There's no place like

Sunday, October 31, 2004

A picture from DC's parade this week and a memory of the first time I saw a drag queen. I worked for my father's company the summer after I graduated high school while I tried to decide what to do with my life. My father had a convention in L.A. and took me along just to be nice under the pretense that I would demonstrate AutoCAD at our booth. Our travelling companion was a British woman who worked in another branch of the company. On the elevator ride up to our hotel room my father and I were following elevator etiquette and minding our own business. Out of the silence popped up the British accent with "Your teeth are just beautiful." My father and I took our eyes off the floor and looked up about a foot and half over our heads to a man in the most sparkly attire I've ever seen thanking our companion for complimenting his expensive dental work. Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 30, 2004

When I was delivering my first child, the epidural was way too high and I could feel absolutely nothing below the chest. This is a very disorienting feeling and my confusion was compounded by the way I was being treated like a non-human by the dozen people in the room. At one point I wanted to pull myself up but physically couldn't and nobody was listening to me, so when my now ex reached across me to get something from one of the nurses, I chomped down into his arm with full force. I can't explain why I did it, but at the time my goal was to latch into his arm and pull myself up a bit. I have no excuse other than the fact that I was very confused. I learned an important lesson though. Midwives are better than doctors because they pay attention to the person on the table.

Friday, October 29, 2004

About twice a year I invade my children's bedrooms armed with a hefty bag. Broken toys, happy meal junk and rotting food hidden behind dressers are all thrown away. Buckets are sorted to make sure that the Lego bucket has only Legos in it and Toy Dinosaurs are all in their own bucket. It was during one of these cruel invasions of my children's privacy many years ago that I stumbled upon something that was not where it belonged. Tommy was about 5-years-old and I was flabbergasted to find tampons mixed in with his army men. "Tommy, why are these in here?" "Those are my rocket launchers" He said it like it was their intended purpose and they quietly disappeared from his room as well as their usual storage spot in the bathroom. I would rather hide tampons than have someone come over and find my child playing with them.

When my mother's parents retired, they had a home built out in the Natchez Trace Park area, near Parsons, TN. Their property had several different gardens and a small pond, so they needed transportation just for getting around. My grandmother always used the riding mower with the trailer attached to go down to one of the gardens. My grandfather usually drove the tractor. When my grandfather bought a small Honda motorcycle, I always suspected it was just to entertain the grandchildren. We certainly were entertained. One of us was almost always zipping that little thing around. We didn't just drive on the family property either. We raced up and down those twisty-turny, hilly roads. Since we weren't old enough to have a license, that was probably not a good idea. Of course, a LOT of the people that lived out there drove around without licenses too, so I guess we were as qualified as anyone. There was a fairly flat piece of field behind my great-grandmother's old house that seemed perfectly safe for being extra stupid. I could close my eyes, lift my feet and be completely reckless. I was certainly caught off-guard when I suddenly realized I was about to hit a huge hole in the ground and would certainly have flipped over the bike. Without looking, I swerved right and as I did so, the wheels of the cycle actually went on a wire coming out from a utility pole. Completely stunned, I managed to drive both wheels onto the wire before I felt myself falling along with the cycle, onto our sides. Shaking from the shock of it all, I tried to lift the cycle so I could slide out but I landed in such a way that lifting up caused something hot and heavy to push harder into my ankle. After several tries I just sat there calmly waiting for a rescue party. My rescue party turned out to be an elderly farmer in an old pickup. "Need some help there?" Completely embarrassed, I thanked him and pushed the cycle back to the house and gave the entire family a great big laugh with the details of my adventure. At least I wasn't the only grandchild to do stupid things on that cycle.

A quick mention of some of the weekend plans before I drift into the usual weekend story telling festival. Tonight soccer game is rained out which means Noah won't be missing anything when he goes to play Laser Tag for the first time. After Laser Tag he will be sleeping over at a friend's house. Sarah will be spending the night with her best friend. We've decided that next year she and her friend will be Siamese twins for Halloween. Doug and Tommy might go to a haunted house tonight since Tommy has declared that nothing scares him. Tomorrow we will be going to the corn maze in Greenback with 100+ Cub Scouts and half a dozen Girl Scouts. I haven't figured out how we're going to fit the girls in our car yet and I'm hopeful it will be a drizzle instead of a downpour when we go. Sunday we have dog school in the afternoon. Sunday late afternoon we will set up for Trunk or Treat, get the children in costumes and spend the evening as part of chaos. Doug is going to juggle and I am going to hand out candy at our booth. Hopefully my parents will monitor Amy's activities. It should be a lot of fun until Monday morning rolls around.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

We will have a doctor, a cookie, Davy Crockett and a 2-year-old who won't wear a costume out and about. What about you? Posted by Hello

My day started with Amy refusing to bathe or take her nap. Knowing she would be trouble, I loaded her in the car and went to pick Noah up from school. Despite my notes with times that would enable this carefully orchestrated afternoon to flow, Noah had gone to the playground instead of the office at his designated pick-up time. Running 10 minutes late, we headed to check Sarah out of school. Sarah was waiting patiently in the office (thank you Sarah). Doug decided I was sounding a bit, umm, strung out, so he picked up Tommy and took him to the dentist (thank you Doug). We arrived at the dentist and Sarah griped at me because we were 10 minutes early. Three children went back for cleaning and x-rays. Two children came out. The hygienest explained that out of all those teeth we had only one cavity (sorry Noah). Sarah tried to coax Tommy out. Noah tried to coax Tommy out. The hygienest let Tommy take an extra trinket and Tommy finally came out. On the way to the car the sibling squabbling began. I foolishly stopped at a party store to try one last time to talk Amy into wearing a costume. Not only did she scream "no" to every costume I held up, she thought running in the store would be fun. At that point Sarah cornered her, I scooped her up and we all went to the car, Amy screaming in anger the entire way. Now I'm trying to decide between running errands while Doug stays home with the children or collapsing on the couch for an hour.

