Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why I Blog, Revisited

An anonymous commenter questioned why I write this blog, expressing concerns that maybe I am lonely and even going so far as to wonder at my relationship with my husband, don't I talk to him, etc. Let me direct you to a post I wrote awhile ago, Why I Blog. I blog not because I am not able to communicate with my husband--actually we have a wonderful and open relationship and he reads this on a regular basis--rather, I blog because while "normal" people go to work or school or wherever where they can talk to coworkers or collegues or friends with similar experiences face to face on a regular basis, the job I have here does not readily lend itself to that. I care for children, three small boys, all day every day in my home away from other mothers. There are not very many places for me to go to "hang out" and vent and commune with other mothers who can relate to what I may be going through as a mother, who do the same job, deal with the same crazy things, who work in the poop filled trenches of motherhood like I do. It is like this: my husband is a teacher. He can tell me about being a teacher, and I can relate to him as having had teachers in the past, and knowing him like I do, but I can only understand, can only imagine to a point what is is like for him to manage a classroom of 30 other people's children all day, day-in, day-out. However, he has coworkers and collegues who are there with him, dealing with the same things, who can commisserate in a way I cannot. We all need that, a community where we can be understood for what we do, because what we do is who we are. Like I say in my introduction, I have a captive audience here, but they prefer more graham crackers than listening to me rant. And reading Cat in the Hat for the 500th time,changing the 10,000 poopy diaper and making the millionth peanut butter and jelly sandwich, although rewarding in many ways, is not very intellectually stimulating. Also, my children cannot laugh with me over the times they have dumped a whole gallon of laundry detergent in the wash machine, or cry with me when I worry about whether they are ill in some way (such as Eighty-Eight Fingers' suspected ADHD). Other mothers can laugh and cry and relate to these things. When I blog I feel less alone in my job as a mother. I don't feel sorry for myself, for my life. Rather, my blog is a celebration of my life, a testament to it, my audience other mothers who revel in their experience as mothers. I hope that answers your questions.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Can of worms

Recently, I broke up with my sister. Probably, the break-up was inevitable. Ironically, I broke up with her via blog.

I was upset with the way my sister was dealing with my daughter (a moot point and an issue I do not want to detract from the main focus: the relationship or lack thereof I have with my sister), so I turned to my anonymous realm, my sanctuary. An anonymous realm of people I don't know by sight, yet I know via shared experiences, who's actual names are a mystery, but who's spirit is clear as the sun after a storm. It is a place where anonymous friends commune here and throughout the mommy-blogosphere to share their experiences, to rant, to vent. This blog is a place for me to think, to organize my thoughts and feelings, to sort things out for myself that otherwise would still be buried in the attic of my mind, uselessly collecting dust, to bring ideas to fruition, to receive feedback, to know I am not alone.

Unbeknownst to me, my sister has been visiting my blog--a lurker, never commenting. Our relationship is such that she never told me she visited, just as I never invited her here. I have held her at a distance from many of my feelings, a few of them about her, some about our dysfunctional family, most about my life as the adult I am, my life now, my current family. I did not--do not-- feel comfortable with the intimacy of her visits here to my sanctuary. Maybe it is because I don’t feel close to her. Maybe it is because there is always this barrier, this secret List of Topics to Avoid (I will get into that later). I want to be able to speak candidly here, what I feel without fear of hurting those I love.

I guess I felt too comfortable and treaded into the List's territory. I posted a blog listing differences in our personality and parenting styles (and I won't list them again so as not to offend her once more) and some concerns I have about her relationship with her husband to be, obviously none of my business. I believe she read more into that post than what I meant --she saw criticism in comparisons only. I listed differences--and she thought the descriptions I made of her portrayed her as a bad person, perhaps as a bad mother. Let me be clear--that was not my intent. What I thought she was doing to my daughter was a bad action, but that does not make her a bad person. I love my sister and respect and admire her because of her differences. I seriously erred when I buried my heartfelt feelings of our differences, the distance in our relationship, in an explosive yet trivial issue. I let my anger over the trivial issue bitterly flavor the feelings I expressed in the post and posted something confused, messy, and certainly not helpful to resolving either situation.

The deeper issue I should have treated with the utmost care and concern, should have handled with kid gloves, giving it its own space, and keeping it crystal clear. That issue is the slow, steady rotting away of my relationship with my sister.

This has been our relationship for the last six years or more: we live only five miles from each other, yet we rarely visit, our kids rarely play together, we rarely even talk on the phone. And not for any particular reason. I cannot point to one particular angry or emotional event that caused this drift. She is busy. I am busy. And, like I said, we are different. Somewhere along the line, it stopped being important to us to have a relationship, to nurture it, regardless of our status as sisters. Thus, our relationship wilted, withered and now, thanks to my most indiscreet post, has finally rotted to nothing.

