Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Fragments

With a nod to Mrs. 4444, here we go:
1~ the tilde is my favorite new accent mark.
2~my 9 year old asked why I didn't invite all his friends to watch him be born.
3~our new family doctor is so very pretty and sweet and tall that Checkered is never again allowed to get sick.
4~I quite enjoy the show, The Closer, but is Brenda Johnson's accent true Atlantan? I think not.
5~Some of you make a mighty fine Shepherd's Pie ~ and you know who you are!
6~My 6 year old becomes my 7 year old this week-end and is having his very first birthday party. A big step for such a shy, shy guy.
7~We are having a pinata (why can't I use a tilde on that word??!!) and Checkered hopes that we will have no mishaps landing us a spot on America's Funniest Home Videos.
8~I received a note from my neighbor this week. She knew all my kids' names and that freaked me out because I didn't recognize HER name and thus, didn't know who was writing to me and was all too familiar with my family.
9~What is Pepper the puppy's attraction to dryer lint?
10~This is the first day this week that I did NOT visit Walmart. Way to go, Me!
11~My hair is looking messy these days, but I'm afraid to go to a salon because I might run into the hair stylist I am trying to leave. She scares me.
~~~~~ Don't you love tildes, too?~~~~~~~

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vintage Music

Allow me to introduce you to my guitar.

It is approximately 36 years old.

Now here is the story:

When I was 9 we moved from Massachusetts to Missouri. The move was tough on all of us, and only became worse when I was placed in a classroom with a teacher who had no business teaching. She was a screamer, an insulter, a threatener, and to add to that, I now understand that she was dying. It was absolutely the worst year of school for me.

That year guitar lessons were being offered after school, and my parents signed me up. I was given the use of my aunt's guitar and that was a problem for me. The guitar was OLD. It didn't look like anyone else's in the class and I was completely embarrassed. My wonderful parents eventually saved and bought me a brand new guitar that I loved. It was beautiful. It smelled wonderful and I spent hours holding it.

But the guitar was just a little too big for me, my fine motor skills were a little too weak, and the lessons weren't taught by the most effective guitar teacher. I made very little playing progress and I was relieved when the lessons ended and the guitar was put away for good.

But I never sold that guitar and it moved with me to Kentucky and around and about until it came to live in my current house.

A couple of weeks ago, in a rare cleaning frenzy, I pulled the guitar out, determined to donate it to the Salvation Army. But I was overcome by guilt. I thought of that horrible year and how the teacher had proclaimed me a frustration, an embarrassment, and a failure. I thought of my parents working hard as a teacher and a pastor to save their small pay to buy a guitar I wouldn't be ashamed of. I thought of all I've managed to accomplish with the Lord's grace.

And I picked up a chord chart. I picked up that guitar. I tuned it. And I began to play.

Joe Satriani I'm not, but I do know a handful of songs now and there's no more looking back.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for my guitar!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Letter C

Our friend, Noe, is running a meme and I love memes, so here I go. Ten things I love about C:

Christian ~ because I am one by choice.

Christian ~ because he is one, too, by birth certificate.

Cell phone

Cucumber~ because I love that crunch

Caliber ~ I may tease my husband about his car, but I secretly covet it.

Chili ~ true love

Children ~

Cinnamon ~ my favorite spice

Compensation ~

Checkered ~ Need I say more?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday: A Wordy Explication

On Sunday night I hurt my elbow when I fell going UP the stairs.

On Monday morning, I was still pouting about my elbow when ...

Pepper the puppy went out the FRONT door for a walk - all by herself.

As I was chasing her across the front lawn (and thereby encouraging her to run even faster), I realized that 3 degrees Fahrenheit is pretty cold. I was, therefore, grateful that I had invested in a good coat from Lands' End. And ...

only slightly regretted that it was sitting in the van - without me.

And as I ran through the knee deep snow, I also recognized how fortuitous it was that my daughter had outgrown her boots and had regifted them to me. And ...

that they were keeping dry in the garage - without me.

As I called sweetly to Pepper, I was delighted that my three boys were still home to help.
One quickly retreated to the house to get some dog food. One unlocked the van and stood guard should anyone try to steal his front seat privilege. And ...

as I rounded the corner to a neighbor's house and found that her backyard is UNfenced, my heart sank. But ...

