Monthly Archives: August 2008

In a Funk

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I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and I don’t know why. I’m not sad, exactly, or crabby, or tired or bored. It’s just a strange out-of-sorts kind of feeling and I can’t seem to shake it. I’m sure if I mentioned it to anyone who knows me they would think it was my 40th birthday approaching (one week fro today), but honestly, it isn’t. I’m not really bothered by the number, other than the feeling that I can’t possibly be 40, since I just graduated high school last month and college last week, right? Eh – maybe it is a little subconscious, nudging reminder of my mortality working on me.

Plus, my boy started middle school today and I guess that’s getting to me a little. I know middle school can be a veritable minefield and I just want things to go well for him. We had orientation on Friday and I almost died of boredom and frustration. They told us that we parents would only need to be there for 15 minutes, so I coordinated with work to be unavailable for about 30 minutes, given travel time. And then two fucking hours later when I was still at the school, I exploded into a million pieces. Or I thought about it, anyway. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been actual, useful information provided to us, but instead it was two hours of droning on and on about every stupid thing and having every single teacher introduce themselves. Including the ones that they won’t even be having contact with this year. I don’t care who teaches 8th grade math when my kid won’t be there for two years, jackasses.

Of course, the orientation got off on the wrong foot with me when they asked us all to stand. OK, sure, they’re going to say the pledge of allegiance – makes sense at a school. But no. instead, we were treated to a teacher singing the national anthem. First off – WTF?? It wasn’t a baseball game, it was a bunch of kids and some of their parents in the middle school cafeteria. Second, it sounded exactly like what you would expect a teacher singing the national anthem in the school cafeteria. But I shouldn’t complain. After all, we got to enjoy such beloved versus like, “What so proudly we hmmmm, at the twilight’s last gleaming” and “O’er the lamp parts we watched…”

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We had a surprise 40th birthday party to go to on Saturday, which was pretty fun. As with every event in mr b’s family, it was a big drunkfest. Scabs and I sat on a glider on the deck and managed to get almost every person that passed us to get us drink refills. It was a thing of beauty. Oh, and also? You know how when you spend the day swimming in the ocean and then you can still feel your body moving in the waves for the next 12 hours? Well, it works the same way with a glider. All night long and into the next day, I could feel myself rocking back and forth. Which made the hangover all the more delightful. Needless to say, Sunday was pretty much a wash as far as getting anything done around the house. I worked for a couple of hours on a dress I am sewing for the girl (Belle’s blue dress, for those of you up on your princess fashion), and then I laid down to rest for the next eleventy hours because sitting upright and pinning pleats is exhausting and has nothing to do with being (almost) old and hungover.

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I swear – the universe was trying to cheer me up this morning. Because on the drive in, I saw:

1 – person standing at a bus stop shaving their face with an electric razor. She wasn’t even using a mirror.

1 – person walking in the park wearing full-blown winter gear – parka and all. And a Hawaiian shirt on top.

1 – Hare Krishna.

And…

1 – man wearing an ankle-length nightgown over his pants (and also apparently a white blanket tucked into the waistband under there) and a leather bomber jacket, who – while crossing the street in front of me as I was stopped at a red light – decided that right now would be the time to stop and do some squats and lunges.

Why, oh why couldn’t I have had my camera ready?

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And finally – the quote of the week:

We were at a restaurant this weekend and we were talking to the waitress about how the normally busy place was kind of quiet. She and the other waitresses were speculating about the reason for the dead night, and she said,

Sweet, but terribly young, waitress: “We usually have slow nights when there are concerts nearby. I heard there is one at Consol Park tonight.

Mr b: “Oh yeah – who is it?”

SBTYW: “The Sticks. I don’t know – I never heard of them.”

Heehee. I am getting old.

