Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

December, by the numbers....

  • 8, trips to the doctor for various kids to be tested for strep, the fever-headache bug going around, or the pink eye Brett decided to sport. The nurse laughed nervously when I mentioned wanting my own personal parking space.
  • 6, the number of stitches Curt needed the night he put a hatchet into his thigh cutting up firewood kindling.
  • 4, the number of times I said "That is so cool." watching the doctor and student PA put in the sutures.
  • 3, (approximate) weeks since I woke up snuggled up to Curt, head bent back, and realized that I'd pinched a nerve in my neck. I have been walking around, neck contorted, arm hanging limply at my side, trying to relieve the pain to no avail since.
  • 6, types of narcotics, muscle relaxers, and steroids prescribed to me for said nerve pain; which manages to run from my neck, through my shoulder, down my arm, and into my hand.
  • 3, number of times my doctor shrugged when I asked how long this will take to heal. Not coincidentally, the number of times I banged my head off of the exam table.
  • 25903, the number of cracks my bones made when the Chiropractor tried to rip my head off in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on the nerve.
  • 0, number of times I've been back to the Chiropractor.
  • 32, the number of people, (kids and hubs included), that I had to buy for this year. Say it, "Thirty-two".
  • 33, years aged on December 20
  • 1, large gift basket from Godiva, sent by very sweet and very anxious-to-have-his-wife-in-a-better-mood husband.
  • 6432, number of calories consumed from basket.
  • 891685, number of cute or funny things that the kids have said or done recently, that I've neglected to document because of pity party. Will try to do better after the new year, promise.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Amber Alert

Sorry I've been MIA. I kind of hit a wall recently and had to shut down for a while. Aside from the holidays (and the family...oye, the family) and the daily stress of being responsible for 6 little lives, I've had some other personal issues at play. And like any wife and mother, I became the pack-mule for all of it until I woke up one day with such anxiety, that I was having chest pains. Anyway, I'm taking a break from all of the non-necessary things in life and re-evaluating what I can reasonably handle without having to live on sedatives to cope. Kidding, kidding. Mostly.

I hope to be back to posting regularly as soon as I can hack it again. Thanks for all of the emails and shout outs, it helps to know that you are thinking of me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Because Mike and Brett are boneheads, I confiscated both of their iPods promtly after they got them, lowered the volume level, and then set a four-digit-passcode on it to prevent them from blowing out their eardrums. They both occasionally ask if I'll raise the limit on them, and despite my adamant refusals, they don't seem detered. Tonight at dinner Michael asked me what the code was, because he'd tried my anniversary, my birthday, and his birthday and none of them worked.

"I tell you what Mike, if you guess it you can blast your questionable taste in music as loudly as you'd like."

Naturally, Brett perks up and joins in. "Score!" he says. "Can you give us a hint?"

"I'll tell you this much. It's not a birthday or an anniversary, and it's not a random number."

All throughout dinner, they continued to pepper me with questions, looking for clues.

"Is it your age and Curt's age?"


"Is it the day you and Curt met?"

"Brett, I'm not even sure what the date was when I met Curt."

"Jeez, we'll you'd better hope he doesn't either or that could get ugly."

"Is it the first four digits of our phone number?"


"Is it the numbers in our address?"

"Not even warm."

He looks stymied as we clear the table. "I've got it!" He says. "It's the number of times you predicted Michael and I would ask you what the code is!"

Friday, November 21, 2008

The big one-five

This morning after Michael left for school I dug through some old pictures until I found this one of him at his first birthday.

He rarely claps with gleeful abandon these days, but it's amazing to me how much like that little dude he still is.

Happy Birthday my first baby, I love you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Age appropriate

Last night to save time, Curt hopped in the shower with Evan. They were scrubbing off when I hear Curt start to chip away at the wall Evan's put up about potty training.

"See, Evan has a pee-pee, and Daddy has a pee-pee. Only Daddy goes big boy potty with his."

Evan's tiny voice echos out of the shower. "I don't want to. Yours has stuff on it."

Curt laughs, "Yes, Daddy's has stuff on it, but you're too little for that."

They finish showering and Evan runs into the bedroom where I'm sitting with Ellie, grabs himself and proclaims "I'm too little to get some with my peep!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brettism Hump Day, naughty or nice

I've come to the point in my elf'ing where I'm just plain stumped on what to get the older boys. They're in that weird age where things like Power Rangers aren't cutting it, but Mommy's not shelling out the dough for a snowmobile. Brett was helping me make dinner when I decided to pick his brain and asked him what he wanted.

"A baby brother."

I almost chop the tip of my finger off. "Are you high? The three brothers you have aren't enough?"

"Oh, they're plenty, but I just want one that doesn't suck."

"Sorry, but Santa closed that factory. Next item on the list?"

"Well, the next obvious choice would be a Dunkin Donuts in my bedroom."

"So, Nintendo it is?"

"Sure, sounds great Mom."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The gift that keeps on giving

Yesterday on a whim as I was changing Evan, I asked him if he'd like to sit on the potty before I put the new diaper on. Oddly enough, he agreed. Curt and I followed him back to the bathroom, sitting with him, chatting.

He sat there for a good 15 minutes, not once showing any signs of impending productivity. I decided to try and seize the moment anyway.

"Hey Evan, did you know that if you start wearing big boy underwear, Grandma will mail you a present?"

He perks up. "A big one or a little one?"

"I don't know. You have to decide what you might like."

He screws up his face, you can see the wheels turning, completely aware that the world is his oyster at that moment. "A basket." He finally answers.

"A basket?" I'm lost.

"Yeah, a basket" he says, firmly.

I look at Curt, he looks as confused as I do until it hits him. "Ohhh, I just had to take the laundry basket away from him again. He was dragging it over to the counter to get into everything."

