Thursday, April 12, 2012

Never Underestimate the Power of Incontinence

I have a boo-boo. And it's no fun. Two weeks ago I was ice skating with the kids when I rather unfortunately forgot that I am a 38 year old mom and no longer an 18 year old competitive figure skater. The result, a spectacular and humiliating wipe out worthy of a highlight reel. I hit the ice hard. I'm pretty sure it would have hurt my 18 year old 38 year old body was lucky not to break into tiny, frozen old lady pieces.

By the next day I was hobbling around like a contortionist who got stuck in mid-pretzel pose. After a week of saying, "my back hurts. My back hurts. My back hurts," Major Dad finally put his foot down and told me to see the doctor. And so the drama began.

First, my primary care doctor is apparently quite popular. I couldn't get an appointment. Even the words, "back injury" and "severe pain" got me nowhere.

Second, Major Dad called our insurance peeps and explained the situation. They said go to the emergency room. I said, "no."

Major Dad: The insurance won't pay for Urgent Care, but they will pay for the emergency room.

Me: But this isn't an emergency.

Major Dad: Well, that's your only option.

Me: No, I can always just wait the two weeks until I can see my doctor.

Major Dad: So you're going to sit around in pain for two weeks?

Me: It's a plan.

Major Dad: No it's not. We're going to the emergency room.

So after grumbling about the doctors looking at me like I'm stupid for going to the emergency room for a back injury and the likelihood that I would contract some real emergency disease from the sick people surrounding me in the waiting room, I (reluctantly, belligerently, finally) agreed to go.

Third, on a sunny Friday morning Major Dad and I roll up to the local emergency room. I hobble in and explain that I fell and hurt my back. I'm pretty sure the gatekeeper lady behind the bullet proof glass gave me a "sure, you did" look, but Major Dad says she didn't. An hour later I see the first nurse. Who gives me my "property of the hospital" wrist band and sends me back to the germ infested waiting room.

Then I go for x-rays. And get sent back to the sickness cesspool to wait for the films to be developed.

Who knows how much later, I'm called back to the actual treatment area. I get to put on the oh-so fashionable hospital gown and answer all the same questions. Again. Then the excessively perky nursing student who's going through the seemingly endless "how broken are you" checklist asks me if I have lost control of my bladder or bowels.

I'm sorry, what??

Major Dad smirks. I shoot him a dirty look and state a rather emphatic "no."

Then Perky Nurse and her supervisor leave. Later (time stands still when you're in a hospital gown) the Physician Assistant whom I shall call Speedy (which will make sense in a minute) comes in...and starts asking questions. By this time my back is totally killing me and I would very much like to get a diagnosis, a fix-it plan and go home. But alas, it's not to be.

Speedy: So you fell?

Me: Yes and the pain is getting worse.

Speedy: Hmmm. Well the x-rays look normal so nothing is broken. From your symptoms and the way you're standing (which was hunched over the bed like I should be ringing the bells in Notre Dame) it looks like a ruptured disc.

Me: Ok.

Speedy: But we can't confirm that without an MRI. And the emergency department can't order an MRI for this type of injury. Now, have you lost control of your bladder?

Again with the bladder thing?

Me: No.

Speedy: Hmmmm, too bad. We could order an MRI for that.

Did Major Dad just giggle???

Me: So now what?

Speedy: We'll get you some pain medicine and a referral.

And off she went.

Major Dad: I would have peed myself right then.

Me: Not helping.

So four hours later I left in la la land thanks to the Percocet they gave me with three prescriptions for even more pain killers, a suggestion to see an orthopedist who could order me to go back to the same hospital for an MRI and an inappropriately amused husband.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Monopoly Ink Blot Test

We have game night in our house. That's right, game night...we're that family. And it's a total blast. The four of us sit around the dining room table, listen to music and play a board game. There's also usually a bizarre and wonderful combination of giggles, trash talk and victory dances. It's one of my favorite things to do. Yes, I am in fact that soft and mushy.

Last week, I added Monopoly to our board game collection. And not just any Monopoly, it's the high tech electronic banking edition. Target had it on sale and I had two coupons (that's right, not one...two coupons) so I got it for $5, plus I got a Battleship card game free with purchase. Five bucks! And the thing normally sells for $25. Hollar! Wait...Holl-yah? Holl-uh?'s hard trying to be hip. Let's just go with yippee!


Basically my fun with the game was getting it for such a great price. Actually sitting down and playing the game was just the ice cream on the cake.

So after getting it home and bragging to Major Dad about the sale, and waiting for him to properly acknowledge the sheer awesomeness of my bargain hunting skills, we set it up for game night. The kids were totally fired up to push the buttons on the electronic banking thingy. After we got everyone set up with their little playing piece (I was the cell phone, and I was surprisingly disappointed they did away with the cute little puppy and the battered old shoe, but I guess that's progress for you) Major Dad proceeded to explain the rules.

Major Dad: The point of the game is to buy as much property as you can and bankrupt everyone else. Got it?

Kids: Yay!!

Me: Hmmm, not the most Biblically-based game is it?

Major Dad: It's Monopoly.

Me: I know, but you basically just told our kids to buy as much stuff as they can and then try to take everyone else's money.

Major Dad: Well, when you put it that way...

Me: And they're not even using real money. They're buying everything with a credit card. Dave Ramsey would not approve.

Major Dad: Honey...

Me: Maybe I didn't think this through enough. Clearly I was blinded by the sale/coupon dynamic.

Major Dad: It's just a game, Sweetheart.

Me: And I probably should have gotten the one with the paper money. Then they could practice adding and subtracting money while we played.

Major Dad: Honey, not everything has to be a teaching moment.

Me: It's like you don't know me at all.

Anyway, we sat down to play and I promptly decided that Monopoly should be used as a standardized personality test. It's way better than ink blots and colors. Major Dad attacked the board with tried and true Marine Corps strategy...overwhelming force and no mercy. He bought everything he landed on. Ella agonized over every move. Buying property was a gut wrenching decision for her every single time because she thought she should save her money. Jack wanted to break everyone out of jail. Not bail them out...break them out. Of Monopoly jail. It was hilarious.

Oh, and I won. Yep, it's always the quiet ones you need to worry about.

P.S. Hi Betsy!

P.P.S. It's ok if you don't know Betsy. I do. I'm not making her up or anything.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

True Love

Of all the New Testament writers, the Apostle John stands out a man who truly acknowledges and is amazed by the depths of God's love for humanity. In his Gospel and his Epistles, John doesn't hold back when he talks about the extravagant, boundless, incomprehensible love God has for us.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

And there's more. John can't write enough about the love God has for each one of us. Have you ever stopped to consider why? Have you ever wondered why John was so passionate about God's love? I have and here's what I found and what I want to share with you this weekend. John was so focused on God's love and he was so committed to telling people about the lavish and wonderous love God has for them because John witnessed that love in action.

And I'm not talking about the healings Jesus did or the miracles or the teachings. John was a first hand witness to the depths of God's love for humanity because John was the apostle at the foot of the cross. The Bible tells us that John stood at the cross and watched Jesus suffer and die. John watched helplessly as the Son of God, the Messiah shed his blood on an ugly cross, taunted, tortured and abandoned. John had hours to see in vivid, brutal detail exactly how much God loves His children. That Jesus would willingly suffer for the sins of the world, that God would allow His Son to endure the cross so that we could be saved.

That's love. Love beyond measure, love beyond comprehension, love without restraint. And that's why John wrote without hesitation, "God is love." 1 John 4:8.

I don't know what your plans are for this weekend, what you believe or think. But I know this...God is love and He loves you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I've Got Good News and Bad News...

...which do you want first?

