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Friday, November 30, 2007

Deee-saster!

I have to confess, my house isn't the tidiest right now. Well, it hardly ever will win any cleanliness awards, but recently it has been particularly untidy. You know, I've had sick kids, and I am tired, blah, blah, blah. The same excuses that my older sisters could use if they wanted to, but instead they just clean their houses.

Anyway. Despite the filthy house, we did put up the Christmas tree last night. Which of course, made my house even filthier. Now it isn't just nail clippings that I need to vacuum up, it's also fake pine needles. This morning the following conversation ensued between me and Veevs:

Veevs: Mom?

Me: Yes?

Veevs: I think we need to clean up our house so that when Santa comes he doesn't say, "This house is a DEEE-saster!

This is a common technique that I use to get our house cleaned up. "Hey," I'll say cheerfully (or not so cheerfully, depending on the day), "Let's get this cleaned up before Dad gets home so that he doesn't say, 'This house is a DEEE-saster!'" Then we all get busy and shove everything under beds and in closets and stuff.

Me: Go for it, sis. Santa will really appreciate a clean house, I'm sure.

Veevs begins cleaning. A few minutes later:

Veevs: Mom?

Me: Yes?

Veevs: I think Santa can just step over and around things when he comes. I don't mind.

Me: (feeding the sick, grumpy, croupy baby) Yeah, I don't care either. Good job trying, sis.

Just remember if you come to my house, you might have to step over and around things. We don't mind.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Microphone Madness Part Two

Here it is: the story I promised of my own microphone addiction. Although none of you expressed the slightest interest in it, I still feel compelled to share. I'm like that.

I was never a shy child. I was never anywhere near a shy child (Except when I was in the company of my best childhood frenemy Jennifer, with whom the competition was fierce. Sadly, she was the oldest in her family, while I was the fourth in mine, so my mom didn't care as passionately about the "competition" as her mom did. I was pretty much lucky just to not leave the house with my hair done via toothbrush. Her brand of superiority could make me feel pretty shy).

If there was a church program where all the kids got to use the microphone, I'm pretty sure I was in heaven. I wasn't one of those kids who yells into the microphone, though. Oh, no, that's an amateur's mistake--I was a pro at microphones. I loved everything about microphones (still do actually) but my favorite kind of microphone was the kind that has a cord that you could flip about and coil up in your hand. It made me feel like a lounge singer. Or a motivational speaker. Or a TV presenter.

One of the summer jobs that I had was as a youth camp counselor at a church program. One of the great joys of my life as a counselor was that I got to use a microphone when I taught a class. I don't really remember what I taught my class about, but oh, I remember the feel of the microphone in my hand. However, I do know these were spiritual classes--classes that were meant to inspire young girls to want to be better people.

During one "session" (in Florida, I think) the rooms were kind of small, so we had three different groups of girls and they would rotate around the different classes and so we ended up teaching our deeply inspiring classes three different times. And. I. Got. To. Hold. A. Microphone. THE. ENTIRE. TIME.

Well, due to a timing snafu, my group of girls had already exited my room. The next group was running behind, and so there I was. Alone. With my microphone. Plugged in.

I took a deep breath.

Lady, I crooned lovingly, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you.

(I'm a big Kenny Rogers fan. Well, at least I was before he became a poster child for overuse of plastic surgery, but still.)

You have made me what I am AND I am YOURS! (For honesty's sake, I feel compelled to tell you that I can't sing. Especially not with a microphone's reverberation. But does that stop me? Oh no, it does not!)

LAAAAA-DEEEE! In your ARMS, I see no one else but Meeeeeeee!

I was going for it. I was hitting the high notes. I was jiggling that microphone back and forth to give me fake vibrato action. I was Kenny Rogers (well, except for the obvious gender differences and the hopefully obvious plastic surgery differences, and you know, the fact that he can sing and I can't. But aside from that, I was Kenny.). I sang that song into the ground (I don't have a great memory for lyrics, so I really only knew like four lines from the chorus, but I sang them over and over). I owned that microphone, and I owned that room.

"HEY!" Out of nowhere (well, okay from behind a desk) pops up this fourteen-year old girl's head. "Hey! What are you doing?" She looked at me like I was crazy. She was right.

I uncoiled the microphone cord carefully from my hand. I dropped the hand that had been doing a dang good impression of Mariah Carey's hand flutters, you know the ones that mimic her vocal stylings. I stared at that little fourteen-year old girl with wide-eyes. Caught in the act of some serious narcissism.

"Oh, hi." I say, into the microphone, as though in this room with just the two of us, I would still need vocal magnification. I just can't lower a microphone of my own volition, however. You have to pry them out of my attention-seeking hands. "What are you doing?" I'm trying to redirect this conversation in a way that doesn't include an explanation of my self-absorption.

She had been feeling sick, so she had gone to sleep in the back of the room. She told her counselor about my "little moment". Who told all the other counselors. Who thought it was hilarious. That's okay, though. Because somewhere out there, there's a fourteen-year old girl who seriously loves Kenny Rogers right now. I'm pretty sure that means that I achieved my goal of being deeply inspiring. Right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Veevs learns some new words . . .

Who knew the corruptive influence that Simon and Garfunkel would have on Veevs?

You can see from her picture that she is very, very, VERY corrupted.

