Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If you haven't been paying attention to the riots in Tunisia or Egypt, or to the President's State of the Union address, or to Gabriel Giffords, you may have noticed that an American icon, Jack Lalane, is gone.

According to Richard Goldstein of the New York Times Mr. Lalane did some pretty incredible things in his wonderfully long life time of 96 years. Did you know that when he was 60 he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf? That is a distance of a little over a mile. "Not a big deal," you might be thinking, but he was handcuffed and shackled! "Okay, a little bit of a big deal, but come on, not the 'be all-end all' of big deals," you might be thinking now. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that he was also towing a 1,000 pound boat.

When he was 70 he did something only slightly more impressive. He swam the mile and a half through Long Beach Harbor, again shackled and handcuffed (which begs the question, how exactly does one swim handcuffed and shackled), this time towing 70 boats along with 70 people.

These examples only highlight his accomplishments later in life. Mr. Lalane accomplished a good many things early on. Let's take a look. There is the fact that he was able to host a successful fitness television show while wearing the most ridiculous jump suit ever seen on a man. There was his juice machine. He convinced scores of people to forgo chewing forever. That's impressive. But maybe his most impressive feat of all was one that was least known.

Jack Lalane managed to get his wife to not only take, but more importantly keep, his last name. Ms. Elaine Lalane, to you, I send my deepest sympathies.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's been a long time, baby!

Wow, It has been a long 1 1/2 years since I have been here. So much has happened. Cassie is going to The National Guard next month, Ariel graduates from high school in just a few short months, Michael is a sophomore, Jacob is in 8th grade, Matthew is now in Middle School (ooooh!) and Hannah is in kindergarten. Oh, and I am in school too now. Je suis etudiante de francais. I think that's how you say it, anyway. I am learning French- for all of you anglophiles.

I'll be back. I promise it won't take me a year and a half this time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My oldest daughter went to Europe for a week a couple of months ago. She loved Amsterdam and hated Paris. In fact she even created a chart to describe the differences between the two cities.

Paris vs. Amsterdam
Long distances vs. short
Rude people vs. helpful
Dirty town vs. everyone recycles and bicycles
Hates English vs. everyone speaks English
Very busy town vs. Pretty much like our town busy

So you see, Amsterdam is much better than Paris.

It reminded me of an article I read about a year or so ago. The columnist was explaining that Parisians are not rude, they are different, and we perceive the difference as rudeness. She went on to explain that first- Paris is a big city and like most large cities, the people tend to have less patience so when a tourist comes along looking for directions they have already been dealing with this all day and don't have any patience on reserve. She also said that Europeans in general and the French specifically, have a greater sense of privacy. They don't assume that just because you are standing in line beside one another at the grocery store you automatically become friends. This brings me to the reason I am writing today. I have been heard more than once saying that anyone who has the misfortune of standing in line next to me has to be my friend for the next few minutes. I can not imagine how arduous an eight hour flight would be if my seat mates didn't want to talk. Wow! Talk about torture!
There were two men standing in line in front of me at Barnes and Noble. They were sort of giggling and they kept looking at me. I was pretty confident they weren't laughing at me, but were more concerned that I may have overheard their little tete-a-tete. I hadn't, but while listening to them carrying on like twelve year old girls my eyes fell upon a CD by some woman (I honestly can not remember who) but she looked so much like Michael Jackson that I was taken aback. So I grabbed the CD and said to the men, "quick, who does this look like?" and sort of flashed the CD at them and then turned it away to quickly for them to see the name of the artist. They had no idea but it led right into a conversation.
I have stood in line when I saw something funny and wanted desperately to share it with anyone- anyone at all. I have a tendency to find so many things funny. I recently went to a Rays game at the Tropicana Stadium in St. Pete with a couple of girlfriends. They abandoned me for a while to visit a friend. While they were gone I became close friends with my neighbors. We did the wave together, we discussed the intelligence of staying at a Holiday Inn Express, we talked about all sorts of things- we were friends, buds, comrades. Ah those fifteen minutes of friendship we all shared!
So, if you see me standing in line at the grocery store, or sitting on a park bench, or having a coffee all by my lonesome at the coffee shop, please come join me and tell me a funny. I wont get all Parisian on you!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Maybe the Binky Fairy took it!

Hannah has a binky, passy, pacifier, lovey or whatever other stupid name you want to call it. She didn't start out with it. When she got dropped on her head when she was a month old the people in the hospital gave her one. She liked it, so.... why mess with a good thing. It has been thirty nine months since she was introduced to that stupid thing. More than once did we think she was done with it. She has lost it, gone four of five days without it just to find it again and start all over again. We convinced her that the Binky Fair would like it. If Hannah put her binky under her pillow the bink fairy would come during the night and leave a toy, much like her cousin the tooth fairy. Hannah was all for it. She happily placed it under her pillow before she went to sleep. In the morning she found a cute little toy that she played with all day, that is, until she wanted her binky. I tried to convince her that she wanted the toy more but for whatever reason she did not believe me. She cried, she wailed, she whimpered, I gave in. I told her that if she put her toy under the pillow the binky fairy would come and take the toy and leave the binky. She finally got her binky back and took a long, overdue nap.

That was a few weeks ago. We have tried since then to try it again. Nope, not happening. Everytime she loses it she tries blaming the binky fairy. "Maybe the binky fairy took it!" she says with big sad eyes. I remind her that the binky fairy NEVER takes a binky that a little girl wants to keep. She still isn't too sure. She has lost it again. This was her last one. She chews them so they all eventually break and she only had one left. I really do not know where it is, really. It has been three days so far.

My husband buzzed his head. He looks great. I've been trying for a few years now to get him to do it. I asked Hannah what happened to Daddy's hair. "Maybe the binky fairy took it!" was all she said.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Have you ever read a book that had so many characters that you had to write them down to keep them all straight? I know that sometimes in school students are required to, although I can not personally remember being assigned to do so. The first book I can recall doing this with was It by Steven King. That book had (if I recall correctly) about eight main characters and it flashed back and forth between the past and present. I remember being frustrated at my inability to keep them all straight, so I wrote them all down. By the Way, I thought it was a terrible book and at the very end of the book he wrote the day he started it and the day he ended it and it took him, I don't remember exactly, but about five years to write and I remember thinking what an absolute waste of five years of his life and a month of mine. I am a quick reader and the fact that the book took me a month to read is an indication of what I thought of it. It would be years before I would pick up another Steven King novel and then it was when he, temporarily, switched genres. It was Misery, which I loved by the way.
I recently read the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Again, eight main characters. It seemed as though the movie revealed more about their lives, although I don't remember more than two or three significant differences between the two. It just seems as though the movie was longer some how.
Now I am reading the Tale of Two Cities. Holy Smoke- talk about a lot of characters! I have index cards that I use to keep them all straight. Actually, I am not reading, but rather listening to it. I got for free from . I got it in MP3 format and uploaded it onto my IPOD. Because the copyright for this particular text expired you can get it for free from a number of places. The reader is great from this particular sight. They are currently trying to raise funds and will be releasing The Scarlet Letter as soon as their goal has been met. Currently is offering Count Dracula for free as a download. You may remember me mentioning simplyaudiobooks in a previous post.
I purchased a book titled the Compleat Cast of Characters in Literature published by SparkNotes, which contains over 8,000 entries. It helps, sort of, if you need a simple reminder of who's who. So, I want to know who else does this. If you keep a list of characters when you are reading let me know. I can't possibly be the only one.

