Monthly Archives: June 2006

Fish Tale — Now With Pictures!!

Ahhh… life with boys. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was sure it was a girl. Positive. Just knew it, and since I was the mother, of course I was right, right? Wrong. Two weeks before Son #1 was born, we found out he was decidedly not a girl. That was okay. All we wanted was a healthy baby, which shortly thereafter was revised to a live baby, and now we are proud to have a wonderful 11 year old son. With Son #2, we knew pretty early on that he was a boy, but I kept wishing for that girl right up until the turtle showed up on the ultra-sound. (For those of you unfamiliar with the turtle sign on an ultrasound… well, think of what certain anatomical male parts look like if you turn ’em upside down and squish them. Turtle.) With my third (and extremely unexpected) pregnancy, I was certain this was my girl. After all, I had two great boys, but I had to use the Madelaine on someone! Son #3 was called Madelaine until that fateful day when my oh-so-funny OB/GYN started humming the theme song to My Three Sons.

This is how I became the mother to three handsome, wonderful, rambunctious, obnoxious, testosterone-filled boys (a.k.a. Y oh Y oh Y). To be fair, I probably wouldn’t be a good girl-mom. I am a tomboy from the word Go, the house handyman (handyMom?), and would honestly rather be in a tank-top and shorts out painting the house than in a ball gown at a cotillion. Though I’ve been told I clean up well, and I do have a knowledge of what fork to use. Still, to sit and play Barbies with some delicate little flower probably wouldn’t have been my forte, so perhaps all is for the best.

But boys like to do things. Boy things. Icky, you-want-me-to-touch-what things. Okay, maybe I am a little girlie. This is particularly relevant in their new pursuit: fishing.

A couple of years ago, Son #2 joined Cub Scouts. Somehow or another, I got suckered into being a Den Leader, but that’s another blog altogether. As part of his sign-up bonus, he got a fishing pole. And gee, since they had two extra and I had two extra kids, here, Cate, take a couple more fishing poles. Gee, thanks. We had planned to go out to Wyoming where my dad could take the boys fishing for Rainbow Trout in the reservoirs, just like he did with me when I was a kid. Life being just one big conspiracy, however, we never made it out.

So it fell to Mom. Not that Dad doesn’t like fishing, it’s just that he works nearly constantly. So Mom and her boys loaded up the ole’ minivan with bait (not the live stuff, thankyouverymuch, but some pretty authentic plastic facsimiles) and the poles and hit the lake. We have done this at least once a week for the last month, the latest being last night. It’s pretty fun and cheap, since this lake is in a park, does not require a license, and is for families only.

The boys have no patience for fishing off the pole, so guess who got to take that task over. Over the last month or so, we’ve caught two Northern Pike (nasty creatures with teeth), a few bull heads (just butt ugly) and a carp or two, but nothing worth writing home about. All of which were returned to their watery home, by the way. The children, however, have discovered that if you take little bait holders with tiny hooks and put these little hot-pink Crappie Nibbles on it for bait, you can fish in the rocks along the shore and catch tons of little, tiny sunfish, bluefin and carp. They love it.

(Look! Pictures!)

Son #3 w/ fish
They also love it when people fishing near us catch something cool. Like last night’s guest, a snapping turtle. It was caught completely by mistake by a man who threw a line out for his little boy to reel in. The second it hit the water, something very big hit the line and Dad had to reel the sucker in. They couldn’t get it onto the dock, so they had to bring it over to the shore line, and still couldn’t bring it in all the way. The turtle was ticked, to say the least.

Long story short (too late!), it took six of us, two nets, two pairs of pliers and a whole lot of “ooh”s, “aaah”s and assorted giggles from five very excited little boys to get this poor creature off the hook and back into the lake. My boys now want to catch a snapping turtle, and I am praying to what I hope is a merciful God not to!Snapping Turtle

Then it occurred to me. Little did I know that the turtle sign I saw so many years ago actually meant I’d be dealing with real, live turtles. Karma is a bitch, ain’t it?

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I’ll Be The Funny Fat Girl At The Buffet

Stop me if this story seems familiar…

In high school, I was a size 10. And thought I was huge. Everyone else wore 5s and 6s and were stick thin, whereas I had a little tummy that I could just never get rid of. But I look at pictures now and wonder how I could ever think I was truly overweight. I was a stick, too!

