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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cape Co-ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!-d

Our quick jaunt to Cape Cod last week included time for one full beach day. I decided to take us to West Dennis Beach in, uh, West Dennis, because it looked beautiful, was nearby and had loads of parking for us fashionably late beach goers.

When we pulled into our parking spot, my oldest, Belly, screeched, "WHAT IS THAT!?!"


"That" were horseshoe crabs, most likely brought up to the parking lot by some excited child and left behind by a horrified parent who noticed them as they packed up the sand pails.

We walked down to the water's edge and I started to get itchy because there were more. Literally, dozens and dozens of horseshoe crabs beached at the water's edge, up and down the shore.


None of them were alive.

"What the hell happened??", my brain asked in a high-pitched voice. Was there some sort of mass suicide of horseshoe crabs? And, why weren't the lifeguards screaming and pulling us off the beach? Surely there must be something wrong with the water if all of these creatures were washing up, lifeless, onto the shore.

I started to feel a little panicky, especially when D tried to pick one up and I got the crab mixed up with the stingray that killed the Crocodile Hunter. "PUT IT DOWN!"

And then I noticed something. There were kids playing with the crabs. There were horseshoe crab sculptures made out of the little bodies. There were castles built to house the lifeless shells. There were sand pails filled with the critters.

And strangely, there were seagulls still pestering us for snacks. Hey, seagulls, don't you see the crab buffet at the shore?

This, along with the strange color and small size of the crabs made me suspect that perhaps this wasn't a mass suicide or death by poisoning.


(here is a "normal-looking" horseshoe crab)

I came to conclude, and perhaps correctly, that the crabs were molting and the little shells we saw everywhere were just their discarded too-small outerwear. Thinking of them in this way made it a bit easier to deal with their presence.

But, there was still no way in hell we were going in the water on this beach trip.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Who says you can't run away from it all?

I've decided that my latest bout with depression required me to do something drastic.

So, I ran away.


With my ambassadors of fun, of course.

I'm feeling a bit better already, after some lobster salad and a big cherry-chip ice cream scoop. But, I may need to do it all again tomorrow, just to be sure it's working.

(much love to all of you who commented or sent me personal emails, tweets or facebook notes (and to the one who showed up on my doorstep for coffee). It is so much appreciated and touches me to know you guys have got my back when I start to fall)


Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to save money on Back-to-School shopping by opting out

Every year around this time, my email inbox, TV and newspaper will be flooded with Back-to-School ads promising "$X OFF" a purchase or "SALE SALE SALE". I will read blog posts about the high cost of buying all the school supplies kids need for school. I've already seen one whose school-supply list includes FIVE dozen packs of pencils for the school year, and another whose teacher requests brand names only.

In a few months, I'll overhear someone talking about early peer pressure setting in among six year olds who want to look "cool" by wearing certain (expensive) brands. I've been told, more than once, that third grade (Belly's grade) is particularly tough on girls who are expected to dress a "certain way".

If anyone were to ask me how I survive this time of year without bucking to societal pressures or cringing at the high cost of Crayola crayons and Gap jeans (are they even cool anymore?), I have a simple answer:

I don't send 'em to school.

OK. . .simple? Maybe not entirely. And, those who know me are aware of my slight problem with overspending on shiny new books.

But, homeschooling can be done with just this world-wide-web thingy, the library and a trip to the dollar store. And, or course, a big bottle of wine stashed in the fridge for really tough days.

When pencils get short in our school, we sharpen them and keep going. Our crayons include those no-brand waxy ones you get at restaurants. If we run out of glue in the middle of a project, the kids learn to make do. . .or use tape.

And, I certainly don't need to run out now and restock our supplies as if from scratch or buy new wardrobes for the kids.

So, say what you will about homeschooling. We may be weird, but we aren't out buying five dozen pencils.


Yes, this was a sponsored post. It was written as part of a blog blast for Parent Bloggers Network who is working with Capital One (@teachingmoney on twitter) to help them facilitate conversations about teaching your kids about money.

For our participation, one random blogger will win a Kindle and a $150 VISA gift card and two others will receive a $150 VISA gift card. If it's me, I'm not spending it on school supplies.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Abyss

I often struggle with how much I want to share on this blog, knowing that family, neighbors and friends read it occasionally. So, like I've done most of my life, I swallow whatever I'm feeling and it comes out later in another way. . .either by continuing to grind my teeth into nibs while I sleep, by yelling at the kids for nothing, staring at the computer screen for hours with no purpose, or bursting into tears over the slightest thing.

I remember when I was 16 and my mom turned 40. She went through a period where she seemed to hate me. I mean HATE me. She barely spoke to me and seemed genuinely pissed off at the world.

I blamed menopause at the time, not realizing that she was far from menopause.

I'm a little bit older than she was at the time. And, I don't hate my kids, or my life, or myself.

