Monthly Archives: September 2010

A Story in Pictures

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Ball? Ball? Ball!?! Ball!?!?! BALL??? BALL?!?!?!?!?!

Wait, what?

Oh…..gross!

Hey! What are you guys doing? Are you playing BALL?? Wait for me!

Ball? Ball? Ball!?! Ball!?!?! BALL??? BALL?!?!?!?!?!

BALL!

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Giveaway!

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So I told you previously about getting a chance to help out The Motherhood and Libby’s help some people in need.

Well, I did just that last week and had a blast. I met some very nice bloggers, including the quite Amazing Hannah Keeley. Talking to Hannah about my own dinner issues was great – she gave me some great ideas, and not for one moment did she make me feel like I was any less of a mom than her (even though she is totally SuperMom – I swear, she is. Also? Tall and thin and gorgeous).

After we talked to Hannah and had some yummy appetizers, we brought out all the items for our care packages – there were tons of Libby’s products, family calendars, activities to get families to the table, recipes, and lots of cooking utensils and gadgets. Each of these care packages will go to a family moving into their new Habitat for Humanity home.

I have to tell you – one of the reasons I was intrigued by Libby’s Back to the Table campaign is that my own family struggles with finding time to sit down together. We don’t eat as healthy as I would like, either. I know many of you are in the same boat as me, as far as having busy schedules, and long commutes, and work, and insanity. So Libby’s is giving me a chance to have a giveaway. one lucky commenter will win a nice prize, including a reusable grocery bag, Libby’s product, and this cool can opener.

All you have to do is leave a comment with your best tip for getting your family back to the table – whether it’s how to keep communicating, dinner activities, getting help from your family, meal ideas, etc. I want to hear them all!

You get bonus entries (1 each) for following Libby’s on twitter, fanning them on facebook, or creating a profile on the virtual can drive. Just leave another comment for each one, with a link to the tweet/profile/etc.

I’ll leave it open until Wednesday, since the weekend is just beginning and you folks – unlike me – have lives and do things other than chauffeur and drink and piss around on the internet on the weekend.

Nothing to See Here…

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I have been super crabby these past few days. I’m always on the go and it is wearing me down. mr b is self-employed and self-employed means long hours – working late & working weekends. Which means everything else falls to me – the cleaning, the carting kids around, the cooking – everything. And while I understand that he has to work that way if we want to get paid (which – duh – we do), I can’t help but feel a little resentful.

I find myself unable to keep up physically or emotionally – I forget things, I run late, I am exhausted. And I can’t get everything done – so the housework gets pushed aside, which only makes more work for me down the road, which I still can’t do because I don’t have time to do it in the first place much less extra catching up stuff. Which makes me more exhausted and forgetful and distracted and so on and so on and so on until I explode. or at least feel like I am going to. So I end up crabby and mean and find myself barking at people when I don’t even really mean it and yet can’t seem to stop myself. Seriously – I can be bitchily ranting at someone when in my head I am thinking, “OMG stop it already” and want to hug them, but I literally CAN NOT STOP.

Even though I know it’s hard on mr b working like he does, I can’t help but to occasionally start thinking that he does it on purpose – to get out of things. I mean, what better excuse for not helping out than “I have to work because we need money to buy food TO STAY ALIVE”? So I get resentful and I feel like I can’t complain about it because then OMG I don’t even care if we don’t have money to pay for food TO STAY ALIVE – how irresponsible and selfish of me! And then I waver between getting passive-aggressive and mean and being disgusted with myself for being that way. Which makes me feel worse. And crazy. It’s a vicious cycle.

And when I’m like this I read non-existent meaning into everything. Person A didn’t return my text: SHE HATES ME! Person B ignored my tweet: HE HATES ME! I forgot to send a school form in: TERRIBLE MOTHER! My cat died: It’s my fault!

Don’t I sound like a real delight to be around these days?

No really – this is how crazy I am lately – yesterday I was driving home and a pretty little butterfly flew in the window of my moving car and landed on my shoulder. He sat there the entire hour-long drive home and then when I got home and got out of the car, he lifted up off my shoulder, flew around me a few times and then flew away.

For a few minutes, I had the reaction of a normal (or medicated) person and thought, “Oh, how sweet! What a nice reminder that life is good and I need to stop feeling so bad!” and then a minute later, I had the crazy person’s reaction of “OH NO – now he’ll never be able to find his home again because I drove him miles and miles away from it and OMG – what if he was some sort of sign and someone in my family IS DEAD?!?!?!?!?!”

Yes, my friends – I am that crazy!

I need a hug. Or a drink. Or some prozac. Maybe all three.

Do any of you ever get crazy like this or is it just me?

