There's no place like

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"Mother needs something today to calm her down And though she’s not really ill There’s a little yellow pill She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day" Nobody in our family talks about it since she died, but my father's mother had an assortment of doctors and a pill for everything. Until he lost his license, she was a patient of 'Dr. Nick'. It was a family joke when she was alive. Everyone knew what my grandmother did and we all knew there was no point in fighting it. She took pills to wake up, pills to get through the days, pills to go potty, pills to go to sleep, pills for everything. The story that went along with it is that after she got married at the age of 16, she was nervous and tired, so a doctor gave her tranquilizers. They made her sleepy so she was given amphetamines. They messed with her digestive tract so she got more pills and she became obsessed with her weight and appearance so she got an assortment of meds to go along with every new complaint. With her very young husband working day and night, doctors gave her the attention that her teenage woes needed. Keeping in mind that we are talking about the 1940-50s, she played bridge during the day with other young wives and they all swapped pills. "This really helped me, you should try some." An entire generation of chemically dependent housewives. What's the point of this story Cathy? In spite of all this, there really are times when it would be handy to pop a tranquilizer and calm the stress that builds up inside of me until I feel like I am going to explode like a cartoon thermometer.

These two must have sent the children, dogs and cats to the grandparents' for the night. Wa-wa-wa-why Sharona?" apologies to The Knack

Monday, August 30, 2004

Does this happen at your house too?Posted by Hello

I'm hungry now.

Genuine As promised, I tried using the random blog button for today's Monday Walkabout. Don't try this at home children. It is time consuming and slightly boring. The random button makes it feel like Singapore residents own most of the blogosphere. I am turned off by pop-ups demanding downloads, cutesy background music, anime and bloggers who talk in IM speak. The random blog button is like digging through a garbage dump. You know that people have put things of value in the dump, but you have to sift through a ton of useless, stinky gunk to find the good stuff. I hate yard sales, so I should have known this wouldn't be for me. I did find My Random Musings after clicking for an hour. Sit back and read and enjoy. After another pointless hour I gave up and decided to add Marc's Blog for my second addition because he found me first and we have square peg children in a round peg world. My third new blog is, Sanity Adrift because Doug keeps talking about how much he enjoys it. My fourth addition is, Austin Country Limits, which you have to see for the stunning photography. The last one today is H.G. Wells who is less delusional than Hulk's Blog but equally fun. Now I think I'll try removing that horrible random blog button. If you're lurking about and haven't already done so, please make a comment so I can peek at your blog and add more to my daily "must-reads".

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Doug wird verwechselt. Tommy's Verhalten kann uns beide Geschlecht nicht wünschen lassen. Ich benutze Geschlecht nicht als Waffe, weil die mich verletzen würde. Wir nicht sogar folgten der sechs Woche Richtlinie.

clowns - not as bad as mimes Posted by Hello

Genuine and Catawampus have posted some very intelligent commentaries on schools. Without the writing skills they possess I’ll add my two cents one cent worth of opinion on schools and the children who are different. Tommy spent his first year of school in a CDC (kids who don’t fit the mold) classroom learning how to get stickers on a behavior chart. I spent that year teaching him to read. I also spent my only year actively working with the PTA. I worked my tail off having a silent auction to buy a bigger, better playground. The silent auction raised $20,000.00 and the attached carnival made $5,000.00. They were quite annoyed that they had to spend extra money to make it accessible to children with different abilities. During that year on the PTA I was just a worker bee and none of the PTA leaders cared to even learn who I was or who my child was but they were happy to ignore my presence as they repeatedly criticized the CDC class. “Why do we have those ‘stupid’ children at our school? They should ship them to one of those schools where the parents don’t care who their children are exposed to.” My child is not contagious. Despite my mutterings that I would never volunteer to do anything on PTA committees ever again, I have offered to help with our current elementary school’s silent auction but they have turned me down repeatedly. PTA is like a country club and the women who run it pick and choose carefully who can help in the decision-making. Skip ahead many years to the time Tommy spent at the Knoxville school that is a huge dumping ground for children who don’t fit in the system. Until two years ago this school had no books. The children spent their entire days earning and receiving play-time and rewards or punishment. They even had old showers converted into ‘cells’ for children who were out of control. A few weeks before the end of the year I was in the office checking Tommy out for a weekly therapy appointment. The office staff was reviewing the student roster. Every child in this school has an IEP and falls under the IDEA laws so they are only allowed 5 days of suspension before hearings have to be held to determine if their disability caused the misbehavior. Right before my eyes and ears they were actively making sure that they had used up the five allotted days on each child in the school. “We have two days left on him, next time he does anything, send him home.” In my years working as a social worker I had many unpleasant tasks but one of the most frustrating was attending zero tolerance hearings. Children who are already struggling to belong are thrown out of the school for one full calendar year and that year is lost. No home schooling or other options, just a year tossed in the garbage can. The school system knows the odds of these children ever returning and they are very happy to get rid of the children who demand their attention. The children who need the schools the most are tossed aside in favor of the children who will thrive no matter how good or bad their teacher is that year. The good teachers know how horrible this system is but they are at the mercy of the political administrators and other parents. Those same parents who control the PTA want children who are different or difficult shoved out of their sight. Not in my school and not in my backyard are their mottos. Is it any wonder the schools are filled with children who hate, bully and torment their way to the top of the popularity polls? Has it occurred to anyone the cost difference between working hard to help children while they are still in schools versus a lifetime of supporting adults who can't live up to their fullest potential because the schools failed them? I want to talk about what is happening to Tommy and my other children in school right now but this post is too long already. Since it’s Sunday in the bible belt, I hope you’ll forgive my rant.

