Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What's a mother to do?

I have a dilemma. Over the course of the last few months, through many emails and phone conversations, I've become acquainted with a fellow blogger here at HomeschoolBlogger. I'll call him Handsome Young Man, or HYM for short. My dilemma is, I don't know if I like HYM or not.

Here's some of what I've learned about HYM and his character.

1. He's a Christian and is active in his church.

2. He's well-liked in his church and community.

3. He's industrious.

4. He has a good sense of humor and isn't afraid to laugh at himself.

5. He's a rabid Detroit Pistons fan (a definite negative, but one that can be overlooked).

6. He's gregarious and converses easily with people of any age.


So, you're thinking, what's not to like? Here are my two reasons. Read them and see if you wouldn't agree.

1. He's interested in my teenage daughter, and

2. She's interested in him.

YIKES!


Truthfully, it's not that I dislike HYM. In fact, I think of him with parental fondness. What I don't like is that this stage of my life has somehow snuck up on me. How did this happen??

Wasn't it just a month ago my daughter was a lisping two-year-old, who wanted nothing more than a ballet tutu and "a pink car with thparkelth on it?" Wasn't it just a short while ago that she was a determined four-year-old, who announced to her grandparents, "I need a man!"? Wasn't it just a week ago she was a funny eight-year-old, who wrote this note to her father after a spat with him? "Daddy, I'm so mad I could pulverize you. But I won't pulverize you, because you're my daddy and I love you." How and when did that cute, dimpled, chubby little girl with CheezeDoodles crumbs on her face become nearly a woman, with a guy interested in her?!

I am so not ready for this. At first, I just wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and singsong, "LA LA LA LA, I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU." But now I think I'm handling it all pretty well. I'm being quite calm and rational, if I do say so myself. Of course, it helps that HYM lives over 1500 miles to the north of us.


..Oh no... I've just been informed that HYM may be making a trip to our home state this fall.

I've got to run. As soon as I finish this entry, I'm calling the White House and the National Guard with this plea: "Forget about troops and fences on the southern border! We need a 100 ft. wall on the entire northern border of Texas, ASAP!"

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Greatest Mystery of Our Times

Nah, I'm not talking about The DaVinci Code, or if NotHenry on LOST really is a good guy, or even where to find a flattering swimsuit (if one actually exists). No, the greatest mystery is.... [insert scary organ music here]... the mind of a fifteen year old boy.


Here is an example of what I'm talking about.


Today I was reading our history read-aloud to my twelve-year old daughter and eleven- and fifteen-year old sons. I was about halfway through a very interesting chapter, when out of the corner of my eye I kept spotting a gray, Beanie Baby cat flying through the air between my sons. Now, normally I let my children engage in some hands-on activity while I am reading, because we homeschoolers are all about kinesthetic learning, right? But stuffed-cat-tossing seemed just a little over the top. I kept reading, in hope that my older son would have a sudden burst of maturity, or at least that two of his brain cells would spark and connect, but my hope was in vain. The cat kept sailing through the air, back and forth, like a furry, gray tennis ball with a tail. I finally stopped reading, looked over at both boys, and calmly but firmly said, "STOP." You will never, ever in a million years guess what my three-years-away-from-being-an-adult son said then.


"It wasn't me."


What?! Was he kidding?! As far as I could tell, he apparently thought I would immediately accept an alternate but bizarre explanation for the flying stuffed feline.


1) My younger son had taken on superhuman skills of speed, a la "Dash," son of Mr. Incredible, and was able to toss the cat back and forth to himself;


2) The Beanie Baby cat had miraculously come to life and was catapulting itself across the room and back like some kind of manic flying squirrel; or


3) I was actually insane, and the airborne cat was simply a figment of my psychotic, menopausal mind. (To tell the truth, for a moment I almost bought into this one.)


I should also mention that this incident follows on the heels of another a couple of weeks ago, when I discovered him on the roof of our two-story house at ten o'clock at night. His explanation? "I had to get the dog off the roof." Oh, okay, that clears everything right up.


I really don't know what's going on in that boy's head. But I'm pretty sure that every psychologist in the world today took that career path because he or she lived with a fifteen year old boy at some point in their lives.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Look out, he's gonna blow!

Yeehaw, we're having some fun now! Our master bathroom has been torn out, right back to the studs. This isn't one of those "Oh, let's change out the harvest gold bathtub" kind of remodels. It's a "we have moldy sheetrock because the genius who built this place vented the dryer into the wall space" kind of remodel.


Projects like this stress out my husband. He's clenching his jaw, snarling, and veins are popping out on his forehead. Basically, he looks like The Hulk without the pea-green skin tone. But it's not the work or the mess that stresses him. No, for my Mr. Thrifty, it's the financial aspect of remodeling that sends him over the edge.


Number one, he can't stand to spend money. I think it actually physically hurts him. He'd make a terrible spy. It wouldn't take much for him to spill government secrets to the other side.


Bad Guy: We want to know the location of all your submarines!


Husband the Spy: Ha ha, you'll never get that information from me!


Bad Guy: We'll see about that. We have ways of making you talk. [Hands Husband the Spy a pen.] Now, you will write us a check for $1,000.


Husband the Spy: AAAAGGGHHHH!!!! NO! Anything but that! I'll tell you whatever you want to know!!! Just don't make me spend money!!!!


Number two, the man has never seemed to accept the fact that, over time, prices do tend to rise. He used to do some of the grocery shopping for me. When the price of eggs went up by 10 cents a dozen, he was foaming at the mouth. When the price of milk went up 30 cents, he nearly had a cerebral hemmorhage. He started lecturing the family about how we were just going to have to get by on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water. I didn't dare send him to the store after that. If he saw the price of peanut butter, his head would explode right there in the middle of aisle 3. Needless to say, the clerks at Home Depot know him because of the apoplectic fits he has at the cash register. They actually make an intercom announcement as he approaches the check-out: "Crash cart to register four; crash cart to register four. Prepare the defibrillator."


So if you think of it, pray for us this week. I fear this remodel is going to make me a widow. "Although he bravely battled inflation for many years, he was killed by the price of a towel rack."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Never send this woman to do a man's job.

I love my husband, but I'd rather eat a bucket of sand than go to the car parts store on an errand for him.


What usually happens is this.


First, my husband calls the store and tells them what he wants and that his wife will be picking up the parts, and they say they will set the items aside for me. Then, knowing that I am a complete dunce about cars, he writes down the item names on a piece of paper for me to take to the store. At this point, both of us still foolishly believe this little task will be problem-free. And it is, right up to the point where I enter the store.


There, I am greeted by the teenage clerk who's wearing a shirt monogrammed with the name "Junior," and who says, "Hello, Ma'am, can we help you?" I try not to be irritated at being called "Ma'am," and mentally forgive Junior for being younger than some of my underwear. I tell him my name and that I'm there to pick up some parts that my husband requested via phone 20 minutes ago. Junior digs around in some of the boxes near the cash register, then, with a puzzled look on his face, calls for the store manager. This is when I realize that my little errand is going awry.


The store manager, who's not a day over twenty-three and is named Dwayne, says they don't have any record of having spoken with my husband, but they'll be happy to help me get what I need. I think I'm probably going to need a vicodin before we're done, but they probably don't have any of those in their little parts bins, so dubiously, I read the first item from my list.


Dwayne goes to the computer. This is never good. Right away, Dwayne starts asking me questions. "Is this for a 6 cylinder or 8 cylinder?" I look out the front windows at the car, as if it's going to somehow signal the anwer to me by flashing its headlights in Morse code. Hmmm, knowing that my husband operates on the standard male "more is better" theory, I answer, "Uh, 8. I think."


