On That Note ...

Colin writes me notes - and has, legible or not, since he could pick up a pencil. I find them here, there, and everywhere. He writes me love notes when he's in a good mood, and he writes me "hate mail" when he's mad: 

I don't lick him either, unless, like, his face is really dirty or something.

Sometimes, in addition to a sweet sentiment, he'll throw in a tidbit of valuable information ...

...such as: "I love Mom ... and Coby is in the toilet."

Thanks for letting me know, son.


I've always wanted to be a vegetarian, but there's one thing that stands in my way:

I eat meat.

I can't help it.

But there's one meat that I don't eat much of, and that's pork. Why do I not eat much pork, you ask?

Well ... it's because I'm afraid of it.

Cured pork, like bacon and ham, doesn't bother me. It's the pork chops mostly. I don't know what past  event inadvertantly touched off my porcine paranoia - maybe it was the food handlers' class I had to take when I was eighteen? - but whatever happened, it has proved effective: I am ridiculously, excessively nervous about getting food poisoning from it.

I can't explain my hysteria. It doesn't extend to other uncooked meats - I could practically lick a piece of raw chicken without flinching (I said practically), and rock a meat dress like Lady Gaga.

Photo credit: Reuters. With a little help from my mad photo-editing skillz.

But you should see me cook pork chops. Open package, wash hands.  Prepare chops, careful not to touch pan, wash hands. Dry hands with specially-appointed pork towel. Leave towel and pork-handling utensils far away from other, non-pork-contaminated surfaces. Rinse eyeballs with sterile saline solution after looking at raw pork chops (okay, just kidding, but I swear I feel that insane about it sometimes). OMG, did I just touch the pork towel? Wash hands. OMG. Did I lay that clean fork next to the pork fork? Wash fork. ... And hands. Cook pork chops until they're practically burnt, removing them from pan no fewer than six times to cut into them and decide they're not done enough. Apply heavy-duty lotion to poor chapped, overwashed hands.

Don't get me wrong, I think pork chops are tasty - but from the second the very first bite passes my lips, I'm like super-attuned to the goings-on of my digestive system. Even the tiniest gurgle leaves me wondering if it's the start of an epic heave-fest. For hours after eating pork, I worry that food poisoning will strike me down. I watch my kids like a hawk for fear that I've accidentally poisoned them, too. I fearfully envision the disastrous consequences of an entire sickness-stricken family, with me too ill myself to properly care for everyone. It's like picturing the apocalypse, y'all. Let me rephrase that: the aporkalypse.   

Curtis does not share my neurosis. He is brazenly unafraid of undercooked chops. It drives me a little bit crazy, in fact, because he'll come up as I'm testing one for doneness and shovel half of it into his mouth. "It's done," he'll say, even though I could've sworn I saw the teeniest hint of pink inside (or was that due to the kitchen lighting?).

Thus far, throughout the nearly thirteen years I've been cooking meals for Curtis and myself and whoever else happens to be at our family table, I've never sickened anyone. But you can bet that - even as I smile and take a bite of the picture-perfect pork chop I've just prepared - I'm secretly agonizing over a food-poisoning epidemic that hasn't even happened.

Are you "weird" about any foods?

Halloween is in the Hiz-ouse

We buy a lot of stuff in bulk. Important stuff that we consistently use a lot of, like butter sugar bacon toilet paper, baby wipes, and multivitamins. So we have a Sam's Club membership, which is worth every penny of the $40 yearly fee - because, I mean, you never know when you're gonna need a case of individual oatmeal packets. Or a package of 200 ballpoint pens. Or an economy-sized bag of limes.

Of course Sam's Club, like any other store, is saturated with holiday-themed stuff months before the actual holiday. At this time of year, obviously, Halloween is at the forefront since it's only a month away. And when we walked in, we were met with a towering display of Halloween candy. I'm not talking little bags here, y'all: these bags were the size of, like, an overstuffed queen-sized pillow. A pillow that ate the person sleeping on it.

