Wednesday, January 31, 2007

So You Want to be a Suitor

If you're going to raise teenagers, you can't be a wimp.

This fact was hammered home to me last week, when Princess BunHead received not one, but two notes from boys, indicating their interest in her. One, a local boy, wants to take her to one of his basketball games. The other, out of state, expressed his desire to visit her in the summer, and then, when he is enlisted in the Air Force, to see her during his leave times.

A mother just can't take this lying down. So, in a spirit of decided non-wimpiness, I have drafted an application form to be complete by any males interested in my girls.

Here is the cover letter.

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your notice of interest in Our Daughter (hereafter referred to as OD) and affiliation with Our Family (hereafter referred to as OF). We commend you in your pursuit of excellence.

As you may know, OF recently instituted stringent guidelines for admission into our Suitor Program. It is our desire that those wishing to affiliate with OD/OF be of the highest moral and ethical character; demonstrate an aptitude for spiritual leadership; display a strong work ethic; prove significant intellectual proficiency in vocabulary, writing, mathematics, and the sciences; and be gifted with an exceptional sense of humor.

Our Suitor Program is rigorous. Candidates can expect to complete courses such as Feats of Strength; History of Ice Hockey; Building an Airplane From the Ground Up, With Only a Screwdriver and a Rubber Mallet; Killing & Grilling; Understanding the Female Mind; Rock Music Appreciation & Theory; Care & Keeping of Your Dodge Ram Pickup; and The Manly Art of Power Tool Prowess.

To that end, you will find enclosed an Application for Admission. Please complete it in its entirety and return it to us, along with all required documents and attachments. Our review committee will determine your compatibility with OD/OF and notify you of your acceptance into the Suitor Program.

Best wishes,

TC, Co-Director of Admissions

Tomorrow: The Application

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yet another tag.

Midwifemom got me this time, with the A-Z Tag.

From A to Z:

A- Available or married? very married

B- Best Friend? my sister, who posts hilarious comments on my blog as "Seester."

C- Cake or Pie? cake, with plenty of frosting

D- Drink of Choice? Coffee

E- Essential Item? elbow length gloves, of course!

F- Favorite Color? Aqua

G- Gummi Bears or Worms? bears. The texture of the worms is just too close to the real thing. *gag*

H- Hometown? a rural community in northwest New Jersey

I- Indulgence? imported dark chocolate

J- January or February? February. If it were up to me, we'd take January off the calendar completely.

K- Kids & names? Tyler (16), Emma (15), Audrey (13), Sam (11)

L- Life is incomplete without? God

M- Marriage Date? April, 21 years ago

N- Number of Siblings? Two, who count themselves blessed to have me as their older sister

O- Oranges or apples? apples

P -Phobias/Fears? heights. I don't even like standing on a chair.

Q-Favorite Quote? "Look, I'm invisible!" (from one of Princess BunHead's friends)

R- Reason to Smile? Life with my kids, which is like being in the middle of a Saturday Night Live skit with Moe & Curly Howard, Gracie Allen, and Carol Burnett.

S- Season? Summer

T- Tag three people!
PlainJane, Fisherofmen, & Mommybob

U- Unknown fact about me: I've lost 20 pounds since Jan. 2, 2007.

W- Worst habit? Playing with my hair

Y- Your favorite food? Pasta

Z- Zodiac? Aries the ram, and according to my horoscope, when all the planets are in alignment I'm going to find fame and fortune in the business of manufacturing prosthetic eyebrows.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Someone call Security!

I've heard it said that identity theft is most often perpetrated by a relative. Well, whaddya know but it happened in my very own home. Somebody hacked into my blog, pretended to be me, and had the nerve to post a picture of my very own self with my scheming, yet witty, daughter.

What somebody does not realize is that I am gifted far above most mortals in the ancient art of Pranks & Mischief.

This means war. Hide your underwear and sleep with a light on, girlie.

Hello, all!

Hello, everybody, this is your somewhat-loving, witty, and all around funny TC!!! This is most certainly not her vivacious, gorgeous, and charming daughter, SouthernBelle, hacking into her account while shie is napping for an hour after another exciting adventure.

See, I can proove it! Here I am, with said vivacious, gorgeous, and charming daughter:

Oh, and please don't say we look alike. My daughter doesn't seem to like that, even though she will admit she gets her good looks from me.

By the way, while we are on the topic of SouthernBelle, why don't you all just stop by her blog for a minute or two, and leave her a nice long comment? You never know, she may just comment you back. :)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Things to know before you go.

Here are some facts that may be helpful to you, should you ever find yourself in Oklahoma, "The Wind Tunnel State."

  • Central Oklahoma is as flat as Donald Trump's toupee. If you really build up some speed coming down out of the hills near Turner Falls, you can coast the remaining 100 miles into Oklahoma City.

  • The condition of the roads in and around Oklahoma City is atrocious. There is an enormous Michelin tire factory just south of the capital city. Coincidence? I think not.

  • There are relatively few restaurants and only one Starbucks between OKC and the Texas state line. Great Will Rogers' ghost, what do you people eat, sagebrush and road kill?

  • The little town of Pauls Valley is home to - I'm not making this up - the world-reknowned Action Figure Museum. I didn't get to stop on this trip, but next time I'm definitely going in. If they have an action figure of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, it'll be worth the price of admission.

Happy trails!

Friday, January 26, 2007

A tip for parents of teens

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that even we parent-teachers get educated, too. Here's what I learned this week: Never agree to play "Truth or Dare" with your teenage children. It doesn't matter if you choose "truth" or "dare," this will prove to be a lose-lose situation for you. If you opt for "truth," your children will ask you embarrassing questions and then guffaw at your reluctant answers. If you choose "dare," you will end up having to kiss the dog on the lips or sing Oh! Gravity, all the way through, while waiting in line at Blockbuster.

