Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bullet-Pointed Christmas

Please verify that Spouse and I are not the only ones who send emails like this during the holidays.  Explanatory notes bracketed and in Italics, actual text of the email appearing as regular text.

Christmas-related bullet points:
  • When you pick up C., tell him that I have K's body spray (Vanilla Bean Noel - the girl equivalent of Axe; I sampled the lotion, and now I reek), and a bag to put it and the giraffe ornament in.  He needs to remember to take her gift and the chameleon glasses to school tomorrow.

[These are the chameleon glasses.  They are Big Kid's gift exchange item for swim team.  He picked them because they look, sort of, like goggles.  But are totally unusable as such, on account of how they have no lenses.

Giraffes are the source of a private joke between Big Kid and his girlfriend.]

  • P. needs to bring his teacher gifts tomorrow as well.

[I have had Little Kid's teacher gifts for weeks and fully intended to send them up to school early, on the theory that it would be one less thing for a teacher to carry home on the last day of school.  Of course, I utterly failed to follow through on this awesome suggestion-to-self.]

  • I found an appropriately sized flag case for Dad’s casket flag (also got a free bottle of body lotion for Nana when I bought K.’s stuff) and got the balance of J.’s gift while I was out today, so the only things remaining on my to-do list involve picking up Water Gardens photos at Barron Photografix and buying replacement (actual human-sized) boot cuffs for L.G. at the antique mall.  Intentionally pushed off those two trips because they are off of the beaten path and can be accomplished Saturday AM while the unwashed masses are the (non-antique) malls.  

[My dad died almost two years ago.  We are just now getting around to putting his flag in a thingy.  Which is okay, I suppose, given that we purchased room in the crypt at his church for his ashes, the tab for which has long since been paid for, but Dad's still in a box in Mom's room.  Baby steps.
I ordered crocheted boot cuffs for my friend's nine year-old daughter through Etsy.  The item listing said "child"-sized.  I bought them based on a general working knowledge of Etsy sites and an understanding that "infant" means infant, "toddler" means toddler, and "child" means a smallish human who is nevertheless bigger than an infant or a toddler.  Yeah, what arrived are toddler-sized as best.  Little Kid couldn't even get them over his feet, and Little Kid is pretty tiny.] 
  • While “I” am basically finished, “you” are not – still need to finish Christmas for A. and birthday for Z. (framing gift cards for both?) and Christmas for B. ($25 Harbor Freight gift card).

[I shop for all of the women and girls, plus Spouse and the kids, neighbors, teachers, ministers, friends, etc.; Spouse shops for his three brothers and one male nephew, plus me.  That's five people on Spouse's list, and eleven-ty million-trillion on mine, but I always end up finishing first.] 

  • I am still waiting on two packages – a scarf for M. and the hymn wall hanging for T. and L.  Both are set to be delivered to the house.  Everything else I was waiting for arrived at the office when I was out yesterday.

[I have always felt like we were weird gifters - not in the sense of weird people who gift, although that probably applies, too, but in the sense of gifters who gift weird stuff - and seeing "giraffe ornament," "chameleon glasses," "casket flag case," "crocheted boot cuffs" and "hymn wall hanging" in the above communique pretty much seals the deal.]

Friday, December 12, 2014

That's How You Know

You may be the mother of a teenaged boy if:

1.  Much of what you have purchased for him for Christmas is apparel.

2.  You decide that it's a good idea for him to try on some of said apparel before wrapping those items - notwithstanding that that will spoil the surprise - because you suspect that some things are too short or too tight.  Good call, because YES, and YES, and everything pant and jean ended up having to go back to be exchanged for bigger sizes.

3.  You end up taking one shirt and one pair of pants out of the gift column and give them to him in advance, after you realize that, while he has a sports coat and slacks to wear to holiday functions with the one dress shirt that currently fits him, that's pretty much ALL he has to wear to holiday functions.  And swapping out a different tie only gets you so far.

You may be the mother of a teenaged boy AND an elementary school kid if all of your holiday photos look like the one above, and you find yourself sympathizing with the photographer who had to get Manute Bol in the same frame as Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ninja Shopping Assassin

I got a late start on gift acquisition this year, on account of being sick, tired and sick of being tired for most of Thanksgiving.  (Thanks, ever-changing North Texas weather and killer pollen counts!)  But I am making up for it.

In fact, I'm prepared to call it:  I am a ninja shopping assassin.

Immediate family:  done.  Mother and mother-in-law:  very close to.

Sisters-in-law and grown niece:  final touches knocked out in a half hour of online shopping completed this morning, thanks to Lands' End, Macy's and Neiman Marcus, who conveniently offered me deep discounts, shipping deals AND money in the kids' Upromise account.  Only missing one monogram.

Baby nieces:  done.  Besties and their kids:  one item lacking, another en route from an Etsy seller.  Otherwise, complete.  Neighbors:  done.  Teachers:  done and done.

You get the idea.

Not done:  two brothers-in-law.  Spouse is in charge of acquiring their gifts.

Pray for us.

I like to make lists, and I like to efficiently cross items off of those lists (while also leaving some wiggle room for impulse purchases).  This year, I have a Trello board for my lists.  More on that later.  My game plan always involves purchasing and wrapping a little each day, every day, so I don't get overly stressed, and I try to wrap up that process at least ten days out from 12/25.  Spouse's default mode is more of the "wheels-off, skid-across-the-finish-line-on-fire" kind of thing (although he has gotten SO much better over two decades, something for which I take SO much credit, and it's been a long time since he accused me of being the Grinch for suggesting that waiting to do his shopping until 12/23 and 12/24 was kind of a wack idea).

(Note to file:  I am so blond that, after I looked up how to spell "wack" and was surprised to learn that it wasn't spelled like the real word "whack," it took me a five-count to go, "OH - SHORT FOR WACKY."  I am forever "discovering" obvious things like this.  A recent example, driving down Montgomery Street here in Fort Worth:  "Look, hon.   Billiards and Barstools put up their giant inflatable holiday bear, and Vending Nut put up a nutcracker again.  OH, I JUST GOT IT.  IT'S ALWAYS A NUTCRACKER BECAUSE THEY SELL NUTS.")

I have spent a lot of time this year serving as personal shopper for Big Kid, acquiring gifts for youth ministry staff and choir directors and white elephant items for multiple gift exchanges.  Once upon a time, I participated in multiple gift swaps, but now I'm down to one, and for every one I've dropped, Big Kid has picked up a replacement.  I refer to this as the Matter-Antimatter Theory of Holiday Gift Shopping:  everything offsets.  An aged family member dies, and a baby joins the family in the same year, so you still end up shopping for the same number of people.  And, apparently, I will always need to shell out $X for Y number of gift exchanges.