I blink and look down at Evan, dumbstruck. He smiles. "Nice, Ev. Nice."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking into home schooling

Yesterday as I was changing Evan's morning diaper, I was suddenly so disgusted and frustrated with the whole ordeal. Seriously, if I were to add up the number of diapers I'd changed in my life time... I don't even want to think about it. And I guess I got a little cranky, because Evan's a smart kid. If he had any desire he could have been potty trained months ago.

But he doesn't, he could care less. Well, that's not true, he cares very much about not going on the potty. We've explained that you cannot go to preschool in diapers. He has talked about going to school like a big boy for over six months now, but replied with a very firm, "I'm not going to school now." when we tried that tactic. And, he's completely unperturbed by the nastiness of it. One day last month, he woke up and immediately wanted breakfast. This is rare, and the kid is tiny, so I jumped all over it; sitting him at the table with a cup and his food right away. He stood up when he was finished and walking away, he was making squishing noises. Smelly, squishy noises. The little snot sat there and leaked all over himself and it never even registered to him to request help or be cleaned. He didn't care.

So, yesterday I figured that I'd just take the hard line approach with him, which is usually the only approach that works with the stubborn little man. I told him I didn't have any diapers for him, all of the ones in the box had Ellie's name on them. Insanely enough, he didn't argue this point. He flailed and whined as I wiggled him into his Thomas undies. All morning long, I sat him on that damn potty. Finally, I just dragged it into the kitchen, figuring it couldn't be any less sanitary than the breakfast incident, and because leaving Ellie unattended is like posting your bank account info on the web. It is going to cost you.

It finally worked. After lots of snacks, toys, reading, crying, whining, and bitching he went. Once. And not since then. He had nap time right after he used it, and I'm motivated and all, but not suicidal. Looking inside one of his dirty diapers is bad enough, I really don't want to see that mess all over his room.

The energy I spent fighting him on this yesterday literally gave me a migraine, and with Curt leaving mid-day for work, it was a battle I couldn't fight alone and still make sure that everyone ate something besides stale pretzels for dinner. So, I'm tabling it. Again. At least until Curt has another seven day break and we can tag team the brat.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Must be the winning smile

I grabbed the younger four and headed over to the school to pick Michael and Brett up, fresh from their defeat at the dodgeball tournament. Brett is sitting in the back seat, describing the games in vivid detail, only he's directing it all to Ellie, complete with baby-soothing dulcet tones.

"And then I saw a five-month-old baby today Ellie! I patted her head, and talked to her, but she just stared at me blankly." he pauses, and tilting his head to the side adds, "Actually, I get that reaction from most people I talk with too."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brettism Hump Day salutes the vets

"Hey Brett, did you know that today is Uncle Mathew's birthday?"

"Yup, he's a veteran."

"Oh, yeah, what is he a veteran of?"

"Growing up with you, obviously."

"Well played Brett, well played."


Monday, November 10, 2008


Part of the genius that is geekie brother is the fact that several years ago, he was smart enough to find this woman.

Who not only tolerates living with a man who thinks "the floor is the biggest shelf in the condo", but amazingly doesn't smother him in his sleep after he says it. Aside from being gorgeous, and well on her way to saint-hood, she's insanely talented. An editor by day, she's now written a book, which she is hoping to get published through a contest. She sent me this link this morning, to give everyone an idea of the rules and of the book. She's also giving away a $10 gift certificate to anyone who copy and posts the following on their blog. So, please click the links below to go to her blog, her interview, and then most importantly vote for her! Pretty, pretty please??


The American Title contest is a joint project between Romantic Times Magazine and Dorchester Publishing. Each year, Dorchester selects a handful of submissions to compete for a publishing contract, and YOU, the readers, get to choose the winner.

To spread the word about the contest, finalist Jessica Darago (author of The Serpent's Tooth, a gothic historical), is raffling a $10 bookstore gift certificate to anyone who copies this message into his/her own blog. You don't have to vote for Jessica, or vote at all, to win. (But Jessica sure hopes you will!)

The winner may choose a gift certificate from Amazon, Powells, Fictionwise, or even iTunes (because audiobooks deserve love too).

To enter, copy this message to your own blog and leave a link to your post at http://justjayj.livejournal.com/259245.html

To vote for Jessica, send a blank email to votes@romantictimes.com with "The Serpent's Tooth" in the subject line.

Visit Jessica at http://justjayj.livejournal.com for more information and a link to read all of the American Title entries.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The last time she wants to hang out with me

All this week I had prepped Emma for our very special "girls night" on Friday. Em got a Kit doll from the American Girl catalog last year for Christmas, and when the movie came out, she, of course wanted to see it. Naturally, no theater within 30 miles of Bumfark carried it, so she had to settle for the promise that we would watch it on DVD.

I didn't tell her that the movie had come out, just ordered it, and procured some Cheesecake Factory cheesecake-goodness from Sam's club, in preparation for our big night. After dinner and baths, I sent her to her room, popped the pop corn, dished the cheesecake out on the good dishes, put the movie in, and then led her into the living room.

She was beside herself with joy. She giggled for the first ten minutes, and we snuggled, our hands bumping into each other in the popcorn bowl. And then I brought out the cheesecake. I savored my first few bites and then looked over to ask Emma how she liked hers. She had inhaled it in a way that would have put the Cookie Monster to shame; I had to stop her from licking the plate.

We went back to the movie, but after about 20 minutes she turned to me and told me she didn't feel very good. I chalked it up to gluttony at first, but after three trips to the bathroom, and a thermometer reading of 103, it was clear she was really sick.

I tucked her into bed, brushing the hair off of her face, and told her how sorry I was that our girls night hadn't gone as planned.

"That's okay Mommy." She snuggled down into the pillow and then looked up as an afterthought. "Next time could you not make me eat all that cheesecake though?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brettism Hump Day spells it all out

Emma is sitting at the table, scarfing breakfast, reciting her spelling words for the week while I pull bits of mushed banana from Ellie's hair.