Feeding America

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Anyone who knows me knows I love doing good deeds. And I was recently lucky enough to be invited to get involved in a project sponsored by The Motherhood and Libby’s (as in “Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the Label Label Label…” Are you guys old enough to remember those commercials? If so, you will be singing that all day won’t you? You’re welcome). Anyway, Libby’s has a great new project called Get Back to the Table, which is encouraging families to do just that – get back to the table. I’m sure we all know that having family dinners together is important. It leads to eating healthier and also helps families take the time to talk to each other and spend valuable time together. Believe me – I am as guilty as anyone of eating meals on the run, whenever and wherever we can – usually in-between running back and forth to work and school and kids activities. But I am making a pledge to try and fix that. My family deserves it, and yours does, too.

And now, Libby’s is partnering with Feeding America to help people in need. So on Thursday, I, along with a group of bloggers will be meeting up to put together some lovely care packages with Libby’s products, along with other kitchen and family related goodies which will be distributed to some folks in need. In addition, Hannah Keeley will be there to help and share tips. If you are interested, Hannah will also be at the Market District store in Shadyside that night from 5 – 7 PM to have cooking demonstrations and share tips. So drop in to see her!

In the meantime, you can help Libby’s and Feeding America to..well…feed America. One in six Americans is struggling with hunger, including millions of children. Just check out my virtual can drive and give if you can. Every $5 you give provides 35 meals for hungry families. And every dollar we raise will be matched by Libby’s, up to $40,000!

And next week, Libby’s has been kind enough to allow me to host a giveaway here, so think about your best tips for getting your family back to the table and when I ask you to, share them for a chance to win a great prize from Libby’s.

Christopher M. Panatier

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I didn’t know Christopher M. Panatier. I had never even heard his name until I heard it read along with 2,995 others. And though I know I heard it read, I don’t know that I really even took notice of it. 2,996 is a lot of names. It’s especially a lot of names when we’re talking about people who lost their lives.

Christopher Panatier was 36 on that day. Six years younger than I am now. Many, many years younger, I’m sure, than anyone ever imagined they would lose him. Christopher was a foreign currency trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. I imagine he left for work that day in the towers thinking the worst thing he would deal with was traffic, or irritable clients, or a busy day. Instead, he – along with almost 3,000 others, lost his life in the one of the worst tragedies we have seen in this country.

Christopher was a husband, a father, a son. He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn, and they had two children, Annie and Christopher. His children were only 6 and 4 when they lost him. Too young to lose their father. Especially to lose him that way. Too young to even understand how something like that could happen. But really, there is no age, no amount of knowledge or wisdom that could ever make sense of what happened that day.

Everyone who talks about Christopher seems to mention what an amazing, adventurous, and funny man he was. People were drawn to him.

So even though I didn’t know Christopher, I am remembering him along with the other innocent victims of the September 11th 2001 attacks. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father, and a good friend. Because of that, his legacy lives on.

He will be remembered not only for how he died, but for how he lived.

This post is a part of Project 2,966. Go there to see more tributes.

If Children’s Books & Shows Were Real…

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Once upon a time, there were some children who had a friend named Barney. Barney was a dinosaur. They played and sang and danced together. But then one day, Barney – being a dinosaur – ate them. And then social services came and arrested all the parents for letting their kids play with a freaking dinosaur. The end.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Madeleine. Her parents were always leaving her in the care of her Rottweiler, Carl. And then one day social services came and took her away, because who the hell lets a freaking Rottweiler baby-sit their kid? The end.

Once upon a time there was a sister and brother name Ruby and Max. No one knows where their parents were – maybe smoking crack, since they always left toddler Max in the care of his barely older sister. Then one day social services came and took them away, because what the hell? The end.

There once was a boy named Timmy Turner. Timmy was batshit crazy, but his parents didn’t seem to notice. So one day the school called social services and they came and took him away. Then Timmy got some Ritalin and calmed the hell down. The end.

Once upon a time there was a boy named Charlie Brown and his sister Sally. The only supervision they and their friends ever seemed to have was their dog Snoopy. And so one day social services came and took the lot of them away because again with the dog? The end.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Dora. Dora traveled all over the land by herself with just a monkey, a backpack and a map, all of whom talked to her. And then one day social services came and took her away because who the hell lets their toddler run all over creation by herself with a monkey? Monkeys will mess you up. The end.

Once there was a boy named Tommy Pickles. He and his brother Dil and their friends – despite being babies – often escaped their baby cages and traveled the world. And then one day social services came and took them all away because their parents were clearly unfit. They were babies for Pete’s sake – they need some supervision. The end.

Once upon a tine, there was a little boy named Diego. He never had any parental supervision, but he roamed the dangerous jungle all by himself. He kept a jaguar as a pet. Then one day animal control got wind of the jaguar and called in social services, but it was too late. The jaguar had already mauled him to death. The end.

