Thursday, January 31, 2013

When The Wind Blows

I'm not one to get wierded out by weather.  I don't cower in fear and keep my eyes glued to the TV and/or weather apps watching for signs of changing weather patterns.  Usually.  However, with Deonne gone - the game changes.  Now I'm the one responsible for making sure the kids are safe and not in a geographic location in our house where a tree could fall on their heads or a window explode near their faces.

So when the weather people started calling for 'severe' weather the other night - my little ears perked up.  Even more so when I left the house yesterday morning and it was very unsettled out - and my facebook friends who grew up in Tornado Alley commented it was reminiscent of tornado weather.

Apparently other folks in Columbia had the same fear - because as the afternoon wore on - a mass hysteria of sorts broke out - and lots of afternoon activities were cancelled.  You can imagine how much my freak out level was amplified when I received an automated call from the kids' principal informing parents that all after school programs were cancelled due to inclement weather.  And again when I received an email from Jack's preschool informing parents that while they were not closing - they encouraged all parents to come pick their child(ren) up before the weather hit.

I started to wonder if I should be concerned or if it was the typical 'chicken little' syndrome that plagues this city when rumors of snowflakes or tornadoes arise.  I wondered if I needed to get in line with the other nervous ninnies at the Piggly Wiggly to buy gallons of bottled water, milk, and bread.

So I consulted our family meteorologist (Deonne), told him what was going on in Cola-town - and asked him to keep an eye on the weather from his phone/computer and let me know if I needed to indeed be worried.

His call came in right about 7:00 (as I was putting the boys in the shower) that there was a tornado watch for our area - and that I needed to be on alert.  (a.k.a. get the kids to the basement)  Now again, I'm not one to usually panic and get all freaked out - but his call did give me pause.

After quickly showering the boys and prodding Anna along to get dressed following her shower, I informed them of THE NEWS and had them get their pillows and loveys and head down to the basement.  (Anna took it to a whole new level - of course - and tried to leave her room with armfuls of her 'favorite stuff' that she didn't want lost in the inevitable tornado.)  They were a little scared - but I kept telling them it was just a precaution - and Daddy wanted to make sure we were safe.

And when they realized they got to watch oodles of mindless 'kids' shows - they were happy.

I'm very thankful we have the walkout basement in our house.  We have it all set up with a nice comfy couch,  TV, DVD player, and all of the kids' art supplies/games/musical instruments/crap I won't let them have upstairs.  The couch is in the best possible corner of the basement should a tornado actually come over our house - nestled next to the exterior foundation wall - so we were all comfy and secure.

Best quote of the night?  Jack.  'Mommy - the tornado will be like the Wizard of Oz and we'll get to see the munchkins.'


So back to the story - this all happened around 7:30.  Bedtime for the Party kids is promptly at 8:00.  I'm a stickler for the 8:00 bedtime.  (Because once they are secured in their beds - I'm FREE!!!)  Free to clean up and do laundry, that is.

But the estimated time for the dreaded front to come through was not until 9:15 or so.  Perfect.  Perfectly crazy, that is.  I kept debating if I was crazy neurotic for keeping the kids up through the storm - or if I should just give in and put them to bed.  The whole 'better safe than sorry' adage kept coming to mind.  Especially because the bedrooms are on the top level of our house - and the boys have bunk beds right next to the window - and I'd never be able to live with myself if a tree fell on the roof over their bedroom and James was squished.  (Don't you love how my mind works?)

I debated putting them to bed and if there really was an impending tornado - getting them up and taking them downstairs at that point.  Which is a good idea - if I have help.  Getting three sure-to-be-terrified children who have a propensity to freeze and become leaden statues when they are scared down three flights of stairs in short order didn't seem quite feasible.  So I opted for the first choice - keep them up - and pay the consequences of less sleep than normal later.

So we settled in and Deonne fed me weather updates via text while the kids watched episode after episode of whatever programming Sprout has on for the Goodnight Show.  After about an hour - I was getting delirious of watching talking pigs, the Pajanimals, and the all-time worst children's show ever (yet the one they ALL love) Caillou.  I hate that kid and his whiny voice and the way the narrator always talks in the third person. (And if you've EVER watched that show - you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.)