Inmates in our little asylum - Cathy - me, wife, mother, sister, daughter, S.A.D., watches too much tv Doug - husband, father, brother, son, I.E.D., O.C.D., severe romanticism Tommy - age 14, Aspergers and teenageritis Sarah - age 11, severely normal but seeking teenageritis Noah - age 8, A.D.D., tender hearted, champion nosebleeder Amy - age 2, stubborn, funny, extremely verbal Molly - 6 month old German Shepherd who would be perfect if she'd move from paper trained to housebroken Lucy - very old golden mix, semi-deaf, semi-blind Plus 2 cats, several fish and extended family members to add to the insanity.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

On one hand, I find daylight savings and its' disruption of everyone's waking and sleeping habits very annoying. On the other hand, at least in the fall you get to feel like you're sleeping an extra hour. Posted by Hello

We had a conference with Noah's teacher today. I went into the conference anxious and tense, ready to pounce her if she said anything negative about my child. It could have been something completely true, but I'm not always rational when it comes to defending my family. The teacher was quiet, soft spoken and sincerely interested in helping Noah. The first issue was Noah's complaints about a peer. The teacher was unaware of the boys' squabbling but I think she'll be watching for opportunities to intervene now. The second issue was Noah getting in trouble regularly for reading when he should be doing something else. I hated to suggest it, but I suggested his book be turned in each morning and given back when his work is completed. The third issue was Noah's chosen books not having AR (accelerated reader) tests because they are middle school level books. The teacher is going to ask the librarian if they have access to the middle school software for AR but she doesn't think they will. In that case Noah will do a book report instead of the AR test. I think he would have enjoyed the assignment more if she had let him write 10 good AR type questions and answers for his books, but oh well. The last issue was Noah's handwriting and the teacher politely told us that we couldn't expect much improvement, ever. Apparently left-handed Noah writes with his hand in a hook posture, something that should have been corrected years ago. Great.

Lost is reminiscing today, so I'll add a few of my own memories. I remember SNL when it was funny and the bands really rocked. I remember Pong and the fear that it would burn an image onto your screen. I remember floppy disks. I remember spending hours taping songs off the radio to create the perfect 'mix' tape. I remember when everyone went trick or treating in their own neighborhood. I remember where I was when Elvis died, when John Lennon was murdered and watching the Challenger blow up. I remember pet rocks and mood rings. I remember death warnings from mixing Pop Rocks and soda but everyone doing it anyway. Your turn now. What do you remember?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

My 2-year-old is either schizophrenic or very imaginative. We have purple monsters living in our trees and she keeps seeing spiders. She also catches things in the air and walks around with her hands tightly cupped holding her invisible catch. "I got it."

I've been surfing Blog Explosion and I have just one question. What is everyone going to blog about after the election? Sure, for a few weeks we'll shout about the winners and losers, but what then?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Bandaids have magic power over my children. They make the ouch go away instantly. Grownups need more bandaids. Posted by Hello

On Friday Noah's soccer team got stomped. Sarah had a lock-in at the YMCA and we were supposed to pick her up at 7 on Saturday morning but we overslept and Sarah had to call us at 7:30. "Umm, is anyone gonna pick me up?" Major parental guilt. Saturday's scout meeting was supposed to be handled by the sorority girls. One sorority girl showed up and only had activities for one hour so we spent the second hour playing games that the 7th graders found "boring". The girls fall sales orders were due but two of them begged for an extra day. I agreed but insisted that they get the forms to my mailbox by Sunday night. It's Monday and no forms, so I get to run around town picking them up now. Saturday afternoon I really wanted to take Molly to Knoxville's new dog park but Sarah and her friend had to go to the mall and I wasn't willing to drop them off and leave them there for several hours so Sarah wandered Claire's, Limited Too and such while Doug and I let Amy and Noah wander around in the Disney Store. Amy refused every costume we tried on her. Saturday night Noah came down with some sort of stomach virus and did serious damage to my Mother's house. Sunday was dog school and then off to pick up the children from my parents' house. Sunday evening we melted wax all over Doug's cake (this is his last year with the correct number of candles) and Amy made fingerprints in the icing. Today Tommy acted up and had to be picked up from school at noon. Noah stayed home sick today and I feel sick just looking at my 'to-do' list for the week. How was YOUR weekend?

Happy Birthday Doug! Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Frightening or funny? Last summer I looked out the back window and saw three boys, standing on the edge of the trampoline with three streams arching out before them. I should have known I was in trouble with this child when he was three-years-old and I caught him peeing in the cat's litterbox.

About 60 years ago, my father was adopted to my grandparents through a Memphis, TN adoption agency. My grandparents had nothing but praise for the "good, Christian woman who was doing God's work putting babies where they belong". The agency was The TN Children's Society Home and it was run by Georgia Tann. Ms. Tann has been the subject of several books and made-for-tv movies. She took babies from desperate families looking for temporary assistance and had them sign away their rights without them even knowing it. Ms. Tann lied to large numbers of the birth parents and told them their babies died. Couples who had large quantities of money ($5,000 or more was a lot in the 40s) were given the babies. Exchanges were made in empty fields and other places that would allow no witnesses. Growing old and physically as well as emotionally very ill, Ms. Tann destroyed most of her records. My brother and I have tried in vain to find out something about my father's birth family but despite numerous letters, fees and phone calls, we have almost nothing. I'm certain that my father's birth mother is dead, but it would be nice to know what her occupation was, how long she lived, her medical profile, etc. We have a possible name for a birth father, but who knows what is right and what is wrong in the tangled mess of lies left behind since most of the people involved are long gone and all that is left are the now adult children who will never know if they were "stolen babies".

