Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Dinner Chez Moi

Trying to feed two children who are complete polar opposites is beginning to get on my nerves. I don't know when dinner time got so out of control. Was it gradual or have I just come out of my denial fog? Tonight was a perfect example. We make a point of having a family dinner together, at the table, most every night. I enjoy cooking, C. cleans the kitchen and does dishes afterwards. It works for us. It gives us all a chance to be together at least once a day. All of us in the same room. Sometimes that doesn't seem like such a brilliant idea.

For the last two nights I have had to basically force-feed a 9 year old. She's one of the finickiest (is that even a word?) eaters on the planet. She has put herself on what we call the Anti-Atkins diet. All carbs. If she had her way, we'd eat macaroni and cheese every night for dinner and sometimes for breakfast, too. Of course, while #1 Son likes mac & cheese, he ONLY likes it if it is "fresh," which translated means that it has to be right out of the pot. If it has sat there at all, while the other foods finish in time to get plated while hot, he wants no part of it. Last night's battle was peas. #1 Son loves them, especially the way I made them last night (a butter based sauce with green onions and tarragon -Yummy). The Little One swore peas off for Lent of something. She claims she's "not into anything green." I was bound and determined that she was at least going to TRY the peas. In our house the rule is that you have to at least TRY one spoonful of something. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it. I will be the cause of tons expensive therapy in their future lives. I am not, however, going to take responsibility for possible eating disorders and obesity. The Little One and I squared off for half an hour. She finally ate the damned spoonful of peas without my having to shove them up her nose (though I was close). And if you must know, she thought I wasn't looking and she finished ALL the peas. Tonight it was cauliflower. I make this really awesome cauliflower, mustard and cheese dish that is a hit anytime I have served it. Except with the Little One. Tonight she informed me that she doesn't eat anything white.

In all honestly she will eat brussel sprouts, but I don't think it's because she really likes them. I think it's because her brother honestly hates them. She asks for brussel sprouts all the time - well those and macaroni. For the record, we rarely have them. She will eat broccoli, but only the "trees." Translation = the top part. Oh and green beans. She just recently decided she likes green beans (which is surprising because her brother loves them and heaven forbid she agree with him). That's part of the problem, too. One day she likes something. The next, forget it. She swears she hates it and has always hated it. I can't win.

When she does manage to choke down veggies, she only likes them "the way Nana makes them." My mother, God love her. She has always cooked vegetables one way. From a can, no seasoning. Except butter. Lots of butter (or in her case margarine which I can't stand and is bad for you anyway). It was that way all while I was growing up. Her culinary repitoire hasn't changed at all (did I say God love her?). I, on the other hand, am an adventurous cook. Nothing crazy like sushi or anything. I'm not out to kill anyone. I just love food. I love to cook. I'm damned good at it, if I do say so myself. Cooking is one of my few creative outlets. The Little One will have none of it. Just open a can, throw it in a pot and serve it up with lots of butter. *sigh* At least it gets her to eat carrots. I have at least four very yummy ways to fix carrots. My creativity is lost on her.

#1 Son, on the other hand, is a dream to feed for the most part. He'll try most anything. He even tries to choke down the dreaded brussel sprouts. That's only because I told him once that as a kid I wasn't into veggies, but as I got older my tastes changed. He has made brussel sprouts his benchmark. He figures that when he finally likes brussel sprouts, he'll be grown up. God love him, too. He at least tries one or two anytime I serve them.

Yes, he's easy to feed because he's not picky. The problem with #1 Son is sheer volume. He will clean his plate at dinner, go back for seconds and a half an hour later there he is. Standing before the alter that all growing boys worship - the refrigerator. He'll stand there so long staring that I have to ask if he's waiting for snow. After choosing a snack, less than an hour later he's back on snow watch again. At that point I have to explain to him that I did not, in fact, go grocery shopping in the half an hour since his LAST visit to the holy grail and nothing has changed.