Veevs has now learned all the words to Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" song. My favorite is hearing these lyrics from the mouth of my four year old:

"Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes!
But most of all be sure to hide it from your kids."
or
"Jesus holds a place for those who break,
so god bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson."

I'm blaming Rhett for all the drug culture songs that sweet Veevs now knows. He insists on playing them in the minivan.

Minivans and drug music just don't mix.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is It Bad?

Sorry. I have been laid low with a migraine headache that just won't quit.

My mother had the nerve to suggest that perhaps it is caused by an allergy to chocolate.

I told her I would prefer that it were caused by a brain tumor.

I love chocolate.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Microphone Madness

The other day I was helping Veevs say the opening prayer at church. She got to use the microphone, and like her mother, she likes microphones a lot. This is what it sounded like:

Veevs: Dear Heavenly Father:

Mom: (whispering prompts) We're thankful for this day.

Veevs: We're thankful for this day.

Mom: We're thankful for our teachers.

Veevs: We're thankful for our teachers.

Mom: Help us to be good.

Veevs: Help us to be good and kind.

Mom: Help us to be reverent.

Veevs: Help us to be reverent.

Mom: (signaling the end of the prayer) In the name of Jesus Christ . . .

Veevs: (whispering furiously back) No! I want more!

Mom: We're thankful for Jesus and the Atonement.

Veevs: We're thankful for Jesus and the Atonement.

Mom: (once again signaling the end) In the name of Jesus Christ . . .

Veevs: No!

Mom: Okay, last one. Thanks for this beautiful day.

Veevs: Thank you for this beautiful day. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Later, I asked her why she didn't end the prayer earlier. She looked at me innocently and replied, "Because I really like to use a microphone, Mom."

Tomorrow, if I feel inspired and me-centric, I'll tell you how I know this trait was passed directly from my gene pool.

Gratefully

Gratefully, we ate a bunch of turkey, and I was so thrilled to bring home a bunch of leftover turkey and ham for my thoroughly carnivorous husband.

Not so gratefully, I dropped the turkey, ham, and a Pyrex at the same time, and thus had to throw it away because it was embedded with glass.

Gratefully, I took sweet potatoes and green bean casserole to my aunt's for Thanksgiving dinner.

Not so gratefully, no one but Rhett and I ate them. Not even my kids would brave them to save my feelings.

Gratefully, I have finished most of my Christmas shopping and so I don't have to brave the crowds at the store today in search of the best bargains ever.

Not so gratefully, I really have an itch to go spend some money on the best bargains ever.

Gratefully, Spe's fever has come down and his cough is getting better.

Not so gratefully, this happened after I spent the whole night sleeping on his floor. I shouldn't complain, though, as Rhett took the two nights before last night.

Gratefully, I have the most thoughtful, loving husband and the sweetest children.

There's no down side to that!

Hope your Thanksgiving was fabulous!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crackhead K.C.

For Sarah, who introduced me to K.C., long before I had the pleasure of ever knowing him . . .

This is not the school where I taught. My school was much older and much more ghetto, and I had bats living in the ceiling directly above my head. Yes, it did smell a lot like guano . . . GO VIKINGS!

Another teaching story to amuse/horrify/depress/uplift you:

As a general rule, when you are teaching high school, it is wise to steer clear of teenage romances. Seriously, unless you love watching soap operas, there's nothing there for you. I remember one Prom that my husband and I chaperoned, and we watched as the Special Ed teacher tried to reconcile a special ed couple about seven times. Seriously, they kept fighting: the girl would cry and storm off, then the boy would get all sullen and camp out at the punch bowl, then the girl would come back and yell, and then the boy would go to a corner and cry, and then the girl would pout until she felt he was sufficiently chastened, and then they would reconcile and dance a dance, and then the boy would inevitably say something that the girl found offensive, and then the whole cycle would start all over again. It's just not a situation that you want to find yourself in the middle of.

You also generally want to steer clear of encouraging crushes and intrigues in your classroom, because honestly, the walls are practically dripping sexual hormones anyway, and the kids really just don't need your help. Mother Nature has taken care of them adequately, thank you very much!

One of my most favorite students of all time was named K.C., but everyone (even the teachers) called him Crackhead K.C. (behind his back, of course, because crack, well, it can make some people violent). Crackhead K.C. really was a crackhead. He used drugs (and sold them) with astonishing regularity, and was probably high as a kite more often than not during class. He lived with his grandma, and before Crackhead K.C. was even in my class, I heard stories of him spending nights in cornfields and waking up and walking to school. Despite his crackhead nature, Crackhead K.C. was really the funniest kid, and amazingly smart (thus why the administration could never catch him dealing), even through the crack haze. He had an adorable crooked smile, although the crack made him completely unambitious. I'm actually not sure why he ever came to school (except of course, to sell his wares), as I recall that he only passed one quarter of the four that we spent together. However, I can guess why he came to my class faithfully, every day. And her name was Lizzy.

Lizzy was everything Crackhead K.C. wasn't. She was a cheerleader, a dancer, beautiful, and not that bright, really. She wasn't dumb, just an airhead. She was friendly, outgoing, and laughed a lot. Crackhead K.C. was totally smitten.

One of the great joys of teaching regular English was having silent reading period--the kids read whatever they wanted and I got to read, too. Crackhead K.C. usually picked a different book every day (until I forced him to commit to the same one, however, I don't believe he ever turned a single page--he just sat there, staring blankly at the page). However, whenever Lizzy was at my classroom bookshelf, Crackhead K.C. would arouse himself from his drug-induced coma, shake off the stupor and shuffle over to stand by her.

They would talk. Lizzy, who would have flirted with a male wasp, couldn't help it. She found Crackhead K.C. amusing. He was madly in love. She didn't feel the same, but she was genuinely a friendly girl (as a sidenote, she could ruin the most perfect seating chart, because she didn't care who she talked to, she just liked to talk). During our unit on The Princess Bride, Crackhead K.C. asked Lizzy to be his partner for the major project. She came to me in a panic, "I don't want to fail because Crackhead K.C. doesn't do his part of the project!" I assured her that I would grade her individually, but not to tell Crackhead K.C. that, as I hoped his passion for Lizzy would transfer into a passion for The Princess Bride.

I have to confess that I turned a blind eye to their tete a tetes by my bookshelf during this time period. I really wanted Crackhead K.C. to pass. There was just something so sad about his crooked little smile and his total disinterest in school or success.

The due date arrived. Lizzy turned in her portion. Crackhead K.C.'s desk was empty. Lizzy and I exchanged knowing glances. Oh, that Crackhead K.C. our looks said He's totally incorrigible. He's probably asleep in some cornfield right now, sleeping off his drug stupor. I shook my head sadly.

Crackhead K.C. burst through the door (wild-eyed, as always). He triumphantly carried his portion of the project. That was the quarter Crackhead K.C. passed my class. See? Teenage love is good for something.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If You Two Don't Get To Work . . .

I used to teach high school. I taught full-time and part-time; I taught Senior English Honors, Junior English, Sophomore English Honors, and ESL; I taught funny kids, crazy kids, shy kids, sullen kids, suck-up kids, and kids who were chock-full of personality. I quit teaching after Spe was born, because it just wasn't going to work out--someone, somewhere was going to get neglected. I'm pretty happy with the choice that I made to stay home, but there are some days that I really miss being in a classroom, with all that entails. Fortunately, I have a slew of memories, both good and bad, to carry me through.

One of my favorites took place in Senior Honors during my second year of teaching. I had two boys whom we will refer to as Jake and Doug (because those are their real names--I don't believe in this protecting the innocent deal). Jake and Doug were a fairly good-humored but extremely obnoxious duo, particularly for an honors class, where most students write a five page paper when you ask for a three page paper. It was pretty early on in the year, and Jake and Doug and I were still . . . adjusting. Meaning, I was still bringing the hammer down on their obnoxious behavior and they were still trying to see how heavy the hammer would actually be.

So, one class period, we were all enthralled with Beowulf (I have found that any story with character names like Hrothgar or Wulfgar or Edgetho is such an easy sell to teenagers. They double love it when we discuss scops. It's just so relevant, you know?) and so we had a little in-class project partner work going. (The Assignment: Create a four-part spin-off of How to Win Friends and Influence People for Anglo-Saxons. What have we learned so far in the story about this fascinating culture and what social success means to Anglo-Saxons?) I generally let students pick their own partners (especially seniors--hello, they are practically adults!), so I wasn't that surprised to find that Doug and Jake had partnered up. I did know, however, that this wasn't the best idea.

Before I let the class start, the following exchange occurs:

Me: Doug, Jake, are you sure you two can work together and still be productive?

Them: Oh, yes, we TOTALLY can. We will work so hard together and we'll have the best brochure in the whole class. (This is all accompanied with a self-satisfied smirk that belies their true intentions.)

Me: Fine, gentlemen. But I'm just warning you, (point with finger menacingly) that if you two don't work hard during class, I WILL 'F' YOU!

Well, obviously I meant to say, "I will give you an 'F,' or "I will FAIL you," but somehow the two phrases became jumbled in my head in George Bush-like fashion and it just came out terribly, terribly wrong. Do I need to mention that the whole class of 35 students was listening in?

Them: HA, HA, HA! (Hysterical laughter) Really? Do you promise? HA! HA! HA! (More hysterical laughter.)

Do I need to tell you that from then on whenever I gave instructions, these sweet, dear boys would say, "So if we don't do this, will you 'F' us?"

I have to confess I felt a little bit vindicated when I found out that after high school Jake went to prison for armed robbery of a drugstore (apparently even honors students get hooked on prescription pills). I couldn't help but think, "If only you cared more about the scops, this never would have happened." But then again, I don't really care about the scops and I've managed to avoid incarceration. So far.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Car Talk

I was driving around the other day (I usually am housebound often enough to qualify to attend agoraphobia meetings despite having no phobia whatsoever about leaving my home. However, three kids four and under will do that to you.), and I just have to say: Enough with the car talk!

Seriously, I don't care if your child is an honor student or beats them up or if you love them even though they aren't honor students. I don't really care if your child plays soccer or if you support Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the NASCAR races. I don't really care to know that you consider yourself a "PRINCESS" or 99% angel. I don't know you at all, and quite frankly, it's better that way. Because I don't care, and it feels a little bit intrusive that you want to share all of these things with me.

It's kind of like when you are at your locker in high school and the stoner who has the locker next to yours presents you with a black mask that he's made himself in Arts & Crafts class with red paint that looks like blood dripping down it and nails sticking out all over the face in the hopes that you will return his undying affection (I'm not the only one this happened to, am I? Oh, I am. Well, lucky me.). It's just a little presumptuous, you know?

I just don't know why people feel the need to communicate with their cars. I promise, I have never seen a single bumper sticker or car vinyl cling that has made me think, "Wow. I should really get to know that quality human being." What would I do if I did think that? Follow them home and introduce myself? That's just stalkerish, folks.

I feel like we're already sharing way too much information about ourselves with just the type of car we drive. I mean, I drive a white minivan, and Rhett drives a gold Toyota Camry. Can't you tell we're practical, family-oriented people?

Why, I hear you say, if you are so adverse to sharing personal information with other people, do you blog?

Hmmm. Good point.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dog Days


My kids are in heaven. Seriously, they think they are the luckiest kids on the planet. Why? Because we have a dog. No, we don't OWN a dog. No, no, no, no, no, it's not ours. But for the weekend, we are babysitting a little Shih Tzu dog for one of Rhett's coworkers who went out of town. My kids love it. The dog, well, let's just say he's been very patient.

Spe has said, "HEY, LOKI!" about seven million times today. (Except he can't pronounce Ls correctly, so he says, "Hey, Yoki!") Veevs has surreptitiously tried to feed the dog about seven doggy snacks, although we agreed previously that he only needed two a day. Jacob, well, Jacob doesn't really care, except for when he has a poopy diaper and the dog comes and hones in on Jake's rear end with his nose. It's actually been quite helpful that way . . .

A few ways in which it has not been helpful:

The dog peed in his crate early this morning, and as a result had to be bathed, because he was covered in his own urine. And then I had to clean out the crate, too.

The dog vomited all over the floor after breakfast, which I had to clean up. Fortunately, his owners left me with a carpet cleaning solvent. (Perhaps that should have been my first clue?)

I think you'll know what I mean when I say the dog really loves my leg. Enough said.

It will be a while before we get a dog of our own, much to my kids' chagrin . . .

How to Ruin a Book . . .

Just a note: if you ever want to ruin a book, I know how. It's really easy, actually. You just give it to Spe, my two-year old. He is wickedly destructive with books.

Just so you know, I'm the mom who used to look at nasty chewed on books at the library and shake my head with disdain. Who, I would think self-righteously, lets their children chew on books? I'm the mom who used to about have a mental breakdown when my oldest daughter would accidentally rip a page. "Oh, honey!" I would say gravely, in the same tone that I would use if she were to take permanent marker to our couch or piano, "Books are VERY special. We NEVER treat books this way." She learned very quickly to take excellent care of her books. She doesn't even lose the pieces to those puzzle books. I'm the mom who used to congratulate myself on raising a careful, enthusiastic reader.

And then Spe came along. Spe LOVES to read, which I'm thrilled about. However, I'm not so thrilled with his utter disregard for the proper care of books. Now I'm the mother who stops at the library desk and furtively looks over my shoulder before saying quietly, "Umm. . . my son chewed on this book. I don't think he meant to, but . . ." I endure the withering glare of the librarian, and worry that she will take my library card away. Now I'm the mother who sets aside a few hours every month to repair all the books that Spe has torn. Now I'm the mom who's thinking that Veevs has my book genes and Spe must have Rhett's.

I really don't think Spe means any harm to his books. He's just SO enthusiastic about turning pages and seeing the next picture. When I give him my grave, sad little "shame on all book destroyers" talk, he kind of looks at me blankly, like he's trying to figure out who I'm talking about.

For now, he's on a strict diet of BOARD books only. I still find myself taping and repairing (board books are NOT indestructible, oh no, they aren't!) but at least the shreds are in tact so I can repair them. The other day, I heard the sound of ripping coming from Spe's room and then I heard Ivy say, "Oh, Spe! Books are VERY special. We NEVER treat books like that."

At least I've gotten through to one of them.

In the foreground of this picture is my nephew Drew, who was completely book safe by the age of one. In the background is me and Spe, who received all board books for his one year old (and for that matter his two year old) birthday. Sweet little Spe . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh to be young again . . .

Am I the only one who still isn't adjusted to Daylight Savings Time? I still find myself saying, "Oh, the clock says it's 7:00, that means it's really 8:00." How long is this transition going to take?

Before I had children, I cherished daylight savings. I mean, what's better than suddenly gaining a full hour of sleep? (True, they take it away in the spring, but I prefer to focus on the giving nature of daylight savings.) It was like a dream come true.

But now, with three kids, daylight savings is killing me slowly. They somehow missed the memo that we sleep an hour longer. So, they are getting up at all sorts of ungodly hours (well, the hours make me ungodly, anyway).

Maybe I'd better hold off on the transition. Because right now, me thinking, "Hmm . . so it's really 6:30 in the morning," is the only thing that's keeping me from having a total temper tantrum with my kids. That, and the fact that I'm looking forward to spring when my kids will sleep in later than they should.

Oh, how things change with perspective . . .


This is how Spe and I feel every morning now that daylight savings has taken effect. I'm quite confident I'm seven months pregnant in this photo (oh, all right, I was only six months!), so don't hold it against me, please. Plus, I didn't do my hair. Plus, I'm wearing one of Rhett's t-shirts. Oh, I'm just homely, okay?

Monday, November 12, 2007

When Mama Ain't Happy . . .

I really have the most wonderful mother. She raised eight kids with a lot of love, hardly any gourmet cooking, and a HUGE amount of patience. However, like all of us, she has her quirks. And since I really believe my mission in life is to out the world's quirky people one blog at a time, I'll tell you one of my favorite "Mare-mares" (Rhett's nickname for her) stories.

Once a month, we fast. When I was little this was a serious hardship. When I was a teenager, it was cause for some serious crankiness. And now that I'm a nursing mom, well, I don't do it! One Sunday we were fasting, and we came home from church to get our "break-the-fast" meal ready. Well, it wasn't just the teenagers who got a little cranky.

Granted, we were all complaining. Granted, we were all bickering. Granted, it was generally an unpleasant day to be the mother of eight children. In the middle of all of our bickering, fighting, complaining, whining, swearing (that's me!), and unpleasantness, Mare-mares had enough.

"Enough!" yelled Mare-mares. She grabbed the defrosted poppy-seed chicken casserole that was to be our dinner, stormed into her bedroom and locked the door behind her. What? (Or, as my four-year old would say, "What the??")

We all laughed kind of nervously at Mare-mares little temper tantrum, and waited for her to come back with our dinner. Except this wasn't just a little temper tantrum. She stayed in there for a long time! We all crept to her door and apologized under the crack in the door (well, except for Josh who made himself saltine cracker, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in an effort to prove that Mare-mares wasn't the boss of him--he's so like that), but she wasn't budging.

It was probably an hour later that she emerged, poppy-seed chicken casserole in hand, ready to make dinner. What?

Now I know where I get the drama queen gene from . . .


This is Mare-mares and my dad, on a less dramatic day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fashion Tips from the Fashionless

Right. I'm no fashionista (far from it, actually), but I have to say:

What is up with those Southern and Midwestern college football cheerleaders?

Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about. Let me fill you in:

Every Saturday, Rhett watches a little bit of college football. He's no fanatic, and neither am I, but we like to watch a little bit together while the kids take naps. Without fail, whenever we watch a game that involves any of the Southern and Midwestern colleges (like Purdue, Georgia, Iowa, etc.) I have to cringe whenever they show the cheerleaders.

Because the girls have huge bows ON THE TOP of their heads that are the size of a small poodle. I'm not joking. And, I have to wonder--is this some fashion trend that only the cheerleaders are following? Do they genuinely not notice that they look, well, like cute girls with small poodles on top of their heads?

I think you can see what I mean from the above picture. I'm very concerned for the future of our nation . . .

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fire!


I used to be a really great sleeper. You know, before I had kids and had to sleep lightly so that I could hear my kids if they woke up. When I was a teenager, I could take naps like nobody's business.

So one afternoon, I took my nap on my parents' waterbed (remember those?) as usual. I slept peacefully, and woke up fully refreshed.

I felt much less refreshed when I discovered the following:

While I was sleeping, the fire alarm had gone off. This wasn't one of those wussy fire alarms that just beeps--this was a fire alarm that was set up with my parents' alarm system, and so when it sensed smoke or carbon monoxide or whatever, an EXTREMELY LOUD man's voice would come out of the speaker and YELL "FIRE! PLEASE EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! HELP IS ON THE WAY!" It would do this over and over and over and over. It was so loud, you wanted to cover your ears, no matter where you were in the house.

When this occurred, all my younger siblings (Dan, Josh, Linz, and Bucky) evacuated (if only to escape the yelling fire alarm man) to the trampoline in our backyard, which was our designated "meeting spot" should any of us ever survive a natural disaster. While they were merrily evacuated on the trampoline, I continued to sleep.

It turned out to be a false alarm, but I still can't believe that everyone evacuated without me. Even fifteen years later, I'm still surprised by my siblings' treachery--I COULD HAVE BURNED! (oh, okay, I'm not surprised at all--they are totally like that!) Let me just remind you, I COULD HAVE BURNED!

We're a very close family.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Little Too Much Rhett . . .

Anyone who knows my husband knows that he loves being socially quirky. You may not know, however, that he is, quite frankly, bizarre. Let me give you just one example:

One night, Rhett and I were driving to visit his parents who lived about an hour away from where we lived. For some reason, which I don't recall, I was driving, which is extremely unusual, as Rhett usually drives everywhere we go, as he cannot stand my driving, which, by the way, is uncommonly good.

We were driving on a dark mini-highway, when I reached over to give Rhett's leg a little love pat. Strangely, instead of denim, my hand met with his bare skin. Somehow, without me knowing it, he had stripped completely, shirt, pants, and everything underneath.

I believe my reaction was a mortified shriek, which I think is what he was going for. (Well, he probably had something different in mind, but I have my standards!) I'm pretty sure that my mind wasn't on my driving at that point.

I had more important things to worry about, like how did he get those pants off without me noticing? And more importantly, what did I get myself into in this marriage? And even more importantly, will the trucker we are going to pass be able to see him nude from his elevated cab? I'm sure I don't need to tell you what I did next. I sped up, just to find out.

And then it was Rhett's turn to shriek. . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Britishisms are BACK!

I have to say, there are some things that I really miss about living in England. While I was happy to come back to my home in the United States, my year and a half mission there was really fabulous. In fact, I think we should incorporate some Britishisms into American English just to keep me happy. Here are a few suggestions:

Aren't you tired of always using "really"? Well, in England you have a veritable cornucopia of choices, especially if you don't mind being a little, well, common. For example, you can say, "Oh,
that is dead funny." See, don't you love how "dead" can also mean "really"? Or, you might say, "That was well bad, mate." Meaning, "That was really awful." Isn't that a nice choice to be able to make? Now, I'm not saying there aren't consequences for speaking this way. As a general rule, people will assume you are a teenager from a bad part of town, but still. It's all about choices!

I really love graffiti in England. From now on, when I go tagging, I'm only going to write the following: Heidi woz 'ere! '07 See the poetry there? Because you can really hear how I would say that, can't you? I suppose if I were really a die hard, I would write/spray/tag: 'Eidi woz 'ere. I'm no die hard, though.

The "ou" combination really does look nicer. For example, you can go look at the autumn leaves changing colors, or you can look at them changing colours. Isn't that nicer? More poetic?

Another thing I really miss is the British attitude toward "swears". I really loved the freedom of being able to say "hell" and "damn" without the stigma of being a curser (I believe I just made up that word). I have to admit, I still say them, despite having been out of England for over ten years. Although, on the downside, you can't say "fanny" without really raising a few eyebrows (you don't want to know, I promise. . .)

One of my favorite things that English newspapers do is nickname people. An easy way to do this: take the first letter of the subject's first name, and simply add "AZZA"--therefore, Gary Lineker (a footy player--come on people, there are more footy players than just David Beckham, although he is the best-looking, by far) was called Gazza. Isn't that charming? I used to use this technique all the time--my friend Barry (I know, what were his parents thinking, anyway?) easily became Bazza, my friend Sharon answered perfectly to Shazza. It's genius!

Well, it's better than the nicknames Rhett and I give to perfect strangers, anyway . . .

Where is the Mother?

So yesterday I was looking through some pictures that our Uncle Jordy sent us a long time ago. They were taken when he and Aunt Linz came to visit us around Easter time. And seriously, they made me ashamed. Because I don't think there's a single picture where any of my kids are dressed completely or not completely homely. The shame is, I really do have cute kids. If only they had a mother who took care of them . . .

Exhibit A:
Seriously, what is with the hair? Do I not know how to do a simple ponytail? Obviously not. . .

Exhibit B:


I can't even put words to my shame here.

Exhibit C:In this one, I managed to put a shirt on, but no pants. My favorite is that he's wearing his Sunday shoes with this beautiful ensemble.

My only excuse is . . . okay there's no excuse. I also feel obligated to disclose that my kids are watching TV right now. I'm probably not going to shower today, and my bed isn't made. My kids, however, do have pants on!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Nancy Drew

Seriously, Nancy Drew rocked. That girl had some serious skills. Pretty much every useless tidbit of information that I know, you can find embedded in one of the Nancy Drew novels. I read every single one of the old ones, and almost every one of the new ones. I remember when I was in first grade, my teacher gave me Mystery of Crocodile Island as a "graduation" present. Thus my passion for Nancy was bound up in my phobia of crocodiles. Hmmm.

One of the things I love most about Nancy is that she is so talented. For example, she knows judo! She also knows how to ski! And tapdance! And sing! And pick locks! And parachute! I could go on all day, but take my word for it, she's got game.

Seriously, my childhood would have been totally incomplete without Nancy. It's because of Nancy that I know what the word "titian" means (she's always described in the old ones as the "titian-haired teenager"--she has red hair, people!). It's because of Nancy that I know that some of the natives in South America have extraordinary eyesight (The Clue in the Crossword Cipher). It's because of Nancy that I know what a kachina doll is (The Kachina Doll Mystery). I mean, I've got a lot of information rattling around in my brain thanks to Nancy.

Nancy also has the best boyfriend on the planet: Ned Nickerson. Her best friends, George and Bess (who are coincidentally cousins) also have boyfriends (Burt and Dave) but no one will ever compare with Ned Nickerson in my mind. Forget Edward Cullen, people. Ned Nickerson is the real deal. He's seriously supportive of Nancy's "sleuthing" and travels all over the world to be with her (Emerson College, which he attends, must have some pretty liberal vacation time), and he always goes along with her schemes.

If I ever get in a tricky situation, I know just want to do, thanks to Nancy. Here's the rundown: if someone ties you up, make sure you flex your wrist muscles while they're tying--this will loosen the bonds when you relax, making it much easier to escape. If someone is pointing a gun at you, keep them talking until either: a) help arrives(usually in the form of Ned Nickerson--sigh!), or b) you can judo kick the gun out of their hand. It's win/win. If you are ever mixed up in a ring of jewel thieves, make sure you get a bunch of fake jewels to carry around in your pocket. You never know when they'll come in handy!

What books shaped your childhood?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Social Services

My oldest brother and his wife (bless her, she's so much more patient than I would ever be!) homeschool their children. She's really good at it, and has taught her children to be self-educators and to thirst for knowledge. I admire her dedication while firmly believing that I would go absolutely stark, raving mad if I tried to homeschool my children myself.

I recall one vacation that we all spent together, my brother Josh (who has no children of his own) kindly offered to take on the task of teaching my two nephews some social skills (this being a common complaint that is offered up against homeschooling). Alas, there must have been a communication breakdown, because I think what he was teaching wasn't quite what my sister-in-law had in mind.

