in being honest. Lying or just failing to tell the whole story will only come back to haunt you. In the words of Indian Larry, "Don't lie. It's less shit to remember." Tell the truth the first time, save yourself the stress!

9. I believe in the healing power of laughter.

8. I believe that the bible is not historically accurate, especially the Old Testament. The New Testament wasn't even finished until 60 A.D. Check this out.

7. I believe that I shouldn't have to navigate through 17 "options" on my phone's keypad just to find a human being on the other end. I should be able to dial the 1-800 number and have a person answer.

6. I believe old people have a lot to teach us and we should listen with both ears wide open and our mouths shut.

5. I believe in evolution. All one needs to do is go to the zoo and stand at the chimpanzee or gorilla exhibit and watch them. They didn't learn that behavior by studying us.

4. I believe that Murphey's Law touches every. single. facet. of. my. life. It leaves no stone unturned. If it can go wrong, it will. Just give it time.

3. I believe that Andy Kaufman is alive and well.

2. I believe that some people aren't meant to be parents. Some people just aren't programmed with that gene and they shouldn't be admonished for not wanting children. I used to get on a few friends' cases about it but I've given it a lot of thought and I realize I was wrong.

1. I believe that no matter how old you get or how much life experience you have, there will always be someone in the wings to beat you back down, to inform you of your immaturity, and to remind you that you're not a real person until you've passed 40. Or 50. 60? It's usually a parent.

My Weekly Writing Assignment

So Mama Kat gave us a choice of four prompts this week:

1) Lost? How come?
2) If I could take tomorrow off work, I would...
3) Write a letter to someone you miss greatly
4) 10 things I believe in

I'm going to complete #3 today and #4 tomorrow. I know you're only supposed to pick one but they're both so involved and exciting fodder for a writer, I just can't help myself.


Dear You'll-Know-Who-You-Are-In-A-Minute,

'Sup? We haven't seen each other in over five years and we only occasionally speak on the phone. That's my fault. I'm a horrible phone person, have been for years. The only person I can gab on the phone with really well is my mom and I think that's because I'm well-practiced in that. We have unlimited long distance and I rarely use it. I think it's because I'm afraid that I'm too boring for you now. My stories have bored you since I moved out least, that's what I surmise from your not-so-ambiguous rants about people who act like they're octogenarians and spend a good deal of time online, talking to the people who live inside their computer (whom they may or may not have met in person). I'm 99% certain that was directed at me but I chose not to say anything because I didn't want us in the same exact place we were this time last year.

I know I've changed a lot since I left and for the simple fact that it's clearly disappointing to you, I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry for who I am now. I've gone from left to right, east to west, and from being an outgoing extrovert to being a homebody who'd rather curl up with her ratty 12-year-old blanket and watch HGTV than hit the bar. So when you call and have all these stories about work, about people I used to know and hang out with, your house, the old 'hood...well, I have none of that and I come off as boring and hermit-like. I feel less boring when we email and exchange comments on MySpace.

I wish there were fewer miles between us. I still consider you my best friend and you have no idea how many times I've wished you lived closer so I wouldn't be so damn bored. We'd probably just sit and watch informercials for Time-Life music collections or listen to Pink Floyd and reminisce about our younger days, but it'd be time well-spent. I know you and a whole league of people wish we'd move back. Although our actions don't say so, we do miss Pennsylvania. We miss the people, the attitude, nice Walmarts, and having fewer junkies and meth heads to deal with in our grocery store parking lots. But as bad as our financial situation seems out here, it'd be ten times worse back there. We talk about moving all the time and someday, I guarantee you, we will. It just won't be anytime soon.

Please don't be disillusioned with me. I know I'm shitty at calling people and that I may come across as a loser who's developed roots in the chair at her computer desk, but rest assured, the old me is alive and well. She just doesn't have any real friends out here or any idea how to meet them. If I'm being quite honest, I think I've been keeping that possibility at a distance because I know how hard it was to leave the friends I've had my entire life and move across the country. I don't want to do that again.

So please don't fault me too hard for not calling. And please understand that despite my seemingly lonely existence, overall my mental health is just fine. Moreover, please understand that I do miss you. We might not agree on everything but you are and always will be my best friend, miles be damned.

And I will forever crack a smile when I hear Ralph Wiggum (thank you, by the way, for the birthday card, I had to explain the whole "sleep in a drawer" thing to Rob after he saw it), see a Schwinn, or catch "Whole Lotta Love" on the radio.

God, I've gone on long enough. You get it. I'm sure you know who "you" are by now. And I sound like a schmuck. Take care, dude.


September 23, 2008

"I Love Being Married..."

...says Rita Rudner. "It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life."

How true is that?! A while back, a certain lady in Canada asked her readers to blog about what makes them just a little hard to love. I obliged, and now I want to turn the tables.

"My husband and I have never considered divorce. Murder, maybe...but never divorce." - Joyce Brothers

1. He couldn't hit a clothes basket or hamper with his dirty clothes if he were standing inside the basket. He'll get undressed in one spot - never moving his feet except to kick off pants and socks - and leave his clothes in perfect formation around where his feet were. Every night, I pick up a pile of pants and two balled-up socks (balled up, of course, because he toed them off).

2. He chews tobacco. Okay, I guess in Tobaccoese, he actually dips snuff but that sounds like he's doing some sort of illicit drug. He used to chew Copenhagen and now, due to the extreme price of tobacco in California, he chews Grizzly Wintergreen. You can't imagine the stink of that stuff. And the spitters!!!! You haven't lived until your husband has run out of spitters and begins using empty Diet Coke cans - which YOU get to empty before you recycle them. Want to get even more squeamish? Have a spitter spill on you.

3. He will not shut up about motorcycle clubs. The 801, the Mongols, the Hell's Angels...the Red & White is his club of choice. He's bent on being associated with them in some form, if not becoming a member. He reads up on them, especially about Sonny Barger, and jabbers like a monkey in a damn tree about them. Now don't get your panties in a twist and be all "Oooh, bikers are bad. Motorcycle gangs are bad. Your husband's a bad man." Huh-uh. We've established that should this ever materialize for him - and if I'm being honest, I doubt it ever will - that it will not have any impact on who he is at home or affect his relationship with me and the kids. He knows how much I'm willing to tolerate and where his loyalty needs to lie. If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's to be nobody's doormat and to BE the squeaky wheel...and to accept nothing less than what I deserve.

4. He is forever HOT. While I do find my husband very attractive, I literally mean his internal thermostat must be broken. It's 60F outside, all of our windows are open, the ceiling fan is running at full tilt, he's wearing cotton shorts and a Hanes undershirt...and sweating. I'm wearing cotton shorts, a regular t-shirt, a wool blanket, and a hoodie and I'm cold. Obviously, he's in the wrong here. He can't possibly be hot. Right?

5. As a result of #4, he refuses to sleep upstairs in our loft bedroom until it's c-o-l-d outside. I think he's waiting for a frost or something. We've spent maybe a total of 30 nights in our bed. Otherwise, we're sleeping on our obscenely big and massively uncomfortable sectional. Oh, and our son is all cramped up in his pack 'n play which, at this age, is more of a jail cell while mommy cooks or runs to the bathroom than it is a suitable bed. I wish I could stuff a portable crib mattress in there so he could be a bit more comfortable but those damn warning labels are everywhere, all about the suffocation risks and whatnot, making me nine kinds of paranoid. He's 11 months old and it's mesh-sided. How much suffocation could happen? But as we know, I'm a stickler for the rules.

6. He has an almost obscene loyalty to the company he works for. He's been there for just over five years and honestly, they probably should have fired him by now. Not for anything really bad. He's never lied, stolen, sabotaged, nothing like that. But he's accidentally broken a few very expensive parts and botched a few very important jobs that, if his boss had a bug up his ass and took a notion, could have been cause for termination. Anyway, he keeps talking about finding a new job but when one's offered, he finds 100 different reasons he shouldn't take it.