Seafood is where #1 Son draws the line. He hates it and swears he's allergic to it. I'll give him the allergy theory when it comes to crab. He tries it and immediately throws it up. Same with shrimp. Maybe he's on to something. But ever since his barf fest about 2 years ago, he has sworn off probably the healthiest protein out there. I can't say I'm heartbroken, though. I really don't like seafood myself. Nothing that really tastes like fish. I do like shrimp, though. As long as it's really fresh. The Little One likes shrimp, too. Probably because it is expensive. She loves anything that is cost prohibitive. Steak (filet mignon, thankyouverymuch) is her all-time favorite. But she will eat shrimp. Did I mention #1 Son's suspected shellfish allergy? *sigh*

Welcome to my world. Perhaps we'll have macaroni and cheese - fresh out of the pot - with a side of brussels sprouts tomorrow night.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

i rite reel gud

My college career has been a long and unconventional one. I've started and stopped several times. Sometimes it's been my own fault, sometimes the fault of circumstances beyond my control. I went the first time right out of high school like I was expected to. Unfortunately, I majored in beer. No matter. I was young. It was the early 80s. Who needed college? And I didn't for a long time. In between partying I had a decent career as an insurance agent. That lasted for about 10 years and survived a move to another city. Eventually I married again and through him I got into computers. Well, I guess it's more accurate to say that I was drug kicking and screaming into computers, but I am thankful for the ex's "gentle prodding" (oh shut up, I'm not talking about THAT). I moved on from early Internet and online enterprises to a job in technical support. Yup, a call center. Boy do I have stories from that! From there it was on to a help desk and then into a data services department for another company working on databases. Good money, sure, but not my life's work.

All during this time I experienced these weird dreams. Some of them weren't even alcohol induced. In these dreams it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't bothered to graduate from high school. I always woke up panicked until I realized that it was only a dream - I did have my high school diploma and a year's worth of college credits from Beer U. It didn't take a rocket scientist with an advanced degree to figure out that I needed and wanted to go back to school. The guilt was causing me sleepless nights. And let's not even talk about the guilt I felt as I could be the only kid in my family to actually obtain a college degree. Oh of course all my show off cousins had done it. There are some big time investors and wheelers and dealers in that crowd. I was my father's only hope.

After the birth of the Little One in 1994 I decided to go back. I was a single mother through most of this time and I waited tables to make ends meet for myself and the Prince and Princess the whole time I was in school - 2 semesters worth. Unfortunately my new college career was derailed again. I almost lost the Little One to pneumonia. Picked her up from daycare one day with what looked like a cold. She got worse as the night went on and she ended up hospitalized in the PICU. She almost died. It was the worst time of my life, much worse than anything my jerk ex had put me through. This was scary and it was real. School didn't matter anymore.

After C. and I got together in 1998 I finally came clean and told him that I never finished my degree. I thought he'd be disappointed, but he was so supportive. Of course I made all the classic excuses about why I couldn't go back to school. I was too old. I made good money now, albeit in a career I liked but for a company I hated. School was too expensive. We couldn't afford to lose my salary. On and on ad nauseum. Besides, I wasn't even positive that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. C. was my rock, my cheerleader that gave me the courage to follow my dream. We'd make due. I transferred all my motley credits to the local community college, took a few classes and came out with an AS. HA! A degree. My Dad was proud (hey any degree, even a 2 year one thrilled him). I wasn't done yet, though.

I transferred my AS to my university of choice circa 1994. Yup, I'm back and I will be getting my BA this December. I bet you were wondering when I would get to the point of this post. Well, here it is. Every graduate of my esteemed University is required to take and pass an exit writing exam. It matters not what your major is and if it is writing intensive or not. Dems da rules. I completely understand, though and the exit exam is not my problem. The University wants to make sure that it's graduates can at least write with enough competency to pass a third grade English writing assignment.

The problem arose with the prequisite for the exit exam. You see, everyone coming into the school must take and pass a writing sample placement test. This test is supposed to tell the administration where you need to be placed in English class. You know, 110, 111, 112 or back in 100 and 101 with the other athletes who probably shouldn't have graduated from high school. Here is the problem. I didn't know if I had taken the stupid test or not or if I had somehow missed it, I would be unable to take the exit exam. No matter that I am a Senior with 9 hours left. No matter that my major is history, which is traditionally a writing intensive major. No matter that I have successfully completed (with an A) 4 University designated writing intensive classes. And NO matter that I have graduate classes under my belt thanks to my accelerated Masters program. Dems da rules.

