Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Because I take their safety seriously...

So, there's something I've been pondering for quite some time, mostly since my daughter started junior high five short years ago. It was part of my decision to make sure she had a cell phone.

The biggest reason was safety. Since the junior high was across the soccer complex from the elementary school she'd attended, I'd been witness to several of the "fights" that occurred on a semi-weekly basis on the walking path between the junior high and the elementary school. And when I say "fight," what I really mean is "a large mass of older, larger boys ganging up on one or two very small boys and beating the shit out of them."

And yes, you bet I called 911 when I saw it happening! Unfortunately, it took at minimum two minutes, and sometimes up to six for the first police cruiser to show up. And the kids knew that. We, meaning the parents who saw these "fights," could practically time them with a stopwatch. It never failed that those kids would up and abruptly disappear, melting into the surrounding neighborhood at least thirty seconds before that first cop showed up.

And lest you say, "oh, but the kids must have heard the sirens," let me just add... the cops never came with the sirens going. They wanted to catch these kids, so they always came silently. Lights flashing, no sirens.

I wanted my daughter to have a phone to (1)call the cops at the first sign of trouble and (2) to get photos of the perpetrators.

And as she joined athletics, the phone became necessary for her to be able to call for a ride home after practice. Or to let me know she was staying at school for tutoring.

But there was another reason I wanted her to have a phone.


See, I've given both of my kids the "If There Is Big Trouble" speech after giving them cell phones. It doesn't have to be someone walking into the school with rifles and shotguns. It could be a tornado. It could be a natural gas explosion. It could be a zombie apocalypse. Whatever. I wanted my kids to have a phone so that they could call for help, whether it's 911 or Mom. Or both. So they wouldn't have to depend on school landlines.

I have told both of my kids, "if someone comes into your school shooting, I want you to go to your classroom door and lock it, then get everyone into the farthest corner from the door against the same wall the door is on so they can't be seen. If there's a window in the door, cover it. If there are windows in the classroom, cover them. Call 911 or designate someone who is calm to call. Turn tables on their sides, or desks and get behind them as cover. If there's a closet in the classroom that locks from the inside get in it, lock the door, and stay quiet. If you have an opportunity to slip out a window and escape, then do it and run for the nearest house or building and tell them what's going on and to call for help. Then stay there."

I've given them instructions for tornados and floods, too. Because I believe in being prepared. I believe in giving your kids tools to deal with the unexpected as far as you can, because not doing that is kind of... well... foolish.

I want my kids to survive, dammit.

Why am I writing this today? Well, what happened in Connecticut last week was a reminder for me of just why, no matter what physical measures you take to ensure safety in a school, it just... isn't enough. Why is it that schools have fire drills for our kids, to teach them how to safely exit a building without panicking in case there's a fire, or schools have tornado drills to teach our kids how to seek shelter in the school building during extreme weather... but there are no drills to teach our kids what to do when someone comes into the school wanting to hurt them?

You can put all the metal detectors you want around a school, and you can lock doors, install bulletproof glass, etc. And I'm not sure that those are really good ideas. Nor do I think arming teachers is a good idea, either. I really, really don't. Teachers are human beings and subject to the same frailties as the rest of us, and I really don't think it's a good idea to put handguns in a classroom setting for anything other than instructional purposes. Really.

What I do think is a good idea is instituting "Shooter drills," for lack of a better description. A random drill where a prearranged signal is given that everyone will recognize immediately means "shooter on the premises," and the school goes on lockdown. Teachers hustle kids into their classrooms, lock the doors, turn out the lights, cover the windows and secure the kids behind a wall of desks or something. Custodians lock doors between corridors to limit an unauthorized person's mobility, and lock doors to essential systems like the power plant, etc. Designated people, like office staff, or librarian, nurse, counselors, call the police and emergency services to alert them to the problem so that help is on the way immediately. Kids that are outside are hustled away from the building as quickly as possible and taken to safe locations within the neighborhood until help arrives.

Practice this every couple of weeks, until it becomes automatic, just like fire drills. I know there are some of you who are thinking this is very scary, and how can I even suggest it, that it'll scare the kids and make them fearful.

Do you seriously think our kids aren't fearful right now?? And you know what? Being prepared takes the fear out of it. It gives them something to do, something to focus on, gives them a little bit of the control that's been taken away from them back. They can do this. They can hide and make themselves as safe as they can and SURVIVE. Isn't that the most important thing??

Of course, this is all hitting kind of close to home for me, because I got a text from my daughter two hours ago during her lunch period. It seems that there was a rumor going around the cafeteria that a couple of sophomores were talking about having stolen "guns" from the local WalMart, and were saying they were going to "shoot up the school" this Friday.

You bet your sweet ass, I called the school!! And apparently, I wasn't the only one. In fact, the beleaguered secretary informed me I was the sixth or seventh parent to have called her in six minutes to ask about that very thing. She assured me the administration knew about it, and were investigating it, and would be sending a statement home with the kids. I asked if the police had been informed, because I'm thinking if WalMart was robbed, there would be a report, so they'd be able to confirm or deny, right?

There hadn't been time to call the police, because they'd only known about it after the phones started exploding with anxious parents calling to ask about it. And I could hear every single phone they have in the main office ringing off the hook in the background. So... I totally get it.

I am totally hoping this is an instance of Kids Being Stupid and trying to scare each other after the events at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am hoping it's just holiday goofiness, though it's in very poor taste. Besides, these things usually happen with little to no warning, so... to have talked about it to the point where rumors are going around would sort of... defeat the purpose, right? Right?

But you know, there's that tiny doubt in the back of my mind that thinks, "What if it isn't? What if someone really means it? What if someone really is stupid enough to bring shotguns to school...?"

And that tiny little pinprick of doubt is enough for me to think that being prepared is something we should all think about. And then do something about it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why, Yes, I AM A Huge Geek, Why Do You Ask??

Okay, so... dunno if this counts as a spoiler for Star Trek: Into Darkness because it's JUST A THEORY, but... just in case you don't want to read it, I'm warning you now so you can hit the back button and pretend you never saw this. Okay? Okay?

*pauses and waits while all the people who DON'T want to know retreat and go find something much more interesting to read*

Okay, so... I know a lot of people have theorized that the villain in the new film will be Khan, but after watching the new trailer that came out today, I... don't think so.

I think Benedict Cumberbatch is going to play... Gary Mitchell.

Why do I think this? Well... at first, I thought the blonde woman shown standing next to Captain Kirk on the bridge was Yeoman Rand, etc, but... after the second time watching it through, I thought... "You know, that looks more like Dr. Elizabeth Deyner."

And yeah, Gary Mitchell wasn't in the first Reboot movie (that we know of), but remember, this is a reboot of the Star Trek universe as we know it. So... maybe in this universe, James T. Kirk and Gary Mitchell weren't friends. And maybe Gary Mitchell was on another ship... or maybe he was the guy who got lung worm, who knows? Anyhow, the Enterprise's first mission with Captain Kirk at the helm in the original series as, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." But... we're rebooting, right?

So... anyhow, that's my theory. We've got Gary Mitchell who has achieved the god-like powers he'd gained in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and... didn't get killed on that planet near the galactic rim by Captain Kirk, because this is a different timeline now.

Either way, this is going to be an awesome movie, and I CAN'T WAIT!!!

And that's all I have to say about that!!



Okay, so... Pizza Hut has come out with a new perfume that smells like... fresh baked pizza. Yes, you can spritz yourself with the essence of eau de pepperoni et bacon canadienne!

And Washington and Colorado have legalized pot.

SO... just picture it... a group of college students gathered together for pizza and movies, and to make the mood a little mellow, they're passing around a toke. And maybe a couple of the gals have spritzed on Le Pizza Hut or whatever it's called. And the guys are like, "Oh, baby, you smell so good, I could just eat you up!"

And they do.



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Because I'm SO HAPPY!!!

I did it. I broke my writer's block by writing a novel. It may not be the BEST thing I ever wrote. In fact, it's kind of awful, but... I finished it, and I'm so DAMN HAPPY!!

And it has potential to be better. It needs re-writing, fact-checking, some research... but it's a solid foundation, a good story... and I did it.

I DID IT!!!!

*victory dance with war whoops*

Friday, October 19, 2012

Let Me Explain A Few Things To You...

Okay, I have to address this.

"This," of course, is the story about the cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas who want to display biblically themed banners at pep rallies and football games.


They're claiming it is "free speech" and they should be allowed to do it. And, of course, it is free speech... but they cannot be allowed to do this.

"But why, oh, Toasterpop?" you ask.

I will tell you why. If these cheerleaders were acting as private citizens, or as regular students, holding up their banners from the stands like the legendary "John 3:16" Guy, there would be no problem. I, personally, would have no problem with this. It would be great, they could do it all they wanted. They might offend some people, but as they say, it's free speech, and they're allowed.

