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.