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Both my father and her sister were adopted by my grandparents. Their stories are similar, but different. I'll tell my aunt's story first, so that tomorrow my father's will be at the top of the blog and I'll worry less about offending someone with his story than I do with hers. My grandparents had a teenage son, but wanted a daughter to complete their family. The agency that they used to adopt my father no longer existed and they didn't have the money to be certain about their acceptance by another agency. My grandmother wasn't exactly the 'motherly type' but then again, neither was Joan Collins. My grandfather made up for my grandmother's weaknesses with extra love and effort. Someone they knew told someone else and through word of mouth, a lawyer came to visit my grandparents. He had a teenage daughter who was expecting a baby and they needed to find a family for this unexpected grandchild. The deal was that they would give my grandparents enough money to leave the state and start over someplace else if my grandparents would disappear with the baby. My grandparents moved from Skokie, IL to Martin, TN and used the money they were given to start a small business. Skip ahead about 30 years to my father and aunt cleaning out the family home and preparing to move my grandmother in with my father. My father found the adoption paperwork and being the sexist male that he is, he approached my uncle with the paperwork. My uncle quickly decided that this was a can of worms he didn't want opened and destroyed the paperwork. Years later my aunt made a small attempt at researching her birth family but made no progress. Irony, fate or cruelty?

As I child, there were a few foods I was subjected to almost every week. My mother claimed that it was because they were easy to prepare and inexpensive but I know it was for another reason. There were about half a dozen foods that my grandfather forbid my grandmother to serve and yet we had to eat some of those foods all the time. As soon as you see the names of my mother's two favorites to prepare, I'm sure you'll figure out the reason for the food banning. Flavor and nutrition were not the reasons. I don't think a week went by that we didn't eat chipped beef on toast and fried spam. Know the reason?

Friday, October 22, 2004

One of Doug and I's favorite weekend retreats is Chattanooga. It is less than two hours away but a very different town than Knoxville. Surrounding a downtown of historic hotels and a successfully renovated riverfront full of activities are beautiful mountains. Many of the people that live on the Chattanooga mountains are in the same communities where they were born and where they will someday be buried. Several of our escapes to Chattanooga have been without any children in tow. I'm sorry to be a cliche, but you can't fully comprehend how different travel is without children until you have children. Doug and I were so happy to have an uninterrupted evening that with some previously undiscovered energy source we became the Energizer bunnies. After hours and hours of friskiness we were in an, umm, traditional sort of position and I jolted when I realized that I had accidentally nodded off. I was embarrassed and tried to recover quickly but I was coherent enough to recognize that Doug was trying to wake himself up as well. We both fell asleep! We roared with laughter and agreed to call an umm, cease fire for the evening. Doug and I love this story but strangely, people don't get it when we try to tell it. All they hear is that we fell asleep and woke up at the same time. They don't hear that we fell asleep after record-breaking, marathon quality intimacy. Either way, it's was and still is a very funny memory for us.

A short story - Once upon a time I tripped over a juice glass and fell down the steps. My foot changed colors and I drove myself to the doctor for an x-ray with the injured foot slung across the passenger seat and my left foot working the brake and gas pedals. I hobbled in and waited my turn. When the nurse came to do my paperwork she asked me how I hurt my foot. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed but all that came out of my mouth was teen anger. "My brother left a juice glass on the steps so I would break my foot."

When I saw story on Fark about a girl being attacked by a seagull hungry for her sandwich, I had a flashback to a Disney trip about 10 years ago. I was holding a smoked turkey leg, which smelled unbelievably good when a seagull swooped down and stole the turkey leg. In retrospect, that's pretty cool and funny but at the time it scared the jeepers out of me and I screamed like a, well, like a girl. My mother still teases me whenever we see a seagull (which is quite a strange site in Knoxville). "Hey Cathy, want a turkey leg?"

Today is a school holiday so, of course Noah danced downstairs wide-awake and jolly before 6 this morning. There must have been a switch at the hospital. I can't possibly be related to this little morning person. With the weekend almost officially here, it's time for time travel and some old stories. What should it be? Something funny? Dark family secrets? An adult story? Hmmm. . .

Thursday, October 21, 2004

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Albert Camus

More thoughts on Lost - If I was stranded in the middle of nowhere, I think I would have removed the bodies and burned them on a pyre instead of burning the only thing resembling a shelter. I certainly would be doing more scavenging of resources. I wouldn't be burning or breaking anything that might be useful. Mostly, after last night's episode, I hope nobody on the island thinks about the 'Stay-Puff marshmallow man'.

Is baseball season over yet?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Do you make or buy Christmas gifts? What do you make? What's the hot toy this year? Does your family draw names? Do you open Christmas eve or Christmas day? Have you started shopping yet? Is your tree real or artificial? Gee, that last question sounds kinda personal.

Dog psychology - Why do the dogs insist on walking in front of me on the staircase? Why do they then stop halfway up or down? Why does my old dog toot like a train the whole way up? Why does the young dog throw her ball down the stairs and whimper until I go get it? Why do they hate their bath but love rain and muddy creeks? How can they make me feel so happy just having them around?

