The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I'm in the Mood for Love

With Valentine's Day bearing down on us, I wanted to pass along (as I had last year) a few helpful links.

First, you're gonna need Valentine's cards, right? Okay, here's the hook up. I mean it. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is offering a special if you buy a dozen doughnuts, they will give you a dozen valentine's cards, each with a coupon for one free doughnut inside. (Please do not thank me by sending me a card.)

Want a little something special on your Valentine's cards? (NOT THAT! Oh, what a sick little monkey you are!!)

I'm talking about stamps, Perv! Check out these stamps featuring celebrity kisses. Mail a little something to your Sweetie with Jessica Alba's lipstick on it. Or Gene Simmons'. Whatever floats your boat, I say.

Your Valentine is the Prettiest Girl Alive. You tell her so every day. She's so superficial that wants you to prove it? Here's the answer to your prayers. An Ebay auction for a chance to post any picture for 24 hours on the Prettiest Girl Alive website.

Not sure where to take your special someone for such a romantic and intimate holiday? Fear not, White Castle has made it easy for you. Simply make a reservation and you will have a candlelit dinner for two awaiting your arrival.

What Valentine's Day would be complete without a gift for that special someone? I've got a few options for you. You know I wouldn't let you down.

Okay, we can all agree that soap-on-a-rope is so '1972'. Right? Here's a little homemade project that will win you some points. Heart-shaped soap with a little something extra.

But, WAIT!! Have I got a special for you!! Condom Man has a FANTASTIC Valentine's Day sale going on! Don't wait, though. You wouldn't want to miss out on 100 condoms for $20 would you??

Now, once you've taken advantage of that special, here's a little quiz to help you work out the best time to try them. Figure out your best time of the day/night for some of that EXTRA special Valentine's giving.

Hmmm, none of these things sound quite right for your special Valentine, huh? Well, fear not. I haven't pulled out ALL the stops yet. How about this? You trick suggest to your significant other that they take this online quiz you found. The great part is that the compilers will then send YOU an email telling you what kind of gift your Valentine would like to have. That's half the work!

Lastly, don't forget the romantic music. Whether you are singing something on bended knee or boxing up concert tickets, music is nearly always a right choice.

So don't wait until the last minute! Everybody have fun tonight!! Everybody...(you know the rest of it.)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Hits Just Keep Coming

While I can't boast anywhere CLOSE to Tony Collett's 800 posts (in fact, it's a paltry 315 not counting this one), I did notice that I've had more than 20,000 hits to my little blog. Maybe even half of them from someone other than my ex and his girlfriend.

A couple of those hits, recently, by way of a new search engine I hadn't ever seen before. I thought I'd share with you guys, too. Since they have prizes and stuff.

You won't believe it. I certainly didn't. But Meatloaf....yes, I said Meatloaf...has started an internet search engine.

Uh huh.



::blink:: ::blink::

Internet Search Engine.
::scratch head::

I can't make it work either.

But, hey. Go there. Search for stuff. Win prizes. Remember who sent ya.

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Catching Up On The News

Lately, I've been too busy for much of anything. A well-meaning friend of mine sent me an email full of news clippings. While I cannot verify the accuracy of the stories, they were sent to me via email, isn't that verification enough???

Anyway, like it or not, I'm sharing them with you.

Not you.


If you can't read them, just click to enlarge them.

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I Do! I Do! I DO!!

The ever knowledgeable Mike Norton surprised me in a comments thread over on the always entertaining blog of my intended. Nearly going as far as calling wedding traditions “chick things”. (It made Martha faint, I tell you.) Specifically, with regard to "Groom's cakes". Something I thought were relatively well-known.

And so, in the ever-broadening mission of The Oral Report, here's a little something to help you all get your learn on.

Jan Kish puts it about as succinctly as I could ever hope to, so I'll refer you to her for a history of the groom's cake.

Though, I suppose I've taken for granted that everyone knows what a groom's cake is, let me just say that my personal experience has been that the wedding cake (or bride's cake) is the more formal/traditional cake and the groom's cake is the "fun one".

When the wedding cake is white cake, the groom's cake is chocolate fudge. While the wedding cake is staunch and formal, the groom's cake is all about everybody getting footloose. The wedding cake is flowery and lacey and as feminine as it gets. The groom's cake is anything but.

As someone who loves the kitchen, I am, quite honestly, in awe of the artistry of wedding cakes. The amount of work that goes into baking and then decorating these breathtakingly beautiful displays really impresses me. While most of the groom's cakes I've seen (and tasted) are rather less distinguished, there are some that are quite memorable.

So, while the tradition is not a new one, but instead a rebirth, and though it seems to be catching on a little stronger in the south than for our northern neighbors, the lighthearted fun of a groom's cake is a wedding tradition I can get behind. Traditional weddings are often a very fussy affair. The groom's cake attempts to shake things up a little.

It's entirely possible that the majority of my male readers have never seen STEEL MAGNOLIAS. I know, I know, you keep meaning to, but just haven't gotten around to it. The lack of nudity and/or violence, and abundance of emotional intimacy gives it a resounding "10" on the Chick Flick-O-Meter. Likely pushing it farther and farther down the "Must See" list.

If you had, however, you'd have noted a pretty funny scene in which, during Julia Roberts' wedding, Shirley MacLaine is serving the groom's cake (a red velvet armadillo cake) to the guests and, because she is angry with Tom Skeritt (who plays Julia's father), when he asks her if they can call a truce long enough for him to get a piece of cake, she cuts the tail end off of the cake in a gesture to show him exactly what she thinks of him. Tom Skeritt recover's with a "Nothin' like a good piece of ass."

Myself, there was no groom's cake at my first wedding, and it's unlikely we'll be having one at my last wedding. But, had Highlander an interest, I'd have certainly supported it. Though I'd imagine, it would look something like this.

Class dismissed.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Un-Flashback Friday!

Due to technical difficulties (see, the way it went was that I had completed this long Flashback Friday! and closed another window and the computer locked up and took my unsaved copy...GRRRRRRRR!!!!...with it), there will be no Flashback Friday! today.

I'd like to say that I'll get back to it later today, but it would be a lie. And, hey, I don't lie.

Given the three days' worth of errands Highlander and I have before us this afternoon, dinner out with the kiddies and then movie night at home, I don't see any way in HELL I could recreate all of the writing that just vanished moments ago.

Consequently, if you've stopped by in hopes of going through my gray matter, I'm sorry to have disappointed you.

Best wishes for a great weekend, though! Really!

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Wreck of the Sarah Fitz-Goldberg

In case you missed this on "American Idol" last night, let me introduce you to Sarah Goldberg. Highlander and I just sat in amazement as this horror unfolded before our eyes.

::blink:: ::blink::

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Little This, A Little That

A little slice of life today. A few things going on that I wanted to share. Nothing of significance, just some rambling. So, here's the "News".

In You Have No Money News, I had a lovely meeting with my bank branch manager yesterday afternoon and the bank will, indeed, make sure that any checks I had out will clear. Of course, any overdraft fees will be mounting as their investigation into the theft of my identity goes on. But, hey, given all the folks out there that wish they were me, I'm amazed I've lucked out this long.

Once the bank has determined that I didn't have breakfast at the Sanborn Cafe' in Tijuana yesterday, they'll put everything back as it should be. At least that's the story they're telling me right now.

I'd used my debit card to pick up a prescription and a few groceries at our neighbhorhood grocery on Monday night. Because [Kid 3] needed some money for school yesterday, I ran the transaction as a debit, so that I could get some cash back. Not sure if this is where the problem originated or not.