I would like to note here that while a great deal of intellectual property is available on the internet for free, most of it is not available legally. Stealing is stealing, don't do it. If you can not afford to purchase it, you can not afford the penalty if you are caught, and if you have children you can not steal and tell your children not to steal. They are not stupid. They will know that you are being a hypocrite.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Volunteers needed........

I have a bit of an obsessive personality. Whenever I have a strong interest or curiosity about something I am rarely satisfied with a passing knowledge, rather I will learn and learn until I have a supernumerary knowledge of the subject, often boring my friends and family to tears in the process.

I have a large yard and big dogs who love to run around the yard. Our dogs come in and go out of the house as they please, because we leave the sliding door ajar for them while we are home. The neighbor behind us had two Chihuahuas who would be let out at the same time every day and one of our dogs would run to the fence separating the properties waiting patiently for the little ones to come out to play. They would run back and forth along the length of the fence happily barking at each other. Well, our dog got ticks. And she shared them. With us. Not just a tick here and there, but more like there were ticks everywhere! I was, like most normal people would be, completely freaked out. Totally grossed out. Absolutely panicked. Would my family, my precious babies get bitten and contract some horrible disease like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? I didn't know. I had to find out. I HAD TO LEARN EVERY SINGLE THING THERE WAS TO KNOW ABOUT THESE MINUSCULE ARACHNIDS!!!! So I did. First I found out that it is uncommon for ticks in Florida to carry deadly diseases. So, once I found that out they kind of lost their creepiness. I began to see them more like long term mosquitoes and less like tapeworms. I studied them and looked for them on the walls, in crevices, along the door frames and in corners. I discovered that they do not live on the floor. Sweeping and vacuuming will only get up the poor unfortunate tick that happened to fall on the floor or jump off of his/her host at the most inopportune time. I thought, maybe if I introduce some of their natural enemies I could eradicate them. They only have one- the tick bird. And I am not getting a tick bird or a cow for the tick bird to ride on while it eats the ticks. I thought, we can take a vacation and starve them to death. Did you know that ticks can go into hibernation for over a year if food is too scarce? Don't feel bad, I didn't either. I found out that even the so-called experts don't know that much.

WARNING: what you are about to read may be too much for the squeamish. I am going to give you a very brief introduction to the life cycle of the tick. A tick hatches, it has six legs. It finds a host and has what is called the first blood meal. It stops eating and grows two more legs, which is why it is an arachnid. Remember the whole, kingdom, phylum, class thing we learned in biology? Arachnid is the class, it is commonly and mistakenly used to refer to spiders because of the movie by the same name. A spider is simply a type of arachnid. Anyway, once it grows it seventh and eighth legs it finds a mate and another host, if it is a female it then latches on and fills up with blood and maturing eggs. Once she has had enough blood she leaves the host, finds a proper place to lay her eggs, lays them, and dies.

Because I am a bit odd I took one of these engorged,female, ticks and put her in a jar. (Do not make the mistake of calling them pregnant. Only mammals get pregnant). Everyday I would open the jar to get her some oxygen. I am not really sure how much she needed, but I thought, hey, a little wouldn't hurt. Then one day, almost magically, I looked in the jar to discover that she had laid her eggs and withered up and died. There were hundreds of teeny tiny little eggs. Maybe even smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. A week or two later imagine my dismay when I looked at my jar and discovered that someone had opened it up and tossed in some sand. (For those of you who have never visited the Sunshine State, sand is Florida dirt. It is in copious supply.) I had read at a University website that ticks are attracted to the carbon dioxide that mammals release and that is how they find their hosts. Well, I picked up my closed jar that was now full of sand, well not full, not even near full, more like a teaspoon, maybe. Anyway, I picked it up, stormed into the family room where all of my children were sitting and demanded to know WHO PUT SAND IN MY TICK JAR????? Then, I glanced at the jar and saw all of those teeny tiny pieces of sand moving toward my hand. Oh my goodness, they were not pieces of sand, my ticks hatched.(Insert "Awwwwwww" as though I just said my baby birds hatched.) They were moving toward the warmth that they felt through the glass. So much for relying on universities to get things right. I was so proud, in a warped sort of way, of my accomplishment. You would have thought I had been the one to hatch them. I could not understand why no one wanted to see them, or hear about them, or even ask me some random question about ticks so that I would have a chance to WOW them with my brilliance. No, I was destined to go it alone. To ride the road to knowledge all by myself. I felt like a misunderstood scientist. Now, I could truly empathize with Doctor Frankenstein.

I got an email today from Ariel's high school. It was asking for parents to volunteer and it came with a brief questionnaire asking questions such as what hours could you work, what type of work would you be interested in, clerical, classroom, tutoring, etc. My favorite question however? What is your expertise? Do you think..... Is it possible....Suredly I tell you, I am sure they could find a place for the tick lady.

Friday, October 3, 2008

And the winner is.........

A couple of days I got to be the judge for a "Who is the Biggest Idiot" contest. Truth be told it was all rather unofficial. I was in line at the grocery store and the manager had to be called to the register. It seems that the woman in front 0f me was making a purchase for a tax exempt organization and forgot to give the cashier the tax exempt certificate before the cashier completed the transaction. The manager kindly and respectfully informed the woman that once the transaction is completed it is out of his hands. Now, having worked for this particular grocery store years ago, I knew that this was not entirely true. I knew that he could refund the order and create a new one this time making it tax exempt. But, should he have to? Should he have to pay for the labor of his employee because this woman did not present the certificate in time? I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question. It is clearly an opinion and everyone's could be right. Here in Florida most food items are tax exempt anyway. Certain junk foods, such as soda, are not, as well as prepared foods. So the majority of the time the tax paid at the grocery store is very little. I have beside me a receipt from a recent trip to the store. It is for $172.88 of which $4.08 is tax. The tax was for the diapers, wipes, ice pops, and a ten dollar bottle of wine. Four bucks is not significant compared to 172 bucks.

So how much was her tax you say? Hold on to your seat. Twenty six cents. She refused to leave the store until this was remedied. The manager even implied that the 26 cents was a measly amount that she should just come up with on her own. Was he right? I don't know, again opinions. So what did they do?

They moved to another register, because by now the line at this one was getting long. He got a cashier to void all of her items, re-ring them, and this time apply the tax exemption saving her the wopping twenty six cents. I wonder how much this cost him. Let's say he pays the cashier seven dollars an hour. He paid $1.75 just for the fifteen minutes it took to do all of this, and depending on how many hours the cashier works and how much his paycheck is it could be as much as another twenty five cents for the stores portion of the social security and medicare and this does not include worker's compensation just to get that woman her 26 cents. So he made his point by paying more than two dollars to prevent giving her twenty six cents.

How about her. What did she lose? Who knows. I am sure she ate dinner later, got home later, stayed in traffic later, stood on her feet longer. But by golly, she still has her twenty six cents. She continued talking about it long after the manager decided to do this for her. She was clearly upset, she was going to get people to see it her way. So, add to the list above, she got a little more stress for the evening. I bet that went well with her dinner. Maybe she should have gotten the ten dollar bottle of wine and had a small glass. It would have cost her sixty five cents in tax, but by golly, she would probably have felt a whole lot better.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dude, I'm not Chinese!

Yesterday we got Chinese food delivered for dinner. Before the guy showed up I told my family that I was going to tell the delivery guy that I didn't think he was really Chinese. With one eyebrow up I would accuse him of being Mongolian instead. They all rolled their eyes at me.