I tried to call her after I found her husband to be’s anonymous comment calling into question my character and even going so far as to say my daughter knows the truth (I am assuming he meant of what a vile, lying bitch I am? Only guessing here since my sister won’t acknowledge my existence anymore). Unfortunately, the husband to be was guard-dogging her cell phone. And was he fired up. I was accused of posting my frustration instead of confronting my sister via phone or face-to-face. I should have left an urgent message stating I have concerns. Really, I find that both hilarious and infinitely sad. Rarely does my sister answer the phone when I call. Rarely does she return phone calls. In order for her to actually return my call the message should be "urgent"? Following that logic, it is okay for her to ignore me on a regular basis, but I am worthy of concern when something is "urgent". To me, that speaks volumes about the status of our relationship and how I really rate with her.

And I wonder, why if he was screening her calls, if she was really avoiding me, did he even answer the phone when he saw my number? Isn’t that why people have caller ID?

This brings me to the concerns I have about her husband and her relationship with him. This is a Topic definitely on the List! I probably should not have voiced them. In our family, we grew up eating denial sandwiches for breakfast, and she has made it more than clear that she is absolutely madly in love with this man, so would everyone kindly leave him and her alone, thank you very much. Okay. Point taken. I should not worry. I will stop worrying or caring. So I apologize for any defamation against her husband to be and will refrain from ever questioning their relationship again because obviously I don’t know shit about it and her distance from me these past years has assured my ignorance.

On the other hand, the husband to be is awfully busy fanning the flames of my sister’s fury rather than encouraging her to try to work out whatever has gotten her normally close mouthed, never say nothing sister who works so hard to stick to Topics sanctioned by the List so worked up. Definitely, our break up will ensure that I know nothing, that I see nothing. I get the feeling he is a real fan of us breaking up. Sorry, I know, that is on the List.

I have tried to be cavalier about this, to pretend her silence doesn't hurt. But it has hurt, and her refusal to face me does hurt. I can't deny that. I can't even fully understand it.

I have been thinking and wondering about what to do about all this, if there is even anything I can do. Obviously phoning is out. Should I send her a letter? If I send it to her house will it just be thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, my heartfelt feelings tossed like junk mail? Should I stop by and be shunned? So I thought, this dilemma, if not born via blog, was certainly brought to light here. Here is where I will state my case, in my invaded sanctuary. Read it or not, care or don't care. It doesn't matter anymore. Our relationship can't get any worse, and for something this painful I need an outlet.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ten things I love about raising boys

1)I love that burps and farts are hilarious events to be celebrated with the utmost ceremony.

2)I love the way their little bodies quake with excitement when they are playing with a toy or working on a project or mischief of some variety and it does what they wanted or some other unexpected yet delightful thing.

3)I love the creativity with language, the domination of it. Words don’t all have fixed definitions. They can mean anything, more than one thing. They can be changed if necessary. I love the way Stink has combined "stop please" and "shut-up" into "stup". When I come to tell him it is time for dinner or for potty, tells me confidently, "Stup!" with his hand outstretched and a big goofy grin. I love when his brothers bother him, he tells them to “stup” or "stup please".

4)I love how every item is a potential sword or light saber, or super hero cape. I love how the boys chase each other around the house brandishing straws, sticks, poles from other toys, coat hangers, or empty cardboard paper towel rolls making raspberry noises for sound effects while draped in a blanket, towel or t-shirt. It feels good to be the mom to Superman, Spiderman and Batman.

5)I love tickle fests and the uproarious giggles and shrieks generated.

6)I love buzz cutting my boys hair. It is so funny how one minute they are screaming like I'm shaving off their skull and the next they are hunching up their shoulders and giggling because it tickles. I love the way the buzz cut feels soft and rough at the same time as I run my hand over it.

7)I love the bright tacky primary colored helicopters, planes, trains, cars, and sports paraphernalia on their clothes. It makes me want to get out and play some football, throw a baseball, drive a racecar.

8)I love that fights between them sometimes turn into all out wrestling matches. I know I have to stop them when it gets to that point, but there is just something hilarious about a knot of writhing shrieking boys.

9)I love that every activity is noisy, requires loud talking, possible yelling, jumping, bouncing and running around. Every activity. Noise, noise, noise, all day, so naptime seems like heaven (to me, that is!). It has made me appreciate the silence of naptime or bedtime, although at times it is almost eerie, alien, empty to me.

10)I love the way they are aggressive. Even affectionate hugs and kisses are aggressive. They grasp me tight around the neck and plant a big loud kiss on me. They run from across the room and give me giant attack hugs. My little tuff guys.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sleepless nights

I am glad I don't have many of those anymore!

Yesterday I was rubbish. I was a useless slobbering blob. I sat around and did nothing at all, all day long, except stare. at. nothing. Fellers screamed and cried excessively, incessantly, not because I was so boring, but because no one had any sleep the previous night.

Let me break it down:

8:30 PM Bedtime is a little late tonight, not bad. Daddy was going to work, so Mommy MacBoudica kept them up a little late so they could send him off with goofy, sloppy Feller kisses and a few games of Hard to Get.

9:30 PM All is quiet in the land of zzzzzzzz's. Mommy's ear at the door encounters no jabbering or jumping on beds. No thuds and clattering. No micro-computerchip cheesy music. The crew is down for the count (famous last words).

