Friday, August 31, 2007

Tennis, anyone?

Oh boy, I'm coming down right now from the excitement that is the U.S. Open. I've talked in the past about how much I love this particular tournament, and tonight was another ultimate example of why it is so great.

Although he's technically not the best American player out there right now, James Blake is my guy. And tonight, he won a big one. And I mean A BIG ONE. Huge. Ginormous. Monumental.

In the last few years, since his comeback from a variety of health issues as well as losing his dad, he has been one to generate some of the most incredible tennis on earth. In his career, he has had matches go to a fifth set nine times. And he has lost every single one. The most recent one that comes to mind was against Andre Agassi at the U.S. Open last year. I remember being torn about who to cheer for, knowing it was Agassi's last Open, but also wanting the opportunity to watch Blake play more matches in the tournament.

So tonight Blake played his second round match against a 34-year-old Frenchman named Fabrice Santoro. And in tennis years, that's like getting birthday wishes from Willard Scott. And this poor guy was hurting. He was cramping, or had a hip stinger, or something that had him hobbling on the court between points and getting treatment from the trainer during changeovers. But due to an insane number of unforced errors on Blake's part, the match stayed close, going to that ominous, daunting, monkey-on-his-back fifth set.

The stadium was electric. The crowd was un-shush-able. The tension and excitement suffocatingly thick.

And Blake finally pulled it off. The monkey is gone. Poor Santoro's gonna be hurting in the worst way in the morning, but major praise goes to him for hanging in there to see the match to its conclusion. Especially after having resigned matches in 2 out of his last 4 tournaments for health issues.

And true to everything wonderful about this tennis tournament, and the sport in general, the New York crowd were sure to give him his props, and their heartfelt gratitude for an extremely entertaining evening. And when the two players met at the net to shake hands, they had a rather lengthy friendly exhange before shaking hands with the chair umpire. It almost seemed to me that Blake could've been offering to help Santoro get off the court and into the locker room for some medical attention.

But Blake was definitely the man of the hour, and now I eagerly await his next match on Saturday against an Austrian named Stefan Koubek.

In fact, the hairbrained idea to hop in my Honda and head east to Queens, NY for the weekend has been planted in my head. Oh, how I crave to be a part of that late-night crowd, yelling myself hoarse, sharing my rush of adrenaline with the thousands of other fans, and even the players. I've been known to do wild and crazy things like that before, but that would be a bit much.

But oh....the temptation...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yeah, whatever, Eric.

In the spirit of one of the greatest rivalries between American universities, I must fire back at Eric and his little gloat about Texas a&m being ranked #1 in some strange, and by default, highly questionable ranking from Washington Monthly.

I recently came across this article from the Houston Chronicle. While it declares that UT has lost its#1 ranking as Biggest Party School, taking the long and shameful slide all the way down to #3, (and I especially love the headline labelling it as 'former party school' due to this demotion), it also states that it has been determined by a survey conducted by The Princeton Review to have the best career and job placement services for its students.

From the article:

Lynne Milburn, director of the UT's Career Exploration Center, said students have access to "very personalized and professional services" starting early in their collegiate careers.

Students also appreciate that, as the state's flagship university [emphasis added], "the best recruiters are coming to hire UT students. They have access to higher quality job opportunities," she said.
So basically, what this means is students who attend The University of Texas are indeed so smart, they can party like it's 1999 and still get outstanding grades to be recruited for stellar careers upon graduation.

I wonder if the Co-op is planning on resurrecting the t-shirts that were abundant around campus while I was there that say, "I go to UT... Someday you'll work for me."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Adventures in Babyproofing

Whew, I finally got that baby gate installed at the bottom of the stairs this morning. And what an unbelievable ordeal that was! I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier, and I just don't feel like going back right now to check, but I ended up not installing the one I bought months and months ago. It was one that mounts directly into the wall with screws, and as I was reading the instructions, I discovered that the gate wouldn't fit properly if the bottom mounts were to go into a baseboard. And the bottom edges of each stair is nothing but baseboard. Great.

So Sunday afternoon, I shlepped all the way over to the baby supply store and bought a pressure-mounted gate (along with some serious IB-spoilage). Without having measured the width of the staircase beforehand. So I get the gate home, and realize there are gaps each the size of the Grand Canyon on either side of the gate when I stand it up at the bottom of the stairs. I get online to see if they make an extension for this particular model of gate, and they do.

Skip to Monday. The boys and I head all the way back over to the same store and pick up one of those extensions. For the paltry amount of $14.99. With the extension, the gate should just be wide enough to fit properly.

WRONG! It's still not wide enough. The RK and I had decided to go out to eat to celebrate the IB's birthday, so back to the baby store we went before dinner. I picked up yet another gate extension, making the whole gate mechanism set me back $80 plus tax. Boy, do I feel like a shmuck. The gate is up, fully functional, though...

...which I discovered another problem with having this gate up at the bottom of the stairs. My good-for-nothing, lazy, annoying cats. Their litter box is upstairs in the laundry room. And they don't jump that high. They won't jump over this gate. They won't even try. They'll sit at the bottom of the stairs, whichever undesirable side of the gate they're on, and moan and wail until I come open it for them. So not only did I shell out enough money for this gallderned gate that would pay for more than five months' worth of the live feed of Big Brother 8, I now must leave it open when the IB's not in free range mode for those pesky felines. (Don't you love my sense of priority? And yes, I realize that a season of Big Brother does not even last five months.)

