Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christmas Songs: The Ones I Could Do Without

The Christmas Season seems to start sooner each year.  This year we not only have "Black Friday", but "Gray Thursday" and even what I like to call "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Wednesday".  The artificial trees at Wegmans started going on display before Halloween.  My daughter was outraged, and I admit I'm more than a little bit proud of that.

One thing I do like about jump-starting Christmas is the music.  I love Christmas Carols.  I would listen to them all year long if my husband didn't adamantly object.  He puts his foot down for so few things that I have to oblige.  I love that WARM 101.3 started its annual Holiday Gift of Music early.  Nothing makes me happier than a good Christmas song.  I feel the need to stress "good" Christmas song.  There are several Christmas songs that I feel are horrible and I turn the radio off when I hear them.  I don't even just change the station, I turn the whole thing right off.  I dislike them that much.

So, here's a list of songs that just bug the bejeebers out of me.  (Spellcheck doesn't like the word bejeebers.)  Now, I know that some of the songs on this list are on the Favorite Songs list for other people, but this is my blog, so tough noogies.  If you don't agree, write your own blog.  :-P

1.  Political Songs:  I really don't like political songs.  I specifically object to Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon.  First of all, Xmas is a pet peeve of mine.  It's Christmas.  Jesus doesn't sign his name with an X.  And taking Christ out of it doesn't change what the season is all about.  Secondly, even as a small child the lyrics "war is over if you want it" seemed ridiculous to me.  A boy in grammar school once threatened to punch me in the face.  I firmly believe that if I had responded with "Hey, man!  War is over if you want it," he would have punched me right then and there.  Also, Yoko Ono is the worst. 

2.  My Grownup Christmas List:  This song also falls under the category of "Political Songs" as does any song that tries to get me to think.  I don't listen to the radio to think about stuff.  I listen to it to stop thinking about stuff.  I can think about how horrible the world is all by myself without Natalie Cole reminding me.  The Michael Buble version is the only one I can even remotely tolerate, mostly because the sound of his voice makes me fall asleep.

3.  Christmas Shoes by Newsong:  This song makes me hate Rob Lowe's handsome face every year.  I blame him for perpetuating this super sappy song with the equally lame movie he starred in on the Hallmark channel.  I don't like songs that try to manipulate my emotions.  They are usually met with fury rather than compassion.

4.  Warm and Fuzzy Time of Year by Billy Gilman:  I don't know exactly what it is about this song that makes me feel... uncomfortable.  Maybe it's because the home economics teacher in high school used the phrase "warm fuzzies" all the time and it really creeped me out.  I don't know.  Plus, it's in way too high a key for most people to sing along.

5.  Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer:  When this song first came out when I was a kid I thought it was hilarious.  My cousin and I quickly memorized the entire song and sang it repeatedly.  My Grandma hated it.  She was deeply offended at the suggestion that she would wear a blue and silver wig.  Like I said, it was hilarious when I was a kid, but like many things of my youth, I just find it super annoying now.

6. The Twelve Pains of Christmas:  This song is literally just a list of complaining.  (The irony that this is a list of things I don't like is not lost on me.  I'm just ignoring it.)  Things are never really that bad and certainly not all at once.

7.  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas:  If this seems like a strange one to have on the list, don't worry, it's a little strange for me, too.  Judy Garland sang this song in the movie "Meet Me In St. Louis" in 1944.  It's a lovely little tune and very sentimental with hope for a happier future.  The reason it is on the list is because of my Dad.  He once told me that when he was on the U.S.S. Enterprise during the Vietnam War they would play this song for the men.  It made him feel sad because so many of those men would never see home again.  Every time I hear this song I think of all the men and women who will never see home again and how thankful I am that my Dad was not among them.

8.  Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg:  This song is terrible.  The guy sees a girl he used to know in the grocery store, hides behind the frozen foods and then touches her sleeve.  I realize he needed to rhyme something with "Christmas Eve," but "touched her on her sleeve" is just incredibly creepy.  If someone who has just been hiding behind the frozen foods in the grocery store touches me on my sleeve I can guarantee you that my fist will be touching him on his eye.  End of song.  Also, the two are considering adultery, which I'm glad they resisted, but they split a six-pack of beer in a parking lot and then drove home.  Super classy.

