Friday, November 28, 2008

Getting a Peek at Caution's Mind

A week ago, I was a former natural brunette living the good life as a getting there blond. My getting there blondness was an unexpected gift for me. People noticed. They liked it. I mean people I didn't think looked at hair (my pastor) noticed and liked it. Most importantly, I liked it. And then there were the collateral perks: my blondness looked wonderful in shades of pink, a color I had never worn with great success. So over the last year every clothing purchase I made was pink-related. Smart move, huh?

Last week, I was feeling old, fat, under appreciated, clumsy, unpopular, failure-esque, and that was just the beginning. My dark roots was apparent, my hair was shapeless and I had just enough coins in my pocket to do something about it.

That may have been a mistake.

I sat in that chair, and heard the question:

"So what are we doing today?"
Do you know what I answered?
Come on. I bet you do.
Take a guess!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Sharp Is That Noggin' of Yours?

Think you have Thanksgiving smarts? Take the test (source:

1. In what year did the first American Thanksgiving celebration take place? A. 1900 B. 1492 C. 1621 D. 1776 Correct answer: C 1621

2. Where was the first American Thanksgiving celebration held? A. Plymouth, Massachusetts B. New York, New York C. Jamestown, Virginia D. Boston, Massachusetts Correct answer: A Plymouth, Massachusetts

3. How many Pilgrims were on board the Mayflower? A. 89 B. 102 C. 185 D. 219 Correct answer: B (it is believed to be 102)

4. The Native Americans who were invited to the first Thanksgiving feast belonged to the Wampanoag tribe. Who was the chief of this tribe? A Squanto B Samoset C Cheyenne D Massasoit Correct answer: D Massasoit

5. How long did the first Thanksgiving celebration last? A. One day B. One week C. Three days D. Four days Correct answer: C Three days (the celebration consisted of games as well as food)

6. Which of the following were considered acceptable table manners at the First Thanksgiving? A. To spit on the ground B. To throw bones into the hearth C. To eat with your hands D. All of the above Correct answer: D All of the above

7. Which drink was brought along in the Mayflower? A. Wine B. Beer C. PiƱa Coladas D. Soda Correct answer: B Beer

8. In 1621, which of the following foods was probably not served? A. Pumpkin pie B. Yams C. Vegetables D. Corn Correct answer: A Pumpkin pie (they did not have ovens yet to bake pies)

9. In 1863, this person encouraged Abraham Lincoln to set aside the last Thursday in November as a "day for national thanksgiving and prayer." A. Martha Hale B. Betsy Ross C. Sarah Josepha Hale D. Sarah Lee Correct answer: C Sarah Josepha Hale
10. What does the term "Cornucopia" mean? A. Corn husks B. Horn of plenty C. A Greek god D. A traditional corn dish Correct answer: B Horn of plenty

11.True or False: Thanksgiving is only celebrated in the United States. False: Canada also celebrates a Thanksgiving Day.

12. Approximately how many feathers does a mature turkey have? A. 500 B. 1,000 C. 3,500 D. 4,000 Correct answer: C 3,500 feathers

13. Which state produces the most turkeys annually? A. Alabama B. North Carolina C. Missouri D. Arkansas Correct answer: B North Carolina

14. Approximately what percentage of American homes eats turkey on Thanksgiving? A. 90% B. 75% C. 50% D. 30% Correct answer: A 90%

15. In English, turkeys say "gobble gobble." What do turkeys say in Portuguese? A. Cluck Cluck B. Groo Groo C. Gluglugluglu D. Krull Krull Correct answer: C Gluglugluglu

16. Where was the turkey first domesticated? A. Brazil B. Mexico and Central America C. Asia D. China Correct answer: B Mexico and Central America

17. The Greek goddess of corn is: A. Ceres B. Cornucopia C. Demeter D. Grainoph Correct answer: C Demeter

18. How fast can wild turkeys run? A. 15 mph B. 55 mph C. 5 mph D. 25 mph Correct answer: D 25 mph

19. Which country consumes the most turkey per year per capita? A. United States B. Israel C. Mexico D. Germany Correct answer: B Israel

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've Been Reduced to Forwarding Emails in my Blog

The reason a dog has so many friends
is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

There is no psychiatrist in the world
like a puppy licking your face.
-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth
that loves you more
than he loves himself.
-Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person
than the average person.
-Andy Rooney

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies,
quite unlike people,
who are incapable of pure love and
always have to mix love &hate.