Now I must tell you about dinner last night. We had decided to go eat a big ol' steak at Outback. As we exit the freeway, we notice that all the traffic lights are out. So we pull into the shopping center where the restaurant is, and sure enough, the whole strip is black. Even the other plethora of stores across the street from this shopping center were in the dark. So the restaurant was closed, needless to say. I search for 'steakhouses' on the handy-dandy GPS, and nothing nearby jumps out at us as appealing. So I punch up the 'all food' heading, and a really cool bbq/sports bar-oriented restaurant known as Damon's comes up. And it's far enough way that I can be reasonably certain they have not fallen victim to this blackout, but still only about a 5-10 minute drive from our current location. So off we go...

And the RK instantly fell in love with this place once we were led to our table and he discovered that we had our own little speaker for the TV which could be tuned to any one of the four channels airing on the ginormous projection screens taking up an entire wall of the dining room. I've never seen this kid so excited! And now to place the cherry on top of this sundae of dining nirvana -- the waiter told him that Wednesdays are kids' night. Kids' meals are only 99¢, and instead of ESPN and FSN on the TV's, it's Cartoon Network and Nick. I thought he was gonna go into fits and convulsions of excitedness. It was really quite amusing. He's definitely circling a Wednesday sometime very, extremely soon on the calendar to take advantage of this. And actually, I'm looking forward to taking him. It should be fun, given that I love cartoons, too. Except Fairly Oddparents. That show annoys the heck outta me. Now some good ol' Looney Toons on Boomerang would be just the ticket for me.

We both ordered steak (and I love any restaurant that has steak on the kids' menu), and savored every bite. Even the IB wolfed down the teeny tiny pieces of steak I prepared for him. He cried and fussed pretty much the rest of the time before and after we ate, but that part he definitely enjoyed. Maybe it was because by this time it was getting late (way after 8:00), but I've decided to blame it on the guy sitting on the upper level just above us smoking a big ol' nasty stinky cigar. There was another family sitting not too far from us that also didn't seem too pleased. P-U.

So that was what transpired on the IB's birthday. It wasn't as exciting as what his dad and his other family did for him...they all went to Chuck E. Cheese's, had balloons, hats, the whole bit. The IX sent me the pictures. So I'm feeling pretty lame about that. And hurt. And disgusted. I didn't even take a single picture yesterday. *sigh*

All right, this post is about to take me an hour to create. So that's enough for now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

One whole trip around the sun

Dear sweet Itty Bitty,

You took your exit from the comfort and security of my womb exactly one year ago today. And oh, how you've already changed so much! Your first days amongst us were difficult, trying, so scary. You came out of me in one fell swoop at 4:04 PM. And you didn't cry. To this day, I feel a sadness in my heart for not hearing that strong, healthy, gutteral cry from you. Because I knew that it was more than likely my fault. But eventually, I could hear soft little grunts coming from somewhere underneath all those doctors working feverishly to bring you fully to life. And I got to say hi and introduce myself; we got to see each others' faces for the first time.

You spent the first five days of your life in a big room with heartbreakingly sick babies for neighbors. You heard beeps, chimes, strangers' voices. You had a big ol' needle poked in your arm held in place with lots and lots of tape all over. You had little sticky things on your chest. And occasionally, a tube stuck up your nose. You even endured a spinal tap.

Even though my body was so tired & sore, the only place I wanted to be was by your little bed, holding you in my arms.

I remember how I loved to watch your little computer screen that was monitoring your heart rate, your breathing. Your father was often there, as was your proud new big brother. We would all take turns holding you for a little while. And I remember watching that monitor, noticing that only when you were in my arms, your breathing became so steady, making a perfect little zigzag across the bottom of the screen. Then you would heave a big sigh (and what a sweet little sound that is), and I'd watch that little zigzag jump, then go back to the regular, steady pattern.

You were such a tiny little thing, just half an ounce over six pounds. Your sweet little stork bite birthmarks between your eyes, under your right nostril. Such tiny little hands and feet. The nurses all just loved you. They couldn't get over how cute you were. And you were definitely the healthiest baby in there. How my heart ached for the babies who had been in there for weeks, or even months before you arrived. And for their parents.

I hated not being able to bring you home with me, hated leaving you in the care of people who just didn't love you as much as I do. But you fought; you proved to those doctors and nurses that there was really nothing wrong with you, and you wanted to go home.

Oh, what a difference a year makes! You are so, so different today, and I can't get over it! Today you are a healthy, happy, super-energetic little guy, with a smile that can melt even the hardest of hearts. You have this amazing personality, this amazing twinkle in your little blue eyes. You are self-assured, tenacious, precocious. You are healthy. You are so beautiful.

You certainly didn't come into a world I had hoped you would. This first year of your life has been the hardest I've ever had. But I can't imagine how I would've gotten through it without you. And I make you this promise right now: it will only get better from here! This family has a lot of hard work in front of it, but I know that there are blessings awaiting us that we can't even imagine.

The happiest of birthdays to you, my dear Itty Bitty. I just don't know what I'd do without you.

Love always,


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Unloading zone

Boy, do I get bogged down by my surroundings when my boys are gone. It's like I can't stand looking at all the same crap in all the same places around me, only reminding me of all the housework that needs to be done, and how I just don't want to do it. I decide something must be done about this before I'm completely buried in the negative thoughts and feelings of failure & worthlessness that are slowly, stealthily sneaking up behind me, ready to attack.

