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    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    2008: You May, At Your Leisure...

    ...GET THE FUCK OUT. Buh-bye. See ya. Don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha. Deuces. Make tracks. 'The fuck OUT. Seriously.

    Tonight I toast William, Aimee, my right arm which will never be the same, and all the other losses we have suffered this year. These last 365 days, I should note, have been speckled with some beautiful things - the birth of several good friends' children, hundreds of good times with our kids, a marriage that grew stronger through adversity despite our weakest moments, and the opportunity to learn new things about myself. But speckled as it was with good things, it was seemingly covered, doused, drowned with a veritable flooding of moments that sucked the wind out of me, and left me feeling sad and hurt and hopeless. I do not question my blessings, nor do I discount them, but reveling in them has been difficult with the burdens I have spent the year bearing.

    I hope for fewer moments like that in 2009. I hope for more joy, more gratitude, more reasons to cry tears of joy, more smiles, more laughs, and more blessings for all of us. Not perfection, I am not selfish - but more moments of happiness than tragedy will suit me just fine.

    Baby New Year, 2009, come on in. Welcome. Please bring the joy and hope we seek. Please.

    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Tuesday Tidbits

    Oh, I am clever with the cute little alliterations with the days of the week, huh?

    Anyway, since I missed my last chance to do a Monday Memorandum for 2008, this is what we've got. (I guess I could do one and back date it, but I'm all about keeping it real around here. Mostly.)

    She's still dead. I still miss her. Her baby would have been about 1/2 baked by now. She would be getting uncomfortable and we would talking about names and nursery themes and swollen feet. My heart still aches for her, and the loss we have suffered is still breath-taking and overwhelming. The thought of this being the last year she will have been part of my life makes for ONE tiny reason I'll be sad to see 2008 go. I know she'll always be with me, and I know she's watching, but that's not enough. We should have had a lifetime to watch each other's kids grow up, to grow old together, to laugh at how foolish we were as youngsters, and to value decades spent loving one another in the special way that we did. That will always feel a cheap shot from the powers that be. So as I've said so many times since September 2 - hug your loved ones. Kiss your family and friends. SAY I love you, even if it feels weird. You won't be sorry if you do, but you might be sorry if you don't.

    Gosh, suddenly I don't feel like writing anymore. A good cry sounds great, though, I may go for that.

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Happy Holidays!

    Hope you all have a wonderful, blessed, safe, warm, happy, joyful, yummy, satisfying, fun, heart-warming holiday!

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    The Hits Just Keep on Coming

    It seems as though, since I have now called out 2008 as the whoring bitch of a year that it is, that the year seems determined to go out with a loud fucking BANG.

    We shopped carefully for Christmas this year, using very little credit to buy our Christmas gifts, relatively. Felt pretty good about Greg's company staying busy enough to keep his overtime going strong. Gas dropped like a rock, made it feasible to fill the tank again. Got 'caught up' per se, were no longer worrying quite so much about the grocery budget again, and have that general sense of being able to ....{inhale}....ahhhh....breathe easy, just a little bit.

    And then it happened.

    Yesterday, early evening, Jackson was in the bathroom, "cleaning" the toilet, with paper towel in hand, smearing water all over the seat. Dandy. Fine. I was on the phone at the time (part of the reason he was able to venture into the bathroom with paper towels at his leisure), so Greg took care of it.

    Later last night, I started a load of laundry, after having let it get behind again (be shocked, go ahead). It was laying, in somewhat sorted piles, in the laundry room. I first hear water backing up into the floor drain. This strikes me as odd...we snaked that drain several months back and while it has not been perfect, it rarely backs up when the washer runs anymore. Clearly, today was not a good day. As I'm discussing this with myself, I hear Greta crying.

    I look into the laundry room, where I see her, stranded on the other side of a not-so-mini-lake, as though she was on an island in danger of being swallowed by the sea.

    Note: the dog likes to sleep in my laundry room, under my laundry table. Since she does, her dog bed is in there, she loves it, she's not banished there. Anyway.

    So, I go to the other door of the laundry room, and rescue Greta. Greg hears the hoopla going on, wakes up, and comes to surmise the damage. The water is NOT going down. The drain is, clearly, NOT slow. It is clogged. C-L-O-G-G-E-D. And the lovely piles of clothes are now becoming wet, stinky islands. My throw rug is saturated half way through.

    Greg turns off the water, and sighs. He reveals now that when Jackson had been in the bathroom earlier, he went to flush the toilet and it was clogged...presumably with PAPER TOWELS. So he had plunged it, and it cleared at the toilet end, and he thought little else of it. Surely if it could clear the smaller toilet drain, it would clear the larger main line, yes?

    Uh, looks like a big fat NO on that one.

    This began around 12:30 (I thought it was earlier until I remembered I had just emailed Deb when it happened, and that was sent around 12:30).

    By 3:30 AM, we had called the city sewer department, our utility company, Greg had snaked the drain, from two spots, {intentionally} BROKEN an original piece of plumbing that was rusted/corroded shut, snaked the drain again, used the clog buster (which it turns out was not big enough for the main drain line), considered calling a plumber at 2AM (cha-CHING!), decided against calling a plumber at 2AM, shop-vac'd up all the water, 8 gallons at a time, over and over as we tried to break the clog with the hose and the clog buster (OH - and spent 20 minutes thawing the hose that we didn't empty in the fall...lesson learned there!). Finally we fell into bed between 3:30 and 4:00, having decided that Greg would go to Home Depot at 7AM to get a bigger clog buster, a better snake, and a new drain plug (to replace the broken one).

    We were so exhausted we didn't even care how badly we smelled. Greg got up early, went to HD as planned, got what we needed, and after much more effort, it drained. FINALLY. It drained. Hallelu!

    Greg went upstairs, took a long shower, followed by a double hot bath. The drain was fine, drying up nicely, drained fine after his bathing, and I was starting laundry.

    And then it backed up again.

    Greg snaked it again, and thought he felt it give, and then it drained again. And then it clogged again. And now it takes several minutes for it to drain, when it feels like it, if it drains at all.

    The plumber is coming between now and 4 PM. Greg is less-than-amused at having to call a plumber, I think it violates some manhood code in his family. I'm doubtful he'll even tell his father. Poor guy. He busted his butt, got stunk up more than once, and it's still not right.

    Aaaand remember all the comfort and joy about money stuff being OK now? Throw that shit out the window, because I'm almost positive this guy is going to want more money than we have in checking, so we'll be cracking open the credit card envelope. Won't that be fun? Merry Christmas, bank!

    So, 2008 is proving, once again, to be a shitty, shitty, pain-bringing year. Thank god it's only 9 more days until it's over.



    Plumbing is clear. $329. Got to see my drain lines on camera. Ho ho ho.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Monday Memorandum: V 2.0

    Ladies, gentlemen, bloggers - happy Monday!

    The year is waning fast, and while my general sentiment regarding that particular reality is "hey 2008--don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha!", I don't seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done that I wanted to get done before Baby New Year pops his head in (...or out, maybe. Whatever.). But because I am so devoted to you (I know, warm fuzzy, yes?), here's the latest around here this week.

    Surprise Visit
    An important thing happened here at FMFO headquarters on Saturday afternoon. While knee-deep in holiday baking, we had surprise visitors - it was my good friend E, with the twins (who are so big now it's a little bit frightening and surreal, considering that just 9 years ago I was talking to them through a belly-button microphone) - they were in the neighborhood delivering Angel Tree gifts and decided to stop by. We chatted for a while, did a mini-catch up session in the kitchen while the kids sampled cookie bark, and then they went on their way and I dove back into baking.

    Why was this an important happening? you ask. I'll tell you. I have known E for...let's see...15 1/2 years now? Yeah - long time. We were even roommates for a year, so we know each other pretty darn well. But in recent years our visits are almost always planned out in advance, and when we meet here, it gives me the chance to do that dance we all know and love called "the house cleaning 26-step". This causes E, each time she visits, to say "You always say your house is trashed on your blog, but it's always clean when I come."

    Yes, E, yes it is. And what you saw on Saturday when you walked through the door is precisely WHY we plan our visits and I do the dance before you come.

    I had been baking for two days, and doing little else. Any of you with a husband, dogs, and kids (or any combination) knows what happens when you don't clean for two days with everyone in the house. Big "dog-hair-dirty-socks-legos-and-barbies-candy-wrappers-lunch-dishes-on-the-table-at-3-pm-sippy-cups-bills-on-the-table-dishes-piling-up" ole' mess. I blushed as we laughed about the tumbleweeds of dog hair in the corner. She was gracious, and if it had been anyone but her it would A) NOT have been funny and B) I would have probably run around cleaning up the whole time she was there. As it is, I know she loves me in that "just by your being YOU" Mr. Rogers way, and we just had a good chuckle about the experience of her getting to see my house in its natural state. (The state of disaster.) E, you are welcome any time, messy or clean. Except stop looking so hot and 24-ish when you come. Look your age already, would you? It's kind of pissing me off. But thanks for stopping by! Love you.