I told my kids they have to select another game next week.

They chose poker.

If I'm not around to blog after next week, it'll be because the little heathens took all my money and I can't pay my internet service bill.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Maybe we could use the magazines to patch up the jeans.

Our house resembles the periodical room at the library. We subscribe to so many magazines, we're probably responsible for the employment of every paper mill worker in Wisconsin. (No need to thank us - just send cheese.)

Husband subscribes to anything with the words "wood" or "airplane" in the title, and has every issue dating back to 1962. The man never throws anything away. I think he has socks that belonged to his great-grandfather, some tools from the Stone Age, and his tonsils in a jar.

Sasquatch receives USA Hockey, which is full of helpful articles like, "How to Take Care of the Teeth You Have Left," and "10 Ways to Irritate the Officials While You're in the Sin Bin."

Fashion Bug gets an interesting magazine called Lucky, which is all about - get this - shopping. Who knew we needed a monthly guide to shopping? I must be living in the dark ages, because I figured people still shopped the old-fashioned way - by hanging out at the mall on Saturdays, eating an MSG-kabob from the Chinese place in the food court and wondering why teenage boys can't find jeans that keep their Fruit of the Looms covered up.

I took a look at the latest issue of Lucky, just so I could be up-to-date on what's happening in the world of fashion, and here is what I found.

You probably remember the clothing trend from a year or two ago, when girls were wearing what appeared to be t-shirts that they stole from their two year old sisters. I hated that look. I did not need to see the midriffs of every girl in town, nor those of their middle-aged, stretch-marked mothers. A couple of those women actually caused me to suffer from hysterical blindness.

Well, I'm happy to report that trend is over, only to be replaced by one that's not much better. The new look is long, skinny, knit tops, designed to look good on anyone who's the same circumference as a cucumber. The only women who will pull off this style are Hollywood starlets, who are thin to the point of being transparent. I'm pretty sure that a couple of them should, according to federal weight restrictions, be riding in a car seat.

The other hip trend is "distressed" jeans. I really need someone to explain to me why I should pay upwards of $50 for jeans that look like they've been through the digestive system of a nanny goat. It makes no sense to me. It's like buying a frozen turkey with one leg already gnawed off, or a new car that's been worked over by a steroidal baseball player and his cork-filled bat.

Well, I will have to think about that tomorrow. Right now, I am going to peruse the latest issue of my favorite magazine, Excessively Bad Housekeeping. There's an article in there titled, "Putting Dust Mites to Work for You," which I'm just itching to read.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Change is good.

I think my mantra for 2007 is going to be, "Change is good." It's amazing what you experience and learn when you break away from the old and try something new. And I'm not just talking about switching from white to whole wheat.

I have a new dentist, and I like him very much, and not only because he's good at what he does. For starters, he has TVs mounted above the exam chairs, so the patient can watch a movie on DVD while getting a root canal. I suppose this helps to distract you from the fact that there are four hands, three pointy metallic instruments, and a smallish garden hose in your mouth. Whatever - I like it. I rarely get to watch movies at home, because our TV is usually showing: 1) some video game wherein teenage boys loudly race riding lawn mowers, tricycles, and shopping carts, and then punch each other when the game is over; 2) sporting events, in which the sideline interviewer asks such brilliant questions as, "How do you feel after losing the championship?"; 3) Phantom of the Opera, because Princess BunHead has to review the last scene so as to have the lines from the entire movie commited to memory; or 4) Rachael Ray, the Queen of EVOO.

The other thing I really like about my new dentist is that he uses nitrous oxide. I'd never experienced nitrous oxide before yesterday. Holy moley. All I can say is, that stuff is way underused. It needs to be available to the general public on a much wider basis. I've already thought of several applications where it would make people much happier.

  • In dressing rooms. Think about it. Women would actually buy the jeans they try on, instead of leaving the store empty handed, muttering unprintable maledictions at Levi Strauss.

  • In the check-out line at StuffMart. I know I'd rather have a shot of happy gas than be forced to stare at the tabloids announcing Angelina Jolie's adoption of the entire population of Burkina Faso.

  • At my desk. Especially when I have to pay bills.

  • Portable tanks. A mom could strap one of these on when she has to swab the toilet, clean under her son's bed, or shampoo the carpet where the dog vomited up the fish sticks and peas that the three year old fed him.

  • Mammogram rooms. Need I say more?

Yep, change is very good. Now I just need to convince my eleven year old son of that fact, especially when it comes to his underwear.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Difference between women and men

I didn't write this; it was one of those chain emails that my mother keeps sending me even though I have threatened to change my email address and not tell her the new one. Anyway, this one's funny.

Difference between Women and Men


If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara.

If Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy.


When the bill arrives, Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in a $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.

When the women get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.


A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.

A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need, but it's on sale


A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott.

The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.


A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that... is the beginning of a new argument.


Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.


A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.


A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.


A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.


A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.

A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.


Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.

Women somehow deteriorate during the night.


Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.

A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.


Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.


Confidential to Chris: Best tracks are "American Dream," "Head Over Heels," and "Burn Out Bright."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Stream of semi-consciousness

Man, I'm tired. I don't know what possessed me to let Fashion Bug have a sleepover with two friends last night when we had to be up at 4:00 am today for a hockey game. I could fall asleep sitting up. Maybe I already have....

...When I went to bed at midnight, those girls were still talking. They must have eventually passed out from using up all the oxygen in the room....

...Fashion Bug and her friends like to talk about boys. FB has, unfortunately, seen some girls/women hurt by boys/men, and apparently she's been pondering this, because she came to me this week and said, "Mom, you just can't trust guys, can you?" Ouch. A thirteen year old cynic. I was reminded of the ripple effects of sin. Now I'm faced with the task of teaching her the delicate balance between expecting the best from men, yet being cautious to protect herself and her heart. Gosh, life was easier when she was three, and my biggest parenting challenge was teaching her to put her shoes on the right feet. (For a couple of years there, she invariably looked like Charlie Chaplin from the knees down.)...