All of our four legged friends are spayed females but if we had a male I guess he'd appreciate these.

Friday, August 27, 2004

When Amy can't settle, Sarah crawls in bed with her. Aren't they sweet? Posted by Hello

This room went from being the ugliest in the house to the cutest but this picture helps explain why I am eager to move the girls into the big bedroom. Posted by Hello

What is Doug like in bed? I know you want all the juicy details so, look away if you're shy talking about things that happen in the bed. Still reading? Ok then, here goes. Doug sleeps like a rock. While I toss and turn for an hour or more searching for comfort, Doug is asleep the second his lids close. I can doodle on him with a marker and put candy wrappers in his ears and he continues to sleep (sleep deprivation makes me crazy). But don't be fooled by the coma-like sleep, Doug will suddenly sit straight up without rhyme or reason in a state of panic. Sometimes he doesn't just sit straight up, he jumps to a standing position. "What?!?" At this point I either mumble a death threat if he doesn't lie back down or I pet his arm and he deflates back into the bed and returns to his coma. Not satisfied with the 'middle-of-the-night wake-up game' that results in me tossing and turning for yet another hour, Doug likes to play the 'time to get up game'. He hints about this game in his blog but I'll explain it from my point of view. Doug sets the alarm clock in our headboard for two different times. Then he sets an alarm on his computer and an alarm on his cell phone. These alarms start going off at 3 a.m. and continue until 6:30 a.m. He slaps the snooze or ignores the alarm until I kick him repeatedly to turn it off. This is the most obnoxious and annoying game in the world and the worst part is that he never realizes how many times the alarms go off. He'll deny that the entire episode happened despite my stumbling around the house like a zombie for the first two hours of the day. See why the idea of 24 hours alone in a nice hotel appeals to me?

I used to put the DVD in the player, close the door, hear the motor hum for a second and then get a menu on the screen. Now I close the door, hear the motor hum for a second, pause of silence, then motor hum, then repeat until I turn off the DVD player. Soooo, do I assume the DVD player is fried and let Tommy take it apart for fun?

I am completely stir-crazy. I can't afford to go anywhere or do anything (including waste the car's gas) but I haven't done anything for weeks. Doug is gone all the time now doing home repair work for friends (oh, the irony) and visiting recruiters to ask when he'll have an interview somewhere. I want to sit in the food court and eat 'Bourbon Chicken' after looking at all the clearance racks in 'Gap Kids' and 'Parisian's' kids departments. I want to buy cute locker accessories for Sarah and Tommy. I want to wander PetSmart with Molly and let her pick out her own toys. I want to let Amy pick out just the right book at Borders for an hour while I drink a mocha. I want to go out to eat with my family and see a movie alone with my husband. I want some hot Krispy Kreme donuts. I want to fill a shopping cart with groceries. I need to stop acting like a brat and saying what I want. I need to get over myself already. I'll settle for long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last for seven days. I'll take holding Doug's strong hands that make me feel calm, safe and loved.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I wish that my teachers had taught Lord of the Rings instead of Canterbury Tales and similar sleep inducing literary classics.

It's quiet out there today. The creepy kind of quiet that discomforts and unnerves those paranoid enough to anticipate the impending crisis.

As long as we have the predicted Internet shut-down today, I won't get in trouble for posting this as my Half-naked Thursday picture. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Doug sold the kayak today. Thanks to the boxes of junk dumped at Goodwill and the bed and crate furniture we gave away, we have now gotten almost everything that was connected to his ex out of our lives. Now it's time to get moving forward on the house renovations.

I didn't spend enough time staring at the computer screen so I joined a freecycle yahoo group. Now I read the amazing e-mails people send out asking for or giving away things. Somebody wants a laptop computer. Gee, I'd like one too but I don't think anyone is giving them away. Somebody else wants a free building so they can teach karate. They give buildings away? Someone is giving away old iron fencing and lots of people are giving away treadmills (well, duh). Join a freecycle group near you and tell me it's not fun to sit back and watch.