At one point - Deonne texted me to see how things were going.  Here's the screenshot of that conversation:

'Nuff said.

Eventually the storm blew through - and I'm happy to report there was no damage, no impact, not even the slightest flicker of lights when it passed over our happy abode.  In fact, we were so insulated in our little cocoon that when Deonne called to ask how bad the rain was during the worst of it - I didn't even know it was raining - and made James go open the door to see what it looked like.  (Which in retrospect might not have been the best idea...)

Shortly thereafter - all three Party kids were safely tucked in their respective beds.  And only an hour and forty-five minutes after their prescribed bedtime.  Not that I'm counting...

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Age of Technology

I'm blogging from my phone. From my PHONE people. My snazzy new iPhone to be exact.

This opens up a whole new world for me. And you, my faithful readers. All four of you.

I'm just so excited I can hardly stand myself.

Stay tuned... Me thinks there's gonna be a whole lot more writing on the near future.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Genetic Disposition

It's official.  My child is clearly not my child.  If it weren't for the fact that sweet Jack is the spitting image of his daddy at the same age, I'd have to wonder if my son was somehow switched at birth when I was clearly too doped up and medicated on those awesome painkillers to notice.

Anyone who knows me (and I mean really knows me) knows that I suffer from a rare condition, one that has no official medical name, yet has had a significant affect on me since about the age of 10.  True confessions time - I know nothing about popular music.  Seriously.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

I blame it on my father.  As a kid, I watched the likes of Lawrence Welk, perched on my daddy's knee, rattling off the names of the different instruments in the background band.  On Sunday nights we listened to the NPR series 'Concerts, Overtures, and Encores' where I became familiar with the likes of Beethoven, Bach, and Debussy.  When it came to 'popular' music of the times, I was subjected to the musical tastes of my parents (like all kids) who were all 'down with' the total 1970's superstars like Barry Manilow and John Denver (who we listened to on 8-track in the motor home.  Yes folks, we were that cool.)

As I grew older, I spent most of my time at the ballet studio daydreaming of Baryshnikov and bemoaning pointe shoe blisters - not hanging out with girlfriends reading Judy Blume books or listening to pop music of the mid-80's.  I suppose I was a Classical Music Dork.  So be it.

All was fine and dandy until I stopped dancing and spending every waking minute either at the studio or plotting my eventual break into ballerina stardom.  I entered the teenage world of walkman's and boom boxes in the late 1980's - 1988 to be exact - and was woefully behind the curve of all things 'cool.'  Rap music was starting to come into the scene (I remember my bootlegged copy of Young MC that I blasted from my tape deck - not really knowing why except that it was supposed to be the 'thing' to do) along with the first Boy Bands (New Kids On The Block, anyone?) that I made recordings of from the radio because I was too shy to actually set foot in a music store and admit I didn't know the first thing about where to look or what to buy.

I completely missed the era of classic rock and roll - as well as the Big Hair bands that my older brother was so fond of.  (I never did understand boys 'ratting' their hair and wearing more make-up than I did.)

SO.  I flitted around through high school - dabbling in different groups of friends who introduced me to all sorts of music genres. From punk to country, I was all over the place.  Enter college - the most liberal of liberal arts colleges on the planet - and I was exposed to even more types of music - the Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews, Blues Traveler, Counting Crows, and the Samples to name a few.

Somewhere in all of that convoluted mix I came to realize that I like all sorts of music - and can't typify myself by one particular genre.  Which was a good thing, for the most part, until my future spouse came along who was/is SO into music and just couldn't/to-this-day-can't understand how I didn't/still-don't know ALL the lyrics to ALL the classic Allman Brothers songs.  (Whatever, Deonne.... I still don't understand how you grew up as a BOY in the 1980's and never saw a Star Wars film.  So there.)

Musical differences aside (obviously) we married and reproduced.  And, subsequently, all three of our children have loved music since the day they were born.  I think there's something inherent in babies to rock and sway to the rhythm and beat of music around them.  I get that.