So my answer? Head to Panera Bread! They too have free wi-fi, ya know. So here I am in an almost empty café, with a wonderful, frothy decaf vanilla latte and my trusty little laptop, which, by the way, I paid off this past week. And without paying a lick of interest to boot. Yeehaw!

The only downside of this is that they close in less than half an hour, and I'm actually contemplating heading towards downtown Ann Arbor, where I know of another café offering free wi-fi that is bound to stay open later than this. And besides, I love downtown Ann Arbor. You just never know what you're going to see. The only thing that worries me is the lack of store-front parking, and let's just say that walking a block or two from the nearest parking garage on a Saturday night with a laptop in my arms doesn't sound all that appealing.

Yeah, OK...I'm not going. At least not downtown.

The IB's first birthday is Monday, and it's actually a source of those ill thoughts I mentioned earlier. Because I'm just not up to having any kind of celebration where I actually invite people over, but then I feel like I'm not doing enough to mark this momentous occasion. In all actuality, there's really no one to invite. First birthdays are usually reserved for extended family, of which I have none. I couldn't get my mom to come help me with the RK's birthday party, so I didn't even bother asking her if she wanted to come for the IB's. I'm thinking right now all I'm going to do is get the IB a little cake to make a mess out of, and the RK and I will celebrate with him. That just seems so incredibly lame, though! At least the IB won't care.

I'm also having a bit of a meltdown as the clock is rapidly ticking down to when I'm finally gonna have to jump back in to the world of the gainfully employed. And you have no idea how this scares the shit out of me, on so many levels. First and foremost, I absolutely, positively am AGAINST putting the IB in daycare. I can't stand the thought of it! And I certainly don't want to have to shell out for it, either! I've made up my mind that I need to have educated myself with all my options and have at least a basic idea of what I'm going to do for this by the time school starts back (Sept. 4). My first choice would be to find a nanny that would come to my home, instead of me having to take the IB to wherever. That way, if the RK gets sick and has to stay home from school, I don't have to miss work. And I don't know if this is true, but it seems that a nanny would be cheaper than a daycare center since there wouldn't be any overhead to pay for. But bringing a virtual stranger into my home like that certainly has its drawbacks, which if you've ever watched any given newsmagazine program, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

My next task before school starts is to somehow put together a résumé that makes me look somewhat intriguing as an employee, even though I have no bachelor's degree, and my last job worth mentioning was waiting tables, which was more than a decade ago. I'm not setting my goals all that high, though. I just want to get something where I can start at the bottom, proving my abilities as I go, steadily working my way up. I only hope it comes as easily as typing the sentence did.


OK, so I'm back home now. I bailed out of Panera and headed to another cafe that said they had free wi-fi, but something was seriously wrong with their router. It was wigging out, and all I could ever get was a local connection. I notified the guy working there, and he told me to reboot. And if that didn't work, he'd reset the router. That didn't work either, so I gave up and came back to the boring old house. Now that I'm here, looking around at my plain white walls, I want to paint. I already have an idea as to what colors I want, and now I just need to put in a call to my oh-so-helpful field manager to get the builders to come fix the nail pops and other new house woes that rare their ugly heads (no pun intended) in the first couple of years. My plan was to try to get the downstairs painted in the fall, anyway...after the temperatures start cooling off and I can open all the windows to eliminate the concentration of paint fumes. Then again, that could make it more interesting...

Think I'll knock out a few pages of A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Book report

I finally sucked it up and finished The Sun Also Rises last night. And then I had to read an online study guide of the book to figure it out. But I get it now. I'm pretty thick, though. For instance, I didn't realize that Jake was actually impotent as a result of his war wound until about halfway through the book when the word 'impotent' was actually used. I guess I was supposed to have figured that out a lot sooner.

If this had been assigned to me in high school, I definitely wouldn't have finished it. When it comes down to it, I just have a hard time reading anything that's not 'action-packed,' so to speak. It needs to hold my attention. It needs to evoke an emotional response in me, rather than just an intellectual one. Basically, it needs to have a lot more than just bar-hopping, shallow, mundane conversation, and outdated vernacular. (I did learn, though, that 'tight' meant drunk back in 1924.) Oh, and as a footnote to my previous comment about the book when I had just started it, it turns out they all do get quite drunk. A lot. It becomes clearly evident in the latter pages.

I don't know all that much about World War I, or the time that followed. This book definitely taught me a lot about that-the 'Lost Generation,' as Gertrude Stein coined (something else I learned from reading this). I've always been a WWII buff, given that my parents were teenagers during it. And it seems to me that WWII has definitely overshadowed its predecessor in general. This has definitely sparked my interest in learning more about the first World War, and the socioeconomic appears to me it shouldn't remain to be so overlooked.

Now that I've finally finished my inaugural look into the writings of Ernest Hemingway, my next venture will be A Farewell to Arms. I like doing things in chronological order. I had thought that TSAR was his first novel, but upon checking his Wikipedia entry, I discovered he published another novel the same year, but before TSAR, called The Torrents of Spring. It turns out Hemingway purposely wrote it so his current publisher would not accept it, thus letting Hemingway out of his contract so he could take a more lucrative deal with Scribner's. I don't know if I'll bother to hunt it down, given that it really wasn't intended for public consumption...

...I just checked the library system's website, and there are quite a few copies floating around the metro area. I think I'll put this one at the bottom of the list, though. I want to get a better feel for Hemingway's more acclaimed works before I get into the more 'obscure' stuff.

