life on the funny farm

Sunday, December 21, 2014


About a month and a half ago, I wrote about the passing of my stepfather, Bob.

Shortly before Bob died, I told my Mom I would take their dog Scooby.  Bob was Scooby's chief cook and bottle-washer, and I knew my Mom wouldn't be able to take care of her on her own, so I figured, what's one more?

And Scooby seems to be doing fine here.  I keep her in a pen, because our house is a bit more chaotic than my Mom's place.  And since Scooby is old (like 17 or 18 years old, old), she seems more comfortable having a little space of her own.

Anyway, like I said, she seems to be doing fine, but a day or so ago, she started doing this really peculiar little howl.


So I videotaped her in the midst of her incantations.

I was just trying to capture what it sounded like, but I got more than I bargained for.  When I played back the video, there were several orbs "dust specks" that seemed to fly right out of the room, and they all originated from the corner that Scooby faces when she howls.

So you tell me, do I need to dust more, or should I....

GET OUT!!!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014


There was a time my world turned upside down.
I had many questions.
I had few answers.

I was by turns alone, worried, not good enough.

I was just a girl.

And then a man walked into this unsteady world of mine.

He was a big solid man with a mustache and a pipe.
He could build things.
He could fix things.
With magic, he could turn docks twisted and deformed from the ice of the bay into things straight and true.

Though he was in my world, he was also not.  He was on the periphery.  There was a boundary he could not, would not cross.  His feet were in the world of another.  We were a living, breathing Venn Diagram, with intersections and overlaps and voids.

And this Venn Diagram was forever shifting, and this man moved in and out of circles many times throughout the years.

But like the solid things he built, he remained solid in my life, even when turmoil and chaos drove him away for stretches of time.

He always returned.

And I would call him Mister, and he would call me Girl.

I grew and I flew from my island home.
I learned, I married, I worked, I had babies.
From time to time I would return home.
As I chased after my little ones, he remained on the periphery, watching me learn to be a Mama.
The twinkle in his eyes did not go unnoticed.

And I would call him Mister, and he would call me Girl.

My babies grew, and the man began to slow.
No longer did he fix docks, no longer did he build houses.  And though his hands and his back and his shoulders looked strong as ever, they began to pain him.
Still, he managed to do magic on an old house and her land and her outbuildings, creating little secret pathways and gates and wishing wells.
And when I would come to visit, his eyes would shine bright as he showed me his latest project.
He would sit with me over coffee and tell me his latest plans.

And I would call him Mister, and he would call me Girl.

One day, a telephone call.

Getting worse.
Not much longer.....

A visit with my babies.
There he lay.
No longer big and strong.

I woke him.
He looked at me and smiled.
And I called him Mister, and he called me Girl.
And I tried not to cry as we talked.
We all said our goodbyes, knowing it would likely be a final goodbye, but not speaking of it.

And five days later, he was gone.

And yet, like when I went stretches of time without seeing him, I feel his presence still.
Solid and strong and constant.

And he is my Mister.
And I am his Girl.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Hey, friends, how was your holiday?

We had a wonderful 4th of July.

We had a terrible 4th of July.

Lots of fireworks, of both the driveway pyrotechnic variety and the explosive mentally unstable teenager variety.

We had corn on the cob, burgers and dogs on the grill, baked beans, watermelon, fresh salad, bomb pops.

We had cops in the driveway, cops hightailin' it down the street in pursuit, handcuffs, neighbors staring.  Questions, decisions, but no answers.

We had colorful fireworks against a dark sky, we had giggling teenagers, we had 4 girls passed out in a tent.

We had colorful police lights against a twilight sky, we had an hysterical teenager, we had an exhausted teen passed out on my bed.

4th of Julys can be quite exhausting.....

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Road Trip Tip

Now that summer is upon us, many of you are likely about to embark on a family road trip.

And to that end, I thought I would share a little secret with you to keep those hours just a touch more sane.

Books on CD.

Here's why.  The story keeps the little buggers engaged (read, "quiet").  One could argue that a DVD would do the same, and one would be right.  But, call me old-fashioned, I like kids to be looking out the window on a road trip.  I want them to see how the country changes from one region to the next.  And when they're watching every movie Disney ever made, that ain't gonna happen.  Eyes get glued to the screen and become oblivious to the world around them.

With the books on CD, you get the same rapt attention, but a) it's to a story being read aloud, so they get to use their imaginations to provide the visuals for the characters, the scene, etc; b) as I said, they are getting to enjoy the scenery as you drive along; and c) I find that stories appeal to a wider age range than movies, so multiple age groups could enjoy the same story, something that does not generally happen with movies.