What I don't get is my youngest child.  Jack.  He must have obtained some musical genetic material from Deonne's DNA - because that child is a rock star if there ever was one.  He's completely into music.  Case in point:  Last weekend Deonne had some classic 'rock and roll' playing in the backyard off of Pandora. (But don't ask me what it was - cause I don't know.)  He and I were discussing something in the kitchen and we happened to look out the window and see Jack - wiggling and shaking to the musical groove.  The interesting part, though, was when he suddenly stopped.  Seemingly frozen in place.  We were two stories up, and it was difficult to see exactly what he was doing, so Deonne went downstairs to check.  He returned shortly thereafter, grinning, to tell me that Jack wasn't just frozen in place.  No, he was stopping to play his air guitar - fingering the air guitar strings along with the guitar solo he was listening to.

Huh?  My child?  Where did he learn that?  Certainly not from me - and as far as I know - he hasn't been watching MTV (wait - do they even play music videos on MTV anymore?)

But the true realization that my son is clearly not mine came two days later when Jack and I were en route to his pre-school.  I was flipping through the radio - trying to find a suitable song for him to either play air guitar or air drums to, something he could really get into.  I stopped at what I thought was a great song - something that I think was by Dave Matthews (but don't quote me - considering my rare condition and all) - only to be fussed at by Jack.

Jack: "It's NOT rock and roll, MOMMY!  I only like rock and roll!"

Me: "It IS rock and roll, Jack."  (thinking, hello - it's not country or classical or jazz music)

Jack:  "It's NOT!  Rock and Roll goes like this ..." (insert humming/air-guitar strumming of some classic rock song that I recognized but couldn't identify if my life depended on it.)

Fantastic.  Usurped in musical knowledge by my three-year old son.

What's next?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Long and Short of It...

Marketing and selling your home stinks.  Period.

We had four showings this past weekend.  Yes, you read that right, FOUR showings in three days.  That's more showings than we've had in the past three months.  (Well, that might be a slight exaggeration... but whose counting, right?)  The point is back-to-back showings meant a weekend of picking up, wiping down, vacuuming incessantly, and basically threatening my children within an inch of their lives not to touch, disturb, or breathe on anything that had been tidied.

All accounts are that our house had great reviews - one couple indicated they have narrowed their potential home choice to ours and one other while another couple had narrowed down to ours as one of four.  One group our realtor couldn't 'get a good read on' and the last set of potential buyers have yet to provide any feedback, although they specifically contacted our realtor via the internet with a request to see our house.  Now, two of those groups (the one that narrowed our home to one of four + the one that had yet to provide feedback) spent an absurd amount of time in our house.  And that is NOT an exaggeration.  The first couple spent nearly an HOUR AND A HALF while the last group nearly an HOUR.

What in God's dear name were they doing in our house for that long?  Making themselves at home?  Watching movies? (By the way, our remote is missing...) Helping themselves to snacks? (Did I mention that a previous house viewer from early December took it upon themselves to help partake of nearly an entire plate of Christmas cookies I had sitting out - FOR MY CHILDREN?) Digging around in my unmentionables drawer?  I dunno.  All I know is somebody better bring an offer after kicking us out of our home for that long - because as much as I want to sell the darn thing - it isn't really convenient to be out of the house for long periods of time, on a weekend, with three little kids, and a whole host of stuff to get done (including what is now five loads of laundry.)

I know - I'm being bitter.  I should be happy that there is so much activity and that people want to spend that much time in our home to 'test' it out or see if they can get whatever 'vibe' they are looking for in a new home.  And I am... I'm just tired of constantly picking up and cleaning up and barking at the kids to keep their crap picked up - and not allowing them to be kids and freely make messes (like cutting out paper snowflakes) without cringing and adding up in my head just how long it will take to clean up the remnants of their creativity.

So the long and short of it is... I'm tired.  And I'm over this.  It's time to get ourselves an offer and get this show on the road.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Platinum Pets

Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton's prize pooch, has nothin' on our Platinum Pet...not after this weekend's excitement, that is.  It's kind of funny/sad - I tend to ridicule people who drop oodles of money on the care and grooming of their pets, saying things like 'it's a dog people!' or 'it's a damn cat!'  Funny how wisecrack statements like that always seem to come back and bite me in the ass.

So one of our two family cats, Juna, is an old lady by any measure.  The cat just turned fourteen - at our best estimate - seeing as she was recovered/rescued from a parking lot by my former housemate sometime in 1998 and the vet at that time estimated her age.  But even if you give or take a few years, we're still talking about a cat that is well over twelve years old - making her the equivalent of somewhere between 70 and 80 human years old (according to calculator cat - which by the way - WHY is there such a website as calculator cat?!?)

ANYWAY - surprisingly, the cat is very healthy.  Happy, sweet, kinda sassy at times, but overall a good pet.  And I think we've done a good job caring for her - despite the fact that the cat never goes to the vet unless there is something seriously wrong - like the time she vomited profusely all over the house - prompting a night-time visit to the pet ER for what turned out to be an $800 hairball.

Saturday evening, after a full day of running around and going non-stop with the children (with no nap for any of them I might add), we return home so I can start dinner.  I'm in the kitchen, children are in the den and I hear 'ewwww, Mommy, the cat pooped!'  I immediately go in to find all sorts of grossness all over the carpet, the couch, the back of the couch cushions.

(insert sigh)

So I suspect it's Juna - because the night before I noticed that she was moving kind of slow and looked a bit unkempt - her fur was kind of dingy and not fluffy and shiny like normal.  I picked her up to see if I could determine the problem (she's a long-haired cat so at first glance she appeared fine) and my hand felt something soft, something squishy, and something wet and oozy right near her bottom.


I turned her over to see if I could figure out what it was - and didn't look long to realize something was terribly wrong.  And yeah - I'm sure I started to overreact and hyperventilate a bit - while trying to maintain composure in front of the children.

Thankfully my awesome sister-in-law agreed to come over right away to watch the kids so I could cart the cat off to the pet ER.  Surprisingly, we were seen fairly quickly - and the vet agreed to keep the cat overnight to run the battery of tests to determine exactly what the problem was so I could go home and relieve my sister-in-law.  At first guess, the vet thought it was some sort of abscess on her female cat parts.


So I leave the cat - after forking over $574 for the diagnostics they would perform and some pain management so the cat would be comfortable during said examination and await the call from the vet that comes in around midnight with the news.

Are you ready for this?

So apparently the cat had a clogged anal duct.  What in the hell is an anal duct and how does it become clogged?!?  I still don't know, but apparently it's not un-common - especially in old cats.  It abscessed - so they had to clip the cat's hair and tail (leaving behind a naked cat ass and half a bushy tail) and clean out what is now a gaping wound about 3" in diameter (I stopped her when she started telling me in descriptive detail what they cleaned out) and give her a lot of pain medicine and antibiotic injections.  To the tune of another $280.  And instructions to come retrieve the cat by 9 am the following morning.

I gather the children the following morning - bribe them with the promise of donuts after we get the cat so I can get them all in the car - and we go collect Juna - which was an adventure in and of itself as my three offspring decided the pet ER was the perfect place to act like freaking monkeys and jump off the furniture, climb on the exam tables, and completely ignore my telling them to sit down and zip their lips.

I get a package of information of how to CLEAN THE WOUND - because I'm expected to deal with that nastiness at least twice a day, the name of a special kind of cat litter we have to use for several weeks until the wound stops draining and closes (so the litter won't get in the gaping hole in her ass and cause infection), and another type of collar to get to go around her neck so she won't be able to lick or chew in the wound. (Because the ER grade collars don't do crap and the cat managed to get it off within seconds of them putting it on.)