The delivery guy was a very white kid with red hair. I raised one eyebrow and said, "I don't think you're really Chinese" I did not accuse him of being Mongolian.

He told me this story. When I first started this job I went to house where a young kid, around 8 or 9 answered the door. He looked at me suspiciously and said, "You don't look Japanese." His mother, who was in another room and couldn't see me yelled, "He's not Japanese, honey, he's Chinese" The little boy's eyes widened and he looked at me even more suspiciously than before so I gently told him, "Dude, I'm not Chinese"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome to America

Today I met a woman from Denmark. Whenever I meet a newcomer, not a visitor, from another country I like to ask them a series of questions. I interview them so to speak. I like to ask them culturally speaking what do they like most about the US and what do they miss most about the motherland.

It is funny the things people say. I met a couple from South Africa and spoke to the husband and wife separately. The husband said he misses absolutely nothing (spoken emphatically) about South Africa, the wife said she only misses friends and family, but they are all gone now so she doesn't dwell on it. In fact she was reluctant to even talk about it. One day I met two different English people who both said the same thing. They both like the weather. When I pointed out them that the weather isn't cultural they said that our culture is affected by the weather. We go to the beach because of the weather, we go the park, and sit outside because of the weather. They didn't know each other by the way and were not together when I spoke to them.

People from communist countries never miss anything. Not even the food. I guess that underscores how the smells and tastes of things evoke emotion and memory.

So, wondering what my new friend said? Well, first she hesitated. She wasn't thinking about the question, she was trying to figure out how to say it. A look a relief washed over her face as she seemed to find the right words and said, "Americans are friendly. In Denmark this conversation we are having would not be happening. If you had said hello to me I would have wondered how I know you." Then she sort of cringed and continued, "But, American friendships seem to be more shallow and superficial." I certainly couldn't disagree with her, I have never had a friendship in Denmark. Maybe that is why so many of us make the distinction between friends and acquaintances. Maybe Danes have fewer acquaintances. She also didn't like how few people RSVP and how many show up late to events. I told her that I think that is a Floridian thing, not an American thing.

I like to google customs and traditions for different countries. Some are so funny. I found one that said it is considered impolite to knock on the door of someone in the Netherlands and ask for a tour of their home. I have to wonder where that is not considered impolite. I found out that in the US it is rude to allow the door to shut behind you when there is a person standing there. Again, where is that not rude.

It is fun to look them up. Give it a try and tell me what funny things you have found.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

School Notes

Neurologists must love the first week of school. Every parent (alright, mother, I was trying to give the guys the benefit of the doubt) who has filled out twelve different sheets of paper all asking for the same information has experienced the seering pain that runs through the arm as you look at the pile of papers that are still left to fill out.

Do not despair! I have come up with a solution. A solution that is so simple it is going to knock your socks off! A solution that is so efficient you are going to wonder how to spend your hours of freed up time. A solution that is so fabulous you are going to think it just might bring world peace. Okay, maybe that last one was a little far fetched.

Labels. That is right. You heard me, labels. I made sheets of address labels that have my name, address, phone numbers, and email address and did the same for my husband and now, instead of filling out twelve different sheets of paper times six, I just place a label in the appropriate places. I now have more time to do the dishes, the laundry, bathe people, and cook dinner. You can imagine how thrilled I must be. All kidding aside, it really has saved me quite a bit of time and my wrist no longer hurts so know I can spend more time doing this.

I know that some schools have sheets of fill-in-the-blank style notes for their students. I think this is a great idea and I made some up a few years ago for my own family. They have check boxes for each child's name, check boxes with a list of potential reasons that I would be contacting the school and my name and phone number listed with a blank spot for my signature. It too has saved me a lot of time. It looks similar to this.




___was late today due to

___was absent on ________ due to
___ will be picked up at _____ for
___will be going home with
___I would like a conference/phone call please

Thank you

Mrs. Diana (phone number)

If you are interested in getting it in Word I will send it to you and then you can just make the appropriate changes. Le me know, I will be happy to send it to you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Less Is (usually) Best

Do you, like me, have the occasional mountain of laundry? I have noticed that there seems to be two responses to laundry. Have enough clothes so that you can always find something for everyone to wear (the common approach), or have so few clothes that you absolutely must do the laundry regularly (the smart approach). Because of the size of my family I sometimes can not get around the mountain. And unlike Mohammed, I have to actually go to it.

A number of years ago I used the common approach. It actually started when my oldest was a little baby. My husband had a stepsister (whom he'd never met) who had a baby about a year before ours. That little girl had more clothes than Bette Midler. So, her grandmother would send us boxes and boxes of beautiful clothes. We were poor and greatful for those clothes. I saved all of it. When our second was born she got all of those beautiful clothes, plus some of her own. Then the boys started coming and all of these clothes just kept piling up and piling up.

It hit me one day that even if we could find all of their clothes and had enough closet space for all of it, they still couldn't wear it all. That was when I started donating it and throwing it away. I figured out how much clothes they each needed. It was (and still is) something like this. Four pairs of shorts, two pairs of pants (we live in florida), three play dresses. Four to five pairs of underwear, two pairs of dress slacks or dresses, five casual shirts, two dress shirts and four to five pairs of socks. That is really all we need. Oh, and two pairs of pajamas. Truth be told, my boys rarely wear pj's which is fine with me. It means less laundry. Of course when it gets cold they need more pants and a sweater and jacket, but winter only lasts about two months here. If you have ten dresses, fifteen t-shirts, ten dress shirts, five pairs of shoes and two pairs of sneakers, etc... that is insane. Get rid of those clothes! And please, don't waste the time of Goodwill and Salvation Army employees by sending them stained and torn clothing. No one wants to buy that junk. Throw it away!

As my children have gotten older and some of them have stopped growing, this is the habit I have encouraged. All of the fully grown people in my home turn their hangers around the week of their birthdays. Next year, any hangers that are still backwards have clothes on them that we haven't worn in a year. If you do this enough and teach it to your children it will become so much easier to keep their closets current. I have one child who loves clothes. With him I have to be a little more creative. With Jacob, before I will take him shopping he has to get rid of as many shirts or shorts (or whatever it is that he is asking for) as he hopes to buy at the store. Jacob gets more hand-me-downs than anyone else and I have to really stay on top of his closet.

Give the whole "turn the hangers around" thing a try and reduce the little people's wardrobe. If you try this let me know how it turns out for you. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Upside-Down Show

Have you ever had the good fortune of watching the Upside Down Show on Noggin? It stars Shane Dundas and David Colllins and it is out of Australia. I love it. I think Hannah enjoys it a little too. It is so funny, in a silly sort of way. They teach a lot of prepositional phrase type stuff- under, over, in, out, on top of, you get the picture. But their real focus is on encouraging the use of imagination. So much of the show is simply these two guys pretending stuff. For example in one episode one of the guys is pretending to play ping pong with his pretend pet. He makes the noises and hand motions as if he is really playing, but even a young child would know that he is pretending. The use of imagination is heavily encouraged. The really great thing is that these guys, who act like two grown men with severe ADHD, are really FUNNY. Kind of like Robin Williams type funny in Mork and Mindy. (Oh my Gosh, did I just date myself?). (Here is an FYI, my favorite movie is PeeWee's Big Adventure, so I like silly things).

Give the show a try. Go with an open mind and you may just enjoy yourself watching it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tax Collector's Office, Here I come again and again and again!