So, that's basically it.  If you want to bug the heck out of me then call the radio station and request any of these songs repeatedly.  Just so you don't think I'm a total whiner, I'm going to also post my favorite Christmas songs.  :-)

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Blog Because Twitter Isn't Big Enough

I've been really horrible about writing.  In fact, aside from the extensive five-page packing list for our trip to Disney World this summer, I haven't written a darn thing.  Not even a grocery list, thanks to my new iPhone and the Wegman's App.  I thing the Wegman's App is my favorite thing about my phone.  That, and the Fart Cushion App.  Yes, I have the sense of humor of a ten-year-old.  Farts and Falls will always make me laugh.  The truth is, I'm having trouble figuring out how to use the new phone and wonder why people wait in long lines for such devices.  It's a phone.  It makes phone calls.  It also lets me post things to Facebook whenever I think of them, which is turning out to be a double-edged sword.  Sometimes I need a little extra time to filter my thoughts.

I've been insanely busy lately, although if you ask me what I've been up to the list is very short and unimpressive.  I'm not really sure why I feel so busy, all I know is that my son doesn't have any more shirts in his drawer and I'm sitting on the couch catching up on my blog instead of doing laundry.  Terrible guilt...  

I would love to have this Auto Pilot in my car.
I would probably get lost less often.
Anyhow, life has a habit of catching up to you and I'm pretty sure it will just overtake me if I don't make a point of slowing down and looking at where I am and how I got here.  I seriously have no idea how I get to most places.  The other day I was driving to work and I kind of went into auto-pilot.  I'm sure you've done that before, right?  No?  Just me?  Okay, well I went into auto-pilot on the way to work.  I was rockin' out in my minivan while Mandisa sang Good Morning to me.  I pulled into a parking spot and it wasn't until I got out of the car and locked the doors that I realized that instead of driving to work, I drove to the Christmas Tree Shop.  At that point, what else could I do but go in to buy some fall dish towels and some Thanksgiving napkins before heading to work?  Fifteen minutes and thirty-five dollars later, I left the store with several bags and headed to work feeling proud that I had only spent thirty-five and not fifty or seventy-five.

Em's Dance Party
I've fallen behind in practically everything.  My daughter's birthday was in September and only this past weekend did I finally get around to having a birthday party for her.  One of the moms said to me, "What a lovely party!  You're such a good mom!"  I decided to relish in the compliment and not tell her to hold on to the Mother of the Year Award because my kid's birthday was nearly ten weeks ago.  Yeah, some things are best left unsaid.  On the plus side, since I was planning my middle girl's birthday so late, it was nearly my oldest daughter's birthday so, for the first time in her nine years, Mya will actually have a birthday party pretty close to her actual birthday!  I got her party invitations out a full two-weeks in advance!

While I've been feeling technically deficient lately, I decided to open a Twitter account.  My Pastor has a twitter account.  So does C.S. Lewis, and if a dead guy can figure out how to use Twitter, then so can I... I think... probably not.  The point is, I can now legitimately type things like #goinginsane and #cantfindmycarkeys, although I have no idea why I would say #anything.  I'm also curious as to why it is suddenly called "hashtag" instead of "pound sign" as I have always known it to be.  I mean, when you're stuck in an automated phone call it doesn't say, "Press hashtag to talk to an operator."  Although, I'm sure that day will come because there will be a whole generation of idiots who think that it's actually called a hashtag.  Those are the same people who don't realize that this, &, is called an ampersand.  Anyhow, I have a Twitter account.  I have yet to tweet a darn thing, mostly because I hate learning new technology.  I'll probably master it once everyone has moved on the the next new thing, which has probably already happened, but I don't know about it because I'm a totally old lady who resists technology.  Plus, I don't think I will ever really be able to share my thoughts in less than 137 characters.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Big News

So, after a very long wait we're finally going on a family vacation... with the entire family!  Me, Mike, the kids, my Mom and Dad, my sister, her husband and their three kids.  All twelve of us are headed down to good ol' Disney World this summer!  We've been planning it since January, but just told the kids this weekend.  Here's how we told them:

The Reveal...

Yes, that was my very own snazzy Photoshop work on the last picture.  Luckily we went to Disney on our Honeymoon almost 11 years ago, so I had a picture of the castle handy.  :-)  That, by the way, was the last time I was on vacation.  Here is the kids reaction after seeing the video.

The Reaction....
(If you really want to watch this, skip to the 1:50 mark.  My favorite part is Mya doing the Cabbage Patch in the background.)

