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Friday, February 29, 2008

the plague, it burns

The sun came out, the birds were tweet, tweet tweeting and my girl? The one who hoped to go back to school Thursday?

She began puking in the wee hours of morning, feverish and sad.

We created a nest at the end of my bed, and Aunt Lori delivered 7-Up, curbside, while I unsuccessfully explained to Zack why we couldn't have a play date - despite the sunshine, despite the half-day. He was personally offended, missing his built-in playmate.

(Paint him dim.)

I stood in my backyard, the sun on my face, sick with cabin/spring fever; holding out for March.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

blogging for books (I am not a stalker)

Working at Borders had its perks: I could check out brand spanking new titles, to my little heart's desire. The company always sent boxes of oranges and apples to the staff during the holidays. And best of all, we got to read advanced reader's copies, which made me feel like I was one of those bright kids in class until I realized I was ahead in no meaningful way. Just spoiled.

Jenny-O - she warrants a post of her very own - somehow beat me to gods of Alabama when our copy arrived. She whipped right through it and pressed it in my willing hands, making me loyal to Joshilyn Jackson, evermore.

(Evvvermmmorrre. Yes, my obsession admiration was complete when I read Between, Georgia and then found Ms. Jackson's blog, Faster than Kudzu. So witty & smart & delightful. Nearly every day. I've morphed into the One Hour Photo guy, only without the murderous tendencies or creepy photos. Ok, I'm nothing like him. I'm Wonderbread crazy.)

So, when Dee the stalker of Dee's Book Dish announced she was using her bff status to give away a signed copy of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, to one lucky blogger, how could I resist?

I couldn't think of a book I'd rather win.



Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother make sure the very literal family skeleton stays buried or turning scraps of fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister Thalia, an impoverished Actress with a capital A, is her polar opposite, priding herself on exposing the lurid truth lurking behind middle class niceties. While Laurel's life seems neat and on track--a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in suburban Victorianna--everything she holds dear is suddenly thrown into question the night she is visited by the ghost of a her 14-year old neighbor Molly Dufresne.

The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is inexplicable--an unseemly mystery Laurel knows no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Only her wayward, unpredictable sister is right for the task, but calling in a favor from Thalia is like walking straight into a frying pan protected only by Crisco. Enlisting Thalia's help, Laurel sets out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about her family's guarded past, the true state of her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.


Available Tuesday, March 4th.

*****

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

my home girl

Day three of the Barkathon 2008: Non-stop coughing punctuated with chitchat about penguins and/or rabbits. We are an obsessive people - we, Miltons - but rarely over the same subjects, making it hard for me to keep up my side of the conversation.

I'm drowning in penguin pictures; fluent in rabbit factoids.

One might ask: Why don't you send her back to school? She sounds lively.

She's not. She's just meeting the prescribed tween girl word quota. It's built in the genetic code.

So, here we sit, waiting for Martha Stewart Living to air; something to quell her mind while I can't do the same for her cough.

cat nap

cat nap



Plain tuckered out. I bet you aren't...heh.

Go check out Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mount Barclay Project: reading, wRiting & rice

Sunday morning I set out to write a post, whining about cold tootsies and the search for cocoa the night before, selling girl scout cookies outside a grocery store. I still stand by the original sentiment: It sucked. It was cold. There was crying.

But after hearing two young men speak at church - one from Liberia, the other from Sierra Leone - I decided to not hit 'publish'. It just seemed tacky.

(I went on to post a bunch of frivolous pictures the next day, so I don't believe I will be winning a human rights award, any time soon.)

I want to pass the experience on; the wars in Africa made flesh. I don't know how. We have all heard it before. The genocide. The boy soldiers that walk in the shadows, traveling at night. The girls forced into prostitution, burdened with babies and STDs.

And I feel helpless in the face of such enormous problems. I want to turn away, because what can I do? One person.
Saah Joseph, Mount Barclay Project

I picked up the kids and the line at the PLAN Loving Adoptions Now, Inc. warmed my heart, gave me hope.

PLAN fosters open international adoptions, but they are also providing humanitarian aid to war orphans, providing medical care, food and schooling for thousands.

One hundred percent of the donations go to the school. My cynical heart doubts, so afraid of scams. But to do right, to maybe, just maybe, make a difference.
It's worth a shot.

Pictures from PLANS' website.


