Sunday, December 24, 2006

"Auburn." The box clearly said, "Auburn."

On Friday, having decided that the skunk-in-negative look (blonde with a dark brown stripe) wasn't working for me, I decided to color my hair a lovely shade of auburn.

The look I was going for: Warm, sassy, Vail snowbunny.

The look I got: Angry, doped-out, trailer park punk rocker.

Yeah. I had pink hair. And to make matters worse, I didn't get all the hair colored, so I had pink, blonde, brown, and grey hair. I looked like a mutant peacock/flamingo hybrid.

So yesterday I dashed back into StuffMart to purchase a couple of boxes of dark brown haircolor, praying desperately that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. I entered the appropriate aisle, where an unfamiliar lady stood perusing the shelves with her teenage daughter. You know things are bad when a strange woman with a mullet the color of Ronald McDonald's hair glances at you and says, sympathetically, "Oh, honey."

Last night, I re-dyed my hair.

The look I was going for: A normal middle-aged woman.

The look I got: A middle aged woman who obviously should leave hair coloring to the professionals.

The ends are dark brown. The roots are auburn. SIGH.

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be anything but pink.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why You Should Buy Stock in Fruit of the Loom

After my last entry, with the mention of my bi-weekly run to StuffMart for milk and underwear, JenIg commented that she can't understand how my boys go through underwear faster than her dog produces yet another litter of ugly puppies.

Well, Jen, here's how it happens.

I start off with buying my boys enough underwear for each day of the week. By the end of the week,

  • 2 pairs have been lost to what might be described as "wedgie wear & tear." Please, if anyone from Quality Assurance at Hanes is reading this, I'm begging you to start reinforcing your boys' underwear in certain, ah, stress areas. I know many moms would line up around the block to be able to buy underwear that was labeled as "Wedgie Tested!"

  • 1 pair has been modified to fit the dog. When one is making basketball shorts, a fireman suit, or a Taco Bell uniform for the dog, one simply must cut a hole in the seat for the tail.

  • 2 pair are added to the compost heap in the boys' room. I don't know what kind of nuclear material is percolating in there now; all I know is that boxer shorts are the key ingredient, with socks added frequently for enzymatic action.

  • The remaining pairs are "lost." That's it, just "lost." This is one of the biggest mysteries of life, in my opinion. How do you "lose" your underwear? I mean, it's not like losing other clothing items. Take, for instance, a hat. With a hat, a guy might say, "Oh, gee, I think I left my hat hanging on the back of my chair at the restaurant." Now, if we replace the word "hat" with the word "underwear," it reads, "Oh, gee, I think I left my underwear hanging on the back of my chair at the restaurant." SAY WHAT? Or sunglasses. "Rats. I took off my sunglasses [underwear] when we went in Home Depot and I bet I left them in the plumbing department." How do you LOSE your underwear?!

And here's the final conundrum in the Great Underwear Disappearance Mystery: How can my boys lose their underwear, yet own eight year old t-shirts that should have disintegrated seven years ago from sweat, dog drool, and general boy-stink?

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Things you never thought you'd say to your children at Christmas

  1. No, I don't think a mustache trimmer would be a good gift for Grandma.

  2. I'm glad you paid attention during our studies on human reproduction, but please stop taking Baby Jesus out of the manger and telling guests that he's the size of a three month old fetus.

  3. Now you know why that poem says, "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care." And our spelling word tomorrow will be "flammable."

  4. Stop poking your brother in the cajunas with the giant candy cane.

  5. Yes, sticking a Polly Pocket under the gingerbread house so it looks like the Wicked Witch under Dorothy Gale's house would definitely be unique.

All that store needs is a trapeze artist.

I've come to the conclusion that the night shift at StuffMart is home to all those folks who were too weird for employment with the circus side show. Here are some of the guys whom I see on my regular midnight forays into StuffMart for the bi-weekly purchase of milk & underwear:

  • The little old man who greets me at the door with a nod and a smile. Actually, he seems pretty normal. But the other night I realized that there are usually only 3 other shoppers in the store around midnight, mostly because everyone in town goes home once Junior's Beer Barn and Video-rama closes at 11:00 pm. I did the math and Mr. Greeter is making about $20 per nod and/or smile. You know, I used to tell my sixteen year old son that if he didn't get better grades, he was going to end up as a greeter at StuffMart. Now that's looking like a decent career option.

  • George and Hoss, the fat, 40-ish, ponytailed guys who stock the dairy aisle to the accompaniment of their blaring boom box. George and Hoss remind me of those two guys on "Myth Busters," and I think George and Hoss might be testing out a few myths of their own, like whether or not milk will curdle when exposed to loud doses of classic rock. George and Hoss are always very friendly and helpful to me, though, shouting over the music, "DO YA NEED ANY HEP?" It dawned on me tonight that George and Hoss work in the farthest corner of the store from the pharmaceuticals. I wonder if the management at StuffMart planned it that way?

  • Jaysen. Creative spelling got its start in this community, I'm convinced. No one here can spell a name normally. If Jaysen had been named Jason, he'd probably be working at a law firm in Houston by now, instead of spending his nights among the pudding mixes. Anyway. Jaysen is visually the most interesting StuffMart employee. He has enlarged his ear lobes, with the use of large rings, to the size of a dinner plate. This intrigues me, because I wonder 1) if he's going to move up to hula hoop sized rings next, and 2) if he once knew a girl who said, "Gee, I'd like to date a guy with ear lobes you could toss a Frisbee through." Call me old-fashioned, but it would creep me out if I cuddled up next to my guy and then felt his ear lobe slip down over my head and around my neck.

Yep, StuffMart at midnight is better than the Big Top, and without all the elephant poop. But if George and Hoss offer you a bottle of drinkable yogurt, DON'T TAKE IT.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Food experiments: Have we gone too far?

First, the letter that started this blog entry:

Dear TC-

Thank you for your reply to our previous questions.Your advice was somewhat better than any of the advice that wise people rarely give to others on occasion. Since Rachel Ray won't lift that pesky restraining order and you have recently had a rather culinary slant to your blog, we had a food related question for you. We are planning our holiday menu and have come across this whole Turducken idea. Evidently, with Turducken you stuff a chicken into a duck and then stuff the chicken-duck into a turkey. Our problem is that we can't seem to get the duck to eat the chicken. All the birds do is waddle around and stare at each other. We also were wondering whether you have to remove the feathers first.With your turkey expertise, we figure this is probably an easy question for you. If we can't get this issue resolved, all we will have for the holidays is some pickled Tasso.



Dear Underdog,

I apologize that I have been unable to help with your chicken/duck/turkey combination method. In our poultry yard, our birds are interested in supplementing their grain diet primarily with an abundance of grasshoppers. Apparently, in the poultry world, grasshoppers are the equivalent of Lay's potato chips - no bird can eat just one. So I'm afraid the birds served up on our table are nothing more than chippers or tuppers.

But what I really want to address is this troubling human tendency to use and combine foods in ways nature never intended. One has only to look back to the start of human history to see that we just can't leave well enough alone when it comes to food. Mr. & Mrs. Adam and that boy of theirs, Cain, got themselves into a heap o' trouble with food items, and here we are, thousands of years later, still stirring up sin in that den of iniquity, the kitchen. The only difference between us and them is the invention of Crisco, which is the culinary equivalent of electricity for our modern Frankenstein-like dietary creations.

Take, for instance, the humble Twinkie. The Twinkie is made up of 50% sugar, 40% fat, 10% air, and one milk molecule. Someone (probably a man) decided that his stomach was getting cheated by that 10% of air, so he decided to fry the Twinkie, thereby filling those little air pockets with grease. The fried Twinkie is now made up of 50% sugar and 80% fat. (I know that adds up to more than 100%. I told you this was weird science.)

Then there's vanilla cherry Dr. Pepper. Are you kidding me? Unadulterated Dr. Pepper is an acquired taste. Add in fake vanilla AND fake cherry flavors, and you get something resembling the flavor of something secretly dumped in the river by the local tire manufacturing factory.

Well, I would love to rant some more, but I must go. I haven't yet had my cup of coffee with chocolate pecan flavored pseudo-creamer, which I need to wash down my caramel vanilla artificial sugar-coated oat-flavored plywood chip cereal.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cookin' in style!

I returned from my Louisiana trip with some great Cajun food-themed fabric and stitched up an apron today for the winning commenter, who is..... BJ at "Life at the W.A.C.K.O.S." BJ, email me your address and you'll soon be wearing this stylish apron - modeled here by my daughter, FashionBug - whilst whipping up your very own gumbo in your very own kitchen.

By the way, tasso (pronounced tah'-so) is a spicy pork product. And gumbo is very yummy delish and you should try it if you're ever in Louisiana. You might also want to take an English/Louisianan dictionary. I swear they sound like Frenchmen who learned English from a Texan in Brooklyn, NY.

Tomorrow: Underdog's question about turducken.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pardon my culinary ignorance.

Sasquatch & I are headed off to southern Louisiana on Friday for a fun-filled weekend of hotel living, restaurant dining, and ice-hockey playing/cheering. (Sasquatch will be playing, I'll be screaming - er, cheering.) An aside to Canadian readers: I completely agree with you. Ice hockey near Baton Rouge is surely a sign of the apocolypse.

The host team has graciously invited us to dine with them on Saturday night, and therein lies my dilemma. They will serve gumbo, which will include "chicken, sausage, tasso, etc." Chicken I'm good with. Sausage I know. But what in the name of the Food Network is "tasso?!" It sounds like the back end of a crayfish, or crawdad, or whatever Cajuns call those creepy little lobster wanna-be's. And I'm almost afraid to find out what "etc" is. "Etc" could be anything from broiled gator lips to blackened armadillo tail.

So here's the challenge for the HomeschoolBlogger community. Leave me a comment and tell me what tasso is. If you don't know, guess. Or make something up. I will send a random commenter a random Louisiana-ish gift. I promise it won't be broiled gator lips.

Unless the store is all out of chocolate covered okra.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do not pity the bird.

The plan is to slaughter and eat one of our backyard turkeys next week.

My sixteen year old son is adamantly against this plan. The boy is inexplicably attached to these birds. Tell me: does this look like a cuddly pet to you?

In my opinion, anything this ugly deserves to be eaten.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And the award for best costume goes to Wesley.

My family doesn't participate in any Halloween festivities, other than eating mountains of candy that's been marked down 50% on Nov. 1, but I just want to go on record as saying that I think life would be a lot more interesting if we all dressed up in silly costumes and feasted on mini Twix bars on the last day of every month.

That said, here is my choice for best costume of 2006.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More letters to TC

Poor, poor Underdog. (If you haven't been to his blog yet, do go check it out.) He wrote me another note this month, asking for more parenting advice. Obviously, a guy who writes to Yours Truly, asking for advice about raising children, is in a world of hurt and is incredibly desperate. Yours Truly, however, is always happy to hand out a few words of counsel when asked, and often even when not asked.

Here was his letter, followed by my response:

Dear TC-

I am following your advice to let my wife lead the whole manners training thingy. This was a timely turn of events because I'm afraid that I sprained both shoulders in an unfortunate making farts with my armpit at the dinner table accident just before reading your blog on the subject.

While in traction, I couldn't help but notice that "National Communicate With Your Kids Month" and "National Sarcastics Awareness Month" coincide. Do you recommend combining the celebration of these two occasions?



Dear Underdog,

First of all, I hope your shoulder injury has not kept you from the most important of head-of-household tasks, that of running the TV remote, and I trust you are well on the road to good health.

As to your question. I do not recommend using sarcasm with children, mostly because they do not grasp the subtle yet complex nuances of this mode of communication, which is NEA-speak for "They don't get it."

I know this because of my experience with my own children, who, even as teenagers, apparently have difficulty grasping the meaning of short sentences composed of single-syllable words.

Case in point: My fifteen year old son recently came across some puppies for sale, and decided to try to convince me that we needed yet another useless hair shedder. Note that this child has been speaking English rather fluently since the early age of 13 months, and should have a reasonable grasp on the language.

SON: Mom, aren't they cute?

Me: Do not ask.

SON: They're only $100!

Me: No more dogs.

SON: I'll take care of it!

Me: No. More. Dogs.

SON: If Dad says it's okay, can we get one?

Me: Yes, when I'm dead.

SON, to siblings: Guys!! Mom says we can get another dog!!

Or this exchange, with my eleven year old son, after I picked him up from hockey practice the other night:

Me: I noticed a guy smoking outside the rink tonight.

SON: Who was it?

Me: I don't know. Someone's dad, I think.

SON: What was his name?

Me: I don't know his name.

SON: Was it Spencer's dad?

Me: I don't know his name.

SON: Was it Ian's dad?

Me: I do not know who it was.

SON: I'll name all the guys on my team, and you tell me whose dad it was.

Me, louder: I do not know who it was.

SON: Colton? Matt?

Me: I'll buy you a taco if you quit asking me.

FIFTEEN YEAR OLD SON, who is riding in the back seat: Will you buy us a dog, too?

So, as you can see, it is best to avoid sarcasm with children and just stick to plain language, or, in some cases, simple grunts.

Best wishes,


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The history of the microwave, and how to sell more high definition TVs.

After I blogged about our charbroiled brownie incident, I was reminded of the first microwave my family ever owned.

It was was back in the dark ages, when microwaves were first available for home use. My mother saw them demonstrated at our county fair, and nothing would do until she had one. She was, after all, a working woman who spent eight hours a day with a horde of manic third graders who came to school sugared up on PopTarts and GrapeApe Fizzies. And I do mean horde: one year she taught 38 students - without the assistance of a room mother, classroom aide, or even a highly skilled meerkat. This was back in the days when public school teachers actually taught kids to read and write, made only $12,000 a year doing it, and didn't have to pass through a metal detector on their way to work. But I digress.

Mom needed some domestic help. So when my parents built a new house, Mom got her microwave oven.

In retrospect, I'm not sure that microwave was the big time-saver my mom hoped it would be. As I recall, it took about 8 minutes to cook a couple of hot dogs. I could have exhaled warm air on a hot dog and cooked it faster than that technological wonder.

And the machine was a behemoth. It was actually a part of the regular oven, so to use the microwave feature, we had to first LOCK the oven door, probably to keep the microwaves from escaping. I'm not convinced that the locking feature actually worked. I'm pretty sure we were probably exposed to sixteen trillion deadly cancer-causing microwaves every time we cooked a hot dog, which was pretty often since my mom wasn't really into roasting a nice pork loin after being with those boogery eight year olds all day. Then we set the little knob to "micro-cook," and adjusted the timer, and pushed "START." Then we could look through the glass oven door (probably unknowingly microwaving our retinas) and watch our two little hot dogs be bombarded with invisible rays of heat. It was kind of pitiful, really. The little weiners looked so lonely in that cavernous oven, slowly being microwaved into pinkish brown doneness. The prehistoric method of heating a hot dog over a flame seemed so much more humane to me.

Eventually the early model microwave gave way to a countertop model. This was a big step into modern living, even though the new model was roughly the same size as our doghouse. Of course, today my parents are using a tiny built-in model that can cook enough hot dogs for the entire US Army in 20 seconds, and while my mother still doesn't roast a nice pork loin, she can reheat a cup of coffee better than anyone I know.

On a semi-related note, I have noticed that people will buy nearly anything that's demonstrated at the county or state fair. I bet 90% of fair goers end up waddling out to their cars, in a mental stupor brought on by consumption of caramel apples and funnel cakes, with bags of Super Sponges, CrapBGone Cleaning Solution, and the New & Improved Piano Tuner Career Program on DVD, not to mention intentions of buying that sewing machine/electric guitar combination machine that was being hawked in the 4H building.

In light of this, I have a suggestion for Best Buy and all those other big electronic stores. I think you'd sell a lot more HDTVs and PDAs if you gave your stores more of a state fair flavor. Park a few sheep out in the parking lot, put a butter sculpture near the front door, and maybe install a Tilt-A-Whirl in the back corner. If you folks in the marketing deparment need more ideas, just send me an email.

I'll get right back to you, as soon as I find those C-More Lenses eyeglasses which I purchased at the state fair under the guarantee to "aid the vision of those with microwave-damaged retinas."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Brownie Ball

One of my children, who shall remain unnamed, has apparently inherited my tendency for culinary disasters. Seemingly unaware of The Awesome Power of the 4 Billion Watt Microwave, the child decided today to heat a brownie on high for a minute or so. Upon opening the microwave, which is about the size of small toaster but which has enough nuclear power to obliterate a VW Beetle in 37.6 seconds flat, a smoke cloud the size of Utah immediately filled our house, and, when we opened windows and doors, created a smallish mushroom cloud over our 8 acre property.


Because the incinerated brownie was still smoking, I carried it, on the plate, outdoors. My fifteen year old son, who 1) is impressed with anything that might burst into flame and require a visit by the fire department, and 2) believes we should have pictoral documentation of every one of his siblings' goof-ups, ran to get the camera. I had to admit that it's not every day you see a chocolate goodie turned into a charcoal briquet right before your very eyes, even when I'm cooking. Here's the evidence, after it quit smoldering:


Because the brownie now had the consistency of a cement block, I was going to chuck it over the fence, but my boys had a better idea - Brownie Ball. No point in letting a perfectly good projectile go to waste. Why didn't I think of that?


 (If you look carefully, you can see three canines eagerly awaiting the brownie briquet's thudding return to earth. Little did they know how inedible it was. Even our black lab, a chewing machine who has been known to eat metal fence posts, gave up on it after a minute or two.)


I'm happy to report that the brownie-turned-sporting equipment held up for a full game of Brownie Ball and also served well as a hockey puck. The last time I saw it, my son was using it as a splitting maul out by the woodpile. My only regret is that I didn't try to blast it open with some explosives. I suspect there might have been a diamond in the center of that piece of rock-hard carbon.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music!

In honor of tomorrow's wacky holiday, "Babbling Day," and Sunday's holiday, "National Nut Day," I plan to combine both festive occasions into a weekend-long celebration-a-thon. I'm going to spend the next two days as a babbling nut.

In other words, I'm not going to vary from my usual routine.

The Suggestion Box

My Great Idea for the day is this: a full-body helmet for those accident prone people in the family.

Take, for instance, my husband. Every time the man spends more than three minutes in his workshop, he loses a pint of blood and gains a new showpiece for his scar collection. Or some body part flies off into a pile of sawdust. I've learned never to ask what color stain he used on a particular finished piece. I'm not sure I really want to know what he means by "bloodwood."

Or take, for instance, my son, Sasquatch. He's always been a bit, shall we say, adventurous. Someday I'll have to write about the time he, at age two, rode his tricycle down the 70mph road in front of our house. It's getting worse as his testosterone level increases. Now he likes to show off for girls, risking life and limb so some little blonde eleven year old will roll her eyes at his stupidity.

Last night he wanted to show me how fast he can go on the mini bike. This worried me more than a little. His first mini bike experience was to hop on and ride it directly into the corner of our brick home. Apparently someone ("someone" here means, my husband, Mr. "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Speed Limits") forgot to show Sasquatch the location of the brake. Fortunately, my son was wearing a hockey helmet, which is a comfort only if you have never seen the toothless, battered faces of NHL players.

So on the bike Sasquatch climbed, and down the driveway he headed, leaving a cloud of dust wafting the way of the nervous spectator. Five seconds later, the bike was down and the rider had a sneaker full of blood. Long story short: eight stitches for the gash on his lower leg. Our family's insurance card should be mounted on a plaque in the local emergency room, since we have been major contributors to the new facility.

So here we are the next day. I'm lobbying for full-body helmets that are also fire-proof, and he's excited about what a great story he has to tell to that little blonde eleven year old, and how he's going to make her squeal when he shows her the wound. I'm thinking that the odds of him of getting a driver's license at age seventeen are about as good as my chances of actually having my whole house clean, at once, ever in my lifetime.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Not your mother's purse

That sassy daughter of mine, Queen of Hearts, flatly denies that she is anything like me. However, if you visit her blog, you will see that she is actually copying my great personal style by making a purse that is only slightly less cute than mine. Please leave her a comment and let her know how blessed she is to have such a talented mama, from whom she has obviously inherited the purse-making gene.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My hair affair

Well, I finally got to see my oncologist. By the way, "my" and "oncologist" are two words that should never be used in the same sentence, and I hope you never do.

Anyway. The good news is that I'm not going to lose my hair, and I'm very happy about this, because, after many years of hating my hair, I like it now.

I know God is not one specific gender, but I figure He must be more male than female, or else He would understand how important it is to create females with great hair. In my case, I think He made me with some lousy DNA in other areas, and tried to make it up to me by giving me plenty of hair. As in, enough for three people. Which would be nice if it were shiny, silky hair, instead of something resembling that jumble of wires behind my computer.

See, for most of my life, my hair has looked like an experiment, gone terribly wrong, conducted by the joint efforts of the International Society of Shrubbery; the Dixie School of Whoa, That's Big Hair; and labradoodle breeders. I've tried perms, short hair, long hair, layered hair, highlighted hair, and colored hair. I've been Bashful Blonde, Ash blonde (both dark AND light), SunIn blonde, SunOut blonde, SolarEclipse blonde. I've been mahagony, chesnut, auburn, and a shade close to Barney the Dinosaur (which simply made my head look like a mutant burning bush, I might add). My hair's been gelled, pomaded, and moussed; I've used shampoos with protein, keratin, henna, and blue whale placenta. All to no avail, other than helping my hair stylist buy a new car every other year.

But finally - finally - last winter, science came to my rescue. Hair scientists (what's their title, Doctor of Follicles?) created a silicone substance that can be applied to hair to make it straight and silky, rather like a reverse perm. I spent a bundle of money, but finally have hair that looks good even when I roll out of bed in the morning. No more days of my hair looking like a cherry bomb went off in Dolly Parton's wig. I LIKE my hair. So I'm very happy that I get to keep it.

Now if some Doctor of Follicles would just invent a way to keep leg hair from growing. That I would be VERY happy to get rid of.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The purse your psychotherapist warned you about

As summer fades into fall in Texas, it's a time for all women of style and substance to update their look, including their handbag. I have retired the Tarzan & Jane bag for the season, and recently started carrying my newest creation (see below).

I'm proud to say the last time my daughter and I were out together, no fewer than four women commented on my "cute purse." This never fails to produce a look of utter dismay on my poor daughter's face, and gales of laughter from yours truly.

So, whaddya think? Is this going to be The Item that finally makes me a billionaire? Or will it get me featured on "What Not to Wear?"