But next for my reading enjoyment, at long last, will be A Thousand Splendid Suns. I've been dying to get going on it, but didnt want to abandon ol' Hemingway. I like to finish what I start, and for once I was actually successful!

[On a technical note, for those of you who might have my blog on your RSS reader, and have noticed that the previous post I linked to above was popping up again and again as new, it's because I've been messing with the HTML, trying to figure out how to do page jumps. And it's not working for me...the link goes to the right post, but then doesn't jump down to the part of the post I want it to. I've checked the code again and again, on both pages, and it still doesn't work. Any suggestions?

Update: It turns out I didn't check my code all that well, having a silly little space where I shouldn't have so my codenames didn't match up. But it works now, and I'm feeling pretty proud and excited that I just learned a new HTML trick! Go me!]

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's my party...

We've made it through another week. Friday has once again arrived. And the boys are going with their dad again tonight.

And I'm dreading my weekend.

I have nothing to do, and no one to do it with.

I've more or less isolated myself from my neighbors. I think I've been letting my self-doubt and low self-esteem that have been raring their ugly heads get the better of me. Given that we all don't really know each other all that well, it's hard for me to expose the 'real' side of me. I just don't feel like being very social when I feel like I'm doing such a horrible job at life.

Single mom friend #1 that lives down the street from me has found herself someone from one of those online dating sites, and I haven't talked to her in quite a while. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I have quite vocally expressed my doubt about this new relationship she's in....thing are moving way too fast. And when she talks about this guy, there's no excitement in her voice. Yet within about a month or so of their meeting, she had already given him a key to her house. And I think she knows deep down that what I say is true, but has decided to continue on with it. So that's one factor as to why I don't feel comfortable getting in touch with her; that, and knowing that she's probably already got plans with him, anyway.

I haven't talked to single mom friend #2 in weeks and weeks. We've only spent a little bit of time together, and we just haven't been in contact with each other for most of the summer. So I feel very uneasy about contacting her for fear of being rude and insensitive for wanting her to do something with me when I haven't hardly talked to her this summer. Our sons have had kind of a weird relationship, too...they've had a couple of minor misunderstandings that have made things a bit awkward between the two of them. This last item, though, I think is a bigger deal to me than to the boys themselves.

Wow, reading that last paragraph in print makes it quite apparent how silly I'm being. But when I think about actually calling her up, I only think of her telling me she has her son this weekend, or has other plans, and I have to play it off like it's no big deal. And then when she gets all apologetic, with that twinge of pity in her voice, my pathetic-meter shoots through the roof. But really....come on Trish! Stop it! If that's the worst that could happen, it's worth the risk! Suck it up!

My venting is done. I need to go get that sweet little IB up and fed!

By the way...if anyone from the greater southeast Michigan area is reading this, and wants to do something this weekend, email me...maybe we could meet up somewhere!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'll blog however I want to blog!

Good morning to the blogosphere! My allergies are kicking up a little this morning, and my nose is dripping just enough so it tickles and itches. I hate that. Just thought you might like to know that.

The RK's buddies are already over this morning. Friend (Ba Doozie let me know we need to find a new name for him...I'm open to suggestions.) rang the doorbell not too long after 9:00 this morning, and the RK was still asleep. I hadn't even been up that long at that point. So I sent him on his way, letting him know that I'd have the RK call him when he got up. Then less than an hour later, but a little more appropriate, FriendZ rang the doorbell. So the RK ran upstairs to put some clothes on (he was running around in his tighty-whities) and answered the door. Friend was called, and now the three of them are upstairs in the loft laughing and being generally goofy in front of the XBox.

Right now my Neverending Quest for Self-Improvement is getting to where I don't worry so much about what I blog about, or how. That's a big part of my not posting on here as much as I'd like. I get so caught up worrying about my form, my topics. I get so concerned about how my posts will be received by whoever's out there reading this, that I drive myself crazy. When in all actuality, I created this blog to be more like a traditional diary. It's for me, to write about whatever I want. And if I collect a few readers here and there, then great.

I've always been so bad at keeping a regular diary or journal. It turns out that I really have no desire to write if no one's gonna be reading it. So this weblog thing is right up my alley! I just need to learn to strike a happy medium between writing for me, and writing for y'all.

So it turns out that when I created this blog, of course I go right to seeking out readers. Of course I'd love to have a blog that gets hundreds, or even thousands of hits a day, but when it all comes down to it, I'm happy just knowing I do have just a handful of loyal readers out there. Anything greater than zero will keep me going.

And I need to quit thinking that my blog needs to be like this person's, or like that person's, or that my writing style needs to be more interesting. This is to be whatever I want it, however I want to write it. I do get some great ideas from others' blogs, but ultimately, my blog is to be as unique as I am.

Also, I need to get to where my posts don't take the better part of an hour to publish, and that posting more than once a day is more of a possibility. some chores to do. The IB has an appointment with the developmental pediatrician this afternoon as well. The rotten kitties are just about out of cat food, and the library books are due. That's what my day looks like. far so good! This post only took me about twenty minutes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Go meat!

Unless you're living under a rock (or in a self-imposed technology exile), you've probably seen this. I've seen it many times, and look forward to hopefully seeing it many more. In fact, if I'm watching something recorded on the DVR, and I catch a glimpse of this as I'm fast-forwarding through commercials, I back up to watch it.