Not that I can actually hear you, but I wanted to give you the option. Major Dad will sometimes come up to me with his "I'm about to go all Marine on somebody" look and ask me the same question. There's no right answer with him, because the bad news is usually really bad and the good news is usually something tossed on as an bubblegum flavored cough syrup. Sure it's sort of bubble gummy, but not enough to take away the rest of the nasty pharmaceutical taste.

But I digress (as usual) here's the good news...I'm writing a new book. Yay! And the bad news? I don't know when I'll be updating the blog. Boo! Here's what I have recently discovered, trying to research and write a book while homeschooling a 9 year old social butterfly and a 5 year old who has the uncanny ability to break anything just by looking at it, is a wee bit difficult. And by wee bit, I mean stupefyingly ridiculous.

Here's how it generally goes:

Me: (nose buried in research books, pen frantically scribbling notes that no one but me can read)

Ella: May I use your scissors?

Me: Sure. (back to scribbling)

Ella: The orange ones or the blue ones?

Me: Doesn't matter, help yourself.

Ella: Thanks!

Jack: Mommy, can I have scissors?

Me: No.

Jack: Can I have glue?

Me: No.

Jack: Can I have tape?

Me: (sigh) Why do you want tape?

Jack: So I can make a mouse.

Ella: Do we have any glitter?

Me: Wait, what? A mouse?

Ella: No, glitter. Why would I want a mouse?

Jack: Elllllaaaaa! It's my mouse.

Me: Why do you need glitter?

Ella: For the spaceship.

Jack: Oooooh, can I have glitter for a spaceship too?

Me: No!

Ella: No me or no Jack?

Me: Yes tape. No glitter. Now please go play. (sigh. Resume research and scribbling...but now my notes don't even make sense to me.)

Or for a better example...right now Ella and Jack are attempting to play baseball inside the house using a Beanie Baby and a yardstick. Poor Beanie Baby.

Monday, March 12, 2012

That's Right, I Speak Superhero...And I'm Not Afraid to Use It

Last week, when it was time to start schoolwork for the day, Jack was running around our basement/homeschool room with Tinker Toys stuck in the wrists of his shirts and growling. Now, he's a boy and he's five so I wasn't all that shocked. Actually, I've encountered worse creations from the mind of this imaginative and surprisingly mechanical little man. Claws and growling isn't so bad.

Me: Ok, Jack, time for schoolwork.

Jack: I'm Wolverine! (Hop, skip (in a manly, superhero way), leap, growl and strike a menacing pose).

And just in case you don't have superhero fans in your home here's Wolverine:

Me: Well, even Wolverine needs to learn how to read. How else could he learn all the X-Men rules? And he can't track down Magneto if he can't read the street signs.

Jack: (deep sigh, that clearly communicates my total failure to convince him that superheroes are both tough and literate). Mommy, I'm not really Wolverine. I'm just pretending.

Me: Oh, well then you definitely have to learn to read since you don't have that whole superhero thing to fall back on.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Holy Spirit Duct Tape

I have a long standing joke with a few of the ladies at my church about the importance of Holy Spirit duct tape. It's that oh-so necessary moment when you desperately want to say something, but God in His great mercy reaches down and slaps His hand over your mouth to keep you from blurting out the potentially hurtful, damaging or mean words that really, REALLY want to be said. Holy Spirit duct tape.

It's even Scriptural. True, it doesn't say duct tape, but it's pretty close. Here it is:

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Ps. 141:3

Sometimes the words we bite back deserve to be said. We might be totally, 100% right and absolutely justified in letting fly a big, giant "I told you so!" (Because we probably did tell them so). But those are the moments when we need Holy Spirit duct tape the most. When we have every right to point out someone else's flaws, foolishness, utter wrongness and put up a big neon sign advertising our brilliance, expertise and utter rightness.

Or when we're so mad, irritated and just plain fed up with someone that the defensive, hurtful or retaliatory words are practically begging to be given free reign. And we'd feel better. If we could just vent. If we could just give that person a piece of our mind so that we know that they know how annoyed we are...or how right we are (and by extension how wrong they are). If we could just express that then we'd feel so much better.

And the other person would feel so much worse.

Holy Spirit duct tape.

How many times has God had the right to point out our flaws, our foolishness and our utter wrongness? Who has more right than He to give us a piece of His perfect mind? But instead of reminding us of our failures and our mistakes, God gives us grace. He doesn't tell us that we're wrong, He tells us that we're loved.

So if God speaks with love, kindness and mercy to us, how can we do any less? Even if we're right. Even if we've been wronged. Even if we have every earthly right to put someone else in their place. Even then, we should look for, pray for and wait for...Holy Spirit duct tape.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Priorities May Be All Out of Whack

We're having a very strange winter. 70 degrees one day, snowing the next. It confuses me. And makes it very hard to get dressed in the morning. looks sunny, but there might be snow in the forecast. Or hail. Or giant blobs of Rice Krispie Treats. See, what I mean? It's hard to plan for both sunshine and the potential of falling sugary treats.

This week we had snow on Monday. If you're from someplace where it regularly snows then we didn't get much snow. If, like me, you're from Southern was the end of the world. And how did my adorable children greet me on the morning of the end of the world? By screaming at the top of their lungs, "it's snowing!!!!!!!!" And then there was some traditional kid-tribe snow dance of joy followed by hands and noses smushed against the windows.

And what did I say in the face of this boundless joy and glee? "Time for schoolwork!"

Yep. That's right. No snow days here. (Insert villainous theme music here).

Now, in all fairness the kidlets did get to go outside and romp in the snowy snowness later that day. After their schoolwork was done.

But here's where I think my priorities may be just slightly misaligned. Two days later I declared it a school-free day. Gasp! I know. So why had I suddenly transformed from the merciless mommy who makes them do schoolwork while staring longingly out the window at the falling snow to some kick back mom who cancels school? Well, I'll tell you. Major Dad was home from work and decided to rearrange our office/library/cluttered room of doom. So in order to properly take advantage of our slave labor....uh, wait...I mean in order to effectively use the cheerful and completely voluntary assistance of our munchkins, I cancelled school.

So, no cancelling school for possibly-the-end-of-the-world-snow days, but I'm perfectly fine with closing down the homeschool for Mary Poppins style cleaning days?

Yep. Works for me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Don't Hit Someone on the Head with Your Happy Place

My kids can get wound up. Like spinning top of death wound up. And when they get wound up, there is likely to be a cacophony of screeching, laughter, squeals and the occasional outburst of righteous indignation.

Just a few days ago the screeching, squealing chaos was in full force. There was racing, tagging, throwing and dodging involved in some strange game that used a combination of balls, Legos and Play-Doh. I have no idea what the object of the game was, how it was played or who made it up, but I do know that it was an intense competition. Finally, the noise level hit whatever decibel triggers the parent twitch reflex and Major Dad put a stop to the game. Or so he thought.

He separated the kids and banished them each to their own bean bag. They ended up sitting directly across from each other, each one planted on a bean bag and giving the other a Clint Eastwood showdown stare. Which led to giggles. Which led to snickers. Which led to Jack giving in to his inner warrior, letting loose with a blood curdling mix of medieval war cry and five year old laughter, grabbing his bean bag and running straight for Ella.

Major Dad, using some quick military take down honed by years of combat training, intercepted Jack and the bean bag and said (with a completely straight face) "Jack! You don't hit someone with your happy place."

Then he paused, looked at me with a slightly befuddled expression and said, "did I actually just say that?"

Me: "Welcome to my world. Want some chocolate?"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Second Cold Shower Story (We Really Do Own a Hot Water Heater)

Now you can feel sorry for Jack.