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Also – I am pretending like the Burgh Mom get-together never happened, because I couldn’t make it for the second time and I am bummed out about it, so if it never happened, then I never missed anything, so LALALALALALA I can’t hear you…

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Friday Five: Stupidity

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Friday Five: Stupidity

1. What’s something really, really stupid you’ve done that could easily have resulted in your own death?

I’ve done a lot of stupid things, but definitely I’d have to say drinking and driving. And you can’t imagine how it pains me to admit that. I’m ashamed and I should be. These days, I am a very adamant and vocal opponent of drinking and driving. I think people who do so are selfish, stupid assholes who deserve serious criminal charges and major jail time. But there was a time when I occasionally did it. I was young and stupid and invincible and “not that drunk.” Or so I thought. The last time I did it – many, many years ago, I remember driving home and actually seeing double. I had to close one eye to stay in my lane. And it scared the shit out of me. Now – I won’t drive if I have been drinking. I will occasionally have a beer or glass of wine or two over the course of the entire evening, but mostly I don’t drink at all if I have to drive. And I will fight you tooth and nail to make sure you don’t either. In fact, I don’t even really like being on the roads late at night on weekends or holidays simply because I know there area lot of people out there who “aren’t that drunk.”

2. What makes you feel stupid?

Not a lot, truthfully. I know I am not stupid and I don’t generally get my self-confidence (other than body image) from outside sources. Mostly, what makes me feel stupid is when I act impulsively and hurt someone’s feelings. Because speaking before you think is stupid. And lord know I have done it enough. And had it done to me. And it’s STUPID.

3. What’s something that’s stupid in a very smart way?

Men and their helpless bullshit. Mr b can build an entire house from the ground up, can replicate a piece of 18th century piece of furniture that would fool all but an expert, and CAN DO ALGEBRA. But somehow he can’t manage to notice his underwear on the bathroom floor, wouldn’t know the kids’ homeroom number or class schedule if it were tattooed on his ass, or remember to CLOSE THE GODDAMN PACAKGE OF HAMBURGER BUNS FOR ONCE IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE!! Stupid? Or Genius?

4. What’s an example of a stupid idea working out in a way that solved a problem?

Dude. Two words – duct tape.

Otherwise, my stupidity usually stays stupid. Although, that one time when I was having an excruciating gallbladder attack and I begged my coworker to hit me on the head with a giant can of soup to knock me out? If she wouldn’t have pussed out and called 911, that would have fit perfectly. Stupid? Yes. But I would have been out cold and not feeling the pain anymore, so – Problem Solved.

5. There is apparently a brand of packaged popcorn called Smartfood. What might be found in the package labeled Stupidfood?

Probably all of my favorite stuff. Like Cheetos. And marshmallows. And Coke. And Twizzlers. And fried stuff. And cheese sauce. And rum. Mmmmm. . .rum.

The Worst Date, Ever

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On the radio this morning, they were asking people to call in with their bad date stories. I didn’t want the prize, so I didn’t call, but it got me thinking about what would be my worst date. Most of the callers had stories about cars breaking down and leaving wallets at home, and I have a couple of those, too, but in general, I don’t have many bad date stories. Mainly because I haven’t had a lot of dates. That doesn’t mean I have gone out with a bunch of great guys, just that I didn’t actually “date” much. I grew up in a small town, so you generally ended up, “going steady” right away and that was that. There wasn’t a whole lot of actual dating. And in college, well. . .you know.

Anyway, my worst date ever was with a guy named Steve. I had just moved to the city, after two years at Amish Party College and one semester at home commuting to a local PSU branch campus. I knew no one, and was anxious to find some friends. My brand new roommate and I ended up becoming very close, but at the time she had a serious boyfriend and was with him constantly, so I was on my own. I found a local bar that had a Dead Night and figured that was the best way to meet people like me. Since I have never had a problem going out by myself, I headed there that night.

I had a good time, drinking and dancing and mingling. I met a lot of people and was really glad I decided to go (it ended up being a weekly thing for many years to come). A couple of times during the night, I noticed a guy (Steve) looking at me. He was kind of cute, so I figured what the hell and walked over to say hello. He seemed pretty cool and we ended up hanging out the rest of the night. He asked me to go out to see a Dead cover band that weekend and I said yes.

On Saturday, when he picked me up he said we had to go pick up his brother and a friend first. OK – no problem. It might be a little odd to have extras on a first date, but this was a hippie first date, so not that out there. And in fact, I wasn’t really sure if I should look at it as a date. Plus – it kept the more casual, no pressure kind of feeling to the date – no problem.

We get to his brother’s house and go in and sit down in the living room to have a few beers before we head to the show because it’s early. And suddenly, his brother comes out of the other room with a huge garbage bag and dumps the contents on the coffee table. The contents? Mushrooms. No, not portabellas, but psychedelic mushrooms. I about had a heart attack. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t the mushrooms that freaked me out – I was used to that stuff. It was the huge quantity of them, sitting right out in the open. And his front door is wide open. And looks out onto a main street, with lots of traffic and pedestrians and I saw at least one cop go by right before. I was a little paranoid, since a friend of mine had recently been arrested and served jail time for a similar incident of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I was a bit nervous that we would be arrested imminently.

Fortunately we got out of there before that happened and headed to the bar. I was having a good time listening to the band (Sandoz – they became a favorite after that night) and dancing. But after a while, I started feeling a little sick – dizzy and nauseous. I told Steve I was going to head outside for some air. And he left me out there all night . Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t expect him to hold my hand, and I wasn’t sick enough to want to make everyone leave and take me home. I was perfc5ly fin sitting outside for a while. But it might have been nice if he had checked on e at least once – especially when even the other random strangers there were checking on me.

Anyway – I finally felt better and went back in, but it was near time to go. We left and dropped off the brother and friend back at Mushroom Central. In the way back to my place, we drove through downtown, a very scary gang banger looking guy crossed the street in front of us. For some reason, this pissed Steve off. So he started screaming at the guy, and flipping him off. The guy stopped directly in front of our car and just looked at us with a cold, evil look. So Steve apparently decides that this would be the perfect time to throw out a racial slur. The guy started reaching into a pocket and I don’t know – maybe he was going to offer us a mint, but I was thinking “gungungungun”. I had to beg him to please shut up and drive away. Luckily, he did, before we both got shot.

I was a nervous wreck at this point and couldn’t wait to get away form this idiot. And then, when we get to my apartment, he double parks outside the place – not even taking the car out of drive – to drop me off. This was fine by me, since I wanted to get as far from him as fast as I can. So I said goodbye and as I was getting out of the car yelling – screaming – at me because I didn’t invite him up to sleep with him! No seriously – he actually said that he expected to come in and have sex. WTF??? I mean, even if I did want to sleep with him, by not even parking the damned car, he pretty much ruled that out. He was a truly charming guy.

Tell ‘Em Bela!

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OK, so let’s get this out of the way first – I want to punch Olympic Gymnastics in the face. The whole damned thing is pissing me of this year. I don’t presume to know everything about gymnastics or gymnastics judging, but 12 years in the sport has taught me enough to know that there is some serious bullshit going on. First off, we have the too young gymnast from China. I mean – a couple of them look a bit young to me, but He Kexin is a joke. I don’t give a fuck what documents china produced for her. And the IOC or FIG, or whomever, is full of shit if they think we’re buying that they’re buying it. The girl competed in a meet last year that required her to be younger. So she was either illegal there or illegal here. The laws of physics pretty much make it clear. So even if she was cheating there and is legal here – she’s a cheater, and China’s a cheater, and the fucking IOC is a cheater for looking the other way.

Next up – the judging. What the Fuck??? I don’t want to go so far as to say the judges are biased, but COME ON! The scoring has been so lopsidedly in favor of the Chinese over the US that it’s hard not to be a bit suspicious. I’m sorry, but when a girls who are falling and making mistakes worthy of major (.5, etc) deductions are beating girls who were near perfect or only had minor deductions, something is not right.

And the new scoring system. Not only does it alienate fans by being completely confusing and taking away the old “gold star” of the perfect 10, but the gymnasts and coaches themselves don’t even seem to really understand it. And the confusion, along with the nature of the system itself open the doors for a great deal of fuckery. Subjective sports walk a line to begin with, but this is worse. Fuckery, I say.

And what the holy hell is with the “no ties” rule? If there is a tie, there is a tie. The tiebreaker procedure is a joke. They may as well just flip a fucking silver yuan and call it a day.

And this isn’t just sour grapes – I’d feel the same way regardless of the country getting screwed – it’s not a vendetta against China – their divers are so far above the US, it’s not even funny. And those Chinese gymnast are great. But there is some fuckery going on.

