Thursday, January 12, 2012

House Rules

1.  If you need something from the store, write it on the whiteboard on the fridge.
  • If you tell me while I'm sleeping, I won't hear you.  
  • If you tell me while I'm working, I won't remember it.  
  • If you tell me while I'm tweeting, I will tell the world that you're 16 years old and you still eat dinosaur egg oatmeal.
If you don't write it on the whiteboard, it will not be purchased.

2.  Don't complain that I never buy "the good stuff" that you write on the whiteboard (cake, pies, cookies, sugary cereals). I DO buy them.  I just hide them from you and eat them all myself.  p.s. Keep the good ideas coming!

3.  Do not, under any circumstances, speak to me after you've been eating peanut butter.  I will smell it and I WILL vomit.  Probably on you.

4.  Do not leave peanut butter-covered knives in the sink.  If you are at home, I will force you to stop what you're doing and wash the knife.  If you are sleeping, I will wake you and force you to wash the knife.  If you are at school, I will throw the knife away and buy new ones with your allowance money.

5.  If you wait until 10pm to tell me you need supplies for a school project that is due tomorrow, I'm sorry, but my hands are tied.  All the stores around here have started closing at 3pm on weekdays and 1pm on weekends.  However, if I'm hungry for ice cream, I can probably bribe the store manager to open the store for me and I'll pick up your supplies while I'm there.

6.  If you get something out of one of the upper cabinets in the kitchen, CLOSE IT when you are finished.  I have no clue why you are all so tall.  My theory is the bovine growth hormones in milk. Your father's theory is the mailman, but that's a conversation for another day.   Anyway, I'm short. The bottom corner of that cabinet door is exactly the same height as my head.  I WILL hit my head on it.  Repeatedly.

7.  If you miss the bus because you refused to get out of bed on time, you are welcome to choose one of the following options:
  • Walk to school via the short route (You do know it's illegal for pedestrians to walk along the interstate, correct?)
  • Walk to school via the long route (Did you ever see those tall metal things at the top of that hill over there?  That hill was a ski slope in 1935, and for good reason.)
  • Call a taxi and pay with your allowance money (Avoid calling McClure taxi.  I just read an article about one of their drivers eating a small child.  Please use one of the other services.)
  • Pay me $12 for a ride.  (I accept cash, Paypal, and 2 weeks worth of laundry.  And you know I'm not joking about this.)
8.  Bedtime is at 10 pm.  Please stop encouraging your father to read the description of every movie on Comast, Hulu, Zune, and Netflix (and then watch trailers) before making a decision on what to watch for the evening.  You know he's going to extend your bedtime until the movie is over.  If this continues, I will choose the movie every night and you will be seeing a lot of Patty Duke and Meredith Baxter Birney.

9.  Don't get mad at me if I'm on my computer or iPad while you're talking to me.  You're most likely talking about some new idea for creating a server in the cloud with a doozy-hoozit and a thing-a-ma-jinky.  I'm listening to you.  But I'm also googling the words you're saying so we can have some form of intelligent conversation.  p.s.  Please speak s-l-o-w-l-y.

10.  If you smell bad, take a shower.  Santa thought it would be cool to put Axe in your stocking.  He didn't know you were going to spray enough to kill a baby rhinoceros.  Besides, if you wear that much, girls will hate you.

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Blood Forest

      Those of you who know me know that I don't watch television. It's very rare that I find a show that actually holds my attention.  However, my husband and children recently got me totally hooked on a show. Don't laugh.  I mean it. GHOSTHUNTERS! 

      I've always been somewhat fascinated by the possibility of the paranormal. And I've had two really freaky experiences in two different houses at two different times in my life.

      So after we finished watching every single episode of GhostHunters that was ever made and I read both of their books, we decided it was time to do some ghost hunting ourselves.  I kid you not.