...Things were easier before cancer, too. When you get cancer, no one tells you you're going to become absurdly paranoid about every twitch and twinge. I've had some back pain this week, and my brain keeps racing back and forth between two options: A) possible metastases of my cancer, or B) aging body. I don't like either option. Where's option C: none of the above?...

...Sasquatch played a team today from Lafayette, Louisiana, called the Catahoulas. My sixteen year old son, who apparently has a short circuit somewhere in his occipital region, kept calling them the Benihanas....

...And for the Out In Left Field file, this question was posed to me today by Sasquatch: "Can you get arthritis in your teeth?"...

...Oy. I need to go to bed. I just woke up to find my head on the keyboard and my tongue caught between the "h" and "j" keys.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cold. And wet.

It's precipitating again in north Texas. We are going to get our yearly allotment of moisture in the next three months and then see not a drop of rain until January 2008. This means, of course, that until early May, the entire area will be one giant mud bowl.

So. In keeping with this being a homeschooling site and all, I have written a weather related quiz. See how well you do.

  1. If a minivan accumulates 3.9 pounds of dirt and grime per day, how much dirt will accumulate if the owner does not wash her van until April 1st?

  2. A dog with three legs tracks into the house 25% less mud than a dog with four legs. True or false?

  3. A pothole with a diameter of 12 inches grows by 2 inches per day. What model of vehicle will be able to disappear into the pothole after 30 days?

  4. The additional H2O falling into local lakes will make catfish actually taste edible. True or false?

  5. How many ounces of hair styling products will TC need to keep from looking like a limp, wet muskrat died on her head?



  1. 273 pounds. Ten bonus points if you also said, "Throw some seeds on the roof of that sucker and you could have fresh tomatoes by May."

  2. False. The three legged dog will decide to drink out of the nastiest mud puddle on the driveway and come into the house dripping gritty dirt off her chin and ears.

  3. Chevy Suburban.

  4. False. Nothing will ever make catfish taste edible.

  5. 105 ounces, or 13.12 pounds. Ten bonus points if you correctly pointed out that TC's hair actually looks more like a dead beaver than a muskrat.



80-100%: You obviously live in north Texas. Can you recommend a good styling gel?

60-80%: You have visited north Texas in the late winter/early spring, and you still have the caked-on mud on your shoes to prove it.

40-60%: You can find Texas on a map of the United States, and you're pretty sure that muskrats are brown.

20-40%: You actually like the flavor of catfish. You probably went to public school in Louisiana.

0-20%: You are still trying to figure out what "precipitating" means.

Friday, January 19, 2007

One of those tag thingys: Seven weird things about me

I'm going to be rebellious and not follow the rules. I'm not going to tag anyone else, 'cause I'd probably pick people who hate to be tagged, and I already know how weird the rest of you are.

1. I'm not one to write a lot of spiritual admonitions to others on my blog. I finally learned that the Holy Spirit doesn't need my help.

2. I love doing laundry. Seriously.

3. I have slept under the Eiffel Tower. Alone.

4. I love flat, flat, FLAT plains.

5. I like to listen to ZZTop while cleaning my car.

6. I fight my kids for the bubble wrap when we get a package.

7. I consider my hair to be one lifelong art experiment.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Passport, Part IV: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. And The End.

The passports arrived with days to spare. This was not only a good thing, it was an amazing thing. My optimism about the federal government has been restored. Don't worry - the IRS will soon squash that like a bug.

Princess BunHead's best friend, whom we had planned to visit in MI, abruptly ended their friendship. This was a thing badly done, but which ultimately proved to be very good for Princess BH, especially spiritually.

A fourth team entered the tournament late, and Sasquatch's team finished.... dead last. This was a very bad thing, because Sasquatch 1) is a fierce competitor, and 2) loves Canada and thinks the stork should have dropped him there instead of in Texas.

Total cost of getting three now unnecessary passports:

37 new gray hairs

1.4 years taken off my life due to stress


Mondo ugly.

The moral to this story? How about this: Life is full of surprises. When a good one comes your way, revel in it and be thankful. As for the bad ones? Learn from them. Grow. Then shake the dust from your feet and move on. And for those really ugly ones, I recommend a box of haircolor, chocolate, and a sense of humor. And then more chocolate. It also helps to have a prayer warrior for a mom.

(Hi, Mom! I didn't really mean that about Sophia Loren. You're the greatest! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

The End

Epilogue: Sasquatch's team is going to a tournament in Phoenix in February. This is a very good thing. I much prefer warm weather over snow and ice, and anyway, my puffy winter coat makes me look fat.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Passport, Part III: I'm from Joisey, you from Joisey?

It was now one week before Christmas. I hadn't wrapped a single gift, hadn't sent any cards, and still had shopping to do, yet all I could think about was the passport dilemma. It was a like a rock and roll backbeat in my head: get a passport, gotta get a passport, get a passport, gotta get a passport. I don't know if anyone has ever been institutionalized due to a mental breakdown over personal documentation, but I was about to be the first.

Well, the next object on my agenda was to get a new copy of my birth certificate, one that listed both my parents' names, in case the passport office called for it. This proved to be no easy task.

First, I considered calling the hospital where I made my grand entry into the world. Alas, it is no more. It was probably torn down to make way for a Super StuffMart. God forbid our country should be known for its accessible health care. Better that every American have access to kitchen towels bearing the likeness of Elvis Presley and really awful movies on $1.99 DVDs. But I digress.

I kept up my search, via the internet, and after a couple of days I finally came across a phone number for the registrar in the county where I was born. I placed the call, and was connected to a very helpful woman named Rosemary.