We've listened to Island of the Blue Dolphins, Rascal, Swiss Family Robinson, James and the Giant Peach, Shiloh, Incredible Journey, and more.  Our kids are 4 1/2 years from oldest to youngest, and include both boys and girls, and they've never really complained about a story being too girly, too boring, too babyish.  With DVDs, we've heard all those complaints.  And more.  Till they made my ears bleed.

Where can you find them?  Book stores carry them, but they tend to be expensive.  I was usually able find a decent selection at the library.  Amazon has the most to choose from, and they are reasonably priced.

A quick peek at Amazon and I saw Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, The Borrowers, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, Little House on the Prairie, and on and on.  LOTS of great choices.  Think of it: exposure to great literature, AND quiet kids in the car.  And of course the whole thing about seeing the mountains and rivers and whatnot along the way.  Trust me when I tell you this is a win-win-win.

Happy reading and road tripping!

Image source

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Shower

I recently had the blessing of spending the weekend with an old high school friend.

The sh** in my life was getting deeper than the manure pile outside the barn, so this old friend extended an invitation to get away from it all for a couple days at her place at the Jersey shore.

And you know what?  I took her up on it.

I had seven rides to arrange before I could depart, but that Friday morning the last of them materialized, so I threw some things in a bag and I got in my car and I LEFT.

Up the Jersey Turnpike I drove.  Window down, hair blowin'.  I might have even been playing some Bruce.

She babied me.  She grilled salmon and made Sangria.  She took me to the beach and we walked and we talked and we remembered and we shared.

She gave me a book to read.  The Art of Resilience.  It had helped her through some of life's low points,  she said, and she hoped it would help me.  It has.

You might be wondering, about now, why the title of this post is The Shower.

Well, I'll tell you.  And it does have much to do with the zen of this particular weekend.

On Friday night, Sarah was showing me around her home.  She took me to the darling guest room I would be staying in, with its powder blue walls and white bedspread and books lining the walls and covering the dresser.  Love.

She showed me the hall bathroom, pretty standard fare, but then she told me that I could shower in the outside shower in the morning.

What the...?

I looked at the bathroom again.  It looked to be in good working order.  She as not using the tub for storage, or for the litter box.  The shower head and faucets were where they should be.

Maybe she has a busted pipe that needs to be fixed, I thought.

But she went on to say I could shower in the bathroom if I wanted, but that I might prefer the outside shower.

OK, I've been in plenty of outside showers.  Anyone who has grown up at the shore has the outside shower experience woven into the fabric of their being.  It's as much a part of life as wiping the sand off your feet before swinging your legs into bed.

Outside showers, in my experience, are generally pretty nasty places.  They're usually built under the stairs or in some dark corner underneath a house raised on pilings.  They are dark and dank, cobwebby and slimy.  You never go in barefoot as you're sure to succumb to foot and mouth disease or thrush or some bacterial illness which has eluded the CDC for years.

So again, I thought, what the....?

But whatever.  I went to bed that night, slept like a baby, and woke in the morning refreshed as only a night with open windows and salt air can refresh you.

After coffee and a bite to eat, we went for a long bike ride on the beach road and around the lake.  Wonderful.

Back at her house, we put the bikes away and she said,

"I'm going to do a little mowing.  You can go ahead and get in the shower", gesturing towards  the shower like a too-excited Vanna White trying to play it cool.

WTF? I thought.  What if I don't WANT to shower in her gd outside bacteria bath?  Maybe I want to shower INSIDE like a civilized person!

But not wanting to be rude to this person who was saving my life one weekend at a time, I gathered my clothes, towel, and toiletries, and dutifully walked into the outside shower.

What's this? I thought.  It's white.  It's full of sunshine.  It's CLEAN.

Cautiously, I disrobed, arranged all my things in the ante room, turned on the water, and stepped in.

I had that moment of feeling like I was solving quadratic equations at the blackboard naked in front of 30 10th graders like you always do when you find yourself outside and naked, but after a minute or two it passed and I was left revelling in the glory, without a care of my nakedness.

I looked up and out at the blue sky, and the green of the tree to my left,  and marveled as the warmth of the sun mingled with the warmth of the water washing over me.

In short, I had a Clairol Herbal Essences moment.  Mixed with a good portion of a Calgon take me away.

It was a religious experience.