Then I had three kids and the muscles in my abdomen went pffftttt. And since I suddenly had to cook for not just myself, but an entire household, meals had to be eaten even when I wasn’t completely hungry. For a while I worked out at the Y religiously, losing 25 pounds in the process and strengthening my muscles enough that my bad back even got better. Then another local gym closed, the Y raised their prices and I had to compete for the machines with Suzie Stick Figure who was more interested in flashing her DD chest in spandex than actually working out.

Schedules changed, too, and there was no more time for working out at the Y. I had to get kids to school, get myself to work, then get the kids again with no time in there to even work out for 1/2 hour. And then my father in law died. I figured the last thing I needed to worry about was my diet and exercise routine, focusing instead on trying to bring normalcy back to my family.

That was 25 pounds ago.

I remember the first time I realized I was a big girl. I think I was 8 or so and the doctor told Mom I needed to lose some weight. She, of course, thought that was ridiculous. She was probably right, I was 8 for Pete’s sake and it wasn’t like I was that big. I fought that little “baby fat” tummy for years, though. Until it turned into a “baby belly.” So here I am again, fighting those extra 25— uh, 40 pounds, trying to slim down before I go to NJ RWA conference in October.

I did something drastic: I joined Weight Watchers. They assign you food points and you can eat anything you want as long as you stick to your points. So if I have an egg and toast in the morning followed by a chef salad at lunch, I’m through my points.  I lost 4 pounds, they took two points away. I hate these people. Basically, all I can eat is lettuce and broccoli. And as much as I love them both, there comes a time when they just don’t boost the blood sugar past coma state.

The object, of course, is to exercise more and trade activity points for food points. That makes sense. So last night, when I tried to get on my elliptical trainer for a 1/2 hour, son #2 wants something. Then son #3 throws a tantrum because he’s just too tired to live. Then son #1 needs a shower and son #3 wants me to watch Mythbusters with him, etc. etc. etc.

I have no life. I have children. There are days that I realize my life– and my body– are not going to be my own again for a long time. At least until all the kids get into the double digits, and probably not even then. So here I am whining to you.

But then I think about how hard we try to conform in a Paris Hilton world. I mean, there is more to me than my weight, right? I have a brain, some say a great sense of humor, three great kids, a happy family… why does the fact that I’m carrying some extra pounds around define my life?

Because as much as I protest it, it does. It denotes some sort of failure on my part. It’s no secret moms don’t take care of themselves as they should, and I’m no exception. I’ve been trying to make a dentist appointment for myself for three years and just managed to find a time when I could squeeze an hour in between activities. Don’t ask when the last time I had a physical was. Basically, it comes down to if I don’t have time to get my teeth cleaned, I don’t have time to weigh every ounce of food I put into my mouth.

So to you all meeting me for the first time in Newark in October, I’ll be the one in the “world famous dessert line” cracking jokes about my baby belly. And trying not to let it define me.

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Crazy Little Thing Called Life

Pant…pant…pant… can I breathe now? Is son #1 picked up? Is son #2 dropped off? Is son #3 at camp? Where is the husband? When do I need to be at work?

Welcome to summer at my house… and a million others, I’m sure. I doubt we’re the exception to the rule of summertime equals crazy time. Trying to get kids to various activities and home again without leaving somebody somewhere.

I normally manage to keep the kids to one activity a season. I hate over-scheduling kids. After all, we just rode bikes and played Cops and Robbers when we were kids. Kids need time to be kids. Then again, kids need time when they have to do something to tear them away from the PlayStation and the computer. And with our oldest son being special needs, there are certain activities he has to do during the summer, like extended school year services. With three kids, this adds up fast. Oh yeah, and I have a job, too. Sometimes.

The good thing about working in education is that my summers are mostly free. But this year, the Feds decided that our annual application for special ed. funds needed to be submitted in June instead of October, and we needed to formulate a report on exactly what we spent our funds on last year. So we’re doing that, budget, and contracts all at the same time.

I’m scary when I’m harried. I get a little manic, as my friends (and boss) can attest to. But the job is almost over for the summer (thank God, because I have to paint the house), and bowling is just about done for sons #2 and #3. So then maybe I can breathe a moment and get a grip on writing.