However... they're not acting as private citizens. They're cheerleaders, and they are acting at a school sanctioned event, as representatives of the school. A PUBLIC school. That's when those banners stop being free speech. If the school allows them to use those banners, the school is then allowing these cheerleaders to "proselytize" to every person in the audience, including their fellow students.

What's wrong with this?

Nothing, if you assume that every person in that audience is a Christian, and goes to their church, or follows their particular brand of Christianity.

The problem is, and it seems to be a concept that a lot of Christians can't grasp, not everyone is Christian. Not everyone sitting in those bleachers at the pep rally, or in the stands at the football game, are Christians. Or belong to the same church, or denomination, as those cheerleaders. Let's face it, some denominations are very particular about how they worship and express their religion.

Now, as you know, the Constitution of the United States has a Bill of Rights, allowing us all equal protections under the law. However, another concept that most Christians seem to be unable to grasp is... the Bill of Rights does not protect the rights of the majority.

Let me state that again.


It protects everyone. That means non-Christians as well as Christians.

That means non-Christians, be they Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Viking, you name it, have the right to attend a public event and not be proselytized within an inch of their lives.

It also means that if those Christian cheerleaders get to use biblically inspired banners at the football games, then Wiccan students can bring out Wiccan themed banners to the game. So can Buddhists. And Muslims. Yes, if they want to paint a banner that says, "Allah Hu Akbar! Go Team!!" then they can. And the Texas State Attorney General can't say diddly squat, because HE SUPPORTED THOSE CHEERLEADERS.

If you're going to allow it for one group, then you have to allow it for ALL OF THEM.

Because public schools are government funded entities, and therefore cannot support one religion over another. And a football game/pep rally are events sponsored by that publicly funded entity, and those cheerleaders are representatives of that publicly funded entity.

Do you understand now?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

If you're going to allow one to pass out religious materials in a school, or have meetings, or have religiously inspired banners, or to pray at meetings, games, etc... then you have to allow them ALL to do it. ALL OF THEM.

Get that through your heads. This is not a Christian nation. It is a nation made up of people from many countries, and of many different religions (or lack of them). It always has been.

And that, my friends, is the way it is.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Because creativity needs to be nurtured...

The Impossible Son has one class period that at one time might have been called "study hall." However, this one is more interactive, as it's basically a tutoring period because our district fell way behind on math and reading scores ("hmmmm, wonder how that happened?" Jo asks sarcastically). So... he's getting extra help in math and in language arts.

So, a couple of days ago, they were working on "correcting sentence fragments," basically changing fragments and making them into whole sentences. And the example given was "at the station," which had a finished example of "I can meet you at the station tomorrow morning."

Then the teacher made the mistake of saying, "But that's boring, I'm sure y'all can do better than that!"


So... these are the sentences my SON came up with. His "corrections" will be in italics. You might want to put any liquids far from the computer, and don't drink anything while reading, because some of them are surprisingly hysterical.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

1. Before the dance I killed a vampire.

2. While we worked on the experiment my friends turned into zombies.

3. Once the baseball season begins, THEY WILL COME!!

4. Ahead of me, he watched me with a bat.

5. After the summer vacation, vampires came.

6. Without a pen or pencil I can't kill Bigfoot.

7. Opposite the park he still watched me, but with Bigfoot.

8. When she began to speak a bear came, wielding a sword.

9. Even though the temperature was warm, the bears took over.

10. From my seat, I could see the orcs coming.

11. Next to the library, they were still watching me.

12. How the rumor spread was because of the duck.

13. On top of my dresser was a honey badger.

14. Past the principal's office, they continued to watch me.

15. When they are found, we take them to NARNIA!!

I think my personal favorite is #6. I laughed so hard when he read that one out to me that I nearly drove us into a ditch. Though... a bear wielding a sword is pretty funny, and so is a honey badger on a dresser. I wonder if it cares?

For eleven years old and having virtually no writing instruction beyond what I cram down his throat during those times he's willing to sit still for it, that's not a bad fledgling effort at letting his wonderfully weird sense of humor show through. What kind of bothers me, though, is the teacher had laughed and said, "This is weird. It's crazy, what's up with this??"

And then I remembered, "Oh, wait, that's right, they don't have things like irony, humor, and creativity here." Because, you know, this sort of thing, well... it's normal at my house!

Yes, yes, I'm getting sarcastic again.

Still, I'm proud of what he's done, and happy to see his creativity developing. I can't wait to see what he does next!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Because it matters...

I shop at Hobby Lobby a lot for my crafting needs. Not because I think it's the best or anything. I do it because it's the closest variety crafting store to my small town, being only twenty minutes away in San Marcos.

I don't enjoy it, though. I like their beads, but sometimes, the selection is a little too... similar, and I can't find things I need, certain gauges of wire, or the right size hammer, or yarns. And then there's the relentless piping in of "inspirational" Christian music, which seems to be played on the same tinny piano. Constantly. Don't get me wrong, for those who enjoy it, it's probably blissful and serene. But for me, not so much. When I'm shopping alone, I tend to pop my earbuds in and listen to my iPod. Most of the time that I go there, though, I have the rest of the family with me and need to listen for them. So I end up cranky and short-tempered.

Well, I won't be shopping at Hobby Lobby any more. I'll shop online or drive my ass into Austin if I need stuff now, because after reading this, I'm not so keen on them any more:

Hobby Lobby Lawsuit Against Affordable Healthcare

Yes, you have freedom of religion, bully for you. However, I also have the freedom to take my pocketbook elsewhere. And I will. When you find a clump of cells more important than the person carrying them, you lose my sympathy. And my money, if you're a business.

It may be inconvenient for me, but... no thank you, Hobby Lobby. I'll find somewhere else to spend my crafting dollars.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

For Your Amusement...

I slipped this lunch note into my daughter's lunch earlier this week...

It's no secret that we are HUGE geeks. And yes, she enjoyed the heck out of the note. It's like a mini fan fiction, isn't it? I've gotten both kids halfway through the second season of Stargate Atlantis so far.

Speaking of which, why has Netflix removed Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis from their instant view lineup? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET MY STARGATE FIX NOW????


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Because my daughter's mind is just as warped as mine...

This is what happens when the Impertinent Daughter gets bored halfway through an assignment to write a journal entry as if she were a colonist who had managed to survive a year in one of the New World colonies in the 1600's...

"Friday, August 29, 1600-something -- Sunny. The recent arrivals to the colony were a great relief to all of us as they came with supplies. I mean, we have been trading with the Indians for food and some of their supplies, but... it isn't the same as using what we good English folk are used to using. Besides, if there is anything our new arrivals (and some poor, clueless souls here) should worry about, it's the werewolves. Those bloody pests have been getting too many a man as of lately! Tomorrow night is the full moon and some of the stronger men are going to go hunt them down and rid our colony of these beasts the illness. I think it may come from the water? Or whatever we have been eating. We basically live in a swamp. What the Indians don't give us and that the other colonial men pick up is probably not good for us. And then there's the natives themselves! I've seen some in the woods outside of the borders of our colony, but they don't venture too near. Probably because we're all obviously diseased here and they don't want it. Besides, they've got their own problems. I hear the werewolves are getting them, too. The infestation is worse than I thought diseases are spreading to them and from us no less! But, at the moment, that is of no matter, I have survived a year here in this new world colony, even if it is crawling with moonlight freaks a little dangerous... it is an occurrence worth writing about!"

Part of me wants her to turn it in just like that, but I'm fully aware that as it's only day three, and she doesn't know the teacher well, it's probably a little too early to be testing the bounds of the woman's good humor. Still, she's awesome, and incredible, and I love the skew in her humor!

Werewolves. Heh, heh... briliant!!!

Because they put the lime in the coconut and that song won't go away!!

Sometimes, sitting down to write a blog post is ridiculously easy, because my kids will do something, or my mom will say something, or I will do something that I feel compelled to write down. It's my way of programming it into my memory bank so I don't forget it.

Other times, though, writing is unbelievably difficult. It's difficult to pull the words out of my brain, or to flog my brain into thinking of something worth writing about.

It's not that my life is uneventful. Because, seriously, there is always something going on. Always. It's just deciding whether or not it's blog-worthy.

For instance, my son has started junior high, and with it, he has also signed up for band. Yes, I finally have a band-geek in the house. And I thought he was going to be a percussionist, because that's where his interest was for the longest time (and still is, I admit it), but... he tested well on trombone, and they are woefully thin on lower brass while being embarrassingly full on percussion. So... my son is going to play the trombone.

As you can see... at present, the trombone is bigger than he is! I have no doubts, though, that he will grow into it.

