Thursday, December 15, 2011

The House of Hork

So the evil Vomitosaurus from Planet Spew has visited the house just in time for the insanity of 10 days before Christmas OMFG, bringing misery and leaving ridiculous amounts of laundry in it's squicky wake.  No really, have you ever tried to wash a pillowtop mattress cover in a standard washing machine?  Oh ho HO!)  Both kids have fallen to the attack and I fear that Dylan and I aren't far behind.  Let's just say that the fragrant aromas of my workplace are not doing wonderful things for me and I'd just as soon go home to stew (!) in my own swirling whirlwind of nausea if not for having to inform the Fearless Leader of the impending volcanic eruption and having to withstand the 'wink wink nudge nudge' oh-you-must-be-pregnant what passes for witty repartee that is sure to come with such a declaration NO THANK YOU. (Takes a breath) (Also: not)

My MIL, bless her, agreed to stay with my diseased children today so Dylan and I could go to work.  Yay?  She already had stayed with Noah yesterday and even offered to come tomorrow if we need her though I might just cry 'Uncle!' and stay home with them should the need 'arise'. 

*Wipes tears of mirth at own cleverness*

I called home a bit ago to check on how things were going and if she had been reduced to mute rocking in the corner and...things were good.  Both kids were down for a nap though Noelle is on our bed making for a particularly exciting game of 'Will She or Won't She'.  (Gentlemen, place your bets.) Noah, he apparently turned the corner eating, well, everything in sight.  Mostly of the sweet carbohydrate persuasion. He felt well enough to don the apparel of his alter-ego du jour, Batman (complete with crown and wand - there is no reason why Caped Crusaders can't feel special after all), and run around the house like a complete loon.  THEN he wanted to go outside and play up/down/spin around/fall down/wiggle.  (I blame Yo Gabba Gabba for this Bee Tee Dubs.)  This would be a marked transformation from the toddler I found this morning with sweat and sick sculpting his hair into a directionally-challenged mohawk. 

Noelle actually had cause to use her barf bowl but because it was pink, she chose not to despoil it opting instead for the family room carpet.  I thank my lucky stars that I had borrowed my best friend's steam cleaner and had not returned it yet.  Laziness Forethought FTW!  Because Alice, my sainted MIL is, well, an angel, she cleaned up not only the carpet but also finished up the bed linen laundry (Dylan and I did start it this morning - we are not that bad at this parenting thing).  Noah's 24 hours are just about up so I hope that Noelle's isn't too far behind.  Because then it will be Dyl and I in Pukeasaurus Rex's thrall.

I wonder if Alice would take care of us?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How can people be so smart and yet so dumb?

Imma just gonna get up on my soapbox here a minute:

I swear I think that people have a deeply sublimated death wish.  You would think that with the recent focus on food safety and the numerous outbreaks of salmonella contamination folks would be more inclined to pay attention to their own food safety practices.  I am forced to wonder how many of these food borne pathogen outbreaks can actually be attributed to people incorrectly storing and preparing food.  I work for a major food company and am appalled by what I see as cavalier disregard for food safety - not in our products but in the actions of the EMPLOYEES with their personal foodstuffs.  We go through yearly training in food safety but it seems that folks haven't figured out how to apply these teachings to their home lives.

Yesterday management provided us with a really nice pizza lunch as a 'thank you' for our hard work in serving one particularly large customer.  It was delicious and appreciated and....left sitting out in the break room for hours.  There were even pizzas left on the tables this morning from last night's delivery.  And employees were still eating them.  Prepared foods should not be left out unrefrigerated any longer than 3 hours (and even that is kind of gross) because as the hot food cools, it becomes a hospitable environment for microbes to use as culture media.  Yes, the initial cook step killed off most microbes that may have been on the food but there are some thermophilic (heat-loving) microbes that don't care about that coupled with open access to the air and all of the air-borne microbes, your lunch has now become a veritable Las Vegas for the single-cellular set.

That is bad enough from employees in a food manufacturing plant but almost more disturbing was the 'Thanksgiving Luncheon' held today at the kids' preschool.  Each classroom was assigned a side dish or dessert to bring and the Two Year Olds had canned corn and canned green beans.  This was not a big deal until the administration requested that the canned veggies be brought opened in storage containers.  Again, not a big deal but (and this is a BIG BUT), the numerous storage containers were left sitting on a table.  Unrefrigerated.  Yes, the contents went through a significant kill step during processing but the second that can is opened, all bets are off.  I have never been so glad in all my life that my kids do not eat canned veggies.  Or any veggies really but that's a different topic altogether.

So to borrow from the late and unlamented McDLT (?), keep the hot [stuff] hot, the cold [stuff] cold and enjoy your holiday dinners safely!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Little Tire That...Couldn't

Well.  Hi! It's been a while.  Not that I haven't had good/bad/remotely interesting stories to share, I do, I also have job that seems to suck the will to live out of me.  So on that happy note, onto the crisis du, um, month. Ish.  Wait, where are you going?

Back in early October, Noelle and I had dentist appointments scheduled for the same morning so trying to be a cool mom, I decided we would have a Mommy/Noelle Day after the dentist visit and the flu shot.  Oh, did I forget to mention that? Well anyway, the plan was that after we got the medical stuff done in the morning, we would go out to lunch (her choice of restaurants) and she got to pick the afternoon activity: going to a movie, going to the park, going shopping, going to Kiddie Crusoe, whatever.  She was excited and talked about our special day for weeks.  It was beautiful and warm so yes! going to have a great day.  We dropped Noah off at school and headed off to the dentist where she not only had another fabulous checkup, the dentist dropped the bombshell that oh hey, one of her bottom teeth might be coming loose and I'm sorry, back the truck up a moment.  Apparently they start losing their baby teeth around 5, 5 and a half.  Of this, I was not aware so you know, good to know.  I took her to get the flu mist things in her nose but the only road that went by her pediatrician's office was blocked off for paving so we parked in a grocery store lot and hiked over.  It was...bizarre.  Anyway, she got the snerfully stuff and since we were running ahead of schedule, hey there is Jiffy Lube RIGHT THERE and we need an oil change so let's just get this done and we're on our way.  (This, by the way, is called foreshadowing.)

We drive across the street and around the back of the building as this ain't my first rodeo and request the signature service change: change oil, top off fluids, inflate tires to correct pressure, whatever.  See, me being a responsible car owner and all!  Noelle and I head into the waiting room where the Auto TV was playing (and she was not thrilled) but hey, it's only about 20 minutes then its lunchtime and we can go to Chik-Fil-A where you can not eat your lunch but swing around the play area like a drunk monkey to your heart's content. 

Then, the door opens. "Um, Ms. Feakes? Uh, we were filling the tire and uh, the uh sensor broke and now the tire's flat."  "It's flat?" "Uh, yes." "I'm sorry, what?" Yes folks, while removing the cap the pressure sensor new fangled thing snapped off and BAM the tire went flat. Me: "Oookay, can you fix it?"

No, no they could not.  But they could put the spare on (uh, yes please.) Noelle was being patient but was also ready to get out of there.  Me too.  The guys walks back in. "I'm sorry but you don't have a spare." AW FUCK NO this isn't happening.  Me: "Yes I do.  It's located under the driver's seat."  I'm not sure why it's located there but it is.  This is my PSA for those owning Town & Countries: the spare is located under the driver's seat.  I have no good explanation for this. 

By now, Noelle is rolling around on the floor, I'm barking at her to get up GET UP! the floor is gross and dirty and stuff and of course this is when they do the hard sell on other maintenance things.  So I have a busted tire, a beyond antsy preschooler and the poor man who just has to do his job trying to upsell.  Through gritted teeth I pretty much spit out 'No thank you, not today' for everything as it's now a matter of pride and get us the hell outta here before I go batshit insane on everyone.

An HOUR LATER we are finally leaving for lunch (upshot here: was now a perfectly acceptable time for lunch) and we did enjoy the rest of the afternoon (saw The Lion King in a theater by ourselves and shared popcorn, M&Ms and a fruit punch) but little did we know that our tire woes were just beginning. 

This is already ridiculously long so tune in (tomorrow/next week/2746) for the next thrilling installment.  This post brought to you by Evil Incarnated, Inc. (also known as 'Jiffy Lube').

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

As the Preschool Turns

Who knew that preschool was such a hotbed of romance and intrigue?  On our way to school this morning, Noelle chirps from the backseat that Nico is her best friend and if he doesn't want to be friends anymore then instead of walking away, she'll stand next to him and they'll fall in love and hearts will come out of them. 


Then she went on to list the other 'couples' in class:  Sammy and Paige, Charlotte and John (or was it Jimmy) and Brenden and Braden.

We are nothing if not equal opportunity at this school.

I tweeted what she had said about her and Nico and her friend Sammy's mom replied that Sammy had told her that he (Sammy) loves Noelle and thinks she is so pretty but she (Noelle) is marrying Nico and Sammy is marrying Paige because he loves Paige the best and Noelle is apparently spoken for or I think it may have gotten all sister-wives up in this joint. 

We all had a good laugh and 'whaaa?' reactions but then I started thinking; where are they getting these ideas about love and marriage?  They are all the oldest in their families so it's not as if they are taking cues from older siblings and if they are anything like Noelle, the sophistication of their media consumption begins with 'Blue's Clues' and ends with 'Olivia'. 

Dylan and I rarely watch anything 'mainstream'; our tastes run more toward 'Ghost Hunters', 'Leverage', 'Ghost Hunters International', 'Destination Truth', 'Ghost Adventures' and of course football though I will readily cop to loving questionable movies such as 'The 40-Year Old Virgin' and 'Team America: World Police.'  And 'Real Genius' because DUH.  We only watch TV after the kids are in bed so it doesn't seem like they are getting it from us.  Maybe from books as Noelle likes princess stories but rarely comes back to the 'falling in love' part, she's more interested in the why:  why did Cinderella's shoe fall off?  Why were her stepsisters mean to her? Why did Gaston want to hurt the Beast?  Why did Ariel want to be a mermaid?

Is this a comprehension issue?  That at this age they don't know to express liking another person other than 'love'? Why the need to 'pair up' so young? I remember having two guy best friends when I was in kindergarten; we did everything together.  In fact, my mom still has the ornament Ben gave me when I was 5 but I don't recall anyone labeling the relationship as 'love'.  I don't remember anyone commenting on a 'boyfriend', they were simply my best friends.

Have we as parents been contributing to this by unconsciously labeling another child as a 'boyfriend' or a 'girlfriend'? Have we watched them play together and commented,' Oh, she loves him so much!'  Are we projecting onto our children's playmates our interpretation of relationships or is this simply how we are all wired at that age; everything is absolute, love or hate, there is no in between, no gradations, shades of gray?  Are they just trying to make sense of the world with the words and concepts that they have?

I think that Dylan and I will need to be more careful in what she is exposed to and help her better understand emotions and relationships though I will say, it does make me feel a bit better knowing who my future son-in-law is already.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anatomy of a Birthday Cake

So, I made Noah a birthday cake.  Yeah, no big except for my compulsion to make Complicated! Character! Cakes! complete with multiple decorating tips and practicing shell borders and what not.  Actually, it's become sort of a tradition in our house: each child picks their birthday theme and I procure the baking pan necessary to transform their hearts' desire into edible reality.  Or I pick because I'm pretty damn sure that Wilton does not make a Super Martian Robot Girl cake pan and I'm also fairly certain that is what Noelle will pick this year and Bzzz! Snap! GAH.

This year for Noah we went with Blue's Clues and I'm sure that this will surprise absolutely no one. 

But Mommy, I love Blue so much.  Crap.
But, how does one accomplish this with a full time out of the house job and no motivation after 8:30 pm Oh Masochistic One with No Discernible Artistic Talent Whatsoever?  I'm so glad that you asked as I shall tell you.  And then you may commit me to Sheppard Pratt post haste.

First up, the cake.  Actually, first you have to find the damn cake pan on as it's no longer being produced of course even though the show that landed the character in your life is shown daily on NickJR and then hope to god that 1) it's actually in semi-decent condition, 2) won't require the sale of a kidney and 3) arrives sooner than the day before the party.

No, I'm not bitter.  Why do you ask?

Therefore Step 1B becomes actually making the cake which I do with the few remaining brain cells remaining after work/dinner/play/bath/bedtime and a beer (or two or three) thrown in for good measure.  I of course didn't take a picture of the naked cake but trust me, we had a very naked and forlorn cake in our kitchen for a couple of days.  No Duh step 1C: cover the cake so it doesn't dry out.  You will only make this mistake once.  I guarantee it.

Now you have the cake all prepped so now it's time to assemble the 80 million icing colors, tips, couplers and decorating bags. I'm only slightly exaggerating here. I kid you not, this thing required 3 different shades of blue.  (Not to be outdone, Noelle's last birthday cake called for 3 different shades of grey.  For Diego's SHOE.  I still can't talk about it without twitching.)

The coffee is necessary as it was too early for beer

We are now ready to decorate!  The damn dog is blue.  So how many different colored icings were required?  7.  SEVEN.  FOR A BLUE DOG.


Any good decorator (read: parent hack) knows that you should follow the directions exactly except for when they make no sense.  Which they frequently don't so either throw caution to the wind and DO WHAT MAKES SENSE or invest in a lot of different tips and couplers.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I'm the ghost of cartoon characters in endless reruns
Yay!  The sides and blank spaces are done!  We are rockin' now!  Let's get this party started with something easy.

I don't remember the episode where Blue goes to the office but okay
I'm feeling more accomplished by the second but you know what this is missing?  Yeah, you guessed it, some blue.  We should fix that.

Much better
This is the first point where I deviated from the directions.  GASP.  I know but hear me out; the darker colored spots weren't apparent on the cake even though according to the cake pan they should have been so in reality, they forced me to do this. 

Zombie Dog: coming to an office near you
I sustained an injury to my wrist about 12 years ago at work that results in weakness and fatigue whenever I do a lot of repetitive motions with that hand.  It's probably a good thing that I'm not a guy.  I'm just sayin'.  Why this fascinating segue?  Squeezing hundreds of itty bitty stars to cover the dog may not have been my smartest move ever. 

Noah, you better damn well appreciate this.

The finish line, it's in sight!

I mock you with my off center tongue
Crap, not the finish line.  I hate it when I confuse that with Pit Road.  At this point I just wanted to be done so voila, the finished cake:

You see that printing? That's me.  Yeah, believe it.
So why do I go to these lengths to make a cake when buying a ready-made one, even a special order one (from Giant people - love Charm City Cakes but am NOT dropping a grand on a birthday cake for a toddler.  Ain't gonna happen.) is probably more cost effective?  Well, my mom always made our birthday cakes and I'll readily cop to a bit of Mommy Guilt over having to work.  As if a homemade cake will even things out on the cosmic scale but it makes me feel a little more connected and present.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go freeze the cake as there is a hurricane just itching to sit on our heads.  I'll let you know how this turns out.

I'm not cancelling the pizza yet

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Dear Noah,

Happy Second Birthday baby boy!  I can't believe that it's been two years now since you've come into the world, huge and silent and...jaundiced. But we don't like to talk about that even though you did get your own tanning bed for 3 days.

Yeah, you read that right

You've been my snuggle-bug and fiercely independent wanting to go and do everything that your big sister does.  You are very strong willed which I find quite admirable though will freely admit that it would be fine if you chilled out once in a while. 
Your big loves right now are trains and Blue's Clues, books and cars and art.  And Bla Bla, always Bla Bla. 

 Other things you love?  'Hie-seek' and dress up.  You have been a pretty, pretty princess, pretty witch, Super Baby, Wonder Baby, Bat Baby and Brave Knight Noah.  Also *maybe* a fairy but we can't prove anything.*

You have the most mischievous grin that lights up your beautiful dark blue eyes.  You are so ridiculously big (taller than everyone other child in your class and most of the next class up despite being the youngest) yet today you are wearing 12 month shorts as you have no hips to hold up anything larger.  I'm so not even kidding here that one of your many names is The Hipless Wonder.

You started school this past March at 18 months after being watched by Grandma exclusively; Daddy and I worried about your transition but for no good reason.  You have done AMAZING in school - you know all of your colors though you still confuse red and yellow at times, a lot of letters and can count to 12 in English and 10 in Spanish though I tend to credit Dora for that last one.  You seem to pick up new words everyday and combine your words into more and more complex phrases.  My current favorite is 'Where Mommy be?' when we are playing 'Hie-seek'.  You are a very good helper; every afternoon when I walk into your classroom the first thing you do is put away the toy or game you are playing with before running to me even though that is what you want to do in the most desperate way.

You HATE being thwarted or denied and have thrown some magnificent tantrums.  There are times you've gotten mad, thrown a toy and gone to sit on the time-out step before Daddy or I can say anything.  It's so incredibly cute watching this that we have to work very hard to hide our grins and giggles.  You have inexplicably began showing an interest in the potty though haven't seemed to quite grasp the fact that the clothes must be removed before using the potty as evidenced by the time you fell into the toilet twice at school in ONE DAY last week.

You want to do everything that your big sister does but your favorite people hands-down are DaDa and Grandma.  Mommy and Daddy, we're okay I guess but not worthy of the giant thunk of enthusiastic love awarded to DaDa.  You would think that he lines his pockets with chocolate eggs or something. 

You love knock knock jokes though don't really get how they work.  But you'll try your best and we'll laugh right along with you.  You want so desperately to be a part of what's going on around you but please stop trying to grow up so fast.  I'm not ready for it.  Though I am a fan of your bringing your empty sippy cups into the kitchen so hypocrite, thy name is Mommy.

You are my Big Boo, my Boo Boo, my Doodles, Doodlebug, Man Man and Captain Chaos.  You are everything that I ever wanted in a baby boy and more.  I love you so very much Noah.  Happy, happy birthday Sweet Boo.


* Actually, yes we can.  You will hate your senior year yearbook. And bachelor party.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Angel Baby

To My Angel Baby,

Today would have been your birthday.  You were a shock and a surprise so I didn't cherish you while I had you; in fact just when I was getting used to the thought of YOU, you left us.  I have always wanted three children and having you then losing you just drove that closer to home.  The day I told your daddy about you, I cried and not tears of joy.  I'm so ashamed of that now; I had a gift, the most wonderful gift in the world and all I could think about about was how we would manage.  Small house, smaller cars, additional child care, the list of concerns grew ever larger.  But of course we would manage, we always have.

We kept you a secret; no one knew about you until after you were gone.  I had strange feelings, that something wasn't RIGHT, something kept me from sharing even though the words were on the tip of my tongue more times than I can count.  We developed a plan, you wouldn't want for anything.  Between your older sister and brother and all of your cousins, clothing and baby gear was covered as this is a family of pack rats and we throw nothing away.  A few days before we found out that you were gone Daddy and I began talking about your name.