Oh, and by the way, they also detected a heart murmur - and recommended that I take Juna to a cat cardiologist to discuss methods of treatment.  The cat cardiologist?!?  The what?!?  And I need to be sure to remember to discuss this when I take the cat to her 'regular' vet on Wednesday for a follow up.  (Regular vet is a bit of a misnomer - as I said - my cats don't go to the vet on a 'regular' basis and they aren't up to date on vaccinations.  But hell, I've done something right, the cat is fourteen years old and I haven't managed to kill it yet....)

So we get the cat home - get her established (sort of) in the basement - which is to be her new home until all of this heals - because God forbid I do NOT want anymore 'drainage' all over our house.  And then head out to the pet store - where we drop another $200 on said supplies (which also included two types of cleaners to deal with the mess on the upholstery and carpet - one to deal with the stains - the other the smells - but I'm happy to report I think it's all fresh and clean.)

Finally we return home - get the basement as clean as possible - get the cat(s) settled - because both animals have to reside full time in the basement  now - I refuse to have two litter boxes and food/water bowls set up in the house - and all is well.  Sort of.  Sterling (the other geriatric cat at age twelve - who is now on arthritis medicine by the way) now HATES Juna.  I'm not sure if she's freaked out by the weird haircut or the cat collar thing or the smell of the cat from being in the vet ER - whatever - she keeps hissing at Juna and running away.

Oh well.  They can figure out a way to co-habitate in their place of sequestration.

For now - I'm trying to figure out just how I ended up spending $1K on a cat - an old geriatric cat - that we'll most likely have to find a home for when/if we ever move to Virginia.  Or how I can justify an $800 overnight stay for myself, ANYWHERE, so that I can get a break away from all of this craziness.

Hell, I'd settle for a $69 room at the Motel 6.  Rats.  Oozing cats.  Monkey behaving children.

I'm all full up of crazy for this week.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Oh, Rats!

Oh, Rats.  And I don't mean that in the figurative sense, as in darnit, dangit, dangnabit, drat, darn, or shucks.  I mean that in the literal sense, as in vermin, rodent, creature with no purpose I can think of on the evolutionary scale.

See Exibit A

Looks, cute, right?  Little furry guy, all nestled in fluffy goodness, cuddly and cozy.  Perhaps.  Just not in my attic.

Apparently our house is infested with these critters, along with numerous squirrels and an opposum for an added measure of fun.  How did I discover this lovely situation?  Long story - but I'll try to keep it short.

Deonne has been battling squirrels at our house for the better part of the past year.  I'm not entirely sure why they decided to attack our home and take up residence in our attic - but they have - and have done everything short of knocking on the front door to invite themselves in.  By that I mean they've ripped through screen mesh in the attic eaves, chewed through the corner of the eaves, and even gone so far as to rip up shingles to chew through the attic boards to get in and hide their acorns and other miscellanous loot.

Probably breeding up there too, I'm sure. 

Oh, we've heard them scurrying around, have had roof damage and leaks from their chewing, and seen insulation snowing down on the lawn where they've poked their way through.  So Deonne has taken up arms (literally - armed with an air gun) and traps to deal with squirrels in the attic.  Along with continuing to seal obvious places of entry - he/I thought the problem was solved.  Sort of.

And then around Christmas - I started smelling something fishy.  Something gross in the master bathroom.  It wasn't totally toxic - it would just come in whiffs here or there at first.  However, as the days passed by - the smell worsened.  Deonne tried his best - climbed around in the attic above, searched high and low, shone a flashlight around - to no avail.  Time marches on - he returns to Virginia - and I'm still left with a stinky bathroom.

Great way to market a house, no?

So somehow Deonne has connections to a 'wildlife' expert (a.k.a. critter removal guy) who comes over with two technicians to assess the situation.  After sticking cameras down the walls of the house from the attic, searching around, and finally poking holes in the bathroom wall - they discover the smell.  I was certain it was one of Deonne's nemesis - a squirrel that had met it's demise and somehow become trapped in the wall.  You can imagine my shock when they came downstairs and asked 'uh - do you have some plastic grocery bags?  We gotta bag up the rat.'

Excuse me - the what?!?

The RAT.