Then Dwayne and Junior start speaking another language. I think they are discussing various engine parts. Dwayne turns to me and says something that sounds like, "Is there a problem with muffled marinara sauce?" I say, "No, but you can probably find some old french fries under the back seat." Dwayne & Junior both look at me like I've sprouted a second head, and then Dwayne says more clearly, "Is there a problem with the muffler manifold exhaust?" Ah. I smile weakly and look at the car again, hoping it will just start speaking directly to Dwayne and leave me out of the conversation.


Finally, I leave the store with some boxes of parts. I can tell Junior is glad the crazy old lady is leaving, although he will have a good story to tell at study hall tomorrow.


When I get home, my husband looks at the purchases and determines that all of them are for a different make and model of car. I vow to stick to shopping only for groceries, socks, and underwear, none of which require an understanding of anything remotely mechanical.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Reflections on Mother's Day

Eighteen years ago, Mother's Day was difficult for me, because I was beginning to despair of ever hearing a little voice call me "Mommy." Four miracles later, I sometimes wonder when I'll get a respite from the constant refrain of "Mom? Mom!"


And what is it with kids when their mother is in the bathroom? Why is that the time that mom is needed most urgently? Of course, when children are very small, they have no compunction about following mom right into the bathroom. But let me assure you, the only thing that changes when kids become teens is the 2-inch hollow-core door between you and them. I can guarantee that any time I slip away into the bathroom, within twelve seconds I'll hear the following:


Child #1, rushing into the house: "Where's Mom?"


Child #2: "I don't know."


Both children together, loud enough to cause bricks to fall off the house: "MOM? MOM! MOMMMMMM!"


Me, sighing, and then yelling back loud enough to cause bricks to fall off the neighbor's house: "I'm in the bathroom!" Meaning, of course, "Can this wait while I have two minutes of peace & solitude?"


Child #1, not getting my meaning, and now standing and yelling through the bathroom door: "I need a paperclip, a 3-way lightbulb, and some frozen asparagus! And do we have any lighter fluid?"


Me: "Just wait a minute!!"


Child #1: "But it's an EMERGENCY!"


Gee whiz. No wonder we older moms end up with bladder problems.

Anyway. I hope you all had a very blessed Mother's Day. My fifteen year old son took me out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and when I visited the ladies' room, no one came looking for me. Ahhhh.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Savage Beast of My Childhood

Between reading Junosmom's blog, and thinking about six random things about myself to respond to FivelittleZarcones' tag, and reading Little Britches aloud to my children, I realized that I don't really like horses. I might even be afraid of them. And I think I know why.


Waaaayyy back in time, when I was about five years old, my dad decided we needed a pair of Shetland ponies. (This was back when watching TV meant choosing between three black-and-white channels, and that was only on good days, when the sky was clear. So we spent a lot of time outdoors.) So one day he unloaded into our back pasture two small, gentle-looking ponies. Babe was short but fat, with thick chesnut hair, and the mother to Toby. It was easy to tell them apart because Toby was shorter, fatter, had sandy-colored hair, and escaped every chance he got, while Babe always stood around, placidly munching grass.


Naturally, my dad figured small children + small ponies = BIG FUN. So it wasn't long before he decided I needed to ride Babe. Dad bridled her, and all went well until we got to the actual riding part. Babe had no more intention of being ridden than Hillary Clinton does of being Republican, so she bucked me off, and then went back to eating grass.


In thinking back on the event now, I realize how absurd it was. How does one get bucked off by a docile, tiny pony named "Babe?" It's an oxymoron, like being treed by a killer chihuahua named "Bitsy," or mauled by a carnivorous goldfish named "Howard." Good grief. If I'd had a pet turtle named "Marshmallow," I'm sure he would have trampled me to death. Such is my life.


Anyway. Now that I've reflected on how that event from my childhood affected me, I've remembered other things that probably damaged me for life. Like the Easter my mother bought me screaming yellow patent leather shoes, and a purse to match. No wonder I'm such a walking fashion disaster today.


