Saturday, December 23, 2006

Global Warming

A friend of my dh stopped by and for whatever insane reason, the topic turned to global warming. I quipped that I'd heard on NPR that the greatest cause of global warming, more so even than all of man's activities combined, was cow, uh, gaseous emissions. Both laughed.

Well, I said, it takes a lot of energy also to raise a cow and then the cow farts a lot. So what are we to do, they asked aghast? Turn vegetarian? Then, one man, I don't remember which, rationalized that we'd all have to eat lots of beans to compensate for the lack of protein, and in turn, man would become the source of those gaseous emissions. Ew!

BTW, we are having prime rib for dinner tonight.

Sibling Rivalry

I found a photo on my computer from my sister. She and her children had made a ginger bread house last year:


Thinking to follow her example, I set out to make my own. My mother-in-law, Marilyn, was visiting, and she's a good cook and quite crafty. I made the pieces from kit a friend gave me. They turned out quite well. The house, however, looks like a snowblower ran past at high speed, shortly after a cement truck had run into it:



The more Marilyn and I tried to fix it, the worse it got. I wish I could say that this was after she and I shared several bottles of wine, but sadly, that isn't the case. We were really just that pathetic. The chickens enjoyed it.

I should have stuck to a present she brought to us, a gingerbread boy decorating kit. Here are the decorated cookies the kids made:

Anna was insulted because I couldn't guess the identity of her cookie in the top right corner. I thought perhaps it was the victim of a car accident due to the large amount of red icing on his forehead. Turns out, that was supposed to be Harry Potter's scar. Go figure!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake about describes my mentality during the holidays. Last night, I stayed up late wrapping presents, but couldn't locate one very important one. Likely, I thought, I was busy when it arrived and didn't put it in my locked hidey-hole for all presents. I looked everywhere but where it was, of course - in my hidey-hole for all presents. Way in the back it was. Now, I can rest easy.

Perhaps, I've not cooked enough fruit cakes. What?? You don't like fruit cake. Perhaps you don't have a recipe like this one:

The Best Fruit Cake Ever

1 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup nuts
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 or 2 quarts whiskey

Before you start, sample the whiskey for quality. Good, isn't it? Now, go ahead.
Select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc.
Check the whiskey again, as it must be just right.
To be sure the whiskey is of the highest quality, pour one level cup into a glass and drink it as fast as you can.
Repeat...
With an electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add 1 tsp of thugar and beat again.
Meanwhile, make sure that the whiskey is of the highest quality.
Dry another tup. Open second quart if necessary.
Add 2 arge leggs, 2 cups fried druit and beat until high. If druit gets buck in steaters, just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the whiskey again, checking for tonscicticity.
Next, sift 3 cups of salt or anything, it really doesn't matter.
Sample the whiskey. Sift 1/2 pint of lemon juice.
Fold in chopped butter and strained nuts.
Add 1 babblespoon of brown thugar, or whatever color you can find, and wix mell.
Grease oven and turn cake pan to 350 gredees.
Now pour the whole mess into the coven and ake.
Check the whiskey, again, and bo to ged.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chocolate

My husband works for a company that has vendors vying for their business. Around this time of year, goodies arrive at the office. I know this from past experience, and quizzed dh at dinner last night. Where are all the chocolates and goodies.

"Oh," he exclaimed. "You would not believe the piles of cookies, doughnuts, candies, stacked this high," he said holding his hand over the table.

"Where's the chocolate?" I asked.

"Oh, we got a WHOLE box of Godiva chocolates."

"And where are they, and why are they not HERE?" He has to know that it is Christmas, Prozac season for any mom. Given that I haven't a prescription, chocolate will have to do for self-medication. Evidently, in the spirit of the season, he was forced to share them with the office women, who I am sure need the boost as much as I. But Godiva chocolates? Give them the doughnuts.

"I do have a very large Hershey's chocolate bar on my desk, but I didn't bring it home. It says "From Rachel" (a vendor)." He was weighing how he'd come out on the deal, giving me chocolate but with another woman's name on it. Would it be positively received or I bite his head off? "WHO'S RACHEL," might come unwillingly from my throat, a deep gutteral, possessed sound.

No, I said, I want that chocolate, bring it home. I'll rip off the label, neatly taking care of Rachel. I want those Godiva's, too. One piece at least. I've got a week to survive yet.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Betrayal

Betrayal starts early. Around age four, I would venture. That's when the sheen of "mom is God" starts wearing off. Today, I got a glimpse of reality setting in with my son. We are expecting my in-laws, wonderful people, on their way home from their winter home in Florida for their base home in Northern Ohio. Life has been full lately, and well, I made the comment that today, they were going to see how we really live. My daughter asked me to clarify. Well, not that these loving people would ever say anything about it, but the house isn't exactly clean.

That's when Junior piped in. "You know whose house is really clean?"
I don't want to hear it, I don't want to hear it, I repeat silently in my brain. I don't want to hear that my son knows my house isn't worthy and someone else's is.
"Yes, Mrs. McWoy's (McCloy)house is really clean," he offers, implicating on of my closest and dearest friends. "REALLY, she has the cleanest floors."

My hand shot out as a tumbleweed of dog hair blew by and I stuck it in my pocket, hoping he wouldn't notice. "Is that right?"

He headed outside for a moment with my daughter, as I hurried to run the dust mop. If he knows this at four, what will he think when he's older? I better look at the 5012 emails from Flylady that are backing up in my inbox.

As of this moment, I am writing only because he's cleaning out the wood stove. I heard, "Oops" as ashes spilled on my newly cleaned floor. Back and forth he is going from the stove to the garbage can, dribbling ashes as he goes. He's helping to clean, he insists. Who am I to argue?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Skeptical


We were at the Breakfast with Santa event at our Church. William first showed his skepticism when, sitting on Santa's lap, his first comment to the bearded fellow was that we had no snow. This, in his mind, presented a problem, because we all know Santa drives a sleigh, and sleighs work on snow. Santa promised to see if there was something that could be done about the snow. I didn't know Santa doubled as a weatherman, did you?

The breakfast presented another opportunity for outright lies. William will eat nothing resembling real meat, that is, muscle. Processed meat sometimes will work, for it little resembles what it really is. Will picked up a piece of sausage.

"What does sausage come from?" he asked, holding a piece skewered on his fork.

"It comes from the sausage factory," I said vaguely, knowing if it got tied back to the pig, he wouldn't eat it.

"No," he insisted. "What was it before that?"

"It grew on the sausage tree," I flat out lied.

"Na-uhhhh." Wm wasn't going to buy it. Repeated lies did nothing to convince him.

He still believes a fat man in a red suit will ride a flying sleigh to our house and squeeze down our chimney to bring just the presents he's requested, magically. But, sausage can NOT grow on trees. Everyone knows that!

Getting Our Christmas Tree

Two weekends ago, we purchased our tree from friends who grow trees on their farm. Here's our friend, Steve, shaking the needles from the tree:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Losing Our Sponteneity?

Smile! You're an Unwitting Net Star

Article in Newsweek: Will fear of exposure on the Internet cause people to lose every day spontaneity?



"It's a new fact of life in the digital age: any time you step outside your door, the possibility exists that you may wind up an unwilling figure of shame and ridicule—if not in the "Borat" movie, then at least on YouTube."

I hope not. Sharing funny moments and adults riding down the driveway on a trike encourages us to not take ourselves too seriously, to remember to laugh. There is enough serious in this world. True, you may be caught by some blogger with a camera:

In my best Miss Manners voice:
Ladies of a mature age: We, the public, do not need to see your backside. Neither does my husband. This photo was snapped at a Breakfast with Santa. Ladies, those hip hugger jeans combined with a short sweater? You are not the target consumer. Please pass these garments along to your TEENAGE daughters or wear longer shirts.

See? Now we all have to worry about not only what we look like from the front, but now we also have to concern ourselves with the view from the backside. Oh, dear!

Ouch!

When we demolished the barn, the chickens were bereft of their coop, an unused horse stall. I hastily built a chicken tractor, which the chickens accepted as their night roost, but they would not lay there. Free to roam during the day, they found a hiding spot for their nest, and despite having many searches, we couldn't find the stash. Chickens, you might know, have had the broodiness (desire to sit on eggs) bred out of them, but they still have the instinct to hide them from you.

Over time, our front porch was beginning to resemble Ma & Pa Kettle's, with chickens sitting on the porch rail. That's very scenic for visitors, but the chicken poop all over is very unappealing. Given that and the cold, I've confined them to my garden which was fenced already with rabbit wire. And, lo and behold! We have eggs!

I feel a little guilty though. One hen might have been holding back for lack of a good nest. She must have saved up and laid a whopper. Boy, that must've felt like having a fifteen pound baby. This Aracauna isn't a big hen either.




From left to right, a bantam hen egg (the last one of Chicken Lickin', sniff sniff), a large store-boughten egg, an egg from our Black Giant breed, a normal Aracauna egg, and this 3.5 inch double yolked gianormous egg.

I've read before that these double yolked eggs will not hatch live young, but I'd like to try sometime. Here's a close up of the two eggs laid by the same hen:



This last photo is the egg opened, just before I ate it!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blogger

What is up with Blogger???? Half the time, the icons aren't showing for adding photos, changing text, etc. and the other half of the time, the buttons are there but don't work. The other day, I lost a whole post when I hit "Publish". Luckily, and due to past experience, I had copied all the text to a file. Blogger said that BETA was going to be better. Since I switched, I've seen nothing but problems. I guess you get what you pay for.

So, in reference to another post in which I said that if I'm not posting, I'm either depressed, busy or both, please add the excuse that Blogger isn't behaving.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Heads Spinning

Here's the girls having a little fun being air-heads, literally. (Note: No animals were harmed in this production.)



What Homeschoolers Do.....

....when they get together.

I think I've met my match in willlingness to try the outrageous. Here is my friend, Becky, (http://www.xanga.com/becktumfleck) riding my son's three wheeler on my driveway:



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Private Space

If you think you can take your laptop to an indoor playplace and accomplish anything, think again. The world is full of lonely people with only four year olds to talk to. Such was the case just an hour ago. Armed with my Christmas wish lists, a desire to write some and a good book, I happily sat down to my Chicken Cesaer Salad as I watched Wm go off with his friend to play.

I'd positioned myself against the wall, so my laptop screen wasn't visible. I was loading CDs onto it for later listening as I read and ate.

"What are you working on?" said a man walking over from a table where he'd obviously exhausted the conversation with another stay-at-home dad. That dad now nodded in slumber over his baby's carseat.

"I'm a writer," I lied, thinking he'd take the hint that I was busily working, and he should GO AWAY. No, he put his back to the wall and sank down to a crouch.

"Have you written any books?" The acid test of a real writer.

"Ah, no, I freelance," I offered. He didn't ask if I got paid.

He continued to talk all through my salad eating, as I gazed longingly at my book. He has a four and two year old, and seemed obviously starved for adult conversation. I've been there. I remember being home with a four and two year old, I remember wondering how best to parent, needing reassurance I was doing things the best way. I tried to put aside my annoyance.

He asked for websites where he could read more about parenting. I told him about Dr. Sears and Attachment Parenting. Finally, it was time for him to leave. He left, talking the whole time.
So, now I'm back to my writing and was just about to get out the wishlists, when I heard a loud scream from the playplace. My son was playing swords, which somehow resulted in the (loud but not serious) injury of another child. Maybe I ought not have any expectations. Oh, Lord, now a mom is over talking to my son who is in time-out. Over and out for now.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Analogies

Dh asked when the last time I'd written on my blog. He hadn't for some time received an email from Blogarithm notifying him of a new post.

I explained that when I was very busy, depressed or both, I didn't tend to blog much. But of course, I said, if I am blogging he was not to assume that I was not busy, not depressed or both, either. He shook his head, saying that he was reminded of a diagram that illustrated his own difficulty in understanding emotions of women in general and me in particular:



True, I said, women [I] need the dials to be fiddled with now and again. The on/off switch doesn't do it for me! Continuing with analogies, I compared women to a wood stove. To keep a fire going, I submitted, you had to put in a log now and again.

"Ah, ha," smiled dh. "So I need to stick a log in the old stove now and again."

This is why analogies of a woman's needs are wasted on men.

P.S. If you'd like to receive an email notifying you each time I post a new entry, click on Blogarithm to the right and enter your email address. It'll send you an email when I post, that is if I'm not busy, depressed, or both.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Amusements of the Day

One has to laugh, or cry. We went from temperatures in the 60's yesterday to a blowing rainstorm in the night. As the next day dawned, the cold blew in, and we're now at 28 degrees. The difference is almost too much to bear in one day.

So, today, Wm. came to me with a "surprise". He took care of "wiping" himself. This would ordinarily be a tremendous and joyous development, except for the part that he was responsible for the destruction of several trees in the rain forest to produce the amount of paper he used. Hopefully, he'll learn before my ancient septic system self destructs. Later in the day, he announced that he'd also learned to use the plunger himself.

And Anna presented me with a paper she is writing for religion class. Having chosen her sister, Lauren, older by two years, for her confirmation sponsor, Anna was assigned to write what she could learn from her sponsor. Anna wrote:

From Lauren, I can learn fairness, generosity, and patience. She is not afraid to show others their faults and help them sort things out.

Needless to say, I've asked her to do a little re-writing.

Keep warm!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bah Humbug

We've now entered the season of my discontent - Christmas. This is the season that everyone is supposed to be cheery and full of goodwill. I try, truly. But our society makes the season less than the religious holiday it is supposed to be.

The buying begins earlier and earlier every year. I hold to my guns and refuse to buy or enter into the Christmas fray until at least the turkey carcass is in the trash from Thanksgiving. But, now that is over, and the leftovers devoured, I have no excuses. I must begin.

Granted, it is a little easier these days. Lists are made by everyone, complete with internet links, and there is no need to think about Christmas presents, just pay for them. With free shipping everywhere, I can at least stay out of the stores.

My kids know not to desire the latest tickle-me-whatever or new WAAAAAH (Wii) that requires standing in the cold outside the doors of a store that has 2 of them, because there is no thing that would compel me to do so. Perhaps, somewhere deep down, I can, like the Grinch, find a little Christmas spirit.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Weekend After

I'm beginning to emerge from my Thanksgiving-induced coma, brought on by excessive cleaning, cooking and eating. It feels exactly like having finally beaten a bad case of the flu. My body is weak and unwilling to exert the slightest effort.

That must factored in when the accident occurred today. Wm was insistent, in his little boy way, that I play with him. I also owed my mom a phone call, and since multi-tasker is my middle name, we decided to ride bikes while I called my mom. Perched on my daughter's bike, which unbeknownst to me had been adjusted to accomodate my husband (my one-foot-taller-than-I-am husband), I absentmindedly began to ride.

I've ridden bikes all my life, and though I definitely have a few miles on my old bones, expected it to be like - well, "just like riding a bike". You never forget. What I did forget was to check the gear and the brakes. Phone to my ear, I hit the brakes which were like hitting the stop button on the DVD player. Stop it did. I did not.

Laying on the driveway, I yelled to the phone, now in pieces, "Hold on, Mom" as I assessed my injuries. Surprisingly, I felt okay. I retrieved the phone, only to discover blood on my jeans.

"See, Wm, Mommy isn't good at riding bikes," I told him, hoping this would get me out of bike riding for, well, eternity.

After finishing the phone call, I found I had a nice hole in my knee, small, but deep.

Tonight, my family asked if I was okay.
"Sure. Not that anybody would even notice if I died, except when dinner time rolled around and it wasn't made."

Lauren, the oldest, put her arms around my shoulders, murmuring a protest as Anna said, "Ahhhh, nooooo, that's not true. What about lunch and breakfast?"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Day Before

Before leaving for work, dh asked what my plans were for today. Well, um, I have 17 people for dinner tomorrow, so I think I might go in for a manicure. Later, I might go shopping for new summer shoes. I'll be cleaning, for Pete's sake. Why, you might ask. Just family, isn't it?

Two days ago, I decided to tackle one teen's room because I was sure something was dead in there. She was going to be out for the day, so I decided to rent a backhoe and find the carcass. After much laundry and tossing of crumpled papers, I found four old yogurt cartons with spoons (which is why I have no utensils, the rest are under the deck outside, or in the sandbox). I won't tell you what else I found (think small, foo-foo, badly trained dogs) so that the health department doesn't come to investigate.

Teen #2, impressed with the results, asked me to perform similar miracles in her room. We started on her closet, finding evidence of a colony of mice or perhaps prarie dogs from the looks of it. They've been feeding off of the hoarded Halloween candy (and she didn't go trick-or-treating this year) and a bit from Easter. They were all comfy amid a gazillion stuffed animals that are too special to get rid of but not special enough to earn a place other than as a mouse mattress in the closet. We'll have to finish this project today, as she had to camp out in her sister's room last night since her's looks like Armageddon.

Like an archaeological dig, it's amazing sometimes the things I find in their rooms . For example the spoons. In Forever, Erma, she says that "You're rich when you can have eight people to dinner and don't have to wash forks between the main course and dessert." Well, we're dirt poor then. Dirt, I say, because that's where the forks are - out in the dirt - having been used to dig worms and slugs. A trip to Wally World fixed that yesterday, with a purchase of spoons and forks stamped out of sheet metal in China. So much for my Julliard Oneida pattern from my wedding. What was I thinking?

Yes, today will find me unmanicured and dishpan-handed, but I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving, the one day dedicated to nothing but family and eating. Can't get better than that!

And for those that have asked, we've not yet made more chin videos, so I leave you with this American Greetings Thanksgiving chin video. Now on to Thanksgiving. See you on the other side!

Click here to see the chin video.

Thanksgiving in Africa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

PS3

Campers braved the chilly weather to be the first to own a PlayStation 3. We're not talking communing with nature camping. This was side of the road city and parking lot camping. Whether for profit or the pure joy of owning the latest system, these people were truly dedicated to the cause. Here in KY, one lucky camper set his tent on fire with his butane cookstove.

This obsession with an entertainment device and the lengths to which people are willing to go to get one must not read well in international newspapers. It almost took the chill out of my blood from hearing the word draft on the radio the other day. Perhaps these young people do need to get a life.

Perhaps the Playstation should be secretly designed to educate. To move on to the next level, you have to complete the following Calculus problem. Maybe we could hook it through the internet to generate electricity from the movement of so many fingers on the controls.

Better yet, the Playstation could end the war in Iraq. Yes, you heard me right. The war is costing this country billions. It would be less costly, in dollars and lives, to buy EVERY household in Iraq a TV, a satellite dish (for around the clock sports) and a Playstation 3 with games. The result would be that every man and young boy in the country would not emerge for weeks, maybe months from their homes. Just like in America, they would become inert, addicted to an alternate reality. We could ship in junk food for their favorite soccer game, inducing the fast food brain coma.

Truly though, what does it say about our culture that we're not on fire for causes, but we're willling to set our tent on fire in the attempt to be the first to own a game?

Now, I have to go get Wm off our inadequate PS2 where he's playing Lego StarWars, and try to feed him breakfast.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Black Monday

Irresponsible adults inflame me. My neighbor has a dog, part border collie, part lab, that has three times before killed our chickens. Last night, she killed Chicken Lickin', William's pet bantam that broods our eggs. I can't prove the dog did it, as we didn't see it, but we know. (Kind of like O.J.)

I've repeatedly called the neighbor, complaining that the dog comes into our yard and makes handling our horses unsafe and tries to get our chickens. He promises each time to keep her up. Time lapses, and again she's in our yard. The man evidently has never heard of a leash.

In the third attack, she was proven to be the culprit, found with a chicken in her mouth (who miraculously lived despite terrible injuries). Only domesicated dogs and cats (and men) who are well fed kill for the pleasure of it and leave the body. So, I know it was a dog, just don't have the evidence to prove it.

My only recourse, according to the law, is to shoot the dog while it's on my property. I can take it to animal control, but they will release the dog to the owner for a fee. I can't shoot the dog. She's actually a nice dog doing what her instincts bid her, but with a bad owner.

William took it pretty well, his greatest concern being "who will I hold now?" as the other chickens are hard to catch and don't like to be held. Chicken Lickin' had learned that if she tolerated being caught and held, she was hand fed nice morsels.

I am now rethinking my chicken population and considering reducing the ones I have. The remaining will have to stay in the chicken tractors, protected from dogs but losing their freedom. An interesting concept in today's world - better to live free but with more risk, or live safely with no freedom?

Can you tell I've been reading Op-Eds by Iraqis on the NYTimes website?

Lost After Translation
Republic of Dreams
Fear of Freedom

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Keeping Up

"How do you know they're keeping up?" I'm often asked when my secret identity, Mom Homeschooler, is discovered. Just as often, I hear a worried homeschooler wondering if their own students are "keeping up".

Today at Church, the priest's words flowed over me, humorous and interesting, yet not so important. Then, I heard, like words in bold red:

God doesn't measure us against each other. He measures each life, each person. And the measure he uses is vertical and horizontal. He measures with a Cross.

So if you have children homeschooling, or even kids in school, consider this measuring tool before wondering if your child is "keeping up".

Friday, November 17, 2006

What It Takes to Be Great

Tomorrow evening, Lauren will play Six Roumanian Folk Dances by Bartok at her studio's fall piano recital. This week, I was thinking back to when the girls were little. I had hoped that they would come to love reading, music and horses. I got my wishes on all accounts. The ironic part of this wish is that at the moment, reading, music and horses are what drive me to the brink.

My girls read almost to the exclusion of anything else. Thick tomes go with them everywhere, as I have reminded them often to never go anywhere without a book and you'll never be bored. Some days, however, it is exasperating to move the 800 page Harry Potter for the zillionth time off of the kitchen table or to get the girls to put down their books and do something.

Both girls are amazing horseback riders, though often my time (and my checkbook) revolve around horses. I spend a great deal of time hooking up the trailer and hauling horses. Yet, their passion for horses is a healthy outlet and we've always thought it worthwhile.

As for music, Anna is considered a leader in the Church teen band, for though she quit playing piano, the music became a part of her and she can read it. And Lauren, well, you would have to hear her play to understand. She and her teacher, however, enjoy pieces that are very emotional and furious. Listening to hours of practice a day has me drooling over Bose white noise headphones.

Occasionally I am asked how a parent can guide a child to become great at something. Certainly, homeschooling has played a large part in this for us, as having great chunks of time and flexibility are factors.

But in today's world, a more important factor is focus. We are surrounded and bombarded with choices in not only entertainment and activities to name a few. As a homeschooler, I am often overwhelmed with all the activities, field trips and possibilities there are available. Earlier in our journey, I often wondered who took the "home" out of homeschooling. It took some time, maturing and perhaps, the birth of my son Wm later in life, to realize that I did.

With the feeling of not wanting my children to "fall behind", perhaps some guilt over socialization, wanting to find the fun in homeschooling, we were driving around like crazy people. At one point, each girl was involved in five different activities. Almost cosmically, they all seemed to mesh together so that I was able to accomplish them all, yet we seemed always in a hurry, always stressed, a house turned upside down, blaming the chaos on homeschooling.

When Will was born, I began to cut back. We could not spend all day driving to all the activities, and as the girls delved deeper into their chosen passions, we began making critical choices. And with those choices, came the time and the ability to dive deep into their chosen passions. Both began riding more. Lauren has more time to play the piano. Anna spends more time writing her novel. We cut out activities like soccer and 4H, for example, which were terrific programs, but hampered our flexibility.

So I am asked sometimes by a parent how they can help their child want to play like Lauren plays. I would say it takes faith. Faith that you are not hurting your child by saying no, you can not do one more activity. It takes the lack of distraction. And not to take away from Lauren, it takes finding and following that child's interest without watering it down with other activities.

I'm sure this post isn't as coherent as I'd hoped when I first started it, as Wm is ready for his nightly bedtime reading and is distracting me. So, I sign off.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cowboys

You know the song that starts, "Mama, don't let you sons grow up to be cowboys." I've got a new version for you: "Mama, don't let you daughters grow up to be hookers." Mamas, what are you thinking letting your daughters out of the house wearing these clothes? Look at this poor girl. She obviously put on her slip and walked out the door, forgetting her dress. Does she know it's winter? WHO would let their daughter go out like this?

Don't give me the she's got her own money and her own mind and she wants to fit in with the crowd crap. If she lives in your home, you still have some say, or should have, in what she looks like when she leaves your front door. Is this, my young women of the world, the message of strong, capable, yet beautiful women we want to project? No, these clothes say, Look, I wore my nightie to the dance so that'll save us time later.

Several times while dress shopping with my daughters, I had to ask, "Is this a dress??" Seeing their nods, I looked again at what looked like a silky version of the baby doll pajamas I wore as a kid. All they needed were bloomers.

And don't tell me she buys it when you're not there. For one thing, they take returns, people. And another, I saw you, Mom, there with her. Say NO. That's not appropriate. Of course, you mom, that I saw there at the store, send your precious teen to an all girls' private school so that she can roll her skirt up to her @$$ and wear shorts underneath peeking out. Very attractive with the oversized mens' sweatshirt.

Want respect? Don't go around looking like Britany Spears (see her horrible fashion statement in this week's Newsweek.). People do pay attention to her, but they don't respect her. I'm no prude, truly. I understand wanting to feel pretty and sexy, (though those days are starting to slip away; not the wanting part, but the ability to be part), but you don't have to look like you're soliciting. Believe me. Leave a little to the imagination.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An Embarassment to my Children

Have you ever taken a four, almost five, year old boy shopping in the formal dress department? Have you ever tried to keep said boy entertained while his teen sister tried on every dress in the store? At first, he enjoys himself hiding in the skirts of long formals, doing his best to scaring the grey hairs onto you with visions of the store calling a Code Adam. Then, he begins hanging on the racks of the shorter dresses, tipping them precariously. On to the fitting room. Such times call for desperate measures.

Wm. and I had already used one unoccupied hallway of the large fitting room (which was empty except for us, I might add) to learn to skip and to let Wm. practice his somersaults. My next suggestion to roll back and forth a small toy race car was met with the suggestion that instead, we should see who could throw it the farthest. And as boys do, he was talking loudly.

"Mommmmm, tell him to be quiet," whined both sisters.

So, we investigated the large three way mirror. We counted how many Williams we could see. We noted that Mommy could wave to herself. Okay. That lasted, what, two minutes? Wm. began to search for ways to misbehave so that we could go home. I showed him how you could lay on the floor and look upside down and make faces in the mirror.

"Mommmmm, get up, you're embarassing me," Anna intoned with rolled eyes.
Again, I note, NO ONE WAS IN THE ROOM!
"What's she doin'?" Lauren asked.
"She's being a MOM," Anna replied, as if that explained everything in a nutshell.

I laughed. It seems that at this age, my main occupation is the embarassment of my teenage daughters. I consider it my job. I tell them that if I'm not embarassing them, we're not having enough fun.

Given that I speak and act frankly, this isn't do difficult. Lauren has requested that I not check horses' privates when anyone is around, even though we are in a barn and teaching others what taking care of an animal entails and with other horsey people that know all about it anyway. Yet, it doesn't embarass her ONE BIT to bring to me her old, poop encrusted favorite chicken who seems to be under the weather. Could I maybe wash this chicken butt for her? Huh, maybe it's a little too embarassing. Could there be a more humbling task? (Note: chicken is just fine this morning)

My children, you must learn to laugh at yourself! Sometimes, it's the only way to get through a day! So, I am teaching them to laugh at themselves. Not too long ago, we were amused by finding what we call the Chin songs. If you want some examples, go on YouTube and search by "chin". Or, you can see my first, unfinished attempt here:



As you can see, I haven't yet added hair and a hat, but we had fun. So the girls used the time they should be studying biology, to make the following video of their own:



Most likely, they'll never remember that the stacks of thylakoids in the chloroplast are called grana, and that the second stage of photosynthesis is called the Calvin Cycle. But they will remember the night we made chin videos and laughed.

P.S. I challenge you to make your own chin videos!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The "Magic" Gopher

Magic Gopher follow-up.

How does he do it?

If you make a chart of all possible answers, the only answers possible are multiples of 9:
9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81.

If you look at the chart of symbols, all of the multiples of nine have the same symbol. However, each time you do it, the symbols change, yet the multiples of nine all have the exact same symbol. So, no matter what number you choose, your answer will be a multiple of nine and will have the same symbol of any number you could start with.

Eyes Wide Open

There are four Hispanic men that clean stalls at the establo where my daughters ride. Each time we see them, the greet us cheerfully, whether in the cold, in the rain, or a sunny day. Always, they say "I am fine, how are you?" in a sing-song. Yesterday, one of them (I'm ashamed to say I don't yet know his name) said, "Not so good," when I asked how he was doing.

When I inquired as to why, he put down the shafts of the full wheelbarrow and pointed to his eye. "A horse hit me in the eye with his head. "

I comiserated, having been "head-butted" before, it hurts like the dickens. I asked if it was better. No, it wasn't and he couldn't see so well in that eye.

"Have you seen a doctor?" I asked.
When he said no, I displayed the total lack of awareness of middle class, white Americans by asking why not.
"Oh," says he. "I'm too busy."
Too busy. Still clueless, I cheerfully rejoined, "You'd better get to the doctor. You only get two eyes, you know. It's important."

Later, I reflected. He doesn't have the money to go to the doctor. He's likely an illegal immigrant with no insurance. He might lose the sight in his eye forever.

It may be that talking about illegal immigration in principle is easy. Nameless and faceless, it's easy to say of course, they should apply to come legally. Of course, we should not pay for their medical expenses. Confronted with reality, a young man sees us pull up with two horses we recently bought, knows we live down the road in a nice house, sees horses getting "vetted" (seeing the vet) weekly, and he may be blind in one eye for lack of an office visit.

My own faith teaches that we should care for people, illegal or not, leaving the legalities for others. That's one of the things I love about being Catholic. Today, I'll phone Catholic Charities. Perhaps they have an eye doctor.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Protegées

It has been drawn to my attention that I've also led the following down the path of blogging:

PITA Woman (My friend in all things Great Dane)
Moments In Time (My Dad, who is gifting me with his memories and observations)

Please visit and encourage their writing!

Life Lessons

Go to Magic Gopher and watch him guess your number. Can you figure out how it is done? I'll tell you tomorrow.

At first, we were taken in. My girls said, "Don't talk." Well, we didn't have a mike connected.
I thought, "We'll not move the cursor." That wasn't it. Were we drawn in or what?

Anna started to write things down.
"What'd'ya doin'?" I asked.

"Looking for a pattern." Smart girl. There's your clue.

We learned that:
  • This website isn't magic and can't detect you
  • Gophers in silly hats can't read your mind
  • Look for patterns
  • While paying attention to what you are told to pay attention to, you actually miss what is happening
  • And most importantly, for many events, there is an explanation, even if you can't understand it at the moment.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Contribution

When I die, they will most likely say, "She didn't accomplish all that much but she did get some people blogging!"

Please visit and encourage two friends of mine new to blogging:

In the Good Shepherd's Care, Christine who always makes me laugh
Loving and Learning , Mary, who shares her life in California with her husband and an autistic child

She Gets it All

During a playdate with his best friend, William found a photo of his grandparents. Aidan had lost a grandparent earlier in the year, and somehow, it figures into conversations often as they try to understand and make sense of his death.
"This is my grandpa," William said, pointing to the male figure. "I have other grandpas, and if they died, like yours, I'd still have this one." He paused. "But what if this one died, too?"
Aidan looked down at the photograph and pointed to the grandma. "Then she," he said knowingly, "would get the house and everything in it."
William nodded and they moved on to play with their toys, the complexities of the world figured out for now.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Democrat or Republican?

Today, I have a guest writer! Please welcome my dear friend and neighbor, Christine McCloy, to the blogosphere!

The mood at our home on Tuesday night, Nov. 7, 2006 was one apprehension and uneasiness as my husband watched one after another Congressional seat fall into the Democrats' favor. My husband was glued to the T.V. flipping from one news report to another to get the latest poll counts. During commercials, he would pace over to the Internet and check on line for any additional information.

In the meantime, our 5-year old, Aidan, (the youngest of four children) acutely devised a plan to remain up past bedtime alone with Mom and Dad. He plopped his haggarded little body between my husband and I, he and began watching the election returns. Being the "astute" parents that we are, we recognized his plot immediately. So, Aidan realized he had to change his strategy in a hurry. Our little soccer playing, bug catcher transformed into a political activist before our eyes. "Daddy, why do all the "red boxes" (Democrats) have checks? Are they winning a lot?" he observes.

"Yes, Aidan." Rod laments, "they are winning a lot."

"Daddy, we are Republicans, right?" Aidan remarks.

Now, at no point did Rod and I announce our political preferences to Aidan, but I am assuming the grim look on Rod's face and tension in the air led Aidan to guess the "wrong-side" was winning. For the first time that evening, Rod turns to face the bugging politician and responds, "Yes, son, we are."

After time to contemplate the ramifications of this, Aidan presses, "I am five and I am a Republican. Can a four year old be a Republican?"

By this time, I am also distracted from the T.V. by this new found interest Aidan has in the election returns. Wondering where this is leading, I take a stab at answering, "Yes, Aidan, a four year old can be a Republican."

Aidan pauses and carefully words his next question. We could tell by the look on his face that it was a very important question to him. He took a breath and inquired, "Well, then is William (his best buddy in the whole world--who also happens to be four years old) a ......Democrat?"

Realizing the answer seemed to have consequences for their friendship, I slowly responded, "Well, I think William might also be a Republican. We can ask him tomorrow." Seeming satisfied with that reply, Aidan adds with a perverse pleasure, "But three year olds, (ie. his cousin Jake with whom he recently had to share his toys for 5 days straight), are Democrats, right?"

With that, we sent him off to bed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Keirsey Indicator

There was a link in a previous post about the Keirsey Indicator, similar to a Myers-Briggs test. These indicators are meant, rather than analyzing people, to help people understand each other and their God given talents and challenges. I find it fascinating. I found a link to an easier and more descriptive online test at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

I am an INFP, sometimes an ENFP, for I am energized by being with people, but eventually, need time alone, indicating I'm more of an introvert. To read more about my personality type, go to http://keirsey.com/personality/nfip.html.

Lost in Translation

I heard gales of loud laughter coming from the computer room. Lauren and Anna were doubled over, laughing. They had been discussing for a long time a new name for Anna's horse, which came with the name "Nikki". Wanting a sporty name that would mean something for Mounted Games, they were looking up translations in other languages for the word "speed".

To discover what tickled their funny bone, go to FreeTranslations.com and translate the word "speed" from English to Norwegian.

My entry in the "Name that Horse" contest is Nike, as in the sports equipment/shoes, because:
  • In Greek mythology, Nike was the goddess of victory
  • She can easily get tshirts with her horse's name on them
  • And, it's not too different from Nikki, making a great transition for the horse, though we're told she's not been Nikki long. Wonder what she was before?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To Do

It would be nice if my absence from my blog indicated that I was sitting beside a pool in the Caribbean sipping a piña colada. In reality, it indicates the number of scheduled activities and the length of my “to do” list.

I sat down this morning to make a list (something I *rarely do) of all the things that I would like to accomplish in no particular order. I’m up to 43 lines so far, 44 if you count writing for my blog. 45. Color my hair.

The day also started off with a deficit. Wm. cried in his sleep last night for no apparent reason. Now, given that he hadn’t had much quality sleep, one would have thought that nothing short of an explosion would wake him this morning. Au contraire, he was like a rooster crowing at the crack of sunlight. And he wanted me to play. 46. Fix Wm’s computer.

I hadn’t yet found the coffee pot, nor let the dogs out to do their business when he already had the PlayStation going and begging me to join him. He sat yelling for me, wearing only his underwear and his new black cowboy boots. In addition to his apparent neediness today, Lauren is preparing for a recital and is playing (loudly) all morning. 47. Buy Lauren’s recital dress.

Thus far this morning, I’ve managed to review Biology and make up the test for the girls. I’ve fed the dogs, and made lunch. That’s it. I feel like I work and work, and accomplish little. 48. Give Paris (dog) bath ‘cause she seems to have that fungus thing again.

So, now we are off to a special piano class in preparation for the recital and my list waits. 49. VOTE


*I am an ENFP, and as a P, I have lots of grand ideas but don’t always accomplish those ideas. What are you?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lazarus

The stranger had tears in her eyes as she stood at my door last night, asking if we had an orange cat. Well, yes we do. She apologized repeatedly that she couldn't avoid it, but had hit an orange cat with her car. It had just darted out in front of her. Something in me didn't react right away, not believing it was our Jack (named for Jack the Ripper, as he also was a prolific killer in his youth). Somehow, I just thought I'd know if it was him.

She looked past me at William, I am sure thinking she'd hit our child's beloved pet.
"There are a lot of red tabbies around here," I said, "it may not be ours. Is it very big?" Jack is very big, weighing in at 15 pounds.

She wasn't sure, and clearly still shaken. The woman, wearing a Hoosier Horse Park hoodie, turned to go. "Please don't blame yourself," I said.

"That's going to be hard to do, " she said, getting in her small, dark blue car.

She drove off as I grabbed a flashlight and garbage bag. "Oh, Jack," I shook my head. Still, I didn't feel it. Jack, to our knowledge, has never crossed the road. With five acres to roam, he seems instinctively to know that the road is his boundary.

My flashlight picked up red eyes on the road, and I steeled myself for an unpleasant sight. As I neared the cat, I saw it's size. "IT'S NOT JACK!" I called to my daughters.

"I know!" she yelled. "He's asleep on your bed!"

As I neared the cat, I saw it was sitting up and it turned and looked at me. It wasn't dead! In fact, I tried to touch it and it got up and ran off. I gave chase and when I reached it, it again ran off. It appeared to have no injuries that I could see, and I could no longer find it. I hoped that it had a home and could go there to get warm, but it was nowhere to be seen.

I went back home, upstairs to gratefully pet Jack, and worry for a woman that was having a bad night, feeling guilty for unavoidably hitting a cat. I've put a sign in front of our yard, "ORANGE CAT OK! but not ours" hoping that she'll drive by, and be happy that the cat, like Lazarus, rose from the dead.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

Batman was a big hit this evening, but I like to think it's because they know that he's as handsome under the costume as he is cute with it. Even the kids passing mentioned "There's Batman, Mom!"

At the first two houses, Batman was tentative. "Will you go up with me?"

By the third house the refrain was, "You wait here, Mom, I can do it." or "Stand here, don't come with me." and "Did we do this house yet?"

Starting off strong, the girls, dh and I stood and watched as his little pumpkin full of candy started tiring him. We recounted stories of Halloweens past, like the time I got a really cute costume for him at a consignment shop. What was it? Oh, yeah, a honey pot! And I made him try it on and he bawled. I have a photo of him screaming his fool head off in that costume. Ended up wearing his cowboy pajamas that year.

Dh recounted how his brothers grew up around the time Zorro was popular, and they'd tie a bath towel around their necks and run through the farm, dragging their capes through the cow manure. We laughed as we watched Batman starting to drag.

The girls didn't dress up this year, the first year. Instead, they would ask to see Batman's stash and steal a piece right in front of him. I have only a few years left to see the excitement, the fun of being someone else for a night before he, too, will grow up on me. Trick or treat?

Continuing to Excel?

My county is reputed to be one of the best in the state. (Admittedly, given the state, that's not saying much.) Recent reports, however, have me questioning if it is valid to say even that. In a recent publication by the county, an article headlines "Students Continue to Excel in Academics".

Based on results, it does indeed look like progress is being made, tests scores are improving. They claim to be meeting "No Child Left Behind Act" guidelines. Now, I am no statistician, but the results for high school as I see them say that with the exception of "practical living vocational studies", the percentage of students that were proficient or above was no higher than 65%. I found that astounding. In one of the richest counties in the state, 35% of the high school students are not reaching "proficiency" (not excellence, mind you, just "good enough") in any subject. On Demand Writing was a dismal 17%.

In addition, it is reported that:

Overall, 53 percent of first-year students entering
Kentucky's public colleges and universities in 2004
were not prepared, compared with 54 percent of those
entering in 2002.

Tell me, what business could survive with such results? If the money did not come from taxes, but came directly out of the pockets of parents, would they expect more? Are we expecting too much?


Monday, October 30, 2006

Kindness

Today, Lauren went to interview for a pet sitting job in a new subdivision near our home. In a beautiful, large home, the woman and her husband live with their four pampered cats and a rescued golden retriever. The house was spotless and magnificently decorated. Her two boys, now grown, had moved on.

Eagerly, she showed us about the house and introduced the pets. What struck me, however, was that a number of times, she mentioned how lonely she was. New to the area, her husband went off to work each day, and somehow, she'd not yet fit into the community or connected with friends. How sad, I thought, that our world, so connected was so isolationist, that is is so easy to live so close to other people and be lonely. We've lost our social connectiveness somehow.

And yet, maybe it's not so hard to be the one that helps to fix that. Maybe, it's a free pancake breakfast for one person that begins the changes that can cure what ails this world. Maybe its just the reaching out to care. Perhaps I'll get Anna to make her a pumpkin pie.

The Time of Their Lives

The ponies raced around the field with their riders, the champions of the Master's B Division of the Bluegrass Finale. One raced with my daughter along side of her friends on a sunny autumn day. My eyes misted, thinking that this was the time of their lives. Good friends, agile bodies, beautiful weather, and without the weight of responsibility that comes with adulthood.

Another daughter watched from her pony, member of the second place team. Having ridden with the team for the first time, and the first time on the Masters level, she was very happy with the results. She sat on Stealth, her mount for the past two years. It was her last competition with him, as she's outgrown him, both in size and ability. Her sadness was cushioned by the prospect of another horse which we ended up buying. Though needing more training, the mare appears to have the temperment, size, and speed needed.

It's the time of their lives, these girls. Riding at one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Kentucky Horse Park, sharing the experience with wonderful people of all ages, seeing the generosity and good sportsmanship of the competition, it doesn't get any better than this.

And dh is what makes it possible. Driving a beige mini-van to work and explaining his recent purchase for new work shoes, he didn't blink when I said that I again wanted to buy a horse. (He did ask when I was going to be sending Morty on to his new home. Answer: less than a month.) Riding horses is expensive, though this particular discipline of riding is less than other disciplines, dh and I could be taking cruises or at least driving a car with under 100,000 miles. But, as he often says, it is an investment in their character and childhood, and who can put a price on that?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Weekend Consumed

From this moment until Sunday evening, we'll be consumed with the Bluegrass Fall Finale, the final official event of the Mounted Games circuit in the United States. I didn't want to leave my blog readers without reading material, however, so I am posting the following links.

Firstly, a story that I heard on NPR one day while driving to get hay for the horses. It's about a Toad Sucking Dog. Now, why would a dog do that, you might wonder? Read it here.

The following links are to International blogs that I've found meandering around the blogosphere. Often, I think about how circumstances and choices bring us to the life we lead, but there are so many other lives and views out there which we'll not experience, except maybe through the eyes of someone else. So, I check in now and again on the lives of these people, not celebrities, not newsmakers, but real people living real lives. I'll eventually put those that I check regularly in a links section on my blog.

France: Poppy Fields
Italy: italian trivia
China: One Child Policy
Korea: Here in Korea
Mauritania: Planet Nomad

And speaking of celebrities, the Madonna adoption controversy is getting a lot of press. I cannot help but wonder if it has occurred to her to help the father with this little boy, so that the boy can be raised knowing his biological father, who seems to have not enough sophistication to handle this situation. Certainly, she has enough money to do so. Lifting parents from poverty lifts the children, and keeps the family intact.

Batman

Batman went to the zoo last night. It was a nasty night, cold and raining, but I'd promised. The girls were invited to dinner at a beautiful home of a well-to-do couple in honor of the English riding team. But, I'd promised, and it was the only day we could go.

It was well worth it. His cape dragging on the wet pavement, the drizzle abated long enough for us to enjoy walking through the park. He looked around for a disembodied voice (recording) in the vegetation.

"Hey, you! You in the costume!" it called. "You're scaring me!" another voice wavered. William looked all around, smiling tentatively. Where were they?

As we traveled station to station, he would look in his pumkin bucket. "Look at all the candy I'm getting!" he'd say as I mentally took note of what I could steal later without his notice.

We all later rode the little rip-off train (designed to get my last dollar as we exit the zoo), and it, too surprised me. While the headless horseman just waved at the train, not daring to race it in the slippery mud, the erie lights in the tunnels flickered. "Was that cool or what?" Batman exclaimed as we got off. It was. But only through the eyes of a child.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Phone, The Phone is Ringing!!!

"The phone, the phone is ringing!" If you know the melody that goes with this line, you too have a preschooler that likes the TV show Wonder Pets. Wm has a fit when I sing along, though. My voice isn't that bad, is it? Don't answer.

The phone is ringing though, off the wall. I think dh and I are registered with different parties, not that it matters for neither of us are extremely devoted to either party and change with the candidates we like. But, since both parties want to reach one of us or the other, the phone rings continually at dinner time. This is the time of day most people are home, I suppose. UNKNOWN makes frequent calls, according to Caller ID.

Do they really think that interupting my dinner will make me more inclined to vote for their candidate? I'd love to complain but usually it's a recording, which I discover if I make the mistake of answering.

One call I made the mistake of answering was for the Fraternal Order of Police. Afraid I'd be put on an APB for a ticket if I didn't support their donut fund, I gave them a donation. Unknowingly, dh also gave to the State Police Retirement Fund or some such thing. Now, we are on "the list". I have had at least five calls this month from ambulance drivers, police, and fire departments. Evidently, word's gotten out we're an easy target.

I think I'll have to take the phone off the hook as elections draw nearer.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fun Website

Okay, I know that my puns and limericks bring out moans from my family, but I can't help it. They write themselves. Evidently, I'm not the only one out there! I found this website, http://www.oedilf.com, that gives you the definition of a word, along with a limmerick to tickle your funny bone. We were looking up the pronunciation of "adenosine" when I found it. They take submissions, so add your own!

Only she thinks the limericks are funny,
Only she laughs when something is punny,
But it brightens the day,
When words become play,
Making gray skies a little more sunny.

Blogger...

...is acting up again!!!! It won't publish a paragraph in the last entry so, here it is, out of order. I just may have to move my blog if the service doesn't improve.

So, I wasn't at all surprised upon hearing that a taping of Dr. Phil on homeschooling didn't go as an invited guest thought it would. Rumor has it that the episod may/may not be aired on October 27th.

Dr. Phil on Homeschooling

Last summer, we were invited out to a farm of acquaintances that were participating in the reality show (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) "Wife Swap". It was a real eye opener as to how TV shows are filmed and how little the viewers actually see of what goes on behind the scenes. It is all staged to provoke emotions, nothing more. Truth and reality have nothing to do with it.

So, I wasn't at all surprised upon hearing that a taping of

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Snow

Yesterday, it was bitterly cold. Anna agreed to Lauren that it was and that she wouldn't be surprised if it snowed. Shortly thereafter and to their surprise, we saw the first flakes of the new season drift to the ground. I couldn't believe it! It's still October! It's going to be a LONNNNNNNNNNNNG winter.

Getting Older

There have been times that I've found myself dreaming about getting older. Like last Friday, as I cut the last rubber mat for the last horse stall. I thought to myself that someday, I'd be too old to do this kind of work and wouldn't that be nice? No, I couldn't possibly go out in the cold and couldn't possibly load and unload 40 bales of hay (like I did today). Someone else, someone younger, will have to do it. Me, I'll retire with my book and a cup of tea to the sunroom. Call me when they're finished!

But now, still young enough but not young enough, I try fantastic feats of home and yard repair. Yes, I can climb up into the attic and fix that wiring. No problem to help move that couch. It all seems so reasonable at the time. My back and shoulders scream the next day "na-na-na-na-boo-boo, you're getting older!"

Yesterday, Anna and I volunteered some time doing yard work for a disabled woman. Normally, I don't do fallen leaves. And, I tried to stay away from them as I pulled ivy from her brick house, but somehow, the leaves got me anyway, and today, my head is pounding. I don't know what it is in leaves, but my head doesn't like them. Thank goodness for aspririn.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I Believe...

As I wrote this past month, the local public radio station is ending it's local commentaries and replacing them with a program they are doing with LEO magazine and NPR called "This I Believe". The idea is like gravel in my transmission, to be told what to write, to be told the format. And, beliefs are... more serious, more heady, more, well, not funny.

Or are they? Recently, some beliefs have been gathering in my mind:

I believe I am the only person in my house who knows where the light switches are and that they turn OFF lights. The fact that electricity powers those lights and costs money does not seem to enter anyone else's mind.

I believe that I am the only one that believes in shutting and locking the doors when leaving the house to go somewhere. When it is time to leave, everyone heads down the stairs, lights blazing, doors inviting robbers in.

Speaking of doors open, I believe that kitchen cabinets and doors ought to have automatic door closers so they aren't all open all the time. Wait a minute, that's my job.

I believe no one knows how to change out a garbage bag. Instead, it is a time saver to just smush the garbage down further in the can until the bag breaks. At this point, it becomes "not my problem".

I've not seen anyone yet replace toilet paper on the holder. Forget "over" or "under". In fact, forget even putting it on the holder. Let's just get some out of the supply closet when we're out in the bathroom. I believe in toilet paper.

I believe my dh doesn't have a clue of a mom's daily frustrations. Today, a weekend, he came up puffing because he couldn't find Wm's shoes, coat, etc. and it was taking him a long time to get out the door to his weekend errands. Talk to the hand, man.

I believe my teens would sleep into the next day if I'd let them. I believe they'd rather build a bridge over the dirty (and clean) clothes on their floor than pick them up.

I believe a clean kitchen inspires appetites and causes teens to start cooking, assembling foods, dripping jelly on the floor.

I believe that putting a horse in a clean stall acts as a laxative.

If you are five minutes late already and trying to get everyone out the door, I believe that is when your four year old will tell you that he needs to go to the bathroom, and "I need a magazine".

Speaking of four year olds, ever try to tell one that it is cold outside and you need a coat and shoes? I believe that after giving in, letting him go coatless and shoeless up to the barn, that I'll be walking back down to the house ten minutes later because he's cold. I believe I'll bring the coat and shoes under my arm everywhere I go.

Well, shooo, I'm outa breath! I guess I do have a lot of beliefs to write about!

Cheating

Recently, Lauren's piano instructor thought over whether to give us the answer booklet to Lauren's theory book. I'd offered to correct her work myself. (Though I can't understand any of it by now, I can check it against the answer key.)

"Do you have some place you can keep it under lock and key?" he asked.

Lauren and I looked at each other and smiled.

"Well, if I cheat," she answered, "how will I pass the test?"

See, she's studying this music theory for the next leg of her RACE level. The book helps her to learn the theory that will be tested in a proctored room at the University. If she cheats on the study workbook, she will have no chance whatsoever of passing the final test and she understands that.

This pointed out something so very different between the approach we are taking to education and maybe the more traditional view of it (with which I was raised). We are not comparing ourselves to other people in our abilities to learn new material. The grade is not the ultimate measure of self-worth, not worth attaining at any cost or by cheating. In the end, the only thing that matters is whether you learned and have the knowledge that you have the knowledge.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Instructions

It's a big joke around here that I never read the instructions. I'm more of an intuitive, let's just put it together type of person, jump right in and figure it out. Who needs instructions? This often gets me in deep doo-doo, but sometimes lets me do things faster and easier than stodgy, old instruction-reading people (you know who you are!)

I suppose, as Meredith found, this could get you locked up if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. But she escaped at the last minute.

Yesterday, I received a compound microscope I'd ordered for the girls' biology class. I was as excited as Christmas to see the UPS truck, but disappointed when he found the box containing slides, but the package with my microscope was missing! What good are slides without a microscope??

Late in the evening, I found an email in my spam folder telling me that the package was on the back porch. It was raining! Luckily, he'd covered it with plastic, but why, tell, did he not put it on the covered front porch?

Digressing.....

I opened the box to find the microscope must be assembled. A thin booklet poorly described how to use the microscope, but no instructions were given to put it together. In fact, it says on page 1 "Do not take down or assemble yourself." Well, pretty hard to use it then, isn't it? Good thing I have my "no instructions" gene, so I was able to get the microscope together anyway.

The kids were off watching TV as dh and I happily looked at slides.
"Look at this one! Mouth parts of a mosquito!"
I think we were more taken with our new toy than the kids, but Anna did come in and look at slides for awhile. Today's lab is "Mystery Slides" in which I choose slides for them and they have to decide if they are plant or animal cells.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Dust Explosion

No, I'm not going to talk about my terrible housekeeping skills. Did you know that horse barns are considered an explosion risk because of dust? Neither did I, or didn't until our electrician recently failed to get our electrical inspection passed. The items listed all required that every box, switches, and outlets be dust proof.

Now, I will say that the barn, being open and free of knicknacks, kids shoes and toys on the floor (no, I take that back, Wm already has a few of his tractors and cars in the aisleway), and floorboards, is in general cleaner than most houses. And yes, we'll be using shavings to bed the stalls, but not sawdust as in a lumber mill. I will not be storing vast quantities of grain as in a granary. The electrical inspector insists, however, that someday, some dusty horse owner may own the barn if I sell it.

So it is with some great frustration that I see all the outlets and switches covered with plastic boxes that will crack off like a dry twig the first time my girls go to turn on the lights. This will keep my new barn from burning down? I have to laugh because many barns that I visit have not only no dust covers, but exposed coated wire or open boxes. In fact, my old barn was wired from my house, and every time I turned on the microwave and the electric skillet at the same time, the breaker would trip. We found out that was because the barn fans, lights and heaters were also running on the same circuit. At least we've made some improvement!

George, the 90 year old father of the electrician, stood in my barn with the caulk gun, dribbling caulk all over like an old man eating cereal with milk running down his chin. The white special caulk was supposed to be used to dust proof the boxes that were in the barn. It looks like some giant bird has pooped all over our barn. I was devastated. Dh said it was like having a new pair of white tennis shoes that someone stopped all over and got dirty the first day. But, they insisted that they had to use this butyl rubber caulk.

Just now, I spoke with the inspector who told me that clear silicone caulk was okay, so I guess I'll be scraping and recaulking the worst of it. If you want to reach me, I'll be in the barn.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the Early Morning Light....

...one of the three chicks, now nearly full grown but not quite, couldn't contain himself and crowed, revealing his true identity. Actually, we suspect two of the three are males, but I can't prove it until I SEE him (them) crow. But there it is, we have another rooster. We need eggs, not roosters.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Weekend Report

The stalls are mostly done. We worked hard all weekend cutting thick rubber mats with a box-cutter to custom fit them to horse stalls. I feel like a ninety year old. I'll probably feel worse tomorrow. We have one more stall to do, due to a (uh-hem) measuring error by yours truly.

Last night, we worked until dusk and tired, went to the local Mexican restaurant. While driving there, I laughed aloud to my family that a politcal sign proclaimed a guy with the last name "Kidney" was running for local office. Perhaps his opponent can run an ad, "Kidney, he hasn't the stomach for the job". Dh laughed and comment that another person named "Bowel" could run with the slogan, "Bowel, he gets shit done."

Ah, such is the camraderie of family life, laughing all the way.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday Morning

I heard it snowed in upstate New York, and here, we are getting frost already. I'm seriously NOT ready for cold weather. I'd like to ease into temperature drops. Here in Kentucky though, it went from the 60's and 70's to the 30's in one day. My body can't adjust that fast.

Today, however, it is going to get into the upper 50's, perfect weather for the day ahead. We are going to be working on the horse stalls, preparing them for the rubber mats that we'll have to lay and cut to size. The mats are heavy, but should make cleaning stalls a breeze compared to having dirt floors.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Boring

Thinking that much of my time is spent driving to or arranging activities and lessons for the older girls, I purchased two tickets to yesterday's performance of Alice in Wonderland by Stage One. We would have a mother/son date. We would mingle with other children his age at a cultural event. Are you following my destructive thinking pattern?

Myself, I've never quite enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, thinking it was more like a drug-induced hallucination of some adult. Evidently, the producers also picked up on this as the stage props were largely psychadelic, reminiscent of the 70's. In fact, I enjoyed the music they used, including the Beatles and the Monkeys, a little nostalgia for the old folks in the audience. Perhaps it went over the tikes' heads, but more than one dad in the audience chuckled at the caterpillar-man that was blowing bubbles on a bong.

Checking William's facial expressions periodically for signs of enjoyment, my son dashed my dreams of his appreciation of my efforts with "Can we leave now? I'm hungry." To his defense, he hadn't eaten breakfast, as he rarely does, waiting until about 11 a.m. before his stomach awakens. That was just about the time that he expressed the desire to leave.

"It's almost over," I pleaded. "We'll leave soon."
He turned his head into his seat, mad at me for not leaving right away.
As we left, he stated loudly, in front of other attendees that he had found it boring. I asked why.

"Well, the kids don't get to do ANYTHING! You just have to sit and sit and do nothing. And it was boring." He then went on to declare the costumes unbelievable, particularly the man with a rabbit mask.

I would have bought this argument had we not passed our local movie theater on the way home.

"I wish we could go to a movie," he said wistfully.
A movie. Well, don't you just sit and do NOTHING at a movie? I don't suppose I'll ever understand the mind of a 4 year old. Anyone need tickets to an upcoming play?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Changes at the Radio Station

WFPL's Director of News and Programming emailed today that they'll be discontinuing the local commentaries on our local public radio. Instead, they are joining NPR to produce a series resurrected from the 1950's by Ed Murrow called "This I Believe". Transcripts of those selected will be published in LEO (http://www.leovia.com/?q=issue/section/view/25) (sorry, hyperlinks still not enabled. You can read how to submit an essay at http://www.leovia.com/?q=node/2828.

I am a bit sad about the change. I've enjoyed catching the regular local commentators in the morning, finding out what they were writing as a clue to what I might write. I enjoyed the fantasy of having a voice on the air. Though I'll probably one day write an essay for "This I Believe", by it's nature, how many essays can one write about what one believes? It looks as if the essays pay well, $200 each, but not much if you consider that the essay can be used in any form, including books that will go out like Chicken Soup books most likely. Chicken Soup for the Chicken Lover's Soul.

If you believe they should continue the local commentaries, you could write to Heidi Caravan at hcaravan@wfpl.org and let her know.

Right now, I believe my four year old is impatient with me because he wants yet another tuna fish sandwich, so I believe I'll go make it.

Chicken on a Stick

Back at home, while we were away enjoying our campfire, my dear friend Christine and her children were trying to get our chickens to go to bed. I had told Christine that the chickens normally put themselves to bed, and that all that was required was to shut the door of the coop, locking out predators. Not so this particular day, of all days.

And Christine, city-born and raised, was perplexed to find that five of our chickens, one of which was the precious “Chicken-Lickin’” had settled themselves for the night on a tree branch. And, not any old tree branch. They’d scooted out along the limb to the end, which hung over our creek bed eight feet below.

I’d told her before I left to not worry if chickens somehow came to an unfortunate end, as they were aging chickens, rarely laying, and hey, raccoons have to eat, too. Except for Chicken Lickin’. Chicken Lickin’ is the small black Silkie cross that we have who broods our eggs and lets young children catch and hold her. She’s a therapy chicken, if you will. And here she was, dangling over the creek.

Bless her heart, Christine positioned her daughter, Crisann, below on the banks of the creek. She grabbed a long pole and began pushing the chickens one by one out of the tree. Christine’s mother, visiting from Virginia, was also along, and they all got to laughing. I’m sure she was thinking Christine has surely moved to the ends of the earth, for here was her city daughter climbing out over a creek bank to catch chickens in a tree. She called Christine’s dad on the cell phone to report on her daughter’s exploits. He then took the story to their church, which spread the news all over town. I’m sure it won’t be long before it hits the local papers.

Successful in their attempts, the chickens were retrieved one by one. Worried about a repeat episode, Christine called to let me know that Chickin’ Lickin’ was not given the liberty of free-range the next day, but remained in her cage. Can’t say’s I blame her!

NOTE: I'd add photos but it seems blogger is having difficulties this a.m. and my task bar and html tab is missing. Arrgghhh!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First Place

The comraderie of Mounted Games is what I love. It's not that there isn't any rivalry. There was whooping and hollering when two horses neared the finish line together. GO!! we'd shout and jump up and down, laughing if a younger rider beat out a more experienced one. Each race was a chance for fun and excitement.

In many sports, its all about winning. Despite the large commitment, we've continued in this sport because everyone seems more focused on how they are progressing, how well they rode that day, or how well they are doing on their horse. Each rider and team can progress, and be congratulated for it.

Even so, it is fun to win. Anna and her partner won first place in the Novice division! Anna has been amazing at her progress, only learning to ride two years ago.

See the horse she is on? She can lean down and pick up a ball off the ground without leaving the saddle. It's so fun for her that they've won first place, though now that means moving up into the next division, where she'll have to work her way up again.

Here is Lauren and Quid. Quid is going to be a terrific horse for Lauren. They turn perfectly, and rode brilliantly the first day. The second day, Quid came up tender-footed and had to be pulled from the race. We hope that she just caught a stone, as she seemed better yesterday. Lauren finished the races on another borrowed pony, one she wasn't used to riding, so the competiton didn't turn out the way she wanted, riding her new horse. Still, she and her partner enjoyed the weekend.

Many thanks to all the kind and hard-working people at USMGA for making the weekend happen.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Camping

A lone coyote sent up a howl at an almost full moon. Soon after, his pack joined him in what sounded like puppies screeching in protest at being left behind. We looked up from our sputtering campfire at the near full moon. What was that, we wondered? After distinguishing the howls from the barks of two dogs left behind in a camper, we decided they were coyotes.

Only after returning home this evening from a weekend riding competition, could I appreciate how quiet our backyard is. Camping should be a quiet experience, a oneness with nature. Not so at the Hoosier Horse Park. A western horse show was in progress (that's another blog!). Loud speakers announced the winners well into the evening. One of the horses on the western show side whinnied all night, missing a companion or anxious at being away from home. The participants arrived at intervals with enormous trailers that had both living quarters and horse trailer. After dropping the trailer, the monster trucks needed to pull these semi-sized trailers pulled in and out of the camp area all night. The Western riders do like a night on the town and they like to camp in heated trailers.

Between the rumble of the diesel trucks, the coyotes continued to howl all of Friday night. Saturday night, they were a bit quieter, though the moon was now full. Might it have been that the National Guard was patrolling the field just east of us in their tanks?? Perhaps it was the large remote-control vehicle track in the adjacent campground, where the cars of boy scouts sent out a constant high pitched whine. No, they were probably put off by the flock of Canadian honking geese at the pond. Or maybe, just those trucks pulling in and out. But I didn't hear the coyotes again Saturday night until about five in the morning.

Sunday morning, I awoke in the frigid tent air to the sound of a man shouting. Should I be concerned? You hear stories of people murdered because no one paid attention when someone shouted. I listened. Getting louder, I could hear voices in response. A sing-song of response to the "a-left, right-a, a-left, right-a, left". It was the Guard, out marching. I pulled my covers closer, thankful that I wasn't in the army.

My mind began a sing-song of it's own:

I don't know but I've been told,
Camping out is mighty cold.

Still, we enjoyed the night by the fire with friends, laughing at our attempts to cook hotdogs on sticks, the full moon, and the fog of the morning.

Next: more on our weekend.

Friday, October 06, 2006

On the Air

Outside of the recording booth, a light declares "Recording" in red letters. All around, I can hear people going about the business of running a radio station, but soon, the door closes and it is utter silence. Ah, I wonder if I can have one of these sound-proof rooms installed in my house? I could hide in there with a good book and block out the sounds of everyday life for just a moment. Just a brief moment. The relief of the lack of sound washes over me, but doesn't last long, as I start hearing myself breathe. Finally, I hear the hiss inside my headphones that say that we're about to begin.

Reading my piece was a little harder yesterday. Bobby, who records the commentaries, says that this Ohio Valley climate affects our voices. My voice was either getting too dry or it sounded weak after water loosened not only my voice, but the gunk that collects from the air. What I needed was a good swig of whiskey, which would really clear it all out, but I suppose that wouldn't be compatible with trying to speak crisply. So, I struggled on, trying to clear my throat without blowing out the large mike in front of me.

You might think that reading 350 words without a mistake would be no problem, but it is really rather difficult. It takes one read through for me to calm down, and one or two more for the one I like. Some words are difficult, and you realize that until you try to read them in a paragraph. Yesterday, it was "the disasters" (in reference to the space shuttles). I get a lot of practice, however, reading aloud to Willliam, who will sit for as long as the voice holds out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What Possessed Me....

....to think that I could go camping when I've not been in years. Yesterday was a beautiful, gorgeous bright orange fall day. A day that makes you think of apple cider and pumpkins, sitting in front of a campfire with friends. The weekend camping will be perfect, I think. S'mores, hot dogs. I'll save a considerable hotel bill. You get the picture. That's when I broke my cardinal rule - Never have expectations of the perfect weekend. Never dream about how it wonderful it will be.

As we gather the items we need to camp at the girls' riding competition this weekend, the temperature has dropped significantly and a light rain has continued all day. My resolve is beginning to drop with the temperature, and I wonder what I've done.

The last time we went camping, the girls were much smaller, four and two, to be exact. William was but a dream. We were city dwellers, hoping to find some solitude. We drove to Indiana, set up our new tent, and started a campfire. It all went well at first. The girls were asleep, we had some wine and sat at the fire relaxing, a romantic moment. That's when the skunk waddled into our campsite. We crept backwards, not knowing what to do, and retreated to the tent, firmly pulling the zippers. So much for romantic.

We tried to go to sleep, though the rednecks next door, closely resembling the relatives from Christmas Vacation, kept their radio on loud, guns propped against a tree. These same campers were our concern when Lauren woke up in the dead of night, screaming from a nightmare. We worried that they might put their rifles to good use. That was the last time we camped.

So, now I'm giving it another try. Sleeping on the ground will also be a challenge with my aging back. Whatever possessed me?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Riding

It was a beautiful day. I actually got to go riding with a new neighbor, who showed trails to me that are open to the public and just down the street. "Bay" behaved beautifully, but was somewhat the show-off for the woman's mare.

Lauren has found her horse for Games finally. Her name is "Quid" (for Quidditch, the game in Harry Potter books). She's about 5 or 6 years old, is a POA (Pony of the Americas) breed, and is smart, yet quiet, and she and Lauren just match.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monkey Bananas

Cookies don't last long in our house. Wm has learned to try to bargain for more than one, and his sisters are not known to pass one up either. Wonder who they get that from?? So, I was amused by the book No More Cookies in which a mother tells her boy that he can't have any more cookies, but he could have Monkey Bananas.



So of course, we had to make Monkey Bananas. To make your own, cut bananas in half, push in a popsicle stick and freeze. (This varies slightly from the book's recipe, in which they did not freeze the bananas first. The advantage to freezing the bananas first is that they can then be eaten immediately, and we all know that pre-schoolers like "immediately".)

Melt chocolate, carefully to not burn, in the microwave. (Spoken from experience.) Then, dip the frozen bananas in the chocolate and add sprinkles. Eat! Put extras on wax paper and into the freezer. One variation of this recipe is to dip the banana into honey and roll in nuts. Wm ate a lot of bananas this week. One advantage to this project is the opportunity for the mom to steal bites of chocolate in the name of education.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Division of Labor

Some people might slap me for even having a husband that's willing to go to the grocery. We alternate the chore on Sundays. One of us takes the girls to church. Taking William to church at the moment is about as peaceful and prayerful as having someone stick your backside repeatedly with a straight pin. So, while one goes to church for a peaceful hour, the other takes Wm to the grocery. This isn't such a bad chore, because the grocery is usually not very busy yet and like most males, Wm's affections can be bought with the right food.

At any rate, this morning, dh and I discussed who would take which role this morning. It is tempting to take the church-going role. Though it was my turn, dh offered to do the shopping.

Okay, I agreed, if you'll do the groceries the way I do groceries. What did I mean? Well, before going, the dishwasher must be unloaded, loaded, the refrigerator cleaned (to make room for the new groceries), and the diswasher started. When he returned, he was not to deposit the groceries on the counter like a fisherman who's returned home with a string of trout that he expects the little wife to clean and fry up for dinner. No, he would have to put them away, too. Just like I would. Dh rapidly agreed that he'd go to church. And, bless his soul, he did help me put away the groceries.

I'm off now to watch the girls ride in a mini-competition while dh cuts grass and Wm plays in the dirt. Now there's a good division of labor!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dark Brown

My new son, Dark Brown. Yes, I returned home yesterday to hear that Wm has renamed himself "Dark Brown". Where did this come from? He and Anna were playing with some Halloween capes from last year. His was black. I think he settled on this because he often hears us say his eyes are dark brown and it maybe sound a little like Darth from Darth Vader, only Wm still has a little trouble with the "th" sound. He's William again today, and feeling better after a weird temperature spike one afternoon.

A Real Looker

We were sitting in Friday night mall traffic, cars four across. No, I didn't lose my mind and decide to shop; I'd dropped Lauren off at dh's work so he could take her to the symphony. So here we were, waiting at the red light and I look over three cars to see a young man looking back. I looked away, but each time I looked, he was looking.

Now, I'm old and humble enough to know it wasn't me that he was looking at. If he was, it was because my shirt buttons had popped open (nope) or my hair was sticking up funny. OH, it dawned on me, he's looking at Anna! My 13 year old Anna.

"He's looking at you, Anna," I said.
"Yeah," she smiled. "I know."
"Gees, and he has a woman in the car with him. Quick, smile and flash your braces at him so he knows you're jail bait."
She laughed.

Lord, I'm in for a time of it, aren't I?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sexy Hooker Shoes

On my radio transcripts blog, I noticed a GoogleAdsense ad pointed readers to "sexy hooker shoes". Intrigued, and scared at what ads my readers see, I had to go check it out. Imagine my delight to discover that they had light up shoes! My son has always had light up gym shoes and I wondered why adults can't get them. WELL! We were looking in the wrong places! Check these out!


And they make you taller to boot (no pun intended)! I won't have to have that operation to stretch my legs longer after all! Wonder what the ladies at church would think?

I had to go browsing on this site. What a hoot! Look at all the dress up clothes for women. Lots of fantasy stuff there for the guys. You can dress your woman as a maid, school girl, geisha girl, bunny, cat, French maid, pirate wench, and on and on. Now, look at the men's selection. Of the very few costumes, there are only six variations, whereas the women's section has multiple pages. (And a Hugh Hefner outfit? Yuck! Can you get any more icky than that??) Obviously, it doesn't matter what the guy wears. Rather amusing. Evidently, there are too many people with disposable income.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts