Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To forgive or not to forgive, that is the question of the day

Yesterday I learned that a person who has spoken about in misleading terms, repeatedly insulted, occasionally verbally assaulted, treated me with borderline hatred and generally asserted her dislike for me wants to make amends. Said person has expressed this desire several times over the past 17+ years that I have known her. In fact she has acted upon this and I have forgiven her -- every time -- only to watch the behavior repeated almost immediately -- every time. After the last time, I decided that I no longer would expose myself to that type of crap, regardless of the relationship of this person to me...

I believe this person only wishes to make themselves feel better and that there is no real substance to this recent expression. I believe that, once again, this behavior will be repeated upon her getting what it is she is really after from me. As yet, what she wants has not been clearly stated. You see there is always this dangling rope hanging about after the forgiveness, just waiting to be knotted and noosed around my neck so that this person can do more harm.

Forgiveness is a big thing. Sometimes a very hard thing to do. As a parent I harp on it with my kids, because I want them to be good people with big hearts and not be so selfish that they cannot find room for the flaws of others to be tolerated. HOWEVER, I feel there is a limit for every person. Does any one person deserve a bottomless pit of forgiveness? At what point does the asking for forgiveness become a crutch for the person asking? Especially when the "crime" committed is the same every time! Conversely, at what point does the forgiver realize that no matter how many times they open themselves to this person, there will never truly be any binding atonement. Ultimately, for the forgiver, the question is, are they or are they not allowed to protect themselves?

I have a great capacity to forgive people. I have forgiven plenty of people plenty of times and have often not had the same kindness reciprocated quite a bit in my life. I find that I still want to forgive most of the time, even when it is really really hard to do. This time, I am  not getting that twinge that I always feel when I know it is the right thing to do. That is unusual in and of itself...

So my conundrum.... What do I do now??? I have looked at this in my mind many times over the years and honestly, I see no benefit for me to open up myself to the extreme likelihood that I will be trashed once again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Join me in an effort to "Save the Post Office"

I don't know about you, but lately I have seen a HUGE increase in the unsolicited credit card offers that come in the mail. I always love the ones that say I have qualified for up to $30,000 in credit and they come in my name only. Not Hubster's, mine. SO, I am a S.A.H.M. with no income and no means of repaying said credit if I was to accept and spend like a madwoman. If these companies are truly checking into you before they send these offers, I would think that they would also see that everything I and my Hubster do are attached to each other 100%. So, they really should be soliciting him. Hubster RARELY, if ever, gets these offers. In 1998 we bought our first house and I made all our stuff "private" based on the terms one could back then. I managed to eliminate hundreds of unwanted catalogs for quite a few years. The credit offers were few and far between and usually from the companies I was already using. Then one day I ordered from a catalog on-line... and then my anonymity was shattered and my mail box was inundated. All the many catalogs that had been continuing to go to our old address were suddenly making their way to me. What made me most mad about this was that I had selected the opt out of advertising from the catalog and its partners, SO they really did not even pay attention to the customer. I started getting some amazing offers for credit again and I even got a few to refinance my home up to $500,000 -- in my name only! That would have been a good trick.

When we moved here, I went to significant trouble to once again curb the junk mail. I always opt out of mail and instead sign up for e-mail alerts from places I shop. Then I ordered a magazine subscription. Yet again I was sold out even after choosing quite specifically to OPT OUT of the name sharing game. This time the catalogs are not quite piling up BUT the credit card offers are. I got 3 from Chase Bank in one day, the next day I got 2 from Chase Bank and one from CitiBank, the following day I got 1 from Chase and 2 from CitiBank. This was not the first week that I had received this type of multiple solicitation. HOWEVER, after I got fed up I decided to get on my high horse and ONCE AGAIN, help out the good old USPS. Some years back I got on a campaign to slow the flow and started sending everything they sent -- including the envelope they sent it in -- back to whomever sent it, using their prepaid envelope to do so. I used big far sharpie marker (I LOVE SHARPIES!) and wrote VOID all over all  the application parts and blacked out the "offer numbers" and wrote in big block letters: REMOVE FROM MAILING LISTS. Back then this did the trick, if only for a while. So, last week I decided to start doing it again.

I implore you to keep our USPS afloat for just a tad longer by doing the same. I have heard that some folks prefer to shred the offers that come and put folded up junk mail with no identifiers on them in the envelopes, just to cost them $$. This is also a great idea, BUT will not slow the flow of these offers.

I was under the impression that if I opted out, I was opted out. SO many times, I have seen this option FAIL! So, I guess that is in need of some ideas from the folks who run the DO-NOT-CALL list, which is not perfect, BUT has done a HUGE benefit to us regarding junk phone calls.

Speaking of junk phone calls... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE always tell someone soliciting that you NEVER make phone transaction that you have not initiated and ask them to refrain from calling again. This often works -- b/c charities to do not have to abide the list, but I believe they do have to abide your verbal request. Write it down and if they call again I think you have recourse after 3 failures. Admittedly I do not have the full skinny on this BUT every bit helps. Identity theft and just plain dishonest salespeople can really do a number on ya. So... watch your backs!

Barking Dogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HOLY SHIT DO I EVER HATE INCESSANT DOG BARKING!

We have the WORST luck living near people with barking dogs. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate dogs, though I am not a big fan either. (That is another story which I will include later by way of explanation, because surely I don't want any *BLATE Mail*!)