I'm going to re-post an old blog entry this morning. On July 4, 1997 I packed three children (7, 4, & 1) and a dog into a small car and moved from Atlanta to Knoxville. My now ex-husband moved from Atlanta to Boston because he needed some time for himself. He was “tired of everything always being about the children and decisions being so life or death”. He wanted to spend money on himself and not everyone else. He just needed a year or two. He neglected to mention that he was looking forward to finally meeting the woman he had been talking to on the Internet for months. They are still living together but her husband refuses to agree to their divorce paperwork as long as my ex is still in her life. I wasn't the only spouse they burned when they got together in a chat room. I arrived in Knoxville in the afternoon and we immediately took the children to watch fireworks. I stumbled around in a daze for a year. Searching for purpose, I went back to college. I already had a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology but I felt like I was skilled to do nothing. In one of my classes I met a woman who understood me. We had very similar personalities but our lives had taken different paths. She was newly married to a man who was very thoughtful and carefully planning their future. I was in the middle of a divorce from a man who only thought about himself and considered the children property. She and her husband saw an opportunity to help me. They had a friend named Doug whose wife had just left him for another man because he was trying to start his own business when she just wanted to travel and party. His ex was very twisted, but that's his story to tell. In what now seems like really twisted logic, they decided that Doug and I really needed to get together to satisfy some umm, primal urges and thus make us happier beings. We nervously dated. Doug told me all of his jokes the first hour we spent together. I found him charming and quite attractive. As we dated a pattern emerged. Doug was late for lunch because he saw a stranded motorcyclist and towed them to a gas station. Doug went to help friends with this and that and even total strangers. He literally gave people the shirt off his back. I don’t have enough words to describe how compassionate and caring Doug is toward all people. There is just not any hate in his body. He has a truly pure soul. His only shortcomings are in the way he feels toward himself. Somehow this wonderful and amazing man fell in love with me. Three years ago we were sitting in his living room watching all the neighborhood children play in the cove. He said "I want it to be like this every day. Let's get married. Let's get married tomorrow." We drove to Gatlinburg the next morning and got married. We spent that afternoon moving the children and all of our stuff into his already full house. Someday we'll have a belated honeymoon and take a weekend someplace alone. Doug makes me feel loved like I have never felt in my life. He is my very best friend. He continues his love of life and I continue my efforts to hold up a mirror so that he can see how truly wonderful he really is. He loves the three children that came into this marriage as much as the new person we made together. Despite the fact that one of the children has special needs, he tirelessly devotes himself to being a good husband and father. Thank you Doug. I love you very much. Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

We took the whole crowd to Tommy's psychiatrist appointment ("Let's lower his Prozac, he seems a bit too animated.") and then to Sarah's Open House at the middle school. While we were gone Molly decided to eat the earpiece off Sarah's glasses. I told my mother about Noah's appointment with the hematologist and she casually said "Oh they diagnosed me with something because I bruise so easily. I wonder what that was?" Gee, thanks for keeping me informed Mother. Tomorrow is our anniversary but we can't afford to celebrate and I don't have a gift for the most loving and wonderful husband ever to walk the earth. I wonder if we have any alcohol (other than scotch, gag) in the house that Doug hasn't finished off. . .

If you communicate with your spouse via IM even when you are in the same house, you are both probably bloggers. Posted by Hello

Random questions - I wouldn't dress football players in shiny white pants. Why don't they wear something dark to hide stains? It would look much more durable. Why do overweight football players feel okay running around in skin tight clothes while tall thin basketball players wear baggy shorts that droop to their knees and wife beater shirts? Why don't cheerleaders get frostbite? The hair on my legs grows really fast. How long after I stop shaving before I could braid my leg hair? Why do my children ask me questions every time I get on the phone? Why does a dog that plays in and dumps her water dish several times a day scream when she gets a bath?

You're preaching to the choir Bubba, but keep shouting from our mountaintops.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Remember a month ago when I asked Noah's pediatrician and his ENT why there was a red flag on the blood work the hospital did during his nose bleed? Well, just as I had forgotten it the ENT called this evening and asked me to please get an appointment with the hematologist because it's an indicator of a blood disorder. So, tomorrow I find out how long I have to wait to get an appointment to do further tests to get to wait for further results before I know anything. Waiting bites. It eats away at you from the inside like teeny little Pac-Men dining on the lining of your stomach. Three weeks until our appointment.

No new library for Knoxville. If Knoxvillians had their way, they'd say no to every change and new expense. In other Knoxville news, they put someone who is clearly a danger to society in jail. I've visited and interviewed teens at Taft (yes, including one of these teens) and adults at Brushy Mountain and people come out of jail worse than when they went in jail. I've said it before and I say it again, jail is ONLY for people who are a danger to others. It is not a place where anyone gets reformed or learns their lesson. Martha Stewart doesn't belong there but despite this woman's child-like appearance, she does belong in jail. Do not expect her to make any changes for the better because of jail but do know that her life could have turned out differently if interventions had taken place when she was much younger. Even when justice seems fair it is still sad.

Noah just asked me to play "The Motorcycle-Pickle Song" CD. That would be a strange request from most 8-year-olds but since his in-utero favorite was The Beatles and the first song we ever taught him was "Spiders and Snakes" (complete with gestures), I blame our ancient music taste. When he was 4 we went to a small restaurant with a piano bar. Noah stood on the bench and sang Rocky Top. Everyone in the restaurant stopped eating and applauded for him. What a good memory.

Catawampus, the blogger we all wish our children could have for a teacher led me to this. Pretty interesting stuff.

Strengthen The Good: Operation Charley Last week I talked about Strengthen the Good, whose tagline reads "Don't just fight evil: Strengthen the good." It is all about using many blogs to raise awareness about micro-charities and hopefully do some good in the world. Today is the very first charity, and even though it is a little bigger than a micro-charity, call it a macro-micro-charity, it will definitely do some good. I'll be posting a new charity every Monday. Strengthen the Good's first charity offering is the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Fla. The foundation is matching all donations to its Hurricane Charley relief fund up to $100,000, and all funds donated will go directly to relief efforts.You can donate online with a MasterCard or Visa here (all transactions are processed through a Verisign secure server site). If you do, be certain to select the Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund from the drop-down menu, and if you would, please note “Strengthen The Good” in the Special Instructions field … it will be interesting to learn how much the STG network ultimately contributes. For some astounding facts & figures related to the Charley aftermath in Florida, visit the Sun and Weekly Herald. Please help spread the word about Strengthen the Good.