Talking with Rosemary was a pure delight. Her thick New Jersey accent immediately took me back to my childhood. My mind was flooded with memories of the best pizza on earth, summers at the shore, cars going 185 mph. No, I don't mean at the Pocono 500. I mean on the Garden State Parkway. People in New Jersey are always in a hurry. I can only speculate that they're 1) in a rush to make more money, so they can pay the obscene property taxes, or 2) running from the mob. Or maybe they're just trying to get  far away from Donald Trump's hair.

I would have loved to reminisce with Rosemary, but she was - here's a surprise - in a hurry, so she quickly walked me through the steps of the web site where I could apply for a new birth certificate. I thanked her, and that was the end of my happy little walk down memory lane.

Next, I filled out the required online form and noted that I would have to fax in a copy of my driver's license. I could do that at work that night. Then I ponied up my $40, thinking that the hospital bill from my delivery was probably less than what this piece of paper was costing me.

The following day I got an email from the registrar's office, saying that they also needed a faxed copy of my marriage certificate. Good gravy, what next? One of my toenail clippings for DNA proof of my identity? A copy of my last mammogram? A photograph of my toaster?

Finally, all necessary paperwork was submitted, and two days later, my new, detailed birth certificate arrived in the mail. Everything was in place should the passport office call. We had only to finish the hockey tournament the next week, and then purchase our plane tickets to Detroit.

And wait for the arrival of the passports.

Next - The Passport, Part IV: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. And The End.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Passport, Part II: Who's My Mama?

In the midst of all my frantic running around to get passport photos taken, I was informed that our travel date to Canada might possibly be moved up two weeks. This was not good news. This meant that I now had only four weeks to get our three passports in hand. My blood pressure inched up another seventeen points.

I went to the district clerk's office prepared. I had all the forms filled out, with the notary's seal on the appropriate ones. I had my driver's license. I had our birth certificates. I had two children, because the passport office will not issue passports to non-existent children. Imagine that. And I had the ever-important checkbook. I was ready.

Or not.

Problem Number One: I needed a second form of ID, preferably a Social Security card or voter's registration card. Those I knew I had at home. Check.

Problem Number Two: My birth certificate did not include the names of my parents. What?! I peered down at the certificate laying on the counter. Sure enough, there was my name and place of birth and date of birth, but as to parents: nothing. Nada. For all anyone knew, I was cloned from Dolly the sheep.

Naturally, my mind went wild with the possibilities. For a moment, I truly believed I was the love child of Sophia Loren and some brilliant, eccentric Italian director. This would explain my obsession with finding the perfect fettuccine alfredo, and my, well, weirdness. But there was the undeniable fact that I look a lot like my father. Perhaps my dad and Sophia Loren....? Nah, not even my imagination could go there.  I was going to be forced to accept my mom's story of my birth as truth, especially since her memory of the Big Event is significantly better than mine.

I decided to run home to pick up my voter's card and look for another copy of my birth certificate. I gathered up all our papers and my children and ran back to the car, through the rain. Off we went, only to return thirty minutes later, with my vital signs now approaching those of someone about to have a brain aneurysm.

I'd come up empty on the official birth certificate, but I did find a certificate that had been issued from the hospital, one of those "Congratulations on the birth of _______. Please stop by the business office upon discharge to settle your account." Or something like that. I decided I had no choice but to throw myself on the mercy of the district clerk.

As I passionately explained my predicament, she listened with a look that said, "Yeah, yeah. How do I know you're not a terrorist who plans to blow up a locker room in a Canadian hockey rink? Communist." When I finished, she shook her head and informed me, "I'll send in what you have, but I can guarantee this birth certificate won't pass. You'd better work on getting another one. Oh, and the passport offices are very busy right now; they're processing thousands of applications."

Then, to add insult to injury, I had to pay my bill.

Payment to county clerk: $90.

Payment to the Department of State, for three passports, with expedited delivery: a whopping $351.

And I still didn't know if the by now much-coveted passports would arrive in time for our trip north.

Next - The Passport, Part III: I'm from Joisey, you from Joisey?

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Passport, Part I: Say Cheese

It was early December, and Sasquatch's ice hockey team was gearing up for a big tournament in Dallas right after Christmas. If they finished in first, second, or third place, they would then travel to Ontario, Canada, for the finals at the end of January 2007. Since only three teams were entered in our division, it didn't take an advanced placement student to figure out that even if the team lost every game, they'd still be going to Canada.

I decided that, in addition to Sasquatch and his 180 pounds of smelly hockey gear, I'd also take Princess Bunhead, because her best friend lived in Michigan. We would fly into Detroit, and since we were going to rent a car, I figured we could take an extra day to drive up north and spend a fun day together.

But then it dawned on me. Due to new federal regulations, travel into Canada was going to require passports. I knew I needed to hurry with the applications, though. It usually takes at least eight weeks to get one, although I don't know why. My guess is that the passport office employees are probably related to the guys on road construction crews.

Well, the first step to getting the passport was to have photos taken. We'd just run down to StuffMart and go to the photo place inside. I was certain we'd be done in thirty minutes.

This turned out to be the first of many glitches in my passport application plan. On our arrival at the StuffMart Family Portrait Studio, we were greeted with a sign which informed us that the teenage photographer, with the improbable name of Chelz, was out to lunch until 3:00 pm. It was now 1:00 pm. It seems Chelz was on a two-hour lunch break. I wondered what Chelz was doing for a whole two hours in our little town, where you can drive from one end to the other in five minutes. Ten, tops, if you get behind a tractor pulling a combine. I speculated that Chelz was probably over at the Dairy Queen, having a Buster Bar with her like, totally BFF, Crissie, gossiping and comparing, like, rockin'  nail polish colors. I was not feeling very benevolent toward Chelz. Or Crissie, for that matter.

Okay, on to Plan B for passport pictures. We'd go to one of the four - FOUR - professional photographers with studios on our little town square. I have no idea why our town needs that many photographers. It's not like there's a community of supermodels here. The only models in our burg are folks who might pose for "before" and "after" shots for a denture manufacturer. But off we went, my optimism about our mission not yet completely dimmed.

Turns out that photographers, like the post office, take Mondays off. Not one was open. We'd have to return on Tuesday, which would delay the processing of our passports one more day. I was not only not happy, I was beginning to feel a little stressed over the pressure that time was exerting on me.

We did return to town the next day and got our photos taken, for the discounted price of $25. After the nice little old man dried them with a hair dryer, I clipped them to our passport applications and headed across the street in the rain to the county clerk's office.

Tomorrow - The Passport, Part II: Who's My Mama?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What have I done?!

It all started a few months ago, when I began letting my children watch the Rachel Ray show in the mornings before school. I should have know that giving them exposure to a cooking show was going to lead to trouble. My philosophy on food is this: if you can't add it to coffee, or if it doesn't contain chocolate as one of its ingredients, it's not meant to be consumed. Doubly so if preparing it requires the use of a dutch oven, wire whisk, or food processor. As I think I've said before, I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.

So there's perky little Rachel, brainwashing my kids with her sublimal messages that cooking is fun! and there's more to life than pb&j! and why don't you bug your mom to make frittattas for breakfast? They'd never even heard of frittattas before, and now suddenly their usual breakfast of Cocoa Frosted Sugar Bombs wasn't good enough any more.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was buying my sixteen year old son, Mr. "I Wonder if Rachel Ray Has a Younger Sister," an official RR frying pan, complete with the cute orange handle, for Christmas. He is totally enamored with RR, as I guess most guys would be. She's cute, has great teeth, and loves to cook. She's probably worth a few bucks, too, judging by what I paid for that stupid pan.

Anyway. Then I started getting shopping lists handed to me, with things listed on them like parmagiano reggiano, couscous, and shark. I had to remind my children that the only grocery store in town is StuffMart, where wheat bread is considered a gourmet food, and where, if you ask for the specialty cheese section, you will be directed to a seven foot high display of CheezWhiz jars. 

But now the situation is totally out of hand. I took the kids to the library yesterday, and what did my eleven year old son, Sasquatch, choose off the shelves? Not a hockey biography. Not a nail-biting mystery. No. He checked out FOUR cookbooks, and all of them were for foods from other countries. He thinks we should try crepes (except he pronounces it, "crap-pays") from the French cookbook. He wants piroshki and blini from the Russian cookbook. And, worst of all, he wants artichokes with garlic mayonnaise from the Spanish cookbook. Oh, where will it all end?!

I'm definitely blaming this disturbing trend on homeschooling. If I had sent them to public school, they'd still be content with faux chicken parts fried in trans fats, carrot coins, and a stale sugar cookie.

It's time to cast your votes.

From now until Jan. 19, you can vote in the Apron Power Contest. It's easy.

  1. Go here to view all the entries.
  2. Choose ten that you like.
  3. Send the numbers of those ten in an email to .

You must choose a complete slate of ten for your vote to be counted. And all you teens who read my blog can vote, too!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Funnies

Oh my stars, you people have had me laughing lately.

This morning it started with Chris, whose "Tip of the Day" was just over the top. He's a pretty witty fifteen year old.

Then I came across a blog with the hilarious title of, "Like I Need One More Thing To Do." Read Jaybird's little blog entry from early December and see if you don't agree with her.

Oh, and while you're out there, stop in at Underdog's blog and read his post on Tickle Me Elmo. I vote to make him CEO of Mattel. (Read the rest of his stuff, too. It's all good.)

Jengresak's blog is always good for a laugh. Your slide show worries me a little bit, though, Jen. I think you should give your adorable kids something else to play with besides dirt.

Don't forget to share the joy. This evening, my daughter & I saw a photo on HSB that fueled an inside family joke, and we fell into gales of hysterical laughter together. There's just something about gasping for breath with someone else that brings you closer together, don't you think?

The Patient

I'm not sure which is worse: a sick, whiney toddler, or an injured, nonverbal 93-pound dog. And they both try to bolt out the door when your back is turned. Jeepers.

Here's the poor pitiful thing. I wish we had a little doggie wheelchair for her.

But does it come with GPS?

One of the things I like to do at the start of a new year is to think back over the purchases of the previous year. I consider how much use the item has gotten and whether the purchase of said item was good stewardship of our money, and then I announce Our Best Purchase of 200_.

Here, then, is my official announcement: Our Best Purchase of 2006 was........ our new refrigerator!

We weren't really planning to buy a new refrigerator last year, any more than we were planning to sell our house and live at the airport. But things happen, and I blogged late in 2005 about the oven AND refrigerator doors falling clean off the appliances. So a new refrigerator became a necessity, since our children stubbornly refused to dig a root cellar under the house, even though we were willing to buy new shovels for them.

Now, the last time Husband and I bought a refrigerator was back when ice was invented. Choosing one at that time was pretty straightforward - we wanted something that blew some cold air around and kept food from turning into penicillin. We were soon to learn that shopping for a refrigerator was going to be very different this time around.

We decided to head over to Boast Buy, that store that sells televisions that are larger and more expensive than my first car. They have a big appliance department in the back corner, and we thought we'd get some ideas there.

By the time we walked through the sixteen acres of parking lot and store, I was ready to buy the first fridge I saw, just so I could lay down in it. We finally got to the section of the store labeled "EVERYTHING FOR THE KITCHEN!" and boy, I think they did have everything except maybe a set of ginsu knives. There must have been thirty models of refrigerator brands to choose from.

First we had to consider the exterior. A stainless steel finish was out of the question. I knew they were notoriously hard to clean of fingerprints, and I had a whole lot more than fingerprints to worry about, like a dog that likes to lick the fridge door as if it were a Tootsie Pop and he were trying to get to the good part on the inside. We settled on a nice, black textured finish.