This is beside the adventure of what the Impossible Son being in junior high means for all of us, most especially my husband. I say that because he seems to be even more reluctant than me to relinquish the baby that once was for the teenager that is coming. I admit it, I look at our son, and I see the cheerful baby that used to reach up for me, that would take every step the Husbandly One did, one small fist firmly gripping the seam of THO's jeans, the other reaching out to explore whatever was in reach. I see that baby, and then I blink and I there he is, my son, lanky, overly long arms and legs and awkward angles, lengthening jaw and too big feet and I think, "Where did my baby go?"

I thought that with the Impertinent Daughter, too. I looked at her when she was at that awkward in-between stage, missing the baby, and getting to know the teenager, and now I'm watching her turning into a young woman... and it's both incredibly cool, and extremely freaky.

And they're both having a growth spurt at the same time. This means we literally cannot keep enough food in the house. As soon as we bring it in... it's gone. And remember, my kids are the kind who like to snack on frozen veggies as a "cool treat." So, not only are the fresh fruits and veggies we bring home from the grocery store disappearing almost as soon as they come home, but so are all the frozen veggies, too! Crackers, granola bars, raisins... ham, chicken, leftover spaghetti sauce, bread... it's all disappearing, and I'm not sure where the kids are putting it because it's not showing on them at all. Except for the increase in height factor.

This leads me to a weird little aside. We were leaving the junior high after sixth grade orientation last week, and the Impossible Son had asked me if I knew any trombone players when I was in high school band. I laughed heartily and said, "Kiddo, my first real boyfriend in high school was a trombone player, and he was taller than me!"

"Really?" Mr. Impossible peered up at me, and really, he doesn't have that far to peer up any more.


"Yep. He was six feet, three inches tall," I said with a grin.

"How tall were you?" he asked, and that's when I came to a complete halt and kind of stared blankly in front of me. Because it only just then dawned on me. I was only 4'10" when I was dating Mr. Tall Trombone Player. No, seriously, back when I was dating him, I had no clue. I never thought about it, except that I found it awkward to hold his hand or to kiss him, because he was so much taller than me.

I went to his senior prom with him, and he had to pick me up to dance with me, my feet dangling two feet above the floor, because otherwise, it hurt his back to bend over and hurt his knees to crouch down and dance!!!

Oblivious Jo was oblivious.

*shakes head*

Of course, seeing the look on my kids' faces when I told them that was hysterically funny, because I had to give them a comparison scale, so I said, "Imagine if the Tall Blonde's husband was standing next to... Grammy." Grammy is THO's mom, and she's shorter than I am. It was an apt example.

"You're not 4'10" now, are you?" asked Mr. Impossible.

"Nope. I'm about 5'3" now," I said. "Still short, but not as short as I was back then."

The Impertinent One spent a lot of time snickering about that, and I just laughed it off, because really, it is funny! And no, I wasn't blonde, I was a ginger back then, so... chalk my obliviousness up to inexperience and general nose-buried-in-a-bookishness.

In the meantime, the Impertinent Daughter has started her junior year of high school, and this year, we actually have textbooks in our science and math classes!!!!

And the people rejoiced.

Mrs. Sees-Plots-Everywhere has so far been quiet, but the Impertinent One reports her prowling on the periphery of the school, eyeing students and saying nothing. Yet. It can't last, of course, but we shall see.

Still, the Impertinent One seems determined to worry about every single little thing that it's possible to worry about, and it's quite a challenge for THO and I to calm those worries with sensible advice. Or lots of hugs and chocolate. Or jokes. Jokes work. Sci-fi marathons, too. Or general nerdiness. That seems to help from time to time.

So, as you can see, there's been quite a lot going on, it's just... kind of hard to decide what to write about, to choose just... one, or two.

And now, to go bake some cookies to throw at the kids so there's something left for the rest of us to eat!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Clothesline Blues

You know, I have a totally new appreciation for now much work my mom did for twenty three years when it came to laundry. You see, my mom didn't have a clothes dryer until 1971. Up until that time, she hung our clothes to dry on a clothesline. All of them. This includes sheets, blankets, and bedspreads, too.

Let me tell you something, that's hard work.

The reason I have this new appreciation is because our clothes dryer is on the fritz. Well, actually, the dryer runs just fine, it just doesn't heat. So the clothes take forever to dry. I suspect an issue with the igniter or something (it's a gas dryer). Therefore, I've started hanging our clothes out on a clothesline in the backyard. And it takes all day.

It's hot and dry in Central Texas, which is a good thing for drying clothes, but not so good when it comes to having to be out in it. But I have remembered little things my mom used to do, like... turning all the pants and shorts inside out so the pockets get dry. Then I remembered that I should basically turn everything inside out to reduce fading from the sun.

I remember dancing through the sheets when I was a kid, loving the way the cool fabric felt against my hot skin, and Mom fussing at me about getting sweat, or dirt on her clean sheets.

I completely understand why she wasn't happy when I got dirt on the sheets. Because it meant she had to do it all again.

I also remember her snapping the clothes sharply as she removed them from the line, to get lint and pollen off, before folding them and putting them in the basket. My son said, "Why don't you just dump them in the basket and fold them inside?"

"Because I don't want to drag them inside, and then fold them and then put them away. I'd rather fold it now, so it doesn't have a chance to get more wrinkled before I put them away," I said.

"What's wrong with them being wrinkled?" he asked with a frown.

"If they're wrinkled," I said, turning to look at him, "then I have to iron them. And believe me, I do not want to iron the clothes. Not if I don't have to."

"What do you mean, iron them?" he asked. "Why don't you just throw them in the dryer to get the wrinkles out?"

*insert hysterical laughter HERE*

Mom would do laundry one day, washing, and hanging stuff out to dry, folding it and bringing it back in. Then the next day... she'd iron everything Shirts, dresses, Dad's boxer shorts and handkerchiefs, his undershirts, her dresses, shirts, and pants, my sisters' clothes, my clothes... AND... all the bed sheets and pillow cases, as well as any curtains she might have washed.

EVERYTHING got ironed.

And yes, she taught me to iron, too. And you know what? I hate it, every bit as much as she did. And I really, really, really don't want to do it now. My family can sleep on wrinkled sheets, I really don't care. I'm not embarrassed about wrinkled sheets, and I'm also not worried about germs in the bedclothes, so... I see no need to iron them.

My mom, though... she ironed. She folded and put away. She hung clothes. She baked from scratch. She sewed all my sisters' and my clothes. And you know, I had no clue. I had no clue how much work she was doing. I knew she worked and worked hard. But I had no appreciation for it, for what she did, and how much drudgery was involved.

Because it is. It's drudgery. It's never-ending, because no matter how much of it you do, it is never done. As soon as you finish up one load of clothing, there's more waiting to be done. People like to talk so nostalgically about how happy the fifties were, and how women knew their place and were so happy doing it and wouldn't it be great to go back to the fifties??


I do not find satisfaction in housework. I don't feel complete because I just did three loads of laundry and put it all away for people who don't seem to appreciate it and end up throwing most of it, still clean, mind you, on the floor. I don't find joy in washing dishes, nor do I hum with satisfaction as I dust the shelves, or sweep the floor. I don't enjoy endless, repetitive tasks. I don't know very many people who do, male or female. So no, I don't think the fifties were so great, and I bet if you ask a lot of the women who had spent the forties working as Rosie the Riveter if they enjoyed giving that up and spending their time doing grunt work at home, being good little homemakers and baby raisers, you'd probably hear a lukewarm, "I did the best I could with what I had."

I should know. I've asked. There's a reason feminism went big in the early sixties.

And I have to tell you, if that dryer doesn't get fixed soon, my "Feminine Mystique" will be a mystery to my family no longer, and I will be declaring my independence and maybe even burning my bra in the backyard. By the clothesline.

Because, seriously, this BITES!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Existential Writer's Crisis --- AVERTED!!!

In order to work on my writing while the kids go to Animanga Club, I keep my writing files on little USB flash drives. And usually, I back them up on my desktop at home.

Usually. When I remember, that is.

Haven't been doing that so faithfully lately, though, and I nearly paid for it. While getting ready to leave for the library today, I did my usual check of the stuff in the laptop bag, taking some stuff out, adding some stuff in... the usual. I also checked to make sure the USB's I'd be using were in their place and... one was missing.

At first, I wasn't too worried. After all, I was pretty sure I'd taken it out to make some notes on the story I'd been working on so... it was probably on my desk. Except... it wasn't. Nor was it in my purse, or on the counter, or in my pockets, or in the car, or in any of the innumerable places it could be. The kids hadn't seen it, the Husbandly One hadn't moved it... and all I could think was, "Oh... crap, I lost it at the library!!!"