7. He won't listen to anything but country and classic rock music. I'm trying to branch out into the world of rock again, at least the more adult stuff, as well as people like Michael Buble, Josh Groban, etc. But every time he gets in the car and I drove it last, he gets all butt-hurt because a station that isn't country is on.

8. He makes me call the nurse advice line for him. He has back pain, spots in his vision, a cough, and I'm the one calling them. He knows damn well they won't offer any advice to me, that they need to talk to him because of confidentiality and all that, but he still insists that I call. I also need to go to doctors' appointments with him because he starts stuttering when he has to describe symptoms.

9. His infuriating incredible ability to tune everything except the TV out. I'm telling him something life-altering and he's off somewhere in the twilight zone, watching "Sons of Anarchy" or one of his MSNBC specials on motorcycle clubs and infiltrations by the FBI that he's DVRd. He won't hear a word.

10. The above-mentioned television shows. He's hooked on SoA and has watched those two news specials at least a dozen times each. He's such a nerd about being a biker! It's cute, really, but more annoying. We have books written by bikers (including three by Sonny Barger), a subscription to Easyrider, movies, and a friend at work who's treasurer of a club in San Jose. The man needs a new hobby. I almost miss his obsession with golfing. Almost.

So tell me about your partner in crime. What do they do that gets under your skin? Hook up with Mr. Linky and let me know!

Mama Kat's Cleaning Up!

And so can you, just by visiting her blog and reading about her
Hoover giveaway, then commenting on it, blogging about and giving her your new link. Go on, who couldn't use a new vacuum? I could! Besides, it's self-propelling. It does the work for you!

September 22, 2008

Mother's Intuition or The Big Group of Doctors???

My baby, my son, will be 11 months old this coming Sunday. I don't know where the time went, it seems I was pregnant yesterday. In his short 11 months, he has done everydamnthing early.

*He was rolling in both directions by 4 months.
**This is also when he started solids and had NO problems with it.
*He was army crawling and sitting up at 5 months.
*Discovered he could use a straw/cup at 6 months.
*He was off his belly and crawling around at 7 months.
**This is when we stopped the purees completely, again with no problems.
*He was pulling up on furniture at 8 months.
*He started walking at 9 months.
*All he does is walk now, rarely crawls, and "jargons" constantly. Knows "Mum-mum," "ba-ba," "breh," and occasionally "dada." Translated: mum-mum, bottle, bread, dada.

We just can't keep this kid from learning. Maybe it's because Beth hit all of her milestones, save for talking, right on the "average" mark, and she's really the only gauge we have to compare him to. Maybe we're just those parents who assume they have the Prodigal Child and naturally, he'll be advanced. I don't know. Either way, the topic of cow's milk has come up.

We didn't start switching Beth until a few days before first birthday. We very much stuck to the AAP's recommendations when we did everything with her for fear of breaking her. Kaiser, our HMO, has a delightful way of scaring the everlovin' CRAP out of you that you will inevitably, by hook or by crook, cause your child to die of SIDS. There's a warning with guidelines on what not to do on the handouts you get at every well-child check-up. There are videos. Classes. Reminders at appointments. When we finally did transition her, we had to go through a two-week-long soy milk phase to get her off the formula because her tummy, and henceforth her lower intestine, didn't appreciate the change. In turn, mommy didn't enjoy the aroma wafting from her Huggies.

But with Bubba, what with all his earliness, we're toying with the idea of starting milk when this big can of formula runs out. Buy a smaller can and a gallon of whole milk, and go slow. It's only a month in advance. He eats so well now and plows through more than 30 ounces of formula in a day. That's a lot! By the time we finish this can, he'll have gone through a 32-oz. can in 10 days. I know there's the whole iron factor, but this kid eats red meat, turkey, canned beans, bread...he gets his iron. He's not overweight; in fact, he was in the 67th percentile for weight and 65th for height at his 10-month check-up.

There is the concern of developing diabetes, but I've not read the studies that show the likelihood of that as a direct result of cow's milk before a child's first birthday. I doubt it's substantial. Anyway, our families have no food allergies, just outdoorsy allergies: dust, mold, trees, grass, pollen.

I want to switch him over. So does my husband. We know he's ready and can handle it. But I'm a chronic rule-follower, I'm nerdy like that, and I haaaaaaaate to bend the rules. Rob wanted to start him on solids at 3 months and at first I agreed. So we bought the cereal...and it sat in the pantry until his four-month birthday because I was too chickenshit to break the rules.

Every child's different, right? So what harm will a few weeks difference do? None...right? I'm such a waffler. I need a Magic 8 Ball.

"An Ashtray From the Friars in New York"

As a self-confessed fan of all things Hollywood, I have to talk about the Emmys. The show certainly had more low points than high and there seemed to be no cadence to the show. The hosts were, to say the least, the worst in the 60 years of the Emmys and I sincerely hope the producers don't make the same mistake next year. Kudos to Jeremy Piven for calling them out on it: "...what if I just kept talking for 12 minutes, what would happen? That was the opening..."

I'll hit on the low points first so that I can end my post on a happier note.

- Tommy Smothers I'm all for belatedly awarding people for their accomplishments. Hooray for Tommy Smothers' award. I realize that "The Smothers Brothers" was a "politically aware" show and that they were canned far sooner than they'd have liked. But was all the blathering on really necessary?
- Jennifer Love Hewitt's hair Medusa?
- Laura Linney Speaking to her support to Barack Obama, she was a bit smug and presumptuous when she said, " organizers that help form our country." Heh. We'll see.
- Steven Colbert & Jon Stewart I don't watch either of them but the bit about the prunes was annoying.
- Celebrities' behavior The brazen and deplorable use of camera time to step up on a collective soapbox to cheer Democrats and boo Republicans. Again, I know that not everyone thinks like I, and other Republicans, do. That's the beauty of America and the principle it was founded on: we can think what we want, vote how we wish, speak what we will, and basically do as we please within reason. But save that for the appropriate venues. I turn on the Emmy Awards to see celebrities win awards, wear clothes that cost more than we make in month, catch them in candid moments, and to remember who's died this past year. I don't watch it to be inundated with an actors convictions and snide remarks toward the GOP. I don't care which side of the House your beliefs sit on, an awards show should be just that: for awards. Nothing else.

Then there was the stuff that made me smile.

- Ricky Gervais & Steve Carell How hysterical was that bit? I love Steve Carell. His ability to hold a straight face while staring down something that was cracking thousands of people up around him is incredible. If you watched closely though, you could see the corner of his mouth twitching.

- Josh Groban His medley of TV theme shows throughout the years was absolutely sensational! Who knew Josh Groban could rap? Or do "South Park" voices so dead-on? Fabulous, I tell you.

- Kathryn Joosten She won for Guest Actress in a Drama Series ("Desperate Housewives," where she plays neighbor Karen McCluskey) and I think she really deserves it. Check out her bio.

- Don Rickles I can't find a YouTube video yet but when I do, I will absolutely post it. He was, dare I say it, the funniest part of the evening. I loved that Kathy Griffin (who, by the way, I can't stand) had to keep him on track with the teleprompter. "Let's read the funny lines they wrote for us," he said, when she told him that it was flashing, indicating they needed to hurry up. When he won his Emmy for Variety, Music or Comedy Special with "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project", he said, "I've been in the business 55 years, and the biggest award I got was an ashtray from the Friars in New York."

Not the best Emmys ever, but certainly not the worst. Thoughts?

September 18, 2008

"I Spent 20 Years Trying to Get Out of This Place..."

...First line of "Who Says You Can't Go Home?" by Jon Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles

All my life, every step I took towards my high school graduation and my eventual migration to college (all of 45 minutes away), my mom insisted I get the hell out of Crawford County.

