Thursday, July 31, 2008
Much thanks goes to my 13 year old who learned how to do this and shared it with my 10 year. Thanks again to the 10 year old for sharing it with the 8 year old. And, yeah, the 6 year old bought into it BIG time.
Don't remember how jinxing works? Two people unintentionally say the same words at the same time. One yells, "JINX," thereby muting the second person. The jinxed or muted person cannot speak until someone calls his or her name.
I was first jinxed this morning by saying, "I love you," to my child. Not a bad way to go since he had told me he loved me at the same time. I finally got out of that silencing when his brother was unhappy with his breakfast options and opted to whine my name repeatedly.
Later, two of the boys and I began to nag the oldest boy. "Come on," gave way to simultaneous, "JINX!!!" and somehow the three of us were all silenced.
We've been pantomining for an hour now. We've pantomined all the things we will do for the 10 year old if he will simply say our names.
This 10 year old, who spent much of the first half of his life silenced by severe speech issues, loves solitude and quiet. And this 10 year old boy just smiled at us and walked out of the room all without ever saying our names.
At this point we are wondering, do giggles count as talking??
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Caution: "Sounds great, but it does mean that you will have to stop walking around the house and forgetting to get dressed."
8 year old: "Okay. I've thought about it. I'm good with that. Do I need to start using deodorant now that I'm getting older?"
Caution *sniffing* "No, you're still smelling sweet and should be that way for a while longer."
8 year old: "How about shaving?"
Caution: "I think you'll get through third grade without needing to do that."
8 year old: "I'm glad we had this conversation. Being grown up like I am is kind of a challenge, isn't it? BUT when I'm a dad, I'm going to tell my baby about the naked thing before he's born so he will be ready!"
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
First, from Laura aka Peach from Silence is Broken, I received this:
And this beauty is from Jeannelle from Midlife by Farmlight:
Now my turn...
For Jeannelle, Pam from Mappersnapper (my first blogging friend and advisor and who may be coming to see me in person!!!), and Ann from From the Front Porch (who doesn't do these kinds of things, but whose blog is beautiful and does a great job of balancing thought-provoking with sweet), I present:
Monday, July 28, 2008
Moving stealthily so as not to make a spark, I slowly moved down the hall to check the carbon monoxide monitor. The readout was 000, so I knew we were all still alive.
The problem was that the gas odor was stronger than ever. After thinking about what to eat for breakfast and wondering what was for dinner, I considered waking my children and moving them from the imminent danger of the natural gas. But wait! *sniff* *sniff*
It was coming from outside!!! We were safe!!! So it was just our yard that was going to explode!! Fantastic!!!
I thought about my elderly neighbor all alone in her big house. No, I didn't hear her dog barking. I thought about my lovely neighbors on the other side. No, their dog wasn't barking either. Deciding that they might be dead already, I chose to leave them alone.
*Sniff* *sniff* The gas seemed to be lessening. So ... I left my sleeping children in their beds and drove over to work to pick up some textbooks.
Okay. I know you've just decided not to will your children to me, but everything turned out just fine. Exactly as it should. A little construction incident nearby was the culprit. Just a little illegal venting of gas lines.
How do I know? I know because I have a neighbor with common sense and she called the gas company. And my own children? The children I left behind? What they don't know won't hurt them. At least this time it didn't.
Now, if you will please excuse me, I going back to put my head in the sand for a while. Why don't we wait a little while longer before you send me that Mother of the Year award?
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I'm talking about Fruit Flies. They arrive each summer about this time and just think since we're not the greatest housekeepers, that they can live anywhere they want. This year Mr. and Mrs. Fruit Fly and 12,ooo of their children arrived a few days ago. They love it here, and we've been gracious enough as hosts. Shoot, we've pretty much let them have the run of the house, but this year they are especially fond of my kitchen and bathrooms. I'm talking swarms, clouds of these idiots.
They aren't fast fliers and it's quite the sport here to lock oneself in a bathroom late at night. BOOM! BOOM! CRASH! We all find these sounds so lovely as the person in the bathroom tries to kill as many fruit flies as possible during the time the person should be brushing and flossing. Then the person emerges from the bathroom declaring his victory over fruit flies while forgetting to camouflage his unbrushed and unflossed teeth.
We've tried to be polite about the fruit flies. We've tried to be gracious. We've gotten rid of the produce. We've bleaching the surfaces. We've blasted the drains. We've used the homemade traps and remedies listed on Google. We've even used...chemicals - in our kitchen area.
But nothing works. We still walk into a room only to encounter even more fruit flies than were there 10 minutes before. They find their way into everything. Think contact lenses.
So each year, when Mr. and Mrs. Fruit Fly announce that they are moving in permanently, we have to bring in the guest buster. We are reduced to putting up those horrible fly strips. You know the kind found at most church camps? Those long sticky strips with flies permanently glued to death? That's what we use - in our kitchen - next to the chemicals.
So if we ever move to Florida, our future guests have a little heads-up on what it will be like at our home. Really, we're all about gracious hospitality.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Let's see. I just used my halloween costume to scare my mom. Should I try to scare her again in 5 minutes or should I wait 10?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
My problem is wondering how I got to this point. I have degrees in multi-cultural education. I have taught English as a second language. I live in an multi-cultural area and have friends from many different ethnic groups. For most of my adult life I've worked and socialized and learned from so many people from so many backgrounds different from my own. So when did I get uncomfortable asking my friend to cut my boy's hair? I know she's a good stylist. I know she needs the money. I know we're friends. Yet I feel as though in asking this simple question as if I would make her somehow uncomfortable by admitting that we are different.
