Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Person on Christmas Card List,

As 2009 draws to a close, we find ourselves reflecting upon the highlights of the year. And, since we’re spending the money on postage ANYWAY, we thought we’d take the opportunity to share with you, the people whose addresses we have, some important milestones our family has reached or fallen short of reaching.

As many of you know, Brett was crazy enough to uproot his whole family at the beginning of the year for a 5 month stay in rural Pennsylvania. Boy, was that a good time! It’s not every day that you have to shovel coal to keep the heat going or listen to someone tell you that you’re destined for Hell. Since coming back, Brett has busted his ass, taking any job available to provide for his family (and keep him out of the house away from his crying kids and bitching wife as long as possible). He is still not smoking, and for those of you counting, that’s 7 years now, although, he does currently have a $50 a week Nicorette habit. Maybe 2010 starts the Decade of the Patch??? Goooooo Brett!

Liz has had the pleasure of being a full-time stay at home mommy for a whopping 7 months now! After a brief adjustment period during which she realized any dreams she had should be shelved (perhaps permanently) she has settled in and found a real rhythm to her monotonous, repetitive days. She’s been fortunate enough to get to know nearly every associate at our local grocery store, and is no longer frightened by her feelings of rage. Her crowning achievement from 2009 was quitting biting her nails. Great. In 2010, she hopes to shower at least once every other day and blow dry her hair at least once a week.

Once back in Massachusetts, Will was ready to enjoy Spring and he knew that it sure as shit wasn’t going to happen on training wheels. So, with a big push from his dad, he was off and riding. And, after proclaiming he had “the heart of a warrior”, we decided it was time to get him into some true Kung-Fu shit. He now proudly rocks his ORANGE belt and he will fuck you up. He also completed swimming lessons at disgusting Centennial Beach, and we’re proud to say that he didn’t even get a little sick when they shut the beach down for high levels of bacteria during his sessions. In September, he started his Pre-K class, and has already passed his first head-lice check with flying colors.
Favorite Quotes from this Year: “Want to see how a dog pees?”, “You have hair in your nose. That’s weird.”, and “Is that a boy or a girl?” (During Michael Jackson’s funeral).

Reserved and well mannered for the first year of his life, Sam’s personality has really started to become much more clear since we’ve been back home. Obsessed with blocks and organizing his stuffed animals, he’s a fucking psychopath who will probably kill us all one day. A daredevil by nature, he is typically found hanging from light fixtures, jumping off tables, or, literally climbing the walls.

This summer, Ben underwent surgery to release his tongue tie, a birth defect typically found in babies whose mothers abuse cocaine. Our goal was to prevent any speech development issues. Goal reached; he is now talking up a storm, uttering such precious phrases like, “I do that.”, “One more.”, and “Get out.”. It did not, however, do anything to soften his cry which is best described as a screeching mountain lion. He loves tractors and fire engines.

After being ridiculed by an overweight teen mother in spandex while in a store parking lot, we decided it was time to take away the twins’ pacifiers. It went relatively smooth, although we are still dealing with daily naptime and nightly bedtime disturbances, which we have lovingly named The Teddy Bear Resistance. During these mini-revolts, each and every single stuffed animal, blanket, toy, and book is thrown into a huge pile on the floor, where they lay together in peaceful sleep resistance while Ben and Sam repeatedly jump out of their cribs. After many failed “Do It Yourself” experiments, we broke down and ordered crib tents, which are best described as expensive mesh jail cells for your little ones’ crib.

So, we’ve made it through 2009 the only way we could. By uttering that annoying phrase, “It could always be worse”. Of course. Here’s hoping that 2010 isn’t!

-The Jackson 5
Brett, Liz, Will, Sam, and Ben

This time I really did fall into a reality TV vortex.

I mean, have you seen Jersey Shore? SO, in the interest of getting back into the swing of things, and to help get some of you up to speed on what's been going on in our lives, I'm putting up my version of the Holiday Newsletter. I included this letter in nearly all the Christmas cards we sent out this year. And, I hope to hell the people I sent it to get it. If they don't...whatever.
I guess my main trepidation is that people might not realize how truly grateful I am for all that I do have.
I can count a loving and faithful husband, wonderful and healthy children, and a generous and supportive family as just a few of my many blessings. And, while at times it seems like our lives are pretty difficult at the moment, I know they could be a hell of a lot harder. I cannot take my kids to Disney World right now, but I can feed and clothe them, and buy them Christmas gifts. And, no, Brett and I didn't get to go on a second Honeymoon for our 10th anniversary this summer, but I got to stand beside my sister as she got married.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Show me "Sand The Floor"

Goodbye, white. Hello yellow belt.
On August 27, Will tested for and received his first colored belt from Sensei Dave. Brett and I were there, and then we celebrated with yellow cupcakes and yellow balloons. I am proud of Will for lots of different reasons every day. I am also a sucker for all things ceremonious. Even though it's a yellow belt, and he's 4, I was nearly unable to contain my pride that evening, and I must admit that I got a little teary when he received it.

Kanye West is...

..a total fucking douche bag. I mean, I'm not going to say that I didn't think someone else should've won that award, but, seriously, what a piece of shit. Him and his girlfriend. That kills me to say. Not really. Pains me is perhaps more appropriate. "Through the Wire" was genius", and he helped produce a lot of Jay-Z's best shit, but that was just god awful.
And, to add insult to injury, Beyonce comes out looking like a goddamn saint through all of this. Of course. Is there anything she can't do? Could she just please go and cure some diseases, stop the war, and eradicate mosquitoes now?
I love that Obama called him a jackass, and really, what's the big deal about that anyway? I like a president who watches sports, drinks a few beers, and calls people out every now and then. I like it that our president is an actual person who's in touch with pop culture in addition to politics. I like it that he has opinions and feelings and thoughts that aren't so carefully worded all the time. I LOVE it that his wife wore a dress from Target.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Raise a Glass!

Seriously, how good is Casal Garcia Vinho Verde? At $5.99 a bottle from Central Street market, with an ice cube in it, and served with something that includes at least a little bit of chourico. I love that wine.

Betty Crocker I'm not!

At the risk of sounding egotistical, I can decorate a mean cake. It started out with my sister and I decorating Will's first birthday cake, and has taken on a life of its' own since then. My good friend had the chance to take a cake decorating course, and was generous enough to pass on lots of her knowledge and pointers to me. I would say that I am relatively creative, and work pretty well with my hands; all things that are useful in cake decorating.

However, the yin to my decorating yang is the fact that I cannot bake worth a shit. No lie, my baking efforts fail at least half of the time. I love to cook, and think I do pretty well at that, but baked goods of all types elude me. I hate any type of baking from scratch. I am far too impatient and pay nowhere near enough as much attention to detail in order to churn success after success out of my kitchen. I think, too that it may have something to do with my disdain for math. I once fucked up a box of brownies. And by once, I mean once recently.

We are a big Pick Your Own family, and the blueberries this year have been INSANE! But, really, how many raw blueberries can one family eat? A few weeks ago, I baked a blueberry pie that was so great I decide to make another one the week after. The second pie's bottom crust was completely undercooked, inside the sugar was grainy and the top edges completely burnt.

But, hope springs eternal here in my kitchen, and I've got to do something with all of these friggin' blueberries. So, you can imagine my surprise when I produced this little gem late last night.

What you are looking at my friends is a slice of fresh blueberry coffee cake. A brand new recipe, made perfectly by me, of all people on the first try. I did not lose count of how many scoops of flour half way through. Nor did I miscalculate the stick of butter being a 1/2 cup, not 1/4 as I've learned OVER and OVER in the past.

One of my favorite times of the day is when I wake up and have my first cup of coffee. This cake made it even better this morning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Like Jon and Kate

I'm back with the new shit...

So, let me be the first to write what perhaps all of you may be thinking. Where the hell have I been? Seriously? Did I get sucked into a vortex of bad reality TV? Have I been vacationing on the Hamptons? No, no. Nothing nearly as exciting.

When you're a mom of 3 kids all under the age of 5, or really any adult, regardless of sex or offspring, there are only so many hours (or minutes or seconds or whatever time your life allows) you can dedicate to being online. I used to spend a large portion of my time on the "internets" with Perez Hilton and reading local obituaries. A bit macabre, I know.