So, it's going to be a really fun time.  We are Disney novices, so if you have any tips or tricks for having a great Disney vacation on the cheap with kids (all six of them!)  then leave a comment.  We can use all the help we can get!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm a Maniac... or, The Mouse in the House

Have you ever thought you saw something out of the corner of your eye, but when you look there's nothing there?  Well, that happens to me on a daily basis.  Mostly at night.  I usually think I see bugs crawling across the carpet or up the walls.  It's disturbing, but something I've learned to live with and generally ignore.

On Monday night I had another seemingly similar experience.  We had been sitting on the couch watching TV (okay, I admit that I was actually laying down.  Having three small children is exhausting!) and we were about to get up to go to bed when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  The shadow I saw was larger than normal, but I ignored it as I usually do.  Until Mike said, "What... was that?"

And then we saw it.  Plain as day.  A small brown mouse ran from behind the box we keep DVDs in and skittered underneath the entertainment center.  It quickly made its way to the hallway and scampered underneath the fold in the runner that we have never been able to smooth out.  I would like to say that I kept my wits about me, that I moved calmly and formulated a plan to evacuate the mouse.  But if I did I would be a lying liar who lies.  I freaked out.  I don't know why, exactly.  I mean, it's a mouse, one of the many creatures on the planet that, I am told, is more afraid of me than I am of it.  They look so cute in pictures, balanced on the end of a blade of wheat with its long, slender tail wrapped around the stalk.  But when you're up close and personal with one in the sanctity of your own home, it's a vicious creature that's out for blood... and pretzels.

Once we got something to trap the mouse in I began to slowly pull back the rug so my husband could catch the fiend.  This did not work well because as soon as I saw its little head poke out and look at me with its beady little eyes I dropped the rug and the darn thing skittered under the hall closet door. 

The freaking out continued.  Over the winter we had gotten into the terrible habit of tossing the hats, mittens, gloves and scarves randomly into the closet, mostly landing on the floor.  In truth, it was not so much my habit as that of the other four people living in the house.  I simply gave up.  The thought of this stinking creature crawling all over my winter outerwear creeped me out right down to my toes. 

My husband reminded me of his father, the fire fighter, with his cool, calm, even disposition.  He wasn't panicking in the slightest bit, but calmly began to take items out of the closet one by one, making sure that our tiny visitor wasn't hiding inside any of the folds.  I would normally have stopped to appreciate this aspect of his father's personality showing in him, but I was too busy blaming him for putting the scarves and hats on the closet floor in the first place. 

The hallway filled with the junk that had been on the closet floor.  If a fire had broken out we would have all been doomed.  The front door was completely blocked and since the closet door was blocking the closest window, there was no way of escape. 

Unless you're a mouse.  It suddenly flew out of the closet like a shot.  I screamed, "Mouse! Mouse!" While my husband yelled back, "Where?!? Where?!?"  "It's under your legs!  Don't you feel it?!?"  "NO!! WHERE IS IT?"

At this point, the mouse had made its way through my husband's legs, around the back of the closet door, and squeaked through the door jamb and back into the closet.  The entire time, my feet were moving like Jennifer Beals' in "Flashdance", but with less poetry in motion and more panic induced motion.  I cried out, "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"  I briefly worried that I was using His name in vain, but quickly realized that it was a desperate prayer to God Almighty to deliver me from the tiny, furry enemy that was now hiding deep in my closet.

As my husband crawled deeper into the closet I repeated questions, "Do you see him?  Did you catch him?" while my feet continued to move.  I was sweating with anxiety.  After what seemed like hours, my husband emerged from the closet with the beast contained in our make-shift trap.  I grabbed a flashlight and we headed out into the dark night to release the mouse in the neighbors hideous wood pile from which, I believe, it came from in the first place.  The freaking out continued as I considered the many creatures who could be lurking in the darkness, raccoons, skunks, attack owls.

I like to think that this trap would actually work.  :-)
Once I got back into the house, I hit Facebook for advice on my predicament after scrubbing my skin, the floor, and putting all the scarves and hats into the laundry.  I needed to know if there were going to be more mice.  I couldn't sleep knowing that there were more furry little creatures roaming around my house, nibbling on my breakfast cereal while I'm in bed.  Facebook proved to be a terrible idea, with most people telling me that there were most certainly more mice to come and that I need to set traps right away because they breed like crazy.  My favorite advice, by far, was from my friend Andrew who suggested I half-fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and black sunflower seeds and lean a 3-foot plank with a trail of seeds on it.  The idea is that the mouse or mice will follow the seed trail to the top of the plank and unwittingly jump into the bucket of water and drown.  Of course, then there's the what to do with a bucket full of dead, wet mice?