Last Thursday when I went for orientation and registration to take the exit exam, I asked the writing center guy how long they keep the records of people who have taken the sample placement test. He didn't know. In fact he said "Do you remember taking it?" I looked at him like he had three heads. Not only has it been 10 years ago, I have had children who suck out my brain capacity, not to mention the brain cells I have killed on my own. I'm lucky to remember what happened yesterday, much less 10 years ago.

C., who obtained his English degree from this University in the early 90s AND who's father is a professor at said college (it's rotten with us!) attempted to explain why the writing sample placement test is required. Apparently the English Department is all hot for statistics and wants to compare the placement test with the exit exam to trace the progress of students. Yeah. Good. Problem. If I DIDN'T take the stupid test (which I wouldn't have been required to as a transfer student back in the day) I would be required to take it NOW. Before the Exit exam which is scheduled for October 16th. Tell much change am I going to show in less than 3 weeks? How can this do nothing but hurt their numbers? No matter. Dems da rules.

The good news? After getting the run around in the writing department, I found out that I actually took, and passed out of all writing classes except for departmental requirements back in 1995. God love computers.

Rest assured my friends. According to my University, i rite reel gud (so far).

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Communing With Nature

I am into scrapbooking and I create family albums. They come in really handy when the kids start whining that they're bored and "we never do anything fun." I slap those album pages on their lazy little laps and point to the pages and pages of cool stuff we do together. It gives me the perfect opportunity to launch into my "You have no idea how lucky you are to have been born into this family" speech. That's one of my favorites, and admittedly I sometimes get carried away. I bring this up because there are MANY pages that start with "Today we were going to finally clean the house, but it was such a gorgeous day we decided instead to ..." Fill in the blank with things like: Go to Jamestown, Climb the lighthouse at Cape Henry, Drive the Colonial Parkway, etc. etc. The Prince & Princess of Wails tend to get my point a bit better when confronted with such visual evidence. I figure that the house may always be a wreck, but what are they going to remember the most? Is it the clutter and floors that you shouldn't walk on in white socks, or will they remember the fun stuff. I'm betting my "Mother of the Year" award on the latter.

Today was one of those days. A gorgeous early fall day. Clear blue skies, light breeze, temps in the was a phenomenal day to celebrate being alive. Once again I was faced with a choice. I could crack the whip and force them to clean up this pig sty that we call home, OR we could go do something fun. Since I am just as lazy around here as my family, I voted for fun.

One of my favorite things to do with the family is the group bike ride. Unfortunately, C. and the kids all have mountain bikes with gears. I have always ridden C.'s old beach cruiser. ONE speed. That tends to become a problem when we're offroad and going up hill. The family has to wait for me to reach the top - sometimes I have to get off and walk the bike. Luckily our other recent favorite weekend activity is yard saleing. We love to hit the sales - yard, garage, estate, it matters not. We're always looking for a bargain, sometimes for stuff we sell on eBay eventually. I've said before that I'm really into china - hotel china, transportation china. Occasionally I run into some cool stuff that doesn't fit my collection, so I sell it. A couple of weeks ago we ran into the perfect bike. I'd been wanting a mountain bike so that we can all ride together (and I can keep up!), but I certainly didn't want anything too spendy. We were lucky enough to find a Diamondback Sorrento. It fit me. It had new tires, good Shimano breaks. TWENTY-ONE gears!!! We stole it for $20.

Since we recently got a bike rack for the vehicles, we had a choice to make today. Clean the disgusting house before social services stages a commando raid to condemn us....OR...much more fun, go for a bike ride. You know what we chose. #1 Son had already fled to his Dad's in anticipation of a house clean weekend (cause sometimes we actually do those), so C., I and the Little One headed off to First Landing State Park.

The Park is GORGEOUS! It is one of the oldest in the country. The colonists who eventually settled in Jamestown, up the river, landed on this property first. Since the early 1700s the land has been set aside for public use and has remained as such since, except for a brief period after the civil war. There are beaches, boat ramps, cabins and campsites, but the BEST features are the trails. The trails are amazing and incredibly well maintained. Lots of hiking trails and a mountain bike trail through miles of land that looks much like it did when the first settlers landed here.