A few nights ago, Jack ran out of hot water in the shower. I don't think it was Ella's fault this time since we had the dishwasher running, but the poor little guy got all soapy and then ran out of hot water. And left with the choice to jump out of the shower all covered with soap bubbles or to take a deep breathe and rinse off in the cold water, Jack chose...well, his first choice was to made a mad, soap covered dash for warmth and freedom. But Major Dad stopped him and made him rinse off in the cold water.

I'm pretty sure I could hear Jack's teeth chattering from a room away. Major Dad, cleaning him off as fast as humanly possible, was trying to be encouraging.

Major Dad: I know it's cold. Think warm thoughts.

Jack: B-b-b-b-ut, I'm-m-m-m-m c-c-c-c-old.

Major Dad: I know, I'm sorry. What's the warmest thing you can think of?

Jack: M-m-m-mommy.

Me: Awwwwwww.

So as soon as Jack got out of the shower, Major Dad dried him off, bundled him up and sent him to me. The little guy promptly climbed in my lap and snuggled as close as he could get. I was suddenly cold, but my heart was warm. Ahhhhhh. Mommy bliss.

Then the cold, wet towel started to seep into my clothes. My heart was still warm and toasty like a Pop-Tart, but the rest of me needed an electric blanket. And slippers. And maybe some hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows. Not the dehydrated micro-mallows that come in the cocoa packet...real mini-marshmallows. That's the stuff.

Oh, and Jack was warmed up too.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

An Upside to a Cold Shower

I have not one, but two cold shower stories for you. First, the good news...I was not the one in either cold shower. Second, the less than good kids were. Third, I will not admit that I find the thought of my children getting stuck with no hot water mildly amusing.

So here's the first story. Ella likes really hot, really long showers. The kind of showers that have set off our smoke detectors...twice. After one of her marathon Turkish sauna style showers we finally sat down to have a water conservation discussion with her. We explained to her, in what I thought was very clear language, that she couldn't use all of the hot water. We explained, again in clear language, that she had to leave hot water for everyone else to use. Clear? Yes, absolutely. If I heard that language I would think "oh, I need to take shorter showers so I don't use up all the hot water."

What did Ella hear? Ella heard, "don't use hot water." Guess how I found that night as Major Dad and I told her to go get in the shower I happened to mention that Jack wouldn't be taking a shower that night. I think I actually said, "it's getting late, I guess Jack will just have to stink." (To which Jack replied, "yes! I'm a stinker!")

Anyway, after my oh-so casual announcement that Jack would not be needing the shower Ella threw both her hands in the air and exclaimed, "woohoo! I can use the hot water!" And promptly scampered off.

Me: blink, blink. Did she just say she hasn't been using hot water?

Major Dad: I think so.

Me: Has she been taking cold showers?

Major Dad: It seems so.

Me: Poor Ella!

Major Dad: (with an oddly proud lilt to his voice) Dude, that girl is tough.

So we called Ella back and asked her if she had been taking cold showers. Yep, that's what she'd been doing. Ever since we told her not to use all the hot water...and that was about a month ago. On the one hand, I'm completely mortified and feel so bad for my little girl. On the other hand, I'm really humbled that she was willing to be so obedient without complaining or muttering or second guessing us at all. Even if meant taking cold showers for a month.

Seriously, that girl IS tough.

PS. Tune in tomorrow for the second cold shower story. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm Not Actually a Cartoon Character

So in an attempt to make my blog more personal (as if the details of my husband's dirty laundry...literally...see here...aren't personal enough) I decided to add a profile photo to the blog page. Ugh.

It's not that I'm hiding anything from you, my dear and faithful readers. But I am not a camera person. I don't like having my picture taken. Actually, despise, loathe, dread, run screaming in a zig-zag pattern from anyone holding a camera would be more apt. I never take a good picture. Ever. And whenever someone manages to talk (bribe, threaten or beat) me into posing for a picture, I end up looking like a squinty-eyed munchkin. Oh, I'm also short...there's more personal info for you.

Anyway, so perhaps you can imagine the hours of angst that my simple, "gee, I should have a picture on the blog" resulted in. I have been through years of stored digital photos, watched my kids grow up in slideshow format and still couldn't find a picture I wouldn't mind sharing. True of the thousands of photos I looked at I was only in about ten of them, but still there wasn't a good one in any of those lonely ten. I was pretty much left with the "just had a baby" pictures (no one should see that), the tear streaked "my husband just returned from war" and a few scary red-eyed "who is going to clean up this mess" holiday pictures.

What's a shy, camera-phobic blogger to do? Fortunately there's an app for that. Well, not an app. Clip art. Click, click, click and voila...there's me up in the corner. Me if I were blonde, skinny and animated. The chocolate cake is about right though.

So there you go, now you can put a face to the funny. Unless it's not funny in which case I'm glad it isn't a real picture because if you actually knew me and didn't like me I'd probably cry.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teacher Hooky

When kids are homeschooled, it's kinda hard to play hooky. I mean seriously, where are they going to go? "I'm not going to school today...I'm...uh...staying home." Haha...gotcha!

What's even worse is when homeschooling parents want to call in sick and go play hooky. How many other teachers have to actually take their students with them when they want to ditch school?

That's me today. I feel like playing hooky. And I'm not talking, "hey, let's take a field trip or do a nature walk." I mean, I don't want to do anything educationally related at all. Nothing. I don't even want to correct my kids manners today. I will because I'm OCD about their manners and proper grammar, but aside from that I don't want to pull out the counting critters for addition, I don't want to do map work and I don't want to discuss the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Nothing, nada, zilch.

See, we've had two very long days and nights in our house. The kids were up late two nights in a row, which is generally a recipe for chaos anyway, and we've had Verizon digging up our neighborhood to install big orange cables of some sort and the jackhammering, digging and coffee inspired good natured comaraderie commences at 7am. Toss all that in a big bowl, mix it up and you have a healthy dose of exhaustion with a heaping side dish of grumpy. Not me...the kids. I'm not grumpy. I'm not. I'm just expressing my very strong desire to avoid my teaching responsibilities while blaming it on anything and everything that shifts the blame to something that isn't me.

So I have declared today to be a snow day. (It's not snowing) Or a holiday. (Today is National Almond Day)* Or a teacher workday. Take your pick. It is a workbook free day.

*Today is in fact National Almond Day. It is also the anniversary of both the first 911 call and the day King Tut's tomb was unsealed. All items of significant historical importance that are being sadly overlooked. Hence, my selfless decision to hold a solemn school-free day to honor almonds, emergency services and Indiana Jones.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Deep Down I Still Want to be Cool

Not that I was ever supremely cool to begin with. But sometimes my inner rock star desperately wants to make an appearance...somewhere between the homeschooling, the mini-van driving and the grocery shopping. Just a little bit. I don't want to recapture my youth (good Lord no! Anyone who says that may not remember high school clearly enough) and I don't want to jump into some wildly age-inappropriate outfit and try to figure out how to look like I belong in a vintage record store. But every once in a while I'd like to feel...hmmm...not quite so old. Is that fair?

Well, last month I got to do just that. And it was all thanks to Major Dad.

The story starts way back in December, right before Christmas. I went to the mall to get shoes for the kids (cause there was a sale and I had a coupon...that's the "old" me part of the story). Well, in the parking lot I had a boo-boo. A pretty big boo-boo. I was pulling forward through the parking space and I scraped against the neighboring car. And not only did I scrape against it, I managed to pull my bumper almost entirely off. Yeah, oops.

I left a note with all my information and told the kids about being responsible and all that, but I felt rotten. Just rotten. Major Dad earned bonus points because he asked if I was ok and told me "accidents happen" before he laughed at me.

