Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hello Kitty. Goodbye Manhood.

The big news in business this week is from Sanrio, the Japanese company responsible for that bow-wearing, moon-faced cartoon cat that adorns all types of merchandise. On the low end, economically speaking, you can find Hello Kitty pencils, socks, and band-aids. Going up the scale, you've got your choice of a waffle iron (a bestseller at $43.49), 
a Fender guitar ($229),
or diamond earrings,

which will set you back only $2,150.00. (Valentine's Day is coming, guys.)

Believe me, I so wish I was making this up.

Anyway. The big news. Sanrio is going to offer a line of Hello Kitty products for men, which will include a black t-shirt with a picture of the cat on the front, selling for $36. 

Dude. Here's a tip. DO NOT WEAR THIS SHIRT IN NORTH TEXAS. If you insist on getting beat up, save yourself the $36. Get a white t-shirt, and use a Sharpie to write something on the front, like
  • "Go Vegan!"
  • "I just can't quit you, Tony Romo."
  • "John Wayne wore women's underpants."
  • "I still Y the Dixie Chicks"
  • "Pickup trucks suck. Real men drive scooters."
Trust me. You buy that Hello Kitty t-shirt, and later you're going to wish you had the cash to pay the plastic surgeon to remove the cowboy boot imprint from your derriere.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Who are these people, and how did they get in my house?

So there I was, bustling around the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on our Christmas dinner. Yes, I actually cooked. No canned crescent rolls, by golly. I dusted off the bread machine and made a loaf of bread. And don't even tell me that using a bread machine isn't really cooking. In my house, any dish that requires
  1. the use of a measuring spoon/cup, or
  2. the stirring of two ingredients together (even if those two ingredients are only water and a box of artificial flavorings), or
  3. a container other than a paper plate
officially qualifies as something that has been "cooked." By that definition, making coffee, jello, and hummingbird sugar-water counts as cooking.

And besides that, I made twice-baked potatoes, which had to have been thought up by a man. No woman in her right mind would create a recipe that requires you to prepare the same ingredients two different ways in one dish. You don't see women baking chocolate chip cookies, then crumbling them up and baking them again, do you? No, you do not, because we eat the dough before it even makes it to the oven the first time.

Anyway. My family had seated themselves at the dining room table, and I was happily meditating on the birth of Christ, God's gracious gift of a Savior, and whether Mary's sciatic nerve was killing her after riding on a donkey in her last month of pregnancy. Then, basking in this spiritual glow, I carried the last few meal items into the dining room, where the topic of conversation was this:

"Do male squid have nuts?"

And they wonder why I never invite guests for the holidays.

Monday, December 24, 2007

It should be an Olympic event.

Sasquatch & his hockey mates had their team Christmas party on Saturday, and I have to say it was the most fun I have ever had with a bunch of loud, smelly, twelve year old boys and their parents. We played WhirlyBall.

What in the name of ESPN is WhirlyBall, you ask? Well, imagine a combination of jai alai, polo, and basketball - played in bumper cars.

You're laughing already, aren't you?

Apparently, this game has been around (and by "around," I mean, with teams and leagues and trophies and probably beer) since 1980. It was conceived all the way back in 1961 by - you guessed it - a guy riding a golf cart in an automotive shop (probably with beer). Interesting things tend to be created when you let a man drive a motorized vehicle indoors . Why, I bet Al Gore got the idea for inventing the internet while he was riding a fossil-fuel-sucking 4-wheeler from one end of his  8,000 square foot electricity-sucking home to the other end. Then again, it might have been just the inspiration of beer. Whatever.

No, that's not us in the photo above. These people appear to actually know what they're doing. At our WhirlyBall event, there were always at least 2 players who had run their bumper cars, known within the sport as Whirly Bugs, into a corner and couldn't get out. It seems Whirly Bugs don't come equipped with brakes. 

Whirly Bugs also don't come equipped with normal steering wheels, having instead a steering rod which you move to the left when you want to turn right, right when you want to turn left, forward to go in reverse, and backward to go forward. Because of this feature, we also had a player who spent a lot of her playing time spinning in backwards circles, nowhere near the action down the court. And, boy, did that make me dizzy. 

Anyway. The important thing was that  MY TEAM WON!  we all had a great time, and the boys learned some valuable lessons: 1) the importance of teamwork; 2) it can be challenging yet fun to try something new; and 3) stay out of the way of a wiffle-ball-wielding, highly competitive, menopausal mother in a bumper car.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm a failure as a homeschool teacher.

This morning I helped my seventeen year old son fill out his first job application. A politically-correct public school teacher might say he is "gifted in non-traditional learning styles." I say he is "terrible at reading and writing but excels at eating entire sides of beef and blowing stuff up." 

I'm aware that eating sides of beef and blowing stuff up are not the job skills that most employers are looking for, but as it turns out, that may not be my biggest worry.

Me: Fill in your name and all the blanks about your address and so on.
Son: What's "M.I.?"
Me: Middle initial.
Son: What?! I don't know how to spell my middle initial!
[sound of my head hitting the table]

Proof #286 that I am raising the next generation of StuffMart greeters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Word Association at the Perfume Counter

Smelling good was so much easier a gajillion years ago, when I was a child.

First of all, everyone used bar soap in the shower. You had Dial or Irish Spring, both of which stripped off every molecule of oil and left your skin feeling like the hull of a thousand-year-old Viking war ship. If you had hard water, you experienced dry AND shrunken skin. Kind of like a whole-body skin lift, where a plastic surgeon had pulled all the extra flesh up to the top of your head, put it in a ponytail, and whacked it off. Maybe you couldn't lower your arms for a few hours, but at least you smelled clean.

Now, we have shower gels that make you smell like anything from fruit cocktail to a brand new basketball to a greenhouse. It's confusing. I mean, I like having choices, but I don't have time to stand in the "cleansing products" aisle at StuffMart, trying to decide if I want to smell like whatever produce is currently in season. (Which, for your information, is avocados. "Mmm, honey, I love it when you smell like guacamole. Do we have any Tostitos?")

Colognes and perfumes are even worse. When I was a kid, there were unwritten rules about cologne, and you didn't deviate. Grandmas wore Jean Nate. Moms wore some benign Avon fragrance, and teenage girls wore Sweet Honesty, which was a blend of lilacs and baby powder. Not exactly the stuff to drive teen boys wild, which is precisely why our moms bought it for us. If you were a guy, you wore Old Spice. Period. 

Today, you go to buy someone some cologne, you'd better take along a sleeping bag and a camp stove, because you're gonna be there a while. And I totally don't understand how the manufacturers choose the names of these scents. It makes me wonder if the marketing department is a bunch of chimps using sign language. Is it just me, or do these names conjure up some weird associations?
  • Chrome - motor oil and transmission fluid
  • Drakkar - camel spit
  • Insolence - makes me want to put the wearer in time out
  • Reaction - sparks and singed eyebrows
  • L.A.M.B. - for women named Heidi
  • Usher - movie theater popcorn
  • Be Delicious - applesauce
  • Cool Water - What the ? Water isn't supposed to smell like anything, and if it does, it's usually unpleasant, like dead, bloated mackerel or chemical waste.
  • Opium - At $60 an ounce, I'll have to look for the $10/ounce knock-off, Pot.
  • Man - "Man?!" My husband already smells like a man. That's why I'm buying him cologne! Sheesh.
And I'm not even going to mention what I think of when I see Britney Spears' name on a bottle of perfume. This is, after all, a family-friendly blog.

Well, I have to go pack my bags. Not only do I need to pick up some cologne, but we're also out of laundry detergent (Island Fresh or Clean Cotton?) and dishwashing soap (Pear Medley or Gardenia Blossom?). I'm going to be gone a while. If you happen to be near StuffMart, please bring me a cooler of beverages. And some Tostitos.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Next Christmas, I hope to get salad tongs.

My husband is a good man, but can get a little carried away in the control department. Imagine a cross between King Henry VIII and a German Shepherd police dog, and you'll get the idea.

So here we were with this new computer with the dreaded "Parental Controls." Hubster immediately set himself up as Grand Poobah System Administrator and gave the rest of us Menial Serf accounts. He even assigned us our passwords, and then wouldn't tell us what they were. I had to threaten to cook for him if he didn't tell me my password. And then when I finally got logged on, I couldn't access any of the usual functions because, as the little message box kept telling me, "You have not been granted access to this feature. Contact your Grand Poobah System Administrator." Oh, I was going to contact him, alright. You betcha.