"There's nothing here!" she'd say. "No jobs, no future, you'll end up broke and bored, and probably working at the hospital with me," she'd lament. "Go to college, get a degree, and get a good job somewhere else," is what got beaten into my head for the better part of 18 years.

You can only hear something so many times before you start to believe its veracity. So I hauled myself off to college for four years, taking breaks only over the summer to live at home and work part-time jobs.

Funny sidenote: over the course of three summers, I worked four "part-time" jobs. Average work week? Somewhere between 39 and 90 hours. "Part-time my ASS."

I got my degree after changing my major from psychology - which could have garnered me a decent career and job - to English...which garnered me nothing. Since graduation I've worked as a receptionist, and administrative assistant, a salad bar attendant and a cashier. Now I blog. Writing hasn't earned me much.

But I did manage to get out of Crawford County. I stopped just short of crossing the International Date Line and landed near San Francisco, California. I think I got as far away from Crawford County as I could without needing a visa. Hey, I figure if it's worth doing, I'm going to do it to the Nth degree. Getting a hair cut? I don't just shave off an inch or two, I go from Jekyll to Hyde.

But it's come to light in the last few years that my mom has willed the house, and the majority of its contents (save for a few items that belong to my older siblings because they were originally mom's first husband's mothers things), to me. I sort of assumed it would be simply because it was the house I grew up in, not them. They grew up in south Florida. It saddens me in ways I can't fully explain to have to discuss my mom's will with her. It never occurred to me that I'd have to talk about it before I turned 30.

That said, the prospect of inheriting the house I grew up in is kind of exciting. It's a turn-of-the-century house, which I guess makes it somewhere between Colonial and Victorian. It certainly looks more Colonial. It's your basic two-story house. It's seen, that we're sure of, three or four floods due to its proximity to the "crick," which is what locals there call it. Most would call it a "creek." So after the last flood in 2004, mom had lots of work done. She got new drywall in all of the downstairs rooms, new carpet and new floorboards, and a bunch of other stuff that completely escapes me because I've only heard about it; I haven't been home in five years.

I've recently turned into an HGTV nut. Rob and I watch "House Hunters" and "If These Walls Could Talk" all the time, we DVR them in mass quantity. Mom's house, as old as it is, just has to have some secrets! The whole house used to be a duplex. My grandfather bought it 1946 and turned it into one house. He also dug the basement. The archways that separate the living room from the front room and the dining room used to have pocket doors. Mom claims her dad took them out when he plastered in the archways, but I don't see the reasoning behind that. Why not just tuck them into the walls? The back porch used to be a fruit cellar. There's a coal chute on the side of the house than dumped into the basement, which used to house a coal furnace. A pot-bellied stove used to sit in the living room. And, for those who know the layout: what's now the entrance to the cellar used to be the second kitchen. The wall that the freezer sat against wasn't there, neither were the steps down to the cellar, and that floor continued to the edge of the cellarway shelf. Also, the downstairs bathroom isn't original, my grandfather built that, too.

Home ownership is exciting. We know damn well we'll never buy a house out here. It's too damn expensive and quite honestly, we don't want permanence out here. We don't fit in out here and we never will. Our politics don't jive, our lifestyles don't jive, and nothing's ever felt like "home."

I used to say I never wanted to go back to Pennsylvania, let alone to Crawford County. I don't know that I do now, but I know it's in my future so I've been thinking about it more and more lately. I have very conflicted feelings about it, to be honest. I get a bit panicky thinking about the fact that a trip to the "local" supermarket requires 20 minutes driving in each direction as well as a list of other things to do while I'm in Meadville because I don't want to have to drive back there all over again later in the day. Shopping takes planning. Out here, I grab my keys and debit card and walk half a block.

Plus, my yesterdays are back there. I've changed a lot since I left and I'm not sure I'd fit in there anymore. I know I'd be more comfortable but I'm worried about our reception because I'm paranoid like that and have serious self-esteem issues.

Ugh. I think too much. I wish I had a picture to share with everyone, but all my pictures are in some corner of some room in a dusty old box in what used to be my room. You can go home again, right?

September 17, 2008

A Thousand Words Thursday

My Weekly Writing Assignment

I'm really starting to like this Mama Kat lady. Every week I start to worry I've run out of blog fodder. Then her weekly writing assignment pops up and all my worries go away. I have something to blog about!

This week, I've chosen to "...write about a heart that wouldn't quit." It took me all of 3.6 seconds to figure out who housed that heart: my Aunt Joann.

My first memory of her was when I was about five years old and we were in New Jersey for my Uncle Bill's 50th birthday party. She had planned a surprise party and the only thing I remember is her coming out of her bedroom, hair done and HUGE (hey, she lived in New Jersey and it was 1985, it's the perfect recipe for big hair), wearing a Crayola-blue sweater adorned with sequins. Remember folks, it was the '80s. She was the hostess with the mostess and smiling the whole time. I'm pretty sure I got sent to bed directly after the "Surprise!" because it was a grown-up's party and who wants a five-year-old weaving around their legs when they're trying to get their drink on and tell crude jokes?

Aunt Joann was an exceptional woman who had an amazing and exciting life. She was full of stories! She worked for the local police department during my lifetime but when she was young, she was a rollerskating waitress at a drive-in! I didn't discover that until very recently and I think it's awesome. She and Uncle Bill lived and traveled everywhere and managed to have four kids along the way. They settled in New Jersey and really made a terrific life for themselves there.

She was worldly in my eyes and yet the most down-to-earth soul I'd ever known. I could talk to her in a way I could never talk to my mom; she put me at ease and she was that way with everybody. Over the course of about four years, I took one cousin from my dad's family and four different friends with me to visit them in New Jersey and they all came away feeling like part of the family because of Aunt Joann's open-arms demeanor. She was a bright, generous and warm soul that always seemed to have a glow about her. She tried damn hard to never see the negative in anything just to keep people smiling around her; she hated to see people sad or angry.

Aunt Joann passed away in 2001. I was in town that whole week and through the viewings and burial. Second hardest time in my life, hands down. I was dealing with my own loss and at the same time trying to be strong for those around me, like my cousin Bill - with whom I was staying - and his pregnant wife, Debbie. Inside, I was a basket case, but on the outside I stayed as stoic as possible. I did the same thing when I lost my dad. It was easier to shut down and internalize my struggle than burden anyone else with it. She'd have smacked me in the back of the head for it but I also knew she'd understand my reasons.

I never grasped the full scope of her effect on people until the calling hours at the funeral home. Through both sets of calling hours, from start to finish, there was a line out the door of people wishing to pay their respects. Friends, friends of friends, the cashier at the local grocery store, business professionals, former co-workers, neighbors, family from across the country...anybody and everybody she ever came in contact with, it seemed. She talked and welcomed into her circle just about anybody. That's just who she was. She made no apologies for it and even took some good-natured razzing for it but it never slowed her down. She loved hard and loved unfailingly.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. I still have all the letters she wrote me during high school and college. We wrote a lot of letters. She didn't have a computer and thus didn't email so snail mail was our thing. When she died, I left a little letter in her casket. It seemed fitting. I wish I had a way to let her know that her effect on me is everlasting: I learned that it's okay to love and it's okay to show your true colors, no matter what people may say. Love who you are and be proud of who you are, but most importantly be happy with who you are.

She is a heart that never quit.

Flippin' Switches & Changing Tracks

My daughter's diet over the last couple of years has been, to say the very least, limited. She wouldn't touch vegetables with a ten-foot pole and her fruits were limited to bananas and the fig in Fig Newtons. She wouldn't eat any lunch meat, her only real meat was chicken and that was only under deep-fried conditions, and her starches were crackers, refried beans, and chips. You might think she had a peanut butter fetish (okay, one might still think that, but that's all going to change soon, I just know it). Thankfully, she drank a lot of water, but that was the only healthy aspect to her diet, really.