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Anyway. If I’m sounding crabby, it’s because I am. Mr. b has been sitting in front of his computer dicking around on napster for hours. And it’s not that it bothers me that he’s doing it, it’s the fucking music that I hate. And the fact that he feels the need to play it at full volume. He’s a music snob. He can’t seem to accept that there are certain types of music that I don’t like. He thinks it’s not a matter of taste, but a matter of choice. He likes Jazz. I hate it. I mean HAAAAAAAAATE. And he feels that it is music for the smart or classy or educated or some other such nonsense. I, on the other hand, think that I would rather listen to a hardcore rap about putting a cap in a bitch than listen to 5 seconds of cool jazz or fusion or anything of the sort. But he thinks if he keeps trying to push it on me, I’ll somehow like it – like I’ll wake up and say, Ahhhh…I get it. But it’s not that I don’t get it. It’s that I don’t like it. Instead, all his pushing does is make me think about hitting him in the head with the white hot poker that I want to shove into my ears to get away from the fucking NOISE!

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So we went to Kennywood on Thursday and – as predicted – the weather sucked balls. Just as we were about to pack it in, though (after hanging out in the pouring rain for quite a while), it cleared up and got sunny. So, a lot of the crowds had taken off and it turned out to be a decent night. Minus a couple incidents.

We were letting the boys go on some rides alone. They would get on the ride and call us as son as they were getting off so they could meet us again. And once, they took off without the phone. So when they got off the ride, they panicked. They did the right thing and found an officer, who in turn called me. Of course I felt like the world’s worst mother. Then a couple hours later, they ran into a group of three friend while getting on a ride (as an aside – WTF is with three? Why would you take three kids to an amusement park? That’s a recipe for disaster). Anyway, they ran into these three friends – one boy and two girls – and the boy asked my boy’s friend to ride with him. So he did, and the girls rode together and guess who got left out? If it had just been the one ride, no big deal. But the two kids got on an earlier train and didn’t wait for the boy. So he was alone and his friend had the cell phone. So we spent the next hour trying to find him, with me panicking. I found out that he was with the two girls, so I realized that he wasn’t totally alone, which made me feel better, but I was pissed that he got ditched. I don’t think his friend meant to do it maliciously, but the fact is –you dance with the one who brung ya. If their asses had been in the same seat, it wouldn’t have happened. After that stress, there was no more going off alone for them, needless to say. And once I knew he was safe, all I could think was thank god I didn’t get another call from the Kennywood Police.

I woke up Friday exhausted and sore. I’m not sure when riding roller coasters became exercise, but apparently it is, because my body hurt. Part of it was from riding the Thunderbolt with a stranger and her being on the “squish side”, so I was holding on and bracing myself to keep from smashing her flat.

The girl loved it this year. She has been pretty intimidated in years past, but this year, she wanted to ride almost everything. Which bodes well for Disney this year (45 days – woo!). She was waiting for one kiddie ride that I didn’t want to ride on and I was glad she wanted to go by herself. But I started to feel bad because all the other mothers were going on. So I got in line with her. When we got on and strapped in, she noticed another (older) kid riding alone and kicked my ass off the ride. And I was happy. Because look at what the other mothers looked like on Tiny Barfarama (Jen – I know you know what I am talking about):

I only got to ride the Pitfall once, but otherwise, it was a good day.

Oh – also – I broke my toe on Saturday. It was not a good day.

More photos:

The Turtle:

Kiddie Swings:

The boy and his hat, which makes me want to kill myself:

Handsome:

Getting her face painted:

My poor toe:

And now, to wash that ugliness out of your mind – something seriously beautiful:

Anniversary

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Tomorrow is our community day at Kennywood, and of course there is rain in the forecast. It has rained on our community day every year since the beginning of time. I’m hoping it stays away completely or at least is quick. It’s too hard to reschedule when I have 5 kids to worry about (not all mine, of course), and I’ve called off work and the tickets are purchased. I’ll take ponchos and as long as we can get a chance to ride everything (my SIL is coming, so I will get a chance to ride the Pitfall once or twice (or 600 times), and we get our fries with cheese or gravy and I get my corn dog and a square ice cream (suck it Florine), and I play the one game that I am good at (that roll the bowling ball one) and win everyone a prize, I’ll be happy.