How is it that I feel uncomfortable in this, the unspoken difference?
After typing the above, I called my friend and made an appointment for Checkered and our youngest.
Checkered and our boy had a great time visiting with our friend and her family, but when it was time for the cut, my friend was admittedly very nervous cutting Caucasion hair. What followed was a conversational tap-dance for over an hour of, "I would cut your hair, but ..."
Eventually, my friend did the cuts and they turned out great. Now my other two boys need cuts. Here we go again. Isn't this absolutely silly?
Monday, July 21, 2008
A few days later, I received a second call. I had made it to the second round of interviews. Would I come in a for a group interview? Not so easy, but sure.
On Friday, I arrived at my appointed interview time only to see the unexpected. I expected to find what I've found at other job interviews. I expected a committee of dour-faced academic-types to be waiting to make my next hour miserable. I expected that each committee member would ask me a question and then look as though he/she was experiencing tremendous gas pains as I answered.
No so at this latest interview.
Their definition of group interview was to interview all six job candidates at once. Together. In the same room. We all looked each other over. Exchanged astonished grimaces. And awaited our group interview.
The rules of engagement were this:
On the table before each of us, was a paper with 5 questions. One of the two interviewers read the first question, the second interviewer started her stopwatch, and we - as a group - had 10 minutes to answer the question orally.
You read that right. Six people, each one hoping to impress, had to group answer very complex questions in 10 minutes.
The first question was read. We were given a minute to think, and then an interviewer said, "START!"
Everyone sat there in silence looking confusing, dumbfounded, and highly annoyed, so I started to talk. Yeah for me!!
By the second question, our 10 minutes ran out before one man even had a chance to attempt to join the conversation. One interviewer did have enough grace to allow him to speak anyway.
It was a crazy interview.
And I liked it very much. I liked how nervous others were. I liked being able to piggyback on comments the others made. I liked how we all took cues from each other such as refering to the other interviewees by name and trying to mention our work experience while not chewing up too much of the group time.
But that part of timing the answers and calling, "Time!"? Please.
When I am in charge of the world, that's one of the first things I'm going to fix!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Fourth grade took a crazy turn for the worse. We had moved halfway across the country during the summer and I was overwhelmed on my first day of school. I took my assigned seat in the back of the room (a seat which would remain mine throughout the entire school year.) At some point that first day, the teacher asked for volunteers to describe their vacation trips. I was quiet and never spoke up. After all, we had moved - not vacationed. Later she asked where I had vacationed and I replied that we hade moved halfway across the country. The teacher's response was to stand and lecture that I had cheated the class out of a great vacation tale. That was, in short, the best part of the school year. She never missed an opportunity to demean me, to chastise me, or to let me know that I was worthless in her opinion. Although those things were only her opinion, she was the teacher and I believed every word she said. How amazing that this teacher, with her mastered cruelty, was able to erase my nine previous years of happiness and success. And it seemed that those successes were never to be seen again.
Then fifth grade happened.
Because of redistricting, fifth grade meant a new school, a new set of peers, and a young, beautiful, gifted teacher named Helen Steinkritz.
Mrs. Steinkritz was the type of teacher every student deserves to work with at least once in a lifetime. She was creative, honest, fun, energetic, and she had lived a lifetime in her 23 years.
Every one of our senses was engaged in that colorful, living classroom and Mrs. S. was the orchestrator of the details. We not only mastered the required curriculum, but the teacher found a way to compel us to move beyond any limiting confidence boundaries internally or externally imposed. She made it her goal to know us, and more importantly, each student in there was convinced that he or she was the teacher's pet. Every one of us was correct.
I had spent entire school years before not knowing anything of my teachers' lives outside of school, but this teacher was very open about her background and her family, her fears and her triumphs, and she encouraged us to share our lives with her. From her, we learned about and celebrated Hanukkah in school that year. I had never before known about concentration camps, so what a gift it was to learn about her relatives' escape from one during WWII. From me, she wanted to learn what it like to grow up the daughter of protestant minister. As she shared from her life, I gained enough confidence to share about mine. I learned to speak up in class. I learned to discuss politics. I learned that history and science and literature can't be separated. I learned that I was interesting. I learned the thrill of writing a play and watching it performed. I relearned how to laugh and be happy in school. I learned that a teacher thought I was of worth and I learned to believe that she was right in her assessment.
I see the remnants of the bad teachers every semester in my own job now. These remnants walk into my classes and they tell me they can't write, they aren't good readers, they aren't very bright, they shouldn't even be in college. They find seats in the back and corners of the room and wilt if called on in class. And when that first essay is due, they try to find to a way to hand it in without ever making eye contact with me. Sometimes our eyes do meet, and these - some of the past victims of cruel teachers - tell me I shouldn't expect much.
But sometimes I see a young Caution Flag standing there hoping that maybe some teacher might be able to see something of value. And I think about Mrs. S. and wonder what might have happened if she hadn't been placed in my path that year.