Now I don't know who or what is responsible for what has transpired over the last week. Who - or what - it is, I'd love to wrap my arms around them and welcome them to the family, give them a spare key to our place and possibly write them into our yet-nonexistent will. Beth's daily diet usually looks like this:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup milk
1/2 peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread

Snack: 10 Wheat Thins or Triscuits

Lunch: 1/2 peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread

Snack: Banana

Dinner: Nothing. She hated just about everything I made except for burritos or quesadillas.

As a result of not eating her dinner, she got no dessert. She often went to bed hungry.

That said, we didn't start enforcing the "If you don't eat your dinner, you get no other food until breakfast the next day" mantra until the last six or seven months, basically since we moved into this place. Is it possible that it's paying off? She "gets" it? I ask this because this was today's diet:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup milk
1/2 peanut butter sandwich on wheat (mommy was too tired
to make eggs this morning)

Snack: 1/2 diced peach (fresh, not canned)
1/2 container of cherry yogurt

Lunch: 1/2 peanut butter sandwich on wheat again (we're on a budget
this week; once we're back to normal, I'm thinking of
euthanizing the whole Peanut Butter Extravaganza)

Snack: 3 baby carrots

Dinner: A few bites of chili, to which she replied, "It's yummy

Snack: A whole Granny Smith apple

Does my daughter, who is - much like her mother - not so swift on the uptake at times, finally understand that she needs to eat what she's given and that maybe, just maybe, it's okay to try new foods if they look appealing?

That above-mentioned peach? Her first in about 2.5 years. That's right: two and a half YEARS.

I hopped out to the store tonight with cash I got selling an old PDA and bought more yogurt, string cheese, and grapes. Weeeeeeee!!!!!

"I only surround myself with people I find intellectually stimulating." - Vada Sultenfuss, My Girl

Smart girl, that Vada.

So I'm plucking this idea from Jo-Jo's blog. For once, my life is drama-free and I've nothing to rant about today, so I'm going to encourage you all to expand your blog roll. We could all use a few more distractions from being productive, right? Right.

Here's what you do: Pick four of your favorite blogs and visit their blog rolls. From each roll, pick one blog you've never read or commented on. Add them to your roll or feed and read them for a month, at which point you should enjoy reading them so much you wouldn't think of removing them. Then you post links here to the new blogs you're reading, and why you chose to read them, as well as whose blog roll you plucked them from.

The first blog I'm adding is from Jo-Jo and I chose Ann Again...and again. I chose her because I've seen her on many blog rolls and I figure she has to be good at what she does!

The next blog will be Sex Diairies of a Mom from Jen's blog because honestly, who could turn away from that title? Also because I wish I was as uininhibited as she, to freely write about my more...*ahem*...intimate life.

The number three spot goes to Mama Kiss from Denise's blog. I ended up choosing Mama Kiss because I'd read or commented on all of the other blog's on Denise's roll. Process of elimination!

And the final spot, and it's last only because I'm working my way through all my bookmarks, goes to The Tattooed Mama, because I am a tattooed mama. Not nearly as tattooed as this lovely lady, but I do have ink and want much more ink. Found her blog at Plunger Girl.

So go on, add blogs! Read! Be merry!

September 16, 2008

A Baby By Any Other Name Would Still Be Bubba.

So as I've mentioned, mom's coming to visit next month. With her she brings a suitcase full of attitude (which she'll be paying an extra $15.00 for, thank you Northwest Airlines) and under her hat she'll have some fabricated snootiness. She'll sneak it past security, she's stealthy like that. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

I'm sure I've mentioned it along the way and if not, no time like the present: my husband we've nicknamed our son "Bubba." As if our redneck flag didn't fly high enough already we had to have a kid whose moniker has been etched in country music fans' minds as the man who shot the jukebox because it made him cry. Went to his truck and got a forty-five, don't ya know.

I didn't like or want it at first. The name, that is. Definitely wanted the baby. He was too cute to give back. I fought that nickname for a few days, insistent that there had to be a different, less Bayou-La-Batre-and-shrimpin'-boats nickname we could bestow upon our son. But no, he was to be Bubba. To this day I call him Robby a few times a day to get him used to his real name but he has yet to answer to it.

At any rate, we had some strong opposition to this name. My father-in-law and stepmother-in-law have given in to calling him Bubba but did refer to him as Little Robby for a few months. My mother-in-law calls him "the baby." My mom, however, is its most staunch opponent. She refuses to call him Bubba. She just won't. She say "the baby" or "Robby," but never "Bubba."

I honestly don't see the big deal. He has plenty of time to learn his real name, the name teachers will read aloud when they do roll call at school. He's a smart kid and we're hoping to dispell the myth that all Bubbas are dumbass hicks who don't give a hoot about education. Mom, on the other hand, I think she's convinced he'll do nothing but live up to the nickname if we insist on keeping it.

I've tried telling her, nay, warning her that during her stay, he's not likely to respond to "Robby." He always answers to "Bubba," but never "Robby." She doesn't care! She'd rather call him by a name he may respond to if only because of the familiarity of double-bs, maybe 20% of the time, than by a name that will get her a smile every time. Stubborn elitist.

Seriously, it's just a name! Get over it, woman!

more animals

September 15, 2008

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go To Bed

Denise tags me with a survey. Heh. I'm a sucker for these things because somewhere, deep down inside, there lives an narcissistic egomaniac who's convinced all 30 visits I get to my blog every day are visits searching for the "real" me. Here are a few more questions to answer that undying question:

1. Where were you 10 years ago?
- I was 19, a brand new freshman in college. I was still going home every weekend to see my boyfriend who, at this point, I was thinking about breaking up with.

2. What is on today's To Do List?
- Go to sleep!

3. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
- Pay off our debt, pay back a few people, buy a house out here and a house back east, sock away some money for our kids' college funds as well as money for when they need it (house, car, etc.), put a bunch away to live on when we blow through the rest of it...and after that, furnish the abovementioned houses. I love decorating.

4. Name 5 places you have lived:
- Hayward, California
- Fremont, California
- Brentwood, California
- Conneautville, Pennsylvania
- Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

5. Name 3 of your bad habits:
- I have a penchant for sweet stuff (ice cream, cakes, cookies, candy, etc.)
- I'm a habitual interruptor
- I let my desk pile up with papers for weeks before sorting through it.

6. What are your favorite snacks?
- The aforementioned sweet stuff, chips & salsa, carrots and ranch dressing

7. Who will you tag for this?
- I'm tagging Valeta, Jen, and Shawna.

Five Weeks and Three Days Until Landfall

Or, About A Month From Now, The Perfect Storm Will Manifest When Mom Comes To Visit and We're Under the Same Roof Again for Twelve Days.

From the time I was 17 till my husband and I moved out when I was 23, it was just been me and mom. Mom and me. Two women, too much alike, sharing space. For those of you who aren't familiar with my family - or more specifically, my mom's family - my mom's family is FULL of hot-tempered women. Some are less obvious than others. But we're all very feisty, anger quickly, and can whip ourselves into a panties-twisted frenzy in 1.4 seconds. We take most flip comments way too personally and it ends up with us picking fights with whomever made that unfortunate comment. God help the complete stranger who says something out of turn and I catch wind of it. Some shmuck at the Kaiser pharmacy almost got an earful. Lucky for him, I didn't hear about what was said until we were leaving and he was long gone.

The women in my family, myself included, are not afraid to make a scene. Restaurants, banks, grocery stores, doctors offices...if we've been wronged, everybody within a 25-foot radius, as well as bystanders listening as we exit the building (because we're still bitching and mad as hell when we leave), knows about it.