"I can spell Ellie's name too mom, E-L-L-I-E. And Evan is E-V-A-N and Brett is B-R-A-T-T. Wait, no that's not it."

Michael snorts, "No you had it right."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did you do it yet, did you?? Hunh, hunh, HUNH????

Judging by what I'm seeing on the news, the voter turnout this year is record breaking. Everywhere that is, except for Bumfark. When Lucas and Emma got off of the bus this afternoon, I loaded them up and headed to our local community building to vote, all 150 square feet of it. In the five minutes it took for us to get out of the car, go in and vote, and then leave, I didn't see a single other voter.

Lucas and Emma got a huge kick out of it anyway, I showed them how the card went into the machine, how mommy pushed the buttons for her choice, and how amazing it was that all across the country millions of people were doing the very same thing to have a voice. It was so cool Lucas felt moved to announce the room at large just who I had picked.

Civics lesson, check. Discretion, FAIL.

Hope springs eternal

With my addiction to Project Runway, Curt caught quite a few episodes by default. I don't think he minded too much, especially since Heidi Klum turned up in every episode looking very much like a goddess incarnate.

Last night as I was baking the cookies, Curt was in the living room with Mike watching the Steelers game. I walk in, between batches, to catch some of it. "Honey you just missed it! Heidi Klum was doing a commercial for Guitar Hero and she was dancing around in a white men's shirt like Tom Cruise in Risky Business." He's awestruck.

"Well, I'm sure it was much more exciting for you than it would have been for me, babe." He grins.

We continue to watch the football game and moments before we're ready to turn it off and go to bed, he yells again. "Here it is!! Look!" And sure enough, Heidi slides into a living room in a white Oxford shirt. Only this time she proceeds to strip down to a very revealing black bra and panties before gyrating around the room.

"Whoa. Maybe I should stay up and watch some more, maybe next time she'll do it nude."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ginger Molasses PATRIOTIC cookies

A couple of weeks ago I made some of Jonah Lisa's fabulous Ginger Molasses cookies, and in an effort to still fit into my jeans after the holidays, I sent quite a few of them to work with Curt.

Apparently, they were a hit. One of his co-workers even remarked that for a dozen of those gems, he'd vote for the candidate of my choice. A sure stab at Curt, since we occasionally clash on politics.

I've never met the guy, have no idea who he was planning on voting for before he first tasted cookie nirvana, and no clue who he will indeed vote for tomorrow; but if those cookies induce him to get to the poll, well, I'm firing up the oven.

I'd obviously love it if my candidate wins; but more importantly, I think it's essential that every adult in this country votes. You may feel lukewarm about both presidential candidates, and yeah, the electoral college is a bit *ahem* outdated, but that's not all that's at stake. Tomorrow you will elect local government, vote on propositions, you will effect how your community is run. To eschew such a privilege is a huge slap in the face of those who fought and continue to fight for our right to choose.

So, bake some of these amazing cookies, and VOTE, dammit!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Like father, like son

The other day as I was sitting on the couch with Evan, folding laundry as he watches some Noggin, a commercial for Barbie comes on. Ev walks over grinning.

"Mom, naked Barbies have boobies."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's the Banned Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year; the smell of fall in the crisp air, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, and the tangible anticipation of the next sugary-crack score. I think it's because I've always had really great memories of trick-or-treating growing up that I'm taking Bumfark's ban on it so hard.

Evidently, one year they had some *gasp* minor vandalism in the form of some smashed pumpkins and toilet paper adorned trees. To avoid such a catastrophe in the future, they banned door to door visits and decided to throw a Halloween party in the gymnasium every year. Which, I suppose could be a lot of fun, but they've dumbed it down to pure torture. Picture a tiny gym filled with every child and parent in a 10 mile radius standing around like cattle, waiting to be herded to the center of the room for the costume judging for their age group/category. After two hours of this idiocy you and your sweaty, miserable children exit and are handed a small bag of candy.

They don't even have the decency to buy the good chocolate.

This year bio-dad offered to take them to his neighborhood, a real live subdivision, jack-o-lanterns sitting on porches the way it should be. And I'm sad that I'll miss enjoying the actual event with them, but I'm glad that they're getting to experience it. And in the spirit of the holiday, last night I gathered up the kidlets, poured some popcorn into bowls, and we all sat down and enjoyed another Halloween tradition by watching poor Linus wait for his great pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brettism Hump Day has all the answers

Last night it was the usual chaos during the arsenic hour as I was making dinner. The kids had assembled at the table as I scrambled to get food onto eight waiting plates. Finally the din got so loud that I turned around and yelled "Is it so difficult to JUST BE QUIET???"

Emma looks up and starts to reply, but Brett cuts her off. "Em-ma, you're going to get us in more trouble. And that was called a rhetorical question. That means you should know the answer by how loudly she asks the question."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I'm posting this because of two things that happened yesterday. First, the super cool Beth tagged me and challenged me to reveal seven things about myself that you might not know. A few minutes later I pulled up the Pioneer Woman website and she had written a post asking everyone to write five adjectives to describe themselves, after she talked in great length about the movie Heartburn, inflicting me with a Carly Simon-Coming Around Again earworm. Thanks a lot PW.

So without further ado...

  1. I almost named Emma, Chloe instead. In fact, I went into the hospital completely intending to do so, but after looking at her I decided that she just didn't 'feel' like a Chloe. I've regretted it ever since.
  2. I have a huge weakness for both good chocolate and good body lotion. I also try to avoid both if at all possible; the first because I have no control and it likes to sit where I do, and the second because I can't justify dropping $27.50 on a jar of stuff that Emma will likely try to paint her room with.
  3. I grew up in an agnostic house, but attended both Catholic and Protestant churches from time to time growing up. In the past year I've realized that as a mother, I needed to not be so apathetic about my stance on religion and am now raising the kids to be secular humanists.
  4. Despite not wanting any more kids, or even really liking being pregnant, I think I will always miss it. Rather like a gestational Stockholm Syndrome.
  5. A few days ago Curt and I booked a mini-vacation to Vegas in February. Geekie brother and his girlfriend are going to meet us there...VEGAS, baby!

