Monday, October 16, 2017

Sausage Fingers: The Return...

So the swelling my ring finger finally abated about a week ago and (happy day!) I was able to put my wedding ring back in it's rightful place. It was wonderful! It was glorious! It was...short lived.

See, what had happened was I was in my garden trying for the fourth time to kill this ant pile that refuses to die. Refuses. To. Die. I've put so much poison in that garden bed, that anything I grow will probably poison us all, but those dang ants will not be defeated. Dang ants.

Anyway, I'm in the garden, shaking this bag of granulated poison over the garden bed of aggravation when I felt a sting on the back of my hand. I remember apologizing to the ants for trying to kill them when I realized it hurt so much worse than any other sting I've gotten this year, and I've been stung a lot. I'm pretty sure I'm starting to develop ant-y powers I've been stung to such a degree.

At any rate, I glanced at my hand and found the site of the sting was already beginning to swell  and then caught sight of the perpetrator flying away. HORNETS!

The hornets and I have been engaged in a terse dance this season. They fly around like they own the place and I destroy any nests I find which is why I think they got wise and finally hid it because I didn't see where my assailant came from, and the tears in my eyes kept me from seeing where it disappeared.

I decided to soldier on and watered all my plants and trees with my hand elevated because I wasn't going to be knocked off course by some winged honey wannabe. Once the plants had been hydrated, I went into the house and informed Mr. D that I had been stung and then grabbed an ice pack to ply to my hand. Once I stopped moving, the stinging really set in. My hand was on fire!

Google told me that ice and acetaminophen would be my best friends so I downed some Tylenol and kept my hand elevated and iced.

I don't know why I thought that the swelling would reach it's maximum on the day of the sting, but let me just tell you, that is not the case. In the middle of the night my hand started to itch and in my sleepy stupor, I scratched and the more I scratched, the more it itched. I tried to make my brain tell my hand to stop scratching but it just felt so great.

The next morning my hand was so swollen it looked like a flesh colored Mickey Mouse glove. The skin was so tight it was shiny. My index finger and middle finger were so swollen they rubbed together like a fat girls thighs (my thighs) and my ring was beginning to impress on my finger like play-doh. At my eldest daughter's insistence, I took my wedding ring off, again. So close, yet so far away.

The itching became unbearable as did the swelling and redness. I took three Benadryl because it seemed like a good idea at the time. After half an hour nothing had changed so I asked Mr. D to take me to an urgent care facility where, wouldn't you know it, that Benadryl kicked in just as I walked in the clinic. My hand still itched but I almost didn't care anymore. The doctor showed up about half an hour later, took a quick glance and told me it wasn't infected, but he could give me a steroid shot to help with the swelling. Or he could write me a prescription for steroid pills. Whatever I wanted. He seemed to be unaware of the fact that my hand was about to split at the seams because he asked me again if I wanted a shot (quick fix) or pills (less quick fix). I showed him my hand and told him it hurt like a bad word and I would like the shot, please!

Now my backside stings, too.

Friday, October 13, 2017

What If I Made A Mistake...

Dear Moms,

My family and I went to homecoming last night. As I looked around at the crowd of teenagers standing around us (because apparently their knees don't bend and the people behind them don't really NEED to see the field), I was suddenly overtaken with crushing worry.

What if I screwed up my kids?

I'm pretty sure we've all had that moment when we've wondered if we made the right choices for our children. I've felt those fears many times over the last seventeen years, but they're coming more frequently as my oldest child's high school career is fast coming to a close.

I was telling Mr. D that I wish we could raise our children twice, just in case we messed up the first time. I wish I knew now that homeschooling them was the best choice for us. I feel like it is, but as I watched those kids I wondered if my feelings were right, but it's kind of too late now. I can't undo anything we've done, and that goes for pretty much everything.

Was it a mistake not to allow my older girls to wear their princess dresses to the store? Was it a mistake to give that choice to the youngest daughter? My older kids constantly remind me of things I denied them that I now allow the youngers. Yes, I let Miney wear her princess dress to the store after strictly denying Eenie and Meenie, but I was new to the parenting game and it seemed important at the time.

I don't feel that their futures are destined to be disasters because they may or may not have been allowed to be princesses at Kroger, but who would they be if they'd gone to public school? Would Eenie be less anxious in unfamiliar situations or would she be even more anxious and medicated?

Meenie has a strong personality. Would she be kind or a mean girl?

Miney has a defiant streak that goes on forever. Would she constantly be in trouble? Moe is so tender-hearted. Would that be a detriment in his education?

Academically they are right there with their peers. I got over that concern a long time ago, but when they look back at their youth, will they feel like they missed out on those high school traditions?

As a "home schooled" individual, I never felt like I'd missed out socially. Academically my brothers and I got the royal shaft. Home school is not for every one ya'll. If you don't feel it is something you can do, please, for the love of all that is good in the world, DO NOT DO IT! If you don't want your children to learn certain behaviors, but aren't worried about providing them with an actual education, DO NOT DO IT! If you think the government is trying to spy on you, please get some help and mess your kids up some other way. Please Lord mess them up some other way.

However, no matter how badly we might want it, we only get one chance to raise our children so of course we worry we've set our children on the path to a dismal future. Here's the thing Moms, indeed Parents (because Dads worry, too) if you are doing the best you can, you're doing a great job.

If you feel that homeschooling your kids is the best choice for your family, or if public school is where your children need to be, you're doing great! Let your children wear princess dresses to the store, it won't hurt. Or don't, they'll survive.

Back to last night. I was mulling over the decision we made, many moons ago, to home school our children, realizing I can't go back and try again, worrying that Eenie's anxiety was a consequence of our decision, I voiced my concern to Mr. D who said, "Eenie's issues are her issues. It has nothing to do with home schooling."

Our children are who they are.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Letter to My Readers...

My dearest readers,

For those of you who don't know, I am more than just a fancy blogger, I am also an author.

Those books you see on the side bars there - those are mine. My goal is to provide literary entertainment that I am comfortable having my teen daughters read. I have written these novels to be entertaining and exciting without the sexual content and coarse language that has become more prevalent in nearly every form of entertainment. My target demographic is young adults between ages 14-24.

To you who have read any of my five novels, I thank you from the depths of my little pea-pickin heart. You are awesome!

To those of you who have not lost yourselves in the pages of my work I ask, what catches your attention when choosing a new book? Those of you who have read my work feel  free to answer too.

Do you prefer e-books to hard copies or are audio books more appealing?

They say not to judge a book by it's cover, but who doesn't? What are your thoughts about book covers in general or my book covers specifically?

How much does cost factor into your decision? Do you feel that the quality of a book is reflected in the price or are you more inclined to try a new author if the cost is nominal?

How likely are you to leave a review or tell a friend if you enjoyed the book? Are you just as inclined to leave negative feedback if you did not enjoy it?

How likely are you to read other novels by the same author?

Have you ever attended a "Meet the Author" event? What are your thoughts?

Would access to a section of the book help in your decision making process?

How likely are you to purchase a book if the link is available on the same page as the sample section?

Would you suggest the novel to your book club if you had an opportunity to meet the author? Or have the author present?

This is an opportunity to share any thoughts you may have. I'm all ears!


Thursday, October 5, 2017

S-A-T-U-R...

D-A-Y! NITE!

I started taking a business class on Tuesday because one day I'd like to, you know, maybe make a career of this writing thing. Our first assignment was to take a paperclip (or any other small item) and attempt to trade it for something of greater value. I wasn't too keen on this assignment for one reason.

I don't go anywhere. Like, ever.

Since Eenie got her license I have been content just to have her play chauffeur which leaves me with more free time than I've had in years. It's almost overwhelming. I don't know what to do with myself, and thus far, nothing I have done has been productive, but my aunt told me I should continue in my lackadaisical lounging until it is no longer luxurious. I have yet to hit that wall.

At any rate, I don't leave the house much and the assignment required that exact activity.

Saturday rolls around and my girl Chelle had finally returned from her eternal out of town adventure. We decided to go to lunch that afternoon. As I was going to leave the house, I decided I should at least make an attempt at fulfilling my assignment.

I chose a pencil from the $1 prize box I keep to help motivate my children in their studies, because paperclips are lame, and we headed out. At the restaurant I asked the cashier if she would be interested in trading my glittery ladybug pencil for something of more value. She agreed and I traded my pencil for a pen (upgrade). Success!

There was a couple sitting behind us and, feeling adventurous, I asked if they would be willing to trade my pen for something more awesome.

Lesson 1: Women more often carry more than just a wallet and keys. Therefore they are a better source for upgrading.

Dude offered me a dollar, and in hindsight I should have taken it, but I was young and naive. I wasn't in it for the money. Thus, I traded my pen for a fistbump (downgrade). I returned to my table feeling a little dejected, my promising start had already turned sour, but I asked Chelle if she had anything she would be willing to trade for a fistbump.