Monday, February 25, 2008

papparazzi

It was Oscar night and I was a little excited. So excited, that I kinda overshot the big hair thing.I think we can all be thankful I didn't have a swan dress floating around in my closet. I can't be trusted.





Bad Mom hosted a great party, even though she is not 100% better and she is bringing out my maternal instincts. (Please do take care. I mean it.)



And now I am off to brew some tea for my girl, the latest victim of the cough that keeps giving.

Friday, February 22, 2008

for our fallen brethern

Several of my favorite local bloggers are sickly right now; down right grounded. I myself had to throw away some perfectly good spring rolls after they were contaminated with fever spittle while eating lunch with Zack last week.

Glassy eyed classmate: I *cough cough* missed school *cough cough* all week, *takes a drag off his oxygen machine* but my fever is only 100 *passes out...revives* so I came back *cough cough* today.

He leans in to say something to Zack, over my lunch and hacks. Bye, bye lunch.

So, in honor of the ill among us, I've got some suggestions, to pass the time. Find yourself an able body and send them to Blockbuster, stat:

I picked this up on Tuesday and CAN'T WAIT to finally see it tonight. It's one Greg wants to watch too, but the guy gets up in the dark and leaves at 5 am each day, so any flick over 2 hours must be saved for the weekend. Yes, we are old(er). Hush. We settled for Lost last night...



Michael Clayton gets the nod, despite the fact that I was disappointed by this Oscar nominated show. I liked it, I guess. Meh. But George Clooney + Nyquil can't be wrong.



Remember when I bemoaned the cancellation of the Black Donnellys? I loved that show and wept when it was cut off at the knees while American Idol continued to fill the airwaves. Anyhoo, Ben Affleck's directorial debut filled that gritty empty spot. Casey Affleck was amazing, and the final scene stayed with my for days.

*****
So drink up that tea and get better fast. The Oscars are nearly here...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

cracking the books, little milton edition

It wasn't until I met Mr. Ford, that I gave math a chance. Most years, teachers would sniff out my bibliophile status and start baring their teeth; I was a lost cause.

Ford didn't try to convince me that I would in fact be using obscure math concepts in my everyday life as a bestselling author or minister in the church of Christ.

(Guess who is laughing now?)

We found each other amusing - he loved math and long distance running, kill me now - kept it light and I started getting perfect test scores. Me. Who knew?

I'm trying that approach when doing homework with Lexi is trying my patience. With a little help from my friends:




Tracy, from Being European-ey , sent Lexi this fun math book for girls, with recipes, and real-life applications that sneak the 'nasty' stuff in. Like those cookbooks.


Lexi's eyes grew wide - someone, in exotic CANADA - bought her a book.


We can't wait to put this bizarre curriculum aside and have some fun with numbers.


*****
After we drank tea, and put in our math time, we went through our stack of library books.
Zack went straight to the index of the insect book, looking up pupae. I asked him where he learned to do that and he raised an eyebrow and said: 'Um, you of course'. Poor boy looked stricken, worrying about his daft mother.
We then read The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Suess, aloud, because we all needed a dose of Cold War rhetoric before bed. I didn't remember Suess being censored so Zack scores points for bringing home a controversial picture book. Not easy to do.

And not to be outdone...

Lexi managed to spruce up her reading with a little sex ed. Now with sprites.

The world really is full of wonder.

Thanks Tracy for sending the math book. She was stunned.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

tangled up & twisted

This tree caught my eye. Need more eye candy, turn to Wordless Wednesday.
*
I also updated Much to My Sjogren too.

it may take more than 40 days, or 4

(Hear ye, hear ye: When taking a break from blogging - what a silly word - never, ever promise to be superwitty when you return. Shoot for the middle.)

It was an act of Providence, Lexi being a good hour away when I started combing through her room, lest I lose my lenten mind and choke my little hoarder. Wait. Did I say comb? I meant to say shovel. We helped a lot of people at Goodwill this weekend.

We broke away from the painting, repairing, and excavation for Happy Hour down by the river Saturday night and after waiting a while to snag a seat, we feasted on delicious bar food. A couple plopped down next to us, with two little tagalogs, preschoolers.

And because I was a motherless mother that night, I wasn't thrilled about their arrival, but I exercised some understanding - I have my kids with me all the time, so what's a few more over cocktails.