      My husband bought us a little ghost hunting kit for Christmas - with an EVP thingy (that's the technical term), a little voice recorder, a yellow boxy like thing that has red lines, and case with a handle that has already broken off.  Yeah, we're professionals.

      The day after Christmas, we packed up all our gear, grabbed our two digital cameras and our video camera, and headed off to hunt ghosts.  We had searched all the freaky paranormal sites online and picked a destination - BLOOD FOREST.  We read all sorts of online accounts about this crazy man named Arthur Blood who murdered people with an axe and hung their dead bodies from trees. And haunted the forest. Other people said a woman roamed the forest and told people to leave. There were some accounts of slain animals, sounds of laughter with no one around, blood-curdling screams, mysterious black fog shapes, and aliens.  Always aliens.

      So really - when you get past the paranormal sites and really learn about the place, Blood Forest was named after a wealthy man named Arthur Blood. He was a philanthropist and donated the land to the town. There are no accounts of him murdering anyone.  In fact, there are no accounts of anyone being murdered there.

      We all donned our warm clothing and off we went to hunt ghosts. I learned some very important things that day:
      • My husband SUCKS at taking pictures.  I'm pretty sure it's because I have a right-handed camera and he is left-handed.

      Lucky for me, I have about 500 more pictures that look a lot like this.  Of course he did defend himself by saying that every time he tried to take a picture, a ghost pushed him and knocked him off balance, causing the picture to be blurry.  But I think he might have made that up.

      • THE FLYING MONKEY takes awesome pictures.  My almost-10 year old only took about 12 shots, but every one of them was clear and interesting.  Check out these funky trees.

       And these tree branches that are almost suspended in mid-air:

      • THE CRAZY CLOWN takes great videos.  In fact, they're so great that you can clearly see me hunkered over, peeing in the woods.  Sorry, no visuals for that.  The camera is locked in my closet. The child has a You Tube account.
      • THE RINGMASTER plays funny jokes.   THE CRAZY CLOWN had picked up a gigantic piece of rock.  To carry with him while hiking through the woods. Because he enjoys doing things like that. He finally got tired of carrying the rock and set it in a location that we would pass by on the way back. He called out to the ghosts in the woods and asked them to protect his rock.  I'm sure you can guess.  When we got back, it was gone!  We searched everywhere.  And were honestly a little freaked out.  There was no one else in the woods with us. It turns out the joke was on us.  As we initially walked away from the rock, THE RINGMASTER somehow snuck back and hid it.  In the end, it was actually quite funny.
      • If you stare at a picture long enough, your mind will do funny things.  When we got back home, it was time to go through the evidence.  Any ghost hunter knows that this is a tedious task. You have hours and hours of voice recordings to listen to (ours all sounded like people walking on leaves and sticks) and lots of pictures to enlarge and analyze.
      My husband was in charge of listening to the audio.  Since I design graphics but don't have enough confidence to call myself a graphic designer, my job was to analyze the photographic evidence.  This is what I found:

      Cat with glowing eyes

      Alien Jellyfish

      Wooly Mammoth
      Gonzo from The Muppet Show

      And there you have it.  The evidence is quite clear that Blood Forest full of paranormal activity.

        Thursday, January 5, 2012

        Eating Yellow

        The mother and son entered the classroom. A large easel greeted them with the words "Welcome to 4th Grade" written in a colorful, flowing script.  Three children milled about, exploring their new classroom, while their parents stood to the side, catching up after a long summer break.

        The boy turned to his mother and said, "You can go stand with the other parents. I can do this by myself." He nodded toward the front of the room, where the teacher was talking to a little girl with
         a blue ribbon in her hair.

        The mother hesitated. She looked at the other parents, then at the teacher, calculating the distance between the two.  The boy looked at her and mouthed the word "Go". 

        Instead of joining the other parents, the mother picked up a math book on the table next to her.  "I think I'll just stay here and look through this book", she said.  The boy shook his head.