When I emerged from the temple clean and fresh, Sarah was just putting her mower away.  I strode toward her and reached out to hug her.  She began her objections of "I'm all sweaty", but then just "OK..." as I embraced her and said quietly,

"Thank you.  Now I know....."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Solstice

As any Mom worth her salt knows, summer has little to do with the date on the calendar marked as "first day of summer".  It's all about the date the school shuts and locks its doors.

Since my kids attend two schools, that means two first days of summer in our household.  The first was yesterday, as my youngest walked out of his school doors for the last time as a freshman.

The others will finish up next week, so they still had to trudge off to the bus this morning with heads hung low.

Summer with school-aged children is a funny thing, isn't it?  When we Moms make it to the final stretch, we're nearly as giddy with anticipation as our kids.  We cannot WAIT for school to be over with.  No more begging/pleading/cajoling/demanding on issues of homework, studying, books, papers, projects.  No more dance recitals, play practice, after-school activities.  No more lunch money, lunch-packing, permission slips, field trips, field days, teacher conferences.  We think of long lazy days and watermelon and beaches and pools and the smell of sunblock and the warmth of the sun and good books and roadside stands overflowing with fresh goodies.  Like our kids, we feel FREE.

But then by the end of the summer?  We become just as giddy over the thought of them returning to school.  No more sun-up to sun-down bickering, boredom.  No more messes.  Well, scratch that.  Still plenty of mess, just seven hours less in the day for them to create those messes.  Seven hours less in the day for them to suck every crumb out of your cabinets and yell "There's nothing to eeeeeeeeatt!!!"    We dream of quiet houses, changing the radio station from pop to classic rock, fall leaves, cool weather, sweatshirts and jeans, quiet...

So for me, and probably for most parents, the summer solstice is not about the point at which days go from getting longer to getting shorter or about the beginning of the summer season.  Rather, it is the tipping point of summer break when we go from being glad school is over to counting down the days till it starts back up again.  My solstice typically arrives sometime in late July, but of course that depends very much on how my little angels are behaving.  If they act more like the young adults most of them are, my solstice may never come.  If they carry on like over-sugared 3rd graders at a birthday party, my solstice may very well arrive before summer truly begins.

Here's hoping for a late solstice.

Happy summer, everyone!

Image source

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Six Ingredients or Less

Hello friends.  I've missed you.

And I have a treat to share with you.

A woman named Linda Hazen approached me via email, asking if I would have a look-see at her website Six Ingredients or

Well I did, and I love it!

On this site you can find all of her cookbooks, as well as a wide range of nutrition (and dare I say weight loss) tips that focus on eating healthy, whole, unprocessed foods.  In less than five minutes I learned new information that seems very appropro to my own situation, and learned several tips, AND found a couple of recipes that I'd like to try.

Linda was kind enough to not only offer me a free download of her cookbook Six Ingredients or Less, but to offer a 50% discount to all my readers, as well!  Isn't she the bomb?

Here are Linda's instructions:

To redeem you free ebook simply go to and select the Six Ingredients or Less 4th edition e-cookbook and place it in your shopping cart. Continue through the cart process.  If you would like to offer your readers 50% off their entire purchase they may use coupon code: R-127.

This coupon offer expires 6/20/14, so go click on over now while you're thinking about it!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dolphin Tale Poster

How much did everyone love Dolphin Tale?

Well good news, Dolphin Tale 2 will soon be released!

And I have the official movie poster to give away.

Want it?  Let me know.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

I had a rare treat a couple days ago.

My friend Dee and I were able to arrange a halfway meet for an overnight visit.

Dee is a fellow "Trauma Mama".

She and I have both adopted.

Both adopted older kids.

Both older kids from the other side of the world.  Older kids from the other side of the world who have trauma backgrounds.

And we have been through it.

So a few weeks ago we had arranged to run away together.

We decided to meet this past Friday night halfway between her home and mine.

We almost weren't able to pull it off, because earlier in the week she had an episode with one of her kids where it nearly ended in a 911 call.  Then the day before our planned getaway I had an episode with one of my kids that did result in a 911 call.

And I was in the ER and then the adolescent mental health facility for just shy of 24 hours.

(My child will be OK and is getting some much needed help)

Of course as all these events were unfolding and then settling down, I figured I would need to scrap the plans to get away.  But as Fred said, I would need this now more than ever.  So he scrambled to get things in place to enable me to head off to CT.

And I did.  Up the Jersey Turnpike I went, over the GW, crawling down the Cross Bronx Expressway and finally checking into the Hilton.

And it was Won. Der. Ful.

We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we shared stories.

We even indulged in a spa treatment, if you count cutting my toenails on the bed a spa treatment.