My heart sank. I hadn't had a chance to back it up. I'd gotten sidetracked by one of my little distractions and forgotten about it, and then gone to the library and... that meant I didn't have anything current on the story at home, and I didn't have enough of it in my head to reconstruct it, even though I did have some of my notes...

Yeah, it was pretty devastating. And I was trying not to lose it, trying to stay focused on, "Okay, gotta get the kids to the library, and I can ask if they found a USB key... or if someone turned one in...so..."

And I tried very hard not to imagine taking my horrible, sad, pathetic excuse of a novel to a publisher and selling it and making a smashing success of it, and me with no proof it wasn't MINE... except for two notebooks and three files worth of notes and work on it.

Yes, I can be an overdramatic tit, what's your point?

The kids did their best to cheer me up, confident I had just misplaced it, and I tried my best to be philosophical about it, since weeping, wailing, tearing one's clothes, and beating one's breast is sort of hazardous while driving, not to mention upsetting to the children. Plus the whole wearing sack cloth and ashes just plain embarrasses the hell out of them, and while I don't mind embarrassing my kids, I tend to like to do it to a purpose, you know?

So, when we got to the library, the kids turned in their books and rushed to the room where their club meeting was at, barely remembering to wave at me and look properly sympathetic (in fact, they failed horribly at the looking sympathetic part) as they abandoned left me. I was left to walk up to the help desk and ask if anyone had turned in a black usb flash drive.

The librarian found one that was very much like mine BUT... it had initials etched into it that weren't mine. She encouraged me to go ahead and look at it and check, just in case. So, I found a table with a handy plug and pulled out my laptop. Noticing that someone (stares accusingly at the Impossible Son) left crumbs on the keyboard, I dug into the pocket where I keep a microfiber cloth and out of the black fabric tumbled... my missing USB key!!!

*dance of joy, dance of joy*

Yes, yes, I was very happy and just managed not to do a whooping victory jig. While amusing, I am sure it would have been frowned on. After all, I am in the library!

Therefore, there will be no wailing, weeping, and beating of chests, nor shall there be sack cloth and ashes, nor yet the inconsolable Jo dripping tears everywhere as she contemplates the ruin of her life while the Husbandly One plies her with enough chocolate to put an entire platoon of female Marines into comas...

I did mention the overdramatic thing, right?

So, crisis averted, and all is well in Jo-Land. Yay! Now... if I can just finish the damn thing, right? Right.


Monday, July 9, 2012

How I love the rainy nights...

Lying on a couch on the back porch, my head on the Husbandly One's chest, his arms around me as I listen to the sound of his heart under my ear while warm rain patters on the leaves and the grass around us and lightning flickers through the clouds... what could be better?

Nights like this are why I am a very happy woman.

Let's Do the Time Warp...

My personal sense of time has become somewhat distorted of late. I've always had a clock in my head, maybe not letting me know what precise time it was, but always within about fifteen minutes, plus or minus about five. You could say I've always known, in a general sense, when I am.

But over the last year, that sense has been undependable, until I have a sudden jangling realization of, "OMIGOD, WE'RE LATE!!!" So... less like having a clock in my head and more like an unexpected, very annoying alarm. And it's driving me nuts. I may have to actually start wearing a watch again.

Of course, I know who to blame. *glares at husband*

See, the Husbandly One has set the clock in our bedroom to be fifteen minutes fast (more or less) so he won't be late to work. I get that, and I support it. Unfortunately, he moved the clock in the living room that I could see easily from the sink just by turning around to check it. It's now only visible from the front door. And it's five minutes fast.

On the other hand, the digital clock in the van was set seven minutes fast. And the clock in the Impertinent Daughter's room is four minutes slow, and the Impossible Son's clock is... just wrong.

Is it any wonder the clock in my head is totally confused and I never know what time it is? And let me tell you, Daylight Savings Time, cursed be its name, doesn't help.

Thank goodness for the internet and the ability to check the time, or I'd be hopelessly lost!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Because what you say, and what I hear are two different things sometimes...

Last night, after a very satisfying fireworks show at the city park, the Husbandly One was trying to reset his brain into work mode. The kids, most especially the Impossible Son, were still sort of ramped up and not ready for bed, but THO certainly was!

I was noodling around on the computer, and when he came in, I could have sworn he said, "Gotta go to bed early, I got STORKS!!" Then he promptly left while my mouth fell open and my brain sort of flailed around in my head and I went, "Wait...WHAT???"

WTF, storks???

And I promptly lost it in a burst of hysterical laughter.

By the time he returned, I had calmed down somewhat, and I said, "You know, honey, I'm really sorry to hear you have storks. Sounds kind of painful, and really, instead of going to bed, I think you should go to the hospital!"

I must not have been as calm as I thought I was, because I had to repeat that a few times before he understood me. And then he stared at me and said, "What the hell are you talking about??" before he started laughing and said, "Oh, wait... that's what it sounded like I said, isn't it?"

"Oh, yeah!" I said, wheezing at this point.

"Uh, well... what I said was gotta go to bed early, I gots to work, you know."

"Yeah, I kinda figured that out," I said, shaking my head. "The hearing glitch strikes again."

He shook his head, laughing, and went to go fuss at the Impossible Son to turn the TV off and get ready for bed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Because they are LOUD...

One of the drawbacks to living in an old house with wooden floors is the fact that it often sounds like I'm raising a herd of young elephants. Clumsy young elephants.

Our house is built on a pier and beam foundation, which means it is built on a series of concrete pillars allowing a crawl space under the house. This is the norm in Southern homes as it allows air circulation under the floor, an essential in keeping cool in a climate that is hot nine months out of the year. And while this is great for keeping the floor cool, as well as allowing access to plumbing and wiring, etc... it's not so great when you have heavy footed children thumping around the house.

By the sound of it, my kids both weigh approximately six tons a piece.

This is great when I want to know where they are, because I can tell just by listening which child is where. And I can tell precisely how close the teenager is to killing her brother just by how much heavier (and faster) those foot stomps get.

This isn't so great, though, when they're horsing around in the living room while waiting for me to get stuff together for our weekly trip to the library. Or do I mean "elephanting" around?

When the Husbandly One and I were first married, we lived in a house built by my father's uncle in 1925. It was small and had a lot of cool doors with cut glass door knobs and each door had a lock with a skeleton key. Well, except the bathroom door. That one had a little knob on the inside that turned like a deadbolt.

Anyhow, it, too, was built on pier and beam and had beautiful wood floors that we loved. We had no children then, just a very large, enthusiastic Labrador Retriever that we loved very dearly, and his herd of cats. And while Max could be loud when chasing his cats around the house, or when they chased him right back, for the most part, it was pretty quiet.

That entire neighborhood was full of old Craftsman houses on pier and beam foundations with similar wood floors. And the house two doors down from us had a family with two small children.

Let me tell you something. I always knew when the mom gave her kids something with a lot of sugar in it. How, you ask? Because I started hearing what sounded like a herd of small horses thundering through a canyon. Seriously. You could hear every single footstep from two houses away when they'd start running through the house. You'd hear resounding booms when they'd jump off the couch and hit the floor, towel capes flapping behind them, and then there would be the rapid fire clatter when they'd race down the hall, chasing imaginary bad guys, or the bangs when they knocked something heavy over in their enthusiasm. And I'd hear the thuds when they'd finally have their sugar crash and pass out for the rest of the afternoon.

I always thought it was funny. Annoying, but funny. And I'd think, "Wow, why doesn't she just shove them out in the backyard like my mom used to do us?"

That always goes through my mind now when I hear my young elephants thumping through the house on their various adventures. I wonder what my neighbors think my kids are doing, and if they can hear it from two or three houses away.

Once, I came back through the back gate after walking to hear, "Thump, thump, thump, THUD, thump, bang, CRASH!" and then my husband bellowing, "Will you two cut it out?? WAIT TILL YOUR MOTHER GETS HOME!!"

I was laughing before I even got in the house. Everyone froze when I came through the door and all I could say was, "Wow, y'all are LOUD."

I suppose I should resign myself to being an elephant herder for now. I'm sure there will come a time when there won't be feet stomping through my house, and I'll miss it. But for now, I find myself wishing for less elephants and more... ninjas.

Ninjas would be seriously cool. Huh. I think I just got a scathingly brilliant idea!!

I'll get back to you when I'm done!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Because random is the word of the day...

I was watching my kids the other day, walking out the back gate on their way to a pick-up game of soccer out by the high school and the Husbandly One said, "Wow, the Impossible Son is almost as tall as the Impertinent Daughter."

