Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Borings

We had a lovely Christmas Eve, with our children and their guests. We had dinner, exchanged gifts, went to church for the candlelight service, went to Atlantic Station to enjoy the big Christmas tree.

Oldest made a big hit with Small, particularly, by presenting her with this Eeyore:

Eeyore looms large right now, with Small One reenacting the loss of his tail over and over, enlisting whomever is willing in her dramatic retelling, so the addition of a giant Eeyore to her cast is, as they say, epic. She also opened some new red shoes from her grandmother, and they apparently cause her to dance, rapidly and without warning, through parking garages. Exactly what she wanted!

So, yeah, that was a fun night. My grandmother's casserole is safely in the fridge, ready to be popped into the oven in the morning, there are freshly baked scones, all the gifts are wrapped, all is prepared. We accomplished everything we set out to do today, except for the part where we were going to be in bed by midnight. {{sigh}}

Earlier this evening, I was in the bedroom working on gift wrapping, and The Man came into the room with a beautifully wrapped gift. "Do you want to open one from me tonight? I have a feeling this might be a good night for you to use this particular gift."

He gave me a meaningful look. I wondered if he was giving me lingerie, and a hint. I opened the package and squealed with glee. I'm almost embarrassed to admit what was in there...

It was this:
Oh, yes, we're that boring. As I squealed, I looked up at him, and his face was absolutely lit up. "Tomorrow," he said, "I will go through the cabinet and throw out everything without a lid!"

Well, maybe we're just good at finding joy in the simple things. Yeah, I'll go with that one.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Me and my Meth Lab

Yeah, so I'm not even sure what meth is, really, nor how one might use it, nor what it looks like. Drug addicted, I am not.

Congested, though, I certainly am. This week has been a huge struggle for me to stay afloat, with Christmas coming, because I've had the worst cold I can remember having. First it was just a bunch of congestion, and I tried my usual home remedies of Indian food and sleeping whenever possible, and right about the time I said "Man, I'd almost rather have a runny nose than all this pressure", the floodgates burst. Be careful what you wish for, is all I'm saying, because the past three nights have been a sleepless hell of pouring sinuses. My eyes are runny, for crying out loud! I've blown my nose so many times my face is chapped. Seriously, I'm now regularly applying Carmex to my nostrils.

I've been taking over the counter cold meds, with dubious results, and I've noticed that the decongestant in the medicine is Phenylephrine. Now, I'm not acquainted with this Phenylephrine, but I'm a big fan of his rival Pseudoephedrine, once found in Sudafed. (Hence the name, "Sudafed".) I finally found some meds last night that contained pseudoephedrine, and voila! A dry face! Blessed, blessed rest.

Off I went to the local pharmacy, where I encountered something I had not previously realized, as I rarely catch cold. Everything that used to contain pseudoephedrine is gone. Gone! Phenylephrine has usurped its place on every shelf. This is, apparently, because pseudoephedrine can be used to make meth. I'm typing those words, but seriously, I'm not even sure what that means. Like, are there meth recipes somewhere? I wouldn't know where to begin. I turned to the pharmacist. "Is sudafed just GONE," I asked, "or is it behind the counter with you?"

She deadpanned. "Gone. Nah, just kidding, it's back here, what do you want?"

I said I wanted some sort of cold remedy that contained pseudoephedrine. Sirens went off, and buzzers sounded. No, I'm exaggerating, but she did have to pull her boss, who is apparently a real truly live pharmacist, over to give me the stinkeye. "What are your symptoms?" the boss asked, skeptically.

I told her I had a runny nose, cough, and sore throat. She told me I didn't need pseudoephedrine. I begged to differ. She told me it'd make me worse. I told her I'd found some this morning, and it had made me better. She asked me which brand, and when I told her, told me that it didn't contain that particular drug. Since the label stated otherwise, I disagreed.

After about 10 minutes of this back and forth, she looked at me with dread and said "You know, if I sell you this you're going to have to..." (here, she paused dramatically, as if she were about to inform me I'd have to sell one of my children into slavery or something, which I'd gladly have done at that moment, if it would've but guaranteed me some pseudoephedrine) "...sign the book!"

I'm going to have to sign the book? Ooh, scary! Yeah, I'll sign the book. Heck, lady, I'll sign whatever you want me to sign. Your boobs, perhaps? Hand me a sharpie! Just give me the cold medicine!

I left the store, I'm happy to report, with the desired drugs in my hand. I am fully prepared for my visit from the meth police... I plan to offer them cookies and maybe some tea. I'll just be delighted to do that without having to blow my nose throughout their visit.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Christ?

In case you don't know, my title quotes "Love Actually"... it's a character's reaction to being told that her daughter earned the role of "first lobster" in the Nativity play. It all makes perfect sense to me, but that may be because I'm being newly introduced this year to a child's view of Christmas.

The Man and I are on the rotation to teach 3 year old Sunday school. This is a fun job, not much of a chore, because while they are not particularly focused, they are extremely imaginative. A couple of weeks ago we set up the big cloth nativity scene in the Sunday school class, and then let the children play with it while we pulled them aside, one at a time, to work on an art project. This happened:

Now, I don't remember the part of the Christmas story that involves a giant fish, but maybe it's just me.

At home, we have a small nativity scene, that is very old. I'm not quite sure how old it is, but it's been around as long as I can remember, and it used to have more parts. I think it had a donkey and a bunch of shepherds... now it has Mary, a manger, baby Jesus (and in my head it's the actual baby Jesus, because it's in all my childhood memories), two male figures, of which one must be a shepherd and one must be Joseph, but no one is ever in agreement as to which is which, a cow, 2 sheep, and 3 wise men, one of whom apparently has that skin condition where you lose pigment in patches. It may be the most beloved nativity scene in the history of the world, and Small One is continuing the tradition of lovingly playing with it all Christmas season. A few days ago I called Small to dinner only to be shushed... the male she deems "Joseph" was singing a lullaby and rocking baby Jesus to sleep.

Today, I came in to the living room to find that Middle Child's Madame Alexander angel ornament had joined the adoring throng around the manger. Small One looked at me with her hands on her hips, and something akin to outrage on her little face. "Baby Jesus's angel," she explained indignantly, "does NOT needa be up in a tree!"

Fair enough. But later, when I discovered that the Big Bird ornament had lost his hook, she informed me that he, too needed to be near baby Jesus. I don't think that's scriptural, actually, but then again, Jesus was nothing if not inclusive, right? And who am I to decide who needa be near the baby Jesus. I'll leave that to the experts.

(Luke 18:17: Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Difference Between Me and the Man

My husband is a bit of a snob. This is not his fault, he comes from a long line of snobs, so I really don't hold it against him. His snobbery, though, is all about music and movies and literature, and grammar. He's an intellect snob. He makes fun of my tv shows, he loathes most pop music... he's a snob.

So now, the new Sherlock Holmes movie is coming out. I am itching to see it, not because I'm a Sherlock Holmes buff but because, (this is key), it stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Hey, I think every red-blooded American female over 25 is probably with me on this one! Did you see Alfie? Ironman? ME-OW.

So, we had the following conversation:

The Man: "That movie looks terrible!"

Me: "I'm seeing it. If you don't want to go, one of my girlfriends will go with me. I'm seeing it, for sure."

The Man: "Why on earth would you want to see that? It doesn't look anything LIKE Sherlock Holmes! It looks like Rush Hour 2!"

Me: (looking at him incredulously, because to me, this is so painfully obvious!) "It has Robert Downey Jr. AND Jude Law."

The Man: "Yeah, but it looks like a dumb action flick!"

Me: (again, incredulously, because I've got two younger brothers and a 19 year old son... I've SEEN my fair share of action flicks, and for much worse reasons than this!) "Robert. Downey. Jr... AND!!! Jude. Law. Duh!"

The Man: (patiently, as though explaining something to an imbecile) "Amy, if they made a remake of Rush Hour 2, but they called it 'Hamlet', would you go to see THAT?!?"

Me: (considering this) "Who is in it? Because if it's Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, I'm in."

He threw up his hands and gave up. Smart move, because he can't possibly win that argument, being neither Robert Downey Jr. NOR Jude Law.

