Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We interrupt this blog for a touch of bitching and speck of complaining.

When I was a child I assumed grown-ups were grown up. They were the mature rational beings that ran our world (maybe this assumption was made because my parents are such quiet analytical people).

Then I grew up. And to my dismay I found myself living and working among grown ass individuals who still behaved like children. The specifics of my current source of frustration can not be hashed out here in case my colleagues come across this post. But suffice it to say some people are difficult, irrational and just plain childish ... even if they are degreed professionals well into their fifties. Today I could not step back and allow the snarky email comments to slide off me like water on a duck. Apparently I’ve not been preening my feathers well enough because I had to respond. I told this person he was a childish imbecile, via email of course, cced to all other members of the board. Though if I had the opportunity to confront this individual in person I would have said the same thing. Now I get to attend the next board meeting and see him face to face. That will be such a joy.

Generally I am shy person. The quiet one sitting in the corner keeping my thoughts to myself. But with certain people I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut. I am the little girl shouting it out against the good ‘ol boys that have run our society for so long. I’m not sure my response did anything to further my cause. I do, however, feel better having stood up for myself.

And there are other good things to come from this virtual disagreement. I cleaned my kitchen (those who’ve been here before know I clean when frustrated ... you’d think my house would be spotless given my level of frustration with so many things in this world. But you’d be wrong since there are more mess makers than vexed cleaners living in this particular household).

And the other good thing? I have something to write to you-- albeit a complaint but I’m blogging nonetheless.

Mmmm. I feel better. Thanks for listening. And now back to our regularly scheduled program; knitting and chickens ...

It seems I am perfectly content to follow the most popular bloggy trends. After a nearly two-month hiatus I am knitting again. This time I’m making a sweater, just for me. The February Lady Sweater. There are only 4,366 other people on Ravelry knitting this same garment. Mine is a lovely Cascade 220 blue heathers. And I think it is the reason I’ve been so quiet around here. The knitting forces me to think. Like a Sanskrit chant the pattern is a mantra to quiet my mind. Knit one, knit two together, yarn over, knit one, yarn over, slip slip knit, knit one.

Only I'm not knitting today, at least not at this moment for fear my stitches will be too taut. I don’t want a sweater with anger knit in. I don’t want a section of too tight rows, a permanent reminder of temporary frustration. I suspect a few more deep breaths and a little more cleaning and I’ll be able to hit the needles again (that sounds a bit like a drug reference doesn’t it?!! Ah well I’ll leave it for your amusement).

And another bloggy trend ... backyard chickens. I’ve wanted chickens for nearly a year now. This week I finally convinced the husband it was a good idea. Hip hip hooray! We bought coop plans and even picked out our chicken breed -Wyandottes. Wyandottes are hearty, winter ready, brown egg layers, amenable to confinement and docile. Plus they are gorgeous to boot! Once we build our coop I’ll be purchasing the chicks from My Pet Chicken. They ship them in the mail when the chicks are one day old. The only problem is, for our area, the minimum chick order is eight chickens. Legally we can have four chickens in our yard. So our next mission is find someone who wants to split an order of chicks. I really quite excited about this and will likely be blogging about our journey as we go.

And one more bloggerific trend we are participating in ... artist trading cards. My girls created five cards a piece which will be traded with other children their own age (see photo above). They get to participate in an art project and send and receive mail. Such fun! We’re getting these little buggers in the mail today.

Well it seems you are all caught up with the goings on here in my little neck of the woods. I hope you are all well and having a wonderful Wednesday!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Frugal Friday - The Sunday Version

Are all your financial ducks in a row? Do you have an advanced directive for health care? Do you have a will or revocable living trust? Without these documents you are walking on thin ice. Take a deep breath and step back from the edge. You can get these documents in order and now is the time. Suze Orman is offering her Will and Trust Kit free. Free! Simply click on the gift code button and use the password People First.

Suze also has some great information on her home page about our new stimulus plan and how it may help you. The new mortgage assistance plan is especially interesting. Go check it out.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome to the World!

