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!