Community day is held around the same time every year and in the past few years, I find myself getting a little anxious around this time. I usually just brush it off as anticipation and nostalgia, but I realized today that while Kennywood holds so many happy memories for me, it also represents one not so happy one.

Four years ago, I was at Kennywood he I got the call that mr b had had his accident. I will never forget the feeling of being so happy, riding and playing and eating (in the rain, of course) and then going immediately into a nightmare. When I got the call, I wasn’t even sure if he was going to survive – they don’t give you too much over the phone. What I would find out later was that he had fallen 25 feet and shattered his feet – every single bone. His heel bones were in so many – and so small – pieces that there was nothing to repair. His feet were swollen to the size of watermelons. I called my mom to meet me and get the kids and I rushed off to the hospital. It was a day that started off great and then turned in to months of worry and fear and grief.

Mr b recovered, of course, but not completely and not without a lot of pain. He spent time in a nursing home, while I tried to hold things down at home with a 7 year old and an infant, all the while trying to hold it together. I rushed from home to daycare to work to the nursing home (often stopping for decent food so mr b wound’s have to eat the home food), then to pick up the kids, then home, then had to deal with homework and diapers and dinner and baths. I took the kids to see me b as often as I could. I barely stayed afloat emotionally. I remember breaking down one day while I took the garbage out in the pouring rain. It had to be done right then and I had no choice. I was already on the verge and then I looked up to see my fuckhead neighbors watching me, and it was too much. I sat down in the rain in my good work clothes and cried, while the kids were inside, clueless.

I thought it would be easier when mr b finally came home, but I was wrong. Because now, in addition to doing everything, I had to learn how to give him shots. And how to fight with doctors offices and insurance companies. And how to work a borrowed wheelchair van and lift and restraints. And once his feet didn’t need to be constantly elevated, how to maneuver a wheelchair in and out of the trunk of our car without hurting myself. And how to clean wounds and hospital beds and portable toilets.

I learned how very few places are truly wheelchair accessible. I learned how humiliating it is for a grown man to be turned away, or to be carried or to patronized. I learned that there are a lot of assholes who borrow grandma’s wheelchair tag to get a close spot at Macy’s.

I tried to hide my worries about money, since mr b was already feeling so bad, but man, did I worry. He got workers comp, but it was only a fraction of his salary. And the biggest problem was that he had taken a job at a lower wage than he wanted because he really needed it and because there was a ton of overtime. So we were getting not only a fraction of his salary, but a fraction of about 65% of his salary. And we were just in the process of getting out of the hole that having a business created when he took the job. It was rough. And we didn’t know what was to become of his career. It was clear that he would never be a carpenter again. He had a degree and a good bit of experience to fall back on, but he had always defined himself by his job (something I was always telling him he shouldn’t do), so it was a hard thing for him to deal with.

We struggled financially. We struggled physically – him because of his injuries (which were massive – the worst that the surgeons had ever seen and largely inoperable) and the eventual learning to walk again and me just simply from doing all the heavy lifting (both literally and figuratively). We struggled emotionally. He was already depressed and now he was depressed and angry. I was suffering from PPD and now I was depressed and angry. But somehow, we made it – we didn’t really have a choice. We had two kids to take care of and during that time, we learned to lean on each other more than ever.

In some sick way, I miss that time a little – not the pain and misery, but the way we appreciated each other and grew together. So I don’t mind the little reminder once a year – it would serve me well to remember that I could have lost him and would serve him well to remember how I supported him. He will always walk with a pronounced limp, and sometimes I drop behind him a little so I can take it in and realize what we have overcome and remind myself that we can get through anything that comes our way.

So if you’re in an amusement park tomorrow and see a limping man with his wife walking a few feet behind you’ll know who they are.

16 Days of Glory Exhaustion

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I am an Olympic addict. Other than football & hockey, I don’t do a lot of sports watching on TV -even the sports I like. And most of the Olympic sports wouldn’t hold my interest at all during the other 1,445 days. But during these 16? I’m like a crackhead. Every night, I end up staying up too late because I can’t stop watching. And the next morning, I am scouring the TV and internet for more, before dragging my tired ass to work. It’s out of control, this exhausting myself over shit I don’t even care about.

There are very few sports I don’t get excited about during the Olympics. These are usually the (what I consider to be) non-sports And sometimes basketball, because I’m sorry – I just can’t feel the Olympic spirit for a bunch of millionaires. I know it’s hard to distinguish between professional and amateur athletes nowadays – especially given how different countries treat and support their athletes – but with basketball, it really bugs me. I have a tendency to root for the underdog when USA is playing. I guess I should have more USA spirit, but meh. They can go home and cry in their great big piles of money.

I’m a little disappointed that there are no pornstaches on the Romanian men’s gymnastic team this year like there were in Athens, because that shit was funny.

Also disappointing? Lack of good diver package shots. But since I care about you all and I know you would appreciate one, I will dig an old one out to share:

And on to the non-sports. Don’t let me say right off the bat that I am not talking about the actual athletes here – they ARE athletes and most of them could probably kick my ass. But the “sports”? Not so much.

Rhythmic gymnastics – I’m looking at you. Sorry, but I just don’t get it. I used to be a gymnast and I have a hard time comparing a full twisting double back flip with dancing with a ribbon. Besides, I can’t help but to picture Will Ferrell in Old School. I’ll admit, the way they balance that ball with their body is cool but it’s more Cirque de Soliel that Olympic Sport.

Synchronized swimming is another. I don’t care for it, and I picture Martin Short in a life jacket and nose plugs (“Hey! I know you! I know you!”). Seriously – if you have not seen the SNL skit with him, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer, you are seriously missing out. Go watch. Seriously, Go

I have warmed up to synchronized diving, so I’m taking it off my non-sport list, but it better watch it’s step or it’s going rght back on. Because it’s cool – I mean – it’s hard enough to dive alone, much less in tune with a partner. But it’s still a little Bob Fosse.

Trampoline. Fun. Not a sport. It’s a tool that is used by people training in other sports. Divers and gymnasts use trampolines. I’ll admit – the tricks they do are pretty cool and are definitely hard, but still.

Badminton? Well, it’s a backyard game to me, but I get to say shuttlecock a lot. Also – rowing IS on my list of sports, but I had to mention it because, “coxswain”!

Ping pong. Seriously? You can call it table tennis all you want but it’s still ping pong. It’s in my basement. And if it’s in my basement, it can’t be an Olympic sport.

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Moving on…

I was at my sister-in-law’s house last week and as I was driving out of the neighborhood, I saw a hawk flapping around near some bushes. I thought it was hunting something so I turned around to get some photos. It turned out that the poor thing was injured – he appeared to have a broken wing. In lieu of the girl’s suggestion that we call the Wonder Pets, I got one of the neighbors to get the number for the fish and game commission, so we could call for a raptor rescue. But I took a few shots while we waited:

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In other news, I ate pizza (with mushrooms and hot peppers. . .mmm) for breakfast. Florine Marks is probably rolling over in her grave. You know, if she were dead. She’s not dead is she? I don’t think she is. I’m going to have to go look it up. And I tell you, if I find out that all this time I have been watching and counting and drinking eleventy gallons of water a day and she died all huge and floppy and needed one of those giant caskets, all bets are off, dead, fat Florine!

WTF? I’m an only child!

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OK – so let’s get it out of the way right now – you know I love my kids, right? I love them more than anything in the whole universe. I love them more than I ever imagined I could love anything – they are wonderful and sweet and beautiful and perfect. You got that?

OK, good.

These kids are driving me out of my fucking mind.

I am sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am an only child and have never experienced it firsthand, but Oh. My. God. the fucking fighting is making me insane! I know they love each other, but Lordy, in between those sweet moments, I want to kill someone.

And considering that this is all new, fresh hell for me, their dad needs to calm the fuck down. You would think that with 6 sisters, he would be used to it, but no – none if it ever interrupted his football game before, so he’s evil and it makes everyone else more tense and stressed. That’s pleasant.