I showed her my recent bruises and she showed me hers.  It was like the scene from Jaws where they're revealing all their scars.

Including the broken heart scars.

But now our batteries are recharged.  And we have returned to our respective broods better prepared to handle the next crisis.

When I First Saw You

Becuase I'm a glutton for punishment and like to make myself cry, every now and again I like to re-post the poem James wrote for me for Mother's Day in 2011.

It goes a little something like this:

When I First Saw You



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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday

OK, this is going to be hard to do, but here goes...

I've gained back my weight.  

Almost all of it.

Last May I started dieting or whatever the current politically correct term is for losing weight and getting in shape.  By November I had lost about 35 pounds and several dress sizes.  Though I still had a long way to go, I felt great and was starting to think I didn't look half bad, either.

But by the end of November, the ....
 what's a nice way of saying the sh** hit the fan?
my life began to turn on me.

Fred went into the hospital for acute renal failure.  
 In the next few months, there were three additional in-patient hospital stays for family members.

I could go into details but it would only serve to bore you and violate hippa laws and make me seem like the kid in that Shel Silverstein poem.  Only replace "! cannot go to school today" with "I cannot stress over making proper food choices and fitting in exercise today".  And replace all her symptoms with all the stressors in my life....

'I cannot go to school today, '
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
'I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more-that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut-my eyes are blue-
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke-
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is-what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is...Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play! '

So yeah, justifying why I failed to make the right choices is neither here nor there.  The point is, I got stressed, and I stopped exercising.  And started eating.  Eating all the wrong foods for all the wrong reasons.

You ever see one of those movies where the ship is going down and they have to throw everything overboard in a last-ditch effort to keep it from sinking?  That's me.  Only instead of throwing the cannons and the biscuits overboard I threw eating right and exercising and blogging and anything else good for my body or soul.

So here I sit, a year later, right back where I started. The only thing I have gained from it is that I am still alive and walking round outside the confines of a mental institution.  And I am now a certifiable Words With Friends and Solitaire junkie.  When all hell was raining down around my ears, I could sit in a corner with some donuts and stare at my screen and tune the world out.

But it kinda sorta got me through the worst of it.  God, I hope that was the worst of it.  No one's in the hospital right now.  I feel relatively sane.  I have plans of action for a couple heavy hitter stressors in my life right now.  And I sailed through without being pursued by men in white coats.

And here I am again in May.

Goodbye Tastykake.
Hello walking shoes.
Hello carrots.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Grass

Not so many years back, our "Easter Eve", if you will, was saturated in tradition. We dyed dozens of eggs, we decorated Easter baskets, we held fantastic Easter egg hunts complete with a gaggle of children scurrying through spring grass searching high and low for what seemed like hundreds of candy-filled eggs, plus the one prized Golden Egg. Finding it was momentous enough to want to add that to a future resume.

But sigh.  Now all our kids are teenagers.  Teenagers are poopy when it comes to childhood traditions.

Does anyone want to dye eggs?   Nahhh....

Time to get your Easter baskets down from the attic. Is anyone going to decorate theirs? Nahhhh....

And I have to admit, their lackadaisical attitude is contagious.

Did I boil the eggs and set up the cups and Paas? Nahhhh....

Did I set all the basket trimmings and supplies out for them? Nahhh....

About the only thing I insisted on was that they put SOMEthing out on the table. If it wasn't their basket, so be it, but they had to put something out. A shoebox, anything. If they didn't, I threatened to just put a 5 pound bag of Domino's sugar on the table with 6 spoons and bypass the Easter candy altogether.

And some of them kind of met my challenge.  This year a plastic cake saver graces our table, as does a green storage bin from the pantry (I'm afraid to venture into the pantry for fear of finding a bin's worth of Ramen packs or popcorn bags dumped all over the shelf and/or floor).

No one put any Easter grass into their "baskets".  And truth be told I really didn't care.  I started pulling things out of the Walmart bags I had bought only just yesterday and dumping them unceremoniously into the baskets.

No!  I couldn't do it.  I stopped mid-Peter Rabbit on the 5th basket and took everything out.  I rooted through the Easter bin on the floor and found a large plastic bag filled with an assortment of grass from Easters past.  Green, blue, pink, yellow, sparkly, papery, plasticy, iridescent.  All tangled together in a flamboyant rat's nest.  I started tearing handfuls of the stuff and shoving it into the baskets, then giving it a little fluffing.  When I was done there were bits of grass everywhere, including in my hair and down my pajama shirt.

I stood back and surveyed my handiwork..
There now, I thought.  That looks like Easter.