Doug and I try to always have the little people tucked in so that we can relax and watch Monk together. Doug lets me tease him about his neurotic similarities to Monk and we enjoy our time together. Monk is a very funny show that carefully allows viewers to laugh without being cruel about a man with a haunted past. They have only recently answered the question "why isn't he on meds" but the show is still more about Adrian than it is about the mysteries. The last two episodes of the season they did something that actually made me cry. His wife has gone from being a memory to being a real person and it has been handled so tenderly that Adrian feels more human, more real and less "broken machine". Excellent job USA, I can't wait for next season.

Sometime today I will probably have to take a small break from the Internet. Let's just pretend I'm going on a week of vacation. Here's my Half-naked Thursday pic a few days early. Doug pulled off a small miracle but I question the logic in paying cable instead of buying groceries. In the two weeks since this picture was taken, Molly has gotten much bigger but I still think she's an adorable puppy.Posted by Hello

Sunday, August 22, 2004

A very early Genuine Monday Walkabout: Mindbender is my first addition because she found me first. Mrs.G's Peek is my second addition because now I'll get to hear BOTH sides of the story. My third new blog is, Zach Braff's Blog to add to my celebrity bloggers collection. My fourth addition is, Daddy Zine, which is a cute Daddy blog. The last one today is Mom with Attitude who is a funny Southern blogging Mom. Next week I'm picking out my 5 blogs using the new random blogger button.


Tommy relaxes and calms when he is around animals. He loved going to Deer Farm Zoo last week. Posted by Hello

This is in the middle of our front yard. It says it all. Posted by Hello

Friday, August 20, 2004

Kurt Vonnegut certainly does have a way with words.

Good news: I ran Amy's duplo through the dishwasher. Good news: Amy didn't put dog food in the Lego table today. Bad news: Amy peed inside the Lego table today. Bad news: It was right after I put the clean duplo back in it. Scary news: Nine pre-teen Girl Scouts will be here in the morning to make a scarecrow and "I don't know nuthin' bout makin no scarecrows."

East Tennessee Football fans: The UT Athletics Department announced Thursday the organizing of "OrangeAid," an effort in conjunction with the American Red Cross to assist Floridians affected by Hurricane Charley. For a donation to the Red Cross, fans will have the opportunity to get autographs from head coach Phillip Fulmer and a select group of players at West Town Mall Sunday from 3-5 p.m. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross and their efforts to assist victims of Hurricane Charley, which struck the Florida Gulf Coast one week ago north of the Fort Meyers area. The autograph session and donation table will be set up inside West Town Mall in front of JC Penney's. For more information on the Red Cross response to Hurricane Charley or how you can help, visit or call 865-584-2999.

Happy Birthday to my little brother Danny! I still think it's funny that someone who cares so much about our world and the people in it would choose to live in the one place in America where you can't vote. Keep doing what you do, I love you. Posted by Hello

Another picture of the birthday boy. Posted by Hello

Enter the bathroom after Sarah at your own risk. Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Play somethin' sweet, play somethin' mellow Play somethin' I can sink my teeth in like Jello Play something I can understand Play me some Brickyard Blues Play somethin' sweet and make it funky Just let me lay back and grin like a monkey Play something I can understand Play me some Brickyard Blues

Monday night was the Asperger's Support Group meeting and I keep replaying some of the conversations. The evening was dominated by conversations about immunizations, dental work and all the other environmental poisons that are "causing" Autism. I don't use any special diets, avoid immunizations or seek out dentists who don't use metals. My home is not chemical free (cleansers used, types of construction materials, etc.) and I don't buy organic foods. I am not searching desperately for the "cause" of Autism because I don't think my son has a disease. I am certainly not desperately clinging to the hope of some "cure" for Autism. Autism didn't happen because of the Industrial Revolution, it has always been, we just didn't have labels for everything until recently. In the past anyone who was different was kept locked in the attic, shipped off to asylums, beaten to death or lobotomized. Yes, my son is different. Sometimes his differences are annoying and other times they are quite funny but regardless of what label you stick on him he is just who he is. I don't need any more anecdotes about travelling to Holland. I am living in the same world as everyone else only without the sunglasses that make everything look pretty. When I tried to explain my feelings to the group several people looked horrified. "Well, I can't just sit back and do nothing while my child is being poisoned but I'm glad you can accept it." So, I think someone else should take over the support group.

Karyn posted the Shrub's Resume. Alice found a website that should attract the type of Americans who kill other Americans in the name of religion. Margaret Cho continues making calm statements of sanity and tolerance. The rest of the blogosphere is grooving about the Olympics. I'm scraping dog food out of the lego table (I don't know why Amy put it there) and other non-exciting household drudgery.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Amy's contribution to Half-Naked Thursday. Notice that she is watching AND wearing Sesame Street but drinking from SpongeBob. Posted by Hello

Today I am happy that Girl Scouts is kicking back into high gear. Even though I'm not organized yet, it's something I really enjoy doing with Sarah. I am happy that Doug hasn't completely fallen apart yet. I'm happy that Tommy's school hasn't called with any complaints. I'm happy that Noah's bus is stopping off of Northshore. This is like a small miracle since they originally wanted to stop on the other side of Northshore which was a horrible location for small, impulsive people to be during rush hour. I am happy that Amy didn't fall out of Sarah's bed where she slept last night (unbeknownst to us until this morning). Amy has a toddler bed that is less than a foot off the ground while Sarah's twin bed is elevated and surrounded by a hard frame. I am happy that Sarah lets her little sister curl up with her. I am happy Julie is the kind of person who does this for her wedding registry. I am happy that it's bedtime!