Big-time kudos to the ad agency that not only came up with a great campaign, but also figured out a way to actually associate the name of the product's company in their catchy presentation ("When I say Hillshire, you say Farm..."). Because I can't remember how many times I've absolutely loved a particular commercial, but couldn't tell ya what the heck it was for. That happens a lot with the glorious Super Bowl ads.

I've been enjoying the entire "Go Meat" ad campaign, but this one is by far my favorite. It makes me want to barbecue. It makes me want to act silly with my neighbors while barbecueing. As for purchasing Hillshire Farm meat products, eh...anything'll do. (If any HF bigwigs happen upon this post, throw some good coupons my way and I'll definitely buy your meat products.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

I got nuthin' for this post's title

I have a rather shameful confession to make. It's my explanation for not posting in a few days. And it might be a reason why I won't post any more often for the next few weeks. I mentioned a while back that I'm really into this season of Big Brother. Well, I cracked. I found myself last Wednesday night punching in my credit card number to start receiving the live feeds of the goings-on in the house which is located on the CBS lot in Los Angeles. So now, my computer time is mostly spent keeping up with all the craziness (oh lordy, you have no idea) that dominates the house this season.

The cool thing about this feature is you get to see it all happen live, learning who wins competitions, hearing the strategy sessions, witnessing people completely lose their minds in this voluntary exile, all before the severely edited episodes are broadcast on TV. It's fun. It passes the time. It gives me an escape of sorts.

So the feeds are suspended right now because from what I could gather, the houseguests are being treated to a big fancy dinner party in the house tonight. The BB powers-that-be aren't letting us watch it live; we'll just have to wait to see it all on a future broadcast episode, I guess. So be it. This gives me a chance to let y'all know I'm still around. (We actually don't get to see competitions or ceremonies on the feeds...they always put up the BB theme music with the same old trivia questions from seasons past. But once the events are over, we learn the results from the ensuing conversations among the houseguests.)

My weekend was very dull. I was so lonely, I just laid around most of the time trying to find any teeninesy bit of motivation within me to do something productive. One thing I'm learning about myself, though, is that if I don't have anyone else around to do anything for, I don't do anything. Being all by myself completely strips away any desire to get anything knocked off my to-do list. It's really quite sad. I'm gonna work on that, though. Sunday I perked up a little bit and got the lawn mowed, along with some inside chores. That baby gate still isn't installed at the bottom of the stairs, so I'm really having to keep a close eye on the IB when he's in free range mode.

Did anyone venture outside last night to catch the peak of the Perseid meteor shower? The RK and I made a rather weak attempt at it before it got too late, but we didn't see much. After he went to bed, I'd step outside from time to time and gaze heavenward, and was finally rewarded close to 2 AM when I saw three shooting stars all within about 15 seconds of each other. The best time to witness it was around 4:00-5:00 AM, and I just wasn't up to that challenge, and certainly the RK wasn't. Even going to bed and setting the alarm was too much to ask of either of us. At least I finally got a little taste of it. All of you dear readers who are located in West Texas (especially you, Bob) should jump at these chances...West Texas is one of the best places in the nation to get away from city lights to behold such wonderful occurences as this!

While I'm on an astronomical topic -- did you know that you can go to the NASA website and find out when you'll be able to spot the space station or the space shuttle in orbit? I've actually done this a couple of times, and it's so cool. It doesn't look like much more than an airplane flying overhead, but you can still tell that it's much further away and going much, much faster. It's pretty amazing to think that there are actually people up there, orbiting this big ol' rock. Oh what I wouldn't give to see the planet from their point of view! Anyway, click on the link, find your city and state, and see when you might have the chance to experience this. And set an alarm clock to remind's so easy to forget about it when the time comes. Definitely one thing that makes this so awesome for me is having a ten-year-old son to do this with. We usually watch all the launches and landings as well, learning more and more about the space program with each event.

I think the best time I spotted the shuttle flying overhead was a couple of years ago, before it had docked with the International Space Station. It was chasing it, catching up to it, so what I saw was two bright not-quite-airplanes-not-quite-shooting-stars cutting a path in the early morning sky. This I did set my alarm for, and looking back on it, I'm so glad I did. I'll keep doing stuff like this every chance I get. I think it's one way to truly soak in and appreciate this amazing age we live in. And who knows where it's gonna go from here?

The shuttle program began when I was a little bit younger than the RK. I remember for the first handful of launches and landings, all the teachers in my school would secure a TV for their classrooms so we could watch. I think it's such a shame that the marvel of it is mostly lost now, and is only reignited when tragedies occur. I'm very grateful to the cable news channels that still break away from their boring, monotonous political drivel to cover the launches and landings. But if even that goes away, thank goodness my dish service carries the NASA channel!

I'm so exhausted. The RK had at least one friend over all day long today, starting at the stroke of 10:00 AM. And for the first time since the RK's birthday, we actually headed down to the pool for a while late this afternoon. And the IB loved it...he's definitely at home in the water. He was so cute in his little swimmy diaper... :) I hope we make it down there a few more times before the season's over.

Oooo, I just started craving some pistachios and a Coke.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My life is pathetic. This really is the most interesting stuff going on in my life right now.

It's a rainy, humid, dreary day again. Fine by me, really...I don't need to worry about watering the grass. My poor little petunias that I've had hanging on my front porch are almost dead, but not quite. I need to go clean out the dead stems to make room for their renaissance, which I'm bound and determined to make happen. Anyway, I took them off their hooks and set them between my burning bushes so the rain can get to them.