Then, I joined Facebook. I would check in on my "friends" all the time, give quick, clever (in my mind) updates about what I was up to, and even direct people to my blog which I wasn't updating nearly as much as I should have been. At first, it was really fun, and it was actually great to reconnect with some people I hadn't seen or talked to in a while. And I actually forgot how much I liked some people and realized I missed them.

But, after a while, Facebook really started to bum me out. I started to feel like my life, somehow, wasn't quite as good as the lives of my former coworkers/ roommates/ classmates. Why? Why did the grass seem so much greener? Why did it appear that certain women seemed able to balance motherhood, a career, and marriage effortlessly; still finding time to be "hitting the gym" and going for "GNO" according to their status updates?

I don't work outside of my home. I don't go to the gym. And, Girls Night Out? I struggle to get any kind of NO, or, better yet, an HO. And, when and if I do, you best believe that I'm not snapping pictures the whole time.

And then it hit me. Everybody's lives look so great on Facebook because, largely, you create an ideal image of yourself. One that you would like to portray to the rest of the world. Trust me, I didn't see many Mobile Uploads entitled "No Shower Today" or "Losing my Temper at Hannaford". Not too many Status Updates of "Just bounced another check...." or "thinking about a divorce." I even posed while Will tried his hand at photography in order to give me a decent, and more recent profile picture.

And you know what else I realized? My life, when sculpted and trimmed by moi actually looks pretty fucking fantastic, too. But most importantly, I realized that my life IS great. Too great to waste away on Facebook. So, since I am no good at setting and adhering to limits, I quit that shit. Cold turkey, cause that's all I know how to do.

And, really, I know it's just Facebook, and I know it's only been a month, but I feel excited to get back to my blog. I've missed it. It makes me feel so wonderful to sit, write, and giggle while I think about what goes on in my life. Not in some fake, cut and paste cyber life version, but my every day, real, little, silly, crazy life.

I appreciate the fact that there are people out there who find my blog worthwhile and at all amusing. Not just my mom and my sister and my good friends, because of course they're going to read it. But other people who I have probably very little in common with, who are not beholden to me or my blog in any way. So, check back often, and leave me comments galore. I'll try not to let you down again.

For all you do, this blog's for you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's not me; it's you...

I love textiles.
My children must each have somewhere in the vicinity of 20 throw blankets in varying size, weight, and texture.
When I move or redecorate, the first thing I tend to focus on are the drapes. I have way more bedding than anyone could ever need, including 4 sets for a Queen size bed, which I no longer even own. My attic is full of boxes of fabric both vintage and new. I know some day I'll use it all for some project or another. No matter what the condition of the rest of the house, I make my bed EVERY DAY, in a manner that only I can do perfectly. Brett does his best to help me out, but I just end up re-doing it anyway. Duvet pulled taught; no wrinkles across the bed. Pillows lined according to case color; darkest in the back closest to the headboard, lightest in the front.
And when it comes to housekeeping chores, of which I am most certainly NOT a fan, I can safely say that I love to fold laundry. Not only do I enjoy the task, I actually can't stand for anyone else to do it. There is a certain way that I like t-shirts folded. When done properly, it resembles a tight, smooth square of fabric. Almost brick-like in appearance. My methods make even the dingiest, ripped clothes look orderly. I am immensely proud to say that I can fold the shit out of a fitted sheet.
I'm working on my crazy, really trying to scale back my OCD, or "model being flexible" as my pediatrician and bff would say. But there are certain things, like the laundry, that I feel completely unprepared to let go of. So, what happens when my territory starts being invaded? I will allow my husband to fold his own clothes when he chooses. However, I prefer if this is done out of my sight, as it is nearly impossible for me to resist physically taking over.
When my mother and mother in law pitched in to help after I had my last two children, they mistakenly thought that handling the mounting piles of laundry would be a no brainer. A welcome helping hand. But could I be grateful, smile, and put the clothes away? No. I felt completely violated. Not that they saw my "unmentionables", for I had just practically died giving birth to my twin sons. I could've cared less about modesty at that point. But it was wrong. All wrong. The pants, shirts, socks and all needed to be refolded. My way.
And now, my oldest, bless his little heart, wants to help me fold laundry. He loves the sorting and stacking, and the cracking noise it makes when you shake the wrinkles out from a pair of jeans. It is seriously an anxiety attack in the making for me. He is so proud of his job well done; a crumpled, wrinkled mess. Facecloths folded inside out so that the Spiderman graphics are barely visible. A blurry mess of red, blue and black silkscreening on nubby terrycloth.
I have lots of dreams for my sons. Most are just your average run of the mill kind of things everyone wants for their kids. I hope they grow up knowing they're loved so much by so many people. I hope they aren't bullied, or even worse, become bullies. I hope they find true love with a great partner. I hope that they all stay close throughout their lives, even when I am dead and gone. Some involve him being a chef, or a career in MLB, where he takes the home team discount to play his entire career for the Red Sox with Gabe Kapler as GM, but I digress. I'm trying to bear in mind that they need to live their own lives. And I will love all of my kids, even if they suck at folding as bad as their father does. But, like anything you do with your children, whether it's baseball or reading, my wish is that by participating in this activity with me, he will get better and better.
Some day he may even be as good a folder as I am! Together, we could develop new folding techniques, be featured in the "Housekeeping Section" of Martha Stewart Living, rendering the majority of our ironing useless!
But for right now, for his sake, I have to push myself way out of my psychopath fucked-up laundry comfort zone, bite my tongue, resist refolding (which only happens occasionally now- baby steps) and simply smile and say, "Thanks. Great job."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ridin' Dirty

When did my car become a filthy, roving snack shack? And why do I find its' perpetual disgusting state acceptable? Like an eating disorder, or drug addiction, perhaps, I think it has spiraled out of control for some time now. And, while those around me have witnessed its' descent, masking their disgust when forced to be a passenger, I have been only mildly embarassed or sickened by it. I have now hit rock bottom, but instead of becoming ridiculously thin (oh, Heaven forbid!), it is my car that needs to be brought back from the edge. My mother staged an impromptu intervention on Sunday. And, really, who else can you expect to call you out when a week old bagel with cream cheese languishes in the passenger side rear door's cargo compartment?

I don't drive a luxury vehicle. It's pretty much the most fuel efficient crossover I could find that would fit the three car seats across one back seat. And, I don't typically drive long distances; grocery store, karate lessons, library. But, for whatever reason, I always make sure my children have a snack and drink before we set off. Perhaps it's because I have 3 kids, each one a unique pain in the ass, and everyday I do whatever the hell I can to ensure, at the very least, a relatively peaceful car ride. Five fucking minutes without someone asking, or in the twins' case, whining for something. I realize now that I have created a monster with my on the go snacking, because not only do the wrappers from all of these not so healthy choices wind up on the floor, but the snacks and drinks do as well.

Chewed up gummy snacks have been stuck to my windows; the car mats are multi colored and littered with Goldfish, bits of donut, and french fries. There are crumbs deep in every crevice, and at this point, Ben's car seat buckle has had so many different treats spilled on it that you need to use the strength of Hulk Hogan to make it "click!".

And it's not just the fact that it's dirty. The trash is a shameful sort. Not apple cores and water bottles, but donut bags and empty soda cans, Happy Meal boxes and wrappers from Fruit Roll Ups and candy. Constant reminders of things that neither I nor my children should be eating.

We are not filthy people. With the help of a professional team, I keep a clean house. Although they may sometimes look a bit messy, and I a bit dissheveled, my children and I are bathed nearly every day or night, and I rarely leave the house without makeup. So why am I able to remain blind to my car's condition? I don't know. But, I will tell you this; I know I'm not alone.

My sister in law, who is one of the most fastidious people I know in terms of her and her home's appearance and condition once had a cup of her children's milk spill in her Suburban's third row seat. After a few days, the stench was almost enough to knock you out, and it lingered. Forever. Who lives like that?

As I was picking up my son's friend for a play date the other day, her mother instinctively reached for the Goldfish scattered on Ben's carseat, greatful for her good fortune, ready to chow down on a found snack. She stopped herself in the nick of time, but only because it wasn't her car. How is this behavior in any way acceptable? Have we all lost our fucking minds?

Beyond the mess there are even more problems hidden throughout the Vue. My car has always been relatively "off limits" to my husband. So, it made perfect sence to me that any purchases that could raise an eyebrow and elicit a "Did you really need that?" have always been stashed in my car, leaving behind their Hansel and Gretel trail of price tags, hangers, TJ Maxx and Marshalls bags, and those little plastic things that keep the tags on.