The kids had it even worse. I think the only access Hubster granted them was to view their avatars (which he had chosen). I have to admit, though, that this made life much easier for me, as I could keep giving the same answer to the kids' issues:
I can't get on email!
Talk to your father.
I can't see my photos!
Talk to your father.
Why can't I use Garage Band?
Talk to your father.
The printer is on fire.
Talk to your father.
A meteorite just landed on our cow.
Talk to your father.
I think I might be a Democrat.
Talk to your father. But stay out of his reach.

Now, some people will say that I should have been a submissive wife and let Hubster run wild with his newfound administrative power. I say, the Apostle Paul never mentioned the computer in his epistles, so I'm pretty sure he never meant for women to have to ask their husbands - er, I mean, Grand Poobah System Administrators, for permission to crop a photo.

You would think things couldn't get any worse, computer-wise. Oh yes, they very much could. And they very much did.

Hubster came home and uttered those seven little words that every wife fears: "I bought a new external hard drive." [Insert music from Jaws here.] Our children wept.

For the next couple of weeks, we hardly saw the Hubster, what with his having to rebuild his entire iTunes library, thanks to the new hard drive. By this time, Hubster and Customer Service Brian had spent so much time on the phone together, they had developed guy names for each other. "Hey, Knot Head, you girlie man! It's Chumpy. Quit pickin' your nose and help me out with this computer."

So here we are, several weeks after the purchase of my new computer. I still can't send emails or upload photos, but I did get some good news last week. Computer Service Brian/Knot Head informed Hubster that in order for me to do some of the things I needed to do, Hubster was going to have to grant me access as an administrator. Kind of a middle-management Poobah, I guess. It nearly killed Hubster to have to check that little box, but he did it. And I owe a debt of gratitude to the Apple programmer who set things up that way, who most certainly is a woman and a wife.

As much as I'd like to fix my email problem, I don't have time right now. I've got to clean house. Knot Head and his family are coming to spend Christmas week with us.

And he's bringing Hubster a new hard drive.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If It Ain't Broke, Let My Husband Work On It.

Every spring, we go to visit my in-laws, and nearly every spring, my father-in-law has a different computer than the last time we were there. He claims it's because "the old one just didn't do what I needed it to," but my mother-in-law usually follows that up with a whispered, "He's always trying to cram 40 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack."

Well, I married Mr. Potato Crammer, Jr.

I've written before about my husband's personal mission to own every piece of music that has ever been recorded. (By the way, if you have a copy of "King Tutunkahmen Sings the Christmas Classics," let me know.) Said bloated music collection has resided quite happily on our iMac until Nov. 10. Why do I remember the date, you ask? Because that's the last time I was able to access my email. Here's what happened.

Nov. 10: The Hubster comes home with a box and says, "I bought an external hard drive to back up iTunes." I nod. How naive of me.

Nov. 11: Hubster casually mentions that the hard drive appears to have interfered with some of the other software on the computer, but not to worry, he can fix it. I notice that the computer sounds like a cricket on methamphetamines.

Nov. 12: Hubster comes home with another box and says, "I bought another external hard drive to back up the first hard drive." I begin to worry.

Nov. 13: I hear Hubster on the phone with the Apple help desk. "Hi, Brian, I'm having some trouble with my iMac..." I notice that the computer actually makes a grunting sound when booted up.

Nov. 14: Hubster comes home with yet another box and says, "I bought another external hard drive to back up the first two." (I swear I am not making this up.) Hubster spends 2 hours talking to his new friend, Customer Service Brian.

Nov. 15: When I attempt to use the computer, I get the Apple spinning beach ball of death. (For you PC users, this is the Mac equivalent of the the Windows blue screen of death.) Hubster calls Brian at Apple again. "Hey, Brian, it's me. How's the weather there? Yeah, I need more help..."

Nov. 16: Hubster comes home with another box, but this time he says, "I'm going to install a new operating system." I swear I can see the computer actually try to move off the desk in a fruitless attempt to run away.

Nov. 17: I hear Hubster on the phone. "The Brianator! You da man! Hey, how did your mom's hernia surgery go?..." The computer is on life support. I go searching for those Valiums that were left over from the time Hubster "fixed" the air conditioning unit.

Nov. 18: Hubster takes the computer to the nearest Apple store for a little R&R, and returns home with a big box. He says, "Merry Christmas. I bought you a new iMac." I weep tears of joy and promise to love, honor, and cherish my new computer as long as we both shall live.

Nov. 19: I rue the fact that I did not grab up that big box and hide it with my chocolate stash, because Hubster proceeds to set up the new computer, and says, "Hey! This has parental controls!" OH DEAR GOD. Hubster + Control = Very Bad Outcome For Everyone Else In Our House. be continued....

Didja vote?

If you haven't voted in the Homeschool Blog Awards yet, I need you to jump on over there and vote for me in the "Funniest Homeschool Blog" category. I could really use an emotional boost because this wet, cold weather has given me so many bad hair days that I'm considering legally changing my name to Medusa.

Thank you.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Part II of my Ode To Cracker Barrel

The Cracker Barrel store is unique in that it represents all that is good, right, and holy about mid-America. I mean, you've got to love a place where you can buy
  • 101 Meals From Pork Rinds cookbook
  • A clock that chimes, on the hour, the mating calls of twelve different varieties of dung beetles
  • A complete John Deere-themed infant layette
  • A Christmas ornament in the shape of a miniature bale of hay, that plays the "Green Acres" theme song.
I don't know this for sure, but I bet there aren't any Cracker Barrels within 180 miles of New York City. None of the aforementioned products would sell there. The Cracker Barrel marketers would have to stock
  • A New Yorker's Guide to The Best Cheese Pizzas for Under $30
  • A complete "Impeach Bush" themed infant layette
  • A Christmas ornament in the shape of a taxi, that plays a half-dozen Iranian curses
Well, I'm pretty sure that won't ever happen.

Anyway. There I was, thinking about buying a dairy barn scented candle, when I spied the shelf of beauty products. There were a number of items that you see everywhere - Burt's Bees under-eye cream, milk-based hand cream, avocado facial scrub. (You put all that stuff on at once, you're gonna smell like a Easter brunch buffet table. Don't say I didn't warn you.) 

But what caught my eye was a little pot labeled, "Body Truffles: Double Chocolate Raspberry Lip Butter." The "butter" part piqued my interest. I've seen lip stick, lip gloss, lip shine, lip creme, and lip exfoliant, but never lip butter. I've also never seen a lip product truthfully called "lip petroleum by-product with red dye #42 and chemicals out the wazoo," but that's beside the point. 

So the butter part was interesting, but I really bought it because of the chocolate. Everyone who knows me knows I never met a chocolate I wouldn't chase down a dark alley. It's a good thing they don't make cigarettes in chocolate flavors, because I'd have a five-pack-a-day habit.

OH. MY. This stuff is wonderful. It's light as air, smells heavenly, and even tastes good. (No, I didn't eat my lip butter like I eat my peanut butter, with a spoon. I used a spatula.)

And here's the real shocker. Body Truffles are made in Canada. That distressed me a little, at first. What in the world is Cracker Barrel, the purveyor of all things mid-western America, doing selling foreign goods?

But then it dawned on me. Canadians are just as redneck as we Americans (except for maybe the folks in Montreal). Think about it. These are the people who invented ice hockey. Hockey players love to fight and don't have all their teeth. If that isn't representative of all that is good, right, and holy about mid-America, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You might be a redneck if you buy your beauty supplies at Cracker Barrel.

So I went to Cracker Barrel the other night with my friend, SunyDazy, and our combined herds -er, I mean broods of nine children.

I like Cracker Barrel. For starters, I feel young when I'm in there. Part of this is because of the other customers. You ever look around in a Cracker Barrel? Most of the people that eat there are the uber elderly. Some of them still drive, even though they've shrunk to 4'2" and can't see over the dashboard of their car. Doesn't matter, though - they can't see past the hood ornament anyway. Then there are all the elderly folks who arrive by bus. They're the parents to the ones who are still driving.

(I have a theory about those buses. You know, most of us now make our own travel arrangements online, so we really don't need travel agents, yet travel agencies still exist. My theory is that travel agents make their living arranging bus trips from nursing homes to Cracker Barrel.)

And the restaurant itself makes me feel young. I hate it when my dining experience includes looking at the "antiques" on the walls and realizing they are my childhood playthings. At Cracker Barrel, the stuff on the walls is so old, no one really knows what all of it is. Not even the corporate decorators. It's not their fault, though. They're probably from Long Island and don't know much about rural antiquities. They figure if it's rusty and doesn't have "Made In China" stamped on the bottom, it can be nailed up in a Cracker Barrel. For all we know, we're eating our turnip greens under an 18th century toenail fungus gouge.

