Sunday, April 27, 2008

When you can't find your child.........

Few things are as terrifying to a parent as not knowing where your child is. When you can't find them and you are searching and they are still nowhere around, it's just a heart stopping time until you find them.

Tonight, Emily wanted to practice riding her bike. She went outside and rode in circles for an hour. I took the dogs out for a walk and talked to her for a little bit while I was out there, then I came back in. Kerry and Ben arrived home about 30 minutes later. I asked them if they had seen Emily and they said no, so I went out to check on her. She knows she is not supposed to leave the immediate area of our back driveway without checking with us first so I wasn't worried. I figured she was just behind a tree or somewhere where I couldn't immediately see her. I walked down the street, calling her name every so often, and stopped by her best friend's house to see if she was there - although I was going to be aggravated if she was because she didn't let me know. No one was home, and by that time I was getting worried. She knows not to go off without telling me. I started back to the house got Kerry and we both set out in different directions, asking people along the way if they had seen her. I was torn between anger that she had gone off somewhere without checking in, and worry that someone had grabbed her. Finally, I called back to the house and told Ben to check all the rooms. There she was, in her very own room, minding her very own business, and completely unaware that she was missing. She had come back in when she was tired of biking, and no one had seen her.

I told her from now on to tell everyone "hello" when she comes home!

The inability to speak

I have a whopping case of laryngitis. We went out with a group of friends last night and I couldn't get out anything higher than a whisper all night. I'm a little better this morning, at least I'm able to get out some sounds although I still sound pretty raspy.

It's the darn ragweed and the crackheads that are doing this to me. It's ragweed season here, and I am allergic to all southern grasses. The crackheads play a factor because they apparently use my allergy medicine to make meth labs and so the one thing that keeps me from being one giant ball of phlegm every spring is largely unavailable to me. The Army does not carry it any more. My doctor says she might be able to write me a prescription to have filled off post but she wants to try some other things first. So I'm currently hosting 3 bottles of pills, 2 bottles of eye drops, and one bottle of Flonase. The three different pills all have to be taken at different times in different amounts, so I learned quickly to write down what I took and what time I took it, or I forget and have no clue if I'm overdosing. The eyedrops are to cover the three eye infections I've develooped this month. And the Flonase is because my nasal passages are swollen about halfway shut. I missed church this morning because I'm coughing and hacking like an old chihuahau. I'm not contagious, but of course no one sitting in a room with me would know that and I figured I should just stay home until I'm better.

Thank goodness I can still type!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Homeschool Convention!

I just got back from the homeschool convention and boy am I pumped! A homeschool convention is an overwhelming mix of things you love, things you hate, things you didn't know existed but now realize you need, things you wish you could afford, etc. etc. etc. I could have bought so much stuff if it weren't for money! I ordered my math and language arts from Abeka, except for Ben's math because I'm switching him to Teaching Textbooks for high school. I checked out all the Apologia science programs because I'm planning to use those for high school also. I bought a few history books for supplements. I purchased "The Answers Book" from Answers in Genesis because it goes along with the video series we have on Creation vs. Evolution. I shuddered as I walked by the "Drivers Ed In A Box" booth because I realized I may actually be purchasing that in another year.

I bought an Airzooka:




Which, frankly, has been a very popular purchase at home.

I ran into almost everyone from my homeschool group. We all talked incessantly about everything we had seen and why we were using what. We attended seminars and compared notes. It's a great time to learn about new ideas and materials and services available to us today. It's overwhelming to the newbies, they think they need everything and stop at every booth. I sail by most booths and zero in on what I know I need and then spend some time looking at the new stuff.

My only other unplanned purchase (besides the Airzooka) was a tee-shirt for each of my kids. Katie's says simply, "Homeschool Girl". Ben's and Emily's each says, "Warning: Unsocialized Homeschooler. Proceed with conversation at your own risk" I love that!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Big Brave Dog

I know I've mentioned before how terrifying the world at large is to my 153 pound mastiff. But today just took the cake. The maintenance man came to fix a light in my kitchen. Both dogs were standing at the back door watching him through the screen as he approached. My smaller, more aggressive dog barked several times, as a warning to the man and to us. My bigger dog, barked once, "WOOF!" then turned and fled into the recesses of the house. The maintenance man brought in a ladder, worked on the light in the ceiling, then realized he needed to go get somthing else from the shop. He left the ladder, and my scairdy dog has stood in the door and whined pitifully at it like he's asking it nicely to please, just leave.