And with a smile on my face I went back to work filling the baskets with chocolates and jelly beans, and all was right with my world.

Although it was made just a bit righter when I popped an M&M in my mouth.

Happy Easter, everyone!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Cinnamon Challenge

I saw a story on the news a few nights ago about some kids needing to be sent from school to the hospital because they partook in the "cinnamon challenge".

Haven't heard of it?

Then I guess your kids are smarter than mine.

The "challenge" is to try to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without any liquids.  Usually it results in a bunch of coughing and sputtering and the feeling that you never want to look at another cinnamon roll again so long as you live.

Or so they tell me.

                                 Image source

So anyway, some grade school kids brought some cinnamon in to school and tried it at lunch and it apparently did not go well.

And the news report featured some "man on the street" interviews on the topic.

Folks were outraged....

"They should provide more supervision in the lunchroom!"

"It comes down to the parents.  They should know what their kids are doing and be able to prevent this kind of thing!"

Good thing they didn't interview me.  I would have said,

"Kids are stupid!"

End of story.


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Friday, March 28, 2014

Farm Girl Problems

Quick quiz for all you farm-girl wannabes...

Which is worse?

a) Having sh** to shovel


b) Having a broken pitchfork to shovel it with, or

c) A broken wheelbarrow to shovel it into?

Which would you rather have....

a) Hay all over your jeans, or

b) hay all over the back seat of your car?

Hint: There is no right answer.  Because it's all wrong.  Very very wrong.


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Monday, March 17, 2014

I Love Coffee. I Love Repurposing. I Love My New Coffee Bar!

A couple weeks ago I was Pinterest-surfing when I saw a fabulous kitchen idea: a coffee bar.

I became slightly obsessed with creating my very own coffee bar in my very own kitchen.

I looked at what seemed like dozens of versions. Most of the ones I liked featured the same shelf. I looked it up and was shocked at its price tag: $120. No way in tarnation I was going to pay anything like that for what was merely a fun little corner of my kitchen, not a "must-have".

So I looked around my house and found I had a shelf that would fill my needs perfectly. It was just sitting there on the wall, serving no purpose other than holding a few "pretties" as my dear grandmother used to call them.

So down it came. Toasters were moved, blenders were relocated, the coffee pot was set up in its new home. The shelf got mounted above the coffee maker, and quickly filled with my filter canister, tins for coffee and tea, shakers for sugar and chocolate and cinnamon. I bought some shower curtain hooks for the towel bar and hung up the coffee mugs.

The piece that I was missing was a chalkboard coffee shop sign.

I couldn't find what I needed in the right size. Then one day, walking through Walmart, I saw poster board and such. There was a piece of black foam board in the exact dimensions I wanted. I found a picture of a sign I liked on Google images, and went to work with my chalk. It still needs a frame, but overall I'm pleased with how it came out.

The best part of my coffee bar? Other than the hooks and the foam board, it didn't cost me a thing.

I love it!


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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Farm-ily Planning. Rehashed.

I haven't been writing for my blog lately.  
And that's probably not likely to change anytime soon due to certain, ummm, life circumstances.

But that's no reason to not post anything at all, right?  Even if it's something I already posted previously, if you'll forgive my literary regurgitations.

So here's a post I put up about a year ago.....

It's that time of year again.

T minus twelve days till the vernal equinox.

Time to let my overactive gardening and farming ambitions get the better of me.

Let the delusional planning begin.

Where I had my pumpkins last year? I want to put in cucumbers.

The kids eat 'em like candy as soon as they come in, and we never seem to have enough.

All along the whole long stone wall? I want to try pumpkins again. They'll get more sunlight there, and I'm hoping that will mean the difference.

As in, maybe we'll actually get a few.

And I'll put sweet potatoes in the secret garden.

Termaters and peppers and herbs and scallions and assorted yumminies in the actual vegetable garden.

And I haven't even gotten started on the animals.

I'm gonna get 50 cornish-rock chickens to split with my friend Theresa.

Since I'm ordering poultry anyway, I'll probably throw in a few more layers. And I've always wanted a few ducks, maybe I'll get me some runners. Should I get a turkey or two?

And there's the building projects.

I want to make a hay feeder to keep in the upper field, and maybe a chicken tractor for the meat birds, and I want to build a little pen to keep a few hens in the garden to till it up some before I plant stuff.

And do I maybe want to get a pig?

Or a cow?

If I do, I'll need to make a few updates to my fencing and gates.

