Monday, June 30, 2008

The Multi-Tasker(s)

The other night I was clicking through the blogs listed on Candid Carrie's - 'Friday Foto Finish Fiesta' and ran across a picture that struck me so completely I simply HAD to send a comment to the blogger who posted it.

This is Joe and his mom Terese at Outnumbered 2 to 1 posted his picture... Note the multi-tasking.

Now take a look at this:

This is a picture of my 18 yr. old son taken this afternoon.

My boy has been multi-tasking like this for well over 14 yrs. He's an ace programmer and an amazingly accomplished pianist. There's something to be said for this right brain/left brain activity. This playing of music while notes & chords, math & science swirl and dance around the brain. My son is completely self-taught in both his piano capabilities and his computer skills. I asked him if he'd allow me to post some of his music on this site but he's exceedingly humble regarding his talent and doesn't think it's anything special. As for his computer prowess, he's the go-to-know-it-all-guy both at his school, in our neighborhood and the online community. He's currently working with a guy in Australia to create a gaming site. This boy of ours has built websites and recently cut a cd at a local recording studio.

When I look at that picture of Joe, I can't help but be transported back 12 or 13 yrs. to the den of our old house and picture the little boy, that was my son, sitting in front of the family computer with his keyboard on a stand beside him... And it brings a tear to my eye as I realize how incredibly fast those years have gone by. Good luck Joe and keep on multi-tasking!

Because Once Wasn't Enough...

On June 21st my family went to see this:


School Edition
June 20-21 & 27-28, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.

Les Misérables School Edition
Performed entirely by students
School edition specially adapted and licensed by

And then, because my daughter and I just couldn't get enough of those 'Miserable French' we decided to see it again on Saturday night and take a few friends with us, who were also blown away. This was such an awesome opportunity for theater students across the state.

I can't find the words to express what an incredible job the kids did on this production. If you're a fan of Les Mis... Check this out, It'll blow you away.

One Day More

Now I'm so sad it's over and keep playing my pathetic renditions of the tunes on my piano trying to recall the awesomeness of it all.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Rerun - When your husband reads your blog...

As promised here is the response my husband gave after reading the blog post I lazily reposted yesterday.

'Seeing Red'
My husband has been reading my blog... 5/16/06

Yesterday he threw his dark red sweatshirt over his shoulder and in his best 'Rainman' impersonation said, "Red, definitely Red... It goes in the 'Dark Color Bin'... definitely, definitely the 'Dark Color Bin."

I knew this 'blogging' thing was a good idea but I had no idea on how many levels.

Update: Yeah, the 'Rainman' thing worked for about a week... I'm still picking darks out of whites and lights out of darks... I don't think he's colorblind... Just incredibly clueless. I am however grateful he's not Jon. who left this comment:

I sort my laundry into two categories: "Stuff on the floor", and "Who am I kidding there's no other category"."

My deepest sympathies to Jon's wife.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shopping Plans & Reruns...

Today I'm off to the land of Swedish Furniture with names impossible to pronounce... That's right, IKEA. I'm picking up a kid size table & chairs for the office space. It's a 'Family Law' practice so a little spot where the kids can escape to color or play, if they've been dragged along to witness their parents trash each other (sorry, flashback to my youth), I mean, while their parents work out the details of their divorce, seems a lovely addition to the room, ya think?

While I'm away, here's a rerun of an old post... Tomorrow I'll post my husbands response after reading this:

Catch up not Catsup!

I think I've finally found the bottom of all the dirty clothes bins in the house. I guess I'm kind of OCD when it comes to laundry bins. Let me explain... There's a bin/hamper in each room... There's a Deluxe hamper in the master bedroom... By 'Deluxe' I mean it has 3 separate bins, one for 'Whites'... one for 'Light Color Clothes'... and one for 'Dark Color Clothes'... It's very simple really and Oh, so organized!

If you're like me and organized laundry really makes your day complete than I'm sure you can relate when I tell you the following story:

Yesterday I was on my 3rd or 4th load of laundry when I went to fill my laundry basket with the clothes from the 'Light Colored Bin'... I had just loaded the 3rd and last load of 'Dark Colors' into the dryer (there were a damn lot of jeans!) It's stupid but I take such pleasure in seeing a completely empty 'Bin' it's because I know that part of the job is complete and I can prove it. SO, imagine my horror as I lifted the 'Light Colored Clothes' from their bin and found that my husband had included his BRIGHT RED POLO SHIRT to the LIGHT COLORED CLOTHES!!! He was working from home yesterday and it took all my willpower not to run down the hall to his office and smack him in the back of the head during his afternoon conference call. I can't tell you how many times I've made him stand next to me in front of the 'Deluxe Hamper' while I explained to him how the clothes are supposed to be sorted. I'm really not a very demanding wife... All I'm asking for is a little bit of assitance when it comes to sorting laundry... 3 bins, all together in a row... It's NOT THAT DIFFICULT!!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Not for the Squeamish... Including ME!

So, what's new you ask?

Well, I've pretty much been awake since around 2:00am.

Why, you say? Are you ill? Are the kids okay? What's wrong? You ask.

Well, two things actually... I love my dog and I'm trying to save the carpet.
Let me explain...

Yesterday afternoon my daughter pointed out an anomaly with our dogs er, um, butt... There, I said it... Butt, her BUTT! Nothing too terrible, just kind of swollen. I'd been meaning to contact a vet in our area who, I heard, does house calls and since our 'Anna' needs to have her shots updated I thought I'd give their office a call. I was instructed to leave a message which went something like this:

"Hi, my name is _____________, I'm the owner of a 9 yr. old psychotic lab who needs a check-up could you please return my call so we can set up an appointment."

When the gal called me back she was already laughing. While I had her on the phone I mentioned that not only did Anna need her shots but something seemed to going on with her uh, Butt. The receptionist asked me if she'd ever experienced problems with her 'anal glands'... "Uh, gee NO, we've had her since she was a puppy... Nope, never heard anyone mention her 'Anal Glands' before now." The receptionist told me the doctor would check it out when she came for the visit.

