Archive for September, 2010

Flying Mushrooms

September 30th, 2010 at 5:24 pm » Comments (2)

Thank GOD for whoever decided that the boys and daddies should construct mini marshmallow shooting guns out of PVC at church Sunday night. I mean. HALLELUJAH. I am convinced it was a Divine Idea, that one. I am getting so! much! done! These eyebrows? Tweezed for first time in ages, y’all. Laundry? Started and looking good. Homework? DONE.

The kids go outside and puff a breath of air into a pipe and send a mini marshmallow hurtling across the yard and then repeat. And then repeat. For hours. Happily. Exercise. I’m ignoring the pastel blobs that will surely melt on our new roof because of all the endless harmony.

Seth-4yr got everyone calling them Mushroom Guns, somehow.  He really thinks they’re mushrooms. I don’t know what everyone else’s excuse is except that Seth-4yr has always had a quiet, influential charisma.

Yesterday he managed to shoot a pastel green ‘mushroom’ from the backyard over the roof and into the front yard.  I wondered about all the happy chaos going on out there – the running and the whooping and the little marshmallows flying everywhere including straight up and maybe onto neighbors’ roof, too, and I realized something.  We’re those neighbors.

It made me happy, and not really in the most virtuous way either.  I’ve never really been a fan of the folks next door. They handle their drainage in unethical ways which directly affect us. It irks me. They are not responsive to polite front porch conversations regarding the matter. And once a week the streets fill up with their friends’ trucks for Poker Night.

The kids sigh and look wistfully out the window at the glamourous crowd tromping across the yard and say, “Mom. When will it be OUR turn to have Poker Night?”

And I say, “Do you play poker?”

And they all moan and say ‘no.’

And I tell them, “Neither do I. Neither does Dad. So that wouldn’t really make sense for us, right?”

But THIS week… they’ll be too busy shooting mushrooms into the air to notice the mass arrival of the glamourous Poker Crowd anyway.

I like it.

Say It Three Times, Please

September 29th, 2010 at 11:04 am » Comments (5)

I have a ‘no nagging’ policy. I’ll ask Mike twice, nicely, to do something, and then if it doesn’t get done I do it myself, hire someone, or let it go – but if possible, I don’t mention it again.

This policy was enacted this month with tires. For some reason I do not understand – although it has been explained – my car’s tires hold nitrogen instead of oxygen. And that’s kinda a pain sometimes because when they’re low you can’t just stop at the little air thingy at the gas station.  Also. I kinda don’t like going to the tire place Mike likes. They’re always nice. And it’s always free. I just don’t like it because it’s cold in there and I’d rather be somewhere warm where people are not.

Mike said he’d do it. Twice. But then he went out of town and forgot and had to go work and be gone and make money and all of that is fine and I’m grateful. So I grabbed a hoodie just in case and went to the tire place.

I came in and there were two guys behind the counter. One of them said – before I could say anything – “you’re that movie star, aren’t you?”

(totally unnecessary) NOTE: I looked grungy. Ratty t-shirt, messy ponytail (not cute-messy, just messy-messy). Even when I do NOT look grungy, no one will ever have cause to say those words to me. EVER. I’m a mother of four, and I look like it. Which is fine. God help me if I were a mother of 4 trying to look like a movie star, because I would be frustrated beyond belief. Also? Live in West Texas. Where all the movie stars go, you know, because we are so. so. glam.

So of course I ignored him.  There is no dignified response to that question. He was probably in his 50s with a cute Santa Claus tummy and a very serious expression and tone of voice – but he had to be kidding. Sarcastic. Bored. Deadpan.

I talked to him about the tire and the nitrogen. When I finished, he asked me again. Ignored all the stuff about the tire and the nitrogen and the whole reason I was there. The guy behind him rolled his eyes and shook his head. I got the feeling he’s seen this act a million times.

It was a bizarre conversation. I was talking tires. He was ignoring me and throwing out tidbits about the nameless celebrity that he probably got out of the waiting room’s copy of People. “The one who just got divorced? You know?”

“Mmm. No. Am married. Nitrogen?”

He finally gave up, told me where to park my car and said he’d meet me out there. Then, just as I get to the door, he suddenly remembers his favorite celebrity’s name. He calls it out, LOUDLY, and stops me in my tracks. Then I keep going right on out the door. This person and I could not possibly look anything alike under ANY circumstances. She’s tall and very thin and has big brown eyes and dark hair. And I’m… me. Later I called my mom and was laughing at this guy with her and she said, “Well. You are both… female.” And that’s it! THAT is the sum total of our resemblance.

I wasn’t going to tell you about it because. I don’t know. But now I just HAD to because I had to go back again yesterday and then the story got such a great ending.

The tire had a slow leak, and was a bit of an issue for my friend and I when we were gone this weekend. I went in and was quite relieved not to see that guy. I took my books and went off to the arctic cold waiting room where I pored over my geology homework. (Ring of Fire – not just your favorite Johnny Cash song, yaknow.)

After 30 minutes or so, I looked up and there were two pretty blondes at one end of the counter. Far away at the other end of the counter was a brief discussion that made me laugh all day.

One guy said to the other Worst Celebrity Spotting Guy Ever, “Say it three times. Come on.”

And the Worst Celebrity Spotting Guy Ever  said (in a grumpy voice), “I will not talk to women. I will not talk to women. I will not talk to women.”

And then they both nodded and went out different doors.

I think this is an excellent solution. That man should NOT talk to women.

girl weekend: big success. am catatonic.

September 27th, 2010 at 11:47 am » Comments (0)

went to mountains with friend. am sooo relaxed cannot possiby bother with capital letters. mmmm. we were highly successful in the whole ‘peace department.’

except on the way out there when a large icky tarantula walked across highway and i couldn’t help but notice its gangly walk right before smashing it at 65 mph. almost had to be peeled off ceiling of car, was so grossed out and there was much much girly screaming. from me. friend did not see it, but was of course understanding because it was quite an event.

also not so peaceful when the grass snake wiggled its way almost right under my foot. jumped so high with lots of high knee lifts. my friend tried to say it was a ‘good’ sort of snake but i was not going there with her. she’s  an animal lover. by comparison, i am not. i play serious favorites, and there are no ‘good snakes.’

but she didn’t blame me about the tarantula. it was hairy. and so incredibly oversized that i could see every detail at a decent rate of speed before smashing it. ick.

but the deer…. oh. lots of deer. came right up to our cabin’s front porch and hung out with us. beautiful. quiet. sweet. little furry, spotty bottomed baby deer. gorgeous. friend picked apples from a tree with fireplace tongs to feed them.

came home to a clean house and a happy family.

am so relaxed and serene that i am in slow motion.

and that’s absolutely a beautiful feeling. except you get nothing accomplished.

but i just can’t care yet. mmmm. who needs capital letters anyway…

House Sounds

September 22nd, 2010 at 8:45 pm » Comments (1)

On Wednesdays, I take the kids to my mom’s house after school. Crazy 8s are played. My mom takes them on a short walk while I stay at her house and breathe in all that silence. It’s always so very, very quiet at her house.

In the house I grew up in, there were two little girls: LaLa and myself.  LaLa spent 99% of her life reading and I was outside. So it was REAL. QUIET.  I think of that house and how it could be full of people but no one was verbal for like, FOREVER, what with all the literacy… and I sigh wistfully.

No one can be in our house for half a second without several different conversations and sound effects and various other boy noises all competing to be heard.

Once this summer Ethan-10yr went over there for an overnight stay at Mom’s house and he couldn’t get over the silence. Mom asked me later about all of Ethan-10yr’s singing. This was confusing. I said, “Mom. Ethan-10yr doesn’t sing.” But there, he did. All the time. Amazing Grace without ceasing, that child sang. He told me later that all the silence freaked him out and the singing helped.

Today we arrived at Mom’s for our Wednesday visit and she told them all to come look at a ‘nature lesson’ she was holding on her front porch. She pulled up the cushion on an outdoor chair and there was a fuzzy white, webby blob. Mom showed the boys that when she poked the blob with a stick, a black spider moved inside.

(My fear of spiders comes straight  from my father.)

It was determined that the spider had red spots. Black Widow-hood was discussed. Then someone proposed it could be a hopping sort of spider, and three boys ran far, far away. Seth-4yr made it down the front steps and into the neighbors’ yard in record time, all the while yelling, “It’s a hopper! It’s a hopper!” Caden-6yr and Ethan-10yr hid ineffectively behind a metal rocking chair.

I made a face and went inside, away from the “nature lesson.”  My mother cheerfully reminded me that this lesson was not intended for me anyway.

The spider met with a highly timely, although accidental, death. I did not mourn.

I sat at my mother’s dining room table and did homework and wondered how many years had passed since that had last happened. A lot.

A friend and I are going out of town this weekend.  There will be trees, and mountains, and cold, and… silence.

And fun and laughing and shopping and eating at places with quiche and salads and girl food and… well. Maybe there won’t be much silence after all. Okay, no, there probably won’t be any at all. But that’s okay.   If there is too much silence, and it freaks somebody out, maybe my friend (with pretty voice) will sing Amazing Grace and then all will be fine. Works for Ethan-10yr.

Ethan-10yr totally shoulda sung Amazing Grace after accidentally offing that spider today! Wish I’d thought of it. Or, a moment of silence, which would have freaked him into a spontaneous performance, anyway…

Saving Stuff

September 20th, 2010 at 9:36 pm » Comments (6)

It’s COLD. I miss summer already.

This summer I spent lots of quality time with my mother, my kids, and my stretch marks, poolside.

I remembered what it was like to have to barge into a men’s room and physically remove three misbehaving boys. (not the first time. or even the second. always followed up with a clenched teeth “don’t you EVER make me come into a men’s room after you again I. AM. A. GIRL.”)

I grew tomatoes.  (Roma.)

I forgot to pick tomatoes. (Roma.)

Then the dog twinkled on the tomatoes one day and after that I was glad I was forgetting to pick the tomatoes. (Roma.)

I’ve noticed that running doesn’t relieve stress for me in the slightest. Punching and kicking, yes. But I can’t do that for a few more months. Sometimes it’s as if  I’m carefully saving, storing a year’s worth of stress. Waiting. That’s hardly advisable, but as I said,  running doesn’t help.

Or kids in need of mothering while they’re in the men’s room screeching and whooping and just begging me to come drag them out by their hair.

I didn’t.  Wrists are better. It was a real Mother of the Year moment in the parking lot that day. Caden-6yr was covered in soap froth and saying, “Wait! You didn’t let me rinse this off! Wait!” And I was all understanding and patience and, “TOO! BAD! If you make me come into a men’s room you forfeit rinsing privileges, buster!”

The child had three more hours in the car before we got home. I asked him about it later and he told me that it turned into grime that he could eventually scrape off.

That was… MONTHS ago. I haven’t let it go. Here it is. Hanging around for a few more months til I can punch something. It wasn’t even really a big thing. It happened in the middle of  a long car trip home and they were tired of being cooped up and they went a little crazy in a Wendy’s bathroom in the middle of nowhere.

And then so did I.

Some things are worth hanging onto. And then there are others that clearly are not worth hanging onto, but you don’t yet have a doctor’s permission to let it go.

Wildlife Update

September 17th, 2010 at 8:16 pm » Comments (1)

We have frogs, flies, and gnats. STILL.


I am fiiiiine with that. I am grateful for the frogs, flies, and gnats. I ADORE every last one of them. I have had a total change of heart and am LOVING them.

It’s our new collection of snakes and skunks that have efficiently and  instantly put the frogs/flies/gnats thing into perspective. Suddenly, they’re not-so-bad-at-all.

Attn: Writers’ Class

September 16th, 2010 at 9:46 am » Comments (2)

Hey. Those of you who come here from a writing class… you know who you are. I, however, do not know who you are but would like to.  It’s that point in the semester when some assignment of yours has you all show up here. My question is why? What exactly is the nature of the assignment? Does your instructor say, “Visit this site – this is an example of everything NOT to do. Note the punctuation, lack thereof, stream of consciousness style, and lack of clarity on anything but overload on the indulgent descriptions of nothing…”  Or… what?

I’ve asked y’all in years past.  (I think.) No one ever volunteers the dirt, though. I want the dirt. It won’t hurt my feelings. You don’t know that because you’re new here, but it’s true. You won’t. Thanks.

Cheap Thrills

September 15th, 2010 at 6:19 pm » Comments (2)

Caden-6yr: Mom, at school we do the same thing at the same time every day.

{rolling of eyes. total disgust that this is his existence.}

Me: Baby, that’s called a schedule.

Caden-6yr: No. You don’t understand. We do the exact same thing at the exact same time every single day.

{rolling of eyes. total disgust that this is his existence and his mother doesn’t understand what he’s saying.}

Me: Baby, that’s called a schedule.

Caden-6yr: {about to implode with frustration} NO! Mom! We do reading at the SAME TIME EVERY DAY. And then? THEN! THEN WE DO MATH AT THE SAME TIME! EVERY! SINGLE! DAY!

Me: Babe, that’s a schedule. It’s supposed to be particularly helpful for young children to feel secure and structured by keeping the days’ events in the same order. But you’d really prefer to be surprised every once in awhile, huh?

Caden-6yr: It’s BORING and ANNOYING.

Caden-6yr is always looking to spice up his life. I get that. It’s the same reason he used to run around with underwear on his head all the time. Just for fun. It’s the same reason I accelerate up the driveway and slam on the brakes right before the windshield hits the garage door as it goes up, then accelerate again and slam on the brakes just before going through the wall. (the kids are so used to this they don’t even blink. Except occasionally one of them will ask, “why do you do that?” Mike and my mother, on the other hand, oooh, they react.)

Sometimes, you just need to infuse a little thrill. Sometimes, math should be when reading is and vice versa. Sometimes, schedules are so overrated.

Pet Peeve: Baboon Butts

September 13th, 2010 at 10:43 pm » Comments (0)

Nice weekend, y’all?

Ours was a week. end.  HolyCousin visited – always wonderful, never often enough. She’s one of those people that can get along with anyone and fit right in to any situation effortlessly. My whole life I’ve watched her do that and wondered how. I still don’t know.

We were sitting around my mom’s table on Saturday night having an odd conversation/argument with Ethan-10yr about baboons/gibbons. I was telling him that I’ve always disliked baboons and feel embarrassed for them and wish someone could launch a ministry of Protecting Baboon Modesty and put underwear on their bare red butts already. I didn’t word it that way at the time. But I’ve always, always, always thought that someone needed to help them. As a kid, I hated seeing them in zoos, all exploited and more so than the other animals because of the big red butts. I remember wondering if they were embarrassed, and concluding that of course they were, how could they not be? No offense, God, but it’s just not right, yaknow?

Ethan-10yr said I was thinking of gibbons, not baboons. (no. I wasn’t, but Ethan-10yr is way convincing.) Then he went on to discuss some sort of gibbon favorite food (the child actually used the word ‘delicacy’ oh yes he did) of shark eggs that only wash up after a full moon or during an eclipse. Also known as ‘mermaid’s purse,’ he tells us.

My mom and HolyCousin and I try to keep up with all the weird baboon/gibbon/mermaid talk, but it is hard. Ethan-10yr is brilliant and he knows a lot of weird stuff. He’s also known to make up a whole lotta weird stuff and make it sound real good when it’s actually pure nonsense. It entertains him.

Ethan-10yr goes off on the benefits of the furless red backsides of gibbons that i find so objectionable and how it actually factors in to the ‘attractiveness’ and ‘leadership selection’ ratings within the gibbon clan.  According to Ethan-10yr, the leader in the gibbon family is always the one with the least fur on his backside.

We lose it.

I turn to my mom and HolyCousin and we murmur about how in our experience, this rule only applies to gibbon families. Mike is in the other room and does not hear the murmuring and does not weigh in on the issue.

Later, Ethan-10yr and his big mouth are tucked into bed and I do a little factchecking. The kid is SO full of it. It is baboons, not gibbons, who need underwear and the internet had never heard of the “Least Hairy Butt Makes You the Chosen Leader ” Theory of Total Crapola. Nice one, Ethan-10yr! I confront him the next morning on the way to church and he laughs and says he has no idea why he made all that up. I tell him that according to actual research the red furless butts are for the baboons’ ‘sitting comfort.’

I kinda don’t think that is justification enough and we should all save up our kids’ too-small undies and donate to the cause.

*I am way tired. Just asked Mike about his thoughts on baboons and he made a face and said, “you’re asking me if baboons should wear red underwear?”  And I didn’t mean to say that, but whatever. It would be an improvement. I should just go to sleep.

Seth-4yr in Trouble

September 8th, 2010 at 5:38 pm » Comments (1)

Seth-4yr got in trouble at school today. His teacher cringed and handed me the little white slips of paper in the parking lot and I wanted to hug her so she wouldn’t feel so bad.

She knows me and has for years. She knows that I am not going to deny my AngelBaby From Gawd did a single thing wrong and somehow this is her fault. But some parents are like that. Really. Particularly in preschool when we send them off and then worry that we shouldn’t have sent them off and then we’re at home over-mothering our cats instead.

But as much as I like to smother and cuddle my little guys into protesting wiggling kiss-wiping-off kids… I don’t mind at ALL when they get in trouble. I get a sick kick out of making it worse for them because I’m just POSITIVE that it’s an Opportunity for Character Building. And I am all about those.

I bug my eyes out and get all worked up, if the mood so strikes. Or ladle on the extra consequences if the kid in question seem to just not get the gravity of the situation. Or today, none of the above.

Instead, wipe away Seth-4yr’s tears that slid down his face when I told him he couldn’t possibly behave that way and why. Seth-4yr hates to cry. Always has. The wet-on-eyelashes combination drives him nuts. He really seemed to understand and be moved by the significance of the white piece of paper thing more than I expected.

And then he wiped his snotty nose on my chest and told me in a sad little voice that I don’t smell like a girl. I smell like a computer.

I was sure he meant that in a nice way. But then I asked him if computers smelled good and he said ‘no, they do not’  and recommended I go take a bath.

I told him that is a lovely idea and I would seriously consider it.