On a smaller scale, maybe I'll get a buck for my Alice and start breeding Flemish Giants.  They're so cool.

Time to wake up.

Wake up to reality.

Chicken coop?  Not finished.  Not even clean.

The barn is a wreck.  A tangle of wood scraps and cobwebby chicken wire and knotted baling twine and busted palates and empty feed bags.

You could say just about the same for my house.

Finding time for more projects? Two of my three horse aren't even broke to ride.

My dog's claws look like something out of Guinness.

And I just started back to work!

The only talk of vegetables should be what's on sale at the store.

The only talk of critters should be whose turn it is to clean up the dog poop and bring in the eggs.

Someone please hit me over the head with a shovel.

Just not one of my shovels from the barn.

I've been meaning to clean that.....


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shady Deals

I've recently had my eyes opened to a local Facebook yard sale site.

It has, quite simply, changed my life.

I now get to drive to the usual meet-up spot (the parking lot of an old Blockbuster, known in the group as BB) several times a week to make my exchanges.

I buy, I sell, I pass judgement.

Can you believe she didn't so much as wipe the crumbs out of the bottom of this??
Can you believe she would show up without exact change?
Five minutes late? Really? Who does she think she is?

This thing is rapidly growing in popularity. I believe the moderator recently mentioned it is now over 4.000 members. There are sometimes dozens of cars in the lot, hastily coming and going.

To those not in the know, I'm sure the whole thing looks pretty shady. Like there has been an explosion in drug-dealing in the mini-van set.

We sit in our cars, glancing anxiously around for our anticipated exchange partner.
Will she show??
Is that a silver Rav 4?  Damn, it's an Escape.
Checking Facebook messages, jotting things down in our little notebooks.
When we spot the vehicle we've been waiting for, we get out and look around surreptitiously, then hold the item up to the window.  A nod.  Money changes hands and the coveted item is handed over.

Psst! I've got a Longaberger. $10.
Yankee Candles, over here. Get 'em while they last.

Vera Bradley!  I've got Vera Bradley!

And we're a very anachronistic group. Yeah, we've got our own lingo. Like:


SFPF stands for Smoke Free Pet Free Home.
I've not used that one, myself.  Though I have been tempted to describe my items as coming from a WHPBTDS home. That's: We Have Pets But They Don't Smoke.
I'm thinking not many people would intuitively get that acronym.

The group has a moderator, which you can think of as a hall monitor.  She makes sure folks aren't posting homemade items, pets, or inappropriate stuff.  The other day someone posted a picture of a racy t-shirt.  It had swear words on it.  The horror! No sooner did the seller write GUC from a SFPF home, then two or three people put the moderator's name in the comments, so she would come investigate.  I can just picture these ladies wearing pigtails and shirts buttoned to the neck, shooting their hands high in the air and yelling, "Teacher!!"
After all, you just can't DO a thing like that on this site.  Racy t-shirt seller was the equivalent of a burned out meth head with rotting teeth, and the rest of us are all respectable medical marijuana dealers, and the two just aren't meant to mix.

I'd write more, but I've got a meet up at BB scheduled, so I've got to scoot.  I'm scoring a storage ottoman and selling a Bananagram with a busted zipper.


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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Movie Review: Gimme Shelter

A few weeks ago I was asked if I would watch an upcoming movie and write up a review on my blog. Since I like nothing more than sitting back to empty my head and take in a movie, I was quick to accept.

I actually had the option of getting a "press pass" to see it on the big screen the night before it premiered, but my schedule put its foot down and said no way, Jose, you can't fit a movie in on a Thursday night! So instead I watched it on my laptop from the comfort of my couch. I Just followed the link they sent me and voila, movie time.

I'm fancy.

I'm high falootin'.

Anyway, the movie is Gimme Shelter. It stars none other than High School Musical's own Vanessa Hudgens. When I told my friend that Vanessa was in it, she said, "Who?" And I just stared at her and said, "Uh, High School Musical....? DUH?" She continued to stare at me blankly while I stared at her like she was an idiot until it dawned on me. She's no idiot. Just the mother of two sons.

But I digress. Here is the official two sentence synopsis of the movie:

Based on a true story, Gimme Shelter centers on pregnant teenager Agnes "Apple" Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees her drug-ridden mother (Rosario Dawson) in search of a better life of her own. Turned away by her Wall Street father (Brendan Fraser), Apple is forced into the streets on a desperate journey of survival.

Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser and James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones didn't have a large part, nonetheless, he was amazing. Don't you just love James Earl Jones? Is there anyone who doesn't love James Earl Jones in anything he does? I even love to say his name.
James Earl Jones.
James Earl Jones.
James Earl Jones.
Say it with me,
James Earl Jones.

