Saturday, July 05, 2008

Day Trip to Durham

Blake wanted to take me out for the day, and going while the kids were in school seemed like a perfect time to do it - at least then we wouldn't have to worry about finding someone to look after them!

Originally, he wanted to take me to Penshaw... but it would have meant nearly 10 miles of walking. Normally, that wouldn't be SUCH a big deal. Sure, I would have been tired at the end, but so would he. However, it was The First Day of That Time of the Month. After nearly 9 years of marriage, he knows what That Time of the Month is like... and The First Day is usually the worst. So instead of cancelling the whole idea, he decided to take me to Durham instead.

Unfortunately the bus ride there is ridiculous. It goes around in circles and seems to stop every 10 feet, so just getting to the next town (which Durham is) takes more than an hour. By the time I had dropped the kids off at school, met him at the bus depot, and we got to Durham it was already nearing 11 a.m.

The first thing on his agenda? Food. I was too busy getting everybody ready and out the door on time to be able to have anything to eat, and he barely got up with enough time to get HIMSELF ready, period, so we were both hungry. We had brunch at a lovely little Italian place right on the Wear River. We were surrounded by windows, so we were able to watch people boating up and down the river, ducks flying in for a landing, and all kinds of neat stuff while we ate our meal.

Afterwards, we walked up to Durham Cathedral. We had to go up one INSANE hill to get there, though. I joked with him that he'd chosen it to kill me - easier than divorce, right? ;)

The grounds of the cathedral are just beautiful. Everything was green - an intense green that didn't even seem natural. One thing that confused me was that we weren't allowed to take photographs inside the building. When we went to York last year, we visited York Minster, and we were allowed to take pictures... so why not here?

After having a nose around inside, we decided we'd walk up to the top of one of the towers and enjoy the view from up there. We did the same thing at York Minster, but it was worse. There were 50+ people trying to get up behind us, so we didn't have the option of taking our time. And the stairs at York Minster were so narrow you couldn't even fit two people - even two anorexic people - at the same time. At Durham, half the stairs were much wider, so people could go around us if they wanted to. But it wasn't much of an issue anyway, as there wasn't anybody trying to get up behind us. I think we might have seen 15 people total on our way up AND down to and from the tower.

The view was breathtaking, though. You could see for miles. Miles and miles and miles of green, with tiny little perfect-looking houses dotting the landscape.

After spending about 20 minutes or so up there, we decided we'd go back down, walk along the river and across, and back the other side. Because it was such a nice day, there were tons of people in rented rowboats, and a few chartered sightseeing cruises.

Blake was able to take tons of practice photos. He aspires to become a professional photographer, and what he really needs is practice. So he practiced... a LOT. :)

Unfortunately, by the time we'd finished our walk around, it was time to go home. We had hoped to be able to do more, but if we'd missed our bus, we wouldn't have made it home in time to pick the kids up from school.

By 4 p.m., I was ready to fall asleep on my feet. But I'd had a lovely day. It was nice being able to go out and spend the day with my husband, and see such lovely things. He asked if I wanted to go back on Monday, but it doesn't look like that's going to be a good idea - it's supposed to rain non-stop until Wednesday at least.

Oh well. We had a nice day yesterday. That's the important part. :D

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fearful Exclusion

Mom fights church ban on her autistic son

BERTHA, Minn. - Carol Race thinks it's important for her 13-year-old son to be in church on Sundays for Catholic Mass.

Leaders of the Church of St. Joseph once felt the same way, but not anymore. They say Race's autistic son Adam is disruptive and his erratic behavior threatens the safety of other parishioners.

The northern Minnesota church has obtained a restraining order to keep Adam away, an action that has been deeply hurtful to the Race family and has brought them support from parents of other autistic children.

This isn't about a boy who might be disruptive. It's not even about the safety of the other parishioners.

It's about ignorance and fear.

If any of these so-called "Christians" actually knew anything about autistic children, I don't think this would even be happening. But why else would they go so far as to obtain a restraining order against a 13-year-old boy? They are sending out the message that children of special needs are to be feared and excluded from "normal" society. When the parents objected to being shut away like they had something to hide, the church immediately went and obtained a restraining order.

Now personally, I wouldn't have brought the boy to church in the first place. He's the same age and (from what I can tell, reading the article) ability level as Syrina. And I know she would find sitting through Mass damned near tortuous. She would get stressed out, and so would I, and what would be the point of that?

But I can't help but see, from what was said in the article, that this is all about the stigma and fear regarding children with special needs. Oh no, we can't have an autistic boy around normal people! They might catch cooties or something! (/sarcasm) They're not afraid that he's going to hurt anybody, they're just afraid that they might have to look at him. They might have to see an imperfect child. They might have to be reminded that life isn't always fair, and sometimes shit happens.

But they're also going to be missing out on seeing someone with perpetual innocence. Someone who will always look at the world with wonder and almost always brings happiness to those that know him.

And yet my mother wonders why I don't go to church anymore. Heh.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 31, 2008

R.I.P. Lorenzo Odone 1978-2008

The man whose parents' battle to save him from a nerve disease was depicted in the movie "Lorenzo's Oil" died Friday at his home in Virginia, having lived more than 20 years longer than doctors had predicted.

Lorenzo Odone, who doctors had predicted would die in childhood, died one day after his 30th birthday, said his father, Augusto Odone.

Odone was found at age 6 to have adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD. His doctors told his parents the disease -- caused by a genetic mutation that causes the neurological system to break down -- would lead to death in two years.

The disease leads to the accumulation of substances called very long chain fatty acids in cells, which damages the material that coats nerve fibers in the brain.

A study published in 2005, based on research with 84 boys, showed that a treatment made from olive and rapeseed oils -- patented by Augusto Odone -- can prevent onset of the disease's symptoms for most boys who receive an ALD diagnosis.

Odone plans to take his son's ashes to New York to mix them with those of his wife, who died in 2000. Then, Odone said, he will sell his home in Fairfax, Va., and move back to his native Italy.

(Taken from here.)

I remember seeing this movie shortly after it first came out when I was in high school. I watched it again years later, after having Syrina, and it spoke to me in ways that it never could have had I not had a child with special needs. I remember thinking to myself that if I knew of something that would make Syrina's life more full, more 'normal,' I would go to any lengths I had to in order to make that happen for her. I could finally relate to the stress, the frustration, and even the joy those parents went through, because I was going through similar emotions myself (and still do).

If there truly is a heaven, that family definitely has a special place on the best cloud there is.

Monday, May 26, 2008

It sure ain't like Monopoly, honey.

I can't believe I'm actually writing this. Hell, I can't believe it's actually happened. But it has.

Caitlin was arrested today.

I was out shopping, getting groceries and birthday gifts because it's Chloe's 6th birthday today. I was originally planning on going yesterday, but I ended up in agony due to a UTI. I woke up feeling much better (I seem to have cured it with 2L of cranberry juice), so I left as soon as I was ready.

Blake had already called me, upset that she had left the house to 'get some bread,' and hadn't been back in over half an hour. He asked me to try calling her phone, as he didn't have the new number (we had to change it last month after her original phone and SIM card were stolen). I tried calling it, but she'd left it in the house.

I was in Tesco, getting the very last of the things I would need, when my mobile rang. I answered it, thinking it was Blake, but it wasn't. A PC Hopper was on the other end, telling me that my 11-year old daughter had been arrested for shoplifting. I needed to come to the police station so that she could be questioned.

What really infuriated me? She got caught shoplifting just last week (Tuesday? I think...). She was in a shop with me and instead of opening her mouth and asking me if she could have something, she just stole it. I'm in that shop nearly every day, so one of the employees just came up to me and told me what she'd done. Because I was right there, and she gave the items back, they let it go. But I really thought that getting caught right there in front of me would have been enough to make her not want to do it again. I thought.

But no... not only did she do it that day, but apparently she'd done it three more times since then. Once yesterday, when I asked her to go and get me some more cranberry juice (I could barely walk from the pain, it was so bad). And twice today. Every single time was caught on CCTV.

What did she steal? Chocolate muffins, cookies, a bottle of pop and... get this... a pack of bacon. Yes, bacon. (WTF??? I don't get it, either.) They might total up to £5. Might. And it's not like we don't give her money. I don't believe in pocket money - giving her money just for the sake of giving her money - but if there's something she wants, and I have the money to give her (and can afford it; there are weeks when money is really tight and I have to be extremely careful), she gets it. Blake's even worse. He always gives her twice what she asks for. If she wants £1, she gets £2. (But then again, she always has been Daddy's Girl.) If she had opened her mouth instead of just thinking about what she was going to cram into it, she could have had the money to buy the stuff. But now - at eleven years old - she has a criminal record, she's banned for life from that particular shop, and she has completely destroyed any trust her father and I had for her.

I'm disgusted. I'm livid. I'm gobsmacked. And aside from actually killing the kid, I don't know what the hell to do. Blake has said she's grounded 'until death.' I don't know that it's going to make a difference. Hell, she was grounded before. The only reason she was asked to go to the store was because I wasn't feeling well (yesterday) and because I was out of the house (today). Blake should have just left her in charge and went to the store himself. We wouldn't have had so much fucking trouble.

And of course, I feel guilty for asking her to go to the store yesterday. I feel like I should have just crawled there on my own, and ignored the looks I'm sure my howling in agony would have gotten.

Anybody want to take an 11-year-old thief off my hands?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chloe's a weiner!!!

Er... winner. I mean she's a winner. ;)

She won £50 in gift vouchers from the local Wilkinson's. She put her name in for the prize draw last month, and lo and behold, she won!

(I would love to show you pictures, but the kids have made the camera vanish. I'm sure it's in this house somewhere, but where... I have absolutely no clue.)

When you consider the mask-making contest she won at Waterstone's last month, the fact that this kid keeps saying "I never win anything" is utter rubbish.

£50? And she's FIVE.

I wish I had her luck!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Darwin Awards: Wascally Wabbit

You can find the original here.

Wascally Wabbit
2008 Darwin Award Nominee
Unconfirmed by Darwin

Snowmobiles and alcohol are a dangerous mix. Then came the rabbit.

After a day spent partying and racing snowmobiles in the wilderness, a group of snowmobilers were headed back to their cabin, when up popped a jackrabbit! The snowmobilers gave chase. Several collisions were narrowly averted, and all the snowmobiles backed off... except one.

This snowmobiler kept his eye on the quarry and rapidly closed in. The rabbit darted aside to save itself. The snowmobiler closed in again. The rabbit ran toward the road, where there was less snow. Trying to ram his rabbit before it crossed the road, the man accelerated to Mach 1.

But the rabbit had other ideas. It darted into the culvert beneath the road. Witnesses stated that the snowmobiler never braked. There was a metallic crunch as the accelerating vehicle rammed into the culvert, followed by a blast that shattered the snowmobile into a thousand bits.

This brand of snowmobile had a fuel tank mounted in front. The culvert admitted the top of the snowmobile, then cut into the cowling, spilling fuel over the hot engine. The body of the snowmobiler was blown twenty feet back into the field.

The rabbit's whereabouts was unknown.

Moderator Bruce speculates, "Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd?"
Alternate title: "Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow"

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

stop the madness!!!

I read this today and it just left me shaking my head. What the hell is the world coming to when people actually have to make the decision between being able to eat or go to work?

Ten years ago, when I first started working full-time, gas was less than $2 a gallon - and I remember my mom complaining that it cost too much! Back then, $20 would more than fill my tank. I was able to get back and forth to work for a week on that.

But now it's getting to be twice that, and from what I'm reading, people in the position I was in when I left the U.S. really are in a quandry over whether they eat more than mac 'n cheese for a week or they actually get to go to work. I would think it would be easier for those people that live in big cities or close enough to them to be linked into their public transportation system.

This is one of the reasons that I'm glad we moved here. Comparatively, the public transportation system out here is freaking awesome. I haven't needed to drive since we've been here, so I haven't. I haven't sat behind the wheel of a car in five years. I can walk most places I need to get to (living within walking distance of the town centre helps a lot,though), and those places that are too far to walk to, I can take the bus to instead. Even when Blake and I went to York last year, we walked the 500 yards or so to the Metro station, took that into Newcastle, and took a Virgin train down to York. It was the same on the trip back, but obviously in reverse. I couldn't have taken a trip that far in the U.S. as easily and as cheaply as I did that one.

What America doesn't seem to understand (and never has, really), is that if she had a reliable public transportation system in every city, town, and village, it would all but eliminate the need for cars at all. I'm sure there are some people that would still drive everywhere, just because they could, but I'm just as sure that there are a lot of people out there that wouldn't bother, because they wouldn't need to.

"It's a mess here," Goldstone said. "People just are not shopping and everyone's trying to figure out a way to get people back in their cars."

That right there tells you just how wrong the mindset is. They shouldn't worry about getting people back in their cars - if they had the money, they probably would be. It's about fuel companies asking ridiculous amounts of money and the American infrastructure being such that being without a car in 90% of America is deliberately crippling yourself. Why don't we worry about the poverty crisis or the home mortgage crisis first? I'd be willing to bet that if America worried about things like that first, the gas crisis would solve itself.

Stop worrying that people aren't out shopping or going on trips. Worry about why they're not doing that. And fix the problem, not the symptom.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Truth of Diet Lies

My eyes have been opened in more ways than one in the past few days, and like John Belushi in The Blues Brothers, I'm screaming out "I see the light!! I see the light!!!!"

All this crap about dieting and healthy eating that has been shoved down our throats in the last decade or so... it's all lies. Or, maybe not technically lies, but more like half-truths.

Apparently there has been a decade-long study into the actual effects of diet changes in women (specifically women, although I'd be willing to bet that the majority of it would apply to men as well) in relation to the risks of certain types of cancer and diabetes. What did the whole thing boil down to?

"Healthy eating" (as defined in the study) didn't do crap. If anything, the women that made the biggest changes in their eating habits increased their risks of certain types of cancers.

There were no statistically significant differences for any of the cancers. Eating “healthy” versus eating whatever they chose made no tenable difference in any of the cancers.
What does this tell me?

It reinforces the belief that the diet companies are in bed with the government bodies that back up and fund these studies. It supports the view that a vast majority of the population have suddenly morphed into Chicken Little and can't stop screaming that the Sky is Falling!!!

But... does this mean that I have carte blanche to eat whatever I want whenever I want in whatever amounts I want?


Do I still feel like I need to make some changes? Yes. But do I automatically assume that making these changes is going to make me lose weight and/or become healthier? Nope.

I realize that I have a more unhealthy diet than some people, because of all the processed food I eat. In my ideal world, I'd be cooking fresh food every single day. But the reality of my life is that I can't afford to make fresh food every day - it's simply too expensive for our tiny budget. But I do accept that I can make some changes without extremely affecting our budget in an adverse way. Even cooking one meal a week from fresh ingredients will be better than NEVER using fresh ingredients.

It's amazing the amount of information there is out there about this stuff. Every single day, it seems, there's a new study or a new statement by some other "expert" saying that "OMG we're all gonna die because we're all too fat!!!"

That's simply not true. There have been studies done (but I've looked at so many different websites lately that I simply can't remember which one I found where) that actually showed that having some extra weight can help you to live LONGER. They didn't specify why, but I'm willing to bet that it has something to do with the strength of overweight people. Think about it - they say gaining weight is like wearing a backpack with "x" amount of weight in it. Well, if you're like me and you've always worn that extra weight, doesn't that mean that you're just stronger to begin with? I can see it being a problem for someone who has always been naturally thin and suddenly starts to gain weight, but for people like me - and I'm not exactly alone in this - we've always carried extra weight, and therefore don't notice the difference.

But you know what? This obesity epidemic bullshit is just getting worse. Now they're trying to say that fat people are more stupid than thin people simply because they are fat.

And fat people are less successful just because they're fat. Never mind the fact that you've got an IQ of 155 and a PhD from Harvard... OMG, you're FAT!!!

Still don't believe me? Take a look at Kate Harding's BMI Project. Pay close attention to the people supposedly in the "overweight" category. I wonder - if you didn't see that word "overweight" under their photo, would YOU classify them as being so? I highly - HIGHLY - doubt it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fat Rant and Other Musings

Blog-surfing today brought me to this.

And then I found this.

I've spent the last few hours clicking links, reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos, and while most people seem to understand and agree with Ms. Nash, I've noticed that some people simply don't get the point.

She isn't saying "let's all go out and get fat." She certainly isn't saying "when I was a little girl, I wanted to be fat when I grew up."

What she is saying is this: "Be happy with who you are, even if you happen to be fat." She's saying: "Look at me. I'm a woman, I'm an actress, I'm somebody's daughter, somebody's friend... and I'm fat. And that's okay."

She's saying that being fat doesn't make someone less of a person because of that fat. She's saying that a person's total worth does NOT lie in the number on the scale or the size label on their clothes. She's saying you can be beautiful and not be a size 0.

She isn't saying that people should just give up on their bodies and let themselves get as fat as they want.

But she is saying that if you eat healthily and exercise, and you're still fat... you shouldn't feel ashamed. You shouldn't hate yourself simply because you're fat. You're still okay, even if you happen to be fat.

This is a lesson that is needed so very badly in this day and age. Mainly to females - women and girls - but let's not forget the men who need to hear it as well.

We are inundated with images of anorexic, unhealthy shells of people and are told that this is the only way to be beautiful. I hear men - of every age, race, and creed - saying that they actually think that being a size 0 is disgusting. "I prefer some meat on the bones," is a common phrase that I've heard. Just look at Chico. He's a young, slim, good-looking man -- and even HE can look around him and see what's WRONG with this idea of women starving themselves to be a size 0. "Size 0's gotta go... give me Marilyn Monroe... Little bit of J-Lo..." He's not only saying that thin definitely ISN'T in for him, but he's giving us some beautiful, REAL sized women to admire.

For those of you who don't know who Chico is, let me give you a little
run-down on him. He was on a show out here in the UK called The X-Factor - kind of like a Pop Idol (which is where American Idol came from) for everyone (Pop/American idol is for young people only, whereas the X-Factor will take you even if you're in your 80's [and I've seen more than one older person audition for the show myself]). He got through to the actual show, but he was voted off mid-run. However, he still managed to get himself a single.

For this particular song, though, he's put his life on the line, so to speak. He's mortgaged his house in order to pay for it all himself. I read an article in a magazine recently (in the last week or two) where he's spoken about this song and what it meant to him.

In the article, he described how he was walking past a school and overheard
some young girls (he didn't say how old they were, but I'm assuming they were
under 10) talking; one was saying that she wanted to be a size 0 when she grew
up. He said something like "I have a neice the same age as this girl... the last thing she should be thinking about is what dress size she is." (I'm writing this all from memory, so no, that isn't an exact quote, but it's the general idea.) That's what gave him the inspiration to write the song.

And this isn't just somebody trying to jump on a band-wagon. He has a young (I forget exactly how young, but under 2) daughter, and his girlfriend (mother of said child) is a size 16. That's an 18 to all you Americans. He practices what he preaches.

Further browsing led me to some articles like this. I, for one, know exactly what it's like to suffer "fat hatred." I suffered through it throughout my childhood - even from some of my own family. Whether they meant it to be HATRED, I don't know. But looking back on it, that's exactly what it was. Hearing "you're too fat," and "nobody's going to love you if you're too fat" did absolutely NOTHING for my self-esteem. Wait. Scratch that. It DID do something for my self-esteem. It destroyed it.

The ironic part? I wasn't really FAT. Was I overweight? Yes. (I was what I think would be a size 12 now.) But overweight does not automatically equal FAT. Am I fat now? Yes. Why? Many reasons, but I honestly think the biggest causation of all was having children. Until very recently, I was actually smaller than I was when I graduated high school, and yet I was 4 sizes larger than I was in high school.

But the fat hatred definitely contributed to my depression, and it most certainly contributed to the 7 suicide attempts I made - all BEFORE the age of 15. I hated myself. Why? Because I was "fat." (Even though I wasn't.)

I wish I could get to the point where I could say what Ms. Nash says and truly believe it. And while I know I should believe it, I have to be honest and say that I don't. It's been drummed into my head from so many directions that I'm fat and ugly, therefore I'm worth less as a person. I can't just switch it off. I do hope that one day I can get to that point, but I'm not there now.

Labels: , , ,

THIS sounds eerily familiar...

Read this article and you'll see what I mean.

I seem to have heard of this before, in the good ole' U.S. of A. It's more commonly known as "racial profiling."

And it's wrong!!!!

I can just see what's going to happen, as clearly as if it were happening in front of my eyes right now.

The police are going to start pulling black kids off the street, searching them, all because they "looked dodgy" (to use a British-ism). More and more black people - young and old, men and women - are going to see the injustice in it, and they're going to get upset. They're going to start to think that every person they see - that isn't black - is out to "get them." It's going to lead to more and more racial tensions, and instead of making the problem better, it's going to make it worse.

Haven't these people ever heard of Rodney King???? (Yes, I know, he wasn't exactly an "innocent" man, but let's be honest - the only reason he was pulled over in the first place was because he was black. It had absolutely nothing to do with his past or what kind of things he'd done. It was purely based on the color of his skin. If he'd been a white alcoholic, drug addicted wife beater, he would have been on his merry way without anyone even batting an eyelash.)

Now I know that I'm a rarity - a white woman who doesn't judge people on their outside. Yes, there are other women like me, but they seem to be few and far between. I make judgements based on who a person is, not what a person is. Every time I've heard a person of minority (predominantly black people, but not exclusively so) complain about the unfair treatment they're getting, I hate to say it, but I have to agree with them. Not because I know what it's like from their point of view - I can't. I cannot honestly say that I completely understand what it's like to be a persecuted minority - because I'm not one. But I do understand, as much as a person who is outside of the situation looking in, can.

I've seen black people being treated unfairly. I've seen moslems whispered about in fear simply because of their religion. And some part of me wants to scream "What are you people doing?! Don't you realize they're HUMAN, too!!!???"

But I don't say anything - a fact of which I'm certainly NOT proud.

But I have to honestly think that if I were in a position of power, like Mr. Jarrett, that I wouldn't make such a stupid, sweeping generalization, of a decision.

It boggles my brain even further to know that Mr. Jarrett himself is a black man. How would he feel if someone were to stop him and insist on searching him - just because he's BLACK?!

I fear this man is going to have a lot to answer for.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You DO know it's Breast Cancer Awareness month, right?

It hadn't occurred to me to blog about the fact that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, until I stumbled upon this blog today and it lead me to this article.

I was aware, as most of us are these days, that breast cancer is one of the - if not THE - leading killers of women these days. I wasn't aware, however, that it is only recently that it's become prevalent among what we like to term "3rd-world countries."

I was shocked and dismayed to learn that in some countries, women don't even get treatment at all. But then it got me thinking.

I truly am blessed to be living in the UK. Why? Because if I were to get breast cancer today, I wouldn't have to worry about when I would be able to afford to get treatment. I wouldn't have to pay for it. And as much as I love my home country, it makes me glad to BE an American but LIVE in the UK. I love my country, but that doesn't mean I don't see her flaws - and let's be honest. America has a lot of them. One of them being the health care industry - and that's what it is. An industry. I know that a little better than some, because I used to work WITHIN that industry. Health care in America is all about making money. Here, it's actually about HEALTH and CARE. Amazing concept, isn't it?

A poor woman in America will most likely be in the same predicament as a poor woman in a 3rd-world country, unfortunately. If she can't afford to go to the doctor to get diagnosed in the first place, she's not going to be able to get treatment, let alone pay for it.

As much as I wish that women in those poor countries were to get treatment, I can't help but think of my "American sisters" first. People like the woman who used to live across the street from us in Joliet - a wonderful woman, an ex-police officer, and a nurse - but one who couldn't afford healthcare because she had a son and an elderly father to care for. She talked about it when she first found out what I did for a living. I was lucky - we were poor, but I made enough money to be able to have our health insurance and just be able to pay the bills, too. (There WERE times when things got really bad - like after I'd had Lexi - but that was due to the fact that I wasn't working, and unforseen expenses ate up a lot of the money we did have coming in.)

It's a difficult situation, regardless of who you are and where you come from. It's a totally all-encompassing disease. Whether you're rich or poor, you have the possibility of it happening to you. And even getting treatment doesn't automatically mean that everything's going to be okay. The richest woman in the world could get it, be able to pay for treatment, and still end up dying from it. You just never know. Obviously, getting treatment - and getting it early - drastically improves your chances of beating the disease, but it's not certain. Nothing ever is.

But there are still women out there that don't have a chance in the world, because of their financial situation and/or location. And while no, I don't have the answer... I still think it's wrong. I don't know how to solve it, but I still know it's wrong.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Karma: to believe... or not to believe... THAT is the question.

I was reading this guy's blog last week, specifically a post titled "I Got Silver in the Special Olympics."

What he said in the first few sentences about Karma really got me thinking.


• noun (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and
previous states of existence, viewed as affecting their future fate.

— DERIVATIVES karmic adjective.
— ORIGIN Sanskrit, action, effect, fate.

-- definition taken from

I'll explain why.

When I was 5 and 6, I was still living with my birth parents. The 4 of us (including my little sister) lived in a house in a town called Romeoville. We lived around the block from the school I went to - if I could have gotten my parents to cut a hole in the back fence, I could have been at school in 10 seconds! *lol* I had quite a few friends on that block. There was a girl a few houses up the street from me, a girl across the street from her, and in the other direction there lived a girl named Michelle, who lived with her parents and older sister.

I'm now going to admit to something I'm deeply ashamed of, and which very few people know about. So be kind.

Michelle's older sister was what we called at the time "retarded." That word is pretty much out of use now, except in cases of one person putting another down. But this was the early 80's - there was only one word for it, and it was that one.

One day, I'd gone over to Michelle's to ask if she could come out and play. While I was waiting for her, her sister came to the door and started yelling at me. Whether or not she knew what she was doing, I don't know. But me, being young and stupid (stupid being the operative word here), I couldn't understand her; so I did the first thing a 5-or-6 year old would do in that situation.

I made fun of her.

Obviously, I got the dressing-down of my life from Michelle's mother. I'm sure I walked away with at least 3 new a$$holes that day.

The thing is, though, in retrospect I think I know why I reacted that way. I couldn't have recognized it at the time, but Michelle's sister scared me. I think it was because at that age, I couldn't understand how somebody could be like that. I didn't understand that some people weren't born like everybody else. It was almost like seeing an alien for the first time. The ridicule was my way of fighting back - my "defense mechanism," to use a little psycho-babble.

I've thought a lot about that young girl - who would now be in her late 30's - in the last 12 years.

I've often wondered - but never said out loud - if there was a reason Michelle's sister and I crossed paths? Was I supposed to learn something from her?

When I read that blog post about Karma and the Special Olympics, it got me thinking about her again. Karma. Did I create my own Karma when I reacted to that girl? Is that why Syrina is the way she is? Did *I* do it?

Or was it the other way around? Was I confronted with Michelle's sister so early in life in order to understand how a "normal" child would react to a special needs child?

I really don't know if it's one or the other. But I'll tell you this: methinks I definitely believe in Karma. Methinks.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Pink Shirt Gang Fights Back

Read this.

I couldn't believe it. The more I read on this post, the bigger my smile got.

If I were the parent of one of those kids that helped stand up to the bully, I would burst I'd be so proud.

I just think the whole thing is too cool! :)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oh. M'Gawd. How f*cking cool is this?!

Apparently Radiohead have a new album out. I didn't know that - not that I buy a lot of CDs anyway, but still, I like to know who's got a new album out of the bands I do like (great for when people ask you "what do you want for Christmas/Your Birthday/Our Anniversary/Mother's Day/Valentine's Day").

But here's the catch: the album is ONLY available online.

But wait! It gets better: not only is the album only available to download right now, but YOU get to choose what you pay!**

I'm not kidding. At first I thought it might have been some marketing ploy, so I went to their website to check it out.

I just downloaded it - for less than £1!!!

While it was downloading, I thought to myself "how the heck can they get away with letting people pay what they WANT to pay?" But then I thought about it. If they're making it available as a download only, they're not going to have to pay marketing fees (we - the public - are acting as their marketing agents), production costs, etc. So, aside from whatever it cost them to actually record and edit the album, everything they're getting is going straight into their pockets.

They DO have an option of ordering an actual CD, but they won't be shipping them out until December, and you still get the download as well.

I just thought that was too f*cking cool. So I had to share it.

** There IS a debit charge... but it's only £0.45. And they have a link to a currency exchange site, so regardless of what country you're in, you still get to choose what you pay... you'll just have to change it over to ££s. Not bad, eh?

Labels: , ,

The US Judicial System ain't perfect, but the UK courts could take a hint or two...

I was watching the lunchtime news yesterday, and I saw this story.

I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. Two men raped 2 little girls, aged 10 and 12, and only received sentences of 2 years each?

"The message must be that sexual activity with girls of 10 and 12
will not be tolerated," said Baroness Scotland.

Sexual activity? That makes it sound like they were just fooling around like teenagers. These were grown men that took advantage and violated little girls. These girls will never be the same again. These men will be able to get out of prison and go about their lives, pretending like nothing ever happened, but these girls will carry the emotional scars of what has been done to them for the rest of their lives. They will have trust issues, sexual issues, self-esteem issues, and most likely will suffer from some sort of depression. If they aren't getting counseling, they're more likely to end up getting into trouble themselves - drinking and doing drugs, staying out until all hours and generally just wreaking havoc in their family's lives. But it will all stem from what these 2 men did to them.

Then there are other stories, like this one for example.

A husband found guilty of killing his wife even though her body
has never been found has been jailed for life.

That sounds fairly reasonable, doesn't it? Especially if you read the actual story and find out all the sordid little details. But guess what? Here, in the UK, LIFE=20 years.

Yup, that's it.

So you get some teenager going nuts like Michael Myers and killing somebody (just for argument's sake), and he's still going to get out when he's a young man.

And it's just as ridiculous for other offences, not just murderers.

Check out this one.

A local man caught drink-driving twice in two hours was ...
banned from driving for three years and ordered to do one hundred hours of community service.

Banned from driving = got his license suspended. So he's been caught not just twice, but twice in TWO HOURS, and all he gets is a suspended license and he's got to pick up garbage on the side of the road for a couple of weeks???

The worst part about all this is that the courts do have minimum sentencing guidelines to follow, but they are ridiculous. I have actually read articles where somebody has been murdered and the murderer gets away with only an 18-month sentence. I'm not kidding. Granted, it doesn't happen all the time but when you're talking about a crime as serious as murder, just once is too much.

And this country is being inundated by what the media calls "yob culture." Teenagers are running rampant. They have no respect for anyone - least of all themselves. And people are always shown on tv saying something like "I don't understand why they don't just go play a game of football or something."

Why? Because they've been given more rights than any of us.

If I were to walk out the door right now and get attacked by a gang of teens and fight back... guess who's going to be the one arrested? That's right... me! A teenager robs a store and the shop owner fights back, and HE's the one in trouble. The government in this country has repeatedly taken rights away from law-abiding citizens (and non-citizens) and given them all to teenagers and children.

Bullies can't be expelled from school because it would be "infringing on their right to an education." But if another kid, BEING bullied, is to fight back, THEY'RE the ones that are going to get in hot water.

It's not just unfair. It's ridiculous.

Now I have to admit that with most things, the UK is just as good if not better than the US. But this is one area where they fall far short and really could use a few hints and tips from the US Judicial System.

I keep hearing "oh, but judges are giving lower sentences because our prisons are already overcrowded."

Okay, fine. BUILD NEW PRISONS!!! It'll create jobs in an economy that ain't that great right now, and we'll get these criminals off the streets where they're just going to commit even more crime. The crime rate will go down, I guarantee it. "Oh, but it costs too much to house prisoners." What about the cost of the crime itself? What about the victims? What are they being forced to pay? What about court costs - especially for serial criminals that just keep getting sent out into the street to commit their crimes again and again. I'd bet my left tit that, overall, we'd be SAVING money rather than LOSING it.

This whole situation scares me. It's my children I'm thinking of. I know I have taught them to have respect for both themselves and others - and a lot of this boils down to respect, in it's most simple terms. But what kind of world are we making for our children when they grow up thinking that the world owes them everything on a silver platter? And that when they do break the law, they're not EVEN getting a slap on the wrist?

It is truly frightening.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Random Things You Might or Might Not Know About Me

48 Things you could care less about:
1. FIRST NAME? Suzanne
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Not that I'm aware of. The story I was told was that my father didn't like the name my mother wanted (Michelle), saying that the kids at school would call me "Shelly Belly" (my maiden name is Bell). So he suggested Suzanne instead.
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Today. Hubby had his climbing gear in the front hall, as he's gone on a hiking/climbing trip. The tips of his walking sticks were sticking out of one of the bags, and I scraped my foot on it. It hurt like a B!TCH!!!!!!
4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No, but I've been told by other people that THEY do.
7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Several. AND several blogs as well.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes - unfortunately. (I get bouts of really severe tonsilitis.)
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Only if I was getting paid like £10,000,000 or something.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I don't really eat cereal anymore. I leave it for the kids.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? No... but yes. I really don't feel strong - I feel weak as I could possibly be. But when I objectively look at all I've been through and all I'm responsible for now, I realize that I really MUST be a strong person to have survived it all.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Vanilla... because then I can put anything I feel like having on top!
14. SHOE SIZE? 8.5 US/6.5 UK (although they don't actually MAKE half-sizes out here, so I usually end up buying a 7 instead.
15. RED OR PINK? Pink
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My aunt Denise.
19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black jeans, black & pink top, pink shoes.
20. LAST THING YOU ATE? 2 Milky-Way Mini's.
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Caitlin making herself some poached eggs, and the humming of the refrigerator.
23. FAVORITE SMELL? Hubby, fresh out of the bath/shower, with deoderant on.
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON YOU STOLE THIS FROM? Don't know her. Hers was just a random blog I went to.
27. FAVORITE DRINK? Alcoholic: Long Island Iced Tea. Non-alcoholic: Pepsi.
28. FAVORITE SPORT? Ain't got one.
29. EYE COLOR? Blue/gray.
30. HAT SIZE? Frack if I know!!!
31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No-I couldn't stand to poke myself in the eye 4 times a day, every day. Besides, they make such fashionable glasses nowadays, they're almost like another accessory and not just medical equipment (which is what they are, really).
32. FAVORITE FOOD? Expensive seafood: shrimp, prawn, lobster, crap, mussels, etc. Figures, doesn't it? I bet if I were a millionaire I'd probably say something like "peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." Just because I'm back-asswards.
33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Depends on what I'm in the mood for. I like both, at different times.
35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Out of those 2, I'd have to say winter (there's something magical about winter). But out of all 4, I'd have to say autumn. Everything's dying... but it's done so beautifully that you forget WHY the things around you are dying, you're simply caught up in the beauty of the moment.
37. FAVORITE DESSERT? All time: cheesecake, prefereably with some sort of fruit sauce. Current: toffee pancakes (although I'd call theme crepes) from The Back Room (pub restaurant).
39. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Why not steal it from me? That's how *I* got it!
40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? I'm trying to read America, by Steven Coontz, but I'm finding it hard. All the military techno-babble gets confusing and... honestly... downright boring. But I'm really trying, because I've heard his books are good. So basically I'm hoping if I get through the techno-babble, I'll find some good dialogue.
41. WHAT’S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Just plain yellow (I have an optical mouse, I need it to be all one color).
42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Who Am I? - Jackie Chan movie.
43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Syrina's laugh.
45. THE FURTHEST YOU’VE BEEN FROM HOME? Well, since I still consider Illinois to be home, I'd have to say here!!!
46. WHAT’S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I can crochet....
47. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Silver Cross Hospital, Joliet, Illinois, USA
48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I took it from Dianne Rambling On...

~Movies ~
I’ve seen, in full OR in part...
The ones in red, we own on DVD - some of which I HAVEN'T seen.

(X) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(X) Grease
(X) Pirates of the Caribbean
(X) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
(X) Boondock Saints
(X) Fight Club
(X) Starsky and Hutch
(X) Neverending Story
(X) Blazing Saddles
(X) Airplane
(X) The Princess Bride
( ) AnchorMan
(X) Napoleon Dynamite
(X) Labyrinth
(X) Saw
( ) Saw II
(X) White Noise
( ) White Oleander
(X) Anger Management
(X) 50 First Dates
( ) The Princess Diaries
( ) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
(X) Scream
(X) Scream 2
(X) Scream 3
( ) Scary Movie
( ) Scary Movie 2
( ) Scary Movie 3
( ) Scary Movie 4
(X) American Pie
(X) American Pie 2
(X) American Wedding
( ) American Pie Band Camp
(X) Harry Potter 1
(X) Harry Potter 2
(X) Harry Potter 3
(X) Harry Potter 4
(X) Resident Evil 1
(X) Resident Evil 2
(X) The Wedding Singer
( ) Little Black Book
(X) The Village
(X) Lilo & Stitch
(X) Finding Nemo

( ) Finding Neverland
( ) Signs
(X) The Grinch
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
( ) White Chicks
(X) Butterfly Effect
( ) 13 Going on 30
(X) I, Robot
( ) Robots
(X) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(X) Universal Soldier
( ) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(X) Along Came Polly
(X) Deep Impact
( ) KingPin
( ) Never Been Kissed
(X) Meet The Parents
( ) Meet the Fockers
( ) Eight Crazy Nights
( ) Joe Dirt
(X)King Kong
( ) A Cinderella Story

(X) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( ) Passport to Paris
(X) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
(X) Final Destination
(X) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
(X) Halloween
(X) The Ring
( ) The Ring 2
(X) Surviving Christmas
(X) Flubber
(X) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
(X) Practical Magic
( ) Chicago
(X) Ghost Ship
(X) From Hell
(X) Hellboy
( ) Secret Window
(X) I Am Sam
(X) The Whole Nine Yards
( ) The Whole Ten Yards
(X) The Day After Tomorrow
(X) Child’s Play
( ) Seed of Chucky
( ) Bride of Chucky
( ) Ten Things I Hate About You
( ) Just Married
(X) Gothika
(X) Nightmare on Elm Street
(X) Sixteen Candles
( ) Remember the Titans
( ) Coach Carter
(X) The Grudge
( ) The Grudge 2
(X) The Mask
(X) Son Of The Mask
(X) Bad Boys
( ) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
(X) Lucky Number Sleven
( ) Ocean’s Eleven
( ) Ocean’s Twelve
(X) Bourne Identity
(X) Bourne Supremecy
( ) Lone Star
(X) Bedazzled
(X) Predator I
(X) Predator II
(X) The Fog
(X) Ice Age
( ) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
(X) Independence Day
(X) Cujo
( ) A Bronx Tale
( ) Darkness Falls
(X) Christine
(X) E.T.
(X) Children of the Corn
( ) My Bosses Daughter
( ) Maid in Manhattan
( ) War of the Worlds
(X) Rush Hour
(X) Rush Hour 2
( ) Best Bet
(X) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(X) She’s All That
(X) Calendar Girls
( ) Sideways
( ) Mars Attacks
( ) Event Horizon
( ) Ever After
(X) Wizard of Oz
(X) Forrest Gump
(X) Big Trouble in Little China
(X) The Terminator
(X) The Terminator 2
(X) The Terminator 3
(X) X-Men

(X) X-2
(X) X3
(X) Spider-Man
(X) Spider-Man 2
(X) Sky High
(X) Jeepers Creepers
(X) Jeepers Creepers 2
( ) Catch Me If You Can
(X) The Little Mermaid
(X) Freaky Friday
(X) Reign of Fire
(X) The Skulls
(X) Cruel Intentions
( ) Cruel Intentions 2
( ) The Hot Chick
(X) Shrek
(X) Shrek 2
( ) Swimfan
(X) Miracle on 34th street*
( ) Old School
( ) The Notebook
(X) K-Pax
(X) Krippendorf’s Tribe
(X) A Walk to Remember
( ) Ice Castles
( ) Boogeyman
( ) The 40-year-old Virgin
(X) Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
(X) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
(X) Lord of the Rings: Return Of the King
(X) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(X) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(X) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
(X) Base-ketball
( ) Hostel
( ) Waiting for Guffman
(X) House of 1000 Corpses
(X) Devils Rejects
(X) Elf
(X) Highlander
(X) Mothman Prophecies
(X) American History X
( ) Three
(X) The Jacket
( ) Kung Fu Hustle
( ) Shaolin Soccer
(X) Night Watch
( ) Monsters Inc.
(X) Titanic
(X) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(X) Shaun Of the Dead
(X) Willard
( ) High Tension
( ) Club Dread
(X) Hulk
( ) Dawn Of the Dead
(X) Hook
(X) Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
( ) 28 days later
( ) Orgazmo
( ) Phantasm
(X) Waterworld
(X) Kill Bill Vol. 1
(X) Kill Bill Vol. 2
(X) Mortal Kombat
( ) Wolf Creek
(X) Kingdom of Heaven
(X) the Hills Have Eyes
( ) I Spit on Your Grave
( ) The Last House on the Left
(X) Re-Animator
( ) Army of Darkness
(X) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(X) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(X) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(X) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(X) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(X) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
(X) Ewoks: Caravan Of Courage
(X) Ewoks: The Battle For Endor
(X) The Matrix
(X) The Matrix: Reloaded
(X) The Matrix: Revolutions
( ) Animatrix
( ) Evil Dead
( ) Evil Dead 2
( ) Team America: World Police
(X) Red Dragon
(X) Silence of the Lambs
(X) Hannibal


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why You Should Listen to Your History Teacher

I admit it, I stole this off another guy's blog. But I couldn't help laughing after I read it, so I couldn't resist sharing it.

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:

(Actual letter from FHA):

“Upon review of your letter adjoining your client’s loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin.”

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows (actual letter):

“Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus’ expedition. Now the Pope, as I’m sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope you find God’s original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our d#$@ loan?”

The loan was approved.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pet Peeves #2: RUDE PEOPLE.

Okay, so yesterday we got paid. Payday=shopping day. And I don't necessarily mean shopping for fun - I'm talking the stuff we NEED to buy.

So I hop on the bus as soon as I drop the kids off at school. Get it done early and then I can come home and relax and enjoy the quiet until the little monsters come home. Right?

Well, these 2 men get on the bus with me. They sat near the front, I sat near the rear. I didn't really think much of them until the bus started to get near my stop. I got up, pushed the button, and went to the front of the bus so that I could hop off as soon as it stopped. Just as the bus was slowing down, these 2 men get up, and elbow me out of the way to stand in front of me!! (I'd also like to point out that there's a blue line painted on the bus floor, and a sign saying "no standing in front of this line" -- I was standing right AT that line.)

Now you need to understand something. I'm not the kind of woman that wants to be treated differently just because I am a woman. But I do want to be treated with respect.

Just the other day, I was reading some Icelandic guy's blog, where he was saying that chivalry truly WAS dead and he was glad of it. But then he went on to explain. He was talking about doing things like giving up your seat to a woman simply because they are a woman. And he said something like "if you're going to hold a door open for a woman, then why not hold it open for a man, too?"

I do do that. If I come up to a door and I see that someone's trying to pass through - regardless of whether they're man or woman, young or old - I'll hold it open for them. It's called having manners.

If I see an elderly person or a person with a baby buggy struggling to get on the bus, I'll offer to help and/or give up my seat (and I have to say that out here, I see just as many men with baby buggies as I do women).

I never understood why people made such a big deal out of the fact that my kids have manners. I can't count the number of times I'd have complete strangers come up to me and say "your children are so well behaved!" (Of course, that's in public - they're totally different at home!!) I didn't understand why it was such a shock to them.

I asked my husband last night: am I being ridiculous expecting people to treat me with respect?

He said no, but I still have to wonder.

(P.S. It wasn't until the bus stopped and they started to get off that I got a good whiff of them. They REEKED of beer. At 9 o'clock in the morning!!!!! ... but that's a rant for another day.)

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 08, 2007

Great Childhood Memories: Shel Silverstein

After having a conversation with Lexi this morning, I just had to do a search for some Shel Silverstein poems.


Her new school sends out a "Friday Flyer" letting us parents know what's going on in school, and on it there was a note about a poet coming to school to teach Year 2 kids (that's Lexi's year) about poetry, and afterwards they can buy a book of poems.

So I told her, and she just groaned at me. Now this is the kid that can't get enough of books, so I was taken aback. "What's the matter?" I asked her.

"I don't know anything about poetry!" she said.

I just laughed. "That's the whole point," I said. "This person is going to teach you about poetry."

She didn't look convinced.

So I told her about when *I* was a child, and how much I loved reading Shel Silverstein's books. I specifically remember one poem (I can't remember what it was called, though) about a little girl who wouldn't take the garbage out. It ended up taking over the whole room, the whole house, the whole street, the whole town, the whole country, and eventually, the whole world. When I said this to Lexi, she started to laugh.

So I promised her I'd search and see if I could find some Shel Silverstein poems to read to her.

And I did.

Now I can't wait to read them to her. I'm absolutely convinced she's going to love them.

I think I might see if I can find a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. Pass on my own childhood memories to my little girl. :)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cleaning Hell

Oh. My. God.

It's absolutely insane the amount of dirt and garbage this family produces in such a short time.

I decided to move furniture and clean under and behind things in the living room today. Now you gotta remember - we've lived in this house less than 3 months. But already I've got half a bin bag full of garbage. And that's just from one room. I hope the vacuum cleaner can keep up with us. I'm seriously afraid that this thing is going to get overwhelmed and give up on us. "Wha' d'ya wan' from me, Cap'n? I'm a vacuum cleaner, not a bloody miracle worker!"

A mother's work is never done. Nor is it dull.

On a similar note, I just had to share this. It makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Click here.

Labels: , , ,

Homemade Applesauce ~and~ Lexi Had a Birthday

I am so very surprised at and proud of myself. I actually remembered how to make applesauce!

Okay, yeah... so it's really not that hard. But when you consider that I only made it once before in my life, and that was at least 15 years ago... then I still think it's a pretty big deal that I actually remembered how to make it.

I'd show y'all a picture, but I don't know where my USB cable for my camera is. Sh!t.... I'm lucky I still know where my laptop is! (I hate moving.)

The kids and the Hub asked me "why?!" when I told them I was making applesauce. The answer: the polock in me made me do it.

See, there's this one fruit & veg shop near us (there's 2, actually, but I'm referring to one in particular) that sells 3 large bags of apples for £1. Obviously, they're the older ones, the ones that are likely to rot faster. Usually that's no big deal, because the kids eat them like they're going out of style. But for some reason they weren't eating them as fast these past few weeks, and I had a few (okay, more like a dozen) that were going to end up in the bin if I didn't do something with them. So the skin-flint polock in me cried out "make applesauce!!!"

So I did.

Only I didn't do one thing. I didn't add sugar. I did that on purpose, though. I've been trying to make my family eat healthier (if I make THEM eat healthier, then *I'll* eat healthier). And Caitlin's put on quite a bit of weight lately, too. So I made unsweetened applesauce. The thing is, though, it tastes just fine without the sugar. I gave the kids what I couldn't fit into the jar (I only had the one jar to put the stuff in) last night after dinner, and they loved it.

Only now I have a craving for French Toast the way grandma used to make (okay, she probably still makes it that way, but she's 7,000 miles away!!). Bad, bad mom. ;)

On a totally different note....

Lexi had a birthday on Friday. She turned 7. SEVEN!!! Yikes!!!

As I do with all of them (Hub, too) when it's their birthday, I let her pick what she had for dinner and what kind of cake she wanted. Once again, she wanted Mince & Dumplings for dinner, with cream cheese mashed potatoes (it's the only way I can get this kid to eat mashed potatoes!). It turned out okay, but there wasn't as much gravy as I would have liked. Of course, if I had a measuring jug (Hub left mine at the old house when we moved and I haven't been able to find one in a reasonable size since), I wouldn't have had so much trouble.

And Caitlin actually made Lexi's cake. She'd stayed home from school (she's been getting really bad headaches - I suspect she's inherited my migraines), and since I'd bought cake MIX - where you only have to add egg & water - I let her have at it. Obviously I supervised the whole thing, but I have to say she did pretty good. Lexi'd asked for chocolate cake with strawberries, but I couldn't find any chocolate cake mix at the local supermarket. However, I did manage to find a can of strawberries in syrup, which I thought would go quite nicely. (And judging from the amount of compliments we got, I'd have to say I was right.)

One thing surprised me, though. The kids' aunt Sarah actually came with Vicci. Apparently Kirsty was going to come (I'd seen her in the afternoon [she goes to school near us and has to walk past our house to get to and from] and she'd told me she was coming), but she ended up going to bed. Not that I mind - I have no problem whatsoever with the two of them coming to family functions such as birthdays. I had a real problem with them when we all lived together, but I think that was mostly to do with the fact that we had 11 people living in a 3-bedroom house. But they're family, for cripes' sake. What my mother-in-law doesn't seem to realize is that I'm willing to put my personal feelings aside for my children's sake. I don't even like her, but if she'd wanted to come, I would have welcomed her with a smile on my face. It's called being polite, and I'm more than capable of it.

Money's been a little tight lately, what with us having to shell out extra money on rent (although we don't mind with THIS house - it's actually WORTH the extra money), so she didn't get a whole lot in the way of presents from us, but she seemed to like what she did get. I left Daddy in charge of getting the presents so I could concentrate on cooking and baking, and he got her a Horrid Henry book, The Goonies DVD, and a Watership Down DVD. She got some Dr. Seuss and more Horrid Henry books from her aunt Vicci, and a cute little backpack with ponytail holders from her aunts Kirsty and Sarah. The little greedy bugger keeps asking me if she's going to get any more presents!!!

The reason she got so many books is.... well, her. She can read quite well (she already had one Dr. Seuss book that she's read from cover to cover more times than we can count!) and she was complaining that she didn't have anything else to read. So we put the word out that she wanted books.

It's funny. I asked her one day, "are you a nerd?" She got this really contemplative look on her face and after a moment said "yeah... a little bit." *lol*

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 15, 2007


If I had to list all of the things I didn't think I would be doing this year, dialling 999 (UK version of 911) because Hubby's having chest pains would be right there at the top of the list.

He's only 30 for Pete's Sake! And he was seriously having some problems. He was almost gray and I felt his heartbeat, which was... how do I put this... wonky?

beat... beat... beat.......................................................................... beatbeatbeatbeatbeatbeat

I thought I was imagining things at first. It couldn't be what I thought I felt... could it?

I asked him immediately if he wanted me to call an ambulance, and he said he didn't know. So I just let it go, and carried on trying to get the kids fed and ready for school, all the while keeping one eye firmly planted on him. A few minutes later, he said "I think calling an ambulance might be a good idea."

So I had Caitlin see to the little ones and made the call.

All I could think of was the fact that both of his grandparents and his father all died of heart problems. And both his mother and one of his uncles are living with heart problems. That's 5 people - that we know of - in his family with heart problems. On top of all that, his father wasn't exactly old when he died - only in his early 50's.

So there I was, dealing with 4 kids, a very sick hubby, and keeping a look out for both an ambulance and Syrina's school bus. How the hell I managed to stay calm with all of that going on is beyond me, but somehow I did it. Hell, I even managed to get the kids to school at their normal time, and we didn't forget anything.

I spent a very restless morning in the house. I alternated from I'm too stressed, I can't concentrate on doing anything to I can't sit still, I've got to clean something. By 11:30, I hadn't heard anything and I couldn't stand it anymore. So I called the hospital. They put some woman on the phone who couldn't even speak English properly (doctor???), and I managed to make out that he was stable, and they were waiting until 7:30 p.m. to do another blood test.

I decided to run into town as fast as I could and do the grocery shopping. If I didn't do it then, then it would have to wait until Monday, and besides, it would give me something to do. I just wished HE would call me. It's one thing to hear from some stranger that he's doing okay, but it's a whole different matter entirely to hear it in his own voice.

Almost as soon as I got into town, I ran into my neighbor/friend and her daughter. I told them what was happening, and I said to them that I just wished HE would call me. From there I went to Ethel Austin because I was hoping they'd have a smallish backpack that Lexi could use for school (I'd looked at a few other shops, but all the ones I found were way too big for her). Almost immediately after entering the shop, my phone rang. Thank the Lord above, it was him.

Once I heard from him, I could function almost like a normal person. I was still worried about him, especially since the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong yet. But hearing from him that he was okay... it was almost like it gave me permission to go about the rest of my day as usual. Daft, I know. But that's what it felt like.

At 8:30, I called him to find out if he was coming home or not. He had said that he thought they might let him go after doing that other blood test, but he wasn't sure. The kids kept asking if he was coming home or not, so I called him to put their minds at rest as well as my own. Unfortunately, he did have to stay the night.

I can't speak for him, but my god, that was hard for me. For one thing, it was the first time in this new house that we'd been apart. For another, I was worried about him. What if he woke up in the middle of the night with more chest pains? What if they were worse? I knew that if something like that did happen, he'd be in the best place for it. But if something like that happened, I wouldn't know about it. And he's my husband, for Pete's Sake!!! These are things I SHOULD know. Ya know?

Sleep wasn't easy, but it did come to me eventually. After spending at least a half an hour going up and down the stairs to investigate sounds that apparently weren't really there. I kept thinking I saw something out of the corner of my eye as well, before I even went to bed. I realized that I was nervous and paranoid, but I couldn't just ignore what I thought I heard. What if it was a real sound, somebody breaking in or something, and I just ignored it? I couldn't take the risk.

Finally around 12:30 p.m. or so, he called me and said not only did they figure out what was wrong with him, but he would be home within the hour.

The diagnosis? Pericarditis. The Pericardium is the lining around the heart. Between the pericardium and the heart there is fluid - basically a cushion for the heart. He has a viral infection in that fluid and/or the lining itself. Having worked (somewhat) in the medical field, as soon as he said "pericarditis," I knew exactly what he was talking about. I wasn't sure exactly how serious it was (I assumed it would have been a bacterial infection, not a viral one), but I knew what it was.

But since it's a viral infection, there's really nothing he can do for it besides rest and let his body fight the virus. But he was warned not to do anything too strenuous, because the infection could possibly lead to a heart attack if he's not careful.

So he'll be out of commission work-wise for at least the next 3 weeks, but I don't care. As long as I know he's going to be okay eventually, I'll deal with having him under my feet all the time.

It's a very small price to pay.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 31, 2007

Yes, I'm still alive... AKA, moving SUCKS!!

Back in June, our (old) landlord's lackey came to the house with an envelope for us. Of course, he left before we'd even had a chance to look at it. When I saw what it was, I nearly had a heart attack. It was an official "notice to quit." An eviction notice.

According to the letter, he (the old landlord) wanted to sell the house, so he wanted us out. On the face of it, it wouldn't have sounded like such a big deal. He was giving us 2 months, after which time he would be able to take legal action (taking us to court) to get us out of the house. And the fact is, we wanted to move anyway. But there was one problem.

Where the hell were we going to go?????

Like I said above, we wanted to move anyway. We'd wanted to move since the day we arrived in this country and entered that house. It was too small even for the 6 of us, never mind the 11 of us that there were in the house when we first got here (before his mother and her boyfriend and his sisters moved out in August '03). But we had a hell of a time finding any properties that were big enough for us. What we really wanted was a council house - a home owned and kept up by the town council - but they wouldn't let us have anything smaller than a 4 bedroom, and if they had 1 4-bed house available every 3 months, that was a GOOD 3 months. All the private houses big enough for us were too expensive.

So I went to my friend and neighbor, May, to ask if she'd gotten the same thing - my landlord was her landlord as well. Apparently she'd gotten hers weeks before that, and already had another property lined up. She said she'd talk to this new landlord and let me know if he had anything available for us.

Well, within less than 24 hours of getting that letter, she'd already spoken to the new landlord and he'd said we could have the house next door to her. I didn't really want to count on it until I heard from the landlord's own mouth that we could have it, but it sounded promising.

Within 3 weeks of getting that letter, we'd met with the new landlord, saw the house, signed the paperwork, and paid our bond (deposit). A week later, we moved in. That was July 17.

It's been 2 months, and we're still not totally unpacked. We are unpacked enough that it feels like home, but not completely. There are still some things that we don't know exactly where they are. And there are some things that we still need to get for this house.

The terror twins don't have a closet in their room, so they need a wardrobe. At the moment, their school clothes are hanging on "over-the-door" hooks on their bedroom door. It'll do for now, but it's not ideal. And they desperately need new beds. We couldn't get their bunkbeds apart, so we just took the mattresses, and they've got those on the floor right now. They don't seem to mind - they actually started cheering when they found out they'd have to sleep on the floor. *lol* But I, of course, feel like one of the worst mothers in the world knowing that they don't have a proper bed to sleep in.

I managed to buy one wardrobe for myself on credit, but it's not enough. My clothes are absolutely squashed into this thing, and there's no room for Blake's clothes at all.

We really want to get some new bedroom furniture, too. We're still using the white dressers that my mom bought me when I was 12 - and they were old when she bought them!!!!

Caitlin could use a new bed... she's got an old American-style bed (box spring and mattress), but without any sort of frame. That got rusted lying out in the back garden (because we didn't have the hardware to put it together), so we had to throw it out.

And finally - and I'm absolutely dying to get it - we need a kitchen table. We finally have a kitchen (well, 2 of them, actually) big enough for one, and I want it so bad I can practically taste it.

As for this house itself, it's as close to a dream house as we could possibly get in our situation. There are 2 kitchens, 2 bathrooms, 5 bedrooms, and 4 cupboard/closets. The problem with the cupboard/closets is that nobody in this country believes in putting hanging rails in the damned things. They're just open, empty space. That's why we still need the wardrobes.

The reason for the 2 kitchens and 2 bathrooms is this: this house was split up into two flats (apartments). A 1-bed flat downstairs, and a 3-bed flat upstairs. But because of the size of our family (and because of the fact that one of the upstairs bedrooms is tiny), the landlord is letting us have the entire house. Yes, we have to pay more, but according to the government's own website, we are eligible to get full housing benefit for the entire property. So WE shouldn't actually have to pay a thing. But they still haven't sorted out all the paperwork. Typical, really. It took them months to sort it all out in the first place for the old house.

I really hate moving, I have to say. But on the other hand, I'm so happy to have moved. This is a much better house, and we're in a perfect spot. There's a doctor's office across the street, the library's on the corner, we're a 5-minute walk from the kids' new school, and there are so many shops between the house and the school, if there's anything I need, I can pretty much get it there. Even the post office is close, and they sell so many things in there that I'm in there practically every day. I can get the kids' snacks and juice and even things like cereal in there!

Oh yeah - AND we're within walking distance of not 1, not 2, but THREE parks. Needless to say, the kids are loving this new house.

I'm just glad we don't feel like a can of sardines anymore!!!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'm leavin'... on a jet plane...

... well, to be honest, I SHOULD say I'm leavin' on a Virgin Train! *lol*

Hubby and I are going off for a "dirty weekend" (as they call it here) to York!!!

I've been wanting to do this for YEARS! When we first planned on moving here, Hubby said that he'd take me away for a weekend once we got settled and show me more of Britain. Welllll... things didn't quite turn out the way we had thought they would, and we just couldn't. Couldn't afford to. Then, a year and a half ago when our marriage nearly broke up, I wanted to do it, as a way to try to save our marriage. He wouldn't.
Now we've been here nearly 4 years, and finally we're doing it.
I'm so excited I can't even describe it. We've been married nearly 8 years, and we have never - EVER - had so much as 24 hours without the children around. Our "honeymoon" was spent in my mother's house with the kids in the room next door. Our vacation to Colorado back in '01 was spent with all 5 of us (Chloe was conceived on that vacation) in the same hotel room. Finally, for the first time in our marriage, we will be completely A-L-O-N-E!!!!!
Of course, I have to admit, part of me is a little apprehensive about it too. BECAUSE we've never been completely alone. Will we run out of things to say to each other and end up spending our time in awkward silences? I hope not, but I have to be honest and say that it's at the back of my mind.
Of course we're not going to be spending the entire day cooped up in our room. We're going to do things and see things. Shoot, if all we wanted to do was spend a weekend in a hotel room, there's one down the road we could use! *lol* Part of the whole POINT of this is to do some sight-seeing. A mini-vacation, if you will.
But it'll be nice to know we don't have to rush home to let Vicci get back to her house, and that we can do whatever we want without having to worry about the kids at all. They'll all be here at home, as safe as they could possibly be.
I've got loads to do before we go, but I'm so happy I can't even tell ya!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Practical jokes... already!!!!

I couldn't stop laughing when I heard this.


was trying to wake up Caitlin

only Caitlin was having none of it.

So Lexi - being the little evil genius that she is - had a "great" idea. She went and found one of the 9V batteries that are floating around the house. (I swear, those things must multiply or something. I find one and put it away and then I turn around and there it is again! Either they have some sort of teleportation powers or they're multiplying!) She goes up to Caitlin - who apparently had her mouth hanging open while she was sleeping - and sticks the battery on her tongue - connectors down, of course.


You bet your arse Caitlin finally got up!!!!


I couldn't believe it. How the hell did she even THINK of that? She's only 6!!

Methinks I better keep her on my good side. When she's older and even smarter than she is now, I shudder to think of all the nasty practical jokes this kid might come up with!!

Labels: , ,