I guess I'm the last person on the Internet (or is it internet?) to see this but it's still funny. Be sure to scroll down and look at some of the other 30 second movies.

Time to clean out my purse. I am removing: two fistfuls of bristle blocks, 10 monkeys without barrel, 1 pair of Oobi eyes, 3 blow pops, a spilled bag of nutter butter bites, 1 candy necklace, several squished strawberry hersheys kisses, Nemo stickers, a dragonfly-eye viewer, 2 used wet wipes, one day's dose of Tommy's meds and a diaper. Now I have room for my planner and all the junk I didn't remove (wallet, deck of cards, mints, 2 bops, pens, a pocket knife, coupons, makeup, etc.).

In the fall we sell candy and in January we sell cookies. The money pays for the girls activities. Everybody wants to buy from the tiny little Brownies, but people feel no guilt talking rude and slamming the door on pre-teens. You don't have to participate in every fundraiser that comes to your door but a smile and a polite "No thank you" would be appreciated. Of course, a token purchase would be preferred. If you can't eat the item they are selling, pay for the food but ask that it be donated. We love to donate our candy and cookies to area non-profits. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Nighty-nite Posted by Hello

Today I am happy that the upstairs is straightened and all the children were tucked in by 8:30 pm.Now I'm going to catch up on the newspapers I haven't read.

Isn't he brilliant?

This song made me laugh. Do you remember when MTV was brand new? Did you play Pong? Remember beta or 8-tracks? Do you have flashbacks when you see ponchos in every store display?

It's not MY fault I never get anything done. Posted by Hello

I thought I had an "as long as you're not hurting yourself or anyone else it's okay" attitude about most things but now I'm not so sure. This seems like a consensual activity that some people enjoy, but I'm just not sure it is harmless. It makes me feel uncomfortable and it definitely doesn't give me any tinglies. This article seems really wrong to me.

I like the new search bar much better than the old ads and I'm going to have way too much fun with the random blog button. This morning started with a rainburst that came from nowhere. It wasn't even important enough to be on radar. If it had kept up I would have had to take a little nap. Rain is the best white noise! Noah: "Mom, do you like your hair better curly or like it used to look?" Mom: "I'm not sure yet, which do you like?" Noah: "I like the curly cause I don't hafta hear the hair dryer so much." Mom: "Umm, ok." Noah: "But you still like the front part hot, right? Not the cool-looking kind of hot but the ouch kind of hot." Mom: "Yes, I still straighten my bangs and Moms just aren't hot are they?" Noah: "Well, maybe to Dads but not to anyone else."

Monday, August 16, 2004

Today I was happy that nobody got angry during Tommy's m-team meeting.

It's been a busy day and it's getting late but I had to take my Genuine Monday Walkabout: Wampum is my first addition. Described as a blog about "Progressive Politics, Indian Issues, and Autism Advocacy" I had to read what they have to say. Oh ... Really? is my second addition. She is a Southern Mom with a child I understand. My third new blog is, Inn of the Last Home because we're the same age and there's so many teenagers blogging that I need to feel normal instead of old for a change. My fourth addition is, Strengthen the Good, which is more of a meme than a blog but I like their idea and hope you'll check them out. The last one today is juliepoolie who was on my list last week but I'm still pitching her blog. She's smart, funny and getting married for the first and only time to the man of her dreams. Give her some encouragement and advice!

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Happy Birthday Tommy! I can't believe it's been 14 years since you came into my life. The days are so full that they fly by too quickly. You are a good person in your heart. You want to make people happy and you only want attention. You try to be funny and when you are interested in something, you put your everything into that interest. Adolescence is going to be exhausting but we're going to find a way to make it through to the other side. A therapist once told me a story about someone dangling from a bridge, refusing to climb back up. The person holding their hand could either let go and lose that person or hold on and they both would fall. I can't let go. I can't fall. We have to make it. Posted by Hello

Today I was happy spending the day with my family. This week starts off poorly and then it gets better. Tomorrow morning we have Tommy's m-team where we will hear the Knox County schools' mantra that never makes it into the meeting notes, "We don't make accommodations at the high school level." Tomorrow evening is a support group meeting so Doug and I will have to decide who stays home with the children and who moderates the group. I have to get the fair entries mailed for Girl Scouts and continue searching for a meeting spot for the scout troop. Churches and schools no longer welcome scout troops. Are scouts that messy or delinquent? Wednesday I have a scout leader meeting and Thursday night is 3rd grade parent orientation. I think that if it's your third child to go through third grade you should be excused from those meetings. How many times do you need to have the rules read to you (even though they're on the paper in your hand) and get a lecture about how "this year is more serious." Friday is my brother's birthday and Saturday the Girl Scouts and I will be making a scarecrow. Any advice? This year the school buses have combined routes and made changes that result in both 8-year-old, impulsive Noah and preadolescent Sarah having to run across Northshore during morning rush hour traffic. Add to this the fact that both buses come at nearly the same time but in two different locations, so only one child can be monitored. I know it could be worse. I heard there's a bus stop on Pellissippi Parkway. That doesn't make it any less stressful and dangerous.