So imagine two of these women living together, one constantly standing in judgment of the other. We fought like crazy. My poor husband bore witness to us calling each other "bitches," and as I stormed off was left standing there with my fuming mom looking at him as if to say, "What? You wanna say something?" We rarely agree on anything. We can't talk about my brother, politics, religion, how to prepare food, laundry (yes, laundry), childcare...the list is endless.

You know what she said to me right after I graduated from college? And by "right after," I mean, " we're walking out of the stadium and leaving after the ceremony." She did not say, "Congratulations, Darcie," or "I'm really proud of you, kiddo." She said, "So when are you going to start applying to graduate school?"

I wasn't planning on graduate school. Thanks, mom.

So, for the third time in 5.5 years, she's coming out to see us again. Every time she visits, we fight. It's like no time has passed, I haven't aged five years, and she's still in charge of me. She thinks she still has the ultimate influence over me and my decisions. She's actually encouraged me to make decisions regarding our children behind my husband's back! Oy.

I do look forward to my mom's visits, I really do. But a small part of me dreads it because I'm afraid I'm building up her visit to be much more pleasant than experience has taught me it will be. She's very hard on me, she judges and makes rude remarks, and always ends up hurting my feelings. I've tried calling her on it and it only helps in the short-term.

This isn't to say we don't have our laughs and enjoy each others company for the better part of the trip. We do. We reminisce a lot too, which I think she really enjoys as she gets older. Unfortunately, it only takes one remark or reaction from her to sour an otherwise pleasant day.

On the flip side, I can't wait to see her with my kids. When mom last saw Beth, Beth was only 15 months old. She was just learning to walk, had not yet spoken, and in my eyes, was still a baby. Now she's a little girl, 3.5 going on 13, filled with attitude, spunk, and a thirst for knowledge. Let's not forget the fact that she's a totally conversational, talkative, jabbering-like-a-monkey-in-a-tree KID. And of course, there's my son. Happy little guy, all kinds of entertaining.

Seeing her with them will make me wish she lived closer. To them. Not to me. Ha ha. We both agree we're better friends when we live apart. It makes peace easier to keep.

September 14, 2008

Hi, I'm Darcie, and I'm Addicted to Surveys.

Denise saw this on her friends blog and I saw it on hers, so I'm thieving it and filling it out. Enjoy!

7 things I do well:
1. Be a mom
2. Write
3. Spend money
4. Cook
5. Tell the truth
6. Change diapers
7. Kill plants

7 things I don't do well:
1. Sing
2. Save money
3. Handle stress
4. Negotiate
5. Keep up with correspondence
6. Stay organized
7. Run

7 things I have never done:
1. Tried Indian food (and after watching "Kitchen Nightmares," I never will.)
2. Shaved my head
3. Seen the "Star Wars" movies
4. Jumped from someplace very high
5. Had a major surgery (in my mind, tosillectomy doesn't count)=
6. Broken a bone
7. Met my maternal grandparents

7 things I want to do:
1. See the world
2. Buy a house
3. Write a book
4. Move to the country
5. Dye my hair
6. Learn how to cook Chinese food proper...not from packages and jars of sauce.
7. Find the perfect pair of jeans.

7 things I say often:
1. I love you [baby girl, little man, etc.]
2. godDAMit
3. Sit still!
4. Thank you
5. I'll tickle your tootsies! (to the baby)
6. Yes, Boy's here.
7. Let mama see...

7 things my kids think I say often:
1. Stop!
2. Are we going to Lucky?
3. Oh god...
4. Shit
5. Good girl
6. I love you
7. Bath time?

7 things I will NEVER say:
1. I just love bugs.
2. Can we go to a car show?
3. Lets watch a full day of The Outdoor Channel!
4. I hate Diet Coke.
5. Let's make like the Duggars and just keep pumping out kids.
6. I can't wait to get home and watch "Date My Mom."
7. Obama '08!!!

Ha ha.

The Ant Fiasco

We're one of those ratty families that lets their kids snack in the car and it's finally, after three years**, come back to bite us in the ass. Or, more appropriately, the arms/hands/ENTIRE BODY if you ask my daughter.

We went to leave this morning and I noticed a swarm of ants on my son's convertible carseat. Unfortunately for all involved, I freak out. I farking HATE ants. Creepy crawly bastards. My daughter needs no further prompting and starts freaking out too. Now we have two spazzing females and one irritated male. He's trying to brush out all the crumbs and ants from my baby's seat. I try to put my daughter in hers. Huh-uh. No way, no how, was she going to get in there what with the ants making light work of the very-old-cookie-laden cupholder on her booster seat.

Finally, we decide to pack it all in and haul cookies (please excuse the well-placed pun) to the nearest carwash. Sadly, the one across the street was packed to the gills, so we had to go to one a few minutes away. The whole drive there, I'm sitting with my knees together, my boobs scrunched together with my arms wrapped around my purse, and my eyes darting left and right like a Nervous Nelly, convinced that at any moment the ants'll go marching one by one across my shoulders.

Fast-forward to the carwash. My husband, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, insisted I stay outside and "talk" to him while he washed the car. We shared all of five words in 10 minutes. I caught a peek into the backseat and my daughter has flipped her lid. She's screaming, no, she's HOWLING in the backseat, flicking ants off her arms and legs. Poor baby. At this juncture, I really did feel bad. I know how bad the heebeejeebies can get and to be three and feeling it? :(

So my husband pulls the car up to the vacuum and if you thought there was mayhem before, you were wrong. We get her and my son out, as well as their carseats, and as I'm cleaning his, she's STILL shrieking like a banshee. She was having TREMORS. I had to show her both car seats, post cleaning, and the clean interior of the car before she stopped wailing and accepted that "mommy and daddy made the ants all gone."

The rest of the day was lovely! I got my hair cut, and so did Beth, and then we went to lunch at Chevy's. Mmm. Did some shopping at Walmart with the kids, came home, and then had to make a return trip to Walmart with my son to return the formula I bought because I got it home and discovered the metal lid under the plastic lid had been compromised.

All in all, a wonderful day.

**It hasn't been three years since we've cleaned out our car, just three years of feeding the child(ren) in the car. We cleaned it out a few months ago.

September 13, 2008

I Don't Even Have the Words

September 12, 2008

"If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing." ~ Kingsley Amis

This is precisely what print media does for me: annoys the everlovin' SHIT out of me. We get a total of nine magazines and one daily newspaper in our home every month and rarely do I feel like I'm getting the whole story. Now I grant you, specialty magazines are going to have a slant, especially ones like "American Rifleman" and "Cycle World." They're writing to a particular crowd of like-minded people.

However, if you're writing to a much larger, more general demographic - men, women, parents, THE HUMAN RACE - you should really try to be less biased. This is especially true where the newspaper is true. We get the San Jose Mercury News and I occasionally peruse the articles while on my way to the crossword puzzle, one of a few elements necessary to my morning getting off on the right food. I can't stand that newspaper. The Chronicle is worse. Honestly, I'm hard-pressed to find a newspaper I like. I get my news during the morning news and online. I don't much care for ABC/CBS/NBC news either but we watch it for local news, traffic, weather, etc.

My beef today is with magazines, namely "Details." My husband subscribed to this magazine through theCoke Rewards program when we couldn't figure out how to spend our points. We just selected four or five magazines. The rest of the rewards were crappy. So Details was on the short list. It's totally irrelevant to Rob, it caters to white-collar, fashion-conscious guys who shop at stores whose price tags show more numbers to the left of the decimal than to the right. Not my hunny. Heh.

But in the interest of not letting a rag go to waste - and in the interest of having bathroom reading material - we read it. Some of the articles are interesting and revealing but some are irritating and mind-numbingly bizarre. This also got my goat. It's in the "exit" section of "Details," which is the last page and it's a blog-type-thing written by, as near as I can figure, the office ghost. For the life of me, I can't find an author to this damn thing.

The top half of the page...please note the blue box of text. Annoying, juvenile, presumptuous and possibly even racist:

And the bottom half of the page:

This magazine is so pretentious! Needless to say, we won't be renewing this subscription next summer. Anybody need 12 months worth of kindling?

September 11, 2008

My Weekly Writing Assignment

So I read A Mom's World of Madness and Blessings every day and she's again unwittingly reminded me and referred me to our weekly writing assignment. This week, instead of writing a letter to my 10-year-old self, I'll be writing from 20 years in the future to my now-29-year-old self:

Dear Darcie at 29,

Quit being so damn dramatic. Not everything is a catastrophe. Relax, take a deep breath, and step outside the box. Realize that you don't need to get your panties in a bunch every time your "plan" goes askew. It doesn't help the situation and all you end up with is the same amount of stress plus one very uncomfortable wedgie.

Remember to find the positive in all that your children do. Your mom, although she did praise the positive, never failed to admonish the negative just as strongly and it left a pretty big imprint on you. Don't put this burden on your kids. Take their mistakes in stride and don't harp on them. Celebrate their successes and joys and relish them.

Remind your husband more often how proud you are of him and how much you appreciate his hard work to support your family. He needs to hear it and you don't say it enough. He's your rock and you know that but when you don't convey it, he turns into Relationship Ranger and kinda panics.

Please start taking care of your body. You don't want to have your first heart attack at 32 and have to have two open-heart surgeries - one of which is a transplant - by the time you're 63. Heart disease runs in your family and at your current weight and semi-sedentary lifestyle, you're headed down a dangerous path.

Stop staring at your nose. It's big, it's bulbous and you think it's the wrong shape and size for your face. You'd love a nose job but you can't really decide on a better nose and quite honestly, you know you'd feel weird if you actually did change it. So give up. Learn to love your nose. Embrace your inner-Evans-family trait.

Try to keep your chin up. I know things are tough right now and you're getting damn tired of being the Broke Shopper at discount grocery stores, tired of not being able to pay that nagging dentist bill, tired of boring weekends at home because you can't afford to go out...but someday you'll look back at this and smile. You'll smile at the experience, the wisdom you gained, and the fun you created when you couldn't afford to go buy the fun.

Please realize that you can't please everyone. Not everyone will agree with, much less support, your decisions. Be okay with who you are now and who you're becoming! It's not what you had planned ten years ago but it is what it is. You're happy, overall, although you do have your lows. The lows are fleeting though and to be sure, quite trivial. You're not 20 anymore. You don't honestly miss partying till all hours of the morning. You do miss smoking but you always will. Don't start again.

Some may have trouble understanding why you moved all the way out to California and chose to stay there in the face of perpetual brokeness, one turd from the universe after the other seemingly showering down on you sometimes. You did it so you could really figure out who you were...and it's working for you. You're finding your voice and it's really empowering. Hold on to that!

Finally, remember that although your driver's license says "MyLastName," you're still an MyMomsMaidenName and we're a strong, persevering and tenacious breed. We're known for keeping our noses to the grindstone, holding our heads up high and our backs straight, doing what needs doing to get through the toughest of times. This time in your life is no different. Never lose this sense of purpose.

You in 2028.

It's Like A Train Wreck!

You just can't help but read the damn thing. Rachel Lucas' post today caused another slam-my-head-in-the-door moment. Oh, the poor abortion industry in Canada, whatever will they do? How will they stay open if a few of those "...nine out of ten women given a diagnosis of Down syndrome..." decide to - brace yourself for the unthinkable - keep the baby?

Is this really the mindset of ob/gyns in Canada? In any country? That it's a better thing to abort babies given a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome? Better for whom? I know I'll get a lot of strong responses to this, possibly in both directions, but I had to get that off my chest.

The Timeless Question For Every Generation

Where were you when [insert earth-shattering event here]? You can ask every single generation from the last 1,000 years that and get a story. Where they were when the first Model T was released, when the U.S. entered W.W. II, when John Kennedy was shot, when Robert Kennedy was shot, when the four students were killed at Kent State, when the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall came down, the O.J. Simpson verdict (okay, it's not earth-shattering, but everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when the verdict was read), and most importantly and obviously on a lot of minds today: when the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

I know that my post will just be tossed into the large-by-huge pile of posts regarding 9/11 but I would be remiss and disappointed in myself if I didn't bring it up. I didn't know anybody in the trade centers, the Pentagon, or on Flight 93. I didn't know any firefighters that went to any of the crash sites. I am pretty sure that Flight 93 flew over Slippery Rock and I could possibly attest to having seen that plane over head as I stood on our apartment balcony smoking my 15th morning cigarette. The flight path shows that it flew over western Pennsylvania directly between Lake Erie and Pittsburgh, which is where Slippery Rock - right next to the below-noted Grove City - sits.

I woke up a bit before 9:00 a.m., went out and smoked, came back in and made a bowl of cereal, and sat down to watch some TV. I didn't have class until 1 p.m., so I had plenty of time to relax. I flipped on the TV and someone had left CNN on. I saw a burning skyscraper and from then on, it was kind of a fog. My boyfriend (who, by the by, is now my husband) called me an hour later from California to ask me if I was okay because he'd heard a plane had "gone down near Pittsburgh." If you know Pennsylvania at all, you know that anything in the western half of the state is considered "near Pittsburgh" so he was understandably concerned.

I remember calling my mom to commiserate and then calling the professor who taught the class I was supposed to go to that afternoon, just to confirm we were even holding class. He said we were, but the whole hour and fifteen minutes we were there, we just talked about the tragedies. Given our proximity to NYC, a few people in the class either knew people in the National Guard who'd been called in, knew someone in the trade center, knew a firefighter, or had friends who did. The feeling in the room was very heavy, very uncertain, and very sad.

In the days that followed, I remember talking with my roommates about the outrage we felt, as Americans, being attacked. I remember talking about the possible reenactment of the draft. I remember crying at odd times, thinking about all the families who lost husbands, boyfriends, wives, children, parents...and I think that as the years pass by and I mature just a little more, every anniversary of 9/11 hits a little closer to home. I remember seeing American flags everywhere I went and I thought that was absolutely terrific. I'd never been prouder to be an American.

If you want a good account of how hard 9/11 hit the families directly affected by the tragedy, read Lyz Glick's book. She wrote it for her daughter, Emerson, who was only three months old when her dad, Jeremy Glick, led the charge to take over the hijackers on Flight 93. It's a heartwrenching story and it reveals a side to mourning most don't ever think about. Just read the first few pages.

Anyway, that's where I was. Where were you?

September 10, 2008

The Birthday Tally

So today was my 29th birthday. In and of itself, not a big deal. But I'm a firm believer that whenever possible, the birthday girl/boy should be treated a little nicer, have an easier day, on that particular day. Here's the numerical rundown of my special day:

- Thirteen. The number of online greetings I received from friends and family via MySpace and Facebook. Yes, I'm a social networking whore. So?

- Three. The number of actual birthday cards I received in the mail. One was from our leasing office. It read, "Darcie, Hope you have a great 1." Edumacated people they have working in there.

- Two. Number of well-wishing phone calls I got today. One was a nice call this evening from my brother-in-law. The other was my stepmother-in-law who wished me a happy birthday and then proceeded to tell me that she and my father-in-law, whose birthday is this coming Sunday, were having her oldest daughter's family down to have cake and ice cream for my father-in-law's birthday. Every year since I've been out here, we've always celebrated my birthday in conjunction with his, except for last year when he turned 50. This year: not so much invited and in fact, getting my nose rubbed in it. I guess this'll teach me to forget HER birthday in times of massive amounts of personal stress and chaos.

- One. One gift, received via UPS from my mom by way of The Cracker Barrel, which is her place of employment. It was actually a huge box with a bunch of culinary goodies for all of us and then my gift: a Pepto-Bismol-pink t-shirt that was very telling of either my mom's memory slipping or her complete misunderstanding of the inherent joke of the shirt:

**By the way, if you actually know my mom and happen to see her, please don't mention this. I don't want her feelings hurt, I do appreciate her gesture with the gift, and if you know my mom, you know this isn't a can of worms that needs opening.


To be fair to my husband, we'd already discussed that I'd celebrate my birthday proper this weekend, after payday. With that in mind, I wasn't expecting anything on the homefront, other than a little R&R...which didn't really happen for me. I had to work, so Boy was here, and Bubba was a screamin' Mimi today, he just wouldn't stop yelling and crying! I think it's his next set of teeth coming up.

When I ran to the store this evening, Rob had Beth make me what turned out to be the best card I've ever received.

For those that aren't familiar with a three-year-old's script: Happy Birthday Mom"

My little family unit? Yeah, we're not quite as refined as the upper echelons of society. We like our music loud, we tell crude jokes, and we'll eat our dinners on the couch with "Seinfeld" on...but we got a lot of love and no amount of shit from the universe can destroy that. I could prattle on about the negative points in my day but with a birthday card like that, who can complain?

September 9, 2008

Why are my fish swimming upside down?

I just looked up at the fish tank and the two big fish - the Moor and the Ryukin - are hanging out, upside down, tail to tail. Considering how non-diligent I am about cleaning the fish tank, one would think they're mating but I don't think the water is brackish enough yet. Hm. Have I mentioned that I really wish we didn't own fish because I'm tired of them being my responsibility? Especially when we have six fish in a six-gallon tank, so cleaning is a semi-weekly thing, and were I vigilant about the filter, I'd have to replace it every week. These fish are money pits!


So we have a beef with Kaiser. Where the kids are concerned, we really can't complain. The pediatrics department has been stellar since Beth came along and their pediatrician is nothing short of terrific. She answers questions without making you feel like a nuisance or an idiot, she doesn't pass judgment, and she's genuinely nice. Even reception is fairly friendly. But where adult medicine is concerned...I'd just as soon see medicine man in the desert for the treatment we get. It may be sketchy in terms of cleanliness and efficacy but at least he'd treat us like human beings.

Over the past two years, Rob's had problems with his lungs. He's had recurring bouts with what could only be construed as either pneumonia or bronchitis (definitely wasn't bronchitis, but that's what they treated him for) and every time they decide he has one of these two ailments, his x-ray has come back clear. Still, they prescribe 10 days worth of antibiotics and some robitussin with codeine for the cough and send him on his way. It clears up, more or less, but in six months it's back again. It's very frustrating. He's seen four different doctors in two years about this and until this last visit, that's all they've done.

His last visit, this past week, the doctor told him, "I don't want to alarm you, but something might be wrong with your lungs." Yeah, no worries. Tumors, cancer, emphysema, lung failure...he didn't say these things but having had my dad die from cancer, you panic at the mere mention of an organ being compromised. So he orders a breathing test. Good, finally, someone takes another step towards solving the problem. [Truth be told, a breathing test was scheduled in March but Rob got all I-am-man-and-don't-need-this-modern-medicine-bullshit and refused to go.] It gets scheduled for September 8th at 9:30 a.m. In the Thursday and Friday prior, I call to see if anything's opened up, just to get him in earlier. Nothing ever did and on Friday, the nurse I spoke to confirmed his Monday-morning appointment. "Yep," I said, "He'll be there!"

We show up Monday morning, raring to go, at 9:30 a.m. on the nose. The girl, who looked like she woke up on the wrong side of the bed and sucked a lemo, took one look at his Kaiser card and said, "Oh. You're not supposed to be here today." Excuse me? Long story, short: Some broad took the liberty, at 5:20 p.m. on FRIDAY, to reschedule his appointment for the 12th. Nobody called us. There were no automated courtesy calls. Nothing. And then she had the audacity to more or less throw her hands up in the air and inform us in the snottiest tone she could muster, "Well I'm sorry. It's not MY fault. You don't have an appointment today."

He lost a whole day's work (he'd already called off) and thus, pay to make room for this test. That aside, we are WORRIED. If something's wrong, why should we be a) made to feel like bothersome assholes because we showed up on time for his appointment as we knew it, and b) have to wait longer and miss more work because they screwed up? Unreal. I filed a complaint with member services. That's really all I can do.


In happier news, I'm so proud of Beth today. We're participating in the SEED study, which is more or less plucking kids who are autistic or have shown developmental delays - and some who haven't as controls for the study - and conducting biological and psychological tests to determine what's causing delays and possibly, autism. Most of you know that Beth had a speech delay; she didn't start truly talking until she turned two and it was kind of hit or miss until the last year or so. Hence, she was chosen. If her participation can help some parents avoid the air of uncertainty and the worry that it was their fault, then a few bits of paperwork and a clinic visit are well worth it, in my mind.

Up until now, I've just been filling out paperwork and doing one phone interview. Today was her day: she had her psychological evaluation and got blood drawn. I am so proud of her! She handled everything pretty much in stride and we were there for three and a half hours. She also blew through the "games" with the psychologist testing her reasoning, visual perception, and motor skills. She was AMAZING at the lab. Never really cried, never jerked her arm away, she just let them do what they needed to do. Hooray for my little girl!


My little boy is a walkin' fool. He walks EVERYWHERE now. He also stands up in the middle of a room, he doesn't need to pull up on anything. I can't get over how fast he's learning stuff! I give him two or three months before he's running. I jest...sort of.


And, since I don't want to wax narcissistic tomorrow, I'll mention today that I'm turning 29 tomorrow. Not nearly the milestone I'll reach next year, but a milestone of sorts...I'm exiting my twenties. Didn't I just enter my twenties? I have no plans for my birthday, I'll be celebrating this weekend by getting my hair cut and possibly spending a few hours by myself, which could be the best birthday present ever! So, happy birthday to me.

September 8, 2008

Is my slip showing?

I do apologize for the discombobulated look of the blog for now. I've recently joined up with BlogHer and I'm trying to find a layout that works with what I want, colors, fonts, etc.

So bear with me. Thanks.

September 6, 2008

I'm Over It.

"It" being Dooce. I was introduced to her blog last year by my friend Valeta, and I thought she was absolutely hysterical. She was a terrific writer with a sharp wit and hell, she was (and, admittedly, is) the blogosphere's most notable blogger. Everyone knows Dooce. After a while, when I'd relate one of her posts to my husband, I started referring to her as Heather, as though we were friends (yes, I know we aren't). I really admired her and aspired to be as renowned.

But her post on September 4th has completely changed my opinion of her. I have no problem with liberals. I have problems with their views and ideas on politics but I can respect that people have opinions different from my own. My problem is that I don't think she respects any opinion that differs from hers or that challenges her ideas. Her Tweet from 09/05/2008, the day after the tirade: "Ratio of misspelled words to correctly spelled words in my inbox today: I don't think a number exists this high - to - one." I seriously doubt she was referring to all the glowing reviews she got from like-minded people.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how everybody raves about her, how wonderful she is, how funny she is, blah blah blah...and although she is funny, she's become a poster child for blogging and I guess maybe it's just me, but I'm tired of her. I want to read more of us mediocre bloggers. She doesn't have a blogroll. That bothers me. Maybe she feels she'd be inundated with requests to be rolled on such a popular blog or that people will feel she's playing favorites, but it bothers me that she can't be like the rest of us.

I don't know. I'm starting to ramble about this. I still love Redneck Mommy and Shannon and most of those other big-time bloggers, I guess mainly because they still seem real to me. Heather doesn't; she feels more like an idol, an untouchable. Bleh. I want to read people who blog every day about everyday things...the kids, dinner, prime time TV, the asshole at the mall, camping trips, etc.

So hit me up. Blog suggestions? I need new friends to live inside my computer. I doubt Heather will miss me. Heh.

**I'm sorry if any of you still love her to death. I did not mean to offend; these are just my honest feelings on the subject and I had to get them out there.

September 4, 2008

A Thousand Words Thursday

Wanna Win a Necklace?

Check out Minxy Mimi's Beautiful Necklace Giveaway! The contest runs from September 4th-12th and you can enter by commenting on her blog post (after visiting her sponsors website and picking out something else you love), blogging about it on your own blog, Twittering it, or Stumbling it (I, too, haven't the foggiest what Stumble is, Mimi!). So you could have a total of four entries! Yay!

Mimi's a great girl, patronize her, please!

September 3, 2008

A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Self

Mama's Losin' It is doing a writers workshop for Wednesday in which she puts us to task writing letters to our 10-year-old selves. I, for one, am eager to do this! Ever since I first heard Brad Paisley's "Letter to Me," I've pondered what I'd tell myself in a letter to me when I was 17. But 10? Yikes! A lot happened between 10 and 17.

Hang on to your hats, here we go...

Dear Darcie,

You're going to be a good softball player despite your perpetual presence in right field. Don't doubt your abilities and stick with it through high school. You'll regret not trying out. You're going to be good at volleyball, but you have to give it an honest effort. Run harder, try harder and want it more.

Enjoy your ear for music. You have a real gift when it comes to music and you shouldn't brush it aside like it's a nuisance. Embrace your ability to play the piano, practice the trombone more and make Mr. C proud at district jazz auditions. Don't just try out for the day off from school.

You're going to go through a really rough and nasty patch of life between 1994 and 1996. When that stretch is over, find someone to talk to. A therapist, a minister, a close friend, or even your mom - whomever you choose, be honest about your feelings and actually deal with your loss. Otherwise you'll still be dealing with it 12 years later.

Speaking of your mom, stand up for yourself. She's going to be hard on you, especially as high school winds down and you set off for college. She's not going to put things tactfully and she's going to come off as a bully. She means well, she really does, but it won't sound like that and you'll have to hold your ground for what you believe and want. Don't let her bring your spirit down. Love yourself for you, not for what she wants you to be. Then recognize that your mom isn't some superbeing who has all the answers and is infallible. She's a human being capable of making mistakes.

Don't waste your time or emotion on that boy who'll take a shine to you at the end of your 8th grade year. He'll be a sleazy louse for the rest of your high school career and he'll leave you with few good memories. Most of what you'll remember of him is getting your heart broken and being in a vicious cycle of sticking with a guy who doesn't treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

Start a running program. You won't be good at it, not at first. You're not a born runner. But you'll find a natural high in running and maybe you won't be so eager to start smoking when you're 16. Oh, and by the way? Don't start smoking. Turn down that Marlboro on Diana's roof! Running will also whip you into shape and maybe you won't gain 20 lbs when you start college.

Have fun at college but remember: you need to have a little respect for yourself. Make sure you surround yourself with real friends who'll watch your back when you drink too much. Stay away from vodka in dorm rooms. Also stay away from newly-initiated frat boys. Definitely don't mix the two. Major in writing. You'll have a handful of people telling you to do this from the time you're about 15 and it's good advice. When you graduate, utilize their job assistance program. Otherwise, you'll end up working a series of crappy jobs that pay nothing.

When you're nearing your 22nd birthday, you'll meet the man you're going to marry. Make sure he keeps running, he'll lament the day he stopped. Realize that things with your roommates will, for whatever reason, turn sour but that's okay. Real friends have a way of finding their way back to each other again.

That's right, I said married. He'll move mountains for you - and move across mountains for you - and you'll finally realize how you're supposed to be treated.
Cherish him, he's a real diamond in the rough. He'll make you laugh like you've never laughed before.

That's enough for now. A few lessons to carry with you though, and I want you to write them down and put them in your wallet:

1. People are human. Some people are shitty humans. Follow the Golden Rule and treat others like you want to be treated. Remember that not everyone follows this rule though. Take the high road. You'll feel better about it. "Whatever you do today you'll have to sleep with tonight."

2. Be your own self-promoter. Be no one's doormat. The squeaky wheel really does get the grease.

3. Realize that not everyone will agree with your decisions. Don't get all in a funk about that. Stop being a people-pleaser. Say what you want to say, be as honest as you want. If people don't like it, that's their problem.

4. Always pursue freelance writing. Don't give up so easily.

5. Stay away from credit cards. They're bad news.

6. Buy a digital camera before your daughter's born in 2005. You'll wish you'd had it.

7. Love yourself. Find something positive to say about yourself everyday and drown out the mean assholes with a smile and a song.

You, almost 19 years down the line

Update/Addendum on the P.O.S.

Here are some links showing that Obama voted against BAIPA (Born Alive Infants Protection Act), SB #1662 and #1663. (ABC inadvertently copied bill #1663, a companion bill. The vote for the Born Alive bill, #1662, was identical.)

Senate Bill 1095
- Obama's "Present" vote to this bill


Senate Bill #1662

- Obama's "No" vote to this bill

Obama was chairman of the Health & Human Services Committee. On 3/6/2003, Obama postponed voting on 1082
(Illinois' version of BAIPA) and on 3/13/2003, he - and the committee - barred the clarification paragraph from being entered onto the bill.

Sorry I didn't provide these earlier, I was tired when I typed that first entry this morning!

Your Daily Dose of P.O.S.

That's "Piece Of Shit" for those who aren't familiar with that time-saving acronym.

"Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity." ~Edwin Hubbel Chapin

I was watching the RNC with my husband last night and when the topic about Sarah Palin's family - and consequently, her daughters pregnancy - came up, we started talking about how ironic it is that when a Democrat makes controversial decisions, "everybody" thinks that their personal life should be completely separate from their political life. Yet, when a Republican (or their kid) makes a controversial decision, suddenly everyone in that family should pay publicly for that decision. Clinton's trysts in the White House were supposed to be ignored because he was just so wonderful, but we're supposed to have this tainted view of Sarah Palin because their making her daughter own her decision and they're going to support her?

But that's not what I really want to talk about today. In talking about all this, we turned to the topic of abortion and Barack Obama's stance on it. Rob mentioned, in a not-so-offhand way, that Obama is in support of after-birth abortions. Naturally, that stopped me in my tracks. I knew he supported a woman's right to choose (as do most libs) but I had never heard of a politician who was in favor of this horrendous practice.

So I zipped over to the computer to research this claim. His website renounces the rumors, of course. That didn't satisfy me. I don't buy half of what any politicians website says - not even McCain's - and so I searched on. The next site on the list was an article by Jill Stanek. I'd never heard of her before but I figured if it was that far up on the list it had to be pertinent. I read it and was SHOCKED. Stunned. Horrified. Repulsed. Devastated. Broken. Then I found her blog. She's keeping tabs on him, as well as anything abortion-related.

This morning, I found this video:

If that video doesn't move you to tears (or if you're like me, heaving sobs and an unbearable sadness in your soul), then I'm suspect of the presence of your soul. How could he let things like this happen? How could anyone? I mean, if Sens. Kennedy, Clinton, all those way-left Democrats voted against it...and I thought Ted Kennedy was as far left as one could go. Guess I was wrong.

Please don't let this man become president. If he's willing to ignore this practice and not vote against it, you must surely realize that it's just the tip of the iceberg where his character is concerned. You all know abortion will never go away, too many people support a woman's right to choose. In cases of rape, incest, and danger to the mother's health, even I support it. But what's going on in those Illinois hospitals is unfathomable to me and as a mom of two wonderful kids...having watched them come into this world and seeing their eyes look up at me, trusting me to make everything okay, to hold them and to feel their spirit in my arms...I don't know how anyone could stand there and blindly support someone who would allow the inhumane, barbaric killings of babies to go on another day.

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