Where am I going with this? I have no idea. But I bet I'm going to have some interesting dreams tonight.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Idiocy Gene

The human species would not survive without females, and not for the obvious reason, either. The thing is, the males would never survive their teen years, when the Idiocy Gene kicks in, without the oversight of women.


Scientists used to think that the Idiocy Gene stimulated the male brain with the neurological message, "Act first, think later." Recent research has shown, however, that the actual neurological message is, "Hey, guys! Watch THIS!"


It's been my experience that the Idiocy Gene is triggered around age 11. I think it has something to do with the beginning surges of testosterone. I was involved in this exchange a few years ago with my eldest son when I first recognized it:


Son: Mom, can you sew me a suit?


Me, beaming: Sure, honey. What did you have in mind? Double-breasted would look good on you.


Son: I want it to be like one of those leotards with long sleeves. And it needs to have wings attached at the wrists and ankles. And Garrett [the next-door neighbor boy] needs one, too.


Me (red lights and sirens going off in my brain): Uuhhh, what do you guys want these suits for?


Son, with a tone of excited anticipation: Me and Garrett are going to jump off his barn roof and FLY!


Me: Yeah, I'll get right on it.


I always hoped my younger son would escape the effects of the dreaded Idiocy Gene, but alas, I witnessed the full fruits of it last week. Coming out of my bedroom, I heard some whispers, immediately followed by a loud, thumping sound, like a bunch of lumberjacks doing the hokey-pokey upstairs. I looked up in time to see my younger son riding his now-wheeless skateboard down the carpeted stairs, surf-board style. If I'd known ahead of time, I could have set up the CD player to play the appropriate background music, "Wipeout," when he crashed into the wall at the bottom of the stairway.


Meanwhile, my girls were seated at the dining room table, having a tea party, demonstrating that girls don't have the Idiocy Gene. At a tea party, no one gets hurt and no load-bearing walls are knocked down.


And the Idiocy Gene is not just in my boys, either. When my fifteen year old nephew was here last month, he came home in need of first aid after attempting to roller blade down the slide at the local park. I was nearly overcome with sympathy and compassion as I rolled my eyes and threw a bandaid at him.


Of course, my sons and my nephew come by the Idiocy Gene naturally. My husband was blessed with an abundance of it in his youth. By the age of 20, his body was held together mostly with sutures, staples, Krazy Glue, and a couple of rubber bands. He holds the world record for Quickest Ending to a Family Vacation, you know. His parents drove to the lake, and before his dad even had the car engine turned off, Husband went out on the dock, messed around, fell off, and split his head open on a boat prop. If I'm not mistaken, his family spent a part of every vacation taking in the sights and sounds of the nearest emergency room.


Well, I must retire to bed. I've learned that the Idiocy Gene really surges when a mother is not around, so I have to be up early in the morning before my boys decide to play hockey with hard-boiled eggs. On the roof. Blindfolded.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

A retraction & a confession

We arrived in Florida today, and I have to rescind what I said about so many Florida drivers being old and slow. On I-75, at least, where the posted speed limit is 70mph, the drivers fit nicely into three categories:

  1. Right lane drivers, who prefer to stay safely under 20 mph;
  2. Middle lane drivers, who stay mostly around the 70mph mark; and
  3. Left lane drivers, who want to simulate NASCAR races.

Now, my confession. Back when I assented to being a homeschooler, I agreed with the Homeschooler's Countercultural Creed, including Promise #9: "I vow to feed my children only foods which are healthy, wholesome, free of refined chemicals and additives, with the goal of achieving a raw, vegan diet." Well, not on this trip, my friends.

According to Promise #9, I should have packed some snacks like homemade granola bars, dehydrated pesticide-free apples, and organic carrots that I grew myself in my own chicken-manure nurtured garden, with some non-fluorodated water to drink. Nope. Didn't happen. When my kids bleated in hunger, I threw them some Skittles and gummi bears, and handed out soft drinks when they were thirsty. Bad, bad homeschool mommy.