I don't where you are now, Helen Steinkritz, but I do know that I remember you, and I hope that just a little of you might live in me.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Today's focus: Middle School.
My oldest child has always been a good eater. She loves veggies and fruit, so feeding her has never been a problem - until that mysterious place known as middle school. Granted, she doesn't have much of an appetite at lunch hour, but that's been a workable problem for us in previous years. Some fruit, half of a sandwich, and a drink and she's been happy.
Then she crossed that middle school threshold with its very different lunch options and social pressures, and life changed. The appetite is still small at lunch, but now she can buy pizza, chips, pop tarts, candy, ice cream, and lots of drinks which feature no milk nor fruit juice. Ever wonder what happens to a little appetite when these options get presented?
"Fruit doesn't fill me up like the things they sell at school," she says. I really take great comfort that she can fill up with chips and ice cream. So I suggest that she take a lunch to school.
We shop and discuss the merits of other lunch possibilities.
There are nutrition bars ("Eewww!")
There is yogurt ("I refuse to carry a spoon to my next class!")
There is her old favorite, fruit. ("No one eats fruit anymore.")
There are sandwiches ("They get soggy and no, I will not take the ingredients and put them together at school. Period.")
There is milk ("I don't care how many breath mints I eat, my breath will stink if I drink milk.")
I really should be grateful because she doesn't sit at the "We no longer eat lunch" table. Yes, that's a real table where even if a lunch is sent from home, it is ceremoniously put untouched into the trash.
I really should be grateful that pop is no longer a lunch option.
I really should be grateful that I can control the money put on her lunch card, although even when the card is empty, she always finds money for the junk food there.
I really should be grateful that pizza has some nutritional value, although at $3 per slice, it's a rip off.
I really should be grateful that she gets braces this week and that should limit her eating options (although I understand the girls have perfected the art of removing the sticky candies from their appliances. That way no one will ever know!)
But I wonder what is happening to the bodies of these girls who daily eschew (kind of an ironic word, isn't it) the healthy options for the much more socially acceptable and palate pleasing chips, pop tarts, candy and ice cream? I do know that when my former great eater comes home mysteriously famished at 3:00, and faithfully asks, "What's for dinner?" that no matter what I say, it's a disappointment to her these days.
Thanks, food services department, for the favor.
Friday, July 18, 2008
11:00 Job interview.
This is my second interview.
Don't know how I feel about the college or the job.
Very conflicted, but looking forward to learning through this experience :)
12:00 Exhale and begin breathing again.
12:05 Think no one would ever want to hire me.
12:07 Think I am a fantastic job candidate .
12:10 Panic when I think that they won't offer the job to me.
12:11 Panic when I think that they will.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Last year when we needed to replace the ceiling fan, Checkered came home with this extraordinarily large fan and a remote. I laughed and laughed and teased him about our laziness. Why, with the fan almost directly over our bed, would we ever need a remote to operate it? All we would need to do was what we had always done before: reach up and pull the little chain thing.
Besides our inherent laziness, I was concerned about the size of the fan. It took up a large part of the ceiling and I envisioned the worst. I knew that at some point in the darkest night, I would turn that fan on and be immediately sucked up by the wind and flung about the room. I was a little comforted by fact that I am not the best housekeeper and there were sufficient clothes lying around the floor to cushion my fall should my fears come true.
Well, let me tell you something. I have fallen in love. I love that little remote, and don't even try to take it to your side of the bed ever again, Checkered.
I get very cold when I am tired, so I wisely layer up and add a cacoon of blankets. Then, a couple of hours later, I awake in a summer-like sweat. Hark! Is that my little BFF, the fan remote, just an arm reach away?
One hour later, the fan's current has indeed spun me mercilessly about the room, but I am cooler, so down one speed goes the fan courtesy of the remote.
5:30 and Checkered awakens and Caution pretends not to awaken, but because she already has, her body temp immediately goes up and the remote is called into action again to speed up the fan.
At 6:00, a child will find his way groggily into Checkered's vacated warm side of the bed, but the child will be cold. What to do?
I think you know the routine now.
Thank-you, Checkered, for the massive ceiling fan with remote. I love you almost as much as I love the remote.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Her children prowl and forage for food. They always find something. And then they don't whine for a minute or two.
The youngest one always seems to find Fiber One bars.
He likes the chocolate flavor.
He likes the chocolate flavor so much that he usually eats a second bar.
And yesterday, he ate a fourth bar. My friend was getting kind of nervous about then. You see, 4 Fiber One bars equals 27 grams of fiber.
Today, my friend's boy felt a familiar rumbling in his gut. He thought it would be hysterically funny to have the loudest explosion of gas ever. His brothers would love it. They would laugh and make him the farting champion of the family. He chased his brothers around the house setting them up for the big noise. Except it wasn't gas.
So, after that?
Monday, July 14, 2008
I am a craft.
A souvenir from Cub Scout camp.
Crafted from Plaster of Paris.
Created by an 8 year old who:
- dislikes crafts
- would rather be out setting bb gun records on the range
- has just a few sensory issues with the way things feel.
Was I an animal by-product?
Was I a map?
The mother of the family was pretty sure I was an amoeba.
BUT I AM NONE OF THOSE THINGS !! *sob*
I am a footprint. A proud record of this boy's physical presence at this point in history.