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like
never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones

If your dog is fat,
you aren't getting enough exercise.

My dog is worried about the economy
because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can.
That's almost $21.00 in dog money.
-Joe Weinstein

Women and cats will do as they please.
Men and dogs should relax
and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous
he will not bite you.
That is the principal difference
between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

Dogs are not our whole life,
but they make our lives whole.
-Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count,
try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket
and then give him only two of them.
-Phil Pastoret

Monday, November 24, 2008

Coming for Dinner Any Time Soon?

I'm stealing Jan's meme today to reveal yet another glimmering, glamorous aspect of myself. After this, I am certain no one will be knocking on my door asking for a meal!

Five of my kitchen/eating blunders:

5. There was the time I baked bread for my professor, but forgot to add salt. So what? Well, here's so what. The bread tasted horrible! And I still gave it to her :)

4. How about the time I was draining pasta, and let go of the lid on the pot? The pasta went directly into the sink and down the drain. Yes, that pasta got pulled right back out, rinsed off, and served.

3. This one belongs to my daughter. The first time her severe nut-allergy friend came over, my daughter offered her peanut butter. We'll always wonder about that one.

2. There was the pumpkin pie I made for my mom. Somehow, the egg yolks weren't properly mixed UNBEKNOWNST to me. I proudly served my mom the first slice - complete with a hard-boiled egg yolk right in the middle. We laughed until we were absolutely sick.

1. And finally, there was the Thanksgiving I was two weeks away from giving birth to my third child and I had a houseful of company. I was also working and was completely overwhelmed, so I did a logical thing. I ordered Thanksgiving dinner from the local Kroger. Preparing to serve the meal at 2:30, I asked for a 1:30 pick-up time. The table was set. Some of the guests were actually waiting at the table when Checkered, my dad, and BIL walked in with the bags and boxes containing our turkey, dressing, potatoes, rolls, et cetera The strained expression on Checkered's face should have alarmed me. The worried expression on my dad's face should have troubled me. The just-barely contained laughter on my BIL face should have done me in. What was their secret?

Kroger does indeed serve Thanksgiving dinner, but it arrives completely FROZEN.
After my emotional collapse, we all crowded into the kitchen and worked to thaw, prepare and finally (hours later) eat a delicious meal!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fasten your seat belt. We're moving quickly here.

  • I can now hold onto the chin-up bar for several seconds if I jump off a stool. Just can't get the body hoisted up there yet.

  • There is a weekly newspaper insert thrown onto our driveway each Sunday. All my neighbors get one. One of the neighbors NEVER picks his up. There are now 6 of those pink newspaper bags living near his mailbox and on the street. I do believe he is waiting for a big snow and then the plow will scrape up the papers for him. It's a biannual clean-up over there.

  • I love chocolate and banana together, but chocolate and green bananas aren't quite the same.

  • We have a mouse residing in our garage *SCREAM* I saw it today. We've invited it to meet our mousetraps, but it doesn't seem interested. Sent the dog out this morning to catch the mouse. She came back in with a juice box.

  • When did I become absolutely addicted to blogging?

  • Maybe this is a good time to take a break from that time-consuming addiction.

  • I went to work last night sans my backpack and teaching materials. I did, however, think to take The Starter Wife. That's planning at its best.

  • How do I help my shy kids understand that they must at some point talk to their teachers?

  • Those 50 top Chrysler execs who defended their million dollar-plus retention bonuses last week while holding to plans to shed a lot of personnel blood in December? Well, my thoughts are better left unsaid.

  • I LOVELOVELOVE my developmental English students this term.

  • Why did my sugar cookies turn out to be dime-sized and dime-textured?

  • Are we the only family with a dog who refuses to go outside without a human companion?

  • Every morning I drop my kids off at their schools and say, "I love you and am proud of you." They always continue to walk toward school without acknowledging me. On Wednesday, my teen stopped, turned to look at me, and said, "You, too."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?

Some aspects of this video made me chuckle; some parts made me squirm. I do think I'm better for having seen it though.

From Google:
If you're cross-eyed and have dyslexia can you read all right?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Should Be Invited to More Weddings

Last Saturday night found us in the most beautiful church I have ever seen in the United States.  The Sweetest Heart of Mary church in Detroit, built in 1885, drew an involuntary gasp from me as we entered the doors for a wedding.  It didn't matter that the weather was miserable or that we were late or that the church was very chilly.  It didn't matter that the neighborhood is dangerous or that the echo from the speakers was so bad we couldn't understand what the pastor was saying.  It didn't matter that we sat in the back and couldn't see the bride and groom until the recessional.  What did matter was the immediate sense of God's presence in that glorious building.

Had I even thought to bring a camera, there is no doubt my photography could never capture that beauty of the church.  Here are some of the images from the web:

The history of the parish is equally as fascinating.  Organized by a renegade priest from Poland, the parish was home to 4000 families in the late 19th century. Saturday mornings were reserved for weddings with 10 couples being married at the same time.  The parish even had two militias, complete with uniforms.

There was constant trouble between the Archdiocese of Detroit and the church's pastor which led to his eventual removal and lawsuits and civil charges.  At one point, the parish was so deeply in debt from the construction of the church that it had to be sold.  The parishioners mortgaged their houses and were able to buy back the building.

I try to think about what it would have been like to be a Polish immigrant, living in a small house in what was already a dirty city.  Many worked in factories and were terribly homesick.  But they had their church, their magnificent church, where everyone spoke Polish and every aspect of Polish life and custom was honored.

But history is ever growing, and urban flight and miserable politics and governance decimated Detroit.  And there were many other Polish parishes in the city and the suburbs.  "The Heart" is now down to 100 families, and the neighborhood is typical inner city Detroit with crime and blight; however, the church is being restored and remains a positive force.

Were I a Roman Catholic or of Polish ancestry, I would be very tempted to join this parish.  As it was, one visit there just wasn't enough for me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trace Evidence

The problem with snow is that it leaves no bad driving hidden.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Simple Push of a Button

After enjoying BHE's artwork, I thought I had no energy left to write anything.

I fooled myself!

On to my thoughts about my push button life. My children are being raised to push buttons. At the push of a button, they have:

clean dishes,
clean clothing,
warm food,
air conditioning,
cold beverages,
connections to the entire world.

Additionally, they have a car which starts via the button thing and it has doors which open and shut and lock via the same said button thing.

When my children need to get into the house, they push another button and the garage door opens, symbolically welcoming them home.

It's sad, but last week a gear in the garage door opener died. Checkered miraculously breathed new life into it and we all cheered, for we were exhausted from manually opening the door for a few days. But the fix didn't last, and we have opted not to replace the part. What that means in my children's vernacular is that they must physically lift and close the garage door now and forever more.

BUT - when the garage door closes, it automatically locks. So thinking how my two oldest children could theoretically find themselves locked out after school, I had house keys made for each of them.

I was touched at their independence. I was proud of their growth. I was relieved to know they wouldn't be left outside some snowy day.

So the keys were presented. And my children stood dumbfounded by the gift. I explained how the garage door opener no longer works. I explained that they could no longer access the house by pushing a button.

The children carefully examined their new keys and asked,

"How do these work?"

I promise you, that is exactly what they said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Color Me Cheaper

I've tried to stretch it out, but my roots are obvious and my hair is begging for some attention. I've tried to ignore them. I've refused to look in the mirror or, when forced to look in the mirror, refused to turn the light on. The roots don't look so bad in the dark.

But now money is getting tight and we are trying to prepare for the very real possibility that money will become a rare sight next month when Checkered's employer plans to release 25% of its salaried workforce.

In response to that, coupled with Christmas, a child's birthday, and no Caution-income between semesters, we are flirting with a bit of frugality. Okay, maybe not frugality yet, but you know what I mean.

So back to the root of the post (ha!) Maybe it's time that I do some self-coloring.
Nor am I one bit artistic. What I do know is that I don't want to look like some other people who have that uniformly, unnaturally colored hair.
Help, please?
How do I move away from the professionals without looking like that's exactly what I've done??

