Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Princess BunHead story

Fourteen years ago today I was in the early stages of labor with Princess BunHead, so in honor of her I am going to tell a story from her early childhood, when she was known as Princess BroccoliTop.

Princess BT was around three years old and I was about 7 months pregnant with Sasquatch. Mr. Destructo was 4, and FatBottom Baby was 18 months. My life at that time was all about Cheerios, diapers, and my love/hate relationship with Barney the Dinosaur.

Well, anyway, Princess BT had an appointment with a nurse practitioner for some routine child development testing. Now, Princess has always been a little precocious, but the nurse didn't know that, and even I didn't see what was coming.

One of the tests is to have the child draw a picture of a person. Apparently, the tester looks to see if the kid has put on the appropriate number of eyes and legs and this tells them something about the child's intellect. And if the child draws a picture of a bloody weasel or something equally gruesome, then they call Child Protective Services. So you want your kid to perform well on the drawing part of the test. I think *some* parents even have their kids practice their scribbling at home. "Yes, sweetie, I know you wanted to make a picture of Mommy cooking dinner, but the nice lady at the testing center might get worried about the flames you put in over here."

So the nurse handed Princess BroccoliTop a piece of paper and a crayon, and said, "Now I want you to draw me a picture of your mommy." Princess BT took the crayon and filled the page with this

I was just beginning to beam with pride, realizing my precious little darling is going to draw Mommy's eyes next when I heard these words coming from Princess BT's lips: "Well, she has a uterus." ACK! That's wasn't a head she was drawing, it was an enormous reproductive organ! I immediately got light-headed as I thought about how I was going to explain this to CPS. I imagined the poor CPS social worker who'd end up with our file:

Bob: Susan, I'll trade you this Uterus the Size of New Jersey file for *two* bloody weasel cases.

Susan: No way, bub, you're on your own.

At that moment, though, I realized that God had blessed this nurse with a sense of humor. She was doing her best not to fall completely off her chair in restrained, silent, shoulder-shaking laughter. What a professional.

As I recall, that was the end of the testing. I guess the nurse looked at me, my brood, and decided that any woman whose three-year-old who draws her mother as a giant uterus really needs a break.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

I have an eyebrow problem, and it is this - they need grooming, and I can't see to do it. Bifocals and eyebrow grooming are mutually incompatible. If you look through the bottom of the lenses, you can't see your eyebrows, and if you lift the glasses so you can see the eyebrows, you can't get the tweezers behind the glasses. So, in desperation, I have resorted to blindly, randoming plucking, and now have what looks like eyebrow mange. I resemble some kind of walking Picasso portrait gone horribly wrong.


But I was in Sam Moon the other day with my 13 year old daughter and found the solution to my eyebrow problem - a magnifying mirror. They come in varying strengths, starting at 2x. When I found the 10x mirror, I said to myself, "Self, our eyebrow problems are over! I shall purchase this mirror forthwith, and never again be plagued with unsightly patches of eyebrow hairs on my forehead!"


Great googly woogly. Have you ever actually looked in a 10x mirror? It magnifies your pores to the size of pencil erasers and shows you all kinds of things that only God knows about. I'm pretty sure I saw a group of single-celled bacteria having a Christmas party on my chin yesterday. And mangey eyebrows are the least of my hair problems. I've got nose hair (not in my nose, on it), mustache hair, chin hair, and I've got a good start on a soul patch. Forget tweezers, I need a full facial wax.


No wonder my dog snuggles up to me. He thinks I'm one of his kind.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Why my name is not Annie Oakley.

It's Saturday morning. A quilting friend is coming over to pick me up for a shopping trip, where we will egg each other on to buy fabric we definitely don't need, and I'm feeling rushed because I still need to find some pants that don't squish my side gooze too uncomfortably.

My son, Wildlife Man, crashes through the door with exciting news: "Mom! Mom! There's an opossum out near the turkey pens and it's playing dead!" One of our hens recently lost a leg to a predator, so I decide I must dispatch this fierce beast post haste. (I love blogging! I can write things that I never get to say in real life, like post haste!) I go to the gun safe, withdraw my little 45, and head for the back pasture, full of adreneline and some leftover testosterone that probably rubbed off the gun handle since my husband last used it.

I cautiously approach the wiley critter. He's laying on his side, with his beady little eyes just slits. To the casual observer, he's surely dead, but I, the Great Huntress, can see the faintest movement as he breathes. He's close enough for me to touch, but I stand back, take aim, and - CLICK. No bullets in the clip. I head back to the house, where, in complete confidence, I load three bullets. I proabably won't need even three, but it won't hurt to have a couple extra.

Back to the 'possum, who is still pretty dead looking. I take aim and fire. One. Hmm. He looks the same. Two, three shots. He still looks dead. How can you tell if a "dead" 'possum is dead? Wildlife Man says he thinks I missed with all three shots. Hmmph. I head back to the house for more ammo. This time I load up with five bullets.

Back to the 'possum for the third time. By now I have an audience - all 4 children, my visiting in-laws, and my shopping friend. I step closer, close enough to strangle the furry little demon. Again, I aim and fire. Aha! He jerks a little. One more bullet ought to do it. He jerks again, and his little pink tongue slips out the side of his mouth. His eyes open a little more and glaze over. I've done it! I've saved the day for the turkeys! Yay me! I leave to go shopping, giddy with power and accomplishment.

Several hours later I return home. Wildlife Man runs to the car; he can't wait to tell me & my friend the news: "Mom! About an hour after you left, that 'possum got up and walked away!" Everyone's laughing but me. I'm certain the 'possum and all his little 'possumy friends are having a good laugh about it, too, the mangy little creeps.

If that 'possum ever shows up 'round here again, I'm going to force feed him some of my tuna casserole. My family says that'll do him in for sure.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Necessity is the mother of the inventive use of kitchen utensils.

One of the other hockey moms knows how to knit, a domestic skill that I have tried but never mastered. She very patiently taught knit-and-purl to my very bored 15 year old son this weekend. Son came home with a new Purpose In Life: to make a scarf. He dug up an old ball of yarn and then asked for the use of my knitting needles. Now, this is a child who has spread death and destruction with nothing more than a cotton swab and a midget sweet pickle, so my gracious response was, naturally, "What?! Are you CRAZY?" Let's face it, knitting needles in the wrong hands just scream, "Impale something on us!" or at least, "Make a really hideous sweater!"

Son, who is nothing if not persistent, was not to be deterred from his newfound Purpose. When I awoke from my Sunday afternoon nap, I discovered him several rows into his scarf. He had ingeniously discovered a substitute for knitting needles - chopsticks. To my amazement and choked-back laughter, I saw that he had produced a pretty good facsimile of a scarf.

Then I thought about how like this I am in my relationship with my beloved Savior. He created me with a wonderful Purpose, to glorify and enjoy Him forever. I can find joy, peace, fulfillment, and satisfaction in Him. But my human tendency is to settle for lesser results with lesser things.

Chopsticks are not, in and of themselves, evil things. My son's scarf was a good creation produced out of a good desire. God has given me many good things - friends, talents, this blog - which I enjoy and use with good intentions, and He blesses me with mostly good results. But these things will never come close to producing the glorious sanctification that is a result of deep intimacy with God. I must remind myself to seek satisfaction in Him, not in the things of this world, no matter how good they may be.

In case you were wondering, I ended up loaning my plastic knitting needles to my son. Let us all hope I will not soon have to blog about them being used for 'possum hunting, marshmallow roasting, or kite making.

The door fell off my oven yesterday.

Yep, there I am, all domestic goddess like, innocently preparing to bake a dish of turkey enchiladas, when BANG!, there goes the door. This is just a few weeks after the refrigerator door fell off. (BTW, it was a great comfort to learn that other people, like the hilarious JunosMom, have owned refrigerators with malfunctioning doors. One never likes to feel alone when suffering appliance meltdown.)