Flowers for a baby boy. Born this morning, 7# 11 oz. Ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. One of many babies wriggling into my life. These babies are cracking open a door once thought shut. Shut and bolted. Biology's perennial tug-of-war between the mind and body; my mind says no, you have more than enough, think of the world, the environment, the expense, your age ... and my body replies oh to have another baby - how wonderful would that be?!!

Our original intent was to have two kids. We have three. Last weekend the big kids had sleepovers at friends' houses. The house seemed empty, lonely. I was so grateful for little sis. For her late night snuggles and chubby hands. For those sweet lips whispering, "You're a good mommy." I want to freeze those moments in time. I don't want to let them go, to let them grow up. But I must. And even if I had another babe - that one too would grow and flee the nest. And yet there are days when I understand why people keep having more. My mind says they're crazy and my body says no, no they're not.

So today I'm the mediator between mind and body. I'll shower my children with affection and enjoy other people's little ones.


Happy Love Thursday!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We can all be rich!

Yesterday I filled out an automatic rider increase request for my disability insurance. Wow was that fun. There is a chance it'll be declined due to last year's cardiac issues. Let's hope not. The disability paperwork gave me the opportunity to look at three years of tax returns side-by-side. Ouch. I knew I was making less money but to have the figures in your face -- not so pleasant. Between 2006 and 2007 my income decreased by 10%. Between 2007 and 2008 my income decreased 16%. No wonder things feel tight. If my income keeps dropping at this rate I'll have to pay for the privilege of working. Wait -- I'm already doing that with my student loans!

Despite figures to the contrary our financial decline is not all bad. The decrease in income came with a subsequent decrease in hours which means I have more time. More time to hang with the family, more time to cook, more time to puruse the library and more time to dabble in other pursuits.

And, as my income has been decreasing, my husband's income has been slowly but steadily increasing. So, just like the kitten dangling from the tree in the motivational posters of my childhood, we're hangin' in there. And we've made many changes in our lives. Changes that are here to stay. By golly we're not the only people who have decided to live within their means.

Paper currency is necessary for most folks. Jobs are necessary to create an income for food, shelter and basic comforts. But fancy houses, cars, televisions, phones -- not necessary. Even shampoo is not a necessity!

The older I get the faster years pass. I've come to realize the real currency is time. If a decrease in hours and return to thriftiness gives me more time? Bring it on!

Time is all we have. And I, personally, would rather be rich in time than rich in material possessions.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Frugal Friday the Valentine's Addition

I'm sitting in my favorite chair watching the snow come down; gigantic fluffy flakes -- perfect for catching on your tongue. Perfect for dancing in; arms out, palms to the sky, deliriously spinning, spinning. And when the snow settles, when it forms fluffy nests on the ground, it will be perfect for snow angels.

Tonight the hub and I are going out in the fluffy white wonderland. We'll bundle up, knit hats and scarves, gloves and woolen jackets. Tonight we're celebrating Valentine's. And yes I know it is the 13th. Friday the 13th to be exact. One thing I've learned from working emergency -- celebrations are about sentiment and not a date on a calendar. So, even though I don't have to work tomorrow, we are celebrating a day early. Tonight we won't need reservations, we won't be fighting crowds and we won't be paying for overpriced meals. Instead we're going to happy hour at a local hot spot. Then we're going to walk around town for Winterfest. There's even a wine walk to get people into local businesses. Hey if recession = free wine then bring it on!

As for gifts ... still the simple frugal route.

I'm knitting the hub his very own pair of fuzzy feet.

Clearly they still need to be felted. He's a big guy but not that big!

From the hub I'll be getting a pedicure (no, no he won't be painting my nails himself - that would be a frightening endeavor). Our neighbor is a manicurist and does inexpensive pedicures from home. An awesome foot rub and pretty toes nails? Can't beat it! For a week or two I'll even look presentable in yoga class.

As for the kids we got them treasures from the Goodwill; a crystal growing kit for the boy and shabby chic room decor for the girls.

Holidays are about family. They're about love and caring and togetherness. They are not about money or gifts. Many think Valentine's is a hallmark invention. And indeed it may be but you don't have to buy their pitch. Instead go out on Friday the 13th and fill the world with love!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Blogoversary To Me ...