And my five adjectives, although I left out the obvious maternal one.
  1. Tenacious
  2. Weaning
  3. Sarcastic
  4. Introverted
  5. Protective

That was actually pretty cathartic, if you're feeling up to it please do your own and link me to them, I'd love to read them!

Monday, October 27, 2008

And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.

Holy crap, she did it, again! The amazing Jen somehow, some way, managed to get not only a good shot of all 12 of us, but some beautiful shots of our little nuclear family. Okay, it's not really little.

And neither is Jen's gift. You can check out a few of our photos here at her blog. (bookmark it too, she's a hoot!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Make mine a Venti

Brett went with me the other night to take his friend back home after having dinner with us. (During which, by the way, the kid proudly proclaims "I'm failing English. I have a tennessee to talk too much." I think they share a brain.)

During a lull in the conversation I reach over and flip the satellite radio on and the station identifies itself as Sirius' Coffee House. It's a mellow station, a lot of acoustic songs and sounds not unlike something that would play in a dentist's office.

We listen to a couple of songs and Brett looks thoughful. "Ohhhh, I get it. The reason they call it the coffee house is because you have to drink the stuff to stay awake while you listen to this station."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Slow ride

Ellie, who is all girl and will steal your shoes as soon as you take them off, is also a bona fide motor-head. Anything with an engine and she tries to make the noise and then begs to get on it. So I guess I wasn't too surprised tonight when I turn around and found this.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Keeping it real

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm posting the kids school pictures from this year. I buy them every year out of a sense of guilt and duty, throw one in my wallet, but mostly I just file them away for future spouses to gawk at. I don't make the kids get all dressed up, there are certainly no bow-ties; but I do make sure they have something clean and decent on, and it's the one day of the year when I require Brett to wear a collared shirt.

This year things went a little differently. One morning a few weeks ago, I get a phone call from Michael in the office at school. He'd forgotten to tell me about school pictures, the order form was on my desk, did I see it?, and could I please run it up to him? I chatted with the secretary a minute to discover that Brett too was having them taken. It wasn't until after I got back home from running the forms up that I even gave what they were wearing a second thought.

And then the pictures came. Michael proudly tells me that he covered up the AC/DC tee-shirt he was wearing that day with his soccer jersey. A marked improvement, surely.

Brett on the other hand was wearing one of his many over-sized, obnoxious tee-shirts with something goofy written on it. This particular one looks like an eye chart and reads "Y DID YOU BOTHER READING THIS SHIRT". Klassy, surely.

And, I'd love to show you Lucas and Emma's pictures, but you see I totally forgot about their picture day and they didn't take any. They both brought home the order forms, I tucked them into my calendar, and that was the last thought I gave it.

2008 - The year mom sucked.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brettism Hump Day, Comic relief from the conceited

In a fit on insanity I succumbed to my mother-in-law's suggestion, and called the uber-talented Jen to come over and get another family picture. As soon as I opened my eyes yesterday I could feel the stress creeping up on me, figuring that I'd probably spend a good portion of the day with a headache and in a foul mood. When Brett walked in from school, I started him on his chores and warned him that I wasn't in the mood for any funny business. "Don't worry, I got this." he said.

Twenty minutes later he walks out of the bathroom, handing me the window cleaner and the rag. "Here mom, I cleaned everything off of the mirror but that handsome guy staring back at me."

When Jen showed up, we got everyone set up with the lighting on the couch and she started to snap shots. Naturally Evan just wanted to scowl, Elle to get down and run, and everyone else looked about as happy as if I'd told them we were all going out for root canals afterwards. When we finished one set I told the kids they could take a break and Brett jumps up. "Great, if you need me, I'll be in my trailer."

~ I'll be posting the proofs from the session as soon as I get them, if anyone could get a good shot of this motley crew, it's Jen!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Curt mowed the grass a couple of days ago and yesterday as we were pulling out of the driveway he turned to look at the yard and started to mutter under his breath. I glanced over and the tree in the front yard was literally raining leaves, there was a huge pile carpeting the ground beneath it. It was actually quite beautiful but I knew it wouldn't last, because it's only a matter of time before Mr. OCD-yard-care busts the mower out again to clean it up. When Evan went to play outside and gravitated towards the pile I grabbed my camera, happy to be able to capture them both.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin

Today Curt and I decided to get the younger two out of the house and head over to the local farm for a hay ride and to pick some pumpkins. I was kind of missing the older kids, who were with bio-dad, and as we climbed on to the hay bales and set off through the fields I started giggling thinking about a joke Brett had told me.

"There were these three robbers who were running from the cops and found themselves hiding out on a farm. The cops were catching up to them so the first robber told the other two to split up and hide among the farm and just to act natural. The first robber hid himself in a chicken coop and when the cops walked by he said 'Bwaack, bwaack, bwaaaack, bwack!' like a chicken and the cops moved on. The second robber hid himself with the pigs and when the cops walked by him he said 'Oink, oink, oink.' Then the cops walked by a big field of vegetables and heard 'Potato, potato, potato'."

Brett must have told me that corny joke three times last week, each time laughing a little bit harder at the punch line and each time I would giggle; not at the joke, but at Brett finding such bad humor so funny.

So riding across the farm today, in my head I heard 'Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumkin.' I'll have to remember to thank him later.

At any rate, the trip was a success and after much wandering through the patch Evan found the perfect little pumkin that he'd been looking for. I was suprised he didn't ask to sleep with it when we put him to bed.