Our business owns quite a few vehicles and some of the tags expire in June and some in December. Our personal vehicle tags expire in August. On Wednesday August 27th I went to the tax collector's office to renew my personal vehicle that my daughter drives. While I was there I asked if any of my business vehicles had expired. The friendly clerk looked through all of the tags and assured me that all of the vehicle tags that expire in June had been renewed. The very next day August 29th I was in one the of company vehicles and I parked downtown for a couple of hours. When I returned I was quite dismayed to discover that there was a ticket on my windshield. Fortunately for me it was only a warning ticket, but it said that I had an old/expired plate. So back to the tax collector's office I went. A different clerk took the ticket and told me that that particular plate had been replaced and that we probably put it on the wrong truck. So, I immediately went to the shop and sure enough, there the tag was on the wrong vehicle. My husband put it on my truck and I told him that I would go back to the tax collector's office the next day. So the next day, the 30th I went back and a different clerk helped me. I asked her if I could just go ahead and renew it or if it was too soon. The vehicle that was now missing the plate expires in December. She said it was too soon. It would cost me $20 to replace the tag, but then she said if I waited until next month (September) I could renew it. Well, if you have been paying attention to the dates you might have realized that the next business day would be just a few days later, September 2. The first is Labor Day. So, four business days in a row I paid a visit to the tax collector's office.

When I got the plate off of the truck I forgot to take the registration. I asked Bob to grab the registration for me. The next day I called him and asked him if he had grabbed it for me and he said, "no, why did you get pulled over?" I am happy to say that NO I did not get pulled over. So far I have a perfect driving record. I did get one non-moving violation once for having a right rear light out. I was making a right turn and used my hand to signal. There was a cop behind me who pulled me over for not signaling and I said, "I did signal. I used my hand." So he gave me a seven dollar ticket for my light being out. So fast forward to about two days after I asked him to bring the registration. I am on my way some where with two of my boys and sure enough, I am rear ended! Guess what? I DON'T HAVE MY REGISTRATION!!! Well, I didn't get a ticket, but, you guessed it. I have to go back to the tax collector's office to get a copy of my registration.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My life is bigger, but sometimes the pain is too...

Today is one of my son's birthdays. He turns twelve. He was born the day after my brother's birthday. The one who is dead.

Jaime died from a drug overdose. I miss him everyday, but I am not sad everyday. I was not sad yesterday on his birthday, but the day before I was and spent the whole day trying not to cry, except for when I did cry.

I spoke at my father's funeral in March. The only thing I really remember saying is that I would often call my father to talk about Jaime and I remember gritting my teeth and saying something like, "and he would say, 'why are you so angry?' " as I looked up at the ceiling and closed my eyes.

Jaime called me, drunk. I told him he was an idiot, or something along those lines. Two days later I called him to tell him that Hotel California was on the radio. When we were little he locked me in my room and wouldn't let me out until I memorized the whole first side of the album by the same name. From that day on I would occasionally call him when I heard any of those songs. He didn't answer so I left a silly message on his machine. He was probably already dead when I left that message.

My brother Vinnie had a visitor at his shop. A friend of his. He came to offer his condolences. Vinnie had no idea what this guy was talking about so the guy just came out and said, "Jaime is dead."

Vinnie called his wife who called all over the place trying to find out if Jaime was dead. He died in a different county and she did not know that so it took a little while to find out for sure.

Vinnie and his wife went to my father's house to tell him. My mother had just moved and no one had her new address. She lives an hour away. We couldn't call her and tell her we were visiting, we had to tell her over the phone. Have you ever heard the wind howl? That is the sound of a mother mourning her child. I believe it is the collective cries of all of the mothers who have buried their children since Eve herself.

There was never an official notification. No police officer ever knocked on our door. That only happens on tv.

I called the funeral home and set up an appointment for the family to go and see him. We needed to know for sure. It was kind of funny, because no one ever said that. It was just something that we felt. Vinnie didn't go and my stepmother waited in the waiting room. My mother had had surgery on her feet shortly before this so she was in a wheelchair. My stepfather wheeled her up to the coffin and my father walked up there beside her. We all waited respectfully until they walked away. When I walked up I was overcome with anger and I started yelling at Jaime. Then I, literally, ran out of there. My husband followed me and held me outside. Whenever I drive past that funeral home I imagine myself running outside and my husband holding me and I wonder if anyone saw me that day and what they thought if they did see me. My mother cut a lock of Jaime's hair and we went back to my house.

The memorial service was held at the Salvation Army church. It was standing room only. The foyer was so packed with people that they were shoved up against the side lights. I spoke. Have you seen that little movie that has been traveling the Internet called the dash? I haven't seen it, but it is about the dash between the dates on a tombstone. The dash is what really matters, the stuff that happens between the day we are born and the day we die. I said that at his funeral long before someone made it a movie. I told these people, the ones he tried to stay sober with through AA, and the ones that he spent so much time with at the Salvation Army shelter, I told them that I knew a different Jaime then they did. Jaime never called me when he was sober. He didn't spend time with his family unless he was drunk. We were not a drinking family. He was not avoiding temptation, he was avoiding us. I told those people, as I looked into the faces of my children and nephews, that they should make sure that their nieces and nephews don't get to know them at their funerals. I was told later that a lot of them called their families after the service. I wonder if that is true.

The pastor who spoke said that the pain will not get smaller, but our lives will get bigger and it will make the pain seem smaller. I didn't agree, my father did. As far as I am concerned, five years later, the jury is still out.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Our vacation 2008 Part 6

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We went back to the mall today. We walked around for a while and Bob got a remote control helicopter. Matthew had gotten one the first time we to the mall, but I guess Bob wanted one too. Michael got something that goes in his sneaker and keeps track of the distance and speed that he runs. Jacob wanted one too, but we wouldn’t let him spend his money on it. We had some lunch and then headed home.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Our last day here. We decided to go to Baltimore for a little while. Rabbi Mishkin suggested that we go to Inner Harbor. We got a late start and arrived there around noon. I stopped into the visitor’s center and got some info. We went into some type of indoor shopping center, not really a mall though. We ate and the portions were HUGE and it wasn’t even that good. We were hoping to find a kosher restaurant, but we were too hungry to hunt for one.
We did some shopping. Bob and the kids went into ESPN zone and I went into a Barnes and Noble. One by one, each child arrived in the bookstore. I knew that one day my influence would show itself. I bought a guestbook for the house we were staying in. They did not have one.
Then we walked around the corner and we all sat down for a little while. We had done quite a bit of walking. Hannah took great delight at chasing the birds. She literally shouted with glee as she ran them out of town. We stopped at a shoe store and got Hannah a pair of sneakers and a couple of pairs of socks. Then we headed back to the truck and drove home.
We had all of our left over food for dinner. We packed everything up that we could and packed up the trailer. We cleaned up as much as we could too.
We had a nice vacation and I am happy that we went. I would have preferred to spend more time in DC and Annapolis. I probably would have enjoyed Baltimore too. Too bad we didn’t get to spend more time there. I never did make it back to BBU.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our vacation 2008 Part 5