Cat psychology - Why does the cat scratch 'outside' the litterbox? Why do we own a cat bed when she sleeps on the computer monitors? Do we really have a cat? I go entire days without seeing her sometimes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bwa-ha-ha! Posted by Hello

WHY must my children go through a phase of not napping when they are two? They either cry themselves to sleep very late in the afternoon and then are too rested for their bedtime or they are whiney and weepy all afternoon.

Yesterday was a hard day and I am down today. The school insists that Tommy deliberately punched a classmate in the face. Tommy insists that he reached out to shove the boy down and didn't mean to hurt him. I think Tommy acted impulsively and regrets what he did so he wants to deny it away rather than accept responsibility for a very bad choice. The other boy is fine and the other parents aren't upset. The school just wants one more reason to say they can't help Tommy. Tommy was punched in the face so hard a few years ago that he had two very black eyes. Tommy slapped more than hit this boy but it is still very disappointing. He has never hit anyone before. He has been stabbed with pencils and shoved several times this year but none of the other students have followed through on their threats to hit him. I wonder if waiting for it to happen sent him over the edge. My parents have deemed that Tommy is now on an unstoppable path to jail. With sincere concern for the other children they are pushing me hard to find someplace to send Tommy. There is nothing for Tommy other than relinquishing custody to the state. There are no private schools that would accept Tommy. I feel like I failed him long ago when I allowed the school to focus on his behavior and ignore academics. He is now hopelessly behind academically and complete unaware of how to be a student. Is my choice to give him away and watch him spend the rest of his life wasting away in group homes or to let him happily spend his days reading books in the security of his own room?

Monday, October 18, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play
If you stick it out until the end you'll understand what she's saying.

You know it's a Monday when: The toddler won't nap, so you can't bathe while she's safe in her crib. You bathe anyway and she digs in the houseplants. You rush to get done and shave a chunk of skin from your ankle. The 8-y-o peed in his pants because his friend made him laugh too hard. The 14-year-old smacked a classmate in the face and can't ride the bus home. You have a soccer game and a support group meeting at the same time tonight. The toddler should be completely over-tired and cranky by then. Your favorite jeans (aka the ones that fit) are dirty. Update: At least soccer is cancelled.

Sarah and I had so much fun at the earring class this weekend. Guess what every female on my list is getting for Christmas this year? Color requests anyone? Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 17, 2004

More stories next weekend. Noah has a book report due next week and he wants to do it on "Ender's Game". Since his teacher already complains that he has no AR points because he doesn't read anything near a third grade level (which is all that she has on the class computer), I strongly suspect she'd be very annoyed at his book choice. I think I should 'encourage' a different book choice.

A very short story - Once upon a time I painted my toenails while watching a movie in bed. I fell asleep and my toes stuck to the sheets. Textures may be great on walls, but they look stupid on toes.

When Amy came home from the hospital, Doug was a little overprotective. No, that's wrong. Doug was neurotically overprotective but it was funny and sweet. One day when she was only a few days old, Doug was standing over her bassinet, changing her diaper. I must divert from the point of this story to talk about how Doug started out changing diapers. Keep in mind that this was a breastfed baby whose diapers were the consistency of watery mustard with a unique but not horrible smell. Doug would vocally bemoan the tremendous mess as he folded a wet wipe into a small square. He'd dab a bit here, refold, dab again, then set the wipe aside for another. He would use 6 or more wipes on every mess that came out of a bottom which would fit in the palm of your hand. While the whole unwrapped pile of diaper and wipes was dropped into the diaper pail, Amy would pee on the bassinet sheet and the dramatics would continue. So, while Doug was busy with this routine, I put away some folded clothes in the dresser drawers. When Doug screamed like a girl I spun around and saw him standing over Amy flapping his arms and freaking out because he accidently pulled off her umbilical stump too soon. In the time it took me to walk over, look and adjust her diaper, Doug had called the pediatrician's office and was hysterically asking if he needed to take the baby to the hospital. The nurses were patient and understanding while they calmed him down but I am certain that they laughed until they peed after they got off the phone. When my mother came over and matter-of-factly pushed and squeezed the umbilical cord while she crammed a q-tip dipped in peroxide in the raw cord area I sincerely thought Doug would pass out. A few days later we visited Doug's mother and she horrified Doug by telling him repeatedly that he needed to somehow tape that area down so our child wouldn't have an outie because outies are just so ugly. In the end, Amy turned out just fine without any ridiculous girdles. However, when I finally agreed to have Amy's tongue snipped (something I agonized over for a month), I was actually happy that Doug was out-of-town because I am certain that the procedure would have put Doug flat on the floor.

I tried to think about the earliest story I can remember, but all I have are a few random memories. I know that when I was about three my parents took me to an old train caboose filled with small animals (bunnies, guinea pigs, etc). My parents have no idea what this memory is, so I can't elaborate. I clearly remember that my father took me to fly kites frequently when I was about four-years-old. The day always began with a visit to the store where he bought me the gum that is rectangular, individually wrapped and sort of hard when you first start to chew. After the gum purchase we would go to a large park and he'd get the kite in the air while I chewed my bubble gum. At that point in my life, my father was capable of anything. He could make kites dance in the air and he was my hero. He could protect me from anything and nothing would ever happen to him. I hope the safety and security that I felt as a small child filled my own children when they were still young.

Friday, October 15, 2004

It's the weekend and I haven't done a story yet, so here's a graphic story that includes an intimate discussion about male anatomy, so be warned. Many years ago one of my sons was pretty new to potty-training and at a height which allowed him to rest his penis right on the rim of the toilet after the lid and seat were raised. This was not a good method for producing accuracy but he wasn't yet three so I was much more interested in praising his effort than critiquing his technique. One day he reached up to slam the seat and lid down a moment too soon and smashed his penis. I had no idea what to do. Did I need to call the doctor or rush him to the hospital? Should I apply ice? From his horrible wails came a simple request, "Kiss it Mommy." My mind immediately raced ahead 20 years to my son in therapy describing a haunting image of his mother kissing his penis. I kissed my finger and touched his boo-boo. This must have been an acceptable remedy because he toddled off to play while I got on the phone to relay the story and seek advice. I was much more upset by the incident than he was.