The bike trail runs about 12 miles through the woods, over bridges and through wetlands. It's such a beautiful place and this was such a great day to be there. Our trip was marred only briefly when C.'s peddle shaft gave us trouble about 3 1/2 miles from the end of our trip. It really wasn't that big of a deal, though, and we'll get it fixed before setting off again. The bike trail winds around and up and down small hills. There are benches strategically placed for hikers and bikers to stop and enjoy the wildlife. At one point you go right by the water that skirts a wealthy section of town called Bay Colony. Martina Navratilova lives back there. Not only do people have boats tied up, but we saw a private helicopter pad, with the chopper parked on it. Man! What better way to avoid traffic!

Of course we were talking and just enjoying the day and our time together. At one point, all of us got quiet. I think we were riding with our own thoughts. I honestly was thinking about this post and was hoping I could capture the true beauty of the day. Riding along the dirt paths, the sunlight was dappled through the trees. There was a slight breeze, yet it was so quiet. We were communing with nature. Squirrels crossed our path, we even saw an otter or muskrat dive in the swampy water. We were surrounded by it, but it didn't smell like a swamp - these were wetlands. Spanish moss clung to the trees. We crossed bridges suspended over canals through the reeds and saw small natural waterfalls. It was amazing.

The silence was finally broken by the Little One. I swear to God out of the blue she said, "This would be a good place to hide a body." That kid scares me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Two weeks ago on a Friday night I was going to pick C. up from working a late shift. As I hit a light, these two teens pull up next to me and start revving their engine like they want to race. Now first, they were driving an old Honda Prelude that had seen better days. Second, and most important, I was an "older" (than THEM!) woman driving a friggin Nissan Ultima for cryin' out loud. What were these children thinking? I had to chuckle to myself when the light changed and the kid went to stomp it - and promptly stalled out. If you're going to drag race, you should probably know how to power shift.

It brought back memories of my most favorite car. I loved my Z. It was the first real car I ever purchased myself - a 1982 Datsun 280 ZX, automatic everything, 5 speed with a fuel injected straight six. At first I wasn't too thrilled about the color, but then I realized how unique it was. There wasn't another one like it anywhere around. And hey, I got a great deal - it only had 2,000 miles on the odometer! My father, of course, was livid. You see, I couldn't drive a stick shift at the time. I was 18 and it was also my first major purchase without consulting him. Didn't matter though. I loved that car, and hey it didn't take me long to learn to drive it, despite all his screaming at me.

I was fearless in the Z. When you stomped on the gas the hood would rise in the air and the back end would dip as the engine strained to respond. Man that was a cool feeling. I have lots of great memories in that car, like my 21st birthday. Well, OK I don't remember too much about that other than I didn't drive, but instead stood up out of the T-tops as we were driving through downtown. There was some yelling and stuff involved, too, but this post is not about my 21st birthday. I learned things from that car. For instance, you can pile 6 teenagers into a 2 seater. The only thing I wasn't completely crazy about was the fact that the car talked. It could be a bit disconcerting if you weren't prepared for it. This really calm woman's voice would say things like "fuel level is low" (every friggin 1/8th of a mile until you filled it!) and "your door is ajar" out of the blue. Spooky sometimes, especially after a few drinks (yeah, I know stupid, but I was young and invincible).

I washed and waxed that car every weekend without fail. Real cleaning, too, not that spray with a hose crap I do to my current car when the pollen gets thick and I was watering the garden anyway. I'm talking Armor All inside and out, tire cleaner, rim cleaner, special glass cleaner, carpet fresh stuff and a thorough vacuuming. It took me at least a couple of hours. After I was married, the first time, I even replaced all the carpeting in the Z. She was gorgeous. I ended up putting about 125,000 miles on that awesome machine.

Unfortunately I made a few mistakes during that time. The first was marrying my first husband. The second was listening to him when he said that with that many miles on it, the car was bound to die soon and cost us a lot of money. What a moron I was. Had I researched it further, I would have known that those cars could go 200K - 300K or even more with good care. SO I let him talk me into selling it with the condition that we find a car I really liked before letting it go. After test driving several sports cars and finding something wrong with every one of them, much to his chagrin, I began to like the Toyota Supra Turbo. One day he called me at work and told me to meet him at a car dealer. He had found a Porshe 911 that was a deal. It was ridiculously priced because it was an automatic. Automatic for cryin' out loud! I wasn't having any of that wuss crap. Why would one have an automatic Porsche? We decided to go to lunch, I'm sure so he could talk me into it. By the time he had, reluctantly though, we went back and the car was sold. He never forgave me. I was secretly doing the happy dance inside.

