Saturday, February 27, 2010

Untitled

One day last week, on a whim, I decided to Google the name of a girl I used to babysit when I was a teenager. At the time, her parents were good friends with my parents. Obviously a lot has happened and changed since then.

That girl is now 20 and on February 11, just a few weeks before I decided to look her up, she was arrested and charged with no less than seven different offenses related to drugs and burglary. I'm not sure what to make of this information, but I know it makes me want to cry. And it scares me.

I know, well.....knew, this girl's parents fairly well. They were your average, middle class family. They had their issues of course, as all people (and parents) do, but they loved their kids and wanted the best for them.

I remember sitting in the back seat of a mini van while my mother and the pregnant mother of this as of yet unborn girl discussed baby names. I remember hearing the name of this unborn baby and thinking it was unusual. But pretty. Now that girl's name is just another one on a police blotter.

How does this happen? How do you go from having a beautiful baby, to just another lowlife booked into the county jail? How can I make sure it doesn't happen to my kids?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Randomness

I have no patience for anything or anyone today. An example: my daughter just asked me where her pumpkin was. You know, the pumpkin she got at the pumpkin patch last October. Instead of calmly telling her that it became compost quite sometime ago, I sighed loudly and snapped, "That thing got old, and rotten, and died. Get over it." I'm aware I could have handled that better.

I really just want to get into my jammies, watch reruns of Family Guy, and drink hot tea. Or wine. Or a madras. But because that type of behaviour is frowned upon at one in the afternoon, I'm just going to have to muddle through.

*Yesterday was my visit to the vagina doctor. My appointment was at 9 am and I arrived at the office with plenty of time to spare, only to realize that my doctor's office wasn't even in that building anymore. It was now an office of cosmetic dentistry. This is what happens when you let five years lapse between visits. After a phone call and some driving around, I found the new office and somehow managed to still be on time. When I told my doctor about my mistake, she laughed and said, "Yeah we stopped telling people about the new building about three years ago." Sigh.

*Anyway, the main purpose of the visit, aside from the obvious fact that I desperately needed my yearly (HA!) checkup, was to discuss some lady-type health issues I had been having. Well, turns out, I do have something going on down there, but it's nothing life threatening. I'm just going to have to go on the birth control pill for awhile. Maybe a long while. I don't really know. This sorta sucks because I don't really like the pill and Jay's had a vasectomy so that I wouldn't have to take it, but I don't have any other options.

*On Monday I did the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workout. If the way my body felt on Tuesday was any indication, I'm in the worst shape of my life. I could barely walk.

*Yesterday I made this coffee cake and it is perfect. The right amount of sweet, but not too sweet. I'm in love.

*I have nothing good to read at the moment and that's adding to my bad mood. I tried reading Under the Tuscan Sun, but by the tenth page it was really irritating me. Although, I'm willing to admit that this may have had more to do with my mood than the book.

*Um, when are the Olympics going to be over? WHEN!?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Well Isn't That Lucky?

It would appear that all of my problems are solved.

I've just received word from the Russian Ministry of Finance that I'm entitled to receive an "outstanding payment valued at $5,350.000.00 USD (FIVE MILLION THREE HUNDREED AND FIFTY THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS)." Obviously, I've never seen an amount so large in my life, so it was thoughtful of Mr. Anton Siluanov to type out the amount in actual words, but I was a bit disappointed that he spelled "hundred" wrong. Don't they have spell check in Russia?

I also don't understand why a letter of such importance was marked as spam. I need to notify Yahoo! to make sure that all future emails of this nature be sent to my inbox where they belong. What if I had just hit "Delete" and missed this opportunity?

Clearly, I'll never in my lifetime be able to spend this kinda money, so I thought I'd share it with all of you. Just leave a comment letting me know how much you need and as soon as the check clears, I'll pass it on to you.

Now excuse me while I go fax some personal information to Moscow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It Makes Me Smile

Over a month ago I introduced an ongoing, occasional series called It Makes Me Smile. Then, apparently, I stopped smiling because there was never a part two. Until now.

Dawn sent me this little guy last week.
She picked him up at a thrift shop (I think), but she said she'd been looking for just the right Papa Smurf for me for quite some time. He's just like the one that I briefly had as a child, until I threw it away on the suspicion that he was possessed by the devil. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Go back and read this post.)

Sadly, I get far too many hits to my blog from people googling are smurfs possessed? or are smurfs demonic? To those people I would like to say the following:

Seriously? Seriously?!? Yes, I once believed that smurfs were possessed, but I was told so by adults who, although terribly misled, otherwise had my best interests at heart. Oh, and I was five. I'm assuming you are older than that since you've managed to turn on a computer and type a phrase into the google box. At what point did you decide that logic and reason were no longer working for you? If you're still wondering if smurfs are possessed, don't look for the answer on the internet. Don't look for it from a church or from any supposed man of god. Just sit in a quiet room until you've come up with the answer on your own. The answer to this one isn't that hard. Thank you.

So yeah, suffice it to say, Papa Smurf hasn't run around the house cursing at me. In fact, he's been incredibly well mannered, especially given that the girl keeps forgetting his name and referring to him as the "funny blue Santa."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

Saturday was Jay's birthday. It was a low key family affair which, with all the other upheaval in our life right now, is sort of how we like things at the moment. Jay requested Nigella Lawson's beer cake so of course I obliged:I'm pretty sure the main reason Jay asks for this cake is because once it's made, there are usually five leftover bottles of Guinness needing to be drank. I do like making it though and think it's sort of manly and appropriate.

Earlier in the day the kids set to making birthday cards. I didn't want to tell the boy what to do, but since he's a bit older now I knew the card needed to include more than his usual scribble scrabble so I suggested he make a list of ten things he loves about his dad. Some of them were surprisingly touching and clever. My favorite being, "He comforts me when I have a episode." Yes, he's definitely the more dramatic of my two children.

Sunday we really wanted to get out of the house for a bit. Right now it's stressful being home. We're torn between constantly wanting to do things around the house to get it sold as quickly as possible and the realization that there really is only so much we can do and at this point most of it is out of our hands. So we drove to St. Augustine. The drive was boring as hell. But then when we got there, it was still pretty boring as hell. All of Florida really does nothing for me anymore.

The highlight of the day was eating lunch at the Santa Maria Restaurant. The inside was your very typical seafood restaurant on the water type stuff (think the Krusty Krab). But what made it fun was that you could feed the birds and fish from inside the restaurant. All the tables were along the perimeter of the building and each one had a chute next to it for you to hand out food for the birds:We got there right as the restaurant opened and at first there were no birds to be seen. But as soon as the waiter brought out a basket of day old bread, seagulls came from all over and began squawking at the glass.
It was somewhat Hitchcockian, made even more so when the girl kept referring to the birds as "hawks."

After lunch we got back in the car and made the two hour drive back home. Although it seemed much, much longer than two hours. More like an eternity. Especially when the girl began complaining about needing to use the restroom and there was nothing around us but burnt out trailers and empty strip malls. I told her she'd have to hold it because we were in the middle of nowhere. She responded by asking, "Well when are we going to be in the middle of YESwhere?!"

I don't know my dear. I'm still waiting to get there myself.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Random Thoughts

I'm missing being in this space regularly. I've had things I've wanted to write about and I've had the time to do so but I just haven't had the motivation to write it all down.

I've realized lately that whenever I go through a particularly stressful time in my life I sort of check out, mentally speaking. I get up, take care of the kids, do whatever needs to be done, but after that I retreat to somewhere in my own head. It's not that I'm depressed, in fact quite the contrary. I still remain remarkably, uncharacteristically, upbeat about all of this. But I'm really, really, tired of thinking. Which is why, when I have computer time, I don't blog, comment on blogs (although I do read them), or return emails, but instead work on getting the expert score on Diner Dash. So if you are one of the people I still owe an email to, please know the reason I haven't responded isn't because I don't like you, it's because right now it's just easier for me to feed a chain of ten angry customers than it is to form enough complete sentences to make a proper email. (As a side note: the last time I got really good at Diner Dash was four years ago when we were selling our condo. Something about real estate has the power to bring me down with one fell swoop. The whole process just does me in.)

Anyway, I do have a few things I've been wanting to share:

*I'm always looking for a reason to add sweetened condensed milk to just about anything, so I was excited to find this recipe for chai tea concentrate (found via Jessica.) I drink a lot of tea this time of year and it's nice to spice it up a bit, literally.

*Last Sunday, Jay made these salmon breakfast croquettes. They were amazing. Word of advice though: Don't even attempt to make them the cheap way with canned salmon. At first we thought that would be a brilliant idea. Then we opened the can. Last I heard, salmon isn't supposed to be grey. Needless to say, Jay ended up making a run to the store, and the cats ended up getting the treat of a lifetime.

*I'm very excited to watch The Ricky Gervais show this Friday at 9 PM. It combines my love of animation with my love of Ricky Gervais.

*Have you ever noticed that you don't meet anyone under the age of, say 50, who is named Richard yet goes by Dick? None of my son's friends are named Dick. I don't even think I know of anyone in their twenties or thirties who goes by that name. I think the popularity of it is wearing off and I, for one, am thankful because I don't like calling people that. Unless of course, they are acting like one, then I don't mind at all. But it's usually followed by the word "head."

Monday, February 15, 2010

It Figures

What follows is a snippet of a recent conversation had by me and Jay.

Me: Even though we're going through some pretty crappy financial times at the moment, it's definitely more bearable knowing we're doing it together and are on the same team.

Jay: Yeah, I know. I wouldn't want to go through this with anyone other than you. Well.......maybe a nymphomaniac you.

Of course. What problem can't be solved, or at the very least, lessened, by the presence of a nymphomaniac?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

This and That

Friday night my dad picked up the girl for a weekend sleepover at his house, three hours away in Georgia. This was her first time away from us and I was a bit scared to let her go, but I'm so glad I did. It snowed in Georgia that night and there was still some on the ground the following morning for her to play with. Sort of.I know to most of you this seems like a sad, pathetic amount of snow. But to a girl who's never seen it before, it was pretty exciting.

********

Last week Peggy did a post about six word memoirs and then challenged her readers to come up with some of their own. Of course I was thinking in six word snippets all weekend long. Here's what I came up with so far:

*Constantly messing up, yet always learning.

*Still hoping I'm destined for greatness.

*Starting over. Wasting time no longer.

*Always open to new ideas. Maybe.

*And the shit storm keeps coming.

Once Jay saw my list, he added one of his own:

*At least we're in it together.

Right now, all of my six word memoirs have a certain hit-rock-bottom-must-start-over theme but I imagine (aka hope) that it won't always be that way. I got to thinking that it would be a neat idea to have a small notebook just for six word memoirs. Maybe set a goal to write one weekly or monthly and then see how the tone of the memoirs changes over time. I suppose that, like a blog or a scrapbook, it would be one more small way to document your life.

What would your six word memoir be?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

By the Numbers

I saw this idea over at Crystal's place. I liked it, thought it was clever, and decided I'd steal it.

81-Number of pages of Animal Dreams that I read yesterday. I think this one is another Kingsolver winner for me.

12-Number of packed up boxes that are being stored in the spare room of my home.

2-Number of weeks that Food, Inc has been on my nightstand waiting to be watched.

At least a dozen-Times Jay has uttered the phrase, "Our Netflix account isn't paying for itself this month" in reference to the aforementioned documentary. I do most of the bill paying around here but Jay psychotically monitors the Netflix account in a way I didn't know was possible. When a movie sits around unwatched for more than a few days, he begins to twitch.

3-Number of times in the past week that I've attempted to farm on Facebook only to completely lose interest and have all my crops die. Obviously, this just isn't the game for me.

6-Number of baseboards I've painted white. (With more to come.)

1-Number of Mighty Beans found while moving furniture to paint said baseboards.

2-Minutes it took for the girl to declare the Mighty Bean her new favorite toy.

1-Number of times I said to the boy, "Don't touch that Mighty Bean. Your sister has grown attached to it and I don't want it lost."

Approximately 2-Minutes it took for the boy to lose the Mighty Bean. (sigh.)

$7.95 + $4.95 shipping and handling-What it would cost the boy to replace the Mighty Bean.

45-Minutes the boy searched the house before finding the Mighty Bean. The idea of having to spend his own money on something so trivial was a powerful motivational tool.

3-Number of times I've kicked a small blue Lego around the kitchen without bothering to pick it up.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Random Thoughts

*Mentally, I'm in a better place than I was a week ago. I'm still dealing with a lot of stress and all the crap that comes with trying to sell a house, but I'm good. Before, I was more scared and angry than I was excited. Now those emotions run through me a bit more evenly. It is what it is.

*My mom and I have had a lot of discussions lately. While they never really ended with any kind of resolutions, they've been peaceful. What the situation amounts to is this: My mom has every right as a person to change her personality and the way she feels about things. But I also have the right to not like the person she's changed into and I have the right as a parent to limit the types of behaviours my children are exposed to. It stinks, but again, it is what it is.

*In other parental news, my dad came by yesterday. My dad and I have never been close. By his own admission, he's a difficult person to be around and his way is always the right way. He and I have gotten closer within the last few years because we've sort of reached an unspoken agreement where we don't discuss certain things and he doesn't tell me what to do and he respects me as an adult. That being said, he's been incredibly supportive during this rough time and he's backed me up in ways I didn't necessarily think he would. In the last few weeks I've learned two things about my dad. ONE is that he adores my kids and would do anything for them and would never let anyone stand in the way of his relationship with them. TWO is that, good or bad, he's never going to change who he is for anyone. With him, at least you know what you're getting and I gotta say, that stability is nice.

*Something I learned about myself, is that I really should always listen to my gut feelings. I've been uncomfortable about a lot of things in my life for the last year or so. But I've tried to overlook it, or make excuses for people. In the end, I should have listened to my heart. Of course I want to think the best of people, but I need to be realistic too. Lesson learned.

Anyway........


*Right now I'm reading Atonement. I'll admit that initially this book didn't reach out and grab me, but about 50 pages in it started getting good and now I must finish it. I need to know what happens next. It's heartbreakingly sad though. Next book on the nightstand is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver and I'm really hoping it's not a downer.

*While cleaning/packing/de-cluttering, I've been listening to a lot of Vampire Weekend. So much in fact, that I think they're starting to irritate Jay.

*The other night I dreamt I was discussing artesian wells with Jack Black. I find this humorous for many reasons, the main one being that I don't really even know what an artesian well is.

*Something else that gave me a chuckle was The Invention of Lying. Has anyone else seen this movie?

So that's that. But before I go, I wanted to thank all of you for your kind comments last week. I was literally overwhelmed. We really are all truly friends aren't we?

Now I'm off to paint various parts of my house white. Fun.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cheese Update

Do you remember at the beginning of January when Jay and I vowed to not eat cheese all month? Gosh, why does it seem like that was a billion years ago? Anyway, we did it. Mostly. We threw in the towel on January 30th. Being in the house was kind of a downer and we wanted to do something nice with the kids so we decided to take them out for pizza.

We went to a groovy little locally owned pizza joint called Satchels. In front of the restaurant is an old van converted into a seating area. (click the link to see the restaurant and van) We've never sat in the van before because it's always been way too hot for me. But the weather was cool (rainy actually), the boy wanted the van, and Jay and I wanted to be accommodating. What follows are probably way too many pictures of us and the van, but whatever:There aren't a lot of rules at Satchels and tagging the van is allowed. Apparently quite a few Twilight fans sat in this van before me:
My personal favorite: I think Edward Cullen is a "boo" to a lot of gals.

Anyway, back to cheese. Going cheese free for a month was easier than I thought it would be. The first five days were the hardest. I wanted grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, nachos and cheese, bagels and creme cheese, and so on and so forth. After I got over that hump, I didn't really crave cheese a whole lot and mostly didn't miss it. But then the hard part became the incidental noshing on cheese that I do throughout the day. Like being hungry in the middle of the day and just grabbing a piece of cheese. Or making the kids mac and cheese and "sampling" some. I really had to work to remember to not just randomly shove cheese in my face. That being said, by the end of the month I really wanted to put some fresh parmesan on my spaghetti and some blue cheese crumbles on my salad.

This challenge definitely made me see not only how much cheese I eat, but how much of it is crap cheese. Honestly, I don't really even like American cheese, why should I eat it? That realization has changed the way I view my eating habits and I've virtually stopped eating all cheese I don't truly love. Anymore, it's only the smelly stuff for me.

Jay and I had planned on doing similar food challenges all year, including going gluten free for part of February, but I just don't think we'll have time to work up the food plans that would be required to do so. But I do hope to revisit this idea in the future because it was definitely eye opening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Where I'm At Right Now

Saturday night I dreamt I was driving along a busy highway and all of a sudden there was a giant cement wall in front of me. I didn't hit it, it was just there, and in my short little dream I couldn't find a way to go around it. It was so startling that I immediately woke up and opened my eyes. After a few seconds I realized it was just a dream, closed my eyes again, yet the wall was still there. I think this dream is very indicative of how my life is going at the moment.

Friday night my mom and her boyfriend came home and informed us that they got a great deal on a rental house and would be moving out. The next day. I've mentioned here before that Jay and I bought this house not only for ourselves, but for extended family. We can't afford it on our own. So we have to move. Soon.

While I never expected us to all live in this house forever, especially if it wasn't financially feasible for one party, I did expect us to all go our separate ways around the same time (roughly) so that no one was left in a lurch scrambling to figure out what they were going to do, where they were going to live, etc. I thought I deserved the decency of being given more than one day notice. Especially from my own mother. (For the record, a similar situation happened over the summer resulting in our financial troubles that I've alluded to numerous times. And when that living situation was no longer feasible, they moved in with us. So to say I feel used, is an understatement.)

I've tried talking to my mom about all this. Not only the incredibly tight financial bind it puts my family in, but how much her actions have just hurt me plain and simple. But the conversation goes nowhere. She either gets up and walks out or her boyfriend speaks for her. I'm tired of trying to make it work. I've been crying a lot lately. I don't have much in the way of extended family and my personal parental support system is virtually non existent. (My relationship with my dad has gotten better in the past year or so, but we are far too different-or maybe alike-to ever be close.)

My mom and I used to be like best friends. We did things together, went places together, and just hung out enjoying each others company. Things haven't been that way in about a year. The person she is now, is not the person I've known my whole life. Her personality has changed in a way I don't understand and I feel an incredible sense of loss. For myself and for my kids. I don't talk about these types of personal relationships with my kids and I don't talk badly about other family members in front of them. Of course I shield them from harm, but I also think it's much healthier for kids to form their own opinions about people. My son has come to me numerous times saying how he wants his "old Grandma" back. I don't know how to respond to that.

Anyway, obviously these recent events push The Big Move up sooner than planned. It looks as if we'll be moving soon. Real soon. Months, possibly as soon as 3-4 weeks. We may wait around for our house to sell, we may not. And we'll be taking all of our debt with us. We thought about just getting a cheap apartment here in town until our life settles a bit, but ultimately we think we'd just be digging ourselves in deeper. I'm feeling a huge range of emotions right now. Fear, anxiety, sadness, stress, anger, excitement. We've already started packing up our stuff and we've met with a realtor. The wheels are in motion.

Posting will probably be sporadic here in the coming weeks and months as Jay and I work out what we need to do to make this situation as painless as possible for our children. But up until the day I disconnect the computer, I'll still be here reading your blogs. Keep your fingers crossed that this giant cement wall isn't too hard to go around.

(I wrote this Monday morning when I was definitely at one of my lowest emotional points and I had a lengthy internal debate about whether to post it or not. I decided to post it for no other reason than I needed to FOR ME. Now, a day later, I'm......okay. There is still an immense, weighty sadness I feel that I don't know how to put into words, but I also feel more able to deal with it all. I have a lot to do around the house so keeping busy is going to help me. Also, I've turned off the comments on this post because I didn't want it to become a "Poor Tammie" forum.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Open Discussion:: The Lovely Bones

I'm so excited to discuss The Lovely Bones with everyone! (I really need to join a book club again because I so miss discussing books with other people.) I actually finished the book in December and my feelings about it have changed a bit over the course of the last month. I've written and re-written this a number of times, not only trying to put my thoughts into words, but also trying to figure out what my thoughts even are. I think I've finally gotten it.