As Yoda would put it:  balance in the Christmas force, there is.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sudden Realization

Our tree is an I Spy.
I spy two (of three) sequined partridges (sewn by my mother),
a poodle and a felt horned frog (sewn by my grandmother-in-law),
one of a growing number of sock monkeys,
the Wizard of Oz,
the parrot judge from Alice in Wonderland,
a bunny rabbit dressed like Superman . . .
. . . and on, and on, and on, and on.
Our tree reminds me, sort of, of the Special Shapes Glodeo, an event we attended with Little Kid when we visited New Mexico during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Only the non-balloon-shaped hot air balloons participate, and they don't take off.  Rather, they are inflated shortly before dusk, and when it gets sufficiently dark, someone counts backwards from ten, and all of the balloon pilots ignite their burners at once.  You have not lived until you are standing in the middle of a field (yes, you are encouraged to go out amidst the balloons), surrounded by the most random combination of nightlights-on-steroids imaginable.  To your left, the Belgian flag, next to Chesty the Marines Corps Bulldog.  To your right, a piggy bank next to a matryoshka doll.  In front of you, a giant bottle of whiskey.  I promise you that is one of the most surreally beautiful things you will ever see.
Our tree makes as little sense - and as much sense - as the Special Shapes do.  Each ornament is unique, some are quite weird, but, together, they make sense.
Every one has a story behind it, and the stories are a big part of the beauty.  I get that now.  When I was young, and being raised by a non-matching-tree mother, I used to go through holiday catalogs and wonder what it might be like to have a coordinated tree.  At one point, I suggested that Mom do away with all of the non-matching stuff and just buy a few kits of entirely impersonal, but totally coordinated, glass balls, in colors to match the furniture.  She declined.  And now I have my own version of a Hodgepodge Tree, with WAY too many ornaments, and I cannot imagine having anything else. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Speaking of Pineapples . . .

. . . and I WAS, I apparently have a kindred spirit living somewhere in Los Angeles, who decided that the best birthday theme for her toddler was . . . FOXES AND PINEAPPLES.  Because he loves (get ready for this) . . . FOXES AND PINEAPPLES.  What a co-inky-dink, right? 

(Technically, the kid wasn't so much of a fan of foxes, per se, as of that "What Does the Fox Say?" song, but I digress.)

This is exactly the sort of inspired nonsense that I live for.  Parties should be personal, and what's more personal than mashing up two totally unrelated things?  Bonus points if you can mash them up with this level of style:


Coupla things:

  1.  I'm prepared to call it:  2015 will be The Year of the Pineapple.  Well, at my house, anyway.  But I'm going to try to make it a thing elsewhere.
  2. I need a "Party Like a [Pineapple Wearing Sunglasses]" pillow, stat.
  3. This mother was fortunate that her child liked a song and a fruit that translated into a cute, citrus-colored party concept.  Both of our boys, oddly, were obsessed with Earth Wind & Fire's "September" as wee ones, although neither one knew the true title until years later.  Big Kid called it the "Oh-Dee-Oh Song," because of the chorus, and Little Kid called it "Night-A-Gruseum," because it was featured at the end of the film, "Night at the Museum," which Big Kid was watching on a continuous loop.  In terms of food, Big Kid's most notable culinary achievement as of age two was a chile relleno, and Little Kid liked carrot cake.  So, trying hard to mash up Earth Wind & Fire, cheese-stuffed chile peppers and carrot cake, and kinda failing.
  4. When I say "coupla things," I almost never mean a couple of things.

Entire party can be viewed on the Inspired By This site.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Pineapple Motives

I am really regretting that that Regretsy chick decided to focus on voiceover work (she's the voice of Wander's sidekick on "Wander Over Yonder," in case you were wondering), because this would be SO up her alley.
DISCLAIMER:  I swear that I did not go in search of crocheted monokinis on the Internet.  I was actually looking for boot toppers for a preteen girl.  Somehow, this showed up as a search result:
"A black monokini with pineapple motives."  I am 99.9% sure that the owner of the shop meant to say "pineapple MOTIFS."  But "pineapple motives" is now my FAVORITE PHRASE OF ALL TIME.  And I plan to work it into conversation AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Allow me to point out that I first discovered "a black monokini with pineapple motives" when I was still suffering from a horrible "dregs of seasonal rhinitis" cough, and I laughed so hard that I tripped my coughing wire, and then it was all I could do not to actually pee my pants.
There are so many things I love about . . . THIS.  Among them, why do items only ship to Australia from Georgia?  Some of the monokini selections seem to be targeted to the Americas (see "Puerto Rican Monokini" and "Jamaican Monokini").  Is there a market for crocheted-Puerto-Rican-flag-motif-plus-size-swimwear in Oceania?  If so, why?  And then there is this:

"And any size in other body parts" is my second favorite phrase next to "pineapple motives."

I have to say that the quality of the artist's work is amazing.  I can't even fathom how one would go about crocheting a one-shouldered ANYTHING, let alone a swimsuit, and the actual crocheting on some of the pieces is crazy-intricate.  The lily-motif bikini is absolutely beautiful.

But THIS one is my favorite.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christine the Elf

Friend Christine is a Santa elf in human form.
Sitting at my desk, and a message pops up.  Just a picture - this picture.

BING.  Another message.  "Does P need a chair in his room?"
YES.  If it's a shark-shaped chair, and it's flipping adorable, YES.
My actual response:  "OMG, WHERE ARE YOU?"
Her response to my response:  "Homegoods!  Call me."
As I am dialing the number, picture #2 comes through:

"They have yellow and navy, black and green, and gray and turquoise."

A good friend calls and tells you that there are shark-shaped chairs at Homegoods, in a variety of colorways.  A really good friend advises you that the chair is getting purchased either way, because technically she's not finished with your son's birthday present, but she is giving you the option of being the awesome person who gifts him with a shark-shaped chair.  (I believe her actual words were, "I don't want to upstage you with the shark chair without permission.")  We agreed on the more authentic grey/turquoise color combo and that she would buy and I would reimburse.

"Okay, he's in my basket.  I knew that you would want to know, and I knew that he wouldn't last long."

Yup, and agreed.  Aaaaaaaaaand, in five minutes' time, "whimsical wow gift for under the tree" was crossed off of my list - before said list was even completed.

I am fortunate to have several such elves in my life - those awesome girlfriends (plus one male coworker and my mom) who randomly discover something that they know I will want to know about, and possibly acquire, and immediately text me (well, Mom doesn't text, she calls) and offer to serve as personal shopper.  You all know who you are, and - because I don't say it often enough - you're all kinds of appreciated.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

All Is Right With the World

THE ADVENT CALENDAR HAS CANDY CANES.  Now the fighting over said candy canes can commence. 
"It's my turn to get the candy cane."

"No, you're odd days, I'M even.  This one is mine."
I bought two dozen extra, so that BOTH kids will get a candy cane EVERY DAY, regardless of who updates the calendar.  That may cut down on the bickering.  Although the bickering, I think, is part of the fun, for all involved.
Candy Cane Santa hangs in the hallway next to the "Doodle of the Day" chalkboard that, in retrospect, I should have titled "Doodle That Mom Adds, Maybe, Occasionally, When She Remembers."  Let the record show that it currently has a seasonally appropriate doodle.  Which will probably stay in place through December and not be replaced until February.
Meh.  Consistency is overrated.  More fun to keep them guessing.  For example, by starting the Christmas countdown on December 2nd.

Once Again, The Mom's Heart Grows Three Sizes

When I went to bed last night, I thought to myself that, perhaps, I had outdone myself on the tree-trimming.  Like, possibly, my best work ever.

My very next thought was that this was, sort of, ironic, because - at 10 and 15 - the boys can now both be accurately described as "big kids" (although I will continue to refer to the little one as the Little Kid for clarity's sake).  Big kids who are, maybe, a little bit jaded about the whole Christmas thing, meaning that this year's Christmas decorating is the equivalent of playing to an empty room.