And wow, he was right. The Impossible Son is definitely catching up to his sister. It's a surprise, because he's always been so small, so tiny compared to the other kids in his class. Watching him play soccer all these years has had us alternately elated and terrified. Elated because he's really good, he's extremely fast, and his small size is a definite advantage when it comes to maneuvering on the field. Terrified because his small size means he gets knocked around, and especially lately, the other players seem like giants next to him. Especially when he's in the goal box.

He's growing like a weed. All of a sudden, his arms and legs are too long, and his hands and feet are too big. He's outgrowing clothes and shoes at the drop of a hat. He's eating everything in the house and groceries run out way too fast. And even though my husband and I are both small (he's 5'6" and I'm 5'3"), I'm wondering if the tall genes in my mom's family are activating, and Mr. Impossible is going to be taller than both of us?

I remember when my nephew suddenly started shooting up in height, and the day he realized that he was taller than me. It was Thanksgiving and we were in the kitchen. He was handing me a fork when he suddenly froze and grabbed my hand, staring at it. "Aunt Jo," he said, his eyes wide. "Your hands are so... tiny!!" Then he stared at me in shock and said, "You're tiny!!"

I laughed and said, "What brought all this on?"

And he said, "You've always seemed so... big to me! I mean... you're... Aunt Jo!!"

I have sudden visions of my son going through the same thing. I wonder if he'll have that same moment of staring at me and realizing he's taller than me and have his whole reality shift because of it. I'm waiting for my own shock when he's tall enough that we're able to stand eye to eye.

I"m still reeling from being able to do that with my daughter.

Part of me isn't ready for any of this. Somewhere in my mind, both of my kids are still small, still hanging on to the leg of my jeans with a determined little fist, still chirping away in their little voices and asking questions that I still have answers for. Then I look at them now and see... that they aren't so small any more.

They still chatter away, and they still ask me questions. Some of them I have answers for, and some of them, we have to go look it up. I'm just glad the dialog is still open, to tell you the truth.

As I watched them walking out the gate together, though, I found myself glad that they're growing together, and as they get older, they still find things they can do together. That through all the squabbling and fussing, they're still friends. I just hope that when he's taller than her, he doesn't forget she's still in range of his stomach!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Writing in Public...

Yes, I'm in the public library in San Marcos yet again for another summer. For the past three years, the Impertinent Daughter has been going to meetings for the Animanga Club. The Impossible Son and I would find a table with available plugs and hunker down for the duration. Sometimes, he would find a pile of manga to read, or books that interested him. Or I would check out a library computer for him to play games on while I did some writing. Because I've been finding it easier to write at the library than at home.

Writer's block sucks, by the way, just in case you were wondering.

This year, though, the Impossible Son is old enough to go to Animanga Club, too, so I am actually alone at my table... and finding it almost impossible to write. Part of it is missing my little companion... who isn't so little any more, by the way. And the other part is... paranoia. Because most of the tables near accessible and available plugs do not have sides that face convenient walls, so... anyone can walk up behind me and read over my shoulder, and regardless of what I'm writing, I have never liked having anyone read or look over my shoulder. Sucked when I was taking art in college, because that's all the teachers do is look over your shoulder to judge your progress.

Anyhow, whenever I'm working on something a little... er... adult, shall we say... I can always tell who read over my shoulder by the fact that their ears are turning red as they hurry away.


Add in my extreme dislike of sitting with my back to doors or wide open areas, and you can see my problem. Thank you, high school, for giving me that particular issue.

Still, my kids are enjoying themselves and probably were a big hit when they walked in the door. Come on, it's an Animanga club, and the kids both have wildly colored hair. The Impertinent Daughter, though she started the summer red, is now once again blue, and the Impossible Son opted for bright florescent green (it glows under black light, how cool is THAT??). This, of course, makes me the Coolest Mom Ever. Thank you, Manic Panic.

So far, all I've really accomplished today, writing-wise, is a long email to my mom, and this blog entry. Did I mention writer's block sucks? Because it does. Like a Hoover. Or a Dyson. No... a Hoover. Because it sucks like crap.

Anyhow, if this keeps up, I'm either going to have to beg my husband for either a new battery for this old laptop so I can sit in odd corners and type away to my heart's content (what a COOL idea, and I know just the corner I could use, too!!), or beg for a new laptop, which really, we can't. Because I want my next laptop to be a Mac (no, I am no longer a fan of Windows, how did you know?). And to be fair, the next person in the family who should get a laptop should be Miss Impertinence. After all, she'll be starting college in two years...

*has a moment of major Mom-Freak-Out*

OMG... she'll be graduating high school in two years. Excuse me, I have to find a paper bag, because I'm hyperventilating. Because, no way. I mean, she only took her first steps LAST YEAR... right? Where the hell did the time go?? Is it a rule of quantum physics or something that time goes from dragging so that it takes approximately three years to go from Christmas to Christmas to suddenly only a week passing before it's Christmas again?? Since when did we go from "slower than molasses in January" time to warp speed, warp factor 11?

Those commercials weren't kidding. Life comes at you fast. Somebody should have told me to wear a helmet!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Adventures in Grocery Shopping...

This is what I posted on Facebook a few minutes ago...

"Grocery shopping with my children is rather like being orbited by my own tiny planet and moon. A hyper, dancing, chattering, extremely frenetic tiny planet while a very grouchy, cranky moon continually snarks and fusses at the tiny planet. No wonder I forget stuff. Aleve, please?"

The Impossible Son orbits around me, literally sticking to my side and hopping, dancing, twirling, and jigging on both sides of me, and behind me, and in front of me, until I can't keep track of him and I end up almost falling over him or bumping him or... yeah. And yes, it drives me NUTS. It was one thing when he was small and I could easily move him either into the basket or up on my back or hip and thus out of the way.

Now, however, he's eleven, and he's in that all long arms/long legs stage of pre-explosive growth, and that's just entirely too much boy to be dancing around Mama and nearly tripping her up!

And while he's doing this, he's talking my ear off and with the grocery store being full of people and annoying music, I can't make out a word he's saying, and I can't focus or concentrate for anything. GAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

In the meantime, my daughter is pushing the basket, fussing almost nonstop at him to get off the shelf, get off the the display, move out of the way, don't touch that, put that down, don't pick that up, get that for Mum, please, no, don't put that in the basket, not that one, genius, the other one, wait, no, don't touch that or you'll knock it all over... MOOOOOM!!!

Yes, as you can see, the fun of grocery shopping with my kids lives on.

It's very... migraine inducing.

Good thing I love them. Of course, I can't walk away from them and pretend they aren't mine because (1) they look just like me and (2) it's a small town, everybody knows us, and no one is fooled any more, though they might take them off my hands for an hour or two out of sheer kindness. Maybe.

Have I mentioned that my kids are also going through the ravenous wolf phase? The Impossible Son is eating nearly everything in sight. Fruit doesn't last long in our house. Or frozen vegetables. Or crackers. Or ham. Or hot dogs. Or leftover grilled hamburger patties. Or cheese. Or chips. Or bananas... dammit, I forgot bananas!!


And the Impertinent Daughter, at 16, is still growing, and has moments of, "I'm not hungry," followed by three or four days of, "eat ALL the food in the house!!" And there are days when she sort of eyes her brother, but he's too skinny to eat. Not enough meat on those long bones of his. Perhaps I should be nervous!

And then the Husbandly One comes home and says, "Where's all the food?? Didn't you just go grocery shopping???"

And I say, "It was sheer self-preservation!! I had to, or they would eat ME!!!

I don't know why he never believes me...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Because her art grows by leaps and bounds...

She's done it again. The Impertinent Daughter has blown me away with her art again.

Yeah, I know, proud mom here. But it's not like I can drag you all HERE to look at the door of my fridge, is it?

It took me a moment to realize this was a DRAWING!!!

"If Only I Never Found Out"

It's just... wow. Just... wow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Because sometimes, you never know what they're going to say next...

So, we're having a late birthday party for the Impertinent Daughter. The twelve and under crowd is mostly in the living room playing on the XBox, the teenagers are in the dining room playing Scattergories Categories, and the adults are on the back porch, sitting around a table, drinking beer, chatting, and enjoying the evening.

Suddenly, Super-Goalie comes charging outside and says, "How do you spell intercourse? Is it with an I or an E?"

We all blink, and then one of the dads leans forward and says, in a deep, sonorous voice, "R-U-B-B-E-R!!"

*dies laughing*

I love my friends!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The State of Me...

Okay, so... let's see... I went to see an orthopedic specialist two weeks ago about my knee. Verdict, yes, I banged it up good and proper, I also have osteo-arthritis in my right knee (not unexpected, considering the way I've injured it in the past), and... at some point will need intervention. I'm too young and active for knee replacement, he could do surgery to clean out all the crunch stuff in there, but it would come back eventually (also true), or there's an injection he could give me after the inflammation and irritation calms down in my knee called "Synvisc One" that would basically replace the fluid that lubricates and cushions the joints in my knee. He's had good results with that one, and it turns out that the mom of one of Mr. Impossible's team mates has had it and said, "OMG, Auntie... get it. It's wonderful. I can move, I can walk, and it doesn't hurt!!"