I must be parenting wrong because I don't start dinner out with a rousing, "Are you ready to raise a little hell?" Greg and I shot each other a look, because who in their right mind encourages the devil in their offspring? Ours find it on their own, thank you very much.

Soon, the boys were spitting ice through a straw across the table and IdiotAdultMan looked all surprised like when his glass broke, and lager dripped in his lap. (I'd like to take a moment of silence to think of the waitstaff.)

*****


I drove out to get my kids yesterday, listening to Water for Elephants on CD. They implied they wanted to live there, their lips saying just that. They have fruit trees, and acreage, and a Wii. How can I compete?

But I eventually pried them away and the four-day weekend came to a close.

I think this vacation thing could stick.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

presidential kisses

Today marks the start of a four day weekend, and it's the 100th day of school, and it is Cupido's day at the range. I am off to commemorate a hundred days of blog reading education at the school, but first I must lovingly bake pick up some fancy schmancy Valentine cookies, sure to keep the kiddies wound up until Saturday.

The sun is expected to make a guest appearance here in the land of raindrops and roses so I am taking a blog-vacation, scooting the kids off to their grandparents' house and making merriment with my hubby. (And painting the house, but that is not the sexy stuff you are supposed to mention on Valentine's day.)

I hope this cures my waning blog enthusiasm; I'm tuckered out. And resorting to bondage with unexpecting repairmen. Something must be done to remedy my plight.

I plan on reappearing Tuesday, refreshed and witty. Perhaps even super witty, just like the founding fathers intended, long long ago.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

that groundhog was wrong

Our garage door, it went kaplooey. Its spring went sprung and so I raced around this morning so I could get back in time for the garage door repairman, who arrived 15 minutes after the allotted 'you must be here' grounded time. Naturally.

Drat.

Before the spring-a-thon, I met with a physical therapist this morning for my neck. It refuses to budge from its fetal position. I talked all tough when I saw my dear friend Jen yesterday about how I am willing to do whatever I need to do to get all better and essentially sock this injury/arthritis in the gut, earning me the title, Brave Little Toaster.

I guess I figured I'd march in like Rocky and battle it out, like I did when I hurt my knee. But instead, the therapist stretched and massaged my sore neck until it felt like butter. On toast. Or a BLT.

(Now I've lost all of you, with my mixed pop culture references.)

I'd say something clever right about NOW, if I could think of a fitting way to end such a post, but I've got nothing.


(And so concludes Mama Milton's 'I don't have a picture for Wordless Wednesday' Wild Ride. The repairman shot me a strange look when I tried to rope him into posing for my post.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

puppy sings the blues

So my girl returned from her sleepover with two new passions: Overusing, and misusing the word 'Goth' and the desire to spend her Christmas giftcard on an iDog. Rightaway.

And while I deciphered goth to mean not babyish, little girl stuff - like her delicately pink bedroom, for instance - I kept the shopping trip at bay until Sunday afternoon, when I grudgingly made an emergency trip to Target to pick up her new pup.



Now, at first glance, this is my kind of dog, what with its perky ears and no-poop factor. Hollister (you can call her *Holli* if you like) prefers Love Me Do and the theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, passing the litmus test for good taste in the World According to Me.


I was making dinner ahead of time, for after the PTA board meeting, when I spotted the puppy, sitting on the counter. I couldn't resist. I fiddled with it and I sang for it; I talked to it and I even tweaked its tail, just so I could hear it growl.

(I'm a jerk.)


I went back to my dishes when I heard a loud yelp. And then it whined. And cried.

Lexi came off the bus, frowning; she detected a tremor in the Force. When the iDog is ignored, it becomes depressed and will only play the blues. You heard me: The iDog is programmed to develop a personality based on how well it is cared for. Like I need that kind of pressure. Like I need to live AI, the movie that haunted me for years.

By morning, Lexi decided to reset it, because all the loving in the world couldn't undo the damage, being mistreated by me.

If only Lexi could have it that easy. I think her future in therapy is going to be a tad more complicated.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

please give us the power to blow people's minds with our high voltage rock

We flip through the channels on any given night, and spot School of Rock on TNT. Because let's face it: They broadcast six movies, in rotation.

Me (fiddling in the kitchen): Oh, I'm not watching it. I'll be ready to go upstairs in a minute.

Greg (eating his nightly cookies & milk): Oh, me neither.