    Dogless Bark and Cookies As Far As The Eye Can See
    Holiday baking is in full-swing around here, and I need to finish up the teachers' gift baskets today or tomorrow. Chocolate-oatmeal no-bakes, rice crispie treats (with holiday sugar), strawberry bars, cookie bark (my own recipe*), holiday Kisses and other candies, all wrapped up in decorative tins - am I ambitious or what? And our families are getting group gifts this year - one to a sibling and their families. I highly recommend this gift and Greg gets all the credit for thinking of it (and why Blockbuster doesn't package this stuff I have no idea):

    Blockbuster gift card
    One "theatre-style" candy box per person
    Two or three packs of microwave popcorn
    Holiday-colored bowl for popcorn

    Put holiday paper shreds in the bottom of the bowl, stand up the candy and popcorn on their ends, put the gift card in front, and wrap it all up in clear holiday cellophane and tie with a bow. Viola! A group gift that fits nearly anyone. Christmas has never been this simple, and I am so glad for it. And they are damn cute if I say so myself. See?

    *Cookie bark: one layer chocolate bark, one layer colored vanilla bark, crushed holiday Oreos, and topped with more bark. So cute, and so good:

    Anywho, the baking will go on another day or two. And if I don't stop tasting as I go, I'll be sorry. There is no cookie bark on South Beach, let's put it that way.

    Recreational Torture
    Greg and I, in an attempt to spend some grown-up time together, are playing video games on the Wii after the kids are in bed at night. Right now we are in the middle of Alone in the Dark, Wii version. We found a decent walk-through online, but realized it stopped. As in, was not completed. Not completed starting RIGHT about where we are now. Driving this "car" out of the park is im-fucking-possible, and Greg gets so mad at the thing that we have to stop. It only irritates me because, back in the day, there WAS no game that could beat me. No game. Period. (Fine, whatever, dork alert.) So apparently I am getting old in every area of my life, because this game is kicking our collective ass. Makes me want to splurge and go find the actual player's guide. If there is one. Maybe the assholes who made the game didn't even finish it once they got stuck in the park with the alchemists following close behind and a car that runs like shit, with an irritating little fucker running his mouth in the passenger's seat.

    OK, fine. SUPER dork alert. Whatever.


    And finally, some random factoids for you on this fine Monday in December:

    Two-year old boys' fingernails are gross. Cutting them, also gross.
    Some people talk too much.
    -27 windchill feels like -227.
    Big sisters pick on little brothers.
    Little brothers learn to hit back.
    Chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies are addictive.
    Time waits until you stop to check email or write a quick blog, and then it runs away from you.
    Children are incapable of hearing the words "Get OFF OF THE DEEP FREEZE!" no matter how loud you say it.
    Blogs do not write themselves.
    Dishes do not do themselves.
    Little girls' bangs do not cut themselves.
    One little girl will be late for school if I don't get this posted and get my butt in gear.

    Have a wonderful Monday, and a great week-before-Christmas!

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Badge of Honor: Guest Blog

    It certainly is in this case. Deb blessed me with asking me to guest blog while she's in the hospital after the birth of their child (see previous blog for info on the little cutie, she was born 12/10), so if you need a dose of me today, check me out over there (and read some of Deb's stuff if you haven't - she is a great writer with a style you won't ever want to stop reading).

    So click HERE to check out my guest post at Deb's place. And I'll be back here writing again soon.

    And if you clicked over here FROM Deb's blog, thanks for stopping by! Feel free to nose around, read some new stuff, some old stuff, and stop back again soon. You can never tell when I'll be brilliant, and you don't want to miss that. ;-) Thanks!

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    The Best Thing to Happen in 2008

    Today, at 11:47, my dearest sweet friend Deb, and her family, welcomed their new baby girl into the world. She is beautiful, and her precious, perfect little baby cry split my heart wide open and burrowed in, even over the phone. I so very much wish our family could be there with theirs, but I know I'll get to hold that little one someday, hopefully sooner rather than later.

    In the mean time, welcome to our world, sweetheart. Thanks for giving me a beautiful, wonderful memory to be glad for in 2008. You're the best thing that's happened all year long. Can't wait to watch you grow up.

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    No More Birthdays and Earthly Remains

    It seemed I hadn't thought of Aimee much yesterday, which is a rare kind of day for me. Who she was, and what our friendship was, was so much a part of my life for so many years that, frankly, it's hard to swing a dead cat around here without hitting something in my house, my computer, or my life that reminds me of her. But for whatever reason, when I talked to my friend Deb about this today, I didn't think I had spent much time thinking of Aimee yesterday...I would later remember that I had been smacked squarely in the face with the idea that she won't have a birthday next March while I was filling out my 2009 calendar. I sat at my kitchen table and cried when I saw her name on March 10 of this year. But moments of grief come and go, and I guess the sad reality is that I'm getting used to them. Anyway, the point is that I didn't think I'd spent much time thinking of her yesterday.

    So I was taken aback and breath-stolen to see her sitting before me last night, in my dream. She was wearing a green and white striped polo shirt, and her curly dark hair was falling gently across her forehead. I could see her then as clearly as the screen in front of me now. It was all so vivid, and lacked the usual dream fog that clouds their memory. I could see the crease in her forehead that is uniquely hers, and could feel her skin as I touched her arm, and she was exhaling her cigarette smoke in that way that she had. We talked, and laughed, and it was much like many of the real conversations we had together (save the fact that most of those were on the phone) when she was alive - not particularly significant (although there were certainly those had, as well) but just another fiber, another stitch, in the fabric of our friendship.

    What was different from the real-life chats we shared was how it ended. It ended with me waking. Waking to remember the reality of what's true.

    Aimee is still dead.

    She's not wearing a green and while polo shirt. She is wearing maternity clothes that she picked out but never wore with breath in her body. They are cut up the back, surely, and looked lovely on her as she lay in her casket. She is not sitting in a chair in a hotel room. There are no more chats. No more visits. No more meals together. Nothing.

    My best friend is rotting in a box in Iowa. THAT is the reality. Her tiny, petite hands that held my children; her beautiful curls; her perfect never-drilled-in-all-her-30-years teeth; her nose that wiggled when she talked; her ears that listened to every word I ever spoke; her arms that hugged me just days before she died; her mouth that spoke whatever words I needed to hear - all of her. She's decaying in a box, those parts of her we could touch, feel and see - while her husband, her parents and her best friend, along with countless others, are left to wonder why, to know that no medical explanation will ever ease any measure of pain for any of us. No amount of time will stop this ache at losing someone who meant so very much to me. Time does not heal all wounds. As I sit here sobbing at my keyboard - once again offering God anything if he'll just make it not true, if he'll just give her back - I know and feel and believe that there is no end to this loss.

    It seems vivid and grotesque to talk about the state of her body, I'm sure, and I'm sorry for that. Be assured it's not for shock value. It's just the only reality I can think of right now, for whatever reason.

    The other realities are too painful...and yet here they come anyway.

    I gasp for breath when I remember that she's almost 20 weeks along...or she would have been. Almost time to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. She would have called me walking out of the OB's office and made me guess, and then screamed it to me, and we'd have spent an hour talking about names and clothes and nursery themes. I will never get that phone call. Nik will never see the ultrasound of his baby that his beautiful wife was carrying. Her parents will never, ever be grandparents.

    Because Aimee died.

    She died. Can you hear how fucked up and painful and gut-wrenching those two simple words are to me? To all of us who loved her?

    She died.

    So THOSE are the other realities. In light of all of that sadness and loss and emptiness, the state of her earthly remains seems almost non-offensive to consider. If I close my eyes, I go back and forth - between seeing her laying there in that box, looking so very much UNlike Aimee, and seeing her sitting with me last night, in that shirt, with that smile, talking and laughing and being my best friend. I am unable to discern which image is less painful...the beautiful mirage that teases my heart in my hours of sleep, or the cold reality that at least spares me any false hope.

    And at the end of it all, I don't think it matters. She's still gone, I still miss her, it still doesn't make any sense, and I still don't know how I'll ever move beyond the pain of losing her. And it's all come about because I filled out my calendar for the new year, on a day where I didn't particularly spend a great deal of time thinking of her. I had been hopeful that 2009 would bring brighter days, that there would be joy to come. And maybe there will be. But March 10 will suck. She would have been 31, and instead she just...won't be.

    And the tears come again. No catchy ending, no cleverly-worded poignant close. Just me, crying from the depths of my sad, broken heart, wishing the dream was reality and the last three month's reality could somehow be a dream.

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Now That It's Over

    I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed, full of laughter and good times spent with loved one...and good food. We were spoiled on all counts today, and are grateful as we lay our heads down to rest tonight. Tomorrow the Christmas tree awaits and all its trimmings, too...

    So now that it's here, Happy Holidays, my lovelies. May we all remember the reason for and the spirit of the season from now until 2008 bids us farewell.

    At which time I will tell it (2008) to eat a dick, straight up, to kiss my ass, to go to hell and die, and I will then welcome in 2009 with open arms. ;-)

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Sunday Sum Up

    How come I never just say what day it is and get on with the update? Why with the clever titles all the time? Oh, yeah - cuz it's my blog and I can do what I want. Now I remember. Anyway, I have been unblogged this week while Jackson and I feel like complete ass, and we're still not out of the woods yet, with Jackson's cold having moved into BOTH eyes and giving him oodles of goop spewing from both, and mine having settled in my lungs. But I have crawled from my place of rest to blog a blog this fine Sunday, and so here is an update from the land of me.

