Monday, October 29, 2007

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

All last week I was bracing myself for this week: minimum days all week and teacher conferences plus a dental appointment for the girls to work my schedule around. I have been kind of dreading the minimum days with all the daycare kids arriving at 12:30 instead of 2:30, plus it's supposed to be raining on and off all week, so I was envisioning long days inside with a house full of bored kids.

I got Nat prepared last night to anticipate catching the bus in the morning all week and being on the early bird schedule, instead of her usual late owl schedule which involves me dropping her off to class at 9:30.

I even posted a reminder for my daycare parents about the fee change of minimum day rates vs the usual after school rates.

I got the girls on the bus first thing this morning and reminded Mike to be home at 12:15 so I could go to the teacher conference. Everything was in order.

There is a little girl that comes to my house on Monday mornings and I take her to school along with Nat as she too is a late owl. When I saw her dad pull up in the driveway, I rolled my eyes a bit. Her family is new to our area and apparently they didn't get the memo about the minimum days this week. I was happy to let him know that he should just take her to school, as it had already started. All this was news to him, but that's ok, it takes those new people a while to catch onto things.

I went back to enjoying my quiet morning. I thought to myself that I had better enjoy it now as the clock was ticking and those kids would be here before I knew it. I still couldn't get over that dad thinking this week was regular schedule, I certainly couldn't be wrong...let's just check the school calendar, just for laughs, you know...yep there it is...teacher conferences...minimum days...starting November 5th! Dang it!

Well, then I had to call the school and tell them I sent two kindergartners to school at the wrong time, plus I had to call the little girl's mom and tell her what a complete dolt I was to her husband and child. The school told me it wasn't a problem and they would just keep the girls there, the mom told me it wasn't a problem and that she understood. I'm sure those conversations were followed by much head shaking and snickering though.

I wish I had a good excuse for being so off base, like I'd been on a 3-day bender, or I had had a serious blow to the head over the weekend, but no, I had to fess up to just being absent-minded and rather daft.

Yes, I still don't know where my brain went. It apparently went on vacation sometime last week and neglected to let me know it's itinerary. Just another self-inflicted embarrassing moment to add to my very long list!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Road Kill

Road Kill. I know, kind of a weird topic, but it's been on my mind because we had a dead deer near our house. Someone had hit a deer Tuesday night just a few houses away so that I had the unfortunate view of it from my kitchen window. And I do get the irony of this post following the one about Bambi.

On Wednesday morning we discovered it as did our dogs. It was interesting to see the dogs slowly circling it at first with their fur standing at attention. They really were unsure about it and wondering if it still may jump up at any moment and kick their butts. After much circling, they finally inched in to have a sniff. Once they realized that the deer was not going to move then they went over and over it with a fine-toothed nose. I'm sure it must've been fascinating for them to get an up close smell, since usually they only get within barking distance of deer.

Our younger dog, Suey, eventually just sat near it. She would get up and sniff once in a while and then just sit and whine a little. It was almost as if she was waiting for someone to come do something. The guy who is building next door, said it made him sad to see her sitting there crying. I don't know if she is capable of feeling sympathy for the deer or if she was simply just a bit confused by the whole event.

As soon as the kids got off the bus they spotted it and went tearing over to examine it. You'd have thought someone dropped a carnival ride off on the street with all their enthusiastic yelling and running. I could definitely see the similarities between them and the dogs. They were anxious and unsure at first, but then interested in looking at a deer so close up. They got to see the texture of it's fur, its antlers (it was a small buck), and it's hooves. It was a pretty clean road kill, thankfully, but there was still lots of "eeeewww" and "gross" and "yuck" to be heard.

Like little CSI detectives, there was much to be learned by observing the deer. Nat came back and said, "Mom do you know how big deer poop is?" and went on to give me the details of deer excrement circumferences.

The day before this the kids had found a dead bat which they examined with the same zeal. It's funny how excited they get about being able to see an animal up close and personal. Because of our cats, we often have dead birds and mice in our yard and the kids like to have little funerals for them and make little head stones out of a scraps of wood.

Some time ago we had a skunk road kill that the kids found equally fascinating. With the skunk, I hesitated a bit to let the kids go check it out. I mean what would my daycare kids' parents think when they were told they had an outing to go see road kill? But like the deer it wasn't a mess, so I thought what the heck. The stinky skunk smell kind of added to the excitement of that one, and I even went and looked at it with them. Skunks really do have cute little faces.

While it's sad to see one of our forest creatures, and especially Bambi, dead on the road, I think the kids actually learn a lot from it. I think I may even have a great idea for a new business: Lesley's Daycare and Road Kill Expeditions. What do ya think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Remember in the movie Bambi when spring had sprung and all the animals in the forest started hooking up? The females began hopping around singing "La La La La" in operatic tones and batting their lashes, ultimately putting the lovesick whammy on their male counterparts. The cynical old owl called them "twitterpated". Bambi and Thumper swore they wouldn't become goofy and soft-headed like the others, but before you could say "La La La" they'd each been twitterpated by a female of their species. As the owl put it, "pain in the pinfeathers, that's what I call it".