Finally I narrowed it down to two Supras. Once was ice blue, the other was "plum," as they called it, but really it was dark purple. Call a spade a spade. Hubby called me at work one day with a surprise. He bought my car! I told my secretary I'd be gone for the day and headed home. I couldn't believe he bought my car without consulting me on the final choice, but he was controlling that way. I didn't care, I was just curious whether it would be ice blue or purple. I got home and he was waiting in the parking lot. "Well......." he said in anticipation. "Well what?" I saw no Supra. I saw nothing but my beloved Z. and a bunch of other nondescript vehicles. "What do you think? It's a convertible!" Uh yeah. It was a convertible alright. A convertible Pontiac...Sunbird. 4 cylinder. To this day I think he was trying to get me back for the Porsche incident. The best news he had for me was that he had a buyer for the Z and a check for the downpayment. All I had to do was sign the title and the guy would be back to pick up the car and pay the rest. Oh how I wish I had stood up to him and refused to sell that car. I cried all through the sale process. What it would be worth today I can only imagine. I'm not talking monetary value, I'm talking about worth to me. It was a symbol of my independence which I lost in that marriage and many successive relationships. I'd love to have that car back.

The Z would be appalled if she could see how I keep cars now. It's rather disgusting, and I can only think that it's an acting out of sorts derived from the trauma of letting my beloved Z go. Wash and wax every week? Honey, PLEASE. The only time my cars get cleaned out are when the trash reaches seat level. Now, of course, I do have an excuse. I gave birth to two of them. What children do to a car, no car lover should have to witness. There's a reason most families keep one vehicle "kid free." I must admit that #1 Son is good about cleaning my car out - when I ask him.

Last week my car began smelling like a dumpster...literally. Seriously. No joke. I did what I do best. I rallied the troops and was able to utilize my "you ride in it, you crap it up, you can clean it" speech. That one always motivates them (not really, but it always makes me feel better). Off they went to clean out the car. I outfitted them with plastic gloves, as I recommended that they actually go beneath the seats this time. I am safety conscious afterall. They grabbed several trash bags and my vacuum and were out the door. Below is a partial list of things found in my car during this most recent assault on "Funky Town," as my car has become known:

2- 5 inch diameter plastic Lincoln nickels
7 pounds of petrified french fries
9 ink pens (one exploded) in the colors of black, blue and 1 red
4 partially melted crayons
5 Happy Meal type toys
a bag filled with a small plastic milk jug that had exploded in the heat (there's your smell)
Numerous school papers from as far back as 2nd grade. The Little One is in 4th. You do the math.
3 pounds of pop tart crusts (the Little One doesn't eat the edges, only the part with fruit in it)
A half eaten 7-11 hot dog
2 "scented" magic markers
A mummified half eaten apple
2 coloring books (when is the last time that kid used coloring books? Years at least)
Enough candy wrappers to wall paper my great room
A crumpled book on Lincoln that I used last semester - good thing that class is over, I was wondering where that book was.
Various socks and clothing items
5 sports water bottles, but only 2 lids.
Enough cups, napkins, bags and wrappers to stock a fast food joint for a week.

Again, that's a PARTIAL list. Let us just say that after days of airing out and an entire box of Carpet Fresh (and two vacuumings), things are starting to get back to normal. At least I can drive the thing now without hanging my head out the window like a Labrador.

The Z would be appalled. And she would have kicked that Prelude's ass.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Serial Guppy

I posted earlier this summer about my tendency to kill things as evidenced by my black thumb. It's happening again and it's manifesting itself inside and out. What kind of a person can't grow a geranium or a petunia? They're not difficult. Hell, my neighbors grow them like weeds. So far this summer I have lost 3 petunias and one and a half geraniums. The geraniums got all moldy looking. No I didn't water them too much. Maybe they're just defective. Their twisted yellow leaves mock me. The first two of the petunias withered and died almost immediately. The one that finally bit it turned all gnarled and brown very slowly. It was torturous to watch. I almost put it out of it's misery a couple of times, but the optimist in me couldn't go through with it. It might have come back afterall. The good news is that the weeds in my herb garden are flourishing.

#1 Son is convinced we have a guppy that moonlights as a serial killer. See we've been cycling a new tank for the past few weeks. After the second week, we added 6 feeder guppies. They're babies really, but they're cheap. 99 cents a dozen and hey, we saved their lives. Four days later we had one left. And the water wasn't bad either. We decided to go for the gusto and added 6 tetras. They're bigger so they'll cycle faster and they are super hardy. They should be able to survive even this family. Guess what? 8 days later and we only have one of those left. Using his crack powers of deduction, #1 Son thinks the guppy, who is 1/4 the size of the tetra, is in some sort of mob plot with the other fish. It's only a matter of time, says Son One, before the tetra angers the killer guppy enough to waste him.

I don't buy it. Not with what's going on around here. Plants mysteriously wasting away and now the death toll of fish up to 10. It certainly couldn't be me. Come to think of it, that guppy looks a little shifty.


Sunday, September 12, 2004


We spent the evening watching the live streaming video finish of the Ironman Triathalon held today in Wisconsin. If you are not familiar with this type of competition, let me acquaint you to the phenomenon that is The Ironman. The Ironman is a race of endurance and versatility. The athletes start out with a little swim. How little? 2.4 miles worth - and it's not in a calm pool. They swim in open water. Then the athlete mounts a racing bike for a little 112 mile Sunday drive. Finally, for grins and giggles, they finish up with a marathon run of 26.2 miles. That's a total of 140.6 MILES - in one day. This race in Wisconsin is a qualifier for the World Championship held in Hawaii in October.

Our family has an interest in this race because TWO of C.'s cousins competed this year! His cousin Lauren has been running marathons since she was a teenager. She competed in the World Championship Ironman held in Hawaii two years ago, finishing in the top twenty in her age group. She then got pregnant with her first child (as we all joked she would). The baby is a year old and this is her "Comeback" year. What's even more exciting for the family is that her younger sister, MiMi recently moved back to the Pittsburgh area and decided to train with Lauren. Today was Mim's first full Ironman. You GO GIRL!

It was so cool that we got to watch the finish live over the Internet. We were hollering and cheering as if we actually were in Madison. The kids thought it was cool. Lauren finished FOURTH in her age group of women and 17th overall in the women's division. Her time was 11:07:31. That's ELEVEN HOURS non-stop my friends! Mimi finished 10th in her age group of women and 54th overall. Her time was 11:55:14. She not only finished, she got in under 12 hours in her very first full Ironman. We're pretty sure Lauren has qualified for Hawaii next month. I'm really hopping Mim did, too. At first my MIL was of the understanding that the top 10 finishers in each age group make it. But now we're not sure how the math will work out. It would be JOYOUS if they both qualified! And hey, if our stocks mature in time that would be a great trip for us to follow them on! Of course I'm dreaming.

That's two tough chicks in our family and we are SO proud of them! If you want to check out the actual results, go to athlete info at the race update . Lauren Henzler is in the female 30-34 group. Mimi (Meredith) Colazzi is in the female 25-29 group. Both Girlies are from the Pittsburgh area. What a fantastic day! And the best part was that we got to see it live.

To think, I get winded, bitchy and crampy just running to the mailbox.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

We Will Never Forget

(Editor's Note: I tried to post a cleaned up edited version of this last night, but blogger was not cooperating. Perhaps I'll edit this later...or not)

It was a gorgeous early fall morning, much like today, clear blue skies and the first hint of fall in the air. The kids had started school, work was going well and life was good. My first anniversary as C.’s wife was almost a month away. I was happy and content. I had just gone from “summer hours” at work back to the regular fall/winter schedule, so I was on my way in a bit later than I had been in previous weeks. I was on the highway getting off at my exit, listening to Mancow Muller as I usually do in the morning.

All of a sudden Mancow stopped with the blue commentary and announced that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Of course my thoughts were of the poor Cessna pilot and I wondered if he had passed out or something similar. Why else would he have hit a building like that? Then Mancow talked about having a monitor on and watching the scene. About that time he and his “crew” started yelling about another plane hitting the second tower. For about 3 seconds I was horrified. Then I thought what a silly joke they were trying to pull off. It was like the “War of the Worlds” broadcast so many years ago. Cute. I decided to call my Dad when I got to my desk in the off chance that something was really happening. My father is retired and watches news channels on cable religiously. It was when he said, “Yes honey, it’s real,” that I felt a deeper confusion. It wasn’t horror at that point. That emotion came later.