You see, I have to finish my mystery before New Jersey Romance Writers conference in October. I plan to pitch there and want to pitch MURDER IN F MINOR. That, of course, means putting myself into overdrive to write it. Which is not all bad. I am a huge nanowrimo fan and have written two novels that way. So writing a book in three months? No sweat.

Oh yeah. Except I have to have it polished, too.

Oh man. Guess it’s time to put Freddie on the stereo and get on it. Sanity is overrated, anyway.

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Celebrities Are Annoying

So this morning, Joshilyn is going on about how the KY Misting Whattheheckever Commercials bug her. I can relate. I am sooo tired of Bob from Enzyte (no, I refuse to link to it) that I want to tear into a primate rage every time the freaking commercial comes on the screen. And they are always in twos! ARRRGGGHHHH!!

But I am not here today to complain about Bob. I am here to complain about Renee Zellweger, sex kitten.

Renee Z

Now don't get me wrong. I like Renee Zellweger, even if I have to look at how to spell her name every time I type it. She was, after all, the immortal Bridget on film and who doesn't like her as Roxy in Chicago? But in a fit of insomnia last night, I decided to watch some trashy TV about the world's shortest celebrity marriages, hoping it would bore me to sleep. And there was Renee in all her sex-kitteny glory. Basically, what I want to know is who taught her to pose like that? You know, where she gets her head all turned around to the photographers and is basically saying, "Oooh, like at my sexy, bony back!"

Who does that?

Renee

Not only does it look uncomfortable, but it looks a tad affected, as well. Now I get it! Her mini-marriage to Kenny was brought on by lack of blood flow to her brain due to posing like this all the time!

More Renee

Of course, Renee can pose in any way she wants. It will never bother me as any pose this individual can strike:

Paris

Good Lord, when did it get fashionable to be stupid and useless? Oh man, it just occured to me how many people I know who suddenly become fashionable under that definition. That tears it. No more late night crappy TV for me!

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Because Real Men Drive Minivans

I noticed the other day while cruising blogs that Stepdad has recently purchased a new minivan. I can relate. You see, for 13 years, I drove this:

Saturn

And I loved it. This was the car I was never going to part with. My kids were going to learn to drive in this car. But then I became one big traitor.

Two years ago, we bought our first van. Well, actually, our second, but the first one we had bought only 6 months before and was a lemon. The thing might as well have been yellow. It was in the shop every two weeks… literally… and so we got rid of it. We bought ourselves a Chevy Venture and loved it. One problem: the hubby drove it. Only I had the kids, their bags, their stuff and my stuff all packed into a sub-compact car.

Now I was always planning on buying a new something in a couple of years when we paid off the van. Didn't know what I wanted, but I was thinking of a small SUV. In the meantime, though, it occurred to us that we only needed one big car, but that I needed it. So the hubby and I switched. For a whole month.

At the end of that month, he got the key stuck in the ignition of the car. Now he and my car had never gotten along famously, but I thought he could handle driving it back and forth the mile to work. Uh. Guess not. So I pried at the key, trying to get it out of the ignition. No use. I finally promised the car that I'd start driving it again and– who says cars don't have a mind of their own?– the key came out and everything was hunky dory.

But I was still stuck in this tiny car with three increasingly larger boys. I had to do something, but the SUVs I was looking at all cost a fortune! Even used. Unfortunately, it was time to get brutal. I went on-line and found this:

Van

And am I spoiled. I went from manual locks and windows and a cassette player that sometimes sounded like I was on some fun drugs, to power everything, heated seats and a DVD player. So now I get to deal with the guilt.

You see, I traded my baby. Talked them into a good price for it, but I traded it. Bad, bad car mommy. Now, here comes the justification: it was going to cost too much to keep. My oldest doesn't turn 16 for another 5 years, and probably won't be driving then. The next one is right now 8, so we'd have to keep it licensed and in shape for the best part of a decade before we have a kid who can drive it. So I traded it.

All because the hubby has to drive a minivan.

So we're a two van family now. How spoiled is that? Of course, later this morning when I take one to swimming lessons, the other two can watch a movie while we wait. And when we drive to tee-ball, all the stuff will fit.