Monday, December 14, 2009

101 Ways to Fail and Derail Your Own Blog

A few people have asked me how I'm doing with my 101 list, so I thought I'd address that.

Um...yeah, the 101 list... what was that again? Why did I think it was a good idea to give myself MORE to do? Oh yeah, it's because, despite my clear lack of skills, I am strangely ambitious and confident in my own ability. Why is that again?

Here's my new plan: I get a 101 list do-over. I'm not re-starting my 1001 days, I'm not detailing my failures, I'm just cutting myself some slack, acknowledging that I've been less than successful up to THIS point, and starting from now. Ta-dah! Hey, it's my blog, it's my list, and I make the rules.

I will say, I have done some things well. I've tried new recipes and new wines, I've baked bread and planned weekly menus, I've said prayers with Small One and done more family devotions. I've spent special one on one time with my Middle Child, sent more correspondence in the mail, taken more walks, donated to the food bank, and gone to the playground more often.

And isn't that the point? I started the list to push myself towards self-improvement, and I'm improving, despite my failure to stick to the list in any kind of strict way. This is why I'm giving myself a re-do- it's my early Christmas gift to myself, a little slack being cut just when I need a pick-me-up. And really, isn't that what everyone secretly wants for Christmas?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Portrait of a Mommy

My Small One drew a picture of me this morning. She spent a lot of time on it, and you will notice that there are several eyes and noses, because she kept shaking her head and saying "No, that's not the right eye!" or "No, that doesn't look like a nose!" Here is the picture:

The best part of it, in my opinion, is that while she was drawing this picture, she kept looking at me, narrowing her eyes, then going back to sketching, so she could really capture me. And no, I'm not a vampire, she just thinks that I'm sometimes sad, and she wanted to give me a sad mouth.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swimming in Quotable Quotes

Remember "Quotable Quotes"? From Reader's Digest? A page full of pithy and memorable quotations from famous people, to inspire, enlighten and amuse the reader. My girls are unbelievably quotable.

Small One keeps me giggling. Today at lunch, for instance, she said, while eating a BLT, "I like bacon. But I don't like monsters." This was good to know, but not so surprising- we've discussed monsters once already this week. That conversation went like this:

Small: Do bad guys eat people?

Me: Not typically. (hey, I try to be honest!)

Small:Do bad guys GET people? (makes grabbing motion with her hands)

Me: Yes, actually there are some bad guys who get little girls and take them away from their mamas, which is why you need to mind your Mama and stay with me. (I figure there's never a bad time to enforce this concept.)

Small: Ok. But monsters eat people, right? And dinosaurs do?

I guess it's a good idea to keep a running list of creatures that might eat you. Can't be too careful, right?

Sometimes her statements are inexplicable, like the time she asked where her Daddy was, and when I told her he was at work, she asked, in an exasperated tone, "But where's his face?"

I told her that I sincerely hoped his face was WITH him, or it might be off-putting to the other people at work.

Middle Child, though, is the Queen of the quotable. We've been having a tussle with her again, over her unwillingness to participate in anything that doesn't have to do with her friends, makeup, hair, clothing, facebook account, or ipod... including her schoolwork. Her grades are a good indicator of this unwilling attitude, and she's currently grounded, pending improvement. This situation, to her way of thinking, is entirely unjust, because (gear up now, quotable quote number one is coming)...

"Going to school is my gift to you."

Seriously? Going to school is her gift to ME? I hope she kept the receipt, because this is a crappy gift. If I were going to request someone's schooling as my particular present, I'd put on my request list at least ONE passing grade other than P.E., and possibly the added accessory of occasionally completed homework. But then again, she also said to me (quotable two!)...

"I don't really care about my grades- that's YOUR deal."

MY deal? Her grades are MY deal? Good grief, I wasn't a fan of highschool the first time around, I'm certainly not fascinated by it now, I just want her to get through it. (number three is coming, look out!)

"I brought my world history grade UP," she pointed out, with an injured air, "but I guess you just choose not to NOTICE that!"

Er... yes, I noticed, but to bring your grade up from abysmal to abysmal + 1 point does not really earn you accolades.

The Homecoming dance is the first major event she has missed because of the grade situation. I honestly don't think she believed I'd go through with it, as she presented me with roughly six million, three hundred thirty two thousand, eight hundred and twelve reasons that she should go, nay, verily, NEEDED to go, and when I still declined to allow it she said, (are you ready for number four?)

"I'm really losing respect for you, now that I see the lengths to which you will go to destroy a person."

That one made me laugh. It still makes me giggle, every time I think about it. Destroy a person? Seriously? I will bet that many of you readers who are of a certain age... my peers and those a little older, will recall a time when bringing home a dismal report card was a terrifying experience, because we were pretty sure our parents would literally destroy us. (Think Merry Old England, with the tower, and the decapitation, and the drawing and quartering and the heads on stakes and all that. ) Yeah, missing a dance will not destroy you, I'm only hoping it does not actually make you stronger.

This week's challenge? Halloween. M.C. has to have all her schoolwork turned in or she won't be allowed out of the house. I'm thinking this may be the Halloween that I actually get to witness someone turning into a werewolf or similarly terrifying beast.

Wish me luck! And while you're wishing things for me, I'll leave you with another of Small One's quotables. The Man was giving her a bath, and I was out for a walk. When I came in, I went to wash my hands, and my precious little girl turned to me and said,

"You look like a __" (undecipherable word)

I asked her to repeat, as I hadn't understood.

"I think you look like a ehhh!" she repeated, a little more emphatically.

When I still didn't get it, she clarified.

"A EGG," she said, "like Humpty Dumpty. Do you remember Humpty Dumpty?"

Ahh, yes, an EGG. Yes, dear Small, I remember Humpty Dumpty, though it has never been my aim to resemble him.

{Sigh}. They say kids keep you young... I'd add that they also keep you humble. And, of course, supplied with endless quotes, and points to ponder, though that's another Reader's Digest section entirely.

Friday, October 9, 2009

So far so good!

Wednesday night closed the first week of my 101 day project. I meant to blog about it on Thursday, but Thursday was just the kind of day where blogging is not something that happens.

Here's something that happened, though: we were late. I mean, the kind of late that happens because the whole morning just doesn't work the way it should, the kind of late where the kid misses music class and you're late for your doctor's appointment. That kind of "I need a time machine" sort of late. On the way out the door, as I was cleaning out Small One's backpack, which I should've done two days earlier, I found a note from the teacher, asking me to send in a picture of something orange. I frantically scanned the room, looking for a catalog or flyer with perhaps a pumpkin... but no, I've been merciless about throwing things out lately, so there was no such item to be found.

I spotted the "Pin the Nose on the Elmo" game, which we've left up since the birthday party, because Small still plays with it. Elmo noses are orange! Better than a picture. Yes, folks, I took a laminated, egg shaped piece of orange construction paper to school, and smilingly told the teachers it's an Elmo nose. I'm pretty sure they already think I'm a little crazy after the beet juice cupcake thing anyway, so it's all good.

On the way home, Small One wailed "I FORGOT MY..." and the word sounded like "emino". Thinking she was doing that charming consonant swap little ones often do with the word animal, I asked "What kind of animal, Sweetie?".

She looked at me like I was as dumb as a box of rocks. "My ELMO NOSE." Ahhhhhh. No, that's ok, we were supposed to leave it.

So anyway, that's the kind of day it continued to be, and by the end of it I did not have the wherewithal to do a detailed 101 things update. But here goes:

Overall, I'd say it's going well! With the exception of one night that I stayed up late and one night that I forgot to say prayers with Small, I did all the daily and weekly stuff pretty well. In addition, we went to a festival and tried a new wine. (Not at the same time, though!) Family devotionals have not been going as well as I'd hoped, primarily because of illness and busy-ness in the family, but the Man and I have been doing them most nights with the Small One. So all in all, I'd say it's off to a good start.

I did try a new recipe, and it was YUM, but I did it last night, so it doesn't really count as the first week. I'll post it anyway:

Corn Dog Muffins:

Mix together: one box of cornbread mix (I used Martha White, but whatever), 1/2 can of creamed corn, and two chopped up hotdogs. Put into muffin cups, and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. BIG hit with the preschooler, and I liked it too, though next time I'm doubling the hot dogs. Makes 9 muffins! How easy is that?