Friday, September 29, 2006

Letters to TC

Often, in the midst of the 4,682 junk emails I get daily, I find a note from a desperate parent, seeking my sage advice on a familial crisis. Okay, it's not really often. Actually, it's only been once. And it was just a couple of days ago. Here is the actual email, followed by my response:


I don't want to go all "Dear Abby" on you, but I am guessing that you can help. I noticed that on your blog you are endorsing "Children's Good Manners Month". We have been trying to get our offspring to have just one manner, the thought of several of these manners is quite overwhelming. We do fine with the other eleven months, when we are free to have bad manners.

Any advice for enforcing this particular holiday?


Dear Underdog,

You are not the first parent with this problem. Believe it or not, I have even seen a bad manner or two in my own home. It happens in the best of families.

It has been my observation that when children are having a difficult time following a certain standard of behavior, it is most often because that standard of behavior has not been well-modeled to them by one of the parents. And by one of the parents, I mean, of course, the father.

I would bet my entire bathroom cupboard filled with Mary Kay products that, very shortly after the whole forbidden fruit debacle, Adam started making farts with his armpit at the dinner table. Eve scowled at him while their sons fell off their chairs in hysterical laughter, and the whole human race has been on a rapid downhill course ever since.

So, my recommendation is that you let your wife do the manners training. And in the event that your children grow up and leave home with all the social graces of a billy goat, your wife can always fall back on the line my mother-in-law uses: "We didn't raise him that way! ... He's only been like that since he married you."

Best wishes,


Friday, September 22, 2006

And the award goes to... my husband, the mighty skunk slayer.

If there's one thing that'll get you respect and maybe even a round of applause in these parts, it's the ability to shoot stuff. Especially living, menacing stuff like hungry coyotes, sneaky copperheads, and teenage boys who have been eyeballing your daughter.

Anyway. My husband is the shoot stuff expert in our house. I, of course, am not, seeing as how I can't even set a mousetrap, and the only way I could actually succeed at killing a wild critter would be if the animal walked up to me, took the gun from my hand, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger himself. So naturally, it was my husband who killed the skunk that was trolling our backyard yesterday, and my husband who got a standing ovation from the rest of us when he came back inside. The only applause I got was when I assured the kids that no, I would not attempt to cook the skunk into something resembling meatloaf. Even I know that ketchup can cover up only so much.

This was actually my husband's second successful scampering skunk shoot. The first was a lot more exciting and, well, smelly.

It was a few years ago, in the depth of a cold Texas winter, and the prairie animals were becoming desperate to escape the bitter winds. (Translation: it was 40 degrees. Skunks are wimps.) We heard our black lab barking her head off near the front door. Now, our lab is famous for barking at anything that moves, because she thinks it's either 1) edible, or 2) a playmate, which will later become edible. I ignored her for a few minutes, but finally got up to look through the window of the front door. I was way beyond surprised to look down and see, nestled up next to the exterior of the door, a real, live skunk. The kids were quick to gather round the floor-to-ceiling windows adjacent to the door, all marveling at being able to see the thing so up close and personal.

But then it got ugly. The skunk had, understandably, gotten tired of being harrassed by the barking dog, and went into full skunk mode. It really is quite fascinating to watch a skunk lift its entire back end off the ground, use its little front paws to do a walking handstand, and squirt its deadly scent with amazing accuracy. Well, it's fascinating for all of about 2 seconds - until the stench hits. And then, besides having a stinky dog and a skunk that had become a front porch squatter, we had another problem. The skunk decided to fully fragrantize his new home, so he made a little circle in the handstand position, spraying the porch posts, the brick wall, and the front door. At that proximity, my eyes started to water, my nose hair started to curl, and I began to have serious thoughts of actually deeding the house over to the skunk and his entire family.

Husband to the rescue. He headed around the front of the house with a trusty firearm. I scurried to move children away from the window, having visions of him spraying the house commando-style, or blowing the front door into a hundred thousand toothpick-sized splinters of wood. My oldest son, who thinks gunpowder should be an ingredient in our weekly science experiments, was so disappointed when neither happened. Instead, my husband dispatched the trespasser with amazing accuracy and very little damage to the front porch.

He got applause that time, too. I'm trying not to be jealous. Really. But would it kill my family to give me a little recognition when I manage not to burn the potatoes? Is a tiara really too much to ask for?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Make ready the main sail, yeh scurvy dogs! Gar!

Tomorrow, September 19, is undoubtedly the most eagerly anticipated holiday of the year - at least by those of us who are only marginally sane. Yes, it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

To fully immerse yourself in the holiday, first you must first learn pirate-speak. Phrases like "Where be m' breeches, yeh bilge rat?" must roll off your tongue. Throw in several "arrrr's" and "ya swabbies" for good measure. If you need more help, look here. You can also see how a pirate would read your blog or website.

Next, you have to get yourself a pirate name. Go here or here. Then get yourself a pirate ship, here.

Finally, if you just can't get your fill of piracy and all things pirate-y, go to the original Talk Like a Pirate Day site.

Oh, and don't forget to indulge in some pirate food (maggoty bread, anyone?) and pirate attire. Remember, it's never too young to start turning your children into scurvy dogs. Here is our now-15 year old son, in his very first pirate gear.

I look forward to hearing about the festivities in your house. Er, I mean, "I look fore t' hearin' about th' festivities in yer house. Ya horn swollowin' scallywag!"


Red Bess Flint of the Cursed Grail of the South

Friday, September 15, 2006

Communication skills

Visiting with my parents back in August was interesting, to say the least.

Dad is about 80% deaf and refuses to wear his hearing aids. Mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. All normal communication goes right out the window when you walk into their house. This was one of our typical conversations.

Mom: What should we have for lunch?

Me: Let's just have sandwiches. I'll go to the store & get some lunch meat.

Dad: You're going up the street? Why don't you stop in the store and get something for lunch? Maybe some lunch meat.


Dad: Humph. You may think you're the queen bee, but I used to change your diapers, missy.

Me: Mom, do you want to come with me?

Mom: Where are you going?

Me: To the grocery store.

Mom: I think I'll just stay here and make lunch.

Me: No, Mom, I'm going to the store to get the stuff to make lunch. I think we need chips, too.

Dad: Why are you worried about your hips? You got arthritis?


Dad: Did you see that episode on "Everybody Loves Raymond" about Marie's artificial hip?

Me: NO, DAD.

Dad: Well, it'll be on in 15 minutes. Or we can watch Bonanza on channel 31.


Dad: Yeah, that sounds good! Mom, she's going to pick up some lemon pies!

Mom: Oh! Are you going to the store?

Me, sighing: Yes, mom. I'll be back in a few minutes.

My sister informed me that after I left, the conversation continued...

Dad picks up the phone.

Mom: Who are you calling?

Dad: I'm going to call the prayer chain and ask them to pray for her hip. Did you know she had arthritis? Our kids never tell us anything.

Mom: I know, she didn't even tell me where she was going.

Dad, on phone: Hey, Pastor! I need you to pray for my daughter. We just found out she needs a hip replacement.

Mom: Ask him if he and the missus have plans for lunch. We could meet them at that nice little diner.

Dad: Would you like to join us for lunch at the diner? I think I've heard that they serve good lemon pie.

I'm telling you, it was like trying to converse in Swahili with a gerbil and a manhole cover. It was enough to make my hip hurt. Oy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blog update

You know, you just can't stare cancer in the face without coming away with a sense of needing to live each day to the fullest. Well, that, plus realizing you need to look through your wardrobe to mark a certain outfit with a tag, "Bury me in this," or your husband will have you laid out in sweatpants and your t-shirt that says, "I childproofed my home, but they keep getting in."

Anyway. With that in mind, I decided to add a new feature to the sidebar of my blog. I want to make sure we here at HomeschoolBlogger don't miss celebrating every day, so I have listed some of the monthly and daily "holidays" that aren't to be missed. I'm sure holidays like "National Beheading Day" (Sep. 2), "Take Your Pants for a Walk Day" (July 27), and "Cuckoo Dancing Week" (Jan. 11-17) will be valuable additions to every homeschool curriculum.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'm alive! And I have photos! (No, not of the surgery.)

I'm happy to report that I'm not dead, yet. I also want to say that if you're ever in need of material for your blog, just go hang out at a hospital (and by hang out, I don't mean literally, despite those wretched gowns they make you wear). It doesn't have to be a long stay. In fact, it probably won't be a long stay unless you're minutes away from death (and then it still might not be a long stay, ha ha) or unless you are the latest 74 year old woman to deliver triplets.

I realize that hospital personnel are just trying to be pleasant, but really. Can't they come up with a better pre-op greeting than, "How are you today?" How's a patient supposed to answer that? "Great, just great. Getting cancer, having a big chunk of my body removed, puking after anesthesia -- it's a dream come true!"

I did try to lighten the mood a little on the trip to the operating room. As they were wheeling me down the hallway on my stretcher, I raised my arms, roller-coaster-rider fashion, and yelled, "Whoo whee!" Then everything went black. They said later that was because of the medications, but I think they decided I was having a little too much pre-operative fun and one of them whacked me with one of those rubber reflex hammers.

But the worst part is when your little recovery period is over. They wheel you from the privacy of your room back out into the public eye and there you sit, looking like something the cat coughed up. Your eyes are going in two different directions, your nose is itchy, and you've got a sore throat. You've got your bra on, but it's backward. You've got the worst case of bed head hair in history. But the most humiliating thing by far is this:

Yes! You have to wear these lovely support hose (modeled here with denim capris) out in front of everyone, including God and His dog. If I had known this was to be my post-operative attire, I would have prepared accordingly. I'd have taken mine home beforehand, done a tie-dye job on them, and then watched the nurses nervously discuss in whispered tones whether or not to get a psych consult. Good gravy. If you have to wear clothes that scream, "I'm old and infirm!", they might as well scream with flourish.

Anyway. I'm back. Now, where were we?

Monday, September 4, 2006

Yet another reason why I love Texas.

According to the true fact printed inside my Snapple bottle cap, Texas is the only state in the union that allows absentee voting from outer space.

Is this a great state, or what?!

Saturday, September 2, 2006

My underwear (mis)adventure

Way back in May, when I received the invitation to my high school class reunion, two questions came to mind immediately: 1) What would I wear, and 2) I wonder if I can get dental veneers cheap on ebay?

I decided to tackle Question #1 first. Without too much difficulty, I located a nice Little Black Dress that covered all my sagging and wrinkled parts without making me look like a elephant that got tangled up in the Big Top, a cute pair of black sling-back shoes, and a funky necklace. There was just one small - or not so small - problem: the body that had to go INTO the outfit.

Ah, but not to worry, I reasoned. I'd just get one of those foundation garments that squeezes all the fat cells closer together and I'll look two sizes smaller. So I happily finished my shopping trip with a 4000-calorie milk shake and went home, with my mind busily Photoshopping 30 pounds off my frame.

As the reunion loomed closer, it was time to find that undergarment that was going to turn me into Angelina Jolie's clone. I headed for the Lycra/Spandex section of the store, and quickly found exactly what I needed - a pair of MegaPowerNetPanties, complete with strategically places Uplift Panels and (this is what cinched the deal, so to speak) No-Roll Waist Nipper Band. Eureka!! For only $25.99, and without breaking a sweat, I was going to have a waist.

The night of the reunion arrived. I squeezed into my MegaPanties, pulling the waist band up as high as it would go without squishing the excess fat out under my armpits. I slipped on my Little Black Dress, and, if I do say so myself, I looked great. But the night was young, and, as I was soon to discover, MegaPanties work their magic only when you are standing still in a department store dressing room.

See, what they don't tell you is that the No-Roll Band clings best to a waist with, well, no rolls. What's up with THAT? Like a woman with no rolls even NEEDS MegaPanties with a No-Roll Waist Nipper Band?!

Anyway. Halfway through the evening, when the DJ played Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," I could no longer resist the pull of the dance floor, and out I went to join the rest of my former flower-children classmates. Strange things were happening around my middle, but I ignored them, thinking that in the dimmed lights of the hotel ballroom, no one was going to notice my slipping, shifting MegaPanties. But then disaster struck.

The DJ put on "American Pie" (which, I still believe, was written by Don McClean after he smoked something very strange), and my classmates & I formed a large circle on the dance floor, singing along and swaying with our arms around each other's waists. I don't remember who was standing on either side of me, but I'm pretty sure they were wondering what was happening under the middle of my dress. You see, by that time, my No-Roll Waist Nipper Band had rolled, and rolled BIG. I had about a 3 inch diameter wad of rolled-up Spandex and rubber encircling me, and above and below it were the 4-inch rolls of squished natural fat. The Uplift Panels had uplifted so much they were giving me a wedgie. I'd gone from being Angelina Jolie to a steroidal StaPuf Marshmallow Man with a tractor tire around my waist.

Thankfully, my classmates were much too kind (or, in some cases, too, er, liquified) to mention my rapidly changing torso. As far as I can tell, no one has posted pictures of my panty problem on the internet, so maybe they really didn't notice. In my heart of hearts, I'm hoping I wasn't the only one there wearing a pair of drifting MegaPanties. Maybe we can band together and file a class action suit, claiming "humiliation, mental distress, and excessive fat bulging."

On a completely unrelated note, my MegaPanties will not be accompanying me into the operating room on Tuesday, when I have what we hope is the complete removal of all cancerous cells. Hopefully I won't be gone long. I still have to tell the story of my encounter with scary warning signs along Pennsylvania roads.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Ah ha! I finally have real, unarguable proof that I'm not as dorky as my kids think I am. I am really and truly cool.

This is how I know I'm cool. During one of my recent myriad doctor's waiting room camp-outs, I sat perusing a copy of People magazine. And this wasn't any old 1998 copy either - it was from August, 2006. And there - right there in People magazine, in color no less! - was a photo of Julia Roberts, star of stage & screen, wearing a pair of the very same sandals as mine. Seriously!! How cool is that?!

I would post the photo of her and one of me side by side, but I'm afraid you wouldn't be able to tell us apart, and that would be terribly unfair to Julia, because then you'd be going to her movies and thinking you were seeing TC and raving, "Isn't she just the coolest?" and poor Julia would get an inferiority complex and then she'd have to start copying my purses, too, and then the world would be filled with "Tarzan & Jane" knock-off bags and then my daughter would just have to lay down and die of embarrassment. And I have first dibs on dying in this family, so that won't work.

I guess you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm cool, and even Julia Roberts knows it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tick tock

God bless my husband. I love the man, but sometimes he drives me crazy. Well, crazier than I usually am.

Last night he had to take Sasquatch to hockey practice, which started at 7:00 pm at a rink one hour from our house. I did some quick mental math (homeschooling is good for parents, too!) and figured they needed to leave home around 5:30. This was the timeline of events as they actually happened.

4:30 - I start dinner preparations.

4:50 - I announce that dinner will be on the table in 10 minutes.

4:51 - Husband announces that he needs to "service the vehicles." In other words, he's going to change the oil and oil filter, check the tire pressure, & check other engine fluids, in not just one, but two cars. (NOTE: After 20 years of marriage, I know that "servicing" one car will take a minimum of 45 minutes and the assistance of both sons.)

4:51:30- My eyebrows begin to smoke.

5:00 - Dinner is served.

5:15 - Dinner is nearing room temperature.

5:16- My hair is smoldering.

5:20 - The first car is still up on lifts when I send my daughter out to tell Sasquatch he MUST come in to eat.

5:29 - My entire head is this close to bursting into flame.

5:35 - Husband comes in the house after finishing the first car. I ask, "Do you know what time it is?" and he says, "Time to leave."

5:36 - Husband leisurely strolls to the bathroom for a shower.

5:37 - I spontaneously combust.

Really, the guy has no sense of TIME. I, on the other hand, can pretty much plan any activity down to the minute, because I have a finely honed sense of how long everything takes.

For instance, when I enter the 20 Items or less check-out line at StuffMart with 4 things in my cart and only one woman ahead of me, I will spend 28 minutes in said line while waiting for the cashiers to change shifts and count the money in their drawers, the woman to sort her coupons, and another clerk to walk to the back of the store to the pet food aisle for a price check on Lizard Chow.

And if I have 57 items in my cart and desperately want to spend a few minutes in line reading that tabloid magazine article about Tom Cruise's mystery child who was actually conceived in an alien laboratory using the late L.Ron Hubbard's DNA, the checker will be ready for me in 3.2 seconds flat.

I know that there is no such thing as a "quick stop" in the post office. No matter when I get there, the guy from the Buster's Pool Supply and Winery will be there ahead of me with his weekly mass mailing that needs to be hand stamped. Twenty two minutes, at least.

Video store - I need 20 minutes just to look at all the new titles and complain that Hollywood isn't making good movies any more. Then I spend another ten minutes arguing with my son, Mr. Trigger Finger, about the moral value of video games that involve shooting other living beings, even if they do have 2 heads and spit fireballs. Twenty minutes later, I might end up with a movie, only to get home and find out my husband rented it the week before.

Today, in my doctor's office, I found out time actually stands still when I got hit with the one-two punch of "malignant" and "We probably got it early."

And a bit later, while wandering aimlessly through a craft store with the chilling words still ringing in my ears, I found out that it takes only two seconds for tears to start streaming down my face when I realize that I will never have enough time with my family, that this life is unbearably short, and that I'll absolutely never get those d*mn scrapbooks done.

Tick tock.

"But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord. I say, "Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand." Ps. 31:14-15

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's good to be home.

Yep, I'm back from vacation. In a day or two, I'll write about our beach cabin, "Pirate's Nook," which was only five stars short of 5-star accomodations; the day I wrecked my dad's luxury car; my foundation undergarment disaster at my high school reunion; and why one should not leave family reunion details to one's mother with significant short-term memory loss.

But I'm too busy to write much right now. Besides doing laundry and searching the pockets of my suitcases for hidden liquids, gels, and lip glosses, I have to reintegrate my children into the home environment. Ever since we've returned, they've expected me to come through the living room with a beverage cart and complimentary headphones, and yesterday I found my son, the consummate beach bum, wandering around the yard, looking for the campground shuffleboard court and that cute Canadian girl he met at the pool.

On second thought, maybe I should let him continue in his search for young Miss Canada. He's finally expressed an interest in learning a foreign language.

I'm uncertain, though, how knowing French is going to further his career at the Taco Bell 24-hour drive-through.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Just send money.

One of our fellow homeschool bloggers, Underdog, who just happens to be a dad, has a brilliant idea. Read all about it here, then send sponsorship money. At the very least, he needs an HSB shirt to wear during the event.

Underdog also has some pretty funny pictures on his blog. Be sure to scroll down through some of his posts. Gosh, homeschooling parents are really a strange breed.

Take this email I recently received from a homeschooling mom who lives around the corner from me. She has 4 very young children, which explains both her resourcefulness and her desperation:

"We weren't able to attend _____ Camp this year, but we are having cooking lessons at home (I'm trying to work myself out of a job). We don't have chefs' hats, so we're wearing white underwear on our heads."

I suppose there's a good Fruit of the Loom joke in there somewhere.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

What a bunch of comedians.

I knew I shouldn't have asked for opinions about my hip bag from all you beige-lovers (thanks, Junosmom, my kindred spirit in all things outrageous). I can tell you've all been reading that mean JenIG's blog for far too long.

For your information, I decided to take my hip bag on vacation. I carried it through airport security and the screening guys only snickered a little. I might even add some tassels and sequins to it and carry to the next homeschooling conference. Neener neener.

And get this - my next purse project is going to be made from an old pair of denim shorts and a red western belt. There, let that give you nightmares for the next few weeks.

So anyway, I'm on vacation in Pennsylvania, in my parents' house without air conditioning due to the Groundhog Incident. This afternoon I am going to seek out an ice cream shop where I will consume 4.5 gallons of ice cream in an attempt to bring my body temperature down below 150 degrees. I may even slather a little mint chip right on my neck.

Next week we're going to Cape May & Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, to spend a few days relaxing in the Atlantic Ocean. One summer of my childhood, we were at the beach and found a few $20 bills washing up on shore. (Probably from a sunken drug-running ship. It was the 70's, after all. Peace, love, cannibis, and all that.) After hearing that story, my fifteen year old son is convinced he is going to find enough money there to buy a skim board, a PSP, and a Corvette. The boy dreams big.

So if any of you happen to be at WC next week and see a pudgy lady in a bright pink swimsuit (hey, I don't do subdued), carrying a hip jungle print bag and accompanied by a teenage boy digging furiously for buried treasure -- run away. Far, far away.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'm almost afraid to ask.

The last time I posted a picture of a lovely, vintage, carpet-bag style tote bag that I had made, you smart-alecky HomeschoolBloggers told me it looked like your grandma's curtains, confirming my teenage daughters' statements that it's an "old lady bag." Hardy har har.

Anyway. With this bag, I went 180 degrees in design and color choices, going for a bright, youthful look.

My daughters don't like this one, either. They call it my "Tarzan and Jane bag." I've gotta quit teaching my kids to think & write creatively - it's not working at all in my favor.

So what say you about the new bag?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Photographic proof....

...that hormones are not a thirteen year old girl's friend.

My #3 child, FashionBug, turned thirteen this week. She is a lovely girl, and on most days she would be chosen as Miss Congeniality in a beauty pagent. But then there are those other days, when her title might be Miss Pitch-A-Fit.

Here she was at age 12, loving her younger brother:

And here she is, one day after turning 13, attempting to murder her younger brother:

Case closed.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Should I be worried? I think I should be worried.

My 74 year old father has some very unique views on life. For instance, I believe his answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "What is the chief end of man?" would be, "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and rid the world of groundhogs."

I'm not kidding you, the man practically foams at the mouth when he sees a groundhog (or woodchuck, or whatever they're called in your part of the world). I can remember times, when I was a kid, when he would spy a groundhog creeping about in the pasture across the road, and all other activity in the house would cease until he got a shot off at the furry little thing. Dinner on the table? "Save me some of those mashed potatoes made from flakes, I just gotta go shoot that groundhog." Time to head to church? "Honey, get the kids in the Studebaker while I go shoot that groundhog." Opening Christmas gifts? "You kids suck a candy cane into a lethal point while I go shoot that groundhog."

A lot of times he'd actually kill the groundhog, and his satisfaction was palpable when he'd come back in the house. "HA! Didja see that? Got him on the first shot! HA!" He'd bask in his dead groundhog glory for a while, until my brother would pipe up with a comment like, "Good going, Dad! I think there are only about 60 left in that colony up over the hill." I swear my brother said stuff like that just to watch my dad's eyes go all wide and wild, like a man who's just learned that his in-laws bought the house next door.

So today I hugged my firstborn child goodbye at the airport and sent him to spend a week with my parents. I worried a bit about him flying alone, but I knew once he got to his grandparents' house, he'd be safe. Really, how much can happen at the home of an elderly couple?

Turns out the flight may not have been the part of the trip I should have been worried about. My mother emailed me to let me know my son had arrived safely, and I felt relieved until I got to the bottom of the email where she included this little tidbit of news:

"When we got home, the man was here replacing our air conditioner, since Dad unfortunately shot it into oblivion yesterday when he was trying to kill a groundhog. Oh well."

"Oh well?" OH WELL? Great googly woogly. Who knew a kid needs to pack a bullet-proof vest for a visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house?!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Consider me "de-puffed."

So I won a Blogs of Beauty award in the humor category, thanks to all of you voters who get a laugh out of giant uteruses (uteri?) and devious possums. Naturally, my first response was shock, with my second response being what we Texans call, "getting the Big head." I figured fame and fortune were mine at last! And both were going to start right here in my little town!

Of course, God has His ways of tenderly humbling the proud. Or, in my case, heaving a bucket of the ice cold water of reality in my face. Here's how He did it.

I had some errands to do around town, so I got my puffed-up self in the car and headed for stop #1, Starbucks. Now, if ever a famous writer or musician is going to be recognized, it's at Starbucks, right? Because all those Starbucks employees are young, hip, educated baristas - except in rural, smallville Texas. In my town, "hip" might be defined as having all your teeth, wearing deodorant, and owning a wardrobe that consists of something beyond overalls. Anyway, I blithely sashayed in the door, fully expecting that my newfound notoriety was going to garner me a free Humongo Super-dee-duper Quadruple Caffeinated Frappelatte (with sprinkles) and possibly even an eight thousand calorie brownie.

Employee: Good morning! What can I get for you?

Me, shining bright as the sun: Oh, let me think... [waiting for the "Hey, don't I know you?" comment to come any second....]

Employee: Okay, take your time.

Me, shining a little less brightly after a minute or two: Um, do you have any specials? [hint, hint]

Employee: Not today!

Me, now definitely downgraded to dull: Okay. Just gimme a small mocha latte. [Hold on, maybe he's going to offer me a free home cappaccino machine! Ooo boy, I can't wait!]

Employee: That'll be $5.25.

Me, grasping at the proverbial straw: Does that come with a complimentary mug?

Employee, looking confused: Uh, only the cardboard one it's in...

Whatever. You sure don't get much for $5.25 these days. Anyway, I figured that by the time I reached my next stop at the video rental store, my fame would have preceeded me.

As I browsed the shelves, I saw the clerk glancing at me furtively. I knew it!! Someone in Hollywood had read my blog and things were in the works for a major motion picture. Hmm, I wonder who would play me? Joan Cusak would look good in elbow-length gloves. I took my DVD selection to the counter.

Clerk: Oh, you'll like this movie. It's very humorous.

Me: Oh, really?!

Clerk: Joan Cusak's in it; she's hilarious.

Me: Oh, really?!

Clerk: Don't I know you?

Me, beaming: Maybe.

Clerk: I know!! You're that lady that drove her van into a sofa! I passed you the day that happened.

Me, dryly: Yep, that would be me.

My last stop was at the farm supply store. I knew better than to expect any recognition there. And if I came right out and mentioned my award-winning blog, the guys would probably be quick to recommend a good plunger. "Here ya go, lady, this'll fix ya right up. No more problems with this here model, Blog-Be-Gone."

Okay, okay. Truth is, God's the one who gets all the glory for anything funny I write here anyway. Through my junior high and high school years, I had a poster on my bedroom wall that pretty much summed up my outlook then. It was a picture of Lucy Van Pelt, of Peanuts fame, scowling and saying, "Smile and the world smiles with you. Crab and you break the monotony." I crabbed - a LOT. Just ask my mom. But God, in His infinite mercy and goodness and love, took me through a series of significant events that helped me to see the joy of daily life.

So, God - this blog's for you. Thanks for life and laughter and silliness and humility and even possums. Especially dead possums.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm hot, I'm irritable, and I'm bloated.

The irony here is that I've been nominated for a "Blogs of Beauty Award" in the humor category. I'm feeling slightly less than humorous and a whole lot less than beautiful right now.

It's so stinkin' hot here I was tempted to wear my new swimsuit to church today. I'm only partly kidding; hormones will do that to a crazy middle-aged woman. When we arrived, I wished I'd followed through on my impulse because the air conditioning had been shut off in the building. HELLO??!! This is Texas in JULY. This had to have been the fault of a man because every Texas woman knows that just crossing the parking lot into church will melt your mascara down into your cute summer sandals. It's even worse for those of us dealing with hot flashes and high temperatures - we're those women who bring lawn chairs to the grocery store and set up camp in the frozen foods aisle. We even wear sleeveless shirts and don't care who sees our back-of-the-arm flab that waves like a flag in a Labor Day parade.

So I immediately suggested that we move our worship service down the street to the community pool. Hey, Jesus preached next to the Sea of Galilee! But by that time the men were setting up fans, which was about as helpful as an ice cube in you-know-where. I should note here that our church meets in a public school and the thermostat is controlled off-site, at the school district's main offices. So our guys were setting up fans, and I was thinking we needed to get serious about this cooling issue and just hack into the electronic controls on the wall or use a hatchet or something, because by this time the elastic waist on my skirt was not only soaking wet, it was cutting into my bloated belly and I was about ready to go Wolverine on the next man who carried in a wimpy little 12" fan.

I finally settled for sitting in front of a friend who had worn his cowboy hat to church. I paid him $20 to fan me through the service. On the way home, I stopped at Dairy Queen and bought us all ice cream cones. I dropped a big blob of ice cream down the front of me; fortunately, my Oklahoma-sized bloat caught it before it slid off onto the car seat.

In conclusion... If you haven't yet been there, check out the lists of amazing blogs that have been nominated over at A Gracious Home. (Voting closes at 8:00 pm EST tomorrow.) Boy, there are a lot of talented women in the blogosphere. And I bet not one of them came home from church today feeling like she was an estrogen-imbalanced walrus cow that had been squeezed into a sweaty, ice-cream stained sausage casing.

Have I ever mentioned that PMS stands for "Pass My Shotgun?"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Heart Health

I have a family history of heart disease, so I try to do all the things the experts say I should do to protect my heart - watch my weight, exercise, eat carboard disguised as breakfast cereal.

But I swear I nearly experienced cardiac arrest today when my eleven year old son announced that he'd had the "most awesomest dream ever." I admit I was only half listening, expecting to hear some tale about winning a quadrillion-piece Lego model of the Hockey Hall of Fame, or about a skateboard equipped with a soft drink dispenser and XBox, or about winning the NBA championship as the star player on a team of muskrats. So you can imagine my shock when he said, "I dreamed I was kissing this cute girl I saw at the pool yesterday."

I was cool, calm, and collected on the outside, but on the inside my head was exploding in sirens and flashing lights and I was silently screaming, "WHAT?!?! Aren't you the child who vowed to marry me when you grew up? Why didn't I take advantage of your youthful ignorance and make you sign a contract when you were two, promising to ignore girls until you were thirty?"

Having four hormonal kids is either going to kill me or make me stronger. My soon-to-be-thirteen year old daughter is writing romance novels, when she's not in the tearful throes of martyrdom. I hear my other daughter and her boyfriend calling each other "sweetheart" and I swear I can feel my liver quiver. My teenage son draws the attention of females of all ages with his 2-inch long eyelashes and I feel my muscles twitching, aching to beat those girls back with a stick.