I could still see my third child standing forlornly on the ice-covered sidewalk. I could also see that he had decided it necessary to wear only ONE shoe outside during the emergency dog episode.

Hours later, while a loving Pepper slept in OUR house, I made my way to Walmart. I pulled into the Walmart gas station and pressed the $1.75 button only to see it ring up as $1.85 because I didn't use a WALMART credit card.

After that fiasco, I was meandering through the Juniors department thinking how my daughter SHOULD love me because of all the things I was putting into my cart, but I knew we would be returning it all later in the week. I also thought of my friend, C-lee. She and I always seem to shop at the same time. I was most grateful she wasn't at Walmart right then because I had not showered or much else. And ...

within FIVE minutes I heard, "Caution!! Why are we always here at the same time?"

It was okay, though, because she looked a little undone herself. I was thrilled to see her until ...

she said she had just worked out.

I drove home, unshowered, $133 lighter, and frustrated because I had forgotten bread: the one item I had gone into Walmart to get.

I sat down at the computer and looked into my bank account and ...

discovered that I had been paid AND given a two year retroactive pay raise.

And that is why I loved Monday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Promise Fulfilled

We bought this house in the spring of 1999. We loved the big yard, the low taxes (which have since more than doubled), the space (so nice since I was expecting baby #3 and big surprise baby #4 was yet to be made), and the fact that the house was move-in ready.  Move-in ready to us meant that there were window treatments up, landscaping in, floors in, et cetera.

We guided our 4-year-old daughter toward this room:
and suggested that she make it hers since it was so close to ours.  What we didn't tell her was that it was also already decorated in pink.  Our boy conveniently moved into the blue sailboat room and the new baby boy took up residence in the multiple hearts room.
In the following months/years, our daughter agreed that she could live with the fact that her room adjoins the main bathroom and she knows EVERYTHING that occurs in the bathoom.  She could live with the fact that the heat struggles to reach her room in the winter,  but she really hated her pink walls.  We promised her that in a short while we would redo her room.
Then, after yet again being reprimanded by the asthma doctor for allowing our asthmatic daughter to sleep in a carpeted room, we pulled the dusty carpet up and replaced it with a wood floor.

We asked her, "Aren't you thrilled with your new room?"

And she again asked about the pink wallpaper.

A while later she again asked about painting her room.  But, the baby boy in the heart room was now two walking, talking boys living in a heart room and those hearts needed to come down.  Afterall, couldn't a girl live forever in a pink, wallpapered room?

Later, it was the paneling in the family room which had to go.  Then it was part of the kitchen.  Then the living room took over a year to paint, and another year to refloor.
All the while, I told my daughter, "I will paint your room when you go to kindergarten, get out of first grade, finish brownies, agree to suffer through a season of softball, join the youth group at church, bring home just one more great report card, begin middle school, give us a thousand more hours of free babysitting,
 be nice about having to take piano lessons. And she kept her part of the bargain.
She is about to graduate from middle school as a lovely, smart, sweet, compassionate girl young woman.  And her new quilt clashes horribly with that old pink wallpaper.

So 2009 is the year and to commit to the new room project. I have stripped one little, tiny bit of unstrippable paper.  In the process, I have thought uncharitable thoughts toward the former owners who covered every wall of this house in unstrippable paper.  I have also significantly gouged the drywall.

My girl will have her walls stripped and painted before school gets out on June 10th.  Maybe even before her April birthday.

She has my word.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Funnies

I loved Laura's idea last Friday to post something funny.  So, here's an email I received:

And then the fight started....

My wife and I are watching "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, "Do you want to have sex?"

"No," she answered.

I then said, "Is that your final answer?"

She didn't even look at me this time, simply saying, "Yes."

So I said, "Then I'd like to phone a friend."

And then the fight started...


A woman is standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She is not happy with what she sees and says to her husband, "I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment."

The husband replies, "Your eyesight's darn near perfect."

And then the fight started.....


Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, grabbed the dog, and slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked up the boat up to the truck, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day.

I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed.. I cuddled up to my wife's back, now with a different anticipation, and whispered, "The weather out there is terrible."

My loving wife of 10 years replied, "Can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?"

And that's how the fight started ...


My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. My wife asked, "Do you know her?"

"Yes," I sighed, "She's my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since."