Now, I have never known anyone who had doors fall off their major appliances, although my sister's car door fell off once, and the nice man who put it back on later became her husband, but I already have a husband, so if a nice man comes to put my oven door back on, he will want my money and not my affections, in which case I will point him in the direction of aforementioned husband who has both my affections and my money, but not my chocolate.

What am I to make of all these falling-off doors? Is my cooking so bad that this is a not-so-subtle sign to cease and desist meal preparation? Is my home, after 30 years of housing largish families, waving the white flag of surrender, and if so, what is the next thing to pitifully give way? Should I buy stock in GE or Maytag? Should I arrange a marriage between one of my daughters and a contractor? Can a complete Thanksgiving meal be prepared with only a microwave, a sippie cup lid , and a relish fork? What if the hokey-pokey really *is* what it's all about?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Do your boys understand the concept of indoors/outdoors?

'Cause mine don't seem to get it. I just looked outside and my boys, Sasquatch (age 10) and The Gourmet Chef (age 15) are playing hockey using their laundry baskets as goals. This is not a bad thing, except that when I go up to their room, I will find that the space vacated by the laundry baskets will have been filled with innumerable, mostly unidentifiable, outdoor goodies. To wit: (I've always wanted to write "to wit," even though I don't know what it means)

1. Small chunks of hard brown bits. I think these are pinecone pieces. But since we don't have any actual pine trees on our property, my pinecone theory could be wrong. Excuse me while I go wash my hands.

Okay, I'm back.

2. Chicken feathers. These may have blown here from Dalyn's place.

3. A dried-up toad that our black lab has apparently been hoarding for an after-dinner snack.

4. A mushroom. Oh, wait. I think that's actually a fungus encrusted sock.

5. A tooth from a neighbor's cow. You never know when you're going to need a bovine canine. Heh heh.

Well, apparently it's time for me to don my HazMat suit and go decontaminate, a la "Monsters Inc." See you all later.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Don't get in the check-out line behind me.

Seriously. I always manage to pick the slowest moving check-out line. There can be 25 check-out lines open, and somehow I find the one with the 1) new checker who hasn't yet mastered the fine art of Scanning Bar Codes; 2) the traveling retirees who need to chat about their brilliant grandkids (pictures available on request!); 3) the Coupon Queen; 4) the 8 year old boy who needs to count out his money one penny at a time; and 5) the teen who debates the price of his new video game, Death on a Skateboard. I need a t-shirt with a message on the back: WARNING: slow-moving traffic ahead. If you hope to get out of this store before your next birthday, choose another line.

Not to be paranoid or anything, but I think it's some kind of conspiracy organized by my husband, Chumpy, to keep me out of StuffMart. I mean, there I am at home, realizing I need to go to the store to pick up a few things. Like any other homeschooling family, we regularly run out of Jolt Breakfast Drink (ingredients: caffeine, artificial water), Git-R-Done Duct Tape, and Drool-B-Gone ("Removes unsightly sofa stains, FAST!"). I figure I can get in and out of the store in 5 minutes. But, nooooo. As soon as I grab my car keys, some kind of silent, county-wide emergency alert advises everyone to proceed immediately to StuffMart. My 5 minute shopping spree turns into a one-hour marathon of check-out pain and suffering. Meanwhile, my children are running amuck at home (I'm out of duct tape, remember?) and the drool is permanently becoming one with my sofa.

All is not lost. Through a book by Karen Mains titled Open Heart, Open Home, God has reminded me that He orders my days. All the interruptions, all the delays, all the unplanned changes to my carefully organized days, are ordained by Him. In the midst of it all, I need to see the people He brings into my life, to pray for them and show them love. I say a prayer for all those folks in line ahead of me. I smile, rather than growl, at the slow checker. And I thank God, again, for His patience with such an impatient child.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I really am a legitimate homeschooler. Really.

I decided that today I probably should write something about school or our family rather than the mindless drivel that bounces around in my head and eventually finds its way here. So I'm going to write about my youngest child, because he's my favorite. KIDDING!

S is 10 1/2 years old. He made his entry into this world in a big way, and when I say big, I mean that literally. He weighed 11 pounds. Now he's 5'3" and 120 pounds. His hockey coaches call him "The Giant," or "Big Daddy." His dad calls him "Sasquatch." He loves his mama and is the only one of my four children to have gifted me with jewelry, which is why he's my favorite. KIDDING!

He has a unique sense of humor. One of our best family stories is when he cut the ends out of a large cereal carton, stepped his naked self inside, and said, "Look, Mom - boxers!" He first drove a car at age 2. He used to be so shy that when an adult would talk to him, he would tip over like a felled tree. He's an excellent speller. He says that when he plays in the NHL, he will give me tickets to all his games and buy me a new car, which is why he's my favorite. KIDDING!

Now I'm going to get off this computer and go find S and give him a big ol' kiss and hug. I love that boy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

My parenting tip of the week.

Curbing misbehavior with public embarrassment. I had a lightbulb moment when I found out my pre-teens and teens were mortified if their old, slightly daft mom did something to embarrass them in front of strangers, friends, strange friends.... So if they get to acting a little too squirrelly, all I have to do is threaten to sing. Loudly. Show tunes. It only took two measures of "Oklahoma" in the middle of the frozen foods in WalMart to teach this simple lesson.

Caveat: this probably doesn't work on 3 year olds, as they will gladly belt out a song right along with you and possibly accompany the number with a dance routine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

So I woke up thinking about IKEA ...

This probably means I have some deep-seated psychological issues, but let's talk about that later.

IKEA, which is Swedish for "Simplify your life - buy more stuff," is a fascinating place. But I've been there three times now and I think the bloom is off the rose. As I wandered about (mostly lost) in the cavernous store on Sunday afternoon, I had time to think about the Euro-hip culture as represented by IKEA's little "You can live in 264 sq. ft" spaces. (By the way, the first time I entered one of those tiny havens of organization, I wanted to call a realtor and move in immediately.)

First of all, what do Europeans do with all their stuff? Do they even have stuff? I'm talking about the 36-roll pack of toilet paper from Sam's Club; the 28 rolls of wrapping paper you ended up with after the soccer team's fundraiser; the complete Mary Kay inventory you impulsively bought thinking it would make you look like, well, a Swedish model; the 2 crates of scrapbook supplies and photographs that you're definitely going to work on this weekend, the canape tray that you can't get rid of because you might need it when you start hosting dinner parties; the bowl your husband's grandmother made from pine needles and he won't let you throw it out... Where do Europeans store all that stuff in their impossibly small - but very cool - homes?

Secondly, do Europeans have children, and if they do, where do they keep them? It's cold in Sweden - maybe they all sleep together in one of those contemporary beds with the beautifully patterned sheets. Maybe their kids don't spit up on the duvet. And apparently their kids don't own 1,236,754.2 Legos.

And what's with the names of all this IKEA stuff? Thank goodness the store is mostly self-serve. If I had to ask a clerk for an item, I'm sure I'd come off sounding like the Muppets' Swedish Chef on a Master Card buzz: "Hopen nydal tovik arstid!" (Disclaimer: If I said anything naughty in that last sentence, I didn't know it. Forgive me.)

Finally, I'm pretty sure Swedes don't homeschool. Where would they store all the science kits, the art supplies, the history projects, and the math manipulatives, not to mention the homeschool catalogs?

I ended up not moving into IKEA. All six of us just couldn't fit in that lovely, but too-small, bed. The food for four dogs took up two cupboards in the sleek kitchen, leaving no space for the wheat grinder and my secret stash of dark chocolate. And I realized my fabric and quilting supplies need 264 sq. ft. of their very own.