"I need some for the candy dish on my desk at work," Curtis rationalized, and began piling these huge-ass bags into the cart before I could say anything. Stack. Stack. "Plus," - stack - "we'll need it for the trick-or-treaters."

"Yeah, in a month," I protested weakly, but the cart was already half-full. Snickers! Kit-Kats! 100 Grand! Almond Joy! Nestle Crunch! Reese's! Twix! M&Ms!

We do get a ton of trick-or-treaters in our 'hood. Generally I buy the Halloween candy every year, and I tend to get things I don't like (stuff like Butterfingers, Baby Ruths, Whoppers, and licorice) just so I won't devour it all and leave the little costumed kids emptyhanded. Because I totally will. I have a definite love/hate relationship with Halloween candy in the house. Because yay! 24-hour access to all the chocolatey deliciousness I can handle! but boo! no self-control and big thighs. When we do get candy I like, I try to put it up in a hard-to-reach place and promise that I won't touch it. But I swear, I could put the damn candy into a shoebox and then into a locked vault and bury it under the concrete floor of my garage and surround the garage with electric fencing and armed guards and a freaking alligator-infested moat, and I'd still get into it - that's just the way I am.

I'm jealous of people who can practice portion control by eating one little candy bar. "Fun-sized," those little candy bars are called. Really? Fun-sized? How much "fun" is half a candy bar? You know what's fun-sized to me? A candy bar the size of my head - now that's something I'd have fun eating. Whee!

As of this writing (it's Friday evening, but this post won't go up until Monday), we've had the Halloween candy in our house for approximately four hours. And I have consumed exactly *coughcoughsevencoughcough* of the aforementioned fun-sized candy bars. That's almost two per hour.

There are, like, 800-something hours until Halloween.

You do the math.

The Problem with Colin

When I pick Colin up from school, I wait for him right outside the front doors - and he's usually one of the first to come bounding out, a huge smile on his face. But yesterday, kids started pouring through the doors and he wasn't among them. I saw a kid from his class, then another, and another, until his entire class had whizzed by ... and still no Colin.

Finally I saw him, after it seemed like 90% of the school had left. He came out, with his teacher (Mrs. L.) holding his hand. "Do you have a few minutes to talk?" she asked.

My first thought was, "I'm so glad I wore makeup" - but y'all, I was wearing a cheap black v-neck tee that tends to stretch out within an hour or so of putting it on, showing an embarrassing amount of boob sag cleavage. I was dangerously close to the hour mark, so I held the baby up to block the view of my breastuses, and dutifully followed the teacher inside - Cameron and Coby in tow. Parent-teacher conferences are only a week away. What could be so urgent that she needed to speak to me about it now?

We sat down in the classroom, and Mrs. L. said, "Colin is doing really well academically. He's reading, writing ... he's very bright. In fact, he's been meeting with the gifted-and-talented teacher for a half-hour every Wednesday." (That was news to me.) "But he's having some problems socially ... some problems with not wanting to do what the rest of the class is doing." She thrust a pile of papers onto the table. "Here's today's work."

I rifled through it. He had sloppily written a row of M's - you could tell he was in a hurry - and a row of A's. He had completed a pattern correctly on a worksheet, apple, tree, apple, tree, but hadn't colored it. And there were a few odd circles and a strip cut out of one of his papers. I frowned.

"This is what he was doing when he was supposed to be doing his work," Mrs. L. said, and handed me the cut-out strip. It had glue on each end; I could tell it was supposed to be a bracelet. One side said, "FOR MOM" and the other side said, "I LOVE YOU MOM." My heart broke.

"It's gotten worse over the course of this week," she continued. "He doesn't want to participate. He wants to get up and do his own thing. He talks to the other kids while they're trying to do their work."