Josh decided to teach the boys all the fun things that they missed from not going to public school. This is Jared, just one of the boys who benefited from Josh's extensive social training . . .


Things like:

"1-2-3, Coffee, Soda Pop, Pee" (he used the glasses at the table for this little countdown, as we have no row of drinking fountains to label) I think you can imagine how pleased my sister-in-law was with this . . .

"Me Chinese, me play joke, me go pee-pee in your coke!" Somehow I don't think that these are the socialization skills my sister appreciates. You know, as if the potty humor weren't enough, I think the racial comments might just have put her over the edge.

We're really good with social skills in my family.

Friday, November 2, 2007

It Runs In the Family

My little Spe (two years old) had ear tubes in yesterday. It was amazingly easy and fast. The entire surgery took about ten minutes, and Spe did great.

We did discover, however, that he does share some of my genes. In so many ways, he is like Rhett (he has reddish hair, he's a big fan of Queen and The Beatles, he's all torso and no leg). I've finally found one way that he is just like me: he reacts to anesthesia just how I do. And it's funny.

To start off with they gave him a sweet dosage of nostril anesthesia (gross, right?) which was supposed to "make him act like he's had a few too many beers" (these are the nurse's exact words, not mine). Two minutes later, he had his head down on his dad's shoulder, when suddenly he perked up. "Hey!" he yells and points, "Garbage can!" Then he laughs as if he is the most hilarious person on the planet. Then he says, "Go see garbage can!" So Rhett carries him over to the object of his fixation, and he yells, "Garbage can!" and laughs, once more the most hilarious two year old on the planet.

Rhett finally manages to pry him away from his one true love, the garbage can, and Spe sits on Rhett's lap. He starts stroking his dad's face. "Blue!" he says wonderingly, in a voice not unlike Cheech's or Chong's. He giggles again. He strokes again. "Blue!" Another giggle. It is at this point that Rhett starts singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and Spe joins in. Fortunately, Spe is saved from further embarrassment by being taken back to surgery. He had not one bit of anxiety about going with the strange lady.

When Spe comes out of it, he is moody for a little while. But then, he gets loud and aggressive. He keeps smacking everyone around him, but he doesn't seem to be doing it to be mean. He is also showering everyone around him with kisses, headbutts, and loves. It's like he's supercharged. Oh, how I remember the feeling . . .

Rewind ten years to when I got my wisdom teeth removed. I went all the way under, and from that one experience, I'd be okay with being put under again, even for childbirth. Because I'm a happy, happy woman when I wake up from anesthesia. And then I'm also not. It looked something like this:

Me (upon first waking up): WAAAAAH! WAAAAAH! WAAAAAH! (In case you can't tell, this is uncontrollable wailing.)

Nurse (talking to my dad): Uh, maybe you could take her out the back door. We don't want the other patients to be scared.

Dad: Okay, honey, let's go. (He touches my knee, and the wailing stops suddenly.)

Me: (the only way to describe my voice is childish--seriously I sounded like a four-year old) Can we get me a Frosty on the way home, Dad?

Dad: Uh, okay.

He leads me out to car, while I continue trying to talk like a four-year old around all the gauze in my mouth. We hit Wendy's for a Frosty, but they aren't open yet, and I start to wail again. My dad promises he'll make me a shake when I get home. Wailing ceases again, as quickly as it began.

At home:

Me: I love ice cream. Ice cream is my favorite. But don't let Heather see me eat this!

Heather is one of my older sisters and at the time we were working out to Jane Fonda together. I whispered this in a stage whisper so as to keep Heather from hearing me, although she did, because apparently I don't know how to do anything but a stage whisper when I am recovering from anesthesia.

Me: I hate that Jane Fonda! And you know what, I bet all of the people who work with her hate her too. (This in a perfect four-year old pout.)

Mom: (Trying to find a topic that I'm not so passionate about) So how are you feeling?

Me: Well, I didn't die.

Mom: Did you think you were going to die?

Me: YEEEEEEEES! WAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAAH! (Again, the uncontrollable wailing.)

My mother looks startled. My dad, who has had some experience with the uncontrollable wailing, puts his hand on my knee. I stop immediately.

Me: I think I'll go the bookstore. Where are my keys? I really want to read a Truman Capote novel. I need to go to the bookstore. Who has my keys?

Mom: Honey, you can't drive. You've just had major surgery.

Me: Yes, I can. (Had I been listening carefully, I would have heard the jingling of every single key in the house being hastily hidden by my sister.) Oh, fine, I won't drive.

I pause dramatically. My mother breathes a sigh of relief.

Me: But I can walk!

At this point my mother, my father and all of my brothers and sisters are eagerly watching me to see what weird thing I will say next. Although I can register that they think I'm crazy, it bothers me not one little bit. In fact, I have to say I enjoy the audience. I turn my wit to my pet bird.

Me: I named this bird the wrong name. I named this bird Othello, but I shouldn't have because Othello kills his wife. I should have named this bird King Lear, after you, Dad. (I'm really waxing sentimental here.) Do you know why, Dad?

Dad: Uh, no. Why?

Me: Because he had three daughters, too! (Just for the record, my dad has five daughters, but that hardly seemed pertinent at the time.)