This is Rigger the lap dog.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Writing Contest

If you've never heard of this contest, you've been missing a really good thing. This is a contest for people to write the worst opening sentence they can think of for a novel. I didn't think this year's entries were as good as last years, but there are still some really funny ones.



Here are a few of my favorites:

2007 Winner: Gerald began - but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them "permanently" meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash - to pee.

Jim Gleason, Madison, WI



"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' - and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' - well do you, punk?"

Stuart Vasepuru Edinburgh, Scotland, 2006





Winner: Detective Fiction: It was a dreary Monday in September when Constable Lightspeed came across the rotting corpse that resembled one of those zombies from Michael Jackson's "Thriller," except that it was lying down and not performing the electric slide.

Derek Fisher Ottawa, ON, 2006





Winner: Romance: Despite the vast differences it their ages, ethnicity, and religious upbringing, the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Heather was the most amazing he had ever experienced; and for the entirety of the Labor Day weekend they had sex like monkeys on espresso, not those monkeys in the zoo that fling their feces at you, but more like the monkeys in the wild that have those giant red butts, and access to an espresso machine.

Dennis Barry Dothan, AL 2006

Father Daughter Dance

My husband took our girls to a Father-Daughter Dance last night! It was so much fun helping them get ready! The girls had picked out their dresses a week before, and they did not want their father to see them until they were all decked out. Kerry wore his dress blues for the occasion. It was so sweet to see my girls getting all fancy. Emily had her first pair of shoes with a heel on them (it was only about 1/4 inch of a heel but she was thrilled).

After they left, I got a frantic phone call from Kerry. He had bought wrist corsages to give to the girls, and we had both completely forgotten about them! They were still sitting in our fridge! I hopped in the car and drove to the dance with the corsages. I'm glad I did because I got to see dozens of dressed up girls and their decked out daddies heading into the building. It was like watching a parade of butterflies go across the parking lot. Adorable!

The girls said they had a wonderful time. They got to dance with their father and luckily I got a few pictures of the event. They were particuarly impressed with "The Chicken Dance" and want me to teach them "The Electric Slide".

My babies are growing up!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The doughnuts have converted!




At our church the Protestants and Catholics share the building. There is a Protestant service at 8:00, then a Catholic service at 9:30, then another Protestant service at 11:00. The halls get pretty jam packed in between services with all the people coming in and going out.

Also in between services, everyone heads for the "doughnut room". This is a large room just off the kitchen where coffee and doughnuts are free to all. The Catholic service pays for half the doughnuts and the Protestant service pays for the other half. The problem is that the Catholics just have better doughnuts. The Protestants have glazed only. Period. The Catholics have chocolate, blueberry, sprinkles, cream filled, as well as the dull old glazed ones. All the kids of course are attracted to the fancy doughnuts. I, frankly, had never noticed the sign in front of the doughnuts stating which ones are for the Catholic service goers, and which ones are for the Protestant service goers.

That is until my son came up to me this morning and accused me of stealing a "Catholic Doughnut". I guess the doughnuts were really won over by the Pope's visit. ;-)




Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Vet

I had to take my dogs to the vet for a "personality test" this morning. Who would have thought there was such a thing? We are trying to get them into a program called "Human Animal Bond" where we can take them on visits to nursing homes. The vet had to test them to see how they react to new situations and new people.

It's funny when you take your dogs to a veterinary clinic. Clearly a million dogs have been through (and peed all over) this place. My dogs plastered their noses to the floor the second we walked in, and never lifted their heads and never stopped frantically pacing around sniffing. It was like having two bloodhounds on the trail of a raccoon in there. They were positively electrified by all the smells of this place.

Rigger passed the personality test with flying colors. He tipped the scales at 152 pounds. He's just a lovable old oaf, completely unaware of his hugeness as he is terrified by strollers, flags, people in coats, and plastic bags to name a few things. Recently, I accidentally dropped something on the floor while he was napping, and he jumped up and shot out of the room without even looking back to see what made that loud noise. Good thing I wasn't being attacked, because I would have just had to save myself.

Ringo didn't do so well. At only 42 pounds, he thinks he is huge and can take on anything that comes his way. He spends every day looking out the window at the squirrels who are walking down the sidewalk and just having fits to get out there and try to catch one. When the vet took him back for the personality test, he apparently put himself in a corner and snarled at the vet. So, he won't be taking a trip to the nursing home any time soon.