Family Stuff - I brought the plants in a few days ago and Molly won't quit taking the decorative rocks out of the planters. I keep finding them hidden like tasteless Easter Eggs. Noah's Von Willebrand's tests came back with the same results as the first test, normal is 50-150% and he tested in the 40s both time. Tommy forgot his lunch ticket for the zillionth time this year and we followed through on our threat not to run his ticket up to him again. He's going to be majorly ticked. It's not that Tommy is going to suffer by skipping a meal, he's a very large guy. The problem is that Tommy's day is centered around structure and routine and he thinks he MUST have three meals, two snacks and a drink at bedtime or his whole routine is off and he just falls apart. Yesterday I went to another m-team at Tommy's school and watched a videotape of Tommy in class. I'm sure it drives the teacher crazy, but I thought it was pretty funny stuff. He had been evaluated this week by soeone who knew has known him for the past 6 years and they agreed with me that Tommy's maturity level has changed almost none. When I think of all the years wasted focusing on his social skills and maturity while he didn't even have a textbook because "he's smart enough to catch up with the academic stuff" I feel like crying. Should be a fun night at soccer with an angry Tommy and the rest of us freezing our toes off. If it would just rain this afternoon maybe we'd get rained out.

I heard from a reliable source that there are snowflakes in the Chattanooga skies. All of Tennessee should immediately panic and buy all the milk and bread from the grocery stores. Snowflakes in October, eeeeeek!!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I'm thinking about turning the heat on tonight. Cross your fingers that it actually works. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

At my brother's request, my theories about Lost. First, the wheelchair guy is easy to explain. He lived a sad life of fantasy until the plane crash. Although there is still something wrong with one or both of his legs that put him in a wheelchair ages ago, his desire to live and even greater desire to be someone who is respected have pushed him to endure great pain and walk. Notice that he spends a LOT of time sitting and recovering after his physical exertions. He didn't kill the boar, the giant creature that ate the pilot killed it. The man or men in suits are the scientists who caused the plane crash. They have genetically or otherwise made a lot of strange things happen on an island that was already very unusual, think a cross between Dr. Moreau and Captain Nemo. Either their first experimental group died and left behind an SOS message OR the message is from the future, when the only survivor is screaming, useless girl who speaks some French. The characters without names don't stand a chance of survival. Many of the characters are only there for plot development, like the drug-addicted hobbit and the young boy's father. What are YOUR theories?

The cost of Girl Scout cookies in Knoxville has gone up from $3 per box to $3.50 per box starting this year. Now the girls get even more complaints about something they can't control and they have to do more complicated math at the cookie booths. It looks like the flavors will be the same as last year: Lemon Coolers, Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, Samoas, All Abouts, Double Dutch, Tagalongs and Thin Mints.

Yet ANOTHER debate tonight. Straight-faced lies, distractions, smirks and general bad behavior promised. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

About a month ago I watched "Adaptation" based on its' awards and the description on the back of the box. "Director Spike Jonze delivers a stunningly original comedy. . ." I enjoyed the movie, but I would NEVER describe it as a comedy. I question the choice of ending but the characters were interesting. This isn't the first time I've reacted differently to a movie that the rest of America adored. "Cold Mountain" was hugely popular but it just made me cry. I guess there's good reason why I'm never invited to movie screenings.

The tag on my t-shirt reads: "Do what you like. Like what you do." Where did I buy this shirt?

Why do the women in old movies get to start their day after 9 a.m.?  Posted by Hello

Monday, October 11, 2004

Since I had to take Noah to soccer practice when all I want to do is lie in bed, I'm going to do something that I've been trying not to do in my blog lately. I'm going to be negative and complain. I used to work in the non-profit sector, so I accept that begging in one form or another is how many agencies survive. The most annoying and dangerous form of this begging is the panhandling at intersections. Some of these guys wear what are clearly legitimate Shriner's outfits, some wear orange vests and others just stand out there in their jeans and t-shirts. They all carry a bucket with the intended charity scribbled on paper and taped to the side. What irritates me is that they walk between the rows of moving traffic and on multi-lane roads, they run in front of moving cars. Am I the only person who sees the danger in this activity? Will it take a terrible accident for this behavior to stop?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Lines you'll hear around my family - Besides the aforementioned "Didn't used to be" there are several things that my family likes to say. I don't mean the children, I mean my brothers and I and our respective spouses. Sometimes my mother will join in on the jokes but my father is a bit too dry and religious to participate in some of our misbehavior. We will pounce anyone who accidently makes a comment deserving "Can I have some tea?" and "What time is it?" I suspect most bloggers are too young to remember the Eddie Murphy routines that inspired those lines. Another popular one was inspired by a long-ago Thanksgiving dinner with my grandparents. Holidays were the only time my grandmother could drink wine around others (instead of in hiding like she usually did) and she always went too far with her intake. Whenever we had holiday meals at my grandparents we were served duck because it was one of my grandmother's favorite foods (venison was always served at my other grandparents'). There was also turkey or ham for everyone else because nobody else liked the duck. At this one meal my father politely offered to eat some of the duck so his mother's feelings wouldn't be hurt. Very tipsy, she kept asking about the quality of the duck. "Is your meat tender?" She asked so much that the adults were giggling and one of the children innocently repeated the accidental double-entendre. Although that grandmother is long gone, it is a tradition to ask others "Is your meat tender" whenever they least expect it. I come from a family of smart-mouths.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Since the weekend is here, maybe I should just tell stories again. I have a short one from a few days ago. Now that Molly is 5 months old she is acting like a 3 year old and getting herself into strange predicaments. I was in my parents back yard watching Amy play with her cousins and Molly was tied on the long lead which should have given her 50 feet of running space. Molly somehow managed to get the lead wrapped around her toes and started screaming the most human, heart-breaking scream. I finally calmed her enough to untangle the toes and she didn't seem injured but I decided the leash would keep her closer to me and out of trouble. Molly lulled me into a false sense of confidence by putting her head on my feet and closing her eyes. I leaned back in the patio glider chair and thought about closing my own eyes. Without warning, Molly stood up and in one sudden move, ran behind the chair, causing my then fully outstretched arm to spin until it looked like my arm was growing out of my ear and looking for my back. At that moment I knew what was going to happen but couldn't stop the inevitable pratfall. Without pausing, Molly continued lunging forward, which meant that I lunged backward as the chair flipped backwards and dumped me out onto the ground. At this point Molly decided to wait for me to catch up and the leash slacked enough that I could pull myself up off the ground. With only a bruised elbow and battered dignity I decided it was time to go home. "It's always something." Gilda Radner

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I always wondered what Bubba looks like and there he was on the local news tonight. It would have been much funnier if he'd been wearing blogger pajamas while Glenn Reynolds stood there in his suit.

Molly goes to her much needed dog training class this Saturday. Today Amy put Gogurt and Pop-Tarts in Molly's fur, so let's hope we find time to bathe Molly before class. Pastel foods do not blend on a solid black dog.

We spent the day at The Museum of Appalachia'a annual Fall Homecoming Festival. I haven't been for a few years but it's always one of my favorite things to do. The old fashioned blugrass/gospel music and the sunny fall day with a slight breeze just made it so pleasant the time flew by all too quickly. The costumes are fun but so is all of the people watching. The crafters bring great baskets, quilts, pottery and so much more. I bought apple bakers from a local potter to give as teacher gifts. I like the play on the 'apple for your teacher' theme. I checked Sarah and Noah out of school early and let them play hookey so they could attend. I wanted to bring Tommy but all I asked from him was two days of good school behavior and twice this week we've had to go pick him up from school because of his behavior. We brought some gourd seeds home to him and I think he was satisfied to have had the afternoon for playing on my computer and eating Oreos. Although the Museum of Appalachia is interesting the rest of the year, this event is worth the horrible admission price. I know the owner thinks he's doing a great thing for Appalachian culture and history, but having met him I can't think of anything nice to say about him.

:) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A million years ago, my D.C. brother and I were busily paving the way for my ungrateful brother with the world's happiest baby. One night my D.C. brother was getting ready to leave the house and go out with his friends. My mother confronted him and listed off all the things he had done recently. He cleverly gave her the blank, confused look that gets men out of so many household duties. She tried stating her case in words that a 15-year-old would understand. "I think you've had enough fun lately. You should stay home this evening." With the clever wit and snarky mouth that I still adore he zinged her with "You mean there's a quota on fun?" Unable to compose herself from that brain twister, she let him go out with his friends. I have had my quota of fun today. I want to lie in bed and drool while mindless sitcoms that require no thought wash away the exhaustion.

Is there a blogging family tree out there anywhere? Some connections are easy, like Genuine and Mrs.G's Peek or Spy Journal and Rasita. Apparently I'm the only one who didn't know there's a connection between Big Orange Michael and Inn of the Last Home. I had no idea Life's a picnic is related to It's a Wilson thing. I feel like I just started watching a soap and miss all the inside stuff because I don't know the history.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Is anyone really interested in tonight's debate? "Hello, we're the two men whose names history students won't memorize."

Family updates - Doug is still working the Oak Ridge contract but seems calmer since he cleaned the garage and driveway. Cleaning his office should do wonders for his state of mind. I watched some Home Makeover show this weekend and thought about how much easier our life would be if we didn't live in this unfinished disaster area. Tommy is surly and miserably unhappy. His GameBoy is missing and I fear it was stolen at school (he takes it for distraction on the bus ride). The school has stopped mainstreaming him except for lunch. Sometimes I just want to let him stay home where he feels safe and content but then I know that if we don't mess with his comfort zone, he'll never grow. Sarah made straight A's even with her zillions of social activities. Next week she and I are taking the class at Lilly's Bead Box that she's been begging to take. Noah plays PS2 too much but is a happy guy. Friday is his first soccer game of the season. Amy is going to get put on the dog's leash at the soccer game if she acts like she has been acting at practice. Mommy does not like the 'chase me' game. I am seriously annoyed by the renters next door. I want them to move. I appreciate differences, but these people make me uncomfortable and generally creep me out. The cars coming and going at all hours, the accidental wrecks, the backyard trash pile, the excessive speeding in our cove, etc. I'm putting a sign in the front yard where our property touches theirs that says 'Slow Down'. Someone around the corner put a slow down sign in their yard and gave me the evil idea. I blame my mood on the MOUNTAIN of laundry waiting for the dryer to be fixed. Update: Tommy brought home the technology that the school is letting him use on a trial basis. He has to prove that he really needs it by being more productive.

