Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WTF Wednesday - Bringing the Jersey Shore Home for the Holidays

Welcome to What The Fuck Wednesday, where we read about products, items and events that make your head snap around and your mouth utter "What the fuck is that?"  This meme comes to you from Kristin over at the Dragondreamer's Lair.
As we enter the holiday season, thoughts turn to post-Thanksgiving activities. In my house, that means erecting the Christmas tree. Yes, erecting, because we have a fake tree. I have a horrible track record of keeping live plants...well... living. Then there's the matter of those little needles, my cats clawing the bark on the tree and....I digress.
On a stop today at Walgreens, my husband and I perused the freshly-stocked shelves of their holiday wares, one must have ornament stood out. The Jersey Shore Collection. For only $5, you too can have Pauly D, The Situation and Snooki hanging from your tree! There may be others, but those were the ones available at that particular store. The only thing that could make this palatable for me is if I can redo the hanger to act like a noose around it's neck and hang it that way. And just for your reference, they were right next to the KISS ornaments featuring Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Which, I have to point out, my husband bought one of each. Perhaps though, for better product placement, our Jersey Shore gems should have been placed next to the chapstick or hair products.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yes, Internet Friends Are Real.

I can tell you the exact moment I knew we'd be forever friends.

After yet another heartbreaking loss, Kristin was in dire need of some uplift. Pam, our other partner in crime, and I decided to pack up and visit. There wasn't really a plan, just to surround her in love and perhaps get her to laugh a little.

I was first to arrive, with my 2 and 1 year olds in tow. Divine wandered inside, whipped down her shorts, took off her diaper and crapped on the brand. new. carpet. In Kristin's Brand. New. House. 


We had spoken on the phone many times, and had only met briefly once before at an ill-fated barbeque with other internet friends that can only be described as disastrous.  But here she was, without missing a beat Kristin was picking up my child's shit and reassuring me that it really was okay.  I thought she was just being polite. To this day, she couldn't believe I didn't believe her, and to this day I can't believe she was that cool about it.

But yeah, she really is that way.

Not many people would open their home to 4 more people for an undefined period of time like she and her family have to us after we were hit by a major flood.  It's a major commitment, and they've been very gracious about it. 

I know some of you have met Kristin at Blogher, maybe spoke on the phone, thru email, Twitter, what have you.  We meet people from the internet, they seem cool, but you wonder what they're like in real life.  I met Kristin on the internet 10 years ago.  She is honest, loyal, kind, caring, and every bit the friend on the internet as she is in real life. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Commercial Break

It's like the commercial break before returning to the show.  You're deep into this intense drama, the screen cuts out and the next thing on your screen is a commercial that does a 180 on your emotional scale.  But it's such a welcome break.  Plus you have to pee, and maybe get a little snack and drink before it's over.  But you can't take your eyes off the screen, because it's just that cool.  I don't even know what it advertises, but it's so damn cute I don't care.

Going Home and Leaving Again


This photo was posted on September 9th, two days after we evacuated.  Notice the clothesline in the photo, it will give you an idea as to how deep the water actually is.  The back door of the blue house has a set of stairs going up to it.  These are my neighbors houses.  My house is actually on the other side of the white house you see on the left.

My husband went up the next day, after the flood waters had receded enough and the creek was back in its banks.  We had water on the first floor of our house approximately 4 inches deep.  Obviously, returning home wasn't an option.  At this point, 3 days in the hotel plus meals was eating through our money.  A friend offered to watch our children for the day so I could go and survey the damage for myself, as well as grab what I could for myself and the children.

I don't know if it will ever be livable again.

Needless to say, there are a lot of swirling questions and not a whole lot of answers right now.  The foundation looks compromised.  My husband battles the mold daily and its winning.  My children miss their Daddy and their things.  We have to wait for FEMA and see what they say.  Meanwhile my husband has to stay at that toxic dump because there is nowhere for him to go and we're out of money for the time being.  He has to work, and when he's there he spends his time packing up what he can.

I would like to thank our local volunteer fire company.  They stuck around during the flood for as long as they could and have been actively helping everyone in the aftermath.  I would also like to Amish community who arrived en force, helping to rip out flooring and a variety of other nasty jobs my husband would otherwise have to do himself.  Some others have offered hot meals, showers and laundry service.  Shockingly, the Red Cross was 'too busy' in other areas to bother coming to our town. I wonder if that's much of a consolation to the people who've been out of power for the past week; a hot cup of coffee and a silly donut can go a long way even after you've just learned your house has been condemned.  That's happened to two houses so far.

As for me and the kids, we are staying with friends.  That's a separate post, with a much happier aura.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Evacuation/Going Home

It's 4 a.m.  Hotel beds are generally shitty places to sleep.

On Wednesday I had 30 minutes to pack for 5 people in one bag and leave my house.  It had been raining so hard for so long my yard was its own little lake, and the creek in front of our house hadn't even breached its banks yet.

But it was getting close.

My neighbor came down in his ATV and took the kids up to his house, while I stuffed clothes in plastic bags, then into a duffel to suffice for who-knows-how-long.  I expected a day or two.  It's now day 3.