The answer to that question doesn't really matter, because we set traps the next morning.  I'm happy to report that after several days there hasn't been a single mouse sighting.  Although, I was sort of looking forward to trying Mouse-Ka-Bobs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Adventures in the ER

Boys are weird.  This is a statement that I have held firm to since I was a little girl.  It was always my observation that boys were weird, and nothing in the past thirty years has swayed my opinion.  Especially after our most recent adventure this past weekend. 

I dozed off on the couch on this past rainy Sunday afternoon because the kids were playing Star Wars Legos on the Wii and it's totally boring to watch.  I don't know how long I was asleep, but I awoke to two very alarming things.  The first thing was the image of Michael Jackson dressed as a scarecrow.  Apparently, The Wiz was on Bounce TV and the kids took to it.  As if that isn't frightening enough to wake up to, moments later Jack began to scream louder than I have ever heard him scream before.  He kept pointing to his nose and saying, "It hurts!  It hurts!" 

Now, nothing had happened.  They were all sitting on the living room floor completely entranced by Richard Pryor's portrayal of the Great and Powerful Oz.  Frankly, it creeps me out, but whatever.  The kids were not even moving, so he didn't get hit or bump into anything.  It took several minutes for us to figure out what had happened.  Jack shoved the Incredible Hulk's head up his nose.  Yes, you read that correctly.  He shoved the Incredible Hulk's head... up his nose.  It was stuck, and it was bleeding.

I tried to call the pediatrician to find out what to do in a situation like this.  There's just no training for "when you're kid shoves a superhero up their nose."  And even if there was, I would probably skip it because what is the likelihood that my kid will shove a superhero up his nose?  There was no answer at the doctor's office, so we decided to just take him to the ER.  While helping him put his shoes on, Jack sneezed a really wet and disgusting sneeze all over the top of Mike's head and he stopped crying for the first time in ten minutes.  We wondered if the sneeze ejected the Hulk, but a quick look with a flashlight confirmed that the superhero was still there.  I guess it just moved into a more comfortable position.  At this point, Jack's nose was beginning to swell.  I was panicking inside, but trying to stay calm.

We loaded the kids into the car and I called my parents house to let them know we were on our way to drop the girls off.  No answer.  I called my mom's cell phone.  No answer.  By the time my dad answered his cell and told me they were at the store I was really panicking and yelled something like, "We have an emergency, so you need to get home fast to watch the kids!"  Then I hung up.  In retrospect this was incredibly rude, and for that I apologise.  Sorry, Mom.  Sorry, Dad.  I wasn't really thinking about the parts I was leaving out of the phone conversation.

Jack had fun playing with the bead table and watching the fish.
Once that got worked out, and the girls were explaining to my parent's neighbors that their little brother shoved the Hulk's head up his nose, we were on our way to the hospital.  The entire time I tried to distract Jack from sticking his finger up his nose and pushing the toy further up.  This turned out not to be an easy task.  The hospital has a separate Pediatric Emergency Room that is pretty cool.  (Thanks, Tom Galisano!)  It has these big glass tubes with lights and bubbles and little plastic fishes swimming around in them and several tables with those wire and bead toys.  It was a very happy little place, and we were the only people in the waiting room.
Okay, so I took my hands off my face
for a second to take this picture.
Before long, we were called into the little exam room.  They tried several things to try and get the Hulk out of Jack's nose, but finally got him out using those little forceps that look like scissors.  He did not enjoy this experience at all.  Neither did I.  He screamed in a way that I hope I never hear again.  Mike had to help hold him down because I was very busy covering my face and trying not to cry on behalf of my poor little baby boy.

After a minute or two of trying, they were able to pull the Hulk out of Jack's nose.

He was not at all pleased with this experience. 
My poor baby had blood running down his face.
Although, he was fairly interested in what had come out of his nose.
It's the top of Hulk's head.  Really, just his hair.
But it's still far too large to be shoved up one's nose.

After the ordeal, the hospital staff gave him a popsicle and everything was as
right as rain.  When we asked him why he shoved the head up his nose he said,
"I was trying to get out some boogers."
Well, sure... that makes sense...
Here's what's left of the hulk.  His rubber face is missing most of the back half.
"Hulk smash Jack's buggers!"