I'll keep you guys posted on this saga, though.

In Work Bites News, while talking to Highlander on the phone this morning, our bookkeeper came rushing back to my cubicle to ask if I could take Lexus to the emergency room. Cutting short my conversation, I grabbed my coat and hurried to her cubicle. One of the architects was helping her on with her coat and I was handed her purse to carry. She had, apparently, dislocated her shoulder.

Before we got to the car, though, it popped back into place and the trip was, as they say, narrowly averted. Had this been the extent of my interactions with Lexus today, I'd have been fine. But, no.

She's been on a roll for the last week or so about how everyone in the office is trying to get her fired. The latest assassin is our newest intern, Ashley. Ashley's talent and work ethic could run rings around Lexus', with one X-acto knife behind her back. Of course, Lexus doesn't see it that way. She has seniority and is outraged that Ashley is trying to tell her how to do things. So, I had to spend a half an hour listening to that bullshit.

I kept telling her to do the best job she could do and try not to get caught up in the peripheral crap. If she was doing a good job, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on if they tried to get rid of her. But she never listens. She is insecure and paranoid and so very young (and unwise).

Every one of the architects in this office has mentioned egregious mistakes she's made on drawings or in carrying out their instructions. With Ashley, they tell her one time and she does it right. Plus, if she sees something she believes should be changed, she'll bring it to their attention. Which is a big plus to them. So, advising her to focus on her work was the best advice I could offer. Though, I'm not sure how much good it will do.

Once again, I can't fix everyone else's problems.

In Me Blowing Off Steam News, my ex dropped by at 8:55PM last night to drop off a belt and a sweater he'd forgotten to return with the kids last Saturday. He had mentioned (the day before), that he'd be dropping them off yesterday, but had indicated it would be in connection with picking [Kid 3] up for her religion classes. I mentioned, during that very phone conversation, that my records showed that there was no class scheduled for last night. He indicated he'd check his stuff and call me back.

He never did. As yesterday wore on, I decided that I wasn't going to rush around and get her ready, as my schedule showed no session. He never called. Never emailed. So we had never really set up a time for him to drop off the weekly forgotten items. Apparently, he assumed any time was fine.

Knowing [Kid 3]'s bedtime is 9PM, he shows up 5 minutes prior. She's had her bath and is in slow down mode and he ramps it up by popping in just before she climbs under the covers. It was incredibly inconsiderate of him. Once again, taking for granted that he can just show up whenever it suits him and making it clear that he doesn't have to consult me to check what works for OUR household. Had I known he was planning to be that late, I'd have either postponed it, or asked him to drop off the items in a bag on the front porch.

I made it abundantly clear that I didn't appreciate such a late "drop in" and asked him to please call before stopping over in the future. His response was that he'd told me he was going to be dropping the items off that day. I guess that means he could have come at 11:30PM and he'd have still been in his rights. Of course, I was still expecting he'd call me back to confirm things and thought we'd address the return items when he did. Obviously, he thought he had a free pass.

I don't treat him with such disrespect. I really wish he'd stop doing it to me.

Ahhhh, life's little aggravations.

In Happy Busy News, I've got my Martha on with respect to my upcoming nuptuals. Wedding attire is coming together nicely. Still need to finalize what my attendants will be wearing, but have my dress picked out and the groom and groomsmen are all done, too. At least we have a color scheme! Hooray!!

Highlander and I have a cake-tasting scheduled for a couple weeks from now, but short of the cake tasting terrible (which I absolutely do not expect), we should have that done pretty soon.

We've gotten the rehearsal dinner done. The location is reserved and food selected. And the reception location has been selected and reservations secured.

I've gotten the photographer scheduled and some of the music (what will be playing as I walk down the aisle...don't expect traditional...and a special number that we should be able to pull off) behind me, but need to persuade someone to start burning some cd's of selected songs for the reception.

Invitations should be going out in the next couple weeks. We've come up with the wording we want, the graphics we want and have picked up some blank invitations, which we'll print ourselves.

We've come up with some very beautiful heartfelt vows that we want to exchange and decided on the menu for the reception (most of which will be prepared by yours truly...a daunting task to be sure), but haven't even started looking at rings, yet.

Working on getting an officiant lined up and then it will be on to bouquets (which I'm doing myself, long before the wedding date) and decorations for the reception (see previous note, except that I'll likely be putting these together while Highlander is attending his bachelor party).

Though we haven't picked them up yet, Highlander has decided on gifts for his groomsmen. I've decided on a wedding gift for Highlander, too. But, I'm not telling on either count. We've also set aside some time to go get our marriage license.

At this point, I wanted to share an anecdote (and it's not even Flashback Friday!). The whole time I'm working on wedding plans, I keep remembering a conversation Highlander and I had, via email, early in 2004. I was helping him with a project to get his novels to various publishers and had sent him a note outlining what I'd done, what I had left to do, and some suggestions on the topic. He sent me back a note that, had I more time, I'd likely share here in it's entirety.

The crux of it, however, was that while he didn't ever expect to need the services (because he was never going to be married...heh), if he ever did he wanted me to organize his Big Fat Greek Wedding. Basically, he was complimenting me on my organizational skills and trying to show me some appreciation (which was sweet), but I'm sure neither of us thought we'd ever be in this position.

There is a definite humor in the situation, as I work to pull together a wedding between a divorced woman who was never going to get married again, and a single man who didn't believe in marriage, but had, long ago, referred me for the wedding planner position. Okay, maybe it's just funny to me. But I do get a kick out of it daily. And that's very nice.

In Entertainment News, and on a much, much less significant note, I'd like to express my gratitude for the new episodes of "Heroes" that started this week. Let me say, "HOORAY!" With the new season of "The Shield" not due until April...::groan::...and "Deadwood" over (and no promised movies in sight), I've been dying during the dryspell! Nice to have a show back on that I look forward to seeing.

Speaking of Shows To Look Forward To, let me note that a good friend and former gaming buddy of Highlander's, Alli, will be on Jeopardy tomorrow night. How cool is that?? I have no idea how she did, but tune in if you get a chance!!

All right, I'm heading back into the grind. Speaking of which, Highlander is having a pretty rough week (that's lasted about 21 days at this point) at work these days. Business is booming (in the non-fun explosive way, if you know what I mean). If you get a minute, show him the love. Drop him a note and just tell him that you're rooting for him. I know he'll appreciate it.

Of course, me driving him nuts with wedding nonsense probably doesn't help. But, I hope he always knows how very much I love him. 'Cause I do. And it's a lot. In fact, it's just a liiiiittle bit more than he loves me...;) But, Hey, that's not "news", is it?

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

I didn't watch the shrub last night, but I caught parts of the speech on the news. This one sounds remarkably similar.

I just want to say that it brought a "tear to my heart" to hear the shrub talking about energy and health care initiatives. It was almost as if he really cared.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm Contemplating a Little Violence...

Today actually didn’t start out bad. It’s only gotten bad the longer it’s gone on. (Mental note...check into feasibility of ten hour days, in lieu of the standard twenty four hour variety.) I know most of you are entirely too intimately familiar with the phenomenon of a day turning bad on you. Somehow, even knowing that it's far too common doesn’t make it suck less.

Work hasn’t been bad, and some wedding stuff I’m working on is coming together. But our upstairs neighbor has sublet their space to the Russian Olympic hurdle-jumping squad. For hours, they’ve been practicing right above my head. One by one, I can hear them running, running, running, running, and then JUMP! A few seconds for the next person to get in position, and then run, run, run, run, JUMP!

I’ve had paint chips (and unidentifiable detritus that I don’t even want to investigate) falling on my desk (likely in my hair) all day. Not to mention having to listen to the thundering herd nonstop for hours. Which is not nearly the fun you'd think it is.

Add on to that, that I’m looking for a tax refund and got online to check my bank balance. I realize that sounds like a good thing. (Normally, it is.)

I hit a snag when I couldn’t log in to get my banking information. I’d been on yesterday with no problem. Today, I got an error message that gave me an “800” number to call. When I called, I was told that the card was frozen and I was referred to the bank’s Fraud Department.

Part of me was thinking that there had been a charge that they didn’t recognize, I’d verify it, they’d unfreeze the card and I’d go on with my life. Uh, uh. It’s not gonna be like that. Someone has gotten my pin number and my card number. In Mexico. And they’re living it up on the paltry dregs of my checking account. (Which can’t be much living, I’ll tell you.)

Luckily, my bank’s fraud division got right on it. (Though it makes you wonder how they can “know” that kind of stuff.) Likely, the fact that I picked up a prescription and filled my car up last night in River City, and then started charging stuff like crazy in Mexico this morning was a tip. They’d have to be watching pretty closely to have caught it that quickly though.

In any event, I’ve got a few hundred dollars less to work with for the next couple weeks. (Which, given my finances is gonna hurt.) Not cool. Once they have determined it was fraud, the bank will put it back in. In the meantime, I’ve got checks out that haven’t cleared yet, and [Kid 3] has therapy tonight...with a copay of $50. More fun on the horizon, guys and gals!

So, I’m leaving work early today to get a new (temporary) debit card and check with my bank to make sure the checks I’ve written will clear. It's gonna be a crappy couple of weeks. (I guess I should be grateful this happened BEFORE the tax refund hit, though. Honestly, I am.)

The calendar says “Tuesday”, but today’s got all the earmarkings of a "Monday".

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

There's a Big Star on My Calendar Today!

I'm sure she thinks I've forgotten by now, but, oh, no. I don't think so. SOMEbody's got a birthday today!!

Have a great one!! Now, everyone feel free to go here and shower her with birthday greetings!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Another Friday, another Flashback. Whee!

Unlike last week, there will be no ‘nekkid bootay’ in this week's Flashback Friday! I can see how disappointed you all are, but try to contain yourselves.

Lisa Gibson's recent tales of TOP CHEF reminded me of a little story that I'd like to recount today. So, tie on your apron and grab your poofy hat, and let's go. 'K?

Just a couple weeks after I started dating Baron, in the summer of 1983, he invited me on a camping trip. I liked him alot and have always loved camping, so it sounded good to me. He front-loaded the invitation by telling me he'd take care of everything. He had all the camping gear and would get all the food and do all the cooking and all I had to do was enjoy myself. Accepting the invitation wasn't difficult at all.

The campground consisted of pretty wide open fields with trees on the perimeter. Different from campgrounds I'd been to in the past. The same was, evidently, true for him. But we made the best of it.

After the orange pup tent had been set up, we did some hiking around and then came back to start a fire. I'm pretty sure we had hotdogs for dinner, but I couldn't swear to that. It's been 23 years, after all. I can, however, tell you exactly what we had for breakfast the next morning.

When we woke, the fire had died down a bit. Baron worked on it until the flames were dancing in the dawn. He started a small kettle of water heating. For coffee. I've never been a coffee drinker. I've tried it many times, but I just can't get beyond the bitter taste. This particular camping trip coincided with an unusual time in my life when it seemed that everyone was trying to get me to drink coffee.

Baron was no exception to this rule. He'd brought along instant hot chocolate, in the hopes that making me mocha coffee would get me turned around on the whole java thing. (I'd like to note that he'd already tried cinnamon coffee, amaretto coffee, and coffee with lots of milk and sugar.) I'm just a tough sell. Because while I like chocolate (and for that matter cinnamon and amaretto and milk and sugar), the coffee just messed it up. But that was okay. Really.

For breakfast, he'd planned to make French Toast. Which sounded very yummy. So, while he slaved over a hot fire making my meal, we continued to get to know one another. We enjoyed each others' company right away and I certainly felt (and I'm pretty sure he reciprocated) he was someone that I wanted to spend much more time with.

In any event, while we were chatting away, I wasn't really paying much attention to his cooking. Sure I saw him get bread out and heard him crack eggs, but how tough is French Toast? I didn't think he needed my help.

I really couldn't have been more wrong. Because, at that point, I was handed a plate. A plate that presumably contained my breakfast. Handed the plate by a man who's feelings I did not want to hurt and with whom I wanted to continue to have a relationship.

All of that was rocketing through my neurotransmitters as I looked (trying desperately to keep my jaw from dropping) at the food I'd just been served.

Many times, since that day, I've described the French Toast. And every time, I can see it in my mind's eye just as clearly as I did that first time.

In my experience, prior to that fateful July day in 1983, French Toast always looked like the picture above to me.

I truly had no idea it could even look like this. To be fair, this is the closest facsimile I could find of Baron's French Toast.

The actual product was also embellished with mostly raw egg dripping from it, giving it a very slimy appearance. Kind of like those squishy goo balls that you find in all the gift shops these days.

I sat there, stunned, for what felt like ten minutes. I know it wasn't that long, but time just stopped for me. I didn't know what to do. The panic was overtaking me, and my mind was screaming "AUGH!, AUGH!, AUUUGGGHHHHH!!!!!"

So, I tried to regain control of my brain and to (quickly) weigh out my options. They were, as far as I could see;

Option #1) Run screaming to my car and never look back. Cross him off the list and move on. (Which was, surprisingly, looking like the best option.)
Option #2) Close my eyes and eat my breakfast. Take it! Take it! TAKE IT!!
Option #3) Dredge up some diplomatic way to get out of eating the slimy goo balls, that would allow me to avoid hurting his feelings and to simultaneously salvage a relationship with this guy. (Might as well as have added a double axel to this plan, as I don't know how to do that either.)

Option #2 was never gonna happen. Nev. Er. I mean it. I could not make myself eat that slimy stuff. I just couldn't. Option #3 seemed impossible to pull off given that we'd only been dating a couple weeks. I remember exactly what I said. Probably at least partly because it was so difficult to do, and partly because I've retold this story more than a few times...;)

What I said was, "Look, Baron, I really, really like you. And I'd really like to continue seeing you. And I really don't want to hurt your feelings, but I really can't eat that French Toast. I'm sure it's tough to cook French Toast on an open fire. I've never attempted it myself. But, listen, I remember seeing a Burger King not far up the road from here. I'd be HAPPY to buy you breakfast there if you'd like to go."

I was twenty at the time. Hardly worldly. And while I'm sure that there are probably better ways to have handled the situation, it was the best I could come up with on short notice. I mean, hey, I was gonna have to eat a raw-egg slimed dough ball. I was kinda traumatized.

Recognizing his culinary limitations at the time, he graciously accepted my invitation. The whole incident, ultimately, caused nary a hiccup in our courtship. Which, at the time, was what I'd wanted. But, whew, close call! I almost had to EAT that stuff!!

In the twenty one years that followed that (up until October of 2004, when we split), Baron never again attempted French Toast. Neither in the wild, nor in the comfort of an actual kitchen. Of course, that was as it should have been.