Dad: Oh. That's a good idea.

Me: Waaaaaah! Waaaaaaah!

I think you get the picture. However, let me say that this lasted at least an hour. My younger brother reports that a good two hours later, he thought I was peacefully sleeping when I lifted up my head and said in my little four-year old voice (although I was twenty-one at the time), "You thought I was sleeping, but I fooled you!"

My sister, Heather, who had her wisdom teeth out a few days later, said only this when she came home: "I'm not acting as weird as Heidi did, am I?" Then she went to sleep. You know, like normal people do.

But not me and Spe. We're not normal. I'm so glad to find something that I've passed on to him. I'm sure he'll thank me later. Because to be honest with you, I remember that day as the best day of my life. Even better than my wedding day. It felt like I was a giant party. And who doesn't love a giant party?

Divorced Technology

My computer is seriously struggling. Or else my camera is. Whichever one is to blame, this once happy couple can no longer work together. So sadly, all photos right now are simply old, archival photos (I know old and archival are redundant, but what are you? An English teacher or something? Lighten up, okay?). So sorry about the old pictures. . .


When Veevs isn't being an alligator scientist (grrrr.) or a mermaid or a cowgirl, she would also like to be a pirate.
Is it bad that I find this career choice infinitely more acceptable than an alligator scientist?


This is our Uncle Jordy. We love him for so many reasons. Here are just a few:
He never complains when the kids jump on him.
He held my baby for like an hour at my sister's wedding while I just chatted away with old friends.
He looks like he's sixteen. (Really, don't you think?)
He's a fellow Financial Fascist (this is the reason Rhett loves him, me, not so much).




Our baby Wristy. He's such a happy little man. If it were socially acceptable for me to have this many rolls of fat, I'd be pretty happy, too. Seriously, think of all the candy you could eat. Mmmm.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blanket

My kids have blankets. Irreplaceable, heirloom quality (at least in their eyes) blankets. I have to admit these blankets are pretty nice. My mom made them for each baby when they were born, and they are made of the softest tricot fabric (which is a kind of silky feeling fabric for those, who like me, are not seamstresses), and they have their names stitched into the corner. They have soft triangles for the binding, and my kids love to put their fingers in the triangles and just play with the material.

But here's my point: shouldn't their MOTHER be more comforting than a blanket? Of course. I nurse them! I feed them! I cook for them! I dress them! I drive them to really, really fun places (sometimes)! I tickle them! I let them paint! I nurture their creativity! I teach them fun songs! I read to them! So keeping all of this in mind, how is that when my kids are hurt or sad, MOMMY is NO GOOD? All they want is that blanket. I put it in their hands, and INSTANT happiness occurs.

Even my seven-month old finds his blanket (which is navy blue with white ties) to be more comforting than his mother. Today my two year old went to have tubes put in his ears, and you can bet we packed along his blanket (slate blue with matching ties). And my four year old can no more sleep without her blanket (originally light yellow with yellow ties--currently pastel blue due to a laundering disaster that involved me, Wristy's blanket, and Veev's blanket) than I can sleep through a fire alarm. (Except I can sleep through a fire alarm. Remind me to tell you the story some day . . . I could have died!) Is it too much to ask that they find me equally comforting, if not more so?

Their poor dad is even farther down the list. So far the comfort list goes as follows: blanket, a Band-Aid, a promise that they can watch a TV show, Mom, and THEN Dad. I guess I shouldn't feel so bad. I mean, I am ahead of Rhett on the list. And sometimes, that's all that matters to me.

A Day Late . . .

Well, I missed writing in my blog yesterday, and it was Halloween which should have been a thrilling blog, indeed. Except I was so dog tired that I couldn't write and still keep my eyes open. And that was what I thought at noon, so imagine me seven hours later . . . not a pretty picture, I promise.

But, here I am today! My mother-in-law and her two sisters have been visiting us for the past four days. It was so pleasant to have a child to adult ratio that was in MY favor, for once. We went to the zoo, we had a Halloween party, and they took my oldest to the park every day, and I felt completely stress-free the entire time. Well, not really. The Halloween party was still pretty stressful, but not as stressful as it would have been without "the ladies" (as my husband calls them).

I was so dog tired that I even managed to convince my four-year old that the best part of Halloween evening is handing out candy to all the neighborhood kids. She totally bought it. And, lest you think I am cruel, let me just point out that we have already: participated in the Halloween party at the kids' preschool (2 bags full of candy), trunk or treated with our church (2 bags full of candy), went trick or treating at the zoo (6 bags full of candy, because "the ladies" also joined in the fun), and we had the snack bags from our Halloween party (exquisitely decorated sugar cookies, and 2 bags full of candy). So, I've done my part in ensuring a sugar high that will last clear until Thanksgiving and beyond.

The best part about that is that I didn't even hand out the candy. I just laid on the floor and looked helplessly exhausted and my mother-in-law took pity on me and handed out candy with Veevs. The little boys went to bed at 7:00, so they didn't even know what they were missing. And now we're done! Hooray for Halloween, and double hooray for "the ladies"!

(I do feel obliged to disclose that "exquisitely decorated" may be a little bit of hyperbole. Because, really, we just slapped different colors of frosting on them and then went to town with sprinkles and candy corn and pumpkins, etc. I don't think Martha Stewart will be asking me to join her design team any time soon.)