"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible -- the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family." Virginia Satir  Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Amy & Cousin Abigail Posted by Hello

Amy & Cousin Gabriel Posted by Hello

"Come on everyone. We have things to get done today. Let's boogie." "Amy boogie, " said Amy with an index finger up each nostril. I'm so proud.

We have reservations at Deer Farm Riding Stables & Zoo for Tommy's birthday tomorrow. Cross your fingers for good weather. Tommy will be 14 tomorrow. Very scary. He weighs 100 pounds more than me and his hormones are raging. A writer occasionally peeks at our blogs. I hope that the Asperger's book he's working on will have a chapter on adolescence and sexuality. Tommy shaved off all of his pubic hair last year. I anticipate many more strange responses from him before he gets through puberty.

I was happy yesterday that the day wasn't what it could have been. I was also happy when Molly(our 3-month-old shepherd puppy) slept in my lap. Today I am happy that my family will be spending the afternoon together. Well, except for my non-voting brother who doesn't visit enough. Sending guilt trip over the internet. Thursday we attended a school sponsored carnival-type event and I complained to Doug about the t-shirts with snarky expressions that are being marketed to pre-teen and teenaged girls. Friday, Sarah had a broken shoelace and desperate to get her to the bus stop I remembered that she had some wide pink laces she bought with birthday money at her favorite store. Halfway through the lace exchange I looked close enough to see that the laces had more than bunny pictures, they had words. I sent my child to middle school in shoes with cursing bunny laces. I am such a bad parent.

Friday, August 13, 2004

South Knox Bubba has welcomed me to The Rocky Top Brigade. Thank you for the honor! This is better than a debutante ball. A virtual curtsy to all the Southerners out there. I usually whine and reveal too many details about my personal life but sometimes I talk about UT football, Tennessee foolishness and our school system. Actually, I talk about our schools a lot.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I have a lot to say about today but too much school paperwork to do. I just had to take one second to express my "ugh" moment of the day. This has been a long, difficult day with lots of problems and annoyances but seeing the letter from homeland security teaching my children about disaster prepardness, including the mandatory plastic sheeting and duct tape just makes me ill! It was prepared by Homeland Security and is in all of my children's planners. It encourages children to enter this contest. Yuck! I was happy today when everyone had fun at the First Day Festival.

Doug and I's contribution to Half-naked Thursday. Posted by Hello

Knox County Schools are playing passive aggressive games to get rid of Tommy ALREADY. Argh!!

Sarah, Noah, Dad and Mom are all dressed and ready to go. Tommy is hiding in bed and after getting up before 7 all week, Amy is sound asleep today. Waking a sleeping baby is a very stupid thing to do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Tommy got scheduled on the wrong bus, so we'll be driving him tomorrow. Sarah and her very best friend are in the same class and their teacher looks about 20 years old. ALL the parents were slack jawed when they saw him. Noah has another thrird grader with the exact same first and last name. I anticipate all kinds of problems to arise from that random bit of coincidence. Sarah and Noah have to be at two different intersections waiting for two different buses at the exact same time. Since their bus stops are on a major Knoxville road, I am less than thrilled with this scenario. All of the children are in bed but only the youngest two are sleeping. Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. I have always liked the first day of school and it hasn't changed even though I'm no longer the student.

Yesterday I was happy to get Tommy's cake ordered and his gifts purchased. Today I am happy that Alice gets to do something she has been wanting to do for months. I am happy that Noah found a friend who isn't in daycare to play with and I am happy that school starts tomorrow. I am happy that thanks to a very compassionate friend who gave us some money with the directions to "do whatever we wanted to do" with it, Amy's hospital bill is paid. Yes, it took two years to pay for her delivery, but that's because we have no insurance. Thank you JR. You really do have a heart of gold.

Yesterday I contributed to the local economy at "Rita's" to order Tommy's dice cake and indulge in thumbprint cookies (it's like eating fresh butter) before visiting the "Girl Scout Shop" to grab a few things before the troop kicks into gear. After that I picked up my mother's cat food at "Village Veterinary Clinic" and then I scoured the clearance racks at "Smart Toys and Books". I watched a car wreck but decided against waiting to report what really happened when I saw that one of the drivers was throwing a tantrum. I went in the mall I can find without getting lost and picked up a mall gift card for Tommy from his anonymous internet friend. Came home and worked on the laundry and dishes. Today I will visit Mir's lover and pick up the developed pictures Sarah took at summer camp. Tonight is an open house at Sarah's middle school so that she can get her class schedule and the first list of supplies. Over the next week the supply lists will trickle in as well as the check requests (school fees, workbooks, agendas, PTA, etc.).