Now off with you into your respective weekends. My girls will be home tomorrow. Everyone say, "Yippee!" Plans for Saturday evening gaming (Apples to Apples), followed by Sunday afternoon gaming (Magic The Gathering). Somewhere, there's some wedding planning in there, too.

Hmmmm, maybe I should make some French Toast for Sunday morning brunch...;)


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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


When I say it aloud, it reminds me of that damned AFLAC duck.

Or possibly of drunken gibbering.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve said FAFSA aloud. Since about 1983, actually. And it wasn’t drunken gibbering then, either. No indeedy.

As the mother of a high school senior, I am working on trying to help find some money to send her to college. ‘Cause I’ll do ANYthing to get her outta my house…ba dum pah!

As it stands, she plans to live with H and I full time while she attends River City University. So, we’ll be doing what we can to help her out with some expenses, but tuition and books won’t be a possibility.

FAFSA is the Free Application for Financial Student Aid. If you want to go to school in the U.S., and you need a grant, or a loan, or a scholarship to do so (or your kids do), this is the first stop in that process. And the first step in that process is doing your income taxes. The money (for grants) is based on need (we certainly have that) and is first come, first served. So, of course, it's helpful to get as close to the front of that line as you can get.

Consequently, I filed my taxes last week. And I worked on her FAFSA today, but I’m waiting for one piece back to be able to finish it. It should be here by the weekend. When I get that, I’ll sit [Kid1] down (she should be back from her dad’s by then) and we’ll go through it together. (We've already done her college application.) One more thing I can teach her. There won’t be many more of those before she flitters away from me.

I’ve been looking for scholarship opportunities for her as well, but middle class white chicks can’t get any more of a break than they could nearly 25 years ago! Okay, if she was into sports or had much better grades maybe. But we’re still working on leads.

The upside is that I've gotten my taxes done (for whatever reason). One yucky job I can mark off my list. (I still need to clean out the fridge, though.)

Hard to believe that next year, I’ll be the mother of a college freshman. (Heh. Get this.) And a second grader (who, by the way, is currently hawking cookies for her Brownie troop).

Ain’t life a kick, sometimes?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Letting it All Hang Out

Tell me you've never wanted to do this.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

You Can't Make This Shit Up

As a bit of a public service, The Oral Report would like to notify you of a product that is no longer available on the market due to a...well...a defect.

If you are counting on Chimfex Fire Suppression Products to protect your home in case of a blaze, you may want to rethink your plan. They quit making them when the factory burned down.

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Postcards from 'Hell'

I have decided that I do NOT miss working in 'Hell'. Not one little bit. This morning, I was doing a little housecleaning around my office. As I boxed up all of the project files (two full file cabinet drawerfuls) and marked that horrific job off my list, revelling, all the while, in the fact that it's now out of warranty, I got an email from my boss.

While we may not miss THEM, the Hellspawn apparently miss US. Not sure how it will translate, but I was chortling enough that I wanted to share it. So, here it is in it's entirety, with only a few editorial comments.

I feel the need to share this story with you. I had a most unfortunate situation on Tuesday while the movers were here to pick up the items for Joe and Jane Germanica. They had asked me to help them out by being here as they were already in Europe (Drunken, Arrogant Blowhard Neighbor - DABN) returned home from work at around 5:30 or so. Unfortunately, his parking space was blocked. I was downstairs when he arrived. I attempted to encourage him to use our space as (my commonlaw husband) was still at work. He immediately became particularly angry. He accused me of wrongdoing by letting the truck into the lot. He informed me that no truck had EVER been allowed into the lot. He was extremely unreasonable. He ordered me to tell the driver to move the truck which I refused. He was out of control, swearing and yelling. (Clinically Psychotic Neighbor - CPN) arrived and tried to calm him down, but it didn't help. I genuinely feel DABN's behavior was unwarranted and a cheap show of his sense of entitlement. His infantile tantrum went beyond mere bullying and crossed the line to harassment. I do admit that I too became angry and used bad language. I saw DABN later and attempted to apologize for swearing. His only response was that he gets "that way" when he's angry.

This is written not to have you feel bad about what happened to me, but to look at the big picture. We have an individual who is a member of the Board of Directors behaving in a manner which should be unacceptable for ANYONE here at 'Hell'. I encourage you to write the other board members and question why they as the leaders of our community would choose to work with someone unwilling to commit to a true sense of community.

Thank you,

Nice Gay Guy

The short version reads like this:

He be's mean to me. Make it stop. There's a little graphic of feet stomping, too.

Now, my boss is not on the Condo Board of Directors. He is not DABN's boss and has no control over him in the least. His authority related to the property ended when we turned over the property to the Hellspawn last May (believe me, my calendar is marked).

It's amusing to me that they are surprised that this stuff is going on, despite how infantile and nasty many of them have been from the beginning. The "Gee, I never knew he could act that way" act is baffling.

Plus, despite the VAST number of times that DABN has verbally dressed me down (to the point where I, during our last conversation, had to hang up on him), NONE of them had the least concern about THAT behavior. It's amusing to me that they are looking for help to be saved from him now.

Mostly, we just want to be left alone. I suppose the in-fighting will weed things out or they'll learn to treat each other (oooh, and maybe the rest of the world) with a little more respect. Or not. But it's not my problem (or my boss') anymore. We're not in 'Hell' anymore. Ev-ah.

Repeat after me.

Yee. Ha.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

No Ticket Series - II

Haven't done one of these in a while...

But, hey, it's deluging here in River City, so why not hang on the computer while we're trapped indoors. By Tuesday, we'll have flooding everywhere. So, kind of in the tradition of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, how about another You Tube concert?

Many call her the "Goth Princess" of the music scene, but none will argue that Amy Lee has one of the most powerful and hauntingly angelic voices around. [Kid 1] introduced me to her about 4-5 years ago and I've been a fan ever since.

While most of her work has been as the "front man" for Evanescence, I've also included a collaboration she did with Seether, as well. I'll start with the first song I ever heard her do. It's an acoustic version and will (hopefully) show you that that gorgeous voice is not a product of serious production techniques.








HEART-SHAPED BOX (Not the video content I'd have liked, but what can you do?)


MISSING (No video content, but the best copy of the song I could find)

BROKEN (with Seether)





and Highlander's favorite...



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Friday, January 12, 2007

Flashback Friday!

After the recent dramatic (and lengthy) series of Flashbacks around here, I've decided to lighten things up a bit. A few memories of a former co-worker that definitely fall into the Flashback Friday! category.

Hi Ho, Silver, and all that stuff...

The mental calculations required to recall how long ago I worked with Trudy aren't algebraic, but they are an exercise. I've been at my current job five years, the one before that four years and I worked with her kind of mid-way through my six year stint with the employer prior to that one. So what's that? About a dozen. That's probably about right.

Trudy was a piece of work. I'm sure you've heard that description before, but I can honestly say I've never met anyone like her, either before or after. Sure, there have been a couple that have exhibited similar qualities, but still, they weren't in her class. That's probably okay, too. One 'Trudy' in your lifetime has to be the limit. If not, it should be.

Twelve years ago, give or take, Trudy was hired to be a receptionist at a construction company where I worked. Trudy was friendly and attractive, but I don't want to give you the impression that I had an issue with Trudy for those reasons.
To give you an idea what I'm talking about, Trudy wore these shoes to work on her first day at the office.

These shoes and a very, very short, very, very tight, black leather skirt. I'm pretty sure that was the only kind of skirt she owned. At least, it's the only kind I ever saw her wear.