The last order of business was to have the dogs microchipped. Let me tell you, the needle they used to inject that thing in was the size of a STRAW. I kid you not. If anyone had come at me with a needle that big I would have flatly refused whatever medication they had been planning to insert. Rigger of course, never let on that he noticed someone had just stabbed him in the back with a spike (just like he did during his last prostate exam). Ringo yelped acted like he was being murdered (just like he did during his last prostate exam).

We also had to take in "fecal samples" for examination. Ben thought that was pretty gross until I told him, "Wait until you're an adult and they ask you to poop and pee in a container." He responded, "That's fine as long as I get to extract it myself. I don't want anyone going in after it." LOL

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tae Kwon Do

My whole family is taking Tae Kwon Do this year. We decided it would be good exercise, good family time, and our kids would learn to defend themselves. My husband and son especially just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it.

Frankly, I would have quit after the first month and been just as happy to go on about my life blissfully ignorant of any more martial arts moves. I'm a wimp. I admit it. I thought this would be "fun" and quite frankly it's turned out to be "hard" and "work". (This is why I never stick with any exercise program for long either, in case you are wondering.) I thought this would be sort of like dancing. We would learn some moves which would be nicely choreographed and throw some punches into thin air like Tae Bo class. Somehow the whole idea of "pain" just didn't really enter my brain (and I've seen the outtakes of Jackie Chan's movies - you'd think I would have made the connection).

I first decided I wasn't having fun any more, um, I think it was around the first night we went. The instructor had us do one push up, and then two sit ups. Can do! Not a problem! Then we did two diamond push ups and four sit ups. Easy peasy! Three push ups with our hands as far apart as we could get them, and six sit ups. Now those push ups were a little harder. Go try doing some right now, and you'll see what I mean. Go on.

You're not going to do it are you?

Wimp.

Anyway, we did various kinds of push ups that I didn't even know existed, winding up with ten ballistic push ups which is where when you push yourself up off the floor you try to propel your entire body into the air so that no part of you is touching the ground. TEN TIMES. I couldn't even do it once. And then twenty sit ups. By the time we got home, my knuckles were raw (from the knuckle push ups and then punching a really hard bag) and I was sore all over. But it felt good. I was thrilled that I had managed to do it.

Now the newness has worn off. If I was the only one taking these lessons, I probably would have found a dozen excuses to miss class until I finally just didn't go any more. BUT....my entire family is suited up and ready to go twice a week. I can't wimp out and quit. What sort of lesson would that teach my kids? Plus, on the nights when my husband can't go, I would have to drive the kids, and then I would sit there watching them and knowing the instructors all knew I had quit. So.....I keep going. I know it's good for me. It's making me stronger. And if I ever need it, I'll have some skills to defend myself.

But wow, I'm sore.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13th

Today is a difficult day for my mother. If my father were alive, today would be their 50th anniversary. We probably would have had a big celebration, especially since it fell on a weekend. We had talked about all of us taking a vacation together, or having a BBQ with friends and family. My mother made me swear years ago that we would not have a big formal party. She said it just wasn't "them" and a BBQ with a hay ride would be more their style.

Instead, my mother is spending the day at home, my sister and my aunt are with her. We went in together and got her a gift certificate for a facial at a really upscale place. We weren't sure if she would want to go out and do anything today. My father had said a number of times that he really hoped he would make it to their 50th. I think knowing that he was looking forward to it makes it even harder.

My father died last year of congestive heart failure. He started smoking when he was fourteen. He quit once for two years when I was in junior high, but said he never stopped craving a cigarette and so he finally gave in. He had his first heart attack one fall when I was still living at home. The ambulance took seven minutes to get to our house and it seemed like such a long time we actually called the hospital a second time to find out why they weren't there yet. My mother rode in the ambulance with him, and I drove in my car, breaking all speed limits and screaming at the top of my lungs most of the way.

He wound up having to have 5 bypasses done. Over the years he also had angioplasty, MRI's, a pacemaker implant, and so many other procedures I can't even remember them all now. Every time he went in the hospital, we all took off work, worried for days and weeks, would he live, would he have a stroke, would he suffer. We sat in the waiting rooms of many different hospitals trying to keep each other calm, waiting to hear how he was doing. We took time off work, we traveled long distances to be there, we drove like maniacs while crying and worrying, we paid for hotels and cafeteria food. When people smoke and use the excuse that it is "their" body and they "are only hurting themselves" I want to shake them. You hurt everyone around you when you smoke. Anyone who cares about you is hurt by it. Over and over and over. If only my father had never smoked...........

We could have all been celebrating.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Unscheduled Giggling

Crying is a form of stress release for most women. When we get tense or upset, a good cry can help relieve us enormously and clear our minds to then deal with what ever made us tense or upset in the first place. Me? I'm a laugher. When I get tense, I start giggling like mad. If the situation becomes really unbearable, I can wind up laughing so hard I can't even breathe. Tears stream down my face, my lips draw back from my teeth in a hideous grin, and I can't stop no matter what if I let it get hold of me. Once in junior high, my best friend fell off a trampoline and smacked her chin on the metal frame. She darn near broke her jaw, couldn't even close her mouth for a few minutes, and I was laughing like a hyena, only occasionally being able to gasp, "I'm sorry! HAHAHAHA! It's not funny! HAHAHAHA!" Another time, our Chihuahua almost choked to death on a piece of hot dog (Did you know that a dogs gums actually turn blue when they choke? They really do. It's icky.) After my husband performed a doggie Heimlich maneuver on her (and the other dog gobbled up the hot dog which flew out of her throat) I was in hysterics for a full 30 minutes. My sides hurt the next day from laughing so hard.

Yesterday, my son had his follow up appointment with the doctor for an ingrown toenail. He's on antibiotics and I went in fully expecting the doctor to say, "It's clearing up nicely. Go home." But instead he said, "We need to pack some cotton underneath the nail to lift it up where the nail can grow out without irritating the skin around it." Again, my expectations were completely off, because I thought they would take some cotton, and just push it up under the end of the nail a little, no biggie. What actually happened was that the doctor took a tongue depressor, snapped it apart to make a wicked looking skewer, and used it to pry my son's toenail apart from the nail bed without even numbing it. I looked at my teen as this procedure was being performed upon him and he had his fists clenched so hard his hands were shaking. And......whammo! I'm so upset by the pain being inflicted on my first born child, I. start. to. giggle.

Talk about winning the "Worst Mother of the Year" Award! Who laughs when their child is being tortured?!?! Luckily, I managed to squelch it. But it took all I could do not to start laughing, and I was making these funny little noises in the back of my throat, trying to hold it back. The doctor looked at me and said, "Are you going to throw up?" "No," I managed to squeeze out between my clenched teeth. I'm sure he thought I was really on the verge of spewing something all over the floor. But I'd rather he thought I was weak stomached than a closet sadist.

We made it through the appointment (Ben will probably never cut his nails too short again). The doctor asked Ben if the toe had been causing him any pain. Ben replied, "Only when someone rams cotton up under it." I hope this works, because if it doesn't they may have to actually remove the whole nail.

They'd better give me laughing gas if they have to do that. It's the only excuse I'll have.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Watching him grow.........

My kids love to cook. My 10 year old daughter will read a cookbook like it's a novel. My 13 year old son is grandly insulted when his scout troop cooks hot dogs for a meal instead of making a goulash from scratch and a desert from scratch (no canned goods allowed). My seven year old daughter begs to help in the kitchen and recently found a shish-ka-bob recipe that turned out to be quite a hit with the whole family.

Today my son was in charge of dinner. We needed a crock pot meal because this is one of those days where we will be out of the house until 6:00 so we need a meal that is ready when we walk in the door so we aren't tempted to eat out instead. :-) Ben had found a recipe he wanted to try and I had purchased all the ingredients, but when the time came to put it all together, he couldn't find the recipe. Having cooked dozens of similar dishes before, he decided to just "wing it" and went through the cupboard sniffing all the spices to decide what would taste good. I was very impressed with how grown up he seemed - cooking dinner without a map, just doing what he thought would work. He even put all the spices back up when he was finished and cleaned the counter (which is a reflection on my stellar parenting, thank you very much).

A little while later he came bopping into the room where I was working and said, "Hey Mom! Watch this! I can unbutton my jeans just using my stomach muscles!" With a mighty grunt, he bore down with his belly until the button on his jeans popped open. "Keep working on that, babe," I told him. "That's a skill that will take you far in life."

Sigh.............

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Self-Defense

I went to a five hour seminar on women's self-defense today. Whew! Parts of it were very intense. There was a lot of good advice and information too. We even had a practice dummy that we hit, kicked, punched, gouged, etc. All while screaming at the top of our lungs. It's a little embarrassing to scream bloody murder in front of people you don't know. But we all did it. The instructors made a good point that many people freeze up and actually can't scream when they are attacked, so it's best to practice it.

We watched a number of videos of people being attacked and talked about what they should have done. We watched some footage of Ted Bundy and talked about how he lured his victims in. We watched interviews with some of the survivors of the Luby's massacre. Watching things like that can be very exhausting emotionally.

The hardest thing was the discussion about a serial racist who was on the prowl here from 1991-1993. He violently attacked nine women during that time and raped seven of them. His second victim had written out her entire experience and it was read to us. Then the woman herself came to talk to us and answer questions. She was a very attractive woman, clearly educated and successful. It was hard to imagine something like this happening to her, because it was too much like imagining it happening to me, or someone I know. I don't go rambling out in the middle of the night; I don't go meet strange men in bars; I don't do drugs, or hang out with people who do - so I assume I should be safe. This woman was like that also. She was asleep in bed when this man broke into her home in the middle of the night. He beat her terribly, even breaking her nose. He was there for an hour and beat her off and on through that time. He tried to rape her but was unsuccessful. When he was finally caught two years later, it turned out he was a garbage man who noticed where any woman lived alone. He followed his victims numerous times without them realizing it so he could learn their schedules and routines. The scariest part was that this man was a married father of three. It was frightening to talk to this woman and realize what she had been through. It was encouraging to know that she survived it. I learned a lot at that class tonight.

I hope I never have to use that knowledge.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

Last week when I picked my 13 year old son up from youth group, the leaders were handing out notices to the parents announcing at the next youth group meeting they would be discussing "purity" (i.e. SEX) with the teens. My husband and I discussed whether or not we wanted to send our son to the next meeting. There are pros and cons to be considered, after all. We have discussed this subject at home with the kids already - homeschooling provides a million opportunities a day to talk about various subjects with your kids. My husband and son have also have had some of "those" talks during car trips, but frankly, I wasn't there, and who knows if the man I married gave the correct information to our firstborn? I told him what to say, but how do I know he followed my directions? How do I know he gave him wise advice like, "Wait until you are married" or if he really told him, "Use latex, it's less likely to break and ruin your whole life." I would have discussed all this with our son myself (I do know what I'm talking about after all) but once puberty kicked in, my eldest child (who's bottom I have wiped a million times) became quite sensitive about his naked self, and I have seen no more of him than his bare big toe once in a while ever since. I figured he surely would die if I tried to discuss this particular subject with him.

This led me to thinking about when he was six and we had our first talk about the birds and the bees. He had a three year old sister, and another one on the way. He had asked a couple of times how the baby got in my tummy and I had always given him a rather general answer about how Daddy planted a baby seed in my tummy. This answer always seemed to satisfy him. UNTIL. Oh my gosh, until that one day. Not at home, oh no. Not in some place where we could have a frank, honest (for a six year old) discussion about where babies come from. My little darling suddenly decided there was more to this than I was telling him while we were eating lunch at Denny's in Fairbanks, AK (which is the northernmost Denny's in the world you'll be pleased to know).

Ben asked me the usual question, and I gave him my usual answer and I swear I saw a little light bulb go off over his head, and he said, "But HOW? HOW did Daddy get the baby seed in there?" I calmly replied, "I'll tell you when we get home." The man in the booth behind us turned around and gave me an ear splitting grin. Ben continued on, "And how are they going to get the baby OUT of your tummy?" I replied, "I'll go to the hospital and the doctors will get the baby out." Ben, becoming more agitated, and therefore louder, says, "But HOW?" I replied, "I'll tell you when we get HOME." The man in the booth next to us was snickering, I could see his shoulders going up and down. Ben, not to be distracted from this conversation said (loudly), "Does the baby come out of your belly button? Did I come out of your belly button?" "No," I said fiercely, trying to get him to hush, "I'll tell you when we GET HOME." Sudden dawning realization crossed his face and he fairly shrieked, "You mean I came out of your HINEY?!?!?!" The man at the next booth was in hysterics. His wife came back from the bathroom at that point, and looked at him gasping for air and wiping his eyes with a Denny's napkin and she said dryly, "I guess I missed something." He finally managed to gasp, "I'll tell you when we get home!" I gathered up my kids, left Denny's, went to the bookstore, and bought a book about where babies come from. By the time we got home, Ben had completely forgotten the entire conversation, and I think it was a long time before we actually read the book, but eventually we did.

Now however, it's a different ball game. He knows where babies come from. He knows I didn't poop him out. Now, he's noticing girls and we have to try to deal more with the emotional aspect of where this is all heading than with the physical mechanics. In the end, we did send him to youth group. We knew they would be teaching him about waiting for marriage and not the sort of things he would be taught in the public school system. He even told me all about it on the way home, with no embarrassment.

My little boy is growing up.