Anyway, on to week two, with high hopes!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Parent I Want to Be

I have a book in my possession, entitled "Becoming the Parent you Want to Be".

I looked at that book tonight, glass of wine in hand, and wondered to myself...

Is there a chapter in that book that tells you how to be the parent lying on a beach somewhere being tended by cabana boys whilst sipping something fruity, while your precious little darlings are elsewhere, being cared for by someone who currently likes them better than you do?

No? Then that stupid book CLEARLY does not know the parent I want to be right now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Thursday... 101?

It's done! I did it, I came up with 101 things! (With a little help from my friends, of course.) Now, following through on the 101 is going to be the hard part...

Anyway, in case you're confused, or missed my first post about this, check out It's an interesting concept, I think, and I think more people should jump on the bandwagon, even if they don't start on 10/1. For me, I'm doing it because I feel like I've been in a bit of a daze for about four years now. My pregnancy, the broken leg, the broken arm, the broken oven... I haven't felt like myself of late, and I'm ready to make a come back. So, without further ado:

101 Things in 1001 Days!

Spiritual Growth:
1) read every book in the Bible again
2) say prayers with Small One every night
3) pray every day and keep an accurate prayer journal
4) have a family devotional at least 5 nights a week
5) volunteer to teach Sunday school at least twice
6) participate in a women's Bible study

Things to Learn:
7) learn to knit and complete 2 knitting projects
8) learn to cook 10 completely new recipes (1. corn dog muffins 2. frito pie 3.oatmeal pecan laceys)
9) learn to play one song on the guitar
10) learn how to make hairbows
11) once a month, learn a cool new craft to do with Small One

Places to Go:
12) take a no kids trip
13) take a girls only trip
14) take an overnight trip to Chattanooga, just for fun
15) go to 3 festivals
16) take Small One on the Ferris wheel
17) go out and see 3 local bands
18) visit 2 significant places in the us that I've never seen before
19) spend a weekend doing touristy things in Atlanta
20) go to a Christmas parade

Things to Do:
21) watch 3 classic movies I've never seen
22) bake bread once a week
23) make homemade pizza twice a month
24) do something funky with my hair at least once
25) update the baby books (yes, I'm aware the oldest baby is 19!) =P
26) make a book of family and collected recipes
27) plan weekly menus every weekend
28) try three new restaurants
29) buy something at a silent auction
30) try 3 kinds of wine we've never tried
31) once a month, buy a random gift on sale to put in the gift closet
32) sing karaoke

People to See:
33) host a game night
34) go to the movies with a friend once a month
35) once a month, email someone I don't regularly email
36) host 5 dinner parties
37) host a party on a holiday

Family Bonds:
38) have Mom and Middle Child day once a month
39) get a really good picture of the three kids together
40) get a really good picture of me with each of the kids
41) get a really good picture of me with The Man
42) get a really good family portrait and frame it
43) 5 times, mail photos to the in-laws
44) once a month, send a card to my grandmother
45) every other month, mail photos to my parents
46)mail photos to 5 relatives I don't communicate with regularly
47) once a week, go out with The Man
48) once a month, call my grandmother
49) take Small One to 10 community events, like story time at the library
50) take Middle Child to visit 5 college campuses
51) once a month, take Oldest to lunch and talk

Intellectual Growth:
52)read books by 10 authors I've never read before
53) complete an entire book of crossword puzzles
54)find 3 poems with significance to me
55)submit a manuscript for publication
56) blog every day for a month 6 times
57) write a children's story

Setting the House in Order:
58)paint the hallway
59)replace all the hardware in the kitchen
60) clean out the craft closet every 6 months
61) clean out my sewing baskets and complete projects lingering there
62) frame family photos and hang them in the living room
63) organize all snapshots
64) get rid of 50 books
65) sort out 10 boxes from the basement
66) have a yard sale
67) create a truly comfortable guest room/office

Personal Health and Growth:
68) take a walk every day
69) declare one week a month "no sweets week"
70) achieve my goal weight
71) go to bed before midnight at least 6 nights/week
72) train for and participate in a 5k for charity
73) declare one day a month "no technology day"- no phone, no tv, no computer, nothing. the oven is still allowed. =)
74) once a month, do something alone that isn't an errand or chore
75) take a dance class

The Great Outdoors:
76) work in the yard once a week
77) grow a garden every spring
78) add one new thing to the garden each year
79) take Small One to a playground once a week
80) pick blueberries
81) pick apples
82) take a walk in the mountains every fall to look at the leaves
83) watch the sunrise from the beach
84) watch the sunset in the mountains
85) try letterboxing or geocaching

Monetary Matters:
86)set up an Etsy shop
87)have $500 in savings by the end date
88) have $100 in Small One’s savings by the end date, in addition to what’s already there
89) list everything I have set aside for ebay
90) be a seller at a consignment sale every spring and fall

Random Kindness:

91) donate to a food bank once a month
92) spend one holiday doing volunteer work
93) once a week, leave a comment on someone's blog
94) once a year, do something nice for someone anonymously
95) Write and mail an encouraging letter to someone once a week
96) donate to 3 charities to which we've never donated before
97) at Christmas, take Small One to buy a toy for Toys for Tots
98) twice, donate money towards the groceries of the person behind me in line

Keeping it Real:
99)save $1 for every failure on this list
100)update this list weekly on my blog
101)on day 1001, publish a new list and start over!

Edited again, because I realized that updating this publicly is too much pressure! =)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Enough Things

No, I have not suddenly become materialistic- not to worry. But I've become inspired to participate in the Day Zero Project , and make a list of 101 things to accomplish in 1001 days. Several of my cyber friends are doing it, mostly because of the example set by our talented friend Sarah... and reading their lists has made me want to jump in there and make one of my own. People are starting on October 1st, and that would be a really interesting day for me to start as well, because I’d hit my 1001 days the day after Middle Child’s 18th birthday.

Sadly, I may be too boring to do this. I have been working on this list for 3 days now, and have only come up with 28 things. How pathetic is that? The Man won't contribute ideas, for some reason, and I'm having a mental block. Is it possible that I'm too boring for this? Or maybe it's the opposite, and I've just lived way too interesting a life, so I'm out of things I want to do? (Just kidding about that last one.)

Anyhoo... I thought I'd bring it here, and make a plea to you, my friendly readers. Make some suggestions, please! Here's what I have so far:

101 things in 1001 days

  1. read every book in the Bible again (0/66)
  2. visit 2 significant places in the US that I've never seen before (0/2)
  3. learn to knit and finish 2 knitting projects (0/2)
  4. read books by 10 authors I've never read before (0/10)
  5. find 3 poems with significance to me (0/3)
  6. submit a manuscript for publication (0/1)
  7. learn to cook 10 completely new recipes (0/10)
  8. take a walk every day (0/1001)
  9. declare one week a month "no sweets week" (0/33)
  10. declare one day a month "no technology day"- no phone, no tv, no computer, nothing. the oven is still allowed. =) (0/33)
  11. work in the yard once a week (0/143)
  12. grow a garden every spring (0/3)
  13. add one new thing to the garden each year (0/3)
  14. take Small One to a playground once a week (0/143)
  15. set up an Etsy shop (0/1)
  16. donate to a food bank once a month (0/33)
  17. have mom and Middle Child day once a month (0/33)
  18. take a no kids trip (0/1)
  19. host a game night (0/1)
  20. take a girls only trip (0/1)
  21. watch 3 classic movies I've never seen (0/3)
  22. blog every day for a month 6 times (0/6)
  23. spend one holiday doing volunteer work (0/1)
  24. go to the movies with a friend once a month (0/33)
  25. learn to play one song on the guitar (0/1)
  26. watch the sunrise from the beach
  27. bake bread once a week (0/143)
  28. make homemade pizza twice a month (0/66)

So what do you think, readers? Do you have any suggestions for me? I just KNOW I can get a few from at least one of my list loving friends...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You know it's been a nutty week...

...when you post your Wordless Wednesday on Tuesday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Laughing is better than crying, right?

I will admit, I'm easily tickled. More embarrassingly, I crack myself up all the time. Something simple comes up, and my brain takes it in a direction that just makes me laugh, and there I am, an appreciative audience of one to my own stand-up act. Loser-y, but true.

Typos really make me giggle. This takes me back to my high school typing class, in which I performed miserably, at least partly because Richard League was in my class, and that guy was FUNNY. I am absolutely no good at typing without glancing at my hands, and I was perpetually shifting over a key, which Richard dubbed "typing in Swedish". Today, though, I'm always giggling by myself at other people's typos, though I am pretty good about not pointing them out.

Tonight, though, I have to share. I'm a member of an online mother's group, and though I mostly go on there to hang out with other moms who have children the same age as my Small One, I have recently discovered a group for moms of teens as well, which I'm thinking I could really use, because dealing with teenaged kids pretty much REQUIRES a support group. Today, one of the topics was "How to keep your cool when they get so mouthy", which is, of course, pertinent. People were talking about all the same things I deal with on a weekly basis with Middle Child... the eye rolling, the door slamming, the yelling, the back talk, the fit throwing... I can't decide whether it's encouraging or depressing to know we're all in the same boat.

One post in particular, though, caught my eye. This mom states that her daughter throws fits that involve "screaming and whaling".

REALLY?!?!? Whaling? Now, that's interesting. Ingenious, even! What a creative way to burn off that negative energy!!! Where does the child get the whaling vessel and harpoons? And isn't that illegal most places? Surely the legality is an issue which needs attention. I am telling you, I elaborated on this and giggled at myself for hours. The mental image of that child dressed as a whaler was enough to keep me going for a long time. Call her Ishmael. (See, I'm still going with this!)

In her defense, the mom who wrote that is extremely intelligent and articulate, and I don't know that I've ever even caught her in a typo before, but somehow, that made it funnier.

Well, anyway, I guess laughter is my drug of choice. And red wine, but that's a topic for another day. Middle Child is back, as I've said, and she is back with a vengeance. Many days I'm actually physically tired from standing my ground. Boarding school, where art thou?

(I'm kidding, we can't afford boarding school, I've already checked.)

The other day, after suffering through a particularly ugly "mouthing off" incident at Target, I put M.C. out of the car. Yes, I did. It wasn't too far from home, it wasn't a busy street, but I was making a point. At first she tried to stare me down and refuse to get out of the car, but I won that one by offering her a chance to trade the walk home for two weeks of being grounded. She has enough sense to know that was a bad deal, so she reluctantly left the vehicle, but not without yelling at me, just before she slammed the door,

"You'd better HOPE I come HOME!!!"

Oh, I laughed so hard at that one! I'm still laughing, truth be told. I mean, seriously? What was her plan? And if you're going to threaten me, at LEAST pick something SCARY!

Someday, she'll look back on all this and laugh too, right?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Continuing Adventures of Small One's Mom

In case you are uninformed, please allow me to tell you about the three slowest land mammals on record. Coming in at number three is the two-toed sloth, a creature so slow moving that algae actually grows on his fur, providing him with the camouflage needed to do nothing but hang in a tree all day. Claiming second place is my own darling Man, who has been known to take two hours purchasing one item at a store five minutes from our home, provided there is someone in that store with whom to chat. In the top slot, though, is my ex-husband, the father of Eldest and M.C., whose errand running length is the stuff of legend. Nice guy, Mr. X, but truly slow moving.

That being the case, I was mildly distressed when I came running out of my bedroom the other day to find that he was in my hallway and had parked behind my car. He'd come by to pick up some things for Eldest, who is now living with him in order to be near his college, but I was running out the door to the bank, and I had exactly 33 minutes to make what is typically a 20 minute trek. Sure enough, it took Mr. X 16 minutes to move his car... to the other side of my driveway. I am not making that up.

I called the bank, and asked to speak to my own personal bank hook-up, who often grants me exceptions to bank rules because she is crazy about my Small One. The feeling is mutual, by the way, with Small often asking to go to visit her "friends at the bank". Unfortunately, my friend no longer works the late shift, so I received no sympathy from the teller to whom I told my tale of woe.

I drove faster. When it became apparent that I was still not going to make it. I called again, to ask if maybe I could give her all my numbers to input BEFORE they closed, since I would be screeching in 5 minutes AFTER they closed. She said no, then asked for my name. I told her, she was deadly silent. Then I added "I'm Small One's mom!" ...her voice went up an octave, and became all cheery and helpful. Result? Yeah, she made my deposit when I got there. Sometimes it's good to be Small One's Mom.

Yesterday, though, it was not as much fun. Small was supposed to start a gymnastics class a week ago, but because of recent family events, we were unable to make it. Yesterday was the second scheduled class, so we went- although I must tell you, Small spent the entire morning protesting, while simultaneously proving she needed to go. "I NOT NEEDA go to 'nastics class!" she'd shriek at me, while standing on her head on my bed. Yeah, she needed to go.

(Now, I've gone back and forth on whether to mention the name of the facility, because the story you're about to hear is a cautionary tale, but I can't actually speak for the quality of class, and the equipment looks impressive. However, the level of crazy madness in this story almost requires me to throw the Tucker Rec Center under the bus, so there... I just did.)

Anyway, we got there, and the signage for locating the gymnastics class was not as helpful as one would hope. We were late, we were lost, and I was getting frustrated. After about 10 minutes of wandering through cavernous halls devoid of friendly faces, we approached the front office. This is when I should have known the level of service I was about to receive... there were a few staff members standing by a door that obviously led into an office. I approached them and said "Excuse me..." only to be cut off by a man who said to me, very sternly, "MA'AM! You're gonna need to go around to the other door!" as he helpfully pointed me in the direction of another door... to the SAME ROOM. I am SO not kidding. There wasn't even a counter or divider or anything, it was just all one room!

The girl at the desk was on her cell phone. She placed her personal call on hold and asked if she could help me. I said "My daughter is signed up for the 12:30 little kids' gymnastics class..." and she was already sorrowfully shaking her head.

"I was just fixin' to start calling people," she said, "'cause that class is cancelled."

REALLY? She was just "fixin' to START calling people", 10 minutes into the class time?

"Did they have class last week?" I asked.

"No," she said, "they haven't had a teacher for that class yet."

Ok, let's see if I have this right. The class has been cancelled for over a week, yet this girl was planning to begin calling the parents, right after she finished her personal call. Got it.

"Ok..." I said, "is there another class for this age?"

"No ma'am," she replied, "They're all full, but you can apply for a refund if you want."

I told her I did indeed want to apply, and she told me I'd have to bring in my cancelled check. REALLY? Wouldn't it seem that my child's name on the roster in front of her would indicate the receipt of my payment? Apparently not.

"I don't know that I'd apply for a refund just yet, anyway," she continued, "because we MAY get a teacher."

I said, "Well, do I need to call you back about that?"

to which she replied, "Oh, no ma'am, we'll call you."

I did not make a smart comment about this statement, but that was not because they weren't all there in my head dying to come out. Seriously? Because they're so good at calling and letting people know things?

I made sure she knew my name, and Small's name, and I turned to leave. About that time, a second woman came in, and told the desk girl that she needed to call all the gymnastics parents and inform them that a teacher had been located, and classes would resume tomorrow. (Except she pronounced it "Tuhmarruh"

I said "So, classes will happen next week?"

She replied "No, not next week. Tomorrow."

I was genuinely confused. I asked again, "But, if my child is not in tomorrow's class, does that mean her class will happen next week."

She leaned closer to my face, since obviously my stupidity was the issue here. "TUH-MARR-UH," she said emphatically.

I leaned towards her. "But what if my child's class was supposed to be TUH- DAY?" I asked, just as emphatically.

She was clearly taken aback. "Oh, yeah, then bring her in next week," she said, in a pleasanter tone.

I walked out of the building, and called my husband. "If you are looking for me," I said, "I'll be outside Tucker Rec, lying on the ground, beating my head into the concrete."

Small One began wailing as I put her into the carseat. "I NEEDA GO TO MY 'NASTICS CLASS!!!!!!" (Funny how that particular worm turned, isn't it? Interesting reversal of opinion.)

As I drove away, my phone rang. I answered it, and a now familiar voice said "Uh, this is Tucker Rec Center, calling to inform you that we have found a teacher for your child's class..."

I cut in. "I was just standing in front of your desk, not five minutes ago."

"Oh," she said cheerfully, "I thought I recognized your name from somewhere."

Ah, wish us luck next week at nastics class.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On a lighter note- the Thursday 13

Thirteen Useful Items that Can be Purchased at the Dollar Store:
(Because people seemed mystified that one could purchase dishwasher detergent there)
  1. Canned Goods- seriously, a canned good is a canned good! Granted, this is one of those Dollar Store gray areas, where you need to make sure you aren't buying for $1 what the grocery store sells for 63 cents, but still...
  2. Condiments- again, what's the difference? Ketchup is ketchup.
  3. Garbage Bags- I got a box of 15 last time I was there.
  4. Light Bulbs
  5. Batteries- I've gotten Panasonic, in everything from triple A to D.
  6. Sunglasses- ok, so it's not the brand the movie stars wear, but hey! Dollar Store sunglasses will do in a pinch. Especially if you're like me and utterly incapable of not sitting on expensive sunglasses. The pricier they are, the faster I demolish them.
  7. Coloring Books- because seriously, coloring books have gotten ridiculous at regular stores.
  8. Dishwashing detergent- yes, it's true, I promise. You can also get laundry detergent, but I'm nervous about that.
  9. Toys- SOMETIMES you can even get GOOD toys! At the very least, party favors.
  10. Pet Food- I fed my cats Dollar Store cat food for two weeks, with no ill effects.
  11. Paper Products- paper towels, napkins, paper plates and cups, etc, etc... also wrapping paper.
  12. Household supplies- No, not just dish detergent! Window cleaner, all purpose cleaner, brushes, scrubby things, auto accessories. A veritable plethora of supplies!
  13. PREGNANCY TESTS. This, to me, is the biggest Christmas miracle of all. Why pay $15 for one test at the drug store? Seriously, if you, like me, are constantly paranoid that you're knocked up, you can STOCK UP for $15!!! You can buy 15 tests! That's, like, 5 months worth. (Assuming you test, decide that test must be wrong, test again, then wait a day and test again in case BOTH tests were wrong. Come on, you know you've done it.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Finding the Miracle

I believe in miracles. My faith in God is central to who I am, and I believe that He is an interested and involved Father who cares about the well being of his children, and who is available when we call.
In my life, I’ve seen big miracles. My son, born almost three months early, weighing not quite three pounds, has grown to be a strong and healthy young man. My compact car flipped and rolled down a hill, and we walked away with hardly a scratch. I’ve seen people healed, snatched from the brink of ruin, spared from disaster.

Last week was a week of small miracles. My bank account was empty, and I found a $20 bill in a purse I hadn’t used in a month, wrapped in a note that said “Love you”… turns out a dear friend had slipped it in there when I brought her lunch, and I only found it when I most needed it. My cupboards were bare, a friend needed to clean out her kitchen because of her sick husband's new dietary restrictions, and voila! I was restocked. My friend's husband's illness is certainly bad news, and they are in my prayers, but I have noticed that sometimes someone's miracle comes from someone else deciding to find good in a bad situation. I have learned to appreciate these things.

This week, though, we needed a big miracle. My precious Uncle Judson, the backbone of our family, was repairing a roof when he slipped and fell nine feet onto the pavement. Landing on his face, he sustained injuries that took his life two days later.

I have to take a moment now to talk about my uncle, so please forgive my self-indulgence. Judson was quite possibly the most generous man I've ever known. Family members, strangers, friends...anyone who came across his path was bettered for knowing him. He was handy, and spent much of his life renovating houses. Some of these houses he purchased and sold or rented, some he contracted to repair, but many he repaired out of sheer kindness. He employed many people, including some who would otherwise have been on the street. He rented homes to friends and family in need, at low cost, to give people a boost. He owned vacation properties to which we all had a standing invitation, and the blessing of those mini-vacations, courtesy of Uncle Judson, helped people through many stressful times. Illness, divorce, myriad troubles were soothed looking out over the waves, or across the mountains, appreciating the gift we'd been given.

He was a beautiful man, inside and out, the picture of health, athletic and agile, an avid surfer. He held a master's degree, and in his youth was a special education teacher. He was a doting father, and his love for his daughter was fierce and boundless. He was a loving husband, and he and his beautiful wife had one of the strongest marriages I've been privileged to observe.

He wasn't a saint. His temper was quick and hot, and anyone who worked for him needed to make sure to do the job right, or they'd be sure to hear about it. His lovely home is unfortunately the site of many unfinished projects. His sarcasm was legendary.

But his heart was enormous. His sense of humor made us laugh until tears rolled down our faces, and he loved to laugh. He loved to entertain, and we could be assured that any visit to his home would include a sunset ride on his boat. We could also be pretty sure he'd let someone drive the boat who had absolutely no idea how to do so, and then he'd roar with laughter at the shrieks of those of us nervous about drowning. Holidays at his house routinely included not only family and friends, but people he'd met who were down on their luck, or just didn't have another place to celebrate. They quickly became friends, too.

When he fell, we prayed for a miracle. We couldn't process the shock, couldn't bear the thought of losing him. He was only 58 years old! How could we lose our Judson, when he was so strong and vibrant? We thought he was invincible. We prayed day and night. Many of us drove in from out of state, praying all the way. We were sure God was going to spare him.

In the end, he passed away. Still reeling from the shock of hearing the news that his brain had no function, my aunt had to make the decision of whether to donate his organs, and her decision was, emphatically, yes. It was the only fitting thing to do for a man who'd already given so much of himself.

I was torn, though. As much as I believe in organ donation, I wasn't ready to give up on the idea that they'd shut off the ventilator, unplug all those machines, and we'd witness a miracle- he'd stand up and walk away. I wanted so badly for that to be the case, that the idea of them leaving him on the respirator while they harvested his organs made my stomach churn. I got upset with God.

As I prayed, though, a rather angry, questioning prayer, I began to feel a quiet calm. A peace came over me, and it was as though God was explaining things to me. We'd prayed for a miracle for two days, and here it was... I suddenly understood that all the lives my sweet uncle would be able to save in death comprised the miracle. It wasn't the miracle we'd hoped for, but I couldn't help but think it was the miracle for which those other families had been praying. Here was a man who spent his entire life helping other people, who would've gladly lain down his life for his fellow man, and in the end, that's what he was able to do.

I won't say it made it all ok, because it didn't. Last night we went to his house, and my Small One said "Oh! We're going to see Uncle Judson, and he'll take me on the boat!" I tried to explain to her, as simply as I could, that he had gotten terribly hurt, and God had taken him to live with him, instead of letting him go home with Aunt Peggy. "That's not right," she said. "He needs to come home and be with Aunt Peggy and see us!"

Honestly, as much as I'm glad he was able to help those other people, as much as I'm trying to make sense in all this and find peace, I have to admit, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

Goodbye, Uncle Jud. We'll miss you always.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


When my big kids were small kids, I had several rules that had rather unorthodox names. One that comes to mind is the "Tickle Me Elmo" rule, so named because Middle Child had an annoying habit of setting that dumb Elmo doll off every time I was in a particularly tense traffic situation. The Tickle Me Elmo rule stated simply that Mom had the right, at any time, to confiscate any toy that made noise in the car, and toss it out the window into oncoming traffic. I never had to actually make good on the threat, though I will admit to dangling a toy or two out the window on occasion, but all I had to say to silence a noisy toy was "Remember the Tickle Me Elmo rule!" and all would turn silent in the back seat.

Most of those rules no longer apply. Rarely do they make any noise at all in the backseat, instead choosing to sit side by side with headphones in, texting other people. But one rule that still applies is the "Stupidhead Rule", which I find myself using on a regular basis, not only for them, but for myself and, indeed, other adults.

The Stupidhead Rule came to be when my children were elementary school aged. One of them would come in, crying, because someone had called a name- like "Stupidhead", for example. "MOM!!!!!! He called me a stupidhead!!!!!"