My girls never did anything like this.  I never had to bring my girls to the Emergency Room and they never tried to shove anything up their noses.  This is the closest any of my girls have ever gotten to shoving something up their nose.  It was unsuccessful.
We call this photo "Moink" because that's what Mya said when
she tried to shove the bunny up her nose.
Mya - 18 months old
So, boys are weird.  My opinion stands firm.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Month of May

May was a rough month.  And not just because my hair is inexplicably falling out in clumps.  A dear family friend passed away very unexpectedly and another is in hospice care while we await the terrible phone call we're all dreading.  Several of my friends are having babies and I am smacked with the reality that I will never be able to have another one even if I want to.  Life, in general, has just been fairly stressful.
I'm sure Mayim and
I would be BFFs if we ever
met. But my love of bacon
would likely come between us.

But this morning I was inspired by a friend of mine.  Okay, she's not really a friend of MINE.  I've never actually met her, but I follow her blog and feel, as I do with Mayim Bialik, that if we were ever to meet we would get along splendidly and be the best of friends.  Yes, I'm a bit of a stalker.  I hang out with people under 4-feet tall all day long.  Sometimes reality gets away from me.

Anyhow, the inspiration:  She reviewed the month of May and posted a bunch of happy pictures of her family.  It seemed like she had a really great month.  She traveled a little and smiled a lot with her family.  I know that life isn't always happy and wonderful but when it's not, sometimes we just need to look at all of the pretty pictures and pretend that it was always happy until that's all that we remember.

So, here is the retrospective of the Gallagher Family's Month of May 2012.

The girls had their dance recital.  One of my children is a fairly good dancer.  The other has a really good time dancing.  We try to be supportive and not to judge.  Cartwheels are hard.
Emily (5) and Mya (8) posing before their dance recital.
We went to the Seneca Park Zoo several times this month.  We have a membership, so I'll often take my two little ones out in the morning after putting their older sister on the bus.  We're usually home in time for Emily to catch her noon bus to Kindergarten.  Usually.

Emily and Jack love to sit on this log.  It must seem really high up to them.
I never realized how big the Sea Lion is until little Jack was standing next to it.
This is just an absurd way for a wild animal to sleep.
We also went to the Syracuse Zoo.

For about four days we had a pair of ducks visiting our front yard twice a day.  We would feed them bread and they would hang out for a couple of hours before waddling down the street somewhere.  We don't know where they came from or where they eventually went off to, but we had a good time visiting with them while they were here.
The ducks let the kids get pretty close to them. 
I made a cake made out of bacon.  That's right.  A cake... with bacon.  It was awesome.
Bacon cake is a beautiful thing.
We planted our vegetable garden in May.  It seems to be doing alright so far, as long as I can keep the squirrels from digging up the plants.  We planted peas, beans, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, carrots and pumpkins.  We also planted a grape vine and some asparagus seeds.  The asparagus takes two years to grow.  I don't know if I can hold out that long.  It seems like quite a commitment for a vegetable.

Peas, Beans and Lettuce in my little garden.

We set up our little pool in the backyard.  There's a great deal of satisfaction that comes with finding each and every tiny pinhole that has mysteriously formed in the inflatable ring while it was stored safely in the box over the winter.  We inevitably miss one and discover 200 of the 500 gallons of water flooding our yard the next morning.  But it's always worth it on a muggy August afternoon.

Practicing for when there's water in it.

Allowing them to "wade" in the pool until it was
filled turned out to be an ill-conceived plan.
We also spent some time at Bill Grays.  My kids are fantastic.

After this picture they decided to make goofy faces.
My three goofballs.
My beautiful Mya.

My precious green-eyed Emily.

My handsome Jack.

We also went to Seabreeze.

The girls got to dance on the stage with their dance teacher.  It was fun.

They are very serious about their moves.

And Memorial Day was epic...

So, when I look back at May 2012 I won't focus on the loss of my dear friend who was like family.  I won't recall that between the time that I wrote the first sentence of this blog and this sentence, I received the horrible call that my friend in hospice had passed away.  I won't think about my hair falling out, or the fact that I can't have any more children.  I won't think about our financial troubles.  I won't remember all the troubles because I will just look at all of the pretty pictures and pretend that it was always happy until all I remember is the smiling faces of my beautiful children and how much fun we've had together.  After all, God didn't promise me that life would be easy.  He only promised that He would get me through it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Veggie Garden and the Grim Reaper

Nubby Carrots
I finally got around to planting my vegetable garden this weekend.  Or, as I refer to it, the raccoon buffet.  For the past couple of years I have gotten increasingly organized with the garden.  I plan out what I'm going to plant and where it's going to go.  I jot down lessons and tips I learned from the previous year and make changes the next year.  For example, last year taught me that I should not plant the onions next to the beans because the beans block the sun and cause the little onion plants to mold.  I also learned to place the carrot seeds instead of sprinkling them even though it's really tempting to just sprinkle them because the seeds are like tiny specks of dust.  When you sprinkle the carrot seeds they grow way too close together and you end up with tiny little carrot nubs.

Little Lucy Scarecrow
protected our garden bravely.
Last year I had a big tray of seedlings that I started weeks before it was time to plant outdoors.  Everything was labeled.  I even made little signs for the garden and put up a scarecrow.  It was a perfectly lovely little garden, even though the raccoons dug up my corn to eat the peat pots they started in.  We had fresh, home-grown potatoes and yummy peas and beans.  Even the kids ate their veggies when they got to pick them fresh from the garden.  It was great.

Dr. Two Brains and his ray gun.
This year... not so much.  I started some seeds in the little "green house" on my porch, but soon forgot all about them.  They didn't get watered and shriveled up into little brown twigs.  A couple of the more hearty plants survived my lack of attention, so I stuck them in the ground.  We planted some corn, beans, peas, onions, carrots and parsnips. Yeah, parsnips.  The kids picked that one out because of an episode of Word Girl where Dr. Two Brains uses parsnips to power his ray gun to turn gold into potato salad and potato salad into cheese.  It's complicated.

I also finally planted the grape vine that my Mom and Dad gave me for Mother's Day and some pumpkin seeds that were labeled "Jack-Be-Little Pumpkins."  How could I pass that one up?

I'm not enthusiastic about this year's garden.  Not only because I got a late start, but because the morning after planting, I found many little nose and paw prints in neat little rows right where all the seeds used to be buried.  Now, I can't really tell how much those stinking critters actually ate until things start sprouting... on not.  Either way, I'm feeling kind of bummed out.

Also, I saw a street sweeper slowly pass my house this morning and ever since I've had this little ditty stuck in my head.

I fear my veggie garden is dancing with the Reaper.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Lawn, The Weed Hound, and Crocodile Dundee

Mike mowed the lawn this afternoon, a chore we both have been actively ignoring for quite some time. Mike really hates doing it because, when he was a kid, he ran a summer business where he would mow the lawns of practically every neighbor on his street.  He got paid well, but it pretty well burnt him out.  Also, our yard is huge and our lawnmower is old and temperamental.  I've tried several times to do it myself, especially in the summer when Mike is gone 14-hours a day, but it is not a self-propelled mower and I just don't have the strength to push it through the jungle we call home.  We realized that we absolutely had to get to it this past weekend when the kids successfully played hide-and-seek by crouching down in the long grass.  Yeah, we're those neighbors.

Now that the grass is short, the weeds are very evident.  They look all scraggly where there should be smooth blades of grass.  Fortunately, I have this handy lawn tool called the Weed Hound.  It's essentially a claw at the end of a long metal pole, but it works great!  You stick the claw in the center of the weed, step on the little handle to push it into the ground, give a little twist, and it pulls the whole weed out by the roots.  Viola!  You can check the Weed Hound out in action here.  It's a really great tool. 

Now this is a knife!
I'm not paid to tell you how great the Weed Hound is, although maybe I should be.  I just remember back to the days when I was a kid.  My parents would weed the garden using a knife so big that it would make Crocodile Dundee run in the other direction.  We would spend countless hours cutting out weeds from the ground and many more trying to soothe our blistered hands.  During breaks, Dad would teach us how to throw the knife so that it lands sticking straight out of the ground like it does in movies.  This is something that is harder to accomplish than you would think.  But I became quite good at it and I am certain that if things get desperate enough, I can join the circus with a knife throwing act.  In retrospect, teaching a ten-year-old how to throw a knife seems like a pretty dangerous practice, but in our family, we like to promote ethnic stereotypes, so as a good Italian, I know my way around a knife.  Anyhow, the Weed Hound makes quick work of the weeds, and I'm thankful I don't have to cut them out of the ground with a knife anymore.

Beware the
steaming divot!
The downside to the Weed Hound is that it leaves a little hole.  Now, this isn't really a big deal if you have a few weeds here or there.  But I've quickly discovered that we have more weeds than actual grass.  As I remove the weeds, it's starting to look like we have gophers.  There are so many divots that I'm considering having a party where my guests will wear fancy hats and replace the holes with sod like they do at Polo Tournaments.  I don't actually know if they really do that.  Everything I know about Polo I learned from that one scene in Pretty Woman.

So, the lawn is mowed, the weeds are in the process of being removed, and we now look more like responsible home owners.  Just don't look to closely at the paint job on our garage door.  We haven't gotten to that yet...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Back Pain

My back hurts.

It's been hurting for quite some time.  I had x-rays taken the other day and the doctor reported that there was degenerative damage in several places on my spine.  I can hear grinding every time I turn my head from side to side. 

I've been dealing with the arthritis in my body since I was fifteen years old.  The pain and the immobility is nothing new to me.  I've been on so many different medications over the years that I can't even name them all. 

I don't tell you this to obtain pity or sympathy, only for you to fully appreciate my situation.  Despite the fact that the doctors have always told me that I can't do any sort of aerobic activity, I've been successfully, although somewhat clumsily, been participating in a Zumba class for over a year.  My joints sometimes ache and swell, but I keep pressing on in spite of the pain.

Lily Tomlin is "The Incredible Shrinking Woman"
I have dealt with the swelling, the pain, and the weight gain for more than half of my life.  But here's what has made me mad.  At a recent appointment the nurse measured my height.  I have shrunk a quarter of an inch!!  I am outraged.  I made the nurse remeasure me three times.  I was in total disbelief that I had shrunk.  Shrinking is what old people and Lily Tomlin do and, while I'm no spring chicken anymore, I don't think I'm exactly at the point where I should be shrinking!  (I have also not been exposed to any unusual combinations of household cleaners that might explain my situation.)  I'm already vertically challenged and consider every inch I have as a precious commodity. 

The realization of my vertical descent has moved me to action.  I am considering going to a chiropractor.  I can already hear my mother yelling, "Nooo!"  at the computer screen.  We were raised to have an sure and undisputed distrust of any person who has a "Dr." before their name but no "M.D." after it.  In short, I was raised to believe that art of chiropractic care is largely hokum.  I look at chiropractors with the same mistrust as dentists, with their fluoride treatments and tooth whitening systems. 

However, a friend of mind from high school is now a chiropractor.  I respect him and his practice, so I am ignoring all of my instincts and considering calling his office.  Up until this point, the closest I've come to a spinal adjustment is having a tall person stand behind me and, while I cross my arms in front of me giving myself a bear hug, they pick me up off my feet by my elbows.  I'm sure that's frowned upon in the chiropractic community, but it does lead to a satisfying cracking sound.

This is my nightmare.
Before I go to the chiropractor I need to find out if there is any nakedness involved.  I am a very shy and conservative person.  I am uncomfortable being undressed to any degree in front of anybody.  I tolerate medical professionals seeing my skin, but really try to avoid it as much as possible.  I get through it by reminding myself that it is very clinical.  But if I go to see my chiropractor friend, it won't seem as clinical because I know him.  Quite honestly, I did not perfect the art of changing from my clothes into my uniform in the back of the Lancer Band bus in high school without exposing any part of myself to the peering eyes of Ed Robinson just so that I can disrobe in front of Joe Manza twenty years and three C-sections later in a well-lit exam room. 

But this is how desperate I have become.  I am willing to go to a chiropractor, not so much to alleviate my pain, but with the hope that somehow, if my vertebrae are stacked correctly, I will regain my lost quarter inch. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It has come to my attention that April is not only National Poetry Month, but also International Guitar Month, National Frog Month, and Stress Awareness Month.  This is fantastic news since I frequently have trouble thinking of things to write about.  Now I have at least four topics to choose from.  Yeah!

So to kick things off, I thought I would submit for your reading pleasure a selection of poetry written by yours truly for my high school English class.  I always loved English class because I could write all sorts of crazy stuff and the teachers would just eat it up!  Except for Miss Wells.  Miss Wells did not find my quirky writing style at all amusing.  But my English teacher from 3rd period in 1992 loved it!

So, here it is.  The assignment was to write a parody of a famous poem.  I chose Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven."

The Raving (Mad)

Once upon a morning pretty, as I'm feeling kinda' witty,
Cracking jokes about some book of really weird forgotten lore --
As I sat there, being funny, suddenly there came my buddy,
Saying that he's going to study, study for a high test score.
"It's and easy test," I muttered, "of which you want a high test score --
Study this and nothing more."