And then we are supernaturally sucked in, again.

I guess it's time to admit - with the Oscars just around the corner - that while I love a good movie, I can't resist Jack Black and his kiddie rock band.


Guilty, guilty pleasure.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

morning

Zack wanders in the dark; I gave birth to an alarm clock. He won't go play. He misses his sister.

Lexi spent the night with her newest, bestest BFF, a delightful little girl that would cringe at that description. (And may I add: Red hair. Call me Envy.)

I thought about her last night, with another family down the road. Up until now, she has always been with people I hang out with - family, family friends, Girl Scouts I've camped with.

And though there isn't any reason to worry, the house felt empty.

She is taking steps into her own world, where I will not follow.

Where did the time go?

Friday, February 08, 2008

exit evacuate exodus escape & now, EXCELLENT

This is my favorite t-shirt; I've had it for years. It's really a woobie.


E

I haven't quite figured out how to use my new tripod & focus. My camera outwits me every time.

I bought it when I was pregnant with Miss Lexi, although we just called her the 'bean' back then so really, I looked more like this:

no, not really
Isn't my hair scrunchilicious today? Don't judge.
Fine. I cannot tell a lie.



with a little help from pillows & towels

That's extra padding, folks.
When I went into labor on a Friday, we whispered 'Exit, Evacuate, Enter our world' as I walked around the hospital and then the mall.

By Saturday, I begged for Exoneration and perhaps, an Escape.

By Sunday, the 'E' on my bosom stood for Elation & Ecstasy when we heard: 'It's a girl!'

*****
My favorite Bad Mom and Daisy have awarded my humble blog with a mighty E for Excellent! I couldn't be more pleased. I'll wear it with pride, ladies. I'll wear it with pride.




*****


And my blog has officially hatched too. Thank you, kindly, Bradley.

(I have some awards to dole out soon. Excuse me while I ditch these pillows.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

lent, round two

I missed Ash Wednesday services yesterday, offered for the first time at my church this year. Or maybe they have been doing it all along, and I was too dopey to notice. I'm voting for all of the above.

The school decided to give my kids back to me early, so I could suffer in style, and I said yes to many playdates. Which goes to show some of last year's Lenten season stayed with me and I'm a tad less hermit-y this year.

Hooray for progress.

With that in mind, here's what I came up with, for 2008 (drumroll optional): Less hollering at the kids and continuing to eat right and exercise. Which sounds like bad New Year's resolutions, but better late than never.

So, what's up with the yelling? Well, I could come up with some fair excuses for my bad behavior and we could coddle my inner child for her undue sadness (read: absent hubby & soaring pain + developing smart mouths all around me) but really? In the end? I'm in charge of me and lately, I've been lax; my temper short. And this leads me directly to Lenten Law #2: If I eat right and take care of myself - like a mama really should - I might try deep breathing and use calm words, before launching into Banshee Mode.

I don't know if these things really count, I'm still a newbie to the Christian calendar thing. But when I go to bed at night, and recount the times I lost it with my kids - when I blew up at the 354th time they asked me why they couldn't stay up late or why pudding isn't a suitable lunch staple or why we have to brush our teeth when there's no school today or why we didn't leave precisely at 5:30 when I said we would and the calendar said 5:30, I'm looking at you, Zack - I'm ashamed. Surely I can do better.


And gentleness has got to be good for the soul.

the runaway

the runaway



I'm pining for warmer climes.

{Wordless Wednesday. Feast your eyes.}

I think Lexi would agree; that water is FREEZING cold. Yikes!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

and they update it weekly

Most of my drama over relocating has less to do with where we are going, and everything to do with leaving. Because I. Love. It. Here. Emphasis on the here.

Still, a girl's gotta face reality and when I am brave, I dip my big toe in and do a little recon on the area surrounding Greg's work, the two towns on either side of the I-5. I have stomped my foot and said from the start: I want to live in the funky, artsy, university town. But I started to wonder if I was being a snob, not giving the Simpsons' hometown a shot, so I found their online paper and immediately spotted a Crime Map.

Dear readers, I clicked on it and it lit up, Crime Pox everywhere. Like Starbucks, only these were crime reports. Scary, somewhat absurd crime reports that I am about to exploit for blog fodder purposes.

Let's take a look:

A caller reported that an intoxicated man was walking around the house with a fire poker.
Some were mundane.


