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.