But while the first boys in the craft line took their shoes off to capture the magic of their toes and arches, the boy who made me opted to create me with his shoe on.
Now I live outside. Lonely. Ignored. Unappreciated.
I am a craft.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt
U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6. Describe three of the most prominent b attles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name event s connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.
Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
On that part, I was correct.
In the years following that wedding, we welcomed the birth of our baby. We did that four times over. And somewhere along the way during my late nights with my four kids, holding them while they burned with fever or struggled through an asthma attack or simply because I could, I decided to be the type of woman I would want my boys to marry someday. Yes. I genuinely believed that was perfectly logical.
I would be THE role-model of working mother: professional yet completely attentive feminine mother. My boys would someday seek a woman of determination yet compassion. They would find a wife who would be gentle, at times unpredictably exciting, and exceptionally bright. The "cookie cutter just like every other woman out there" model would be a wife they would each summarily reject in deference to their loyalty to a woman just like me.
SO, the kids and I had some conversations this week-end. I needed to know that each one was on-track to a perfect understanding of what the term "wife" means. They are old enough to have seen the type of marriage their dad and I have. I expected that they would value our style of marriage complete with its equality, goofiness, and genuine enjoyment of each other.
The conversations left me, shall we say... a bit unsettled...confused...frightened.
Girl (age 12.11 years): This girl is sounding okay and rather age appropriate in her dreams of what the perfect husband will be:
1. He must make her laugh. (This sounds like her dad. Good sign.)
2. He must be nice. (This surely is her dad.)
3. He must like spending ample time going to fun places. (Sorry, Checkered, 2 out of 3 isn't so bad.)
Boy #1 (age 10): This guy is really headed toward self-actualization and maturity and a bit of redundancy. The three qualities he thinks are essential in a wife are:
1. She respects her husband.
2. She loves her husband.
3. She cares for her husband.
Boy# 3 (age 6): This guy is young, but I believe we still have cause for a little concern. The three qualities he thinks are essential in a wife are:
1. She must do whatever he says.
2. She should ideally buy him a PlayStation 3.
3. She should cook better than everybody else.
(We should also note here that last week he also said his wife will be named Caution. I'm okay with that. It should also be noted that he isn't opposed to marrying someone already married to lots of other people.)
And then there's Boy #2 (age 8): This one is, well to put it in the words of the ER nurse during his last visit there, "I expect that we'll see this one here again." After living with me - his number one wife/woman role model for 8 years, these are the top three qualities he's looking for in a wife:
1. She must be a woman.
2. She must have babies called humans.
3. She must have a breast. (Please note the singular noun, breast. Just one.)
And now you'll excuse me as I evidently have some reinventing to do with myself.
This provided a wonderful reason for me to visit my favorite addiction – Walmart. I spent about 30 seconds in the belt section and carefully chose one which I would be able to buckle. When my belt arrived home, it was met with less than favorable reviews by one unnamed fashion critic.
Back we went to the source of addiction, but this time accompanied by the aforementioned fashion critic who spent 30 minutes rejecting every choice I made.
In desperation and with three out of patience boys hiding in the clothing racks, I acquiesced, and a busy new belt was mine.
The belt went into immediate but accidental hiding in my closet, and was only recently discovered when the closet shelving collapsed early one morning. What an exciting discovery!
I was so overcome with joy at finding my lost belt that I immediately put it on and promised to wear it for lots and lots of days. Herein lies the problem. It appears that there might be a bit of soft, malleable flesh which, in EXTREME circumstances, perhaps overhangs the belt somewhat and tends to get trapped within the buckle. By the end of the day, I was the owner of a red welt about three degrees northwest of my navel.
Because I am Caution and take great care to avoid pain, the next day I carefully moved the buckle over so not to aggravate my tender, welted flesh.
Now I have a matching red welt about three degrees northeast of my navel. As the resident fashion critic says,
“ Hold your stomach in a little bit. There! The belt looks great and that's all that matters!”
Now that's encouragement!
Isn’t that wonderful! A problem!
Yes. Now my problem is that I paid for a domain name and a website but I don’t understand how to log on.
Isn’t that wonderful! A problem!
Yes, but why isn’t my log on info working?
Oh. That’s really very simple. We’re going to send you an email containing a little poem. Just translate it and you’ll have your answer! That's all you have to do.
Translate? I’m monolingual.
Isn’t that wonderful! It’s really very simple. Good luck!
Isn’t that wonderful! But we need to advice you that you should have translated the poem while dancing the tango.
Oh! The tango. Okay! I’ll give it a shot.
By the way, could we interest you in additional inaccessible accounts while we have you on the line?
Okay, Tech Support. I am dancing the tango right now and using babelfish to translate the poem. I still can’t log on.
It’s really very simple. You can only dance the tango with the director of your nearest zoo! Good-luck!
Got the zoo director in my arms, babelfish at my fingertips and tango in my feet. Still can’t log on.
Isn’t that wonderful! We can’t assist you unless you have 12 toes.
Aren’t you the company who accepted my dollars? Who told me it was very simple?
Isn’t that wonderful! By the way, what else can we sell you today?
Friday, July 11, 2008
He doesn't know that he wears a 1.
He doesn't know that the blades are on the wrong feet.
He does know he got those skates on by himself.
He does know that that he can go 2 or 3 feet without a fall.