You know... I was doing pretty well there for a long time. I mean, I was able to run and play with my kids, and while stairs were tricky at times, mostly, things with Rice Crispy Knee were good. Until now.

So for the time being, Dr. S. gave me a steroid injection in Rice Crispy Knee to calm down the inflammation and help with the pain, and advised me to stay off of it as much as possible, no stairs, no bending it, no kneeling, no lifting, etc., and to use a crutch when I needed to walk around.

Okay, cool, I can do that, and I promise, I've been very, very good. Very good. Except, I haven't told my mom about it because... really, she would freak for no good reason, and right now, I just can't see the point of upsetting her. Really. Besides, I really, really don't want to hear the "Marching Band Ruined Your Health, And So Did Drum Corps, If You'd Only Stayed In Swimming And If You'd Only Gone to Bellaire High School, You'd Be So Much Better Off" lecture again. I got a five year break from that one, but now that her memory isn't so dependable, she doesn't remember us settling that one so... it's being recycled. Yay.

Last week, the Impertinent Daughter turned... sixteen.

*incipient freak-out*

Have I mentioned how awesome my daughter is? May the 4th is her birthday, it's Star Wars Day, and "The Avengers" came out in the theaters. TRIPLE BONUS!!! So... we took her to San Marcos for dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant, where the Impossible Son got this in his fortune cookie...

If you can't read it, it says, "About time I got out of that cookie!"

After that, we went to the theater where I'd pre-ordered tickets and got in line. And hey, I just have to say, I really like this "ordering movie tickets online" thing, because the show was sold out!! It was awesome!! Yes, yes, I know, welcome to the 21st century, Jo.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, too. The Impertinent Daughter is absolutely NEVER allowed to ever, ever, EVER drink Mountain Dew again. As far as she's concerned, it's a controlled substance. OMG... one of her friends gave her a can for her birthday, and she was feeling tired when she got home from school. She wanted to stay awake for the movie, she said, so she decided to drink the Mountain Dew with her snack. This is around 4:30 p.m.

Holy Mackinoly, y'all, that child was wired for sound!! I mean, seriously, she talked nonstop (except when she was eating, and even then it was a close thing) from 4:35 until 1 a.m.!!!! EVEN DURING THE MOVIE.

I would shush her so I could hear the dialogue, and I'll say this for her, unless her enthusiasm got away from her, she mostly kept her voice really soft and quiet, which had irritations of it's own, because I couldn't hear her well enough to understand her!! And she tried valiently to be quiet in the car on the way home after, but... chatter chatter chatter!!! At least it mostly made sense!!

"The Avengers" was ... awesome by the way!!! Just... oh, yeah, gonna go see that again just so we can catch what we missed the first time!!!

The Impossible Son had a soccer game Saturday, and didn't play like himself at all. By Saturday evening, he had a fever of 103 F (39.4 C). That was fun. Turned out to be a virus that's blasting its way through town. The Impertinent Daughter fell victim to it Sunday night, but her temperature didn't get as high as the Impossible One's did, thank goodness. Mr. Impossible missed Monday, and Miss Priss should be back at school tomorrow.

After her doctor's appointment tomorrow, I shall retire to the couch with pillows to prop up Rice Crispy Knee with an ice pack and not do one damn thing until the kids get home from school!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ground - 1, Jo - 0

So... Saturday, the Impossible Son's U12 team had a game in Temple, which is about a two hour drive from here, and it was a very frustrating endeavor, for many reasons. Mostly because we only had 6 players, and we play 8 v 8. Most of our players didn't come because their parents decided it was "too far" and just... didn't want to go.


Okay, so don't even get me started on that or we will be here all day while Auntie vents her spleen about idiotic soccer parents who plonk down money for their kids to play soccer... and then freak out because they have to actually go outside their comfort zone so their kid can play soccer.

Yeah, I don't get it, either.

Anyhow, the fields in Temple were extensive, and when we finally found our team, we were walking across ground that had been affected by the last bout of rains we'd gotten about a week and a half ago. I had just looked down and said, "Oh, hey, there are holes here! Better be careful, I don't want to find one the hard waaAAAAAY!!" and down I went.


My left ankle turned outward and actually bent so that the outside of my foot was flat to the ground, and the next thing I knew, the ground was rushing up to hit me and slammed my right knee straight down onto hard-packed soil. Right on my kneecap.

It hurt so bad, I almost threw up right then and there.

Managed to roll onto my butt and snarled, "Don't touch me! Just don't touch me!" at all the hands waving in my face. The Husbandly One was right there with me, most likely wanting to snatch me right back up, but I couldn't bear anyone touching me until I could get a handle on the pain. And you know, my right knee is my bad knee. In fact, when I pulled my capris up to look at the damage, I was half terrified I'd see my kneecap on my shin, like I did all those years ago in boot camp.

Oh, so don't want to remember that!!

Fortunately, my kneecap was right where it belonged, I had just scraped my knee to hell and gone, and knocked loose all the calcium and other crap collected on the back of the kneecap so that it felt like my knee was full of gravel.

Thank goodness I hadn't worn shorts, like I originally intended!! Or it would have been even more of a bloody mess than it was. Eeyuck!

Of course, it feels like I have a rock inside my knee now, but I'm not limping any more. Stairs are a problem, though, and this means my weekly battle with the Laundry Monster is going to be iffy. Oh well. We don't need towels and clothes, right?

Is it wrong for me to be ready for this year to be over already?


Friday, April 13, 2012

Because she's amazing...

So, the Impertinent Daughter is taking art at the high school, and I have to say, I really, really like her art teacher. She's always challenging the Impertinent One, and I have seen some really stunning art coming out of that class, I have to say!

Over the last few weeks, they've been working on a self portrait, and while Miss Priss started out with the usual self portrait, the teacher felt she should try something different, to not be so literal.

And I have to say, the Impertinent Daughter rose to the challenge and... pretty much surpassed it, if you ask me!

Impertinent Self Portrait

Just in case you can't tell, she drew herself as being made out of paint brushes, and the background is tubes of acrylic paints. The actual drawing is much bigger, but our scanner can only get so much of it.

She is constantly stunning and amazing me. Goes without saying that I am amazingly proud of her, doesn't it?

It's a constant wonder for me to look at her and remember her as a two year old, lying on her stomach on the floor, fat crayon gripped firmly in her grubby little fist, drawing on a huge 18"x 24" artist's pad of paper, doing her best to imitate the dogs, cats, horses, and cows I was drawing for her. Sometimes, I still see that toddler. And other times, she just blows me away.

Kid, consider your mother's mind blown!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weirdest. Morning. EVER.

You know, I haven't posted a Weird Animal Story in a while, mainly because the Killer Psycho Mockingbirds have been relatively quiet. So... I guess we were kind of overdue.

So... this morning. We troop out of the house so I can take the kids to school, and as we get to the car, I pause. Why? Because there's this huge BUZZARD, also known as a turkey vulture in the street behind my car. Just sort of... hanging out. You know. "Doopty doo, doopty doo, nothing to worry about folks, hyuk, just doin' mah buzzard thang heere, heh... don't mind me, now, y'all just... pretend I'm not here!"


And he won't move. Usually, buzzards don't like being approached, and will take off if you get too close. Not this one. I figured whatever it was that was dead, it must be really, er... tasty. Or something. Problem was, I couldn't smell anything dead nearby, and didn't see anything, either. So, I herded the kids into the car and had to back up creatively so I didn't end up with a big ol' turkey buzzard stuck to my rear bumper. And it was as I was pulling out that I realized what had attracted Mr. Buzzard.

Our neighbors had this... this... HUGE FISH lying in their front yard against the mutual hedge between our properties. I swear the thing must have been six feet long!! NO WONDER Mr. Buzzard was so determined to stick around, I mean, he must have thought he'd hit the Mother Lode of Dead Crap!!

Okay, so... the kids were freaking out, and laughing hysterically, and kept looking back to see if he'd approached the Big Dead Fish yet the whole way up the street.

The Impossible Son looked back as we turned and said, "He's going for it!"

So... we get to the Impossible Son's school, and there is a truck in front of us that has a... tiny deer sitting on the hitch. No, seriously. A tiny little deer, sitting cross-legged on the hitch with one of it's forelegs up in the air, like it's saying, "Hi there!!"

The Impertinent One said, "Oh, I wonder if it's like the cow Papa and I saw on a truck once! When they hit the turn signal, the cow's eyes glowed red and the legs went up and down!"