I'd look at the child in question very calmly and ask, "Well, ARE you a stupidhead?"

Obviously, the answer would typically be "no", and I would advise the child to disregard the statement, since it was clearly false. So the Stupidhead Rule, simply stated, "Ask yourself if the criticism applies, and if not, throw it out." After awhile, all I'd have to say is "use the Stupidhead Rule!" and they'd know what I meant.

I still use it. It came in handy when I was in customer service for a food delivery company, and many times I'd think of it when I was starting to get stressed out. I'd ask myself, "Are you a rotten lying sack of excrement who stole this man's money and has no intention of making sure he gets the correct food?"

(Most of the time, no.)

Today I was talking to a good friend who is having trouble with a bully. She was sad, because he called her a long string of expletives, but honestly, the words, when taken away from the emotion, didn't even make sense. If anything, taken literally, they presented a pretty amusing mental image. Expletives are sort of funny, when you think about it, if you take them literally.

This friend has known my family for a long time, so I asked her the question, "Are you a {long and nonsensical string of expletives}?"

She giggled a little bit. "No, I really don't think I am a {long and nonsensical string of expletives}."

She's no Stupidhead, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Domestic Heroism

We're a little short on cash these days. (That, by the way, is my polite, Southern way of saying "Holy Moley, we're going down in flames!") Down here, we refer to that as "a little short on cash", in much the same way as we refer to an expensive new article of clothing as "this old thing?" when complimented. Don't ask me why, I couldn't tell you, it's just the way it is.

Anyhoo, grocery shopping has become an adventure. I play little games with myself, like "How many meals can I make for five people using $20?" and "How many necessities can actually be purchased at the Dollar Store?". The answers to those questions? A. It depends on if you want them to actually eat the so-called food, and B. So far, I've been delighted to learn that Dollar Store cat food is not too bad, and neither is the dishwasher detergent. Still a little wary of the wine, though.

I occasionally toy with the idea of posting frugality tips here on the blog, since I feel quite certain, given the current economic climate, that we're not the only ones dealing with this, and I might be able to help someone else. As an example, something I find wonderful is that some of the larger grocery stores will mark down milk to practically free when it's going to expire in a couple of days. A couple of days? Amateurs! My children will go through that gallon in eighteen hours! Ha ha! I laugh at your expiration date, fools!

Today, I hit the grocery store for a few basic necessities, and felt pretty good about my thrift. Even managed to find some treat-y stuff for practically free. I was proud of myself, started feeling superhero-ish. The theme from "Chariots of Fire" seemed to be playing as I made my way out of the store, and I felt like slo-mo running, with one arm in the air, since my other one needed to push the cart. Yeah!

Then I realized that "Chariots of Fire" WAS playing. On the muzak. I'm such a nerd.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I don't have to blog today, because it's August, and I committed to blog every day in July, but haven't decided about August.

And technically, it's still August 1st where I am, though not August 1st at my home.

August is a big month for us. Eldest departs our home and starts college, Middle Child returns to the school she left last December, and The Man has a birthday. These are the reasons I may not blog every day. I might, though, the jury's still out... it's a pleasant pressure, the pressure to make it happen every day for a month. It pressures me to use my brain in a way unrelated to the running of my household, which consumes my every other minute.

I started August by attending my dad's wedding. It was weird, but a fun party. And I have to say, when two or more of the sibs in my family get together, it's a party, no matter what.

Tomorrow, we dive further into the month of August with an insane roadtrip, visiting three states in one day. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Freaky Friday

(in all fairness to Middle Child, we were actually working on a tutu for a costume party, and she got inspired for a photo shoot)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday 13, Cousin Pictorial Edition

I'm on a road trip, which means my blog time is limited, which means I'll be posting more photos than words for the next couple of days. Tonight, I'm in Nashville, visiting my sister, and also my cousin, because they live on the same street. My cousin has two little ones, one a year younger than my Small One, and one only eight weeks. My sister has a rather large collection of fur babies.
Therefore, tonight's entry will be 13 shots of my Small and her cousins, human, feline and canine, to either delight or annoy you, depending on your point of view/temperment. I'll try to provide commentary in case you get bored.

  1. Maracas on the road:

  2. Watching the rain with Ringo:

  3. (love during the rain watching)

  4. Resting time with Scout (because, as anyone with a kitten knows, resting time is in the middle of the day- crazy time is between midnight and 5am):

  5. Who is coming upstairs?

  6. Loving up on Shelby
  7. Small One and Cousin Boy dividing up the money for the ice cream man

  8. Hooray for popsicles in summer time!

  9. Evening drive in the Escalade

  10. Driving a car, and eating a popsicle before dinner! Woo hoo! Must be vacation!

  11. Cousin Fun
  12. Big hugs

  13. Enough love for everyone

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crime and Punishment, Preschool Style

Small One is a feisty, yet agreeable creature. In this, she is different from my other two children- Eldest was feisty and ornery, Middle Child, in her preschool years, was agreeable and complacent. Small One is always on a mission, with things to do, places to go, people to see.

Because she is agreeable, though, she and I rarely collide. Most of the time, I can talk her out of a scheme by re-explaining "the rules", and she changes her course. Very rarely have I ever spanked her. My older two, I spanked, but in retrospect, I don't believe it was the best course of action. Nineteen years into parenting, I have reached new conclusions, and I apply new methods. I don't know if it's an increase in wisdom due to trial and error, or if this most recent child is just easier than the others, but I've found that when explanation fails, time-out works wonders. I absolutely do not believe in spanking her, unless in an extreme situation, where she's endangering herself, or being out-of-control defiant. In her almost three years, I can count on one hand the times I felt that course of action was warranted.

This is why it surprised me yesterday when she spanked her baby doll. She carried the doll rather roughly into the kitchen, where I was working, and said "This baby knocked down my juice!" She proceeded to turn the dolly over and give several pretty firm whacks to her little stuffed backside.

I said "Wow! Don't you think maybe you could just put her in time out?"

She nodded grimly. "Oh, yeah, I'm gonna put her in time out, too!"

She stalked off, sat the doll in her armchair, and came back into the kitchen. After a few minutes, she said, "Mommy, I put that baby in time out!"

I said, "I know you did. Don't you want to go and get her out and tell her you still love her?"

She shook her head, still angry. "No, I cwan NOT do that."

(Small has a weird habit of sticking "w" into certain words, and "ch" on the end of others.)

I said "Don't you want to go check on her, though? Maybe she's sorry."

She replied, a little sadly, "No, she not sorry. She VERY naughty."

Harsh! I didn't know whether to laugh or be disturbed. I will definitely be paying attention to the severity of the time-outs I administer, though.

That dolly sat in time-out ALL night. Such a naughty doll.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Artistic Inspiration

To the ill-informed, I imagine I seem like I sleep quite a bit. I'm forever attempting to take a nap when my Small One does. In reality, though, a)I rarely ever make it as far as the nap, I generally get distracted by some task that needs my attention and b)when I DO get to nap, it's only to make up for being up until three or four in the morning, due to the antics of the dastardly teenaged people who live in my house.

Today, I took a nap, and it was lovely. I dreamed all manner of weird things I can't quite recall.

I've often read of artistic people who have strokes of genius in their sleep, waking with songs or poems or novels in their brains. Paul McCartney reportedly dreamed the tune for "Yesterday", jumped out of bed and pounded it out on the piano. (I've heard he initially used the words "Scrambled eggs, ooh baby how I love your legs", but you can't fault him for that, he was half asleep.)

I used to keep a notepad by my bed in case inspiration struck in the middle of the night. I imagined myself sitting up and pouring genius onto those pages, and in the morning, beginning to write the novel that would make me wealthy beyond my imaginings! Sadly, most of what I wrote down went something like "The people walk snrgle mmm my nrfeksh...aaaaa...hurminur", which may mean I'm dreaming in tongues, or being influenced by aliens, but clearly has no practical application.

Today, though, I woke up with a poem in my head, that I'd apparently come up with mid-dream! Maybe I AM a genius after all! Here it goes:

The raisins, the raisins...

They chew me up,

and swallow me down.

All is darkness.

Hmm... maybe not.

(on a side note, spell check is pretty sure "snrgle mmm" is misspelled, but is fine with both "nrfeksh" and "hurminur")

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ant Kingdom Update

For all those who were concerned... and by this I mean "my mom"... the giant ants have left the building.

I believed they were on the way out, there had been fewer in the past few days. My cousin was here Thursday night and she did not notice them when she was in their bathroom of choice. And as I stated in my previous post, they typically leave in a week or two.

Apparently last night's adventure, which involved The Man carrying out many of the critters with the kitchen garbage while I swept their comrades out the door with vigour and ferocity, convinced them that this is not a comfortable place to hang out. I can only imagine the ones in the garbage bag struggling to climb through the little spaces between where the bag is tied, finally making it to freedom so they can warn their compatriots, "Don't go in there! That bathroom is bad news! She's got a broom!"

Well, maybe that's not exactly how it happened, but I have not seen ants in 24 hours. I think it's safe to declare the former kingdom an ant free zone.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kingdom of the Giant Ants

We have ants in our home. I wouldn't call it an ant problem, exactly, because it's just a periodic invasion that seems to pass quickly. They don't really do anything, either, just hang around and look menacing and icky. We're pretty philosophical about it, simply referring to our home as "Kingdom of the Giant Ants" until they move on. It gives the situation a sort of cool, kitschy, bad horror movie vibe, which makes us feel better.

I'm talking about the gigantic black ants. Seriously huge, and I'm pretty sure I have a childhood memory of one of those suckers chomping onto my toe and holding on even after his body was removed from his head. I could be thinking of a different kind of ant, certainly I grew up in Florida, where the bugs are way more vicious than the ones we have in Georgia, but still, the giant ants make me shudder.

They're primarily focusing on the bathroom, which is their typical m.o., and therefore not unexpected. They come into the bathroom through some crack in this weird old house, a couple of times a year, camp out for a week or two, and then vanish. We've been here long enough for me to observe that any ant reduction measures seem futile, as such measures, (ant traps, borax, what have you), do not seem to shorten the length of their stay. They come, they go, and in the meantime I'm a little paranoid because I'm constantly afraid one of them is going to be in the toilet when I sit down, and chomp a delicate area with the ferocity and tenacity noted in the perhaps imagined childhood toe chomping incident.

I try hard not to pass these fears along to Small One. I act entirely blase about the ants, calmly washing them down the sink and flushing them down the toilet. (Did you know that you have to run the water a LONG time to get an ant down the sink? Just rinsing them down leaves you watching a bedraggled ant climbing from the drain and indignantly drying his antennae.) In any event, Small has expressed concern for the creatures, being careful not to step on them, and looking askance at me when I rinse or flush them away instead of carefully carrying them outside, which is what her Daddy, the bleeding heart insect advocate vegetarian, does.

"Where the ant is going to go, Mommy?" she asked, frowning, after I'd rinsed one down the drain.

"Swimming!" I said, brightly, "Swimming out to sea! Like at the beach!"

I'm not sure if she bought it, she gave me a suspicious look.

Tonight, they've entered a new phase, and invited their buddies in for a kitchen garbage party. This does not thrill me, and when I opened the lid on the garbage can to see zillions of the ugly things munching on debris, I called The Man in for backup. He took out the garbage while I swept the other ones out the back door. I didn't yell "And stay out!", but I thought it. Their stay is seeming longer than usual, despite the ant trap we've put behind the toilet, and I'm hoping they move along soon, because they're making me nervous.

As to Small One, today she told me she was going to the potty all by herself, but then immediately started yelling something I couldn't quite catch. It wasn't a pain yell, or a panic yell, so I finished what I was doing before I went to check on her, and when I got to the bathroom, she was still yelling, but also laughing and doing a little dance, pants around her ankles, staring into her little potty at 4 dead ants floating around.

"I pee peed on the ants!" she was crowing, gleefully, "I pee peed on the ants!!!!"

I think perhaps as their stay lengthens, her concern for them is fading.

Good Guys and Bad Guys

Oldest is going through a bad breakup. And by bad, I mean heart-wrenching, gut-churning, devastatingly bad. It is hard, as the Mama, to see your child in pain and have no band-aid, no quick fix. Barely even any words of wisdom, though I do keep trying.

He dated this girl for four years- that's all of high school, if you're keeping track. Started dating her in December of 2005, and absolutely thought he was going to be one of those guys that marries his high school sweetheart. Chose a college based on its proximity to her college, even. Letting go of all these hopes is proving a daunting task for him, and he's visibly shaken.

It's the middle of the night right now, and everyone's awake. The Man is awake because computer problems have kept him from finishing his work, Middle Child is awake because... well, it's probably a combination of what she claims is true, which is that some mystery bug keeps buzzing her when she dozes and yet she can't find it to dispose of it, and what I believe to be true, which is that she's over excited about her new haircut. Small One is awake because of a bad dream, in which a blue slimy monster with small eyes and big teeth tried to bite her. I am awake because all these other people are awake. Oldest is awake because he's falling apart over the break up.

I was taking Small for a post-nightmare potty trip, when we crossed paths with Oldest in the kitchen. As I tried to reassure him that this too will pass and he'll live through it, she chimed in. "It's going to be ok! You going to be ok! What's the matter? You going to be ok?" She gave him a hug, which really did nothing to help him regain his composure, and I took her to the potty.

As she sat down, she asked me what was the matter with her brother.

I said "Well, Girlfriend is not being very nice to him." (I'm calling her Girlfriend for the sake of preserving her near anonymity. Small One is VERY attached to this girl, and I've been puzzling over how to break this to her, since the complexity of relationships is beyond her realm of understanding.)

Small asked "Is she being very BAD to him?"

"No," I replied, "She's just not really his girlfriend anymore."

"Oh," she nodded, as if she understood completely. "Now she's a bad guy?"

Uh oh. I forget how black and white it all is to a near three-year old. "Not exactly." I responded, trying to figure out how to explain it in a way she'd understand.

She was confused. "She's a good guy?"

I tried a different direction. "He's just sad, that's all. He doesn't get to see her as much. Do you get sad when you don't get to see your friends?"

She nodded very seriously. "Yes, I do. And then I cry." She visibly brightened and said "I cry like this: WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

I'm not sure she's got a grasp on human relations, but she does tell a good story.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Haircut Shmaircut

I just cut Middle Child's hair. She loves it, I hate it. But then, I knew I was going to hate it before I did it, and because I believe that a large part of parenting is choosing your battles, I weighed it out against all the OTHER things she's asked for this summer. There were several skirmishes I've already fought, against things I hate even more...

Like fake red hair...

...and corset tops...

...and piercings...

...and tattoos.

I figured, in the grand scheme of things, that this was not so bad... long as she promises to pin it out of her eyes upon request, on threat of Betty Page bangs.

(She knows I'll do it, too.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Running Away

Small One did not want to get up this morning. For once in her short life, she actually wanted to sleep past eight in the morning! Sadly, we had to give my sister in law a ride to a doctor’s appointment, so I had to break a cardinal rule of mine and wake a sleeping child. She protested adamantly, yelling that she did not need to wake up, she did not need the shades pulled up, she needed it to be dark. I finally cajoled her out of bed by agreeing to let her wear the dress she wants to wear every day- the red one with the Scottie dog and poufy skirt and all the crinolines. Oh yeah, and red rhinestones. Appropriately attired, we headed out.

Because the appointment was going to be lengthy, we decided it was best for me to take Small One elsewhere, and after driving around for a bit, I decided on a playground. Despite her reluctance to be out and about, she was rather delightful at the park, giggling and posing for pictures, enthusiastically climbing, sliding, and jumping, howling with laughter when I grabbed her legs while I pushed her on the swing. It was really a treat for me- lately, the older ones have been an exhausting combination of angst plus need, and I had fun playing with someone who had no agenda or ax to grind.

At one point, though, she announced that she was running away. I said, “Really? You’re running away from me?”

”Yeah!” she announced, but then paused, mid-run. “But you still need to hold my hand.”

I laughed. Really, isn’t that the essence of parenthood?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Only Joking

Last night I was a little harried, trying to get some things done, when Small One decided she needed to go to the bathroom. I let her go ahead by herself, asking her to call me in when she was finished and needed help. A few minutes later, she yelled, "I'm FINISHED!"

I ran in to help, and she said, "Ha ha, I was only joking, Mommy!"

I said, "Not such a funny joke, dear!"

She said, "Well, then, you tell ME a funny joke!"

Now, I don't tell jokes. I don't really have a joke repertoire, I'm more of an anecdote girl, really, and I wasn't sure Small would appreciate one of my amusing stories. I decided to go with a knock knock joke.

"Knock knock!"

"Who's there?"


At this, Small One cracked up. "NO!" she laughed, "You're Mommy!!!"

"No," I said, "You're supposed to say "Olive who?"

"Olive who?"

"Olive you!"

Blank stare from Small. I tried to explain. "Olive you? Ahh-luve you? I love you! Get it?"

She forced a giggle. "Knock knock!"

"Who's there?"


I did not know what that word was supposed to be, so I looked at her questioningly. "Kwado?"

She was exasperated. "No, Mommy, you say 'Kwado who?'!"

"Oh, ok... Kwado who?"

"Kwado I love you!!!!!" (laughs uproariously)

Yeah, I don't think she got my joke OR the concept of knock knock jokes. When I related the story to Oldest, he said "Knock knock joke FAIL."

Sometimes it's fun to have a preschooler and teens.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Culinary Creativity

I don't think I've ever blogged about food, but I'm feeling rather ingenious tonight, so I thought I'd share. We're on an extremely tight budget right now, and I'm constantly looking for ways to stretch the food money, which is not so easy to do with a family of five. To complicate matters, The Man is a vegetarian, so that's always a challenge for me, so when I come up with something cheap, easy, and nutritious that's also a big hit, I feel like I should share.

Tonight, I sauteed half an onion and a sweet potato, both chopped into smallish pieces, in olive oil. I seasoned that with cinnamon, cloves, and salt, while I cooked a pot of brown rice. As soon as the sweet potatoes started to get tender, I took out part of the mixture and stirred it into a bowl full of the rice, adding northern beans, curry powder, 1/4 can of diced tomatoes, and a little extra salt. To the potato mixture that remained, I added sliced kielbasa, stirring until it was slightly browned, and then mixed in the rest of the can of tomatoes. When that was heated through, I added it to the rest of the rice. Voila! A meal for the vegetarian and also the meat eaters.

I'd estimate it cost $6 total to prepare, and I fed the family plus a friend, so I'd say that was pretty cost effective. I served it with a side of spinach salad, tossed with roasted almonds and grapes. Yum!

What about you, readers? Have you come up with any crowd pleasing, budget conscious concoctions you'd like to share?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I had a Dream

This weekend, I'm sick. Horrible cold/flu thing, and last night I decided it was Nyquil worthy. Consequently, I have a major Nyquil hangover, and also I woke up just before noon, and ALSO, I had the strangest dream.

I dreamed I had another child, a little girl, two years younger than Small One. And in my dream, I realized I'd been completely ignoring this child, to the extent that I'd pretty much forgotten she existed. In fact, I'd forgotten her name. I kept looking at her, and she was very cute, and I kept calling her Amelie, but I knew in the back of my head that wasn't it. I was talking to people about how bad I felt for neglecting this child, and meanwhile I was frantically digging around trying to find some place that I'd written down her name, looking through our safe, my files, even looking through old emails and message board posts. I finally found an application for a birth certificate, and it hadn't been filled out, except that, apparently, someone at the hospital had written down her birthday and a name- Venassa.

Now, two things upset me about this. First of all, that's not something I'd name a child-I might name her Vanessa, but probably not. Second, in reading the document, I realized her first birthday had been the day before- May 11th. This was horrifying, because Small One had a first birthday extravaganza, with probably thirty people and a special dress and her christening the same day, etc, etc, etc... I called my sister in law to see if she could bring her kids over for a party on the weekend, and she told me she'd be out of town. I was frantically scrambling around trying to throw together some semblance of a celebration, when I came across a box with a party dress in it. I thought it was the dress Small One has worn for birthday photos two years in a row, and I was talking to someone, asking if it would be terrible to put this other child in the same dress for her birthday, when I realized it was NOT the same dress, but a new one, similar, but in a different color. I was relieved because I thought I'd actually had the presence of mind to buy the child a party dress, but then I realized it was Small One's size.

The whole dream was panicky, and I was wondering if I'd nursed the child, when Small One came up and asked if she could nurse, and I realized I'd neglected the little one in favor of her. Then I realized that little one's birthday was either on or near my grandmother's birthday, and I was trying to figure out whether it was actually the same day. I was frantic the whole time, and woke up still feeling that freaked out panic.

What does it mean? I don't just need comments on this one, I need analysis!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Middle Child recently announced to me that The Man and I fight constantly. This came as rather a shock to me, because I can't actually remember the last time we had what I'd consider a fight! Do we get aggravated with each other? Sure. Yeah, that's par for the course, I think.

I asked Oldest, and he said "Yeah, I used to think you fought all the time, but I started noticing that you just get frustrated for a minute and then it's over."

I said, "Hmm... I don't even notice. Maybe it's because of stress? I mean, we do live with a fair amount of stress."

Oldest said "Are you kidding me? You live under an unbelievable amount of stress! I don't know how you deal with it!"

I'll admit, I felt better. Primarily because he noticed.

I repeated the conversation to a married friend, who said "Yeah, that kind of fighting is called 'marriage'."

It made me think, though, about perceptions. I try really hard not to judge people, to always think about what kind of day that person might be having, or under what kind of stress they live. I always wonder about how people perceive me, and how close to true those perceptions are. I like to think I've got everyone fooled into thinking I'm on top of things.

(That was a joke, I don't really think I've got everyone fooled.)

I wonder, though, about everyone else. So I'll throw this out there for my readers:
  1. Do you think the public perception of you matches up with the "real" you?
  2. Do you think your family's perception of you is accurate?
  3. Do you fight with your significant other? More or less than an observer would perceive?
  4. Are you more or less stressed than people think?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Upper Management

The other night, The Man was working late, and I handled Small One's bedtime routine on my own. This is different, because he is typically the one who handles bath, tooth brushing, and bedtime story telling. My role in bedtime is to a)give kisses and b)be the one who insists she actually sleeps. She hangs out in her crib for a while, singing songs and talking to her stuffed animals, but she's definitely asleep within thirty to forty minutes, and all that really matters to me is that she's "put away" for the night. I love my children, but seriously, sometimes I need to put them away. But...I digress.

Anyway, it went quite well, she was in bed five minutes before her bedtime, but then The Man came home twenty-five minutes later and she was instantly standing up, calling him from the crib. (It doesn't help matters that the dog loses his mind when The Man comes home, whining and shaking all over with the sheer thrill of it.)

She called for her Daddy, and her Daddy obliged her, picking her up from her crib to hug her. I came to the door to be the voice of reason.

"Pardon me," I said, "But you're throwing off the Emperor's groove. Seriously, put her down, she's supposed to be sleeping."

He did, and she got very dramatic about it, throwing an elaborate fit for his benefit. He threatened to shut the door, which is our most effective bedtime threat, and she did not waiver in her drama, so he shut the door. The drama escalated, and he opened the door and told her he'd leave it open if she'd only stop. She stopped.

He came back to our room, and I said "You know, this drama thing doesn't happen when you're not here."

Later that night, she woke up with a nightmare. I went in and comforted her, and she was ok, but then decided she needed to get out of her bed. She began yelling. Not crying, just yelling.

I walked back in and said, very matter of factly, "Here's the deal, kid: you either knock that off and lie your head down and go to sleep, OR I shut the door and walk away. Which choice are you going to make?"

Now, I will skip to the end of the story and tell you that she picked "lie down and go to sleep", but it must be mentioned that she had a very important question to ask before she could make that decision.

She stood in her crib looking at me for a minute, pondering her options. "Um... " she said, "...where's my Daddy?"

(Translation: "I'd like to speak with someone in management, please.")