He does know that he just figured out that his pants have been on backwards all day, and he fixed them without any help!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Okay. Suffice it to say. Tents + Caution = Yucky.
So that's why when Checkered's coworkers wanted to give us a wedding gift many moons ago, he asked for a tent. A superduper, big, yellow I promise I'm not kidding tent.
And now, every July week during scout day camp, Checkered and the kids put that tent up and sleep out all week. That is the only use our wedding gift tent gets.
It's sweet. It's a tradition. My kids lovelovelove it. My husband loves it until he remembers the neighbor's security light, the neighbor's new barking puppy, and that he can't move the next morning.
And lonely old Caution (aka part of the team)?
Asleep in her king size bed - right down the middle.
Have fun out there in the tent, Sweethearts!
Monday, July 7, 2008
For the next three days, all the cub scouts at our neighborhood school will congregate at a local park. There, they will do crafts (boo, hiss), a field game, a water game, and then the REAL stuff: bb guns, fishing with cane poles, bows and arrows. It is a cross between the greatest den meeting ever and a day in the life of "Little House on the Prairie" without the chores, girls, or outhouses. The really mean schoolmaster does tend to be there in the form of some of the volunteers (but how do you complain when they are volunteering???) My boys LOVE day camp beyond description. It's physical, it's with their buddies, and it's what scouts really is all about (again, without the community service/let's do something for others annoyance.)
I especially like day camp because I get to spend the days with my daughter (who happens to be a girl and therefore, ineligible for cub scouts.) HOWEVER, there was a planning glitch this year and I am a little annoyed. You see, the powers that be like the boys to move through the camp in age group cohorts. What that means is that a dad like Checkered (who has three boys attending who were born in different years) must run hither and yon among his boys since they are not in the same group.
The problem with that is that the parent will miss something life-changing with son #1 while watching son #2 paint his craft, and while that is happening, son #3 will have some kind of physical trauma.
Our solution last year was for ME to attend along with Checkered. I enjoyed
Last year we had two sons attending. This year we have three sons, one father, and one mother attending. Our daughter has been carefully instructed to breathe without asthma. I have carefully instructed myself to flirt only with Checkered.
It's just three days. Three little days. Three opportunities to see my sons grow. Three days...
Tomorrow's post: Is Checkered still able to move after one night on the ground in the backyard? (do not misread that as IN the ground!)
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Then when I was in high school, an arena was built about an hour from our home and that was the beginning of concerts as I knew them. And what that means is that I didn't know anything because I never went to a concert!
Eventually I made my way to concerts in other cities and countries as I worked my way through my 20's, but I never made the transition to concert-lover. I went because my friends wanted to go. See how strongly I staked out my independence ?!
Now I am the mom of a teen-ager who has begun to watch her friends as they attend concert after concert. First, I don't know how they get tickets (think Miley Cyrus ticket craze.) Secondly, I don't know how they pay for those tickets.
Oh! I am still so geeky, but now I'm a middle-aged, mom-geek.
Something very neat happened to my girl last night. (Thank goodness she has cooler people in her life like her dad!) Her friend's very generous mother gave my girl a ticket to the Jonas Brothers concert. Originally, I wasn't too psyched for her. She didn't even like the Jonas Brothers, but it was a much bigger deal than I originally thought.
She had a fantastic time and here is what she learned last night:
- That mob mentality is an interesting thing.
- That some OTHER middle-aged moms have no business getting SO excited about a teen band.
- That it is fun to scream throughout a concert so that you lose your voice.
- That it is cheaper to buy the concert t-shirt online (with shipping) than it is to buy it at the concert.
- That mosquitoes love concert goers.
- That there were lots of cool girls from school there (that one just kills me.)
- That her new favorite group is ... The Jonas Brothers.
- That she is so glad she didn't have to pay for the ticket.
So, thank-you, generous Mrs. F., for taking my daughter through this rite of passage. I'm glad she got there a little sooner than I did and I'm equally as glad that she said she didn't know if she would want to go to another concert any time soon. Sometimes just having been there, done that is enough.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Flag family member: HI! HOW ARE YOU!!!
Friend: unintelligible mumbling
Flag family member: IS THAT RIGHT!! WHAT HAPPENED THEN?
Friend: unintelligible mumbling
Flag family member: HA HA!!!!! THAT'S A GOOD ONE!!!!
You get the picture. We appear to all be hard of hearing or we're making it our business to do that to the rest of the world.
But, as in every other thing in this family, there is always one dissenter. We used to think it was our 6 year old who would be the one quiet Flag as he loved his preschool teacher because among many other attributes, she was gentle and quiet. He's been out of her class for a year now and he still misses her. He once said, "She's just like me and that's why she's my best friend."
But in this house, change is THE constant and we've noticed recently that we've begun to shush our son, so he can't be the dissenter anymore. He's gotten loud, too. We've won him over to the noisy side.
Rest assured though, in this family there is always someone waiting in the wings ready to vie for someone else's title. So now it's Ben the Beagle whose big, sensitive ears must have suffered when he was adopted by this loud family. He's Teddy Roosevelt all over again with his big stick.