Ok enough of that.

As for Vanessa Hudgens, she was wonderful. As you may or may not know, it is generally true that an actress's talent in a movie is indirectly proportional to her attractiveness. Vanessa uglied herself up pretty good for this role, and as a result, her performance was stellar.

The story line was a bit predictable, but since it is based on a true story, I guess that's not much of a factor upon which to weigh the merits of the movie.

Because the protagonist is a traumatized, abused, foster kid with attachment problems, I kept a watchful eye as to how they would portray this angle, and I have to say kudos. Job well done.

With a very minimal soundtrack, the movie had a bit of a documentary feel to it. Id didn't seem very "movie-ey". That's a word, isn't it? Can fancy high falootin' movie reviewers say "movie-ey"? I say yes.

Even so, I enjoyed the movie. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.

Well, hold on. I don't think I laughed. I did cry. I cheered a little. I smiled. I related. I rooted.

Would you like to see the trailer? Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Gimme Shelter.
Check it out!


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Friday, January 24, 2014

Mommy's Little Helpers

I'd been going through a dinner-cooking slump the past few months.

Partly due to everyone's schedules pulling us a million directions.
Partly due to the fact that I. Hate. Cooking.

Actually, mostly due to that.

So new year, new optimism, new resolutions and all that, I decided I was going to do something about it.

Did you decide to cook more, you ask....?




Sigh (wipes tear from cheek).

Yeah.... NO.

I decided I would have my KIDS cook more.

Yes. I am a genius. You can say it. Gen.Ius.

There now.

Anyway, here's what I did. I wrote a list of all the meals we typically eat, then passed it around a table of very morose looking teenagers. They were each to pick four meals: one that was "challenging", one no-brainer, and two middle of the road meals. They were not allowed to pick the same dishes. That gave us 24 meals with no repeats. Plus room in the month for Friday night pizza as well as a few leftover/scrounge nights. Shoot, maybe I would even cook a meal now and again.

So then I wrote it all out on chalkboard paint next to my fridge.

On Sunday I look at the calendar and see who will be out on which nights, and then I plan who will be cooking what on which nights. For those "challenging" meals that were selected, I make sure I will be home so that I can walk the child through it, though I keep hands off. That way when they try it again a month later, they should know how to make it all by themselves.  "Should" being the operative word.

Once they've made a meal, I place a little checkmark next to it so I can keep track of which meals we've had. Otherwise they might try to convince me that we haven't already eaten macaroni and cheese 17 times in one month and I might just believe them.

So far, so good. We've been doing this for a couple weeks now. We have had no repeat dinners. I have still been in the kitchen a good bit helping kids learn how to make quesadillas and chili dip and baked ham, but there have also been several nights that I could either be out and about playing chauffeur or home sitting on my haunches and eating the proverbial bon-bons. Plus, they will each know how to prepare four things well. Just think of the life skills lessons here! I am doing these children of mine a service, I tell you, a service. They will thank me.

And for those of you sane people out there with only two or three kids, this could work just as well for you. Two kids could still cook two dinners a week for you, which is two fewer than YOU have to cook. That is a good thing. A very good thing. Or if you're not afraid of being reported to the authorities for child abuse, you could even have them each cook TWO meals a week. GASP!

Anyway, hope this helps those of you that are wondering how you can be at home getting a hot meal on the table while you are across town sitting in an overheated gymnastics studio waiting area enduring the smell of sweaty feet and the sound of overbearing helicopter parents bragging on their daughter's perfect back handspring.

Now fist bump with me and say "Parent Powers ACTIVATE!"


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Cents Worth of RAD Parenting Advice

Lately my 18 year old "RADish" (my son with Reactive Attachment Disorder) has been going through some rough times.

And I have a perspective that has been of great help to me when dealing with his "issues" (nice word for often not-so-nice behaviors).

Because it's easy to tell yourself to keep emotions out of things and not get drawn into the drama, but it can be pretty difficult to put that into practice when you're in the thick of things; when you have gone through years and years of stress and love and angst and hurt and worry and uncertainty and highs and lows of every kind.

What I do when he's being hurtful, is to remind myself that when I brought my babies home from the hospital so many years ago, they didn't love me. I loved them, cared about them, was able to gladly provide for all of their needs. I did not need for them to love me or show me love in any way in order for me to meet their needs.

So I just remind myself that it's no different now. I can provide for his needs because I am his parent. It is not conditional on whether or not he loves me. Just as with my babies, there is no price he has to pay in order to receive my parenting "services". Love came with my babies in their time. Love will most likely come in his time, though the two timelines bear absolutely no resemblance to one another. But even if it never does, it should not affect my ability to be a parent.

There. That's my two cents of RAD parenting for you.


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Out of the Mouths of ......

Out of the mouths of babes husbands:

Fred (trying to give me a compliment): You like nice. Did you frizz your hair?

Love that man....

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mommy 911

I recently received an email about a new app called Mommy 911.  Looks like something I would have loved to have had when my kids were little and always in tow. 

I thought many of you with younger kids would appreciate it, so with Sarah's permission, here is the info for you:

I wanted to share an app with you, Mommy911App, that can alleviate a lot of stress. Mommy911App provides activities for those long trips to visit family, games to play when you're stuck inside because of the weather, jokes for the whole family and kid-friendly mealtime ideas for those days where everyone is staring at you to come up with a way to feed them. There's also a little something for moms too: inspirational quotes, creative discipline techniques, stories any mom can appreciate, and more.

The app is being offered at $0.99 for Apple and Android devices so it won't come near to breaking the bank. Links to the app can be found at or you can click on the links below.

Sarah Foote
Rescuing Moms One App at a Time
Download from the App Store
Download from Google Play

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Eenie at one month old.

(Now she's)Lilly at eight months.

A cutie then, a cutie now.


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Monday, January 6, 2014

Memory Box

I'd like to share with you one of our family traditions.

The Memory Box.

It's pretty simple. I just keep a box in the kitchen, and throughout the year, we fill it up with mementos. Things like movie and concert tickets, playbills, graduation and recital programs, local maps from vacation spots. When the kids were younger, it often held things like special rocks or twigs from hikes, drawings, locks of hair.

The box itself is one of those photo storage boxes you can pick up at craft stores. Years ago, the kids would decorate it, and we would write the year on the top, and into the closet they would go at the end of the year.

I began to run out of storage space about the time the kids bored of decorating the boxes, so now I've been using the same box for the past few years, and I just put the contents into a gallon zip bag at the end of the year.

New Year's Eve, or sometime in the days following, we sit around the table and dissect the box. We reminisce and we laugh and if I'm being honest, we whine and ask when we can leave the table. But a good time is had by all most. We also get to read our resolutions from the previous year (which were placed in the box), and set ones for the new.

How do you all keep special remembrances from the year?


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Friday, January 3, 2014


I don't mean to be a bully to 2013 or anything, but it really sucked.

Oh, it did some things right, to be sure, like a magical family vacation in the Outer Banks, our oldest graduating from high school, our first licensed driver, a visit from Paw Paw and Granny Caggy from Kentucky, a loss of 35 pounds, a change in jobs closer to home, the miracle of birth and the cuteness of the five darling kitties from the stray we took in. Patrick got to go to Italy with a school trip, and Rosie got the travel bug again, going to Bethany Beach, North Carolina, and Hawaii all in one summer, and had a spectacular sweet 16 birthday surprise.

But for the most part it was a big jerk. Kicking us again and again till we were bleeding and crying.

A few of the highlights of what you did to us:
We Came home from vacation to find our beloved little dog Sophie dead. Our older dog Blue was nearly killed when he got hit by a car. He's still left with spinal damage and a dead leg that will remain with him the rest of his life. You gave my laptop a virus not once but twice. The first time, I lost every story I had ever written. Gone. Poof. Three family members were hospitalized. Yes, three. My daughter Julie in August, Fred on Thanksgiving morning through the following Monday, James the day after Thanksgiving though the following Wednesday. Acute renal failure for Fred that required weeks of dialysis. Weeks that seemed like months as he dealt with crippling nausea, headaches, fatigue. Mental health issues that have brought me to my knees. Meetings after meetings after meetings that in the end don't seem to make any real meaningful difference.

I was so fed up, there were times I didn't even cut the box-tops off the cereal boxes. Dimes for the school be damned!

Just to throw one final blow by kicking me when I was down, 2013 decided to give me a cold on New Year's Eve. A parting gift.

Well, 2013, I'm done with you. You are a washed-up has-been. I am turning all ninja on your ass. I will punch you in the throat and kick you in the teeth and you won't even see it coming. I will sit safely in the branches of my 2014 tree, hidden from your view, and I will pelt you with iceballs, guerrilla warfare style.

Adios, 2013.

Dontchou be comin' round no mo.
That's my cajun coming out.
And cajun trumps ninja, so watch out.

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