You were a girl.  It was much too early to tell, but I just *knew* the way that I knew with your sister and brother. And because the cat wouldn't come anywhere near me. 

Time passed and we both grew used to the idea of you.  We planned how we would announce you to your family.  Christmas time it was difficult to conceal you as I'm well known for my love of wine but the holidays passed without suspicion. 

I talked to you, I wonder if even then you could hear me.  I found myself stroking my stomach daydreaming about holding you; would you have the blue eyes that all of us have?  Would you be the only to inherit your grandmother's thick wavy hair or would I doom you with my eyesight to be forever squinting. Would you be into dance or sports or art?  I was eager to find out.

Two days before we were set to tell the family, I had a sonogram.  The doctor was concerned with your size and lack of heartbeat but at 8 weeks, it didn't seem to be that concerning of an issue; perhaps nothing more than a date miscalculation.  The technician looked all over; we could see where you were supposed to be but there was no movement, no life.  Your little heart had stopped beating a few weeks earlier; we never did know why. 

So my angel, as the days leading up to your birthday have passed, I find myself thinking about you and mourning you all over again.  Still.  I am so sorry.  I am sorry that I didn't fully appreciate you while I had you and that you never got the chance to know your sister and brother who would have loved you like crazy.

We had you buried at a little cemetery near the hospital where you would have been born.  I didn't attend the ceremony; I couldn't find the strength but that doesn't mean I didn't love you.  I love you and always will.  I just have to believe that I'll meet your soul in heaven one day and we can be the family of five I always hoped that we would be.

Happy birthday angel.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How much of the day needs to be in the books before you can call 'mulligan'?

Hooray!  It's Wednesday!  Hump Day!  Half way to the weekend!  What could possibly go wrong on a beautiful day such as this?*

*We call this 'foreshadowing'.

Dylan and I both get up at 5:30 am during the week.  Well, I do, he's a much lighter sleeper and our evil evil cat has cottoned onto this and pretty much makes his life miserable several days of the week, today being no exception.  I slept great except for the disturbing dream right before waking that featured me being at my grandmother's funeral and when I finally gathered up the courage to look in her casket, she looked like she did when she was 70 (she died last year at age 95). Then she sat up and started talking and walking around which no one found the slightest bit odd.  I tried to tell them not to bury her, she was alive but of course no one listened.  Thankfully I woke up then as I pretty sure my subconscious could not handle my grandmother being buried alive.  (I blame this week's Leverage for that twisted little path.)


Anyway, we get up and go about our morning routine; showering, fixing lunches, fanasizing about coffee and get the kids up at 6:30.  It's always a treat to go into their rooms in the morning as we never know what we'll see; Noelle has been found with her feet on the pillow, with books and comic books covering every inch of the floor.  Noah sometimes will be sleeping on Bla Bla, sometimes Bla Bla will be strangling him, a lot of times doing the Baby Butt Salute.  Noah popped right up this morning, happy and chatty.  Noelle tried her damndest to remain dead to the world.  Spoiler alert:  she was not successful.

Now Wednesday has been water play day for Noelle this summer at her school/camp but on her daily report yesterday there was a note that water play had ended for the year thus bringing about Tears and Tantrum (TaT) One lasting off and on for about 15 minutes (Noah pushed out some sympathy tears.  Solidarity and all that.)  Getting this resolved, we herd everyone down for breakfast, Noelle still grumpy and teary, when Noah decides he's not in the mood for eating and GOOD LORD WOMAN, ENOUGH WITH THE FOOD PUSHING.  (For the record, I am not a food pusher.  What I am is not believing him when he says he's not hungry and hasn't finished his milk.) (The boy loves him some milk.  Hence my not believing him.)  Dylan, at this point, gets to escape and I have the fun task of rounding up hungry grumpy children and herding them back upstairs to finish getting ready to leave.  I will spare you the details but suffice it to say that it takes a good 15 minutes to get 2 kids' hands washed, teeth brushed, hair combed and faces washed.  I just...GAH.

But wait, there's more! Now we have to puts shoes on! And argue/fight over the videogame/dry erase markers/comic books/WHATEVER. It is now 7:25.  My goal is to lock the door at 7:15; you can see where this is going.  So FINALLY with three backpacks and assorted and sundry accoutrements, we leave whereby Noah takes off running down the sidewalk.  Used to it, no biggie, we move on.  Relative good moods all around....until we have to get into the van.

I keep a supply of 'pops' in the center console to reward good behavior from the day/bribe for a minute's silence and they know this.  Noah, however, doesn't seem to care that pops are not an appropriate early morning food especially when one has deigned to not eat his breakfast.  I'm sure his teachers would love me for sending him to school on a simple sugar high.  He can also open the center console and procure a pop for himself.  He did.  I took it away.  He grabbed another one and did the old 'bob 'n weave' trying to protect his pop from the evil clutches of Teh Mommy in the rathe confined space of the backseat. (He was not successful either.)  Being relieved of his precious pop set off a swear-to-God 10 minute TaT complete with full extension twisting and turning limp noodle refusal to be buckled into his seat.  I was getting more and more frustrated, sweaty and oh yeah, LATE by the second with him wailing 'Go HOME!' alternating with 'Hugs!' He's finally installed in his seat pop-less screaming and sobbing and hiccuping; if he had thrown up I wouldn't have been surprised in the slightest.

Onto school without further incident unless you count my blood pressure and heartrate being higher that recommended for buckling small children into their carseats but whatever. Not on the same page were they this morning.  He calms down and up she ramps, this time over my snapping at her for her being frustrated about not being able to get her backpack out when I offered to do it originally.  She sulks/pouts 'I can't do it!' which then plucked my last nerve leading me to snap 'Get out of the van!' She immediately starts crying because I was mean to her/hurt her feelings and I just really didn't care at that moment.  She's on the sidewalk, I'm breathing heavily and get him out.  Noah, he's right as rain now...until we walk into his classroom where he dissolved into TaT Three upon sight of his teacher.  So now I have Noelle still upset from my snapping at her, Noah freaking out over being left at school and me on the verge of hysterical laughter.  His teacher comes back in and attempts to take him so I can leave but he has a death grip on my collar.  She keeps saying to me, 'Give him here, I've got him' to which I'm finally forced to respond that yes you do but he also has his fist twisted in my collar and I can't move!

Noelle and I head down the hall listening to absolutely heart-rending screams emanating from his classroom.  If I wasn't so royally pissed off at the both of them, I would have been more moved but I was so I wasn't.

I love my children with every fiber of my being; most of the time I really like them too. This was not one of those times.  Once I got to work and calmed down, my mind was clear enough to review the events of the morning.  There was lots I could/should have done differently but am very glad that I kept my head enough to not snap that I didn't much like either of them even though it was the honest-to-god truth.  It's rare that I'm happier to be at work than with them but I'll own it, I was this morning.

But that doesn't mean that I like it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Though there is so much about the age of 4 that drives me crazy (the attitude, the absoluteness of, well, everything, the whining - ohmigod the whining) what I'm finding that I'm really enjoying is the ability to have actual conversations with Noelle beyond 'what did you do at school/camp today. (Answer:  played in centers.  I don't know why I bother to continue asking anymore.)

Last night we were reading the condensed Disney version of 'Beauty and the Beast' and happened upon this turn of phrase: "...dined together...".  She immediately stopped me and asked, "What's 'dined' mean?"  We were already later in getting her to bed than we liked but for once, I swallowed the flash of irritation and modulated my voice to answer her question.  "It means to eat dinner.  Belle and the Beast were eating dinner together now."  Satisfied, she fell silent taking it all in until we came to another part of the story where Gaston and LeFou set up Maurice to be taken to Mr. D'Arque's insane asylum.  (Yes, I was once able to recite this movie from memory complete with songs.  Your point?)

"Mommy, what's an 'insane aslyium'?"  Have you ever tried to explain the existence of psychiatric hospitals and the history of associated abuse to a preschooler?  I don't recommend it, not without heavily fortifying oneself with wine first.  But I digress.  So I explained that it was a hospital that people were taken to when they were judged to be not right in the head but how that didn't apply to Maurice because we was clearly not crazy since Belle had the magic mirror and could show the townspeople that Maurice wasn't lying or insane.  I resisted the urge to get into the chemistry of the brain so really, go me.  We finished up the story and rather than feeling frustrated that it had taken so much longer with the stoppages for explanation/discussion, I felt strangely elated.  I could really talk to her!  She could take in more information, ask questions, become immersed in the world of words as I do.  Such a heady feeling and when I leaned down to kiss her goodnight, I told her that I really enjoyed our story; that I loved her being involved and invested in the story.  She had the biggest smile on her face as we turned out the light.

A little bit later, she got up to go potty.  Again.  (For the sake of brevity, this was actually the third trip to the potty.)  She was a bit constipated and was finally able to 'get the poopies out.'  She heaved a huge sigh of relief, 'That feels so much better.'  Which of course led to why sometimes poopies are hard to get out, how they get into our bottoms and where they come from in the first place.  I also don't recommend discussing the finer points of elimination after 9 pm but I'm a biologist by education and a food scientist by training so there you go.)

A wonderful end to the day, a glimpse into the future.

Now go the f*ck to sleep.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And so we come to the end of an era

Friends, we gather together today to bid a fond adieu to the faithful, well-worn and much loved purple Jeep.  He's still limping along but the twilight is reaching ever closer to dark blues and smudged greys of nightfall.  This is most bittersweet as 2011 has been the year of loss: baby, grandmother, another faithful car and now my first truly adult purchase. 

Way back in 1999 I was dating a guy who had a Jeep.  And it was so cool that I really, desperately wanted one of my own.  I learned to drive stick as he scoffed at anyone who had an automatic Wrangler, an attitude I adopted as really, why bother?  I saved up $2500 from my first job after graduation, a feat indeed what with paying rent, utilities, food, insurance and the other various and sundry details of life on $12/hour.  My dragged my best friend to showrooms all over Cockeysville looking at Wranglers and one heady, hot May Saturday, gathered my title for the Cutlass Calais and took the plunge on a new Jeep Wrangler.

It was bare boned - nothing fancy as it is a convertible and I am not a complete idiot.  But still when the salesperson asked if I would be putting down half, I truly laughed in his face.  I was proud of my $2500 down payment and had a car to trade - for which they offered my exactly $200 or $50 per tire.  Having not developed any  business savvy, I naively agreed to the full asking price and took possession with a $450 monthly payment at 12% interest.  Not my finest hour looking back.  But I had my first new car!  And it was a purple Jeep! 

My best friend and I had a blast that summer, driving everywhere in it when in stroke of utmost brilliance, I had enrolled in graduate school.  In College Park.  Which is a good 50 minutes away with decent traffic.  I also had accepted a first shift position as I was unaware that the program I would be attending was a day time program and in the same move, lost my shift differential for moving off of second.  I think we can comfortably declare that as my year of Very Poor Decisions.

Anyway, he was mine.  And we made the thrice weekly round trip to College Park for 3 years, survived a spin out on an icy road and an up close and personal encounter with a deer the night of Dylan and mine's first anniversary.  Well over 130,000 miles we've covered together, from North Carolina to New Jersey, Penn State to Ocean City.  It's been a good ride and will be hard to say good bye the final time as I had harbored dreams of keeping him until Noelle and Noah are ready to drive.  But in the end it's time; the gauge cluster doesn't always work, the front suspension is forever loose making highway driving and pot holes exercises in bladder control; one window has been repaired with tape and there are holes in the roof making me cringe with every passing rain shower.  Similar to worrying about an elderly relative behind the wheel of their car, so I worry about whether he'll make it work another day; a worry compounded by the presence of the joys of my existence in the vehicle with me every day. 

I truly wish there was a home or a pasture for past their prime vehicles to go to; the most I can hope for is that I can donate him to a good charity where he'll help someone else out one last time.  So farewell my beloved purple Jeep, thanks for the past 12 years.  It's been an absolute blast and I've loved every minute of it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Work-Life balance. Wait, what?

My mother in law usually watches Noah during the week but today she needed off so I'm quasi-working from home today.  (Right Mom, a party for your Master Gardener class.  We know you really partied too hard last night for the Super Bowl.)  Because I enjoy a challenge, this also includes having Noelle with us since let's face it, we were at a Super Bowl party last night (we left at 8, it's cool) but they still got to bed late (and no baths, natch) and I really didn't feel like dealing with the drama that comes with waking her up, getting her ready and then getting Noah ready to get her to school then back home to be with the boy.  Instead, I got up early to do some work remotely before the natives start stirring in about a half an hour and will do more when he goes down for his nap.  I'm sure that there will be a lot of TV watched today but whatever because I rock at this parenting gig.

But, this is great!  You can work from home!  Kind of!  Yay for flex time.  Except for the whole part of STILL needing to go into work in the evenings as I can't do the actual evaluation part from here.  But why not just take the day off, enjoy the vacation day, take the kids out and do something?  I would love to but for the fact that I don't have a back-up and BECAUSE it's the day after the Super Bowl (which for my company should be like a holiday since NO ONE wants to come to work...oh wait, that's everyday but you get the point) and we are on a skeleton crew as it is and the other possible person to back me up won't be in til late as she needed to adjust her schedule to cover the people who begged and whined and pleaded to have off, my hands are tied.  That and an over-developed sense of responsibility/work ethic/whatever lead me to this crazy-ass schedule.

I shouldn't complain, I really shouldn't.  My manager doesn't have to allow me to do this.  She could force me to take vacation, burning through my 3 weeks before the end of June.  This way I can save my time for when I need to be away from work COMPLETELY (going to the beach, three-martini lunches with my mom, spa day with my best friend) so I can give a little.  I am grateful for the flexibility and the extra time with the kids.  Being able to make dinner the day off instead of the day before (chicken enchiladas tonight - yum!) and doing some straightening/laundry that we didn't get to over the weekend.  I'm in the plant, I'm in quality so it's not the easiest position in which to make use of opportunity to remote it but they allow me to do it and I take care to not abuse it so as not to ruin it for anyone else who might need the flexibility.

The only downsides to the arrangement?  Carefully scheduling a shower - must get one soon or forever hold my peace until tomorrow at 5:30 am and having to make my own coffee; that just might be cruel and unusual punishment right there.  Also:  almost out of creamer. D'oh!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some Saturdays make me long for Mondays

Some days are full of happiness, fun, and light.  Today was not one of those days.  I mean, it started well enough, having to go into work aside but that was necessary because I wasn't able to do my own work this week having spent the majority of my time solving everyone else's problems.  But still, it was peaceful and productive so leaving I called home as I usually do to let Dyl know I'm on my way and if I need to stop and get anything since I'm already out.  Nope, everything was good, kids watching cartoons and would be eating breakfast soon.

25 minutes later, I get home and he opened the front door with Noah in his arms looking absolutely stricken.  Noah lunged for me, still wearing my jacket, backpack slung over one shoulder, heaving a great sigh of relief interspersed with hiccuping sobs.  I handed him back to Dyl to divest myself of jacket and bag and oh my lands, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that commenced.  What had set him off?  Dyl turning off the TV to make them breakfast.  What started as a tantrum (hello 18 months!) crescendoed into an out-of-control emotional breakdown for him.  So I took him upstairs to change his diaper because that was a really good idea and the insane freakout continued.  Oh my god, he is sick, he is hurt, he has the worst diaper rash in the history of, none of it.  I wrapped him up in my arms and he finally put his head against my shoulder, small body shaking with the sobbing; rubbing his back and his head whispering over and over 'It's okay, Mama's here' until the sobs spaced out and his breathing deepened into an exhausted sleep. 

And he slept for an hour and a half laying on my shoulder with me enjoying a closeness that we hadn't shared since he was 4 months old.  I dozed a bit but he got heavy and my arm fell asleep.  He finally woke up, looked at my smiled and gave me sloppy toddler kisses.  I'll admit, those were nice.  Poor Noelle though, I had barely been able to say 'hello' to her was barred from the room which did not help matters any.  Dyl was frazzled, hungry and tired, I was bewildered and the kids were...grumpy.  As the afternoon wore on, Noah took on more and more of the bratty little brother role and Noelle's tiredness (hi no nap) manifested as whining.  I can handle tantrums and crying and attitude but the one thing that will set my teeth on edge and make me loony tunes is whining.  And she has perfected it.  Why is it that they can hone in on our red button behaviors?  I'm convinced it's a gift. 

And so it continued both day and night.  Trying to remove Noah from my ankles while attempting to make dinner was a nonstarter.   Have you ever tried to brown ground beef with onions and spices on the stove with one hand while holding your almost 30 pound toddler as he pushes microwave buttons and opens the door to collide with your nose/ear/head with the other?  Not the most efficient way to cook we'll just say.  The afternoon was a battle, dinner was a battle, after dinner was a battle then they both got riled up after baths as Noelle has a new favorite song 'I'm a Banana' or some such nonsense from YouTube.  (I blame Tosh.0 for this one.)  Finally (finally!) we got them to bed after much stalling with a drink and a story and read it again Mommy and brushing of teeth and putting on of slippers and brushing of hair and another bed time story but wait! I need a drink of water and tucking in but where's my doll and FOR THE LOVE OF PETE GOOD NIGHT ALREADY! 

I can't believe that I almost forgot the best part.  My mom called after dinner so I sat down in the family room to talk to her while Dyl, Noelle and Noah played in the living room.  Not 2 minutes into the conversation, Noah comes running in wanting to push the buttons on the phone with Noelle quickly following behind him yelling something and bouncing on the couch, both reaching for the phone and holy crap did I get annoyed with them both, mostly with Noelle who knows enough to not be such a total brat when I'm on the phone.  Bedtime came very quickly after that and not soon enough. 

There is something about rainy winter days that just makes everyone tetchy.  Tomorrow will be better.  It has to be as I don't think that my patience reserves will be built back up enough again to deal with this a second day in a row.  Oh, and a Superbowl party so at least we'll get out of the house for a bit.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I blame children's programming for giving them ideas

On the way to preschool Friday morning Noelle was chattering away as usual when she threw out, "Mommy, let's talk about talents."  This was not unusual as there had been a Yo Gabba Gabba episode she recently saw that was about talents where talent equals things that you like to do and are good at so she has been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about talents.

"Okay Noelle, let's talk about talents.  What are your talents?"

"Well, I like to sing and dance and play music so those are my talents."

Note:  she has not yet been enrolled in any sort of lessons/classes due to cost time parental laziness so we don't really know if she has a 'talent' in any of these areas but they fill the 'likes to do' requirement as stated by DJ Lance Rock so we just go with it.

"You certainly like to dance and are a good dancer."

"Yes, and I'm going to have a rock band.  Chase will play the guitar."

"Who will play the drums?"

"Nico will play the drums."  Nico is her boyfriend as evidenced by the kiss she received leaving school the other day.  She is FOUR but I gotta give the kid props, his technique was solid.  (She also pronounced his good-bye kiss today WET.  I almost peed myself laughing at that one.)

"Okay, so who's on the bass guitar?"

"Jimmy.  And Brenden will play the keyboard.  And Peyton will will play the tambourine."  Someone was on the accordion but I forget who.  I think that the tuba was also involved at some point but by this time my sides hurt from suppressing laughter at the mental image.

"What's the name of your band?"

"Um, 'Singing'.  And I'm the singer and Ms. Lisa and Ms. Amanda are singers too."

"Do you have any back-up singers?"

"Yeah, that will be Emily and Sydney and Caroline."

Almost the entire class is part of the band now.

"How about the rest of the class?  Will they be your dancers?"

"Um, yeah, they'll be the dancers and we'll have a band and all my friends will sing and dance and play instruments at my school and we're gonna ROCK!"

There you have it, be on the lookout for the mighty ROCK band 'Singing' in about 10 years.  Remember, you heard it here first.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can you hear me now?

I'll just put this out there right now:  I have awful hearing.  It's legendary in my family.  When my mom took me to get my hearing tested somewhere between the ages of 12 and 14 (I'm guessing because I failed a school hearing test or something - one of the few things I failed.  That and cutting with scissors in kindergarten but that's because I'm left-handed and there were no left-handed scissors in the classroom then but I digress), the audiologist took a look at the results and remarked to mom that I must really struggle in school as I was missing A LOT.  "Um, no, actually, she does quite well.  Honor roll and all that."  A discussion around hearing aides commenced which I quickly nixed because hello!  Why don't roll me in dog poop everyday before sending me to school?  I wasn't enough of a dork and an outcast before, let's add big giant-ass hearing aides to it.  (Plus my orthodontist wanted me to wear my head-gear to school as well but luckily mom put the kibosh on that before I could go medieval on him.)  It would have been as Chris Knight described it in Real Genius as being guaranteed that a boy would never talk to me.  OHMIGOD, just get to the point already!

Right, the point.  So I have terrible hearing but have developed coping mechanisms and techniques to deal with it because I never knew that there was a problem.  It was just what was.  So when I didn't understand something, instead of calling attention to it (and myself), I'd just read ahead in the text book. Or the reading book.  Or whatever it was in front of me and 'learn' that way.  I'd not respond when people were talking to me if I was reading because it was no secret that I love to read and they would simply assume that I was so totally engrossed in the book that I had tuned them out.  Which I did as the voices were just a buzzing background noise, easy to ignore once you master the trick.  Once I was made aware of the deficiency graphically described as a cookie with a big bite taken out of the bottom of it, I tried to pay more attention but man, it was exhausting.  So...I just didn't. 

As I got older, I played it for laughs.  One Thanksgiving in particular my youngest sister got a phone call from her then-boyfriend now-husband and walked out of the room to talk to him in 'private'.  As she walked away, she must have said "...Mike..." which my superior auditory capabilities interpreted as 'Muffin' so I simply assumed that it was her special pet name for him.  So of course being the big sister, I tormented her with this when she came back downstairs.  "You call him Muffin?  Aw, so cute!"  She looked at me like I had grown another head and was like, no you idiot, I called him 'Mike'.  But the damage was done and for Christmas that year he got boxes of muffin mix from the fam.  My best friend even got me the Miracle Ear information package off an infomercial and THEY CALLED ME TO FOLLOW UP!  She was cracking up laughing as I was telling the very earnest young man just where he could stuff his miracle ear.

So every time we get together now, my mom will say, not at subtly, 'you are going to get your hearing checked soon, right?'  To which I typically respond, yes, when it's a problem.  I can function, I don't hear everything but I have enough coping strategies that I'm not incapacitated by it.  Well, yesterday everything changed.  I went to a new primary care doctor and as part of the medical history, she asked about my vision and hearing.  They are both terrible so I told her.  Well, at the end of the visit she decided to do a baseline hearing test to see how *bad* it was.  The instrument was like the othoscope used to look in the ears but it played a series of tones and you simply raise your hand when you hear something.  I heard...2 tones in the left ear and 3-4 in the right.  I'm not sure about the last one on the right ear as it started ringing (tinnitus.  Sexy!) then an actual tone played so I don't know if I got credit for that one or not.  The technician told me that wow, it was really bad and gave the results to the doctor who basically said, yeah, this is really really bad. 

This was delivered with the nervous smile and overly cheerful voice folks use when they are delivering bad news but don't want you to worry too much but like I said, I knew it was awful.  So she wrote me a referral for an audiologist so we could determine if it was severe enough to warrant external auditory amplifiers...oh hell, hearing aides.  I told this to my best friend who basically asked if that meant I was 'legally deaf'.  Once I stopped laughing about it, I told her I was pretty sure that no such designation existed.  Okay, it is (past) time and I have no high school boys or cliques to impress so why not?  It will go nicely with all of my grey hair.  And it will be an interesting experience to not 'read' movies.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.

And, of course, in another entry in the Preschoolers Say the Darnedest Things category, driving home yesterday, the sun had finally (!) come out what with the wind pushing the clouds away.  Noelle from the backseat chirps, ''Mommy, where are the clouds?"  "The wind blew them away baby."  Wait a beat.  "Mommy, where are the clouds?"  Me (thinking that she couldn't hear me over the radio) "The wind blew them away baby."  Not half a second later I hear "Mommy, where are the clouds?"  By this time I'm getting annoyed knowing she heard me the first two times and replied "Noelle, I just told you twice, the wind blew them away!"  She laughs and says, "I'm sorry Mommy, you'll have to speak up.  I couldn't hear you."  Which is what I say to her at least 3 times a week.

Well played, universe.  Well played.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not quite ready for primetime

You know who tells the best jokes in the world?  Preschoolers. 

Noelle:  Knock, knock

Me:  Who's there?

Noelle:  Noelle

Me:  Noelle who?

Noelle:  Noelle you glad mumble mumble something banana hahahahaha!


Noelle:  Knock, knock

Me:  Who's there?

Noelle:  Diego

Me:  Diego who?

Noelle:  Diego you glad mumble say banana hahahahahahaha!


Noelle:  Knock knock

Me:  Who's there?

Noelle:  Bag

Me:  Bag who?

(Can you guess the end?  Go on, guess.  Bet you'll never get it.)

Noelle:  Bag you glad mumblesnortgah banana hahahahahaha!

And to think I was concerned at one point that she would never start talking.

(Knock knock jokes.  OMG someone pass me a fork to stick in my ears.  But to preschoolers, they are like crack dipped in speed wrapped in a lollipop.)

Also:  send help.  And new jokes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Voices from the Backseat

The following conversations took place this morning on the way to preschool. 

Noelle:  Mommy, where are the horses?  (This asked as we were driving through horse country.)

Me:  I don't know baby, maybe they're in the, look! (Pointing) They're waaaay over there by the trees.

Noelle:  Why are they by the trees?

Me:  Probably so they don't get rained on.

Noelle:  I don't like rain.  It makes the snow go away and then I can't make snow angels.

Me: true.  Very true baby.


Noelle:  Mommy, I want a baby sister.

Me:  You want a baby sister?

Noelle:  Two of them.

Me:  You want...

Noelle (continuing as if I hadn't spoken):  And a baby brother.

Me:  Um, you have a baby brother.

Noelle:  I want a baby sister NOW!

Me (trying not to laugh):  Um, it doesn't work that way sweetie.  It takes a long time to make a baby and Mommy and Daddy aren't quite ready for another one yet.

Noelle:  Oh.  (Pause)  My friends are going to love my new book!


All before 8 am on a Wednesday.  So with that, how was your morning?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Is it Mondays? Or do I really hate my job that much?

Gawd, I know.  I'm beating the dead horse.  Repeatedly.  Even I'm annoyed by my carping but holy hell am I not happy.  I work weekends to try to get ahead in my work, maybe take some of the stress off and come Monday morning (hah - almost typed 'moron'.  Freudian slip perhaps?) I'm faced with 5 voicemails and 17 emails all needing this that or the other released/extended/rejected.  Seriously?  I JUST walked in the door.  I realize that some of you start your workday at 0-dark-thirty but us working moms are constrained by that little thing known as 'daycare' and 'not wanting to wake the children up hours before first light'. 

Then my manager comes to me this morning (whilst fighting with our operating system) and asks why I didn't have any safety observations done last week.  You were here all week, right?  Um no.  No I was not.  I was having surgery last Monday and Tuesday and I left you a voicemail about it AS OUR HR DEPARTMENT HAS INSTRUCTED US TO DO.  Well, can you send me an email instead?  I can't remember voicemails.  Lord, please give me the strength to not take the Mallet of Excellence upside this woman's head.  Then our main operating system went down and has stayed down thereby ensuring that I will be spending a chunk of my weekend here AGAIN catching up.  Plus our scheduling department just went live on some new system which I'm sure won't add any extra work to my load at all because now they have the power to do I don't know what but it can't be good.  I can feel my blood pressure rising and remaining elevated as the events of last week threw the daily inanity into stark relief that this just doesn't matter.  I'm totally blaming the stress for what happened to me.  It's not going to get any better - this place is broken and fixated on the wrong things.  I have no power here, no voice so the only thing left for me to do is to get the hell out.  Which I'm trying to do but have that little thing known as 'responsibility' engaging me in an epic staring contest.  And I wear contacts so of course I need to blink. 

I really want to stop bitching about work.  It's a necessary evil and my family is worth it.  I would like to stop feeling flat and deflated at the end of every day, rushing through dinner and time with the kids to desperately find a bit of myself again before facing it on the morrow.  I'm gonna try to get back to telling the kid stories, they are much more fun and oh!  the pictures!  but I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to need to find some balance before I can get back to what I want to write about.

I did do a lot of cooking this weekend so my house smells like meat.  Yummy, yummy roasted meat.  All hail the crockpot and cream of chicken soup!  Seriously,  I think that I used four cans in two meals.  And on that nonsequiter, I'm out.  Until tomorrow when I'm sure I'll more things to complain about. You can't wait, I know it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Really? More snow? Gah.

As this will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, the east coast got slammed with snow.  Again.  And this time Baltimore took it on the chin.  After being out Monday and Tuesday having surgery, leaving early yesterday to pick Noelle up from daycare as they closed early, I'm stuck at home today as I can't get out of my neighborhood.  Dyl tried to get my car to the top of the street so I could get to work but he got stuck and very nearly wedged my car (and himself) firmly across the the top of the street thereby almost earning us the hatred of everyone on our road.  So now I'm forced to wait for the plow to be able to get out. 

Why should I be upset about this unexpected snow day?  Well, my company is open, others in my department made it in, I was out for 2  days already and I have this bizarre need to be there to support the plant even though I want nothing more than to just say 'eff it'.  This is what having a strong work ethic gets you:  a ridiculous amount of guilt over not being able to work.  How is this healthy?  It isn't.  It can't be.  For Pete's sake, we flavor food, we don't cure cancer.  And yet, I care.  I stress about it.  I'm beyond devastated that this was the first time in 13 years at this company that I have ever called out sick.  How stupid is that? 

So one bitter product development/sensory professional is available for hire who also cooks but tends to prefer brownies to cupcakes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Knock, knock, um, hi.

Wow, this is awkward.  So I like disappeared for a couple of months.  Okay, it was more like 5 months.  This I am not proud of.  I had lots to say and stories to tell and felt like I was getting the hang of this thing happened.  I've made no secret that I hate my job, it's a dead end, a soul-sucking venture to which I must submit myself every day for the good of my family.  I applied for 5 jobs within my company over the summer and early autumn and was rejected for each one.  Each declination a little bit more of me died, feeling that I would be trapped in this dead-end place forever.  I still feel that way though I'm working on a plan to get the hell out.  Then I had good, scary, and exciting news to share and that was just ripped away, literally and figuratively.  Suffice it to say that this has not been a good 6 months.  But damn it, I'm going to do my best to turn this year around.

So I don't know if anyone is still out there or is even interested but I'm slowly coming back. 

And I'll finish Noah's birth story.  I promise.  I just can't do it yet.