Fast forward to roughly 7:00pm last night... My daughter, who apparently spends more time than the rest of us checking out our dogs er, um, Butt... Points out the now bulbous dark red thing protruding out of poor Anna's backside. Are you wincing yet? Because I am still... In fact, my face has frozen into a perpetual wince... It's not pretty folks... None of this is! So I decide to search the web for more information and find this. (warning: click at your own risk. For you also may incur a perpetual wince.)

So last night I went to bed trying to put the image of poor Anna's butt out of my head so I could get some sleep.

Fast forward to 2:00am, when I hear a knock upon my bedroom door and my son says, "Mom, you better take a look at Anna, she's bleeding all over the place." Ahhhhhh CRAP! I shot out of bed and went straight to my sons room, where Anna likes to sleep at night. She indeed had blood on her backside, though the sack (thank heaven) hadn't ruptured. So my son and I laid an old blanket on the floor for her, but not before she sat her bloody but on the beige carpet. So, 2:00am janitorial services were required. Now here's the part about how much I love my dog. I grabbed my pillow from my room, made a pile of blankets next to Anna and lay down beside her and rubbed her head and her belly for the rest of the night... Well, until 6:30, that's when she decided she just couldn't handle not being in her favorite morning spot... Against the sliding glass door off the deck keeping a lookout for rogue squirrels.

I think I dozed a couple of times but mainly I spent that early morning hours trying my best to keep her from licking herself. If she's given a chance to keep worrying that thing it's going to burst and then we'll REALLY have a mess on our hands.... Ha, Ha, HA,! I said, WE... We'll really have a mess... Like anybody else around here would clean it up! HA, HA, HA!

So here I am, sitting, watch over my dog... Anytime she even moves her head I tell her "NO, don't lick!" She keeps giving me a look that says, "Would you just leave me the hell alone already!" The vet is scheduled to visit at 4:00pm but I don't know if I can wait that long, so I intend to call at a reasonable hour, is 9:00am too early? My dog has the canine equivalent of a HUGE, NASTY Hemorrhoid and I can't stop wincing!... HELP!

Note: That's a picture of Anna at the top of the page. I really couldn't bear the thought of taking a pic of her while she feels so miserable... I most certainly wouldn't want anyone taking one of my under similar circumstances.

UPDATE: We've been to the local VCA as recommended by the home visiting vet and Anna does indeed have an impacted anal gland. She now sports a trimly shaved bottom and has been administered antibiotics... Along with some pills which she'll receive wrapped in cheese (See Anna, every dark cloud DOES have a silver lining!) The real challenge now is trying to keep her in the kitchen on the tile floor and off the carpets throughout the rest of the house. If you know me and the layout of my house... Well, you can understand just how difficult this is going to be. btw: I'm becoming a regular Florence Nightingale as I have the delicate job of administering warm compresses to my dogs ass until the swelling goes down... Yay ME!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Details, Details...

When it comes to decorating a room, I'm all about the details...
Yesterday my daughter and I went to the mecca of cheap chic, 'Marshall's - Home Goods' and I'm overjoyed with the items I was able to find for the office project I'm working on. But here's the sad news in four words: One - Thousand - Dollar - Budget.

Now HGTV will tell you, thousand dollar budget? No problem! But have they ever created a PROFESSIONAL office space on $1,000? (Okay, they probably have but I missed that episode.) I do know one who is capable of such a task... My friend Atlanta Rose. Just check out what she did with her master bedroom suite with something like $35... (I know, it was more than that, but Rose just adores my sarcasm... Right Rose?) Alas, we can't all be like Atlanta Rose and lord knows I just don't have it in me to pick through every 'Goodwill' or 'Garage Sale' I come across and for this project we lack the time as it needs to be ready by July 1st.

So yeah, with a budget of a thousand dollars, a credenza for the computer, an executive desk chair and two client chairs need to be purchased. These are all VERY important items... However, what about the details? The things that make the space feel warm and inviting? Here's some pics of a few of those details:

This bowl is quite large at 16.5" in diameter

The metal piece will be a focal point on a large wall, it measures 37"h and 39"w and I love it so much I want to marry it! I plan on creating some artwork to grace either side of it.

The Atlas was a 'must have' detail because he looks like Amy's husband and like I told Amy, a guy with the weight of the world on his shoulders, in the office of a family lawyer, seems fitting... The fact that he looks like her man... Well, that's a win-win!

Lastly, candles! You never light 'em of course, but they project warmth and help cement the accent colors of the room. I've got a few extra candle sticks I can dig up or perhaps I'll place them on a charger with some colored stones.

We've already blown the budget with just the furniture pieces by $30 (less shipping), but Amy agrees the details are an important aspect... Thank heaven! ... Now if I can just round up some plants?

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Monday, June 23, 2008

From the 'You've Got to be Kidding' File:

I said I'd NEVER do it AGAIN...

Do you recall this post:
Lessons Learned

And this one:
And then I just stuck my head in a hole and prayed to die...

Hard to believe but, I said Yes to decorating another office space... Why in the world anyone would want to ask for MY help EVER again is beyond me.

Am I nervous?... Yes! Am I excited?... Though I'm still not sure why, Yes! I guess because this just might be a chance to redeem myself, take what I learned the first time and not make such a mess of it this time out. Also, I don't have to order a desk and have it delivered... There's already one at the office! One hurdle down, who knows how many more to go!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Quest for a Clean House Continues...

Today, we tackle the bedrooms...

Cover me, I'm goin' in!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Please Excuse the Interruption...

My apologies as today's blog is being interrupted by the dire need to tend to some housework and clean up the mess around here.

Regular blog posts will resume once this goal is achieved... Folks, this may take awhile.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Screwing Up The Nerve....

I awakened early this morning... Nerves already jumping over the anticipation or more appropriately the anxiety of presenting my cards to the manager at the local flower shop. I won't go through the tedium of all the ritualistic things I did to prepare myself for this mornings meeting but I will tell you about the battle I had in my head over where to park once I got to the shop.

"Should I park in the front?"

"No, not in the front, that's for customer parking... Definitely the back!"

"But where in the back? What if I block an area where they park the flower trucks?"

"Park in the nether regions of the lot!"

"But that leaves me terribly exposed, carrying my big case of cards, people will stare, people will point... I can't do it, I just CAN'T DO IT!"

"Ahhh, you're such a wuss... Just park out front then!"

So I park in the front and am at once greeted in the lot by an employee loading flowers into a van. He walks back into the shop through a side door, should I go in THAT door? Should I go in the Main entrance? Another conundrum! I begin to head towards the door he came out of but quickly decided that might be a service entrance and end up looking like a complete idiot as I weave my way toward the first door and back toward the other.

I walk into the shop, no one around but Oh, that Heavenly smell!!! I LOVE flower shops! Before too long a lady I kinda recognize but don't really know greets me and asks if she can help me. I blurt out almost too quickly, "Hi, my friend spoke with someone last week about the cards I make and it was suggested I come in this morning to meet with her?" I know, I sound like such a moron... *hitting self in the head*... Damn, why didn't I introduce myself first, offer my hand... I've really gotta work on representing myself in a more self-assured fashion. So, what happened next? I'd love to say she looked at my cards, proclaimed they were the most amazing thing she'd ever seen on paper, hug me and say, "I'll take a thousand!"... No, instead she looked at me and said, "Oh, I'm sorry Dawn isn't here today, there was a family emergency. You might want to wait and try back next week." Trying to hide my disappointment, I expressed concern for Dawn's mom which really was heartfelt because I worked with Dawn last year on a community sponsored event (hooray Dawn, at least I know Dawn.) I'm at least a little relieved that I now know who I'll be meeting with.... But damn, spending the morning working on screwing up enough nerve to go and do this only to have it fall flat is... Well, it's just frustrating and I'm exhausted from the effort.

I'm sure this whole experience is layered with growth potential. Potential to build self-esteem... Potential to practice patience... Potential to market myself well. Right now though, I just want to crawl into a hole and forget the whole thing.


Exhuastive Search....

Cons: Still no decision on the patio furniture.

Pros: Still have over $700 in our pockets.

Note to self: When looking at patio furniture DON'T run your hand across a slate mosaic table illustrating how easy it would be to clean... You'll spend the next 45 minutes removing a glass shard embedded in your finger.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

TNS Tuesday - The First Week

My son was entering what would be the 5th Grade when he started at TNS. I say, 'What would be the 5th Grade' because at The New School there are no grades. It's funny even today, when my kids meet with folks, a doctor or a dentist who ask them "What grade are you in?" (It seems the standard question for an adult to ask a minor, I guess because they can think of no other way to relate to this young person.) Whenever this inevitable question is asked, my kids have often shrug their shoulders and look at me for an answer. I usually shrug my shoulders back at them and that's when they'll say, "My school doesn't have grades." This answer is usually met in one of three ways:

Fist Response: "No grades? What kind of school is that?" *imagine snarky attitude*

Second Response: "No grades? That's interesting, how does that work?" *a tell me more attitude*

Third Response: "Oh." *implying, some sort of homeschool thing, I don't want to know anymore*

To sum up, we've had conversations that end at "Oh." and conversations that go on for the length of our visit.

But let's get back to my sons first week at TNS... But wait, I'm jumping ahead... First I must share with you a bit of back story from his last year at public school... Just a bit though, because these posts are meant to describe the merits of 'Democratic Education' not the shortcomings of a 'Public Education'.

When my son was in 4th grade he had two teachers. He was placed in a class for special needs kids because he had tested ADHD less hyperactivity... Whatever that means? Wouldn't that just be ADD? No, the experts told us ADHD, less the hyperactivity!!! Okay, fine! He didn't jump around in his seat, he just didn't pay attention... Or 'SEEM' to pay attention, because when testing time came, he always passed and we were told he tested in general knowledge at an 8th grade level.

Whatever, all we knew was the teachers didn't seem to like him. We'd be called into a conference with our son, where the teachers would lament over all they were doing for him and how he was falling short of expectations. I wish I'd been the person then, that I am today and stood up for my son. Instead I thought teachers, these teachers, were far knowledgeable than I. I thought Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, had all the answers. Now I realize they're human, just like me, and prone to make mistakes, just like me. When I think back to those conference sessions and how degraded my son must of felt, it makes me want to cry. The teachers telling us our son isn't measuring up. Us asking our son, why aren't you measuring up? If he'd stayed in that system... If my husband and I had never wizened up to the fact that we knew our son better than anyone else ever could? Well, I shudder to think where his self-esteem would be today.

So now at last I can cut to the first week at The New School. We're thrilled that every day we take our boy to school he's happy to be there. We haven't seen any homework because we understand our son can choose to learn whatever he wants... And my, how pleasant the homework free evenings have been. Our boy has time to spend building things like pulley systems for the tree house in the backyard. He's happy and he smiles a lot... And really, he spending his time learning practical things, fun things, things he's interested in!

Friday pick up of his first week our boy comes running out to us with a smile bigger than his face could possibly hold. He tells us he went sailing on the Chesapeake and learned to use a GPS (global positioning system, if there's anything my boy loves it's electronics) and had quite possibly one of the greatest days of his life! This alone would've made us thrilled beyond compare with our decision to send our boy to TNS but when Melanie (staff member & founder of TNS) wandered up to us and said, "Zak is the greatest kid, he's SO bright and WE just ADORE him!" Well, that's when we knew this was where he belonged. Nothing was more important than giving this kid back his self-esteem.

I think back to a tearful conversation my boy had with me during that year in fourth grade. I hugged him after he'd had a particularly bad day of teasing. He bunched his little hands into tight fists and said, "I've just gotta find a way to show them I'm smart! They all think I'm stupid, and I know I'm not, I've just gotta find a way to PROVE to them how smart I really am." I tried to console him, tell him it didn't matter what 'they' thought, he KNEW he was smart... But you know, there's nothing that compares to having it confirmed by someone who really loves and cares about you. Of course, I love and care for him and think he's amazing, but I'm his mom, it's a given I feel that way. He needed someone he trusted to confirm it for him... And that someone was the staff and students of The New School.