My girlfriend Tricia and I went to the conference room and rigged up the television so that we could get a local channel. It was then that I got my first visual of the towers, on fire. Two separate airplanes had hit the World Trade Center. What the hell? People started to gather in the conference room. The thing that I remember the most was the silence as we all watched the news coverage. Silence was something that our office was unused to, especially when our team was gathered in the same room. It was eerie.

Watching the towers actually fall was something that bonded all of us together. It was surreal. The Twin Towers were actually toppling. That wasn’t supposed to happen. It was inconceivable. I remember standing there with tears streaming down my face. It’s rather interesting to me now, in retrospect that I wasn’t thinking about my extended family at that point. That came into my consciousness shortly after, though. My sister in law was pregnant with their first child. They lived on Staten Island and she was a public defender in the city. She worked close to the site. How was she? I had no idea. I couldn’t get a phone call through to my brother. The strike on the Pentagon made me angry. It was the crash in PA that really freaked me out. The news reports said that the plane went down close to Pittsburgh. C. has a lot of family in the Pittsburgh area. For a brief moment I remember feeling that this was a personal attack. WHY is this happening to my family? Silly now when I look back – to take it personally, but those feelings were real at the time.

Amazingly, my normally inhumane company allowed employees to go home if they wanted to. Of course, they only stopped their marketing calls (not my division) into NYC. Assholes. After many calls to my kid’s school I finally reached the school board. I wanted to know what, if anything, they were telling the children. I was assured that they were not being informed at all. C. and I decided to leave the kids where they were. We were confused, terrified, maybe a bit panicked and most definitely didn’t have any answers. We didn’t want to wrench them from their normal routine without being able to answer the questions they were sure to have. Did we make the correct decision? I think so now, but we certainly weren’t sure then. We were on autopilot.

They are smart kids. I’m sure I’ve said that before. If not, I apologize for the oversight. When C. and I were there together to pick them up, after seeing half of their classmates leave during the day, they knew something was up. We told them, honestly, and without much editorial. When we arrived home we turned on the television in the living room, and of course it was all over every channel. The Little One wasn’t too interested, which is a good thing in retrospect. She was still young and innocent. Why change that prematurely? She was 6. #1 Son had one question, “Are we safe Mommy?”

I feel so fortunate that I was confidently able to answer that question. I truly believed that we were. We live very near the largest Naval base in the world. If a plane attempted to enter our airspace, it would have been obliterated. No questions asked. In those uncertain hours after the attacks that was the one thing I was sure of.

In the aftermath, the irony of September 11, 2001 became clearer and clearer. My sister in law experienced some morning sickness that morning, something she had been plagued with. I think God for it. Because she was ill, she left for work later than she normally would have. That put her on a later ferry into the city. She was on the ferry when the first plane hit. The ferry operator instantly turned around carrying her safely home. We didn’t find out for several hours, but that was insignificant. She and my brother were safe. My nephew Luke arrived, on schedule, 7 months later.

It was a day later before I found out how tragic the day could have been for my family on a personal level. My cousin, an American Airline pilot, normally flew the Boston to L.A. route. That was his plane that rammed the tower. He was off that day. His brother, also my cousin, is a “big wig” in finance. He had a meeting in L.A. that afternoon. He was scheduled to fly on Flight 11. That morning he got word that his meeting was being pushed back to late afternoon, so he had his secretary purchase a ticket on a later flight.

I was going to post a “tribute,” thank you, etc. here. But a favorite blogger has posted an amazing post. It’s far more than I could ever say. Please check out Jay’s page at

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Oh Happy Day

Despite the oppressive humidity today, this is the outfit The Little One chose for the first day of school. She was so excited that she slept in her clothes. I swear she was wearing pajamas when I put her to bed. What you can't see in the picture is the rip in the back of the tights. Apparently that's "cool." Silly me, I always throw away pantyhose and tights when they run. She's in a mobile classroom this year and those tend to be hot in the spring and waning days of summer. I'm guessing the tights will be a short lived fad, at least until winter.

