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.