11:30 PM Mommy M, yawning on the couch, has finished last season's last episode of Deadwood on demand, which she evidently slept threw upon first viewing because she has no recollection of any of it even though Hubz insists they watched it. Mommy M finishes all bedtime rituals of rechecking and covering up Fellers, waking up Eighty-Eight Fingers to go pee, washing her face, brushing her teeth, checking all windows and door locks, and hits the hay herself.

12:00 AM Mommy M crawls into bed and, like usual (which Hubz finds an amazing and almost unbelievable trait), is asleep within approximately thirty seconds.

1:36 AM Mommy M sits bolt upright in bed as she is assaulted by the the most horrendous screaming and wailing which she groggily believes was a dream at first but soon, to her horror, realizes is coming from the vicinity of the Fellers' room. She leaps from her bed and all but flies to the Fellers room to attend to the screaching Boompas. She checks him head to toe for damage. She checks him for poop (now that they are potty training, the Fellers' favorite trick is to poop in their diaper at bedtime or naptime). No damage. No poop.

So she sweetly inquires what is wrong. "Do you have owies?"


Okay. Well, seems like all is in order, so Mommy M lays the boy back down, tucks him back in and tells him it is still night time and he has to go back to sleep.


Still sweetly, just not as much, "Boompas, it's time for night-night. You have to go to sleep." Mommy rubs his back for a minute, strokes his hair and leaves him crying. Mind you, he has been sleeping through the night consistently since he was a year old. I know he can put himself to sleep. Hauling him out of bed and rocking him is not an option. Neither is taking him to bed with me. I tried that once. It doesn't work for my kids. Plus I have never wanted to get into the whole kids sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's bed thing. With six kids betweent the two of us, well, you can imagine the logistical difficulties.

1:45 AM He is still screaming five minutes later. Mommy M must make a stand. She yell-whispers into his room, "Boompas, everyone is trying to sleep. You have to go to sleep."

Her retreating steps are met with, "Um-mmmmmmm!" but he does quiet down. Mommy M climbs back in bed, but has an adreneline high that just won't come down. Does't matter.

2:03 AM Mommy M, who was not yet sleeping, not even close, hears more horrendous screams. She is not so concerened anymore. No, now she is starting to get a little peeved.

"Boompas. Go. To. Sleep!"


"Boompas, you have to go to sleep. Everyone else is sleeping. You have to sleep too or I'll..."

I'll what? Give him a time out? Take away his toys? Put him to bed?He is already in bed, so none of those is an option. What more could I do? Cut off his graham cracker supply? Like he would understand that. You see my dilemma...Nothing. I've got nothing.

"...Or you'll get it." Yeah, that will work.

Mommy M leaves the room. Boompas is quiet because, although he had no idea what the heck get it means, he understood the malice in Mommy's tone. That is the Mommy Means Bizness tone, and he doesn't mess with it. Yet.

2:34 AM More screams. More Mommy stomping to the bedside. More threats of mysterious getting it. More Boompas tricking me with false quiet. More Mommy M flopping back to bed with an exasperated sigh and possibly some cursing.

3:07 AM More screams. Mommy M stomps to bedside, muttering curses. Checks him over. Notices he is soaking wet. He somehow managed to wet up and out of his diaper, which had approximately one drop of pee in it, completely saturating the front of his pants. Try figuring that one out. Mommy M scrambles frantically for a clean pair of pants and manages to change the contrary Feller by flashlight in the dark. Fortunately, the bed seems dry. You know, because he was not laying down and sleeping or anything. After that, though, Boompas finally does succumb to sleep. So, eventually, does Mommy M.

4;33 AM Daddy is home from work. Since Mommy M is hypersensitive to sounds in the night due to a Night of Toddler Practicing His Independence Antics, Mommy awakens instantly, gives Daddy the low-down and a quick kiss and crawls back in bed.

6:40 AM Daddy comes to bed waking Mommy back up. Mommy tries in vain for a few more minutes of precious sleep before the crew wakes up and demands her services.

7:00 AM Fellers awake and yelling for Mom. Mommy stumbles from bed and somehow manages to fumble through the day.

I think I got maybe a grand total of two hours of sleep that night. Thank god for strong coffee and 12 cup coffepots. How in the heck did I do that every night for almost five months when those two were babies? And how did the other kids manage to sleep through all of Boompas' s racket? If I was his sister instead of his mother Iwould have beat him up and broken his good toys.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Home sweet blog home: my, what a mess...

I have been very neglectful of my blog-home lately. In fact, I think I saw some dust bunnies over there in the corner when I stepped in before. Sorry for the mess. What can I say? It's summer. I have been outside with my boys, ripping up flower beds, making mud puddles for the Fellers to splash in. And spending as much time as possible with the Hubz when he is not working. He has been working quite a bit at his part time job lately to tie up some loose financial ends, so I spend any minutes that he is a) awake and b) here with him.