Startled at my bitter tone, and the way I gave a groan,
"Doubtless," said he, "you don't know just what you're for,
Caught in some bad situation along with the whole nation
As you stand by the bus station to buy chicken from the store!
Buying chicken from the frozen counter in the grocery store.
Buying that, and nothing more."

My teacher's comment was "Terminally weird!  I love this!"  I got an A+.  This was, by far, my favorite class in high school.  Where else could you turn in something like that and get an A?  Poor Poe is spinning in his grave.  I would have written more, but mocking a great poet is exhausting.

I remember writing this one while sitting on the bleachers watching my boyfriend at track practice.  I honestly don't know why I was there.  Watching people run in circles in the cold is not my idea of a good time.  Plus, as I recall, it was pretty windy that day.  He must have been my ride home from school.  I don't remember ever going to the track ever again.  Anyhow, here's the poem I wrote.

Feet pound hard on the
    black gravel
While the sharp wind
      through the bodies of men
      to beat the competition in blue.

That's just how I wrote it on the paper.  All scattered like that.  Mr. WhatsHisName loved it; thought I was a real deep thinker.  Oh, those were the days!

For my final poem, if you could stand to read this far down, the assignment was to write a really terrible poem.  No problem!  I clearly excel at this!

The Puppy

I had a little puppy.
His fur was soft and brown.
He got a little jumpy,
And he ran into the street and got hit by a humongous Mack truck.

Frog playing a guitar.
Okay, so technically it's a banjo, but it fulfills the rest of the criteria
for International Guitar Month, National Frog Month, and Stress Awareness Month.
After all, Kermit the Frog playing a guitar... what's more stress relieving than that?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Candy

A friend of mine mentioned the other day that he believes the Easter M&Ms taste better than regular M&Ms.  I have very strong feelings about this and my husband, unfortunately, falls on the opposite side of the argument.  This is a big cause for contention in our marriage. 

Any chocolate connoisseur will tell you that, first of all, the red M&Ms taste the best.  Secondly, holiday versions of any kind of candy always taste better.  My husband disagrees and insists that I am simply falling prey to a marketing scheme.  I disregard his argument because he also makes statements like, "I'm not in the mood for chocolate."  I know those words, but that sentence makes no sense.  If I'm breathing, I'm in the mood for chocolate.  I honestly don't even need to be awake.  Seriously, I have eaten cookies while sleep walking.  It's a real problem.

Holiday themed candy always tastes better than ordinary, run-of-the-mill candy.  This also applies to Oreos with the special colored filling.  An Oreo always tastes better with robin-egg blue or sunny yellow filling in the Spring, red or green in December, and orange in October.  My husband can claim any kind of marketing blabidy-blah that he wants, but I know better.  I know that it really does taste better.

I have a gift for candy.  I was once at work talking to my mom on the phone.  Suddenly, I heard a distinct sound in the background.  "Did someone just pour some M&Ms into a glass bowl?" I asked.  Indeed, my sister had just gone into the kitchen and poured a satisfying pile of candy into a bowl.  I also was able to detect, over the phone, mind you, that they were peanut M&Ms.  It's a gift... and a curse.

Chocolate that is won as a prize is also more delicious.  When I was a kid I entered a contest in the Irondequoit Press and won a 3-foot chocolate rabbit from Stever's Candy Shop.  It was one of the three things that I ever won in my entire life.  Truly, anything from Stever's is a win.  My husband recently bought me (well, us) a box of dark chocolate orange bark from the charming little chocolate shop.  (By the way, for someone who has to be "in the mood" for chocolate, he sure did pound it down!  Guess he was in the mood!)  While the orange bark was scrumptious, there was something especially satisfying about eating the chocolate that I had won, the chocolate that I obtained by defeating other children.  It was the spoils of competition.  I could taste the victory, and I liked it!

Possibly the only thing that tastes better than candy that is won, is candy that is stolen from your children when they aren't looking.  I know how that sounds, but I don't care.  Candy is not good for kids.  I like to think of it as providing a service for them that keeps them from over eating and making themselves sick.  Any parent knows that a mini Twix bar discreetly pulled from a Halloween bag tastes better than one you just pick up in the grocery store check-out lane.  I guess it's the thrill of the hunt.

Even after my very solid arguments, my husband is not convinced there is a difference.  He can think anything he wants, as long as he doesn't mind being wrong.  Besides, that leaves more pastel M&Ms for me.  :-)