Yesterday I learned that my ridiculous habit of washing crayons (and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, don't tell Noah) is a genetically based stupidity. While doing a load of laundry, my mother accidentally knocked something into her washer (which is less than 2 months old). It wasn't until she went back to move the wet clothes that she realized she had slipped a full sleeve of light bulbs in with the laundry. The soggy cardboard debris was nothing compared to the slivers of glass everywhere. She spent the evening trying to vaccuum the little holes inside the washing machine drum. This morning she called the manufacturer's hotline and was informed that they had never had this problem occur before. Some appliance maker is passing around a memo to everyone in the company about the Tennessee woman who had the bright idea to wash her light bulbs.

Monday, October 04, 2004

I think I'd rather have a Suburban. Posted by Hello

TV Talk - I gave in to all the hype and watched the two pilot episodes of Lost this weekend. It looks like a cross between Jurassic park, Land of the Lost and Lost in Space. What do I do on Wednesday nights now? Watch Smallville or Lost? Statistically speaking, the writers are going to ruin one of the shows sooner than later but right now they are both good fun. Since this week's Smallville looks like like a male fantasy episode I'll be watching Lost. The one bummer about lost is that the screeching, nail painting, suntanning survivor who I'd most like to see eaten is the only one who speaks French, so if they were actually listening to their own distress call, we're going to hear a lot more of her screaming before it's all over. I also watched Desperate Housewives. It looks like a cross between Knots Landing and Soap. I know the supermoms out there have perfect children, but there are times when I really feel like Lynette, the mom of the four wild children.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

It's no longer the weekend, but I'll tell one more story in honor of Barry who is enjoying the week at Disney World. Our entire extended family went to Disney in December of 2000. It was a wonderful trip but the memory that hangs with me is about Tommy disappearing for hours in the Animal Kingdom. We were all barely inside the park and it was my first time in this particular area of the Magic Kingdom so I confess I was doing more looking around than looking after my children. Apparently Doug and my parents were doing the same thing. We were walking happily until we realized Tommy was missing. What went through my mind may upset other parents but I'll say it anyway. If it had been any of the other children I would have jumped to child abduction hysterics and been in the park office demanding to see the exit videotapes. Because it was Tommy I looked around and saw a fence around the alligator and other wild animals area. I wondered if Tommy felt some urge to touch an alligator. I looked another direction and wondered if he'd crawled under equipment to see how it worked. I was hysterical that he had felt like he just had to do something horribly dangerous. Doug quickly alerted a park employee and my parents took over entertaining and watching the other two children. I ran around the park like a chicken with its' head cut off. I looked under racks of shirts and stuck my head in employee only areas. The employees stood back and let me have my ridiculous freak-out. When I was out of breath enough to pause and survey the area, I noticed something remarkable. At the entrance to every store, ride, restaurant and restroom was a Disney employee standing guard and reporting in on a walkie-talkie that their area had been checked. I accepted that my efforts were pointless and returned to my parents, who were anchored where we last saw Tommy. The family was accompanied by a Disney employee who was explaining where each area was as it was reported on. She talked calm and slow and kept putting her hand on my shoulder. Finally someone reported in that he'd been spotted on a park video camera. We all raced to the dinosaur ride. Tommy was standing at the end of the ride with a big grin on his face. Apparently he had looked at a park map, decided what he wanted to ride and done it! I was a basket case and demanded that we leave. The park employee insisted that we ride one ride together. This woman was determined that we would have a happy memory of our experiences at Disney. We were escorted to the front of the line and all boarded the dinosaur ride with our personal park employee. After the ride the employee handed us the group picture that the park takes during a scary moment in the ride. Tommy had known a dinosaur head would pop out and was hiding his head. The employee held up the picture of everyone but Tommy (even though he sat right beside us) and said "Look, even when he's with you, he's not with you." Truer words were never spoken. We went back to the hotel and I never did see the Animal Kingdom area of the park. I'm still not sure if I want to go back.

My father's mother had a brother with Downs Syndrome. With almost no education and none of the special programs that exist today, his functioning was very minimal. He loved to watch baseball and popped Tums like they were candy (he must have had strong bones). When his parents died he moved in with my grandparents and stayed there until he and my grandmother both had to go live someplace with specialized medical care. After my grandfather died, my grandmother and her brother established a routine of going to certain restaurants on certain nights. A friend and I joined them one night when they went to eat at the "T Room". My grandmother was chatting away about her arthritis, her church, her this and her that. My Great-Uncle took advantage of a brief moment of silence and started talking about a town resident who was always very kind to him. My grandmother looked sort of puzzled and then snarled "He's dead now." Without pausing, my Great-Uncle matter-of-factly said, "He didn't used to be." My friend and I couldn't help laughing. The next time you or someone you know is being treated condescendingly, look the egotist in the eye and say "Didn't used to be."

Saturday, October 02, 2004

A weekend story - This story actually belongs to the guy who dated and eventually married one of my old roommates. One weekend morning he woke up and found out he had lost something. Apparently even a tough fraternity boy needs his parents when he has lost something because that's who he called first. His father rushed to the scene to find the missing items while his mother made what had to be incredibly difficult phone calls. After calling his parents, frat boy woke up his frat brothers (of course) to try and find out what happened. They were less than supportive but tried to help. Then, girlfriend (my roommate) was called. As girlfriend later explained, frat boy woke up to the site of blood everywhere and very quickly realized his two front teeth were missing. Hungover and confused he made phone calls and tried to get the other semi-conscious guys to explain the missing teeth. His father deduced by the blood splatters that frat boy hit his bed while very drunk and/or passing out. The teeth were most likely swallowed but frat boy was a bit too traumatized to pursue this theory to it's inevitable conclusion. Frat boy's mother had to call and explain this story to the family doctor and dentist who in all likelihood she had known her entire life and attended her church (this was a very small town). I know that this isn't the worst kind of phone call a parent can receive, but it isn't exactly a shining memory either. Let's hope we never get such a phone call from our own children.