Actually, I have a mini-anecdote about the mud puddles. I have a sidewalk that runs past one of my garden beds. Two of the slabs have started to settle inwards toward each other, making a shallow V, so a nice little muddy wading pool forms whenever I water the garden. All three Fellers have discovered what fun it is to jump, splash, and even stick their faces in the watery mud. The watery mud triclkes down their little faces leaving a muddy beard and mustache. It sounds gross, but is really funny. Hey, I wash it right off, honest! I purposely water the depression to make the puddle deeper for their jumping enjoyment. I figure, a little dirt never hurt anyone. One thing about second, third and fourth children: you care less about mussing them. You are confident that they scrub off well and there is a pink little cherub under all the grub. So when dirt is around, you let 'em have at it. It keeps them out of your hair, and it is all good fun as long as no one is getting hurt.

Anyway, back to the puddle. I have new neighbors moving in acros the alley where the sidewalk/puddle faces. One day, they were moving some things in while I was watering the back garden, so my back was momentarily turned on the muddy festivities. The boy in the family, he must be about ten, called out to me incredulously, "Hey, did you know your kids were playing in the mud?" To which I retorted, somewhat absently, "Oh, yeah, I made that puddle for them." He stared at me, his eyes as big as saucers, chin dropped down to his chest, "Oh." It was then I realized I probably made a wonderful first impression on them as the madwoman with mud-encrusted children.

Another thought: are boys, or girls--I guess children--really socialized by ten years old these days that getting dirty is a bad thing? If so, that is sad.


Recently, because I don't have enough to do, I decided to add a few more morsels to my plate. Yes, I got the idea in my thick skull (and once an idea takes root there, well it is kind of like a weed, it just grows and grows, deper and stronger, sucking up all resources and starving out all sense) that I needed a new garden in the back yard behind the garage in the baren spot where nothing grows and all the leaves in southeastern Wisconsin wind up in the fall. Right now, the back yard is devoid of any personality. It has only the ancient air conditioner unit and, well, weeds, mostly dandelions. Actually, I like a lawn full of dandelions; it is really pretty when they are all in bloom. At least I tell myself that because, while I enjoy gardening, I hate lawn care.

Anyhow, for this garden digging project, I have been lugging the bricks to border my new masterpiece that I dug up from around the maple tree about four years ago and that have since found themselves involved in several other projects around the yard including holding down garbage can lids and lining the yard along the alley to pop the tires of drunk drivers, snow plows and garbage trucks that want to veer into the lawn. Then I dragged the old race car toddler bed from where it has been holding up the wall in the garage for the last three years and placed it strategically in the middle of the two new garden beds. I am going to fill it with sand eventually, let the Fellers use it as a sandbox, but for now the Fellers are enjoying it just fine on top of the mudhole. Man, my bathtub is getting a work out this year, I tell you.


Additionally, I have been feeding my fitness addiction lately. Since the Fellers have been mobile, I have been very devoted to losing the extra fifty pounds of twin pregnancy weight by getting fit. I don't diet well. I love food way too much, so basically I eat whatever, but I do work out religiously, mostly on the exercise machine in my living room that stares accusingly at me if I neglect it. I worked my way up to getting into shape slowly at first: three days a week, then four, now almost every day. Fifteen minutes, then twenty, now at least a half an hour. The Fellers have learned that they need to sit quietly and watch their movie while I exercise or go directly to the isolation chamber. Anyway, I am to the point now where the exerciser isn't enough of a workout anymore so I have taken up distance running, partially because my husband is a runner, has been since high school and I look forward to being able to do it with him, but also because I can leave the house and be all by myslef with just the sound of my breathing and the rhythmic pit pat pit pat of my feet hitting the pavement to keep me company. And the endorphins aren't bad, either. They only bad part is bribing my daughter or step-son to watch the fellers so I can get out.

I have been a fitness addict for eighteen months now and I am in better shape than I have ever been. I remember I couldn't (didn't want to?) even run the whole mile in high school gym class. I am down below my pre-pregnancy weight, but sadly, my waistline will never be the same after bearing four children (including a set of twins that stretched out my poor abdomen skin like a pair of size small latex gloves on the Incredible Hulk).


So there you have it: my measly excuses for neglecting my blog-home. Another excuse: it is freakin' exhausting raising Superman, Spiderman, Bat Man, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (Actually, Boompas has been known to try his hand at Cat Woman, too, but we won't go there.)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Come One, Come All, to the Circus MacBoudica


A quiet night at home. The hubz is working his second job. It will be bedtime in T minus twenty minutes. As naked-bottomed toddlers (because of the ongoing potty-training saga) frolicked through the house, I fantasized about posting, writing, on some deep, meaningful, and yet undetermined topic.

Then my old friend stopped bye. With her four kids. That's right, right before bedtime! How exciting is that! Seven children in small enclosed space=par-tae! Eighty-Eight Fingers was soon revved up enough he could have started a jet plane. The Fellers followed closely in his footsteps. Instantaneously, this small house was a flurry of shrieking, screeching children dashing from one end to the other in a blur of primary colors. Madness, chaos--these words do not even come close to describing this visit.