All I Really Wanted...

The other day my daughter and I ran to the W to the M... That's right, Wal-Mart for a birthday gift. We parked near the garden center because most people heading to our local Wal-Mart don't seem particularly concerned about plants... The busiest section of the store are the grocery aisles, which is why I typically don't buy my groceries there. But I digress...

Anyway, as we made our way through the garden section we ran across a lovely patio set. Beautiful table, six stylish chairs. It was perfect! At $286 it was a steal! I however will not make a decision on anything over $100 without first consulting with my husband... Very soon I fear, it's going to be much more difficult to buy gas... I quit consulting with him over groceries, year ago. So my daughter and I decided this was the set to talk with dad about. Our current patio furniture can only be described as Mismatch-Urban-Tackiness-Less-The-Umbrella, which blew out of the table and into our neighbors yard so many times it became a twisted mass of wire and fabric... We finally chucked it at the end of the last summer season.

My friends, it's time to chuck the faded Rubbermaid chairs and the stained, crusty glass topped table that currently craps up my deck! So last night, following dinner we went out with our friends to look at the lovely patio set my daughter and I had spied on Saturday... IT.... WAS.... GONE! And in its place was a set, while equally as nice was on the hairy side of too big! So what next? Home Depot!... My husband said he'd seen a set there which had just been reduced... "Nice set but why is this swivel chair all twisted and bent out of shape?" I said... "Um, because it's crap!"... So it was off to Lowes... We walk into the store and see one set. The price tag suggested that only the Gottrocks Family shops at Lowes. Dejected, we walk out of the store and notice they have a section in front of the store, hidden in the dark, featuring more patio furniture. We note a couple possibilities but nothing that screams "PICK ME! PICK ME!" Then our friends suggest we check out 'K to the M'... So we schlepp through K-Mart. The size of our deck once again becomes an issue and my hopes of procuring a comfortable & classy patio set are dashed upon the rocks of despair (I know, I'm such a Sarah Bernhardt.)

Once we return home we all discuss putting on a new deck, adding to the existing deck, moving to a different house or the possibility of my husband building deck furniture. When the conversation led to a discussion of somehow swapping the sliding glass door to open from the opposite side... Well, it all just became too much for me. All I really wanted were comfy chairs, a clean table big enough to sit 6 and a fresh umbrella for shade. As is usually the case with these decisions, this time next year we'll still be sitting at the same tired table, in the same faded chairs.

My husband and I just may die surrounded by all the riches from decisions we're incapable of making.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

The Perils of Putting it Out There!

Today was my first attempt at 'putting it out there'... My cards to be exact.

I've been selling my Paper Art, Dream Books & Cards for years. All by commission and word of mouth. Today however, I actually walked into a gift shop, snipped the ragged thread which secured the tentative hold I have on my self esteem and spilled my worth across the gift counter'.

My friend Lori, recently got to know a woman who owns the gift shop of which I speak. I'm grateful to Lori for not even thinking twice about asking her new friend if she'd be interested in my cards and for setting up an appointment for me to meet with her. I am such a BIG FAT GIANT WUSS when it comes to this kind of thing. Just let me sit in my studio, let the muses take over and create away... Ask me to put on the hat of the slick saleswoman, touting my goods and defending their worth... Well, I'd much rather shrivel up and die a thousand deaths.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of the work I do, but I'm also very critical of myself. I'd much rather be the first to criticize myself or my work before I give another the chance to do it first. And then, when it comes to the monetary value.... e-gads I REALLY hate that part!... Again let me reiterate, just let me sit and play with paper, don't make me think about how much it costs, how much time it takes, business licenses or tax implications... These matters make the creative process wither on the vine.

Anyway, I think the shop owner liked what she saw, (she LOVED my business cards)... However, it's always hard to gauge. Was she complimentary 'because' she was doing a friend a favor? OR Is she like me, and wouldn't want to hurt anyones feelings? She took 4 cards on consignment... I know, just 4 cards, sounds more like a pity purchase... Not even a purchase really, they ARE on consignment... But, whatever. She did however give me a list of the type of cards her customers are typically interested in, so I'm taking that to mean she'd like to see something more closely related to the theme of her shop.

Lori is determined to represent me and I'm thrilled for it, because I SO suck at it! She's got me scheduled to meet with someone from the local flower shop on Wednesday. I kinda know some people there, so I'm not as apprehensive as I was about todays meeting. Plus, I think my cards are far more fitting for a 'Florist/Gift Shop' than a shop with a 'Boating/Chesapeake' theme... So excuse me while I go make more cards....

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not as squeamish as I thought I was...

Today we visited a taxidermy studio!

Mr. Bob Brown is perhaps the nicest taxidermist you'd ever want to meet. I must admit, I don't know any other taxidermists but I'd like to think they're all like Mr. Brown.

Perhaps you recall my earlier post regarding my daughters sudden interest in taxidermy? Well, her adviser (Melanie) at The New School contacted Mr. Brown and this morning we all (Melanie, Myself, My Daughter and a friend) went to meet the man, ask questions and discover what secrets he knows about skinning and stuffing dead things.

Hopefully I'll have some pics to post later as my daughter had her camera and took some shots of the main part of the studio, which houses everything from Alligators to Turtles... Bison to Zebras... With a whole lot of deer, squirrels, ducks and fish thrown in.

The first part of our visit with Mr. Brown involved a lengthy story about just 'how' he managed to score a GIANT polar bear. The story involves a Horatio Alger type character, who sold his multi-million dollar company and now hunts the world over. Eventually we got down to the nitty gritty and began discussing just 'how' one goes about making something dead look alive. We discussed everything from teeth to goose fat, which I should add if not completely removed, can liquefy, run down the legs and drip on your den floor.