Anyway, the car needed lots of work. Lots. So I ended up with a rental car. A nice, economical Chevy Impala. Blech. But, the rental car person wasn't having the best day so not only did she accidentally charge me $100 when she shouldn't have, the gas tank was also on empty. And, she left all of her rental car keys in the Impala when she let me drive off. So I left with the keys to all of the cars on her lot. And you thought you had some bad days. Well, of course I returned the keys to her as soon as I noticed them, but Major Dad was not pleased with the customer service. So, being major Dad he called and had a "talking to" with the company.

And voila...upgrade.

I felt awful about it (because I'm allergic to confrontation), but I went anyway to get the upgrade.

This upgrade....

That's right, a brand spankin' new Dodge Charger as specifically requested by Major Dad. He knows me so well. And I got to drive it for three whole days. Three days of rolling down the highway in a muscle car. Vroom. True I had two kids in the back and I spent most of the time saying things like "do NOT drop your Cookie Crisp on the floor this car doesn't belong to us." But still, it was a fun three days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's a Monday...On a Tuesday

Monday was fine. Monday was great. Had a good day, all was well in my world and things went just swimmingly. Which is kind of a strange way to say that everything went smoothly, because you'd think if things were really going "swimmingly" while you were on land without a lake, pool or puddle in sight, that anything swimming would be a bad sign. Am I right? But I digress. Monday was not a Mon-don't talk to me until I've had coffee and something with a high sugar content-day. It was a Mon-smile, giggle, smile-day.

Then Tuesday hit. And apparently decided to pick up the "welcome to another week" slack that Monday dropped.

My alarm went off this morning, my eyes opened and my brain said "nuh-uh. Going back to sleep." I finally monologued myself into getting up simply because I knew we had a full day. Schoolwork, skating, grocery store, church event...busy day.

Then I wandered downstairs to get Jack's math book because the kids decided to do their schoolwork upstairs at the dining room table. I don't know why, but judging by their earnest little faces it made perfect sense to them. So I headed to Jack's desk and looked in the cubby for his book. And all I saw was blackness. A yawning, taunting abyss of dark emptiness.

My first thought, "Jack decided to redecorate."

Second thought, "where would Jack put his books?"

Third thought, "it's a Monday."

Fourth thought, "no, wait it's Tuesday."

Fifth thought, "duh."

I spent the next few minutes (I won't tell you exactly how long it was because in a few lines it will be really embarrassing) searching for a pile of Kindergarten workbooks. And they were nowhere to be seen.

So I headed back to the inky blackness of the cubby intending to...what? Look for clues all CSI style? I have no idea. It was a Monday by proxy. And as I peered into the blackness what did I finally figure out? Jack had taken his black 3-ring binder and put it sideways in the cubby. And guess what...Jack's black 3-ring binder is the same width as the black cubby in his black desk. So where were all the workbooks? Sitting contentedly behind the binder right they always sit.

Hello, Monday...on a Tuesday.

P.S. I have more evidence of Monday's Revenge that involves me buying chicken at the grocery store because when I opened the refrigerator to make my list this morning I somehow managed not to see the chicken I had already bought. You win this one, Mon-my powers are not limited to just one day of the week you silly human-day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I was Right and Wrong at the Same Time

This is what happens in our house when the caffeine has worn off and it's time for the grown-ups to go to bed.

Major Dad: "Oh what a wicked web we weave when we practice to deceive."

Me: Nope.

Major Dad: Nope?

Me: Nope. It's "Oh what a wicked web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Major Dad: First?

Me: Yep.

Major Dad: Are you sure?

Me: Absolutely.

Major Dad: Ok.

Me: And it's not a wicked web, it's tangled.

Major Dad: It's a tangled web?

Me: Yep.

Major Dad: But wicked works too.

Me: Tangled is more poetic.

Major Dad: Fine. It's a tangled web.

Me: And where's it from?

Major Dad: (pause) Charlotte's Web?

Me: (blink, blink) Sometimes the blog just writes itself.

*Full disclosure: I rather smugly thought I knew the quote was from Shakespeare. Turns out I was wrong. Granted I didn't say this out loud so I was only wrong in my own brain, but that's still wrong and my conscience wouldn't allow me to let you guys think I'm a super genius. Hence this confession of my secret quote attribution wrongness. But come sounds like Shakespeare. And really anytime you want to guess where a quote comes from Shakespeare is pretty good bet. Unless the quote is something like "Oops, I did it again" or "Is that your final answer?"

P.S. The quote is actually from Marmion by Sir Walter Scott. Thank you, Google.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sometimes Teenagers Are Better Than Llamas

Every once in a while you meet a teenager that reaffirms your faith in humanity...or at least your faith in the people that will one day be taking care of your broken down older self. You know, beyond the eye rolling, sigh heaving and monosyllabic conversationalism some teenager goes and does something supremely cool. Well, that just happened to me. And there were birds singing and furry woodland creatures dancing under a bright, shiny rainbow.

Here's the story. Jack recently started taking skating lessons during the home educators class that Ella attends. I've got Ella at one end of the rink with the advanced skaters and Jack at the other end with the beginners....whom I fondly (and only in my own goofy head) refer to as the skate, skate, splat class. I kinda look like I'm waiting to cross an imaginary street as I try to watch both classes at the same time. "Look left, right and left again." Or a spectator at a tennis match. Or a dog watching a metronome. Well, you get the's a neck workout for me.

So Jack started skating a few months ago and he's doing really well. In fact he just got his very own hockey skates. Now he wants to know when he's going to get his "hockey armor." Apparently I will also be adding hockey-mom to my resume sometime in the very near future. Anyway, they usually have a few teenage hockey players who help out with the classes. And one of these teenagers is Jack's new hero. Jack follows him around like a slightly wobbly puppy...on ice. And this kid always has time for Jack. Always says hi to him, he'll even spend his free skate time skating with Jack. Which is already grounds for total awesomeness in my book. (And to put this in context, Jack is 5).

But it gets even better. This past weekend we took the kids to see this awesome teenager's hockey game. Ella, who is surprisingly blood thirsty for a figure skater, had a blast and Jack kept jumping up and down and cheering...even if no one was playing. During a line change, Jack's hero took to the ice and guess what he did....he waved at Jack. Oh. My. Stars. You should have seen the smile on Jack's face. It was the best.

And then after the game, he invited Jack into the locker room. Granted Jack hid behind Major Dad's legs the whole time, but Jack got a fist bump from the big kids. The big kids! At least that's what I heard. Ella and I happened to be looking at sparkly skating dresses in the pro shop at the time. What? They had sparkles.

Stuff like that makes me so happy. The great kids, I mean, not the sparkly dresses. Sometimes teenagers are awesome. Sometimes you want to trade them in for llamas, but then they go and do something as cool as this and you forget why you were ever thinking about llamas in the first place.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Multiplying Forgiveness

Over the past few days, closer to weeks actually, I've been thinking a great deal about forgiveness. Particularly this passage in Matthew:

"Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Mt. 18:21-22

And I've had an interesting thought on it. Well, interesting to me. Usually when I read this passage or hear it, I think something along the lines of "well, if a person sins against me, I should forgive them. And if they sin against me again, I should forgive them again, and on and on." But recently, I had that usual interpretation flipped around a bit.

See, there's a person who has hurt me. And this person has never asked for forgiveness, has never even addressed the hurtful words and deed and pretty much just goes on as if nothing happened. And it hurts. And months ago the Lord pressed on my heart the need to forgive this person. Even if they never say a word or offer any kind of apology, I needed to forgive them.

And I did. I forgave them.

But then a few days later, the memory resurfaced and I was hurting all over again. Now what?

I forgave them again.

And a few days later...I had to forgive them again.

Anytime that hurt threatened to invade my heart or my mind, I forgave them. Over and over and over again. And in the midst of this process, I kept asking God to help me be truly forgiving. I was afraid that I wasn't doing it right. If I had truly forgiven them, wouldn't that hurt be gone? Hmmmm, not necessarily.

I wanted not just to forgive, but to forget as well. To forgive this person so completely that the old hurt would never come back. But forgiveness isn't about amnesia, it's about grace. So when I remembered this passage in Matthew, I began to think of it in a new way. Maybe it's not just that we have to be willing to forgive someone who sins against us over and over again, though we have to be ready to do that...maybe sometimes we also have to be willing to forgive just one thing over and over again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

More Technology I Don't Understand

Oh my gosh you guys, I'm so lost. I still haven't figured out how to properly tweet and I just joined Pinterest. Why, why, why? Why do I do this to myself?

No kidding, I was just bugging Major Dad to explain Twitter to me, cause I know I'm doing it wrong. I'm looking at @ signs, # signs and a barrage of strange number/symbol combinations and all I can think is "what does it all mean???" It looks like a union meeting in a bowl of Spaghetti-O's. I know how to type in my tweet and post it, but it's like there's this whole other world full of little birdies that is just beyond my grasp. And the birdies are laughing at me. Laughing at me, I say!

So no sooner had I finally decided to sit down and devote some time to mastering Twitter 101, when Pinterest pops up. Blasted ever-moving-forward-technology!! I love the idea and I know it can be useful, but I have to figure it out first. It's like staring at a new toy that you know will be utterly awesome and do all kinds of super cool things, but not until you can get it out of the stupid box.

That's where I am...fighting with the packaging. And this is not Amazon's frustration-free packaging. This is old school, sealed with an entire roll of packing tape, stuffed in a clear plastic box and secured with those awful twist ties designed to make you regret ever buying the utterly awesome thing in the first place.

But I couldn't resist. There are pictures of adorable crafts I don't have the skill or time to do, but I like to look at them longingly and imagine a world where I could actually make an Amish quilt or a plush Yoda doll. And there are recipes and photographs and homeschool ideas that are way more creative than I could ever come up with on my own. There are literally hours and hours of ways to keep myself occupied when I want to hide from my to-do list...again. Plus, you have to be invited to join. Invited. So when I got my invitation (after I sent in the form requesting one. Hey don't burst my bubble, I haven't been on a red carpet list in a long time...ok ever) how could I refuse? It would have been rude.

So now I have a new technological toy I don't know how to work...kinda like my cell phone. And the best part of all, Major Dad had never heard of Pinterest. Haha! For once I was the first one to jump into the new gadget hot tub. Still don't know how to work it, but I was definitely there first.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's a Three Truffle Day

The day started out fine and dandy. And then promptly took a nose dive and started gaining speed as it careened down a 50% grade covered with ice. And oil. And bacon grease. And anything else that would make your metaphorical car go wickedly fast. Do I even have to say metaphorical? Cause, seriously, would you drive a real car over bacon grease?

Anyway, it's a three truffle kind of day. What? So I rate my days based on the amount of chocolate it will take to keep me from going completely bonkers. Hey, it's a system and it makes perfect sense to me. And after 12 years of marriage I think it even makes sense to Major Dad now too. If I help myself to a bit of Hershey's Special Dark or even my cute little Dove Promises...not a bad day. In fact, that's pretty much normal. A little chocolate keeps the doctor away. It has anti-oxidants...and vitamins...and...uh, stuff.

If I start looking for the fancy chocolate that comes in a box, that means my generally sunny disposition may be a smidge cloudy.

But if I'm breaking into the super secret emergency supply of "could possibly send you into diabetic shock" ultra-high grade truffles...well, that means my sanity, and possibly the lives of those around me, are in danger. So just imagine the situation when I declare it to be not just a truffle day, but a three truffle day. I feel like I should notify NORAD and invoke some sort of chocolate defcon countdown.

Now, in all fairness no one is bleeding and the house is still standing, but I'm pretty sure my credibility for talking about patience and gentleness of spirit has flown right out the window. Actually I might have thrown it out the window...I don't really remember. I'm pretty sure it disappeared somewhere between the "you have to do this RIGHT NOW" email I received, my daughter's war against long-division and my son's "look at me! Look at me! LOOK AT ME! I'm a leopard!" filibuster.

It was a snowball effect. Kids being crazy, hair pulling homeschool, no bleach for the washing machine (cause it all went to the mouse tomb), pulled in twenty different directions, aaaaaaahhhhhhh! A jillion little things all added up until I finally hit my breaking point and declared the day over. At noon.

And that is a three truffle day. Trust me, you do not want to see four.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Nine Year Old is NOT Taking the SAT

Because she's 9. Ella is 9 years old. She's in 4th grade. Why am I even listening to completely unnecessary and stress inducing "guidance" about college? She's 9!!!

I'm not normally like this. Really. I know I can be a bit high strung and I have a slightly off-beat sense of humor, but I'm not a mom who stresses about every little detail of life. Usually. I didn't have my kids on wait lists for preschools that cost more than my car. I didn't hire a tutor for my 6 month old to make sure she could read in both English and Spanish before she could contain her own baby drool. I'm really not neurotic...but I'm starting to encounter some icky "your daughter's entire future rests solely upon whether or not you choose this curriculum" pressure and I don't like it.

Here's the sitch (see, in addition to being non-neurotic I'm also hip and happening), I've started looking for next year's curriculum for our homeschooling adventures. I'm in love with our math and language programs, but I am no longer pleased with history. So I have started searching and sifting and comparing different history curricula for both kids. And some of the sites are freaking me out.

Because Ella will be in 5th grade in the fall, there's this strange, and I think made up, timeline confronting me with all the stuff she needs to know or be exposed to or have memorized before she starts high four years. So the helpful helpers have laid out these master 4-5 year plans to cover everything she "needs" to know for high school in order to be properly prepared for eight years! And since I've only got four years left until HS-day I'm apparently already behind the curve and now my daughter will be doomed to an unforgiving string of rejection letters all because I didn't cover the shifting political and religious ties of Reformation Europe. Seriously?

I can't plan eight years in advance. I can only deal with one year at a time. And even that is a minor miracle. I'd say I'm about an 8 on the "organized and plan-ahead" scale, but plan my curriculum four years ahead? Eight years? There's no way. See, I also register pretty high on the "let's try something new and dangerous" scale. Yep, organized adventure...that's me. And you'd be glad to have me on an adventure because I'm the one who remembers to pack toilet paper and bug spray. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I'm not trying to be an iconoclast here or a boat rocker or a trouble maker or anything else, but can't we ease up on the parent stress just a wee bit? Isn't one of the joys of homechooling being able to think outside the box a bit and do things a little differently? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with setting your kids up for success, we should all be doing that, but can't we plan for the future without sacrificing the joys of the present? And can we please stop raising the imaginary good parent bar? No one likes it, no one needs it and I'm pretty sure it was made up by someone who never had kids.

And thus ends my rant for the day.

So, who has a homeschool history curriculum they really love?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Someone Please Explain the Male Brain to Me

Disclaimer #1: I love my husband and I think he's awesome.

Disclaimer #2: Above mentioned awesome husband has read and approved the following post.

Disclaimer #3: This is a true story.

Yesterday afternoon, when we got home from church I wandered into the bedroom to change clothes. And I noticed something amiss. There were two pairs of socks on the floor. Not my socks. Major Dad's socks. On the floor. Three inches from the laundry hamper. Three. Inches.

(Disclaimer #4: Major Dad maintains they were six inches from the hamper).

As I stood there staring at the socks that were sitting THREE inches from the laundry hamper, Major Dad walked casually into the room. And this is how our conversation went:

Me: "Seriously? You can't put the socks IN the hamper?"

Major Dad: (Grabs one pair of socks and dumps them in the hamper while leaving the other pair on the floor). "There you go."

Me: (Staring dumbfounded at the pair still sitting on the floor THREE inches from the hamper.) "What about those socks?"

Major Dad: "They're not dirty."

Me: "Then why are they on the floor?"

Major Dad: "Because I wore them."

Me: "So put them in the hamper."

Major Dad: "But they're mostly clean."

Me: "Mostly clean? What does that mean?"

Major Dad: "It means I'm going to wear them tomorrow."

Me: "Then put them AWAY."

Major Dad: "I can't put them away, they're slightly dirty."

Me: "Then put them in the hamper and take them out tomorrow when you want to put them on."

Major Dad: "But if I put them in the hamper they'll be dirty."

Me: "What kind of ridiculous man-logic is that?"

Major Dad: (He didn't say anything here because he was too busy laughing at his own male-ness.)

Me: "So you're just going to leave them on the floor."

Major Dad: "Yes."

Me: "Really?"

Major Dad: "Yes. They're mostly clean."

Disclaimer #5: See exhibit A

Yes, the socks are still sitting there. Because I have no idea how to counter the mostly-clean classification system. Which I'm pretty sure is related to the smell-it-then-wear-it-system. All I know is that if I toss them in the hamper, it will apparently shift the entire clean:dirty ratio on some molecular level that will render the socks completely unwearable.

And he thinks I'm weird.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Scandalous Mashed Potato Scandal

A few nights ago I made a fairly simple chicken dinner and as a special treat for Major Dad, I made mashed potatoes. Major Dad is from the South. Major Dad loves mashed potatoes. So when he got to the table and saw the heaping pile of whipped goodness on his plate, he was a very happy camper. And he said so.

Then we prayed. And he said it again.

Then he took a bite (did I mention they were garlic mashed potatoes?) and he said it again.

Then he finished off the whole pile and said it again. Then he had seconds.

And I was trying to be all gracious and sweet. I really did appreciate the fact that he was saying such nice things about a dinner I had made. But inside, deep inside, stuffed waaaaaaaaay down deep, I was consumed with guilt. You see...oh I can barely bring myself to say it, my mashed potatoes....come from a box.

There, I said it! It's all out in the open. I'm a side dish cheat. Now everybody knows my deep dark secret. My mashed potatoes are instant. They don't come from the produce section, they come from a vacuum sealed bag in a cardboard box.

So after dinner when Major Dad complimented me again on those fabulous mashed potatoes I finally broke down and declared "they're from a box! Those potatoes came from a box. I didn't mash them or season them. Betty Crocker did it. I tore open the bag and added milk and butter and there you go. It's faster and cheaper than making them from scratch. Plus, I got those boxes on sale! I homeschool, you know. I don't have time to peel potatoes, boil them and mash them up by hand like my Grandma did. And I know she's be ashamed of me for using potatoes in a box, especially because we're Irish and all, but she even made her own salad dressing and I just don't have time to make Thousand Island dressing from scratch. Ok??"

And in the silence that followed Major Dad just stood there, staring at me like I had just lost my mind...which, in fairness, I sorta had.

And what was his response?

"Do you have anymore?"

Blissful sigh. I love my husband.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Old Yeller Update

Because I know you're wondering...Ella finished reading Old Yeller today. Here's what I heard as she sat on the couch reading: sniff (pause), sniffle (pause), sniff, sniff, sniffle, sigh, sniffle, unintelligible whimper of some sort.

When I went to sit down next to her, I was too late. Old Yeller was gone. The fictional dog, not the book. Her face was all red and blotchy and she was doing that heart-breaking, pitiful, not making a sound crying. No kidding, there are tear stains on the pages of the book.

So I scooped her up in a hug and she cried. Then she went and snuggled with our greyhound who just laid there quietly, giving us a look that said rather eloquently, "dude, who died?" Oh, if she only knew.

And we had a mother-daughter moment and talked about life and death and giving up one's life for another. And there were violins playing softly in the background (ok, it was Christian rock) as I told her that if we tried to avoid all the sadness in life, we'd end up missing all of the joy as well. And she looked up at me with tears and wisdom shining in her precious eyes and said "I'm not reading that book again."

Two Monologues do not Equal a Dialogue

Yesterday was a skating day. Which to an uninformed passerby could look like a weekend getaway...or a blitzkrieg style invasion of a small country. It's not just me, Ella and Jack jumping in the mini-van and heading off to the rink. It's me, Ella and Jack along with two insulated lunch bags, Ella's skating bag on wheels with telescoping handle, Jack's hockey bag, a blanket for me to sit on (the metal bleachers are cold!), Ella's change of clothes for when we hit the grocery store on the way home (because she doesn't want to go out in her skating outfit), Jack's backpack full of stuff to keep him occupied if he decides to take a break from skating, water bottles for the kids and a thermos filled with caffeine for me. Oh, plus my purse (which rates its own post someday).

Anyway, on this skating day Jack decided he didn't want to skate by himself and since I wasn't feeling well I hadn't brought my skates. (Oh, add my skating bag to the above mentioned list of stuff stuffed into the mini-van.) So I sat on the bleachers watching Ella while Jack played with his Star Wars action figures.

Then a little girl, probably around four, came over to say hi. She was adorable and talkative and since Jack's big sister is also adorable and talkative, Jack felt right at home chatting with her. And this is how the "conversation" went:

Jack: "I have Obi-Wan and Cad Bane."

Little Girl: "I can go sledding when it snows."

Jack: "I have Yoda at home. And a Battle Droid."

Little Girl: "But it didn't snow today."

Jack: "Cad Bane has a hat but I lost it in the car."

Little Girl: "I want it to snow."

Jack: "Cad Bane is a bad guy that's why I have Obi-Wan. He's a Jedi."

Little Girl: "My sled is pink."

And on and on it went. They were both perfectly content talking to each other...or to state it more appropriately, talking near each other...about two completely different topics and it all made perfect sense to them.
Apparently to a four and five year old a similar sized munchkin is all that's needed for stimulating conversation. And it must have translated well into their brains because the little girl told her mom she made a new friend and Jack told me we should invite her to our house to play.

Go figure. Skate. Haha...go figure skate.*

*Sorry about that. I haven't had caffeine yet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Invisible Monkey Solution

Winter is not my friend. I despise being cold. And I'm not that fond of rain unless it's a thunderstorm and I'm inside under an electric blanket sipping hot chocolate while the power stays on. And I don't like ice. Which is weird since I spent most of my formative years as a figure skater and I now spend 2-3 days a week at an ice rink watching my kids skate. Maybe it's long suppressed emotional scarring. Or maybe it all goes back to the first thought...I just despise being cold.

Anyway, I've also discovered another drawback to winter. My kids go completely bonkers with cabin fever. If there was lots of fluffy white snow on the ground I could at least let them run around outside until their runny noses were officially frozen to their faces. But today it's just icy and cold and drizzly and yucky. I can't in good conscience let them go play in the frozen wasteland but to them even a thin layer of dirty cracked ice should qualify as a snow day.

So now we're all in the house, schoolwork is done and the bickering has begun. Here's the scenario....Ella & Jack are playing zoo. It's an invisible zoo, which is awesome & full of imagination, but keep in mind it's invisible. After building all the invisible cages and filling them with invisible animals, Ella decides to take the invisible monkey on a walk. At which point Jack declares that he is the official invisible monkey wrangler.

Ella: "But he's my monkey."

Jack: "It's my zoo too!"

Ella: "Why don't you go walk the elephant."

Jack: "I don't want to walk an elephant. I want to walk the monkey."