    The Netflix Curse
    See, here's the problem. Netflix has unlimited online viewing of thousands of your favorite stupid, retarded, low-budget, poorly done films of which my husband is a devoted fan. And now that we have a router, his PC is online right along with mine...right next to me here in the ole' office. And while that is just jim-dandy-dee in and of itself, Netflix has made it just a wee bit unpleasant for anyone who has to sit next to Greg while he views his crap-film-du-juor. Today's masterpiece? Grindhouse: Planet Terror. The particular scene he keeps wanting me to watch centers around a girl whose right leg is a machine gun, and apparently she's doing some major damage with said leg-gun. And he is operating under the delusion that not only do I care, but that I would love to watch it...repeatedly. This never happened before Netflix. And he'll never cancel it now. He's seen more campy, awful horror flicks since this summer than he's seen his whole life, and shows like this make him giggle. Don't ask me why. I am thinking of making him put up nosy-neighbor books or one of those brown cardboard box things they used to put around my...uh, I mean other kids' desks who couldn't mind their own business in grade school. I'll do it, honey, I swear to god...

    Some Family Business
    Dad, it's time to review the rules again. The last time we went over the rules, my favorite was "Blind people don't shoot shotguns - it's one of the rules". That was a long time ago, and I was certain the list of rules had become more clear. Yet it seems I was wrong. So please be advised that there are two more rules to be considered and followed. Please know they are for your safety and health, and for my sanity.

    I know your phone is not working, and they won't come until Monday, and you were out of cigarettes, but BLIND PEOPLE DO NOT HITCHHIKE. It's one of the rules.

    I know you want to get that outlet in the back hall closet fixed, and I know you were sure you could just get it handled and make the neccessary hole yourself, but your assistant said there was quite a lot of blood around the place when she got there. BLIND PEOPLE DO NOT USE SAWS. It's one of the rules.

    Turkey Day's A'Comin'
    Short week coming up with preschool being off for Thanksgiving break starting Tuesday afternoon. We are "counting the sleeps" until Friday around here, when we will be "allowed" by Daddy to decorate the house with our Christmas cheer. He refuses to "let" me do it any sooner. Scrooge. We will do the usual turkey, etc. back home on Thursday, eat entirely too much and drive home entirely too late, and then Greg gets to work on Friday.

    Gosh, am I boring tonight or what?

    The hardest part of said movement sits behind me. It sits, whispering behind me, reminding me that it's still there every time I trip over a box or seven every time I walk by. And I have NO motivation to finish. To do the most tedious of tasks, and file it all. It may turn into TGPMo2009 at this rate. Oh, and I already have a new box of crap upstairs that needs sorting.

    OK, hold the fucking phone.

    Dear sweet merciful God - he just turned on a fucking DEVO concert video on Netflix, and giggled with joy as he started it, and looked at me with great pride and excitement as though I should want to join him. It's not even in English for fuck's sake - it's from Japan, I think.

    I am SO moving my computer.

    Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, full of great food, great family and great fun. For a deeper thought process on the whole idea of thankfulness, see here. It's from last year at Thanksgiving, and it still pretty much applies now. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    That's What I Get

    Really, it's my fault. It is. I should know better.

    Go out, have a blast, spend a little time in Happy Schnockered Land, where I NEVER go, and then when morning comes, and the little man wakes up and Daddy brings him down, and then runs to work for a short while...I go back to sleep. After all, it was 2:30 before the room stopped spinning enough for me to lay down. So, we snuggle in, I turn on his fave cartoon, and doze off.

    The child...does not.

    It wasn't that long, if memory of my last glance at the clock serves me correctly. But he works quickly. And thoroughly. Apparently Playhouse Disney did NOT hold his interest as usual.

    It's actually the smell that wakes me, and nothing else. He's like a cat-burglar, this one - not a sound while he does his evil deeds. I wake to see him standing next to me, on Daddy's side of the bed, holding his instrument of choice for destruction on this fine morning. He smiles at me as he works, until he sees my expression change from curiosity at what I'm smelling, to HORROR as I realize just what I'm smelling...


    How he got it out of the cabinet in my office yesterday, I will never know. Why we didn't put it up HIGHER after he got it out yesterday but narrowly avoided catastrophe, I will also never know. (And why the fuck do I still have this shit? Who uses White-Out anymore? Certainly not me, as far as I can remember...wait, I used to use it in my check register...then I pulled the stick out and just started crossing out like everyone else on the planet...)

    So. Exactly what DO I see as I open my eyes and look upon my beautiful blue-eyed baby boy?

    Both hands: white.
    Both legs: white.

    Left cheek veering towards mouth: white.

    Pajamas: white.

    Daddy's alarm clock, night stand and night stand cover: white

    Damn - how much is IN one of those tiny bottles?

    And do you know what does a really, good, thorough job of taking White-Out off of skin, clothes and small electronics?

    NOTHING. NO-FUCKING-THING. That shit is like house paint.

    The Bug and Tar Remover did the best job, but we can't use that on the kid. (Trust me, I thought about it.) He'll be soaking in a long soapy tub after breakfast, after already having sat through my scrubbing session on his face with a warm wash cloth. We may try baby oil first.

    God, do I HAVE baby oil? That's as obsolete around here as White-Out!

    See, it's mostly off his face now. Ugh.

    Oh, and as an added bonus, when we walked out of the bedroom and into the office, we saw that he had done a number on Daddy's computer tower, too.

    As we cleaned the mess, Samantha very calmly walked in my office, sat down and said "Mommy, please don't sell my brother because he did this." We assured her that White-Out covered little brothers don't go for much these days, and we'd be hanging on to him.

    Greg said I shouldn't feel bad. But I do feel bad - it's my fault for assuming he'd stay put like he generally does when Playhouse Disney is on. It's my fault for dozing off when I should have stayed awake, no matter how tired I was. It's my f---


    Come to think of it, it's really Greg's fault. Jackson BEGGED him not to go into work this morning. Begged him - pouty lip and tears and all. Did he listen? No. Did he leave tired, sleepy, Mommy to wrangle the child early in the morning? Yes. Yes, he did. Clearly this was Jackson's retaliation for Greg's refusal to grant the boy's early morning request for his company! I think I'm in the clear here!

    Geez, Greg, way to go, hon. Nice one.

    "....I swear, Officer, my husband just fell under the bus, I promise I didn't throw him..."


    OK, fine. Back to reality - MY fault. My bad. Totally. But, that's what I get. The White-Out is in the trash, the mess is mostly cleaned up, and the new rule is no more lounging around in bed in the morning with Jackson. Period.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Things I've Lost Along The Way

    I'll just put it out there.

    I miss being hot.

    I used to be hot. OK, not Playboy-centerfold-hot, not stop-all-the-traffic-for-5-blocks-hot...but I could stop a fair number of cars in that traffic back in the day, on my best days as a young, not-fat, curly-headed brunette with a kickin' set of calves and a rack that was a fine piece of God's work if I say so myself. That story in my profile is true. Greg and I attended a winter formal dance together in 1992, and we stopped at a convenience store afterwards. Several members of the basketball team from our college were there, as well, and when I walked in, they all stopped dead in their tracks. Then they proceeded to go up to Greg, congratulate him on being with such a "fine woman" and shake his hand. Every one of them. Does that happen when the girl's a bow-wow? I think not.

    But that was then, and this is now. I don't want to oversimplify, but let's just say no one has stopped us in any store lately to say anything other than "Excuse am, sir? Here - your son dropped his binky."

    To put it bluntly, the hotness has left the building. And I am sad. It sucks to be pudgy, saggy and scarred by childbirth, with wrinkles creeping in and hair falling out, with no end in sight that looks like anything that resembles the hotness that once was a possibility for me with an average amount of effort on my part.

    Wait. I should clarify something. This is not a reflection of how I feel about me, on whether I love Cathy or not. I do. I like who I am, and I accept the spirit inside me that I project to the world. Cathy is just peachy keen happy with Cathy as a person. The body housing Cathy is not-so-much peachy keen any more.

    What do you mean, Cathy? you ask. How bad could it be?

    Well, let me break it down for you. Grab a snack if you like. Wait, maybe not.

    1)Childbirth gave me stretch marks. Yes, they are a scar to remind me of what I got as a result of childbirth, and yes, I know what they represent. I am eternally grateful for my children, and would endure stretch marks all over my entire body to have my children. But they are still ugly and gross, and short of surgery there is no getting rid of them. (The stretch marks, not the kids.) I can lose all the weight in the world, and frankly that will just make them look worse. It's like trying to fix the run in your panty hose -not gonna happen.

    2)The rack is now sad. Sad, sad boobies. They have NO lift of their own. The girls used to sit high and tight. Why I didn't show them off more, I have no idea. They were some fine breasts. Seriously. But breastfeeding for more than two years has done irreparable damage. Even the cleavage is not right anymore, and they cannot be coaxed by even the most determined bra to look perky or youthful anymore. Poor sad, sad boobies. And it's another thing that more weight loss will NOT help.

    3)I am losing my hair. Quickly. And somehow, the better my diet is, the more hair I lose. It's slowed down substantially since I quit eating like I should. Figure THAT shit out for me. So on top of having fine, thin, basically MAN HAIR, it's now fine, thin, man hair that's thinning, too. Don't make me show you the close-ups of my scalp. Just take my word for it. The shit is f-a-l-l-i-n-g-o-u-t. Oh, wait - except for the hair everywhere ELSE on my body. That hair is going strong, thankyouverymuch, with no sign of falling out. Those hairs must be forced out, excommunicated with instruments and waxes and blades, only to grow back heartier and stronger. Maybe I should wax my head about four times.