Eventually a kid, roughly my daughters age, came out of the back room and Mr. Brown asked him if the fox was ready yet. A few minutes later the kid, who they refer to as 'HP' because with glasses on they think he looks like 'Harry Potter' (I didn't see it)... Anyway, 'HP' comes back and says he's got the fox ready. We were then invited into the workshop to see for ourselves 'skinning' in action. I should note here that my daughter just adores foxes. She has images of foxes she swaps out as screensavers on her computer. The fox we saw however, would likely, only merit a screensaver on a pc located somewhere on the 3rd level of hell. Our lad HP was standing at a workbench with scalpel in hand, carefully separating the skin from the muscle. Was my daughter horrified to see her favorite little woodland creature as a mass of tendons and muscle? Oh NO! You see, this is NO girly-girl we're discussing here... Quite the contrary, she was fascinated!... And quite frankly, so was I... Not so much about what I was seeing but that I was seeing it AND it wasn't really bothering me... Go figure?

At one point Mr. Brown took us to a workshop annexed off the main back room where the freeze dryer was stored. I kinda blanked out when Mr. Brown described the freeze drying process so I wasn't all that interested.... I was instead awed by the number of deer heads that rested all over the room, at least a dozen of them leaned against work benches and walls in various states of polish. I considered asking Mr. Brown if at any point he had visions or nightmares of deer chasing him down to skin and stuff him, but thought it better to keep my wild imagination to myself.

I should mention the reason Mr. Bob Brown decided to become a taxidermist. He tells that one day, thirty some odd years ago as he was preparing a pheasant he killed for meat, he thought to himself, "What a waste of this beautiful creature." You see, Mr. Brown treasures nature and appreciates the beauty of each animal he works on. He told us he spends a great deal of time studying the movements and subtle expressions, unique to each variation of animal. I admire Mr. Brown for not wanting to be a taxidermist to showcase the pride of a kill but to instill a further appreciation for the creature.

As we drove away from the studio I asked my daughter if the experience made her think twice, or cement her decision, to try her hand at taxidermy. She said, "Oh most definitely TRY IT! I can't WAIT!"... I think she's excited for the same reason Mr. Brown taught himself taxidermy... Because they both love animals.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Hot Head

Please Note: The opinions of my father are definitely his own, and in no way reflect my personal values.

A conversation with my dad:

Him: "I went to get gas the other day and had to wait for this jerk on his cell phone! I sat there waiting in the 100 degree heat while he went into the shop and bought his sodas and crap while I sat there waiting and the whole time he was talking on his cell phone!" *Imagine the words 'cell phone' being spat out like a bad piece of fruit.* "When the guy finally came back to his car, still talking on his cell phone, I laid on my horn and yelled out to him, "Either you move that car now or I'm gonna push it out of my way!"

Me: "So dad, how's that heart attack thing workin' for you?" *My dad suffered a heart attack (his first and I'm guessing it won't be his last) back in May*

Him: "Uh, yeah, but I'm so tired of people in this world thinking ONLY about themselves."

Me: "Whatever Dad, but you sound like such an asshole!" *whoa! did I just say that? did I just call my dad an asshole?*

Him: "Well ya know, it's these damn people in the world who don't consider anyone but themselves!"

Me: *Interesting, I wonder who exactly, my dad was considering at the time he was acting like such an asshole* "Well yes, but you might have said something to the guy like, "Hey, it's hot and I've been waiting awhile, are you almost done?"

Him: "I don't want to talk to these people, too busy talking on their cell phones!... And the guy was black!"

Me: "Oh, so now you're an Asshole AND a Bigot." *whoa, I did it again?*

Him: "Uh, well.... *chuckles*.... It just makes me so mad!"

Me: "You need to work on that."

I'm 43 years old and I think this is the first time in my life I've had the guts to hold a mirror up to my dad and suggest he take a look at himself. It's liberating... And I feel a little giddy.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008


My poor husband, he works from home on Monday's and Friday's but the other three days of the week he has to rise at 5:00am so he can get out the door and beat the morning traffic before 6:00am... All while he watches the rest of his family snoring softly, or not so softly, with hours of blissful sleep ahead of them. Okay, maybe not HOURS for me, I'm usually up by 7:30... But you get the gist.

Except for THIS morning! THIS morning the phone on my bedside table rang at 5:55 AM!!! Who could it be? Well, it's not difficult to find out with an electronic voice announcing the caller next to my ear. THIS morning at 5:55 AM, it was my husband.... I'm like, "Huh?.... Wha?.... Wha time ish it?... The phone?... Oh, the PHONE!... My husband?.... My husband!!! I pick up the phone... "Hello?" and my husband says, "Zak forgot to get the trash out to the curb last night, please go wake him and tell him to do so."... I say, "Okaaaaaay?, bye."

Now, because MY SON, didn't do his job, I 'get' to wake up at O'Dark Early in order to inform him HE didn't DO.... HIS.... JOB!

Thanks husband!.... Thanks son!... I'm not a BIT tired today because of you... Not a BIT! And I'm sure with those 18-20 people we've got coming for dinner tonight, I'll be as bright and chipper as EVER!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can't...... Reach..... the.... Remote..........

My husband is watching an old black and white war movie....







Tuesday, June 10, 2008

TNS Tuesday - The Case of the Spitter

So my husband had this idea that I might consider setting aside one day a week to write a little something about the school my kids attend or something about 'Democratic Education' in general. Since we're currently hosting a house guest who is here for a couple of days 'checking out' The New School, and some of the stories we've been sharing are fresh in my mind, I figured today was the day to start Tuesday TNS. It's maybe the first installment, maybe the last (I'm dedicated like that), but I'll try to give you a glimpse into what life is like with two kids learning how to:
  • learn responsibility through self-reliance.
  • be free to explore without the constraints that smother interest and breed mediocrity.
  • develop individualized curricula, including group and independent study, hands-on exploration, travel, correspondence, experiment, and major projects, limited only by their imaginations and ambition.
  • be accepted for who they are and gain insight and toleration of others by working in a community composed of empowered individuals, without age or other imposed segregation.
  • learn the arts of liberty by participating in the student administered judicial process and using the tools of the participatory democracy of the School Meeting which govern and manage The New School.
  • use the close, supportive community of The New School as a base from which to explore local, regional and global communities, through trips, personal contacts, and telecommunications..
  • reflect on their growth to adulthood, while preparing the written arguments and public defense of their belief that they are ready to be responsible and productive adults. Proof of this, to the satisfaction of the school community of students, staff, and parents, is the requirement for graduation from The New School.
So did you make it through all that? It's how The New School is run, and until you have a student who actually attends the school, you might find it difficult to understand exactly how it all works, thus my reasoning behind TNS Tuesday.