So, if you are looking for intellectual stimulation, please move on. However, if you want a ranting madwoman, you have come to the right place. My circuits are fried, baby, fried.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Six Absolutely Random Musings Because, Apparently, I Can't Maintain a Coherent Thought

1) Welcome to my little brother who recently found my blog through the all-knowing labarynth that is the internet. My little brother, the eternal *alternative*, the rebel, you never know what color his hair will be. Currently a butcher at the local supermarket, he is working on his degree in journalism and doing a kick ass job. I am proud of him. I think of him every time I am trying to debone my own chicken because I am too cheap to by the boneless/skinless and I don't blame him at all for moving on up.

2) We'll call this one Memoirs of a Space Cadet. Ever have one of those days when youare completelty stumped by modern technology? Sadly, yesterday was one of those days for me. I went to the hairdresser and had my hair colored, cut and styled, my one indulgence. I started off that trip by spilling my coffe right in my lap so in the perfect spot so it looked like I had a different kind of accident of the incontinent variety. Great. The one time I have clean clothes on that the kids haven't goobered and slobbered up, I spilled on them. Go figure. The actual hairstyling went fine. I didn't manage to make an ass out of myself again until it was time to pay. I handed the receptionist my debit card, she scanned it and handed it back, and I was about out the door as she yelled after me, "Hey, wait, you forgot to sign the slip!" Oops. But I did not yet have enough of humiliating myself. Oh no! I decided to get some Father's Day cards. I managed to pick out the cards and a small gift for my daughter for watching the Fellers and EEF for me (Daddy was at the decathalon). Again, I had a debit card malfunction. Apparently, my spacial relations perception is off or something because I looked right at the diagram of how to correctly swipe the card and proceeded to do it exactly the opposite, which the clerk delightfully informed me. Duefully chargrinned, I called it quits and headed home. Could all this brain damage I am evidently suffering be caused by too many recitations of the ABC's?

3) I was going to post an adorable picture of the back of the Feller's heads as they gazed out the window while back seat barbequing before dinner the other night, but my camera once again seems to have developed legs and walked away, far far away, no doubt under teen ager duress.

4) Let's hear it for Daddy! I mentioned that he was training for a decathalon and, even though his recurring leg injury flared up, he is still hobbling through. After the first day (yesterday), Big J (my 15 year old stepson) was actually in first place out of everyone, which is really cool.

5) Let's hear it for Daddy, (the refrain)! Since he has been home and has had almost a real vacation this past week, it has been great. He has had more energy for wrestling with the Fellers. That is good news for them, him and me. And he has been catching oup on chores, bills and even helping with the laundry. Yea summer break! Now, if only it could be summer break with him home and the big kids in school...

6) Boompas has an alias. He now runs around, gleefully proclaiming "I'm Luke Skwalker! I'm Luke Skywalker!" thumping his chest prouldy and brandishing wildly whatever item is on hand, such as a straw or stick, as his light saber. Sometimes he pretends to be Darth Vader, complete with deep mechanical breathing noises.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Summertime, and the livin's easy...

Summer vacation. The big kids, including the hubz, are home from school. There are no alarm clocks ringing, no places to be. The only people on schedules are the Fellers: wake up, potty; eat breakfast, potty; playtime, potty; lunch time, potty; and so-forth. Time has no more meaning than morning, noon, night. It is reduced to an antiquated simplicity measured by the lazy arc of the sun across the sky. I have no idea what day of the week it is, nor the date, and for the most part, don't care. For now, I am blissfully unconcerned and unaware or of commitments and schedules, spending my days teaching required social skills to the Fellers, working the garden project, watering and weeding and waiting for it to bear fruit, making dinner, folding laundry, enveloped in this faux biodome of my mind, mostly serene, certainly yet blessedly uneventful, momentarily living in the moment. Momentary paradise, or at least as close as it gets, at the MacBoudica Abode.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Chicken soup for the eye II

Another episode of Chicken Soup for the Eye.

Dad was over yesterday. He is a former systems analyst who lost his career when Y2K came and went like a kitten instead of the lion the fearmongers predicted. So he is currently in the process of changing careers, which means a couple of years of technical school. I have mentioned before how he is the eternal batchelor. Sometimes he stops by briefly to hang out, especially now that it is summer break. He happened to stop over right after I returned for the grocery store, so I think that, putting the billions of thises and thats necessary to keep our huge family in operation away, he grew terribly bored. I don't blame him. So was I. He wanted to leave, but I used the age old motivater to get him to stay. I lured him with the promise of a home cooked meal.

The Fellers were still napping, Eighty-Eight Fingers was clanking and clattering away in the living room, possibly knocking down walls, wouldn't surprise me. It was the perfect time to begin cooking, especially a meal this elaborate.

I had German Lasagna planned, modified of course to be a little lower fat and red meat free (we have picky health nuts here, what can I say?). He had had leftovers of this once and was seriously motivated to consume this masterpiece fresh. So he not only stayed; he and I made dinner together. I miss that, now that I am an adult woman with a house filled to bursting. I miss spending time with my friend, my dad. We talked of the economy. I boiled the noodles. He bashed the administration, explained the latest scandals while he browned the turkey sausage. I prepared the sauce and cheese filling. In and out of the kitchen I went, as the conversation ebbed and flowed. The Fellers awoke, needed pants changed and directed to their potty chairs. As the masterpiece progressed, clouds of hearty sausage and sourkraut scent filled the air. The kitchen, somewhat cool in the mild weather we'd been experienceing, heated up, became cozy, comfortable, like our companionship.

As the layers of the lasagna were laid down, sauce and noodles and cheese, I realized that knowing dad as I do, the fact that he is a know-it-all (Hi Dad, love you!), instructing me in proper sausage browning and cutting, directing me on child rearing, doesn't bother me like it should. In fact it is on ene of the things I love about him. To this day whenever I have a problem, questions or doubts, he is the first person after my husband I go to for advice or just a sympathetic ear. I approach his advice like a recipe. I add the esential ingredients, the best advise and eliminate what doesn't work for me. His advice never bothered me, his telling me what to do. I take it with a grain of salt. Like a recipe, it is an essential ingredient in my life and the flavor would just not be right without it. Something important would be missing. Like using garlic powder in place of garlic cloves.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Summer Love

Before I was married, I always took care of myself, exercised and ate well, but I never joined any sports in high school or college. I was more of an independent half-assed health nut, never much of a team player (I don't mention that on my resume). I ate low fat, but don't you dare try to take my chocolate or coffee. Then I married into a very athletic, competitive family. My husband was a competitive distance runner in high school and college, has run some marathons, and is currently training for a decathalon. When the weather is nice in the spring, summer, and much of the fall, we spend one evening a week at the track where Coach Grandpa, my father-in-law, a recently retired althletic director for a local tech school, trains the kids, my husband, and anyone else willing to learn in speed work, pole vault, hurdles, long jump, discus, whatever.

So last night we were all at the track: The Girl, Big J, Eighty-Eight Fingers, The Fellers, Hubz and myself. The three little guys were zipping around, spinning from one toy to another like tops. First javelin fighting, then tossing some tennis balls , on to the hot wheels Grandpa brought, running up and down the track like greased lightening. I am not a "trackie", so I don't know the technical term for where we were on the track. All I can tell you is we were stationed generally at the south end/curve. After a few minutes, the twins started drifting farther and farther toward the north loop, eventually running down the track in that direction, their little bodies waddling to and fro, arms akimbo, small legs pumpiing away. So cute to see the two of them running. But why so far away? It is not like them to take off like that.

Since I was the odd man, um, woman out, I strolled down the track to see what the big deal was at the north end. You wouldn't believe what I found. A girl. A cute little girl in a pretty pink dress. Hair done up in pretty pig-tails and barretts. The Fellers were chasing a skirt. And they were out to impress. They walked up to her, giggling, grins stretched from ear to ear, one touching the right arm, one the left, babbling away to her in Twinnish. They actually don't use Twinnish so much around the house anymore because they know more "real" words, but the pretty girl in the skirt was making them gaga. She had no idea what the heck they were saying (join the club lady) but she was more than willing to follow them to the soccer net and get her feet tangled up with them. Ah, young love. The relationship was brief. Soon her mother packed her into a stroller and wheeled her away, Coach Grandpa yelling after her , laughing, not to wear a skirt to track practice next time. My Fellers little hearts were broken. Until they rediscovered the abandoned Hot Wheels, that is. Nothing like a little biking and some cherry flavored juice boxes to cure a broken heart.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Be lame, raise teens

I don't know exactly when it happened. I don't know how. I know I used to have it. Once I was someone who inspired awe and admiration. But over the course of the last couple of years, I lost it somewhere, somehow. Miraculously, I became uncool. An embarrassment. Eye rolling fodder. Someone to be pittied for how absolutely lame she is, if that is even the current expression (that is how lame I am--I don't even know the correct term for lame!).

My daughter enlightened me to my total lack of cool last weekend. It all started Saturday afternoon when my father stopped by for a leisurely visit.

As a side note let me explain here that my father is a very good friend of mine. He is also very close to my daughter. I lived with him as a very young single mother for some time after she was born and he has always had a very big role in my daughter's life. She looks up to him. She desires his approval. As he is more than a father to me, just as he is more than a grandfather to her.

So let me say my friend Dad was over this weekend. We were in the kitchen. It was lunchtime and I was heating leftovers for the Fellers in the microwave. My father and daughter were scrounging leftovers for themselves, too. My dad, the eternal batchelor, enjoys raiding my fridge and is a frequent visitor for home cooked meals and hearty family companionship. The microwave, a beat up old thrice hand-me-down relic, was getting a work out. First shift: Feller plates. Second shift: Dad's plate. Third shift: The Girl's plate. But something was wrong. Those weird noises it had been making for those last two weeks were suddenly accompanied by the smell of fried motor and burnt insulaton. Yes, the microwave, probably older that all of my children's ages together, finally bit the dust. Poor Girl, no heated leftovers for her (well, she could have used the old fashioned pan on the oven method, but that involved way too much work!). And now, my cheap ass had a problem. Where to find another (not necessarily new) microwave? Did I know anyone who might be getting rid of one? No one came to mind and I don't have much time for the whole rummage sale lottery style hit or miss thing, so I would have to bite the bullet and--*gasp*-- purchase a new microwave! My father, a fellow scotsman and cheapskate, commiserated.