But, man, am I in a funk. I want to go to bed, put the covers over my head and not reappear for a week. I want to get a full-time nanny who will play games with the kids. I want to go and meditate on a mountain until I feel like myself again.

I'm not excited about the end of summer. I'm not looking forward to homeschooling or the September schedule. I'm not exercising because, what's the point when I'll have little-to-no time to keep it up in September? I don't feel like going out or calling friends.

The kicker? I took the kids for ice cream yesterday and it didn't look appealing, so I didn't order myself anything.

As the Wonderpets would say, "this is seewious". I hope I can claw my way back out of this soon because I'm beginning to dislike being around myself. And, I can't blame anyone else if they feel the same.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grading My Kid

Last week, I finally finished Belly's Progress Report for Second Grade.

The bottom line? She passed!

Seems kind of silly to announce that. Do homeschooling parents ever "fail" their kids?

I understand the school district's need to have some idea of what we're doing, but giving her grades is an odd way to do it.

One of the benefits of doing this "school at home" thingy is that I can spend one day or several months on a concept until she "gets" it. If it takes her six months to understand subtraction, that doesn't mean she "failed" math, it means it just took her six months to understand it.

So, yeah, she passed second grade, more or less. And, come September, I'll have a Third Grader, a First Grader and a Preschooler doing Kindergarten.

Thank goodness the kids won't be grading me.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Would this piss you off?

Back in November, I started a little review blog titled "Fairly Odd Reviews" which sits all by its lonely self on the internet, not bothering anyone. Which is sort of the problem.

That site feels like an afterthought now, and I'm finding it hard to come up with new content. In actuality, I don't do that many reviews since I already have a place in which to pour my heart and soul writing about products I love.

But, because I'm carrying advertising on this blog, I needed to create a separate site for product reviews, so, that is why Fairly Odd Reviews was born.

After seeing how much cash my paid advertising is bringing in (ha!), I'm rethinking it all again. One option would be to drop the ads and use this blog to write about it all: all my normal chatter, plus any product reviews or recommendations I think worthy of my time and effort. I'd be clear to say, "so-and-so asked me to test this product and here's what I think" and I won't be doing "paid for" posts, sponsored posts or reprints of press releases.

But, would this piss you off?

Would you hate bumping into a product review every week or so? Or, would you find my love for
Friendly's Lemonade Roll or Dreambox Learning's math program mildly interesting? Remember that if I am to consolidate the two sites, I'd have to lose the advertising here, so that may influence how you feel about it.

I care a lot about what you guys want to see, or not see, here.
Speak now: I'm listening. Right after I make some delicious iced coffee from The Coffee Exchange.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Looks like we'll be enjoying the fresh air alone

Her bed is made with pretty lavender sheets and soft pillows. There are empty hangers in the closet and shelf space on our office bookshelf for her things.

Yesterday, the kids made a big, happy sign with her name in bright letters so she'd see us when she got off the bus.

We baked a cake yesterday, just for fun, and the kids insisted we not touch it until she arrived so that she could have the first piece.

Our week was planned to include park dates, beach trips, visits to the pond, blueberry picking and many, many ice cream cones.

But, she's not coming.

When we signed up to be a Fresh Air family, I knew this was a possibility. Kids get sick, parents get nervous, families have a change of heart. I also was very specific about the age, gender and trips dates that we'd be able to accept: I wanted a girl around the same age as my two and could only sign up for the last trip of the summer, leaving us no other dates should something happen.

So, when the call came last night that our girl had canceled, I knew we'd be sitting this one out.

There were tears this morning, especially from Belly who was looking forward to meeting this little girl, sharing her toys and introducing her to friends and things we love to do. Jilly, in typical fashion, got angry first, demanding to know "why?!?", not realizing how many things may have forced our seven-year-old visitor to change her mind.

All is not lost. I have a list of great things to do this upcoming week, and we'll make an effort to still do them. We'll eat too much ice cream, go to the beach and pick blueberries until we can't stand the sight of those little round globes.

And this morning, there will be chocolate cake for breakfast.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We Missed the Bullseye: our Lyme story

Something was wrong with my husband (no need for sarcastic comment).

Almost a month ago he started coming home from work complaining of a splitting headache. He'd squint through dinner, barely making conversation, and I offered to clean up the dinner plates most nights so that he could go rest in our darkened bedroom.

One night he scared me. I went in to the room to say goodnight before heading downstairs to my usual nightcap of bad reality TV, and I saw him sitting on our bed quietly. I kissed him on the top of his head, and this man who is usually so affectionate barely acknowledged my gesture.

"Have you considered this might be Lyme Disease?" I asked after a regular family dinner when I had thought, "he looks ten years older".

But, with no bullseye, we were both skeptical. The only reason I had mentioned Lyme was because I had recently read Sarah from In The Trenches of Mommyhood's post. Her son's Lyme diagnosis came after her mother's intuition told her that his low-grade fever and out-of-character quietness weren't "just a cold".

