Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kid Stuff: The Pet Horse

Another first-grade essay from the Little Kid:


I have a pet horse.  His name is Browny.  Browny likes to buy coffee at the coffee shop.  He spilled his coffee one morning.  I cleaned him up.

Must have been a Monday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Apropos of Nothing: Inappro-pro

While watching Witney (she of the missing H) and Lindsay perform on "So You Think You Can Dance":

Me:  Those crazy Mormons.  First, they took over the blogosphere, then Pinterest, and then two of them ran for president.  Now they are dominating "So You Think You Can Dance."  What's next?  The world?

Big Kid:  Do you think that they will be benevolent overlords?  Or will they put us in work camps?

Me:  Well, if they do, it will be fun work.  Heavy on crafts and DIY projects, with a little test kitchen stuff.  You might get put on a "pantry interior stenciling" work crew, but that would be as bad it would get.  And everyone would be really well-dressed, and very clean.

Big Kid:  Okay.  I could live with that.  Bring on the Mormon overlords.

While watching the news with Spouse:

Newscaster:  Police need your help in catching fugitive members of a meth ring.

Spouse:  Really?  Because I'm thinking that there could be some danger in that.  Kind of sounds like the sort of thing that is best left to professionals.

Newscaster:  Thirty people are now charged with distributing methamphetamine in North Texas.  The illegal drugs originated in Mexico.

Me:  Well, now THAT's just WRONG.  There is a family somewhere in a trailer in [name of adjacent county] who is suffering because that meth ring chose to bring stuff over the border, precluding local "Breaking Bad" types from earning a dishonest wage.  Whatever happened to "Buy American?"  WHEN WILL THE OUTSOURCING END?

Spouse:  Seriously.

[In case you were wondering . . . I really did marry my soul mate.  And both kids show signs of having inherited our twisted worldview.  All of the above makes me insanely happy.]

Kid Stuff: Perspective


The Little Kid has it.

Cleaning out the remnants of his first-grade backpack (so that it can be pressed into service as his second-grade backpack), I run across an essay dated March 19th (just after Spring Break):

On St. Patrick's Day I went to a class called world drumming.  It was so fun.  I loved it.

[Note:  World drumming is a Sunday school thing.]

And I got 3 new DVDs like Real Steel.  And stuff.

[Good flick.  Exact same plot as Rocky, but with robots instead of Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire.  Meaning that the acting in Real Steel is way less mechanical.]

I also went to Mountaysha.  [That would be Mountasia - and, yes, we went there over Spring Break.]  I played mini golf.  And bumper boats.  And I went in the honted house.  [Huh?  Oh - haunted house.  Yeah, I got nothing.  No recollection of a Spring Break haunted house trip.]

And I saw John Carter.  [Ah, yes.  Wasn't hard to convince Nana to take them to that one.  (1)  She's a closet sci-fi fan.  (2)  She's a not-so-closeted "Tim Riggins from 'Friday Night Lights'" fan.  Although, somewhat funnily, she didn't realize that Tim Riggins WAS John Carter until AFTER she got to the theater.  I kind of assumed that that was her primary motivation.  You know, in addition to wanting to indulge her darling grandkids and stuff.]

And I went to my grandmother's house.  And the best part of the week was waiting at Lowe's for hours.  And the rest I just stayed home.

[Um, false.  We went bowling, and did tons of other in-town stuff - wait, back up.  THE BEST PART OF THE WEEK WAS WAITING AT LOWE'S FOR HOURS?  Refer to my prior posts re:  Lowes-pocalypse 2012.  Apparently, one of us thought it was less of a hiney-whipping than others of us.  Hmm.  Note to file:  inquire of small son as to exactly what was the "best part" of our Lowe's nightmare.  And then ask him for lessons in being Zen.]

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kid Stuff: Stuff My Seven Year-Old Says

Dad's Fantasy Football draft was Friday night, and Big Kid received a sleepover invite, so Mom and Little Kid enjoyed a "Just Us Two Night." A couple of highlights:

(En route from the pool, discussing the gymnastics classes that he and the Big Kid are going to take for purposes of developing diving skills)

Me:  Think about how much confidence you'll have next year.  I mean, if you can flip into a mat, it will be that much easier to flip into the water, right?

Little Kid:  Why do you say that?

Me:  Well, because the water moves out of your way, sort of .  So it's a softer landing.  [At this point, I realize that I may be unintentionally freaking him out about the whole mat thing.]  Not that the mat isn't soft - they both cushion you.  But, psychologically, there's something more comforting about knowing that the water is going to break your fall.  [Stop talking, Mom, before you give him the yips.]

Little Kid:  You know what's softer than water?

Me:  No.  Please tell me what's softer than water.  [Quick, before I dig myself into a deeper hole.]

Little Kid:  That stuff on a sheep's skin.

Me:  Wool?  You mean, lambswool?

Little Kid:  Yeah.  You know, if they filled a swimming pool with lambswool . . . .

Me:  Yeah?

Little Kid:  It would be kind of cool.  I'M JUST SAYING.

Me:  Indeed.

(After arriving home and indulging in ice pops and the animated film, "Superman/Batman:  Apocalypse"):

Little Kid:   You know, nothing good comes out of a boom tube.  [For the uninitiated, in the DC Comics universe, a boom tube is an extra dimensional doorway that allows you to travel through interstellar space.]

Me:  Ha!  Yeah.

Little Kid:  NO, LITERALLY, NOTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF A BOOM TUBE.  Darkseid, Granny Goodness, various minions - all villains, you know?

Me:  Ah.  Good point.

Love the clever little brain in that adorable melon of his.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Diaspora in Reverse: Bracketology

So as of last night I was down to twelve boxes.  I say "I" was down to twelve boxes, because there's a CUH-RAZY amount of boxes remaining in Spouse's office with respect to which I disclaim all knowledge and/or responsibility.  Also Spouse's:

Two boxes of ties.  I knew he had a tie fetish before we were forced to move at gun point, but I didn't know how bad it was until we were freed from our hostage situation and more than two boxes of ties were presented to me - that's right, boxes of additional ties have already been processed.  Again:  crazy.

A box of sweatshirts that may or may not be bound for Goodwill.

A box of shoe trees.  This box resides in our bathtub.  I have not bothered to move it from our bathtub, because there's other stuff in there as well, specifically, excess Elfa shelving.  I don't know what Spouse's intentions are with the shoe trees, but even if I did, there's no point in removing those if I'm not also going to tackle the Elfa shelving - and tackling the Elfa shelving would involve carrying bulky objects through the crazy mess that is Spouse's office, crossing the Africa-hot backyard, entering the even-more-stifling carriage house and locating an appropriate storage spot.  Which Spouse will deem an inappropriate storage spot, so, really, why try, when I can avail myself of the showering-and-bathing amenities in the remodeled hall bath?

Also, I find it kind of amusing that we are using our bathtub for storage, because this seems to be a running theme in Spouse's family.  One of his brothers is known for using a garden tub as a shoe closet, and on one particularly memorable occasion I entered his parents' master bath intent on using the facilities and discovered a soaking tub filled to the top with rifles and shotguns.  No, they are not doomsday preppers, and in their defense:  (1) they live in the country, and actually use guns to fend off coyotes and mountain lions and such, so as much as the concept of my kids being exposed to all of those guns may have been unsettling at one point, I have decided that the specter of wild animals chewing on my kids is a smidge more unsettling, so, yes, let's keep some guns handy, shall we?;  (2) none of the guns were loaded (refer to "my kids," above); and (3) they were only there temporarily, while they were being maintained, or organized, or some such.  (I did not grow up in the country, so I only have a vague sense that occasionally you get guns out, and you do things with them, and you put them back.)

Back to my twelve boxes:  they do not contain ties.  Or shoe trees, or guns, or mountain lions.  They represent the contents of all of the junk drawers in the house:  the drawer in the living room that used to serve as a "mail and important paper" repository, the old kitchen junk drawers, and the drawers in the chest that serves as my bedside table. While I was watching the decathlon (a word that always looks mispelled to me), I condensed four boxes into two, and then I decided that, in the spirit of sport, I would continue to handle the rest NCAA basketball-style:  two boxes would go head to head, that box would be pitted against the surviving box from another early round contest, and so on.  Except that I wasn't starting with sixteen boxes.  I briefly thought about appropriating four of Spouse's - and then I decided that this was crazy talk.  This is why God invented the automatic berth, and the play-in.  I would find a way to work around the numbers.

While I was plotting my course on the bracket thing, I heard water running through a wall.  The same wall, coincidentally, where I heard water running roughly a year ago, when the whole flooding thing began.  Hmm.  Did someone leave a faucet on for the cats?  (Our cats, like most cats I know, think that bathroom faucets are cat water fountains.  Human hygiene is only a secondary usage.)  Nope, no faucet running.  Jiggled the toilet handle:  not the problem.  Clearly someone wasn't using the bathtub (refer to "I have leftover Elfa shelving in my master bathtub," above).  Washing machine on the other side of that wall?  Nope.  That left two options:

(1)  The water was on in the backyard.

(2)  Houston, we have a problem - again.

I tried to stay calm.  I tried not to flash back to the last time that I hopefully asked the question, "Maybe we left the water on in the backyard on accident?"  I sent a twelve year-old out to the backyard.  Asked him to check on the side of the house as well as in the back.  He came back in and reported no H20 activity.

Calm flew out of the open door that the Big Kid came in from.  I dialed Spouse, who pretty clearly had just finished his tennis match - and pretty clearly was enjoying a beer in the clubhouse, and some "guy time."  I explained to him that guy time needed to be over, pronto, because we appeared to be having another water "event."  While I waited for him to make the drive back to our house, I started bargaining - with God, Mother Nature, and anyone else who would listen.  Please, let this be nothing.  I cannot move out of the house again.  I can't, and I won't.  "Groundhog Day" was a funny movie, but NOT a funny concept in real life. 

It's possible that some irrational sobbing and hyperventilating came into play while I was waiting for Spouse to arrive.  I did consider going into the backyard to check the Big Kid's detective work - but I was afraid that I would determine that he was be right, the problem was with a pipe in a wall, or under the house, and I would have no choice but to completely unspool.

Spouse arrived.  Big Kid turned out to be wrong:  the water was on, but the hose was pulled WAAAAAAY out to the back property line, so I guess if you're twelve and largely clueless you wouldn't have heard it.  Apparently, Spouse was working in the yard before he left for tennis, rinsed out a container of some sort, and forgot to cut the water supply when he went inside.  He turned the knob, the noise in the wall stopped, and - mercifully - so did the panicked voices in my head.

And so Bracketology shall continue this evening, and tomorrow, and thereafter, until everything - EVERYTHING - is in its rightful place.  At which point dynamite isn't gonna displace me from my house.

If the place floods again, I'm pitching a tent in the backyard.  Period, paragraph.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This Old House: Tiger Oak Threw Up in Our Home

While we're on the subject of my crazy English oak obsession.

First piece I ever acquired.  Refinished by my mom.  Now resides in our bedroom.

Sideboard.  Not to be confused with a chiffonier.  I have one of those, too.  Spouse and I bought the sideboard together shortly after we got married.  It's Art Deco, from the 20s, so it looks perfect in our 20s house.

Chest in the living room that holds the kids' games and stuff.  The movers damaged one of the legs.  The Queen (that would be me) is not amused.  But it's fixable.

Craftsman dresser in our bedroom.  I let Spouse go crazy with the Craftsman in the master.  I really like this piece:  it's the perfect size and dimensions for the wall opposite our bed, and one of these days it will look great with a really big flat-screen TV over it.  One of these days.

Headboard and Harris-Lebus dresser from England that I use as an end table.  This picture makes me happy, as does the one above, because HOW DEAD-ON WERE WE IN SELECTING A FLOOR STAIN WHEN ALL OF OUR FURNITURE WAS IN STORAGE AND WE HAD TO OPERATE ENTIRELY FROM MEMORY?  (Pats self on back and air-pats Spouse's back from across room.)

Funny story about this headboard (although it wasn't funny at the time):  we opted against the matching footboard, because we have met our children.  It wasn't a question of IF they would  break the footboard by climbing on it, and/or concuss themselves on the posts - relevant questons were WHEN and HOW OFTEN.  So our bed is just a headboard and a bed frame, but the frame is up on risers.  When we moved back into the house, the furniture came on one truck, and everything else came on a second truck - two days later.  So here come the movers with the headboard, and the metal frame - but no risers.  BECAUSE THE RISERS WERE "SMALL WARES," AND WERE PACKED IN A BOX,  WHICH WOULD ARRIVE TWO DAYS LATER.  I watched the movers attempt to reconcile the headboard and bed frame, and I decided to throw them a bone:

Me:  Let me make this easy for you.  There are risers that make the bed frame tall enough to mount to the headboard.  And I'm guessing that those are not on this truck?

Movers (nodding):  We'll just leave the pieces here, and you can assemble it when the risers come?

Me:  Like HELL you will.  Here's what we're going to do:  you're going to take a lunch break, because you're due for one.  In the meantime, that woman [my mother-in-law] who just sprinted past you with car keys in her hand is going to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and buy me some duplicate bed risers.  If you manage to beat her back here, you can start assembling my son's loft bed first.  Trust me, that sucker's going to take you awhile.

Fifteen minutes later, my mom-in-law calls to let me know that the bed risers came in two different heights.  I told her to err on the side of too tall.  I really thought that the ones we had before were tall, but these new ones are not so much bed risers as BED STILTS.  I practically need a ladder to climb up onto the mattress, which I love.  What I don't love:  watching our cats try to jump onto the bed, miscalculate and glance off of the side of the mattress.  Okay, maybe it makes me laugh a little.

How high is the bed?  High enough that we keep a pallet of wood under it.  Seriously:  we had two-plus boxes of leftover hardwood planks that we decided we should keep in case any individual floor boards need to be replaced.  We wanted to keep 'em somewhere climate-controlled.   Why not under the bed?  I mean, they FIT. 

Will get around to photographing the awesomely high bed, and its environs, as soon as I finish going through the last couple of boxes (personal papers, a few of which will end up in the Harris-Lebus chest and most of which will end up in the shredder).

[Editor's note:  The first time I published this post, I left the word "to" out of the phrase "tall enough to mount to the headboard," such that the entire sentence read, "There are risers that make the bed frame tall enough to MOUNT THE HEADBOARD."  When I saw this, it brought to mind images of a large dog, and a much smaller dog on a stool - you get the idea, right? - and elicited a chuckle out of the dirty part of my brain (which is a pretty significant part of my brain - probably detectable on a CAT scan, possibly detectable from space).  I thought about leaving the error in place.  But then Grammar Nazi Kathryn won over - so I fixed the typo, but am sharing the explanation here.  So you, too, will have a visual mental picture of a Great Dane and a chihuahua, or whatever mismatched canines you personally select.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

This Old House: If You Let Your Spouse Go Furniture-Shopping

When your spouse has forty five minutes to kill between dropping your oldest child off at camp and picking your youngest child up from the same camp, he will decide to kill some time at the consignment shop that you have to pass to get to said camp.  Because your spouse likes consignment shops in general, and because this one has always intrigued him.  (But not as much as the Middle Eastern restaurant across the street, which originally attracted his attention because he misread the sign that said “Hookah Lounge” as something that sort of looks and sounds like “Hookah Lounge.”)

When he checks out the consignment shop, he will find two dining room tables that he thinks might be appropriate replacements for the old English gate-leg drop leaf table that is now hanging out in the corner of your living room.  He will text you photos from his camera phone, because he knows that you are tired of having a utility table with a tablecloth thrown over it for a dining room table.  And, also, because he has this “thing” about inundating you with texted photos of “items available for purchase” while you are trying to do other things, like work.

After he has texted you the photos, he will call you and say, “I just texted you some photos.  The photos are of tables.  I really like the Mission-style one.  The second picture is of a table I don’t like as much.”

You will remind your spouse that he should refer to Mission-style furniture as CRAFTSMAN-style furniture, because Gustav Stickley (AKA the king of Mission – I mean, CRAFTSMAN – furniture) himself personally hated the term “Mission,” and your spouse should be sensitive to this, given that Gustav Stickley is like a god his people.  (By his people, I mean his immediate people:  his parents’ house looks like Gustav Stickley threw up in it.  I do not mean this in a bad way.  It is beautiful, CUH-RAZY well-constructed furniture, and the fact that they collect it totally makes sense, given that the house that they put it in was designed by Fay Jones, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright.  In a weird way, their love of Mi . . . I mean, CRAFTSMAN stuff is one of the things that binds me to their son.  Because he inherited their aesthetic, which is not exactly my aesthetic, but it’s close:  Craftsman and Tudor are like siblings, or kissing cousins at the least.  No, I am not saying that I married my cousin.  But let’s just say that our heads were both in the 1920’s when we first went shopping for furniture together, and, later, when we went shopping for neighborhoods.  We agree to disagree on a lot of subjects, but furniture and architecture aren’t among them.)

Spouse will ignore your lesson in furniture style semantics, and proceed to drive a few blocks to a nearby antiques mall, where he will photograph a third table.  The third table will remind you of your mom’s breakfast table, the one with the pull-out leaves instead of the gate legs.  You will want to wake up early on Saturday morning to see said table, because you have always kind of coveted your mom’s.

When you wake up early on Saturday morning, you will putter around and do other stuff, like clean the bathrooms, until it is after lunch and you remember that your husband has a 2 pm tennis match.  When you remember that your husband has a 2 pm tennis match, you will remember that shopping for furniture with your children is really painful, and shopping for antique furniture with your children is both really painful and sort of harrowing.  So you will run out of the house like your hair is on fire, wearing a Batman t-shirt, yoga pants and no makeup, hoping to make it to and from Arlington before he has to leave for his match.

Before you run out of the house like your hair is on fire, you will ask your spouse, “Seriously?  Tennis in the middle of the afternoon?  In Texas, IN AUGUST?  Who organized your league, Hades?”

You will go to the antiques mall first.  Because you really do covet your mom’s pull-out table.  When you see the table, you will be disappointed, because it’s really rickety.  Wonky, even.  However, while you are in the process of evaluating the disappointingly wonky table, you will notice the piecrust barley twist end table in the corner.  When you notice the piecrust barley twist end table in the corner, you will laugh, not a “ha, ha” laugh, but a “well, that figures “laugh, because you have been looking for a table like that for awhile, and it figures that you would find it when you are not looking for it.  Then you will tell yourself, “Okay, okay – life’s ironic.  BUT IT’S A PIECRUST BARLEY TWIST TABLE IN EXTREMELY GOOD CONDITION, AND IT’S RIDICULOUSLY UNDERPRICED.  Ponder the irony later.”

You will buy the end table.  When you buy the end table, the nice lady at the sales desk will tell you that you are getting a really good deal.  And you will say, “No duh.”

After you have loaded the end table in the car, you will report to your spouse that you purchased a table, just not one that could be pressed into service in lieu of the utility table.  Your spouse will tell you to check out the consignment store for grins and giggles.

Whey you arrive at the consignment store, you will immediately dismiss the Mi – CRAFTSMAN table, because it’s too dark, and, really, too Craftsman-y for your needs.  Then you will look behind the Craftsman table, and you will see the table that your spouse didn’t like that much. 

And you will like it.  A lot. 

The first thing that you will like is that it isn’t oak:  it has a smooth surface that would be tons easier to clean jelly off of.  (When you collect 100 year-old tiger oak and also have a disgustingly slovenly son, you spend a lot of time pondering just how deep the grain is in 100 year-old tiger oak.)  The second thing that you will like is that it appears to be from the 1940s or 50s, which means that it is scaled to modern-human size.  A standard tablecloth might even fit over it without hanging an extra foot over one size.

When the proprietor of the consignment shop sees you looking at the table, he will come over, and you will have a conversation that sounds like this:

Questions, Batman?


Rock maple.


Late 40s.


Not Heywood-Wakefield.  One of the other big manufacturers.  Can’t remember off of the top of my head, but there’s a sticker underneath.  Want me to look? 

No.  I think it’s the same color as my chairs, but I’m not 100% sure.  Oh, WAIT – I have another table in my car. 


No – I can bring THAT table in for color-matching.

You will retrieve the piecrust barley twist end table.  The proprietor of the consignment store will say, “HEY, that’s a really great table” and attempt to convince you to sell it.  You will not be moved.

When you hold your table up to the other table (literally), you will decide that the table is the same color as the chairs with the cane seats that you inherited from your spouse’s grandparents, which means that it is also a dead-on match for your new floors.

You will purchase your second table of the day.  And, two days later, your sweet mother-in-law will retrieve the table for you (notwithstanding that it’s not Stickley), and you will reward her by feeding her lunch – the first meal served on your new dining room table (well, at least since you have owned it).

Pictured above:  my "new" Tell City Chair Co. rock maple butterfly drop-leaf dining table.  It is the EXACT color of our floors, which makes me very happy, and only a little bit smug.  I have researched Tell City, and all I know at this point is that:  (1) it's an actual city in Indiana, settled by the Swiss and named after William Tell; (2) most of the examples of this table that are in existence have a Formica top, as opposed to solid wood; and (3) there's a store in Tell City, Indiana that specializes in vintage Tell City furniture and, for $15, they will tell me the age and give me an appraisal.  Spouse thinks it's  weird that I want to have this information, but I do.  For an additional $16, I am going to take advantage of the fact that said store stocks the stain used on my table (Andover maple).  Not a bad thing to have on hand, and, also, I think that I may have a leaf made, because the table will take one, and it would be kind of awesome to have the ability to make my "bigger-than-the-last-table table" THAT MUCH BIGGER than the last table, on an as-needed basis.

And THIS is my end table.  See?  Piecrust crimping on the top, barley twisting on the bottom.   I have all but confirmed that she (I think it's a she) is English and approximately 110 years old.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Why My Family Thinks I'm a Space Alien

New ginormous flat screen TV is up over the fireplace (justifying that stupid plug that just "happened" to get installed in a highly strategic, and suspicious, location on Spouse's watch).  Old flat screen has moved into our bedroom.  New TV has associated with it a new Blu Ray player.  Old TV is hooked up to a slamming sound bar.  And, as of mid-afternoon, everything is hooked up to DirectTV. 

Spouse sprang for premium channels.

And extra 3D glasses for the new TV.

Due to a glitch-y Dish Network box, it is the first time in ten weeks that I have had an actual live television feed to the bedroom.

Soooooooo . . . what did I do first?

Locate the "Sonic Tap" channels.  Cue up "Old School Funk."  And listen to Con Funk Shun and Curtis Mayfield, while title, artist and CD information scrolled across an otherwise black screen. 

This bothers the men in my household:

It's not a stereo.  It's a television.  You WATCH it.

But I like to listen to music more than I like to watch TV.  Truth be told, TV doesn't do that much for me.

Blasphemy!  So go ahead and LISTEN to music, heretic - just not through the television.

But genre stations are awesome.  And the sound bar works really, really well.   Seriously, listening to music on the television is my favorite.  So, you know, stop the hate.

Okay, but can you at least act excited about the new TV?

Honest answer?   Until cables are buried, or pulled, or conduit-ed, or whatever, that thing is a major pain in my tuckus.  And even when the wire snarl has been managed, I will still have a huge TV over my mantel, where a really nice painting could go.  That's fine for so long as the Olympics are on, because the scenes from the swimming and water polo arenas actually match the decor in the front really nicely.  But, once all of those watery aqua hues are replaced with something less aesthetically pleasing . . . .  Hey, where's that aquarium DVD?


Yeah!  Let's fire up that bad boy.  Or, speaking of fire, we could try the yule log DVD.  That would be funny, wouldn't it?  A fireplace OVER a fireplace?  Ooh!  Don't they have similar DVDs with art slideshows on them?  I'm going back to the bedroom to listen to Stevie Wonder while I search Amazon for software that will turn our new TV into a giant painting.

[Three-man synchronized facepalm.]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kid Stuff: First World Problems, Day Camp Edition Part III

"Leg 2" of Tuesday's Day Camp Relay:  Sweet Mom-in-Law offers to handle the driving, so Spouse can deal with the fallout of his peeing contest with Direct TV Guy. (Three wires got dropped through the attic and actually connected, two more are capped and remain to be connected to additional receivers at a later date, and Direct TV Guy refused to pull the wires in the living room through the wall and down to baseboard level, so right now the cables are protruding out from under the TV and spilling over the mantel in a most unattractive way while we decide whether to shove 'em in a paintable conduit or pay someone to pull them through the wall.  Meanwhile, various wall art that is likely to get knocked off by a swinging cable is piled in an equally ugly heap on a sofa table, topped with bric-a-brac from the mantel.  When, exactly, will my house look like a house again?  Don't answer, it's a rhetorical question.)

Because of issues with mi familia, I worked from my parents' house for a few hours after "Leg 1," and am changing into work clothes and getting ready to depart for my office when Mom-in-Law arrives to retrieve the Big Kid.  As they are leaving, Big Kid informs me that, "MOM, you were totally wrong about us needing closed-toed shoes.  I think that's for the little kids only.  EVERYONE at the middle school camp had on flip-flops yesterday.  I was the ONLY ONE with Crocs."

If I hadn't been so tired or distracted, I would have called you-know-what on this.  It's a NIGHT camp session.  Involving flashlight tag.  There's no telling what your foot could run up against in the dark.  That alone mitigates in favor of closed-toed shoes.  But, you know what?  Whatever.  Wear your flip-flops, and I am almost hoping that they refuse to let you do something that you really want to do, so that the next time I say, "Closed-toed shoes," and you counter with, "Flip-flops," I will have a ready comeback.

A few minutes after 3:

Spouse (from his car):  I'm driving to camp.

Me:  Why, exactly?

Spouse:  Because your older son wore flip-flops, and now they won't let him zip-line.

Me:  Awesome!  That will teach him.  Wait - are you actually taking him shoes?

Spouse:  Yes, because for what we pay those people, he'd better get to zip-line.  He had better zip-line A WHOLE LOT.

Me:  But this was going to be my new "Bead."

Spouse:  Huh?

Me:  Remember when he told me after 8 o'clock the night before the last day of fourth grade that I was craft parent for the end-of-school party?  And you were playing tennis, and I didn't want to go to Wal-Mart with just the kids because Wal-Mart is scary at night, so we went to Target and made do with what we could find that was kind of gender-neutral, which was a friendship bead bracelet kit?  And then he proceeded to show off his magician skills by putting a bead in his ear, and we ended up having to take him to two different doctors who charged us a bazillion dollars against our deductible?  That entire summer, every time he asked for something that would cost us money, all I had to say was "BEAD," AND HE WOULD STOP TALKING.  This was going to be like that:  I would say "Close-toed shoes," he would say "Flip-flops," and I WOULD SAY "ZIP-LINE."  CHECK, AND MATE.

Spouse (ignoring me):  Meanwhile, my mom is driving around somewhere, wasting time before she has to pick up PJ, and I am going to be there and available, and *&^% it, I might as well pick up the little one while the big one has me inconvenienced, so I am trying to radio ahead that she can go ahead and leave, BUT SHE WON'T PICK UP HER PHONE.

Me:   Hmm.  Knowing her, it's turned off.  Maybe you could meet her at the pick-up gate, and tell her to turn it on?

Spouse:  I'm hanging up on you.

Forgot to mention the really satisfying part of my Tuesday (well, aside from hearing that my dad was coming home from the hospital):  since we moved in, Spouse's home office has been Africa hot.  To the point that I don't even want to walk through there, which is problematic, because the laundry room is on the other side.  If I have said it once, I have said it thirty times over the last two months:  Your office never used to be this hot.  They must have blocked something when they were cleaning the air ducts or something.

Spouse's reply?  "It's always been hot in here."

Yes.  Normal hot.  Not AFRICA HOT.  This is different.

At least thirty times, I have been told that I was imagining things.  Then, Direct TV Guy shows up.  Goes into the attic.  Max the Ceiling Cat follows him up there.  Spouse retrieves Max - and comes down and says:

"Hey, you know how my office has been kinda hot lately?  It looks like when the plumber dropped the new gas line they flopped over the insulation, on top of the vent, and they never restored it to its original position.  So it's been blocking the flow of air into the room."

I AM KILLING YOU WITH MY MIND RIGHT NOW.  Wait, no I am not.  Because this means that I was right.  Cancel the mind-killing.  This is flippin' awesome.

And so we conclude this installment of Family Fire Drill Theater on a happy note.  Or, at least, a smug one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I [Heart] Olympic Spoilers - And Girly Drama

There's an AP story making the rounds, title of which is "Avoiding Olympic spoilers is a sport of its own."

In case you care (which you probably don't, but I'm going to share my opinion, anyway), I have no desire to avoid spoilers - although I am picky about which ones I absorb.

I want to know who wins.  Not how they win, just who.  That way, I am still surprised by the details of how the participants get from Point A to Point B, but I am not panicked by them, because I know how things will play out at the end.

It's EXACTLY like watching a romantic comedy.  You are mildly disturbed by the obstacles that crop up in the protagonists' paths, but not really, because in the back of your mind, you know that they will end up together.  There's an underlying certainty that makes the tension less tension-y, and therefore more enjoyable.  Enjoyable tension:  is that an oxymoron?  No.  Not if you are a female person. 

Case in point:  last night's women's gymnastics team final.  I knew that USA got the gold, but I didn't know how close it was going to be, or what ultimately was going to propel the USA team ahead of the Russians and others.  So, when the Fab Five posted less than stellar scores on the uneven bars, I knew that they would rally.  Or the Russians would tank.  It ended up being both.  And I am only a little bit embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed the Russian meltdown.

"Embarrassed," because: (1) I'm a mom, so I have a tendency to imagine that it's my child out there in total agony; and (2) I recognize that it's generally horrible to derive amusement from the suffering of others.

"Only a little bit," because what I enjoyed was the way that they demonstrated their suffering.  It was so very Russian - dramatic, verging on the theatrical.  Did that chick who sort of looks like Miranda Kerr when she looks down through her lashes, but looks distinctively less supermodel-y when she lifts her (lack of) chin, just HEISMAN that coach on her way to the ready bench?  Are those two clutching each other and actively weeping before their teammates' abysmal floor routine has even concluded?  Am I the imagining it, or do I detect a whiff of "THAT STUPID WENCH IS RUINING OUR LIVES" from their clutching and weeping pas-de-deux?  Seriously, can you imagine if our athletes carried on like that while their (theoretical and alleged) sister girlfriend was still performing?  The press would be all over them like white on rice.  So, notwithstanding how they really felt about the situation, our girls would have continued to shout out words of encouragement - reserving the right, of course, to talk about their teammate behind their back later on.  Because, in my humble opinion (and if you SAY "in my humble opinion," you can get away with anything; see, also, "I'm just saying"), American girls are encouraged to be passive-aggressive.

Whereas the Russian gymnasts are more prone to be ACTIVELY aggressive.  I would characterize this as both a nurture and a nature thing:  not a passive bone in their little Slavic bodies.  (I speak from experience:  remove the layer of fat that I have cultivated over these cheekbones, and you will see that these babies could cut glass.)  Active aggression in young women makes for some high drama, akin to those old Krystle-and-Alexis throw-downs on Dynasty.  AND.  I.  LOVE.  IT.  Probably in part because I do come from Eastern European roots, so wearing your heart WAAAAAAAAY out on your sleeve seems authentic to me.  (Ask Spouse about the joys of marrying a woman with DNA derived from Austria-Hungary, Slovenia, Russia and the Ulster Scot-occupied part of Ireland . . . and he may scratch his head for awhile, because "joy" is probably not the first concept that will bubble to the forefront of his brain.  "Reign of terror" is probably more like it.)

Oh, I failed to mention that agonizing scene after Anastasia Grishina's terrible floor exercise routine, wherein she failed to complete an entire tumbling pass:  that image of the poor child staring up at the scoreboard like she REALLY didn't want to look, but, with her teammates gathered behind her, looking a little bit like an angry mob, she was occupying real estate between a rock and a hard place.  My heart really went out to her.

And then the commentator said something like, "Could you deliver the death blow to a weeping opponent?  We'll see if Team USA is up to the task."  REALLY?  AWESOME! D-R-A-M-A!

I did like the way that our girls held hands while they were awaiting the final tally on the tote board (after they delivered said death blow to said weeping opponent).  They give all appearances of actually, factually liking each other, and I have to think that that appearance is reality, because they truly function well as a team - probably the first actual "team" that we have fielded in decades.

But would it be too much for one of them to have a non-Minnie Mouse voice?  I would be so beside-myself-happy if Marta Karolyi could locate an up-and-coming, Olympic-caliber female gymnast with a whiskey voice.  I had high hopes for Alicia Sacramone.  And all I can think is, if only this were the seventies:  back then, you could give a kid a budding gymnastics star a cigarette as a means of roughing her voice up a bit, AND as an added bonus the nicotine would stunt her growth.  Win-win.  I AM TOTALLY KIDDING.  SORT OF.  I really want to hear Lauren Bacall's voice come out of a 4'11" balance beam specialist with a cheerleader pony.  Or I would take Kirstie Alley's in a pinch.  I'M JUST SAYING.

Speaking of ponies:  whattup with the samurai hairstyles, Team USA?  The Fierce Five is supposed to succeed to the legacy of the Magnificent Seven, not the Seven Samurai.  But you are sporting topknots straight out of a Kurosawa film, so I think that, possibly, you are confused.

And I won't even get started about the eyebrows. Instead, I will direct you to this blogger's opinions.  Couldn't have said it better myself, so I won't even try.

At least we laid off of the glitter spray.  Was the glitter on the Russians' eyebrows intentionally placed there, or did it filter down from higher altitudes?  If so, it might explain some of their technical glitches:  loose glitter in their eyes was affecting their depth perception.  But you have to learn to play through these challenges, ladies.  Refer to Michael Phelps' goggles filling with water in Beijing.  Dude still got gold.

Okay, I'm done being catty.  I can only "do" catty for so long, before the urge to shout at someone, or overturn a table, takes over.  (What does the Big Kid call them?  "Rage quits"?  Eastern Europeans invented the rage quit.  Mediterranean types would probably disagree with that last statement.  To which Eastern Europeans would respond:  WANNA TAKE IT OUTSIDE, MEDITERRANEAN TYPES?)

Gotta be true to my gender, but also gotta be true to my roots.  I'm just saying.

Kid Stuff: First World Problems, Day Camp Edition Part II

When we last left the McGlinchey family, the Mom (that would be moi) had just discovered that she was sending her wee son to camp on an empty stomach . . . .

"Hey, no problem, " I thought.  "We have just enough time to stop at the McDonald's where we bought the orange juice yesterday.  Surely they have some sort of sweet roll product."

WRONG.  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  The only portable breakfast items on McDonald's menu (or, at least, on this franchise's menu) were variations on a sausage biscuit.  The Little Kid:  not a big sausage fan.  But there was a hotcakes line item, above a more expensive hotcakes meal line item.  I ASSUMED (naively) that the cheaper option, without the meal appellation, would be a simple container of hotcakes.  This being a fast-food restaurant with a drive-through feature, I NAIVELY ASSUMED that said hotcakes would be made somewhat portable.


I ordered "just hotcakes," and a sausage egg McMuffin for myself.  I handed the bag to the Little Kid and told him that he was in charge of breakfast distribution.  I mean, two items:  how hard could it be?

PJ:  Mom, there's this biscuit thing with a little hamburger patty.

Me:  Oh, that's my breakfast.  Open the other container.

PJ:  NO.  There are two things in the bag, Mom.  A biscuit thing with a little hamburger patty, wrapped in paper, and a tray thingie with ANOTHER biscuit and hamburger patty thing, a big pile of eggs and pancakes.  Oh, and THIS.

[Little Kid reaches up and shoves a hashbrown cake under my nose.]

Me:  Um, okay, either they got our order wrong, or "just hotcakes" means more than "just hotcakes."

PJ [wailing]:  How am I supposed to put butter and syrup on my pancakes with all of this other STUFF on my plate?  Oh - OW, OW, OW!  The pancakes are burning me!

I pull into the first parking lot on my right.  I survey the contents of the bag and determine that, in fact, our McDonald's "breakfast-to-go" is one hot mess.  Literally.  The pancakes are searingly warm.  They are smushed on a plate along with a ridiculously large pile of scrambled eggs and a sausage biscuit.  The syrup is ridiculously runny - like, the most watery syrup I have ever seen.  And there's a ton of it, and I only want to put a dab in the middle of each pancake before I stack 'em double decker sandwich-style, but then what do I do with what is left over, since there's no way to reseal the container?  Okay, yes, I knew going in that hotcakes were on the "less portable" end of the breakfast food spectrum, but THIS IS McDONALD'S, so in the back of my mind I was thinking that, surely, SOME REASONABLE ADAPTATIONS WERE MADE TO MAKE THE STUFF HALFWAY CONVENIENT TO EAT.


Like a battlefield general, I start making snap command decisions.

Okay, this plastic bag is going to be the haz mat bag.  Pancake - butter, dab of syrup.  Repeat, and top with last pancake.  Hand to child on styrofoam tray that the "NOT just hotcakes" came on, with instructions to pick it up like a sandwich.  Dump butter and syrup containers in haz mat bag.  Shove a reasonable amount of egg product into the smaller sausage biscuit, dump the remaining egg into the haz mat bag.  Leave the sausage egg McMuffin that I actually ordered in its paper wrap, chunk the hashbrown cake that came from - where, exactly? - into the paper sack with the other sandwich and reserve for Daddy.  To eat, or to fling at Direct TV Guy - his call.  Double-knot haz mat bag until we get in the vicinity of a trash can.

At this point, it dawns on me that, in some alternative universe, a down-on-her-luck mother and her child are ordering "just hotcakes" and a sausage egg McMuffin, because they only have $3.31 to their names, and when they open the bag and discover a veritable cornucopia of bonus breakfast food, they praise a loving God with tears streaming down their faces.

I have more than $3.31 to my name - in fact, on this particular day, I even had more than $3.31 in cash in my wallet.  (Trust me, this is a notable accomplishment.)  As such, I am the ungrateful snit who is kvetching about the fact that THERE'S JUST TOO MUCH FOOD, and WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL OF THIS INCONVENIENT FOOD, and NOW WE'RE GOING TO BE PUSHING IT TO GET TO DAY CAMP, AND HE MIGHT MISS ARCHERY.

Yeah, First World problems, for sure.

As we are nearing the camp, there it is on my left:  the Donut Palace with a drive-through window.  The very same Donut Palace that we have been passing en route to camp for years, and saying, "Hey, some morning when we aren't running too late, WE SHOULD DRIVE THROUGH AND GET SOME DONUTS."


Tomorrow, the thrilling conclusion, wherein the Big Kid makes Daddy really, really angry, when Daddy was really, really angry to begin with, on account of Direct TV's deceptive trade practices, and yada, yada.