BUT DON'T WORRY!! WE'LL CONVERT HIM SOON AND I PROMISE THAT HE WILL GET LOUDER AND LOUDER. AFTER ALL, HE IS A MEMBER OF THIS FAMILY!!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Here's the thing. I am quite sympathetic toward toes. It's not like mine are well-kept or pampered, but I think too many people mistreat their toes. For example, let's say it's the middle of summer. In this region that means we have humidity and temps in the 80's. It's weather that begs the question of confusing clothing. Do I dress for the heat of outside or dress for the arctic air of the central air conditioning?
1 - tan and beg for melanoma (but settle for more freckles and melanoma instead)?
2 - use my sunless tanning lotion and proceed through the next week with lovely orange streaks?
3 - rob a bank and get a spray on tan which will last for a very few days and, according to my teen-age spray on tanning hostess, possibly leave me slightly orange???
4 - head into my public appearances with winter clothing to cover my glow-in-the-dark white skin?
It's tough because all the choices pretty much stink.
Then there's the shoes and mistreated toes. I think that it's a complete tragedy when I see summer toes encased in heavy winter shoes. The toes are suffocating in there already. Let them out!!!
So now we're back to the fact that it's finally spring weather here in the Flag family locale. That means we've had a handful of days with temps at 50 or above. That means that it hasn't snowed since Easter week-end. That means I need winter shoes in the morning, summer shoes in the mid-day, and winter shoes at night. What I need is transitional foot-wear.
So off to DSW I go. Now if you haven't been blessed with a DSW shoe store near you, I must apologize. It is a
warehouse (Designer Shoe Warehouse) of shoes that are beautiful and almost always in my size and the rows go on forever and ever! Okay, I'll stop.
Anyway, I go to DSW every spring and fall looking for transitional footwear. I need transitional shoes to wear while I drive my children to school and pick them up from school. I need transitional shoes to wear while I grocery shop for organic foods. I need transitional shoes to wear while I eat ice cream and grade my students' essays.
What I see is this:
Not a carpooling/buy some milk type of shoe -- at least for me.
And not a transitional shoe in there. *sigh*
Here are two other reasons I am conflicted about DSW:
1. Why do they have so many pairs of shoes missing one shoe (always the right). Is there a one-footed person out there shoplifting right shoes at my DSW?
2. What's with the ear piece communication devices the clerks wear? Inevitably, I will be talking to one and while I am asking where the right shoe is, she will begin to talking while looking at me. What she will say is something like this:
"How many bonus rewards do you have?"
I will respond,
"I think I have one coupon, but I left it home."
"I have 10."
"That's good?? Um, about the right shoe..."
"I need you to run a scan on...."
After I realize that she not offering to hire me, I do realize she is talking NOT TO ME, but to her little wire which is connected to her ear piece. The weird thing? She has not broken eye contact with me the entire time, nor did she apologize when compelled to start talking to someone else AFTER she asked if she could assist me.
Yes, DSW, I am very conflicted.
Today's conflict revolves around organic consumer products.
When I first became aware of consumer foods, I really thought they were just another gimmick designed to separate me from my paycheck. I thought that organic was synonymous with designer, synthetic, belonging to the "rich" part of town just like the full-size Hummers and the brand new Jaguars. (Hey, when did the pronunciation of that car change from Jag-waar to Jag-u-ar??)
Then, much to my chagrin, these same organic products began to be sold under store brand labels. Now I can buy Kroger organic butter, Kroger organic milk, Kroger organic whatever. Unfortunately, these organic store brands are still more expensive than the non-organic store brands.
Here is my limited knowledge of organic: I know it means that the product was farmed/made/grown without the use of chemicals. I also know that some of these growth hormones and other chemicals are wreaking havoc with children's growth and development, so organic milk and meats (and eggs?) make sense to me. I also know that Checkered's cousin was going to transition her farm to an organic farm, but couldn't find enough local distributors to justify her costs. I guess that means that any organic product is going to cost me more.
This week I saw organic cotton pajamas at the store. There were also organic cotton sheets. The packaging told me that I would love their softness and natural comfort, but do I really need organic pajamas? Maybe the rule would be that if I am ingesting it, organic is good?
What is your opinion of organic products? Do you buy organic food products? If so, what? Do you buy organic non-food products?
If you could help un-conflict me, I would be most appreciative.
*Thirty-six weeks later and I arrived at the hospital to announce that things didn't feel right again.
"When was your due date?" the nurse asked.
"Today," I naively answered, and as if we planned it, my water broke all over her upholstered chair. I never did understand why the labor and delivery admitting office wasn't covered entirely in vinyl, but it wasn't my problem at that point.
*Another six or seven hours later, things got serious and I panicked with the realization that actual childbirth stood between me and the exit of the hospital. I was terrified, but couldn't wait to meet this child.
*A LONG six months later, our baby daughter (Junior) finally stopped her colicky crying. YEAH!! While we hope she would become a quieter person we knew that even if she didn't, things were okay because she owned our hearts completely.
*Three years later, I walked that beautiful girl into preschool (but not in this outfit) and we were both terrified. We both survived - she better than I.
*Two years after that, we walked her into kindergarten and I was very brave. This was real school. These were the kids she would know for years. Some of them would be her friends and some would not. Some would make her laugh and some would make her cry. It's just the nature of life and it terrified me. But I was oh so curious about who this school girl would become.
* A quick six years later she instructed us to simply make a quick stop with the car and she would find her own way into middle school. I was chatty and happy and quietly terrified. She was, too.
* And here we are: today I am the mother of a brand spankin' new teenager and I am admittedly terrified. She is growing up quickly and beautifully and I really like the person she is. She is funny and argumentative. She is loving and musical. She is the keeper of our family pictures and the best baby-sitter in town. She is creative and clever. She's good at just about everything she tries. She's just another seventh grade teen-ager, but she's amazingly been entrusted to us and we are filled with gratitude.
And this time next year will find us touring the high school, and guess what? I am terrified, but it will probably be okay because that's just how things go with Junior, our teen-aged daughter.
I have proven again and again that I am wonderfully talented in the mystery realm. Buy me a gift? I'll know what it is before you get the thing wrapped (unless, of course, it's a multi-year Waltons collection. That one came as a surprise.) Want to ask me to marry you? I'll know you should do it before you do. Submit a plagiarized essay to me? I will track the original source and you down lickety-split. Trying to have sex during my class? I'll figure it out about the time you round second and head for third. Whew! I'm clever and insightful.
So there you have it, my secret dream job. Need more evidence? How about a little synopsis of a recent mystery I solved right here in my house.
This year I caught most every stomach bug known to live in my state. I also invested heavily in some manufactured in other states and those which had been outsourced. Stomach distress catcher extraordinaire, I was. But the question was why?
Could it be that poetically named ailment which taunts me and forces me to drive well over the posted speed limit on occasion, irritable bowel syndrome? I think that moniker is so gracefully named, I've thought of using it somewhere else. Perhaps as a name for our house? Can you see the welcome sign: "Welcome to Irritable Bowels." Maybe we could even get featured on the next Tour of Homes in our community (which has disturbingly ignored our neighborhood since we moved here....)
The mystery? Yes, that's where I'm headed here.
One day I was standing in our bathroom contemplating cleaning it. Just contemplating.
In walked a striking 6 year old who proceeded to slam the toilet seat up and (use your imagination here.) Just as he finished, before his pants had even been pulled up, he noticed that his fingers were wet. So, in one smooth move, he reached to this towel and dried them.
Okay, fine. Yuck. He then predictably washed his now dry hands and left the room without ever acknowledging that:
A) I was in the room,
B) That the towel was now covered with urine.
I am not kidding. The proverbial light went on and started strobing. I had a tremendous epiphany.
The towel he used to dry his urine hands? My towel which I use to dry my face every morning and night.
And there you have it, an understanding of the multiple stomach viruses which have been visited upon me. We also have another quality example of Dr. Caution to the rescue. Mystery solved. Case closed. Bleaching the towel. Moving my towel rack and wondering what he will use when the towel is gone????
Secret Lives of Soccer Moms and police departments in my area: I'm waiting for the call.
In addition to his verbal acumen, he has a keen eye and easily sees flaws. We've worked, and guided, and threatened, and punished, and still once in a while something comes out of his mouth that's simply mortifying.
Last week he observed to our teen-age neighbor girl that she had quite a mustache growing. As a matter of fact, it was so long that our son thought it was worthy of a letter to the world records people. The girl did answer with great aplomb ("Yes I do. Every person has hair growing on their upper lip, but most girls have hair that's blond. Unfortunately, mine is black.") I apologized. He apologized. His siblings apologized, but what my child said must have hurt.
I would like to think that my child learned his lesson just as I was sure he learned his lesson the time before and the one before that. But the truth is that as surely as there are people out there with quadruple chins and jiggly stomachs and odd odors emanating from their bodies, I know my boy will strike again.
His teacher from last year has made an offer to adopt my boy (most likely because she has neither the multiple chins nor jiggly stomach), but if that option falls through I am not sure what to do.
Any suggestions real or otherwise?
*If the subject of class discussion is Henrik Ibsen and students keep mentioning "Henry Gibson" on their exam, should they get credit?
*When I'm invited to someone's home for dinner and I can't think of a great hostess gift, is it okay to just give them the monetary amount the dinner would cost in a restaurant? (I'm kidding, Mom!) But really, $15? $20??
*When the dog passes gas while company is over, how vigorously must I apologize before they suspect that it's me and not the dog?
*Thank-you, Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA, for reminding me about the group, 2nd Chapter of Acts. Their hymn Cd's? Gorgeous!
*How do I get to be on the show, "The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom"?
*Is it okay to stop using my Gazelle exercise machine because when I'm on it I see that the mantle hasn't been dusted for a while?
*Is it okay to stop using my Gazelle exercise machine because when I'm on it I get hot and if I turn on the ceiling fan it will disturb the dog who is sleeping so sweetly on the clean laundry? (Please, MizFit, don't answer!)
*Did you ever ask for something for your own birthday just because you knew it was something your husband really wanted and you love him that much???
(Don't worry, Checkered. I'm asking for the 50 inch plasma t.v. next year.)
*It feels great to wear a new hair do into a college class and have the students tell me it looks great. And, no, I don't think they're brown nosing at all.
*Why, in a time where so many churches think they must have an entirely contemporary service, do I long more than ever for tradition?
*If it makes me happy to have someone read my blog, but I know they only read it because I might mention them, is it real happiness?
*If you think the gas prices haven't impacted us, look here.
Checkered has driven for 15 years. Now he is riding a non-motorized scooter.