I finally couldn't go another day without doing some grocery shopping, so the boys and I headed out on Tuesday. I shopped the sales, going to two different stores, and I even had coupons in hand. All in all, I spent about $176, with my receipts indicating I saved over $45 on sale items and with coupons. SCORE!

I've always been a not-very-good grocery shopper. I'm bad at planning ahead, and also, if I'm not hungry when I go to the store, I won't hardly buy anything at all. My pantry gets to the point where there's tons of stuff in there, but none of it can be put together to make a decent meal. I'm trying to change that. I'm trying to get it so my pantry always has a few staples to eat on, thus making it not 'necessary' to go out for fast food.

So I'm quite proud of myself that I did buy so many groceries. I never feel guilty about spending a lot of money if it's at the grocery store, because I know that the more food I buy to eat at home, the less I'll spend on eating out.

Another thing I hate about my grocery purchase and consumption habits: I rarely buy a lot of fresh produce, because I know that the odds aren't in their favor to be eaten before they rot. Growing up, I was never a big fan of fresh fruit or veggies...gimme a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos over an apple anyday. And I think a lot of that has to do with the convenience, or lack thereof, of eating fresh fruit. It's messy, sometimes it's difficult (ex. apples, oranges), and other times you have to time it just right (ex. peaches, plums). I mean, what if I'm not in the mood for a peach when it reaches its peak of ripeness? Or what if I'm craving that peach when it's still hard as a rock? That frustrates me.

As for veggies, I'm getting better. I must admit, though, that most veggies I buy either come in a can, or they're around 0°F. That way, I can fix 'em whenever I want. I love big, fresh tossed salads. I'm thrilled over this latest trend of buying pre-torn lettuce in bags, or other more exotic leafy veggies. I always buy a tomato, cucumber, onion, and green pepper to add to it. And then I make my salad, enjoy it one time, put the rest in a storage container, and then more times than not, it sits in my fridge getting nasty, only to be dumped out a week or more later. Argh.

On Tuesday, I did buy peaches, plums, salad fixin's, strawberries, green grapes, & a baby watermelon. I'm once again renewing my efforts to enjoy the deliciousness of the naturally healthy, unprocessed, perfect-just-the-way-it-is food that God has lovingly given us without letting it spoil. Maybe this time around I'll do a little bit better than the last time I tried. We'll see.

The RK has a couple of his friends over right now. One of them is Friend, and the other is another boy in the same grade. I guess Friend and FriendZ have had some issues before, which Friend's mom filled me in about a little while ago on the phone. So I'm glad to know the circumstances, and I'll be keeping an eye & an ear out for any rise of discord amongst them. I have to admit, though, I love it when the RK has buddies over to help pass the time. I think it's so cool when my driveway is used for bicycle parking. Even I recognize how lame and boring I am, and I'm more than happy to have my house be the designated hang-out house for the RK's friends. I so desperately want the RK to have fond memories of his summers, and lollygagging around with buddies, I think, is up there with the best kind of summer memories a person can have. I don't think it tops spending a summer on the farm with the coolest aunt or grandma, though. Unfortunately, there's no one like that in my family to offer the creation of such memories.

The IB has reached another milestone, which can lead to some hazardous situations. He can now climb the entire flight of stairs in the house! I helped him acquire this skill by putting one of his favorite little toys about three or four steps up, and as he climbs up to it, I keep putting it higher and higher. And he just laughs, and keeps pluggin' along! I think it's saying quite a lot about his personality that he doesn't get frustrated or mad when I keep moving the toy further away. I view that as him having a very determined spirit; he sees this as encouragement, rather than discouragement. And he has fun while working so hard. So for now, I must keep a close eye on him while he's roaming free, and hopefully I'll find the opportunity to put up that baby gate that's been sitting out in the garage for weeks at the bottom of the stairs.

I just heard the dryer stop, so I guess I better go get the load of laundry folded.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

This is great...

I was sitting here perusing the web with a rerun of Letterman on in the background. This is actually the first episode of his show I've seen in quite a while, in that our local CBS affiliate doesn't have news programming. I tend to watch the local news on our NBC affiliate, and then watch a little of Leno before hitting the sack.
Anyway, this is one of the best gags I've seen in years.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

I love nights like this

I'm on the couch in my living room, the footrest is up, Rascal Flatts' latest single is playing on the satellite radio provided by my dish service. My windows are open all the way, and the sounds of crickets and other invisible night creatures are singing their nightly arias. There are low rumbles of thunder rolling into my living room from the northwest. The air is thick and heavy, which, when the temperature is comfortable, makes my skin feel healthy and hydrated. And oh yes, coming from behind me is the song of the cricket that managed to find his way into my garage. My mom always used to say that finding a cricket in your house would bring good luck. I wonder...does the garage count?

My babies are upstairs, filling this house with a comfort and peace even as they sleep. The RK is sleeping in my bed tonight. I try to keep this practice at a minimum, but now that he's leaving me for weekends with his dad, I've been letting him sleep in my bed on his last nights here before he goes, and also on the nights he comes back. In a way, I need it, too. It's fun snuggling up with him. While ten years of age is quite old to become dependent on something like this, I'm still trying to be careful to not let it become a common practice to the point of it turning into a habit. The poor boy's been through so much this past year or so, and while I want to meet his emotional needs in every way possible, I can definitely see something like this becoming an unhealthy crutch. But yeah, we both enjoy it. And to think...before long, that bed might be filled with yet another little warm body from time to time! Oh, those precious boys are such blessings to me!