I watched him from across the room, his blonde head bobbing past the bookshelves as he showed his little brother the blocks. I wanted to cry. Like any parent, I had hoped he would get to school and excel. Obviously, though, that wasn't the case. "The gym teacher, the music teacher, the art teacher - they've all expressed the same concerns," Mrs. L. said.

I couldn't deny it. We have the same problem at home. On the one night of the week when he has homework, he just does. not. want. to do it. And it's always stuff that's easy for him - things he could do with his eyes closed. This week he had to write, "I am Colin. I am 5. I am a boy." Had he just sat down and done it, he'd have been finished in two minutes. And yet it was like pulling teeth. He had no problem drawing and diagramming the parts of an apple - something that he wanted to do on his own, that he came up with himself - but when it came to his assigned sentences, he didn't want any part of it. I guess, though, that I was stupid enough to think that attitude wouldn't transfer over into the school environment.

"So ... what can we do?" I asked Mrs. L. helplessly.

"Well, we can move him to a separate desk, away from the rest of the class," she said. "It might minimize distractions."

Yeah. It might minimize distractions. But it might also make him feel singled out, naughty, ostracized from the rest of his class. And that isn't what I want for my son.

That's how it starts: a separate desk. Then pretty soon he'll be out in the hall. Or in the principal's office. Or someone will be suggesting that we dope him up with Ritalin so he'll sit down and shut up.

It makes me sad and angry, all at the same time. I know my son isn't an ill-behaved child - he isn't doing the things he's doing because he's naughty. And he isn't suffering from some attention deficit: I have seen him watch a vocal cord surgery on YouTube, glued raptly to the screen the whole time, or spend an hour writing his own book. No one is going to tell me that he has an inability to pay attention. He just doesn't pay attention to the stuff he's supposed to be paying attention to - and therein lies the problem.

I agree wholeheartedly that he needs to learn to listen; to do what he's supposed to do, when he's supposed to do it. I mean, that's how the real world works - sometimes we have to suck it up and do things we don't want to. But there's a bigger piece of the puzzle that seems to be missing here. He clearly needs something different than what he's getting, and shouldn't have to feel wrong or singled out because he has a different learning style. He is, on all accounts, a special-needs child. And if he were special-needs at the other end of the spectrum - mentally disabled, or academically behind - the school would be bending over backwards trying to accomodate him: not trying to making him accomodate them. Obviously, the half-hour a week of gifted-program curriculum (which basically boils down to some accelerated reading) isn't going to cut it - but from what I can tell, that's all his school offers. It's pitiful. Don't even get me started on who "No Child Left Behind" really left behind.

I'm not trying to sound over-dramatic here, but I can see the flame of his love of learning being snuffed out before my very eyes. The more Colin is made to conform, the more he's going to hate it. He's going to hate school. And he's got so, so many more years of school to go. I want him to blossom ... not wilt.

I get so much valuable advice from you guys - and I know that as parents and educators, some of you have experienced this type of thing before. I need your help. Colin needs your help. His parent-teacher conference is next Thursday, and I want to gather my thoughts before then.

Thank you in advance for all the wonderful words of wisdom I know I'm going to get ... and I promise, I'll be back on Monday with something funny. :) Love y'all!


Dear Other Drivers ...

Dear Other Drivers On My Morning Route:

I know. You're trying to get your kid to school ... but so am I. And in doing so, we have to drive on a residential street where people (rudely) park on both sides - which means that one of us has to get over and make room for the other. And you know what, Other Drivers? It wouldn't kill you to be that polite and accomodating person once in a while.

Listen. Just because you're rolling in a Hummer the size of mother-effing Alaska doesn't mean you're automatically entitled to the right-of-way. Bigger does not equal more important, folks. You can pull over and wait just as easily as I could. And while we're on the subject: when you do insist on barging your way through a skinny little pathway with cars on either side, at least wait until I can pull over. I don't feel like grating along the side of a parked car just because you've got to power your big ass on through rightthissecond. And no, there's not enough room. It's too close for comfort. I'm in a Jeep Grand Cherokee here, not a flippin' SmartCar.