Then we had to decide about an ice maker in the door. We'd never had one of those, and it seemed like one of those ridiculously extravagant options, akin to a CD player on a motorcycle. Still, we had four mostly grown kids who didn't have to ask Mom to get them ice for their drinks - they just reached in and grabbed some, and since sanitation wasn't the name of a band they could play on their iPods, they weren't thinking much about it. We opted to get the ice maker in the door.

There were a million other decisions about interior options, but foremost in my mind was size. I wanted the biggest fridge we could afford. In the end, we chose a 28 cubic foot model, large enough to store approximately half the contents of the grocery side of Super StuffMart.

So, yeah, I'm really happy we bought the new refrigerator. Nothing falls out when I open the door - including the door itself - and the ice dispenser has held up well under heavy use, and the dog hasn't managed to lick through the black surface.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Peppermint Pinwheels

One of my favorite flavors besides chocolate - and I'm talking REAL chocolate, the flavor of the bean, not that wimpy stuff that's mixed with too much fat and sugar - is mint. Even better is chocolate and mint together. Buy me a peppermint mocha latte and I'll be your friend forever.

Anyway, when I saw this quilt pattern in an 2003 issue of McCall's Quilting, I knew I had to make it. (No snarky comments about how it took me three years.)

The lovely young woman behind the quilt is my sweet daughter, Princess BunHead. Doesn't she look like a future replacement for Vanna White? I just love that girl. The guy who wants to marry her is going to have to buy me a lot of peppermint mocha lattes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rules for Shopping With Teens

Inspiration for this entry came from Shellie. Go read her post and then come back here.

Okay, so besides not mentioning that you might need to purchase underwear, and never uttering the word "bathroom" in public, what else do you need to know about shopping with teenagers?

  1. Wear gray or beige. Your main job is to blend in with the floor and walls of the stores you will be entering, rendering yourself nearly invisble.
  2. Do not play with the video game displays. Do not enter the video game aisle. Do not act as though you know anything about video games. And whatever you do, never, ever mention that you once beat your sixteen year old son at Guitar Hero II.
  3. You may enter the music aisle as long as you do not hum "What's New, Pussycat," when you notice a Tom Jones CD in the oldies section.
  4. Do not verbally ask your teen if he/she needs deodorant, toothpaste, acne cream, or other personal hygiene items. All communication about said needs must be done via brain waves or facial contortions.
  5. Do not hold up a lime green t-shirt in the women's department and tell your fifteen year old daughter it would look cute on her. Instead, go to the junior's department where you can find the same t-shirt made of half the material for fifteen dollars more.
  6. Never call a sales clerk "Dude," as this term is to be uttered only by people under the age of 21, which you definitely are not.
  7. Do not let your thirteen year old daughter go to the cosmetics department without a retrieval rope, or you will not see her again until she's fourteen and wearing 20 different colors of nail polish.
  8. Do not say to your son, "When we get out of here, I'm going to stop and get gas."
  9. Do not roll your eyes when the seventeen year old sales guy blatantly flirts with your daughter. You must appear to be deaf and mute.
  10. Carry a pen. When your teen asks for another $100 iPod accessory that he "really, really NEEDS," you can produce the pen and reply, "Here, let me go help you fill out a job application."

There goes my productivity

Even with very little sleep over the past nine days, I've been amazingly productive. My closet no longer looks like it's a living space shared by a dozen illegal immigrants. The deep, dark recesses of my kitchen pantry have been swept of the dust that's been there since the days of the Pony Express. The bathroom cupboard has been reorganized to the degree that my husband opened the door and thought he had entered the Twilight Zone.

The only place that's not really tidy is my sewing area. It looks like a pack of Tasmanian devils have been having a party in there. But they've been a busy pack of Tasmanian devils. Recent output includes two quilts, two purses, and an apron. Just goes to show what a few extra hours in the day (or night) will do for a person.

But it's all come to a crashing end. My doctor says that three hours of sleep each night isn't enough, so he gave me some sleeping pills. Wow, those little pills really pack a wallop. I slept a full eight hours last night. The downside is, I woke up feeling as if my super-charged V8 engine had been replaced with a motor from a hand-held mixer.

No problem, thought I. I'll just get some coffee. My younger son, Sasquatch, lovingly prepared a pot for me at my request. As I prepared to pour myself a big, steaming mug of java, I noticed the color of the brew. Where was the rich, mohogany hue? This looked like some water in which a dirty sock had been marinated. Sasquatch had miscalcuated on the amount of grounds to use, since this was the first time he'd had to make an 8-cup amount. I gamely went ahead and drank it, although I've got to say that it not only looked like dirty sock water, it tasted like dirty sock water. I made another pot and consumed the entire contents.

So now it remains to be seen if I can continue my hyper-productivity on the odd combination of more sleep + more coffee. I think I can. If I can just get my hands to quit shaking.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

My entry in the Apron Power contest

My version of Amy Butler's pattern, "Cafe Apron." I finished it this afternoon. Don't forget to send your apron entry to .

The Ten Commandments, Texas-style

(For those who have trouble with that high-falutin' King James lingo)

Cowboy's Ten Commandments posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie, Texas.

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin' before God.
(6) No foolin' around with another gal if you already got one, and no foolin' around with another fellow's gal if you ain't got one.
(7) No killin'.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don't take what ain't yers.
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Monday, January 8, 2007

"I believe I can fly!"

If you've ever owned a labrador retriever, you know that they're the ADHD breed of the canine world - distracted by everything; never a care for consequences; run first and ask questions later.

Today my husband took our children and the lab over to a neighbor's house to cut some firewood. (Well, the dog wasn't going to cut firewood. She just helps out by chasing potential attacking squirrels away from the woodcutting site.) En route, while no one was looking, the dog's 2-celled brain led her to believe that she was Wonder Dog minus the cape. She took a flying leap out of the bed of the truck. I guess her brain wasn't able to convince her body of her supercanine status, and she lay on the road in obvious pain until my husband picked her up and brought her home.

Husband's solution was to give her two Advil. My motherly instinct (which apparently kicks in with pets, too) was to insist that she be taken to the vet. Two x-rays, one surgery, one metal rod in her leg, and four hundred dollars later, her broken thigh bone has been repaired.

Vet says she has to be confined and kept from running for the next six weeks. In my opinion, this medical advice is along the same lines of telling a pregnant mother of toddlers to stay in bed and rest.

Have to run. I have to put shades over all the windows to keep her from launching herself through them to get at the next Big Mac wrapper that blows across the yard.

Stuff and nonsense smackdab in the middle of the night.

Disclaimer: I take no responsiblity for what I am about to write. I haven't been sleeping well for nearly a week. Tonight I find myself wandering the house at 3:00 am, wondering if the rest of the family would wake up if I started that kitchen demolition/remodeling project now, and if they did, could I convince them to pull up the vinyl flooring that's so old it resembles petrified Velveeta?


Yesterday my thirteen year old daughter, FashionBug, added a new word to our already mortifyingly close to Snuffy Smith family vocabulary. My oldest son, Mr. Hygiene Policeman, was grilling her about what she was putting on her face. She calmly answered, "Moisturenizer." Mr. Hygiene Policeman, never one to let go by a good laugh at someone else's expense, kept a straight face and said, "What is it?" FashionBug produced the bottle, and pointing very deliberately to the label, as if explaining it to someone who speaks only a tribal Indonesian dialect, replied, "Moist.Ture.NIZE.Er." So. If you're suffering from dry skin, get you down to BerthaRae's Pharmacy and Gift Boutique and pick you up some moisturenizer.


So with sleep eluding me, I decided tonight would be a good time to clean up my blog and make some modifications. One of the things I wanted to do was add a new web tracking tool, since StatCounter no longer works here due to its being written in JavaScript. (Don't ask me what JavaScript is. For all I know, it's a tribal Indonesian dialect. All I know is that JavaScript is now a no-no on HSB.) So off I went, surfing the web in search of a new tracking tool. Now I'm sure some of you could have accomplished this task in less time than it takes Tony Romo to fumble a football. But I, being the internet's version of the village idiot, needed the better part of two hours to locate a tracking site, sign up for service, wait to receive the HTML code via email, and then discover it was written in JavaScript. And not just once. No, I went through this exercise FOUR times before I finally gave up and installed a wimpy little visitor counter. And then I promptly but unintentionally inflated my own counter numbers by re-reading most of my entries from 2006. So now you know that I haven't really had 78 visitors in one day. Seventy five of them were me, and the other three were people who got lost on their way to googling a map to BerthaRae's Pharmacy.


Well, it's now 4:15 a.m. I'm going to make one last effort at sleep. If I'm not drifting into dreamland in half an hour, I'm going to log back in to HSB and make delirious comments on all my friends' blogs, using assorted combinatons of the words "taco," "No. 2 pencil," and "orthopedic shoe". You've been warned.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Apron Power

I've worn an apron for years, not to show how domestic I am or how feminine I feel, but because, well, I'm a mess. For me, it's more an adult bib than an apron. And, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have a history of exciting things happening to me in the kitchen - exploding dishes, appliances with falling parts, that kind of thing. Now that I think about it, I probably ought to be wearing steel-toed boots, safety glasses, and a hard hat while I'm cooking.

Anyway. If you wear an apron, get someone to take a photo of you in it and submit it to Barbara's Apron Power Contest. You could win a book. That Barbara's a pretty smart cookie. She knows how much homeschoolers can't resist the lure of the possibility of owning a new book.

I'm going to go search my fabric stash right now. I think I might have some flame-retardant fabric that would be perfect for a new bib apron.

ETA: You'd better hurry with that apron photo. The contest ends Jan. 12, 2007.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

"What's for dinner?"

Every night since my kids could talk and since they figured out there's more to meals than Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, we've had the same daily conversation. It goes something like this:

Child: What's for dinner?

Me: Baked chicken.

Child: Anything else?

Me, busy mashing potatoes: Mashed potatoes.

Child, hopefully: No vegetable?

Me: Green beans.

Child, whining: Aw, not corn? Can't we have corn?

Me: No.

Child: Why can't we have corn?

Me: Because corn isn't really a vegetable and anyway, your sister feeds it to the dog, which makes him crazy and he pees on everything in the house.

Child: Are we having bread, too?

Me: Yes. Now go wash your hands.

Now you're probably thinking, what's her point? My point is this. I have the exact same conversation with each individual family member every stinkin' night. And you have to understand something about the layout of our house. The kitchen, dining room, and living room are all part of one largish "great room," and by largish I mean roughly the same size as a garden shed. To be in the living room and not hear this conversation going on in the kitchen, one would have to be deaf as a post.

So two minutes later I'm having the same conversation with Child #2. Of course, there are variations with each kid, like when FashionBug comes into the kitchen, sees me surrounded by pots of steaming water and jars of assorted seasonings and begins the conversation with, "Are you on the computer?"

The last person to ask the by-now dreaded "What's for dinner?" question is usually my husband. This is my fifth time to answer the query, I'm up to my elbows in mashed potatoes, no one has set the table yet, and the dog is sniffing the leg of my chair in a very suspicious manner.

Husband: What's for dinner?

I respond by giving him The Exasperated Sigh.

Now, after nearly 21 years of marriage, my husband still does not understand the meaning of The Exasperated Sigh, but he is very aware that from this point out, he must proceed with caution.