"My God!" says my wife, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"

And then the fight started.....


I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. "I'll have the strip steak, medium rare, please."

He said, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?"

"Nah, she can order for herself."

And then the fight started.....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Goof is my Middle Name

When I first began teaching, my teacher mom gave me advice I still use. She suggested that the first few weeks of class, I should walk into class swiftly and speak with authority. I did just that last night since this is the first week of our new semester. I was polite yet very much the authority. I smiled only slightly and immediately announced that we needed to get to work. The students were absolutely silent and some looked absolutely stricken with panic.

Then I reached to get my materials out of my backpack. What a major goof I was about to discover. The backpack I had carried to work and into my class wasn't mine. It belonged to my 6 year old.

I rooted around in the backpack hoping for something to use. I found:

  • gloves:
  • pencils and eraser:
Worksheets should I need to fill class time:
And some 1st grade literature:
Suffice it to say, the semester started with a pretty good laugh between professor and students.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Of Jobs and Snow

My children have joined the working class. At 13, 11, and 9, they are more than capable of partially earning their keep, so when our neighbor hired them to shovel snow this winter, Checkered and I shouted, "YES!!" even as our children said, "We'll think about it."  The 6 year old didn't even get to the thinking about it part.

Our neighbors are truly wonderful.  They are kind, thoughtful, compassionate, generous, and tolerant.  They also are having some physical troubles which preclude heavy exercise.  Enter the Flag children complete with snow gear, snow shovels, and a snow blower.

The deal was that the neighbors would pay $20 per storm. And then it started to snow.  And snow.  And snow. And snow. One day we had two different storms in one day.  We've become so acclimated to the snow that we didn't even know we had a blizzard last Saturday until we read about it in the paper.  It was just more snow for us. 

Now my father always likes to remind us that in his Kentucky town, every street is plowed after every storm.  In my Michigan town, the main streets get cleared, but my subdivision must wait about a week after a storm.  When there's a snowstorm every other day, well, you get the picture of the mess my road is right now.

But my sidewalk, driveway, and the neighbor's sidewalk and driveway?  Smooth.

Now, back to my point.  When it snows for 6 or 8 hours, and the wind is gusting up to 50 mph, more than one shoveling is required.  Sometimes it's 3 or 4 times out there clearing the snow.  And my kids and Checkered and I are loving getting out there and working.

But my wonderful neighbor insists on paying my kids for every shoveling. Any paying more than the agreed-upon price.

And to compound the issue, my neighbors' snowblower was stolen last week when they moved it just outside of their garage, and spent 15 minutes taking their dog around the block.  This IS metro Detroit, afterall.

Sorry for all this meandering.  But here is what I am trying to say.  I appreciate that my neighbor is enjoying giving my kids a bit of financial freedom.  I appreciate that my kids are improving their work ethic.  I appreciate that my neighbor does not want to feel indebted to us (even though we would absolutely clear their driveway for free every winter.)  But what I've learned is that being overpaid is just about as awkward for us as being indebted would be for my neighbors.

Whew!  I hoped if I just kept typing, I would finally say something!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Job I Don't Want

"We give the president more work than a man can do, more responsibility  than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear."
~ John Steinbeck
May the Lord richly bless your leadership, President Obama!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Surrender

Right now I am just angry at Mental P Mama, Marlene, and BHE.  Angry.  Annoyed.  Ticked.  You all and your healthy ways.  I seriously dislike that, you know.  I've read your posts,  learned about your plans to regain your bodies and health, and cheered when you each lost weight.  I did that because I'm nice.

But me diet?  No.

Me stay happy with the as-I-am me?  You bet.

I have some friends with thicker middles, so I was simply going to spend more time with them.

But your pesky posts perculated in my pea-brain.  They poked me and pinched me and called mean names.  Yep, that's what they did.

So, on Friday, when every school in town was closed because it was -11 at school time, I pulled out the Wii Fit.  I have refused to use it since Santa arrived with it, but on Friday I began to think that if you all could do something good for your bodies, I could, too.

My goal of one chin-up by Christmas failed.  (Now I'm trying for one by my April birthday.)  I figured that the Wii Fit would do what I needed.

First, I went through the assessment portion.  ARGGGH!  It said that I am 57 years fit.  Excuse me, that's one entire decade older than my actual age.  Then it said I was 20 pounds heavier than I thought I was.  Then it said I was overweight bordering on obese.

Then I got a little scared, and I began to think that maybe the Mama, Marlene, and BHE are going the right direction.

My plan is now:
  • to be careful in my eating
  • to actually workout with the Wii Fit regularly
  • to continue my chin-up pursuit
And we shall see what happens.  Today, when I think of Dr. King telling us that the unthinkable could be achieved, I believe.  I believe for MPM, for Marlene, for BHE, for me, and for anyone else out there with a dream or goal that seems elusive.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Checkered's Other Wife

Checkered got a new car last year, and fell instantly head-over-heels in love. Given the choice: Caution or the car, well I'm not sure what he would choose.

Every day after work, he would vacuum it out. It's a little car, and often he was the only rider, but that vacuuming would go on and on and on. The kids didn't understand it. I was patient, though, because I was certain he would vacuum my gravel hauler family van out next. Didn't happen.

The kids didn't enjoy riding with him because they were reprimanded if they exhaled (an exaggeration, of course!) or touched the dash with their feet. Okay, I get that one!

Then last summer, Checkered didn't stop as quickly as the car in front of him. The other car was a bit messed up, but not the Caliber! (You see, American cars are just fine, thank-you.) Checkered's car had the equivalent of a zit on the front. Oh, how he fussed between vacuumings. He actually took the hair dryer out there and tried to reform the zit. Then he had the damage appraised - to fix a car zit. The kids and I shook our heads and silently laughed.

He tried to tell me he was proud of his car, and that bothered me on many levels. I didn't understand his open affection for a car. A Caliber, of all cars.

A few weeks after the zit incident, a coworker referred to Checkered's car as a Barbie car. I know that hurt Checkered, but the kids and I thought it was pretty funny.

Then the snows began and the vacuuming stopped. But the winds picked up, too. Checkered has always parked his car about 1/4" from the basketball net because that will always prevent our children from touching his car when they are in the driveway, you know. But ... and you know where this is going, don't you? One night during the holidays, we had wind gusts of 50 mph. Come on, you have to know where that basketball pole and net went, don't you? Yup, right onto Checkered's true love. A lot more than a car zit this time.

Of course, the damage is already fixed, but the kids and I couldn't help but laughing right out loud when we each looked at the dents, gouges, and scrapes.

I'm sorry, Checkered, but if that vacuum comes back out every night come spring, you, I, and the Caliber are going to have to find a counselor.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On my dvd player this week:
My son saw Mystery Men at a sleepover party and LOVED it.  It is the story of a group of would-be superheros with very unusual talents.  One shovels better than anyone else, another flings forks remarkably well, one is invisible (but only when no one is watching), and our boys' favorite:  one whose power to fart is simply amazing.  I was especially drawn to the PMS avenger who worked only 4 days per month.  Unfortunately, she didn't make the final team.   The movie is rated PG-13 and my 9 and 6 year old children loved it, and that should tell you just a little somethin' 'bout our parenting.
In my mailbox this week:
We always read "Guideposts" magazine growing up and I still subscribe.  My mom, younger sister, and I always enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's articles.  I am now the only person in the country who hasn't read or seen The Secret Life of Bees.  My mom and sister tell me it is decidedly un-Guideposts-like.  Thanks, Red, for sending them.  It took about a week.  Since I'm talking about you, I shall once again post the only picture I have of you since you hate it but have not sent me another:
And I did mention my mom, too. Have you met my mom and dad?  You should.
And since I'm in a stream of consciousness mode, my parents' picture made me think of how they pray every day for my kids, so it was exciting when they were here to celebrate Miracle Boy's 1st place finish in the league in December.
And that stinky hockey jersey reminds me of the wet laundry languishing in the washer, begging for a little attention from me, and maybe, just maybe a move to the dryer.
Okay. I'm done with this post.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Help in the Prettiest of Forms

Isn't it sweet when a 1st grader thinks his sister is the best reading homework helper in the world?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

He's Missing Only His Adenoids

Pre-op was a blast:
even if a certain guy worried someone would mistake him for a girl:
Post-op with codeine was pretty good, too. 
Now, would someone please remind me why I never became a nurse?

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Little Surgery

Adenoidectomy day for this guy:

He hopes ~
  • to miss more than two days of school
  • to eat lots of ice cream
  • to drink lots of slurpees
  • that the doctor doesn't mistake his appendix for his adenoids
His parents hope ~
  • that he will miss only two days of school
  • that he will be willing to swallow his meds
  • that he will be able to go longer than two weeks without a sinus infection with headaches, face tenderness, fevers, and horrific breath.
  • that we find a great lawyer should our child come home missing his appendix.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Am I On the Cusp of a New Career?

I watched the following video and decided that those chamber maids have NOTHING on me. Nothing. So I gathered:

a stop watch
a set of sheets and blankets
a bed

One minute and thirty-one seconds into it, I realized I was trying to put twin sheets on a full-size mattress.
Second attempt: 5.36 for a full-size bed pushed right against the wall.

What's your record? Fast forward through the video and note how many people worked together...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dreaming Her Life Away

Pepper the puppy is having a nightmare even as I type. She is comfortably resting on her luxurious bed which is full of static electricity. She is well-fed, well-loved, and well-kept. But still she is making pitiful, high-pitched crying noises and her feet are running back and forth while she dreams.

Pepper's life is pretty limited to a mile any direction from our house. On occasion, she encounters other dogs, but is almost always uninterested in them. She even let that one bully pee on her once. She and I both cried at that one. And she is bestfriendsworstenemies with the not necessarily bright neighbor dog.

So what is in that dream to make her run and cry?

I suppose Checkered might think Pepper is dreaming about being in the forbidden family room and running to get out before Checkered hollers at her. The kids probably think she is dreaming of how painstakingly slowly they get her food out each day. I like to think that she is dreaming about how badly life would have turned out for her had we not adopted her.

When she wakes up, she will no doubt want to tell me all the dream details before she forgets them.

I'll let you know what she says.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Facebook Mystery Friend

You know I've had a little something going on with Facebook the last couple of months.  It's been fun to "find" people I didn't know I had lost and then find some I had definitely lost.  Without exception, they all look wonderful (well, I know I post a nice, slimming picture of myself, too!)  I've enjoyed seeing that some people have moved a grand total of 2 inches from where I left them and others have moved light years away.
Some have turned out so differently from what I predicted, and that should be a lesson to you not to trust my powers of prediction.  Psychic I am not (but I did read a good novel about one, The Grift.)

Yesterday, however, dampened my Facebook enthusism.  I got a friend request.  That means that someone I "know" found my name and wants to link up with me, in the most wireless way possible.  She sent me this message:
Caution!!!  Is this really Caution Flag??? I can't believe I found you. This is wonderful.  Please get me all caught up on your life.  How's your mom?
I was happy to read that someone wanted to find me.  And since my mom was our guidance counselor, I always think it's sweet when someone wants to be remembered to her. 

I looked at the letter sender's picture. No memory of her.  I looked at her credentials.  Yup, same school/same time frame.  I looked at her list of friends.  Yes, we knew the same people.  But her?  There is not even the tiniest of synapses lighting up at her name.  Who is she?  I suppose it would be rude to ask her to give me a hint?

Instead, I emailed a mutual acquaintance asking for a clue, but just this minute I began to wonder if I sent the email to the mutual acquaintance or accidentally sent it to the mystery friend.

Facebook will certainly be the undoing of me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Now, Where Was I?

I was going to go away from blogging forever. That's exactly what I believed for 9.7 minutes last month. I was going to regain all the time blogging has cost me and emerge a well-organized, calm, neat woman. So I closed down the blog shop and launched into full-blown "Christmas-is-here-already-and how-can-that-be-since-I'm-not-ready mode." I learned that my absence from blogging did not, in fact, contribute greatly to my organizational needs. Nor did it enhance my time-management skills. Nor did it allow me to sink into deep slumber each night. It did not facilitate my quest to declutter and to update my resume. It did not free my time, my mind, nor my children's great fear that everything they do will be posted.

So what good did my blogging hiatus do?

It taught me that I blog NOT because I am obligated to.
It taught me that I blog NOT because I am trying to keep up with every other blogger.
It taught me that I blog NOT because it's just something to do.

My break taught me that I blog because I absolutely love it.

I love it because it's writing.
I love it because it's reading.
I love it because it's fun.
I love it because you're here, too.

And that last item is the best one of all and the main reason I'm back to stay.