Well, both my teens have been twitterpated. And both in the last 2 weeks. I talked to my son yesterday, and he told me about his new girlfriend and how in his words they are "so cute together". Goodness, he's past head over heels and gone into loopy.

My daughter has her very first boyfriend. A boy she's known and had a crush on for well over a year. She's not quite as goofy and ga-ga as her brother and I think it is because she's known this boy for so long and hung out with him on various occasions.

The rule for my kids is that they can't date until they are 16. Surprisingly I didn't get any hassle enforcing this rule. Talking to my daughter last night, she says, "This is my first boyfriend", and I said, "Aren't you glad you waited?" She said that she was indeed glad that she didn't get caught up in the emotions of dating at a younger age.

I know from where I speak, as I started dating at age 13 and had a serious boyfriend at age 14 (he was 17) whom I dated exclusively for the next 6 years. I know my parents were trying their best and my mom even said later when I was an adult that she didn't know what to do with me at that age and that my boyfriend seemed like the only thing that made me happy. He did make me happy at times, but having such a serious relationship at that age without having the life experiences and mature perspective to draw from was very difficult. From having that experience and the emotional turmoil that went with it, I am now very protective of my own kids.

I know I can't protect my kids from everything, but I wish I could. Now that they are both dating someone, I am already anticipating the heartbreak that will probably accompany these young relationships. I don't mean to sound too negative, but the chances that this young man and young woman are my future son and daughter-in-law are fairly slim. It is so hard to see your child's heart broken. I remember my son's break-up with his first girlfriend and it was SO painful to watch him have to work through it, so I guess I'm preparing myself. A mom would always rather feel the pain herself, than watch her child endure it.

Life's lessons are sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter, but we all have to learn them. I am happy for both my kids; it's another step towards mature adulthood (and ultimately grandkids, right?!) I think the owl in Bambi had it wrong though; love is not a "pain in the pinfeathers", and I also think the poor old owl was a bit jealous that he didn't have a long-lashed warbling female after his cranky hide.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Great and Powerful BOZ

I had the pleasure of going to a belly dance workshop this weekend with the famous Jim Boz. Yes, a male belly dancer and a world renowned performer and instructor. I have seen him perform before, and he is incredible. I have to admit I was a bit intimidated to be taking this particular workshop. I had no idea what to expect, and I was concerned that I was going to be completely out of my league. Jim himself is a bit intimidating at about 6'4" and 260 lbs. He really looks more like a tv wrestler than what you would expect a male belly dancer to look like.

During the course of the 3 hour session, Jim taught us moves such as the "barf", which is like a reverse body undulation, but a bit more subtle, and yes, barf is a fairly good description of it. He also gave us the visual of a line of snot running out of our nose and hitting our hip, knee and foot in succession to help our alignment of a particular move. He qualified this by saying, "I may be a belly dancer, but I'm still a guy".

I figured that my skills would be challenged and I was right, but on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being "completely lost", and 10 "being this is easy" I rated myself about a 7. And I gave myself a hearty pat on the back at the end of it.

That evening there was a performance of local dancers and the "Boz Man" performed last. Let me just say it was worth the wait. If you've never seen a grown man in shimmery tight clothes do a full body shimmy-vibration you have truly missed out. My heart still beats a bit faster just thinking about it. Whew! Oh, and the rest of his dancing was incredible too....ah, but the shimmy...

Now, because I raved about Jim Boz's fabulousness, my husband has labeled him as gay, which may or may not be true, (and for the sake of my crush, in my mind he is not). Husband likes to label all my celebrity crushes as gay. In fact he's still trying to get a nasty rumor about Jeff Probst's sexual orientation going.

Although male belly dancers are rare in the U.S., I have seen one other. Notice I didn't say "had the pleasure of seeing". In contrast to Jim Boz who does belly dance moves in a masculine way, this dancer had swathed himself in orange flowy chiffon and danced in a very feminine way. That would have been fine had he been a bit more feminine or metrosexual looking, but this guy rather resembled a homeless street person with his scraggly hair and beard, his pasty white less-than-fit abdomen covered in man fur, and what looked like very hastily applied blue eyeshadow and mascara. My friend described him as Rasputin-esque. I know I sound like a belly dance snob, but really I wasn't the only one that found him a bit unsettling. Let's just say I didn't take away a good memory, and gouging at my eyes didn't help to get the vision of orange chiffon hairiness out of my mind.

So, even if you have no interest in middle eastern dance, if you get a chance to see Jim Boz, do it! You will be glad you did. However, if you see Rasputin dressed like a harem girl, please for the sake of your eyes and mind, run!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Expanding Horizons...and Jaws

Last night I got to turn Sis's palatal expander for the last time. I'm no longer a slave to her mouth. I don't have to wait up for her to get home anymore so that I can "turn her crank". We were both very excited about this event. If we both hadn't been so tired we would have celebrated somehow.

I guess I'll start at the beginning of Sis's orthodontia story. She has been bugging me for the last few years to take her to the orthodontist. I really didn't think her teeth looked that bad. At least they were pretty much straight. One was overlapping and her midline was off because of a tooth that never came through, but compared to my own orthodontic experience, her mouth didn't look so terrible.

My own teeth had been so overcrowded that my eye teeth were coming in above and over my other teeth so that I looked like I had fangs, and my bottom teeth were a zigzagging jumbled mess. They had to pull 4 teeth just to get started and I even had to wear head-gear at night for a time. Yes indeed, I know bad teeth. I have lived it.

Then I took my daughter to the orthodontist and was immediately humbled. Poor Sis, her bite is messed up, her jaws need to be expanded, a tooth needs to be persuaded to come down and she needs her wisdom teeth out asap. Her orthodontist, who happens to be a specialist, described her as a "red light case". Her jaws needed to be expanded twice the distance of an average orthodontic patient.

Sis will be the recipient of nearly all the high tech orthodontic appliances known to man. And yes, they call them an appliance because you could easily go out and buy a new appliance at Sears for what these sophisticated metal contraptions cost. The first appliance they have installed is her palatal expander. This is an interesting piece that was cemented into the top of her mouth. I turn the little screw thing in the middle of it every night thus pushing her teeth outward, and spreading her palate apart. I have been literally breaking the upper part of her mouth apart very slightly every night for the last 8 weeks. Yes, it is extremely creepy. The first week it gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I got used to it. I have even threatened to turn it twice when she's gotten sassy.

The amazing thing is how her face has changed. This expander has made gaps between her teeth and of course changed how her upper jaw looks (she has another expander on the bottom that the orthodontist adjusts every 2 weeks so the bottom hasn't been as dramatic). From a crowded narrow smile, she now has a wide gappy toothed grin. Her teeth look very similar to the plastic novelty "Billy Bob" teeth sold at cheap toy stores. That will soon change as she starts getting her braces on.

Sis has really been a trooper through all of this, and she still has nearly 3 years of orthodontia ahead of her. Her mouth has been so tender at times that she couldn't eat solid food to 3 days, her expander has given her headaches, she can't eat candy, crackers, chips or anything else that might be crunchy or sticky. Yet I have yet to hear her whine or complain.

Her expander will stay in now for 3 more months so that the bones can set. She will still make strange noises while she eats as she sucks and slurps out bits of food that get caught between the expander and the roof of her mouth, and she will still have a bit of a lisp as she tries to maneuver her tongue around the metal in her mouth. So while not having to turn her expander anymore is a momentous occasion, I think we'll save our celebration for the day her expander comes out. We'll go eat something crunchy and have her say tongue twisters!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My How Times Have Changed!

So I have this huge ongoing project of taking all the boxes out of my closet and getting rid of stuff and organizing the rest of it. It's difficult sometimes to decide if a certain item should go or stay. Some things I keep because they have special meaning to me, other things I keep because they will be fun for the kids to have in the future. There is a fine line though, I don't want my poor kids to have a boatload of random stuff to sort through at some point.

One of the things I came across recently was my yearbooks from junior high and high school. This was back in the late 70's early 80's when we went to junior highs and not middle schools.

Some of the autographs in my yearbooks I would hesitate for my kids to read, as back then my friends and I liked to act like we were big stoners. A lot of the messages start out "High" because we thought that was so clever, and there's a lot of "don't party too hardy", "have a bitchen summer", "don't get too high" and various renderings of pot leaves. We were a high-brow bunch to say the least.

Some of my favorites were written by my dear friend from 4th grade. Here's one of the classics that she wrote in my 7th grade yearbook,"Keep cool this summer and don't get into too much trouble with your parents and you know who! Don't go with too many guys or get into cars with foxes, unless I'm with you." Now that's advice to live by! The greatest travesty in her mind was if I should happen to meet some foxy guys without her there. She really needn't have worried!

Yes, those were the days. She and I would either go to the mall or to the roller rink and look for "foxes". She was completely boy crazy and I was painfully shy. She would get lots of attention and I would be the tagalong wallflower. Just the memory of the feathered back hair do's, the skin tight Ditto's jeans and the big clunky shoes send a shiver down my spine.

What really caught my eye as I was going through this particular box was the graphic on the front of my yearbook from my junior year in high school, 1981:

and inside it looked like this:

I'm thinking this kind of art work wouldn't fly anymore. Back then Urban Cowboy with John Travolta was popular, and everyone wanted to look like a wanna-be cowpoke for some reason, so putting old west style revolvers in a yearbook wasn't even given a second thought. Just interesting...

Now, do I go through all of my old yearbooks and take a black Sharpie to the things I don't want my kids to see, or do I not worry about it because they are never going to be interested anyway? Big decisions and painful teenage memories await!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Carpet Training?

I am an in-home daycare provider, and like most mom's that take on this type of business, I do it so that I can be home with my own kids. It is a challenging occupation to say the least.

I am currently going through a potty training battle with one of my charges. She will be 3 in a couple weeks and has been potty training since spring. She is like any other kid who would rather not have to take a break from playing to use the potty, but a bit more so, and compared to her twin, she still has a way to go.

My house is 1800 square feet, and with the exception of the 3 bedrooms (two of which are off limits to daycare kids), and a 5x8 rug in the living room, I have hardwood floors throughout. If a person were to just randomly come into my house and throw water on the floor they would have a 90% chance of hitting easily-wiped-up hardwood. So one would guess that the chances of an almost potty trained kid having an accident on the carpet would be slim. But that's where Murphy's Law rears it's ugly head. This little girl always seems to make it on the carpet. It's like she's carpet-trained or something!

The clincher the other day though, was when she had an accident in my husband's Lazy Boy recliner. I know. The Sacred Man Throne. I was pretty upset, I mean, carpet is one thing but furniture, even my ratty assortment, is a different story. So I went against all the child rearing theory of potty training, and put her in time-out while I cleaned up the chair, after which I give her a very stern talking to.

For some reason this tack seems to have worked and we haven't had any accidents for the last 2 weeks! I've gotten a bit better at giving her potty-break reminders and I think the lesson was learned on her part. So far, so good anyway, but I have learned that just when you think you've figured a kid out, they find another way to challenge you!

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Wrong Turn Deserves Another

This weekend Sis and I went down to the City to celebrate Bub's birthday. Gosh, what a gorgeous day it was. The weather was sunny and warm, and there wasn't a cloud in sight. We went to the beach, then into the city to the wharf for a tour of the wax museum and a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder. It was a busy and terrific day with my two eldest kids!

Every time I drive to San Francisco, I'm reminded of the trip I took earlier this year where one wrong turn led to an epic adventure (soon to be a major motion picture).

First of all, I don't do a lot of freeway driving so it makes me a bit nervous. I do a lot of 2 lane windy highway driving which rarely involves going even 60mph, so when I get on I-5 and the speed limit is 70, it freaks me out a bit. Add to that all the crazy bay area drivers who believe that the safe following distance is somewhere between your bumper and your back seat, and the fact that I have no idea where I'm going, and you've got a recipe for driving hilarity.

Well, my friend and I are on our way to Marin, which in theory, is north of San Francisco, to see the famous Bellydance Superstars. I have my Yahoo map in hand and away we go. As we get closer to the bay, my friend B is reading the directions while I am trying to find the corresponding sign, and then try to figure out which lane to be in. It's kind of like some cruel real-time strategy game. Well, suffice it to say, when the 580 split, I missed it and headed to San Francisco rather than north and around it. B realizes that we're headed to the Bay Bridge, and traffic is getting thicker by the minute. She tells me to take the next right and get turned around, otherwise we're going to go way out of our way to reach our destination. Somehow I manage to convince the other drivers that I'm worthy of moving into their lane, and I finally reach the farthest right lane with an exit in sight. We will be back on track in no time.

As I exit I notice how there is no traffic on the ramp I'm now driving. What a rare and convenient occurrence in the bay area! I drive further and realize there is not another vehicle even in SIGHT on this ramp, and the ramp seems to be going parallel and over the lanes we just left. Hmmmm....Next I notice signs saying Bus Lane Only violators will be prosecuted. So that's why there are no other cars around; I'm on the bus ramp to go over the Bay Bridge! I have to laugh as we head back down the ramp towards the line of cars waiting to pay their toll. Red faced, I maneuver my car through some pylons that separate the bus lane from the law abiding citizens' lane and cut in front of someone who is shaking their head at my obvious hillbilly stupidity. B and I have a good laugh at this, and pay our toll. Whew! I'm glad I got away with that! Thankfully the bus ramp doesn't have cameras to send idiots tickets after the fact, and thankfully none of the other drivers I cut off were packing their guns that day.

B assures me that all we have to do now is go over the Golden Gate Bridge, and we'll be right on track. The exit for the Golden Gate comes up, and off I go. To get to the Golden Gate you have to go through the city for just a bit. I'm looking for signs to follow that are either too small, or hidden, or non existent, because I miss the turn and go straight. No problem, we'll just make a left, then another left and be right back on track. Easy enough, but strangely all the left turns are blocked off. We drive on and notice groups of people dressed in colorful costumes, then we notice floats parked on the side of the road, and realize that they are all getting ready for the Chinese New Year parade. Of all the days to be driving through the city, this is NOT the one. On the bright side we get a kind of drive-by view of the parade.

Traffic is stop and go, and really heavy and we are headed for the Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 tourist trap with no escape in sight. I have to go against all my instincts and start driving aggressively, running through lights at the last second, tailgating, and pushing my car into the lane I want. My nerves are shot, but the views of the city and the Golden Gate are incredible so I try to enjoy what I can. We really have no idea how to get to the Golden Gate from where we are. We can see it, but getting there may prove a bit more difficult especially with the luck I'm having today. I decide the best thing to do is follow a car that seems to know where it's going. I first pick a black Suburban. I have to abandon it after if parks. Then I see a blue BMW. It is driving with an air of authority, so I follow it like it's my mother duck. The BMW is a good bet and we are soon out of the crazy tourist area and headed to the bridge! Hooray!

Somehow we still manage to get to the show on time even after our hour and a half tour of the city. My only regret is that we didn't have time to stop at Ghiradelli Square on our impromptu detour through San Fran, because some chocolate would've done wonders to soothe my frazzled nerves.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Snake Charmer

My sister and I have always been snake lovers. Well actually we're just all around critter lovers. From the cute and cuddly to the big and slimy, we both are crazy about "all creatures great and small".

When we were young we would often catch little blue belly lizards, frogs, toads and water snakes. Our poor dad is one of those people who cannot stand the sight of a snake. It just really gives him the heebie-jeebies, and here he was blessed with two little girls who thought bringing a slithering reptile in a coffee can into the house was more fun than Barbies any day. I can only imagine how many times he must've jumped out of his skin coming across one our precious pets.

Mom, on the other hand was more like us. In fact she had a couple toads who lived under our house that she was quite fond of. One day some neighbor boys were playing in the yard and took one of these toads. Well, Mom caught wind of it and she was pissed! She was especially upset to think of what these boys might do to her toad. She immediately got on the phone and called the boys' mother. As Mom told it, the poor woman on the other end of the phone got an earful from her, as Mom demanded, "Your boys took my toad and I want them to bring it back right now!" We lived in a very small town, so the crazy toad lady episode was probably the scuttlebutt for some time afterwards.

Well, I can be a bit anal about the reptiles in my yard too, and it's good to know I come by it honestly. I do not let the kids play with my little frogs that live in the flower beds unless they are just going to handle them gently and put them back. I am also on the alert when I see one of the cats messing with something, and have saved quite a few snakes from a torturous death. I always get a thrill from holding a snake and feeling it slither through my hands--yes, I have the crazy toad lady's genes.

A few weeks ago the kids came running into the house all excited to tell me there was a rattlesnake in the yard. I figured that it probably wasn't, and that I would be saving a garter snake from the cat again. However, when I reached the front steps and saw Mike poised with his shovel, I had a feeling the kids knew what they were talking about.

As I got closer I could see the little guy trying to hide under the wooden border that separates the lawn from the driveway. He was obviously a rattler, though he wasn't rattling at the moment and I couldn't help being completely fascinated by him, and crouched down to observe him a bit closer. He was the coolest snake ever, and to think I was lucky enough to have him right in my front yard! I was apparently the only one who felt this way because about this time Mike lifted his shovel up and said, "Now everybody step back." This caught me off guard. What? He can't be serious. He wants to kill it? I tell him, "You can't kill it!" And now he was the one caught off guard. As he processed this bit of information, I could see the realization hit him that he should've just killed the dang thing and shown me the beheaded body.

I tell him he needs to find a bucket, get the snake into it and take it out to the forest and set it free. He is beyond thrilled to hear this bit of news, but reluctantly heads to the garage to find an empty garbage can. Isn't it amazing what a guy will do for a woman? He is able to get the bucket and a long stick and he very carefully starts jabbing at my sweet little snaky friend. My little friend is not happy about this and starts rattling like crazy. I've never seen a rattler this close up. Wow, it's so cool!

It only takes Mike about 3 tries to get him in the bucket. He has a look of relief on his face and is ready to take my little serpent for a walk. I tell him, "Wait! I have to get a picture of him!" and I rush to the house to get my camera. I'm pretty sure I saw Mike's eyes roll back into his head at this point. After a couple photos and a few more admiring glances I let Mike take him across the street and out in the woods where he can be safe from shovel-wielding maniacs.

I think this is a great lesson for the kids. They got to see what a rattle snake looks and sounds like and they also learned that just because you're afraid of something that you don't need to kill it. I tell the kids that they need to be careful around animals that can harm them, but if it's possible to save the animal, you should. After all, these creatures have a place in nature too.

Mike also learned a lesson that day. I think it goes something like this: Act first and tell the crazy lady later, or be prepared to spend your afternoon pretending to be Steve Irwin.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Special TV Bonding Time

Every Wednesday Sis and I make a bee-line for the couch at 8pm to watch America's Next Top Model. Yes, I admit it. Yes, I enjoy it. Yes they are a bunch of whiney, anorexic looking, brats, but that's what makes it so fun to make fun of. We love to hate the bitchy selfish girls and we love to root for the shy misunderstood ones. It's just a great show for female bonding time.

Tonight was the makeover episode which is the episode we look forward to the most next to the finale. It seems like someone always gets shaved bald, and tonight was no different. This one gal had colored and permed and abused her hair into oblivion and they had no choice but to use the clippers on it. Of course she did nothing but bitch, moan and complain about it for the rest of the show.

It reminded me of my beauty school days. There was this one girl at school who had bleached and dyed and permed and teased her hair into a soft platinum fuzz. I remember being kind of alarmed at the sight of it. She still didn't get it though. She was always trying to do more things to it. She had even bleached and damaged it so much that it was incapable of absorbing anymore color. I had my own name for her hair; I called it Frog Fluff.

ANTM brought other memories back to me too. It reminded me of the evenings watching a show with my mom. I remember we were big fans of St. Elsewhere and Knots Landing. We also watched all the sitcoms especially the Thursday night line-up on NBC, back when it was The Cosby Show, Cheers and Hill St. Blues. Those were really good memories of female bonding as well, and I feel really fortunate to have that feeling of bonding again with my own daughter. Yes, even a silly tv show can bring us together with the ones we love, and I'll take bonding wherever I can get it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Good Night Nurse!

So I was out helping take care of Dad this weekend who is recovering from bladder cancer surgery. They took his bladder out so now he has an ostomy bag. Apparently they took out his sense of modesty as well, which must be housed near the bladder in the human body.

I'm sure giving Dad a modestectomy was a minor mistake they made during the surgery and they thought we wouldn't notice that his modesty was now gone. But we did. Dad doesn't care who sees his stuff now. He just wanders around in an open robe and nothing else. He also has the habit of dragging along a big bag of urine with him. Eventually he could use his ostomy pouch which can be hidden under clothing, but for now he likes the heavy duty, industrial sized bag, because it doesn't need to be emptied but once a day. You've heard of people who seem to have a bladder the size of a watermelon and never have to pee? Well this bag is the medical version of that. It's very convenient for those who don't want the hassle of using the restroom, but for the rest of us it can be a bit distracting during meals and polite conversation.

It was my intention to go out and be of help; do laundry, fix meals, clean house, and keep an eye on Dad, giving my sister a much needed break. The first thing Dad wants to do is take a shower. Mind you this is his first shower in 6 weeks. He's pretty determined about it, and Tracy and Dave have already installed the needed equipment in the shower for him. I ask if he needs help, as it is clear to me now that I've already seen everything so I might as well help him wash it too. He declines, and on one hand I'm thinking that's good, because he needs to become independent. On the other hand it scares me to death that with the combination of soap, water, and his unstable physical condition at the moment, he'll hurt himself. He heads for the bathroom and I listen to every sound coming from behind the door. For the next 11 1/2 minutes I'm a nervous wreck. If he slips I'll feel terrible for not insisting on helping him. Finally I hear the water shut off and hear him shuttle off to his bedroom. All is well. Thank you Lord.

Then he calls out for me. So I rush back to the bedroom and he tells me not to go in the bathroom. What kind of doom awaits I can only imagine, but then he explains that he had forgotten to put the shower curtain inside the tub and got water on the floor and didn't want me to go in there for fear I would slip. He'd just as soon wait for the water to evaporate rather than put me out, but I tell him it's no problem and go start the clean up.

Well, he got quite a bit of water on the floor. A good 1/2 inch or so over the entire floor, plus the counter, the mirror, the toilet paper and the unsuspecting box of Kleenex also saw what a hand held shower head is capable of when it's not being restrained behind a curtain. It was quite a sight, and how he made it out of the shower and waded through the wetness on the linoleum without killing himself will be one of life's perpetual mysteries.

Oh, and I think your modesty regenerates. It must, because women lose theirs all the time during childbirth, but somehow it comes back. Here's hoping Dad's modesty is on the return. Soon.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Banner Day For A Mom

So my son calls me on Friday. I am quite thrilled because when he first moved away to college I thought that maybe his phone was broken and he couldn't dial out, as I didn't hear from him unless I did the calling. So on Friday this would be the second time IN A WEEK that he has called. I'm not sure whether to worry or to mark it on the calendar as a banner day.

Before I go on, keep in mind that my kid is in college studying computer animation, that he works for some sort of server company where he monitors computer networks, AND his cell phone gets the internet, so that he can "work" (and play) wherever he happens to be (yeah, he has it pretty good for a college kid).

Well, Cam has always been a man of few words, and this particular call was no different. It went something like this.

Bub: "Hey"
Me: "Hi, how's it going? What's up?" (I'm thinking please don't tell me anything that involves the words 'bail', 'out' or 'jail').
Bub: "Nothin'"
Me: "Oh. So what's new?"
Bub: "Not Much."

And so it goes for a few more rounds. Me playing 20 Questions, him playing Can I Answer In One Word Or Less. He's winning.

Finally I have to get to the point, "Are you in Jail?!"

No, I'm kidding, I didn't say that. I was just blunt, "So what do you want?"

His answer, "How much are stamps?"

Turns out he's mailing out bills and remembered that stamps had gone up but couldn't remember how much.

So I tell him, and then I ask Mr. I-Live-Eat-and-Breathe-Computers, "Why didn't you just Google it?" Oh course he's very succinct, "Eh."

I also tell him there's this thing called "internet banking" he might want to check into.

I know my kid is smart and computer savvy so maybe he knows that moms always have the need to be needed and that calling to ask me how much stamps are would make my day.

Friday, October 5, 2007

OMG! Where Are Your Pants?

I'm a very sentimental person which is why I have a drawer full of random notes and such, mostly from the kids, that I keep.

One of these treasures is a simple note from Sis, written when she was in middle school. Every time I read it, it makes me chuckle. Here's the background:

I had purchased a long-sleeved Roxy brand shirt that was popular at that time, and Sis was after me to let her wear it to school the next day, but since the weather was quite warm, I told her no, that she would be too warm in long sleeves.

Mike used to let me sleep in since I was up during the night with Baby Nat at the time, and he would take the kids to the bus stop in the mornings. So on this particular morning I woke up to a note on my dresser that read (and I resisted correcting the spelling):

"Mom, I borrowed your roxy shirt. Don't worry I'm not wearing pants. P.S. Cameron is wear all long sleeves today."

I had to laugh at the mental picture this brought to my mind, and my first thought was, "Well now I AM worried because you're not wearing any pants!" Even though I knew what she meant--she was wearing shorts to make up for the fact that she was wearing a shirt that was too warm for the outside temperature. I also appreciated that she tried to shift the focus from the fact that she had snuck into my bedroom while I was asleep and swiped my shirt that I told her she couldn't wear, to her brother who went out the door in long pants AND long sleeves. In her mind that was the true crime committed that morning! Gotta love that kid.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Two Great Tastes That Go Great Together

So, remember that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial where some guy is walking along with his chocolate bar and some other guy is walking along with an open jar of peanut butter ('cause you see that kind of thing every day, right?). Somehow these two inexplicably collide and the chocolate bar lands in the peanut butter. At which the two guys indignantly exclaim, "Hey, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!" and "You got peanut butter on my chocolate!" They bravely taste it anyway and the rest is delicious history.

Desperate for something sweet today, I got out my trusty jar of peanut butter and my almost empty bag of chocolate chips and enjoyed this taste sensation and began to think of other tastes that go great together that maybe are a little different.

Have you ever had a peanut butter and bacon sandwich? I learned about this great combo from the PBS show ZOOM, that I used to watch religiously in my elementary school days. The best way to fix this sandwich is on a hot dog bun because the shape of the bun accommodates the shape of the bacon quite nicely. It's really good, I swear. If it wasn't would they have put it on tv? I rest my case!

Another good one that I've enjoyed is fresh pineapple dipped in marshmallow creme. Of course, what doesn't taste good dipped in marshmallow creme? If you go one step further and mix cream cheese and marshmallow creme together you have one tasty fruit dip.

I've heard of Fluffer-Nutter sandwiches (peanut butter and marshmallow creme), and even peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches (it's said to be like peanut butter and celery) but haven't ever tried either of these myself.

There's always that salty sweet mix that's fabulous like chocolate covered pretzels, french fries and a milkshake, and my own personal favorite: Nacho Cheese Doritos and M&M's. I lived on that lovely combo in high school for lunch, usually washing it down with a soda. Is it no wonder I was always tired and dizzy? Hmmmm. Sis swears by the combo of Crunchy Cheetos dipped in chocolate pudding. I haven't yet sampled this delicacy.

I have ambitions for making a list of things that taste terrible together such as Oreo's and OJ and then challenging people to taste them. I don't know why. Just sounds like good clean fun, I guess. "Two great tastes that gag you together" maybe?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Running the Filthy Gauntlet

So I got the Pilot waxed and detailed today (on the outside--I can handle the inside). Oh man, it was so pretty and shiny when I picked it up. The metallic paint was shined to perfection and the wheels and bumper were polished glossy black. Not too bad despite the dings from people who just whip their doors open with no courtesy to other's vehicles. Ah, well.

So off I go to drive the 20 miles home and first thing, I get caught behind Cal Trans who has their big street sweeper on the highway. They are blocking the highway and putting out a huge cloud of dust and leaving a trail of wetness along the road that I'm trying desperately to keep my tires out of without going completely into oncoming traffic. Gosh I just want to keep this car nice so I can take pictures of it and park it on the highway with a For Sale sign on it tomorrow. Is it too much to ask?

I take advantage of turning off onto the bypass as Cal Trans doesn't seem to want to take pity on the line of traffic following their motorized version of Peanut's Pig Pen, and pull over so we can pass.

Well, the bypass is yet another story. It's an old well-patched road and as luck would have it they have been recently patching it again with tarry, loose asphalt. I cringe as I hear it ping against my clean car's underside. Dang it!

Finally I'm back on the highway and heading for home. But what's this? Road construction signs? Yes indeed, they have the con crews out cleaning up the highway by cutting and chipping brush and somehow making the road a dirty dusty mess. There is just no avoiding it so on I drive.

When I finally arrive home I have to take a towel to the side of the car where the tires flipped wet road dirt, then I go around and wipe the layer of dust off the rest of the car. I think the only thing missing on the drive home was a spouting fire hydrant and a swarm of bugs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thufferin' Thuccotash!

Disclaimer: Yes, I'm LDS, No, it's not a cult, and Yes, we are Christians.

So when Sis volunteered to give the opening prayer at Moo's baptism, she wanted to make sure she did it in the proper "Mormon form" (Sis does not attend the LDS church). So I told her the order prayers are usually said, and she promptly wrote a cheat sheet on her hand. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

You see, the first time I was called to do a prayer at church in front of the congregation, I was a nervous wreck. First of all, public speaking is not my strong suit, and secondly I feel a bit inferior to most of the other people who attend my ward. My worst fear was that I would get up there to the mic and develop a sudden case of Tourette's Syndrome. I had a terrible vision of myself trying desperately to invoke the Spirit, but instead spouting obscenities, at which point the Bishop and the Missionaries would hog tie me and drag my still-cursing body from the Chapel. Ok, so I can be a bit overdramatic.

