what i did on my summer vacation

More accurately….what I did on my kids’ summer vacation.

We spent 95% of their vacation doing absolutely nothing fun.  Nothing more than what we usually do – swim and watch TV.  Please, contain the enthusiasm.

So we decided this past weekend to do something fun.  Anything.  At great expense, of course, but overlooking my panic of bills versus fun, I guess it was worth it.

Friday we took them shopping for a “reasonably priced” outfit (thank you Ashleigh for the saying that’s stuck) and new shoes (yay to husband who works for a shoe company which means discount, discount, discount!!)  Despite my great love of all things retail (heavy sarcasm inflection) I survived.  An hour at the shoe store, largely due to Ashleigh who spends a great deal of time making sure she has just.the.right.thing.  It took the other four of us surrounding her in boxes of shoes before she settled on a pair I’d pointed out 45 minutes earlier.  Grr…  I fainted at the receipt, even seeing how much we’d saved.

Then it was on to Khol’s for said reasonably priced outfit.  An hour later (again, thanks to Ashleigh) the kids walked out of the store a really great outfit each.  I had to steal the clothes from their rooms today to sneak the outfits into the wash before they started walking around on their own.

Alyssa showing off her clothes

Ashleigh & her "reasonably priced outfit"

Friday night we tried camping in the backyard.  Bought obscenely large marshmallows for s’mores.  The s’mores were so large we sort of had to lick the marshmallow out of the sides before they dripped (and plenty dripped).

No, really, they were BIG marshmallows

We tried to sleep in the tent.  The dogs loved being in outside, with the whole family in one place and Macchi slept really well despite all the wrestling and pillow slinging and giggling.  Around 1am we realized no one was getting any sleep, Tyler’s mattress had deflated several times over and we headed back in to the house.

tent wrestling

We debated forever about where to go Saturday.  After the clothes and shoes (despite their reasonability) ordeal, we wanted somewhere cheap – and that’s hard to come by.  We hit Centerfield Park which offers mini golf, go karts, batting cages and bumper boats.   We started with mini golf and moved on to the batting cages.  It was frustrating for the girls but I could have stayed in the cage for hours.  We set the girls loose on the Slick Track and after watching and laughing at them figured they were going to come off the track vowing never to go on again.  Alyssa, who I thought would be the nascar driver was driving sooooo slow, careful around the turns, getting out of the way of others.  And my ever-careful Ashleigh had a fiendish look on her face, hauling ass.   They both came flying out of the gate praising the experience.

Alyssa finally getting the hang of it all.

Then it was off to get ice cream and home so Todd and I could collapse.

And that’s the summation of what I did on their summer vacation, lol.

School starts in just over a week.  YIPPEEEEE


voicemails from teenagers

message received Wednesday, June 23, 2010 :

Jennifer should call Tyler back.  Because Tyler needs some Febreeze.

Because he just smelled his lacrosse bag and thinks he might die.  Yeah.  And his room is getting kind of stinky.

Okay.  Love you.  Bye.  Call me back.



Having cheese with my whine (actually, I did – for dinner I had a cheese sandwich and some baked Doritos)!!

I am certainly not having the week from hell.  I’ve had worse.

But typing the last job I was trying desperately to cram in before 1am (so it would go on today’s pay and not tomorrow’s – not that it makes a diff when it comes to the paycheck, it’s just a thing I have) I was falling asleep as I typed.  Not because it was boring (it was) and not the falling asleep where my brain actually shuts off and my eyes close and I drift away (I do that frequently while working) but my body actually told me to screw myself and decided it was done.  Such a weird feeling.  One I do not like.  One I might have liked (did like) in my younger days.  But not now, not when I feel de.cide.ed.ly older than 34.

Ashleigh picked this week of all weeks to attend camp.

So?  What’s wrong with that?  What’s WRONG with that is that when I set my schedule up two WEEKS ago, I chose to work until 3am.  What’s WRONG with that is that she has to be at camp at 9am.  What’s WRONG with that is that I have to be up by 8am to get her up (and me up) to get her there by 9am.  What’s WRONG with that is I’m sooo afraid I’m going to oversleep my alarm or fall asleep with it in my hand (it’s my cell phone) that I don’t sleep – at all – because I’m up every five minutes to make sure I haven’t slept more than my allotted 4 1/2 hours.