In today's installment of TNS Tuesday, I'd like to address the topic of the JC... Or what's better known as the 'Judicial Committee' of The New School. You see, in a democratic school, the school is run by the students. The students, utilizing the democratic process make decisions regarding school rules, staff members, budget and disciplinary issues, by a majority vote... Which brings me to my story...

This event happened years ago, I think my son was around 10 yrs. old. I just received his permission to tell this story, which is.... My son spit on someone at school.... (funny, I didn't know he was a spitter?) Because he spit on this person, she 'wrote him up' and took him to the JC. The process takes a few days, in the same way being summoned for a court case can take a few months. When my son went before the JC (a group of his fellow students) he was found guilty of the crime of spitting. After deliberation, a judgment was handed down. My sons sentence? In order to understand how really disgusting spitting is, he was given a bottle and sentenced to fill it to a certain point with his own spit. Now, my son, being a squeamish sort was filled with horror at the notion of seeing his spit collected in a bottle. He 'neglected' to carry out his sentence. Refusal to carry out a sentence results in 'Exile' (a number of days decided upon, in which the student may not attend school.)

Now it's important to understand at this point that the parents of a New School student are NOT made aware of what their kids DO or DON'T DO at school. A Democratic Education is based on the idea that the student is given the responsibility to be in command of their own education. Therefore, if they make a mistake, they suffer the result. In turn they can be proud of all THEY achieve because THEY are the ones who've achieved it, as a direct result of their own choices. No helicopter parenting takes place at The New School.

So, I discover that my son has 2 exile days from school... The parents are informed (of course) that their kid has been given an exile, in order to make plans for them being home instead of in school, but they are told nothing more than that. It's up to the student whether or not to share the reason with his/her parents. In this incident, I didn't ask... (this story came out a year or so later from his sister.) I simply told my son that since he was going to be home, it would be an opportune time for me to get some help painting his and his sisters room. This was not a punishment, it was merely a matter of, "Oh hey, you're gonna be home? Cool, you can help me paint!"... We ended up having a really good time doing the project together and he learned some painting skills, so it turned out to be a win-win situation. As a result of the entire affair I can proudly say, my son never spit on anyone ever again... Because through his given sentence, he was able to grasp just what a disgusting habit spitting at people really is.... Wait 'til I tell you about the kid (not my own), who was found guilty of slamming doors.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008


So this is how today (the first day of summer vacation and husband out of town) went down:

The son rose at 12:43pm (I looked at the clock in the kitchen)... I was miffed because he'd left a mess in the kitchen sink last night but had assured me he was going to clean it up in the morning. Being certain to hold him to his word, I worked around his mess taking care of my own breakfast & lunch dishes. Sounds mean I know, not to just clean up his mess as I took care of mine, but in my continuing effort to promote responsibility, I left his mess.

So what does he do when he comes downstairs to greet me? He says, "Hi, any plans today?" I grit my teeth preparing for the inevitable assumed role of "Cruise Director", but simply reply to him, "No, not really." And then, and THEN do you know what he did??? He went into the kitchen and cleaned up his mess! Every bit of it! Without me having to say anything about it! And not just some half-hearted job but cleaned up the sink and everything? What the hell?

Eventually around 1:00pm, I pass my daughter in the upstairs hallway. She was headed for my shower (can't seem to use the same one her brother uses to bathe, ewww gross!)... Since she didn't come downstairs until after 1:30 I still believe I called the time correctly, though to be honest, I really thought it was the boy who wouldn't get up.

So I head down to my basement studio, where it's cool and I can release stress. Eventually my daughter shows up and asks me if I could come upstairs to help her with something. I begin to feel the tension in my neck, knowing full well she's going to ask me to 'help' her make lunch. On my way up the stairs I say to her, "I know EXACTLY what you're going to ask me to help you with." And she replies, "No you don't, you have NO idea." This went on, back and forth until I reached the top step and saw the basket full of laundry sitting in front of the washer. My daughter walked into the laundry room, turned to me and said, "What I wanted help with is I need to know how to set the washer for this load." ???????????????? Okay, who took my kids and where did these two come from... This was an episode straight out of the Twilight Zone. But wait, it gets even weirder... I walked into the kitchen where there were two utensils laying on the counter with a note on top. The note read: I'm not sure where these go and I love you Mom. (In retrospect I really should've taken a picture.) My daughter had not only gathered up a load of clothes but also emptied the dishwasher which my son had started after cleaning up his mess in the sink earlier! ??????????????? I KNOW!

Now I'm no fool, I can tell when I'm being played! So I looked at my daughter slyly and said, "Okay, I get it... What exactly do you want?" She looked at me lovingly with those big brown and eyes and with complete honesty said, "You said in your letter that if we saw something that needed to be done we should just do it." .....................*blink*............*blink*.............*huh?*..................

Are you kidding me? Was it really just that easy all along? All I needed to do was write a letter? Without saying a word I grabbed her in my arms, hugged her tightly, kissed her forehead and maybe shed a little tear.

Friends, I'm walking around this house as though the universe might tip at any moment. It's rather frightening really... I mean, this THIS is HUGE... Right? But what if it's all smoke and mirrors. What if Day 2 of summer vacation results in messes left behind and complete apathy towards mom? I can't go back, I'm telling you... I really can't go back!

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It's Almost Noon... Do I Know Where My Kids Are?