Husband, after a very long pause during which he mentally debates whether or not to back slowly out of the kitchen: Mm. Did the dog pee on the vacuum cleaner again?


Husband exits the kitchen quickly, wondering what it is about baked chicken that has made me so irritable.

A couple of years ago, I tried a different tack. I posted our weekly meal plan on a calendar on the refrigerator. The conversation then went this way:

Child: What's for dinner?

Me: Did you look at the calendar?

Child: What calendar?

Me: The one on the refrigerator. It's been there for four months. Our meals are listed on it.

Child: Oh yeah.

Child, standing in front of fridge: What day is it?

Me, sighing: Tuesday.

Child: Which Tuesday?

Me, making growling noises under my breath: Tuesday the 12th.

Child: So we're having baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and bread?

Me, feeling a glimmer of encouragement: Yes.

Child: Aw, why not corn? Can't we have corn?

Me: If you ask me one more question about this meal, I swear I am going to feed you chopped monkey liver for the next two weeks.

Child: Can we have corn tomorrow?

Fortunately for the child, the conversation is interrupted at this point by the shouts of the other kids as the dog pees on the Playstation console.

I'm thinking baked chicken would go well with a nice side of Prozac.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Restroom adventures

So it was our first visit to the pediatric dentist since he had moved his practice into a brand new building. Three of my four children were done with their appointments, so I told them to sit tight in the waiting room while I made a quick stop in the restroom.

When I got ready to wash my hands, I looked down at the sink and thought, "Ooo, cool fixture!" The faucet was a gleaming arc of silver, and the single curved handle swung out and upward from the right side of the base. Now, all the plumbing fixtures in my house are 1970's mobile home rejects and are installed so that the one labeled "H" gives you cold water, and vice versa. I wasn't sure how to work this solitary handle, but it seemed logical to just pull it toward me.

Well. Expecting a nice flow of warm water, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I got a blast of hot air at my left elbow from the wall-mounted hand dryer instead. My first thought was, "Holy cats. This building has some serious wiring problems." Then I began to worry about what was happening in the exam room on the other side of the bathroom wall. I mean, wiring problems in a dentist's office could be disasterous, what with all those unsuspecting people with electric drills in their mouths. And what might have happened when I flushed the toilet? Did I cause the x-ray machine to start spewing radiation on everyone in the vicinity? And if I turned out the bathroom light upon exiting, would that cause a fountain-like eruption in all the spit bowls next to the exam chairs?

I looked at the hand dryer, which by this time had stopped exhaling on my arm.

BWAHAHAHAHA! It was a motion -sensitive dryer. Apparently I had waved my elbow around in just the right place to signal the dryer to do its job.

I washed and dried my hands (finally figured out how to work that diggedy dang modern spigot), but by the time I got out of there, I was laughing so hard I nearly had to turn around and go back in to use the facilities, again.

My only niggling worry over the entire incident is that somewhere in cyberspace, someone is blogging about their recent trip to the pediatric dentist, when they saw this middle-aged woman with two-tone hair come practically falling out of the restroom, hysterical with laughter, and why can't mental health officials do something about people like that?

Thursday, January 4, 2007


Our new holiday

2007 didn't start out very well for our family. I'll spare you the details, but will just say the mood at our house has been lower than a worm's belly.

So. I decided to declare a 4-day holiday. January 4-7 is now officially "Out With The Old, In With The New" weekend. Time to cut unhealthy ties that bind us, time to celebrate freedom and new beginnings. Here's a rundown of the festivities:

  1. The Shining of the Choppers! Compete dental care, including some cosmetic dentistry. Nothing says "party" like an hour in the hygenist's chair!
  2. Change Your Hair, Change Your Life! Cuts, styles, chemicals out the wazoo. I'm rethinking my stand on pink.
  3. The Great Purge! Yes, it looks like my closet vomited its contents into the back of my van, en route to Goodwill. I'm pretty sure tunics with shoulder pads the size of box turtles aren't going to make a comeback in my lifetime, and even if they do, I'm not participating in that fashion disaster again. I don't need four-foot wide shoulders to enhance my NFL linebacker-sized figure.
  4. Burn, Baby, Burn! My personal favorite, this is the disposal of documents, photos, financial records - any paper item that is no longer needed or wanted. Watching something turn to ash just provides a visceral satisfaction that no shredder can match. We're feeding the woodstove with such fury that the temperature in the house has reached 92 degrees and the dogs are panting.
  5. Beef Liver Bonanza Buffet!  The rest of the family gags just reading the word "liver" on the packages in the freezer. But since I, the only liver eater in the family, am on a 30-day fast, it's time to treat the local coyote community to a beef liver feast. Side of fried onions not included.
  6. Survivor: Bathroom! This is a lively party game in which the game master holds up a piece of terry cloth, and two teams get to decide if it's a towel or a rag. Rags get voted out of the bathroom, and the team with the most towels at the end of the game wins great prizes like a bar of soap or their very own bottle of toilet bowl cleanser.

Caveat: This has not yet been declared a national holiday, but if the United States Postal Service gets wind of it, they'll probably want Friday off. My husband says every Monday is already a holiday for the post office.


"Let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us." Heb. 12: 1.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

And not only no, but heck, no!

Alright, all you compassionate people who wanted pictures of my pink hair so you could enjoy a jolly good laugh over your breakfast burrito - there ain't none. As soon as the towel came off my hair and I could see myself  in all my Strawberry Shortcake-ness, I immediately ran to remove the batteries out of all the cameras in the house. I also sent a letter to Kodak, threatening them with legal proceedings if they dared to print a picture of a fat, crabby lady with pink hair.

But fortunately for you, there are other people on HSB with bad hair photos. (Unfortunately for me, their bad hair is a wig. Mine was real.) Anyway. Go to mizmunce's blog and check out her blonde 'fro and get ready to start singing something from KC and The Sunshine Band.