Given my rather tepid level of motivation this morning, I got quite a bit done around the house today. I did the usual floor maintenance downstairs--vacuuming the living room, and sweeping and Swiffering the kitchen linoleum. Actually the Swiffering was new today...and it was disgustingly amazing for me to learn what the broom has been leaving behind all this time! And I've been letting my baby crawl around on that floor...egads!

At that point something came over me...I actually found myself vacuuming upstairs. It had been a shamefully ginormous amount of time since my bedroom floor was graced with the repititive swipe patterns of the vacuum. And it's amazing how clean my room feels to me now, even though there remains a just-as-shamefully ginormous layer of dust all over the furniture. And crap lying in disarray here and there, desperately screaming for organizing and packing away. Maternity clothes would be an example.

And I know what you're thinking --"Isn't that baby about to be a year old?"

Yes, yes he is.

Frankly, this is the biggest bedroom I've ever had in my life, and if it weren't for all this crap, the room would actually be quite empty. And since I can't afford to put any cool stuff in there at the moment, why not let the space get taken up with crap? I mean, it's not like anyone whose opinion I'd worry about is actually gonna be up there anytime soon to see it. Sigh...

So anyway, back to my litany of housecleaning. I know you're on the edge of your seat.

The landing at the top of the stairs and the hallway then got vacuumed, but not before I SpotShotted the unidentifiable stains that have been there for goodness knows how long. And while vacuuming, it sounded like driving on a road with a brand new layer of gravel on it. That would be all the cat litter tracked out of the laundry room by my two annoying kitties getting sucked up into the vacuum bag. The litter--not the kitties, unfortunately. Heh...that's a funny thought.

I then vacuumed the stairs themselves and called it a day. My baby's runways are now cleared to taxi.

Ya know, for someone who for most of her life was led to believe she wasn't capable of handling such responsibility, I'm doing pretty good. My house isn't the cleanest; the word 'spotless' is way out of reach. But it ain't nasty, either. There's so many 'projects' I need to start tackling, most of which fall under the category of organization. But for now I'm still mastering the general maintenance.

I know there's probably a multitude of more stimulating things I could talk about to keep you intrigued, but this is big for me. And being able to write all these things down as stuff I actually accomplished in my day feels really good. I'm running a household ALL BY MYSELF. And it's not falling down around my ears, hasn't been condemned, nor has child protective services been called due to the squalid conditions. I'm actually doing it.

Thanks for letting me toot my own horn for a bit.

Passing the time

This is a dark, rainy, chilly, dreary Sunday morning. I slept in until 10:00, and I was shocked when I rolled over to look at the clock! I need to do some more housecleaning today, and I absolutely, positively have to go to the grocery store to buy diapers. There's not a single unused diaper in this house. Whoopsie!

These weekends I have to myself are a lesson for me. A lesson in being alone, and figuring out how to be content with that. I love socializing, I love hanging out with others. I don't know what to do with myself when I'm all alone, and the loneliness can overwhelm me. I'm working on it, though.

Last night it got the better of me, though, and around 9:30 I took off to the local Borders bookstore. I decided to pick up a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns on the recommendation of Jimmy, as well as Happily Ever After: Walking with Peace and Courage Through a Year of Divorce by Kristin Armstrong, Lance Armstrong's ex-wife. I remember seeing her on some morning talk show plugging her book a while back, and I was very pleased to come across it last night.

I mentioned a while back that I was planning on reading The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini's first novel. Eric had said I was just gonna love it, and he was right. It was a wonderful book, one that I had a hard time putting down, much to the chagrin of the IB at times. I got through it in just a couple of days, and now I'm so eager to read Mr. Hosseini's sophomore effort, ATSS.

At the same time I checked out The Kite Runner from the library, I also checked out Ernest Hemingway's first novel, The Sun Also Rises. It was first published in 1926. And frankly, this one I can put down. In the past week, maybe a little more, I've only gotten through about half of it. I'm trying to trudge through it, hoping it'll wrap up in grand fashion. But good grief...even his characters were alcoholics! That's all they do, is drink! And funny...they never seem to actually get drunk.

The reason I decided to delve into the world of this renowned American author is because I get tired of reading these mass-produced novels by authors who crank out three, four, or five a year. There's no meat to them, they rarely leave me thinking after I turn that last page, and they're just overall quite forgettable. These books to me are just a way to pass the time, but there's really nothing much gained.

So I'm making an effort to familiarize myself with these authors that over the years made a name for themselves for the quality of books they wrote, rather than the quantity. I know, I know...I had the chance to do this back in high school, right? But I must admit, there are only two books that I can recall actually reading all the way through back in the those days. And those are To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Diary of a Young Girl. TKAM I actually read twice in high honors freshman English, and again the next year in accelerated sophomore English. But other than that, I found all the other books I was assigned quite dull. The Great Gatsby? I only got about 50 pages through it. Hawthorne? Ack. Steinbeck? Nope. I'm hoping that now that I'm quite a bit older, I can find a new appreciation for these pieces of literature. I guess that's a I just need to learn how to appreciate Shakespeare along with the rest of the cultured universe.

OK...I really need to get crackin'. Must clean, must shop. My babies are coming home tonight!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

*Burp* Aaahhhh....