It's a lot to remember, to pack all the stuff you need in such a short time.  I got into the ATV and met up with the kids.  We didn't know where we were going, but we had to leave.  NOW.

Roads were washing out and closing all over the place.  One route into our town had already been covered over by the rushing water, which left one way out.  As I drove out of town, the water was rushing toward the road's edge.

We were some of the last people able to leave.

We managed to make it to a McDs, to get our bearings and get the kids some lunch.  My husband managed to get a reservation out of harm's way for us, so we drove down and attempted to settle in.

The road we took to get there is now impassable too, along with many other roads around here.

We've been through a number of floods since living here, most of which the water comes into the basement, recedes and then we go on with our merry lives with just a mid-sized inconvenience.  Any flood is a pain in the ass, but we never felt as though our lives were in danger.  It meant hosing off our already prepared basement then washing the walls and floors with bleach so mold couldn't set in.  We never had to leave our house, the kids could still have all their comforts, and we rarely lost power.  And if we did, it was never for that long.

The problem is that we had become complacent.

The creek was very low, and could handle the rain that was forecast.  But the forecast changed.  Overnight.   And we were now in that ominously darkly shaded area.

We arrived at the hotel like drowned rats and attempted to settle in.  The kids were thrilled, they've always wanted to stay in a hotel and loved all the perfectly packaged little cups, soaps and shampoos.  They took long baths and marveled at all the newness around them.  Because it was different, you know.  We called our friends and family to let them know we'd left and were okay.

My husband's work cell started ringing off the hook.  The fire company was trying to get a head count, who was where and from what house.  They needed to know who they needed to pull out in boats.  The town had been cut off by water on both sides.  There was a mandatory evacuation, to at least bring anyone left to higher ground.

The water had completely filled the basements and had started rising on the first floor.  It had gone from 'no  big deal' to 'record setting'.  We kept a close eye on the National Water Information System website, which gauges data for waterways across the U.S.  If you live near one, I strongly suggest you bookmark it.

The water levels are starting to recede, and this morning my husband decided to attempt going back to see how our house faired.  I don't even know if he'll make it with all the road closures.  The kids are now sick of the hotel and can't wait to go home.  But even if we could, there's no point until we can ensure their safety.  So I guess we remain sitting...and waiting.

Not knowing really sucks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Divine Puberty - Video Game Edition

Divine is in the early stages of puberty. Now everything is my fault, or puberty. But mostly, it's her sister's fault. Just ask her.

Divine: Did you know that estrogen is the happy gland? And do you know why I haven't been happy since I was 7 years old? It's because you breastfed me.

Ah yes, hormones. It's like experiencing an altered state of reality.

I've come to accept that everything will be my fault for the next few years. Or probably the next decade. So I'm thinking there should be a video game about this. The pre-teen is the protagonist, with a vast variety of stages and enemies to defeat.

The first stage is in the home:

"Clean Your Room!" Attack - player is inserted into their 'room', but the walls become like a jail. In order to break free, they must blast away the mess on their floor. It's timed, and all the mess must be gone before the timer runs out. Or they have to start again.

"Naggy Younger Sibling" - Follows player around saying things like "Whatcha doin?" "Can we play?" The player is especially prone to this attack while school friends are over. In order to defeat this enemy, the player must address the sibling. A popup menu will offer a variety of phrases, like "GO AWAY!" or "I'm sorry sweetie, but I can't play right now. Can we play later?" The nice answer lowers the hit points of the sibling, nasty answers hurt the player. It takes several 'hits' to destroy this enemy.

"The Chore" - intermittently the player will be asked by 'mom' to complete a chore, such as doing dishes, mowing the grass or taking out the garbage. The faster the player addresses it, the less there will be. The dishes or garbage bags multiply the longer they fail to do it. "Reminders" pop up until it's done, and the player can't leave the premises until 'the chore' is completed. The longer they wait, the more constant the reminders. This could earn them an allowance to spend in another part of the game. The faster they do it, the more money they can make.

"Homework" - occasionally the player will have to do 'homework' (in game it will be little and goofy). Failure to do so will result in being sent to a tutor, who will give the player game tips.

Because this is a video game, there has to be fun elements to it. One is through mini games on the video game console in the living room. The player can choose between many 'titles'. Intermittently, various things can happen, like "do your homework", (player has to stop to do something like scribble on a paper), or the naggy younger sibling takes over the TV by changing the station to a little kid show. Then the player has to resort to the pop-up response screen for naggy younger sibling. Or the doorbell can ring and friends will come over and play sports or something.

I'm thinking about adding a 'School' level. What would you add to your pre-teen's game?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't even THINK about looking at this without your Kleenex.

Welcomehomeblog is a site with a daily video of soldiers returning home to their loved ones.  Many are surprises, some are just plain cute, and some are a wee bit goofy.  ALL of them require a box of tissues.  This one is my favorite, as a Navy Commander is welcomed home by his family in Hartford, CT.  Everyone in the vicinity broke out in spontaneous applause at the beautiful moment unfolding in front of them.