Friday, October 17, 2008


A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a box of old pictures from my childhood and spent a good hour going through them. Strolling down memory lane, remembering people and places. I couldn't help but marvel at how much Ellie looks like me at that age, laughing at all of the bad hair and shag carpeting, and how geekie brother's smile hasn't changed in over 25 years.

Then I started looking a little bit more closely at some of the pictures. And I was struck by just how much times have changed. And that I made it to adulthood in one piece.

What, you didn't have a mega sized box of Marlboro cigarette's to play in??

Forget the bottle or the pillows, what I really used to love to nap with was a nice, accessible power outlet and cord.

Little known fact; most minerals can be attained by directly ingesting them via yard dirt. Bonus points for leaves as fiber.

Clearly this was before Oprah did the special on the dangers of mesh suffocation. And if you look closely you'll see my toes in the chair next to the playpen, either I was standing up there rooting Michael on, or getting ready to do a flying Wallenda on him.

"No, the Pall Mall's please. The Kool's leave too much of a menthol aftertaste."

Sitting on a box of Budweiser, surrounded by cigarette butts. Makes me wonder what's in the cup.

And my favorite, I believe Camel used this for one of their more family friendly ads.

Then on a lark, I started flipping through my digital photo albums.

And think maybe I'd better start fattening up the therapy fund for my six.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tag! 666-Damian approved!

I got tagged by the supa' cool Angie earlier today to participate in a rousing game of blogging photo tag. You go through your hard drive and select the sixth photo in the sixth folder, give a description and memory of the picture, and then tag six more bloggers.

I was a little worried about what I might find, a random blurry picture of Evan with his eyes closed playing outside. As it turns out the picture was of the fabulous florist-tanning-faxing-truck garage abortion of a business, the one where Curt in desperation sent me flowers from one year. The place that just screams "Yinzes in BUMFARK now!"

And in the spirit of the game (or half spirit of the game), I'm tagging Kate, JL, and Linda.


Spare tire

Brett wanders up to the computer desk, dressed in pajama pants for bed.

"I feel so fat without a shirt on." he says.

"What? You weigh like 23 pounds, how do you feel fat?" I'm incredulous.

"Because Michael and his friends at school say that I'm fat because I don't have a line and a keg on my abs."

"You mean a six-pack abs?"

"Yeah, whatever, something about beer and my stomach."

"Trust me when I tell you that beer will not help you in the svelte department, or in the live-to-see-adulthood department either."

He rolls his eyes. "I would never drink it. Man, you take everything so illiterately."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brettism Hump Day bounces

Brett and I are finishing the dishes while Luke and Mike are sitting at the table, when Lucas loudly grumbles that he hates homework, math in particular.

"I used to hate it too Lucas, but then I found this cool trick. I look at a problem and I think 'I wonder what the answer is?' and then I guess. I think to myself, I think the answer to this problem is 10. And then when I solve it, if I was right, I do a little happy dance." Mike says, sounding very much like a cheesy motivational speaker.

Brett looks over at me and inquires somberly "Did you ever drop him?"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Concreted in Bumfark

One of the many things that this house needed when we bought it last year was a new walkway. We briefly debated doing a brick walk, but the sheer amount of precision and patience required quickly ruled that out and we decided to go with plain concrete. For two days Curt formed the mold for the walk, then filled it in with gravel. This morning the truck showed up to pour it, and his grandpa came up to help. It was actually really cool to watch, the two littles stood at the door for almost an hour and taking in the action, totally silent and engrossed. I think maybe we should pour concrete every morning, I'd almost forgotten what hot coffee tasted like.

I'm resisting the urge to go and carve my name in it. But just barely.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What happens when you investigate the erie quiet

Yeah, that Dustbuster in the background? Worth every cent.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

9 bushels + 13 hours = total blast

Every year Curt's grandparents host Apple Butter Day, and for weeks ahead of time they peel, core, slice, and freeze bushels of apples for the big day. Curt crawled out of bed at 5 to head down to the farm and help start stirring. The kids and I got there a little after 9, and except for a little bit of paddle work, they were a blur for the rest of the day. It's really one of my favorite days of the year, we have a big pot luck, sit around and just enjoy each other, and then jar enough apple butter to feed a county.

Mike and Tucker took a quick turn before venturing off into the wild green yonder.
This was the last I saw of them until they turned up dirty, shoeless, and starving. Ellie fell in love with Marley the puppy. So did Ellie's mommy, who then spent a good portion of the day trying to convince Daddy that Ellie needs one of those under the Christmas tree. Of course he had to counter with things like vacuuming hair, poop patrol, and all of the fun Ellie would have dumping the water bowl on an hourly basis. Scrooge.

I looked up and found Evan like this, nothing says redneck quite like riding a big wheel shirtless. And after 13 hours of stirring, it was finally it was time for the big bottling assembly line.
Brett asked if we could have pancakes again tomorrow and crack open 'some of that sweet fresh butter from apples'. Something tells me we'll need more pancake mix.

Won't you be my neighbor

Michael managed to pull his grades up and eek out passing scores just in time to invite his friend Tucker over to join us for the family's annual Apple Butter Day. They all woke up early and I was standing in the kitchen making pancakes, while the kids sat at the table and filled Tucker in on the joys of a whole day of running loose on the farm, stopping only for sustenance.

"Cool. My mom and dad had to let me off grounding for today so I could come." Tucker says.

My interest is piqued. "Why were you grounded Tucker?" I ask.

"For failing Bio. I wasn't turning in my homework." he replies sheepishly.

Brett looks up from his plate. "Welcome to the neighborhood, my friend. Where your neighbors are 'Un' and 'Fair'."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guilty as charged

This week there have been a lot of discussions with Mike and Brett on responsibility and accountability, not coincidentally as mid-term reports came out. Both of them are failing to turn in work, even work that they've completed. As Brett rationalizes, "If I do the work, and I learn from it, and I pass the test, isn't that what's really important." And while I look forward to him filling out his law school applications to fulfill his true destiny, it's a bit like trying to get a square peg in a round hole getting him to accept that some rules have to be followed, just because.