A caller reported finding a zip-up bag containing drugs. An officer responded and discovered the bag was full of brown sugar. Some had seen one too many episodes of Cops.


A caller reported finding a man in his house. The man reportedly said "I've got your money" and fled with his black pitbull. Some crime reports were written in an unclear fashion. Did the unidentified man steal your money AND your dog, or was the dog an accomplice?

WARNING: SENSITIVE READERS, TAKE NOTE. SAD DOG REPORTS, COMING UP.

A witness reported that a man was aggressively kicking two pitbulls in the area. Both dogs were tied to a pole when the man approached them. A report was forwarded to the animal control officer. Ask Michael Vick if we are amused. We are not. I think a third of the crime reports mentioned pitbulls. Not kidding.

A caller reported that a chihuahua was caught in a trap he had set for rodents. The animal control officer was called to pick up the dog. It was unknown if the dog was injured. I'm going to choose to believe that the doggy is ok. But WTH?

A caller reported seeing three juveniles "smoking crack" behind a church. The suspects fled on foot as the caller was on the phone. Again, people, what's up with the meth? At church?

Clearly, my intuition was spot on. Tons of petty crimes + mean dogs + fights = Methtown, USA. I think we'll pass.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

superbowl rerun

Today's rerun is brought to you by Mothers Against Football. Or at least one Mother, ready to put football to rest, baby.


Prefunct: Meet friend for coffee, drop off kids and meet lady kin for chick flick. Grab coffee and bread amidst the pregame fervor. (Spoiler: coffee loams large this weekend.) Watch Greg drive away for his SUPERBOWL/POKER/MAGIC: THE GATHERING/CAM-IS-ABOUT-TO-BE-A-DAD fun weekend at the beach. (Yes, I said Magic: the Gathering. Our geekdom knows no limits.) Cry in my sleeve. Remember that the season is ending and feel better.

First quarter: Scrub bathroom; repeat 3 times. Sweep floors and rearrange pictures. Drink coffee. Leave a message on Greg's cell. Build K'Nex monsters with Lexi and Skylar. Worry about Zack in Damascus (not Syria) playing with Skylar's little brother, Kaden. Pray for their mother; she got the raw end of the deal.

Second quarter: Traipse through the park. Read 'Sacred Parenting' and make notes for Moms' community group. Take a bathroom break at Starbucks (park potties closed for the holiday). Return to the park; Greg returns my call. His cell found a signal while he was walking a dog, on the beach. Pout. Greg speaks of Lisa's absolute pregnancy bliss. Wonder if Cam is overstating her state. Remember that resplendent Lisa is my friend. Repress snarky feelings. Feel remorse and guilt over the 18 months of absolute crabby funk that marked my pregnancies.

Third quarter: Meet Jenny in Gresham to exchange babies. Refuse to eat at McDonalds. Wrestle Zack into the car where he promptly passes out. Fight bitter feelings. Crave something stronger than java.

Fourth quarter: Catch The Closer. Practice my southern accent and fold clothes. Make breakfast for dinner. Remember that I forgot halftime. Apologize to the Artist-that-I-am-not-sure-how-to-address; imagine he was dramatic and raunchy. Watch news crawl. Find out the score (note there were no wardrobe malfunctions). Check email.
Love letter
Smile. Do my own victory dance. Hum 'We are the Champions'. Embrace offseason.
(Beg meager readership to do the 'Hockey Lockout Dance'.)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

well, at least it explains why I was weepy & insecure yesterday

You know you're an optimist when you try to appreciate the female form, the uterus in all its glory, when you have cramps reminiscent of early labor, for it is a mighty mighty muscle, and where would be without it. Amen.

At least this is what I told myself, before self pity and general grumpiness poured over me, in the wee hours of the morning, when all was still and the rain came down.

Friday, February 01, 2008

these boots were made for walking

When I read that Cami Kaos has high blood pressure, and not just because of her mommified state, but the real deal, it got me thinking. Heart disease is scary stuff. I'm lucky. I have a slough of health concerns, but my heart is sound.

I want to keep it that way. I want to teach my kids to abstain from the salt lick. I want to do all I can to avoid my Grandma's fate.


So, I'm taking the challenge. I'm dedicated to working out at least three times a week this month. I'm kicking it off with 58 pounds of layers, moving my keister down the pavement.