Finally, a few days later, I was woken by my husband who told me that he needed to get tested right away. His headache was fading, but there were now red welts across his torso and legs. It didn't take the lab thirty minutes to confirm that he did have Lyme.

He was lucky. A round of antibiotics beat back the disease, and he is normal again (well. . .).

And I now know that there is more to watching for Lyme than just finding a tiny telltale tick or that red bullseye.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Summer Stock Sunday

Robin has been hosting Summer Stock Sunday for a while now (she's on week 11!).

So far, this is my favorite photo of the summer, taken by my brother-in-law of Jilly underwater:


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Saturday, August 08, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over

My shoes fit neatly into the shoe tree.

My pants and shirts have their own clothes hanger.

I don't even use up all of the closet space in my bedroom.

But, it's here that things are busting at the seams:


I've decided to take the "Week Without Shopping" challenge and try to make my way through some of this:

(freezer #1)



(freezer #2)




and this (yes, I have a problem):

(basement "overflow"; I believe this is for Armageddon)

The only exception will be that on Tuesday I will still pick up my regularly scheduled CSA vegetables and grass-fed meats. But, I will go until Friday without setting foot in a supermarket, and I am not allowed to order take-out every night.

I'm excited to make some space in my pantry and refrigerator, and I know that Friday's "refill" shopping will make me kind of delirious. But, man, I'm really scared to find out what is at the back of those freezers.


If you just can't get enough Freddy the Turkey updates, please check out my new post on New England Mamas titled "Even though the cops shot our mascot, I love my wacky little town".

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Learning to Fly

I haven't yet moved to pharmaceuticals to get me into the air, but that may all change after my last flight.

My flight was scheduled to take off around 2:30. Ten minutes out, with no sign of a plane, it was pretty clear that we wouldn't be taking off on time. Thankfully, I found Sandy of Momisodes, at the gate too, so we kept each other company while we waited and waited.

Finally, a plane! And, I noticed with relief that there was a new, fresh flight crew ready to board the plane to take us to Chicago.

We boarded quickly, got seated and heard the doors close. And then, this:

"We're sorry but there is a problem with the windshield heater. . .blah blah blah".

I soon found myself back inside the airport. Not good.

"We're looking for a replacement part" turned into "We're looking for a replacement plane" turned into "We've found a part! Now we need to test it."

Oh, joy.

Finally, we got back on and the (very chatty) pilot decided to explain exactly what had happened and why it took so long to fix (I'd rather believe that the magical fairies who sprinkle flying dust onto the plane were just running late).

And, then he started to freak me out:

"I have found a new route that will shave off some time from this flight, plus I'm going to up the speed so that you guys won't miss your connections."

(my brain started to chant: "Titanic, Titanic, Titanic")

And then the clincher:

"And, I've gotten the ok to practice my throttle skills by landing this plane on a direct route, instead of circling the city first".

That's when I looked at the stranger next to me and sputtered, "the word PRACTICE should never, ever come out of the pilot's mouth while he is flying the eff-ing plane!".

So, next time. . .Valium or Ambien?


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It's In the Photograph

As if our town's Turkeygate hasn't been weird enough, I've been seeing the odd everywhere.

It started with a giant Mrs. Potato Head. That's her on my left.


Can't forget the gorgeous unicorn cake from MamaPop's Sparklecorn Party. And, yes, the rump was delicious (cake made by Chicago's Cake Girls and could be yours for a mere $1500!).


Back at home, there were twin double-yolk eggs that delighted the kids (and kind of scared me).


My son gained a little halo of plastic. As if I needed any proof that he was an angel.


And finally, a gas station that has its priorities straight.


Who knew Whoopie Pies were such a hot item?


Monday, August 03, 2009

I'm Pretty Sure the Bus Driver Would Never Shoot the Pigeon

The book was supposed to be called Don't Let the Turkey Drive the Motorcycle.

Instead it will need to be renamed, Don't Mess With the Motorcycle, Turkey, or the Police Will Pop a Cap Into Your Feathered Behind.

Yes, Freddy the turkey met with the long arm of the law and was shot to death on Friday by our town's police.

What was the crime? An unnatural, some say obsessive, love of motorcycles. . . and donuts.

Freddy loitering outside our local Dunkin Donuts and trying to look nonchalant next to the hunka hunka burnin' love next to him.

But, when Freddy flew in anger at a motorcyclist who tried to kick him, the jig was up. Under advisement from our state's wildlife organization, this turkey had become too much of a nuisance and was not recommended for return to the wild.

(memorial erected in honor of Freddy)

RIP Freddy. It's too bad more people can't slow down enough to see the humor of a turkey that love donuts, motorcycles and strolling down a suburban street in broad daylight.

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