And of course this week is THE week – THAT week – the GIRLY week and this week decides to be the worst/heaviest/most painful week ever in the history of girly weeks.  Of course, the lack of sleep and increase of stress could have something to do with that …maybe.

And my parents are leaving Sunday and that sucks.  My mom is like my best friend and you know, I really kind of dig my dad since he retired and isn’t all stressed out and stuff now.  And I want to cram all my free time (insert laugh here) into their time HOWEVER – they are busy.  I’m busy.  I’m too tired to be very good company.  And they’re going to be gone FOREVER and it sucks and bet your ass I’m whining.  I talk to my mom every day.  And I hate cell phones.  I hate cell phones in the mountains where they’ll be.  The reception sucks.

And now I have to try not to kill HER flowers as well as my own.  The pressure is enormous!

I need a caffeine IV bag.  I can’t drink enough of it, I’m trying.  My body is rebelling.  I just have to get through 2 more days.  2 days.  I can do that.

It’s bad when your TEENAGER tells you to go to bed because you look like crap.  Silly naive child.

So, while I go back to work – here’s a song:

me the gardener? pshaw.

Pretending to be a gardener has taken over my life.

I spend so much time standing and squatting in the front garden that I’m thinking the purple things don’t grow because they’re scared of my butt.  But I’m relentless on the weeds and deadheads.  I hate the purple Salvias so much I contemplate “accidentally” stepping on them or blaming their permanent demise on the cat that prefers to nap in the corner of the garden.  I have one pot of flowers that were injured in the move from store to my house and one Salvia has thrived, so much that the plant is three times taller than the gorgeous ones my mom’s got going and the flower is a really bright purple.   But instead of killing the other, ugly, short, stumpy, insolent flowers, I simply loaded them with miracle grow potting soil and am doing my best to keep my hands off of them.

I almost got in an accident the other day driving into my neighborhood because I was more focused on a neighbor’s flowers than the car coming at me.

I want one of every plant the grocery store (yes, the grocery store – what?  It’s not like I go anywhere else) has to offer in the front of the store.    I contemplate the seed display each time I pass it.

I’m seriously considering the removal of several trees in my backyard that I’ve previously fought so hard to keep standing in order to allow more sunlight onto my veggies.

I wonder if the dogs will be really pissed if I take up another section of their yard, dig up all the dirt and tack up another bright orange fence around it.

I search the interwebs for seeds, information, the best way to get things to grow.

I perused the aisles of a couple stores for garden decorations to the point of distraction today – and even said, out loud, that I thought they were cheesy, chintzy, tacky…but might look cute poking out from the violas…

violas and coleus

while scouring my brain (and google) for the name “coleus” I ran across this:  *drool*

I’m considering starting a compost pile.

I instructed one of my outdoor cats that he was not, under any circumstance, to leave his post at the garden fence and gave him permission to kill, kill, kill anything that tries to cross the boundary.

I don’t think one of any plant is sufficient and I think possibly I should make a trip on the sly to the store and pick up another zucchini and cucumber plant.  I’m definitely considering getting another cherry tomato plant.

Todd thinks we’re going to be killed by a rogue watermelon plant in the middle of the night there are so many in what’s going to be named the “jungle” side of the veggies.

What’s ironic is all these seed plants will kill my stomach.  And I don’t even like or eat watermelon.

I’m pretty sure that during this, my virgin gardening expedition, with all my vast (err…3 weeks’ worth) experience, I should certainly next tackle the root veggies – carrots, taters, sweet taters – and I should do this soon.

It’s crawled into my facebook statuses and has become a major topic when talking to…well, anyone I talk to, it feels like.   I could totally strike up a conversation with a total stranger about potting soil, seeds versus plants and when to thin….I’d be completely ignorant, but I’d still have the conversation.

Yes, pretending to be a gardener has taken over my life.


In theory, I have a kick ass job.

Every morning after shaking the teen out of bed and shuffling the twins off to school, I get to sit at my computer – sometimes still in my pajamas (read: a T-shirt and sweats), no shoes, usually I haven’t even brushed my hair, just tossed it in a tie.

If my work is slow, I watch the morning news.  I read several newspapers online.  I facebook, I chat, I farm, I rob and level up.

I can do laundry while I’m at work.  I can clean up the kitchen, make dinner, dead head my plants, play with the dogs and pluck my eyebrows.

I’m home when my kids get home from school, I’m here all summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring breaks.   I’m here to help with homework, make sure everyone gets dinner, cleaned and goes to bed at a decent hour.  I can work when they sleep.  Yep, I have a great job.

Obviously neither the fingers nor the ears are engaged...the brain's checked out by this point, too

In theory.

Except that when I do all that – the laundry, cleaning, gardening – I don’t make any money.  I only make money when my ears and fingers are engaged.  I don’t often need to use my brain thanks to heavy repetition and Microsoft’s invention of the Auto Correct feature.

Except that I work ridiculous hours to get good hours (read: guaranteed jobs) usually from 9-3 and again from 7-12 or 1 in the morning.  Some nights, I just want to get in bed at 9:30 or not feel rushed to get everything done in a certain three/four-hour block of time.

Except that here lately, I’ve started taking work too personally.  My job has made me biased against the entire state of Texas as that’s where the majority of my CPS cases come from.  Rhode Island, New Mexico and Ohio – you’re next on the list.  I find that uneducated, slurring and idiocy are the norms, not the exceptions, when listening to some of these caseworkers.   I can take the varying accents; what I take issue with is the murder of the English language, disregard for basic grammar rules and complete lack of common consideration for the person responsible for transcribing these notes.    I take issue with case loads that have not been dictated since January or even 2009.

I take issue with lawyers (who, in my opinion are supposed to be smarty-pants) who cannot pronounce words they expect me to know how to spell.  I take issue with lawyers talking so fast that even slowing it down manually does not help.  That all goes back to common consideration.

I’ve found most recently that the more I type, the more I come to despise the institution that is the Department of Child Welfare.   Doesn’t really matter the state anymore.  Nor the circumstances, I’ve noticed.  I no longer side with CPS in the majority of cases (certain cases always stand out and make me want to hunt down some idiots who procreate).  But for the most part I loathe their existence.

Surely this must say something horrible about me.

That my feelings are unjustified doesn’t really matter.  (Really, I understand I see only a small handful of cases/situations in comparison to the country)  I’m burned out on this job.

Which only adds pressure.

Which only makes me hate this job more.

Which makes me dread those five minutes before 9am and 7pm when I’m logging in and settling in to type the same crap over and over again.

I’m looking for a different job but as school lets out in about two weeks, this is not the best time for me to decide it’s time to get out of the house.

Why can’t I just win the lottery?

whatcha listening to?

Andrew Belle – Make it Without You (no vid, just the song)

This is the starting of my greatest fear
i’m all packed up, getting out of here
but then you call and tell me not to go
that i’m the one who put the rock n roll
in your life

this is the starting of a brand new day
i never liked this town much anyway
i need this city like i need the rain
i know that somewhere there’s a north bound train

oh i’ll make it without you
and though my bodies laying here
it’s my mouth that must be lying now

this is the starting of my fall from grace
my self esteem, it’s seen better days
but you know i’ll never let this go to waste
i’ll keep this memory on the map i trace
back to home
my friends go out, but i’ve been staying in
i know i should but that’s the way it’s been
i never cared much for the taste of gin
i still don’t now, oh, but it’s been helpin

oh i’ll make it without you
in my life
oh i’ll make it without you
and though my bodies laying here
it’s my mouth that must be lying now

Venus Hum – Soul Sloshing (thanks again, Jay.  My kids hate me for how often I play this.  Therefore I dance and play it…a lot…just for that reason)

Muse ♥ – Uprising

My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

Audioslave – Like A Stone (esp. around 2:58)

The Fray – Never Say Never

thanks for the cooties

In case you were wondering, I am still listening to that song over and over and over again.  I’m slightly worried about that.

I hate being sick.  Check that, I hate having a cold/sinus infection.  I would take the pain and suffering of a Crohn’s attack over a head cold.  Does that make me a baby?  I just find it extremely unjustified that when my family lovingly passes the cold cooties on to me it takes me three times as long to recover from it.

It makes me want to cry that only half of my sinuses are so clogged and swollen that I can’t breathe.  I would rather share the misery all around my infected cavities than hog it all to one side.  I think it’s rude.  Oh, you can breathe out of your nose…one side of it anyways.  So I breathe through my mouth and then wake up with a sore throat that feels slick and slimy.

I cannot possibly blow my nose anymore.  Between the free head rush and randomly peeing on myself, I’m sure I’m one tissue away from a ruptured aneurysm.

I declined meds because of possible drug interactions until I could talk to my pharmacist and make sure that I wasn’t going to overdose.  Of course I wasn’t but I had to make sure – even if it meant yelling at Todd for laughing at me for being a total headcase.  Once I had the okay by my beloved pharmacist – I tried Sudafed and there was no improvement.  Then I took Benadryl and those just made me feel worse.

I slept in the chair last night so I could pretend to breathe while I dozed.  When I woke up, my spine felt shattered, my head hurt and I was clogged up – this time on the right instead of the left side of my nose.

And we all know that when you can’t blow out, you suck back so my stomach hurts from the gallons of snot I apparently digested last night in my sleep.  Let’s not even discuss the lovely cookies I’m hocking out of my lungs.

I hate being sick. This took Todd a DAY to kick, and I started feeling bad on Saturday night.   That means by this coming Saturday, I should start feeling better.  Damned compromised immune system.

randomly speaking…

  • this is what I’ve listened to like six seven eight times back to back now:
  • I was going to say I don’t know why but I do.  It has a peaceful, settle down now quality to it.  I could take a nap if my brain wasn’t going in seventeen different directions.
  • I think I’m average height at 5’4.  Not freakishly tall and not a shrimp (unless I stand beside my sisters).  So how come the super comfortable jeans I just bought in petite for monkey’s sake are too long for my stumps?

the helicopter graveyard

  • My dog gets more exercise napping than he does awake (which let’s face it, isn’t that often).
  • We’re trying to grow grass to the right of the backyard.  We lack the proper equipment to make the snazzy orange fence stand upright so we do what we can.  The dogs are not fooled by this fence until they get on the WRONG side of it and then they look at me and seem to say “What the — how the heck did we even get over here?  Now, how do we get back?”  We’re also having insane wind today and it’s a losing battle to keep the fence standing.  I give up.  It’s either going to grow or it isn’t.  This picture is usually seen with labels like “swamp” or “mudpit”.  Right now all that grass seed we’re trying to protect is insulated by a two-inch layer of helicopters from the trees.  grr.
  • If there’s something within a 5 foot radius of where I’m walking, I’m probably going to walk into it.

Really, this song is making me want a nap.


There’s a rule around here about slamming doors.  Slam it and I take it.

I hate taking the door.  Not because I hate robbing them of one, I just generally deplore the activity level involved in wrasslin’ the 6+foot slab of presswood from the frame by myself and lugging the stupid thing downstairs.  Really, I’m more pissed off by having to remove the door than I am by the actual slamming of it.

Which makes me think I should re-think the rule.

Right now, I’m letting the rule slide because Alyssa is mad at me.  She hates me.  She said this before she slammed her door…twice.

I won’t let her ride her bike up to the school with her friend and his big sister.  I don’t have a 9-yr-old approved answer why I won’t.

I let her walk home from school.  I’d probably let her walk to school.

I keep her fairly close to home otherwise.  In fact, of her own choice she rarely leaves our circle.

I won’t let her ride up there because I don’t trust her.  She rides off the circle across the street without looking too often despite my nagging.  She stands on her seat and lifts one foot off despite my cries of “oh my god Alyssa, wait til I’m not looking!”  I don’t trust that she won’t haul ass down the hill home from school/the park and fly across the street without looking or that she’ll practice some new acrobatic just to see that she can.

Of course, none of that is an approved “official” answer to Alyssa.

And God help me if I use “because I said so”.


I wish I knew who else I would have been.*

I wish I had drunk a little (lot) less during my first go at college and finished in Richmond though I know I had no idea what I was doing back then, 17 and a little loopy at the prospect of being out of my parents’ reach.

I was in Richmond to study art…do art…be creative…paint, design, doodle, sketch, make things pretty, cool, original…but I drank too much and who the hell suggested scheduling Art History first thing in the morning?  I don’t think it’s totally unrealistic to hold Hall of the Bulls responsible for the different path I would eventually take because the class was so damn early (and boring).

I wish I could see my other future, a la The Family Man.  Except of course I’d be Tea, not Nicolas.  The future where I gave up being an artist because of the coma-inducing classes you have to take to be one.  The future where, halfway through my second semester I would march into my counselor’s office and tell her that I remembered. That I remembered that the one thing I always wanted to be, the thing that came before, after and in between hopes of being a veterinarian, schoolteacher and singer (what?) – was a writer.

Please, stop laughing about the  singing bit.

I wanted to write in Kindergarten.   I wanted to write in grade school, junior high, high school.  I just never had the confidence to ever follow through.   As a high school freshman, I wrote a short story, pulled from small bits of my life at that suddenly dramatic age of 13/14.  My dad pushed me to enter it into a Seventeen magazine writing contest.  I kicked the idea around and even thought I would actually mail it off.  I then proceeded to nitpick it to pieces and still, at 34, I have every version and copy I ever penned or pecked off with the typewriter.

I wanted to be on the lit mag, the newspaper.  I was so ridiculously shy and the cool kids were on the lit mag and the newspaper.  I knew them but I wasn’t one of them.  My writing probably sucked anyway.  As a sophomore, I wrote a short story, an essay really about an old man and a hot dog cart titled “The Old Man” and submitted it to the Lit Mag.  It’s on Page 29.  But I remember how nervous I was just handing it in, and how many times I agonized over every letter of every line on the page.  As a senior, I submitted my college applications essay to the Lit Mag and it as well was published at the end of the year.  That was it for my mass publication career.

After my untimely release from higher education I tried my hand at living on my own as my parents left Virginia for Illinois.  I followed less than a year later and in less than a year after that I was married and picking out baby clothes.  I still wrote, but it was always for me…added entries to the journal I’d kept since the seventh grade.  To make excuses, young (19) married, a mother and broke doesn’t add up to a whole lot of opportunities to pursue any great writing career.

When the most interesting thing I put to paper usually consisted of “Tyler rolled over/walked/slept/talked/scratched his name into the side of Todd’s car with a rock plane (thanks, Tyler) today!!”…well you know what they say when you don’t exercise your talent.  It gets fat.   And lazy.   And wastes away.

Which is not to say I was never struck with the urge to write.  I was.  I did. I do.  I have folders and notebooks and computer files full of all kinds of one liners, paragraphs, chapters, ideas and a fair amount of utter gobbledygook.  But that’s all I have.  In the 17 years since my last official publication all I have to show for what I once wanted to be are some scribblings on scattered papers.  (And a lot of trees killed in the name of that book I’ve been writing)

“Don’t do like I did and not send your writing in, it’s good, ” my mom told me, even though she hadn’t read anything recent.  (Not that there’s anything recent to read)

But your mom has to love you and support you and nudge you and tell you that you can sing well enough to audition for American Idol even though you’re just going to end up one of the auditions that I can’t not watch and wonder who on earth told this person they could sing well enough to do this.  I should know, as a mother, it would be a mother.

But that book I started and a scattered handful of people read, they all liked it.

But they’re my friends and they have to.

Or this is what I tell myself.

So I’m left standing at the backdoor watching the dogs when a sentence comes to me and I think I should write that down but someone wants dinner, lunch or is trying to beat the world record** for repeating the word “MOM!”  Or I’m taking a shower and trying to write a blog in my head when something really good and interesting pops in and is gone before I can get out, dry off and find a pen that works, let alone a piece of paper.  Or I’m just lazy and think, well I could write…  And I’m then literally staring at the wall completely blank.

I wish I’d studied writing.  Not because I think you have to be formally trained in writing to excel at it.  In fact, I believe the exact opposite.  I wish I’d studied writing because then I would have gained a respect for utilizing what I have and what I love.  I would have learned some of the finer points, gained a foundation, learned to love my ability and watch it grow.

If my dandelion wish came true and I did get that peek of who else I would have been, then what?  Would I be a writer?  A good one?  A journalist, novelist, blogger?  Would you be able to find me on Amazon and download me to your Kindle?  Would I be happy?  Have eight furries to snuggle at any given time and three kids who are growing up too fast?  Would I be working on my 90th anniversary with my husband?

I’ll never know.  And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t give it up.

But it would be nice to peek.


*I love my kids, yes even when the boy is being teenagery and the girls are being preteenesque.   I love my husband even when I look at him and think holy crap we’ve been married for like 75 years already, and this blog in no way should be interpreted as stating anything else.

** There is no current world record for repeatedly saying “MOM!” I totally think my kids should enter.

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