Just kidding! (He would be healthier if he did drive a scooter 80 miles every day, but I wonder what time he would get to work)
*If someone invites my child over to play, I don't feel especially obligated to reciprocate. If they invite my child over 3817 times, I feel a bit more obligated. If they invite all 764 of my kids over at once, should I worry about what to serve when I am obligated to invite their kids to live with us permanently?
*And lastly, is it really time to take down the Valentine's Day decorations already? What about the Christmas wreath?
These are my people
This is where I come from
We're givin' this life everything we've got and then some
It ain't always pretty
But it's real
That's the way we were made
Wouldn't have it any other way
These are my people
-From These Are My People by Rodney Atkins
Like everyone else, I come from a long line of interesting people. Some I know; some I don't. I wish I knew more of that line, but I am grateful for those relative relationships I do have.
This past Easter week-end, we invested a lot of travel hours to see some of my people. What I appreciate most is that Checkered and my kids were as excited as I was to head toward Pennsylvania (BTW, is there any more beautiful place than Lancaster County?)
Here are three pix of the many that made up our quick family reunion.
Three Cautions In a Row:
In this picture, you see three generations of Cautions. I am not certain whether or not I was intentionally named after my aunt, but I do know that I intentionally gave my daughter "our" name. My aunt has always been someone I've loved dearly, and now she is newly widowed so this visit was particularly poignant. Despite my tired and not working new 'do, my aunt was actually very happy to be with me
A short drive later, and we were with more relatives. I have only one first cousin on this side of the family, so I'm relieved to say we like each other. The author, Marion Winik, says that relative friends are quite special because although you are bonded by genes and common history, you actually enjoy each other's company. Here's my relative friend, Cousin Equestrian, with her grandson.
My boys are great video game players. This year, through games and the novel, The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins: A World War II Soldier, they have discovered World War II, so a bonus on this visit was talking to my uncle who was a Seabee in WWII. They thought their uncle was even better than the video games and book! Here they are going through the long list of questions they brought along to ask him. (Like my Picnik photo editing effects???)
So that's where I've been: just taking a whirlwind tour of some of my people. Thanks for touring with me.
But what I really, really love about them is that they don't have bifocals. They don't have bifocals because I DON'T need bifocals!
Last year, when the eye doctor suggested bifocals, I felt sorry that his mother had raised a not-so-insightful boy. He was doing okay with the lines about making life just a little easier. Then he committed the faux pas to end all faux pas. He mentioned certain things happening in the "aging process." That was it. He was history to me.
Then a couple of months ago these pesky, throbbing headaches began to annoy me after I had been working on the computer for a while. I knew they were caused by the guilt I felt about all the things I should have been doing other than reading so many great blogs.
Next it was those same not-so-pesky headaches when I graded essays. I was sure those headaches were the result of the quality of the essays.
Later, in a conversation with the optometrist who knows me better than any other doctor does, I mentioned the headaches. After examining my eyes over the phone, my sister (aka Dr. Red) decreed the probable need for reading glasses. She then reached across the thousand miles between us and held my hand while I went to the drugstore and bought some.
What I didn't tell my sister was that I was wearing a disguise so that my student who works there wouldn't recognize me carrying reading glasses. I would have rather run into him while I carried birth control, feminine protection, toe fungus stuff, or even an enema, but reading glasses? No absolute way.
When I got home and again tried the glasses I had a bad moment where I was taken back a year or two to when I was a teenager. I saw the piano teacher (really a lovely woman) sitting next to me, humming along, eating an onion like an apple and wearing my reading glasses. Back to the store those reading glasses went.
So here's the deal. If you want me to continue reading your blogs or emails, two or three lines in large font should suffice for me. I'll be fine. At least, I don't need bifocals!
Just wanted to send a quick note thanking you for the invaluable service you provide with the Tracking and Confirmation option you make available to shippers.
We recently paid more than we should have to make a purchase on Ebay. After paying and then not hearing from the seller for 16 years a day or so, we were greatly relieved to learn that our item had been shipped. The tracking number was just an added joy. We got out a map so our kids could get a little extra geography lesson as our package moved around the country.
On March 8th, we logged onto your website, entered our tracking number and got this message:
Processed, March 08, 2008, 1:33 am, BELL, CA 90201
Acceptance, March 07, 2008, 8:22 am, LAGUNA HILLS, CA 92654
Your message assured us that we could check back for updates each evening.
Yeah. We checked again on March 10th.
Processed, March 08, 2008, 1:33 am, BELL, CA 90201
Acceptance, March 07, 2008, 8:22 am, LAGUNA HILLS, CA 92654
And again today, March 12th.
Processed, March 08, 2008, 1:33 am, BELL, CA 90201
Acceptance, March 07, 2008, 8:22 am, LAGUNA HILLS, CA 92654
And then this morning:
Processed, March 08, 2008, 1:33 am, BELL, CA 90201
Acceptance, March 07, 2008, 8:22 am, LAGUNA HILLS, CA 92654
And other than our boxes getting all mixed up in this copy and paste exercise, we've learned more about the USPS tracking system than we thought possible.
We really can't express to you how much this info helps us determine WHERE are package is and WHEN it will arrive at our house. It's been so much fun to watch our package make its way from state to state disappear from the radar screen.
Thank-you again for the wonderful and nicely managed service.
The Flag Family