One more thing, Other Drivers. When I do pull over and let you pass (which I seem to do 90% of the time, you pushy a-holes), give me a wave. A smile. A lift of the finger. Anything to acknowledge that you actually appreciate me sacrificing two seconds of my valuable time so that you can motor on uninterrupted. Would it hurt to show some appreciation, Other Drivers? No, it wouldn't. I'm not asking you to blow me kisses on the way by. Damn.

Please think about all this before I see you again tomorrow morning. Or your big stupid vehicle might just get sideswiped.   


Upping the Geek Factor?

Before I forget - the winner of the JumpStart giveaway is ... Angie! Congratulations!
Check back soon for another fun giveaway. :)

It's Wednesday. Colin's school gets out early on Wednesdays, which pretty much jacks up my whole schedule. The rest of the week, I've got things running (relatively) smoothly - right down to the time I leave the house to take him to, and pick him up from, school. But come Wednesday, it seems like I have to restructure everything. And I'm not sure why other than I'm an anal-retentive, scheduled, orderly freak ... it just really throws me off-kilter for the entire day. I walk around feeling like I'm one step behind, in a constant state of "duh." You'd think that since I've had a Kindergartener for a month and a half now, I'd be used to this middle-of-the-week upheaval. But I'm apparently unable to adjust.

So yeah. Wednesdays. Booooo.

Colin brought home a letter the other day that says he didn't do so well on the school-administered eye test, and that we need to get him to the eye doctor for an examination. This makes me nervous. Let's forget for one moment the inevitable hassle of having a kid with glasses: losing them, damaging them and whatnot. I'm most worried about what this does to up his "geek factor," which is already dangerously high.

Don't get me wrong. I adore my eldest son's, um, quirky personality and preferences. And I encourage them every chance I get. When he went through his praying mantis phase, I allowed one to live in my house. I sacrificed the tray of my barbecue grill to a volcano experiment gone wrong. I have nodded and "uh-huh"ed my way through endless explanations of each latest obsession: the skeletal system. The urinary system. Hitler. Venus fly traps. Crocheting. Ammonium dichromate, which I actually had to look up. And yesterday afternoon, he was eating some grapes, held up the stem, and said, "You know what these look like, Mommy? Alveoli. Like in your lungs."

And sure enough ... they really do. For those of us *coughcoughmecoughcough* who need a refresher as to what "alveoli" are, here's a handy illustration:

See? Total grape stems.

But unfortunately, the things I love about Colin can be really off-putting to other kids sometimes. Especially the older they get. And I'm scared that having glasses will further catapult him into the social fringes. Because, y'all? This is what he looks like in glasses:

Okay, so we'll get him frames that fit his face, but you get the idea. I think it's adorable. But combine corrective eyewear with his penchant for all things scientific, and you've got a recipe for geekdom. I mean, I'd much rather him be a little on the nerdy side than, say, some thuggish little troublemaker. And when he's an adult, as far as I'm concerned, bring on the geekiness! (As long as it's, like, finding-a-cure-for-cancer-geekiness. I'm not down with the Star-Trek convention-going, living in our basement at 35, never-having-a-girlfriend type of geek).

It's just that, you know, he's got so much longer to be a kid. And other kids can be so mean. And as his mom, I want to protect him from everything that might hurt his feelings. I want him to be who he is, and be comfortable in his own skin - but I'm worried that he won't be so comfortable if he gets teased. What if he ends up changing who he is, just for the sake of fitting in?

Deep breath, Rita. I'm probably overreacting, right? It just sucks because, as my oldest, Colin's like my guinea pig. I wasn't sure what to do with him the day we brought him home from the hospital, and I'm not sure what to do with him now. Every new stage is a first for both of us, and all we can do is bumble through it, fingers crossed.