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Little Detroit Humor

Do you remember the rumor that GM had sent this response to Bill Gates? It was nothing more than an urban legend, but it was funny. In Detroit these days, we need all the humor we can find. Enjoy this rerun :

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, "If GM had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."
In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating, "If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they painted new lines on the road, you would have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
5. Only one person at a time could use the car unless you bought "CarNT," but then you would have to buy more seats.
6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive -- but it would only run on five percent of the roads.
7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "general protect ion fault" warning light.
8. The airbag system would ask, "Are you sure?" before deploying.
9. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the antenna.
10. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally Road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50 percent or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.
11. Every time GM introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
12. You'd have to press the "start" button to turn the engine off.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Facebook Has Its Way With Me

So I've been spending some more positive time with Facebook. At first, I was unimpressed because Facebook wasn't delivering much info to me. I had only found my own nieces and nephew and they weren't lost in the first place. It was fun to see their friends, I will admit. Then I began to find friends who live within in a five mile radius of my home. Our paths don't always cross anymore, so I balanced annoyance at Facebook with a very mild appreciation of it.

But now I've begun to find what I had really hoped to find. I've found a childhood friend. We moved a couple of times when I was a child. The first move was from New England to the Mid-West and then the Mid-West to the South. Then, for my undergrad degree, I went back to New England. For the two masters, I went to the South. For the doctorate I landed in the Mid-West. Since all that was prior to the internet and since I have never been a devoted letter writer, I've lost most everyone I knew prior to my current life.

So last night was huge when I found that childhood friend. And what I loved even more was that she was just as excited to find me. And the other day, I found a lost friend (who is only a year older than I am) who had been in my wedding. I was happy. I actually jumped up and down. And when my son asked, "You mean that old woman in the picture was once your friend?" I didn't even mind.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do Not Go With the Gut Response

Truly, I have made it a goal of my adult years to avoid criticizing someone else's food choices (with the possible exception of Checkered's peanut butter devotion - but I think that's allowed.)  Seriously enough, if someone tells me they don't eat meat, I'm sad for them, but I don't screw up my face and look like I have the worst gas pains ever.  I don't.  If my friends imbibe too much and say things they might well regret later, they won't remember, but I will because we don't imbibe at all.  I also never say a word about our differences  regarding alcohol consumption.  Why?  Because I hope I am closing in on maturity.

That all brings me to last night.  As I walked into work, I was greeted by a full-time faculty member who offered me a donut.  She was really delighted and impressed with her own thoughtfulness toward those of us who labor in a dank, rat-infested dungeon while we are constantly bludgeoned with clubs as adjuncts.

Nevertheless, I declined her lovely and gracious offer by replying that as the sole daytime guardian of my children's halloween candy, I was failing.  It's just the siren voice of that chocolate, that caramel, that high sugar content which calls my name more beautifully than any human can.

The full-timer said, "What?"

 "No thanks."

My response triggered something within her which caused her to pull her chin up just under her eyebrows.  Her top lip disappeared somewhere inside her nostrils.  And those eyebrows were knit together with pure perfection.

"Candy?! Don't you know how bad that is for you?  How old are you anyway?"  And she marched off toward her office.

It took me several hours to recognize the irony of her reaction to my refusal of her donuts in favor of candy.

And in there somewhere is probably the solution to the mystery of why I have never been invited to join their full-time faculty.

Do you suppose it's too late to ask for that donut?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Maybe other people post Halloween pix the day of or the day after, but I am not a fan of predictability.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Breakthrough of Sorts

After years of heartfelt talks with our daughter about online predators, after years of our daughter getting frustrated with our concern, after a year in a DARE program with a heavy curricular emphasis on the subject of internet risks, our daughter gets it.  What happened?  Why does it all make sense to her?  Because of an SNL skit her teacher showed in class.

I wish I could embed the video from YouTube, but NBC has pulled it.  So the best I can do is this poor copy.  Please be patient through the 30 second commercial in the beginning.  The skit is worth it.

Watch it here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fueled by Chaos

Our evenings look like evenings in most other homes, I suspect. There's homework, there's sports, there's music lesson, there's simply life. So Checkered and I juggle and borrow time from one activity to pay the next. We tag-team a lot, and somehow the kids get to school, and get home. We get to work and the house eventually gets clean. The dinner gets made and eaten. The dog gets walked. And we fall into bed each night thankful for our family, our lives, and even our busyness.

But sometimes in the midst of our nightly chaos, something or other gets overlooked. We've failed to make the next day's lunches. We've forgotten to do some of the homework. We've missed a bath or two. We've never thought to check the next day's calendar and have not shown up for very important appointments. We don't try to live this way - it just seems to be how we currently roll.

One night recently, while three of the kids studied for tests and Checkered and I quizzed them and took care of house chores, I remembered that my youngest child's October reading log was due, but it was fairly empty. In my naturally unruffled and calm demeanor I hollered, "Get your books and get in the living room NOW! We have to read!!!" (I will deny this when he will surely one day announce his hatred of reading.)

So my child and I cozied up together and plowed through the book, Dust for Dinner. We talked about what the Dust Bowl was and what it meant to families to lose their farms. We talked about Sponge Bob. We talked about the kids in 1st grade. We talked about what we should eat. And while we were having this intellectual reading time, another child of mine walked through the room and announced, "I think the dog pooped in here, but I don't see it." We all sniffed and agreed with his astute observation. Then we read another entire sentence of Dust for Dinner before another child of mine walked in and yelled, "Why do you boys always have to fart?! Is that all you ever do?!" That brought the other boys into the room and they began to brag about their farting prowess.

But then we all decided the puppy poop/boy farts odor was not diminishing and I was sitting in a veritable cloud. I started to sniff. It wasn't the dog. It wasn't some boy's backside. It was my reading partner's feet all cozily encased in socks.

"Child, when did you put these socks on?"

"The last time we went to church."

"But today is Wednesday and we went to church on Sunday."


"But you took a bath last night."

"Yes, and then I put my socks back on. These are my favorite pair of socks, so I sleep in them every night so I'll be ready for school in the morning."

72 hours and counting of straight sock wearing.

A cloud of noxious foot odor.

A's on those kids' tests the next day.

A completed October reading log.

Tons of laughter.

And a sneaky sock thief/fairy during the night.

Yes, that's how we roll.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Whip

Ms. Ladies of the house has tagged me. She wants to see what I drive. But she can't. What I drive (Chrysler minivan) is carrying some of my favorite guys on their hunting adventure (see what happens when gas goes up and your wife makes you sell your truck!)

So this is what I am driving today.

It is Checkered's precious Caliber. He loves this car (and so do I), but some of his love wore off the day someone referred to it as a Barbie car.

Some more of that love will wear off if GM "acquires" Chrysler and Checkered is one of the 35,000 people in our area who lose their jobs as a result. Are you listening, Federal Government? Do NOT facilitate the merger.

Eww. That was sad. So let's end on a more positive note:

24 mpg.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One of the Reasons I Blog

See this dish?
See the crumbs?
That is all that remains of dinner last Wednesday.
What, you ask, could prompt the picky family incarnate to eat the entire meal?
Thank-you, Miss Marlene.
Now, what's for dinner this week?
She just posted what's for dinner this week. I promise you, when I get rich, rich, rich I am hiring Marlene to cook for me. Do you hear that, Marlene? With those new tax cuts sure to come my way, you may be moving to Michigan sooner than you think !

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yes, I Laughed

Sent by my BIL:

A dog is truly man's best friend.

If you don't believe it, try this experiment:

Put your dog and your wife in the trunk of your car for one hour.

When you open the trunk, who is REALLY happy to see you ??????

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Today at Church

Bob Dutko is speaking at our church this morning. Never has a Christian apologist made so much sense to me. His show, Defending the Faith, is my afternoon and carpooling companion - much to the dismay of my kids. Today, Mr. Dutko is going to share his personal faith journey from his childhood spent in a cult to his job as press secretary for the Christian Coalition. He will also share the story of his teen-age daughter's unexpected death a few years ago and how that impacted his faith.

So why am I still sitting here typing knowing church begins in less than an hour??

Saturday, November 1, 2008