My CD collection, which has remained basically unchanged since, no fucking lie, 2004, except for the ones my mother burns for me resides in the Saturn as well. How fucking pathetic am I? I have my mother burn my CD's? Seriously.

My gas tank is always either empty or very empty, and I never get oil changes until the light is BLARING. Not just the nice indicator light that blinks when I first put the keys in, but then shuts itself off. "Hey, just letting you know, it's almost time. No big deal. Whenever, I won't bother you. You've got a lot going on right now." Oh no, the fire engine red light that constantly stays on, basically letting me know that my engine is going to fucking seize if I don't make it to Valvoline PRONTO.

It's shameful and it's lazy, but you will not find me pledging to change "once and for all" on this blog. No, I am aware of my limitations, and this is simply how I roll.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Watch your pennies...

And the dollars will follow?
At what point does a "Take and Toss" cup cross over into "Just Fucking Toss"? These things are so cheap. Literally intended to be quasi-disposable, and yet I swear to God I have held on to every single one I've ever purchased. We have close to 100 in all different sizes, colors, and level of rattiness; some spouts so chewed that I bypass them whenever they come up on the rotation. But today things reached a new low, as I scrubbed rancid milk which had morphed into cottage cheese out of one after it had a week long vacation under the passenger seat in my car.
I also use disposable razors for WAY longer than they are intended to be used and end up with a stockpile of razor heads.
Perhaps I will organize both the kids' sippy cup drawer (yes, I have a drawer just for those) and my razor blade drawer (and another drawer just for those) tomorrow.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Because I'm worth it???

After coloring my hair for almost 15 years "just because", after the birth of my twin sons it became increasingly clear to me that it was now time to color my hair because otherwise I looked post-menopausal. I tried a variety of different over the counter home dyes. They would all work okay, but apparently I have what it is they are referring to when they use the term "resistant grays". Add to the fact that my hair, in it's natural, younger state is a dark brown, and you've got yourself a problem. The gray hairs shimmer quite brightly against the dark. No one is questioning if they are just blond highlights, trust me. So, after becoming frustrated at the fact that I could no longer disguise the tinsel sprouting from my scalp on my own, I sought professional help. I headed to my local hair salon for a professional color job. Nothing weird. Just your basic Portuguese Brown. I don't go to a super fancy salon. It wasn't that expensive. But, I was deeply disappointed when I was already seeing those fucking shiny hairs not 3 days later.
I decided to take a break from the hair coloring process during my trip to PA. Perhaps a bit of when in Rome....Now, I'll admit I was prepared to find some wayward grays, all wiry and sticking up when they should've been down. Usually right where my part was falling. A siren blaring the fact that I am 30+ to the rest of the world. But I was not at all ready for what gradually appeared during my stay, and, what would turn out to be a 3 month hiatus from coloring. I would say that, conservatively, I am 10% gray. This may not seem like a lot. But, believe me, when you hold a clump of 100 hairs, and 10 of them are grey, you will change your mind. I was heartbroken.
Luckily, for me, while we were in Pennsylvania, I had met a great hairstylist who really helped me through some rocky times while in the awkward "growing out" phase. She talked me off the proverbial ledge and, with a few key trims, truly transformed my hair throughout my time there. So, frugality be damned, I booked a color appointment with her a few days before our departure. And, true to their resistant form, I shit you not, I got in the car after the appointment and could immediately see that these fuckers did not change their color. What the fuck? Am I damned to a life of Brillo pad hair?
Back in the days of my nose ring and throughout my tattoo phase, the lady who adorned my box of hair color used to give me all sorts of encouragement...I like sassy highlights! Try something a little different for Summer. Ooohhhhh....You would look so good with a blond streak! And it wasn't just the model on the box, either. The graphics were in hyper, trendy colors. Aqua and lime, raspberry and tangerine. And the fonts were thrilling...graffiti and exaggerated typeface. So fun, so young. These days, the box, which comes complete with a tube of Gray Retexturizing Pre-Treatment is no nonsense; packaged in sensible white, grey, and soft blue. The woman on the front, with her glasses and fucking osteoporosis reminding me to "get it done before you have parent teacher conferences", and to "fit it in prior to your estate planning meeting". Who is this lady? And, more importantly, where are her encouraging words now that I need them?


What, exactly, is a mandarin orange? I feed them to my children all the time, and even snack on them occasionally myself. But I wonder...Is there such an orange? Is it just a clementine with all the membrane removed? How could that be cost effective? I hate the exterior crap that you basically chew for 5 minutes before choking it down long after flesh and juice have been swallowed. So, I assumed, would my children. And, afterall, what is good for the goose is good for not only the gander, but also the gosslings. In that vein, I have always painstakingly supremed my kids' oranges before giving them to eat (spoiled, yes, they are!). But these lovely mandarin oranges really make my life easier. In an attempt to preserve some wonder and mystery in my life, I've avoided looking this up online, but if anyone has a theory (or the truth), I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Return of the Mack.

So, we're back. Holy shit. I cried when we said goodbye and left Pennsylvania. I cried periodically throughout the whole ride home. I cried when I found all the groceries and balloons J left me, and smelled the smell that only Celia leaves after cleaning our house. I guess it was a combination of relief, sadness about leaving (who would've thought), anxiety about our future, and PMS. Apparently, my cycle was eager to welcome me back to town and punctuated the trip with some Hawk red.

The 91/2 hour return trip was pretty uneventful; and the time passed quickly thanks largely in part to an AWESOME mix CD from my mom and her husband. Will is just getting into "real" music, and this had all the perennial favorites (Love Shack, I Love Rock N Roll), and a few new ones as well (Pokerface, That's Not My Name). This is a huge step in the right direction from Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Old MacDonald. Maybe Juicy will be on the next one.

Things have been busy since we got back. I have had hardly any time to be the internet slut that I fancy myself, and have visited Perez only once or twice since we've returned, and have cut WAY back on my Facebook habit.

The unpacking is ALMOST done, but still occurring at a now sluggish pace. I am realizing that I have saved and consumed way too much; particularly in the 4 years since Will has been born. Stay posted for news on a massive yard sale that must occur by the Fall. Brett has been checking items off his "To Do Around the House" list, and I've been trying to make progress as well. Just today, I even spent two hours renewing my license (3 if you count the time it took me to dry my hair and put on wedding level makeup- hey, this picture could possibly be with me for 10 years!)

I can't say how happy I am to be home. I miss the view from my window in Pennsylvania; the rolling hills, white fences, and trotting horses. But, let me tell you a few things..1.) I don't look out the kitchen window nearly as much since we have a dishwasher like most people, and 2.) there is no view more beautiful to me than my little neighborhood; full of modest houses, neighbors walking their dogs, and Will learning to ride a bike.

As I gain some perspective, I already do feel lucky to have had the opportunity. We got to live right near a farm. An actual working farm. There aren't too many people in this country who can say that, and sadly, there are going to be fewer and fewer if things keep going the way they are.

I learned that Brett and I would be okay if we ever had to pack up the kids and make a go of it in some strange place. I can rely on my husband to make me feel safe, keep my children amused, and unclog a toilet no matter where we are. I understand that just being "close" to someone doesn't always make you "close" to them. But, being near friends and family makes a world of difference for me. I always thought I was pretty independent, but I guess I had no idea how much I relied on everyone here. I will never take them for granted again, and I hope I can show my appreciation and happiness as much as I feel it.

I learned a lot about myself, too. I tend to put disclaimers on myself. "I'm no feminist, but....", "I'm not the outdoorsy type, but...", "I'm not an environmentalist, but...". Maybe I'm much more of an outdoorsy, athletic, feminist/environmentalist than I give myself credit for. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of my husband. And, I'm extremely proud of my children. We all returned to our home, but, really, we realized that home is just where we all happen to be.

And, since it is the question we have heard the most this past week or so, I will answer it here. We have no idea what we are doing next. Brett and I are both completely unemployed at this point, and are open to accepting almost any new challenge that is presented to us. I am very scared. Yes, I know the economy is in the shitter. But, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. We stepped off a huge ledge, and I have faith that eventually (soon, I hope) we'll hit the ground.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Random Thoughts by Liz Jackson

Will, who now sports a mohawk, has coined a new term. When our family of 5 is all together, he refers to us as being "Cheddar". Cheddar- togeddar, he sings out.