Ella: "Go get a lion. Lions are cool."

Jack: "Elllllllllllaaaaaaaa."

At which point my head threatened to explode. So Mommy the ultimate arbitrator stepped in.

Me: "Here, I just bought another invisible monkey for your zoo. Now you have two."

Ella & Jack: (after a moment of stunned, wide eyed blinking silence) "Oh, ok."

And off they went with their invisible monkeys.

So, what time is Spring?

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Not Procrastinating....I'm Hiding

Shhhhhhh. You don't see me. I'm hiding. My to-do list is multiplying and I don't want it to find me.

Have you ever gotten to a place where your list of things to do is sooooo long that just looking at it saps all of your energy? Where even the idea of picking one simple thing to do is so overwhelming that you just want to curl up some place warm and hide from the world. That's how I'm feeling today.

I have a ridiculously long list of things that need to be done. But I just don't wanna. I don't even have a good excuse. I'm not sick, I'm not busy. And it's not like I've got world changing items on my plate. I didn't add "end world hunger" or "fix the economy" to the list. It's simple stuff like laundry, bills, vacuuming, phone calls, etc. But it's January, I'm cold and I just don't wanna.

So after much grumbling and foot dragging, I finally I sat down at my computer with grand intentions of actually getting something done...just so I could cross one thing off that smug looking to-do list. I intended to finish creating a schedule of rotating volunteers for an organization I work with...a schedule that has been a pain in my caboose for quite some time. And this was the result:


Found on etsy here

And after strolling through etsy for a big chunk of time. I decided to finally buckle down and get to work.

Take two:

Found here on Amazon.

I really want to learn to sew. And not with a big machine, I sort of know how to do that. I want to sew adorable little pieces of cuteness with my own hands. Like some prairie pioneer woman...or a sweet grandma who gives you stale butter mints. Truthfully, the sewing machine is too loud and I can't sit in my rocking chair when I play with it.

Anyway, so the schedule still isn't done. The laundry isn't folded. But I did get the blog for today done. Whew. Now I'm going to go add "write blog" to the bottom of my to-do list so I can triumphantly cross it off and then crawl under my heated lap blanket with my Kindle.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm Potentially the Worst Mother in the World

*Potentially* That's important. It's not like there's been a vote or anything. And I don't think you actually win a prize if you get officially voted the worst mother in the world. It's more of an honorary an honorary doctorate...or a rap sheet...whatever.

So here are the circumstances of my impending descent into worst motherhood-dom. *Potentially* Ella is reading "Old Yeller." Did you just suck in a deep breathe and say something like "ooooohhhh noooooo." Yeah, I know. It might be bad.

See, we're studying the post-civil war era in American History and one of the books in her curriculum is "Old Yeller." Also known as the evil-book-where-the-dog-gets-shot. I went back and forth for days about whether or not to let her read the book. Ella loves dogs. And when I say loves, I mean LOVES. She can name a ridiculous number of dog breeds and correctly identify them. She stages dog shows with her stuffed animals. It's adorable. And it's all about to come crashing down on her. Worst. Mother. Ever. *Potentially*

I finally decided to let her read the book because it's a classic, it has a great portrayal of American life in that time and its a good challenging read for her. Of course when I told Major Dad what she was reading he gave me a look that was part horror and part "I'm going to laugh at you when she flips out." And to make matters worse, the stupid cover of the stupid book has a picture of a big ol' fluffy yellow dog smiling a big doggy smile with no idea that he's about to die.

So now here I am...counting down the days until she hits chapter 15. And there's Ella, blissfully devouring what she calls "the best book ever!"

Worst mother in the world. *Potentially*

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Truth About SOPA

Holy cow, why are you asking me????

Seriously, on this, The Great SOPA Protest Day when many of your favorite sites are going black in a display of virtual non-violent protest, use the time you might have otherwise spent perusing humorous blogs or locating potentially unsubstantiated research or whatever else tickles your fancy but is today unavailable due to the power of the people making their voices heard in the of Congress and do your own research on SOPA and decide what you think.

Piracy is bad. Censorship is bad. Don't let anyone else make up your mind for you. I started here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homeschool Lies Debunked

Last night a friend of mine shared this video...and I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much I decided to dedicate an entire blog post to it. And I'm sure it's just a happy accident that I happened to find a video to share on a day when I had no idea what I was going to write about. What a coincidence. Ahem.

Anyway the video is funny and encouraging and awesome all at the same time. And as for the last homeschool myth...our family is totally guilty.


Thanks to Messy Mondays!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Love the Smell of Decomposition in the Morning

So one bright sunny morning Major Dad let me sleep in. Aaaahhh, bliss. When I finally rolled my lazy self out of bed and decided to make an appearance in the kitchen, I was greeted rather rudely by the smell of death...and coffee.

This was a rare time when the question "eeewww, what died in here?" was actually appropriate. About two days prior to this stench filled morning, Major Dad and I heard some scratching in (what we thought was) the kitchen closet. This is where we keep the dog food and cleaning supplies (not mixed together, separate shelves). So Major Dad put down a mouse trap, baited it with chocolate (because apparently mice in our home have excellent taste) and waited for Mickey and/or Minnie to meet their chocolate induced demise.

So as I walked into the stink filled ick, I saw Major Dad pulling everything out of the closet in order to check the trap. And guess dead Mickey and/or Minnie. Which led us to the incredibly ridiculous task of sniffing the inside of the closet to pinpoint the exact source of the putrid smell. How lovely is that? I'd put it somewhere to the grosser side of judging a worst smelling armpit contest held in a clogged sewer located in a city somewhere around the equator where the chief food staples are brussels sprouts, cabbage and beans. Yeah, it was nasty. I even got to take a turn sticking my nose in all the corners trying to determine where the mother of all bad smells was coming from.

And where was the source of the uber-stink located? Inside the wall. Inside. Fabulous. So Major Dad grabbed a knife and a mallet and proceeded to tear apart the inner wall of the closet. Yay, rotting flesh and destruction all in one day. I'm such a lucky girl. And lo and behold, a pile of mutilated dry wall later we were rewarded with a whoosh of fetid foulness.

Apparently a mouse family picked our house as the site of their very own rodent Jamestown. There they were a whole mouse family all curled up together and so very, very dead. Picture "An American Tail" with a depressing, existential, probably French, life-is-meaningless ending. And in my kitchen. How do I know they were all curled up together in what would have been sadly adorable if they didn't reek so badly? Because Major Dad, upon locating said sad adorableness said "come here, you have to see this." That's true love right there folks...hey honey, come look at the stinky, dead, disease infested rodents with me.

So after Major Dad sucked up the corpses with his Shop-Vac (not quite a burial at sea, but what can you do?), I dumped a gallon of bleach in their former tomb and drenched the kitchen in Febreeze. Now the house smells like disinfected flower covered corpses.

And on that note...Happy Monday!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Permission to be Imperfect

Have you ever heard the phrase "nobody's perfect?" And have you ever heard the phrase "nobody's perfect" and moments later started berating yourself for all the things you've recently done wrong? Do you grasp the intellectual concept that "nobody's perfect," freely extend it to others and yet still allow your own inner critic to hold you to a ridiculous standard of perfection that you just agreed is unreachable?

Ah, the mind contorting and heart piercing puzzle of perfectionism. It stinks, right?

I have a very loud and very mean inner critic who likes to point out when I fail, when I'm going to fail and can even search out the failures in my successes. "Sure, you just climbed Mt. Everest, but you should have done it faster and in a cuter outfit...that Eskimo gear makes your butt look huge." Sigh. I know I shouldn't do it and I know I'm too hard on myself but even that psycho-babble self-awareness just starts up a whole new critique from my inner Ebert (it may be Roper) on why I'm a failure for listening to the very voice telling me I'm a failure. Now, that's a special kind of twisted.