One day there was a boy named Norville, but his friends called him Shaggy. Shaggy always had the munchies & thought his dog talked. The gang had an intervention about his weed & LSD use, and Norville went to rehab & grew up to be an insurance salesman. The end.

There once was a group of kids who liked to hang out with rapping bear called Hip Hop Harry. Then once day social services came and took all the kids away because they had learned from the experience of the whole Barney debacle. Then they shot Harry and made a rug out of him because he was annoying as hell. The end.

Angus

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We called him The Squatter. Because one day in early October 2005, he showed up on our porch and claimed squatters rights. He wasn’t going anywhere. He looked to be about 4 – 6 months old and he was starving. Every rib was visible. He had clearly belonged to someone at some point, because he had a collar. He had clearly belonged to someone stupid because the collar was meant for a dog and too heavy for him – it was dragging him down. And he hadn’t belonged to them in a long time, because even in his starving state, the collar was biting into his little neck, almost choking him. It had to be cut off. He almost smothered me with love when I got it off him.

At first, we didn’t let him in – partly because we already had a cat and partly because he was afraid to come in. So he became our porch kitty. I made him a little bed and put food and water dishes out for him. But as it got colder, I couldn’t stand the thought of him shivering on the front porch, so I coaxed him in. He would come in for short periods of time, but the outdoors were ingrained in him and he preferred to spend most of his time outside, often just sitting on the other side of the door, staring at Pussty (our first cat).

We went through several names before we finally settled on one. We called him Milo and Kitty and Asscat and Mike and Balls (OK, only I called him Balls), and the girl – who was almost two at the time, just called him “My cat! My Cat! MYCATMYCATMYCAT!!” Eventually, we settled on Angus and it suited him perfectly.

Little by little, he spent a little more time inside, but mostly wanted to stay out. Pussty was getting older and more frail by then, but Angus didn’t care – he chased him and tackled him and loved him relentlessly. But as much as he loved on Puss, he wasn’t the kind of cat to sit on a human lap. Until December of 2006 when Puss was very sick and we knew the end was near. On the evening of the 9th, I knew Puss wouldn’t be with us much longer. And in the middle of the night that night, Angus jumped into bed with me and snuggled up. I sort of half woke, wondered why the change of heart and went back to sleep. The next morning, Puss was gone. I swear Angus knew and was comforting me. From that day forward, he came a mostly indoor cat.

He thrived in the next few years – he got fat and happy. He still wasn’t a lovey-dovey kind of guy, but he doled it out when he was in the mood – mostly when you least expected it. He loved me, though. Every night, when I would go to bed, he followed me in. As I laid in bed, he’d come over and push his head under my hand so I’d pet him. After a few minutes, he’d be satisfied and settle down in the crook of my knees. We slept like that every night.

When we got the new cat this December, he spent four days grumbling and mumbling and griping and hiding and asking us, “Are you KIDDING ME??” but then on the fifth day, we discovered the two of them wresting and tackling and playing and rolling around. They’d race into the basement and then come back up with cobwebs all over their heads and whiskers, looking nonchalant. It was good for Angus –he was more active than ever and he lost weight. We had to stop calling him fat (except for his head – it didn’t change, so we could still call him fathead).

About a month ago, he came in limping – not using one of his front paws at all. We took him to the vet who thought it was a battle wound of some sort, gave him some pills and fixed him up. For the couple of weeks that he was recovering, we were able to keep him inside. We have never been outdoor cat people, but since he came to us as an outdoor cat, it was hard to break. We didn’t want anything to happen to him. But as he got better, the call of the wild obviously pulled at him. He would sit at the front door and look out – hollering at anyone in the vicinity to Let! Him! Out! NOW!!! Try as we did to keep him in, he was having none of it. He would lie in wait for the door to open and zip his newly svelte body through the open door. He didn’t stay out long, but he liked to spend a short time out every day.

On Sunday night, he was on the porch playing his “Let me in! PSYCH! Let me in! PSYCH! Let me in! PSYCH!” game. We were tired and eventually went to bed, knowing he would sleep on the porch chair and come inside in the morning (maybe after a few more rounds of “Let me in! PSYCH!”) But Monday morning came around and he wasn’t on the porch. Mr. b found him in the driveway, under the van. He liked to lie under there and spy on everyone, so mr. b didn’t really think anything was wrong. But it was very, very wrong. Our Angus was gone. He didn’t have a mark on him, so we think it may have been poison. I am going to let myself believe it was accidental because anything else is too painful to imagine.

I laid in bed last night waiting for a little fat head to come push my hand and settle in behind my knees, but it never came. God, I miss that cat.