Wednesday July 30, 2008

Yesterday the family went to DC. Great huge place, too much to do in just one day. We took a train in. Okay, let me expand on that. We went to a ‘park and ride’ sort of place. We drove around the parking lot a few times and discovered that there were no spots, there were, however, a whole bunch of spots that were reserved for people with permits between 2 AM and 10 AM. It was about 9:30 and we saw a woman who parked in one of those spots and she explained that if we sat there until 10 we would not get a ticket. So at 9:45 most of us headed to the station to buy our all day passes while Bob and Ariel stayed at the truck. Like clock work, they headed up right after 10 and we got instructions from one of the metro people and boarded the train/subway. Fifteen minutes later we were in the heart of DC and only two blocks away from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. We spent a few hours in there. We saw an IMAX film on black holes. We ate at the giant McDonald’s, then we left.
We went to the Capitol Building and found out that if we go to this one tent, we can get free tickets for a tour of the capitol. More than half of the family did not want to go. It was decided that Cassie and I would go back the next day. As we approached the station there was a trumpet player blowing away and Jacob put a dollar in his hat.
We headed back to the parking lot on the packed subway and arrived about 15 minutes later. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and got enough for three dinners. I cooked roasted chicken for dinner and Mark, the owner of the house, stopped by to drop off some paintings. Bob took him on a short electrical tour of the home, pointing out all of the mistakes and potential disasters. Shortly after that, it was lights out.
We left the house at 9:30. Bob drove Cassie and me to the ‘kiss and ride’ place. Isn’t that a cute name? By ten we were in DC. We walked over to the capitol building and got our tickets. We were really hungry, okay I was, so we decided to grab a hotdog while we waited for our turn for the tour. We went into a botanical garden building hoping to use it as a short cut. Nope, just one way in and out. So, we went back to the capitol and waited patiently for our tour to begin.
There were a whole bunch of Asian people who appeared to speak very little, if any, English whose tour began 20 minutes after ours, but they stood in line with us anyway. At 10:20, our tour time, they marched right out with the rest of us, but were quickly sent back under the tent.
The tour was not nearly as exciting as it could have been, it was more a tour of the art than of the building itself. We went into the rotunda. That was pretty cool. There is a white dot in the center of the floor where people who have been or will be laid out for viewing are put. So far it has only been presidents, except for a police officer a couple of years ago. Rosa Parks will be put there after she dies. That is really cool. It has a fresco all around the top of the circular wall. It represents America’s history.
After that tour we went across the street to a building that a police officer told us we could find lunch. While we were walking to the cafeteria I saw some pretty neat names on the placards of the doors such as, Sub-committee to Middle East, and Committee of Finance. While we were in line I asked the woman in line behind me what building we were in and she said the building that my representatives’ offices are in and that we should go to the offices. So we did. As it turned out our particular reps were not in that building so we went to the basement and walked through underground tunnels to get to the correct building. We went up to Vern Buchanan’s office and signed the guest book. You never know when you will need an alibi. Then it was off the Library of Congress. We used the same underground tunnels, then to the Supreme Court. It was not in session. We were allowed to wander the halls a bit. We could not go on the circular staircase, but we were allowed to check it out.
From there we took a bus and a train to the White House. We could stand about a half a mile away and wave. I think W. and Laura saw me and waved back. Not really sure, though. It may have been a shadow.
From there we caught the train again and went two stops, got off and found a t-shirt vendor and got Ariel an FBI jacket she had requested. We got back on the train and headed back to the kiss and ride place where our family was lovingly waiting for us. It turns out that they spent the day at the house and bowling. I made chicken cutlets for dinner.
Jacob and Ariel caught some fireflies and put one in a jar. I wouldn’t let them keep it, though.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our vacation 2008 Part 4

Monday July 28, 2008

This morning I ate breakfast on the back porch. I was awakened, for the third day, with the bright morning sun shining in my face. The bed faces the east and there are no curtains on the windows. “GOOD MORNING!” the sun seems to shout at us. “Milk please, milk please,” came next from Hannah. I tried to buy myself a few more minutes in bed by insisting that she give me a hug and kiss before I get her some milk. It didn’t really work. She simply stood on the side of the bed waiting for me to lean over. I got up, made some coffee, and realized that the kitchen is set up all wrong. The sink and cups are in one corner of the kitchen and the coffee pot is in the other corner. So, you go to the coffee maker and get the pot, go to the sink to fill it, go back to the maker to fill the maker from the pot. Go to the cups, get a cup, go to the fridge for the creamer which is in another corner, then go over to the coffee maker again. Tomorrow morning I am moving the coffee maker to the same corner as the cups. I didn’t even mention the fact that the coffee pot spills its contents all over the place every time something is poured from it.
I walked around the yard a little. The grass was still wet and I hate getting my Birks wet. Bob tried sneaking up on me. He startled me, but I knew it was him so there was no heart stopping or anything that dramatic. Sorry Bob. The yard is gorgeous. The house sits on seven acres and the description claims that this is a tree farm, but outside of seeing lots of trees, there is no evidence that this is a farm.

Cassie and Michael took a trip up to Dunkin Donuts. Now that Cassie is an employee of Double D (as I like to call it) that has become a favorite place. The truck did not start when they tried to leave. It seems that my positive (whatever the heck that is) has a loose connection. The truck did this to me a few weeks ago at Southgate Mall. It wouldn’t start or turn over or anything. Bob came to the rescue, again. Good thing I had the truck tuned up and all that good stuff before we left. Thanks 21st Century Auto. In their defense, tightening up the connections on the battery is not usually part of a tune up. We are heading out to do some shopping today. Target, here we come!

We never got to Target. We went to the mall instead. We all split up and it went like this- Cassie and Ariel in one group, Michael and Jacob and the second group, and Matthew, Hannah, Bob, and me. Bob took the little ones into an Under Armor store and I went to Starbucks. It took a really long time to get our coffees and when I finally got them I made my way all the way back to the UA store and they were gone. I called Bob and he said he was at Sbarro’s. I walked to the other end of the mall and got to the food court, walked over to Sbarro’s. No Bob. I called him, no answer. I called him again, again no answer. He finally called me back and said that he was at still at Sbarro’s. That was when we realized that there was more than one Sbarro’s at this gigantic mall. Everyone purchased a little bit and about four hours later we headed back to the house.

Tonight the kids actually cared a little about the fireflies. Ariel and Jacob tried to catch one, but they had nothing to put it in.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our vacation 2008 Part 3

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We headed into Annapolis today. I loved it. I hope to go back. It is the capital of Maryland and it has the state building which has a fascinating history. In Annapolis is also BBU, Belly Button University, commonly referred to as the Naval Academy. We did not go there, but I hope that we will. They give free tours as long as everyone who is over 16 has a picture ID. There are plenty of row houses and old shops and I could probably spend an entire week there for a vacation.

On our way into town we stopped at Home Depot. Hannah’s car seat is wobbly and sliding all over the seat so we got a piece of wood to put under it. We are hoping it will stabilize it. A woman there gave us all sorts of suggestions for things to do in town. It took us another ten minutes from there to get to the water. We found a pretty good parking space. Parking spaces are not easy to come by.

Once we got parked we looked around for a little while letting the children shop. The sky started to get dark while we ate at Subway for lunch. It started drizzling while we were in there and then storming shortly after we walked out. Oh my Goodness, what a storm! A huge bolt of lightning temporary shut off all of the lights on the street we were on, it scared the day lights out of me. I had asked a shopkeeper what we should expect from the dark sky and she said that it should rain for a short time and then quickly blow over. Some of the kids wanted to go back to the house so Bob grabbed the keys and an umbrella and ran to the truck. On his way back to us he had to drive all over the place. There are a lot of one way streets. By the time he finally reached us, the rain was almost over! He and Jake took a short drive while the rest of us continued with our shopping and sight seeing. We stopped at a visitor center and got a book with maps and stuff. We met back up and let the kids do some shopping. We got Joe a really cool thank you gift. He is taking care of the house and dogs for us. It is a metal sculpture of a building and it says, “Joe’s Sports Bar.” A perfect gift, if I may say so myself. Bob picked it out.