    4)My weight. It's uh, NOT where it should be. You know the rest. We've discussed it.

    5)My skin. This is all my fault. I am HORRIBLE about washing my face at night. It gets scrubbed every time I shower, with a lovely apricot scrub, but the day's dirt and makeup stays there until that happens, because I can count on one hand the times I have washed my face at bedtime in the last ten years. Hell, two hands would probably take care of my adult life. Just not in my routine, and for whatever reason I have never gotten in the habit. And now my face pays the price. Big pores, bigger than they ever were, that will not shrink. Little dry patches and age spots are creeping up, and little remnants of the melasma I got during my second pregnancy have stayed around as well. During the new hotness phase*, I got complements on my skin on a regular basis.

    And my eyes.

    And my smile, my ass, my hair and my lips. But that's another story.

    There's more. Lots more. I could go on. But I think you get the picture.

    Anyway, so I'm whining about it. Yes, fine, I'm whining. I know. And I know that I have legs that work and arms that work, and I can talk and read and write, and I mostly have my faculties about me. I have a house to live in, and a husband who loves me just as I am. Deb and I were talking today about embracing an attitude of gratitude, about appreciating what I have and focusing on that...and that is all coming. It will be part of what I attempt to take with me into 2009.

    But it's not 2009 yet, is it? No. So back up off me for now, would'ja?

    The subject for today is how Cathy used to be hot and now she's just nearly middle-aged, kind of frumpy and slightly dumpy. HUGE efforts and great expense would be needed to find a way to return to any level of the hotness that once existed in my world. The expense I cannot handle, and the effort I am working on. Meanwhile, having little other option, there is a part of me that is working very hard to embrace this middle-aged woman I am becoming, to accept her more readily than I was able to accept the much-hotter version of my younger self. Because THAT's the really sad part - that I never truly enjoyed and embraced how beautiful I was, always comparing myself to others and finding flaws where there were none. So I think it's an important part of moving toward the second half of my life, and it's a valuable thing to teach my daughter - to love her body in whatever phase of life she's in. I hope to wake up one day and find acceptance in my heart for what my body has become.

    But let's don't kid ourselves. Self-aware and confident or not - being hot was WAY more fun.

    *By the way, if back then was the "new hotness phase", this is the "old and busted phase". Think Men in Black II. Old and hotness.


    Friday, November 7, 2008

    No More Groping the Cops In Nebraska, No Sir

    This morning on the Cox home page...nice typo folks...think they meant "Fleeing"? Me, too.

    Feeling Officers Now A Felony In Nebraska

    11-07-2008 3:47 AM
    (Omaha, NE) -- A new law has made running from the cops more than a misdemeanor with the possibility of jail-time, now people could go to prison for leading police on a reckless chase. A measure was passed by Nebraska state senators making it a felony under certain circumstances to flee from officers. KETV reports Marty Conboy says the old law used to send violators to jail for up to a year depending on the circumstance. Now there's the chance of a minimum of one year in a state penitentiary. Conboy says the law applies to violators who injure people, who drive recklessly and injure people or if they aren't first-time violators. James Wallace could be the first person to stand trial under the new law. According to police, he fled when they attempted to pull him over at 30th and Sprague but he crashed a couple blocks later. Five to ten officers are injured in police chases each year.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008


    That's what killed her. Sepsis.

    Full report to follow, but the death certificate is finally typed up, and that's what it says.

    Aimee Lynn (McKinley) Bunger, cause of death: sepsis.

    I didn't expect to feel better when we found out.

    I was right. I don't.

    It's as though the wound has been ripped open once again, and I am grieving her loss, second-guessing my own actions, and the actions of the hospital, all over again.

    The Week After SUCKS

    I don't get it. While I admit that I generally feel a little weepy and slightly "off" the week before Aunt Flo rears her ugly head, it pales in comparison to how I feel the week after. The "P" in "PMS" does not mean pre- to means post-. Seriously. On top of the headaches I get to have EVERY day for a week after she's gone, the roller-coaster of emotions and the sad, sinking feeling is a little much these days.

    This morning I have already bawled three times, and my grumpiness apparently rubbed off on Jackson who was such a bear by nap time that we didn't even rock-a-bye, I just laid him down, tucked him in and he went to sleep. I wish I could do the same.

    Fuck. I HATE days like this. Relatively normal, but generally passing, emotions seem to "stick in the chute" and create a sick, sad bottleneck of garbage in my heart. I just want to sleep, but that's just not possible right now, so I sit. And feel like shit. And think about smoking. And eat more candy that makes my ass bigger.

    I am disheartened by the election (spare me if you disagree), I am afraid for our children's future and for country (and would have been no matter who would have won); I am sad that our nice weather is on its way out (snow by the weekend, they say) and we can't afford the new tires we need, so soon I'll be driving with my kids, on ice, with shitty tires; I am sick about the blog I read this morning talking about kids not being about to make friends and being lonely and sad in school; I am anxious and angry at how long Aimee's autopsy results are taking; I am broken-hearted that she is still dead; I am pissed that my elbow is not healing and I still can't fucking straighten it despite having followed doctor's orders; and I am missing my husband, who it seems I never get to just be with anymore.

    I am irritated about choices people are making in their lives, I am sickened by how some mothers treat their children, I am worried that if I don't get back on the beach soon I'll be one of those "cut-the-wall-out-of-my-living room-so-I-can-go-to-the-doctor" people. Not that I have ANY motivation to get back on the beach today. Hardee har.

    Fucking hormones bullshit. Ugh. This is all me just having verbal diarrhea via blog, dear worries. All is well overall and I truly have nothing real to bitch about. We have a (humble) home of our own, food in our (big) bellies, friends and family who love us, and (for now) a free country to live in - we are lucky, and next week when my hormones level out, I'll be able to operate under that knowledge again. For three more weeks, anyway.

    How soon does menopause start? I think the absence of hormones will be a welcomed change for me. Vaginal dryness, hot flashes, whatever - bring it on. Just get me off this roller-coaster!

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Who I Voted For Is My Business

    And I went out and took care of business this morning.

    Who you vote for is YOUR business. So make sure you mind your business today. It feels good, and Starbucks will give you free coffee if you do.

    I had mine, with a little cream, sugar, and cinnamon; and the sweet taste of satisfaction that comes from doing the right thing, along with a sprinkle of pride at how perfectly my kids behaved while we went and participated in such an historic day in our nation's history. They really were perfect, I was practically giddy when we left. Even Samantha the Wondermouth managed to stand there the ENTIRE time without speaking to voters or poll workers. It was more surprising than the mere 1 minute wait!

    We all got "I Voted Today" stickers, and Samantha is wearing her pink and silver "FUTURE PRESIDENT" t-shirt today. Very fitting - if any girl can grow up to be president, it'll be her. Jackson would gladly run as her VP, I'm sure. Anywhere she goes, he wants to follow.

    OK, enough Election Day rambling, it's time to get Samantha to school. So, I'm giving one more reminder, despite my certainty that you've heard it enough and may have already done the good deed: GO and VOTE! The longer you wait, the longer the line will be, I'm guessing.

    Oh, and one more favor to ask - leave a comment after you vote! Samantha was wondering who else was voting today, so let me know and I'll pass it along to your future leader! Happy Election Day!

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Monday Memorandum

    Oh, reader, it's Monday. Just your average Monday. Thought I'd pop in and give you the poop. Maybe the Monday Memorandum will become a usual feature. Maybe not. Time will tell.

    TGPMo2008 is on hold, needing to be completed. Unfortunately I committed my #1 cardinal housewife sin on Friday, and left for the weekend with a messy house, complete with dirty kitchen. That is the BEST way to make sure my Monday sucks ass. Kitchen STILL a COMPLETE mess, rest of the house not far behind, suitcase from our weekend travels yet's a SAHM's nightmare in here today. Couple that with the constant, irritating, overwhelming begging for Halloween candy, and I'm on the verge of insanity at 4:15.

    Everyone's hours are still screwed up from the END of DST, or Daylight Savings Time (it is the end, folks, not the beginning - I keep hearing people say they don't like it now that we are "in DST", but in fact we are now OUT of DST...check your calendar, I'll bet it says "Daylist Savings Time ENDS"). So while the kids were plenty bitchy and grumpy last night by 6:30, it was not bed time yet, and putting them down then would have resulted in kids who thought it was time to get up at 6 AM the next morning, and Mommy don't play that. I acknowledge ONE 6:00 per day, and THAT ain't it, folks. (Gosh, that was a lot of intentional improper grammar, wasn't it?)

    So, house is trashed, no supper made, and I am as motivated as a rock to get anything done. But I'd better start figuring something out soon before Greg gets home; the man is starving when he comes in, understandably, and I have nothing to offer at this second.

    Tomorrow is Election Day. The anticipation is almost palpable in the air everywhere you go. No matter what happens, tomorrow is an historic day for all Americans. May we all be guided with widsom, good intentions and most-importantly, intelligence as we go to the polls tomorrow. It will be a helluva thing to watch as it unfolds.

