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.