Don't forget to click on over to the "Giveaways & Reviews" page and check out the latest! You've got until Wednesday!

I'm about to say something that, in some places, would probably get me strung up by my heels. At the very least, I know a few of you are going to give your computer screen a really dirty look. I'll probably lose followers over this (some were apparently offended by my "not-so-fresh" post. Ooops).


Here goes.

... I (hate, despise, detest, loathe) really don't like football.

There. I said it. I don't like football. On a scale of one to ten, my interest in football - sports in general, actually - is about a negative eleven.

Football, to me, is like coffee. Or beer. It's something that I feel almost ... wrong, almost un-American, not liking. Something that I honestly wish I could acquire a taste for, but can't seem to, no matter how hard I try. I like football weather. I like the cute team-logoed sportswear. I like the excitement of the fans. But the sport itself? Blah.

I've tried learning the rules. I don't get it. I've tried just watching the bubbly football-player butts bouncing up and down the field. And don't get me wrong - that's pretty decent to watch for, like, the first twenty minutes - but even that gets old.

What kind of a curse is this, this apathetic attitude toward all things sporty? Especially for the mom of THREE SONS? It's going to be horrible for me when they start playing team sports in school. Absolutely torturous. Thank goodness I've still got a few years to go before then.

Up until this point, I've been able to live a happily sports-free existence. My husband, in general, isn't much of a sports fan. He wants to watch the occasional UFC fight (barf), and played sports in high school, but he's not one of those guys that's all over it like white on rice.

Notice in the paragraph above, I said, "Up until this point?" Yeah. That's because today, there was a most unfortunate (well, unfortunate for me) turn of events. Curtis sat down in front of the TV, and instead of cop shows or shows about fish like he usually watches, he turned on ... a football game.

And then when that one was over? He flipped to another one.


I stood in the center of the living room, head cocked to one side, eyes bugged out, looking at him like he was growing a tail.

"What?" he asked innocently.

I gestured wildly to the TV. "Football?" I spat.

He shrugged, eyes never faltering from the screen. "I like football. I'm gonna start watching it from now on."

I could have fallen over. Because y'all? Curtis saying that he's going to watch football from now on is like him saying, "Hey, I'm gonna start wearing my hair in a mullet," or "Hey, I'm gonna stop at the bar every night after work." Not exactly something I'm overjoyed to hear. My sports-less little world has been rocked by this one ominous announcement.

What's worse, is that I can't do anything about it. I mean, if it were my boys, I'd just be all, "Um. No." But this is my husband. And if he's decided that he loves him some football, well, I guess I'd better get used to it.

So I need your advice. If you love football, why? If you used to hate football, but now you like (or at least tolerate) it, what's your secret? I'd like to share my man's interest if I possibly can - to make it easier on myself, if nothing else!

Lay it on me!

That Not-So-Fresh Feeling

If you have a feminine odor problem, you can purchase this gray hooded sweatshirt here.

Remind me to never rock a gray hoody. I don't want people to think I have that "not-so-fresh" feeling.

Seriously, have you ever noticed that? I swear, it's the same in every commercial for a.) yeast infection medication, b.) douche, or c.) um, "feminine wash." The girl with the itch and/or odor problem is slumped miserably in a gray hooded sweatshirt, looking like her dog just died. All around her, stylishly dressed women laugh confidently together, as if to say, "My nether regions smell like flowers!" Meanwhile, poor isolated Gray Hoody Girl is all, "Mine stinks." *sad face*

I mean, maybe if she'd take off that hoody and smile, nobody would notice the smell. Or they'd at least think it was, you know, her breath.

I was inspired to write this blog by a commercial for Vagisil Feminine Wash, wherein Gray Hoody Girl actually says, "I found out the hard way: all washes do not prevent feminine odor."


She found out ... the hard way?