Now, Trudy couldn't type. She had never answered phones. The tricky alphabetical filing system was well beyond her abilities. However, my fiftyish single male boss, felt she was the right fit for the job.

It was hard not to like Trudy. She was so young and naive about the wide world that I kind of looked at her like a kid sister. A kid sister who'd been in far too many GIRLS GONE WILD videos, but a kid sister nonetheless.

Trudy had a boyfriend, but every guy in my office, be he married or otherwise, lusted after her. We women thought it was hysterical, as she clearly had no interest in any of them. But the guys would hover around the kitchen, drooling into their coffee mugs, and say "Did you see what Trudy's wearing today?"

There are two rather short stories about Trudy that I wanted to share. The first is a conversation she and I had not long after she started.

She came to me to ask a question about dress code. I'd (foolishly) presumed, when she broached the subject with me, that she'd noticed the inappropriate attention she had been receiving and wanted some advice. However, what she wanted to know was whether or not she had to wear a brassiere to work if she wore a see-thru blouse.

Swear it.

No exaggeration.

I sat there kinda dumbfounded for a second. Thinking that she wasn't really asking me about wearing a see-thru blouse to the office. When my brain kickstarted itself, I told her that some of the guys in the office may not be able to handle a see-thru blouse in the office.

Clearly, the only reason I'm alive to tell this anecdote is that my former male coworkers do not know that I thwarted Woody In Your Pants Friday at my office.

Several weeks after she and I had gone over the finer points of appropriate office attire (which, btw, did only limited good as the shoes and short skirts remained staples of her work wardrobe), young Trudy was late to work. It was a Monday morning and she called and said she'd been injured and she'd be in later that morning.

When she finally arrived, she appeared to be walking and talking as normal...for her anyway...and despite the short skirt and short sleeved top, I couldn't see any cuts or bruises. Foolishly, I asked her what had happened.

Without missing a beat and with absoLUTEly no warning, she hiked up her skirt to reveal a dogbite.

On her very bare right asscheek.

She wasn't being snotty about it. She was very matter of fact, going on to tell me the tale of how her dog had been playing around with her boyfriend and things had gotten out of hand. She was getting dressed for work and one thing led to another and the damned thing had bit her.

Right on the ass.

Can you believe it?

Now I'm really NOT a prude. I assure you. But, I can honestly say that I've never had another woman I work with show me her ass at work. Not one time in over twenty years.

And because she didn't think it was any big deal, she continued to share her story (complete with visual aids) to everyone in the office. Much to the delight of quite a few construction guys, I can attest.

One of our estimators, "Al", had been out when Trudy got to work that infamous morning and Steve (another estimator), without even giving Al a clue, took him to Trudy's office and said, "Trudy, tell Al what happened to you this morning." To which, she stood, and without a word, hiked her skirt and bent over her desk. Al clutched his chest and drool was flowing out of both sides of his mouth. I don't think he had been that close to naked female ass since his divorce three years earlier. I thought he was either going to mount her or have a heart attack right there.

Trudy continued to delight and entertain the office staff for a few more months, until she got pregnant. She, then, quit, got married, and became merely a legend to those of us who had worked with her.

There's a Flashback with a little flash(ed) back(side)!

Now, just so you'll all know, not that it will mean much to most of you, I've been "labeling" my Flashback Friday! posts, so that anyone so inclined can go back through them with a little more ease. (Believe it or not, this one is the 41st Flashback Friday! That's how rambly I am!)

In other news, this weekend, my girls leave to spend a week with their Dad. (We'll miss them bunches!) Highlander and I have no plans (mostly because we're trying to pay off some bills and are BROKE), but will likely be working on wedding nonsense. Later today, my Mom and my sister are coming over to go with me to check on a few wedding things. Then, a couple friends are coming over on Sunday afternoon to help me with some preliminary planning stuff which should be fun!!

Consequently, it would help if you guys would get out this weekend and do something fun. It's hard to live vicariously through you guys when you aren't doing anything either. Thanks!


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Being Studious

Had to share an email forward from a friend.

Had to.

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry
has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds
attractive on a man can differ depending on where she
is in her menstrual cycle.

For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to
men with rugged and masculine features.

However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, she
tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape
over his mouth and a spear lodged in his chest while
he is on fire.

No further studies are expected.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Whole Lotta Oral

It really doesn't seem like it, but it's been more than a year since I did this.

At the time, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy pouring out my innermost thoughts in a medium like this. I wasn't sure I'd keep it up once I started it. I wasn't sure I'd get anywhere close to the positive reinforcement you crazy people continue to shower on me. But, it's been (for the most part) a stone groove!!

Tony Collett is celebrating an anniversary over at his place, too. In fact, had I not seen his announcement, I'd have likely continued to glaze over the reality that I'd just passed my own milestone! So, thanks, Tony! And thanks to all the folks who continue to make this a very positive experience.

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Don't Be Shy

See what happens when you get so damned busy? You miss HALF of National Delurking Week. HALF! Ugh!

So, be seen, be heard! If only momentarily. Thanks to Leah for the reminder (and for the great graphic)!

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You Don't Say...

Must have missed this gem the other day, but had to share it in case you guys had missed it, too.

"The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way."
-- Tony Snow
January 8, 2007

Wow. Democracy just keeps takin' a beatin'.

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Liquid Television

So, I've been You Tubin' again. This time, I've thrown together a bit of an homage to Liquid Television. Anybody remember this MTV series? Here are a few. Sadly, while I was never a fan of some of them (Dog Boy, for instance), I can say I remember every one of them.

This last one is long, I know, but definitely worth it!


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Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Birthday Girl

The party behind us, I wanted to stop in here and share a few pics. Not from the party, mind you. Nor from the debris strewn room of hers that looks as if a typhoon hit the costume department at MGM. These are pics of my tiny girl over the last seven years.

Yeah, I'm one of those moms (and so much more). Deal with it.

Here they are in no particular order.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Welcome to the third (and final) installment of the birth of my youngest girl. What a Flashback! It just keeps coming and coming! Tomorrow marks her seventh birthday! So, amidst party plans, let me finish up this long-winded story.

For those of you who have been following along, the baby just came howling into the world and the fun was only beginning. Let's away, shall we, to the world of micro-preemies.

Just after [Kid 3] was born, she was, as I'd been warned, taken to the NICU at the children's hospital across the street from the hospital in which she'd been born. I wasn't to see her for a couple days, because of my own health issues, but I got very regular updates from both her father and the medical team charged with getting her through the next few months.

At birth, she had weighed 1 lb., 15 oz. and was 14 inches long. Imagine a bag of sugar. Cut it in half and stretched out. Now take out another tablespoon or so. That's how big my baby was. My index finger was longer and bigger around than her arm. Though, that was something I'd come to learn later.

The first thing that happened after my darling daughter was born, was that a liason from the hospital came to see me (and my then husband) in the recovery room. Because of her birthweight, my daughter was considered a "disabled American" (because of her micro preemie status) and was, therefore, eligible for Social Security benefits. At least she would be until she left the hospital.

It was something I hadn't anticipated and started to blow off entirely. However, the liason volunteered to fill out the necessary forms for us and said the following magic words, "Social Security will pay for any medical costs that your insurance doesn't cover during her entire stay."

::blink:: ::blink:: Granted, I was still pretty hazy, but I was sure I'd misunderstood what she'd told me. "You'll do all the paperwork to make $50,000 worth of medical bills disappear for me? Where is the catch here?"