#1 Son chose a t-shirt with the message "I didn't lose my mind, I sold it on eBay" for his first day attire. No sense setting the expectations of the teachers too high.

After dropping The Princess off at her classroom, I stopped in my local store for a pack of smokes. The clerk commented that she had not seen so many deliriously happy Mothers since last fall. I guess the huge grin gave me away. I think they should make the first day of school a holiday for parents. The mom of one of The Princess' classmates and I were teasing the girls last week. We told them how parents all take the first day of school off and have a huge party. This year we're having Avril Lavigne provide the music. They didn't buy it. They might have last year.

After all these years I have perfected my "Going Back to School Happy Dance." It's sort of a little two-step combined with the Twist. I do it while accompanying myself with a little song that goes, "You're going back to school, woo hoo, woo hoo, going back to school, yee haa." I change the tune each time I sing it, but the effect is the same. They're used to it by now, though. The only reaction I get is a rolling of the eyes coupled with a "Mom, cut it out. You're embarrassing." Excellent. My work here is done.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Swimming With the Fishes

We have had fish, in tanks of course, on and off for years. Fish are soothing and fun to watch. Decorating their tank is a family affair, though sadly cleaning it is not. When the kids were little they used to ask questions like "Mommy, how does the Mama guppy know which babies to eat?" Good question kid. I always wondered about the answer to that one myself. If I had known, I would have probably eaten The Little One.

The Princess of Wails started out as such a cherub. After #1 Son, who had colic, I was blessed with this beautiful little girl who slept like a champ and rarely cried. Visions of all the girlie stuff we were going to do in the future danced in my head. I was going to brush and curl her hair. We'd wear matching cutesy dresses, have tea parties and play with her dolls. Why I was filled with this fantasy is beyond me, since I was a major tomboy growing up. Reality with the Princess is so completely different than my original vision. The kid was practically bald until she was two. By the time her hair grew in long and flowing, she hated for me to even brush it. Oh what "fun" I had trying to sit on her long enough to get the knots out so people wouldn't think we were homeless. And cute dresses, dolls? Fat chance. The kid is a major punk. Black is now her color of choice, though she will wear a skirt if it's plaid. Black fingernail polish and pink hair spray (that brushes out in a hurry before we get to the grandparent's house) are big hits. Her favorite shoes are a pair of Doc Martens, a pink and black pair of Converse high-tops and a pair of pink and black Airwalks with skulls. I'm not sweating it, though. I have learned to pick my battles. I'm saving mine up for tattoos and piercing. That's when I will go to war.

I should have known she would be the one to test my patience. The signs were there fairly early on. When they were really little I had a rule that they were not to be in the kitchen when I loaded the dishwasher, even though I always loaded silverware with the sharp side down. One day I was in "load mode" when The Little One came tearing in and made a beeline for the silverware. Like a little Jack Nicholson she laughed maniacally, grabbed a steak knife by the handle and took off after her brother as if she was in a B movie. She was no more than about 18 months old.

Right around the same time period, I happened to walk by a cracked bathroom door to the sounds of "Ugh, UGH!" I opened the door to see my little Princess with both hands on a toilet brush, flushing and trying to repeatedly shove something down the commode with all her might. Being the concerned Mom I am, I asked her what the heck she was doing. She replied, "Batmon smimmin." It took me several minutes to unload the pot. Luckily she had shoved a pair of #1 Son's pajama bottoms in first. The P.J.s were followed in the drink by several Batman action figures, a couple of Hot Wheels cars and the Batman motorcycle. She's always had it out for her brother and it has only gotten worse.

Yes my friends, those are "hand to God" true stories. Friends of older girls tell me that it only gets worse. Apparently the teen years are hell. I should have eaten The Little One when I had the chance.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Don't Tell My Heart... - Mini Post

So the US Women's Olympic team was on Leno last night. I guess they have to raise some of their own funds to compete. You've probably heard about that Mo girl, Mohini something. She was selling raffle tickets, Pamela Anderson heard about it and bankrolled her. Well last night I learned about the fund raising efforts of Courtney McCool.

A radio station in McCool's hometown offered to help her. They decided to play "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus over and over until the needed amount was pledged by their listeners. I'm surprised they had to play it 48 times. I think by the third playing I would have pledged the kid's college funds.

Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

See my complete profile

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