So many possible scenarios with this one. Sooooo many scenarios. Involving boyfriends, best friends, random people on the street ("What is that smell?"). In the commercial, a group of women is eyeing her suspiciously. And I don't think it's because they're jealous of that stylin' gray hoody. 

Exactly how one finds out "the hard way" that her va-jay-jay is rotten, I'm not sure - I suppose that's best left up to imagination. (Unless you actually know from experience, in which case, bless you and those around you.) But one thing I do know: that's gotta be some stank, right there.

A word to the gray-hoodied sistas - if you've got something happening "south of the border" that a good scrubbing-up won't fix? You might wanna get that checked out. 'Cause it's gonna take a whole lot more than perfumed soap.


Don't forget to check out the latest giveaway here! It's for the kiddos (unlike this blog post. Heh).

A Little Spittle

There's a new giveaway up, y'all! Click on over to the Giveaways & Reviews page and check it out!

As I was dropping Colin off for school this morning, I noticed something that made me stop dead in my hurry-up-and-get-out-of-the-car-because-we're-parked-in-the-dropoff-lane tracks.


I swear, I do look at the kid while I'm helping him get ready. I make sure he has clean, reasonably coordinating clothes; I gel his unruly little hair to his cowlick-riddled cranium; I even clean yesterday's dirt off the toes of his shoes with a baby wipe. But it never fails. As soon as I think he's presentable to the general public, I realize at the last minute that there's something - ear wax, a booger, too-long fingernails - that I've neglected to take care of.

And today it was crust. Of the pancake-syrup variety. Dotting the corners of his mouth, complete with a few errant pieces of blue fuzz that must've stuck there while he was putting his shirt on.

"Ohmigawd," I muttered. I could just picture his teacher being, like, utterly appalled at the skanky condition in which I let my child come to school. But because I myself drop him off in such a condition (today it was capri sweatpants, flip-flops and a Wal-Mart tee that says "Ford" across the front), I was purseless and unprepared and therefore without means to wipe his face.

So I employed the built-in weapon that every mom has in her arsenal of tricks: Mom Spit.

There's something amazing about Mom Spit. Does anybody know if science has tested its exact properties? Because seriously, they could bottle the stuff. It's one of the most powerful cleaners known to man.

Unfortunately, it's also one of the most annoying. Because the second I licked my finger, Colin knew what was coming and ducked out of my way. Damn agile Kindergarteners. "Nooooo!" he protested. "Don't spit on meeeee!"

"It's just -" I said, chasing him with a spitty finger. "Just let me -"


He arched his head backward to avoid the Mom Spit in a manner that made me think he'd possibly dislocated his neck. I couldn't blame him. My own mom was blessedly merciful, only breaking out the Mom Spit in a dire emergency (which was almost never), but my aunt Judy had a knack for making children within a five-mile radius run for cover with one swift lick of her index finger. So I know how much it sucks. Still, there was crust. 

Unacceptable, dirty-looking, fuzz-studded crust.

So I compromised. "Lick your finger, then," I demanded, and he (reluctantly) complied. I wiped the dried syrup off his face with his own finger covered with his own Kid Spit, which is not nearly as powerful as Mom Spit.

Kid Spit is better for, you know, launching at a sibling.

But at least something made contact with his face and kinda/sorta got rid of the crusty.

In the meantime, the Mom Spit dried on the tip of my finger and now I suspect I might be able to bring people back from the dead. Or at the very least, like, out of a coma.

Somebody really needs to test this stuff.


I'm what they call a "work-at-home mom" - or a WAHM for those who are too lazy to type out the words "work-at-home mom." *

*Unlike me. I'm so super not-lazy that I typed out the words TWICE. Which, like, totally negates the fact that I will probably stay in my pajamas until I pick my son up from school.

I'm not gonna lie: there are definite advantages to being a WAHM. Like the ability to watch Jerry Springer while you work be there to care for your kids. Or the benefit of staying in your comfy clothes all day setting your own hours. I know there are tons of moms who would give their left boob to be able to work from the comfort of their own homes, and it really is a blessing.