He asked for the millionth time this week to be ungrounded and for the millionth time I turn the discussion back to his grades, and did he turn in the freaking draft to the report yet??

"Ugh. Yeah, yeah, I know. Anything I say can and will be used against me in the court of Mom."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Brettism Hump Day wants Starbucks

Since I've yet been able to talk Curt into installing a coffee station in the bedroom, most mornings it takes me a while to find my brain. Yesterday I blindly stumbled out into the kitchen, Ellie in one hand, my other searching for my coffee cup. My eyes were just starting to focus when I noticed Michael trying to sneak off.

Part of Mike's chores is to handle the dishwasher in the morning. Which he hates, as it apparently cuts down on his time sitting on the couch looking surly.

"Michael, don't try and slink out of here yet, get the dishwasher."

"Why do I always have to do it? This stupid freaking family and it's stupid freaking dishes. I'm tired of it!"

I hear Evan walking down the hallway crying, apparently woken up by Mike's yelling. This does not improve my mood.

"Poor, poor you. With the bedroom to yourself and the iPod and the later bedtime. Life can get a hella of a lot harder for you Michael, go ahead and try me. And if you wan to talk about tired, I'll share my list, like doing your freaking laundry, preparing enough food every night to feed an army, picking your nasty socks up where ever you decided to drop them, and having to stay on top of you to make sure you do the bare minimum. I get tired of doing things too!"

The whole time Brett has been sitting at the table, eating breakfast, very mellow. He pipes up.

"You're not tired of me, are you mom?"

I sigh, willing the coffee pot to work faster. "No Brett, I'm not tired of you."

"Good. Because I'd just gotten used to you and everything. Even before your coffee."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kindergarten math

I glanced down at my calendar this morning and realized that it was Emma's day to shop the book fair at school. Next to her name I had penciled, $5, a reminder from last year's lesson learned.

Except, apparently I didn't learn it. Today when I looked in my wallet, I found only a twenty. Again. Last year I sent Emma off with a twenty dollar bill, figuring that since most of the books in the catalog were under ten dollars that I'd still get plenty of change back and she'd get to have her pick.

Only what she picked cost $15.95 and wasn't really a book. It was called Fashion Girls and was a cardboard tri-fold monstrosity. One side had a blank notepad for sketching her designs, the next a series of faces, all tramped up to illustrate the color lipstick each girl should wear according to her 'season', and the third side held *gulp* actual make up. After a little talk with Em, I threw the Britney manual in the trash and we spent 20 minutes perusing Amazon looking for a replacement.

This year, determined not to blunder again, when the catalog came home from school I sat with Emma and pointed out all of the nice books under five bucks. So this morning I frantically scribbled a note on the envelope with the money to her teacher and then went over the ground rules with Em.

"Here's the money in the envelope Emma. Do NOT spend more than five dollars. Do NOT buy a toy, just a book. If it's more than five dollars, DON'T buy it."

"Right. You said I could buy the Hannah Montana book, it's five."

"Yeah, I guess." I said, searching for an alternative that didn't require me to sing the Best of Both Worlds. "Unless they have the cool Fancy Nancy book we looked at."

"Yeah, and if that's five dollars I could buy that too!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

The alarm clock

Unfortunately Ellie inheirited her father's the-sun-hit-my-eyes-I'm-awake gene. At the tender hour of 6am, I used to be able to chillax with my cuppa tea on the couch and watch the news as she played quietly at my feet. Alas, Shiva the destroyer makes that a little hard these days.

The bonus is that with all of the noise she made with the pan and spoon, I didn't have to worry about rousing the rest of the grouches, they filtered down the hallway with their hands over their ears.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You've lost that lovin' feeling

I'm sitting at the table helping Lucas with his math. Brett is sitting with us, eating his fourth piece of pizza.

"Man this is good. What's your secret ingredient?"


"Seriously??? There is honey in this?"

"Yup, in the crust."

"Wow." He takes another bite and chews slowly. "I guess I can tell. What is the secret ingredient in everything else you cook?"

"Love, Brett, love."

"Well, I'm not tasting that."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brettism Hump Day wants an epidural

I was going through a box of old photos when I look over and see that Brett has grabbed a small photo album from the pile.

"I wouldn't open that if I were you."

"Why not? It has my name on the title page, see right here?"

"Yes Brett, I know, I wrote it. But I'm warning you, you might not want to go through it."

"Well, can I anyway?"

"Yup, fair warning though."

He opens the book and on the first page I'm lying bundled up on a hospital bed, looking tired and hugely pregnant. He flips to the second page and comes face to face with his very graphic entry into the world.

"Oh my god!" He drops the book. "The blood! No wonder you get grumpy, look what I did to you!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I promise I did not marry my cousin

We're going through a miserable teething week here at casa six-pack. And it's not Ellie, although in solidarity, she's been waking up at night too.

It's Evan, who will be three in December, and who has the world's most bizarre set of baby teeth. When he cut his first tooth, at the tender age of 11 months, I sighed with relief, I'd never had a baby take so long to cut one. Then he cut his second tooth. And as I looked at it, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, because those puppies were crooked. Not just a little crooked; Austin Powers crooked.

To make it a little bit more special, when the bottom front teeth came in, he developed a cross-bite. When he chomps down, his top and bottom teeth criss-cross in the front. Poor kid, I hear banjos in my head every time he smiles at me.

I couldn't dial the dentist fast enough, cursing the few Cosmos I'd had before I found out I was pregnant. The dentist took one look at him and said "I think we need to see an Orthodontist." My knees went weak, as I had visions of money flying from my wallet as Evan sported tiny brace-face. Fortunately, Ortho-dude didn't think he needed any corrective work yet. Yet. He was even kind enough to float us a small bubble of hope by saying that crooked baby teeth don't necessarily equate to crooked adult ones. I'm squirreling away my pennies anyway though.