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm not ready to talk about what's really upsetting me yet (it's Tommy, not Doug) so I'll tell an old story. Many years ago (UT fans will know how many halfway through this story) my husband left me and I was staying in my parents' house. My mother had left for work and I was watching cartoons with Noah. I noticed my father wandering the house in his bathrobe and I just assumed he was looking for something. After watching him pace about I walked back to his room to see if I could find whatever he had lost. He looked at me with a blank face and said "I can't read." I asked him questions because I thought he was setting me up for a joke but always his answer remained the same. "I can't read." I called my mother at her work and told her that something was wrong with Dad. She guessed his blood sugar was off and told me to drive him to his gp. I did what she asked but he was silent the entire ride. My father is never silent. He has an opinion on everything. I signed him in, got scolded by the receptionist for coming without an appointment and sat down to wait. As we waited I realized something was very wrong and called my mother to tell her she needed to be there. My mother arrived minutes after my father was called back and before my mother could ask which room he was in we were all called back to speak to the doctor. We walked in the room with our hearts in our throats and the doctor immediately said that my father was having a stroke. My mother rushed him to the ER while I went home to make phone calls. My father was unaffected physically but he had some serious gaps in his ability to think and act. He couldn't read, identify objects or say anyone's name but what he could say was "football game". This came as no surprise to any of us because UT football was like a religion in my parents' home. It was quickly evident that my father was worried about watching the first UT football game of the season. Everyone reassured my father that he would watch the game on the hospital television but he wanted to watch it at home. He had to be at home in his "special" clothes eating popcorn or the team wouldn't play their best. This superstitious foolishness only applies to sports and it goes completely against my father's character. Just to prove everyone wrong my father came home from the hospital a few hours before kick-off. He proceeded to scream at the team, jump up and down and act like he was the coach. I was so upset trying to make him sit calmly that my mother gave me tranquilizers and sent me to bed. I listened from bed and was extremely thankful when UT won the game. I am not a sports fan but I have never loved football more than that winter when UT won every single game and made my father the happiest fan ever. Skip ahead to last week. My father started having suspicious symptoms and a CAT scan revealed a bleed in his brain and a dangerous looking aneurysm. Saturday my father will have an MRI and an MRA. He will refuse surgery because the surgery itself has bad odds and he feels better just waiting and letting things happen. He is a very religious man and has no fears about dying. In fact he looks forward to it a bit too much for my comfort level. So, with football season about to begin and history repeating itself there is some anxiety in our family, except for my father. His only concern is how the team will play.

I was happy yesterday when I collapsed in the bed at 10:30. Today we have family session with Tommy's therapist. The therapist asked that we not bring any of the other children, just Tommy. I guess he just assumes that all families have a nanny at their beck and call. Amy is going to the appointment and I'm leaving Sarah home in charge of Noah. I am very unhappy with this set-up. After the therapist I have errands to run all over town. I don't like running errands outside of my usual areas. I am missing the "sense of direction" gene and get lost way too easily. I have given up trying to plan Tommy's birthday. Too many complications and unhappy people. Doug and Tommy are planning the day now.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Once upon a time downtown Knoxville had a lovely Gateway Visitor's Center. It was easy to find and had plenty of free parking. The inside was packed with free brochures and maps for Knoxville and all the surrounding counties. There was even a bit of a free museum on the second floor. When Sarah was assigned a report on culture we were able to gather enough information and pictures to do her report. Skip ahead to summer 2004 when we are looking for something special to do for Tommy's birthday. The Gateway center is closed and the visitor center is now a tiny gift/coffee shop in downtown Knoxville with no free parking. In fact, you must cross a very busy downtown street to get there after you pay a huge fee to park. There are very few brochures out on display (and zero maps) since they are now all in the "Knoxville Tourism Corps" offices. A nice public service is now an inaccessible storefront business. A few weeks ago South Knox Bubba had a lively discussion about downtown parking. Several people insisted that there is plenty of free parking downtown and there were also commenters who encouraged the use of public transportation (buses) and bicycles. I just don't think Knoxville visitors are going to be arriving on bikes or buses. I also don't think they'll have the patience to hunt down free parking and I wouldn't be surprised if they decide against dragging their families across the dangerous downtown streets to grab a couple of brochures.

If anyone still has gmail invitations, here's a great place to donate them. I'm donating my last two invites.

Genuine My Monday Walkabout: No Silence Here is my first addition. Although it is primarily a local blog, I suspect he'll be commenting on the blogosphere in general. Wil Wheaton dot net is my second addition because I needed another celebrity blog on my list. My third new blog is, Diddleysquat's Drivel and Other Relevant Dicta because it's fun to read, something to think about and the author is not pregnant (I warned you I was hunting for pre-menopausal bloggers). My fourth addition is,, a political blog. The last one today is Knoxville Vote, a brand new place where you can gripe about the people I may or may not vote for this November. I can promise you now that I will be voting for whoever is the biggest competition to GWB. I may not like the other candidates, but getting GWB out of office is our only hope.

Dynaweather is too flakey. I need a new weather forecast for my blog. Any recommendations?

I found something to add to my list of things to do before I die. Yes, I know the odds are about equal to my sloppy self-indulgent writing being published, but I'm adding it anyway.