I'm irritated lately. I think WAHMs get a bad rap; people seem to be deaf to the "work" part and only hear the sweet sound of "at home." They envision their days at home, which are mostly days off, when they take a break. And although to those people, working from home may seem like a bon-bon-eating, couch-lounging, sweatpants-wearing ticket to Easy Street, it ain't no picnic. You know why? Because it's still WORK. Just like at an office. But since you're at home, you have to throw in the additional demands of the household and its unruly beasts occupants. You're doing regular work - just as you'd do from the comfort of some fluorescent-lit cubicle somewhere - but you're also doing the Mommy thing on top of everything else. And though it's been a few years since I've worked outside my house, I'm pretty sure that office settings don't look like this:

People who work in an office probably don't have to wait for their colleagues to nap before conducting a business call. And I bet they never have to clean up anyone else's cubicle ... or better yet, wipe anyone else's butt. They most likely get to sit and work without being interrupted every 2.5 seconds because heeeee's hitting meeeeeee! or I need some chocolate miiiiiiiilk! No one demands to sit on their lap and presses keys in the process, or accidentally turns off their computer mid-project with a kicking foot. And I doubt they have to worry that while they do their work, their officemates are making a huge mess in the next room.

So yeah - working from home is hard. Especially since some people seem to be under the impression that it's anything but.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to type up an invoice. With one hand. While someone crawls on my back. A WAHM's work is never done!   

My 9/11 Journal - A Remembrance

Curtis and Colin at a 9/11 memorial, September 2006

I wasn't going to do it. My blog is a place for the funny. But it's also a place for the relatable - and every single one of my American readers can relate to the heaviness that this day, September 11th, will always carry. We all remember where we were at the moment the first plane hit the Twin Towers, and the horror of watching the tragedy unfold, feeling powerless and scared.

I was a brand-new military wife, barely 21 years old. My husband and I had been married for just over a year, and were living at our very first duty station: Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. Curtis worked the night shift, so we were both still asleep when my mother-in-law called that morning to tell us to turn on the TV.

We were glued to the screen as we saw the smoke billowing from the first tower, and even more riveted as the news camera captured the plane hitting the second. I remember thinking, over and over, the same thing that was on everyone else's mind: all those people. Watching helplessly as victims jumped from the buildings, sirens screamed, bystanders lurched through the streets of New York City, dazed and disoriented and hysterical, covered in white like wandering ghosts through clouds of smoke and dust. All those people.

As the morning turned into afternoon, and then faded into evening, I wrote in my journal:

The World Trade Center in New York City is no more; the Twin Towers are both demolished, piles of rubble on the ground. As of this moment, there is no idea how many people have died, although the World Trade Center's capacity was 50,000 people. Two hijacked planes - commercial flights - crashed into the towers about ten minutes apart. A plane has also crashed into the Pentagon. Now there are reports of yet another plane crash outside of Pittsburgh, but no one is sure as yet whether or not it's related to the terrorist activity. I can't believe it. America is in absolute chaos. Oh my God. I am sick to my stomach ...

12:33 pm
Our base has been put under a Threatcon Delta: that means war. All buildings here on base are on lockdown - nobody comes in and nobody leaves. Planes are being prepared to deploy. There is still not even a tentative death toll, although we do know now that there were approximately 260 passengers on the four crashed, hijacked planes (two at the World Trade Center, one at the Pentagon, and one in rural Pennsylvania). I just saw on the news that the Palestinians are celebrating with parades, with candy. Celebrating! This is a crisis, amazing, stunning, unbelievable. We take our security for granted and we let our guard down because we're big, strong America and we think nobody can bother us. Even Walt Disney World is closed!