It's 11:33 am... The first day of summer vacation for my kids.
Do you think they're awake?
I'm laying bets as to exactly what time I'll eventually see their 'bright, shiny faces' today.
I'm guessing around 1:30... Anybody want to throw in a bid?

Momma's not gonna be happy if today sets the precedent for the rest of the summer.

11:54 am: But wait, I forgot to add... When they do get up either one or both of them will say, "Hey, so what do you wanna do today?" and then ask, "So, have you eaten?" GRRrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Books I've Read, Books I'm Reading & Books I'd Like to Send Back to the Author, Along With a Bill for the Waste of Time & Money Spent...

My thanks to mrs.romero for inspiring this post.

Please note: Before you go through my list of love/hate literature, I am completely aware that a book one woman/man loves, might be the very same book another woman/man completely loathes. That's the beauty of this world... We're all different and I can completely accept that... However, it's important to know that I am always right!... Especially here, in my own little corner of the web.

Books I've Read:

No self respecting 'Doocefan' can call themselves a 'Doocefan', if they haven't read this book. Now a die-hard 'Doocefan' probably would have sent their copy of the book to Heather Armstrong herself for an autograph... And an, "I'll be a 'Doocefan' 'til the day I die", 'Doocefan' would've bought an airline ticket to Salt Lake City, Utah for her book signing yesterday. Me, I just bought the book at the local Border's and read it. I'm not some wacked out blog fan that warrants a restraining order... BUT, I do have a 'Dooce' t-shirt!

I enjoyed the majority of this book but frankly, there was just too little 'Dooce' in it. I think Heather could publish a book of entirely all her own writing and it would be just as, if not more, enjoyable.

Like remembering an old dear friend...
It's unfortunate I didn't discover this series when I was a young girl. I was introduced to Anne (with an 'e') by the PBS Wonderworks series in the mid-80's... And NO, I was no longer a young girl then, but a married woman, I'm THAT Old!!!

So what I'm sayin' is... If you've never read the series... READ IT! Anne is enjoyable at any age. And if you haven't seen the PBS series... SEE IT! It's set in what's quite possibly the most beautiful place in the world, (Prince Edward Island) during a simpler time... You can be quite sure Marilla never had to worry about Anne sending naked pictures to Gilbert via her cell phone. Then again, Marilla had to hand wash her clothes and never had the opportunity to order up dinner using only a phone and the number for Pizza Hut!

Here's a book I never would've picked up on my own accord:
I was at Border's Express one day searching for a little something to curl up in a chair with for an extended period of time. When I was approached by a clerk asking me if I needed help with anything, I KNOW, WEIRD!, right? Customer service? Who knew it even existed anymore? Anywho, I made my desire known to the saleswoman and she points me to this...

I immediately think to myself, "Oh crap! a religious book!" I know I'm taking a chance at offending the church goers among you, but let's not throw stones... Think totally oppressed religious upbringing, among the most offensive group of hypocrites you can imagine and perhaps you can cut me some slack... Okay, so back to the book.

Being the 'uber-polite, can't imagine offending someone to their face' type of woman that I am... Just consider it a given that I would've bought the book no matter how much it cost. Quite simply because I knew this gal would be ringing me up at the register and I just couldn't allow her to think I didn't trust her judgment, especially after asking for her advice!

So I schlepped home with my 'religious' book... And you know what? I LOVED it! What an amazing story of the courage, determination and resiliency of women. Hey, just try to imagine what it would be like to be thrown into a cramped tent, with a plethora of other menstruating women, in a time when tampons had yet to be invented. The hormones alone in that one tent, make it completely understandable as to why the men steered clear and thought it best to risk their lives in the dessert in search of food, even if the 'food' ate them first!

Seriously though, this book will make you proud to be a woman. I recommend reading it while you have your period... It'll make you cry.

There are so many other books I've read that I'd like to mention, but this post is already long and I haven't yet gotten to the good part...

What I'm Reading Now:
Two books actually, the first I'm reading for the class I'm currently taking...

This isn't an easy read by any stretch of the imagination. My copy has underlines, question marks & comments I've written on nearly every page I've read thus far. (which is, pg. 49 - it's not a long book, it's just really cerebral.) The point of this book is to better understand what it means to truly Love. Erich Fromm points out that a painter studies how to become a better artist. A mathematician will take courses to better understand formulas, but what of Loving? For surely Loving is an art. An art which we 'think' we know and understand. However, if the examples of love in todays music, movies & media are any testament of what we believe Love is? Then I think it's important that we get back to basics and understand its real purpose and meaning and exactly how we should go about Loving in the true sense of the word. Serious stuff, I know!

Here's something on a lighter note I'm currently reading:

I purchased this book as a birthday present for my husband. I mean, look at the title... It has his name on it! (Sorry hon, you know I mean well.) While reading the book my husband would share with me funny little tid-bits and upon completion, told me he thought I'd really enjoy it... Why? Because I'm a 'Know it All' too? No, that can't possibly be true!

Anyway, this book is Great Fun! I know it sounds like the story of a guy recounting his foray into reading the entire library of Encyclopedia Britannica from A-Z would be a veritable yawn fest, but this guy is FUNNY! Plus you learn little bits & pieces of Britannica trivia along the way without having to wade through all the exceedingly boring stuff... It's a win-win!

Finally, There's really only one book that comes to mind which I'd like to send back to the author with a bill for the expense of my time and money wasted... and I'll bet mrs. romero knows of which book I speak:

I think this was the very first book to come out of Oprah's legendary book club. After I read this piece of crap, Oprah lost all credibility with me. Sorry Oprah girl, but I feel you done me wrong and it's gonna take more than a free car to win me back.

'She's Come Undone' is the story of a FAT GIRL and her struggles with self worth. One point in the book... I don't remember it too clearly because I honestly tried so hard to forget the details after I read it... The now thin, formerly FAT GIRL sees a beached whale rotting on the shore and cries because you know, she can like totally relate.

Let me just say this... Wally Lamb (the author) is a MAN... I'm sorry but until Mr. Lamb's dick falls off and he somehow sprouts boobs and a vagina, he has only one really short leg to stand on... And that one (very short) leg, certainly won't give him the perspective he needs to write about a woman and her struggles with weight, her sexuality or her self-worth... And that my friends is exactly why this book sucks!