I am no longer looking for my happy. Instead I am trying to decide what the family can agree on as an activity for Tommy's birthday. We live minutes from bowling, skating, movie theaters and every type of restaurant you can imagine. We live 30 minutes from mountains with beautiful settings and fun streams. I've suggested tubing, a picnic near a mountain stream, movies, a fishing pond and a thousand other things. Every suggestion is met with someone proposing a way to make it better for everyone else. I want everyone to be happy and have fun but this is making me crazy (ok, crazier than usual). Stop trying to fill the day with more stuff. Stop telling me new ideas. Stop trying to make it bigger and better. Tommy needs a calm, low-key activity that he doesn't usually get to do. He wants his family there so he feels like he has a crowd. I love you all but argh!! It's a good thing we don't live in a big city with tons of options.

Pong anyone? I don't know if it's the fact that it's Monday or the bad dreams I had last night or my sucky writing but I misplaced my happy. I need to go find it. I'll start my search in something caffeinated.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I've been happy most of the day today but I guess I'll say that kisses, hugs, smiles and little voices all made me feel extra happy. I'm happy that at this early hour I'm going to my bed to relax and watch tv.

Busy Mom typed up a "Back to School" checklist in her blog. Our family has to do most of the things on the list year-round to keep track of everyone's schedules and needs.

  • When the school supplies go on sale in the summer for 10 cents a spiral or 5 cents a folder I stock up. During the year I don't have to run to the store when the children tell me on their way to school that they are out of something and need it that same day. If it's in the box of school supplies they grab it or they have to do without for a day. I know that Thursday afternoon there will be a few items I haven't stockpiled which are sold out at every store in town. Last year it was erasable red pens. This year I have the elusive pens but some cruel teacher will zing me with an unexpected item.
  • Our family has a meeting every Sunday to review the week's schedule. We all (except Amy) carry a Franklin planner of some variety. There is a large marker board beside the front door with important appointments listed.
  • Each child has a desk in their bedroom but homework is usually done at the kitchen table so that I can keep up with who is doing what. I clean out backpacks every evening to make sure there are no notes or unfinished homework being forgotten.
  • Every night before bed I straighten up the children's bedrooms. Every few weeks I go in and do a major cleanup to reorganize drawers and throw away "happy meal" toys that have accumulated.
  • Every night before I go to bed the backpacks are packed, clothes laid out and notes signed. Lunch checks are signed and lunch is packed for the picky eater who doesn't like what's on the menu for the next day.
  • I throw on clothes and look like crap on school mornings. I get a nice bath and clean hair while Amy has her nap. When the children come home I'm ready for the chaos.
  • Bath, dinner and bedtime somehow happen every night so that I can do chores, play on the computer and spend time with my husband.

Part of me is dreading the extra meetings and schedule demands that school brings but another part of me enjoys the routine and structure. This week will be a rough adjustment but next week will be great. I'll be fine until they do the stupid move your clocks back or forward an hour routine. That totally messes with our groove.

Sure, we're a bunch of "beef-witted featherbrained rattleskulled clodpated dim-domed noodle-noggined sapheaded lunk-knobbed" people sometimes, but other times America is a very beautiful place to be. The romantic, dreamy kind of nostalgia that makes pulp romance novels look good and air smell sweet.

Does anyone else think about turkey whenever they hear Paul Simon singing "Still Crazy After All These Years?" Beware of Land Sharks. I'm feeling nostalgic today.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Today I was happy when I saw the look of pure joy on Tommy's face in the arena as he was announced First place in two events and Second place in another. I was more than a little happy and proud hearing it myself. I was happy because the happiness for Tommy filled up everyone in the family and we are all walking on air from the sheer wonderfulness of seeing Tommy so relaxed and self-confident. One little accomplishment and our souls are refreshed and our strength renewed. Happy, happy, happy!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Things that made me happy today: Taking a bath all by myself, the comfortable air, buying some groceries and laughing with Doug.

It is so beautiful we have turned off the A/C and opened the windows. Very unusual weather for the beginning of August in the south.

I may not bethrilled with some of the results of Knoxville politics, but at least I don't still live in Memphis. WHY did he win? Why did ANYONE vote for him? I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice, I wanna be elected, I'm your yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce, I wanna be elected, Kids want a savior, don't need a fake, I wanna be elected, We're all gonna rock to the rules that I make, I wanna be elected, elected, elected.

It seems like everybody, everywhere in the entire blogosphere has had, are taking or will be going on a vacation or two. All I ask for is one night of calm escape from reality with my over-stressed husband. Instead I'm waiting to hear about my dad's brain, waiting for Tommy's therapist to call, waiting for the mail, waiting for Doug's mood to improve, waiting to hear back from people I've left messages and waiting for Amy's nap so I can take a bath all by myself something good to happen.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Half-naked Thursday Posted by Hello

I was happy today when Doug and I were playing around with the camera.

Too funny. I own two pairs of jeans that are comfortable and I alternate between the two. Sarah has a closet full of clothes and she is already whining about not having anything for school. This child is going to fit perfectly in a sorority someday. Posted by Hello


In the house:

Me - the Mom
Doug - the Dad
Tommy - age 15
Sarah - age 12
Noah - age 9
Amy - age 3
Evan - 8 months old
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from cathymccaughan. Make your own badge here.

Mom's Stuff:

100 Things About Me
My Kids Are Pigs
My Husband's Crap
Pottery Barn Registry
Blogroll Me!

It runs in the Family:

Seldom & Never
Serendipitous Reflections
The Ramblings of CarMom
The Stomock's Retchings

Blogs I'm reading:


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