        He walked to the front of the room and stood behind the girl with the blue ribbon, waiting his turn to speak with the teacher.  He knew what he had to say.  He knew what he had to do.  He had practiced this many times at home.

        When it was his turn, the boy extended his hand to the teacher and introduced himself.  The teacher shook his hand and warmly welcomed him. She glanced at a note on her desk and said, "So I hear you like to travel.  Where do you like to go?"

        The boy told her of his journeys to Amsterdam and his love of Dutch pastries. He spread him arms wide to show the size of the sting rays he snorkeled with off the coast of Grand Cayman Island.  He talked about the severe sunburn he had on St. John and laughed when he told her his father referred to the SPF 100 as 'invisibility cream'.

        The teacher laughed along with the boy.  "Did you go on any vacations over the summer?" she asked.

        The boy shook his head.  "We went on a few local trips, but we didn't travel internationally. We're hoping to do so over Thanksgiving break."  He turned and looked at the classroom door, as more parents entered the room with their children.

        Turning back to the teacher, the boy said, "I sometimes prefer to stay at home over vacation time, as it gives me a chance to do a lot of research. I'm in the process of constructing some new mods for a MMORPG and it takes a lot of time to research the proper applications, code it accurately, and perform any necessary bug fixes."

        The teacher glanced at the door, as a large group of parents and students entered the classroom at once.  She told the boy she was excited to have him in her class this year and looked forward to learning more about his travels and his games.  She encouraged the boy to find his desk and told him to stop by the different work stations set up around the room.

        As the boy turned toward the groups of childrens' desks, his mother suddenly jumped up. She saw the items on the desk and knew what would happen.  She frantically scanned the names on the desks, but the boy found his desk first.

        He screamed "YELLOW!" and in one quick swoop, he recklessly lunged on top of his desk.  Books and papers flew across the room.  As the mother weaved her way through the stunned parents and children, the boy righted himself and ripped open the package on his desk.  The mother approached just as the boy took a large bite of the yellow crayon.

        The room was completely silent as the mother took the boy's hand and escorted him to the trash can.  "Spit", she said.

        The boy protested, "But I like eating yellow!"

        "Spit", the mom repeated.

        The boy dutifully spit the crayon into trash can. And then he spit again.  And then again, while making a wretching noise.  He lifted his shirt, exposing his bare stomach, and wiped his mouth with it.  Then he wiped his tongue with the shirt. And again. And again.

        "Calm", the mother said.

        "Calm", the boy repeated.

        "Control", the mother said.

        "More people are coming in! More people are coming in!", the boy said, as his arms began to flap.

        "Control", the mother said.

        The boy slowly turned and scanned the room. He pointed to a carpeted reading area in the corner of the room.  The mother nodded and followed the boy.


        The mother and son approached the first workstation.  The boy began to pull out a small chair for himself, but then stepped back and turned to his mother, "Have a seat mom," he said as he gestured toward the chair.

        The workstation consisted of a small table with 6 chairs.  A large piece of posterboard covered the table surface.  The center of the paper said "4th Grade Learning Superstars".  A bin of colorful markers sat off to one side, along with instructions for the parent and the student.

        "Hmmmm....", said the mother, "My assignment is to write down my favorite subject when I was in 4th grade."

        "My guess would be that LUNCH was your favorite subject", the boy said with a smile.

        The mother laughed.

        Another mother approached with a girl who wore a name tag that said "Abagail".

        "Hi Abagail, it's nice to meet you", the boy said, "Would you like to join us?"  The boy quickly got up from his seat and pulled a chair out for Abagial, as he had done for his mother.

        The children began to chat and work together.  Their assignment was to use the colored markers and write what they would like to learn in 4th grade.  After each child had a turn, the posterboard collage would be displayed on the classroom wall.

        Abagail decided she would like to learn about science, however, she wanted to write each of the letters in the word 'SCIENCE' in a different marker color.  The boy held the bin of markers in his lap.  As Abagail called out each color, the boy retrieved a marker and gently handed it to her.  Abagail carefully drew each letter in the word science, adding an impressive shadow effect to the right of each letter.  She finished by dotting the letter I with a heart.