Aaahhh, the blessed Coney Island again. I just finished a gyro and Greek salad. I wolfed it all down. Down to the last little bits of feta cheese, Greek dressing, and beet juice still swirling in the bottom of my salad bowl. The gyro is now just a memory as well. And I feel like a pig...but a very happy, content pig.

My babies are gone again, and this weekend, I'm not doing as well as I have up to this point. I think I'm gonna tell the IX that I don't want to do his every weekend plan after all.

I was feeling this way even before he sent me into a tailspin when he came to pick them up yesterday. Allow me to explain...

The RK's Cub Scout den leader was having a sleepover/campout at his house last night. In the emails the den leader has been sending out, he as requested for some parents to stay to help wrangle the kids. The IX asked me if the RK wanted to go, and I told him I hadn't mentioned it to him. So the IX asks him if he wants to go, and he says, sure. So I get on the phone with the IX, not knowing if he was thinking of staying the the RK or not. I ask him if he's planning on picking up the IB, and he says yes. So I conclude that this means he was not planning on staying the night with the RK at the sleepover.

Well, I was wrong. He was planning on taking the IB back to the love shack to let her take care of him for the night while the IX stayed at the sleepover. I just about flipped out. For one thing, the only reason for the IX to take the IB is for him to spend time with him. If he's not even going to be there, then why is the IB even leaving? Second, it just absolutely disgusts me that he is so moronic that he doesn't even recognize the need to discuss this kind of thing with me! With a rather loud voice and animated movements, I let the IX know that this doesn't sit well with me, and that the IB can just stay here if that's the case. I rant and rave about how I can't trust a word that comes out of his mouth, and then threw the bike thing from my previous post at him. He ended up saying that he just wouldn't stay the night at the sleepover and go back to his place with the IB. The RK will be able to let me know if this is indeed the way things went down.

OK...I have more to say, but it is freezing in here, and my toes are about to start frosting over! More later...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Movin' on...

Whew, I just now got the kitchen cleaned up from dinner...finally. I get so sick of cleaning that dadgum kitchen. That was one thing great about having the IH around...he went along with the rule that whoever didn't cook, cleans. Now I get to do both. And thus far, only a couple of times has it waited until the next morning.

I'm sitting here right now at my dining table, iPod blaring some Alice in Chains, and an ice cold beer by the computer. This has been a momentous day.

I signed the papers today.

And I drove away from my attorney's office, I felt like I didn't expect to. Hopeful. Encouraged. Free.

Now I just need to work on the feelings of bitterness and hatred I have in my heart. At this point, I still desperately crave for all the IH's actions to come crashing down around him, so he is finally forced to acknowledge what a f'ed-up view he has on life. And don't even get me started on her.

This man has gone hog-wild spending money to the point it makes me wonder if he has some sort of undisclosed source of income. I mentioned in passing a few posts back that he had bought a new car. A brand new 2007 Nissan Pathfinder. This is his third new car in as many years. But this particular type of vehicle he needs now. After all, he now has as many as four kids to haul around. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a Sirius satellite radio box under the front passenger seat. And this last time, he had a bike rack installed on the back. (I asked him if he had a bike now, and he said, no, it's just for the kids's bikes. But then the RK mentioned the other day that his dad and she ride bikes with the kids, too. And after some questioning, it was quite evident that these bikes were not rented.) Oh yes...he went to the Tim & Faith concert, too. (OK...I'll let that one slide...I went to the Rascal Flatts concert the following week.) And not to mention the new shoes I've seen him in, new clothes, etc. And oh yes...he received some sort of new credit card in the mail here at the house not too long ago. I wonder if there was one in there with her name on it, too.

I need to let it go. He's digging his own grave, and I just need to summon the patience to wait for it to all come caving in on him. No, actually, I just need to




As long as he makes those child support payments, I shouldn't care. And here in the grand state of Michigan, I took advantage of my option to go ahead and have it garnished from his wages from the get-go.

He's asked me if it would be agreeable to me if he could take the kids every weekend for the rest of the summer, until school starts. While I horribly miss my babies while they're gone, I also think it's good for me. I know the RK has a lot more fun on his weekends with his dad that what I have for him here at the house, so I avoid that source of guilt for not giving him a more entertaining time here at the house. I think I just might go ahead and say OK. I am really enjoying the time to myself, and the RK is really enjoying his weekends with his dad.

Oh yes! The weekend! I did end up going to that meet & greet at the neighbor's, but not until after 10:00. But that was OK, because they have a bit of a wild streak in them like I do. They had a keg...I don't think I've had beer from a keg since those 'enlightening' and 'informative' days back at UT Austin! My head hit the pillow at straight-up 2:00. It's nice to know I have a good source of blowing off steam when I need to.

The next day was another meet & greet at the clubhouse of the subdivision, spearheaded by my neighbor two doors down. I had told him I'd come help and set up, since I didn't have the IB to chase after. It was a much more mellow time than the night before, but still great. I did meet a lot of neighbors, one of which I hope I'll run into again. An older, single woman who might be a good source of babysitting. We all had a lot of fun slamming our builder and all the issues we're having with our houses. It was funny.

Oh my gosh... Let It Go just came on my iPod! Frighteningly appropriate. I'll probably listen to it a couple more times before the night's over.

That's all I have for now. From this day forward, though, the IH will now be referred to as the IX. I can't believe this day is here. I never thought in a millions years this day would ever hit my calendar. But it has.

Movin' on...