6:30 pm
It's crazy. Still Threatcon Delta. People are in a panic over gas prices; in some places it's up to $5 a gallon (it has been about $1.38). People think that if we go to war with the Middle East, gas will be in short supply. The gas stations here are packed, to say the least. People are flooding them, waiting an hour or more to fill up their tanks. President Bush is going to address the nation at 8 o'clock this evening. I'm still taking it all in, but it's a lot to swallow. Our lives are never going to be the same.

7:40 pm
This day has been phenomenal. Thousands are dead. The same people who woke up this morning and got ready for yet another day at work, or who looked forward to seeing friends and relatives at the end of their flight. As of right now, there are fires still raging at the Pentagon. A makeshift morgue has been set up in its central courtyard, scores of bodies pulled from the wreckage and covered with sheets. Hospitals have run out of gurneys. Americans are coming together in the face of this tragedy, though ... the Red Cross has extended its hours for blood donation, and last I heard, there were so many people wanting to donate that there was a four-hour wait.

I had no idea when I wrote "our lives are never going to be the same" how true that statement was. Everything changed from that point, especially regarding life on a military base. Once we were simply waved through by Security Forces on the basis of having an identifying sticker on our car; but from that point, every ID in the car was checked, and cars were randomly searched - even underneath, using big mirrors. Security was tighter everywhere. It changed the way we flew, our comfort level on an airplane.

But most of all, it changed our perception of being safe at home. Forever.

Even though many years now stand between that day and this one, the remembrance of the tragedy can still open up fault lines along my heart, bringing tears as though it's just happened. Today, I'm praying for everyone who watched it, felt it, lived it, and lost because of it - but especially for those who hated us enough to cause it in the first place.

Most Epic Birthday Weekend EVAH

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I have, however, been swamped with work. WORK!

The nerve of some people who want to, like, pay me to write.

Anyway, I wanted to do a short recap of my birthday celebration. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, and I don't have time to write a thousand words (at least not for free) today, I'ma put up a few lovely photos for your viewing pleasure.

For my birthday, I got this from my friends:

Mmm cookie dough ice cream cake from Coldstone Creamery.

And then we went out for hibachi and sushi:

... and drinks.

Side note: the hibachi chef tried to toss a piece of shrimp into my mouth. It hit me in the eye and then landed in my purse. See it there, all nestled in the pocket?

Don't be jealous of my four-year-old Target purse and mismatched billfold. Not everybody can handle this much awesome.

My nephew made me this (isn't it amazing?!):

And my brother made me this:

Chocolate cake: real. Poop: fake.

He also gave me these:
Seeeeeea monkeeeeeys!
I had to include this photo. Look at Curtis trying to look all sweet, like he never forgot my birthday.

So there you go - and I didn't even include any pictures of the comedy club, the bouncing around like white girls dancing, the huge birthday feast my mom cooked, or the mammoth tray of Pad Thai that my sister-in-law made (suffice it to say, I gained like twenty pounds over the weekend). All in all, it was a fantastic celebration with the best family and friends a girl - er, thirty-year-old woman - could ask for.

And I mean ... I got plastic dog doo and sea monkeys. WIN.

For Sale, Trade, or, Um ...

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of Craiglist (even my mom has heard of Craigslist, and she just learned how to send a text message, like, a few weeks ago). If you haven't, it's basically a bunch of online classified ads. People can list things for sale or trade, or even a skeevy personal ad (though that's a topic for a whooooole different blog post).

But actually, "skeevy" might be the appropriate word for what my husband found when he was browsing the Used Cars section the other night. Check this out, in all its for-real, OMG-I-can't-believe-I'm-seeing-this glory (click on it for a larger view): 

Yes. Really. When Curtis quit laughing long enough to call me over to the computer, I couldn't believe my eyes! What was the dude who posted this thinking?!

I mean, seriously. Everybody knows how to spell "diesel."

(The lovely, semi-dignity-preserving blue stars in the photo are courtesy of yours truly. Whatever jerkface posted this didn't even cover his woman's girly parts!)


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