Even curiouser, he never even got two of his baby teeth. On the bottom the lateral incisors just never showed up to the party. In fact this week when he mentioned that his mouth hurt, it honestly never crossed my mind that he was getting a tooth. Then last night as I was bathing him and he was mouth agape, yelling at Ellie, I noticed one just starting to break through. And damn if it's not coming in straight to boot. When we were brushing his teeth, I asked him if anything hurt. "Yeah, it hurts wight here, I told you." he said, pointing and clearly exasperated by obtuseness.

I honestly never thought I'd be so glad to deal with teething, I really thought I was going to have to pack him off to school looking like this.

Now, if you don't mind I'm going to research Curt's family tree. Just in case.

Monday, September 29, 2008

When I fill out his PreK application, I'll be adding extortion to his list of hobbies

Friday I put Ellie down for a nap and sprinted for the bathroom before Evan noticed I was gone. Any time I wander down the hallway and she's asleep he takes it as a personal challenge to turn on the siren and come searching for me.

He was hot on my tail though, carrying a six pack of the Ensure that we give to Lucas to keep weight on him.

"I have one of these? It's chocolate milk!"

"No Ev, those are for Luke. Mommy will get you some chocolate milk in your cup in a minute."

"NOOOOOO! I want this one, this one in the bottle like a big boy!"

I'm getting ready to stand up, wash up, and whisk him back to the living room, my hand clamped over his mouth when I notice that I'm out of toilet paper. I lean to get some from the cabinet and see that we're out there too. Then I spot it sitting on the floor next to my bedside table, Mike clearly unable to carry such a heavy load another 5 feet.

"Hey Evan, do you see the toilet paper?"

He looks over. "Yeah, it's wight there."

"Yes. Can you hand it to Mommy?"

"Can I have this?" He holds up the Ensure.

"Um, no. Those are for Lucas, now please hand mommy the toilet paper." I'm enunciating every word in the hopes that this will induce compliance.

"No, I don't want to, I WANT THIS." He's yelling now and my patience is about as short as Ellie's nap is apparently going to be.

"Evan, give me the toilet paper please, you are not having a shake."

He calmly looks at me, gauging my intent. He sets down the Ensure on the threshold of the bathroom then walks over and picks up the toilet paper, and I sigh in relief. Never taking his eyes off of me, he turns and gently sets it down next to the shakes, then turns and walks off.

Incidentally, under duress I can stretch a really, really long way.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pack your bags, you're going on a guilt trip

I wanted to thank everyone for all of their support and advice with Mike and Brett. I've been having a really hard time finding my mommy way lately and you guys helped me so much to find my voice (and a little bit of sanity) again.

This morning I sat Mike and Brett down and told them that we were clearly at an impasse. And that in the interest of promoting trust and a good relationship with them, that I am going to believe that they were telling the truth about not taking the pop tarts. And how, especially as teenagers having the trust of your parents is a huge asset and not something that you want to find yourself without. I reiterated that they're coming of the age where things like going out, hanging out with friends, driver's licences, and curfews are going to start coming into play. All of which are not rights, but privileges that they will have to prove that they are worthy of, and that a healthy relationship with us is the best first step they could have towards earning them. Not to mention how hurt and disappointed I'll be if I find out that they were lying.

Then I told them that they would be un-grounded as soon as they had completed the usual regime of Sunday chores.

I don't think I've ever seen those boys move so fast.

Friday, September 26, 2008


What started as a sure bet on my part has now turned into a Mexican standoff; neither boy willing to admit guilt in the Pop Tart caper. As the days drag on they're both quite tired of being grounded, but still nary a confession. Yesterday I tried cornering Brett and offered him a deal of immunity; no prosecution, no penalty for lying, just finally be honest with me. He still denied it, but did tell me he'd fake confess if the whole thing could be over. It was tempting.

A few minutes later he mentions to me that he did once see Mike in the lunch room with what he *thought* was a pop tart. Michael has always been the prime suspect, just because swiping things is his MO, especially forbidden/monitored junk food. Last year I caught him trying to sneak an ice cream down to his room, and found a few more wrappers when I checked under his bed. A month ago we discovered $30 missing from Brett's wallet, which Mike had taken to pay the cafeteria for the crap he was buying at lunch time.

All kids do stupid things, they all will test drive lying, I get this. Both times Mike was busted he was lectured on the importance of honesty and integrity, and then ceremoniously voted off the island. And, the thing that worries me is the last two times I caught him, it was because I stuck with the accusation despite my creeping doubts of his guilt. The little snot is good at lying and I really had started to believe him. And I know some pop tarts and petty theft are pretty small potatoes considering what some of his contemporaries are up to. Lord knows I pulled my share of shit when I was his age, in fact comparatively speaking, he's a frigging boy scout. *shudders* But that doesn't mean that I condone it. This is do or die time, I only have four or five years left with him and today it's small shit, tomorrow it's alcohol and drugs.

So yesterday when I picked him up from soccer practice I made sure I was alone. (Don't worry, mother-in-law had the others) I had my best serious mommy-means-bidness face on and lit right in to him.

"Aren't you tired of being grounded? This is your last chance to come clean Michael, I mean it. I spoke to someone at the school today who says they saw you with a pop-tart at lunch. I want the truth now Michael."

"Mom, I seriously did not do it. I mean, I'm totally sick of being grounded, I'd much rather just be punished for taking them than spend forever stuck with nothing to do. I know I've lied to you before, I know I wasn't always honest, but I'm really telling you the truth this time, I didn't do it!"

We got home and I made a pissed off beeline for my room to finish putting laundry away. I had just shut the door when Brett asks him what the matter was.