It was one of those very rare instances where there was no downside. True to the hospital liason's words, Social Security covered the 20% portion of the $250,000 hospital bill associated with my daughter's birth. Otherwise, I'd likely still be paying her off for some time to come.

Shortly thereafter, Baron went to the hospital across the street to check on our daughter and I was wheeled to my room.

As reported, my blood pressure started to come down almost immediately. The thing I remember most was that for the first twenty four hours, I was peeing like anything. I had a catheter (GOD, I hate those things!!), but the nurse kept coming in to change the bag frequently. The abdominal incision made getting up painful and difficult, but I was up (and catheter-free) within about ten hours of the surgery. Not in top form, by any stretch, but doing my best. I wanted to be strong enough to go see her. Plus, she was going to need me.

The next day, Baron was able to transport me, via wheelchair, to the NICU in the facility next door. After the mandatory two minute hand-scrubbing before you could enter the high risk ward, he wheeled me past several very tiny babies to the incubator where our daughter clung to life.

I had been warned that she'd be hooked to several monitors and was on a respirator, but nothing prepares you for the first time you see your child that way. Nothing. The sadness consumed me as I sat there looking into the plexiglass box, wondering what the next months and years would bring. The tears were streaming down my cheeks.

In one of his most sensitive moments, Baron softly said to me, “She needs you. She needs you to talk to her. She needs you to touch her.” And he opened one of the portals to the incubator so that I could reach inside and stroke her very tiny arm. I felt so lost and inadequate and just didn’t know what to do. But he had helped me find my way at a time when I needed it most. I’d never known anyone who had been through something like this and had no experience with a situation like this.

The doctors in the NICU met with us and told us that she was doing very well and meeting all of their expectations. They believed, very strongly, that she had excellent chances to survive. They weren’t worried in the least. It was quite convincing and at a time when we had no hope, they gave us a precious gift. One I cherished deeply.

My parents came to the hospital to see her. It was difficult for my father. He worried…still does…so much. My mother put on her best Mom Game Face for me and told me that she’d spoken with the doctors, too and that she believed them.

She took photos of the baby in her incubator. I kept thinking that it would be too depressing to look at them…especially if we lost her. My mother insisted that some day we’d want to have them. That we’d want to see how far she’d come. At the time, I couldn’t imagine it. But she was so very right. I’ve included a couple of them for you, to see.

The top picture is at three days old, the middle one at about two weeks, the last one at one month.

I didn’t get to spend much time with my baby, because of my own health concerns. I was continuing to improve and on day three ran into just a slight setback when my incision became slightly infected. I was put on antibiotics and it was nothing serious, but it did add two days to my hospital stay. It was difficult not to be with her. Difficult not to be with my other two girls, too.

On that third day, my paternal grandmother (who lived about sixty miles away) came to see me at the hospital. She’d been kept abreast of developments and was, like most of my family, genuinely concerned for me and the baby. I was, after all, her very first grandchild and in thirty seven years she’d grown rather attached to me.

I met her at the NICU where she and I stood beside [Kid 3]’s incubator. Like everyone else, she began to weep silently. I put my arm around her and tried to comfort her. By this point, I’d begun to believe that it would be hard, but we’d get out of this fine. The first time each new family member saw her, it was like this, though.

My grandmother turned to me and said, “Tammy, I love you, but that baby is never coming home from the hospital.” She was deeply troubled and didn’t say it maliciously. In her time, a baby in that condition didn’t come home from the hospital. And if it did, it didn’t come home without serious lifelong problems. She was trying to, in her own way, prepare me for what she felt was the inevitable.

On day one, that statement may have had me breaking down hysterically, but it didn’t on that day. I told her that the doctors had assured me that she was going to be okay and that I believed them. Further, that that baby would be running through the apple trees in her yard someday soon. And I said it with some conviction. Though I’m certain she thought I was only kidding myself.

That night, my father called me at the hospital. And we talked for a long time. He told me he’d prayed that day. Prayed that God would “take him” so that the baby could live.

Now, I never wanted anyone to give me false hope. I never wanted to labor under the delusion that my baby was going to be okay if she wasn’t. But, for some reason, the way my dad was talking to me (although he thought he was making an effort to comfort me) made me feel that her “true” condition was being kept from me. So, I point blank asked him. “Dad, is there something wrong with the baby that no one wants to tell me? Are they afraid to tell me something bad because of my condition?” And while he assured me that that wasn’t the case, I didn’t feel better about it until I spoke to the doctors.

The doctors advised me that it would take time and that I should be patient. That I should expect my baby to go home on or around her original due date. In this case, that was March 31st. That seemed so far away, but it gave us a goal. Over the next weeks and months, we endured the stresses that a situation like this brings.

I took family leave from work. There was simply no way I could go to work and expect to get my head in it. Not with my baby in that condition. So, as soon as I got home, I got on a schedule of visiting the hospital every day while my older girls were at school. I’d come home in the afternoons to meet them and cook dinner and then we’d often go back in the evenings, coming home in time to put [Kid 1] and [Kid 2] in bed and start the next cycle.

[Kid 1] and [Kid 2] spent many hours in the NICU waiting room over the winter months of 2000. Because it was flu season, children (while siblings would normally be admitted) were not allowed into the NICU. Consequently, they did not see their sister until she came home with us.

I was extremely limited with what I could do for my infant daughter. My duties included applying ointment (to keep her very fragile skin from deteriorating) and pumping milk. She had a feeding tube for most of her stay, because she was too weak to nurse or feed from a bottle, but I was able to provide milk that would be used to nourish her. Of course, it was boosted with human growth hormones, but I felt I was contributing in some small way.

After two weeks, I still hadn't held my daughter in my arms for the first time. I remember standing at her incubator late one morning. I was talking to her and a nurse I hadn't seen before stopped and asked me if I had any questions, or needed anything. I asked her when I'd finally be allowed to hold my daughter. She told me to hold on and she'd be right back.

I saw her review the chart, talk to another staff member and then she came back. With a rocking chair in hand. She said, "You can't hold her long, but you should be able to hold her a little." I will never forget feeling her placed into my arms that first time. I sat and rocked her for ten minutes. Crying the entire time. I was so very happy.

Of course, much of that time, I felt so out of control. I needed all of these other people to take care of my child because I couldn’t. I felt helpless and hopeless and inadequate. And I hated it.

The criteria, at that time, for having a baby released from the hospital was threefold.

1) The baby must be able to “nipple”.

Whether that was breastfeed or bottlefeed, your baby had to be able to take in sustenance. Sounds simple, but tiny babies can’t do this very vital thing naturally. They have to learn it. And most of them don’t learn it easily or quickly.

2) The baby must be able to maintain temperature.

The body’s ability to maintain temperature is almost exclusively tied to body fat. My baby had none. Zero. So maintaining her temperature was an impossibility. Once out of the incubator, she was kept wrapped in blankets with a hat on. As the blankets slowly came off, she’d go backwards and forwards with her progress until it finally worked.

3) The baby must have had no apnea’s (pauses in breathing) or bradycardia’s (pauses in heart function) for forty eight hours.

In all honesty, there is some give and take here. This criteria sounds the most serious and, believe it, it is, but there are monitors that can be sent home to help with this, and if a child has a history of apnea’s and brady’s that is significant, the hospital may require a longer period than forty eight hours free of them before they’ll discharge. Luckily, we had very little issue there.

With one very scary exception, we never had any serious issues. Normally, if the monitor would go off, the treatment was to gently massage her to stimulate the heart or lungs to restart. That almost always worked.

Not long before we brought her home, I had a scare when I was "kangarooing" her. For the unintiated, kangaroo care involves getting skin to skin with your preemie. You cuddle their little naked bodies against your naked chest and it helps them regulate their heartbeat and breathing. To keep them warm, you button them up inside your shirt with only their little heads poking out the top and then pile blankets outside your shirt to help warm them more. It was one more thing I could do at a time when I was eager to make any contribution at all.

In any event, I was kangarooing her and looked down and saw that she was blue. As they are removed from the monitors for this, she had apparently slipped into an apnea situation and I began to panic. I called for a nurse and she came over to do massage stimulation, but it simply wasn't working.

Within a minute, she was ripped from my shirt and given CPR to rescusitate her. It was so traumatic to watch the three nurses try to bring my baby back. Finally, with O2 being administered, she was breathing again. But within two minutes she had another episode that required her to undergo CPR to get started again.

I remember going home that day in tears. How could I possibly endure these things every day?

So began the arduous journey to get [Kid 3] home from the hospital. Good days when I'd get to the hospital to find she'd moved from the incubator to a regular isolette, bad days like when I arrived to find she'd developed a urinary tract infection and had been moved all the way back to the most critical care area. But I never knew, from one day to the next, what tomorrow would bring. Try as I might to prepare, there was just no way to do it.

More times than I can count, she'd pull out her feeding tubes and iv's. She drove the nursing staff batty. She just didn't want all that "stuff" on her. The nurses would tell us that it was a good sign that she was so feisty. Her father would snort, look at me and say "I don't know where she gets THAT from?" (I've got plenty of 'feisty', though, and, proudly, some of it has rubbed off on every one of my girls.)

I won't go into everything that happened while [Kid 3] was in the hospital. Time dictates that I skip past far too many of them, and you all know the story has a happy ending anyway.

I'll note that on March 4th, she had met all her criteria to come home. I had become so comfortable with her size that I'd already begun mentally comparing full-term babies and thinking them HUGE. I told the nurses that all they were doing was bathing her and feeding her and I could do that at home. I wanted my baby home.

Sometimes I wonder if that's all they were waiting for. To make sure I was okay with it. That said, on March 5th (a full three weeks ahead of schedule), at 3 lbs. 10 oz. we brought our two-month old daughter home. She came home with no equipment and no special medicines. She was met by her sisters for the first time, who couldn't have been more happy to have her home and to close such a frightening and painful chapter in their lives.

She was also met by my grandmother. I've included the picture of her holding [Kid 3] for the first time. The sheer exuberance on her face never went away. Everyone felt that way about her. She was a "miracle baby" and has been spoiled rotten since birth. Not only by me and her father and her sisters, but by everyone who comes in contact with her.

We went through about 18 months of seeing many, many doctors (pediatric cardiologists, developmental psychologists, opthamologists, etc.) on a far too regular basis, but at the end of it all she has no lasting evidence of any of it. She is extremely bright, and completely healthy, and loveable, and funny, and sweet and I couldn't feel more lucky if I won the lottery.

Tomorrow is her seventh birthday and it is just as special to me as all six that came before it. I cannot express the gratitude I feel for having been given the priviledge of sharing her life. Each day is another adventure, and every one of them is a gift.

Have a good weekend, gang. I'll be partying with [Kid 3] and her friends. Don't get much better than that!


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Thursday, January 04, 2007

A (Belated) Happy New Years!

Didn't see that one until after the New Year started, but the kid in me just couldn't pass it up. So, there's one for all the "beaver lovers" out there.

New Year's Eve was a gas this year. We didn't go anywhere or do anything, really, but we had a pretty good time.

[Kid 1] and [Kid 2] wanted to invite a few friends over. For some reason, all of these kids are transportationally-challenged. They can't drive, can't get their parents to drive, and can't navigate the public transportation system in this city. So, we tried to work through some of that. Honestly, though, having them all at my house was the preferable situation.

The kids were at their dad's for the weekend and just before coming home at 6PM on the 31st, [Kid 1] called me (at about 5:30) to see if we could provide transportation for one of her friends. I'd already been talked into picking up a friend who lived thirty minutes away and, because I didn't want to be out returning him home in the wee hours, agreed to a sleepover. The second friend, of course, was not anywhere close to the route I'd be travelling. So, I asked where the friend lived and was advised that she lived in my ex's neighborhood. Her parents, apparently, were "too wasted" to drive her over to our place. I'd already agreed that anyone who came over could spend the night, so it was simply a matter of her getting there.

"Is it possible that your dad can pick her up and deliver her with you when you come home?" So she asked and he agreed and just after 6PM, four kids showed up at my door.

Highlander and I had been out running errands, else we'd have had one kid before ours even got there. He's a likeable enough boy, but he definitely needs some help learning to socialize a little better. "Eric" called and said he would be at our house at 3PM. I told him the kids wouldn't be home until later and that we'd be out running errands. So, he postponed things a bit and showed up not long afterwards.

Before any of them got there, though, Highlander helped me get some dinner ready for the kids (some baked ziti) and then root through the pantry and fridge to come up with party snacks for the kids for later. I'd specifically bought a box of brownie mix (my homemade brownies are so much better, but I just hadn't had time to make them), softdrinks (which I rarely keep in my house), some canned crescent roll dough and some cocktail smokies, just for the party.

With his help, I was able to come up with brownies and some pigs-in-a-blanket (from the cocktail smokies and crescent roll dough), of course, along with cubed cheese and summer sausage for a tray with a variety of snack crackers, some veggies with ranch dressing for dip, some quesadillas filled with turkey, shredded mexican cheese and carmelized onions, some tortilla chips and queso dip, pretzels, and some pepperoni french bread pizza.

I had the whole kitchen table full of food and, believe it or not, between five teenagers and a rampaging 6 year old, there were very few left overs. Okay, Highlander and I probably ate a little of that, too.

The order of the evening was games. [Kid 1] broke out her new "Apples to Apples", which, admittedly, is kind of fun and everyone got to play at least one round of it. As it accomodates up to 8 players, and even [Kid 3] can get into it, everyone enjoyed it. A few games of Magic The Gathering sprung up here and there, as well.

[Kid 3] made it until midnight, but not much later. I was somewhat surprised she'd been able to stay up that late, but there was so much activity going on that she was in her glory.

One game of Scene It! had [Kid 2] paired with mutual friend Allen (of the thirty minute drive), [Kid 1] paired with Eric and with Haley (she of the drunken parents), and Highlander and I all set to take our usual victory from the grubby paws of the children. Unfortunately, while we came close, our team was dealt their first loss EVER. And by some snot-nosed punks, to boot! [Kid 2] and friend reigned victorious.

Not long after, [Kid 1] advised me that her friend, Eric, wanted to play Scrabble. Heh, my own kids bringing me victims. Brings tears to my eyes. Haley piped up that she wanted to play, too. So, Highlander pulled up the last chair at the table and we were able to school them thusly. I'd like to note, however, that Highlander snatched my rightly won victory from me when Eric (whose turn preceded Highlander's) gave him access to not one, but TWO triple word score squares in back to back turns. Grrr!!

The X-box was given a work out, and at about 4AM, a boardgame called Imaginiff came out for a while, as well. I played one round of Imaginiff and then I called it a night. At that point, [Kid 2] had already crashed as well and Highlander had recently done the same.