We left Annapolis around 6:30 and went to an overrated, over priced seafood restaurant. It was PACKED. There was a Boy Scout troop there that we had seen in around town. There were probably 40 or so of them. We got home around 8:00 and saw fireflies. I have not seen them in probably 25 years. I could not believe the lack of interest my kids had in them. I was disappointed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Our vacation 2008 Part 2

Saturday July 26, 2008
I guess the boy’s room was okay except for the continually running toilet. The girl’s room however was NOT! Because I always wear my shoes my feet never touched the floor before going to bed. I sat on the bed and slipped my feet out of my Birkenstocks and under the covers. Cassie and Ariel slept in one bed and because Ariel sleeps like a banshee she woke Cassie up constantly. I slept with Hannah. Everything was fine until I heard something fall around five in the morning. I opened my eyes and saw that Hannah’s hand was above her head at the top of the bed and her binkie was no where to be found. I knew that meant the she dropped it behind the bed. I stepped off of the bed to see it I could find it and discovered that the floor was wet! Well, just before we went to bed Ariel told me that she could not get the toilet to flush. Ugh! All I could imagine was that the toilet had backed up recently and had flooded the floor. I was completely grossed out and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I tried, but I kept thinking that Hannah would wake up and want her binkie and then I would have to step on that disgusting floor again trying desperately to find it in the dark and that was before I thought about her pacifier sitting on the floor.

At six o’clock I finally got up and took a shower. Bob knocked on the door shortly after I got out of the shower. All of the boys were up and dressed. All of the girls were still sleeping. I made everyone get up and get ready, being sure to tell them to wash their feet in the tub and put their shoes on before stepping out onto the carpet. I found Hannah’s binkie resting on one of the bars of the headboard, so it did not have to be thrown out.

We went across the street to Shoney’s for breakfast. The waitress accidentally delivered Jacob some bacon so Michael spent the rest of the meal teasing me, pretending that he was eating bacon. Ha ha, Michael.

We finished breakfast and were on our way. We stopped at a rest stop in Virginia and one of the guides suggested a particular route and gave us a map that showed all the to Harwood. Then we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch.

We got to Maryland around 6:30 and had another hour to Harwood. The GPS did not bring us to the right house. Bob pulled up to the house and I said, “This is the wrong address.” It is difficult sometimes to recognize a house from a photo. We drove down the street looking for the address but the house numbers were getting higher and higher. We turned around in the cul-de-sac and went back. There was a hidden driveway and there was the house.

Earlier in the trip I had called the owner to tell him that we were almost there and he had opened up the house and turned a couple of lights on for us. As soon as Bob pulled into the driveway and shut the truck off the kids immediately ran up to the door yelling that the house was beautiful. What a relief for me. It is not easy finding and renting a vacation home on-line that will please the family. Is it big enough, too big, does it have decent furnishings, is it too fancy for kids, is there enough to do in the area? These are just a few of the questions I have to ask myself while looking at the pictures and reading the description. The owner did say that it was 12 miles from Annapolis, but I misread it and thought it was in Annapolis. Those are twelve long miles on curvy, hilly roads and there is nothing in the immediate area. That was evident as we were approaching the house. I was anticipating moans and groans, so when instead I heard sounds of delight, I was relieved. It is beautiful. The home was built in the 1920’s. The owner, Mark, told me that it had burned down and was rebuilt using some of the original bricks that had been brought over on ship from England in the 1700’s. So it was unclear to me if the house was rebuilt in the 20’s or originally built in the 20’s. I think it was rebuilt. The furnishings are a little too traditional for my tastes, but I can appreciate the beauty of them. There is a library with a piano that Michael enjoys playing. Ariel’s room is next that. Between her room and small sitting room with a fireplace is the downstairs bathroom. Of course, seeing as how it is summer, we will not be using the fireplace. In the sitting room is the door to the basement. When we were driving through the neighborhood to the house we were talking about basements and Matthew really, really, really wanted to stay in a house with one. When we arrived it was not obvious that the house had one. He started crying from his disappointment. Imagine how excited he was when he discovered that there was one. He and Bob quickly descended into the darkness and just as quickly reemerged. Then we took the key and told Matthew that he was not allowed to go back down. He was happy, he had finally been in a basement. Beside the sitting room is the formal dining room and then the kitchen with a small hallway, and then finally a breakfast room with a small table that probably seats three. It has a bench instead of chairs. Then there is the upstairs. Our bedroom is a long room that has the bed on one end facing the wall, it has a bed wall behind it. That is what Bob called it. I have never seen one before, but he has. Behind the bed wall is a sitting area with a desk and a small couch, past that is a lounge chair that is opposite the large open bathroom that has a water closet. Past our bedroom is the upstairs bathroom, then the laundry area, one bedroom that is Cassie’s room, and then the boys room that, like our room, has a small sitting area with a daybed and a television. Their room has three beds and a desk.

After unloading the truck and trailer, bob unhitched the trailer and we headed to the nearest grocery store. It was in an unsavory neighborhood and I was a little nervous until I saw a cop in the store, working. We got KFC for dinner and then settled in for the night.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our vacation 2008 Part 1

Friday July 25, 2008

Today we were supposed to leave early for our vacation. Michael’s team, the Lakewood Legends, is in an IBC tournament in Clearwater and the last day is supposed to be today. So far they are undefeated. Yesterday it rained so there has been some rescheduling and now the last day of the tournament will be tomorrow. Unfortunately for the team they lost both of today’s games and are out of the tournament so we headed out of Clearwater around 4:30. We have the trailer with us, which is great so we could fill it up with all sorts of stuff for our trip without running out of room.
We had decided earlier in the week that the kids would rotate their seating arrangement clockwise at every stop. It sort of worked out okay. Michael and Jacob managed to get next to each other and that always creates lots of drama. We stopped at McDonald’s in Waldo, Florida for dinner. Now we know the answer to the question, “Where’s Waldo?” Jacob’s legs were hurting and he was over tired and everyone was getting a little chilly because it had been raining most of the trip so we were a little damp. When we opened the trailer to get out some jackets we discovered that the trailer had been collecting water from the rain and much of the stuff inside was wet or damp including Jacob’s jacket. He was using a red duffle bag for his clothes so now his jacket has red dye all over it. That combined with his legs and tiredness did not make for an enjoyable meal. I gave him some Tylenol for the legs before he ate. When we left Micky D’s I sat in the back between Mike and Jake and Jake fell asleep with his head on my lap. We drove until we got into Georgia and stopped at an exit that showed about six hotels. First we went to La Quinta, where we were told that there was no room at the inn. Then we went to Hampton Inn where we were told there was no room at the inn. Then we finally stopped at Days Inn. A manger would have been better.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -Emma Lazarus (The New Colossus)
I have fabulous news. My friend Dee Dee, the one I told you about in an earlier post, passed her exam to become a citizen of the United States of America. It was her second attempt.