"Yaaaaagh!" I said. "That sounds creepy!! And distracting!!"

The truck didn't turn, so the kids were disappointed. However, after I dropped the Impossible Son off, and then went to drop Miss Impertinent off at the high school, the truck appeared again, turning out of the driveway of one of the schools I pass on the way home, and there was the tiny deer again. This time, the truck turned, and THE DEER WAVED AT ME AND KICKED ONE LEG UP AND DOWN!!


I almost had a car accident, I was so... mesmerized...

So, when I got home, Mr. Turkey Buzzard was pecking half-heartedly at the Big Dead Fish, and I could swear he was saying, "WTF is this shit??" I peeked around the hedge and realized his problem right away.

It was a TAXIDERMIED Big Dead Fish!! In fact, it had lost most of its scales at some point, and there was fiber sticking out from where it had split at the top, and oh, the reek!!! Evidently, the bushes sort of protected us from it.

Mr. Buzzard gave this indignant squawk and sort of hop-flapped away before taking off for something less well-preserved. I mean, seriously, it's pretty bad when you manage to disgust a BUZZARD.

Four months in...

Is it just me, or is 2012 so far just... full of suck?

And we still have eight more months to go.


Bloody marvelous, that.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The one about my mom...

You know, there comes a point in your life when you realize your parents are not immortal. Something happens, a heart attack, an accident, something that makes you realize your parents aren't bulletproof and that they are not always going to just be there. That there is going to come a point in your life that one or both of them will be gone and you'll never hear that voice again, or see those eyes watching you with amusement and love...

I faced that moment a long, long time ago.

When my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer twelve years ago, it was scary, but I somehow knew he would survive it and live past the six month diagnosis he was given. And he did. He lived eight years longer than the doctors expected.

But I also knew when the end was coming, when he was having to go back again and again to have his esophagus dilated so he could swallow. And when they said the cancer was back, I knew he wasn't going to beat it this time.

I accepted it.

Then Hurricane Ike hit Texas and knocked out power to most of Houston, where they lived, and greatly accelerated the process. He was gone by November.

So, my mom, being a survivor, managed another year in the house she and my father had lived in for sixty some odd years, before frailty and fear made it impossible for her to live by herself. My oldest sister bought a house, and now she and Mom live together. And over the last few years, Mom has gotten thinner, has gotten smaller, and has gotten a little more vague.

My mother... is not immortal. She is very human. I accept that. And it seems over the last weeks, I've been getting more and more reminders of that fact.

She has Alzheimer's.

She has mild emphysema.

And this week, she had a mini-stroke.

She's back to her normal self now. Well, as normal as she gets these days, that is. And it's not easy, watching and hearing about it from a distance. I want to be there, but... I need to be here more. I need to be with my kids. They need me to be here with them, because to them, I'm still the Invincible Mom.

Over the last year, I've had this growing sense of Mom drifting farther and farther away from me, like I'm standing on shore, and she's standing on a boat. There will come a point where we won't be able to touch fingertips any more, and I dread that day. I dread the day when my own Invincible Mom drifts beyond my reach, when her stories and family history are gone.

I know it's coming. It may not be soon, but it's coming. I don't have to like it... but I do have to accept it.

And that's the hardest part of all.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"It was just my imagination, running away with me...."

So, after the Impossible Son's soccer practice, it was decided to head to our favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant, Mr. Taco. We were in the mood for fajitas, or at least the Husbandly One, the Impertinent Daughter, and I were. We have discovered that Mr. Taco's "fajitas for two" plate feeds the three of us nicely. The Impossible Son had his usual chicken strips, no gravy.

We forgot that Thursdays are live mariachi band night.

Did I mention there are all hard surfaces at Mr. Taco, with nothing to absorb sound?


Anyhow, yeah, it was loud, but the food was worth it! Once we'd eaten ourselves to a lull, the Impertinent One begged a pen off me, grabbed a clean napkin, and immediately began to sketch the mariachi band members, then took it to them before fleeing back to our table.

They passed it around among themselves, looking at it intently, then marched over to our table and serenaded her with "Just My Imagination," and a Spanish/English version of "I Just Called To Say I Love You."

Her smile was incandescent, and she giggled almost the entire time, hiding her face every once in a while, but mostly beaming at them with delight. I rubbed her back from time to time when it looked like she was getting overwhelmed, but mostly? She absolutely loved it!

I think she was also chuffed that two of the mariachi singers actually fought over who would get to sing to her! And if you've never seen a violinist and a trumpet player arguing over who is gonna sing to the pretty girl, then you have no idea what you missed!

I think she's just beginning to have an inkling of the doors her art can open for her. This is going to be an interesting journey to watch!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Adventures in Air Conditioning...

Friday was a very eventful day in our household, some good, some not so good, and some downright alarming!

I'll start off with the good. We got our central air/central heating unit replaced, and it only took one day, and while it came with its own horrors, it was a definite Good Thing.

The horrors?

Well, first off, when they pulled out the coil? Okay, one thing you should know about an air conditioning system is the coil should be kept clean. It should be flushed out and cleaned twice a year at the very least, monthly if you want to be particular. I knew this. When we had window units, this was something we did regularly because it kept them running efficiently.

With the central whole house unit, though, that's a bit trickier, and with the unit we had, it was pretty much impossible.

And it wouldn't have mattered, because apparently no one ever cleaned the damned thing! There was an inch and a half mat of... hair. And dust. And dirt. And other things it doesn't bear thinking about. The A/C guys figure that thing hasn't been cleaned since 2003, the last time it was fully serviced. We couldn't have cleaned it anyway, because it was inaccessible. What really chaps my hide? When the fan motor burned out in 2010, and the capacitor burned out last summer, one of the first things they should have done was check the coil and clean it. Because... a dirty coil will freeze over and cause the fan to work harder and eventually burn the motor out, or burn the capacitor out.

They never looked at the coil. Just asked us if we used filters regularly, and when we said yes, said, "Okay, you're good." And that was that.


Okay... so, the next thing? When they opened the intake register? There was carpet on the floor inside the intake chamber. And... it was full of dirt and MOLDY. They rolled it into a plastic bag and carried it quickly out of the house and disposed of it, then cleaned the chamber out thoroughly, even asking if I had bleach, because they hadn't expected to have to swab the chamber out. And then spent time drying it thoroughly.

No wonder I kept getting pneumonia!! No wonder the kids kept getting upper respiratory infections. No wonder the Husbandly One kept getting sinus infections!! No wonder the Impossible Son was almost constantly congested!! It makes me want to bang my head into a wall!!

Okay, so they cleaned everything, replaced it all, sealed it all, and put a ceiling in the closet where the unit is housed... no, there was no ceiling in the closet. It was open to the attic and that was a problem, too! Anyhow, there's new ductwork up there, everything's been taped and sealed, and then they turned the A/C on (because it was a warm day and the house was stuffy).

Normally, it takes about half an hour to cool the house off after turning the A/C on.

In ten minutes, I was shivering!!

I was sitting at the kitchen table, defragging the laptop and doing other maintenance on it, and nearly jumped when papers on the table started... fluttering. And I blinked when I realized I could feel air moving against my face. Mr. A/C Guy comes in and says, "How's that?"

I said, "What's that breeze? Do you still have the front door open?"

He grinned at me. "Nope. That's coming from the overhead vent."

Y'all... we've never been able to feel the air coming from the vents. Well, not from a distance. We'd have to hold our hands up to the vents to tell it was working.

Right about that moment, the wind chime I have hanging from the kitchen vent started softly chiming. It's never done that before!!

Totally AWESOME!!

And when they got the heat set up? WONDERFUL!! It's a sealed system, so no more checking obsessively to make sure the pilot light is still lit, and worrying that it's gone out every time the wind starts blowing outside. SO AWESOME!!

And the house is actually warm!! I no longer go around bundled up in the house like a little Eskimo, as THO puts it.

Totally full of WIN!!

Yes, those idiots at Mr. Blow Hard's company really screwed us. Oh, yeah, when they replaced the fan motor? They put in a super-charged fan motor, so it would work with the crappy, dirty coil and not burn out. Not only that, but they replaced the 30 amp circuit with a 40 amp without telling us so the fan would work and not overload the circuit.

Yeah, that has to be replaced. Yay.

*grumble grumble grumble*

Put all of that together and it explains why our power bills were so damn high!


The Impertinent One had a game Friday night, and right about the time that Mr. A/C Guy was putting the finishing touches on our system, I got a text from her. Their game, which had been scheduled for 6 pm, had been moved to 5 pm. Which meant scrambling to get food into them before game time.