I was wide awake, though. Hopped up on Mountain Dew, alas. And began to do an inadvertant imitation of Glenn Close in THE BIG CHILL. You know...the scene where's she's in bed talking to Kevin Kline and he's trying to sleep, but she's done some cocaine and her mind is just going and going. I didn't have any cocaine, but I felt just like that. Highlander was doing a pretty good Kevin Kline, too, begging me to go to sleep and trying to ignore me talking to him. LOL!

The last time I looked at the clock before succumbing to sleep it was nearing 5AM. As Highlander had admonished, [Kid 3] was up at 8:40AM. The teens were sprawled all over the living room and had, as I was to learn much later, gone to sleep at 6:30AM. I walked her back to her room and laid down with her until just past 9:30AM. Though, I was, at most, drifting in and out of consciousness. Never really sleeping. Finally, she was ready to get up and we grabbed a video and some coloring books and traded rooms with Highlander.

Our bedroom is at the back of the house and I figured if we were going to be awake (and therefore noisy), it would be most considerate to try to keep away from the sleepers. We never did put the video in, instead spending an hour or so coloring many pictures in her books. It was nice to have some quiet, alone time with her. We had a nice talk, too.

Sometime before noon, she and I were going to venture out to Krispy Kreme to pick up some breakfast for the still sleeping masses. Highlander woke just in time to join us and, by the time we got back, everyone was up. Apparently, rumors of donuts had done wonders...heh.

Once everyone had eaten and dressed, Highlander and I set them all to work undecorating the house. And within about an hour and a half, the exterior and all of the interior Christmas decorations had been packed away for another year, everything had been put back as it usually is, and at least the first wave of pine needles had been swept up.

We worked in a little more MTG and Apples to Apples as we waited for Haley's dad to pick her up, and, as soon as she'd gone, Highlander, [Kid 1] and I took Allen back out to the country, which was at about 4:30PM. Eric ended up staying for dinner...hardly an unusual occurence...before catching the last bus back to his neighborhood.

So, as of January 2nd, all of the "returns" have been done, all of the giftcards have been shopped up (save one that will be spent this coming weekend), and all of the holiday clean-up is over. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Okay, 2007, I'm ready.

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Speaking of...

It's been a while since I've shared any work snippets, but, as always, my life takes me in interesting directions here at Rupert and McElroy.

I've been working with the two owners of the company alot recently, specifically on some marketing projects. One of the owners asked me to contact one of our engineering consultants for a clarification on some site dimensions. So, I contacted the engineering company and got the information.

Or so I thought.

I talked to the owner, forwarded him an email (from the civil engineer) that had a link to a website that would, presumably, provide the information he needed, and marked it off my "list".

Unfortunately, the owner had checked the link and determined that the information was not in a format he could use. So, he asked me to call the engineer again and get some clarifications to the clarifications.

When I did, the engineer sent me back to the same website and gave me some instructions on how to get the specific information needed by my boss. Now, by this point I was inching up on the "Why don't you call the engineer yourself" platform, but hadn't quite gotten there yet.

After relaying the second conversation to my boss, he still didn't seem to be able to make sense of it. He just couldn't get the information from the website that he wanted. I didn't sigh or roll my eyes, but I asked him if he wanted me to call the engineer back again. When he hit me with, "Maybe...I should probably call him back myself."

To which, I replied, "Oooooh, that idea makes me all tingly!" Because, hey, gotta keep the smartass rep in tact, you know.


Yesterday, my other boss (who has far less of a sense of humor than the previously noted one) and one of our project managers were working together at a table near my desk. They were trying to unroll a set of blueprints that had been rolled tightly for years and getting them uncurled was proving difficult. The mission was to incorporate them into another set of drawings, but they had metal yardsticks and books and all kinds of "aids" and still were climbing over each other to do it.

It looked like architect's Twister. Left hand structural, right foot mechanical. After going on like that for about ten minutes, I peered out from behind my computer monitor and said, "Where's Curly? He was always my favorite one!"

The project manager laughed uproariously. The owner just shot me a sideways glance, turned to the project manager, and said, "Remember those things called 'paychecks' we used to have around here?"


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Sometimes, in a textual medium, typos are made. Errors of other varieties are, on occasion, an unfortunate reality. A formal correction to previously written information may become necessary. Hence, the need, when appropriate, for a retraction.

This is, perhaps, one of those times.

Several days ago, in a comments thread on Highlander's blog, I made a statement indicating that my ex-husband was a high school drop-out when I met him (in 1983). I hadn't realized it at the time, but he pointed out to me, recently, that I was in error. (Technically, what he said was that I had "lied" about him being a high school drop-out. Insisting, as he did, that he had graduated with his class, and that I'd inaccurately presented the information.)

It was pointed out to me that he had, indeed, participated in the graduation ceremony at his high school (which was not news to me). Therefore, he argued, he was a high school graduate. Case closed.

The fact that he was not given his diploma at any point during the ceremony, did not, in his eyes, make him any less a graduate. It's logic that doesn't quite work for me, but perhaps I was, in fact, mistaken.

In my eyes, the indisputable point that he was short credits and, though he was allowed to get his pomp and circumstance on, had not actually fulfilled the requirements for graduation, meant that he had not earned the degree normally conferred in the ceremony. That he did not return to high school at any point thereafter to correct the shortfall in his credits (and thereby receive his diploma), led me to believe that he had, in effect, "dropped out".

I will tell you, though, that he definitely doesn't see it that way. It matters not to him that he stood up with his classmates in a ceremony in 1976, but didn't get the diploma acknowledging his graduation from high school until 1984.

If my eldest daughter (or any of them, actually) tried to make me (or potential future employers) believe that, because she had marched down the aisle in a cap and gown without benefit of receiving a diploma, she was a high school graduate, it would be a wasted effort. If she then elected not to do anything about getting that diploma for eight more years, that would be a thing. I find it difficult to believe that her father wouldn't see that, either.

See, at my school, if you didn't have the bang to GET the diploma, you weren't invited to the ceremony. And if you continued to avoid getting the 'bang' by not attending school, you were considered a drop-out. Admittedly, I didn't graduate from the same school that Baron attended. Maybe, the rules are different there.

Now, as I originally indicated in Highlander's comments threads, he did, eventually, and with my help, take a correspondence course and obtain the missing credits that allowed him to obtain the elusive diploma. So, if I am mistaken and, in actuality, the status of 'high school graduate' is earned by walking down the aisle in a funny outfit, and NOT by earning the diploma, I'd like to tender my apologies. Formally.

I'd like to note, however, that a quick google search on graduation requirements for the state gave no mention of the ceremony being instrumental, though it did list out the credits required to obtain graduate status.

Perhaps, my comment should be corrected to read..."He, at that time, had not received his diploma, despite having left high school more than seven years prior."

It is my sincerest hope, as we embark on a new year, that this retraction/correction will help to clarify matters and show exactly how it is that I arrived at my perhaps erroneous conclusion that my ex husband was a "high school drop out". You see, I perhaps foolishly assumed that if you had not managed to earn your degree from high school, and you spent the next seven years ignoring any and all requirements to obtain said degree, with the apparent earnest intention to continue ignoring such requirements for the rest of your life until gently guided by your girlfriend at the time, well, that would qualify one as a "high school dropout" for that seven year period.

But this could well be an entirely subjective and perceptual issue. My most heartfelt apologies for any deceit I may have inadvertently perpetrated with my presentation of my interpretation of these events.

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