This is where I became so fully aware of my lost cool. My darling daughter, witness to this conversation, empty stomach addling her young brains, maybe hoping to impress my father with her knowledge of my failure of cool, chimed in, "Gawd! Mom's going to have to buy a new microwave *eyeroll*! This should be good!" Then, glancing at the drying bin of heaped dishes she said, "She is too cheap to even buy plastic bags or tupperware!" Yes, it is true. I save the resealable plastic bags and plastic margarine, sour sream and yogurt tubs that food comes packaged in. The older kids constantly try to throw these things out when they find them in the pile of dirty dishes, but I am adamant about it, "Don't throw those out! Those are good yet. We need those!" I do reuse these things to store leftovers or food, the plastic tubs for storage or toys for the Fellers; it's not like they just take up valuable cabinet space. I explain that it is better for the environment to reuse these things and why pay for new ones when these are perfectly serviceable? My explainations fall on deaf ears. I think my frugality even drives my husband nuts on occassion. Just recently I caught him throwing a perfectly good resealable bag in the garbage, "Wait! That's still good!" Fartunately, he loves me enough to humor me and not to roll his eyes. Although I believe he smirked. A little.

Anyway, the microwave. Sadly, we would have to throw it out. But wait! I was able to salvage one thing from it! The large glass platter! I was just wishing for a serving platter for h'orderves during the Mother's Day party. I would save the glass microwave platter and use it for h'orderves. It softened the blow of having to purchase a new appliance. Of course, The Girl met that decision with more eye rolling and derision.

Fast forward to shopping for microwaves with Dad at various box stores we love to hate. I am not impressed. I would like to spend as little as possible, naturally, yet, I need a somewhat large size to accomodate heating food for a large family. Why is it that as the size of the microwaves increases, so so the stupid useless functions such as "butter/ice cream softener"? I mean, are people who buy large microwaves really incapable of manually pushing in 1-5-start? Or the "popcorn" function. I don't want to pay an extra $75 so I don't have to push in 3-1-5 START. I just want a big, dumb, featureless, cheap microwave. Why is that so difficult? The closest we got to making a purchase was at one point when The Girl found a microwave that "looked cool", something I aparently have no sense for, and tried to persuade me to purchase it. Suddenly, she spoke my language "Mom, you should totally buy that one because it is cheaper than the other one(by $8 than the larger one I was looking at)." We walked out of the box stores empty handed.

Fast forward to me on the internet. Thrifty tip here: Buy Refurbished. Refurbished products are about half the price of their brand spanking new counterparts (haha no pun intended) and they are usually simply open box items that have been returned. Usually, a human being has inspected the item to make sure it works before repackaging them for resale, more of a guarantee that they actually work than buying brand new never out of the box items. Generally, I have had good luck with refurbs. Anyway, long story short, I found a good deal on a refurbished 1.6 cubic foot with all sorts of useless lazy-ass features for half the price of a new one with free super cheapskate shipping at the electronic big box store of the net . Even with the el cheapo shipping option, it will be here today.

Oh, and the day after we set the microwave out back on the trashpile? Someone snatched it up. Someone is going to try to eek more life out of that dead-as-a-doornail microwave. Someone is more of a cheapskate than me. I wonder if that person's daughter's eyes get stuck in the back of her head when he brings that hunk of junk home?

One more thing. Monday, The Girl told me that her class had an awards ceremony. They voted on such things as Most Popular, Most Likely to Succeed, Nicest Girl, Nicest Boy, Whatever. Guess what award The Girl won? Most Likely to Save the Environment.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cheapskate fiasco

You know that hate mail I sent to The one where I ripped their heads off about the shipping delay? Guess what! Fifteen minutes after I sent that email, UPS was placing a package on my front porch. Is that service or what?

Yes, I felt like a big jerk. Yes, I sent them an apology. The thing is, they sent me an email claiming they would email me again when they actually shipped the order. I never received a shipping email, so in my defense, that is a big miscommunication on their part. I did recieve the product within 8 days including a holiday for regular ground shipping, which I felt was average. I still have not heard from the processing center regarding either my complaint or my apology. Hello? Is anyone out there? You would think I would get some type of acknowledgement.

On the other hand, the Dappi training pants seem to be a real bargain. I bought them for $0.99/apiece. They are leak resistant, very absorbent cotton lining and a vinyl outer. Yea! No more carpet scrubbing (too bad I can't find a cat puke collector)! They wash and dry well (didn't melt in the dryer, always good). All-in-all, not too shabby a product for the price. I give the product an A, while I think the company customer service gets a D.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Random Sci-Fi and the Life of Mom

I'll be honest here. This list of modern day Si-Fi is brought to you by the fact that there is some heavy-duty stuff going down at the MacBoudica abode that I am unable to write about, maybe won't be able to write about in such a public setting. Let's just say it is D-Day for an important issue and I am feeling a little powerless, a little under the microscope so to speak, so what better diversion than science and technlogy applied to the life of a modern mom? I could totally use this stuff, and so could you!

1)Does it seem quiet in your home, maybe a little too quiet? In my house, this could only mean one thing: the kids are up to something. Now, for exhausted moms and couch potatoes alike, the new robot spy planes and other high tech anti-terrorism devices that can actually allow you to pilot a high power camera plane remotely, see through walls, and other cool tricks. Very handy indeed. Now moms can fight back against stealth misbehavior.


Have you been feeling a little stressed out lately? A little too busy, rushing around, trying to do it all? Those days are over now. This article is about two cloned racing mules raised and trained incompletely independent settings but who still managed to win a mule race in first and second place with times differing by only three tenths of a second! I know I could use a clone, someone who can compete with me on laundry folding. And, hey, if she beats me by any mount at that chore, just to show I'm not a hater, she can do some of mine, too. I will have to draw the line when it comes to, ahem, bedroom duties though. I am not sharing in that department.

3)Sorry, I have no practical application for this article. I just thought it was cool. It is about how Einstein's brain is bigger and better that normal brains in the science/math related areas. His brain is fifteen percent larger than normal with more nerves and fissures and a few other extras. Hey, maybe someday we can all be Einstein clones? We may not get much laundry done, but math class will certainly be a no-brainer.

4)This one is definitly my favorite new device. It is something straight out of a si-fi/fantasy novel.

Did you ever have a craving for some rich chocolatey dessert but you could't have it because you don't want to share and it was hours until the kids' bedtime? Ever want to read the mail in peace? Or sneak out to the car to get some forgotten item or take the garbage out unnoticed to avoid causing a screaming/crying fit that lasts all day? Wouldn't it be nice to be invisible, even for a minute? This may soon be a possibility. Scientists are currently in the processess of developing an invisibility cloak, actually more like an invisibility shield, as we speak. The only problem withthis device is if the kids get ahold of it, they can thwart your spy plane anti-terrorism gadgets and stealth misbehavior will once again be a problem.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why Parents of Twins Are Certifiable

These people will think I am insane. That is okay. I invite them to come over any time and manage potty training my Little Lords Fauntleroy. Behold, my email to customer service at

Dear Processing Center:

I am writing to inquire when my purchase of Dappi training pants might be shipped. I ordered it over a week ago, 5/25 to be exact, and I still have not received neither the product nor any indication that it was shipped. I realize Monday was a holiday, but still I would have thought the products would have at least shipped by now! I would really appreciate it being shipped soon, as I am currently trying to potty train twins. I don't want to use disposable pull-ups, I am at the point where I can't put diapers back on them without confusing them, and the current training pants I have for them are not leak resistant, so you can imagine the mess. Frankly, I am quite exhausted with scrubbing my new carpet and something must be done about it. I need leak resistant pants for these children. I don't want to have to go out to the store and try to find an alternative. That is why I ordered online to begin with. But I may be forced to do just that and cancel my order with you. I beg of you, please ship the training pants soon so that I don't have to cancel my order or scrub any more carpet stains.




Fifteen minutes after I sent that email to, UPS was placing the package on my door! Amazing!

Guess I have some apologizing to do.

Dear Processing Center,

Please disregard my last email. I just received the order. Thanks for your prompt delivery.



Yep, they really will think I am crazy now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Confessions of a serial reader

A while ago I posted about Why I Blog. This is an addendum to that post.

I have a confession to make. I am a serial reader. When my nose is burried in a book, leave me alone. Nothing else matters.

I read like a crack addict desperate for her next hit. My reading is almost carnal. I don't simply read, I devour, a book. I become so completely absorbed in the world the author has created that anyone who desires my attention must resort to strenous antics, loud noises, possibly some shouting or punches to the arm. I may eventually startle as if from a deep slumber, my mind groggy, my thoughts far away. And unless there truly is some type of imminent disaster slated to wipe out the lives of myself and/or those I love so that my immediate reaction is absolutely, undoubtably required, my eyes will continuously dart furtively back to my book for the duration of the rude interrrupter's tirade.

I will read anything, anything. I have no shame. Sometimes, desperate for a fix, I find myself reading the large stack of fliers and junk mail in the recycling heap or the back of the cereal box sitting on the breakfast table or even the informational brochures that come with perscription drugs.

I admire writers. I love them for putting wonderful literature on this earth. I can't get enough of words or the way they are put together. I crave reading, experiencing, language. How this author or that combines things. John Ridley's dark worlds. David Lee Burke's lyric imagery. George R.R. Martin's painstakingly detailed characters and worlds. And this is just a small handful of some of my recent indulgences. There are so many. So much variety in writing styles and genre's. It amazes me. I am in awe at the wonder and the power of language and its uses.

I have known this about myself for a long, long time. Part of the reason I started this blog is not because I am a terriffic writer or anything. No. I did it in honor of the courage of writers. They put themselves out there, bear there hearts and souls for all of us readers, day in and day out. I wanted to honor that courage. I wanted to put something back. This is my tribute, humble though it may be, to writers. I am sharing my stories in my small way, too.