So there you go... Book Review ala The Paper Treehouse.
I can see you are now weary and ready to move on to the next blog... So I'll wait until next week to share with you a couple of other books on my fav's list... Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Week of Ho-Humminess...

I don't know if I'm dis-inclined to DO anything this week because it's my last days of solitude until September or if I'm just stuck in the mud-glugs. Sitting here at my desk I can look around me and see oh, about 20 or 30 things I could/should be doing... And yet, my chair has this lovely dent where my backside sits fully ensconced.

I have homework to complete for class tomorrow night but, procrastinator that I am, I just can't seem to get up the where-with-all to read or do algebra right now. Could this mean I'm depressed? I do seem to be lacking any real sense of joy this week.

I keep thinking it's because we canceled our trip out to California, which, I might add, I spent months planning. Yet when I really think about it, I'm not sure I wanted to go all that badly. Yes, I wanted to visit my sister but her family has the opportunity to visit London, which unfortunately kinda coincided with our trip. Then there's my dad and that walk in the redwoods I looked forward to taking with him. Last time I spoke with him he made it perfectly clear he hadn't the strength, desire nor inclination to even walk down the street of his trailer park... I think post heart attack depression has hit him like a ton of bricks. So the idea of traveling 3,000 miles to sit across from my dad in his double-wide to listen to him gripe, makes little to no sense. Sounds pretty selfish of me, doesn't it? I should also be wearing a sign reading: 'I'm the Pot and the Kettle really isn't all that black'... Because my dad may gripe at me when he's feeling low, but I?... I share it with the free world... Or at the very least the 5 or 6 of you who read my drivel.

Here's to a better outlook next week when flying solo will no longer be the option. Perhaps my two 'Utes' (sic. My Cousin Vinney) will toss me a proverbial vine, to help free me from this quicksand that's sucking me under.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Baby Got a New Pair of Shoes...

My feet and ankles still aren't a 100% but I figured the best way to get them there was to stop wearing my old shoes which provide about the same amount of support as my sisters ex-husband (ie. butkus!)

Since my daughter had an appointment this morning, to visit Dr. Fabulous... Uh, I mean Dr. Perfect, the orthodontist/game show host, the two of us veered off to the nearby DSW before heading back to school.

I've probably blogged about this before but in case you missed it, I HATE buying athletic shoes! No matter how big they are when I try them on, once the cards been scanned, they're in the bag and I put them on for the first time to actually WEAR them, my feet always feel like they're being strangled. Even now as I sit here wearing them I can no longer feel my toes. It's like my feet are slowly being smothered by all that extra padding! My feet have spent the last many months lazing around in stretched out, tired old, cushion flattened sneakers. My toes like to spread out and breath, aaahhhhh! Currently they're screaming, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM US?"

So bare with me folks as I hobble-blog my way through life for a while... And hey, thanks Stacy for all the shoe advice. I plan to look for some of those arch supports you mentioned... And hey Stacy & Lime, while at DSW I tried on a couple of Birkenstock sandals... And let me just say that when your feet are as big as mine (9 1/2-10), Birkenstocks are SO not the way to go unless you're hoping for the title of runner-up in the 'I wanna look like Frankenstein' finals. I know, comfort over fashion, right? Sorry, but Yeti is just not my style. Thanks though!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Like a discarded ladder in the fast lane - I'm trying to start a traffic jam

Today, Christy pointed the way to an interesting site...

"A site/blog started by Heather from Mindless Junque, and Tiffany from The Romero Diaries to help create a circle of mommy blogging supporters. If you send them three of your best posts, they will feature your blog to help you get more traffic."

You see, I'm finally willing to admit...
(Side note to husband... Yes dear, I'm coming clean)
That I am indeed addicted to blogging. I'm also freely willing to admit that I can and will do whatever I can to expose the world to my blogging, bloggery abilities of blogishness.*

I don't really consider myself a 'Mommy Blogger' per se. I haven't thought of myself as a 'Mommy Anything' for quite a long while... C'mon, with kids the ages 15 and 18, I'm just 'Mom' and sometimes just 'Hey!' So that's it, maybe that's what I'll call myself... 'Margie, the Hey-Mom Blogger of The Paper Treehouse'

To my loyal readers, all 3,4,5 of you... How many are there of you now? Raise your hand and be counted! If you're interested in connecting to more incredible bloggers I urge you to check out SITS.

*Yes I intended for that line to infer I know a wee bit more than squat, about that which is known as 'blogging'.


It's Always Something...

Following the week that left me vowing I would NEVER eat 'Chicken-on-a-stick' EVER AGAIN! I made the commitment to climb back on that proverbial wagon known as 'Diet & Exercise'...

Watching what I eat is going very well, probably because my stomach shrank following its week long
purge. Exercise... Not so much.

I started walking again and I don't know, maybe it's because I've been wearing sandals a lot lately or perhaps my 'Nike's' have lost all their support but my feet are killing me! When I try to walk it feels as though my ankles are just going to snap! I'm cursed with high arches so walking around barefoot or in shoes without support can result in a wicked 'Charlie-horse' across the top of my foot. The pain I'm currently experiencing however is a whole new affair. I made it a mile this morning and had to quit. I hobbled the rest of the way home and am now gingerly making my way around the house, clutching walls and considering one of these:

I know I need to hit DSW for some new kicks but I'd better wait 'til I can heel-toe my way around, in order to make sure whatever I try on fits properly.

These are cool, but I know I'd better find something with far more support:

The shoe, the stilettos and the Adidas sneakers you see in the gallery are all trompel’oeil paintings applied directly to the feet by a company named Temptu Paints. The New York City-based company specializes in airbrush make-up, temporary tattoos, body art and special effects makeup. The company, which does extensive work for Hollywood movies, TV shows, commercials, and the fashion industry, has a very impressive portfolio. The work you see in the gallery was commissioned by New York Magazine for a recent article.

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