    It's November, folks, and we'll be talking about gratitude and thankfulness here at FMFO this month. We're all due for a shift in attitude, I'm pretty sure, so I'll be doing my best to focus on the good. Maggie gets the credit for motivating this (see previous post).

    That's the scoop around here. Hope your Monday is prosperous and wonderful and all you want it to be. Check back soon, m'kay?

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Apparently It's A Theme Around Here Today

    Finding/seeking/pointing out and choosing the good, that is.

    Nothing I've seen in writing recently has broken down this idea better than what I read this morning at OK, Fine, Dammit. She's a writer after my own heart, with the kind of writing style that keeps you interested, and keeps you wanting to know when she'll be posting again. Today she posted a beautiful, much-needed piece that we could all stand to read about twice a day, every day. With her permission (thanks, Maggie!) I am reposting it here for you to enjoy (and pass on), and I hope you'll visit her blog and let her know what it means to you, too. Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers.

    From "OK, Fine, Dammit", I give you "What Are You Contributing With All That Hate?"

    A dancer does this thing called spotting. She picks a point in the distance and fixes her gaze upon it, and as her body pirouettes she tries to never lose sight of that spot. She spins but her head stays steady, waiting until the last possible moment to whip itself around and return again to start. It’s the only way to perform that magical endless cyclone without making herself sick.

    I am neck deep in writing projects right now but I’m not dizzy. I am reveling in my children, often literally spinning, but I am always, always spotting. I morph from writer to wife to mother to taxi driver to maid to cook to praying mantis or lioness twins or whichever Littlest Petshop character I’m relegated to in the constant bouts of imaginary play, and it’s the hardest thing and the greatest thing all at once but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am morbidly busy but I know when to quit, too, and most of all I know that I don’t have time for anything that doesn’t give back in some way to the amazing people I see all around me. I don’t have time for drama and bullshit.

    I’ve got a brother who teaches English to Somali high-schoolers while his law-school wife works 12-hour days helping the ones our system fails. I’ve got another brother who builds beautiful things with his hands while helping raise two daughters he inherited. I’ve got an aunt who is saving children one at a time when no one else can and an uncle who is churning out self-made CD’s filled with incredible lyrics and vocals and instruments all performed by him including the harmonica he taught himself to play mere weeks ago — oh, and he wins contests for his political cartoons in his spare time. I’ve got a cousin who can make magic out of any instrument he touches and now he’s passing those gifts along to children, another cousin who single-handedly managed to raise 70 donated bicycles for Cambodians, and yet another cousin who took a dream and cracked it wide open and stood in the fire of all that came with it, all for that love. And I’ve told you all about my mom, and there are countless more examples all around me. All around you, too, I bet. Look at what she is doing for flood victims, look at what he has done in the south. Look at the beauty this dad and his amazing son are putting out into the world every damn day. In less than a week we will either have our first man of color or our first female in the highest office in the land, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. If you feel a subtle change in the air each morning, if things smell a little better or shine a little brighter it’s because there are people who are working hard to contribute something to this world for all of us to share. That’s as it should be.

    And that’s why it’s so hard for me to understand the rest of you. No, not 99% of the people reading this, but you. You out there with your ugly and your menace and your hate like slick black sludge.

    Whether you are writing dirty campaign ads or forwarding hateful emails, whether you are commenting anonymously on blogs or creating entire websites designed to attack other bloggers, whether you are secretly reading other people’s words only to dissect and ridicule them, I want you to ask yourself — what are you contributing? What have you got to show for yourself? Where are your gifts to the world? What will your obituary say?

    The thing I understand least of all is how you have the time for this. Do you not have jobs or families, commitments or goals? Do you not have friends? Don’t you get tired? Aren’t you getting dizzy? Aren’t the fumes from your toxic rage poisoning you bit by bit every day? Don’t you want to be someone better than this?

    I forgive you. I wish for you peace, and love, and the innate, genuine desire to want others to succeed, because that is such a gift. Because we all benefit from that, even you. Especially you.
    This life is too short and too precious to waste a single moment of it tearing other people down, don’t you see? You are blowing your only shot, but there’s still time to change. Find your unique gifts and imagine them a sparkling emerald in the distance, and stare them down. Focus on them – spot — and spin and spin and spin.

    To John, Barack, Joe and Sarah: A Challenge

    I am serious. Just listen and see if you're up for it.

    For the next four days, as you go through this final weekend before Election Day, I challenge you to do just this:

    Stop. The. Smearing.

    Get your opponents' names OUT of your mouth. It's not becoming, on any of you.

    Don't tell me what he can't do - tell me what you CAN do. Don't tell me why she's unqualified - tell me why YOU are. Don't waste my time raging against your opponents' beliefs and policies - spend it showing me yours and helping me understand why they're yours in the first place.

    Give me reasons to vote FOR you, not reasons to vote AGAINST your opponents.

    Smearing is smearing, and campaigning is campaigning. Learn the difference, learn it fast, and stop wasting your time pulling other people down in hopes of making yourself look better. My god, my first-grade teacher taught us that, and we were able to grasp the concept at 6. Figure it out. You are out of time, and so are we.

    So spend the next four days of your campaign being the upstanding, honest, hard-working citizens that you claim to be. We deserve that much from you, and I am SICK to death of the bellyaching, then name-calling and the bitching about your opponents. According to all of you, we are screwed if your opponents spend your weekend convincing me that they are wrong by showing me what's RIGHT about YOU.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Like A Little Post-Dated Shredded Cookie Fortune

    " as little as ten seconds..."

    How true, how true. It's the first piece of shred Greg picked up when it was all over.

    Greg had spent the afternoon shredding documents, bless his heart, as part of TGPMo2008 (what a team player), and it was time for dinner. We considered pizza, and had popped down to the computer to check out our favorite pizza joint's specials. Were down there almost no time at all. Suddenly, Samantha appeared before us, with a hesitant smile, and informed us they'd been "playing with those little papers Daddy made". In that moment, we knew the fate awaiting us 12 feet above our heads.

    We ascended the stairs. We rounded the corner into the kitchen. We saw the damage done.


    After much gasping, Greg and I raced one another around the corner from the kitchen into the laugh our ever-loving asses off. Imagine how much FUN that must have been, and how much we, as kids, would have been rubbbing out butts for hours when OUR parents came up the stairs.

    So we had them get their little-kid broom and mop, and we cleaned it up together.


    (What the HELL is on my dustpan? OH, yeah, the LAST mess Jackson made, but that's another story...)


    Funny kids. Troublemakers for sure, but still funny. And cute - even with credit card statement shreds in their hair and on their clothes.



    Monday, October 27, 2008

    OH, and By the Way...

    ...first box in, 1/2 an inch into the first pile...I found the sewing machine manual. I know, what a total riot, right? I looked in that box, TWICE the night of the sewing machine incident. Twice. It's what spurred on the actual commencement of TGPMo2008.

    Yeah. Irony, my friends, irony. Come roll around in it with me.

    TGPMo2008: Phase One Completed

    It has begun.

    All boxes have been brought together. From everywhere in the house. All boxes have been searched and gone through. All shreddables have been removed and boxed together. All recyclable papers are in the green bin. All "other stuff" is in a box of its own. It was a long process, but fruitful and it felt good to accomplish that leg of the movement. Greg even joined in (after helping carry boxes, even) and shredded two garbage bags full. Remind me to tell you about the shreds, by the way.

    Now the painful Phase Two can begin. The process of creating and editing the actual files, and then sorting and filing, piece by piece, each item that needs a home. THIS will be the tedius, awful, not-fun portion of the event.

    I do not look forward to it.

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Big Hot Business for Saturday

    Morning, my lovelies. Just thought I'd jot down the big goings-on around here this fine Saturday morning in FMFO Land.

    Food TV In The Morning: Hold the Foreplay
    The kids wanted to watch Food Network this morning instead of cartoons. Fine by me! Anne Burrell was on, and she was cooking whole fish, complete with the process of removing the spine. Kinda cool, kinda gross, but they'll certainly never see that in MY kitchen, so we'll call that a valuable life experience for the kids.

    What is NOT a valuable life experience is the show that came on next, "Down Home With The Neelys", which I will not even take the time to link for you - that's how much I don't like them. Seriously.

    Why, you ask? What could be offensive about a couple cooking together on TV? I'll tell you.

    The first (and only) time Samantha and I sat down to watch them, the show hadn't been on very long when the husband did something, I don't remember what, that caused the wife to exclaim, with a suggestive look on her face and a suggestive tone in her voice: "I told you he was good with his hands!"

    Well, isn't THAT nice?

    So nice, especially when Samantha immediately demanded to know exactly what that lady meant by that. Great - would they have had me say "Oh, well Mrs. Neely was alluding to the fact that apparently Mr. Neely is quite the skilled lover, with the ability to create great sensations of sexual arousal for Mrs. Neely when they are in the sack instead of in the kitchen, which has not-a-freaking-thing to do with their stupid TV show. Isn't that nice of her to share?"

    I did NOT offer that explanation. We changed the subject and the channel, never to return to that particular show. My kids love FN, and so do I - but THOSE folks will never get another minute of our time. FN is one of the few networks with shows "for me" that are generally also OK to watch with my kids - that's a rare treat, and one I don't plan to give up, but those people are NOT on the line-up. A tip to the old "Neelys": If your COOKING show needs a warning label, you should have a different kind of show, you asshats.

    TGPMo2008...Beginning to Start to Commence is Pending
    TGPMo2008 begins today. Really. No, really, I'm starting today. As soon as I pick up the clutter in my office, get the vacuum out and run that in here, tidy up the rest of the house, I am locking myself down here and digging in.

    I think.

    I may photograph it so you can fully appreciate the level of paper clogging up my life around here. Which I'll have to find the camera to do. I suspect it got buried the other night during The Great Sewing Machine Manual Search, during which time I also I found the papers from the sale of the house. Not this house, that we bought three years ago...the house we SOLD in Columbus in 2004. And some credit union papers from the credit union at my old job...from 2004. It was then I realized it's worse than I thought.

    While those older papers do have some semblance of order in their boxes (I'm not even sure why I was checking them for a manual I've only had a year or so), they are still not filed. And many of them are now irrelevant and can be shredded, I'm sure. So they are a part of the process. The process which holds FOUR years of filing for me, instead of TWO. The process which may consume me and swallow me up whole. I should run a rope up the steps that's tied around my waist so Greg can hoist me out if I get stuck in a pile of papers. Picture Wesley using that vine, pulling himself and Buttercup out of the sinking sand pits in Princess Bride. Yeah, like that. I'll keep you posted. If I can.

    Trick or Treat Early OR How Much Cuteness Can You Fit In One Building
    Oakview Mall held their annual "Monster Bash" last night, with indoor TOTing at most of their stores. What a fun time we had this year! Last year on the other hand...we made the mistake of following the pack. We arrived early, sure that the candy would run out by 10 minutes past the hour. We waited in line for at least 30 minutes, acting as though the mall opened at 6pm. The line went from the food court doors to the east end of the mall, past JC Penney's (for you non-Omahans, that's a long freaking line).

    And we waited.

    And then we waited in the line when it finally started moving, and wound our way through the mall, painfully slowly, wish there were some other way. What did we know, we were Monster Bash virgins!

    As we got inside, though, we discovered that the smart people had gone in through other entrances and were free to TOT where ever they pleased, with no negative repercussions of any kind. The only line was one that anal moms like me created in our heads, beyond the inital line going in the front door. And those relaxed-looking people who showed UP at quarter-after - THOSE brilliant folks, clearly experienced mall TOTers, not only DIDN'T have to wait in the line, but they also got the same treats we stood in line for, and there were plenty to go around! So we planned then, and executed last night, our new plan. Show up at 6:15, walk right in, TOT where you please. SO much better.

    Anyway, the cuteness was overflowing. Cute little twins in soft, fluffy cupcake costumes. Princesses everywhere, of every shape and color. Fairies and butterflies, ladybugs and Dorothys, and even a cute purple alien girl. Boys in TMNT shells with red headbands, and boys sporting Buzz Lightyear wings, and boys dressed like puppies and dinosaurs and frogs. Babies swaddled in banana, bee, and bunny costumes. And superheros everywhere - including our two particular superheros, Wonder Woman and Superman (the blond/blonde versions). Samantha and Jackson loved the costume-watching more than they loved getting the candy. We satiated their need for candy in less than 45 minutes, sat down to a less-than-stellar food court dinner, and then came home. Good times.

    It Doesn't Have to Have Monsters To Be A Nightmare
    I dreamt I was knocked up last night. I also dreamt I was happy about it. I also dreamt I was in some freaky weird clinic where you had to go into somebody's bedroom in a trailer to POAS (pee on a stick). While in the dream I was fine with ALL of this, and Greg was ecstatic at the news, I am quite certain it would not be the case should it actually come to pass. See here for reasons why.


    So, that's what's rolling around in my head this morning. Oh, and somebody gave out those stupid fucking strawberry candies at the mall last night again. Prompting me to be sure that I'll be doing my second annual Halloween Candy Review once we get through the actual event next weekend. I can only imagine what some of those Columbusites will come up with to stick in my kids' bags. (Hey, I said "some", not "all", Columbusites, keep your pants on!)

    Hope your weekend is fun and exciting, and your Halloween week is spooky and scary and full of bats, witches and good candy.

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Sew Where Is It?

    I have this sewing machine. It's not a great sewing machine. Wait. It's a great sewing machine for what I paid for it. It was $20, new. It's a mini-me version of a real sewing machine, and for as often as I need it and for the depth of my sewing projects, it works great. Very point-and-shoot as sewing machines go.

    Project du juor that I am using said machine for = Halloween costumes, and more specifically, the altering thereof.

    All went well with altering Wonder Woman's main outfit, and even the belt and the arm bands; I whipped them out in record time. I was pretty proud of ole' Cathy about then, let me just say that. About the time I got half way through shortening the "boots" (made of soft thin cloth), things started to get sticky, and then jam up - little examination was required to discover that the damn bobbin came unthreaded.

    No problem. I'll grab the manual and walk myself through it. Bobbins are my least favorite part of sewing; I've never gotten the knack on ANY sewing machine I've owned or used. But surely with the manual in-hand I can get it done, right?

    M'kay, so let me grab the manual. It's not in the box. Oh, yeah, right - it's in the...I saw it in that...

    Yeah, see what had happened was...

    The manual has been floating around the house. I've run across it at least a dozen times in the last year. It's white, with orange lettering on the front, about 6" x 6". I can see it in my head as clear as day. Where I can't see it is in my hand, since I cannot for the LIFE of me FIND the fucking thing.

    I just spent TWO HOURS going through my closets, my files, my boxes of papers, my manual binders, my kitchen cabinets, my drawers - you name it, I looked there. Now it's 2 AM for shit's sake, and here I am, on the verge of a panic attack in my office because this stupid manual, that I have glanced at VERY often in that certain missed pile or drawer or box, eludes me. I think I can hear it laughing at me from its hiding place. Little fucker.

    This is why, folks - this is why TGPMo2008 HAS TO HAPPEN. If I didn't have Halloween costumes to finish I could work on it now. But I need to work on it now so I can FIND the manual so I can RETHREAD the bobbin, so I can FINISH the costumes. See? Ahh, my life is lived in the Great Fields of Irony. Come out and tromp around with me, the weeds are high and the irony grows wild, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

    Oh dear Lord. I just now considered the reality of most likely having to finish sewing those damn boots by hand. Erinn, you're lucky you have school in the morning or I would be calling you RIGHT NOW to come over and thread this damn bobbin, (even though you would undoubtedly laugh at my little-sewing-machine-that-could) because I KNOW you could figure it out, being the sewing genius you are. Whatever, don't argue. Want proof? Fine - anyone here know anyone else who whips out fully lined, satin, beaded bridal capes in three hours the day before her friend's wedding, in which she is standing up as MOH? Yeah, me neither. Oh, and E, you still owe me a guest blog on that vibrating razor idea you had. Makes my butt pucker every time I think about it.

    OK, Cathy's a little punchy now...time to try to shut my brain off, after I have a conversation with my subconscious about how I expect it to dig out the info on where the manual is while I sleep before I get all pissy with it. My subconscious, I mean.

    Ooooook. Whatever. Seriously bed time now. Whoooo.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Year In Review

    So what if there's two months's my blog and I can do what I want. This will be whiny, so prepare yourself. Roll your eyes now, get it out of your system.

    January - we lost and said goodbye to sweet baby William

    June - I find out I need about $3k in dental work

    July - I am blessed with a lovely bout of food poisoning, complete with worthless trip to urgent care

    August - I fell and broke my fucking elbow and sprain my ankle (neither of which are right to this day)

    September - we lost and said goodbye to Aimee

    And now, just for shits and giggles...

    October - My grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimers and has to be moved into a nursing home, and loses a bit of herself every day, ripping Mom's heart out as it progresses.

    October Part 2 - Greg's overtime at his job, a staple in our financial diet, gets cut firmly and indefinitely. In two weeks we are, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, royally screwed, glued and tattoed.

    So. Yeah. I've said it before and I'll say it again: 2008 can kiss my white ass. This is some BUUUULLSHIT. All of it. Seriously. I am SICK OF IT.


    Ten Years Gone

    I don't do these surveys much, and certainly don't post them much, but this one caught my interest. It's nice to look back.

    1 )How old were you?
    Then: 25
    Now: 35

    2) What was your online presence?
    Then: Pretty minimal, I think. I think we'd just gotten internet before I moved out of you-know-who's, and I don't know that I used the net for a while after that.
    Now: Full-on web junkie. But you already know that.

    3) Where did you work?
    Then: Bogey's Music and Lakeview High
    Now: Home

    4) Where did you live?
    Then: Columbus, NE
    Now: Omaha, NE

    5) Who did you live with?
    Then: At this exact stage of 1998 I was living alone in an apartment and LOVING it.
    Now: Greg, the kids and the Wondermutts

    6) How was your health?
    Then: WAY skinny, but smoked like a freight train; lots of upper respiratory infections
    Now: Not so skinny, but not smoking...I see a correlation; lots of whatever the kids give me

    7) Pets?
    Then: Xena my black lab (who I had just given up custody of to soon-to-be-ex-husband)
    Now: Jake and Greta the Wondermutts

    8) Who was your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/spouse/S.O.?
    Then: Divorce hearing was about now with ex-husband, and was just starting to talk to Greg
    Now: Greg

    9) Who were your friends?
    Then: Aimee, Erinn, Greg, Playhouse people, Greg's softball buddies, all my old friends who've always been my friends
    Now: A lot of the same friends from back then, plus folks like Deb, Kae, Jenny, Barbie, Christine, and more than I can list, actually. I am SUPER blessed in the friends department.

    10) Any kids? Any plans for kids?
    Then: no and no (thank god)
    Now: two (thank god!) and NO

    11) What was your worst struggle?
    Then: figuring out where my life was going
    Now: changing where my life is going

    12) What was your biggest joy?
    Then: singing, performing, the perfect smoke ring
    Now: my kids and my husband

    13) What did you consider your greatest accomplishment?
    Then: living on my own for any measure of time
    Now: pushing two kids out with no stitches

    14) What advice would you give your younger self?
    Put the fork down, and learn to like the gym more than video games. Shut up, just do it.

    15) What would your younger self say to you? Uh, HELLO - get FAT much? Remember our deal about the whale harpoon gun if we ever weighed x amount? Remember that?

    16) Looking back, is your life in 2008 what you thought it would be in 1998? By this point in the year, I was already starting to know that I would be with Greg forever, but I couldn't admit that back then out loud, people would have thought I was nuts. I had no idea I'd be this FAT, and I had no idea we'd be in Omaha, but I was pretty sure I'd be with Greg, and I was pretty sure we'd have kids. So I guess overall, I knew I'd be with him, so the answer is "yes", isn't it?

    Feel free to steal this (call it a voluntary meme) and post your own on your blog, and let me know so I can come read. Ten years makes a HUGE difference!

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    My Past Is Not Her Future

    A genuine, much-needed heartfelt talk with my good friend Deb* took place just after I posted what I posted eariler today. Deb, like me, grew up as "the loud girl", the recipient of more "can you lower your voice"s and "you are just too loud"s and "you could whisper through walls"s than most of you will ever understand. So she gets it. She gets why the comment I heard today stung despite its giver's best intentions. We talked about my fears that Samantha would be made to feel bad, and would be in part squelched as she grows into the person she will become, because she's boisterous, because she's got her volume stuck on high when she's excited. We know all too well how it feels to be reprimanded at the height of your excitement, and how that can affect how you feel about yourself.

    Then, as we laid it all out, and talked about how we came to feel badly about that part of ourselves for a time, something occurred to us.

    It doesn't have to be that way.

    Our parents' generation equated loud children as disruptive children, as unruly children, even as bad children, and our families conveyed that to us right along with the world who spent so much time "shushing" us. Who we were and how we felt about ourselves was, in part, defined by being knocked down emotionally when we were at our peaks, which is when we were also at our loudest by nature. Parents who succeeded in quieting their children might have felt victorious over ours who, despite their best efforts, never seemed to have much luck in shutting off the amplifiers inside us; but the more we talked about it, maybe it's a lesson we are proud to have not learned all that well.

    Maybe who we are, even when we are loud...even TOO loud , is really OK. And maybe that spirit, that inability to be still, to be quiet, to stuff our joy, is a good thing.

    And maybe we can pass that on to our daughters, rather than teaching them that it's always best to be figuratively posing for American Girl Magazine, to stuff what you feel, to suppress who you are, and that the only good manners are quiet, ladylike, muted ones.

    Maybe the world will do its best to quiet her, but I can choose NOT to stand in line with them, and NOT participate in admonishing her for who she is. Maybe I can choose to tell her that while we should try to not make things uncomfortable for other people, and we should let other people shine, too, that it's OK to be excited. It's OK to not be able to contain it. It's OK to love who you are, even if an adjective describing part of who you are is "LOUD".

    I have no doubt she WILL be the loudest one singing "Skinamarinkee-dinkee-dink..." tonight. And her daddy will be proud as punch while she does it, probably holding back tears at the enthusiastic, beautiful, smart young lady she is. And the more I think about it, the more I really hope he remembers to video tape the whole loud, boisterous beautiful thing, so I can be proud as punch, too.

    *Deb, I am grateful for you as always; and for the better moms we become every day because we can encourage and uplift one another, and have such immense impact on each other's families in such a beautiful, meaningful way. Thanks for your friendship, and for being a "loud girl" with me, and for loving my little "loud girl", too.

    The Torch Is Passed, And Why That Sucks

    Samantha's preschool is having their "Daddys Spaghetti Dinner" tonight. She is ecstatic. They have been learning songs, making gifts for the dads, and generally building up anticipation for this for weeks. It's all set up and ready to go in the gym, so when we picked up Samantha today, we (along with a couple of other parents and their students) peeked in to check out what we'll be missing tonight.

    VERY cute stuff. Painted rocks with "My Dad Rocks" are at each place setting, made by student for their daddy. Cards touting what each child loves about their dads crop up out of the pumpkin centerpieces. Hand-written place cards complete each place setting. A. DOR. A. BLE. Seriously.

    Mom J, one of my favorite moms, comes up to me and says that her son, a VERY sweet, soft-spoken, well-behaved boy, has told her this: "Mom, when we sing tonight, you're going to hear one very loud voice. That will be Samantha."


    I immediately felt my face go red. I stuttered something, with a fake smile on my face, about how I was loud as a child (shut up, I'm better now), and how Samantha is (sorry Samantha, for when you read this someday) A) loud like me, and B) tone deaf like her father (Greg knows this is true, too). But she has that same passion for 'the singing' as her daddy, and so I was not surprised to hear that she was the loudest of the bunch at four. Mom J felt bad (I must have faked amusement badly) and said she only told me because she thought it was cute. She is SUCH a sweetie (and reminds me much of my dear friend Mrs M, so you know I adore her), and I felt bad...that she felt bad...because she thought I felt bad...because of what she said.

    I told her it was really fine, and that I was fine, she needn't feel bad. But it's easy for her to say that "it's cute" when she has a soft-spoken, never-runs-in-the-halls, always-does-what-he's-told little angel like hers.

    The truth is that I was a little sad. I had hoped that the "S-family-loud-mouth-trait" so prevalent in my family would have passed her by, but she is seemingly not that lucky. I feel bad for her - it's no fun to be the loudest girl. Trust me on that. So while I am thrilled at her enthusiasm, and proud of her 100% effort, I am struggling with accepting that another of the traits that disserviced me as a child has been passed on to her. And the fact that other 4-year olds are already noticing how much LOUDER she is than other kids is a pretty clear indication of how bad she's got her case of "The Louds".

    Sigh. I will do my best to stuff this; to help her find ways to express herself while helping her understand volume control (and mouth control in general), and to find some way to NOT have it affect her self-esteem. I am crossing fingers and praying like mad that I find a way to do just that.

    Tonight will be so special for them, and I choose to focus on that. But here at FMFO, I know I can come and share the secret petrifying fears that eat me up inside about who she is becoming, because I want so much for her to be spared the things I was not spared.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    She's Lucky She's Four

    If a grown-up person had been as disrespectful and awful as my 4-year old was to me after school today, I'd have kicked them right in the box and thrown them down a flight of stairs, and then I'd have gotten nasty.

    If the running up and down the halls outside preschool wasn't bad enough, if the running in the parking lot and fucking LAUGHING at me when I told her to stop wasn't enough, then certainly screaming and crying in a meltdown-threatening tone at me when I told her to get in the van because she "NEEDS TO TELL ANNE GOODBYE, MOMMY!!!!" (which she'd done twice already) was it. Then the whining began once we got en route to home, after she realized she was in deep shit with Mommy, and there was no going back.

    No. "Whining" is not a strong enough word to describe it.

    She was wailing and moaning, fake coughing, relaying her sad, sad story about how she was trying SOOOO HARD, MOMMY to make good choices, and she was SOOOO SORRY, MOMMY for being disrespectful, and for hurting my feelings by not listening and endangering her and her brother (not to mention Mrs. R's children, who she likes to lead down the primrose path to naughty-ness).

    We had a BIG discussion about following directions (they are only supposed to use their "walking feet" in school at all times, which she knows), about listening to Mommy, about how it makes Mommy feel when she doesn't listen and behaves that way, and about what will happen the next time she acts that way.

    Now I need a nap. And I am wondering when they start listening with any level of regularity.

    I think I was about 27 when I started listening to my mom. Great. 23 and 1/2 years to go. That's just dandy.

    Like A Mack Truck

    It's been a few weeks since losing Aimee sucked the wind out of me, and left me feeling like I'd been run over by a semi carrying my heart in its trailer.

    And then, just as suddenly as six weeks ago, her death is stinging me again, the wounds reopened and the pain just as fresh. The numbness is coming over me again. And yet, it is numbness that is tempered with anger and sadness and melancholy and that sensation of "hey, we just got screwed RIGHT in the ass, didn't we?" Or maybe it's all those things that are tempered by the numbness.

    No significant event today, no big revelation, it's just a Tuesday. The sixth Tuesday, by the way, since she died. Six Tuesdays now, with who knows how many more to come, that I get to, every week, relive that awful phone call. A phone call that has been given a visual reminder in my memory by the unfortunate coincidence that I was standing in front of my vanity mirror when Nik told me that she was gone. So every Tuesday I see myself, in my orange v-neck shirt and jeans, hair done, makeup suddenly running; I see me, screaming. Screaming at myself in the mirror and Nik in the phone as he choked on his tears and told me my life would never be the same in two simple words: "...Aimee died..."

    I miss her.

    I miss you, Aimee. I miss our lazy day chats on the phone, our laughs that went on so long that they made us cry, and everything else that I loved about who we were as friends. The tears flowed easily today, and painfully, and you are still worth every one.

    What Are You Waiting For?


    What's the hold up?

    Sure, it's not the best time you'll have in a week. Nobody's lining up to volunteer to go do it. Some say it is slightly unpleasant, while others insist it's the pain that knows no rival. It's not sexy, or thrilling, and overall most people would rather lay in a hammock watching a sunset than go do it.

    But if you're due, or if you're overdue...

    Do it anyway.

    October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ladies (and gentlemen who have a lady or two that they love). Even the White House is helping to spread the word, lighting the building in pink to remind everyone. Pretty cool, I thought.

    So, here's where I lean on you. If it's that time, it's that time. If you're over 40, or sometimes even over 30 depending on your circumstances and risk level, and you haven't had a mammogram and/or breast ultrasound, it's probably time.

    Knowledge is power, folks, and knowing what's going on with your body can save your life. Early detection is key. Having a set of baseline images, even if you have no suspected problems now, can be a valuable tool if you do detect a problem later on. There is just no reason not to go and get it done if it's that time for you. So go. Call and make the appointment. Go. I'll wait. Ok, that's a lie, I won't wait. Just do it.

    My mom works in a hospital, and takes care of many end-stage cancer patients who come in to die. Do you know what most of them say to her? "I kind of thought something was going on inside my body for a while, but I blew it off and didn't get checked. By the time they found the cancer, it had spread." Talk about regrets.

    Ignorance is NOT bliss, and ignoring potential problems does not eliminate them. So if you suspect something may be going on, you better be RUNNING to the phone to go get checked.

    Besides, why should I have all the fun?

    Yep, that's right. I'm going on Friday for my first mammogram, and even getting the bonus ultrasound for good measure*. I know - you're jealous, right? No need for that, just call your OB/GYN and schedule your own. I'll keep you posted on mine, and I hope to hear from those of you who are due for yours. So get those boobies squished - it's not a whole bunch of fun, but it beats the alternative, right? That's what I thought, too.

    *Nothing to worry about that we know of; I'm just having some slight abnormalities in one breast double-checked, but we fully expect it to be nothing outside of normal non-cancerous breast tissue. If it turns out to be otherwise, I'll let you know.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    You FMFO Sunday Update

    The office is alive. Once again, there is an area known as "the floor" where one can walk without seeking a path to cut through the toys, papers, shoes, etc., that have crept in and made their home here. Fresh air is coming in through the window, the carpet is clean and soft again, and even the area around Jake's chair/bed (our old recliner that he has claimed and now no one else wants it) has been vacuumed and simply awaits a dusting of the base. The desk is still packing some unneccessary stuff, but the possibility of getting it sorted and put away is great. Soon
    TGPMo2008 can begin. The way has been cleared, literally.

    We have been OFF the beach for weeks now. Breaking my arm just before Jackson's birthday was a good start, we crept up onto the dock attached to the beach; and when Aimee died we dove head first off the deep end of the dock, into the river of sugar and sludge, giving ourselves permission to comfort ourselves with Swiss Rolls and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Big Macs and Sonic Chili Cheese Tater Tots. And we're paying the price. Greg, of course, being a man, can simply switch from energy drinks and regular Mountain Dew over to Coke Zero and drop four pounds in three days. I am not that fortuanate, and if I don't stop the bleeding, it's gonna get ugly, and I'll be digging in that box of clothes for Goodwill that I was "sure" I'd never need again. So in the next week or so, once we can afford to restock the house with real food instead of crap, we'll be back on the beach, where we belong. I HATE eating like this, I HATE how I feel, and I HATE that I used tragedy as an excuse to screw myself out of ten pounds I fought to lose. More to come on that fun business.

    Huskers suck, but not quite as bad as last week. They were supposed to get spanked again, but they held the #7 team into overtime and only lost when Ganz' brain fell out and he basically walked OVER to the other team and HANDED them the ball. Poor Joey. Poor Greg. Better luck next week... (This entire section was for you, honey, hope you like it.)

    Gas prices? $2.75 is the lowest baby. Dig it.

    The three crowns I had done this week are too high, and need adjusting. It's really not fun because I find myself biting down on them constantly, presumably subconsciously trying to push them down to where they belong. The result is a sore jaw and ibuprofen requirements at bed time. My liver is going to give out one of these days if I don't stop needing painkillers all the time. Ridiculous.

    Don't ask about my elbow. Just don't. It works, mostly, and that's about the best thing I can say about it.

    The nice fall weather is holding out, and we are grateful for that, knowing that the snow could come any time (shudder). Yesterday Greg put up the privacy fence and it looks great. Certainly better than the crappy chain link that was there. Two sides to go now.

    Samantha just announced she would like to learn yoga. Guess that means I should get some yoga stuff dug up and show her. You know what yoga's like for me, I've said it's like doing oragami with bed pillows.

    Kids are good, Greg and I are good, dogs are stinky but good. That's about it. Hope your weekend was as productive as ours and your week holds nothing but good things. Check back soon, m'kay?

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    OK, So I KNOW The Economy's in the Toilet...

    ...and while I'm damn sorry about that, especially for those with investments that are taking a nosedive, I gotta tell you something.

    I'm really ok with what it's doing to the gas prices around here. Actually, giddy is more like it.

    I know, I know - it's only because the economy's shot to hell, and the bottom is falling out of everything including oil prices. I understand. Yes, it's all clear to me. No Econ or Math classes needed, I promise that I understand the implications of what's going on beyond it being a little cheaper to fill up the family vehicles.

    So, with that said...dude, do you know what it's down to? I know we usually run a little cheaper than other areas, but just a week ago, Greg and I were passing conjecture back and forth about whether or not we would "get below $3 a gallon". Just a week ago. Maybe not even THAT long ago. And as much as it's indicative of how badly things are going in other areas of the economy, I am giggling just a little bit when I pull up to the pumps and see this:


    Ok, so I took this on my cell from a slightly moving vehicle (no, I was not driving, breathe easy), so the quality is less-than stellar. But take my word for it: that top number says $2.89 a gallon. Seriously. Two dollars and eighty-nine cents. No "three" in there anywhere. I took another picture at another place (even LESS legible so I'll spare you) and it said $2.86. And that was two days ago. Yesterday I saw $2.84. No lie.

    Wait. I probably need my "disclaimer paragraph" thrown in about now. Yes, I know everything else is higher. But everything else is higher whether gas prices dropped or not. Yes, I know natural gas prices may be higher to heat my home this winter. What else is new? Yes, I know that part of the drop has to do with offshore drilling moratorium that ended at the beginning of the month (in theory). Let's don't get all deep on this folks...I'm just saying I'm glad the cost to fill my tank has gone down a bit in the last few weeks. Seriously, I can hear some of you anonymous commenters getting your panties all in a wad and readying your keying fingers already. Spare me, m'kay? It's a happy friendly day around here, and I let that last snotty comment go last week, but I may not be so kind in the future.

    So (now that I got that off my chest) since large investments are not something we're blessed with at this time, and we own no stock in any crappy banks or insurance companies or mortgage brokers that have committed financial suicide, everything is the same for us so far in this deep, dark, sad financial time. Except for gas prices - which have dropped close to a dollar in less time than I can even believe. So things being what they are, I'll take it.

    What a Kid, That Sid

    Sid the Science Kid, of course.

    What's that? You haven't seen Sid yet? Henson's new show, running on PBS Kids several times a day now? No? Nothing? You haven't seen this one yet? Oh, here, let me help:

    That's our favorite* song in the whole show. And by "our", I mean all of us - even Mom is digging Sid. A fun, smart, witty group of virtual preschoolers, these kids are all about science, and learning, and singing, and my kids are learning and asking their own questions, and finding themselves sorry when it's over.

    This week they are learning about "Senses", and doing experiments, comparing and contrasting, drawing in their journals about what they learn, and Teacher Suzy always has a great song to go along with the day's lesson.

    TV is a part of our life, unfortunately, and while we are always striving to have it be less a part of our life, I am happy to find shows like these - shows that offer more than some vague lesson in the last 30 seconds of the episode, or characters that are above, below, or just beyond where my kids are. Samantha especially can relate to these kids, she asks the same kinds of questions that they ask (before the show ever existed, I mean). Even Jackson is fascinated by their dancing and their songs, and watches intently while they go through their processes for learning.

    And it's so very nice to have a show on that I can stand to stay in the room and watch with them. When Caillou comes on I want to gouge my eyes out with a fork and puncture my ear drums while I'm at it.

    Check it out. Seriously. CUTE, cute stuff. Fun, witty, modern, and most importantly educational, in a true sense.

    Jim Henson would be proud. And since you KNOW I'm a Muppet lover ( you know that? Have to check my archives...) that means something too.

    *OK, so really my favorite song in the show is this one, that Sid sings on the way to school with his mom: "I love my mom, my mom is COOL, but now it's time for having fun at school!" Samantha has not caught on to this one yet. I hope to hear it coming at me from the back of the van one of these days. Sigh.