        "It's your turn", Abagail said to the boy, "What do you want to learn about?"

        The boy looked up at the ceiling.  He looked at his desk.  He looked at the doorway.  He covered his ears with his hands.  He looked at the ceiling again.

        "Science", the boy said.

        Abagail laughed gently.  "You can't pick science. I used that.  You have to pick something different!"

        The boy pressed his hands against his ears, his face turning red.  He looked at his mother.

        "Would you like some choices?" the mother asked.

        "Buzzing", the boy said.

        "Buzzing?" Abagail laughed, "You can't learn about buzzing".

        "Buzzing", the boy said louder.  "Buzzing!  Buzzing!", even louder.  He looked at the ceiling - at the lights.

        As the mother stood to rescue her son, Abagail said "Tell me what you want to learn and I'll write it for you."  She reached for a marker in the bin on the boy's lap, just as the boy erupted.

        The boy lept out of the chair, markers flying into the air. He threw the empty bin at the chalkboard and ran toward the front of the room.  He tripped and bounced off the backs of parents and students sitting in the chairs, like a chaotic pinball bouncing to and fro.  After navigating through the bumpers, he fell in a heap on the ground.  Within seconds he was up again, lunging toward the light switch on the wall. "NO LIGHTS!", he screamed.  He flipped the switch and the room went dark.


        "Do you know that the platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live babies?"

        The boy was at the first workstation again.  He had decided what he wanted to learn in 4th grade.  He sat with two other boys, Kyle and Logan.

        "The platypus is a very bizarre creature. It's also one of very few venomous mammals."

        Kyle looked at Logan and laughed. He turned to the boy and said, "Why do you talk so loud?"

        The boy said, "When I'm wearing my headphones, I can't tell how loud I'm talking...the venom is only present in males. It's in their back foot and it can be quite harmful to humans."

        "Yeah, but why do you wear the headphones?" Kyle asked.

        The boy responded, "Does anyone know what the plural of platypus is? Is it platypus? Plata-pie? Plata-pussy?"

        Kyle elbowed Logan and they both laughed hysterically. "Plata-pussy!  What a dork!", Kyle said.

        The mother stepped closer to the table and looked directly at the boys. Their faces turned red as they looked down at the table. She took a deep breath and said, "As 4th graders, I trust that you will make sure your conversations are appropriate and that you will show respect for ALL of the students in the classroom."

        Kyle and Logan were silent.

        The boy picked up a green marker.  He held it between his thumb and his ring finger.  In shaky letters, about 5 inches tall, he wrote PLATYPUS on the posterboard.

        "I want to learn about platypus", the boy said proudly.  His mother smiled back. She didn't mention his backwards letters.

        The teacher thanked the parents and students for attending Open Door Day.  She told them she was very excited about the first day of school and reminded the students to get a good night's sleep so they would be wide awake in the morning.

        The boy and his mother approached the doorway at the same time as Abagail and her mother.  The boy smiled.  "Goodbye Abagail, I'll see you tomorrow!"

        Abagail's face paled. She took a step backwards and reached for her mother's hand.  She mumbled a faint "goodbye" while looking at the ground.

        As the mother and son descended the school stairs, the mother asked, "What do you think of 4th grade?"

        The boy shrugged.  "It seems ok," he said, "at least I made some new friends."

        The story above is based on an actual experience I had with my son, Jagger (THE FLYING MONKEY).  I have played this scene over and over again in my mind since it occurred in late August 2011.  Writing it out, here on my blog, was actually quite theraputic for me for two reasons:

        1) I always question whether I could have done something better in these types of situations.  There is a very fine line between hovering over my child and giving him the independence he asks for.  As a mother, it is my duty to protect my child, most often from himself, but also from the cruelty of others.  It is also my duty to ensure that he does not (unintentionally) physically harm others.  Since this experience, I have spent more time observing his triggers and learning when to step in.  But still, it is always difficult.