To prevent this calamity, I wrote out an entire prayer ON MY HAND, and when the time came I completely cheated and read from my palm. This was not a proud day, but I haven't been struck by lightning yet.

Two Sundays ago I was again asked to do a prayer at church. I was feeling a bit more confident this time though. I was still really nervous, but it had been over a year since the "palm reading" incident, and I had faith that I could get through it on my own this time. I pretty much knew what I was going to say and had rehearsed it in my head few times, though it was bound to be a short-but-sweet benediction.

So up I go, feeling ok, just a bit shaky, and start the prayer. So far, so good. Then right in the middle, I develop a speech impediment. I kid you not. There are several words that my mouth cannot seem to form. I have to keep repeating myself, and it's pretty embarrassing. It seriously sounded like I had had several shots of whiskey prior to approaching the podium. Somehow, I managed to get through it, and was even able to laugh at myself afterwards. I just kept thinking: at least I only sounded drunk and not like a Tourette's patient.

I don't think anyone's going to be clamoring to ask me to lead the congregation in prayer again anytime soon though, and there may even be a conspiracy forming to send me to rehab!

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Baptism

So Shelby had her baptism on Sunday. In the LDS tradition, kids are baptized when they are 8. It is the age of "accountability". It is thought that they are unable to commit sin before this age. Eight is the age when kids should be able to distinguish between right and wrong and be "accountable" for their actions.

Anyhoo...Shelby got to choose the songs for her baptism, and we had 2 women from our ward that she's close to give talks, Sis even said the opening prayer (as a side note, Sis can sure project-as in speak loudly enough for all to hear. I really admire her. I have the wimpiest voice ever. I'm glad Sis loves drama. I really think it's a calling for her. Plus she doesn't get nervous about speaking in front of a group---darn her self confidence anyway!) Oh, and the current Miss Calaveras County sang a solo at the baptism which was very cool too.

Shelby had to be in a white jumpsuit for the occasion, which the church provided, and my friend made sure to tell me to find some white underwear--she emphasized to be sure that Moo was in white from head to toe. The day before we were lucky enough to find completely white undies at Sears. Not as easy as it sounds. Nearly every pair of girls' underwear has either Dora or Bratz or Disney Princesses on them, and if not that, they at least have pink elastic on the waist band. So I was very proud of my find, and feeling pretty confident.
So right before Shelby goes in to get dressed in her jumpsuit I realize she has blue pony tail holders in her French braids. (One of my friends suggested French braids so we wouldn't have to hassle with drying her hair afterward, plus it insures that everything goes completely under during the baptism preventing the dreaded "do-over"). Yikes, my heart sunk. This was going to mess up the whole plan. But, someone was looking out for us because as luck would have it, Nat wanted her hair braided that morning too, and in an uncharacteristic move, wanted two braids (she usually insists on one and only one!) and in an equally uncharacteristic move wanted white pony tail holders instead of her standard issue pink ones. When I looked down and realized that Nat had white pony tail holders, it was like the clouds parted and the sun shone down and the angels started singing! Halllelujah! (Maybe you have to be a mom to get that excited about pony tail holders) And to prove that it was truly a religious experience I didn't even have to bribe, threaten or cajole Nat to lend them to her sister for the baptism. Yay!
Shelby was a little nervous about the baptism, and a little uncomfortable being the center of attention, but it all went well, and she was happy afterwards.

Down By The (E)Bay, Where The Watermelons Grow

So this whole financial revelation (sounds better than crisis, right?) has led me to get creative and finally motivated to sell anything that's not nailed down.

I've heard some great stories about Ebay. My friend's hubby listed a ratty, well-used, basically thrashed but still usable backpack and was hoping to get 25 bucks for it. In the end he had people cyber-killing each other over it and sold it for an amazing $275 to some guy in Hong Kong. Turns out it was some sort of collector's-item-rare-thing-of-some-sort.

So right now, I've listed some down coats, a couple leather coats, my old White's logging boots from my forestry days and some Radio Flyer toys. I'm actually getting lots of hits and questions and a few bids. So far, when the things with bids sell I will be almost $50 richer, and hopefully all the items will sell eventually.

I know Ebay with it's auction format makes it more fun to buy stuff. When you bid on something you don't know if you'll "win" it or not. And then it gets competitive, and then people just kind of lose their minds (and their grip on reality) and have to have it.

Yes, I have bid on things and in those last minutes it's quite exciting to keep refreshing the screen to see if your bid will win. I have not spent over 40 bucks on anything on Ebay, and I have officially quit searching for things, because if you search, you will find it, and then it's so dang tempting to want to get it.

So here's hoping I have some sort of collectors-item-rare-thing-of-some-sort hiding in my closet just waiting to make me a mint on Ebay.

Ebay update: 9 of my 12 items listed sold, and I made $153. Woo-hoo! Yes, I'm listing more stuff. This is kind of fun, and yet another excuse to goof off on the computer.