All the antiques also have a homeschooling benefit. When my kids get unruly, I can say, "Quit it, you little heathens. See that bus out there? How would you like me to put you on it? You can be the colostomy bag attendants. Oh, dear children, gaze upon the wondrous display on yonder walls." Then I can go home and count the whole thing as a history field trip, satisfied that my kids can now identify a 1922 potato chip can.

The food at Cracker Barrel isn't what I'd call exciting, but it makes me feel good in a "another layer of fat cells are going to keep me warmer" kind of way. Especially the biscuits. Mmm, biscuits. When I get to heaven, I'm going to eat biscuits for every meal - with more than one measly pat of real butter and the sugariest blackberry jam I can find - and still be able to fit in my size 6 slim fit robe. No elastic waistbands in heaven, baby.

Anyway. Sometimes I have trouble ordering my meal at Cracker Barrel. I'm too much of a stickler for proper grammar, I guess. Like the other night. The meal I wanted was Chicken & Dumplings. Except on the menu, it was written, "Chicken and dumplin's." I can't tell the waitress "I'd like chicken and dumplin's," without feeling like I need to follow it up with, "and please bring a jug of moonshine." And then I'd probably get carried away and say something like, "I'm celebratin' my engagement to my cousin, Purvis. 'Course, most folks call him Prunehead on account of that time he got locked in the smokehouse where his daddy makes beef jerky."

But the thing I like best about Cracker Barrel is the after-dinner shopping extravaganza. be continued....

Competitive? Moi?

You know how on those Emmy Award shows, the losers always say, "Well, it was an honor just to be nominated, and, really, all the nominees are winners?" WhatEVer. We all know they're lying through their cosmetically enhanced teeth. 

So that's why I'm going to be honest and say I want to WIN a Homeschool Blog Award in the category for which I was nominated (humor). So I need everyone to vote for me here. Basically, the voting rules are
1. You have to be alive. I don't think you have to be human, so all you possums out there who read my blog, please be sure to vote. And everyone else, call your grandma, your dentist, and your kid's piano teacher and tell them to vote.
2. You may vote only once.
3. You don't have to be a homeschooler, know a homeschooler, or have Googled "homeschooler."

Oh, and while you're over there, cast a vote for my cyber-child, Chris, in the Best Teen Guy Blog category.

Thanks. And I promise that if I win, I will use my position to spread whirled peas. 

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I think I'm too busy.

People who think homeschooled kids aren't socialized need to come to my house. And they need to bring gas money. Our schedule includes: ballet, hockey, babysitting, Nutcracker rehearsals, birthday parties, basketball, youth group, field trips, Save the Land Sharks Campaign, and the Pick Your Nose Club.

To keep track of where everyone is supposed to be on any given day, I use a Palm and have all the activities color-coded for quick reference. Today, when I turned it on and looked at my color-blocked agenda - and I swear I am not making this up - it looked like a stained glass representation of a bottle of Prozac. (Although if you tilt your head to the right, it could be a Saint Bernard with a nail gun.)

Too busy to write more. I have to go brew 2 gallons of coffee and put on a Depends, because there's no time for potty breaks today!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Traditions: The Cursing of the Lights

The Cursing of the Lights is the oldest of our holiday traditions, begun back when I was about fifteen years old.

To hear my sister and family tell it, the tradition started because I am a bossy, anal-retentive tree decorator. I say, if I hadn't been careful to anchor a mini-light to every branch, AND made sure the garland was evenly spaced, AND hung each ornament equidistant from each other, ya'll would have had one sorry looking, white trash Christmas tree. (And don't think I didn't hear you calling me "Yukon Cornelius" from the other room while I was trying to put up those &%^#$@ lights.)

Anyway. Here is how The Cursing of the Lights takes place.
1. Remove multiple strands of lights from the storage box. Notice that although they were neatly coiled 11 months ago, they now resemble a macramed pot-bellied pig.
2. Spend 20 minutes unknotting lights, muttering under breath.
3. Plug in lights. Notice that strands #2,3, and 7 do not light at all, and strand #4 blinks to the rhythm of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
4. Spend approximately 87 minutes searching for and replacing blown-out bulbs. Mutter slightly louder.
5. Plug in lights again. Notice that strands #5, 6, and 8 do not light. Do not bother muttering, simply curse loudly.
6. Spend another 20 minutes jiggling cords, wiggling bulbs, and threatening to drive over the lights with the car.
7. Plug in lights again. Rejoice! as all bulbs burn steadily.
8. Put lights on tree, carefully spacing them so as to achieve that coveted department store look.
9. Plug in lights. Say words I didn't know I knew as I see that the middle two strands do not light. Threaten to go postal on the factory where they make Christmas tree lights.
10. Spend 45 minutes jiggling, replacing, muttering, and sweating.
11. Plug in lights again. Rejoice! as all bulbs burn steadily.
12. Go outside and look at tree from 100 yards away, to be sure there are no areas with insufficient lighting. Notice a small area near the right side of the tree that needs adjustment.
13. Return to house, move one bulb to a lower branch.
14. Entire tree, with all 800 bulbs, goes dark.
15. Lose my religion.

However, I am sad to say that this tradition has come to an end at our house. Last Christmas, our thirty-year-old tree developed the artificial pine version of leprosy, which is when random branches fall off if someone exhales in its direction. By this time, the tree was more silver than green due to all the duct tape holding it together. So I hoofed it on over to Tarzhay and got us a brand-new, pre-lit tree. This year, Bunhead put it up all by herself and no one had to repent of using foul language. Something just felt ... missing. Until the dog peed on the tree skirt. Then I got into the *&%@# holiday spirit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, the Grinch DOES live here.

Another Christmas, another year of having to explain, "Kids, your dad doesn't put up outside lights because he has a headache from drinking too much eggnog. Why don't you make Daddy feel better by playing some soothing music? How about that AC/DC version of Drummer Boy on your electric guitars?"

The truth is, my husband is the original Scrooge. He would like nothing better than for me to put up the tree at 11:00 pm Christmas Eve, take it down before lunch on the 25th, and for everyone to exchange gifts that don't require any money to leave our bank account. You know, things like leaves. Sporks. The classified pages from the newspaper. In his opinion, the best thing about Christmas is getting to eat date bars, which an old family friend used to make on her fireplace hearth. (By "old," I mean "babysat Teddy Roosevelt.") Naturally, Husband thinks I should make them the way she did, and, naturally, I ignore him and continue to feed my family microwaved date bars that resemble radiated road tar mixed with potting soil.

I'm going to write a lot more about our Christmas traditions, but not today. Our home computer is offline, and I have to go pick up the stuff for my husband's stocking - a pencil nub, a purple zipper, and 4 M&Ms that I found under the front seat of my van.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Money must make people stupid.

Acquiring a boat-load of money must make people's brains turn to Cream of Wheat. How else to explain their spending habits?

Take, for instance, clothing. I read that some Hollywood stars will think nothing of spending $158 on a plain, white t-shirt. If I want a nice, white t-shirt, I take myself to the poor woman's upscale store, Tarzhay, where I can get not only the shirt, but a Yoohoo and a pack of HubbaBubba for under $7. The only thing the $158 shirt has that mine doesn't is a special name on the label - where no one can see it. How dumb is that? We poor people know that if you want to show off a name, you go down to the truck stop and get yourself a t-shirt with Dale Earnhardt's number on the front. 'Course, you're gonna pay a little more, around $10, but the extra three dollars is worth the classy feeling you get when you wear that baby down to the auto parts swap meet.

But what's even more astounding is what rich people will pay for entertainment. Our local paper just reported that before the new Cowboys stadium opens, season ticket holders will have to pony up $50,000 for a license to buy a season ticket. Yes, you read that right. That fifty thousand will buy you not the ticket itself, just the opportunity to purchase a ticket. Oh, and for each season ticket you want (approx. $350 each, per game), you have to buy a license. Then there's the parking fee of nearly $800.

Now, I'm thinking that would never fly here in Dirtville. To begin with, we only have two forms of entertainment: Saturday evening shopping at StuffMart with Grandma, Uncle Roy and Aunt Sissie and their eight kids (locally known as "That Family with the Seven-Year-Old Triplets With a Criminal Record"), or going to the seasonal parade. I can just imagine what would happen if the town fathers tried to levy a licensing fee for either one of those events.

If our local StuffMart announced, "For only $50, you can be one of the first customers to be given the chance to buy our new 20-Grit bath towels as soon they become available," well, the faithful StuffMart customers would just drive their Ford Festivas over to the dollar store and buy the 30-Grit bath towels there, instead. They may own cars with only 1 wheel cover and duct tape holding the rear bumper on, but they're not stupid.