        2) Writing this account in the 3rd person helped me view it as an observer.  In situations like this, things seem to occur at lightening-fast speed. When Jagger and I met Abagail on the way out the door, I didn't originally understand her reaction.  After Jagger's outburst, I was busy helping him collect himself.  We took a time-out in the school occupational therapy room.  It wasn't until I wrote this that I realized Abagail was experiencing FEAR. She met a sweet, polite little boy.  And when she reached for a marker, he exploded in a fit of anger.  Of course the poor girl was frightened.  When reading this, that might be obvious.  But living it is a different story.

        I appreciate that you took the time to read this.  I hope it was as helpful to you in some way.  

        I welcome your comments, criticism, feedback, suggestions, and ideas.

        Wednesday, January 4, 2012

        The Flying Monkey

        See the cute little guy in the picture to the right?  That's my Flying Monkey, Jagger.   Jagger is an Aspie, or more formally, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.  Jagger will be 10 years old on Sunday (yeah, I lied in the graphic, but I didn't want to turn around and recreate it in a few days).

        Tuesday, January 3, 2012

        Diabetes, biopsies, and skinny jeans

        A few months ago, I *finally* went to the doctor for some weird symptoms I've been experiencing.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I rarely go to the doctor.  It's not that I have a fear of doctors, I just don't have the patience to jump through all their hoops.

        I mean, first you have to schedule the appointment, then you have to drive there, then you have to wait until they call your name...I just don't have the time for all that.  It's generally better for me to 1) ignore the pain/symptoms or 2) wait until things get REALLY bad so the appointment is actually worth the hassle.  (see my Guinness Book World Record Ovarian Cyst blog post.  Trust me, the visuals are worth it.)

        So this time around my wonderful friends reminded me of the above incident and quite frankly told me that the crusty, hair-growing, odd-shaped mole on my forearm looked disgusting and was probably cancerous.  That's why I love my friends.  They don't sugar-coat anything.  Except for candy, which is a good segway into...

        Diabetes.  Apparently my blood sugar numbers are off the charts.  Huh. This was not something I was expecting, however it did explain a lot of the symptoms I was experiencing.  I also had a biopsy on the mole on my arm, one on my leg, and one on my hip.

        After that doctor's appointment, I called to schedule my mid-life crisis.  I'm only a smidge past 40.  Diabetes?  Skin cancer? WTF?

        So I did what anyone would do in my situation.  I went to the store and bought skinny jeans. I suppose it was my way of saying "Hey - I'm not old!", cause damn, those jeans take at least 10 years off my butt.

        See how I worked the concept of BALANCE in here? I'm clever like that. Skinny jeans totally balance out old people diseases, at least in my book.

        Note:  I have received the results to the biopsies and thankfully the moles are all benign.  They're just ugly. I can get them cut off, but well...that would require another doctor's appointment...

        Monday, January 2, 2012

        The aliens took over my blog

        So I wanted to create a blog.  Like a REAL blog where I can talk about bloggy kind of stuff.  You see, I've created other blogs before:
        The problem is that while each of these blogs serve a purpose, I didn't really have a place to talk about normal, everyday shit.  And I know you all want to know everything there is to know about normal, everyday shit.  So I developed the idea for this blog.

        First of all, let me say that I never make anything easy.  When I get an idea for a blog, I'm forced to research, look for a blogging platform (and always come back to Blogger...) create an idea list, create alternative ideas, search for graphics, create a list of 93 possible blog names, design 76 graphics, create the blog, tweak the settings, create more images, and then totally scrap the whole idea and decide it's too much work.  So yeah, me in a nutshell.

        This time, I decided I was going to create this blog no matter what.  Cause it's good to follow through on ideas sometimes, right?  Right.

        So I set out with the concept of BALANCE.  I seriously lack balance in my life.  I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl.  One week I'll spend 65 hours working, like non-stop.  The next week, I'll organize every single closet and drawer in the house.  The following week, I'll realize that I DO have a husband and children and they just might like to see my face or hear my voice once in awhile, so I'll get all dedicated and crap and become the world's best soccer-mom.  That is, until I decide we need a family budget.  Then it's time to research every budgeting piece of software ever made, only to decide I like spending money too much to follow a budget. Then I'll move to my fitness obsession - research, schedules, hours at the gym...Then I'll decide I need a blog....What is this thing called BALANCE???

        I could lie to you and say that this blog will chronicle my struggle with BALANCE in my life and my quest to achieve BALANCE with my work, hobbies, and family.  But honestly, that will probably only last a week... or two.  So for now I'll say that this blog will be "anything goes" - maybe a recipe or two (if I decide to learn how to cook), maybe some funny kid stuff, maybe some info about my newest project....who knows?  Let's just go with the flow, shall we?

        As for the blog design, all I can say is WTF?  I think the aliens took over.  I had this great design in mind with earthy tones.  I'm all about earth tones.  I'll show you a pic of my wardrobe someday, I promise.  All earth tones.

        My original blog design idea included wonderful colors like pea soup green, pumpkin, mustard, and a bit of eggplant (We're counting this as a recipe that I mentioned above.  Don't say a word.)  I'm not sure what happened though. I started designing and the colors kept changing and now I'm left with a blog design that you could dress a newborn baby in.  Seriously?  Pastel blues and a circus?  Pink?  So totally not me. 

        The aliens also made me create that too-cute graphic on the right  >>>>>>>> called THE PLAYERS.  These people are the players in the circus.  What?  I don't care that circuses don't have players.  They do in my circus.  You see, the players are my family members.  Lets go down the list, shall we?
        • THE JUGGLER - that's me.  And I'm not wearing pink in that picture.  Seriously.  It's a figment of your imagination.  I despise pink.  But I'm the juggler of the family, with all the balls in the air at once.
        • THE LION TAMER - that's my husband. He tames the lions.  With whips.  Ok, not really.  Just sometimes.
        • THE RINGMASTER - that's my oldest son.  Firstborn.  Leader.  Director.  The guy who tells everyone what they should be doing.  'Nuff said.
        • THE CRAZY CLOWN - that's my middle son.  The funny one.  The social butterfly.  The genius with a horrendous report card cause he was too busy making everyone laugh to pay attention in class...
        • THE FLYING MONKEY - that's my youngest son.  Also known as "JaggerMonkey". He flies, he spins, he makes monkey noises. 
        • THE LION CUB - our newest addition to the family, he has only been alive for a few short months.  He's a kitten who is damn sure he's a dog who can climb walls. But he's a feline and he kind of looks like a lion, so why not?
        • THE BEARDED LADY - our fawn pug is the sweetest, gentlest, most sincere and devoted little dog you would ever want to meet.  And she has a beard.
        • THE HUMAN PIG - our black pug is just as sweet and devoted as her sister, but she burps, farts, snarfs, and snorts in your face.  She's basically a human with pig-like behavior.
        • THE OTHER CAT - (Not pictured.  On purpose).  The other cat and I have a hate-hate relationship.  She's very affectionate with my husband, THE LION TAMER.  I'm "the other woman".  She's nice to me if I'm opening a can of tuna or if her food bowl is empty.  Otherwise, she's a little witch who gloats when she's in THE LION TAMER'S arms.  Seriously.  I'm not making this up.
        So while I pretty much despise the design of this blog and I'm pissed at the aliens, the whole point of a blog is the BLOG.  The words are what matter, right?  Right.  So the newborn-baby-pastel-colored-blog will stay, at least until I come up with a new design concept.  And then I will be sure to share every list, idea, graphic, and all my research with you.  Now aren't you glad you're reading my blog?