Except they didn't. They pretty much had them practicing until fifteen minutes before the game, and then they had to change out and set up, and nowhere in there was there time for the junior varsity team to eat, or even text their folks to ask for so much as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So basically, they hadn't eaten since lunch.

Oh, and did I mention it was cold and rainy by that point?

Not that cold and rainy is a problem, but on an empty stomach, it is.

To say that they didn't play well would be a major understatement. We had a lot of injuries in that game, including the Impertinent Daughter.


I was answering a parent's questions, trying to keep an eye on the Impossible Son (who was living up to his name, believe me), and on the field, but I missed Miss Impertinent taking a ball to the face straight off her opponent's knee. By the time I was focused on the field again, she was on the bench. And she stayed on the bench through the rest of the first half, and part of the second half until one of the coaches noticed her face was swelling, so they sent her to the trainer, who slapped ice on it.

Her eye was swollen shut, apparently.

The Tall Blonde noticed that the Impertinent One was sitting on the trainer's cart, and after looking through the zoom lens of her camera, determined she had an ice bag held to her face. Then we heard that she had a headache, and that was all I knew until the end of the game when I was finally able to make my way to the team's bench, just in time to hear the trainer assessing her for a concussion.


So... I got her home, did my own assessment, and decided to keep her home and resting until Monday, when I could get her in to see the family doctor. She had a headache, but it wasn't severe. Her face was swollen where she'd been hit by the ball, but had improved by the time we got home, and she was fairly steady on her feet. By Sunday, though, she couldn't walk a straight line if her life depended on it. And she was sleepy. We kept an eye on her, and I got her in to see the doctor first thing on Monday.

The physician's assistant did her assessment and said, "CT scan time!" The verdict? A mild concussion, so she's benched by the doctor until the 10th, and benched by the district's concussion protocol until the 17th, provided she passes the trainer's assessment.

I'm glad of this, because when I was in high school sports, their concussion protocol consisted of, "Can you still see? Can you still stand up? Okay, rub some dirt on it and GET BACK IN THE GAME!!"

In other words, unless you were bleeding out your eyeballs and nose, you were fine to play, especially if you were one of the better players.

I'm glad this is no longer true!

Still, the coach looked like she was sucking on a lemon someone had found in the garbage when we let her know. Oh, well, my priority is my kid, not the coach's happiness.

So, new CA/CH unit - YAY!!

Mild concussion - BOO!!

And there you go!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shout It Loud!!

The Impertinent Daughter had an AWESOME game tonight!! And Junior Varsity won their game, 3 to 0!! She had two truly sweet corner kicks and many assists, and omg, y'all... she was so fast tonight!! I'M SO PROUD!!!

*dance of joy, dance of joy*


LIFE. It Happens.

Can I just... step off the roller coaster for a few minutes? Kinda feeling dizzy... just a bit.

Let's see, we're having to replace the central air/central heating unit in our house because (1) it has reached the age where there are no spare parts available any longer and (2) even if there were spare parts available, it wouldn't be safe to fix.


Yeah, that was fun. The guy who came to repair it works for the company who installed it in the first place some twenty years ago, and after first telling me what needed fixing and how much it would cost, then telling me the parts that needed fixing needed to be replaced, then telling me they don't make those parts any more, I got to deal with the blustering, Good Ol' Boy owner of said company. Mr. Good Ol' Boy took one look at me and decided that I was the type that could be easily manipulated into what he wanted me to do, and proceeded to try to intimidate me into agreeing with him that his company should be the ones to do the work.

Y'all know that went over like a lead balloon, right?

Funny how Mr. Blow Hard and his tech went all through the closet where the CA/CH unit is housed, with Mr. Blow Hard taking measurements and loudly telling his tech that they'd have to rip out the wall, and probably part of the floor to put in a new coil, and he would recommend a contractor to rebuild the wall after they were done replacing the unit, blah, blah, blah, and it never occurred to him that I was texting the Husbandly One basically a blow by blow account of what was going on while I sat quietly at the kitchen table with the laptop. Mostly, Mr. Blow Hard shouted out a series of arcane numbers that I'm guessing were supposed to be measurements of some kind, or maybe it was just supposed to impress me with how technical he was...

When he finally "presented" me with his "findings," I said politely, "Well, I'll discuss this with my husband, and we'll let you know what we decide."

He frowned, then smiled indulgently and looked at his tech, nodding as he said, "Oh, right. You'll discuss this with your husband." He snickered. "You mean, you'll ask him what to do and then do what he tells you."

Yeah, that pretty much made me see red, but I just raised an eyebrow and said, "No, I mean I'll discuss it with my husband. We're partners. Neither one of us makes big money decisions on our own. We talk it out, go over the pros and cons, and go from there. Sometimes he has the final say, sometimes I have the final say, but either way, it gets discussed, we do research, and decide how big a hit our budget can take, because it affects both of us. So when I say we'll discuss it and let you know, that's precisely what I mean. You have a problem with that?"

"Well, if you go with us, you won't have to pay the service fee for this visit," Mr. Blow Hard said, still trying to work the intimidation factor. "But if you go with someone else, I'll have to send you a bill for $85."

"That's fine," I said with a sweet smile. "We'll let you know."

"You should decide soon, because we might be booked up," he said as he headed for the door.

"We'll take that chance," I said firmly. "Bye now."

Yeah, that was fun.

We called a couple of companies, but decided on one recommended to us by the Tall Blonde. What settled it was (1) he got back to us and (2) he didn't just look at the main unit. He also went up into the attic to check the ducts and connections, and went under the house to check the coil and the drains. He was very patient with my questions, and also cleared up a mystery that's been driving us crazy for some time now.

Every time the A/C or the heat came on, I'd smell this... faint burning odor that made the back of my throat burn, and would sometimes set my asthma off. We had the unit checked several times because of this, but there was never anything we could find to explain it.

Then Mr. A/C guy takes a look at the duct work and peers up at the top of our unit and goes, "Huh."

Yeah, that's not a good sound, either.

Seems that when Mr. Blow Hard's company installed the unit, they used a type of duct work that has since been banned in our country because it's... well, basically a piece of crap. And when all the new ductwork was installed, they left this original duct work in place where the unit connects to it all. Basically, what happens to the crap duct is that it dries out and starts cracking, then dry rots and gets blown about in the system. That's what I've been smelling every time the unit comes on.

Mr. A/C said, "What I don't understand is why they left it there. Because even if the new duct wouldn't fit, there's a way to work around it and adapt it, so... why leave the old stuff? It's not safe!"

Well, judging by the crap unit Mr. Blow Hard wanted us to buy, I'd say it was done to cut corners. After all, how many homeowners actually look up into their attic to see what they've got up there? And how many of those that do would know what to look for or what they're even looking at?

We're fortunate that the weather has been mild, though the first three or four nights after we lost our heat were tough, because it got down in the thirties. Thank goodness for lots of blankets!! This house holds on to the cold like you wouldn't believe, and I've had to open the windows during the day just so I can feel my fingers!!

The Impertinent Daughter's team survived a three day soccer tournament over last weekend, and so did we! Again, in San Marcos at the fields where the Impossible Son and I froze our katooshies off. And, yes, it was cold, but not as cold as last year! Friday night, they were in first place, but by Saturday afternoon, because of the bizarre point system the folks who were running the tournament were using, the JV found themselves playing for third.

I'm still not sure where we placed, because every person I've asked have said something different. Personally, I think they placed pi.

Hey, it makes about as much sense as that point system!!

And the Impossible Son has started soccer practice for the rec league this week, which is going to be frustrating, I can tell already. Why? Because once again, there weren't enough coaches for the record FIVE U12 teams that were formed this season, so they basically started grabbing any warm body. And one of the warm bodies is the woman who is coaching my son's team.

I have nothing against her. She's a good person, I've known her since the Impertinent Daughter started playing soccer, and now her daughter and mine are playing JV for the high school. It's cool. However... she's never coached soccer before in her life and has no idea where to start. The good news is, she knows this, and has enlisted the help of several girls on the high school team, as well as any parents who have any sort of know how, or is willing to help out. This can work, I've seen it work before.

I've also seen it go to hell in a handbasket.

So... I'm hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that things will go well. However, the Husbandly One and I have decided this will be Mr. Impossible's last season playing here. If he plays rec league next fall, it will be in San Marcos.

And that is the State of Jo so far. Woo.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Bark Side: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial Teaser

This is just... wow. Just... wow.

Seems I am not the only one...

Originally posted at Seems I Am Not The Only One....
......who feels the need to take a break from an increasingly dysfunctional relationship.

You know, if we could get enough people to do this and pull this off, it would send a powerful message to the industry who started this ridiculous campaign. Hit 'em in the pocketbooks, folks. Hit 'em HARD.

Thursday, January 12, 2012