Sammy continuously bites Ben. We cannot seem to stop him, and in what is perhaps the ultimate cruel irony, his teeth leave smiley face bite marks, with two clear eyes and a mouth. I think he'll have my teeth. He also puts his food on the bottom of his foot before eating it a lot of the time.

Ben loves two things in this world: food and sleep. He is one of few babies I know who actually smiles every time he is put to bed. We have been giving the kids more ice creams and popsicles since it's been so hot. I never thought that Ben's tongue tie was much of an issue; however, it is impossible for him to lick an ice cream cone. It is a very sad sight. Time to get snipped.

When we had one of those rare warm days in early Spring, I thought to myself that it seems like it's a lot easier to have a better day when it's nice out. I take it back. It has been near 90 the past two days. Tomorrow's forecast is 90, Tuesday is 93. There are bugs everywhere, it's too hot to cook anything, and when we go outside, I am the SPF Nazi. Ben, particularly, gets special attention when we are in the sun. His color could be describes as a whitish blue in its' untanned state.
Also, it makes me feel like such shit to have my disgusting body that I have neglected all winter being exposed on a larger scale. I feel pale, dry, hairy, and fat; and it's too late to do anything about it for this year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stage 5 Clinger

I haven't made a new friend in nearly 8 years.
I think about that a lot. I would say I am pretty friendly. And I do have some casual conversations with other women my age. They just never go anywhere. Sometimes, I'll meet someone and think, "I could see myself being friends with her". But, the moment passes, and I'll not have even gotten as far as her name.
One of my good friends up and moved to upstate New York almost 9 years ago. I am amazed to hear of the social circle she has created for herself. When we moved to PA, I was fine with basically sticking to myself for the brief period we'd be here. And then, something happened. One day, while at Reamstown Park, I met a young mother with a son about Will's age. Will and her son played so well together, and she and I chatted while I wiped the dripping blood from Sam's split lip with my sweatshirt, since I am a fucking ROOKIE and didn't have a FUCKING SINGLE TISSUE, WIPE, or NAPKIN with me!
She clued me in on some cool places to check out in the area, gave me the lowdown on some of the other idiosyncrasies of central PA. She had met Kate Gosselin also, and she said she was mean to her, too. And, then, in a rare instance of candid self depreciating humor, she joked that she should have named her son "Jose" instead of the uber-trendy moniker bestowed upon his tan skinned self. I liked her. As things were wrapping up at the park, she asked if I had a cell phone, and gave me her number; she said she'd like to have a play date sometime. This was as far as I'd ever gone with a stranger; it was like the equivalent of Mommy second base. After we left the park, I giddily called my long-distance friend-making champion for some advice. How long to wait until I call? A day? A week? I didn't want to seem too eager.
After Easter weekend, I gave her a ring. Sure enough, she answered, and we set a play date up (at her house- 3rd base, almost all the way; this girl was easy). What followed after that was a nearly constant barrage of phone calls regaring nap schedules, dietary restrictions, and toddler style skill set matching.
I was overwhelmed. Is this what it's like making a new friend? I was willing to tough it out and give it a shot, and then I had an epiphany. I was leaving this place in a few weeks. I would most likely never see this woman again. Was it worth it for me to endure the pain of geting to know someone only to have it be in vain? Furthermore, what if she killed us when we went to her house, or if she was one of those crazy cat people/hoarders, or she propostioned me for a menage a trois or even worse, tried to sell me Papmpered Chef? I had to get the fuck out of there before I even went. And, so, with a push of her name on my speed dial, I cancelled. And, I didn't feel at all bad about it.
My inner circle is pretty small. It's actually more like a teeny tiny polka dot. I would say that I have lots of acquaintences with whom I am very friendly, but very few close friends. I'm basically limited to about 5 or 6 ladies who I know I can call on at anytime for help, advice (usually about cutting my own hair), or some laughs. In my posse, are a few obvious choices.
My sister. Really, nobody knows me like my sister. We are only 14 months apart, and when we were little we shared a room. I remember drifting off to sleep, and synchronizing flipping over our pillows so that we would both feel the coldness of the bottom side of the pillowcases on our cheeks at the same time. We share the same childhood stories, lack of breast tissue and excess of premature gray hair. We have grown closer and closer as the years have gone by. And, although it's sort of like we have to be each other's friend because we are family; I would want her to be my friend even if we weren't related.
My BFF. J and I met in junior high...I fancied her a preppy art student in the making. I'm sure she thought of me as the friend from the wrong side of the Assabet. As our children become friends, we have even sillier experiences together. It's nice to have someone laugh at your dumb mistakes, and know they aren't judging you.
Throw into the mix a few wives (well, one isn't technically a wife anymore)of Brett's family. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I have great in-laws, and these girls have taught me so much, each in their own way. Lessons about distance and closeness, marriage and divorce, and most of all that being a friend doesn't really depend upon who you're married to.
It's rounded out by a good college friend, although we have grown apart, and a very funny wife of a firefighter.
And, really, when it's all written down in front of me, I can see why I haven't made a new friend in so long. I don't need one. I have all the friends I need. Who else in this world needs to or wants to know about my facial waxing habbits, my grotesque menstrual cycle, or my penchant for cutting my own hair, only to be filled with regret?
Apparently you do.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Big "O" (PA Style)

All praise is due. First things first...Kudos to The Bean for this title. I love a double entendre, and honor your version with a recycling. Earth Day's coming up, my bitches!

So, owning our own furniture company has been pretty cool. Since most of our retailers are based in high end areas like the Hamptons, Hilton Head, and Westchester County, we have gotten to produce things for some really cool and noteworthy people. Most of the time we don't even know who they're for, but occasionally an interior designer or store buyer will drop a name...
A few weeks ago, Mary (the 16 year old Mennonite who I am training in the office) received an email about an author who had just ordered a work table from us. The sales rep mentioned that his first book was on Oprah's book list, and his second just went to the publisher. Upon reading this, Mary looked at me quizzically and said, "I figured you would know what this all means." I explained to her that, basically, the sales person was being a show off and just wanted to brag a bit. But, she then asked, "But what is this word?", as she pointed out the word "Oprah". What the fuckity fuck?! Who doesn't know who Oprah is? And that is when I realized just how different we truly are.
Of course I did my best to clue her in on who Oprah is, but in an effort to explain her influence on pop culture, we strayed a bit. I took her on a mini-cruise of the information super highway; avoiding my favorites, but trying to do my part to open her eyes, even if just a bit. I wouldn't call myself a feminist at all, but I couldn't help feeling that I had a responsibility to tell Mary about how the "other half" lives. Nobody has ever asked Mary, or her sisters for that matter, what they wanted to be when they grew up. Can you imagine? So, I did. I asked her what her family would do if she decided to become a doctor, which seemed to confuse her. She kept asking if I meant a nurse, which makes me wonder if she even knows she COULD become a doctor. I did get a little teary, and I told her that for me, a woman, it did break my heart a little to think that there is so much she will never experience. And so much that she and her sisters have within them that will never be shared with the rest of the world. These girls grow up under their fathers roofs, abiding by their fathers' rules, until they are married to a man they must obey. Her jaw almost hit the floor when I told her that I just didn't believe that I was put here to follow Brett; that I thought we were put here to follow one another, taking turns leading.
The weird thing is though, that as my heart aches for them, so does theirs for me. I know they have such strong faith, and when they look at me, they do not see the strong, opinionated and hardworking person I like to think I am. They see a woman who has chosen a career over her family; who does not know her true place as a help mate to her husband. And who knows? Maybe they're right. I don't think it's my place to say. But, as I explained to Mary, maybe it's right for her, but I know for shit sure it is not right for me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

R.I.P. Maddie II

She passed into the big fishbowl in the sky on Saturday night, after a day filled with swimming upside down due to her bloated, buoyant belly.
Will and I wrapped her in a paper towel, placed it into a Ziploc, which was then put into a small box, wrapped in a letter from Will, tied with pipe cleaners and secured with a painted Fiori macaroni. Royal blue in color.
We buried her under a crab apple tree, and said a short prayer. I tried to explain that although her body would remain in the earth, her spirit was now in Heaven. I just know that he is secretly planning an exhumation the first chance he gets. I plan on beating him to the punch.
Four year olds will ask pretty revealing questions. And, clearly, I struggled with the explanation of omnipotence and the metaphysical since Will asked how God could live in the clouds if he had no plates and cups. He also later went on to tell me that God had given me bad breath. Thanks, God.

Your comments, please.

I know a lot of the people that read this blog are not "followers", due largely to the whole Google email requirement. And, up until today, you weren't able to post comments, either. During her visit, Jen let me know that I could edit that requirement.
Comments are now welcome from the Googly and not so Googly. Please note that this is probably the first (and last) time that I will invite many of you to give your opinion. And, bear in mind while you comment, that opinions are like assholes; everyone has one.

Oh, Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

Dorothy hit the nail on the head. There's no place like home. For so many reasons.

After Jen and Marley departed on Sunday afternoon, the sun came through the clouds, and we had a beautiful afternoon. Outside playing, Brett and I noticed it was getting a little grey. We headed in, and then watched the sky in awe as it change from bright blue, to dull grey, and then greenish black. Then came pounding rains, followed by:

1.) Dime sized hail

2.) Sunshine and a rainbow

3.) More hail

4.) Darkness

5.) Crazy electrical storm (see video below)

and, then,


Holy shit- thank God I didn't know it was happening, because tornadoes are the natural disaster I am most afraid of. I can't believe that in addition to all the misery I am enduring; being away from my friends and family, no dishwasher, and sleeping on a FULL SIZE BED, that I now need to add twisters to my list of "Things I Hate About PA".

I hope one day soon I'll wake up, and realize that being here, in this awful place, where (unlike in OZ) there is no color and no sense of adventure, was all just a dream. A bump on the head. I'm sick of everyone being in awe of the Wizard, while I am trying to peek under the curtain. I miss my Kansas.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mud for Sale?

Glue factories are paying top dollar for retired plow horses.....

I'm kidding!
Most of the fire departments in this area are small, volunteer operations. Not so great for my peace of mind. The upshot to this is that they are constantly holding fundraisers like chicken barbeques, pancake breakfasts, or, in the Spring; Mud Sales.

Each week, a different fire company holds a huge community sale where they auction off equipment, livestock, crafts, you name it. Everything is sold by auction. These people, who can't seem to do anything else quickly (including hold an everyday conversation), start going a mile a minute. I honestly couldn't even keep track of what was happening.
It must be a PA thing, though, because people travel from miles away to attend, trekking through fields and backroads on foot, horse and buggy, or in cars. My mother in law, lamenting that although she had been in Central PA for more than a day and had yet to see a horse and buggy, was quite satisfied after this particular trip. Alhtough I still have no idea how she missed them up until that point, as they regualrly drive by our house.Once you reach the general vicinity of the sale, it's time to get out of your cars and walk the 1/2 mile or so through farmland to the actual sale. Needless to say, all things in life become complicated when coupled with a double stroller; long walks through plowed cornfields included.

These mud sales attract a large Amish and Mennonite crowd; much bigger than any group I had seen before. It is really impressive to see so many Amish congregating; their style of clothing, facial hair, and choice of headcovering. The Amish, as a rule, don't like having their picture taken. So, I tried to get a few shots off without being too obvious about it. The kid in the bottom right picture, who doesn't appear to be Old Order was showing off his score of penny candy. I think he just blew their minds.

The walk back to the car went much quicker, and we were treated to some really nice views of schoolhouses, farmlands, and numerous horse and buggies passing so close you could practically smell the poop.

And the Award for Worst Mother of the Year Goes To...

So, Will's Auntie Lori thought it would be a good idea to get him a fish after our dogs, Freddie and Maddie past away this year. Now, if anyone else bought any of my kids a pet I'd fucking crucify them, but Lori gets some slack for a few reasons. First of all, Brett and I have showed her boys the finer points of the Wet Willie, Pull My Finger (who doesn't love that old chestnut?), The Diarrhea song, and have also bought her kids more than one pet and countless noisy toys. Payback is indeed a bitch. She was also a huge help to me when Will was first born and when Ben and Sam were born. You don't forget that. Another feather in her cap; she gives me top quality hand me downs. Will is consistently dressed in Gap, Crew Cuts, and MLB merchandise from his older cousins. I'll graciously accept the fish.
So, upon receiving this precious finned friend (life span 2-3 years), he christened him "Maddie". Cute. Not a bit creative. Things were great between Will and Maddie. A pretty low maintenance animal. Then, about 2 weeks before we headed out, the fish's stomach started to become distended. By the time we put him in a Ziploc for the ride down, he looked like a drug mule who swallowed twice his weight. Brett and I were not optimistic that he'd even last through the trip. But, lo and behold, he survived not only the trip down, but also the transition to untreated well water. At this point, the thing looks like a freak of nature. His humongous stomach, now grossly bloated with air, became completely translucent. It contorted the rest of his body and essentially bent him in half. He had to learn how to anchor himself below the fake plant in his bowl in order to keep from floating to the top.

We knew it was only a matter of time, and we started to prepare Will that his fish might not make it. The fish became a source of amazement and laughter for Brett and I. After investigating a peculiar noise from the kitchen a few weeks ago, Brett declared, "That was the fish. It just popped." This was Brett's (and my) idea of a funny joke. But, we did know that Maddie's days were numbered.
So, it did not come as a surprise to me to find the fish completely motionless, at the bottom of its' tank on Tuesday. I tapped the glass a few times to see if maybe it was just sleeping, but he did not move. I'm not a fish switcher, and I wouldn't try to discreetly flush him without letting Will know what was happening. So, I told Will we needed to talk, sat him on my lap, and told him that Maddie (the fish in addition to the dog), was now in heaven. His reaction was so touching and heartbreaking, that I, too, was brought to tears. He sobbed. He told me that he loved her so much, and that he was sorry, but his whole heart was going away for a little while. I had no idea he would feel so sad. I explained that we could have a burial and sing a song and say a prayer for him and then bury him. He liked that idea, so I set off to find a small box. I was scrambling around the house, looking in closets and drawers and in the cabinet that Maddie's bowl is on top off for a fish coffin. And then, Holy Shit, like a bat out of hell, that fish started swimming. I couldn't believe my eyes. It must've been in a goddamn coma or something, because the thing was not moving five minutes before. So, now I have to go tell Will that, guess what- I just ripped your heart out for nothing! Your stupid fucking fish is still alive! Hooray! I felt like such an asshole to have put him through that, and that, along with the constant mess, is why I don't want any more pets. Who needs to explain heaven, forever, and near death experience to a four year old in one day?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I use multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware hidden in the woods...

What do you do?
That's probably the funniest and most accurate description of my newest hobby, geocaching.
I first learned about geocaching in Wondertime, a really cool parenting magazine. It sounded a little nerdy, but there was something so interesting about it. I mean, how can there possibly be thousands of treasure boxes hidden throughout the world, some in my own town, that I had never seen? Or even heard of for that matter?
I try to be honest with myself about what kind of person I am. I am the first one to admit that I'm not athletic nor am I outdoorsy. However, I am a mother of three boys. I'm working hard to discover activities that we can all do and enjoy together. I sort of talked it up to Brett and he thought it sounded pretty cool, too.
The problem: We didn't own a GPS.
The solution: Merry Christmas, 2007.
The Crimp in the Plan that caused the GPS to sit unused in a junk drawer for 6 months: Ben and Sam.
I finally broke it out this summer. Myself, J, L, and 4 kids hit the "Beach" for our inaugural cache. It was sort of fun, but maybe not the best thing to do with two infants and a pregnant lady. It was one of those ideas that you though would be really exciting and take a lot less time, and then BAM! Before you know it, you've forgotten about lunch, the babies are way overdue for their nap and you're dragging a double stroller through the woods. Sounds so fun, right? We were incredibly sweaty by the end, but we did it. We had found one of these modern day treasure chests! Really, treasure chest might be an exaggeration, since it was basically filled with trash, but for me, the prize/ treasure/booty your child receives is nothing compared to the thrill of the hunt. I was about to find out that I wasn't the only one in my family to feel that way.

My next cache didn't happen until late October of this year. On an unseasonably warm day, Brett and I packed up the kids and headed out to some nearby conservation land. The geocaching guide described the terrain as a 2 out of 5. Whoever wrote that is retarded. Clearly a 3.5 MINIMUM! 5 when you account for the fact that Brett and I each had a baby strapped to our chests. Brett was like a crazed man, out in the woods. I was puffing on my wheezer nonstop. The sun started to set, and that unseasonable warm faded into raw dusk. Runny noses all around. We were there for nearly two hours, but we refused to give up. Again, we were victorious. And on the way out, we ran into another group looking for the cache. Experienced cachers, who had come up empty at that location TWICE.
My mother-in-law was here over the weekend (more on that later), and Brett and I were so excited to get our hands on our GPS, which we stupidly did not pack. We packed the kids up, dragged my mother -in-law around, and only had to muscle our way through on tantrum on our 4-stop 100% successful geocache tour.
We saw some really beautiful sights, and also stumbled upon quite a few animal remains. One skeleton, which I assume was a cow, had Will convinced he had just discovered dinosaur bones.

At our next stop, Brett and I turned around to his shout of, "Look at this, guys!" only to see him holding the bottom portion of a deer's leg, fresh with fur and all still attached. Bust out the Purell.
So as it turns out, I have come to thoroughly enjoy this nerdy, outdoorsy activity. Who ever would have thought? It gets you outside, away from the dreaded Family Destroyer. You are spending quality time with your family. Really spending time together, not doing something in different rooms of your house.

You become a member of a community. Sometimes that community exists online, and sometimes that community is a weirdo you encounter in the forest, but you are part of something that stretches across the globe. And, you get to see places, some in your own town, some in far away places that you may not have never seen otherwise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

That Time of the Month

And, no, for those of you wondering, it is not the time of the month when I find money, get to take a nap, or have a great hair day. It is the blessed time of the month when my bathroom looks like a scene out of Scarface, and I give the big "THANK GOD IN HEAVEN I AM NOT PREGNANT AGAIN!". I'll bust out my Old Navy Maternity underwear; I guess in an attempt to keep my multi-pack Hanes 100%cotton bikinis from Wal-Mart looking real nice?

It also tends to be a time where I come so close to the edge of sanity that I often wonder how Brett has enough confidence to leave his children alone with me. I've been known to even scare myself. The most minute things drive me even more nuts than usual. So, what I am about to say may come as a complete shocker: My mother in law is visiting tomorrow and I cannot wait for her to get here. Seriously. With a few exceptions, I got pretty lucky when it comes to in-laws.

Brett has some great cousins who have some great wives. My father in law is infinitely entertaining and extremely helpful when armed with a roll of duct tape. And, while we may have some differences, I really like my mother in law. She's nice. She gets my whole coupon clipping, bargain hunting ways. And, most importantly, she loves my kids.

When my Mom came for a visit, we had only been here 3 weeks. Not quite long enough for us to want to abandon our kids at a shopping mall. When my sister came, I was feeling really homesick, and spending time with her (and the kids) was what I needed at that time. But Nana? She's getting here in the nick of time, because these kids are driving me up the fucking wall and I'm going to lose it if I don't get a break pronto. I hope she's ready for some serious QT with her precious grandsons, because, boy is she in for it.

She's also bringing some much needed supplies from home. We've mobilized the troops these past 2 days to gather an assortment of cleaning products, general supplies, and some forgotten items from home. My BFF had to take valuable time out of her own insano schedule to get involved in this process today. Sam turns the TV off and on constantly. Drives me nuts. Our past two visitors to PA were uanble to locate our precious clear, acrylic, childproof television guard before their trip. Luckily, J, who played like a true champion, was able to find it along with some other junk like my GPS and some extra CDs. Thank god, because if I have to listen to Love Shack one more time, you might just find me headin' down an Atlanta highway. Alone.

The only items that didn't make this voyage are my long awaited Girl Scout cookies. Talk about a major fuck up. Shortly before departing, I ordered massive amounts of Thin Mints and Samoas (Caramel Delights; call them whatever the fuck you want; I ordered lots.). I neglected to tell the pleasant Girl Scouts canvassing door to door (as they are specifically cautioned NOT to do) that we would be moving shortly. I know these fuckers are in. I know this little chic has probably come to my house a dozen times. But let me tell you this much; I still have no cookies. I am desperatley trying to compensate by eating Cadbury Mini Eggs by the bagful. Whatever it takes to get through this time of the month.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Me and Amy Winehouse

I guess we're both suffering from a bit of writer's block.

Things are moving along well. All traces of the stomach bug that had been plaguing our house is gone. Ben did have another hiccup and came down with a cold, complete with fever, and now, a heat rash. It was probably German Measles. I bet they've got a kick ass strain down here, blasting through our pitiful vaccinations.

Our psycho Jesus loving counterparts are away at Bible school in Iowa this week, so we're alone in the office and shop. It's a nice change of pace, and is helping to break up the monotony of our time here. I would love, love, love to be a fly on the wall at their little retreat. It is, for all intents and purposes, a meat market. This is where a young Amish or Mennonite boy will most likely find his future wife. Do not think, though that he would approach her or speak with her about maybe going out on a date. Oh no, he will simply choose a young lady, return home and have his pastor call her pastor. She'll be notified later about the courtship. And, by the time Fall rolls around, there will be another happy couple being ushered into the "First Kiss" room after their wedding ceremony.

It feels truly Springy around here lately. We've had a picnic at the park, and today Will and I planted pansies. I'm also fighting the urge to let my children get naked, or close to it, and roll around in the mud. I always wanted to do this when I was little. However, it could possibly not turn out the way I envision it and go horribly wrong.

The whole Britney Spears wardrobe malfunction thing is hysterical.

Happy Birthday to Swan, and felicidades to Bradford, my college "sisters" from Tappa Kegga Day.

In other news, I haven't colored my hair in quite some time, and I'm thinking I'm not going to either. If we stay much longer I'll be returning to Hudson a Silver Fox.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring has sprung!

In our temporary home, I've been seeing signs of Spring for quite some time now. It started with the mud. So deep, thick, and red that it seems no amount or brand of laundry detergent will be able to tackle it. This shit literally suctions onto your shoes and cannot be removed without a high pressure hose until it has formed a sort of shoe tread brick, nearly 5 days later. I have not put anything with a heel on it to my foot in nearly 2 months. If you know me at all, you can appreciate how deeply I am missing my shoes. To compensate, I did purchase a fabulous over sized hounds tooth print jacket and got a professional hair cut.

Kidding season began shortly after filthy mud season. Lots of brand new baby goats and cows. All the more to help with the smell of pee and poop that wafts over from the neighboring farms. In conjunction with kidding season, the fields are being prepped for planting. This basically entails turning over the soil which is then SPRAYED WITH LIQUID POOP! I just got over a miserable illness in our house where we were trying everything to prevent just that. However, it seems that nothing will make our fruits and veggies grow quite like cow shit, so spray away!

I'm sure you've all heard the old saying, "Shit attracts flies"; usually uttered as a warning against unsavory characters, but here, I offer it up as a mere observation. Shit attracts flies. Lots of flies. Ethiopia style. No wonder shoo-fly pie put this place on the map.

And, for all of Spring's shortcomings, especially when you are away from home, it is still my favorite season. It's a chance to start over. To open up your windows and minds and air out everything that's been festering inside these past few months. The days are longer. Growth and change are occurring at an astounding pace. And with all of that on my mind (along with the weight of trying to decide what direction our lives will be taking in the next year quite literally crushing me), I made a move.

I placed a call to Barbara at All Occasions and asked when she was retiring and if she'd consider me taking over the business. Her response? Two years. I want to own that shop and return to a life that I love and a life that I know I will excel at. I can wait two years; I marvel at how quickly the past ten have gone by. Will will be in school, Ben and Sam in preschool. Only two more winters to endure.

But for today, as we begin a 4 day long heat wave of near 70 degree weather, the final nail was placed in old man winter's coffin. The robin red breast has appeared in astounding numbers on our front lawns and overhead. Every year, the first robin stirs up the same feeling and sends a very clear message to me; look out for flying shit!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March comes in like a mother fucker.....

Kate and Kristin were here visiting this weekend. I think it feels good to see people from my real life; especially when they bring me linguica, chourico, and temperos Portugueses. Brett is ambivalent and equates it to having someone visit you in prison; you're sort of embarrassed by where you are, and seeing someone from the "outside" just makes you miss home even more. We've been away for 6 weeks now. If you had asked me, I would've said that things were going well, and that I wasn't really homesick. All it took was one look at my sister to convince me otherwise. I was crying before she got in the door to deliver my Hannaford brand chicken nuggets (no pepper).

We brought them over to meet the folks at Wildflower Farm. BRETT AND I TOOK A NAP!!!We made dinner at the house, cracked a few wine coolers (which Kristin was surprised were still being made), and just visited. It was a great afternoon, with only Kristin getting soaked by the poo juice when she held a post-episode, pre-diaper change Ben. Later, they took Will back to the hotel with them for swimming, ice cream, and a sleepover.

I was excited to start the next day. We were up in the air about what to do, so while they made their way back here, Brett and I researched some activities.

While throwing around ideas, my hormone-imbalanced alter ego decided to picked a fight over quite literally nothing. Remember, Liz = lack of restraint. It sort of snowballed into one of those arguments that becomes ugly REAL FAST since neither participant is willing to back down. "If I'm so awful, why not divorce me", "I can't do anything right", tears, mere moments away from household furnishings becoming airborne. Then, like a tornado, it's over and you can't remember how it all started.

Kate and Kristin got here with Will just as my post-crying nose was returning to a normal size and acceptable shade of red for someone who doesn't have a severe drinking problem. We all decided on the Crayola Factory.

Ironically enough, the first week we were in PA, I inadvertently washed a green crayon left in Will's pocket. Now, you might ask, "Why was there a crayon in his pocket?". I just ask, "How can we prevent this from happening again so that we don't lose another full load of darks and have to spend more money we don't have on clothes you brats are going to outgrow in 6 months or wear the green swirly ones and look like goddamn hobos?". Well, Brett and I decided that since laundry is 65% my department that I would try to check all pockets before starting the wash. You're reading my blog. I think I've made it crystal clear that it's been quite necessary to wash every pair of pants, shirt, towel, blanket, sheet, and stuffed animal, we own this past week. I can only check so many pockets. Perhaps making sure your fancy flip QWERTY cell phone isn't in your pocket falls on the shoulders of the guy who does 35%? He didn't think so.

Brett rebounded from the telephone tragedy rather quickly, and I was undeterred; it was going to be a great day! We set out for Easton, PA with high spirits. After all, our route would be taking us by one of the few Dunkin' Donuts in the area. I love plotting the course. I am the navigator; Brett the driver. I am usually spot on. But, about 25 minutes into the journey on some lovely (euphemism for depressed and rundown) country roads, even I was ready to admit defeat. The trip there took about 15-20 minutes longer than our revised trip home. Strike three for Liz.

Normally, the prevailing rule is three strikes and you are out. My life, though, is more like kickball or some other retarded game where they make you keep going, no matter how many times you try and fail.

The Crayola Factory was great, and we even discovered this gem that we'll need to return to.
We took a break halfway through to have some nutritious McDonald's, since the boys were feeling better and all, and to say goodbye to Kate and Kristin. Not two minutes after I had picked up the remains of our lunch, Will requested more fries. Um, you mean the 2 large fries that were basically untouched throughout lunch and are now sitting in the trash at the most ghetto McDonald's I've ever been at? The look on Brett's face says it all, as this picture was taken immediately after this misstep.

One small fry later (don't forget that reference to money we don't have, now) and we were back in wax heaven.

We finished up at the museum, took the much quicker ride home, and got ready for BLT's for dinner, thanks to the leftover bacon from Kate and Kristin. Guess who burnt the bacon?

And, lastly, while I am eternally grateful that nobody in my house has puked in the pas 35 hours, we are still dealing with diapers that look like this:

If you think this was too graphic, be glad it's not scratch and sniff.

Apparently I'm not the only one who likes Super WalMart....

When we set off on our journey to PA, my friend Jen suggested that I "stalk" and befriend Kate Gosselin, who happens to live nearby. Jen and I laughed at the thought of a joint play date. Maybe it's not so unlikely after all. Take a look at who I ran into while at WalMart this Saturday. We were both buying Girl Scout cookies. And, true to form, she was quite bitchy and appeared put out by the whole spectacle she was creating.

Since I know everything about everything, I offer a few tips for those of you who don't want attention from strangers:

1.) Don't sign on to a nationally televised documentary about your life. Not so cool having to pose for pictures with Girl Scouts, but I bet the free plastic surgery and trips you receive can help take the sting out of it....

2.) Maybe don't implant 6 embryos after you've already had twins??? Just saying.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Please allow myself to introduce myself

I love it that people follow my blog, and, I'm assuming I know you . But, for the record, will you please let me know who you are? I guess I'm talking to anyone who doesn't have a picture on their profile.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good morning, Mrs. Jackson. This is your wakeup call.

3 A.M., Tuesday:
Ben has woken up and is vomiting repeatedly. He's 1. In his mind, he is a victim of some uncontrollable biological crime being committed deep inside his body. He's crying. He thrashes. The thought of putting his head in a bowl to catch the vomit means absolutely nothing to him. So, we muscle our way through the rest of the night in the living room. Virtually all soft surfaces are draped in towels to expedite the cleaning process. I think we went through 10 pairs of pajamas. By the time 6:30 rolls around, I have a fat, bloodied lip (see thrashing mention above), and Ben's vomiting has joined forces with the most foul smelling diarheea since Freddy died.
He just couldn't stop spewing. I would change a diaper only to see him squat and squirt not two minutes later. I was double bagging faster than Peter at Hannaford, bringing them outside, lighting candles. It was beyond gross. I remember while I was pregnant a number of people told me a very common lie. "When it's your child it's not as bad". FALSE. It's completely disgusting to clean shit. Period. Yours, your kids', your pets', or (please God don't do this to me) your parents'. Heaven forbid if you have a job where cleaning other people's shit is in the description.
I'm an experienced enough mom to know that really there was nothing we could do but ride it out. We put him on a diet of Pedialyte, water, Jello, popsicles, toast and ran our washer and dryer virtually non-stop. Of course, he eventually stopped throwing up.
I even felt comfortable enough today to bring Will to school and go to work for a few hours while Eva (my favorite Mennonite) looked after the boys. I can't say that I was surprised when she came to get me at work with the news I had been dreading all day. "Sam just threw up all over his crib." I hurried back home (about 15 feet from work) and set to work stripping his crib sheets while Eva got Sam cleaned up. As he started to barf a second time, I grabbed him, in an attempt to spare her. He managed to puke directly down my shirt, vomit pooling in my underwire. I tried to difuse the situation with a little humor, usually lost on the Mennonites. "Well, that will teach me to wear a low cut shirt. Maybe you're on to something." She thought that quite funny. I wonder if she would think it's funny that I own exactly TWO bras that fit, thank you to that miracle called childbirth. Fuck it. Into the wash it goes.
So where are we now? Will is sound asleep. Ben, also sleeping, has recuperated almost fully. He may, however, be permanently stained red from eating so much Jello. Sam is exhausted and sleeping; thankfully he doesn't seem to have gotten as sick as Benny. Brett and I are so over cleaning puke, wiping shit, and folding laundry. My lip is healing, but now looks like some sort of STD/ battered wife injury combo.
Through it all, though, I will say that it been really rewarding to see my boys bonding and being so empathetic towards one another. Will, who has been virtually neglected for the past two days, has become quite the nurse around here. Bringing a little Tupperware to Ben or Sam (just in case). Getting water, and trying his best to keep them happy. Today, when Sammy was at his sickest, laying on the couch, Ben came over and rubbed his hair and gave him a little kiss.
I always thought that I wanted daughters, and, I don't know what the future will hold for me. But for right now, shit, puke, and all, I love that I have 3 sons. I read a great book about raising sons, and my favorite passage was, "Boys will boys" is not said when a little boy brings a present to his teacher or gives his crying mother a hug, or spends time with a dying parent in the hospital. I cry every time I read it. I hope these guys continue being the wonderful boys I know they are and stop shitting and puking all over me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Last Supper

We knew when we moved to Pennsylvania to get this business off the ground that there would come a time when we would have to interact on a a social level with the Leid family. Last Friday, at precisely 5:30 PM, that time had arrived. Nearly a month into our stay here, we were invited to dinner at their home. Our impending social engagement caused more than just a little bit of anxiety for me.
George Leid, and his family, for that matter, are more than just our current employers. They have basically been our benefactors for the past 5 years; helping us through some pretty tough times. I am extremely grateful to them for all they've done for us. I wanted to go their home and have dinner and conversations with them to show that appreciation, but the anticipation of the night had me in near cardiac arrest.
What to bring for the hostess? Clearly not wine, even though I desperately needed a glass or two or three to take the edge off. What to wear? These ladies bring new meaning to the word conservative. What if one (or all) of my kids act up? I was bracing myself for a culture clash of epic proportions, but it really wasn't that bad.
We showed up promptly at 5:30; in case you're wondering, I made Blondies and Brownies, and I wore jeans, because that's all I brought with me to PA, with my most modest shirt. Dinner was coming out of the oven, so we sat down, bowed our heads during their blessing and ate. Or, at least, I ate.
I am a big believer of "When in Rome...." I didn't check my silverware before I used it. I tried not to think too much about the cleaning habits of the women who prepared the meal. I just dug into my meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and jam with reckless abandon.
Will flat out refused, so I discreetly went to the diaper bag to retrieve the chicken nuggets I had brought him "just in case". Brett, his OCD clearly more severe than mine, had some trouble. He attempted to mask his lack of appetite by caring for Sammy, who was a bit wiggly.
Reflecting upon it later, Brett claimed he was drooling to hold back puke, "I don't even like to think that I put that in my mouth" he says of dinner. I've had worse. I might have even made worse once or twice.
Let me point out a few of the things that I did find peculiar. They all ate with spoons. There were forks on the table, but they didn't touch theirs. No napkins provided. Not a one in sight. Completely bizarre to me. Only water to drink. I had them pegged for unpasteurized goat's milk all the way. And, although I wasn't surprised, it was really strange for me to see just how strictly they adhere to their gender roles. Marion and the girls were responsible for the preparation, serving, and cleaning up of the meal. Typically in my house, if I cook, I don't clean.
After dinner was finished, we were treated to an a capella version of Amazing Grace in perfect 4 part harmony. I think it was the EP version, because no shit I think they sang like 5 verses. Who knew? At a certain point, I did have to choke back some inappropriate laughter (a nervous habit which is getting much worse as I age). Then, the men retired to their little section of the house to discuss the days' events.
I would ordinarily have joined in the post dinner conversation, but here I felt awkward, not invited. I respect this family on may levels, but I am really struggling to "play the part", if you will. It's not my intention to insult anyone, but at the same time, I think that insincerity would be even more insulting, so while I try to be respectful, I'm not going to hide my hair under a handkerchief, or wear a 3 piece, long sleeved dress. And I will not ever, under any circumstances, make it seem like I even remotely approve of arranged marriage. Restraint is not, and has never been, my strong suite. I think the reason I am able to bite my tongue nearly half as much as I am is because of Brett. It's very clear that in this culture, the man is the ruler of the family. I could give two shits what they think of me, but I love Brett, and I don't ever want to put him in the position of having to defend me or himself. So, I held back.
Good thing, too, because the shit that they were spewing might have sent me over the edge. It started with a sermon on "The Family Destroyer" aka television, followed up with a brief dissertation on the evils of organized sports.
And then, around 7:15, a beautiful thing happened. The babies started to fuss. Divine intervention? Perhaps. The result of a clever mother's plan to not nap her twins in the afternoon? More likely.
I rule this family.
Good night.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hey how's your news? Would ya like to sing a tune?

Sometimes, things happen that although interesting(in my discriminating opinion), it's not exactly worth composing a complete blog.
Here's a few snippets....
Our refrigerator is not in our kitchen. It's in a sort of pantry/ mudroom off of the side of the kitchen. There is, however, a bathroom vaity and mirror in the kitchen. Peculiar.
Will started swimming lessons today. He did so well. I was near tears watching him from the spectator's room. He completely submerged himself, jumped in all alone, and even swam a bit all by himself. He'll be a champ at Centennial this Summer, I just know it.
Brett has to shovel coal to provide heat for the factory on a regular basis. At night, Sundays, and any other time Wayne isn't around, it is Brett's job. When he does it, I feel like I'm being transported back in time.
Ben and Sam are doing really well. They are saying a few words: Momma, Dadda, Will, Uh-Oh, Night-Night, Book. Their newest trick is climbing onto a kitchen chair, and then up on the table. We now have to put the chairs away. They go in the same room as the refrigerator.
We went to this HUGE pet store today. It was a good time killer. But why do sanke/ ferret/ fish people all look the same. So wierd. I get the feeling that they have trouble making the rent, but no problem buying mice for their anaconda. Lots of black denim and mustaches.
There is a really cool store her, 5 Below. You guessed it. Everything $5 or less. Good stuff, too. Our former nanny, Christine told us about it when she was here visiting last week.
I can't believe this whole Chris Brown/ Rhianna situation. That guy has pretty much fucked up his career beyond repair.
And lastly....THIS MAY BLOW YOUR FUCKING MIND IF YOU ARE A WACK JOB COUPON PERSON AND/OR LIKE TO RUN SCAMS ON LARGER CORPORATIONS....My anonymous friend gave me this tip: When you clip a coupon, you don't have to use it for the exact item mentioned on the coupon. The SKU number near the barcode simply needs to have the same 5 numbers as the item you purchase. For example, I had a coupon for $1.00 off any Ken's Steakhouse Marinade. I used it on Ken's Salad Dressing. A $1.50 off two boxes of Kellog's Pop-Tarts? Use it on cereal. Land O Lakes Cheese? Good for butter. I could go on and on. At first, I didn't believe that this would work. So, I tried it once at the self checkout aisle. No problem. Next time, I brought a shitload of them through the self checkout. Now, I bring them right to the regular line. Smooth sailing every time. It has completely changed my coupon clipping.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Somewhere Al Gore is weeping

"Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them." William Stone

In late 2007, I decided that my 2008 New Year's resolution would be to try and live a more green lifestyle. I'm not a hard-core environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination. But, I drive a piece of shit Saturn that gets great gas mileage. We have energy efficient bulbs in all of our lamps. We risk a drowning and bathe all of our kids together when possible. I have reusable grocery sacks that I forget in the piece of shit Saturn often, and I reuse the plastic grocery bags that I do accumulate. We give our used ink cartridges and batteries to a volunteer group as a means of fundraising. And, I am happy to say, I started to recycle all of our bottles and cans.
There are still plenty of things I could be doing (or not doing) to help our Earth, and I'm working on that. Then there are those things that I am not working on. My disposable diaper consumption is probably the most blatant, shameful example of my disregard for the planet. For the twins, we use approximately 14 diapers a day. Add to that Will's 7 diapers per day, factor in for the goal of potty training at 2 1/2, and that's almost 20,000 disposable diapers that my family will have deposited in landfills. Pretty awful, but I am unwilling to make the switch to cloth.
In Massachusetts, I sometimes felt like nearly everyone was doing more for the environment than me. Not the case in Pennsylvania. The Mennonites live off the land, which is not to say that they respect the earth. When we first arrived, Brett and I were more than just a little bit shocked to hear that our household trash would be disposed of by burning. That's right. Fill up a bag, and into the furnace it goes. Shit diapers. Cardboard. Leftovers. I couldn't believe it. the only things we don't burn are metal, glass, and extra thick plastic that would take too long to burn. You know what happens with this stuff? They burn it outside later.
I'm not going to lie and claim to know exactly what happens to my household trash after we bring it to the dump in Hudson. Maybe it's incinerated. Maybe not. But something about throwing a huge plastic bag into a fire feels wrong to me. We expressed our concerns to Wayne, to which he responded, "What else would you do with it?". This is how they handle trash around here. The other day I drove by a fire. They had a metal chain link fence in it. What the fuck?
They also don't dispose of their hazardous materials in any sort of safe or environmentally friendly way. Brett happened upon a 55 gallon drum of motor oil which was partially destroyed, leaving the oil leaking into the ground. Which feeds our well. Which provides our water for cooking and drinking. He tried to explain to Wayne that there are probably better ways to handle used motor oil, and that he would maybe get in trouble for dumping it that way. "If anyone finds out" was Wayne's answer for that one. Okay, sure. Maybe he won't be targeted by the EPA and declared a Superfund site, but isn't he concerned about the effect it could have on the food grown right near it? Or the animals that graze on the same property? Or the fish pulled out of the nearby streams?
No, apparently not. The Amish that we've come to know have a sort of above the law, holier than thou attitude when it comes to things like laws, taxes, and municipal regulations.
From what I can gather by the haphazard placement of farms, houses, retail, and industrial properties, there are either no laws or no enforcement regarding zoning. Wayne and his family do not pull permits for ANYTHING. They operate a full fledged business in what is technically a residential and farm area, as do most of his neighbors. I am almost positive that the spray booth is not vented properly. But I can't control him or them. I can't worry about what everyone in Lancaster County is doing. I am here to train a few people and get the fuck out. Back to liberal, tree hugging Massachusetts.
But, my burgeoning environmentalist heart did break a little bit when Wayne told me he had burnt the tire I was going to reuse for Will's swing.