And then the situation become even more appalling - when they went on to explain that there is evidence of NUMEROUS rats residing in our attic.  They suspect they had been there for YEARS - probably there when we moved in but we never knew.  Because the previous owner had a lot of crap in the attic - and we followed suit - packing it full on moving day.  And no - we never poked around in the insulation when we moved in - who does that?  I assumed it was all fine - isn't that what we paid the home inspector for? 

Well now thanks to our adventures with the POD - the attic is clear.  Nothing up there except the upstairs AC unit, insulation, and apparently a whole host of rat crap.  And squirrel crap.  And also opposum crap.


So thankfully it's being taken care of now - and they assured me that we're not getting sick from the piles of rat feces all over the place - it's not in the air system - and unless we were up there playing in it we're fine.

But still.

I'm creeped out beyond measure.  And I totally have the creepy-crawlies.  There's FREAKING RATS right over our heads.




So now they're trapping and killing and removing the rats and miscellaneous vermin - and upon removal will patch up all methods of entry - then take up all insulation from the entire attic - sanitize it all - and put down new insulation.

I wonder how much that's gonna set us back.

I'm sure someday I'll look back on this and laugh and say 'remember that time we had a gazillion rats living in our attic?'  No - wait - I'm not sure I'll ever find this funny.  It's too beyond gross for that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


You know how when you're sick you have restless, fitful sleeps - the kind where you wake up in a cold sweat, disoriented and unsure of your bearings on the line between dreamland and reality?  I've had those kind of sleeps the past few nights.  What I was certain was the dreaded flu turned out to be an upper respiratory infection - but still the cause of seemingly fever-induced tossing-and-turning nights.  As one who already suffers from insomnia issues - sick nights like these are typically the worst.

However, when I woke up in the dark of very early morning today (just after 3 am), I have to admit that I didn't want to cross that line into being fully awake.  I was having the most wonderful dream - and if it was fever induced or antibiotic induced or fighting said infection induced - I would gladly be this sick - if only for that moment when I thought all was right in my world.

You see - in my dream - I had mustered up the courage to face my stepfather - the gatekeeper to my mother.  I walked up the sidewalk to my mother's front door - and before I could raise my hand to knock - he opened the door.

My voice caught in my throat - and I was terrified of what he would say.  But he smiled.  And opened his arms wide.  And pulled me into a warm embracing bear hug - the kind that only daddy's and step-daddy's can give.  He simply said 'we've missed you' and led me into the living room where my mother was.

She was in her wheelchair - with her back to the wall of windows - facing me - with her arms also widespread.  Her droopy smile was wide - in fact, she was grinning from ear to hear.  I ran to her and dropped to my knees and put my head in her lap.  She wrapped her arms around me - and smoothed my hair - the most comforting feeling that I've ever known.

I looked up at her - and we both had tears in our eyes - and we knew - we both knew without saying a word - that the hurt and the disappointment and the anger that had kept us apart was gone.  Dissolved.  I was my mother's daughter again.

And all was right in the world.  My heart was complete.

And then I woke up...tangled in my sheets, and damp with sweat.  Deonne went back to Virginia yesterday evening - so I was alone.  I was completely disoriented as to the day, the time, where I was, who I was.  But as reality began to seep in as I blinked at the red numbers on my clock - all I wanted to do was crawl back into that dream.  Into that place where I was with my mother.  My mommy.  Where my step dad had managed to let go of his anger and his hurt enough to see that I've never stopped loving him - or my mother - and that I've been the same person all along.

And although I quickly shut my eyes and pulled the sheets around me - trying to get back to that place - the efforts were futile.  It was gone - just beyond my reach.

I allowed a few tears to fall - and then drifted off to another fever-sick-induced dream - of what I have no idea.  But that early morning dream still haunts me.  Every time I close my eyes or sit for a moment - I am reminded of it - and can almost feel my mother's hand on my head - or my stepfather's warm embrace.

It brings me both joy and sadness - feeling/remembering the deep bond between my mom and I - yet knowing it is beyond my reach.

Hoping and praying that in 2013 - the rights can be wronged and the barriers dropped so that I can be a part of my family again - in reality and not just my dreams.