Well, I least I have a comeback when my doctor suggests I undergo a stress test to check the status of my heart. I can say, "Stress test? I don't need no stinkin' stress test. I've raised four kids through puberty, all at the same time. Let's talk about spending my health care dollars on things that really matter, like how to cure sagging body parts and double chins and wrinkles and adipose cells that multiply like rabbits. Because I have to look good in my kids' wedding pictures, and it's looking like I don't have time to waste!"

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Well, that was interesting.

I hate to cook.

There, I've said it. Go ahead and kick me out of HomeschoolBlogger, take away my Starbucks gift card, and call CPS. But it won't change the truth - I really do hate to cook, and I don't think I should have to do it. Isn't that why God created fish sticks and Pizza Hut?

But, just because I hate it doesn't mean I don't do it. Somehow my kids and husband fell into this terribly bad habit of wanting a meal three times a day, and I've never been able to convince them that Diet Coke, some carrot sticks, and an Oreo make a perfectly good three-course meal. So I've been forced into this indentured servitude in the kitchen, but the joke's on them. Not only do I hate to cook, I'm really not very good at it.

Take meats, for instance. Roasts? Too dry. Chicken? Too tasteless. Hamburgers? Too crumbly. My husband won't even let me touch steaks or pork loin or fish fillets. His own mother abdicated the meat cooking responsibilities to him when he was about twelve years old, so who am I to stand in the way of a man with a mission? He makes all his own marinades and rubs and has enough grilling tools to cook all the combined herds of cattle, sheep, mountain goats, elk, and flying squirrels in Wyoming.

So tonight my husband decided we should heat up a smoked brisket from our freezer. He handed me this long, vacuum-sealed package of meat, and I stood there holding it like he had just spoken to me in Martian. I finally had to say, "Uh, how exactly do I warm this up?" and he gave me one of those looks that means, And you're teaching our CHILDREN?" Apparently, his memory was then quickly jolted back to one of those times when I served broiled pork chops that had to be cut with a chain saw, because he was kind enough to explain to me, with a tone you'd use to address a two-year-old, "Put it in a glass pan on the stove with some water and just let it boil." Okay, this was something I thought I could handle, although I usually put my microwave in charge of boiling water. No matter. I got things set up and went to read my email.

A short while later, my husband stepped in the office to tell me an important fact about the Nigerian Belching Wood Worm he had just found in his workshop, when we both heard an ominous cracking sound. He ran out toward the kitchen, with me a few steps behind, when we were greeted by the sound of something like Office Depot's entire aisle of pens & pencils blowing up.

I wish I could have seen it. Apparently the explosion was quite spectacular. My husband says the pan actually lifted off the stove surface a few centimeters before it shattered into a million billion trillion pointy ouchy shards. Extremely hot, wet glass bits were everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a few pieces had managed to pierce the interior wall, the exterior brick wall, and become imbedded in our neighbor's cat, which I never liked anyway.

Once the environmental clean-up crew (aka, me) had done their job, the management (aka, husband & I) had to have a brief meeting (aka, argument) about quality assurance (aka, assigning blame). I'll spare you the details except to say that, 1) I can now take briskets off my list of Foods I Can Prepare Without Hurting Someone or Wiping Texas Off The Map, and, 2) I don't think my husband is soon going to be offered his own instructional cooking show on DIY. MTV might be interested, though.

Friday, July 7, 2006

But would it look good on the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Well, another Independence Day has come and gone. I celebrated this one like a true blue American -- I supported truth, freedom, and The American Way by spending money. I love capitalism. The best part is, I purchased some swimsuits, and it was painless. Yes, I've learned the secret to happy swimsuit shopping: buy online. That way, you avoid all the nastiness of bright dressing room lights and those bothersome mirrors and later having to confess your sin of thinking evil thoughts about the size 3 employee because you know you could use her swimsuit as a bandana.

Of course, I still have to actually try the swimsuits on once they get to my home, but I have a plan for this, too. I figure if I don't turn on any lights, and don't look in a mirror, I can continue to deceive myself into believing that the swimsuit looks as good on me as it did on the catalog model.

Have you ever really studied the figures of those catalog models? Good lawdamercy, they could hide behind a saltine cracker turned sideways. And their thighs don't touch each other. AT ALL. This is just not natural. Normal women have thighs that are like conjoined twins - they've never known a day when they weren't snugged right up against each other.

And what's with the little icons in the catalogs, the ones that are supposed to show you which suits help hide particular figure flaws? You know, the little triangle for the suits for women with wide hips, or the little rectangle for women without a defined waist. And then there's the infamous little star, which supposedly means, "This swimsuit flatters all figure types." This is catalog marketing code-speak for "You're not going to look like the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man in this swimsuit. At least, not any more than usual." In a fit of optimism, I ordered one of these star-icon swimsuits, hoping against hope that the little star actually means, "This suit will turn anyone with a figure like the Pillsbury Doughboy into Catherine Zeta Jones." Really, I wish catalogs would add a little snowman icon, 'cause that's the body type I'm trying to disguise.

I also ordered several of those mix-and-match swimsuit pieces, thinking that I might just hit upon the right combination that will make me look like I spend four hours a day at the gym. Yes, I realize that this is the fashion equivalent of playing the lottery, and I know that I'm more likely to end up with a swimsuit combination that makes me look like I spend four hours a day at Dunkin' Donuts. Just let me have my little fantasy, okay?

In a few days, when my swimsuits arrive and I'm faced with the harsh reality that my new TrimSuit with Inner 4-Ply PowerNet Corset and Hydraulic Lift doesn't make me look like little Miss Size Three Bandana Swimsuit Girl, I know what to do. I'm going to blame it all that old British king George. If he hadn't taxed the poor colonists into rebellion, I'd probably be living in rainy England right now and not even need a swimsuit.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

taggedy tag tag

Well, my daughter's friend tagged me, so rather than ignore tags as I usually - and rudely - do, I'm going to post my answers here.

Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18 & read line 4: "As the neonate matures, more subcutaneous tissue develops."

Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you touch? The door into the infant nursery.

What was the last thing you watched on TV? Some nasty, gaggy, worm-eating competition on Fear Factor as I was walking through the room. Why do my kids insist on watching that show???

Without looking guess what time it is: 11:20 pm

Now look at the clock. What is the actual time? 11:07 pm

With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? A newborn crying because he's getting blood drawn. :(

When did you last step outside? What were you doing? 6:20 pm, going in to work.

Before you started this survey, what did you look at? Queen of Heart's blog.

What are you wearing? Denim capris, lime green tank top, lime green/peach striped shirt, Birkenstock sandals.

What did you dream last night? I don't remember, but it was probably something very strange.

When did you last laugh? About 30 seconds ago.

What is on the walls of the room you are in? A bunch of medical charts, and a photo of a nurse wearing a bunny tail on her scrubs.

Seen anything weird lately? Besides the above photo, my own weird self in the mirror.

What do you think of this quiz? I try not to think too much about quizzes. :)

What is the last film you saw? Part of one of the X-Men movies on DVD.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? A new house, since I can't seem to convince God to send a tornado to wipe out the one we're currently in.

Tell me something about you that I do not know: I have slept under the Eiffel Tower.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do? Stop child abuse.

Do you like to dance? Yes, but my family won't let me. They say I embarrass them.

Comment to George Bush: "Do what's right, not what's popular."

Imagine your first child is a girl, what would you name her? Emma. Or Claire. :)

Imagine your first child is a boy, what would you name him? Tyler. Or Flex. :)

Would you ever consider living abroad? YES.

What do you want God to say when you reach the pearly gates? "Well done, good & faithful servant. Now you can eat all the chocolate you want without gaining weight."