And then this morning happened.

On the way out the door to school, Big Kid stopped.  Got out his smart phone.

"Wait, Dad, I need to take a picture of the tree.  I want to make it my wallpaper."

(His previous wallpaper was a photo of his girlfriend.)

And then:

"Mom, don't forget that you need to buy candy canes for the Advent calendar.  Like, now.  We're already a day behind."

The Little Kid echoed his sentiment:  "Yeah, Mom.  We HAVE to have candy canes.  It's, like, a tradition."

Big Kid was humming a Christmas carol as they left the house.

Possibly not as jaded as I thought.  And, hopefully, never completely so.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Connor AKA: The Brother

Essay written by the Little Kid:

Connor AKA:  The Brother
Do you have a special person in your life?  My special person is probably my older brother Connor.  Connor has allways been a certain role modle for me.  Connor helps people and he is kind, thankful, nice, careing, thoughtful, forgiveful and is a great person in general.
Connor also does very fun things with me.  Some examples are playing soccer, football, baseball, basketball, riding bikes, going to movies, playing video games, helping me with schoolwork and many other wonderful things.
Connor also does comunity service with me.  Some comunity services we do together are Cowtown Brushup, volunteering at nursing homes and other things like helping my grandma on her farm which gives something to Aledo, etc., etc.
I am so thankful for having such a great person in my life.  My brother Connor is truely the most special person in my life.  Now tell me who your person is again?
And his mother's heart grew three sizes that day - and she resolved to scan said essay into PDF and save it to Google Drive, so that any time the Little Kid expressed dislike for the Big Kid, or Big Kid claimed that the Little Kid MUST have it in for him, she could present them with conclusive evidence of The Truth, from any location from which the Internet was accessible.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Meandering Musings for a Monday (September 8th Edition)

Filed under the heading "first-world problems": 

I feel like I spend a disproportionate amount of time inserting my hands under things in public restrooms and waiting for those things to turn on.  Am I not getting soap/water/hot air because the device is actually broken, or am I just not putting my hands in the right place?  Is this a common problem, or is it just me?  Am I really so inept that I cannot trigger something that is supposed to $%*#ing function simply by sensing your presence in front of it?  Maybe I'm trying too hard.  Admittedly, my instinct after the initial failure to launch is to violently jab my hands under the sensor beam in a rather threatening manner.  And, while I do not say it out loud, in my head I am repeating, "It's broken.  MINE IS BROKEN," doing my best impersonation of Julia Roberts when she first encountered opera glasses in "Pretty Woman."  I mean, is it too much to ask to calibrate these things so that the sensor is tripped by the same movement, at the same height, across multiple technology platforms?

I warned you that it was a first-world problem.

Moving on to "first-world OCD problems":  SERIOUSLY, ONE KINGS LANE?  You're walking on thin ice changing your layout, period, but changing your layout ON A MONDAY is enough to make my head explode.  I seriously cannot deal with this kind of emotional upheaval at the beginning of a week.  After all, I am the girl who almost ran off the road when the Texas Department of Transportation changed the font that it uses for road signs.  We're not talking a major change, either:  THEY MOVED FROM ONE SANS SERIF FONT TO ANOTHER SANS SERIF FONT.  BUT I NOTICED.  AND I BECAME UNHINGED.

This is me in a nutshell. (Actually, THIS is me in a nutshell:  "Help!  I'm in a nutshell.  How did I get into this bloody great big nutshell?"  YES, I stole that from Austin Powers.  I think the relevant question is, how could I NOT steal that from Austin Powers?)  Major life upheaval:  no problem.  Slight change in the way a lower-case g looks on paper?  Kill me now. 

I blame this on:  (1) being a highly visual person; and (2) never having my arms scratched with brushes as a kid.  As an adult, I am very much aware that my unique "me-ness" (or, as we have referred to it for years, my "princess-and-the-pea-ness") is not so unique and has an actual name - sensory processing disorder with over-sensitivity.  Per Wikipedia, people with SPD with over-sensitivity:

Refuse to kiss or hug, not because they don't like the person, but because the sensation of skin contact can be very negative.

Poor Spouse and Little Kid:  they are convinced that I find them repugnant, because I am constantly shoving them off of me and shouting things at them like, "STOP, YOU ALREADY HUGGED ME" or "NO, IT'S TOO EARLY IN THE MORNING" (my me-ness tends to be at its very worst right when I wake up?).  As hard as I try, I am mostly unable to convince them that I like them just fine - as long as they keep a proper distance and don't sneak up and force public displays of affection on me.  They truly can't process that an unexpected hugs BURN MY SKIN LIKE FIRE.  (For the record, I think that, maybe, they hug overmuch.  I suspect that they have the other kind of SPD, with under-sensitivity, and that is why they CAN'T STOP TOUCHING THINGS.  Whereas I would be happy not touching things, more often than not.  See below.)

Feel seriously discomforted, sick or threatened by normal sounds, lights, movements, smells, tastes or even inner sensations such as heartbeat.

Umm, so here's some examples from my personal life:

Can't handle the smell of peanut M&Ms in confined spaces.  Refused to walk through Sears as a child because they were always popping popcorn at the little kiosk near the "make-a-key center," the popcorn had too much salt on it, and the salt made the back of my throat burn to the point that I thought that I was dying.

Drive Spouse and my auto mechanic crazy by constantly reporting "suspicious noises" that I am never able to duplicate, because what I am hearing is the actual mechanical operations of my vehicle.  Like, the sound of coolant moving through the coolant lines:  "THERE.  DO YOU HEAR THAT GURGLING?"  No, they don't hear it.  NO ONE HEARS IT, except for me, and, maybe, dogs.  When temperatures drop below freezing, I really come unspooled, because the tiny amount of shrinkage that occurs when metal gets cold changes infinitesimally the noises that I hear inside the car, and I start to complain about "the rattling."  "The car won't stop rattling.  It sounds like it's coming apart.  Is it the engine?"  No.  It is the sound of the actual axles turning in their housings, which sound is ever-so-slightly different to my dog ears than it is in the summertime.

Am often so aware of the beating of my own heart that it feels like it is coming out of my chest.

It is somewhat of a relief to know that there is a name for what I always presumed was a character flaw (and that that condition is linked to health issues that, apparently, can all be traced to having an overactive nervous system).  It is somewhat of a bummer to know that I probably would be much more functional today if I had had occupational therapy as a child (the aforementioned "scratching with brushes" and other activities designed to recondition nerve endings).  Sadly, I was born in an era where children with what we now understand to be Asperger's "marched to the beat of their own drummer" and ADHD kids were "high energy."  Within those parameters, I was a "standoffish little prisspot," and I wasn't able to articulate to people that my stand-offishness and prissiness were related to my body being at DEFCON 1 all the damned time, because I had no idea that DEFCON 1 wasn't the default mode of operations for most humans.

Once again:  first world problems.  Nice to have people who hug me against my will, a car to drive me to distraction with phantom noise issues, and a computer and Internet access that allow me to assure myself that I'm really not crazy, just a bit overwired and, often, overtired.  And, on that note, off to Bedfordshire.  I'm sure that OKL's tweaked user interface will seem (marginally) less offensive with the light of day.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WWJSD (What Would Julia Sugarbaker Do)?

Dixie Carter gave an interview once where she expressed the opinion that being a Southern woman of a certain age was a joy, because you had full license to speak your mind.  And when she said that, I remember thinking, "Why wait?"  I decided that "a certain age" really ought to translate into "whatever age I am now."

Since then, I've found it hard to keep my Southern mouth shut.

A recent example of when I had to muzzle myself:  guy waiting for his car at the valet stand, carrying on a very loud conversation with . . . no one.  Because he was plugged into his Bluetooth.  He was yelling at someone named Jessica.  And I came this close to whipping out my own phone, holding it to my ear and carrying on one-half of an imaginary conversation as follows:

What's up?  Waiting for the valet and listening to this guy yell at some poor soul named Jessica who is probably holding the phone out LIKE THIS.  Yeah, he's on his Bluetooth.  Umm, thinning hair, medium height and build, striped oxford, khakis?

At this point, he would turn around and look at me, slackjawed, and I'd either wave at him or give him the thumbs up, and then resume my "conversation" while abruptly changing the topic to something 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

A recent example of when I didn't muzzle myself:  a local pub-style restaurant that my work friends and I frequent always has the soup of the day listed on the chalkboard by the front door.  Yesterday's selection looked interesting, so I searched the menu for "soup of the day" and found - nothing.  No soup-and-sandwich or soup-and-salad option, not a side dish or substitution item, NO MENTION OF SOUP OF ANY KIND, IN ANY CONTEXT.

So I called over the owner (who, over eighteen or so years, has come to know us pretty well, and knows what to expect).

"Hey, the soup of the day looks good."

"It is."

"Are you aware that you don't actually SELL soup?"

"I don't?"

"Well, not in terms of 'listing it on the menu and assigning it a price point.'  I mean, you may be selling incidental quantities based on anecdotal evidence that soup exists, but your menu certainly isn't doing you any favors in the soup-marketing department."

I was very upbeat and direct in my delivery.  And I could tell that he appreciated my unique blend of brutal honesty and sunniness.  As well he should!  I was doing him a SERVICE.  Just like when he printed new menus after changing locations several years back, and I asked him about the sauce on the fish sandwich:

"Tarter than what?  Regular tartar sauce?"


"The fish sandwich comes with TARTER sauce.  With an E.  So is it something different than tartar sauce, in that it is more tart?  Tart-ER?"


"Were they literate people?"

Like I say, he knows what to expect from me.

Last night, I had to fill out first-day-of-school forms for the Little Kid.  I hate this exercise, because of the sheer number of forms that require me to fill in my child's name, his student ID number, the school and the date, and then check a box confirming that, no, my child is not a migrant farmworker, or an Inuit or Aleut, or the child of a serviceperson, or sleeping on a non-relative's couch.  I understand why this information is important, but my objection is to the fact that the check-boxes come one to a page.  THIS form is just for checking yes or no to the farmworker question, and if you check no, there is a bold-type legend telling you to STOP THERE AND DON'T FILL OUT THE REST OF THE FORM.  Meaning that seven-eighths of a piece of paper just went to waste.  The Inuit Islander question appears on an entirely different form (another seven-eighths lost), and so on.  PEOPLE, CAN WE NOT CREATE A MASTER FORM WITH ONE GLOBAL QUESTION AT THE TOP?  "My child [IS/IS NOT] a migrant farm-working Inuit or Aleut sleeping on a non-relative's couch while one or both of his/her parents is deployed."  If you check "IS NOT," then you're done.  Boom.

That sound is the sound of grateful trees weeping tree-tears (would that be sap?) at my suggestion.

The form that bugs me the most is the one requesting permission to list our address and phone information in the district directory.  THERE IS NO DISTRICT DIRECTORY - and why would there be?  We live in a largish city, with a sprawling ISD comprised of a bazillion campuses.  Yet, year after year, the question is asked.  And, year after year, I check "no" on principle, and write some version of the following in the margin:


I tell myself that surely someone in the front office, or in central administration, will read my comment , actually GET IT, and mutter, "HA! Right?"  They might snort a little.  AND I WILL HAVE MADE THEIR DAY.  Yeah, I know that, more likely than not, no one ever reads my comment, and if they do, they probably don't get it.  But I don't care.  It makes me feel better to vent.  And it's sort of become a tradition.

Tradition is important to Southerners "of a certain age."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scenes From a Wednesday Evening

Walk into the bedroom this evening, discover Little Kid has taken over said bedroom, and origami projects have taken over my bed.

Without preamble: 

"MOM.  I'm kind of in a bad mood right now."

I walk past him, enter the bathroom.  Ask him to explain.

He starts to explain.

And I cut him off.

"I'm sorry. We interrupt your bad mood in progress for this announcement.  I JUST SAT IN YOUR PEE."

[I have omitted the scream of surprise that preceded my announcement.  Mainly because I can't be bothered to figure out how to spell it phonetically.]

For the record, it was a lot of pee.  And (unfortunately) I have ample basis for comparison.

And so it is that ninety seconds after entering the house, I was in the shower.

Some time thereafter, Spouse put chicken breasts stuffed with Hatch green chile tamales into the oven for our dinner.  (By "our," I mean his and mine.  Both kids opted for something less adventurous.  I didn't fight them - mainly because we only had two chicken breasts.)

The chicken breasts were huge, and overstuffed.  They took a LONG time to cook.  Meanwhile, they filled the house with deliciousness, and made me very much aware of how hungry I was.  The weird thing is, I couldn't smell the chicken, or the chiles - just the baking tamale aroma.

No sooner had I commented on this to Spouse, Big Kid came out of his room:

"I am suddenly craving pancakes.  Or waffles.  Something in that arena."


"No.  Ick.  Toast?  I could go for toast."

"You're smelling the tamale stuffing in what Dad's cooking for us.  But, totally agreed that it's very pancake-y."

"Would you consider making pancakes at this juncture?"


"Just one pancake?"

"Even less of a fan of making one pancake than several."


"YES.  I distinctly remember seeing canned biscuits in the fridge.  Baby -"

Spouse (who was eavesdropping from a room away) was already on it.

And so it is that I washed down a tamale-stuffed chicken breast with two buttermilk biscuits tricked out with butter and honey.  And then I washed THOSE down with a delightful Cotes des Gascogne.  Because once you've gone carb, you know?

Pee-sitting incident:  water under the bridge.  Or urine under the buttocks.  Whatevs.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Meandering Musings for a Monday (August 11th Edition)

A baker's dozen things that make me happy after a Monday to win all Mondays:

1.  Nine year-olds who answer the phone when you call home on the way back from the doctor and insist on conversing with you in an oddly accented robot voice.  And ask "When will you be home, Mom?" and are genuinely excited about your unscheduled workday visit, circumstances notwithstanding.

2.  Sweet friends who pop in, sprawl on the bed and check up on you when they know you are sick and tired.

3.  Spouses who help you rationalize that (now that you have had a restorative steroid shot) sushi isn't really a weird thing to be craving on a terribly upset stomach because (a) I mean, you crave things FOR A REASON and (b) ginger.  Really, really good for the stomach.  So, duh.

4.  Spouses who fetch you sushi.

5.  Pancakes and margaritas.  This is what a friend who was also having a horrid day actually had for dinner this evening.  And now I really wish I had thought of it before the sushi thing.

It's now on my "near future bucket list."

6. Dogs posing in photo booths.  Best. Concept.  Ever.  (And proof of what I have always suspected:  Pomeranians are the life of the party.  And I want one.  A Pomeranian, not a dog photo booth.  Okay, possibly I do want both.  "Adopt a Pom:  Photo Booth Free With Purchase" may be the best marketing gimmick EVER.)

[Link to more awesome dog photos here.]

7.  THEM.

Like, if you set out to genetically engineer the coolest couple ever - YOU MIGHT GET THEM.

8.  Maybe, also, them?

Apparently, Gillian Anderson has been seen hanging out with David Duchovny a lot lately.  And now his divorce is final.  Never happy to see a couple split up, but if the break was inevitable . . . why NOT Mulder and Scully?  Nineties me who had a standing date with her fiancé/husband to watch every episode of "X-Files" (and actually paid to see the first movie in the theater, but not the second one) WANTS TO BELIEVE.

9.  MINISTRY OF SILLY WALKS is now an app.  And (speaking of divorce and my geekiness) John Cleese is using proceeds from the app to pay for his divorce!  Way to make the best out of a bad situation.

[This ends the geek portion of my post.  And now we turn to sports.]

10. THIS.  And Broadway Joe making stew with your mom and Archie Manning floating in space.

[Link to awesome Manning rap video here.]

11.  Hunter Pence signs.  The fact that they are clever and not mean-spirited. 

The fact that he responded by turning that last one into a meme, with an image of himself posing in a sleek convertible on a showroom floor.

And the fact that we are apparently calling all clever and not mean-spirited signs of this genre "Hunter Pence signs," EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT DIRECTED AT HUNTER PENCE.

 12.  FSU Football's questionable decision to set up a Web chat with Jameis Winston.  And insightful fan questions like:

Of all of the coaches you have played for over the years, why did you steal those crab legs?

Jameis, you went 13-0 on the football field and 2-0 in the court system.  What was your overall record?

 13.  This little girl (AKA "Bernadette Peters FROM THE FUTURE") and her relationship with her daddy. 

The fact that he sings "although" as part of the melody, she corrects him, "No, Daddy, sing 'although'" and he instantly knows that SHE IS ASKING HIM TO SING HARMONY.  The mouth trumpet sequence, and her big finish.

(The background:  the family moved to a somewhat remote part of Austria for his work.  Apparently firing off fireworks in the middle of the night to celebrate every minor holiday is a thing in this remote part of Austria.  (Having briefly lived in Austria - yeah, this doesn't surprise me.)  Fireworks were no bueno with the little one, and so Dad suggested a sing-along as a means of distracting her.)

Video here.

If you want to download the Silly Walks app, or see Jameis Winston get skewered on Twitter, just Google 'em.  I'm officially tired.  To paraphrase Natalie's mom in "Love Actually":  "Three is a lot of embedded links, David."  (For maximum effect, please read the last line in a working-class British accent.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Culturally Mormon(ish): Because Craft Closets Are So Last Year

Ripped from the pages of Southern Living's "2014 Idea House" issue, I bring you:


It's like a butler's pantry, except it's AN ENTIRE ROOM.  Where you can artfully display all of your serving pieces, and stage centerpieces and stuff for an upcoming party.


Except mine wouldn't look like this, on account of how my serving pieces are by no means matchy-matchy.  So, maybe, I'm not cut out for open-concept, but I can still covet, right?  Wait:  coveting, bad.  APPRECIATING, better.

For the record, I have an almost-clutter room.  We call it "The Larder," to differentiate it from "The Pantry," and because it's easier to direct someone to The Larder than "that wall of floor-to-ceiling 12-inch-deep cabinets that we put between the refrigerator and the door to the den because otherwise that wall would be useless space."  Technically, it's NOT a larder, because larders (as I understand them) are areas for storing food in relatively cool and dry conditions, so basically . . they're pantries.  But, whatever.  The top half of The Larder is supposed to be mine, and I do have a lot of stuff in there (dishes that we don't use that often, a punch bowl, a cookie jar shaped like a pig - like I said, NOT MATCHY-MATCHY) - stuff that you would commonly store in a butler's pantry, but, again, more than one thing called a pantry = overly confusing to male members of the household (big and small).  However, Spouse has overtaken some of "my" space and uses it as a place to hide tortilla chips, Girl Scout Cookies and other food items that he doesn't wish to share with the boys.  I think his rationale is that the place where Mom stores her punch bowl is probably the LAST place that young males would be prone to visit.  I proclaim this rationale sound.  Also, it occurs to me that, thanks to Spouse, MAYBE THE LARDER IS A LARDER AFTER ALL.

The bottom of The Larder is chock-full of pet supplies (an entire shoebox-sized plastic bin of dog bandanas!), with random stuff like spare light switch covers and cabinet knobs mixed in.  Again, not attractive, best kept hidden behind closed doors, but so grateful for the space.

When we redid the kitchen (incorporating The Official Pantry), The Hallway Broom Closet Formerly Known as The Pantry became my craft closet:

It's no Clutter Room - but only on account of the fact, that technically, it's not a room.  Any room of mind tends to be a "clutter room."

I'd like to think it's part of my charm.

Candle-Related Retraction

NOT going to buy a "Sweater Weather" candle from Bath & Body Works, because their Web site describes it as an "aromatic blend of eucalyptus, juniper berry and fresh sage."  Ick, and also, Spouse is crazy-allergic to eucalyptus. 

Frankly, I was expecting something pumpkin-based, because nothing says sweater weather to me more than pumpkin.  Fortunately, B&BW appears to have the pumpkin patch more than adequately covered, offering no less than NINE different pumpkin-based candles:

Pumpkin Apple
Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin
Caramel Pumpkin Swirl
Pumpkin Caramel Latte
Pumpkin Sugared Doughnut
Pumpkin Cupcake (pumpkin + buttercream)
Spiced Pumpkin Cider (pumpkin + apple, clementine and nutmeg)
Pumpkin Pecan Waffles (pumpkin + maple syrup and brown sugar)
Heirloom Pumpkin (pumpkin + nutmeg and brown sugar)

You might be asking yourself:  does the world need nine different types of pumpkin candles?  ABSO-BLEEPIN'-LUTELY.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's For the Kids

Friend Melanie (amazing director of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Fort Worth) to me: 

Kendra Scott revenue sharing night, benefiting CFF.  We get 20% of sales between 5 and 8 pm on August 5th..

Me to Spouse:

I have to buy trendy jewelry on August 5th.  IT'S FOR CHARITY.

Spouse to Me:

Well, sure.  I mean, it's basically a moral obligation.

(Yes, I realize that I won the husband lottery.)

Me to Spouse at 9 pm this evening:

You bought me the "Alexandra" in abalone shell and the "Danielle" in iridescent tangerine. 

[Photos below, for the uninitiated.]


Spouse:  Well, good for me.

Me:  Yes, you're very charitable and civic-minded.  You thought about buying the tangerine ones in the "Elle" [Elle is Danielle's petite sister], but the difference in price was only $10, and, you know, $2 of that goes to the kids, so that was that.  You also got a 15% off coupon good towards your next purchase.

Spouse:  And what else are we needing?

Me:  Well, I purposely didn't buy a necklace, because I saw you eyeing one the other day, and I know that you want to buy it for me.

Spouse:  No, you mistook intent for confusion.  It looked like [Name of Friend] had hung a single Danielle earring on a chain and attached a graduation tassel to it, and I wasn't sure if that was an actual thing or if she had gone rogue.

Me:  It's an actual thingAnd you should consider buying one before September 30th [expiration date on coupon].

[Necklace in question - the "Rayne," shown here in mystic iridescent - is below.]

[You can kind of see his point, right?]

Spouse:  I'll take that under advisement.

Me:  I also remembered to stop at Bath & Body Works, and use that coupon, and they were having a "buy three, get three free" sale on top of that, so I really cleaned up.  Small pun intended.  Oh, and I got another coupon, which I plan to use on candles.  [They have one called "Sweater Weather."  I have no idea what SW smells like, but I'm going to buy it based on the name alone, so GOOD JOB, B&BW MARKETING TEAM!]  I can give you a shopping list - you know, if you want to stop by there when you get my non-graduation-tasseled necklace.  I'm going to take a bath now, but first I'm going to do that thing where I try on different outfits with different accessories and ask your opinion.

[I didn't actually say the last part, because it's pretty much assumed.]

A few minutes later:

Me:  What do you think of this Mexican blouse with the abalone earrings and this [non-Kendra, previously owned] necklace?  You know, for tailgating.

Spouse:  I think the necklace is too much, given all of the embroidery up top.

Me:  You would be right, if my hair was down, but my hair is UP, so I can get away with the earrings AND the necklace AND the embroidery.

Spouse:  [Blank expression.]

Me:  See, when my hair is up, that's like one less accessory, and it also says "I'm kinda bohemian and devil-may-care and don't give a rat's patoot if you think I've got too much going on, because THIS IS JUST HOW I ROLL."

Spouse:  I learn something new from you every day.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Meandering Musings for a Monday (August 4th Edition)

As I have mentioned before, for some strange reason, I am on the American Girl catalog list.
And, for some strange reason, I am compelled to read it.  FROM COVER TO COVER.  It fascinates me.  And it makes me hate LEGOs less (although I still curse them when I step on them), because as annoying as the LEGO Store is, I feel like it's just a drop in the bucket - headache-induction-wise and expense-wise - compared to AG.
This go-round, I took particular note of "Julie's Roller Skates" ($20).  For the uninitiated, Julie is the 1970s-era American Girl doll, and as a child of the '70s I can report that these skates are ABSOLUTELY, 100% HISTORICALLY ACCURATE: 

By way of proof, I offer you the following:

My blue-and-yellow tennis shoe skates were by Braun-Bilt, and they were my most prized possession.  I wore them EVERYWHERE, including in the house.  Yes, just like Tootie on "The Facts of Life."  I tricked mine out with giant hot pink pompoms that had jingle bells in them.

The photo of "Julie's Roller Skates" ($20) in the catalog is accompanied by the following Italicized disclaimer:

Kids didn't often wear helmet in the 1970s.  Please wear a helmet whenever you skate.

Unlike "Julie's Roller Skates" ($20), this statement is historically INaccurate.  Kids NEVER wore helmets in the 1970s.  Fairly sure that helmets were not commercially available.

For the record, based on personal experience, kids in the 1970s also rode their bikes, sans helmets or adult chaperones, to the other phase of the subdivision to buy popsicles at the Stop N Go, and traversed public streets in the backs of pickup trucks and station wagons, unencumbered by safety devices of any kind.  Kid-specific rules pertaining to transportation could be accurately summed up as "flexible-to-nonexistent."

And, yet, we survived.

On the subject of survival (did you like that segue?), how did we get by for so long without One Kings Lane?   WITHOUT ONE KINGS LANE, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT-TO-IMPOSSIBLE TO ACQUIRE FIREPLACE ACCESSORIES ONCE OWNED BY TV'S RICHIE CUNNINGHAM:

Now, Opie Taylor's andirons are merely a click - and $825, plus shipping and handling - away.

For the record, "acquire brass home décor from Steve-from-American-Graffiti" has never been on my bucket list . . . UNTIL NOW. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tempting Fate

Whilst being forced to watch "Sharknado 2" with Little Kid, I perused the fourth grade school supply list, inventoried what we had left over from last year - and discovered that we have 70% of the list knocked out.

His backpack is in good condition, and Big Kid's will at least get him started.  Don't think he wants to be the first-day freshman with the shiny new backpack, anyway, so it's a win-win if I wait until his rather overpriced go-to pack goes on sale in early fall.  (He will only consent to one model, the Element Mohave Duo Skate-Pack.  Current version looks like the one below.)

Little Kid did manage to outgrow all of his school clothes, so he has, like, one size-appropriate navy polo to his name.  Make that had one size-appropriate navy polo, because now he has several, in both navy and white, plus jeans and shorts, because Old Navy decided to put polos, shorts and jeans on sale for $5, $8 and $10, respectively.  I usually miss out on their sale, and the prices tend to slide up a bit going into tax-free weekend, so I hit the "buy" button several times and am not sorry that I did.  Threw in some solid colored polos for Big Kid, applied a 25% discount coupon and finished 70% (or more) of our back-to-school shopping in a couple of clicks.

I should be looking upwards, right?  For the other shoe that is about to come crashing down on my head?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Mom and a Teenaged Boy Walk Into An American Eagle Outfitters

In a month, the Big Kid will be in high school - and, for the first time since kindergarten, he will not be constrained to wearing only navy and white polo shirts.

You would think that this would be viewed as a positive development, but not so much. 

"Honestly, I'd be happy just to continue wearing navy and white shirts, Mom."

Understood, but fairly sure that you don't want to be that guy, so let's look through your closet.  Anything with a collar and smallish logo (regular Polo pony but not "Big Pony") is fair game.

Found seven shirts:

1 orange/white-striped Polo ("Too small.");
1 turquoise Lacoste ("WAY too small.  I don't even know why that one is still hanging up.");
1 purple Lacoste ("People will think I go to [name of rival high school].  No way I'm wearing their color.  THAT would be social suicide more than just wearing navy and white shirts all of the time.");
1 coral Lacoste ("Too close to pink.");
1 navy/pink/white-striped Lacoste ("It's, like, a thin stripe.  A golf stripe.  A DAD stripe.");
1 turquoise/multi-striped Hollister ("That one I like."  [DUH, you've worn it twice a week all summer.  I get it.]); and
1 navy Hollister with tipped collar, shoved in a drawer ("Oh, I forgot about that one.").

I lobbied hard for the coral, which looks killer on him, and the navy stripe, which is similarly attractive.  We compromised:  he'll wear them to church, "some, but not a lot."

So, because swim season is over and we didn't particularly have any other place to be, we went to the mall, and walked through a couple of stores, trying to figure out what his personal style will be (aside from "Howard-Wolowitz-from-Big-Bang-Theory-esque geek tees," which I imagine will still be the uniform on the weekends but are verboten at school).  It was slow-going at first.  First stop:  the Lacoste section of the department store.  (Okay, so I have a problem.  If you hear of an appropriate twelve-step program, let me know.)  He was only meh about the selection, and I was meh about the pricing. 

Walked past the Izod section:  "I like that belt."  Huh?  "In the poster."  Yeah, okay, they don't actually carry the belt here.  "Oh, well, never mind.  I just liked the belt."

Continued past a display of plaid shirts:  "I like SOME plaid.  But long-sleeved only.  Short-sleeved plaid shirts are dorky.  [YES!  A glimmer of hope that I am raising a bro-grammer, as opposed to a garden-variety programmer or engineer who thinks that short-sleeved buttondowns are nifty.]  Except I think I might like the less boxy ones with the pockets and the pearl snaps?  [NO!  MAYDAY, MAYDAY!  D-BAG ALERT!]  On second thought, I don't like those.  They're too swag."

["Swag" is teenage-speak for "d-bag."  Crisis averted.]

On our way out of the department store, he pointed to a couple of things:  "Maybe that one [Guess, full price], or that one [Calvin Klein, full price]."

Crud.  Indicators pointing to personal style being "expensive."

We ended up at American Eagle and were immediately pulled into the tractor beam of Hipster Employee (shaved head, handlebar mustache, beard that screamed "lute player in indie band playing brunch gig at artisanal cheese shop in Brooklyn").

"HI-THERE-WELCOME-TO-AEO-WE'RE-HAVING-A-SPECIAL-PROMOTION!  If you try on a pair of jeans, we'll text you a code for 20% off of your purchase.  Except clearance items - the code won't work on those."

Got it.  Mr. Levi's 514 Straight Fit requests a pair of slim straight denims to try on.  [UGH, what happened to "I hate skinny jeans?"  I was so on board with your skinny jean-hatred.]  Boy and jeans disappear into a dressing room.  I find a neon green polo shirt on the clearance rack.

Hipster Lute Player:  "Now, those are on the clearance rack, so THE SPECIAL CODE WON'T WORK ON THOSE."

Yes, Hipster Lute Player.  I.  GET.  IT.

Boy walks out to model jeans.  While pretty darn skinny, they are not overly "swag," and I give them a thumbs up.  Hipster Lute Player selects this moment to go on break.  Boy seeks to return to the dressing room to try on the neon green shirt and discovers that the door has locked behind him.  Boy starts to panic.  "My phone is in there, and my regular clothes.  I WANT MY REGULAR CLOTHES." 

It's okay, kid.  Hipster Lute Player is bound to return eventually.  Except that he was very slow to do so, so we went out in search of other AEO personnel, wherein we discovered Tiny Elfin Girl folding t-shirts.  She unlocked the dressing room, and we experimented with a couple of different styles of polos.  All had their baggage: 

"I LIKE the color-blocked one, but the seam rubs right across the nipples.  [Huh, never thought of that.  Bras are a wonderful thing.]  So I'd have to wear a t-shirt under it."

"I like the IDEA of that one, but I refuse to wear those colors together.  Because they're the Nerf colors."


"It's just that particular orange - it screams Nerf."


We picked out two polo shirts in addition to the clearance one, I authorized the purchase of another pair of aviator sunglasses that he can mangle or lose, and we went up to the register. 

And that's where the fun began.

Tiny Elfin Girl:  "Okay, so you text JEANS to this number.  But type JEANS first, and then the number."

No.  The order in which we type these things is irrelevant, provided that we type them in the correct fields.  Believe it or not, we HAVE texted before.  We start on Big Kid's phone, because my phone was turned off due to low battery issues.  Big Kid's phone informs him that it is blocking the text.  Kudos, Samsung Galaxy, for taking a hard line against trendy retail gimmicks.  Except, I kind of want my 20% off, so I restart my phone, which take eons to reboot, and the whole time Tiny Elfin Girl is just staring at me, and unfolding and refolding our purchases like she's moving deck chairs around the Titanic.  The text doesn't go through the first time, because SOMEONE (no one will admit to it, but I suspect Spouse, who is always installing battery-saver apps) has set up my phone to turn off mobile data without asking.  I enable data, try the text again (each time, she tells me to "type JEANS first"), and the status icon just cycles and cycles and cycles.

I lose my patience a bit.  "Isn't there something that you have at the register that you can swipe to give us the discount?  I mean, what happens if a customer doesn't have a smart phone?  How do they get the discount?"

Tiny Elfin Girl's brain clearly cannot compute the concept of SOMEONE NOT HAVING A SMART PHONE.  She looks close to crying.  Then she brightens:  "I'll ask my manager."

Yup, you guessed it.  Hipster Lute Player returns to the scene, just as the text goes through.  TEN STEPS LATER, I get a scan code.  I have to check out twice, because THE SPECIAL CODE WON'T WORK ON CLEARANCE ITEMS, and apparently some combination of the register and the sales staff can't process everything on one ticket.  I am asked for my email address both times.

I kind of want to kill someone. 

Fortunately, Big Kid gets, and shares, my frustration, and we make fun of the experience on the way home.  At home, we show Dad our purchases, which he actually approves of (even the neon green shirt), and then Big Kid tries on the aviators and screams:




No, they are sort of purplish.  Which I actually kind of get, because the frames are chartreuse, and yellow and purple are across from each other on the color wheel.


YES.  I try them on, to demonstrate that they are way too big for a female head.  Spouse points out the second-bar-across-the-nose-thingie that they don't put on girl glasses.  It takes, roughly, TEN MINUTES for Sunglass Emergency to resolve itself.

And I find myself reconsidering the "navy-and-white-shirts-only" idea.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Best Boys (And Their Melty Mom)

Some background:

Prior to last year, the boys' summer swim team had won the city's country club league championship something like 43 years running.

Last year, a few teams that were struggling with numbers asked to merge, and bring in "another small Fort Worth country club" to further augment their team size.

We (naturally) assumed that they would bring in - well, the only club in Fort Worth that wasn't already in the league.

Instead, we were surprised when a team from outside of Fort Worth showed up.  A not-small team.  A huge team, if we're being technical, the composition of which almost entirely corresponded to the membership of a select swim team that the boys compete against in the regular season.

Not so surprisingly, we lost to the "super team."

Notwithstanding that we had prepared the kids for that outcome, they were devastated.  No one wants to be on the team that lets the streak drop - certainly not a streak four decades long.  Every end-of-the-year swim banquet, since time immemorial, has begun with the parade of championship banners.  Some years, depending on camp and vacation schedules, we wouldn't have enough kids to carry all of the banners. The kids would get a chuckle out of that.

Such a silly, inconsequential thing - a winning streak in a country club swim league.  And yet:  devastated.

Actually, factually, enthusiasm was flagging before that season, but the loss (and league realignment - Mega-Team stayed around of their own accord) didn't help.  A bunch of kids who hadn't settled on swimming as a forever sport elected to drop it from their repertoire in favor of other activities.  Others who had settled on swimming as "their" sport opted to take the summer off.  Several families took their respective shows on the road and transferred to other summer leagues.  Our remaining team:  a shadow of its former self.

So, going into last Thursday's final, the deck was stacked against us.  After Wednesday night's 8-and-under meet, we were in third place out of six teams.  In years past, the "little kids" were our cushion:  even if our bigger kids stumbled, we still won on total points based on the performance of the farm club the night before.  Not much of a farm club these days, and our big kids were unlikely to make up the deficit.  Our best swimmer (I call him "Mini Phelps"- six-foot-three before he was thirteen!) had qualified for the state meet in Austin, which happened to fall on the same night.  His little brother made the trip with him, leaving us with twelve swimmers.

Twelve swimmers.

The not-small, not-actually-in-Fort Worth team - now competing on their own - dwarfed our team in sheer number of competitors, and other teams had us on numbers as well.  Our kids noticed, and we - all of the parents - said what needed to be said:  eras end.  Teams change.  You can't define yourself by what came before, or allow your life to be dominated by forces that you can't control.  All you can do is do your best, and, regardless of the outcome, your best will always be good enough.

And then it happened:  the paradigm shift.  Maybe it was having the pressure of maintaining a streak taken off of their shoulders, but the mood lightened.  The kids got loose.  It was the most relaxed meet I have ever attended.  Little Kid (known for overthinking things and seizing up in the clutch) stayed calm, finished strong in all events, and handily won his heat in butterfly.  Other kids stepped up as well - particularly Big Kid, who due to time and attrition is now the elder statesman.  This was probably his last meet with the team (although he plans to return as a volunteer coach), and he knew it.  He swam the best that I have ever seen him swim, winning first in all events for his age group and shutting out another area swimmer who has, in the past, been the thorn in the side of not just Big Kid but Mini Phelps as well.

And then it was over, and I told the boys (honestly) how proud I was of them.  Nothing could make me prouder, I said.  And then they started announcing the final team rankings over the PA.  Brutal truth:  usually, there's a bit of a delay between the end of the meet and that announcement, and although I was by no means sprinting to get the kids away from the pool, had we managed to clear the building before the announcement, I would have been sooooooo okay with that:  the parents knew that we started the night in third place and were therefore steeled for a finish of fourth or lower, but the kids had no idea.  While I want to raise children who are gracious in defeat, the momma bear in me did not relish the thought of seeing my babies blindsided.

In the end, I didn't get to choose.  Here came the numbers.  We weren't in sixth, or fifth - or fourth.  Mega-Team was in fourth.  Huh.  We weren't in third, either. 

And then there were two - our team and a team with a rather similar name.  So when they announced the second place team, you could see the moment of hesitation on the faces of all of our parents:  did they really just say the name of the other team?

They did. 

That means . . . we won?  Twelve kids, without one of their captains, facing a pretty significant deficit, and - we WON?

Yup.  By nine points, 419-410.

The elation - you have no idea.  Not because we won, but because we won under those specific circumstances.  For the duration of Big Kid's tenure on the team, and probably for about thirty years before that, the refrain has always been the same:  "Well, of course you always win.  Anyone could win with that many kids on their roster.  It's a numbers game."

But this time - for the first time - that explanation didn't hold water (small pun intended).

Adding to my personal elation:  we won under those circumstances with Big Kid at the helm.  I was almost crying when I found him, and I'm definitely crying as I type this.  All I could do was point at him and mouth, "YOU.  This was you."

His response:  "No, it was me, and M., and A., and everyone."  (This, in front of M.'s parents, who beamed.  M. has been on the fence about wanting to continue with swimming.  A few minutes before the announcement of the standings, Big Kid took him aside and stated the reasons why M. should consider joining Big Kid's select swim team.  His finish was akin to Julia Roberts' "We think you got a lot of potential, Kit De Luca" speech from "Pretty Woman," and just as heartwarming.)

Okay, so now I couldn't be prouder.  Except the boys didn't stop there.  How did they want to celebrate?

In unison:  "Let's rent a movie, pop popcorn and all pile on the couch for a movie night."

Stop it.  Seriously, you're killing me.  You, the one who towers over me:  you are forbidden to go to high school, and graduate, and leave.  Neither one of you has permission to age.  You must stay just as you are at this moment, because at this moment, you are perfect.

And then they got more perfect.

"We've consulted, and we don't think the movie we want to watch is available on demand or on Red Box.  It's kind of old - but we've seen it at Target for, like, five bucks."


"You know 'Airplane!'?  The one where the guy wears two pair of glasses and the other guy says, 'I am serious, and don't call me Shirley'?"

STAHHHHHHHHHHHP.  First, you demonstrate all sorts of grace under pressure and care and concern for your teammates, then you admit to liking us and wanting to spend time with us, and now you remind us that you have impeccable taste in films?

"I love it when that one dude is handed a report and asked, 'What can you make of this?' and he responds, 'Well, it could be a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl.'"

TRUE STORY:  that line was at the crux of one of my favorite high school memories.  That RANDOM line . . . that one of my children just quoted, apropos of not much.

We went to Target.  We acquired "Airplane!" and its sequel, along with an animated Batman film for old time's sake.  We popped popcorn.  And I felt a certain kinship with the popcorn butter.

Melted, through and through.

Culturally Mormon(ish): Second Week Post-Facebook

I remembered what I did before social media.


For reals:  once upon a time, I was hardcore into it.  And then I fell off of the wagon.

Needlework reentered my life when Big Kid advised me that the new couch throw, which (eureka!) had proven itself Dorgi Dog-proof, was unraveling (sob!) due to "child abuse."  (Neither child would admit to such abuse, but the evidence, nevertheless, was there.)  In my search for a needle with an eye large enough to facilitate my darning-based rescue efforts, I opened the needlework kit that was shoved into the back of the craft closet for the first time in, maybe, ten years?  I didn't immediately find a needle - but I did take note of an unfinished needlepoint canvas, six large pieces of cross-stitch fabric and beacoups of yarn and embroidery floss.

I resolved to pick up needlework again, as soon as I procured an appropriate needle.

I "fixed" the unraveling throw blanket with a couple of messy knots.  (Meh, it's not like we're fancy around here.)

And then, as I started packing up the needlework kit . . . I found a needle.  So I began to stitch.

I'm still stitching.  Working on a Christmas gift and a baby gift, with other projects in the on-deck circle.   And thinking that "Culturally Mormon(ish)" is morphing into "Culturally Amish(ish)."

Culturally Mormon(ish): Church Lady

Huh.  Two Dana Carvey-related posts, almost in a row.

Everything old is new again.

Spent my first week post-Facebook making robots out of recyclables.

Lots of robots.

32 of them, to be precise.

They were part of the room décor for First Methodist's "Workshop of Wonders" VBS.  I also made:

32 copies of this door poster:

32 "Scan Your Hand Here" signs (also for classroom doors);

Several hundred W.O.W.-related photo props:

Hanging LEGOs like these (mine were more 3D):

along with hanging Tinker Toys (made from pool noodles and white Styrofoam plates); and

Giant pool noodle pencils and countless cardstock gears and paper airplanes:

Favorite VBS-related things that I have made?  Probably these guys (teacher's aide in a kindergarten classroom and fourth grade camper, respectively):

The fourth-grader is looking (1) ridiculously like his maternal grandfather in this picture and (2) also somewhat sour, because evidently making him pose for this photo caused him to drop a pepperoni roll on the pavement.  (We got him another pepperoni roll, and tossed the original one behind a bush for the birds to enjoy.  All's well that ends well.)

All total this summer, I have spent:

1)  Approximately 40 hours on VBS exec board-related stuff;

2) Another 40-plus hours as a member of the youth minister search team; and

3) One memorable evening making sliders for the middle school youth mission trip (and almost catching the oven on fire in the newly renovated Justin youth building - long story).

During this time period, I have maybe stepped foot in the sanctuary three times?  But I think that, under the circumstances, I am excused.

Not bad for a former "Christmas-and-Easter-only" Catholic with a deep-seated skepticism about organized religion?  If, twelve years ago, you would have told me that I would have first-name privileges with the senior staff of a Protestant church, OF WHICH I WAS A MEMBER, I would have laughed.  Or checked you for a fever.

Me as a church lady.  Isn't that special.