She did! She gave me four passes to the Fort Worth Museum! It was amazing and brings me to...

Lesson 2: You gotta know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em and when to walk away. I held greatness in my hands, but I flew too close to the sun.

Later that evening, Mr. D and I went out to dinner with Chelle and her man-candy. While waiting in line to order our meal, I ventured to trade two of the tickets to an older woman standing behind me. She professed to have nothing to trade, but I foolishly pressed forward. I asked her young granddaughter of about ten if she would be willing to trade me her cap for my tickets. She had nothing she was willing to trade, but I couldn't just rescind the offer. She was a child and I have the heart of a mother. So two of my glorious tickets were traded for a third fistbump (downgrade, again).

Lesson 3: One must be able to make hard decisions if one expects a profit.

Instead of learning my lesson, I thought surely I would do better the next time so while the four of us wandered around Kroger (we're older, our standards for entertainment have changed), I decided to try, once again, to upgrade my two remaining tickets. I am not a quick study.

I literally traded my last two tickets for beans! Starbucks coffee beans, but beans nonetheless. I don't drink coffee so I had to get rid of them. I cruised down the coffee isle but couldn't find a taker there though I did offer twice. They were both adults so I wasn't willing to trade for another fistbump.

I encountered a woman in the vitamin section and managed to trade the coffee beans for a Spongebob Squarepants trading card (so much downgrade). I was in a downward spiral, but it HAD to get better from there. I pressed forward with hope that the next trade would be better.

I'm not sure how it happened, but the next trade got me a mini flashlight. She must have seen the look of desperation on my face, but that flashlight gave me hope. I found my mate and our friends in the check out lane and I gleefully shared my success with them. As my dearest listened to my tale, the woman in front of us was listening with interest. SHE offered to trade ME a cellphone stand for my flashlight! Oh happy day! Things were starting to look up.

After we parted from our friends, we went back out on our own after we realized we still needed to do some shopping. We stopped at a gas station for petrol and a late night caffeinated soda (always a good idea at nine p.m.) and I ventured to trade my cellphone stand.

The cashier had nothing to trade, but another customer standing nearby quickly offered me a coin purse from the Cayman islands (lateral move).


Once again, I let my excitement overtake my better judgement and at the custard shop where we stopped for dessert I made my last trade.

One Cayman island coin purse for...

Pay no attention to the pudgy woman behind the movie box set.


A Star Trek movie box set in VHS!

Would any of you be interested in trading this awesome VHS box set for something more awesome? 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In the Lair of Dr. Mangler...

My kids and I went to the dentist yesterday, for our semi-annual cleaning (a luxury not afforded to my siblings and I when we were kids) and somehow the subject of dentists and dentistry became the topic of conversation.

There probably isn't a high percentage of the population that would say they "like" going to the dentist. I would be one of them. There's just something about the screech of the baby powerhose boring into your jaw that can be unnerving, but that isn't the only reason I don't look forward with gleeful anticipation to my six month check-ups.

The hygienist asked if I was up to using the water drill or if the scraper was all I could manage that day. I told her I felt like I could deal with the water so she said she'd go ahead and use it, but if I was uncomfortable at any point, to raise my left hand and she would desist and use the scraper instead. I thought it was an option she extended to all of her patients until she had finished and said, "you did really well this time. You didn't clench your fists at all!"

My dentist comes in to check things out and asked if I had any concerns and whatever he said after that brought a most heinous memory to my mind.

It was the fall of '96 and I was preparing to submit my papers for my mission (I served an eighteen month mission in Washington state for my church). There were several tasks I needed to complete before turning in the paperwork and one of them was seeing a dentist and having any potentially problematic wisdom teeth removed. At the time missionaries were anywhere from 19 to 26 years old, prime adult teething time.

During this time I worked at a grocery store to earn money for my clothing and other necessaries. I worked the overnight shift straightening shelves and putting items discarded just anywhere back where they belonged. Which, by the way, people who abandon their ice cream in the toy section should be required to buy not only the ice cream but everything the ice cream ruined as it melted.

Lazy people suck. Don't be a lazy person. Put the ice cream back.

Anyhoo, I had an appointment with a dentist one morning after my shift. This is relevant because by the time I got to the office, I had already been awake for over 24 hours. I had an appointment, but even with said appointment I waited in the lobby until, I kid you not, NOON. My appointment was at 9:00 a.m.

Appointments are a thing so that episodes like this DON'T happen. At any rate, I was exhausted by the time the dentist got me into a chair. They took x-rays, cleaned my teeth, assessed the damage (four cavities, remember dental care was not a priority when I was a youth. I'm surprised it wasn't worse) and made a plan to fill said cavities as well as declaring I had but one wisdom tooth that would ever be an issue as is was the only one I had. This was inaccurate as my two top wisdom teeth opted to erupt when I was twenty four years old and had just, weeks before, completed my orthodontic treatment.

So back in 1996, I had been sitting in the waiting room for hours when they asked if I wanted to take care of the cavities and wisdom tooth at the same time and that day. I had already been there half the day so the thought of coming back to spend another day did not appeal to me AT ALL, and they promised the whole procedure would be completed in an hour. They didn't say what hour and I guess it's my fault for not asking.

Two hours later, I was in the chair having my cavities filled. By that point I was so tired everything was blurry and I had a hard time understanding English. After filling my teeth, they sent me back to the waiting room, AGAIN, where I spent another hour hallucinating in between short patches of sleep.

They took me back to the chair around three and proceeded to numb my face so they could tear out my one molar. I thought maybe I was remembering things incorrectly when they numbed the left side of my face because that one molar was supposed to be on the right side, but I was tired and he was the doctor so I kept quiet.

He sliced open my gum and started digging around then said, "there's no tooth here." I nodded and mumbled "that's because it's on the other side." He and the nurse looked at each other, then looked at the x-ray and he reached over and turned the r-ray around. It would have been hilarious...if it hadn't been me and it hadn't been a true story.

The lack of sleep, the eternal day in the lobby and the epic screw up all hit me at once and I started to cry. Not great, swelling, well-deserved sobbing, but silent tears running down my cheek, into my ears (as I was lying back in the chair).

Do you know what that fool said to me?!

"Why are you crying?"

Maybe because I'd been awake for so long I was seeing colors that didn't exist? Or because I was going to miss the next episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It could have been because I couldn't find any rubber pants in my size or maybe it was because I'd spent the whole day sitting in the waiting room of some dingus with a degree!  Give me that scalpel! I'll show you why!

Then he told me he wouldn't charge me for the cut.

What relief! I instantly felt better. Just kidding. I only wanted to cut him deeper.

I should have told my step-dad when he came to pick me up. He would have stomped that dentist into the ground. Not because he hurt me, mind you, but because he had the nerve to charge for his services in total, minus the one errant slice to my face hole.

Instead, I got into the car and rode home in silence as he laughed about my swollen face.

And I ended up with a dry socket.

I wonder if there is a statute of limitations...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sausage Fingers...

We do a lot of home improvement in this family. We've built many fences, painted many rooms and hauled a lot of dirt, rocks, nasty carpet, etc. We are what we like to call "self-sufficient". Anyway, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we pulled the carpet out of the living room and replaced it with laminate. I was hoping that would quell Mr. D's desire to improve for at least a short while, but it only seemed to make it worse. I really tried to drag my feet on the next project, but dang it if he isn't a most persuasive individual.

Thus, three weekends ago, I spent Saturday and Sunday pulling up tile and smoothing down the concrete in the front room while Mr. D, Ennie and Meenie went to Houston to help with Harvey clean-up. In short the Man consciously decided to labor putting down new floors after spending two days laboring by mucking out houses. I kinda feel like a loser in comparison. Which is why we should not compare ourselves to others.

Since the day I got married I have made a conscious effort to never remove my wedding rings, even while performing manual labor. Up until now I have only had to remove them one time, when I was pregnant with my first child and my whole person swelled up like the Michelin Man. I had to wear Mr. D's flip flops after I pudged out of my own shoes. I was worried the skin on my fingers and toes would split if they swelled any more and I sloshed like a bucket of water when I walked. Just kidding! I didn't walk, I waddled.

However, before embarking on this project, I decided to take my rings off. Precisely one minute later, I hit the knuckle of my ring finger with the sledgehammer.

I'm thankful I took my rings off before the incident, but now my knuckle is swollen so I can't put them back on. Well, I can squeeze them on with lots of lotion and sailor talk, but it requires even more lotion and sailor talk to get them off again. I try not to do that too many times because I like my rings and I like my finger, but at this moment they are at odds and if I push the issue I may lose one of them.

I don't like wandering around sans ring so I've taken to wearing the big gaudy rings I have often purchased on a whim. I wear one until the bands start to change color and then move on to the next one. It's been fun, but I'd like my knuckle and finger to return to their original size now.

The floor is complete, and there is nothing left to paint, so the kitchen floor is all that needs to be redone. Thankfully Mr. D has exhausted himself (finally!) and is uncomfortable with the thought of facing down ceramic tile so mayhaps I'll have a respite from sausage fingers for a while. Or at least long enough for the swelling to go down.

Friday, September 8, 2017

For Melanie...

My girl Melanie and I have been friends for over ten years. Our oldest children were in kindergarten together and we were the homeroom moms. One day is burned forever in my mind. Our kindergarteners were having their very first library day and parents were invited. Melanie and I were the only parents there. I remember looking at the back of her head while I pondered how to introduce myself as we would be working together that year.

Here's the thing about Melanie. She's one of those tall, blonde beauties who make other women question why they bother to get up in the morning. It's just a fact.

Anyway, I contemplated until we both decided to leave. She skirted out the doors of the school seconds before I did and I followed behind her on the sidewalk for a minute. I had just decided not to say anything when I heard a distinct voice tell me we could be friends. Well, one can never have too many friends so I called her name. She stopped and we made our introductions then went about our day.

I wondered for a long time just how we would get to the part where we would be friends as she is a very guarded woman. For a time we would chat on a concrete bench outside the school while we waited for our kids and then, one day, we were running together.

I made her a t-shirt with the words "run faster" printed on the back because that's all I ever saw after she'd take off on those long legs. After our run we'd stand out in the middle of the street and talk for an hour. I really enjoyed those runs.

My kids and I spent a lot of time with her and her two children and we came to love their family. It was hard to move away.

However, no matter how stable a family seems, there are so many aspects the outside world never sees and shortly after we moved, my sweet friend found herself in an acrimonious divorce. My heart ached for her. It was challenging, but she managed. She put her children first, even when it was hard and managed to make it to the other side.

Shortly thereafter she ran into an old classmate and a brand new life bloomed for her. She was happy, happier than I had ever seen her. We were at her wedding. That man loved her and she radiated that love. And as happens, our lives got busy and we didn't talk as often.

Her husband unexpectedly passed away last week.

My heart aches for her again, but the sadness is so much greater. I wish I knew what to say to make it all better, to ease the pain that has replaced her happiness. I wish I could suspend the worries she now carries; funeral arrangements, finances, things that don't care that she's grieving, that her life is changed and her heart is broken. I wish a meal and a hug could make it all go away, but this is her new normal.

Every day I have thought about her, prayed for her, and left messages letting her know I'm thinking of her, I have seen so many others do the same. She is surrounded by words of comfort and encouragement, but soon day by day those condolences will dry up because the rest of us are going to go on with our lives.

I don't want that for her. The day the fog breaks I want her to know I still see her, not just as a woman who lost her husband, but as my friend. I want her to know she has someone to talk to and not just this week.

I'm not casting aspersions at anyone. We can't all be a shoulder to cry on for everyone all the time, but next month, when we're all trick or treating, she'll be having her first birthday without him...and Thanksgiving, and Christmas and they will all remind her of what she has lost.

Then on those days I will make time for her. Even if it's only a quick text, she will know she is not forgotten.

Because she is my friend.

Scott,
Thank you for loving my friend.
R.I.P.

Monday, August 28, 2017

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...

Mr D. had a week off of work two weeks back. He said we should consider painting the living room, which was a most awful brown (who does that?) and went to check out colors. I was categorically uninterested because I am a lazy woman who mostly has no interest in moving the living room contents into the kitchen for however long this fool's errand would take.

He went to look at samples and brought home paint.

Well crap.

He and the children moved everything to the kitchen and prepared to paint. It was all finished in one day and it all happened so quickly I hardly had time to process what was going on.

The paint had hardly dried when he starts in on the carpet. To be fair, it was disgusting and he was so gung ho I told him to go to town. He asked if I was serious and I had hardly reiterated my stance when he gleefully started tearing up the carpet.




The house was filled with dust and the scent of a hundred years of dog, but the carpet was up and we were left with bare concrete. And after the stank had settled the air was so fresh! Fresher than it has ever been!

Here's the thing, though. I can't live in such shambles indefinitely (did that as a kid, didn't like it, won't do it again) so this happened when we went to "look" at laminate.




As we are a handy dandy (with a healthy dose of cheap) family...



Until finally...




I'm pretty pleased with the results as it saved us a metric ton of money, but it also was a great learning experience for the kids because it required working together while they learn something new. My one great parenting goal is to teach my children, specifically my daughters, how to be self sufficient. 

It's working!

Mere minutes after completing this project, Mr.D asked if he could pull up the carpet in the classroom. I told him he totally could! In ten years. He said he wants it to be our next project and I nodded enthusiastically while repeating, "in ten years." He said he could always just pull the carpet up and force my hand. I agreed but reminded him he'd best be prepared to put floors in the next day. 

He calmed down a hair. I don't think I can put him off for ten years, but maybe I bought myself at least one.

Now that we are seasoned floor layers I have a few notes.

1.When cutting wood one really should use the saw outside. Or in the garage or anywhere besides inside the house. This one should be obvious, but it was raining and Mr. D didn't want to walk to the other end of the house to the garage. I can't blame him for that, but also it wasn't the best idea.

2. Cover any surface you ever want to see again with some kind of drop cloth. We did not. Also, we moved the furniture to the kitchen where the cutting was taking place. So much dust. Everywhere. Miney wanted to make cookies for her Young Women's class, but we managed to talk her out of it. Which was kind of a tender mercy because while making cookies last night the element in the oven caught fire. Like flames and stuff. That would have been an unpleasant addition to the chaos already in progress. Also, now we have an oven shaped paperweight.

3. Protective eye wear and face masks are essential if you want to breathe and keep your eyesight. They also make it hard to breathe (Irony!) and impossible to see when the lenses of your glasses fog up. I couldn't decide which was worse, permanent blindness while suffocating or temporary blindness while suffocating. Well, at the time it was hard to decide. 

4. Have a buddy available to check your work before cutting the boards. This really only applies when one began the project early in the morning, has come to the 2/3 mark of the project and it's nine o'clock at night. Mr.D mis-cut a couple of pieces. The look of dejection on his face whenever Meenie handed a board back with "it's cut wrong" was soul crushing and comical. However, everything is soul crushing and funny when you're exhausted and breathing sawdust.

5. Baseboards are nasty. Just gross. Also, cement floors are gross. Builders don't care what kind of yuck they leave on the floor because they're just going to cover it. It's like an appalling version of...it's just appalling.

And that's what happens when the man-candy has a week off of work.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some People...

Like to make life a little tougher than it is. Thus declares one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Cake. With a name like Cake, it has to be good.

The lyrics continue:
The more you try to shake the cat
The more the thing will bite and scratch.
It's best I think to leave it's fur
And to listen to it's silky purr...

Have you ever met that person? The one who spots trouble and offences quicker than an abandoned penny. The one who "hates drama" but seems to always be in the midst of a turbulent sea. Lambadocious they are exhausting.

Language is constantly changing and words that once meant one thing are misused, abused and often completely twisted until they hardly resemble their original meaning. For example, the word bully.
When I was a youth, a bully was a person who was physically and/or mentally abusive to another person. The kids who lived across the road from us when my brothers and I were kids were bullies. They threw rocks at us, they'd shove us off the bus at our stop, and threatened to beat us up. I know what it means to be bullied, but today the word bully has been hopelessly diluted. Nowadays, it seems that word has been distorted to mean things like, I wasn't invited to a party, I'm being bullied. I wasn't picked to participate in an activity, I'm being bullied. My name wasn't picked from the hat, bullied, bullied, bullied.

When my child says, "mom, it hurts when I stick my finger in my eye," my first response is always, "then stop poking yourself in the eye!" It makes perfect sense to me. However, I would be hard pressed to say that to someone else's child because my actions could be seen as lacking compassion by the person known in the newly minted term as a helicopter parent.

Maybe I don't call bully because I'm too thick to recognize when my children are being poorly done to. If my child isn't invited to an activity "everyone else was invited" to, I don't air my grievances across Facebook and tell the offenders they mustn't post pictures or make comments about activities my children weren't part of. My kids are home schooled. If I took that route my whole day would be spent squawking about all the things they aren't a part of and then there would be no time for the actual schooling part of home schooling.

There will always be parties, activities, concerts, dates, etc that my children won't be invited to. That's life. They can't (and shouldn't) be part of everything all the time. In fact, the only time I might be inclined to raise a ruckus is if my children are told by some ignorant ass that being home schooled will permanently ruin their lives because they'll have no social skills and can't function in society. If you've ever met my children you would know how completely inaccurate those statements are. Yet, I've heard it more than once.

However, unless the comment is made to me, I try to stay out of it. As a woman attempting to grow competent adults I require my children to handle such matters themselves because grown-ups can't have their mommies fight their battles.

At least, not yet.

Is It True? It It kind? Is It...

Necessary?

I have been accused many times of saying everything that crosses my mind. Well that is absolutely incorrect because if I really said everything I think people would be clutching the pearls and fanning themselves through a raging case of the vapors.

Thus, I have been told to consider certain criterion before speaking my mind.

Is it true...
Probably, absolutely, yes. Sometimes one's head is so firmly lodged up one's own butt one is unable to read the memo stating how awful one is behaving. I know my head sometimes gets stuck up my butt, and I need to be informed of that fact. For example: a few weeks ago, I asked Mr. D to cut a few pieces of wood for me, which he willingly did. Minutes later he came outside, where I was building a garden bed, to ask if I would help him finish up his haircut (he shaves his head). I didn't even think before I started barking back at him for interrupting my yard work. He turned around and went back inside, but as soon as the door was I closed, I realized what I jerk I was being and immediately went to correct the situation. As I was trimming up his buzz I mentioned that this incident was a perfect example of when I need to be called out, but he explained I am unreasonable when I'm out of line. He said it much more kindly, but the gist is the same. He also said "you seemed to pick that one up pretty quickly. So..."

Is it kind...
Well that depends. The longer I sit on it, the uglier it gets. There was a time I was actively suppressing some serious boundary issues I was having with my father-in-law. I was really trying to exercise my understanding of Christlike attributes, but it became more and more uncomfortable the longer I kept my lip zipped. See, sometimes when one holds one's tongue, the other person sees the silence as an invitation to continue with the behavior that usually would get their head bitten off. This was one of those times. I held my tongue until he pushed me past the point of no return and I lost my friggin' mind. At church. Where everyone could hear it. I've never seen that man move so fast as  he did when he scurried from the church building. Apparently, Angry D.P. resembles a possessed lunatic which also rips my knickers because the fool who pushes my buttons then behaves as if they have no idea why I exploded. I don't like being angry because I go all out. My head throbs, my heart throbs, my ears throb, I feel like I'm gonna vomit. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure would worry a cardiologist.

Is it necessary...
I struggle with that one because I know I'm an idiot at times, and I'm ever on a quest to change negative behaviors and attitudes, but I can't fix it if I can't see it. I regularly ask Mr. D to help me with my personal evaluations and he's pretty much worthless because he refuses to acknowledge I have flaws. Which is great for my ego, but useless for my personal progress.

I know not everyone feels the same push to betterment that I do. I remember one particularly gruesome companionship inventory with one of my mission companions where she mercilessly told me all the ways I sucked, while simultaneously declaring there was nothing she needed to work on. As it happens, if she hadn't stopped jacking her jaw when she did she was gonna have to figure out how to cover up the black eye I was planning to give her. Her hubris was almost as appalling as the way she tore me down.

I'm not saying we should all be strutting around calling people out for things we deem inappropriate, however if I see a four year old running with a knife I'm not going to pretend I don't see it as I hope the child's mother sees it before the child falls on it. If I am a leader of the young women in my church and one of those young women decides to cross from one side of the room to the other through the middle of a performance, I'm going to call her out for not going around them. So I ask you, does that make me a terrible person?

No really, I have no idea. I'm asking you.

Things My Mother Taught Me...

On accident.

Just to be clear my mom is human and prone to make mistakes. Some of those mistakes still cause her great distress and I know she wishes she could take them back, but I verily believe no woman can consider herself a mother unless and until she has one or two mistakes under her maternal belt that haunt her in her sleep.

However it goes her career as my mother good, bad or indifferent has shaped who I am as a woman, a wife and a mother myself and I think I'm pretty awesome. Even if it's only me who believes it.

I was talking to my mother the other day and she agreed that she must have done something right; she kept me alive, fed me, clothed me, and she didn't leave me on the side of the road...for very long.

Her words and true story. I watched the tail lights of the van disappear many times as a kid. So much so that it didn't even phase me. I always wore shoes and developed an amazing sense of direction. I could find my way home without breadcrumbs or a map.

Actually, the four kids all wore shoes at all times because in our indigent state we ran out of gas a lot. Well, we were poor and my mom really hated stopping for gas.

So I wanted to share a few things I learned as a result of my mother mothering me.

I never under any circumstances ever leave water in the sink after I've washed the dishes. In fact, as soon as the dishes are washed, I wring out the sponge, pull the plunge, rinse out the sink and wipe it down. That is, I did those things before my children took over dish duty, and it is the gold standard because the first time I found cold water in the sink I raised such a stink they've never forgotten it.

Now you may be thinking, "of course you do the dishes that way, it's common sense." Yes. Common sense, but the reason I make sure it's done that way is because my mother was a serial leave-water-in-the-sink-er. Did you know that water left in the kitchen sink for days on end will always develop an orange film? Always. Even if you haven't had a tomato based product in months.

That, in itself, is unappealing, but my mom had a habit of leaving the water in the sink, and then after four or five days demanding that I pull the plug. By the time I hit twelve I was beginning to find my voice and one day REFUSED to stick my hand in the cold orange water. So she relented and, in a huff, went and pulled the plug herself. I am so thankful to this day I stuck to my guns because she found herself in possession of one very dead mouse. She screamed, I laughed and resolved to always drain the sink.

My mom, well, she hasn't found another mouse.

Another absolute I decided as a youth was to always move wet laundry to the dryer immediately after the washing machine stopped. Why? Because two day wet laundry tends to smell with a funk that never really goes away. Eau de Mildew was my childhood perfume. "Why not just do your own laundry?" you ask. That's another story for another time, and stop being so judgy, man!

Another thing we don't do - nothing is ever allowed "to soak." Soaking is Mom-ese for "hope it cleans and puts itself away." If it didn't clean and put itself away she would hide it in the oven and forget about it until we had to bake something. As a consequence I always check the oven before I turn it on. It was a superfluous habit until Mr. D started his cheesecake baking career and would occasionally forget to remove the water filled cookie sheets (water baths).

I won't eat rice in milk with cinnamon and sugar every again. I ate more than my share as a kid. We kept the rice industry in business through the 80's.

I never leave my sewing notion laying around or stabbed into the furniture because "next time I need it I'll know where to find it." She never found them, but I did. I can't tell you how many sewing needles I stepped on. The plus? There was always thread hanging from the eye, so I had a way to pull it out.

Tupperware were the only dishes we could count on. My mom had a rough time in the 90's and took it out on the dinnerware. We were color coded. My set was pink. Now, I've never used dish-breaking to quell my frustration, but even dishes broken on accident are a pill to clean up so I tend to own dishes that are impossible to break.

Then there was the leaving me on the side of the road.

One she'll be able to look back and laugh. I know I do.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Everyone Has A Mexican Gramma...


This is my Mexican gramma. She was a BABE. I mean, she's still a babe, she's just older now. My gramma is an amazing woman.

She came to the U.S. as a bride of eighteen, married to a man who was over twenty years older than her. Her mother had been a socialite, but was cast out of polite society when she found herself in a family way. My gramma grew up poor and when a wealthy older American took a fancy, Gramma's mother pretty much sold her off. 

My gramma only spoke Spanish when she came here and soon found herself pregnant with my Aunt Blanc. It was about this time that her husband told his son if he liked his new step-mother, he could have her. So Gramma found herself in a new country, unable to speak the language, pregnant and alone. She worked as a seamstress and did laundry at a retirement home where she learned English playing cards with the old people.

After my aunt was born, my gramma sent her to live with her sister Gloria while she continued working and sending money home. At some point she met my mother's father. I heard once that she learned to polka while married to my mother's father. I haven't been able to suss out any more information about how, where or when that relationship came about.

It's a wonder when we hear stories because when asked any questions she claims she can't remember. However, if one is very quiet and keeps ones lips tightly closed she will let little bits of her past slip out. When this happens I tuck it away and if I'm lucky I can get a few more details, but only if she's in the mood. 

Once, not too long ago, I expressed how frustrating it can be when I ask her a history question and she says she can't remember it was so long ago. As soon as the words, "I can't remember that was so long ago," came out of her mouth she suddenly remembered she had two uncles who were train conductors. I snapped, "Gramma!" and she pursed her lips and said, "what?" with all the petulance of a five year old.

Then again she was telling me about how she didn't want to travel to Mexico because of all the crime. She said she wanted to die peacefully in her sleep like her grandfather...not screaming in terror like his passengers. I thought she was telling a true story until she said the second half and I laughed out loud. Then she tells me her paternal grandfather really did die in his sleep when he was 104.

Moving on...

My mother and a son came from that marriage, but it didn't last long, and she sent them both to Aunt Gloria as well. My mother used to say it was a shame she never learned to speak Spanish, but when I relayed that thought to Gramma she said, "what does she mean? Your mother didn't speak English until she was five." 

Another marriage produce a second aunt and uncle. She married a fourth time before I was born and they were married until he dies. He is the man who was my grampa. Best. Grampa. Ever.

My gramma can tell a joke like nobody's business, and if she can stifle her laughter, we can even understand what she's saying.

She raised kids like a pro having raised the five she birthed, a few that came with marriage and a couple of stragglers in her parenting her career. 

She is the consummate hotelier as almost every one of the children, grandchildren and other relations have nested in her home at least once in the last thirty years. Some of them have never left and will probably die there, but every family has one (or two or three) oddball, right? Laws, I hope so otherwise that's messed up.

She is also the great resource stretcher. She has used the same can of Tang orange drink for the last two decades. We call it "orange water" because she only uses enough powder to change the color. One Thanksgiving, many years ago, my uncle Billy wanted to go fishing and came over to ask if she had any turkey left over from the year before. She said she did and he could find it in the freezer behind the paintbrushes. Which is exactly where he found it. In the freezer. Behind the paintbrushes. Which explains why pretty much everything that comes out of that freezer tastes and smells like paint.

She is a master quilter. She hand sews everything and even quilts the top by hand. One of her quilts traveled across Texas as part of an expo and is now in a museum in San Antonio. She made me a quilt for my sixteenth birthday and I have learned the skill from her. I remember being at her house as a kid, watching her sew as she watched t.v. while my grampa snoozed in his chair. When it was time for bed she'd put the quilt aside, and turn off the t.v. As soon as the noise disappeared my grampa's head would jerk up and he'd grunt, "hey, I was watching that!" I miss that guy.

My gramma's one flaw is in the one area where other Mexican gramma's excel. She can't cook. When people hear about my Mexican gramma they are instantly envious of all the wonderful home cooking I must have grown up on.

Nope.

Everything she cooks has an orange tint and we call Thanksgiving's entree "Gramma's Mojave turkey." One year my cousin asked which of the mounds of gray stuffing was the boneless mound. Gramma told her it was the one without bones. There wasn't one without bones.

We've tried to take over the meal making responsibilities, but we end up having to sneak food in because she won't let us help. She massacres the desserts with her little dessert knife and even though she decided to start using foam plates and cup (for easy cleanup) some years ago, she still washes the foam plates and cups. 

She believes men should be revered and women belong in the kitchen, which my dad loved, but I had to nip in the bud after Mr. D and I got married. "He was capable before we got married and he still functions quite well," I told her when she told me to go fix my husband a plate the first Thanksgiving we spent there. The old ways were steadfastly ignored by the daughters but have been moderately re-applied by the granddaughters. We aren't our husband's servants, but we aren't above serving them either. If Mr.D asks for a bowl of ice cream while I'm up, I will gladly oblige him. If he sits in his chair and mimes a bowl at me, I'll probably break his arms. Moderation in all things, people.

My grandma is a spitfire, though, and she's made hard choices and lived under difficult circumstances, but her sacrifices are the reason I am a second generation American. 

Everyone's tree sprang from another orchard. Keep that in mind.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Learning New Words With D.P...

I like words.

I like words so much I've even been accused of making them up, but why would I do that when there are a plethora of words already at my disposal? Knowing such an abundance of appropriate verbiage is available to the common man makes the excessive use of the few more base words a crying shame. My stepfather used to say that cursing was the sign of a feeble mind. I guess he wold know as his vocabulary consisted mainly of four letter words announced at varying volumes.

To be fair, I find words to be difficult to come by too, at times, and if accused of using sentence enhancers too liberally would be found guilty. Just ask my kids. They will happily toss me under that bus and giggle as it runs me over. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite words. Feel free to share any of your favorites.

Pedantic: adj. Excessively concerned with details or rules.

For example: Our church often rents basements or apartments from members for the missionaries. Thus, if the church rents the space for the missionaries, it is the living space of the missionaries and, as with any rental contract, the owner is no longer free to come and go from the rental space as they choose. Because that's rude.

It's even more rude to willy-nilly enter said living space and rearrange the furniture.

My companions and I lived in a basement we called the "bowling alley," and the little old lady who owned the house would regularly come downstairs and rearrange the furniture. It was kind of unnerving to come back to our private space to find everything moved around on the whim of the nutcase living upstairs. So we decided it was time to remind her of the specifics of the contract when she came down one day to rearrange unaware that we were still there. We sat her down and kindly asked her to leave the sitting tools where we put them and to stop moving our beds around. When we said the word "couch" to describe the sitting tools, she lost her mind.

Her: "It's a settee!"
My companion: "Please stop moving the settee and the couch."
Her: "That's a loveseat."
Me gritting my teeth and calling on all of my patience: "The point is, stop moving the furniture!"
Her: "It's my house!"
Me: "Shall I call the Mission President then?"
Her: *mumble mumble mumble* as she walks away.

Another word that fits well in this situation is deflecting. For example:

Me: "Stop hitting your sister with that shoe."
Deflector: "It's a sandal."
Me out loud: "Seriously?!" You know what I mean! Stop it!"
My brain: "Then by all means, carry on."

Or:

Me, calling name of wrong child: "Eenie, stop screaming!"
Meenie, the child who is screaming: "I'm Meenie."
Me: "You know who you are! Shut-up!"

This one literally just happened: (Literally as in "just this minute" literally, not figuratively as in "my head literally exploded.)

Meenie:"I'm gonna punch you in your stupid face."
Me: "Don't tell your sister you're going to punch her in her dumb face."
Meenie: "I said I was gonna punch her in her stupid face."
Me: "My mistake. Punch away, I guess?"

My favorite is when dealing with a gaggle of children who don't belong to me, though I am responsible for them, as in a Sunday school class. It gets tricky here because I can't just smack them on the back of the head when they give me lip.

Example:

Me: "Don't wipe your nose on your dress."
Child I can't smack: "It's a skirt."

Sigh.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Girl's Best Friend...

Way back almost twenty years ago, I served a mission for my church in Spokane Washington. There was a serial killer at large at that point and my first glimpse upon leaving the airport was a giant billboard asking for any information one might have concerning the murders. They did not catch him while I was there. Also, a volcano had erupted on the other side of the mountain (i.e. other volcanoes in the chain) barely fifteen years before. "That was long before you got there," you might say. "There's nothing to worry about." Yeah, don't care. It was in my lifetime, thus not long enough ago, but I digress.

One of the areas I served in was Post Falls, ID. Yes, I know that's not Washington, but it's only half an hour away. It's a Mormon thing.

Anyway, I met a family there whom I still love to this day. They had a dog named Shasta. Up until my mission, Shasta was a brand of soda. While in Washington I met a Shasta (girl), a Shasta (dog) and learned about a Shasta (mountain). So much Shasta.

So Shasta, the dog, was pretty chill. She had been with Steve and Jodi before there was a Steve. Shasta was a constant source of comfort to Jodi during troubled times. Shortly after I went home, Shasta went to "the farm" and Jodi swore there would be no more dogs for the Nelson family.

I got married, had kids and came back to visit a couple of times. While I was adding children, the Nelsons changed their minds and added a black and white pup they called Oreo to their family. Oreo Cookie Nelson, so dubbed by their daughter Emily was one of the first dogs my children had ever really encountered. They were terrified, but Jodi told them it was Oreo's house, and after a day to adjust they calmed down. It's kind of Jodi's fault we've had the doggy debacle repeat in our home for so many years. It's a long, nonsensical story which, if I told you'd be inclined to tell me I'm wrong. Thus I'm not telling the story.

Years passed, as they are wont to do, and Oreo went to "the farm", too. They have since welcomed a new four legged friend, Adelaide Pantalones. The Nelsons aren't dog people, they are a dog people. There seems to be only two camps of people, those who hate dogs and those who love them, so it is interesting to find a happy medium in our all-or-nothing world. I really like that.

Lastly, and here is my point, their daughter Emily was six when I met them and but for a sprinkling of years there was always a dog at her side. Now that she's grown, she has continued the tradition. Her dog Jax has been a constant, comforting presence to Emily through some exceedingly troubled times as well. I am told he is an awesome dog.

It's almost like Shasta never went away.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Rains In Spain...

Fall mostly on the day we finally get the chemicals balanced in the pool.

Once upon a time, the Davidson clan embarked on one of our yearly "build a fence for a friend" projects. Since the girls had already earned all the monies they needed for girl's camp, we decided some of the fence building proceeds would be used for Moe's cub scout camp. This left us with enough for one big, family sized toy or six small that-was-a lot-of-work-for-nothing toys.

Don't get me wrong, it was a chunk of change, but split six ways, not so much. Thus when Mr. D and I found ourselves of the same mind, it was settled. We decided to purchase an above ground pool. We found one at Costco that fit the bill, but here's the thing - the cost of having a pool is way more than just the cost of the pool. There are chemicals and various accouterments, plus water and electricity because the pool doesn't fill itself and the filter doesn't run on air. These were all things we considered and we decided we had sufficiently counted the cost.

We most definitely undershot the cost.

The first gut punch came when Mr.D insisted we level the ground where we planned to put the pool. As I've mentioned before, he's a "read the directions" kinda guy while I'm a "throw it together, it can't be that hard" kinda woman. But this was a big investment so I didn't make a lot of noise until he rented a ground scalper from Home Depot. My heart dropped to my feet, not so much because of the rental fee (though it was comparatively substantial), but because of what he did to my yard. My beautiful, green-grassed, minimal weed lawn.

After slicing a swath of greenery from my yard, Mr. D was pretty pleased, but I was beginning to think we'd made a mistake. However, it was too late to change my mind, so we put down the tarp and set up the pool. It was about this time we realized, the scalping was just a hair (ha!) too narrow so we ended up taking a shovel to the outside edges.

So where does displaced sod go, you ask? Because it doesn't just disappear. Well, our displaced sod rested on the side of the pool for a week until we decided we should use it to fill some bald (Ha! again!) patches in the yard, but just so you know, that mess is heavy.

Cost unaccounted for:
One sod cutter rental
One massive swath of grass removed
One afternoon of moving said grass

After finally getting the pool situated, we began to fill it with water. I was sure our water bill would double the next month, but it wasn't bad until the second gut punch landed. That's not completely accurate. Gut punch insinuates a quick jab. This has been a long, slow, noggin rub because even though the pool came with a filter, skimmer and hose, the filter has either had to work harder than the manufacturer ever intended or it's a pitiful filter. I can't decide which.

Maybe it's because, even though we placed the water hole of aggravation right next to the patio, the children still manage to haul in buckets of dirt every time they get in the water, and they are in an out of that thing like something people would go in an out of excessively. I can't think of anything right now.

Anyway, the first week of pool ownership found the water clear and beautiful, the chemicals were perfectly balanced, the children spent most of the day outside, and all was right with the world. Then it rained...and rained...and just to mix things up, rained some more and my crystal clear water was but a murky memory.

We added a little of this, and a little of that, then a little more of this because that knocked the other out of balance. It was madness. We shocked that thing so often it was verging on obscene. One should not go through an entire bottle of shock in three days, but it wasn't enough. So we added water, we back washed the filter, we made offerings to the pool gods, but nothing worked.

About that time I realized there was a veritable mudhole lingering at the bottom of the pool so my grey matter thinks, "maybe getting some of that crap out will make a difference." So I hooked up the vacuum attachment. Oh the humanity.

The vacuum will not suck unless every single air bubble is expunged. Every. Single. Bubble. So after half an hour of bleeding that thing like a medieval surgeon, I attempt the clean up the muck. That vacuum sucks, and not the way it was intended.

It seemed like it was working until I realized all it was doing was stirring everything up like Nightmare Kool-Aid, so I left it alone to settle. Actually I threw the hose into the pool and stomped away in disgust. The next day the water was clear, but the bottom was gross again, so I ran the vacuum...again. Again there was dirt Kool-Aid enough to hydrate the neighborhood, but no indication of actual dirt removal.

Cost Unaccounted for:
Extreme aggravation
Loss of two hours of life to futility

As a last ditch effort, I asked the man to purchase a pool vacuum that works independent of the filter. I would like to say it was a different experience. I'd like to say it was a miracle, and everything has come together in a magical swirl of wonder. I'd like to say those things but I can't...

Because it's raining.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Impossible Dream...

Renee Palmer wants to know how to fight with your teenager...and win.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

That is not a thing humanly possible because teen brains are under-developed which is why they think they know everything. Sadly, this is also true of some adults, but the adults can't claim the same affliction. These people are known as "annoying" and the only cure for them is to steadfastly ignore them (still talking about adults here).

I have a sister who is fourteen years younger than me, thus I was married with four children before she graduated high school. I told her many many times (much to her chagrin) that she wouldn't even be a human being, much less an adult, until she was at least twenty. She bristled every time it came up and she would come back with the fact that Texas considered her an adult when she turned 18. Then I would remind her that Texas didn't know her, because if he did he'd totally change his mind. Texas just wants more eligible voters, which is really all being eighteen means.

She's twenty six now, and has embraced my wisdom, and in weaker moments will even say so out loud.

To be fair there are teenagers who can be more level headed, but they are still teenagers and prone to basic stupidity on occasion. One can use subliminal messages when communicating with teen aged offspring. I haven't mastered that, but my mom was a pro. For example, let's say you are at a graduation party for a sibling when your mom says, "now, you're the only one who need a degree to be like your siblings." It is most effective when said with a great big, oblivious smile.

Reverse psychology can be an effective technique because the average teenager will always do the opposite of what you want. For example: Timmy is running with a large knife. Why? Because Timmy is sixteen and has limited understanding of cause and effect. You, as his parent, see the various and sundry end to his beginning and yell (with a sense of urgency), "Timmy don't run with that knife," which is a guaranteed trip to the E.R.

However, and this takes an immense amount of control on your part because it has to seem like you don't care, you purse your lips and declare, "if you cut your fool self, I'ma make you sew yourself up," he will most likely cease and desist. It's still a crap shoot.

Arguing with a teenager is exactly like arguing with a two year old. Yes, teenagers have a larger vocabulary and can slam a door like a pro, but they have about as much sense and grasp of logic as your run-of-the-mill toddler, so meaningful debate is just as pointless. You would get more satisfaction arguing with the wall because at least the wall doesn't talk back. The super beauty in wall-talking is that you don't have to hear phrases such as "on fleek," or "you're so basic," or my personal favorite,  being "lit." What? Why? Just stop it.

When did I get old?

So here's what you have to ask yourself. Do you want to be right or do you want to have peace, because you'll never be right, even when you are. Teenagers will hold to their view like a grenade without a pin. It may seem like your teen is trying to spite you, but he is really just trying to assert the independence and individuality you are trying to teach them. They just aren't mature enough to express those thoughts intelligently. Cause they're dumb, see?

So it's kind of our fault. If we'd stop teaching them to think for themselves the struggle would be over, but then they'd never move out, so there's that.

I'm sorry, Renee. You will never be able to argue with your teenager and win, but you can take comfort in the knowledge that one day he will also argue with a contrary teenager. You may even be so lucky as to be the parent who gets an apology when he recognizes he was a butthead (over the phone because its two in the morning).

It's the circle of life.

Bless Their Heart...

Carrie Lacey asked a hard hitting question about politics and trying to be friends with someone that has opposing views.

Deep breaths...

Well Carrie, politics is a touchy subject that when touched upon often leads to more painful touching. So where to start? Firstly, there is only one person in the entire world you (and any other person in the entire world) can control. That person is you. Even if one has children, one cannot control them. Oh, one can control the child's actions to some extent, but even that control is an illusion. Think of siblings who have had the very same upbringing yet grow into completely opposite adults and their parents wondering, "what the hell!? I know we taught him better than that!"

That being said, wouldn't the world be very boring if we all thought the same way about everything? It would be very sad, truly because in all things there are different perspectives. One person could not possibly conceive of all the ins, outs and intricacies of life.

I have a dear friend whose only area of commonality was that our children were in kindergarten together, but I wanted to be her friend. We don't share religious views, we have different lifestyles and we couldn't be more different, but I love her. Not her religious views, not her lifestyle, not her politics, her. And because she didn't see things exactly the way I did, my views expanded. It didn't change the way I believed, but I saw her value.

The problem with politics, I think, is two fold. The first being is it is difficult to understand where another person is coming from when we don't have the same life experiences. If one person grows up in a two parent household, it is difficult for the person who's parents are still together to really understand certain concerns.

For example: Mr. D's parents have been married for over forty years. To each other. My parents separated when I was 11 and divorced when I was 13. Even my mother's second marriage was a debacle. So when Mr. D and I hit fourteen years some time back, I was a mess the entire year. Even though we were no where near the dire straits of my parents (remember they were separated for two years before) it still was the place where my parents fell apart. This is the conversation I had with Mr. D as that anniversary rolled around.

Me: "Babe, I want you to know that even though we are not my parents, I may be a little sensitive for a bit. It has nothing to do with you, it's all in my head, but I thought you should know."

Him: "But we're nothing like your parents."

Me: "I'm pretty sure I just said that."

Him: "Well just don't think that way."

Me: "Well gosh, why didn't I think of that?"

Him: "What can I do to help?"

Me: "Just be who you are. It's something I have to work through."

Him: "I don't understand."

Me: "I gathered."

The point is from where we stand things seem pretty straight forward and logical, but the other person feels the same way about their point of view. We don't hand out questionnaires when we embark on friendships. We generally strike up with people with similar (read not exact) interests, but it's our differences that keep things interesting.

The second problem lies in how we deal with those differences. It is the lions share of the problem because we as a people have forgotten how to discuss our differences like adults. Instead we start calling names and questioning intelligence like we never left high school. I can promise you, no one who has been told they are dumber than a sack of hammers has EVER stopped and said, "you know what? You're right, I am dumber than a sack of hammers. I see things in a whole new light. Thank you, thank you, for saving me from my incredible incompetence and clearly misguided notions."

Never happens.

For example, I was once asked out by a boy who I worked with. We talked a bit and generally enjoyed these conversations. So imagine my disgust when he, having just asked me out, turned and walked away when he learned I was Mormon. I'm Mormon, not a Nazi war criminal, but his entire view changed. Everything he liked about me disappeared and all he could see was what he felt was an unacceptable (religious) belief. We didn't have to get married, but to go from friends to strangers in a matter of minutes was kinda rude. The best way to be friends with persons whose political views are different than yours is to remember the things you love about them.

If two opposing views can be respectfully discussed, by all means, proceed. If one of you decides to roll in the mud, bless their heart and change the subject because when you roll with pigs you get dirty too. For example:

Bless his (ignorant heart), he couldn't find his way out of a wet paper bag with a map and a compass.

Bless her (melodramatic) heart. It's so hard when she isn't the center of attention.

Bless his (downer) heart. He got peanut butter and jelly in his lunch again.

Bless her (willfully stupid) heart. She still thinks the world is flat.

One invokes blessing of hearts when one has encountered a confounding situation. It can be used when dealing with the ignorant, the drama queen (a gender-less behavior), the downer and yes, the willfully stupid.

The Bless your/his/her/their heart works like this: the Blesser presses her lips together as she remembers her commitment to stay out of the aforementioned mud and verbally or mentally blesses the blessee.

Here's where it gets tricky. If the person who's heart you are blessing is from the south, do not, I repeat DO NOT bless their heart out loud. And whatever you do, remember allowing yourself to be pulled into pointless debates only ruins your day. Some people can't understand, some people don't understand and some people won't understand.

If you (the reader) are the bringer of contention, shame on you. I thought I taught you better than that.

So when we are friends with people who have different political views (or any opposing views, really) than our own, does it mean we have to agree with those views? Not remotely, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. Novel concept, I know, but it's amazing when put into practice. And all arguments absolutely require a minimum of two people.

One more point: blanket statements are my pet peeve. They are completely inaccurate, but are constantly draped over anyone the blanketer disagrees with. STOP IT! Nobody ever "always" or "nevers".

Hope this helps.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Husbands Girlfriend...s

I believe I've covered the subject of my husbands other significant other before. Her name is Zelda and they were together long before he and I were a couple so I've done my best to ignore her continued intrusions into my life. He's introduced the harlot to my son and they often will spend time with her together. Her most recent arrival was in Breath of the Wild.

My boys love it/her, so I bide my time until they remember they should eat and shower sometimes and they come up for air.

Now there is a new woman in our home. Her name is Alexa and she is the bane of my existence.

It started innocently enough. Mr. D commented a few days before Father's Day, his desire to get a device called a Dot. The Dot is a ridiculous device conceived by some ultra lazy individual who found google too taxing and took it to the next level. So instead of taking your phone from your pocket or even, heaven forbid, turning your head slightly to the left to find the time on the microwave, stovetop or wall clock, you can say, "Alexa, what is the time?" And she will tell you what time it is.

When my man brought her home (apparently he was serious) she was asked various and sundry questions. She tells jokes, she sings songs, she spoils movies. She does all the things unless I'm the one asking the question...and all of a sudden, she's dumb as dirt.

I heard her name bellowed through the house no less than a hundred times a day for the first few days. When she gave a wrong answer a second bellow would ring through the air. "Alexa stop!" They yelled more at her than they did the idiot twins and that's saying something.

The shine has gone off the penny however. She and her all encompassing knowledge have fallen silent and now she more just collects dust as she takes up space.

Like the idiot twins.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Dog Bluto...

My brothers and I had a dog when we were kids. He was a black lab mix of some kind. My dad said he was a Heinz 57. If anyone understands that reference, please send me an email because I don't get it. Anyway, my dad used to say that Bluto was a dumb dog, but looking back he was a lot smarter than we gave him credit.

For example: We lived in trailer in the backwoods of Nemo Texas for a bit when I was really young. The trailer was down a country road off a rural highway, if that paints the picture any clearer. So we had what one could call a circular driveway which really meant if we were coming in from town, we pulled in on the left, and if we were coming up from Gramma's house, down the hill at the end of the road, we pulled in on the right. There was a group of three trees that separated the two paths so we could pull all the way around and never have to reverse. Yay!

Bluto's whole life revolved around us kids, I assume, because whenever we went into town he was always waiting for us at the beginning of the gravel road. Always. When he saw our rust colored van turn onto the gravel road, he'd race us home. My parents would actually endanger our lives on the unsteady gravel path to try and beat this dog back to the house. Now, if we passed the first entry, he knew we were headed to Gramma's, and he'd hit the gas and give it all he had to make it down the hill before us.

One day my mom noticed Bluto slowing down as we neared the driveway, and she punched the gas pedal. Bluto sped up, and then she hit the breaks and abruptly swerved into the second driveway. He was halfway down the road when he saw us stop, so he dropped to his butt to the ground and slid along the sharp, pebbly gravel to a painful butt burning stop. We had a good laugh, poor dog, but after that he made sure we'd passed both turn ins before he'd give it his all. That doesn't seem like a dumb dog to me.

We took him with us when we moved to The Farm and he followed us kids through all of our shenanigans. He was the only adult who knew where we were at any given time. One time the four of us were running through the woods when Bluto caught sight of a squirrel and quickly chased it up a tree. The squirrel weaved around the trunk like it was drunk then abruptly dropped dead. It fell to the ground where the boys and I crouched over to study it, awed that it had just died like that, when it jumped up and latched on to Jerry's thumb! Jerry started screaming and waving his arm around in an effort to removed the squirrel and Bluto was jumping around trying to grab the squirrel from the air.

Jerry decided to move the circus closer to home and started running back to the hogan screaming as he waved his arm around with Bluto close behind jumping and chomping while the rest of us fell in and followed behind.

By the time Jerry reached the hogan, I guess the squirrel had truly hit it's limit and dropped dead, for real. I can't remember which parent came out to see what all the screaming was about, but I do remember my dad taking a pocket knife to the squirrel's face and finding white foam in it's cheek. They sent the carcass to a lab to test for rabies. Jerry dodged that bullet, but his thumb was swollen for what seemed like forever.

Bluto was a good dog. We left him on The Farm when my mom packed us up and moved us out. I wonder what happened to him. He was always friendly with the other dogs in the neighborhood, sometimes too friendly if you catch my drift. I know he took a bullet for it on one occasion. I wish we'd taken him with us, but he was happy on The Farm so I guess it made more sense that he live out the rest of his days in a place where he could run free and impregnate with reckless abandon. I mean, why not, the cats did.

Monday, February 27, 2017

That Time I Got Stitches...

I have several siblings, but of the three I grew up with, all four of us required stitches at one time in our childhood and every time it could be trace back to the doings of one brother. Every. Single. Time.

My brothers are Jerry, Jay and Wayne. These are not the names my mother gave them, but are monikers they applied to each other. It is a long and sordid path that takes us to the origins of these names and is thus a post for another day.

Anyhoo, one day whilst living on The Farm, my brothers and I were playing that classic game called "drop big rocks to splash each other with puddle water." The goal was simple, see how muddy you could make your opponent before the puddle ran out of water. So much wholesome fun.

So, I had tossed my rock into the puddle and was reaching out to pick it back up when Jerry dropped his rock right on top of it. Unfortunately, my hand was sandwiched between the two. To be more accurate, it was smashed.

Now I remember jerking my hand from the rocks and being fairly appalled at the shape of my ring finger. I also remember being hoarse having just had a bout with a cold. My cries were more of a raspy "ahhh" than a robust shriek. I clutched my hand to my chest and ran back to the hogan (what we called the main house. Not nearly as cool or functional as a legit hogan.) where my Mom met us at the door. I showed her my mess of a finger and she kinda turned white. She quickly bandaged my hand and wrapped it around a jack o'lantern shaped bean bag she'd made. She used to be super crafty so it was a handy tool.

Once more we headed into town to the doctor. This time his office was on the other side of the highway. The wait wasn't nearly as long and my mom stayed with me the whole time. (One point for mom!) I got three stitches in my ring finger. It took months and months for the swelling to go down. My mom said several times that she wondered if I was ever going to be able to get married because it would be so hard to put a ring on that finger. (Minus one point from mom!)

Jerry had caused stitches in the other two siblings years before, so I guess it was my turn. Thankfully, he ran out of siblings...for a time.

He never caused stitches in the three siblings that followed, (many moons later) but one day when our sister was about two, he was playing with a purple Barney Rubble figure he'd found in a box of Fruity Pebbles. He'd tied a string around Barney's neck and was swinging it around his head when my sister's dad said, "you better stop that or someones gonna get hurt." Jerry barely got, "nothing's gonna happen," out of his mouth when the string slipped from his hand and Barney sailed across the room where he bounced off of Baby's noggin. Step dad watched the trajectory of the the toy and Jerry had disappeared before he could look back.

And in spite of it all I still managed to get married. Thank heavens for different ring sizes. Allowing the fat fingered woman the chance to marry since rings became a thing!

Friday, February 24, 2017

That Time I Broke My Foot...

As I mentioned before, when I was a kid we lived on a ten acre piece of property in Granbury. Maybe I didn't mention the Granbury part, but there it is. We called this place The Farm. It was a diverse piece of property to be sure. My dad cleared out a nice portion of field where my brothers and I could play with out getting lost in the woods and long grass of the rest of the property. We mostly avoided that portion. Except this one time.

The boys and I were playing soccer in the field one day. It was a intense game and when I saw my chance to kick that ball right over my brothers' heads I took it! I kicked that ball so hard it didn't move. Because it was a stump. The ball had been next to the only tree stump in the field and I kicked it as hard as I could.

My foot hurt for a few days, but my parents insisted that if it were broken, I wouldn't be able to walk. This would later be proven to be incorrect. Also, my mom went on for days about my inability to differentiate between a ball and a stump. It was a tense game, Mom!

I finally whinged enough that my mom relented and asked the one doctor at our church to look it over on Sunday almost a week later. He poked my foot and asked if it hurt several times and I wanted to smack him, but I was only eight so I meekly replied yes. Then he wrenched my foot back and forth a few times. I must have turned green because he told my parents to bring me in for an x-ray the next day.

I limped through school and then had to wait until my dad got home from work to take me in to town. Granbury is hardly a thriving metropolis now, so it was po-dunk back then. The doc's office was off the highway in a business park that had maybe two more office buildings (and I use the term loosely) and then nothing.

I don't know if we didn't have an appointment and they were just going to squeeze us in or they just felt that a doctor's office was a fine place to grow up, but we sat in that waiting room for FOR-EV-ER. Like it was light when we went in and dark after we left. Anyway, after what seemed like an hour  of waiting (remember, I was eight) my dad started pacing the room like a caged animal, one end to the other, one end to the other until he abruptly stopped mid-pace and yelled, "that foot better be broken!" and then he left. HE LEFT! That man got in his truck and drove away.

I was so freaked out, I was tempted to kick the wall just to make sure the job was done. My foot was x-rayed, found to be broken in three places, wrapped in a cast and had just finished drying when he finally came back. He never said a word about where he'd been, didn't apologize for leaving me and didn't say one word about my cast.

Flash forward twenty years.

My dad and I were at one of the few points of my life where we were communicating and I brought that night up. My dad has an amazing laugh. I have always loved it. His laugh is one of the only positive memories I have. Anyway, I asked him where he'd gone that night. He laughed as he told me he'd recently gotten a speeding ticket and to avoid paying the fine he had to attend a defensive driving class that apparently my visit to the doctor was encroaching upon. He left the me with the doc so he could take that class and keep the ticket off his record and the fine in his pocket. He thought it was funny as hell.

I, however, am still not amused.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Who's Your Daddy...The Conclusion

James Bond was feeling defeated. After months of networking, following leads to dead ends and numerous sophmoric pranks he was no closer to cracking the C.O.B. code. He was ready to give up when M called to tell him they had a solid lead. "Meet me in my office in half an hour," she instructed.

James hung up the phone and trudged out of his apartment to the street below where he slid behind the wheel of a beat up Volkswagen bug, the only vehicle available to him now. After every other car had malfunctioned in some inconceivable way, M had decided the bug was more cost efficient to the agency.

The bug coughed and sputtered in protest as James started the engine before it finally relented and reluctantly came to life. The alignment on the vehicle was pitiful and James had to keep a firm hold on the wheel to keep the car from drifting to the right. He cursed his luck as he jerked the wheel to the left to make a turn when another car came barreling down the street coming straight for him.

He was knocked unconscious in the collision and when he awoke he found himself bound to a chair in a dark theater. "Good of you to join us," a smooth feminine voice declared from the shadows. James lifted his head from his chest and looked around.

"Where am I," he demanded though his head throbbed in pain. He heard a light laugh and soft footfalls as she approached from the left.

"You may call me Serena," the woman declared. The theater was abruptly bathed in light and James blinked rapidly as his eyes adjusted. He looked to the place where he'd last heard the voice and was astonished at the ravishing young woman standing there. Her bright eyes shone beneath the longest eyelashes he had ever seen and her full lipped smile took his breath away.

"Is there no end to your lasciviousness, you filthy dog," she asked when she saw the way he looked at her.

"What am I doing here?" he demanded mustering up the last bits of bravado left to him. Serena's smile widened.

"I've heard you were looking for us," she replied. She walked to the front of the theater and took a seat in a familiar worn recliner. "Do you like it?" she asked as he eyed the chair.

"It looks like a chair I used to own," he replied. Serena chuckled lightly.

"That's because it is the chair you once owned," she said. "I rescued it from the dump." She leaned back in the chair and and the foot rest popped up. She placed her feet on the rest and crossed her ankles. "It really is quite comfortable," she admitted with a sigh.

"Why am I here?" James repeated impatiently. Serena sighed again and pushed the chair back to the upright position."

"You are here, Mr. Bond, because we grew tired of waiting," she replied as she got to her feet. "We have been waiting a long time to meet you." The room was suddenly alive with footfalls and James was surrounded by more than forty men, each clad in a familiar suit.

"They're wearing my clothes," he angrily erupted and Serena was clearly amused.

"That they are," she agreed. "They fit my brothers nicely don't you think?" Jame struggled furiously against the ropes keeping him tied to the chair.

"What kind of sick game are you playing here," James demanded. The men's faces broke into Cheshire cat smiles and James felt a surge of unease. His attention returned to Serena who held a familiar notebook in her hands. "Where did you get that?" he barked as she glanced at the pages.

"Did you ever think about them again," she asked as she turned the page.

"Who?" James asked and for the first time Serena's smile broke.

"The women in these pages!" she snapped. "Did you ever think about Solitaire or Jinx or Ann?" James frowned uncertainly.

"I don't recall an Ann," he replied with a puzzled look.

"She changed her name to something more dignified," Serena replied. "Her last name was Galore." James snickered as he remembered the woman's first name and Serena frowned. "I'll take that as a no," she decided. She handed the notebook to one of the men standing closest. "We thought about these woman every day of our lives," she declared as she strolled around the room. "We knew them well. We called them 'mother'." James' jaw dropped in awe.

"You are all children of my former lovers?" James sounded incredulous as Serena nodded. "They are lost," he continued. "My mission is to find them." Serena laughed out loud.

"They are not lost to us, Mr. Bond," she explained. "They never were."

"But M...." James fell silent as M passed through the group of men and stood beside Serena. He looked from one woman to the other in astonishment. "You knew?" he choked.

"I helped," M admitted.

"But why?" James asked feeling hurt. M took the notebook from the man holding it and flipped to a certain page.

"Woman tending hotel desk," she read. "Also known as my daughter." James eyes almost popped from his head.

"I had no idea!" he sputtered and M pursed her lips.

"Perhaps a minute of conversation would have cleared that up," M growled. Serena placed a calming hand on M's shoulder.

"It's okay, Grandmother," she soothed as James eyes grew impossibly larger.

"Grandmother," he repeated as his face paled. M moved closer and leaned into his face.

"Every one of these women, my daughter," she began. "Her name is Janine, by the way. You used them and threw them away."

"Do you expect me to apologize?" James sneered suddenly remembering who he was. M shook her head as she reached into the purse hanging at her side.

"No, Mr Bond," she replied placing a thick folded document on his lap. "I expect you to pay child support." James was speechless.

"Child support," he repeated.

"Yes," Serena shouted. "For we are C.O.B.! Children of Bond!!!" The men erupted in maniacal laughter as M shoved a pen into James hand cinched at his side.



Conclusion

James Bond sits in the recliner reclaimed by Serena that fateful day. His retirement fund was depleted after paying back child support to his fifty one baby mamas. With no place to stay Serena agreed to let him live, rent free, in her basement. James glanced at the toys strewn about the family room with a look of pride and sadness as four rambunctious children spilled through the door. "Grampa!" they squealed in delight. James knelt on the floor as they threw themselves into his arms and the five of them fell back into a pile of stuffed animals. James sighed as he looked to the ceiling. This was James Bonds life.