In our old house, we moved in and I was pregnant with our, now 12 year old, son. Our next door neighbor -- closest to our bedroom window -- had 2 dogs. These dogs NEVER were allowed inside. Apparently her kids brought them home and then decided to move out and leave them with her. I guess the word NO was not in her vocabulary -- with her kids. SO, each dog was chained up on a rope no more than 15' long. The older dog, presumably a mutt -- was 17 when we moved in, got left on the concrete patio with nothing soft to sit on. She barely had enough rope to get her butt to hang over the edge to potty. The other one was a husky and maybe 2 years old. She was tied up at the mid way point of the yard next to a HUGE hedge of Forsythia. She at least dug a hole to sit in and could potty on the yard. If it rained and our neighbor was home, she would take them to the garage and tie them inside and leave the door open about 18" so they could potty in the driveway.

SO, if these hideous circumstances weren't enough, these poor dogs wanted to be together. They would stand at the ends of their ropes and whine and bark and what-not to each other... ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY ------------------------------ AND ---------------------------------- ALL THE LIVE LONG NIGHT! When we asked our neighbor if she could do something about this problem, she said she never heard a thing! We complained, neighbors complained and had been for YEARS -- remember one is 17. At the time the county ordinance did not prohibit her from chaining her dogs. (This practice has since been banned where we used to live, if I recall correctly.) They were menaces and the younger one escaped regularly, but they were both nasty to people. No one would go near them.

This went on for 4 years, until her daughter and her family moved home after a job loss and needed mommy to rescue them. So our neighbor, prepared for the family by getting the old dog to the vet at 21 and had her put down -- poor crippled thing was MISERABLE for soooo long. The younger was sent to a friend who had -- ACREAGE -- YAY! What you say? Acreage? You mean a dog is meant to RUN and PLAY and get exercise???

Let's not get excited now, because guess what the daughter and family brought with them??? Another DOG! By this time we had removed our rotten fence and had no plans to re-fence our yard. The neighbor had not had a fence since her kids were little kids, so now we have a dog who is not on a chain, allowed to run loose, craps in all the neighbors yards, barks incessantly and is all around NASTY to everyone but her family; BUT mercifully they insisted on taking the dog in at night . This PISSED off the neighbor whose carpets and furniture were promptly destroyed by the stupid dog... OK, Correction by the untrained dog who had STUPID owners. Though her anger really was a lot like the pot, the kettle and the black... YA KNOW??? After about 2 years of bitching to these people -- especially about the poop in my yard --  they finally put a snow fence up to contain their dog. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Said dog jumped it regularly and gave good chase to her owners -- when they bothered to notice that she was loose. They moved out right before we ended up making the decision to move to the mid-west. So, while we enjoyed the beauty of open windows in nice weather, it was short lived.

That was the first EIGHT years of dog HELL!!

Now we have surpassed the 3 year mark in our new house and we have had a similar dog problem... We have these neighbors that have a fence and had a large number of dogs. Turns out their dogs were all morons. None listened to the neighbors OR the mother-in-law who lived there too. So, they had 2 dogs; 1 big and 1 small. The M-I-L had something like 4 little dogs, maybe more... All these various dogs were in and out all hours of the day and night, they whined and cried and barked and yelped and made a general nuisance of themselves. Some escaped regularly and made a lot of people MAD. Somewhere around 12 - 18 months later the M-I-L moved out and took the majority of the pack with her. That left the other 2. Eventually the neighbors got so annoyed with their lack of control over their dogs that they got rid of one them. It's a shame they did not last more than a day or so before they decided to get yet another dog and would you believe it??? It was a puppy! So puppy was taught no manners and no self control and subsequently offended most of the neighborhood. So, after repeated complaints by the neighbors and one attempted biting incident... they have gotten rid of both dogs. Word is that they have no plans to get another dog. Somehow I think this will not last, but that remains to be seen. (Disclaimer: There have been so many dogs over there that I cannot really say exactly how many there ever were nor how many they have traded in for newer though equally annoying replacements. It was like ants there were so many at one point, so while I believe I generally have the story straight, I cannot claim to be 100% accurate, I just think I am.;-)

Another family has 2 dogs that dig out from under the fence and escape all the time. Their dogs are at least friendly, but still, they are loose and crapping and pissing all over the neighborhood. These people are fully aware and even admit to the problems but do nothing. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY?????? I do not understand how people think it is OK to allow their pets to intentionally antagonize the neighborhood and worse after repeated complaints, do not see that they need to address the problem. One of these days someone is gonna get pissed off and then it will be ugly.... NO, NOT by ME! I would not hurt an animal -- unless I had to protect my child or self from physical harm/danger. I just have heard people complaining vehemently and it would not surprise me if any one of them lost their temper...

We have a State trooper who also has 2 K-9 dogs in his charge. One is old and crippled and retired from service and the other is young and ready to eat your favorite criminal for breakfast, lunch, snack AND dinner. These dogs were trained by the State police and are acclimated to the family of the policeman under whose care they are in. They do not bark or make trouble, UNLESS the loose dogs of the previous paragraph are causing trouble. The K-9's are within their fenced yard and as far as I know have never been loose. Their commander is concerned about the neighboring dogs safety though. He has talked to their owners and has let them know that his dogs are trained to be territorial and to protect their home, so if other dogs make the mistake of coming over or under the fence, there is a good chance of disaster for them. The possibility of this has not even made a dent in concern for keeping their dogs in control. The K-9's live and work without trouble to the neighborhood, but his warning hangs heavy in my mind. I know people would be upset if their pets were hurt, BUT they do nothing and the K-9;s would likely be blamed for anything that happens. You know it, I know it and we all know it would be TOTALLY unfair to the K-9's who do a tough job to protect us all.

Another family adopted a dog, and they are constantly concerned that their dog is bothering anyone. I nearly never hear him barking, especially now that he has gotten past his most babyish puppy stage. They installed an underground fence and took the time to train him to abide it. YAY! I wish all neighbors were so good.

How have I been so fortunate in this life??? (dripping sarcasm here...) Now another neighbor has family staying with them and would you believe our fuckin bad luck????? Yes they brought their 2 dogs. They are barky and annoying and sound quite scary and obnoxious. Yesterday I was sitting on my deck reading and enjoying the beautiful weather. Someone decided to leave the dogs on the deck for a couple hours. So, they stood at the deck edge and barked at me viciously and loudly for about an hour and a half.

I am so pissed! WHY???????????????? Can these people not hear their dogs making a racket? Are they totally immune to their animals? This is unbelievable!!!!! I mean really, is there some covenant that disallows us without dogs the ability to enjoy the land we live on in peace and quiet, which by the way, we pay an ASSLOAD of taxes to own?

OK, so to curb any onset of *BLATE-mail*... When I was in Elementary school, I was taking French after school. I started in 4th grade. So, it was either 4th or 5th grade that I was walking home from said class when a pack of dogs -- pack being about 7 -- surrounded me and were barking and snarling and jumping up and down. None actually bit me, but every time I made to move they bared their teeth. This was in a nice suburban neighborhood. The fact that a pack of dogs was running loose is probably why we now have leash laws! Needless to say, I was late getting home and this being pre-parental-divorce, my Dad was pissed (surely you can infer that this was normal for him...) and came looking for me on the usual walk home route. I could not move. I was rendered totally and completely helpless and stood there crying with my hands over my head to keep my fingers attached. So, along comes my Dad, mind you I heard him yelling my name LOOOOOOONG before I actually saw him, but when I yelled back the dogs went nuts so I shut up. When he finally came around the bend I was quickly rescued and no longer in trouble for being very late and making him worry/angry. The worst part of this is that several people in cars drove past me and NOT ONE PERSON STOPPED. It was evident that I was in trouble and as I was 10 or 11 at best, how could these ADULTS have been so unconcerned? I was scarred for life by this event and have had to steel myself many times in order that I could deal with any dogs belonging to my friends.

*BLATE-Mail* = Blog hate mail... a word I picked up (read - stole!) from another blog and liked....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coming soon on the Bitchin Spot

OK, I am almost ready to let loose on people's barking dogs and unsolicited junk credit cards. Stay tuned for my suggestion to help our poor postal service survive, at least temporarily! LOL

Monday, August 23, 2010

Conversation I just had with my 5 year old

C: "Mom, do they sometimes have to open your stomach to get a baby out?"


ME: "Not usually, but sometimes, yes they do." 


C: "So where do they usually come from then?" 


ME: "Usually they come out your vagina" 


C: "Where is your vagina again?" 


ME: "Down near where your potty comes out" 


C, after a minute or so: "Hmmm. That sounds like it hurts!" 


ME: "Yes, it pretty much does hurt, but not for long!" 


C: "Well, that's good!"

Editor's Note:
Some minor edits have been made to this post.

Report: Mom Just Locked Her Door | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Some days... I SO WANNA DO THIS!

Report: Mom Just Locked Her Door | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

YouTube - Are You F*cking Kidding Me? (Facebook Song) LIVE

HAHA! This was FUNNY enough to share!

YouTube - Are You F*cking Kidding Me? (Facebook Song) LIVE

Grandma vs Grandpa

Got this joke in the e-mail today. Made me laugh! Enjoy! Thanks Jodie for sending it!


Have you ever wondered what the difference between Grandmothers and Grandfathers is?

Well here it is:

A friend, who worked away from home all week,
always made a special effort with his family on the weekends.
Every Sunday morning he would take his 7-year old granddaughter out for
a drive in the car for some bonding time -- just him and his granddaughter.

One particular Sunday however, he had a bad cold and really didn't feel like being up at all.
Luckily, his wife came to the rescue and said that she would take their granddaughter out.

When they returned, the little girl anxiously ran upstairs to see her Grandfather.

'Well, did you enjoy your ride with grandma?'

'Oh yes, Papa' the girl replied, 'and do you know what?
We didn't see a single asshole, dumb bastard, dip-shit or horse's ass anywhere we went today!'

Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Grown Up Bullies

I hate bullies. I was bullied as a kid in Elementary School. Bullies are barely a step above criminals. Liars, cheats and thieves are usually also bullies. The hope is that bullies grow up and learn to be respectable members of society as adults. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

We bought our house and we wanted a property survey, but the job said they would not reimburse the cost if it was not required by the mortgage company. So, we did not get a survey. Soon after we moved in, our new next door neighbor (read: Mr. Know-it-all) informed us that we were not maintaining all of our property and we'd better do so. The property he indicated was in the rear corner and from what we were told by the previous owner, had not been clearly indicated as part of ours. So, we ordered up a survey at our own expense. Lo and behold we discovered that, yes, that was indeed our property. More interesting was  that we discovered that the neighbor at the rear corner had built his retaining wall on our property. A later discussion with Mr. Know-it-all revealed that the corner neighbor had leveled his lot when he decided  to add an in-ground pool in his yard. The result was a large berm placed on the complete length of Mr. Know-it-all's rear property line and on the entire rear corner of our lot.

Having only lived in our house for a few months, we were not looking to get into a pissing match with the new neighbors. Who wants that when you are new to the state AND the neighborhood? Not us! We were already having trouble being tolerated as outsiders, and had no desire to make it worse. Corner guy, (henceforth known as The Bully) approached us one afternoon after he noted the property stakes indicated his property had encroached onto ours. We decided, based on the conversation with him, that we would not immediately require the removal of the wall and hill from our property -- immediately. You see, he told us he was sorry that it happened and that he had NO IDEA that the contractor had gone over the property line, both with the berm from his pool install/lot leveling AND the wall. He said he would even maintain the steep hill created by the berm which was difficult to mow. He said he and his wife had no plans to move anytime soon, as they had kids and were firmly entrenched in the area.

Call us suckers. Call us naive. Call us stupid. Call us good neighbors trying to do the right thing in an awkward situation. We left it that as long as the wall remained in good condition, the area was maintained and we all owned our homes, we would allow the wall to remain. However, we stipulated quite clearly that if any of us decided to sell, then we would have to address the matter legally. This would ensure it was not going to cause problems for sale(s) to be completed and/or become a headache for future homeowners. On a handshake and a thank you to us for being reasonable, we left it at that. However, we contacted the city and county land offices to notate on our properties that there was an encroachment, just as a buffer against problems in the future.

Over the past 3 years, we have watched neighboring children running along the wall and jumping and playing on and near it as well. We were concerned for their safety and for our liability. So we discussed the problem with the parents of the kids, and were assured they would tell their kids to keep off the wall and stay on their own property to play. Imagine our surprise when this was not something the guilty kids cared to stop doing. (HAHA! We were not surprised, as the kids in question do not do anything their parents or anyone else tells then to do!)

April of this year brought us a BIG SHOCK! We discovered that The Bully had listed his house for sale! He NEVER contacted us to let us know and never asked how we should resolve the matter. Needless to say we were a little aggravated by this, because, as you and I know, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to ready your home for sale. So we contacted our attorney and it was determined that, in the interest of expediency, we should send a letter to The Bully and inform him that the offending wall needed to be removed post haste. Well, holy crapoly did that ever get him in a pissy mood! He stormed over to our back yard where we were hanging out with our kids and he immediately began lecturing us in a manner that was just this side of yelling but was obnoxious enough to be considered verbal abuse. We were informed that we were not neighborly, because we did not go knock on his door and discuss it with him before we lawyered up. All this was done in front of my kids who were utterly amazed at this raving maniac in our back yard! Naturally we reminded him of our previous agreement and that he had not followed through with his end by telling us he was selling so we could address the wall beforehand. His response? "Why would I? It's not an eyesore." (Well, that is just laughable. Eyesore or not that fuckin' damned wall does not belong on my property whatsoever!) He said he would get rid of it right away and stormed off.

About an hour later we had a friend stop by and we were out front talking and The Bully's wife comes walking up to us and in front of our company attempts to begin a dialog with us about the chance of buying the land under the wall from us. Then she started whining about the whole thing and again brought up that it was not an eyesore. We told her that was a matter of opinion, BUT we would discuss possible sale with our attorney. She then tried to deny that we ever had an agreement with her husband about the state of thing following the encroachment discovery. Well that just pissed me off! First of all we DID, second of all she was NOT THERE at the time, and lastly she could not speak with respect to a conversation that she had not been present and party too -- and I told her as much. Then I pointed out the very obvious fact that we had visitors and really this was not the time and place for her to interrupt our company -- uninvited.

Our attorney heard from The Bully who agreed to remove the wall. Then he started delaying for this that and the other reason. None of which were ever very clear to us. The key thing that we asked out of all this was that the new wall be COMPLETELY self supporting, as in it COULD NOT rely on our property to hold it up. Because of that and the simple fact that he, Mr. Know-it-all and now another neighbor all said the berm was there because of his pool and property leveling, we requested that he please remove the berm from our property as well. He went nutty at this saying he was not going to take it out. Then suddenly he decided that he had not put the berm there AND then he got Mr. Know-it-all to say the same. After all they had been neighbors for a long time, so these old timers are going to stick together. Gotta love ASSHOLES!

Around 6 weeks after our attorney's letter, The Bully decided to hire his own attorney, which he should have done RIGHT AWAY! Now this has gone out of control! We agreed to remove the berm ourselves IF The Bully would make his wall high enough to accommodate the new grade that we were lowering the berm to. After some wrangling he agreed to that. Aside from that, we felt it appropriate to ask him to reimburse our now $2000 legal bills because he could have done this at the beginning and we would have only been out the $500 deposit. Well after quite a lot of negotiating it was agreed he would repay us $1000 and make the wall self-supporting as previously agreed.

Wouldn't you think this was over now? OH HELL NO! His attorney used language that removed his clients agreement to make the wall reach the new grade. Now we have had 2 weeks of his attorney and our attorney arguing semantics, because his attorney is only interested in protecting his client whereas we and our attorney want to protect Us, The Bully, Mr. Know-it-all AND the other affected neighbor from this issue EVER being a PROBLEM in any way shape or form -- again. As it stands, the way things are going, we have already incurred another almost $1000 in fucking legal fees and we believe that The Bully is attempting to run us through all the money he agreed to pay back and he will likely NEVER sign anything agreeable.

The most interesting thing is that we have several witnesses who can attest to the fact that he built the berm and that he is lying. We even have the developer on our side, whom The Bully tried to blame for the berm at one point! Yet, our attorney seems to feel now that she does not need to put in the effort anymore. Can you imagine? Our attorney who has told us time and again that we have the truth and the witnesses to prove our case is not behaving like an attorney on our side. Now she seems to not care at all what the outcome is.  She has earned almost $3000 and we HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT! That, ladies and gents, is a fucking smack in the face. No one wants to go to court, but it seems that the only person who matters anymore is The Bully who is the fucking asshole that started this whole thing by illegally trespassing on our property with his dirt and wall! At what point does the reality of the fact that he has caused this and has changed his mind and changed his plans repeatedly make a difference to ANYONE? There is no reason for this except to cause us unnecessary financial hardships. Instead of doing the right thing from the get-go.

We have a kid starting college. Every penny in this household already has a qualification for something. The wasted dollars on this is potentially enough to send us over the edge and cause serious hardship. What kind of a motivator does  this guy need to get the job done and do it right? After all, he cannot even sell his house until the work is done. Supposedly he has a contract on his house, but if he really did, he would be racing to make this right...

This situation FINALLY resolved on August 10 AND we had to fork over another $2000 for a NEW wall on our property to keep the Bully's land from washing out our land. SO, $5000 and countless headaches later we can finally say we are free of the smug son of a bitch ! His house sold on the 16th and he is GONE! Let's just hope he hasn't poisoned the new owner against us... That would be a shame, cuz we gotta live near these people for however long -- ya know?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kindergarten, 5th grade, 7th grade and College Freshman

Well damn... Doesn't the  title tell you all you need to know? Either I am psycho or my Hubster was just too amazing to pass up no matter the consequences... HA HA!

Where should I start...? Our youngest started Kindergarten today. She got on that bus and did not look back, which made it hard to get the requisite picture for Grandma. We did get a wave and a grin as the bus reversed to get out of our cul-de-sac, but she was hardly paying any attention to us! That always hurts the most, because you think they are going to cry and beg you to protect them and keep them with you. The teacher said there might be a 2 week lag when all of a sudden the kids realize... this is all day every day... and there might be a meltdown. Unless this kid proves different than the other 3, there is not going to be a 2 week lag. She is moving on and I will just have to DEAL WITH IT!

My 5th grader is doing well already. She is always a teachers pet, because she is such a loving sweetie. She seems to be available and ready to help - always. So I expect with this teacher the same will happen. We already love this teacher. Our son had her 2 years ago and she really caught on to him right away. She recognized his needs and that was the first time a teacher had really done so and worked to make him feel valued since we moved here. So, Mrs. L-W is an angel to us! I know she will read my daughter and find her the right place in the order of things. That bodes well for the year.

My son is now in 7th grade. He is starting to seem like the boys do when they get to that cross-over stage in middle school. I watched my college daughter's friends advance through this, so while I am totally unprepared -- HAHA -- I am familiar with what it is I am seeing. My little man is not so little anymore and it is so hard to know he is moving to that next stage of independence, because he has always been the one that needed me the least of my crew.

My oldest is headed to college this weekend. My Hubster is taking her on the 4 hour trek to get her settled in. We would love to go as a family, but when there are so many of  us, it really costs a lot. 6 meals, 2 hotel rooms, and in this instance it would also mean 2 vehicles. That is just too outrageous to afford in these lean times. So, I will be sad to miss out on her maiden voyage to the new world of college. Hell, I am already sad. Miss college kid is taking a GIANT leap from the nest. She is not the kid I expected to go so far from home, but I believe that she will do well. She has made a wonderful choice in her school and I believe she will be afforded every opportunity to make her way in this crazy world we live in. She has dreams, which is a lot more than I had at her age. I just wanted to have kids... and here we are!

My neighbor came today to thank my 10 year old for recognizing her struggle with sadness over her son going off to Kindergarten. He and my 5 year old are pals, but sadly did not get  the same teacher. Anyway, my tender hearted girl saw my friend at school and could tell she was sad and needed some affection. So, she gave her a hug -- there may be more to the story, but that is enough for me. This afternoon the doorbell rang --  my neighbor had come to personally thank my daughter for her kindness and she brought CINNAMON ROLLS -- the HOMEMADE ones! It does a Mommy's heart good to hear a sweet story about one of your own. After all, you work to give your kids guidance and when you see the evidence that it is getting through, it feels warm and fuzzy inside.

My friend asked me today if I had cried yet -- between Kindergarten and college all in one week. I had not -- until she came and told me about her struggle AND my sweetie pie. I have to admit that I had steeled myself against the emotional wave, because I expect I am to be crushed by it on Saturday when the college departure arrives. So, a tear or two squeaked out today but I know that I will be drowning in them in just a few short days.

Ramblings of a Neurotic Housewife

Ramblings of a Neurotic Housewife
Loved this BLOG!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eat Pray Love... the movie

I have not set foot in a movie theater since Shrek 2 was in theaters, so that was when we still lived back home. I had not seen a single trailer that made me really want to go to the movies, so I don't think I missed much. If I wanted to see it, there will always be the DVD, right?

Since I rather enjoyed the book, I decided I wanted to go see Eat Pray Love in the theater with my man. Hubster was home today and with the college bound kid spending QT with the younger of the crew before she leaves Saturday, I decided today was the day to go. We hopped on the motorcycle since the weather was BEAUTIFUL and off we went.

Lucky for him, Hubster was not the only guy in the theater, though the other 2 were definitely members of the senior citizen age group. Weekdays the tickets are $5 and we shared a small soda that cost a whopping $4.25! WOW... something seems wrong with that!

ANYWAAAAY!! I liked the movie. I knew from the trailers that they had left out HUGE chunks and had altered a few things to fit it all in. Still, I was mostly ok with that. Julia Roberts was not who I saw in my mind when I was reading the book, so my initial reaction to hearing that she was going to play Liz Gilbert was NO WAY!!! I was more in the mind frame of Gwyneth Paltrow, but that was more due to how she looks than her acting ability. However, I think she pulled it off, largely because of her expressive facial and body language.

So, go and enjoy the movie, take your tissues and if you've read the book, pretend you haven't so that the missing/altered parts don't glare at you too much! I will definitely be adding the DVD to the collection, right alongside my copy of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DORK!

WOW! FYI: Apparently I am a DORK for having a blog. My 18 year old daughter thinks it is dumb that I have one. She actually said to me "What do you have to blog about?" and "I don't even have one."

HOLY CRAP! I am so glad that my daughter thinks I am so uninteresting! I lose sleep over that you know?

I may not be all that interesting, but I will give credit to my Hubster for suggesting that I give it a whirl. I have always been the type who needed to vent and I have written for years. Most of it goes in the shredder when I am done. Since we have been here and I have a very different dynamic going than that of the support net of friends back home, I feel like this is actually doing me some good. I nearly always feel somewhat calmer after I write -- this just saves a lot in the wasted paper dept. It takes the edge off, which is the whole point. I even wait to post after I write to make certain I am not posting without considering what I am saying.

So, if I am a dork, then so be it.

Team of Rivals

OK, so if you know me, you know I love Books, I love to read AND I read A LOT. I read all sorts of things. A little Romantic fluff here, a little Murder mystery there. Of late I have taken to reading the musings of people who decided that their personal life journeys were interesting enough to be published. Then there is History. I like most history. When I was about 16 or 17, I read the HUGE tome Peter the Great. Who, at that age reads these things you ask? Well me. I have no clue if any of my peers read these things then, because I was too embarrassed to let on that, despite my wild behavior, I was actually an intellectual soul. Most of my friends thought I lived and died by Stephen King books, which was only slightly true. Anyway, at almost 40, it is hardly an embarrassment to be interested in history and be somewhat intellectual... The transition from Historical fiction to History has been an easy one.

I am now reading Team of Rivals -- The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Can I just tell you that I am really into this book! I am surprised how much was not learned in school about the man himself and particularly that the fervor in the nation was never really expressed to me as so volatile by any teacher I ever had. All I can say is, I had only 1 teacher - EVER - that made history even remotely interesting -- thank you Mr. Mullaney! Sadly he could not make up for the lack in all those who came before him.

I have long been interested in the Civil War and the events that took place during those years, but I never really delved into the events leading up to the election of Lincoln and how the fuse was lit. To say the least, this book has caused me to feel inside the anxieties and heartfelt emotions of the people of our great country when so much was at stake. I can even understand better, though I would NEVER have agreed with, the South's efforts to preserve their way of life and what the removal of slavery would do to their financial stability and more interestingly... their self image and identity. Previously I have always just thought the South was motivated by greed and a sincere -- and SICKENINGLY WRONG -- belief that blacks, slave or free, were not humans that deserved respect, but a lower life form to be treated as lower than animals. I mean consider that many treated their farm animals and house pets with considerable love and adoration. Can you imagine living your life knowing that you were valued less than an animal? I cannot fathom the ache this must have cause these people who by no means started life wanting to be treated this way. For all the interest I have had in the Civil War, I never considered that, for the slave owners, it was an entirely natural way to behave, because that was what they knew and understood. As with anyone, you learn at the most basic level to be as your ancestors wish. Even now, too many people find it either difficult or impossible to ultimately reject the long held ideals of their families/peers, especially when those ideals are offensive to the very core of humanity. It takes an iron will to stand amid that type of ideology and express not just doubt but absolute horror at the actions of those you know and love. Far to many Southerners must've feared absolute rejection or possibly slaughter of themselves and likely kept their feelings quiet as a matter of self preservation. Those who stood up in the South and openly rejected slavery risked everything to do so and I doubt I could ever understand what it meant for them on any level to do so.

Anyway, this book has really given me a different insight into things than I previously had. Certainly adulthood and parenthood contribute some to that. Different than a straight biography, this story unfolds around many participants in the History of the time. I had no expectations going into this and was not at all certain I was even going to be able to read it through. Some books of history can be so dull as to ruin them before you ever get to the stuff you want/need to know. All I can say is that if you like history then you would probably like this book. I have laughed, cried and held my breath.

Friday, August 13, 2010

the curiousmouse blog

the curiousmouse blog
My oldest (duration not age, though... she is a little older! HAHA) friend A's got a blog too! I had totally forgotten... Shame on me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Krista's Kitchen

Krista's Kitchen

A great blog -- chock full of yummy recipes. I found it today while looking for a Cheeseburger Dip recipe. I found quite a few, so now I have to decide WHICH ONE!

Friday, August 6, 2010

School Supplies/School

UN-FRICKIN'-BELIEVEABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, my Kinderg√§rtner's school supply list asks for 1- 8pk. Crayola Crayons and 3 - 24pk's. Crayola Crayons! WHY??? This is RIDICULOUS!!! At best, over the years, my kids use their crayons at school a few times and then they bring them -- largely unused -- home at the end of the year. I have a gazillion crayons in the bin in the basement to prove it. Every year we throw away the broken ones to make room for the latest batch. Think about this, I have been buying school supplies since my college freshman was in Pre-K, so we are talking 15 years of crayons plus a couple more kids worth added  in!!! (Did you know some High School classes still want your kids to bring crayons??? SERIOUSLY!!!)

Why does each kid need a pack of fat markers AND skinny markers? Up to 3rd grade make them fat. After that make them skinny. Dry erase markers? This is beyond me -- but apparently they MUST have the named brand from the list. Nothing else will do!!! Granted there are some that last better than others, BUT over the course of the year, only so many get used anyway. Know how I know??? Because I have a stockpile of them too! We usually get them all back at the end of the year... Obviously they do not need ALL the kids to bring them or they would not be coming back... RIGHT??? (Does anyone else miss those old markers that smelled awesome and gave you a buzz??? LMAO!!!)

Let's talk about GLUE bay-bee! Our district likes an obscure glue, apparently only available from the mom and pop drug store in town. It is about $3 per roller of Pentel clear liquid glue. (https://www.pentelstore.com/index.php?grp=653)The BEST part of this??? They use this fancy assed damned glue in K, 1 and 2! WHY OH WHY do they need the most expensive glue on the PLANET when they are at their most wasteful age? Elmer's is frickin' AMAZING stuff! Works great! And HEY, those new fangled glue sticks are just ducky too! Sure beats that nasty, clumpy, stinky old paste we had when I was a kid! (Yeah Yeah, I know some people liked the smell, some even ate it, but whoa boy -- NOT ME! That crap was NASTY!!!)

Can we talk about wasted paper? HOLY SHIT!!! Every year at least one, usually more than one, of my kids is required to bring in 3-5 of those bound cardboard composition books. Why? They use about 10-12 pages and then they bring them home at the end of the year and cannot reuse them the next. WHY, you ask? Well, because the teacher, and sometimes the student, writes whatever they want -- all over the front and then the next teacher can't, so they need a new -- read: virgin -- composition book. Spiral notebooks? Total waste of money. They do not hold up. (HELLO!!! Have you seen what a boy child can do to the spiral???) The right idea? ONE binder with dividers and loose leaf paper! Maybe even a single 1/2" binder for each class...or a shared by 2n classes 1" binder... Why, you ask, should we go back to this draconian method??? Well, my friends, because it is cheaper and easier for the kids when they have it all in one place. The binders, if not ruined (see below), are reusable, especially if they have the clear slot in front for indexing the contents. Easily changed from one quarter/semester/year to the next. DUH!!!

Binders... Some teachers actually tell you they want a certain size ring binder... and that is GREAT! I hate not knowing what size to get. Especially when they come home the first week and say they need something DIFFERENT. Of course, by then you know that the kids have already mucked up the one you want to return and so you are stuck with it... What truly sucks is that some teachers tell you they want your kids to have a specific type/brand binder. Usually this happens to be a VERY expensive one. Why do I need to spend $15 - $18 on a binder so it can break and be replaced 3x over the year??? This is insane! A $3 binder will last just as long and sure doesn't feel like a sin to buy...

Tissues, zipper bags and disinfectant wipes... I get the tissues, OK. No one wants the kid with the snot nose  not to have a place to blow. I even get the need for sanitary wipes, BUT in all honesty -- the school janitorial staff should be sanitizing the classrooms daily during the flu/cold season. They get paid to clean up stuff. Why the hell are my kid's teachers wasting their precious teaching time or the kids precious learning time wiping crap down? I do not send my kids to school to do chores. They have chores to do at home! Zipper bags are the worst! Talk about a waste AND they're not environmentally friendly AT ALL! Not one thing my kids has brought home really needed more than either a paper clip or a paper sack.

REALLY BIG POINT HERE ABOUT ZIPPER BAGS and pretty much all school supplies: they are generally NOT very environmentally friendly, and YET our schools are trying to teach our kids to go green with much in their lives. Can you say POT-CALLING-KETTLE-BLACK??? The school leadership needs to look at the waste and the amount of crap we parents are buying every year. They need to streamline the needs of the teachers -- and the classroom as a whole -- to be more environmentally friendly from Pre-K to 12th grade and right on into college. I am not some over-the-top environmental freak. I know I can do better at home, but I am pretty damned vigilant about what I do incorporate into our home life to make things better for the future. The schools can do better -- A LOT BETTER!!! And they could give a really good example to the future of our country. Which, if you ask me (shut-up I know you did not ask), is what they are SUPPOSED to be doing ANYWAY!!!

Teachers have a very difficult job, and I know they spend  more of their own money than they ought, to get the things they (think they?) need. That said, I believe that some of them have gone around the bend and are just plain taking advantage. It is ridiculous enough that, for Public school, I have to re-register annually AND pay a fee for each of my kids to cover text books and materials for the classroom. THEN add all the supplies on the initial classroom lists which has a note at the bottom stating that individual teachers will be sending home specific required item lists for their individual  classrooms during the first few days of attendance. Someone PLEASE tell me -- WHAT THE FUCK DO I PAY TAXES FOR???

All these school districts that have had to lay-off teachers? I feel REALLY bad for them -- and yes, I am including ours. That said, all these districts ought to be damned ashamed of themselves! When you have a good year and sometimes a few in a row, that does not mean that you BLOW it all on stuff! If you don't have a buffer fund for troubled times or unexpected hardships, then you are playing with fire. The reality is the B of E should be the first to take a pay cut when tough roads are ahead. The highest paid salaries should NOT receive bonus' or raises' at the expense of the lowest wage earning teachers. The teachers are in the classrooms. That is the most VITAL of all educational positions. A big-wig's raise can damned well wait! Yes, they have families like the rest of us, but most of them have also been at the other end -- and if they cannot remember that far back, then they are beyond useless!

PTA/PTO -- I am SORRY, but we do not need fancy landscaping. We need textbooks and teachers' funds and classroom stuff that makes teachers jobs easier. We need to raise money for them to get the things they want/need, without requiring us parents to spend small fortunes at the beginning of the year for supplies. We need  to have reasonably priced fundraisers that don't put a burden on families or the kids themselves. It is sickening to me that they pressure kids by having an award for the classroom with the highest or 100% participation. These kids are essentially being bullied into participation by their peers and teachers in order to receive whatever lame-ass prize the PTA/PTO hands out. HELLO, these kids families may not be able to afford it, bit let's put the pressure on the kids and the parents will cave in and sacrifice more than  they can to make the damned PTO/PTA happy. How about where these schools have had to lay-off some of their support staff, the PTA/PTO's coordinate a team of volunteers to take up the slack, so the remaining staff is not bowled over by the lack of helping hands. This is more important than fancy artwork for the halls. The kids art should be the only art on display!

Kudos to my Hubster, who has a novel idea! These are troubled times, but some of the big-ass corporations are still making money hand-over-fist off the backs of many of us who are helping line their coffers. These companies REALLY should step up to the plate and DONATE DONATE DONATE. Not just a little, BUT HUGE amounts of money, material and even their time. They'd get a major tax write-off and they'd look good in the PR dept -- and then guess what would happen...? They'd get even more business from those of us already lining their coffers and more who weren't before. SO, they'd have made even more money, SO the tax write-off and PR points become the cherry on top for them.

One final item on this topic: Here in the mid-west, we were told by our school district, we are about 10 years behind the coasts in curriculum. WTF??? I am sorry, but this is unacceptable in the age of the internet. Get your fucking curriculum up to speed! Do not let the coasts have an unnecessary advantage over the mid-west. Chase them suckers down damn-it-all! My kids and yours deserve the best education out there and waiting to see how it plays out in the coasts is a lame-ass excuse for not making the effort. We moved here from the east coast and our kids repeated what they learned back home in the first 2 years we were here. That was inexcusable! All our schools here are computer ready and all the kids need to be given the most -- not the status quo. Kids are not taught to memorize anything anymore, they are told it is OK to have a calculator as early as 3rd grade! My college freshman is really smart, BUT touch math (and yes, she learned that nasty trick on the east coast -- UGH!) is the only way she can add or subtract. This is AWFUL! Our PTA back home brought in parent volunteers to run a math program for memorization to help our kids -- and it helped a lot, but I know many of those kids -- and they still fall back on touch math because it is easier. This is not a lesson we should be teaching our kids! The point is that the coasts do not always have the best anyway. The curriculum here is so rigid that the kids in the class who are more advanced are held in check to let their peers catch up. This is in direct defiance of no child left behind in my opinion. You cannot hold a kid back because they have already mastered the skill-set. Advance them to the next skill-set. How many of these kids waiting are turning into trouble makers or are becoming depressed because they feel they are not worthy of being taught??? If a curriculum does not encompass all ranges of the skill-set in a grade level, then ALL the kids are suffering from an unfair system. It is not bad to be advanced, it is not bad to be average and it is not bad to be the kid who has a hard time grasping concepts. Use these kids to HELP EACH OTHER and put their smarts to work for them and the classroom. DO NOT PENALIZE  the smart kid anymore than you should the slower kid.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wineaux's

Today's post is NOT a bitch!
I had a really fun experience last night and thought I would share....

There is a winery in the next town, about 15 mins. from home. My neighbor had previously told me about some of the events she and her Hubster have been to over there, and had brought some wine and cheese over one night for us 4 to try. YUMMY! She called me the other night to ask me if I had any interest in going to the winery's ladies night with her. Apparently they do this once a month. There is usually a charity they donate to and some form of game to be played. You pay $5 to get in -- which includes a dinner, raffle ticket and a sample of a wine. They have a cash bar set up and many large tables -- seating about 10-12 each. The game last night was a form of BINGO, using the word WINES instead. The catch was that along with the letter and number, an item you might find in your purse is also called -- which you must have to X off the square on your card. When you reach 5 in a row, you are to jump up and yell WINEAUX at the top of your lungs. That was about the funniest thing I had seen in ages. I left my purse at home so I was largely out of the running, but fun was had anyway! As an added treat, we all got to taste and then submit an entry in a contest to name their new Strawberry Wine. The proceeds from this wine will be used locally to help fund many things related to fighting cancer and the American Cancer Society. I chose the name Tickle Pinkle, so we'll see what happens...

Before I went, I mentioned to a friend that we were going and asked how she liked it when she went before. Cynthia said it was a great time and showed up with a pile of pals. That was great for my neighbor and me -- as neither one of us knew anyone else there and were not sure how it was going to play out. It was a  good time with my neighbor, and I met a few fun folks as well. I look forward to going again -- maybe even next month! AND I look forward to getting to know my neighbor Laura better as well. YAY!

Wherever you are, check your local wineries to see what sort of events they have. The wineries I had been to back home all did festivals and the like through the nice weather months, but I don't remember anything like this. If you find something fun, share share share! We don't always have to be Bitchy here! =]