She went to Tampa, Florida and arrived approximately 30 minutes early. A security person opened the door and checked her paper work, allowed DeeDee and her husband, Earl, to enter and told them to have a seat. Two and a half hours later Earl went to a security person and asked him if it is normal to be sitting that long. What Earl did not mention is that she had a urinary tract infection and was afraid to go to the bathroom for fear that she would not be there when she was called. The security person asked if they had turned in the paperwork and Earl responded that they were told to have a seat, not to turn in paperwork. The paperwork was immediately turned in after that brief conversation and she was quickly called. The examiner, whose name I do not know, told DeeDee that because of her, she (the examiner) would miss lunch. My friend is already a nervous Nelly, this only made it worse. The examiner was short with DeeDee and rude. She spoke in an accusatory tone and scared the crap out of my friend. DeeDee failed the test. She knew all of the answers and when she came to my home the next day I ran out to meet her and hear the great news and she cried when she saw my face. We cried together. It took a tremendous amount of courage for her to apply for citizenship. For some people this would be no big deal, not for DeeDee. She is unpretentious, honest, loyal, and hardworking, all of the qualities that we should desire in immigrants. She is also insecure and despite studying EVERY single day for more than half a year, she was afraid of how she would do.

Her second attempt was far different. She arrived early again and was allowed to enter with her husband. The paperwork was turned in right away and she was hardly sitting when her name was called. The examiner introduced himself and led her to his office and when he saw her shaking, asked her repeatedly to calm down, assuring her that everything would be fine and that she had nothing to be nervous about. He first made sure that all of her documentation was in place and correct. Then he told her that he would ask her six questions and reminded her that she had nothing to be afraid of because she knew the answers to them all. She did not tell me all of the questions she had been asked, but the first one was, "Who is John G Roberts?" I mention this to you in case you thought he was going to ask what the colors are in our flag or who was the first president or something equally easy. After answering the final question correctly he congratulated her. What a different experience for her the second time around. I had been at a meeting with my phone ringer off. As soon as I left the meeting I checked my phone (my kids were all home and they usually call me twenty times), there was a call from her. I quickly returned her call and she shared the wonderful news with me. I saw her the next day and that time we shared tears of joy. She may be sworn in as early as next week, but at the latest, next month. Congratulations, DeeDee.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Excel at Excel

This is not a paid advertisement.

I am a bookkeeper, a keeper of the books my daughter likes to say. I have Quickbooks and Excel, but I really only use Quickbooks. It is mostly all I have ever needed, but when I saw a class being offered for Microsoft Excel by Fred Pryor Seminars I thought I would give it a try. I wondered if the reason I wasn't using Excel more was because I just didn't know much about it.

I took the class that was being taught by a man named Jaime Chailland. Both the class and the instructor were great. I learned so much. I have slightly increased my usage of the program, but considerably increased my understanding of it. I was able to "clean up" a bit what I had already been using it for and make the worksheets much more user friendly and seeing as how I am the user, that made it all the better.

I highly recommend the class. Now, one of my classmates told me that she had taken many similar classes (she did not mention any names of instructors or companies) and told me that she was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining our instructor was, that many of them are dry and boring, so kudos to Jaime.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Taking Everything by Storms and Swarms

A few years ago I saw a really neat t-shirt. Well, it wasn't really that neat, but I misread it and put a really neat twist on it. I thought the shirt said "Etymology, taking the word by storm". Fancying myself an amateur etymologist I found the shirt to be too cool. When I started to comment on it to the wearer, I got a better look at it and realized that it said, "Entomology, taking the world by swarm". Fancying myself an amateur entomologist as well, I thought this was pretty clever too. But, what I thought was most clever, was that I was able to come up with the first idea, all on my own. I do not know now, how I misread it. I am sure that there were pictures of insects on it, but I did none-the-less.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New York Times

I live in Florida, but the New York Times is my homepage. That sounds funny- it sounds like the New York Times is my homeboy. Anyway, sorry for the digression, I like to start my day with some news. First I had it at Yahoo. I had Yahoo as my homepage practically from the first day that I had Internet. Then, dissatisfied with the way the news was presented (the format, not the content) I switched to Comcast, which was even worse. So, I decided to try the NYT. So far, so good. If at some time I decide I need a switch I will go to USA Today next. The reason I am telling you all of this is because you may not know that the NYT has articles on the web that you can access going as far back as 1851! I was looking for an article that I read a few months ago and when I tried their search I got articles going all the way back to 1911. I was able to easily restrict my search to articles written in the last year. This is really cool. Check it out. This is especially a great resource for students who want to be able to access information for papers and don't want to rely strictly on books or the (notoriously unreliable) Internet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why won't my rabbit bark?

I have a rabbit named Fido. I like the rabbit well enough, the problem is that he won't do some of the things I want him to do. I had him checked out and there is nothing wrong with him, for example, we know that he does not have ADD or Tourette's, or anything like that. Yet, no matter how hard I try I can not get that rabbit to behave.

The other night I had to go outside to get something out of my car. I wanted the rabbit to come with me in case there was- I don't know- an intruder or large animal or something. I wanted the rabbit to protect me and it wouldn't! Then there was the time that I wanted to go jogging with him and he wouldn't run along side of me. Fido wanted (get this) to HOP!! I was outraged. I am a little embarrassed to be admitting this to the world. Fido never barks at the mailman or smells new visitors to see if they are trustworthy. He doesn't get excited and run around in circles wagging his cotton ball tail when I get home. I am seriously wondering if there is something wrong with my rabbit.

I knew a couple who had two boys and they had a birthday party for one of them. They had a house full of little boys who were acting like- little boys! The father was clearly perturbed. The boys were not being destructive, they were not running around the house screaming, they were simply being little boys, yet the father wanted the boys to behave like 30 year old women. That idea, that is far more prevalent than it should be, is as ridiculous as a person expecting their rabbit to behave like a dog. I am not talking about things like ADHD, which I very much believe is a real problem, not a made up diagnosis for parents with normal boys and too little patience. I am talking about boys wanting to run around, wanting to climb (sometimes on top of things, sometimes under things). Little boys who would rather jump on a trampoline than read a book. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact it is quite normal. So next time you see a little boy hopping around on one foot in church, or wanting to climb under the seat in the movie theater and you find yourself getting annoyed, imagine a bunny running along side the fence barking at a bicyclist and remember how ridiculous you are being.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Vacation from H-E Double Hockey Sticks

It was almost a year ago that my family went to Arizona. I fondly blogged about our experience there and eluded to another vacation that we had had once. We were going to Disney World with our three children. It was December 1994, the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We had an infant, a two year old, and a five year old. They were so cute and life was wonderful. We planned a wonderful trip to Disney World- a place where all things are wonderful.

I had, at the time, a 1973 Chevy Chevelle Malibu. That car could kick butt. It could leap tall buildings, it was impervious to bullets, it could have created world peace if only it had been given enough time. BUT, it was old and needed a paint job, and yada yada yada. We bought it from (this is not a joke) an old lady who had to sell it because she was going into a nursing home. It really was a great car that we had to get rid of because we ran out of car seats. We got a minivan when I got pregnant with number 4.

The plan was that my brother, who is an auto body guy, would paint the car while we were away. DH reserved a car at a rental place. We headed out for the place and he assured me that he had a general idea of where this place is. We drove up the road for about five miles, then down the road for about five miles, then up the road for another five minutes when DH admitted that he did not know where he was going, so we pulled off onto the side of the road to a payphone (this was before most people had cell phones), got the phone book out, called the place, and got exact directions. Of course, we were no where near the right place. Twenty minutes later we pulled into the parking lot of a used car dealership! They lied. It really did say that it was a rental car place in the phone book. Sooooo, my darling husband went in and to get a car and while he waited he overheard a salesman on the phone with the Greyhound bus station getting a ticket so that he could go get a rental car that had broken down in some other city! DH hightailed it out of there, well actually, he used their phonebook and phone to call a reputable rental car dealership.

