Friday, March 30, 2007


I just learned today that a friend of mine from back in junior high, extending through senior high, passed away. We got back into touch over 10 years ago when we were both teaching at the same middle school. It ended up that we lived in the same apartment building; I was on the third floor, she was on the first, and there was this evil wench living between us who liked to play music so loud it shook my floor and her dining room light fixture.

Time passed. She was in my wedding, I sang at hers. I moved out of state, she moved to another city. I moved back, and we met a few times sometimes with kids, sometimes without.

She'd suffered from breast cancer for years, and it had metastasized (or however that's spelled -- I'm so not looking things up tonight). Still, I thought she'd survive. I didn't keep in contact like I should. After all, she was going to be okay. There was always another chance for a lunch date, another time to write an e-mail, another day to make a phone call...

But there's not. There's no more time.

I know she now knows why I was so distracted -- or at least I selfishly comfort myself by believing so. But that doesn't change the fact that I let her down, even if she didn't miss my presence with all the other friends and family at her side.

That's on me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Open Letter to Publix Supermarkets

Dear Publix,

Most of the time I like what you do. I most especially like your deli, where I can purchase a variety of lovely sandwiches either premade or to order. The Boar's Head pesto ham on an onion roll with aged provolone on it, for example, is particularly to die for.

For the last few weeks I have been blissfully enjoying your premade Turkey Italian wrap. This delightful concoction consists of a spinach tortilla wrap stuffed full with various turkey luncheon meats, provolone cheese, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, and even has dark leafy greens contained therein. It is ingeniously held together with a smear of cream cheese with chives.

This wrap has been the saving grace of my sanity of late. This wrap has taught me that yes, I too, can eat greens on a sandwich-type structure rather than merely in a bowl drowned in dressing. This wrap is a miracle worker.

So today, please imagine my distress when I discovered some "creative" individual had decided to toss BLACK OLIVES into my beloved wrap! Sweet baby Jesus, what sick mind could conceive of such a thing? Olives are food most foul. In fact, I hesitate to label them food due to the complete texture violation they visit on my mouth. They're weirdly firm, yet mushy, and they freaking SQUEAK between my teeth.

Why didn't I just pick them out, you ask? Well, rest assured I gave it a valiant effort. However, the same sadistic bastard who thought black olives were a good idea to spring on an unsuspecting wrap-eating public also seemed to to think that combining sliced olives with MINCED olives was just a dandy addition.

Do you know how hard it is to scrape tiny olive shreds out of baby greens? No? I suggest you try it sometime.

I managed to soldier on and only got one or two foul bits of olive in my mouth, but my wrap-love has been destroyed. Let this be a lesson to you, Publix. Don't screw with the pre-made wraps. Or if one of your foolishly-creative employees (perhaps marketing would be a better position for such a warped individual?) decides to do so, be sure to affix a large neon warning label: TEXTURE VIOLATION! MAY CONTAIN BLACK OLIVES! above the wrap bin.

Disgustedly yours,
Amanda Justice

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Enter the Crone

I'm not pregnant.

This is good news. Pretty much. At two kids our house is full-ish, and our budget is definitely at its maximum.

Yet part of me is sad, because this was the last chance I had to have another baby. I'm the oldest of three kids, and although it's silly to figure my life will be like my mother's (especially because it isn't at all, period), I'd always thought I had room for just one more baby.

But I'm extremely perimenopausal. And this last 41 day cycle (which involved lots of home pregnancy tests and finally a blood test to clarify that I am definitely NOT pregnant) has convinced me that it's time to head in to the doctor and get a cure for what ails me. The past three years I've had increasingly heavy and increasingly undependable periods. I range from 23 to (now) 41 days cyclically, and I invariably have a day or three where I'm literally changing the "sanitary" supplies every hour.

Something's got to give, and it's going to have to be my fertility. No matter which way I go, hormones, laser, hysterectomy... it means no more kids. No more possibility of kids. I'm not overly saddened by this (and let me say here that I am thrilled to know the "feminine hygeine" aisle and I will be on much less intimate terms), but it's weird knowing I'm hitting the Crone stage of my life so swiftly.

So. Sounds like I don't have room for one more baby. To be fair, my husband's been done since #2; so we've actively avoided pregnancy while realizing that it could potentially happen as neither of us has taken permanent steps to end our fertility. Our avoidance has worked, apparently rather well. And really, that's fine, but while I was testing away for the past week I had a chance to look at possibilities... possibilities that are now gone.

No third child for me. No "one last chance" for a daughter for me.

It's fine.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Feline Children

I've mentioned that I have two human children, and touched on the fact that I recently acquired two cat kids. Well, let me just say that the cat kids are totally awesome!

Nothing against my human offspring, I assure you.

The elder cat kid is Daniel. We got him a bit over a month ago, at nine months of age. My elder son and I had been out looking for a kitten (we thought that was what we needed) when we got a call from the younger's daycare provider. She was at the SPCA and had intercepted a man who was going into the SPCA to surrender one of his family's cats (they'd taken in a pregnant female who produced four kittens and the family was suffering from an embarassment of feline riches). Unlike most of the cats being taken in for surrender in carriers, Daniel was being carried in his then-owner's arms. He was beautiful... long white coat with black tail, black ears and mask, and a "Mickey Mouse" set of spots on one side. I looked at my son and asked, "Would you like this cat?"

Hope welled up in his eyes (we'd been looking quite a bit), and he just looked at the cat with complete love and adoration and nodded his head. Thus, Daniel joined our family.

He spent the first week under the china cabinet, coming out only for the elder son. We took him in to get fixed, and he then spent the next week under that same child's bed. Since that time, he has actively joined in the family (and he LOVES his scratching post, blessed beast!).

Next came Patrick. Now Daniel had a tiny issue with my husband. The spousal unit is a bit loud and Daniel, as an extremely vocal cat -- the reason his former people chose him to surrender -- was used to being the biggest voice in the house; that plus the fact that the spousal unit is the one who caught him to "crate" him for his trip to the vet for his neutering... OUCH! Sad thing is, my husband is the real "cat person" in the house. I'm pretty apathetic to most cats, due to the fact that, well, I'm allergic to the wee beasties.

I'm devoted to my family, obviously.

Anyway, as the big cat lover of the family, it about did him in that Daniel ran from him at every conceivable opportunity. He wanted a cat of his own. Preferably a kitten that he could bond to himself. We'd discussed going to the SPCA, but about a week ago we'd gone to the pet store to get Daniel more cat food, and danged if they didn't have kittens.


Thus, Patrick entered our lives. He's a brown and black tabby with a white throat and belly and white "boots" on his bitty paws. He's about eight weeks old and totally adorable. As a kitten, HE didn't hide under any furniture. No, we're more likely to find Patrick perched on the kitchen table (eyeroll).

I clean that table quite a bit, anymore.

We were naturally worried about how the introduction would go. After all, Daniel is an altered male cat, but recently altered, and fully grown (feline is HUGE!), and Patrick is a sweet tiny baby un-altered male cat. However, we couldn't have been more pleased. They took turns forming the cat train (wherein one cat's nose is affixed to the other cat's behind), and later that night I caught Daniel washing Patrick. It was a very cute sappy moment.

Obviously the cats are quite useful with the ongoing mouse invasion as I continue to disrupt the living conditions of our resident vermin by demucking every storage space in our house (darned shame, that). Today I heard "Mouse alert!" from the elder, and came out to find Patrick gleefully tossing the corpse of a small mouse into the air, catching it, shaking it, pouncing on it, etc. The boy got Patrick away from his "toy" (without scratching!) and I wrinkled up my nose and tossed the nasty thing out.

When we got home later on (my big kid had some weird allergic reaction, so we were home today), my husband asked me if I'd tossed the mouse the cats had had earlier. Of COURSE I had! Well, it seems his employee was over and found yet another body, and disposed of it for us.

I learned later on that my husband had caught Daniel lurking in the kitchen staring at the dishwasher (the little nasties evidently have a home under there), prepared to pounce.

Marvelous EFFECTIVE felines!

But it's not for that reason alone I love these cats. And yes, I, the allergic one, do love them. It's that I think we got absolutely the perfect cats for our family. They're both slow to scratch (I've taught the kids that the second the cats show signs of being restless while being held it's time to put them down), they're tolerant of both kids, and both of them will even let my little boy hold and carry them.

I never thought I'd see a 35 lb. four-year-old hoisting around a 15 lb. cat, but I was obviously mistaken. More amazing was the fact that the cat was just as relaxed and happy as could be.

It's just darling, and I'm smitten, by all four of the (invited) under-five-footers in this house.

And my dog. Who pees on the carpet. Bless him.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Not my JOB???

What is my job as a parent, relating to school issues?

My job, first and foremost, is to keep close tabs on my children's progress and status within the school system. That is the most important part of what I do.

However, in some circles there is some question about just what a parent's job is regarding the state of a school itself, along with the state of the school system in which we reside.

I think any responsible parent keeps a thumb on the pulse of the state of the school system, via news reports and other input, and also pays attention to the school atmosphere in general, as both these things can affect children in varying ways.

I find that reasonable.

However, I have recently learned that my desire to pay attention to my son's school as a whole and to the school system itself makes me into a "watchdog" type of parent, who obviously must not trust the system or I wouldn't need to keep an eye on it.

I don't agree, obviously. So if anyone has an opinion, let me know. I've out-debated this in the area where I was, so I'm just curious regarding others' views.