And the parade. Parades are a big deal around here. First of all, you get to see a big celebrity, like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or every Texan's hero, the guy who invented air conditioning. My personal favorite is the Pickled Okra Queen. No one really knows if the "pickled" part is supposed to apply to the okra or the Queen, so every year one of the high school football players - usually the guy who's finishing 11th grade for the third time - goes over to the next county and picks up some Boone's Farm Strawberry Wine, and sneaks it into the Queen's cherry Coke. Just to cover all the bases. We hate to mess up tradition.

Another fun thing about the parade is that you get to see the latest in John Deere equipment, especially the tractors that are especially designed to pull a float full of well-fed cheerleaders and two tons of pompoms. And if you're lucky, you'll get to see your neighbor pelted in the eye with a midget Tootsie Roll, which a Boy Scout winged into the crowd from the troop trailer.

Anyway. Suppose the city sent out a letter that said, "If you want to park your XXXL-polyester-pants-covered-butt in a lawn chair on the curb to watch the parade, it's gonna cost you $100." I know what I'd do.

I'd set the kids up in chairs next to our driveway. I'd put my husband in the back of our pickup, wearing one of those cardboard crowns you get at Burger King. Then I'd drive him slowly past the kids, while he waved and tossed ketchup packets into the crowd. Then we'd all go in the house, admire my new white $5 t-shirt, and chew HubbaBubba. And I'd go to bed feeling a whole lot smarter than the fool who paid $50,000+ for the use of a seat.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

This explains all the flamingos that showed up in our turkey pen.

Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen. Or not.

When I woke up this morning, I had a brainstorm. I would do a Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen, listing 13 things I'm thankful for that start with "th." Gotta love alliteration.

Here's the actual stream of consciousness that meandered through my mind.

Okay. Let's see. One: thumbs. Two: thread. Three: Thoroughgood, George. Four: .... hmm, this is going to be harder than I thought. ....
Thick ankles.
Thunder thighs.
Wait. I'm not thankful for those. ...
I can pretend I have a lisp.
Thilly Thtring.
That's not gonna work...
Why didn't the Puritans call this "Grateful Day?" I bet I can think of lots of things starting with "gr."
The first thing I come up with is gravy? Well, that explains the thunder thighs.
Ground coffee.
Foie gras. What the heck? Where did that come from? I don't even know what foie gras is. Do rabbits eat it?
Rabbit trails.
Rabbit holes.
Lewis Carroll knew nothing about rabbit holes. My neural connections just veer off into these bizarre dark caverns in my brain. ...
I should donate my brain to science. ...

It went on from there, involving things like thatched roofs, Martha Stewart, and Sesame Street. I'll spare you the details.

In the end, I just decided to wish everyone a warm & blessed Thanksgiving. At our house, the holiday will be fondly remembered as The Year Mom Forgot to Buy Cranberry Sauce and StuffMart Was Sold Out Of It On Wednesday Afternoon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How is it my eyebrows are white but my mustache is black?

I've kind of resigned myself to the reality that my hair is going gray. But I still can't wrap my brain around the fact that my eyebrows are turning white. I'm slowly fading. My lips have already mostly disappeared. If I put a twist-tie in my hair, I could lay down by the side of the road and passersby would think I was a Glad kitchen trash bag.

Fortunately, I recently happened upon some eyebrow grooming tips in a magazine. Here is what the expert had to say about white eyebrow hairs: "Clip gray hairs close to the skin."

That's IT?! No miracle beauty products, like The Eyebrow Squeegee? No herbal remedies, like bee jelly or blue tea? No race of Elvises populating another planet? Oh, wait. That was a different article in a different magazine.

Well. Obviously, this expert isn't a day over twenty-three, and the only white thing she's ever seen on her face is a Biore' pore-cleansing strip across her pert little nose. If she were older, she'd know that if one has gray eyebrow hairs, one probably also has poor eyesight and shaky hands, which makes clipping an individual hair a near impossibility. I know this because I tried it and ended up whacking off way too many neighboring hairs. My only consolation was knowing that if my eyebrow should catch on fire, the flames wouldn't spread too far, because I had a good fire break right through the middle there.

And then what are you supposed to do when you've got a LOT of white eyebrow hairs? I can't very well go snipping them all off short. Rumors would go around that I had been in an unfortunate accident involving a hedge trimmer and a couple of OralB toothbrushes.

I'm glad the expert didn't suggest using an eyebrow pencil to color over the gray hair. I already have to draw my lips on every day, and that's challenge enough since I have all the artistic ability of a brick. If I have to start adding on other body parts, my kids are going to call me Mrs. Potato Head.

As I see it, there's only one solution. I'm going to add a new class to our homeschool curriculum. It will be called, "The Care & Grooming of Your Elderly Parents: How to assist your mother in her delusion that she's still 39."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Only 54 more shopping days until Good Friday.

I haven't bought a single Christmas present yet, and I'm afraid I'm too late. At my nearby StuffMart, all the Christmas decorations were up on October 6th. Kids who went trick-or-treating around here got candy canes and chocolate reindeer. When I went in StuffMart yesterday, I saw the stockers unpacking Valentine's Day cards, and there was a pallet of Cadbury Egg boxes on the back dock.

I try not to be paranoid, but if the suntan lotion display shows up on January 1, I'm going to seriously think that Dr. Evil has a giant space magnet which is tilting the earth off its axis.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And no Rent-To-Own Catapult Store for 30 miles.

So the big news in north Texas yesterday was that of a fuel truck that exploded on Interstate 35, one of the busiest roadways in the Dallas area. The highway was shut down in both directions, and thousands of drivers were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for interminable lengths of time.

I was driver #8,742.

I studied the scowling guy in the landscaping truck over in the next lane. I wondered if this traffic jam was going to be the breaking point for the poor man's mental status, and tomorrow he'd get to work and go postal on the bermuda grass. Hey, you never know. Neighbors shaking their heads and saying, "He's just not the kind of guy you'd think would go berserk and attack innocent shrubbery with a weed whacker."

In the seat next to me, my agitated son was wondering why God would not simply part the ocean of cars in front of us, a la Moses & the Red Sea. To his 12-year-old way of thinking, getting to hockey practice was obviously a lot more important than hiking through the desert in your bathrobe.

Then I got this urgent call on my cell phone, from my oldest son: "Mom, I'm cooking hot dogs and we're out of buns."

Mm. How to respond?
  • Hold on. I have to get out of the car and look to see if it's a delivery truck with an Orowheat emblem on the side.
  • No problem. I keep a emergency package of hot dog buns in the trunk, right there with the jumper cables and first aid kit.
  • I'll stop at the next grocery store I see, buy some buns, and have them sent right over via African swallow. I'd get them there sooner, but my transporter isn't working.
  • I'm at mile marker #118. Bring me some flour, yeast, and milk, and I'll whip some up. They can bake on the idling engine block, which is nearing a gazillion degrees.

Seriously, am I the only mother who gets called to remedy all manner of food crises when she's 60 miles from home? I can be on another continent, in a different time zone, where it costs $40 a second to use my cell phone, and I'll get a call from my kids, "Mom! There's only a tablespoon of wasabi horseradish left in the jar! What are we supposed to do?!" I usually say, "Have you mentioned this to your dad?" And what do they tell me? "No. We didn't want to bother him while he's playing Halo. So can you come home and pick some up on your way into town?"

Well, I'd love to rant more, but I'm approaching mile marker 118.5, and I think we might be off the highway in the next hour or two. Then I have to find a Sam's Club, because I just received a text message, from my kids, consisting of a 94 item grocery list.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm sorry, but I have to tell another joke.

A blonde wanted to go ice fishing. She'd seen many books on the subject. Finally getting all the necessary tools together, she made for the ice. After positioning her comfy footstool, she started to make a circular cut in the ice.

Suddenly, from the sky, a voice boomed, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

Startled, the blonde moved farther down the ice, poured a thermos of cappuccino and began to cut yet another hole.

Again from the heavens the voice bellowed, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

The blonde, now worried, moved clear down to the opposite end of the ice. She set up her stool once more and tried again to cut her hole.

The voice came once more, "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

She stopped, looked skyward, and asked, "IS THAT YOU, LORD?"


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The New Baby

I love my in-laws. They are here visiting, and they eat apples.

So because I don't have time to write a real entry, I'm just going to post this joke that I received from my mom.

With all the new technology regarding fertility recently, a 65-year-old friend of mine was able to give birth.
When she was discharged from the hospital and went home, I went to visit.
"May I see the new baby?" I asked.
"Not yet," she said. "I'll make coffee and we can visit for a while first."

Thirty minutes had passed, and I asked, "May I see the new baby now?"
"No, not yet," she said.

After another few minutes had elapsed, I asked again, "May I see the baby now?"
"No, not yet," replied my friend.
Growing very impatient, I asked, "Well, when can I see the baby?"
"WHEN HE CRIES!" she told me.
"WHEN HE CRIES?" I demanded. "Why do I have to wait until he CRIES?"


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Piano Story

Sometimes it just becomes crystal clear why God did not call some of us into certain professions. I now know why my parents never worked for a moving company.

When they came to visit us last month, they had quite an unusual assortment of items in the back of their truck.
1. Luggage
2. Enough apples to feed the entire population of Pakistan
3. One half-ton of cherry lumber (Hosts often receive from their house guests gifts like soap or a bottle of wine. We, however, are usually given the remains of small forests.)
4. A radio-controlled boat and an RC airplane kit
5. A spinet piano

If my parents had gotten in an accident, rescuers searching through the wreckage would have thought that my folks were tent preachers for some weird fruit-worshipping cult that also operates a flea market.

Anyway. When they arrived at our house, we discovered that due to a broken latch, we couldn't open the back of the truck to unload the cargo. Here's the actual dialogue of the event, while we were all standing around the back of the truck, peering through the windows.

Dad (who is not only mostly deaf, but who also has the patience of a 4 year old): Get me a sledgehammer! I'll bust it open and we'll get it fixed later!
Dad: At my age, I may not have a minute!
Mom, worriedly: Do you think we brought enough apples?
Son (who hears just fine, but who also has the patience of a 4 year old): Holy cats, there's an airplane kit in there! I'm gonna climb in through the window behind the cab!!
Son proceeds to channel Houdini as he wriggles through the 10-inch-square window.
Son, after 20 seconds in the back of the truck: IT'S HOT IN HERE!
Mom, worriedly: I hope I remembered to pack a coat.
Daughters: Can we climb in there, too, to play the piano?
Dad: Where's that sledgehammer?!
Son makes his way to the tailgate of the truck, with the help of a GPS, and examines the latch.
Son: I need some channel locks!
Husband, ignoring son: I need some oil.
Dad: No, the apples won't spoil!
Mom, worriedly: Do you think we brought enough apples?
Son: Channel locks!
Dad: Flannel socks? Oh, they probably fell out of my suitcase.
Husband, ignoring son, applies oil to latch.
Latch doesn't budge.
Mom, worriedly: I need to buy a new atlas before we go home.
Daughters fight over who gets to play the piano first.
Husband silently studies latch in order to apply a complicated engineering formula.
TC, trying to infuse some humor into the situation: Hey, Dad, maybe you should go home by way of St. Louis and show the piano the arch.
Dad: No, we're not leaving the piano on your porch!
Mom, worriedly: Did I tell you my phone's not working?
Daughters: Mama, can we start piano lessons this afternoon?
Husband finally gets channel locks for son, who proceeds to open the latch in 5 seconds.

Several hours later, after the truck has been disposed of its contents:

Mom, worriedly: Don't you think we ought to unload the piano?

TC: We're gonna get right on it, Mom. Just as soon as my Excedrin Migraine kicks in.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I need a swimming pool full of Calgon.

Good gravy on a biscuit, it's been one of those days.

It started with picking up my dog from the vet, where she had had her leg amputated. Very sad indeed. although her tail doesn't seem to know it. Took my 14 year old shopping, where she spent an hour trying on jackets - all of them tan cordouroy. It was like that parade of pink elephants in the Dumbo movie, but not as happy. I drove 200 miles, most of it in rush-hour traffic, and learned that it's hard to love an idiot with a cellphone in a Volvo going 20 mph under the speed limit. Stopped to pick up dinner at a chicken place, and found out they were out of mashed potatoes, but they could substitute fried okra. What?! How does that happen? It's like a Hallmark store running out of cards. "Sorry, we don't have any birthday cards today. Would you like to send your grandmother this lovely ceramic figurine of a pig on a Harley instead?"

And now I have four teenage boys plus Bunhead here at the house. I'm hearing The Pretenders on Guitar Hero in the living room, migraine-inducing electric guitar feedback out in the garage, and the Transformers movie on the TV. The dogs are trying to commit suicide in their water bowl.

At this point, I'm not even sure I know my own name. So I'm just going to post a photo of my latest apron. It's from the Retro Aprons pattern book by Cindy Taylor Oates.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kahuna-ness, apples, and MORE SUGAR!

Dang it. I meant to do one of those Thursday Thirteen entries, and I forgot, and now here it is Friday, and everyone knows that someone who posts a Thursday entry on Friday will never be chosen as The Big Kahuna of Blogdom.

I probably should consider doing a weekly Wednesday One. That's more my speed.

I like to tell my Texas friends that, when I was growing up, my parents had connections. My friends, knowing I'm from New Jersey, start eyeing their cutting horses' heads a little nervously and wrack their brains trying to remember if I've ever mentioned an Uncle Guido or Cousin Rocco.

The truth is, my parents' connections were much less interesting. Basically, most of them were farmers who would give us mass quantities of food for little or no money. One even gave me my first job - as an illegal alien. Well, okay, not technically, but I was doing the work of an illegal alien, and that work involved the backbreaking task of picking acres of strawberries for ten cents a quart. Ah, America, the land of opportunity. Come here, and you can live below the poverty line AND blow out your lumbar discs! The party never ends!

Anyway. Another one of my parents' connections is a commercial apple grower. Every fall my parents bring us a big load of apples, just in case Texas breaks away from North America and drifts off into the Gulf of Mexico and we can never buy applesauce again.

So I have been busy making apple pies, apple cake, apple bread, apple cookies, baked apples, and apple pie filling preserves. Because I still have an entire bushel left, I am researching how to make socks and underwear from apples. I'm also toying with a homeschool project idea: I'm going to give each kid 50 apples and tell them to go be Johnny Appleseed. They can come home in a year or when their first tree sprouts, whichever comes first.

While my parents were here, we put up 25 quarts of applesauce. Applesauce production is pretty much a group effort, which is interesting when you've got a teenager who's using a butcher knife as a percussion instrument instead of cutting fruit, another person running the strainer that's spewing Lake Apple Juice underfoot, and four idiot dogs that roam the kitchen, fighting over apple scraps, which give them gas that will cause chemical burns in your nasal passages. And in the midst of it all is my father, a diabetic who hasn't checked his blood sugar in, oh, three years, yelling, "It needs more sugar! Put another five pound bag of sugar in there!"

Actually, I have a theory about apples. I'm almost 100% certain that the fruit with which Satan tempted Eve in the garden was an apple. Maybe a plum. And here's why. I suspect Eve was about 8 months pregnant at the time. I mean, think about it. First of all, the woman is pregnant, so she'll eat everything that can't run away from her. And - this is a key point - the apple was easy to acquire. You think Satan could have tempted her with a strawberry? I don't think so.

Serpent: Hey, doesn't that strawberry down there look sweet and juicy? Don't you want to eat it and have the knowledge God has?

Eve: What are you, nuts? As if I'm gonna bend over with this forty pound belly in front of me. And if I did get down there, how'm I gonna get back up? It's not like you can help me - you ain't even got arms. And that Adam sure won't come help me up. He says I have mood swings. Can you believe that?! The man is hiding over by the lions' den, like he's all scared of me or somethin'. Now push that rock over here so I can sit down. My feet are starting to swell and my bladder's givin' me fits. And is it just me, or is it hotter than Hell today? Seriously. 'Cause you'd know, right?


Parenting tip of the day: Let your kids eat off-brand, half-price Halloween candy all day on November 1st, and by 5:00 pm they'll be begging you for some green beans. Honest to God, it happened at my house.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

That Tag Thing

My new friend, Keeley, asked me to do the "7 Things About Me" tag, and I'm starting to worry about how boring I'm becoming, because it took me over an hour to think up this list.

1. I had a dream last night that I was peeling potatoes, and when I woke up, my hands were cramped and sore. I sort of hoped that I'd been sleepwalking and had made myself some hash browns for breakfast. Alas, no.

2. I frequently dream about public bathrooms. I really hope I'm not sleepwalking when these occur.

3. I am finally pursuing a lifelong dream of learning Russian, thanks to Rosetta Stone.

4. I have this thing about pens. I bet I own at least 50, and half of them are in my purse, which explains why it weighs enough to qualify for bariatric surgery.

5. I am obsessive compulsive about weird things. Like today, I organized my stash of gift bags.

6. Yesterday I rented the PS2 game, "Ratatouille," for ME to play.

7. I don't know if I'd like to drive a Smart car, or just adopt one as a pet.

So now I'm supposed to tag 7 more people, and I'm going to choose a bunch of my buds here at blogger: Supernatural, Mostly Sunny, Sydney, Hope Grace, Tiffany, Karen, & Linda.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Deja vu all over again

I just spent a lovely week with my parents, who drove to Texas from their home 1500 miles away. My father is 75 and can hear about as well as an acorn squash - and that's only if he has both hearing aids in and turned on. My mother is 74 and memory-challenged. I don't know why some young people say they don't know how to talk to elderly people. I found it pretty easy. We just had the same conversation every day for seven days. My dad never heard more than one-third of it, and my mom never remembered it. I felt like I was in the retirement home version of "Groundhog Day."

On top of that, my mother arrived with a new cell phone and a new digital camera. For my technologically impaired parents, this combination of challenges was the equivalent of piloting the space shuttle to Mars while simultaneously performing open heart surgery on conjoined orphaned triplets. I wondered why my mother hadn't answered her phone in the three days they were on the road. It was because she didn't know how to turn it on. I don't know why they have a cell phone. Last month, they used it for a total of THIRTEEN minutes, and I don't even know how that happened. I mean, a blind llama could fall out of the sky, break through their roof, and use the phone to call 911 and a roofing contractor while my mom was still trying to figure out how to plug in the phone charger.

I'm short on time right now, but I have more to tell about their visit. Next entry I'll write about The Piano That Went on Vacation, and How Many Apple Pies Will a 25 Square Foot Freezer Hold?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What, no booger-producing baby dolls?

Well, it's mid-October, which is officially the start of the Christmas Catalog Onslought season. I've already received a Harry & David catalog. If those people were smart, they'd put scratch-n-sniff stickers on every page. Of course, I'd probably end up eating the catalog, and I don't know about you, but wood pulp always goes straight to my cankles.

Anyway. The next catalog I received was a toy catalog. My kids are pretty much past the toy age and are now in the outrageously-expensive-electronic-device age, but I paged through the catalog just to see what's available.

I have to say, when my children were small, they were given traditional, normal gifts. The girls got things like dolls, and the boys received Legos and sports equipment. Granted, the girls play-acted that the dolls were achieving world dominion, and the boys used the sports equipment to launch the little Lego men onto the roof of our neighbor's barn, but still. So I was a little shocked to see what's being marketed to parents today.

For starters, we have "UglyDolls." These toys frighten me because 1) they look like the characters in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, and 2) they cost $25! I sure wouldn't spend that much money just to give my kid night frights. I can rent "Nightmare on Elm Street" from Blockbuster and get the same effect for a mere $5. And look at the names on these things: "Ugly Worm," and "Big Toe." Yeah, can't you hear your toddler whining, "Daddy, Stevie has an Ugly Worm, and I want an Ugly Worm, too!!" Daddy would probably go outside and bring in an grub worm, and then your kid would need therapy for the rest of his life. We don't really need an UglyDoll anyway. We have Dewey, who bears a remarkable resemblance to "Ox."
Moving from the disturbing to the downright disgusting...

Here we have "Gassy Gus." Who's running the toy companies these days, 12 year old boys? The goal of the game is to stuff Gus full of food without making him belch. I don't see how this game is going to work. My boys wouldn't want to win. For them, the goal of the game should be to get the loudest, longest belch possible out of Gus, and THEN, to mimic the sound themselves, as many times as possible until Mom starts searching the kitchen cupboards for the vodka.

Again, we don't really need Gassy Gus. We've got Rock'n'Roll Daddy, a fat guy who sits in his recliner every night and says, "Pull my finger."

If you're big on educational material for your child, especially books, you can now purchase Walter the Farting Dog. Lovely. And did I mention this book made the New York Times Bestseller list? I think I'll abandon my current book concept and write Petey the Pooping Pigeon, followed by Carla, the Hairball-Hacking Cat.
So here's my advice to those of you who will be shopping for young children this holiday season: Give something tasteful like paper towels or shoelaces.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Short term .... what was I saying?

You've probably heard the expression, "Insanity is contagious. You get it from your kids." Well, I'm beginning to wonder if short-term memory loss is catching, and if I got it from my daughter's dog. Every morning, our elderly, one-eyed, deaf, fat pug named Dewey (yeah, I know - we should have named him Lucky) seems to forget that he just inhaled his food, and sits patiently by his bowl, looking expectantly for breakfast. It's like doggie Alzheimer's or something. Which would be bad if a particular breed got it - Weimereiner's Alzheimer's.

Anyway. I realized last week that I had totally forgotten to announce this month's winner of the Grace and Peace Award!

I'm pleased to present Graced from My Back Porch. (Not MY back porch. HER back porch.) Alli, who nominated her, said, "I am thankful for the honesty she gives with a big dose of strong and sound Biblical challenges." As I read over her blog entries, I was impressed with the depth of her spiritual insight, yet she doesn't come across as holier-than-thou or in any way superior to her readers. In fact, in her acceptance of the award, Graced said, "It is only by God's amazing grace that I have any grace or peace at all. I would love to accept this award on His behalf." You've got to love someone that humble.

Congratulations, Graced!

As always, I will keep previously nominated blogs in the running for future months, but feel free to send me new names/blogs. Click on the icon on my sidebar to be taken to the post where I outlined the qualifications.

Scam alert!

If you have trouble reading the label on this product, it says, "Wave the Magic Piggy Wand once over the main dish and twice over the dessert and all the calories will QUICKLY DISAPPEAR. If this fails, simply wave it over the areas of your body that you wish were thin..."

Well, I'm here to tell you it doesn't work.

The only part of me that got thinner was the arm I used to wave the wand vigorously around my entire body. Boy, do I feel like an idiot. And not even a skinny idiot, at that.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Top 10 Ways to Spot a Hockey Mom

10. She owns a cat named Zamboni.

9. She knows where you can buy coffee at 4:30 a.m.

8. She thinks televised bowling would be a lot more interesting if checking was allowed.

7. She's found a way to work broken $200 hockey sticks into her home decor.

6. She's trying to figure out how to introduce her teen daughter to Sidney Crosby, the 19 year old NHL phenom.

5. She buys Car Jar air fresheners by the case.

4. In the back of her van, she carries a fleece blanket and a winter coat - in August.

3. She has the numbers of the dentist and orthodontist on speed dial.

2. Instead of putting her kids in time-out, she says she's sending them to the penalty box.

1. The bruise on her hand comes from banging on the glass along the boards.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

His campaign promise could be, "A flat-screen TV in every American home!"

As everyone knows, next year is an election year. We were wondering if Flat Stanley has given any consideration to running for President. He is obviously a man of the people. He has that rugged, handsome appearance required for the media. He is flexible on the issues and favors a flat tax like I do. Do you think Stanley will run in 2008? - Underdog


Thank you so much for this excellent query. It's always a pleasure to receive an email from a real person instead of yet another invitation to join a singles dating site which must be extremely desperate if they're recruiting married, near-elderly women with lip lines.

Anyway. Although Stanley has not said anything to me about campaigning (or about anything else, for that matter), I do believe he would be an excellent choice.
  1. Thus far, he has dealt very well with the press of being in the public eye.
  2. He would reduce taxes by making the federal government leaner.
  3. He would very much like to iron out the problems in the middle east, and smooth the way for bringing our troops home.
  4. I have found him to be very level-headed. Particularly while lying down.
  5. He would thin out spending on pork projects.
  6. Some critics say he is narrow-minded, but I think he has more than an inkling of what concerns the average American.
  7. Finally, he currently lives on a ranch in Texas, which has worked out well for several other presidents.

Here's Stanley with the ubiquitous prickly pear cactus:

And here he is with his exotic turkeys, which is great experience for working with French diplomats:
In conclusion, I believe that with some plain talk from his friends, Flat Stanley could be pressured into running. Please send all campaign donations to me.

Sincerely (and I mean that),


Thursday, October 4, 2007

As if I really cook.

If you've read this blog for very long, you know that it's safer to give an eight-year-old with ADHD a package of matches and let him run loose in a fireworks factory than it is to allow me just walk through a kitchen.

Be that as it may, lately I've been feeling very domestic. So rather than take a chance on actually cooking and possibly be accused of initiating chemical warfare, I've been making aprons. This, the Flirty Skirty Apron, is my latest.

I finally have something cute to wear when I serve up my signature meal - chocolate with a side of coffee.

Why buy museum passes when we can just open my closet door?

I guess my generation has officially made it to antique status.

I first realized this when I was setting up some audiovisual equipment at work, and one of the young men on the front row asked, "What is that?" After letting out a sigh that mimicked the sound of air brakes, I explained that it was a slide projector. "Wow!" he marveled. "I've never seen one of those!" I could have written that off as cultural ignorance - most of the population here in Dirtville still hasn't discovered those things called "books" - but then the next thing happened.

Yesterday, Sasquatch was cleaning out a closet and he came across a box marked Panasonic Turntable. When he asked me what it was, and I told him it was a record player, he gasped, "We have one of those?!" You'd have thought he'd just discovered that we own a bicuspid from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Later, he came across the records and I thought I was going to have to get him an inhaler, which is saying something because he doesn't even have asthma.

Great. I know what's going to happen next. My kids are conniving and broke, which means they'll start charging their friends to come over and see their mom, CroMagnon Woman, and her cave of prehistoric wonders.

Monday, October 1, 2007

He's destined to hand out smiley face stickers, I just know it.

Over the course of our homeschooling years, we've covered a lot of world history. I've tried to teach my children to grasp the "big ideas" of each era: how religion shaped the culture; major military successes and failures; how the geography of an area impacted trade; the contributions of each culture to fine art; societal roles of women and children in ancient history. We made togas, built a model of the Rose Theater, practiced writing Mandarin characters with a brush and ink, studied cross-sections of castles, read biographies of Ghengis Khan, Gutenburg, and Ghandi.

So what does Sasquatch (age 12) actually remember from all of that?
1. The ancient Egyptians ate doormice.
2. Queen Elizabeth brushed her teeth with sugar.

GAH! Maybe I should just start teaching the boy the practical things he will need to know for his future career, like

The Care and Cleaning of Your Blue StuffMart Vest

Cart Wrangling 101

Clean Up on Aisle 4 - Tips for Mopping up Five Gallons of Kosher Dills

She Wants More Than Your 10 Items: Why You May NOT Date that Huzzy Who Works in the Quick-Check Lane.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"... as was foretold by my oven."

Strange things are afoot in the TC house. The washing machine doesn't know when to stop filling, so it floods the laundry room. The oven has been making crackling noises and emitting white smoke (and that's before I put the food in).

Here's what I think. I think if God spoke to men through donkeys and burning bushes, He can darn sure speak to us through appliances. And that's what I told Rock 'n' Roll Daddy.

I said that I think God is sending us messages to leave Egypt (i.e., our money-pit of a house), and the sooner the better, because it's gonna be destroyed by fire or flood or some other disasterous plague-ish thing. He asked me how much caffeine I'd had that morning. I reminded him that a lot of the appliances in our house are from the Roosevelt administration. He asked me what that had to do with anything, so I told him that it's common knowledge that God didn't like FDR on account of his starting that communist Social Security program and all. He asked was I ready to wander in the wilderness (i.e., our back pasture) for 40 years, cooking over a campstove. I said - and I only raised my voice a little at this point - that that sounded good to me, as long as he would be content with eating manna (i.e., Beanie Weanies from a can) every day. Then one of the dogs urped up something that looked like a catfish in a mitten, so that was the end of that discussion. Personally, I think the catfish was another sign from God, but right then wasn't a good time to say that to Laban (i.e., Rock 'n' Roll Daddy).

All I know is this: if our copier starts randomly spitting out pictures of frogs or locusts, buddyroe, I am getting the heck out of Dodge.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Hello, this is your hamstring calling."

Oh. My. Word. This is ME. Well, it's good to know I'm not the only twitchy person out there.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Pirates and yogurt and Stanley - oh my!

First, some notes on this year's Talk Like a Pirate Day festivities.

1. Rock 'n' Roll Daddy (formerly known as My Husband) got into the pirate spirit immediately by coming to the table and announcing, "Get me my food, wench!" Then I got into the pirate spirit by threatening to feed him maggoty bread and water. Then we almost got into the Jerry Springer spirit, but we were distracted by the dog puking up a toad carcass into the open dishwasher.

2. I was in the grocery store late in the day, and as I approached the dairy aisle, I was suddenly overcome with pirateness. I don't know what triggered it; maybe it was the realization that I was going to be a victim of thievery when I reached the checkout lane ($5.39 for a gallon of MILK?!). Or maybe it was just that I needed yogurt, and the word "acidophilous" sounds like a 16th century name to me. "Pirates seized the ship of Lord Acidophilous Pennywiggle of Digestishire, England." Whatever. I headed for the yogurt and let out a rather boisterous "ARRRRR!"

Then I noticed the young man stocking the shelves 4 feet away.

While I was trying to make my choices among 134 varieties of yogurt - and none of them rum flavored! - this young man kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye. Finally he said to me, in a "I'm concerned about you elderly folks" tone, "Do you need some help?" Of course, I knew that he didn't mean did I need help finding yogurt. No, he was asking me, in the most politically correct way, "Would you like assistance to the aisle where we stock the straightjackets?" Puh. As if I wouldn't know that the straightjackets are right next to the BandAids and corn removers. I glared at him from under my eye patch and moved on.

At least this year I had a friend to celebrate with. My good buddy, Stanley, really got into the party mood.

Stanley also had a big night at the ballet on Friday. I took him (and my daughter, Princess Bunhead, and her friend, Osprey) to see the North Texas Ballet Theater production of Coppelia. This is a photo of Stanley on the outdoor balcony, near one of the giant granite angels that adorn Bass Performance Hall.
Bunhead designed his suit.

Oh, and here's Bunhead, in Vanna White mode, which is pretty much any time a camera is pointed in her direction.

My children have an exciting week planned for Stanley. I don't know the specifics, but my son, Mr. Danger, has dressed Stanley in camo. This should be interesting. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why didn't I think of that?

Some dude named Robert Smith has written The Nicole Richie Cookbook. Richie is the Hollywood starlet who weighs all of about 80 pounds - and 20 of that is probably hair extensions, false eyelashes, and silicone, uh, additions. By law, the woman should be riding in a booster seat.

Here's the thing. Mr. Smith is getting $11.95 a copy for a recipe book that is full of ... blank pages.

Man, I could write one like that and call it TC's Secrets to Successful Housecleaning.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Adventures with Stanley: Week 1

This whole Flat Stanley Project is not turning out at all like I expected. My kids are just being horribly resistant to enfolding Stanley into our family. This is a photo of our first meal with the new arrival.

Now isn't that just a picture of excitement and overwhelming happiness?

Today I wanted to take a photo of Stanley on the Zamboni machine after Sasquatch's hockey practice, but he (Sasquatch, not Stanley) adamantly opposed the idea and threatened to ride beside me in the front seat on the way home. If you know anything about hockey, you know that this is the equivalent to being sentenced to Painful Suffocating Death By Noxious Odor. Asphyxiation definitely would have put a crimp in my plans for the rest of the day, so I decided to forgo the Zamboni photo.

The Husband is not helping the situation. Apparently, he thinks that Stanley is the reincarnation of Mr. Bill. I have to admit, there is a physical resemblance.

But my word, the kinds of ideas he's coming up with for Stanley make me think it's time to take away his NRA card.

When all was said and done, the most exciting thing that happened to Stanley this week was that he learned to be my personal barista. I think he looks pretty happy about it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Now if they could just replace those cheap plastic seats with recliners.

I never cease to be amazed by new technological advances. It’s probably because I grew up in an era when the phrase “high-tech” hadn’t even been coined yet. On top of that, the closest one came to being “high-tech” was if you owned a cassette recorder onto which you could record ghostly “wooooo” sounds. Then you could hide the recorder under your bed, switch it on to play late at night, and tell your little sister, who was nearly scared out of her Chatty Cathy nightgown, that Casper was in the room. Not that I would know anything about that.

So nowadays, I’m awed by everything from Goose-Me-Elmo to those new iPhone$, and everything in between. The most recent object of wonder for me has been slightly less techie, but no less impressive – scented bowling balls.

Now, I’m thinking this is an idea which is way overdue. I mean, when I think of the scent of a bowling alley, all that comes to mind is Eau de Ball Return: “A heady concoction with base notes of stale cigarettes, accentuated lightly with shoe deodorizer and top notes of cheap cologne and AquaNet.”

As it turns out, Storm Bowling is one of the leading manufacturers of scented bowling balls, so I headed over to their web site to see what they have to offer. I don’t know which is more impressive – the vast array of available scents, including lime, blueberry,  and plum, or the names of the various models.  With monikers like, “El Nino Wrath,” “Fire Storm,” and “Flash Flood,” you have to wonder if the people in the naming department spent most of their lives on the west coast. Then you realize they must be from Los Angeles, possibly even from a penitentiary in LA, when you see more names like, “Shock Trauma” and “Razor Wire.” Either that, or they’re just the kind of guys you don’t want bowling in the lane next to you and your kids. Or in the county next to you, for that matter.

Anyway. Storm’s web site has this cool feature called The Match Maker, which is designed to assess your personal bowling skills and then determine the best Storm ball for your particular style. I decided to try it out, even though my particular style could best be described as “chuck the ball down the lane and hope it hits something.”

The first question on the assessment is
What is your average score?
o Less than 150
o 150-200
o 200 or over

This was when I realized that The Match Maker is for serious bowlers. You know, the people with their own bowling shoes that are NOT red and black, and do not have the size announced to God and his dog on the heel. I thought the question should at least have a qualifier, “Is that with or without bumpers?”

I didn’t even know how to answer some of the other questions, which dealt with things like axis rotation (“My orthopedic surgeon says to avoid it”) and lane conditions (“too long”). And completely missing were questions like, “Have you ever bounced the ball over into a neighboring lane?” or “Have you ever released the ball on your backswing, thereby endangering the lives of the spectators behind you?” Not that I would know anything about that.

Eventually, The Match Maker was able to tell me that the perfect ball for me was the Sure-Fire, which comes in the delectable scent of pina-colada.

I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t recommended the Screamin’ Banshee, because that seems to fit my personality better, but, hey, you gotta trust the professionals.

Then, if I really wanted to order a Sure-Fire, I had to identify myself as a Stroker, Tweener, or Cranker. I have no idea what those terms mean, but they don’t sound like something a nice Christian woman should be. I’d hate to know that my future descendents would read on my headstone, “Here lies TC. She was a real cranker.”

If you decide to go over to Storm Bowling’s website, don’t bother to look for a chocolate-scented model. There isn’t one. I guess those Storm guys are smarter than their XXL bowling shirts make them look. They know that if any of us women bowlers get our hands on a chocolate-scented bowling ball, we’ll just sit there licking it and forgo the game altogether.

Not that I would know anything about that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If he wasn't flat before, he will be by the time he leaves our house.

I was over at TrainingHearts' blog today and found out that she's got a Virtual Flat Stanley project going on, so I immediately signed us up.

Well, as ol' Stanley came rolling out of the printer, my children wanted to know what was going on. From their reactions, you'd have thought I had just suggested that we start a six-week diet of Yahtzee score pads and thumb tacks.

  • "You have GOT to be kidding."
  • "MOM!" (Prounounced in the more dramatic, 2-syllable fashion)
  • "No way am I taking that little creep to ballet class."
  • "He has big ears."

"Oh, come on!" said I. "Think of all the fun adventures we can take Stanley on. And, we get to take pictures and you can put them on your blogs." I thought their eyes were going to roll right out of their too-cool teenage heads.

Then the little heathens began to suggest some activities for Stanley. Perhaps he would like to experience a paper shredder? He can light the grill for hamburgers! Maybe he'd like to play with the dogs. Origami?!

Poor, poor Stanley. I fear he's in for a rough time at our house. Photos will be forthcoming. Unless my son straps him to a firecracker first.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Didja miss me?

I've been away from the blogosphere for a few days. My brain and my body had a minor skirmish over my need for sleep, and my body won.

Anyway, I'm rested and returned, but I can't write much at the moment. It seems that no one else in my house understands the importance of washing dishes. This morning I had to eat my oatmeal with a pickle fork.

Didja miss me?

I've been away from the blogosphere for a few days. My brain and my body had a minor skirmish over my need for sleep, and my body won.

Anyway, I'm rested and returned, but I can't write much at the moment. It seems that no one else in my house understands the importance of washing dishes. This morning I had to eat my oatmeal with a pickle fork.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

VCR alert!

Because she's too modest to tell you about it herself, I'm going to blab the news for her. A fellow blogger and former homeschooling mom, Cindy Downes (EmptyNestMom), is scheduled to be featured on Good Morning America on September 7. How cool is that?!


Just to get your morning started with a smile, here are a few Christian quips.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.


Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.


Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.


God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?


Some minds are like concrete; thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.


I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?


We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.


God loves everyone, but probably prefers "fruits of the spirit" over "religious nuts!"

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

So true.

Q: How many women with MENOPAUSE does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One! ONLY ONE!!!! And do you know WHY?    
Because no one else in this house knows HOW to change a light bulb! They don't even know that the bulb is BURNED OUT!! They would sit in the dark for THREE DAYS before they figured it out. And, once they figured it out, they wouldn't be able to find the #&%!* light bulbs despite the fact that they've been in the SAME CABINET for the past 17 YEARS! But if they did, by some miracle of God, actually find them, 2 DAYS LATER, the chair they dragged over to stand on to change the STUPID light bulb would STILL BE IN THE SAME SPOT!! AND UNDERNEATH IT WOULD BE THE WRAPPER THE FREAKING LIGHT BULBS CAME IN!!! BECAUSE NO ONE EVER CARRIES OUT THE GARBAGE!!! IT'S A WONDER WE HAVEN'T ALL SUFFOCATED FROM THE PILES OF GARBAGE THAT ARE A FOOT DEEP THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE HOUSE!! IT WOULD TAKE AN ARMY TO CLEAN THIS PLACE! AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON WHO CHANGES THE TOILET PAPER ROLL !!

I'm sorry. What was the question?  

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Testing... testing... one, two, three... Is this thing on?

On the List of Things No One Tells You When You Sign Your Child Up For Hockey: You will henceforth spend every major national holiday getting up at 4:30 a.m. to go sit on butt-numbing bleachers in an ice rink for a 3-day tournament, while your friends are water skiing at the lake. (Thank you, Canada.)

Anyway. I have two things to say.

Big Announcement Number One: The inagural winner of the Grace and Peace Award is a mother of many, whose children are a testimony to the gracious home in which they've been raised. Her blog is a soothing place that is warm and inviting and accepting. Please go congratulate Jewels, from Eyes of Wonder. As the person who nominated her said, "She emanates grace and peace from every pore." What a witness to the love of God!

Reminder: Please continue to send in your nominations for next month's award. I will keep the names of previously nominated bloggers for future consideration.

Big Announcement Number Two: Work is underway on my new blog, and I'd love it if you would stop in to look at it and give me your feedback. Go here, and then comment me (either here or there). It still needs much work, but I hope to have it mostly up and running by the end of September. I'm very excited about the upcoming move and hope to have a few Grand Opening promotions and maybe even some prizes. Stay tuned.

And now I must go do some laundry. Four-thirty tomorrow morning will be bad enough, without having to be confronted by hockey jerseys that smell like they've been worn by someone who heats up his Beanie Weenies under an overpass on the Garden State Parkway.

Friday, August 31, 2007

"TAG" spelled backward is "GAT."

With thanks to PuritySeekers:

1. What is your school’s name and why? My family has always resisted naming our school, mainly because they’re afraid I’m going to make them all wear matching polo shirts with the name embroidered on the chest. Dang it, why did I teach them to be independent thinkers? So our unofficial school name is the North Texas Academy of Cheez-Doodles.

2. How is your weather today? Texas + August = hot & sunny.

3. What steals your joy? Watching Christians be hateful to each other, because it so destroys the witness of the Church.

4. Name 5 blessings you received this week.

1. Biscotti.

2. Nine hours of sleep on Wednesday night, compared to my usual 5 or 6.

3. CiCi’s pizza with three of my favorite young adults – Tyler, Emma, and Osprey.

4. Tickets to see Relient K and Switchfoot in October. Woo hoo!

5. Being part of an incredible church, and having the Word poured out on me as a means of grace.

5. Favorite Scripture passage. All of Philippians.

6. Who in the Bible do you think you are most like? Joseph. But I don’t do dream interpretation, so don’t ask.

7. The passage of scripture you read last was: Mark 5.

8. Have you ever praised God for something weird? My life, which is just a series of weird events.

9. If you were making a greeting card for God, what would you say? THANKS FOR EVERYTHING! YOU’RE THE GREATEST! And if you’re not too busy, would you mind just whacking _________ with a lightning bolt?

10. What is the best miracle God has performed in your life, or what is you favorite answered prayer? You mean besides the fact that He predestined me, regenerated me, called me, justified me, and is sanctifying me? Well, there’s that little matter of Him blessing infertile me with four children …

11. What is the most fun thing you have done lately? Gone shopping with Emma for a formal dress, which was considerably less traumatic than jeans shopping, except when she put on the dress that made her look like Marilyn Monroe and I needed oxygen.

12. How did you choose your screen name? It’s closely related to the name given me by the US Witness Protection Program, and that’s all I can say about that.

Now...choose five people to tag. OreoSouza, Telmar, EmptyNestMom, ChathamMommy, Iluvtheland .