So, off to the airport we went where the rental place was located. We enter the airport grounds and pass the signs "For short term parking –left turn here", "For long term parking left turn here", those sort of signs. We pass a sign that says “Rental Car Drop Off- Left Turn Here”, we knew that the rental car pick up had to be next. NO, IT WASN’T!! There was none, pick up was the last turn before your butt gets kicked to the curb. Well really to the exit booth. We approached the exit booth and told the attendant what happened and she told us to go back in and just before we reach the exit booth make a right turn. “That is the rental car pick up area” she smiled at us. Hmmmmm. Here is where you raise one eyebrow.

We reenter and pass all of the signs, just as we approach the drop off area we slow down, anticipating the pick up area- guess what? There is no %@$ right turn! So, back to the exit booth we went. This time when we approached the rental car drop off we pulled in there! We are such rebels. The attendant came quickly. I am guessing that he didn’t think the 1973 Chevy Chevelle Malibu tank we were driving was a rental. We explained why we were there and he replied, “Well hurry because this is the drop off area”. Ugh!

I know what you are thinking right now. You are wondering how you can trust me to be telling this story accurately. After all, it was 1994. Well, let me assure you, first of all I keep a journal of our vacations, remember? And secondly, I never promised that I would tell you the exact way that things went down. So There!! All that matters is how I remember them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The letter we wrote to our local police department- with all of the identifying stuff removed.

June 2, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

On May 30th my daughter was one of the graduates at the High School graduation ceremony held at the local Arena at nine o’clock in the morning. As I am sure you are well aware, the crowd was quite large and there was considerable traffic. My family came in separate vehicles with my wife driving one vehicle. While she left with enough time, she poorly anticipated the traffic and did not get to the doors before nine, at which time the doors were locked. My wife, three of our children, one of whom is 2 ½, my nephew, and mother-in-law waited outside for the doors to open. Because she pulled up and let the older children out of the car while she went to park, the children were right at the doors when they reopened. My son, Michael who is 13, and nephew, Tyler who is 17, were allowed in and the doors were locked shortly after that for a second time. This time my wife, her mother, and our toddler were still left outside. Because we were not told that the doors would most likely be reopened my son was concerned that his mother would not get to see our daughter graduate so he and my nephew offered to trade places with my wife and mother-in-law. My wife had been holding the baby for almost a half hour and she instinctively handed her over to my son as they switched places at the door. When I approached and asked for the baby, Officer John would not allow her to come in because my wife handed her over to our son. I think it is important to note here that my wife had major surgery six weeks earlier and had been standing in the sun, as mentioned before, and had been holding the baby almost the entire time. When I asked the officer why the 2 ½ year old couldn’t come in, he said it was because my wife had handed her over to our son! The baby was screaming and kicking for her mother at that moment. If that had been the only lack of judgment your officer used that morning that alone would be enough for any normal person to be furious. I can not imagine what was going on in his mind, but there is nothing that can convince me that lack of compassion is standard police procedure! Fortunately, my mother-in-law had not traded places with my nephew yet so she was able to bring the child in.
Tyler and Michael waited patiently with the rest of the people hoping the doors would again be reopened. When they were, one hundred people were allowed in, including Michael and Tyler. When they passed Officer John, he literally grabbed them by the shirts and shoved them out the doors telling them that they traded places and could not reenter. When I asked him why, I was told that reentry was not allowed. We were not told ahead of time that reentry would not be allowed, but if we
had, Michael and Tyler still did the right thing. Michael stood outside of the Arena crying, not able to understand why he could not reenter the building. I am incensed that my son and nephew were treated this way. The only contact my son has ever had with a police officer has been with his School Resource Officer through DARE at his former Elementary School and this incident. My wife and I have raised our children to consider the police as good guys and treat them with respect. While that is not going to change, it is difficult to explain to him how it is that a “good guy” would treat him this way, especially considering that his “offense” was trading places with his mother, likewise, Tyler’s offense was trading places with his grandmother. Maybe we should be grateful that Officer John allowed me to hand the boys some money so that they could “hang out” at the Circle K during the ceremony. Hmmm, I can not be the only person who finds it disappointing that an officer would rather see two teens hanging out than allow them to reenter the building to observe a graduation ceremony. I must mention that at this point there was not even one single person left standing outside, but reentry still was not allowed!
The very least that I expect from this letter is an apology to Michael and Tyler for being treated so poorly, but what I really want is a change in policy that allows the use of common sense. In a world where children beat each other up and post the video on the internet, children who still trade places with their elders should be held up as examples, not treated like criminals. These were not two boys who wished to go off and do their own thing instead of being with their families. They wanted to be inside. This was a graduation ceremony, not a concert, a bar, a fair where there was an admittance fee- a free ceremony, open to the public. I hope that you are as outraged as me at this situation. If someone had grabbed the officer in the manner that he grabbed these teens, the outcome would have been much different. A little mutual respect goes a long way.

cc: Principal of the High School

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Father's Day

I bought my husband a summer membership at a local country club for Father's Day. It is really a family membership, but I would not have purchased it if it hadn't been for his love of golf. The winter is our busy season, so they have this incredible summer membership. Actually, they call it a summer memberhsip, but it is for half of the year, May 1-October 31. We will take him there for lunch on Father's Day and give him his membership stuff.

Oh, for those who read yesterday's post............. we did a five minute room rescue. It was our first one so far, there was only a little complaining!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Summer summer summer................ turns me upside down! Remember that song by the Cars? It really has nothing to do with the season, but its still a catchy song none-the-less.

Got any fun plans? We are planning on going to DC for a week. As far as our day to day plans, the two older boys will be going to baseball camp. The oldest girl will be working, the middle girl is hoping to babysit, and the youngest boy...........nada, zippo, zilch! I am thinking I will take this summer to teach the boys about the Flylady. For those of you outside of "The Know" she helps pathetic people like me who can not keep their houses clean. Just fifteen minutes at a time. So, that is what the boys will do. I will make minor adjustments to her system to make it more appropriate for young people. She does this 27 fling boogie where you grab a garbage bag and throw away 27 things, I hand them a bag and tell them each to put ten things instead. I will break their room into zones and have them work in the zone each week. At least that is my plan. I'll keep you informed of how it goes.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Big Changes

The end of this school year brought some significant changes for our family. Our oldest daughter graduated from high school. Yeah! Our second son completed elementary school and is off to middle school. That all by itself is not that significant, however, we were pretty darn close to alot of the people at that particular school and we will miss them. I know what you are thinking- you are thinking that son #3 is still there and daughter #3 will go there, but you are mistaken my dear friend. We are very fortunate to live where we do. Our county has school choice, meaning that you can apply for a school other than your districted school. Our districted elementary is far from great, so we applied for, and received a different school. Our #3 son is "gifted", (a term I abhor BTW)and goes to a school that has a full time gifted program, which is also outside of our district. As far as daughter #3 is concerned, we still have two more years before daughter #3 is old enough to go to elementary school and we have no idea what will happen between now and then.

Well, to say thanks, I threw a thank you party for the teachers at the elementary school who my children have had over the last four years, and some of the support staff who showed us particular kindness. Please take the time to properly thank you children's teachers. I know it means alot to them, and it shows your children that you think showing gratitude is important.