"This stupid freaking grounding. Now she says someone at the school saw me with them and I didn't do it. I'm getting blamed for something I didn't do and it pisses me off." When I came out of the room he was near tears and visibly upset.

So, I'm stumped. I honestly have no idea if he's lying or being truthful. And at this point I'm so ready to be done with all of it that I'd happily just drop the matter, but if he is guilty what does that say to him? That if you hold out long enough and deny, deny, deny that you will get away with it? I have visions of him standing smugly in front of wife with lipstick on his collar stubbornly repeating that he really was just working late.

On the other hand, how much longer can this go on and what if Curt was wrong about them missing? Those damn things were up in the cabinet for quite a while, I'm wondering if it's possible that he just miscounted or forgot he'd eaten them.

I feel as though I'm stuck in a miserable Catch-22 and in uncharted waters. Any option that I come up with seems riddled with pitfalls; I'm running out of brainstorms and getting dejected about the whole thing. So I'm asking for suggestions. Books you can point me to on how to raise marginally normal-minimally farked up teenagers, clever solutions to the quandary I put us in, anything.

Stymied in Bumfark

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Putting the 13 in PG-13

Mike walks into the kitchen to make his lunch just as Curt and I were separate from a kiss, and rolled his eyes.

"Seriously, again? You two kiss too much."

"No such thing when you are married Mike."

"Well, when I get married I'm never going to do that in front of my kids and I'm going to marry someone that's the exact same age as me. It's just weird that Curt is younger than you."

"That's silly, did you think it was weird when your dad was older than me?"

"Well, still."

"Mike, I don't care who you marry as long as they are a good person and you are happy."

"So, I could like marry someone from another country and you wouldn't care?"

"Mike I don't care if you marry someone from another country, someone older or younger than you, I don't care if you marry a man or a woman, just as long as it's a good marriage."

"Oh my god, a man? That's just gross!"

"Mike, grow up. You can help being gay about as much as you can help what color eyes you are born with. And that's not the point, the point is all I want is for you to be happy."

"I know mom, but I just don't get the whole gay thing. I mean, who is the woman in that?"

"Well, one of them doesn't wear a wedding dress during the ceremony if that's what you mean."

"No, not that."

"Like who does the cooking versus the car maintenance, because there are lots of guys who cook and lots of girls who can change the oil."

"No, nevermind."

"No, you can tell me, I'd rather you asked me than someone else."

"Well, it's kind of like something in one of the movies that you won't let me watch."

"That's okay, you can ask me anything Mike."

"Really, you won't be mad?"


"Well, what I want to know is who puts the meat in the taco?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brettism Hump Day plays chicken

A few days ago Curt went to pack his lunch and noticed that an entire box of pot tarts were missing. The pop tarts that the kids aren't allowed to touch (and that I only allow in grudgingly allow in the house for Curt...blech). The pop tarts on the very top shelf where we keep the forbidden; the shelf that is completely out of reach to the younger four.

We confronted Mike and Brett and demanded to know who had been taking them. Predictably the denials were quick and copious. I started getting rather pissed off, both because one of them was lying, but also because that they're now old enough to pull it off and be convincing. Gone are the days when I told them that if they blinked too much I knew they were lying and they'd stare at me like a bug-eyed-statue when trying to pull one over.

Finally I told them that until I found out who had taken them, they were both grounded. No TV, no computer, no games, no breathing until someone confessed. They both grumbled and moaned and when they went downstairs I really thought I'd have the guilty party in my clutches within the hour.

But time dragged on. Hours turned into days, and still no confession. What started out as a frustrated gamble on my part became rather amusing as they both began coming to me alone to profess their innocence, and I started to get a pretty good idea of who had been wiping pop tart crumbs off of their paws.

Brett: "Mom, seriously. I never get up on time, I don't even know where my alarm clock is right now. Mike is always up before me, but when I'm up he's always around. How could I have taken them without him seeing?"

Mike: "I'm pretty sure Curt just miscounted, I mean when is the last time he had one of those anyway?"

Brett" "Can I pleeease be ungrounded? I mean, Mike's not going to confess and you have to admit, I'm showing dignity under false suspicion. Doesn't that count for something?"

Mike: "It's totally unfair that I didn't get to go to the school meeting because of this stupid grounding. I mean, since the last time you caught me lying and went through my room, I haven't done anything wrong. Well, except for the whole Brett's wallet thing, but that was over a month ago!!"

Brett: "Mom, I'm ready to tell you who did it."

"Okay, Brett."

"It was Michael! Am I ungrounded now?"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brettism Hump Day! Scrooge McDuck strikes

For the past two days Brett has been tearing the house apart searching for his Civics book. Admitting fault not being one of Brett's strong suits *coughcough* he's spent a lot of time finger pointing at Michael, who he is sure took it just because.

I'd finally had enough and told him that he needed to just go and tell his teacher that he'd lost the book, and that if he has to pay for the replacement, it is soooooo coming out of his own account. Money being only slightly less important to Brett than air, he doesn't take this well.

"If I pay for a new freaking book and Mike shows me that he's had it all along, do I get to pummel him?"


"Dip him in hot oil."


"Photoshop his head onto a snake?"


He sighs, forlorn. "My life is so rarely fun anymore. I wonder if I sell all of his stuff on ebay if I would get enough to pay for the new book."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Begging forgiveness

I've been feeling rather overwhelmed and introspective lately. Lucas has had a few bumps in the road and I've been taking some time to help him get back on track and get him what he needs. Honestly, it's left me feeling a little sad and questioning my mommy-skills more than I'd care to admit.

So, I apologize for slacking on da splog. I hope to be feeling more like my offbeat, sarcastic self soon and posting more regularly. Until then, a few pics from Hurricane Ellen, which seems to strike every hour on the hour around here.

I can blame global warming for this, right?