I am soooo spoiled.

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‘Cause I Have a Thing for Really Old Movies

When I was a kid– actually, I should say teenager since we didn't have cable before then– when I would get sick, Mom and I would sit on the couch and watch AMC until all hours of the night. Now this was in the days before you could watch Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts on that channel. We're talking Clark Gable and Tyrone Power and the classic leading men. When I had the flu in my Junior year of high school, I got to watch Lucy and Desi movies– not just I Love Lucy, but the pair driving around in a camper! It was where I first saw Bringing Up Baby and Philadelphia Story. Just like all the girls in the 30s and 40s, I fell in love with Cary Grant and Clark Gable, but there was one unlikely hero I fell for.

William Powell. William Powel and Myrna Loy

This weekend, I ran across a run of William Powell and Myrna Loy movies, starting off with the Thin Man. (The dog in the middle is Asta, by the way. Hilarious creature.) I love that movie! And since I am currently trying to write a mystery with a comical twist, I thought it might inspire me. And I was right.

While watching Powell and Loy, I got to thinking of my characters and clarifying them in my head. Not that I ma basing any of my characters directly from either one of them, but I am sure pulling out aspects. And then I got to thinking of another Powell movie I love, My Man Godfrey. Carole Lombard plays Irene Bullock, who is a tad bit scatterbrained and just manic as all get out.

My Man Godfrey

She's perfect for my main character, who is prone to fits of nonsensical rambling which my detective, Rex Isely, has to routinely snap her out of. (Yikes! Talk about rambling and poor sentence structure!)

So after watching my black and white movie night, I sat down yesterday and put down 2,500 words. Which is more than I've written in the last two months put together. So is it the blogging? Is it the old movie obsession? Who knows! But I think tonight I just might have to dig out my William Powell movie collection… for a little inspiration.

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The Road to Hell is Paved with Mortgages

Was searching for a blog topic today, and then ran into this. My buddy Lani just bought a new house (YAY Lani) and basically her fingers have started to go gangrenous from signing so many damned papers.

I have bad news for her — and anyone out there who is a new homeowner. Those five bazillion papers you just signed? Those won't be the last. Not by a looooooonnngg shot.

The hubby and I bought a house shortly after we were married. We're talking weeks, people. Weeks. We didn't mean to. We'd been renting this cute, tiny place in the miniature version of a town we lived in, but he got a new job and voila! Time to move. We were going to rent again, except that even if we spent approximately five times the national debt– a month– we could still only get a run-down, Eddie Muster lives here kind of place that I wouldn't let my dog into, let alone any kids I planned to have. So we bought. And let me tell you, the hoops we jumped through were so numerous I was starting to wonder if we'd joined the circus and had been given poodle cuts.

But we purchased our house, signed the stack of papers, and were happy. That was it, right? Wrong. A couple years later, I gave birth to a not-so-healthy baby boy. Not so healthy to the tune of about $100,000. Enter a little thing called second mortgage. (For all none of you who are waiting with baited breath for word of the not-so-healthy child, let's just say he turns 11 next week.)

Second mortgage papers out number first mortgage papers by a bit. I'd say about two feet of vertical hieght. At least ours were. Now we'd been careful and studious when picking a bank for our second. We didn't want to get screwed, after all. So we researched and picked just the right place. And so, a month after we signed on the dotted line (lines, actually), they sold it.

And Lani thinks she was swearing like a sailor. The new company sucked in so many ways, I can't even begin to enumerate them here. Well, I could, but the FCC would probably have something to say about my language, so I'll skip it.

Enter a phase of our lives known as refinancing. I'll save you the drama. Let's just say we've now done this three times. Three mind-numbing, nail-biting, callous-causing times. We just signed on our house– the house we have been living in for twelve years— three weeks ago.

And I had to sign my name four times. That's it. Four times. Well, at the actual closing. Before that, there was the signing and the faxing and the dropping off at the office, etc. etc. ad nauseum. So this is the last time, right?

Don't count on it.

In the meantime, though, congratulations Lani! Enjoy that new house because despite all the pains in the butt home ownership brings, it is well worth it. Believe me. And I have the gangrene to prove it.

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