I interrupt the promised weekend of old stories with a transcript of the CNN interview with Aaron McGruder. You know I think cartoonists have a gift for saying a lot in a very small space, so: AARON BROWN: We're joined by Aaron McGruder. His cartoon, "The Boondocks," is syndicated most days in over 300 newspapers, but sometimes a few less, depending on the material. Good to see you. AARON MCGRUDER, CARTOONIST, "THE BOONDOCKS": Good to see you. BROWN: All right. Two sentences: who won the debate? You're going to say this. MCGRUDER: Kerry. He got his ass whooped. BROWN: Who did? MCGRUDER: Kerry. I'm sorry. No, I'm sorry. George Bush. BROWN: You set that whole line up, and then you blew it. MCGRUDER: I did. No, it was -- it was a very clear victory. You know, what bothers me about shows like this, and all the news shows, after Bush talks I hear all these smart people completely ignoring the elephant in the room. And the elephant in the room, which nobody wants to say, is that Bush is not a smart man. He can't articulate well. He doesn't speak in complete sentences. BROWN: Well... MCGRUDER: And everyone just ignores it, like that's OK. BROWN: OK. So... MCGRUDER: But he's really dumb. BROWN: OK. That's a different thing. Let's say he is not articulate. And I think they would concede he's not the most articulate guy on the planet. It doesn't mean he doesn't have convictions. It doesn't mean he believes in some things. It doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong. It just means he can't express himself. MCGRUDER: But beliefs don't mean anything if you're stupid. And not only that, but he -- it's almost as though he's talking to the dumbest segment of society, whereas Kerry... BROWN: Aaron, don't you think that's an incredibly arrogant way to look at the world? MCGRUDER: It's -- you know, it's real, you know? It's just that nobody is saying the obvious, which is the man is not smart and he's the president. BROWN: I wouldn't say that... MCGRUDER: Everybody knows it, but nobody is saying it. BROWN: What does that say, then, about the 52 or three or one, or maybe it's 49.5 tonight, percent of the country that not only believes he is smart enough to run the country now but should be the guy to run the country for the next four years? MCGRUDER: I think they have been woefully misled. I think -- I think Americans have a natural inclination, like all people around the world, to believe that their government is not corrupt, that the people are fair and smart and they're not lying to them. And history doesn't prove that out. And current events doesn't prove that out. The American people have been lied to, and it's at the point now where I think that that percentage of people simply are not interested in the truth. They don't want to go down the road the thought that the president, one, is not intelligent; and two, the people behind the president who are intelligent are deliberately lying and misleading the American people constantly. BROWN: Let me see -- let me see how cynical you are. MCGRUDER: OK. BROWN: Do you believe that a Kerry presidency would be there -- would be more honest, or is this a corruption, in your view, of the entire establishment? MCGRUDER: I -- I don't blame it -- I mean, to say the establishment is oversimplified. I think that the institution of journalism has failed in its responsibility to hold the government accountable. The government's doing what it's supposed to do when left unchecked. I do think Kerry would be better than Bush. I think he would be more honest. I think he would be more intelligent. But that's -- everybody knows that already. That's not really in anyone's debate. It's just people have picked a side. It's -- you know, it's like, you know -- it's the kind of weird God people in the middle of America, the people that live on the coasts fly over. We don't talk to those people. We don't understand those people, and they don't understand us. But nobody just says the obvious, that their president can't articulate himself and is dumb. And it drives me nuts. BROWN: I got all that. MCGRUDER: There you go. BROWN: Nice to meet you. MCGRUDER: It is a pleasure. Thank you for having me on. BROWN: Come back, too. MCGRUDER: If you let me. BROWN: I will. We're equal opportunity around here. MCGRUDER: There you go. BROWN: In every respect. Thank you.

Friday, October 01, 2004

You didn't like that story? Hmmm, ok here's a different take on the same theme. I went to a private high school in Memphis that was within walking distance of what was then a nice hotel. One day a guy asked me if I wanted to cut class and go see Ozzy Osbourne. Always eager for a reason to miss History we drove over to the hotel and sure enough, Ozzy was sitting at the lobby bar making smiles and drinking with a beauty who was NOT Sharon. My companion in crime walked straight up to him and asked for an autograph. I decided immediately that it is cool to see a celebrity but uncool to disturb them uninvited. From that point forward I frequently cut class and went on other adventures just to see celebrities. I never stared or interrupted them, I just spotted them and felt like my mission was accomplished. I did learn that going downtown to the Peabody yielded MUCH better celebrity results than the Hyatt. I gave that activity up after high school and haven't run into a celebrity since.

Since everyone quits blogging Fridays through Sundays (except for people like me who can't tell one day from another), I'll wait until Monday to say something offensive and tell a story today. Although my mother grew up on California military bases, both of her parents were from rural Middle Tennessee. When it was time for her to attend college they wouldn't allow her to attend a California college (it was the 60s) and sent her her to UT-Martin. This was a very long way from San Francisco so short school holidays were usually spent with friends whose families lived in TN rather than make the long trip to California. One long weekend break she was touring Memphis with a friend. The two 18-year-olds peered curiously through a metal fence at a very large estate. As they were doing so, the owner pulled into the driveway and instead of opening the gate and driving past, he rolled down his window and leaned out. Elvis Presley waved and said "Hi girls!" My mother and her friend screamed and ran the opposite direction. "Why did you run?" is the question that they've been asked thousands of times over the years. The answer is always the same. "We thought we were in trouble for peeking through his fence."


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
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Seldom & Never
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