Today is my first blogoversary. And look ... it's 10:30 pm pacific standard time. I'm getting a post in just under the wire. This morning I woke with grand plans then the day got away from me. Little and I went to yoga and swam in the duckie pool. The boy came home from school early. The husband needed cold medication delivered to work. Class valentines had to be created. And we had a movie to watch ... Vicky, Christina Barcelona. I say never mind Washington DC - I want to go to Barcelona (oh to be financially independent)!

And here I am, on Love Thursday no less, blogging my anniversary. We, you and I, have had so many conversations over the past couple of days. Unfortunately these conversations have all occurred in my schizophrenic head. I've not been able to articulate them. To put them down on paper. So today I'm leaving you with something else. One post per month for you to chew on should you have the time and inclination. Enjoy!

what started it all.

A wonderful day spent with my daughter.

The beginning of an adventure.

A pile of spectacular kids.

A Texan encounter.

A completed goal.

A loss and a realization.

A merging of souls.

Getting nearly naked in a public place.



In the arms of friends.

Thank you to all of you who have been with me this past year. I am eternally grateful for your friendship and kinship. My life is better with you, each and every one of you. I love your comments, your blogs, your hearts and your souls. Reach out. Reach out and grab the virtual kisses and hugs being sent your way. I love you all!


And should you be curious ... here's how the valentines turned out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Dogs, Two Owners and Two Outcomes

Photo courtesy of Paul Clark

Client #1: Hiya Doc. Nice ta meetcha. First off you need to know I’m a physician. A doctor. And as a doctor I’ve made the decision not to spend a large amount of money on my dog. I’m not willing to spend several thousand dollars. That’s just assanign. I love him but, after all, he’s just a dog.

Veterinarian: Okay. I understand. People have financial limitations. Let me take a look at Duke.

I have to tell you. I’m concerned. Duke is very sick. He’s severely dehydrated, his mucous membranes are injected, he’s weak, lethargic and painful in the abdomen. I’m worried he may have an intestinal foreign body.

Blood work and x-rays are in order.

Client #1: Like I said I’m not willing to spend a lot of money. Plus he doesn’t eat things he’s not supposed to. You can start with blood work.

Veterinarian: Okay.

(Dog taken for blood draw then returned to owner. While blood work is being run client summons the veterinarian to the exam room).

Client #1: Doc. He vomited. It’s foul, putrid. I think you’re right. He has a foreign body. You’d better take x-rays. You’d better take them now.

(Dog taken for x-rays. Veterinarian returns to discuss results).

Veterinarian: I’m afraid I have some bad news. These radiographs are highly suspicious for a foreign body -- specifically a linear foreign body. My best recommendation would be to take Duke to surgery and explore his abdomen.

But I know you have financial constraints and unfortunately surgery adds up. Including the exam, the diagnostics we’ve done so far, surgery and hospitalization were probably talking in the range of $1500.00 to $2000.00.

I’m afraid this is an obstruction that won’t pass on it’s own and Duke is already in poor condition. Your other option is euthanasia.

Client #1 (with tears rolling down his cheeks): I said I didn’t want to spend a lot of money but it doesn’t seem fair not to treat him. Do it. Take him to surgery.


Client #2: Hello doctor. Nice to meet you.

Veterinarian: Hello. I see Sage has been here before. She had a foreign body surgery.

Client #2: Yes. She swallowed a nylabone. I guess they’re still manufacturing them. They’re made to swallow and supposed to dissolve. It didn’t. It doesn't seem it was her fault.

Veterinarian: And now she’s showing similar signs?

Client #2: Yes.

Veterinarian: Well let me take a look at her. She’s pretty bright and alert. She’s not too dehydrated but she is a bit painful in her belly. Given her previous history I think we should take x-rays.

Client #2: Okay, sure, sounds good to me.

(Dog taken for x-rays and veterinarian returns to discuss results)

Veterinarian: Well I’m afraid Sage is obstructed again. It appears she’s swallowed a rock.

Client #2: A rock? A rock? Why would a dog swallow a rock?

Veterinarian: I don’t know. Dogs can be weird that way. They eat things that a typical person wouldn't even think about eating.

Client #2: This is not normal. This dog is not normal. She digs holes. She runs away. And now rocks. What dog swallows rocks?

Veterinarian: Actually it’s not an uncommon occurrence, especially in puppies. And really she’s still a puppy. She’ll begin to mature in another year or so. I recommend we take her to surgery.

Client #2: I suppose some people can’t afford the care. Simply can’t pay for it. That’s terrible. Horrible. This, we can afford this. We've been through it before. But this dog is not normal. Rocks!

Veterinarian: I assure you it is quite normal. Sage isn't the first dog to swallow rocks.

Client #2: Well, you see, here's the thing. My wife doesn’t like this dog. We were thinking of finding her a new home. Yet it seems a shame to withhold treatment for bad behavior.

Veterinarian: Yes it does. And she’s young. She’s likely to outgrow this type of behavior.

Client #2: And I want my boys to have both their dogs. I want them to understand responsibility and compassion. That's my job as a parent. As a citizen.

But this dog. She’s not normal. Just not normal. I’m afraid we’re going to have to put her to sleep.

Veterinarian: Are you sure this is what you want to do?

Client #2: Yes.


Because You Are Sweet ...

Last night I worked. The evening was slow. We had little to do. Then nine o'clock rolled around. I do not know what was magical about that hour but the patients began barreling in. A Shar Pei fever, a linear foreign body, an asthmatic cat, a shih tzu with coccidia, a rock foreign body ... now I am very tired and definitely ready for bed.

A coherent post will be a bit of a challenge until I get some rest. In the meantime I thought I'd share the valentines I'm working on for my daughter's 3rd grade class. I plan to print four to a page on sticker paper. Then I'll cut them out with pinking shears and stick them on a fun paper background. My daughter will fill out the back with personal notes and we'll attach some sort of candy.

And, because you are so sweet, I'm also sharing these with you -- a valentine's freebie. Click here to access the valentine above and here to access the one below. They are on my Flickr account under a creative commons license. You may use them as you like.

Also check out this cute idea! I may have to figure out how to incorporate that into my valentine.

As for me ... right now I can't wait to be here. Have a wonderful day!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Frugal Friday: No Poo Update

Well it seems I've been duped. For thirty-seven and one half years I thought shampoo was a necessity. Turns out I was wrong. Hey - it's never too late to admit ignorance and never too late to change. I'm on day six of No Poo and things are going swimmingly. My hair is soft and manageable. And I have learned a few things:

1) One can actually feel quite luxurious while going No Poo. I make my baking soda paste (one tbsp baking soda mixed with water) in a pretty little ceramic container. This container was just sitting on a shelf doing nothing -- now it's pretty and useful. The vinegar (2 tbsp vinegar to ~ 1 cup water) is mixed in a ceramic creamer container. I own several creamers picked up from thrift stores. I can't really explain it, I don't use creamer, I just like the containers. And now these containers have a purpose. Couple this with a honey facial mask (in a nice wood spice bowl) and brown sugar body scrub -- simple pure luxury.

2) Read all directions before starting No Poo. My first foray involved an undiluted apple cider vinegar rinse. My hair was soft and manageable and I smelled like fish and chips. Dilute your vinegar! I've actually switched to white vinegar and added a splash of vanilla extract to the mix.

3) Vinegar rinses are freezing. If you need to wake up - go for it. There's nothing like ice cold vinegar in the morning. But if you prefer and gentler kinder experience pop your rinse in the microwave for about 30 seconds before you shower. The vanilla aroma wafts out and it's really quite pleasant.

4) I'm finding I need to use the baking soda application every 3 to 4 days (4 days is pushing it). I'm hoping to go longer and longer between actual washes as my hair adjusts. But I'd also like to remain socially acceptable and not frighten small children while walking down the street. Some people have to wash more frequently, some not. You'll have to experiment for yourself.

5) If you have curly hair (and apparently I do) then you will have more curls. This is odd to me as I never used to have curly hair. I had the type of hair that wouldn't even hold a perm (yes I grew up in the eighties). Then I went and had kids and got older and now it seems my hair is curly; more so with this new method.

6) I may need some sort of additional conditioning rinse to keep my hair from getting dry. I'm thinking of try this brown sugar scalp scrub. Basically mix brown sugar and honey then scrub your head. I'll give it a go today.

7) Going No Poo will make you think twice about all the other things in life you assumed were necessary. Deodorant for instance. Me, I find nothing pleasant or socially redeeming about body odor. Nothing. But traditional deodorants, like most things mass produced, contain numerous chemicals. And I don't want cancer or Parkinson's disease (for which I may be genetically predisposed) or any other horrid ailment. So with ingredients from my kitchen I concocted an all natural deodorant: one part corn starch, one part baking soda and a few sprinkles of grapefruit seed essential oil.

I've gone on vigorous walks. I've done yoga. And, as far as I can tell, I don't stink. Believe you me I've been giving myself the sniff test at every opportunity. You may have seen me at the stop light with my face buried in my armpit. Lovely, eh? It's all in the name of science.

This new deodorant is a powder and somewhat messy to deal with. I think I'd rather have a cream and want to try something like this. But first I need to procur the cocoa butter and shea butter. I actually think this will be quite good for my perpetually irritated skin.

And speaking of skin ...

8) Organic vegetable shortening makes a perfect body moisturizer. A thin layer rubbed into dry winter skin -- perfect. The only issue seems to be that the kitten thinks I'm a human lollipop and tries to lick up the shortening as it's applied.

Then there are other things I've begun to research. Oil pulling for instance. I'm wondering if it really does work to whiten teeth. I'm highly skeptical that it will fix my asthma, eliminate arthritis or cure cancer. But might it be an inexpensive way to brighten one's smile? I'll let you know.

And then there's the whole toothpaste issue. I want clean teeth. I want a bright smile. I want fresh breath and I want a frugal alternative. Is this possible? I don't know. If anyone has alternative toothpaste stories I'd love to hear them!


I'm green. I'm frugal and I'm tiptoeing on the precipice of hippiedome. Only I shower, I don't have dreadlocks and I still shave (with the same razors btw). But I'm questioning the practices of industrialization. I dislike the homogenization of our world. I love green living, slow food, and frugal simple living. I'm working day-by-day to be a better person; both for myself and this world. I'm hoping to drag a few of you along with me on this journey.

Who is the new hippie of the 21st century? The green frugalist.

And here is the poster child:

Happy Frugal Friday!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Keeping House and Other Stories

(Bonus points for figuring out what's going on here)

Today is a brilliant mid-winter’s day. It’s the type of day that beckons one outside; nature’s reminder that spring is just around the corner. The sixty degree temperature a not-so-subtle hint that warmth follows cold and light darkness.

Except, of course, some regions never see the light, lest not this early in the season. My front walkway is one of those crepuscular areas; facing north the pavement never draws the sun’s rays. And the walkway therefore remains an arctic tundra - frozen in time. It seems even global warming is not enough to melt this ice. I worry that someone will slip and fall. I worry about lawsuits and losing our home. I worry what the neighbors will think.

And so, in an effort to prevent senseless injury, I set out with a snow shovel to scrape away the cold hard layers of ice; both from the walkway and from my heart. Because, you see, the deep recesses of my heart, like my north facing abode, are not exposed to the sun. Yet as I roll into my late thirties this region is beckoning, calling and begging to be set free. I need to expose my heart (and soul) before my body seizes and ceases to exist.

It seems I’m not alone in this desire to be, well, more me and less the person others think I am. Books such as Simple Abundance, Twelve Secrets of Highly Creative Women and Taking Flight illustrate a universal desire to break free from the bondage of expectation. I am not alone in my desire to change, to open up and embrace my inner self, my womanhood. I am, after all, a woman.

As a child I was a tomboy; running with a pack of testosterone laden children I’d hunt for lizards, build forts and wallow in the dirt. As a student I was not afraid to march through barn after barn in coveralls and galoshes sticking my arm where the sun don’t shine (you’ll have to use your imagination here) all the while pregnant with my second child.

As an adult I dove into management and board meetings; a young woman surrounded by old white men. This in addition to my full-time job and parental duties. My childhood I do not regret. Adulthood has taken its toll, robbing me of enthusiasm and squelching my creative inner self.

I forgot that it is okay. It’s okay to nest, to comfort, to cook, to clean. It’s okay to smile, to love, to dance. It’s okay to be open and vulnerable. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be creative and innovative. And it's downright proper to jump on the bed.

Woman do and should think differently than their male counterparts.

Management is now behind me. Collar up and head down I’ve been plodding through my own personal winter. The wind whipping at my face like a backhanded slap from mother nature. Get it together! And now, in the midst of winter, I am reminded that warmth follows cold and light darkness. The sun’s rays emanate from my outstretched arms as I toss ice and salt over my shoulder for luck. But I won’t need it because shovel in hand I am clearing the path. I am setting myself free.


If you haven't tried jumping on a bed lately I highly recommend it.


Happy Love Thursday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I’m coming up on my one year blogoversary. And yesterday I went back to read my initial entries; specifically this one.

So, what have I accomplished over the past year? Most certainly I’ve written more. Not every day mind you but much much more.

And, in light of economic circumstances, we cook at home almost exclusively. Though I’ve neglected to post a culinary map.

I continue to struggle with the house, keeping it clean and manageable but have donated and/or thrown out many many things.

I’ve gone on several walks. I finished a sprint triathlon.

I’ve not flipped off any old men.

And we went on two short car trips last year: to visit relatives in California and a week in the San Juan Islands.

This year I hope to build on last year’s accomplishments. And here’s the thing. I really want to travel. Specifically I want to go to Washington DC to see the cherry blossoms. Plane tickets are relatively inexpensive ($200.00 a piece round trip). Housing costs a bit more ($1600.00 for a week). We could probably do the whole trip for $3000.00 to $4000.00 for our family of five (including airfare, housing, food, etc). Do we have the money? No. Do I have the desire? Absolutely!

More than desire I feel we are meant to take this trip. I can justify it in so many ways ... it is highly educational, everyone needs a mental break from their routine, it’s the perfect way to expose our children to the inner workings of the government, my son will be out of the house sooner than later ... we need to do these things while we still can, I could take spectacular photographs, etc. etc.

If only it didn’t cost money. Dagnamit! So where does this leave me? It leaves me searching the VRBO sites in Washington DC. It leaves me fantasizing about what I’d do if I had my druthers.

Ah, well, there’s always 2010.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lichtenstein Tutorial

Just in case you wanted a tutorial to learn to do this.

Shiny Happy Moments

Thank you all for your commiserations yesterday. I did make it on that walk. Little sis and I went to the library where we stood on our tippy toes and picked out movies. Then we went to a cafe, sipped tea and people watched. It certainly helped to get out.

I am feeling much better. Here are some of today's shiny happy moments:

* Two girls with brushed hair.
* Two children sent to school with breakfast.
* A honey-face mask which set while doing dishes.
* One mother who showered and shaved and moisturized -- all natural and chemical free.
* Four days without shampoo.
* Homemade deodorant that appears to be working.
* A vigorous walk with other mothers during "baby ballet".
* Blooming paperwhites.
* Sunshine!


I am turning myself into an all-natural toiletry guinea pig and am, thus far, thrilled with the results. Stay tuned ... after a few more days of experimentation and I will tell you all about it! I can't wait for Frugal Friday!


I was tagged by Gayle at the Planet M Files for a sixth of the sixth meme. The rules are:

The rules are:

1) go to your photo folders,

2) post the 6th picture in the folder,

3) tell the story about the picture and then

4) tag 6 bloggers to do the same.

Well the question for me was which picture file? I have so many. I settled on my Flickr account. This is the sixth picture:

This photo was taken in November of 2006. It was the first snow of the season. I drove up to the mountain with my then almost three-year-old to take some shots. I wasn't totally prepared. The roads were rough and I probably should have had chains on. But we didn't get stuck and instead I ended up with this shot.

Now I'm going to cheat a bit and not tag anyone specifically. If you are reading this consider yourself tagged.


And, the song of the day, Shiny Happy People by REM ... only I can't find that on You Tube so instead I give you Furry Happy Monsters.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Moaning Monday

At six am the alarm was blaring and I had to get up. I had to get my son up. He doesn’t wake to his alarm. I imagine I’ll have to be there when he’s forty, creeping old rickety bones to his bedroom and standing over him like the grim reaper... “Son, get up. You have a board-meeting at 9:00 am.”

This morning my eyes were (are) puffy. My nose was (is) stuffy. I didn’t sleep well. The kitten spent half the night on my face and the other half attacking my feet. I was having stress dreams. It seems I was a restaurant manager. No one respected me. Lucky me I garnered the "I hate you so much I’ll spit in your face" kind of disrespect. I also had no authority to administer discipline and therefore earn respect. The restaurant owners didn’t understand why I was failing. I quit that job just before I woke up. I woke with no income, nothing in the pipeline and the alarm screaming.

After he showered and dressed the boy came down wearing a shirt that didn’t belong to him. I have no idea where it came from. He did not eat breakfast. His eyes were also puffy and tired. I don’t know when he went to sleep. He was sent to bed at ten.

The other two kids were still asleep and it was my morning to drive. The hub was already at work. I left the girls sleeping. The eight (nearly nine) year old knows she’s in charge for the twenty-minutes I’m away. I flashed back to my latch key days. It’s not a good memory.

I dropped the boy off at school and came home to start a load of laundry. There, in the basket, were his gym clothes. This is the first time they’ve come home since September. Today he’ll have to borrow clothes. His grade may be docked. Another check in the failure of parenting box.

Next I woke middle daughter. Grumpily she stumbled to the shower. I sat and read the school newsletter that miraculously made it home last week. The TAG (talented and gifted) testing was done. Parents of potential TAG kids were notified. Nobody called my house.

And here's the thing -- middle daughter is very bright. Very very bright. And she is bored. This year she’s losing interest in school. She hasn’t been turning in her homework. For that matter homework hasn’t been making it home. I was hoping she might have other opportunities next year. Something to challenge her. Looks like TAG isn't it.

I was in TAG (actually it was called GATE; gifted and talented education). In the fourth grade I had to stay after school and learn to balance a check book while my friends went out to play. I also had to wear a chin cup to correct an under bite. Understandably I was quite popular.

I’m not a fan of TAG, per se, as I did not enjoy it. But my daughter needs something different than she is getting and I’m at a loss as to what to do.

I shoved some (hopefully salmonella free) peanut butter toast in middle daughter’s hand as she headed out the door. Her hair was gnarled. She didn’t have time to brush it.

And there you have it. My morning in a nut shell. It is nearly 10 am. The five year old is still asleep. I’m sitting in my reading chair drinking coffee and staring through greasy fingerprints at the world outside.

I wonder if it's too late. Too late for my kids and too late for me. Have they already lost their potential? Is the kinetic energy spent? How to get moving again. How to move in the right direction. I wonder if my children will survive me. Will they blame me for squandering their childhood?

Little sis will soon be up. I’ll have to feed her. Provide her with mental stimulation. I also need to plan dinner. To shop. To cook. To clean. I’ll continue to check the failure box as I’m confronted with the daily reminders of my short comings; homework not done, breakfast not eaten, dirty dishes, filthy carpets, laundry strewn about, a backyard full of pine needles and a front walk covered in ice. I’ll let the baby play Toon Town while I struggle to manage the house. Check. Check. Check.

Where is the balance? The peace? The contentment? Why am I having such a difficult time today? I do not know. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s lack of sleep. Maybe it’s me putting my head in the sand for too long. Me with my hands over my ears -- naaa, naaa, naaa, I don’t hear you. It's all good. All good. All good.

The sun is out. It is supposed to be warm. I think we’ll try to talk a walk. A long long walk. Perhaps that will change my perspective. In the meantime I guess I’ll get down to it. First step -- greasy fingerprints from windows; I need to clear the view.