Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How Do People Think Of These Things?

An iPod driven vibrator? Odd but ingenious.

I have been really tempted by the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) which is a lot like NaNoWriMo (which I completely failed last year). I can post every day for a month (even if I didn't manage to write a 50K word novel in one last year.) The only thing holding me back from signing up is that it's for the month of November. Which starts tomorrow. The day when I get on a plane at 6 am and fly to San Diego for four days. One of my dearest Navy pals is RETIRING and I'm going out to celebrate with her. (Retire. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I'm old enough to retire from anything. The math works as I joined the Navy and went to boot camp when I was 17 - but still.) I'm sure I could find time while I'm out there, but I don't know if I'll have access!
I may sign up and give it a go. (Watch for the button to appear on my sidebar!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

There's Hope

I was already all for stem cell research. This article? Icing on the cake.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Wonder About Weird Stuff

Does everyone get caught up in wondering? Often my wondering is sparked by what's right in front of me but not always. Sometimes it's sparked by something I saw or heard days ago that is finally surfacing in my brain. Sometimes I start trying to figure one thing out but get sidetracked by the idea of how that thing came about in the first place that it needs figuring out. Sometimes I find myself wondering about one thing and then another and then another. Sometimes I can't even begin to retrace my mental steps so it ends up seeming or sounding random.
Today while taking a shower, I wondered how people discovered pumice stones could be used to make your heels softer. (Can you just see someone thinking, "I know! I'll rub a rock on my foot. I could try granite. No, no. I could try sandstone. No, no. I could try pumice. Pumice! That's the ticket. I'll try that.") But then I wondered why it was called pumice. What's the root word there? Pum? Ice? Mice? I thought I should google it and find out - but then began to wonder what people did before google. I had an image of my life B.G. (before google) and then wondered if that was some form of heresy to connect B.C. and B.G. as if google and god were of the same caliber in terms of changing people's lives. What kind of heresy would that be called, do you think? (See how this works for me?) Later (but during the same shower) I wondered if Porter Wagoner said his name with three syllables the way the announcers today said it. (I grew up in Nashville and have only ever before heard it said "Wag-ner" but then I began to wonder if I had in fact heard it differently but didn't think about it at the time which made me wonder about the chemistry of memory.) Still later (when I was drying my hair) I found myself wondering how anyone could like Ann Coulter. And then (when I was supposed to be filling out forms for Mayhem to be on the Ultimate Frisbee team) I mentally wandered off and began to wonder why we eat chickens and not chipmunks. How did that evolve? Not that I'm agitating for people to eat chipmunks. In fact, I'm not much in favor of eating chickens really. But why chicken over chipmunk? There seem to be way more chipmunks around - even if they are smaller. Is it that they're harder to catch? That tiny Buffalo Forelegs would be too hard a marketing angle? THIS is the kind of (go on say it, USELESS) thing I wonder about when I don't mean to be wondering at all. I know it's called "absent minded" but absent implies your mind is away when really it's RIGHT THERE, packed to the gills, going full tilt. Shouldn't it be called "crammed too full to be allowed on the plane minded" (if we wanted to continue with the conventional vacation theme) or more apropos to the pace of thought "rabid weasel minded"?
I wonder.

High Tapioca Tide

Can't blog today. Too pissed off with my ex. I tried venting but I had to erase the whole thing. Some days it helps to put it all out there and some days it makes me unbearably sad and angry to have his absurdity all laid out.

Maybe after we do our ten set run today (eeek!), my brain will be able to focus on something blogworthy.


**Or maybe not. School nurse just called - Mayhem is sick. On a Monday morning. After a weekend with dad. Again. Why doesn't the man believe me that junk food makes Mayhem ill?? How can Mr. Tapioca not understand?? I realize that if he's here, they have to eat "out" - but here in the land of organic everything it is NOT HARD to get good, whole foods even "out". Grrrrr.

**Updated to add: Havoc made it through school but was too sick to walk home and called the mom taxi. Same thing - upset stomach and no fever. Now I'm praying it was just an overdose of junk food and a lack of sleep. I do NOT want to be dealing with an actual stomach virus. :( Need I mention that on top of worrying about how my babies feel - I do not want to be dealing with the lack of health insurance issue?! Good mojo, people - send us some good mojo please!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In Which I Am A n00b

I'm learning how to use some blog tools and I just clipped this map from the Washington Post with Clipmarks. Yay me. Tool user and all that.

blog it
This whole technology plug-in, upgrade thing is a lot like washing the baseboards. You wash the baseboards and see how filthy the carpet is, so now you have to vacuum and shampoo the carpet. Then with the floor and the baseboards so clean, the walls look like ass so you have to clean and then repaint those. Then the blinds look dingy and so on and so on. Today (after my first post when I was trying to write other stuff and do housework) Linus came in and said he'd found this plug-in that I would really like because it would easily and intuitively let me clip bits (pictures, text, or video) from websites to email or blog. Mind you, he'd already tracked Libray Thing down for me this morning. Then, while installing ClipMarks there was the option of having the sources for anything you clip automatically saved in your bookmarks. My buddy Ray has been trying to get me hooked into this thing for...I don't know. How long has it been around? Probably that long and maybe even longer, because like Linus, Ray is a serious computer nerd and is always in on stuff before it even happens. Anyway - I've never quite understood what it was or what the point is. The idea of social bookmarking makes me giggle (bookmarks - so social - wouldn't want to have any of that anti-social, introverted, solitary bookmarking going on) but I like the idea of saving the source of my clips. So we went through another whole sign up thing. Then to make sure it all worked, I had to find some stuff to clip and save (like coupons - only prettier and um, more web-y.) I went to the Washington Post website to find a good article - only to have to register again there. "Re-gi-stray - shun time, c'mon! There's a party going on right here..."

Now I am all plugged-in, signed up, and ready to be social with my books and bookmarks and clips. My life is an open blog. Only now there is a notice at the top of my toolbar that informs me I am following (0) clippers. I am also told that no one is following me and I have no favorite clipper. Let's see - who is the most popular web clipper?! I should follow them! How many followers do I have? Oh no, not enough. Must. Clip. More. How do developers not laugh their heads off when they design this stuff? The virtual world is psuedo-social at best. Linus (bless his heart) keeps trying to explain the concept of a web 2.0 world to me. I'm assimilating as much as I can as fast as I can, but I do realize that there is a lot in the ether that is passing me by. I smile and nod when I hear about easy share, sharewear, bookmarking as a social activity, tag clouds (which morph into searchable, expandable tag bundles sometimes for no apparent reason), and netpubs and bl@h, bl@h, bl@h. (<--That last bit is my little leetspeak joke.)

Which brings us right to the second post I was going to write AFTER I finished all that other stuff on my list but which I will now write BEFORE getting to the stuff on my list. (See this? This is the stuff on my list not getting done. Ever. Clean socks? Highly overrated.)

The other night at supper, it was Mayhem's turn to talk. (We take turns. So civilized.) Mayhem was telling about his new Adidas and about the salesman we talked to about fantasy football the whole time we were in the store. (Sidenote: the salesman knew considerably more about fantasy football than he did about selling shoes. I'm the one who used the measure thingy to size up Mayhem's foot, I'm the one who read the tags about what the shoes were made of and how to clean them, and I'm the one who pointed out that they were on sale.) Mayhem's comment after saying this guy was leading his league by 100 points was, "That guy was poning." Uh, what? Mayhem, by way of explanation said, "He totally poned his league." I was trying to figure out what cornbread has to do with fantasy football.

Me: What are you saying? Spell that word.
Mayhem: What word?
Me: Poned.
Mayhem: P-W-N-3-D.
Me: What?
Mayhem (louder this time): P-W-N-3-D.
Linus: (sounds of pumpkin soup being snorted out of his nose)
Me: What do you mean? That's not a word. Three-d? Like three dimensional?
Linus: It's from leetspeak. There are no vowels. Hackers used numbers.
Mayhem (speaking at the same time as Linus - and thereby dashing my earlier claims of being civilized): It's total domination. You don't use vowels.

At this point in the conversation, I am utterly confused. (Please note I did not have a handy dandy little link to follow to find out what the heck leetspeak was. And not only were Linus and Mayhem trying to explain the lack of cornbread connection at the exact same time, but Chaos and Bug were cackling, making it even harder to hear.) World domination, hackers, spelling without vowels, leeches speaking? WTF?

Apparently I have become my mother. I was probably Mayhem's age when my mother said at dinner one night, "Mick? Mick who? You mean Mickey Mouse? I don't think his lips are all that big." We have never let her live it down. I did eventually understand the explanation and derivation of the pseudo word "pwn3d" and upon further research, found that I particularly like the urban dictionary entry on pwnage. Too little, too late, I fear in terms of the balance in my cool points account. I am overdrawn. I have zero credit in the video culture currency that is required to operate in my teenagers' world. I have been relegated to permanent n00b status. I'd like to think that they'll still let me visit their world and even that in a decade or two, they'd consider emigrating. For now, I think I'll just camp out here in the borderlands. With the other dinosaurs.

Two Divided By, Divided By, Zero, Zero, Zero

Tapioca: I'm sorry but I have to talk about it this morning. And by "talk", I actually mean "bitch", "rant", "vent", and possibly "rage".
Thing the First: Our negotiation over visitation has stalled. The last email I got from him two days ago was (once again) laden with whining and accusations. He said, "I did not create this situation, and yet I'm the one that has to suffer." Well, he did create "this" situation. This situation is a wrangling over visitation which we would not be having had he moved like he said he was going to. Of course it was his choice to move or not, to keep his word or break it as he sees fit - but if he chooses not to do what he said he would, then he can't very well say he bears no responsibility for the situation. Do you like how he is the one to suffer? First of all from my point of view - who the fuck cares? You would think that he would understand how little I want to hear about his suffering. He should talk to his therapist about that, not me. (But I refrained from saying that in my reply! I just ignored his statement completely. Someone get me a sticker!!) Second of all - I should point out that the kids aren't suffering and they are the ones we're supposedly negotiating for. They see him, they talk to him, they love him; they love me, they are doing well in school, making friends, and adjusting just fine. They do love him - but he is not "their life" and for that matter, I am not "their life" either. I think that's a good and healthy thing. I adore them; I will do everything in my power to insure their well being in mind, spirit, and body. They are a vastly important, endlessly joyful and challenging part of my life. But they are not my whole, entire life. Mr. Tapioca Head repeatedly says melodramatic crap about how he's a father 24/7/365, how he doesn't go ten minutes without thinking about them, how he doesn't want to give up any of his precious time with them, about how they are his whole life. THIS from a man who historically on "his" weekends pawned the kids off to just about anybody and everybody: his second wife (when he was married), his friends, my mother, my sister, my aunt. Not that I'm complaining about the extra time my mother has gotten because she's loved every minute of it. I'm just calling his bullshit. He has never been involved in their school activities (even when we lived in the same area and he worked in town); he's never kept track of their friends or extracurricular activities; and even this week he says on the one hand he's unwilling to give up a single iota of "his" time while at the same time counter offering in our negotiations for five days less at Christmas!! I don't get it. I sent him back the nicest email I could. I did not tell him what a pathetic, whiny puke he sounded like. I did not wrangle about who started it. I did have to point out that the money situation is of his making (with his late child support payments and unexpected change/veritable lack of health insurance) which means that I can't help pay for plane fares until after he's paid me. I did point out that I was being as reasonable as I could facilitating his visitation by offering to give up my holiday and by offering to pay a portion of the cost. I also asked him to stay solution-oriented and focused on the children. My bad. I haven't heard from him since. It's nice because it means I haven't had to deal with him in two days but it also means that 1) holidays and weekends are still undecided which is stressful for the kids and 2) he has probably decided to put his energy into bringing me to "trial" (which is how he always refers to it.) Bleck.

But wait, there's more!
Thing the Second: Sunday before last Havoc left his hoodie jacket at dad's. Havoc only has one and with the weather cool in the mornings and evenings - he wears it almost every day (when he has it, of course). Mr. Tapioca said he understood and offered to send it right away. TEN days later it gets here. What, did he send it by row boat? I do understand having issues with mailing things (believe me I do!) - but if it's going to be a problem to mail it, then don't offer to do it! Havoc waited for the mailman every single day for a week and finally gave up. At this point, Mr. Tapioca could have brought it with him tomorrow when he picks up the boys for his weekend. Sheesh. In addition to the hoodie, Mr. Tapioca sent Halloween cards from his parents (who are fabulous grandparents and stay very connected to the kids) and a t-shirt he bought Havoc. The t-shirt (for my EIGHT-YEAR OLD) says: I (heart) CHICKS WHO HUG TREES and shave their armpits. I kid you not! WTF?? I think it is ridiculous and inappropriate on so many levels. I don't know why I am the least bit shocked after the last time, but I am. What is he waiting for, Havoc's 9th birthday to buy the t-shirt St. Ann and I saw in New Orleans that says, "Fuck You You Fuckin' Fuck!"? (I can hear St. Ann saying back to me in an Indian accent I can't duplicate on the computer, "No, no. Nothing so offensive in this store.") Really - what is this man thinking? What is he trying to do to my kid? If the court takes my kids away from me to give them to this boundary-less dipweed full time because he is "conventional" and I am not - I will lose what little faith I have left in the system.

Phew - ok - I'm done ranting (for now). I have another post for today and it's more in the vein of pondering than bitching - but I have to go get some other writing and housework done. If I forget, remind me tomorrow to tell you how I discovered what a n00b I am.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Little This, A Little That

Havoc's pumpkin soup was a hit. Well, it was as much of a hit as it could be given that half the family doesn't like the taste of pumpkin! His soup was creamy and beautiful - served in the pumpkin itself. The spices were nice (paprika and coriander) and it complemented the garlic bread perfectly. The green salad was a nice touch. The kids have really gotten on board with kids' cooking night. Mayhem has the next turn and he's chosen a Rachel Ray recipe for Grilled Shrimp Scampi over Angel Hair Pasta. Yummy! (I have some teensy concerns about children using the grill so there will be major parental oversight for that part, but over all the kids are doing so much on their own - it's amazing.)

It's raining here - which the news reporters keep telling us won't bring us off of water restrictions - but still! Lovely, drippy, drenching, wet rain!! Mayhem's rain dance worked!

Hmmmm - what else to report?? I do not want to open the can of tapioca this morning. I have nothing exciting on my agenda to celebrate or agonize over. (Balance bank account, go to grocery store (again!), vacuum, scrub shower using as little water as possible - so exciting!) I have some NFL type of things to say about the changes to the draft and the Pro Bowl, but you - my five loyal readers - NONE of you like football. What is up with that?!! (If I happen to have a reader out there who does like football - send me a comment - something, anything! Let me know!) I could comment on the news (fires in SoCal - scary, be careful people!, war in Iraq - scary, be careful soldiers!, political debates - scary, be careful voters!) Training is going well with our base run being six sets of 5:30 min run to 2:00 walking. Tomorrow is a day of speed work which I suck at but secretly look forward to because it means a shorter run day. I'm building weight lifting back into the training routine. Woo hoo. Are you mesmerized yet by my thrill-a-minute lifestyle? It may not be much to blog about, but I am happier than I have ever been (minus the tapioca). I LOVE being boring this week. Count me content.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today Size Doesn't Matter

I have a defective mail gene. I am postally challenged. And yet today I managed to send a certified letter to my ex AND a package of these (how fun are they?!) to my sweet baby nephew, Thrasher. In addition to that, yesterday I went to the community center and threw the pigskin around with Havoc; took Mayhem to buy the perfect shoes (he's particular but also very appreciative); and found the exact right pumpkin for tonight's pumpkin soup. I graded four classes worth of worksheets in one day to help Bet AND I ate lunch at lunchtime (instead of at 3 pm when I'm so hungry I'd eat a wombat). I haven't had any soda or caffeine for a whole week. (Well - except for that one cup of hot chocolate that was mostly to warm my hands!) Still - no soda! I have to celebrate these things because I have worthiness issues. Some days I feel exhausted by the end of the day but don't feel like I've done anything important enough or productive enough to account for it. I do hundreds of small things. But so do other people. They do big things and then do small things to boot! I don't have any big things to point to as accomplishments (unless I can be allowed to point to my gargantuan babies who shave, ride bikes, do homework, and sometimes even do their own laundry). I'm not going to let that get me down though. Today I'm going to celebrate my accomplishments regardless of size and pronounce them good enough.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mondays Are For Lemurs

I LOVE OCTOBER! The weather is great and the football is greater! Not only did Rob Bironas win for the Titans in the last two seconds of the game with his 8th (and NFL record breaking) field goal of the game - but he also happens to be the kicker for our fantasy football team. We got 28 points - from our kicker! Yay! (Life is not so good for the Miami Dolphin fan in the family. 0 and 6. Eeek. Poor Bet. Maybe next year?)

In other fun news, Linus' mom is here to visit for a few days. She's awesome. And Dunc got a great job and has applied for a cool apartment. It's all good. Bet and I were talking about the flux since the move and she said, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but have we had any time here yet when it was just the eight of us?" This from the gal who went from living alone to insta-family. :D We also joked a bit about having a new version of the old sitcom "Eight is Enough" based on our unconventional family.

The tapioca report: I guess we're at the lowest ebb of tapioca possible right now. I'm working with him trying to negotiate a reasonable visitation schedule. I'm sure it's the calm before the storm but I'll take the calm for as long as it lasts. I sent him a very detailed letter saying exactly when the kids were out of school, what my ideas were for maximizing his visitation while minimizing the actual travel time for the children, and which specific dates would work best. As usual I spent hours and days and he spent minutes. He immediately sent me back a letter that said he thought that was great but went on to show he hadn't read what I wrote at all. He quoted the days for both Thanksgiving and Winter Break completely differently from what I had suggested. So while he says he wants all the time he can get, he actually wrote me back and cut off SIX full days of his time with the kids. I'd love the time with my kids - but why exactly is he suing me for custody when he doesn't even want the vacation time I'm willing to give him?!!!!!!!!!!! Also, he is unwilling to discuss visitation in January because as he says, "We should of had adequate time to resolve our legal custody issues by then." Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It is infuriating to spend hours looking up exact school vacation schedules, consulting the legal orders, and thoughtfully composing a letter only to get a response that is ill-considered, half-assed, and a grammar nightmare to boot. Bleck. Still... Calm. Before. The. Storm. Soon we'll be in court and you know how much I love that.

For now, I'm all zen and enjoying the now. Maybe it's a leftover runner's high as Bet and I ran for an hour yesterday. An hour! Me! Running! We've got this plan where we're running for a certain number of minutes and then walking for two minutes, then running again. Yesterday we increased the number of sets we ran and also increased the run versus walk ratio. It was fantastic. It was the best run we've had. Maybe the Miami Half Marathon isn't a pipe dream!
Peace all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Locusts Cooking (Part II)

Luckily for all concerned, we did not have all of the ingredients for alfredo sauce on hand last night. Instead I was served ramen and a side salad. To my utter astonishment, Chaos was the one who asked if the kids could cook more often. He wanted to make it so the kids cooked four nights a week - that way their individual turn to be in charge would come around more often. Havoc was all about it. Bug almost choked. When asked why he was against it, he said that if the kids cooked every night then we'd be eating more meals like this (as he pointed before him) and then he said, "I want a chance to eat good food sometimes." Chaos made a few stabby motions at himself to show he was wounded but everyone was cracking up. We decided to up the kids' cooking nights to twice a week - Tuesdays and Thursdays. We reiterated the rules about menus being set and grocery lists being made two days before the dinner. Chaos was such a good sport and in a fine mood, he agreed to all of it. It worries me a little about what he's planning for his next turn, but it was great to have such a lively family dinner. Not that they aren't all fairly lively - what with Eddie Izzard punchlines and all. Oh - that reminds me. This is why God invented Youtube - so I could show you our family's favorite comedian! Here:


Thursday, October 18, 2007

When The Locusts Try To Cook

For kids who eat a lot (and I mean a LOT) - my children are not very savvy when it comes to cooking. The exception here being Havoc, the eight-year old chef. It's really the other four - the ones that range in age between 12 and 16 that I'm talking about. You'd think with them being the ones closest to being out on their own and having to fend for themselves that they'd show a teensie bit of interest in the process. But you'd be wrong.

We've started taking turns cooking supper. Linus has Mondays (as that's the day he's least likely to be out of town); Bet's got Tuesdays; I've got Wednesdays; and the kids have Thursdays. The weekends are mostly fend-for-yourself - which comes as a relief after the kids' night. At first we tried to have the kids cook as a group, deciding on the menu by consensus. Normally, they're pretty good at consensus building (as it's a pretty important skill in a family of eight) but when it came to food they just sort of stared at each other hungrily. We decided to have them take turns being in charge. Accountability, task delegation, planning - all good skills to develop.

The Princessa's turn was first. She did a great job, to a point. She decided she wanted to make a variation on Havoc's stuffed shells by making them with white sauce instead of red sauce. She gave me a shopping list two days before (part of the requirements), she wrote out what each brother was going to do (although they then got together and swapped jobs), and she cooked supper. I stayed out of the kitchen entirely (also part of the requirements.) In addition to being out of the kitchen, I was out of it in general due to my amnesia horseradish. I was not watching the clock. Mayhem (the skinniest and always the hungriest) came in to my room around 7:15 and asked if they could eat supper. I told him the Princessa was in charge and if she wasn't done making dinner then he just had to wait. He told me that dinner was done - it had been sitting on the counter for 20 minutes. Where was the Ninja Princessa you ask (as did I)? She had gone back upstairs to her room to listen to music and read her book. I asked her why she hadn't served supper and she said she was waiting for me. I asked her how I was supposed to know dinner was done if she didn't tell me. She said, "I don't know." I asked her why she didn't call everyone (including me) to supper. She said, "I don't know." There is a bizarre lapse in teenage cognition. Not only that but the table wasn't set, the salad she had planned wasn't fixed, and the pasta dish was cold by the time it made it to the table - an hour later than our normal time. The Ninja Princessa had nothing to offer about her deviation from our well-established dinner routine other than, "I don't know." Bet talked me out of my tree. She was exactly right to remind me that these are precisely the challenges we want the kids to face and figure out on their own.

It's Chaos' turn tonight. It was supposed to be Havoc's next but Chaos started mouthing off about the whole process and got his turn bumped up. To say that Chaos is not quite on board with this system would be an understatement. I told him on Monday night that he needed to have a grocery list to me by Tuesday if he wanted me to get anything. I reminded him on Tuesday. Yesterday when I asked him what his menu was (and mentioned it now needed to be able to be made from ingredients on hand already since he hadn't given me a list), he told me that his plan was to make ramen noodles with alfredo sauce. If "bleck!" is the first word to come to your mind, then you are not alone. Bug thinks it sounds great, but both the Princessa and Havoc made faces of complete disdain. Bet has magically got work she has to do and won't be home. Linus is home but has just had a work call that has pretty much ruined his appetite (as if he had an appetite for ramen alfredo to begin with). Mayhem is planning ahead. He's called dibs on the leftover pizza in the fridge. I'm trying to stay out of the kitchen - but Chaos sounds pretty bossy from in here.

A conversation topic that is sure to come up at supper tonight? What is working and what is not working with this new supper plan. Am I a bad mother if I admit that I am looking forward to Havoc's turn? The dinner bell has just sounded. Pray for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Hoarse Whisperer

Last week I went to the doctor here. I liked her fine - even though the whole process was a nightmare and took, I kid you not, almost three hours! I could bore you with the details of the visit but I won't. Instead I'm going to bore you with the details of what happened AFTER the visit. My new doc suggested I get a flu shot while I was there. Ok. One less medical thing to do later, right? (For the record, I do usually get flu shots since my kids are asthmatic. We've never before had any problems.) It might be more clear cut if I could tell you that mere hours after the vaccination, I had flu symptoms. That's not what happened. (Although the one time Bet got a flu shot, that's what happened to her - so she is definitely not pro-vaccination.)

What happened to me is that I got home and felt fine. I continued to feel fine except for a tightening in my throat which turned into a weird scratchiness. I had no fever, no aches and pains, not even a sore throat. What I did have was a voice that started dropping octaves. Then I had a voice that was somewhat intermittent. By Saturday morning, I had no voice whatsoever. My children, who already use the fact that they didn't hear me as an excuse not to do their chores, rejoiced. My dog got a little clingy. He's used to me talking to him all the time and I think he was worried he'd done something wrong. Linus, who is also used to me talking to him all the time, has had to try to decipher my croaky crackliness over the phone because he's in San Francisco for the week (lucky duck!). Every day I think my voice will be back today for sure and it keeps not happening. How long should I wait before legitimately worrying that I have some rare throat disease that has stolen my voice and has no intention of ever, ever bringing it back? Should I admit that words like "throat cancer", "nodules", and "polyps" have already been floating around in the worry closet that is my brain? Other words - more sensible and likely words like, say, "laryngitis" were harder to come up with on Saturday afternoon as Bet and I sat around discussing my condition. (She was talking. I was merely able to mouth words, but you get the idea.) I could not think of the right word for losing your voice. I kept coming up with words that I knew weren't right. Linoleum, for instance. The only medical word I could think of was amnesia. Bet was having the same trouble - the only word she could come up with was horseradish. We decided that that is what I must have: amnesia horseradish. It is perhaps a more amusing and comforting diagnosis if you happen to have been self-medicating with one (or three) of Bet's kickass hot toddies.

Sadly, hot toddies are far less practical at 9 am on a weekday. Hence the encroachment of scary thoughts like, "What if I'm stuck like this? What if I can't ever speak again?" I've thought about calling the doctor (or possibly emailing her), but I'm conflicted about that. What if she wants to give me another shot?!

Friday, October 12, 2007

On Parties And Parenting

We had a fantastic housewarming party last Saturday. Our dear friends C is for Coffee, Salsa Man and their two kids made the drive out. Bet's mom and Karl (a troll boy) also came for the weekend (uh, separately - in case that wasn't apparent. It would be terribly odd to think of them showing up together. Karl is 6 ft 8?9?11?! - a red headed, former rugby-playing giant of a (bisexual) man and Louise is a 5'2" smart yet scrappy, gum chewing grandma also known as Ya-Ya.) Anyway, I forget how many people we'd invited to the party, but I think about 75 showed up. Food, friends, crazy loud conversation (especially from the corner of our kitchen now known as Mojito Bend) all warmed the house. Havoc had chosen to make a special appetizer for the party. He'd listed out all the ingredients the week before, made most of it the night before, and had it perfectly displayed at the head of the food table the day of. I wish I could show you a picture of his scrumptious cheddar cheese, white wine, pecan encrusted cheese ball - but I didn't take a picture of it before the party. And it was gone before I knew it. I did have C is for Coffee take a picture of the plate - scraped bare with a few forlorn crackers abandoned and adrift. Havoc was pretty darn proud of that empty plate! I personally loved that our closest friends helped us hang shelves and art work mere hours before the party. Their touch, their mark, their laughter - it's still here even though they had to leave. I think that's what a house warming is all about. (That, and Dude, if you ever need some mums, have a housewarming party! Seriously, we have more mums now than we know what to do with and they're gorgeous!)

The rest of this week has been by turns fabulous and irritating. Parenting teens is more of an emotional roller coaster than I thought possible. I thought the infant stage (with the new mom hormones, the lack of sleep, and the baby changing every day) would be the most volatile. I mean, I knew teenagers themselves were volatile and challenging but I guess I expected the process of parenting them to be an unremitting struggle - a constant slogging. It's not. It is up and down and all over the place. We've got good grades and smiling faces. We've got a bit of slyness, a nudging of the boundaries, and a wholesale trample of the rules followed by, "Wuh? What did I do?" We've got restriction and recrimination. We've got hilarity at family dinner and full participation in family movie night. We've got treat wheedling and homework frustration. We've got a first break up for the second child to date. He's ok. Not quite broken hearted. Maybe a bit confused. Apparently it was a mutual break up for no reason. Sometimes that's the way it happens. We've got a kid scratching the word "Justis" into his arm. (Clearly, we've got spelling issues too.) Decoration by Sharpie is one thing, decoration by sharp object a whole other thing. We've got a call in to the therapist. ("Oh hey, Dr. Smith - you missed something here!") We've got hugs and tears, beautiful school pictures and kids who are even more beautiful in real life. We've got memories of our own teen struggles overlapping our understanding of what our kids are thinking, doing, and saying. In short, I think we've got the usual quota of joy and terror. I could use a little less terror, but hey!
And speaking of peace!! How about that kick ass committee in Stockholm awarding Al Gore (and the global warming group) the Nobel Peace Prize for all of their work?!! I think it is awesome and far sighted and much deserved. We have the movie "An Inconvenient Truth". We're watching it on Family Fun Night next week.
More Peace.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Advertisers Are Demented

This is weird.
Why would you want your pits to smell like Vanilla Chai? What next? Should Starbuck's jump on this trend and start their own bath and beauty line? Carmel Macchiato Antiperspirant Gel? Double latte, half-caf/decaf bath beads?!

This is weirder.

Cartoon Mucus? Why? (Please God, Linus did NOT just say he wanted a Mr. Mucus T-shirt!) Doesn't anyone else out there think it strange and oh-so-weirdly-American that not only is there a Mr. Mucus, but that he has a family and a football team?! And the oddness doesn't stop there! Have you seen that bizarre, toe fungus commercial which features an animated foot with eyeballs? EYEBALLS on a FOOT!! When the foot catching on fire is the least disturbing aspect of a commercial, perhaps that is a big fucking clue that there is something terribly amiss with the whole thing! Who in the HELL thought up that commercial? They should be shot. Dead. And you know, I can't even come up with a suitable punishment for the executive who watched that pitch and bought it. But wait. There's more. Can you believe there is an even worse commercial out there than the eyeballs-on-a-foot one? Maybe if you don't have "an eyeball thing" as my children call it, you won't think this one is worse - but still... I don't even know what the product is because I went screaming from the room. There is a camera zooming in on a black and white movie image of an eye and as the image grows you see teeth chomping (a mouth talking?) in the iris of the eye. EEEEEEEEEEK! Teeth chomping INSIDE of someone's eyeball!! I totally can't handle that. What product could possibly ever, ever be sold by an eyeball full of teeth?!!!

Don't you wonder what archaeologists (or aliens) who dig this shit up later are going to think of us?? "We don't have any skeletal evidence because eyeballs are soft tissue and are rarely preserved in fossil form, but we have recently uncovered miraculously in tact printed pictures that have knocked all of our earlier anatomical theories on their ear - or in this case, eyeball. It seems the ancients [or humans] had some way of growing eyes where and when they wanted them. We have several literary sources referring to "eyes in the back of the head" but until now we have had no hard evidence lending credence to..."


Monday, October 01, 2007

Old Newness (And New Oldness)

So here is the entry I was fixing to post TWO WEEKS AGO when life (in the form of a silly ex-husband) intervened.

New this week:
1) Fall weather! I LOVE 50 degree nights and 75 degree days!!! Hello football weather.

2) Speaking of football, Havoc wanted to play fantasy football too so he created a team this weekend called the Gridiron Chefs. :D He jumped up and down in excitement when he got his favorite QB, Tom Brady, in the draft. He's wearing his Patriots jersey today to celebrate. (**Update is that Havoc's fantasy football team is kicking the snot out of mine and Bet's team. Butterhead.**)

3) Mayhem has a girlfriend! He told me that at the dance, 8th graders kept asking him to dance and he turned them down. I asked him why and he looked AGHAST. "I couldn't dance with them when I was there with Lisa!" Ahhhh. Because I was supposed to know that he was "there with Lisa"? I dropped him off at MAT'S house before the dance and took MAT home after the dance and all I'd heard about the girls was that business of zapping! Bet teasingly asked Mayhem if he had kissed Lisa and Mayhem said, "Never on the first date!" which was funny but also good. However, yesterday Mayhem went ice skating on what was supposed to be a "double date" of him and Lisa and then his buddy Sam and Sam's girl (who I think is Lisa's best friend.) Turns out that Sam couldn't make it and Lisa had two friends with her. Mayhem did not seem to mind spending the afternoon with three girls. (**Update is that Lisa is not only quite pretty but she's in the super gifted group at school. Cute and smart! Yay Mayhem. Only thing is, I think she's turned his brain to mush. Calls from teachers over the weekend indicate that Mayhem needs to pay a leetle more attention to school. A suggestion was made that turning in worksheets with actual work on them would bring his newly dropped grades back up. Doh!**)

4) Ridiculous emails: Mr. Tapioca Head has been sending me harassing, pathetic, crazy emails. He calls me names. He threatens me with things he's going to bring up in the "trial." Then he closes with something like, "Do not respond to this email. I will not read it. Respond only to my lawyer." So I haven't responded. THEN he starts sending me whiny, lecturing emails because I'm not answering him. My attorney told me to send this email to him (which I did):

Mr. Tapioca Head -
Unless there is an emergency affecting the children, please direct all communication to me through the attorneys.

It is amazing how free I feel having sent that email. Don't get me wrong - I HATE the lawyer games. They are expensive and stupid. But since "he started it" and I have to pay lot$ just to have an attorney - it is great to know that from now on she can be my filter. I no longer dread opening my computer.

(**Update is that I was all ready to post that until I immediately got more email from my ex. Not only that, but he started sending email to MY attorney, too. She responded to him with this:

mr. tapicoa head:
it is my understanding that you are represented by the firm of bubba, redneck, and earl in this matter. since you have an attorney, it is improper for you to communicate directly with me. please do not email me directly any more. just ask your attorney to communicate and i will deal with him. if you are not represented by an attorney, then i can talk to you directly.
lilymane's kickass attorney

(Apparently I do not pay my attorney enough money to use capital letters. That must be the platinum level of representation that I can't afford. Still, lower case aside - I love my attorney.)

Do you know what Mr. Tapioca did when he received that email from my attorney? He wrote her back saying he had not meant to be improper but blah, blah, blah. He wouldn't shut up! A dozen emails later (sent to both of us) and my attorney sends him another note:

mr. tapioca head:
please stop emailing me. it is improper and inappropriate, as i have already told you. i will not read what you write. if you have something to communicate about this case, please direct it to your attorney, who can then get in touch with me.
lilymane's kickass (and pissed off) attorney

Take one guess what the man did! One. Guess. If you guessed that he EMAILED HER BACK then you have begun to comprehend the vast expanses of my ex's inability to respect anyone's boundaries. Would it surprise you to learn that at one point he was TEXTING me trying to get me to agree to his proposed visitation plans? What did he expect back, do you think? A text saying, "ok u get kids when u want & dont 4get Rx info"? I don't know about you, but in my world text messages are for things like, "Will be 10 min late. Sorry." NOT for discussing issues that are in the process of being contested in court! The man is beyond irritating.

His new and completely passive aggressive strategy is to send an email detailing how he wants things to be and then to conclude with "If I don't hear from you, I will assume this is all ok with you," which makes me want to pluck out his eyeballs. Does he think that strategy is going to work? When he shows up at the airport and the children don't get off the plane, do you think he'll whine to the ticketing agent, "But she didn't write back and say she objected to taking the children out of school to fly them to me so I assumed she'd just do it." As if he hadn't already been a pain in the ass enough for four exes, he has changed jobs (and phone numbers and health insurance for the kids) AGAIN. That makes seven times (although Linus insists it's eight times) in six years. And again, he's playing games about getting the information to me. i could care less about his address but I found out the health insurance was no longer valid when I couldn't refill Havoc's prescription for asthma medicine. My child needs this medicine to help him BREATHE! I get emails without ceasing concerning matters of Mr. Tapioca's convenience but not a bit of communication about matters vital to the health and well-being of our child (in spite of my lawyer asking his lawyer for it, etc, etc.) And that is waaaay more update than any of us wanted, isn't it?**)

So maybe now you can see why I haven't been posting? I've been trying to spare you the rant that I knew would spring forth the minute I got to typing. I also have to admit, I've spent as little time on the computer as possible in the past two weeks in a futile attempt to avoid the tapioca tide myself. That's been a little bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water as I've really missed my blog and it hasn't stopped the insanity of my ex. I need a new coping mechanism that's lighter on the avoidance and maybe heavier on the butter and salt. Butter and salt make everything better, don't they?

PS - Mojo requests! Please send good thoughts to St. Ann and John the Magnificent this week as they have their own tapioca to deal with. And send some healing vibes down South to my buddy Steve's mom. Peace, peace, peace to everyone!