Here's how this will (hopefully) work:

I'll start the discussion out with a few questions or topics for conversation. These may be my own opinions or questions, or they may be taken from somewhere else, in which case I'll specifically note where I got it from. When you comment, you can choose to either address one of those topics/questions, or just go off on a complete tangent of your own and say whatever you want pertaining to the book. Did you love it? Hate it? Read one chapter and give up? Have no interest in reading it at all? Whatever the case may be, I want to know why. Remember, my questions are really just a guide to keep the conversation going. If you have something completely different to add, go for it! As the conversation progresses, as I'm hoping it does, I would love it if you would check back within the following days, possibly commenting again addressing someone else's opinion. You know, like a conversation at a book club meeting.

Let the fun begin!

*Did you like the book? Why or why not?
At first, I loved it but I couldn't put into words why I loved it. Then, after more thought, I hated it but yet again couldn't quite say why I hated it. Ultimately, I decided I loved parts, yet despised others.

I found the first thirty or so pages describing Susie and her murder to be the most gripping passage I've read in my life. I couldn't put it down. After that, it was touch and go.

Even though I think it's sort of gimmicky, I love how the book is narrated by Susie from up in "her heaven." I love how she is almost all knowing and can watch everyone from her loved ones, to old friends, to even her murderer. I think this is a plot device that makes the book incredibly easy to read and enjoy.

I think what I disliked most about the story, was the way the various family members (and others) dealt with Susie's murder. I felt they were stereotypical. We have the grieving dad who remains devoted, the mom who loses it and runs off, the daughter who shuts down, the detective who gets too involved, and so on. It just seemed to me as if the author thought of all possible reactions to this horrendous incident and then assigned each one to a character. While I understand that everyone has their own way of dealing with things, it bugged me to see all those different ways in one book.

In the end, although it isn't my favorite book of all time, I enjoyed it.

*What are your thoughts about the way heaven is portrayed in the book? Do you believe in a heaven? If so, would you want "your heaven" to be like Susie's, where she can look down on all of her living relatives yet can't do much to change anything on earth? Do you have any thoughts on the fact that Susie's heaven appears to have no god?

Well, I think most of you know that I really don't believe in any type of heaven but if I did, I certainly would not want it to be like Susie's. I think the pain of watching my loved ones grieve would be more devastating than the pain from my actual death. I wouldn't want to long for my life that was cut short. Frankly, there was very little in Susie's heaven that I thought was all that happy.

*Who was your favorite/least favorite character in the book?

This may sound bizarre but I completely loved Detective Len Fenerman and I thought he was the least cliched character in the book. I thought that his emotions and reactions to things were some of the most honest ones. Everything he did in the story fit in well with his personality. Even his affair with Susie's mom could be attributed to the fact that his own wife is deceased and he's spent his career trying to help and/or find women in danger.

I despised Susie's mother, Abigail, for running away from her family. While I can't even begin to imagine the grief someone in her position feels, I don't think that running away from the problem ever helps and I didn't find her a sympathetic character at all. Her family, her children especially, needed her. Abigail isn't to blame for not being able to see Susie grow up, but she is to blame for not being able to see her other children mature.

*What are your thoughts about Susie coming back to earth (in Ruth's body) and having sex with Ray Singh?

I thought it was weird and I didn't get it, but I did find it shocking. Although I found this book easy to read, there were times I thought that maybe I was missing or overlooking certain parts. That maybe some events in the book had more meaning than I was giving them. This was definitely one of those parts. I really hope some of you can enlighten me on this specific passage because I totally just thought it was out there. I don't understand why she came back and had sex. Does everyone in heaven get to come back at some point and do something they missed out on, or were the stars just aligned in her favor?

*What are your thoughts about the way Mr. Harvey died? Do you feel as if justice was served?

I wanted more closure, for myself and for all the living characters in the book. I was disappointed that I didn't get that, but I also understand how realistic this is.

Now, please share your thoughts!