Then, to make matters worse, we stopped at a Shoney's for brunch, and I let my children serve themselves, unsupervised, from the trough - er, I mean breakfast bar. I was about halfway through my scrambled eggs (definitely not from free range chickens, either), when I glanced over to see my ten year old son consuming three cartons of yogurt, half a dozen donuts, and a strawberry shortcake. My twelve year old daughter's plate was worse. She was munching on a half a pig's worth of bacon, topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Okaaaayyyyy. But considering that the child weighs only slightly more than the Dallas phone book, I let her carry on.

Besides, what's a vacation without a diabetic coma and a couple of clogged arteries? Those are the things memories are made of.

Friday, May 5, 2006

I'm a victim of irresponsible fat lobbing.

My pants don't fit and I'm going to find the person responsible.


I know my recent weight gain cannot possibly be my fault, because I grew up hearing my father's theory on the problem of weight - "The Theory of Floating Fat." Before I elaborate on The Theory, let me reveal that my father's disdain of real science can be detected in the following statement that he made to me, which I quote here in its entirety:


"Whaddya mean, 'wash your hands before dinner?' Ever since you took that microbiology class you've been a nag about handwashing. Hey, I grew up in the Depression. We couldn't afford to wash our hands more than once a week, and that was without any fancy-shmancy soap. Look at me now, I'm healthy as a horse. Handwashing - BAH!"


It should also be noted that this is a diabetic man with heart disease who thinks that checking his blood sugar once a month is enough; ice cream should be taken daily, like a vitamin; eating half a cheesecake never hurt anybody; and recounting whole episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" counts as exercise. So keep that in mind when you hear The Theory.


The Theory of Floating Fat


1. Fat cells are a source of energy, and


2. There is a constant amount of energy in the world, therefore


3. There is a constant amount of fat in the world.


4. When someone loses weight, the fat leaves their body and attaches itself to another person, who then gains the same amount of weight.


5. The attachment usually happens to the person in closest proximity to the one losing weight.


Since no one in my family or circle of friends has recently lost a significant amount of weight, the only logical explanation for my weight gain is that someone at HomeschoolBlogger has been lobbing fat at me, and I'm pretty sure it's one of those sneaky Blubber Bloggers. When I catch the skinny little runt who's been chucking fat at me via my blog, I'm gonna make her pay.

I'm sending her my father.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Oh, ALRIGHT.

For the love of Pete, you'd think a person could get some appreciation and accolades around here for all their hard work on a certain beautiful purse. But, NOOOOO.


So now I'm forced to brag on a kid, and he's not even MY kid. Go see this blog. Jonathon is a fifteen year old young man who takes great photographs, raises tomatoes in his bedroom, and is astoundingly knowledgeable in the field of entomology. The photos of his moth collection took my breath away, and I don't even like moths.


Kids like this give me hope for the future. We need more Christian kids who will make an impact in the scientific community. We don't need more fifteen year olds like my son, who will probably make a literal impact by blowing something up.


P.S. Check out Jonathon's mom's blog, too. She has some great tips for creative writing. She actually gets paid to write, so she must know what she's talking about.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Am I losing my fashion sense?

Admittedly, I'm not usually on the cutting edge of fashion, but I do my best not to embarrass myself or my family. For instance, I don't wear polyester double-knit pants with the elastic waistband pulled up to my chest. I don't use green eyeshadow or frosted pink lipstick. And I never, ever, EVER wear anything even remotely reminiscent of the 1980's, a period of time I like to call the What Were They Thinking? era.


So last week I made what I thought was a lovely tote bag, until my daughters totally dissed it. They call it an "old lady purse." One daughter says she won't be seen in public with me if I'm carrying it, and the other wants to know if I'll be wearing the matching hair net with knee high hosiery rolled down to my ankles.


Here's the bag:



So what say you: is it a vogue vintage-chic valise, or a horrid handbag for hags?


(Note: pattern is from The Tote Bag Book, by Cindy Taylor Oates.)