So here's a phrase I recently heard echoing in my brain and I decided that I like it. "Permission to be imperfect." Maybe all of us hyper type-A, perfectionists need to chill out and give ourselves permission to be imperfect. Because the ugly truth of the matter (at least for me) is that the only person judging me and labeling me a big, fat failure who needs a bedazzled dunce me. There's no one else demanding that I keep our homeschool exactly on schedule. There's no one else yelling at me that we're running late for an ice skating session with no time limit. (yes, I do that..."hurry up, we're going to be late even though there's no start time and we're not obligated to be there anyway.")

And there's no one besides little ol' me declaring my house to be a messy embarrassment, or my to-do list too neglected, or my curves a little too curvy. Or reminding me that my blog is late and how dare I do that to people nice enough to read it even thought they probably won't like it anyway because it sounds like some throwback 80's after-school special about a nerdy girl who learns to love herself just the way she is and ends up going to prom with the most popular boy in school.

Is there such a thing as a type-A+ personality? Cause I think I rate some extra-credit crazy here.

So here's my point...if I don't expect perfection from others, why do I demand it from myself? Now I know we're wading into some deep Freudian-flavored psychological waters here and I don't have my floaties, so I'll end with this. I would like to buy my grumpy inner critic a big box of chocolate, some snazzy new shoes and give her the rest of my life off. I'd like to run late without freaking out. I'd like to actually try and fail before I label myself a failure. Or maybe even try and succeed and enjoy it without reservation. Doesn't that sound like fun?

So while I'm out shopping (metaphorically ) I'll throw together a goodie bag (also metaphorical) for any of you with inner harpies and give you the same permission to be imperfect.

Now go mess something up...on purpose.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hey, Watch Your Language

I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but I tend to find humor in the strangest of places. I can be totally unimpressed by a slapstick comedy filled with people falling down and getting trampled by stampeding puffins, but catch me on the right day and a simple misspoken word will keep me amused for hours. Hours, I tell you!

Here's my most recent example. Major Dad and I were washing dishes and talking about something. I can't remember what exactly but it was something sports related. Trust me the something isn't the important part of the story. Let's just say it was...oh I don't know...lawn darts. So, Major Dad says "guess they don't have many lawn darts terminents."

Now he meant tournaments, but instead of being a sweet and supportive wife and just continuing the conversation I latched on to the tantalizing vocabulary Frankenstein that is "terminent" and took off running.

Me: "'Terminents?' Aren't those the bugs that eat your house?"

Major Dad: "That would be termites."

Me: "Right. Terminent is that robot movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Major Dad: (Through slightly clenched teeth) "That's Terminator."

Me: "Oh, right. Terminent is when you get fired."

Major Dad: (Silence. He's not playing anymore).

Me: (Totally not caring that Major Dad has left the playing field) "Sorry, Jim but after your recent debacle with the fax machine and the ferret we have to terminent you."

Still Me: "I'm sorry, Mrs. Jones, there's nothing we can do. The tone nail cancer is terminent."

Major Dad: "Are you done?"

Me again: "Gosh I hope this stain isn't terminent."

P.S. I would like some serious props for spelling Schwarzenegger correctly...without even googling it.

P.P.S. Ok, I did Google it, but only after I spelled it correctly, just to make sure.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Help! I Think I Just Bought Mom Jeans

I love jeans. I literally live in my jeans. All day, every day...jeans, jeans, jeans. I understand that there are other types of pants in existence. I just don't understand why they are necessary in life. I own a pair of khakis (a pair...singular) and 2 pairs of black pants. But my go-to bottom half of any outfit would be jeans.

So you can imagine the trauma I went through when I looked down a few days ago and spotted a hole in the knee of my favorite jeans. Ugh! Fortunately I happened to know of a department store that was having a sale on jeans. So I threw on another pair of jeans and headed off to the mall.

Now, I think it's fair to say that jeans shopping can be an emotionally exhausting experience for many women...including me. And shopping for jeans immediately following the holidays...hmmm, let's evaluate the wisdom of that plan, shall we? After a holiday season marked by family dinners, church dinners, friend dinners, leftover dinners, cookie exchanges, cookie gifts and cookies for chubby holiday icons, chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate...let's go shopping for pants that cover and/or accentuate every festively blessed curve and try them on in a dressing room lit with florescent bulbs so unflattering that even Thomas Edison would say "whoa, that's some bad lighting" and surrounded by mirrors on every side. Joy to the world, right ladies?

Anyway, so there I am trying on jeans, heaving a sigh, discarding them, fetching new pairs from the shelves, heading back to the exact same dressing room (I don't know why I do that...some sort of strange territorial shopping thing) and repeating the whole process. Several times. I tried on the exact same pair of jeans that I had just worn a hole in, but for some reason I didn't like them this time around. Couldn't have anything to do with the truffles my husband got me for Christmas. Clearly Levi's has had a change in their manufacturing process.

I finally decided to get a straight leg, as opposed to my usual usual boot cut. Why? Well, I thought I'd get a new pair of boots and I wanted to be able to stuff the jeans into the boots. Don't you just love how a new pair of jeans necessitates a new pair of boots? That's logic, right there. So I finally settled on a pair and went home. (Yes, I paid for them. I was just trying to move the narrative along.) Then the next day as I put on my new jeans I was struck by a sudden and terrifying thought. Did I just buy mom jeans???

So now I need an exact definition of mom jeans. Can I get away with the natural waist, straight leg if I don't wear a tucked in polo shirt and belt? Or am I totally up the mom fashion creek? Why can't stores label them "mom jeans" like they do "skinny jeans" so I know to avoid that shelf? Better yet, why can't we have truth in jeans labeling across the board? Imagine how much easier your shopping would be if they were labeled "jeans only a teenage pop star should wear" or "jeans you can't sit down in" or "jeans that make you look like a soccer mom, but they're really comfortable"?

Where's that Occupy movement?

Happy Tuesday!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Blog

So one of my big New Year's resolutions for 2012 is to get back to writing. Last year everything else seemed to take priority and writing just kept getting shoved further and further down the to-do list. Eventually it didn't even make the to-do list. Every once in a while I would see something or think of something that struck me as blog-worthy, but I never made it to the computer to actually start typing. No good reasons for it, no excuses.

But by December when I started looking back over the previous 12 months and wondered where the time went, I was genuinely annoyed that I has let go of something that I truly enjoy. Not the chocolate of course, but the writing. I still have no idea what my next book will be about, but even if I never figure that out I know I can keep typing little snippets of chocolate flavored funny and sending them off into the blogosphere. Or maybe chocolate flavored not funny...who knows? I'm wild and unpredictable like that.

The point is I actually made a New Year's resolution this get back to writing and to keep writing. I've actually got a whole pile of notes already put together on using our talents, bringing what we have to God even if what we have seems like nothing and seeing the things we already have in new ways. But if I wrote all that right now, I wouldn't have anything left for tomorrow. And then I'd stop blogging again after giving you this glimmer of false hope and then the whole vicious cycle would start again and frankly I'm too old for vicious cycles...or any kind of cycles for that matter. Except maybe Popcycles. Oh wait, that's Popsicles. Huh. Well, you see the problem.

Anyway, so I messed with the blog design again, changed it up a bit and I've started typing. Isn't that first step in some neglectful bloggers recovery plan? Just start typing. So to those of you who have stuck around and those of you who have so faithfully checked this page during the months of my neglectful blogger-ness (4000 views when I haven't written in months??? That's nuts...and also spectacularly cool. You guys rock!), I thank you. And this is for you: