Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 198)

***************** 1 *****************

After Cuckoo once again hollered, "Wipe my bottom!" from the bathroom, Phoenix yelled back, "You will never be successful in life if you can't wipe your own bottom!  We are not royals.  No one will wipe your bottom for you when you are older!"

That's when Star jumped into the conversation with, "There are people who wipe the royals butts?" 

And he was completely serious.

******************* 2 *****************

Why my husband is a sought-after attorney:

I emailed him the completed Christmas card letter and asked, "Can you read through this please?  Don't be shy with the critiques," thinking he would tell me if it was more on the dumb than funny side.  After 25 years, I really should have known better.

His reply:

Just a couple of things:

1.  Page 2, Section 5 - "Giant's bugged-out eyes" - You never finish the sentence.
2.  Page 2, Section 6 - Change "Colt's" to "Colts"
3.  Page 3, Section 9 - Change "uncooperative pig" to uncooperative pigs".
4.  Page 4, Section 4 - Change "Dad's" to "Dads".

And he was completely serious. 

********************** 3 ******************

Notice that new, big button in my sidebar?  It says "The Mom Connection".  Yeah, I'm going to be connectin'.  So are a few other moms.  We were asked, "How do you prepare for the holidays with your children?"  They asked, I answered, we're connected.  Come back tomorrow to read all about it!

**************** 4 *****************

Cuckoo was terribly upset that he didn't get to go to Daddy's office with four of the other kids yesterday.  They were going to the Yuletide Celebration that the symphony does, and he was just too little to go.  When the four put on their best Christmas finery, Cuckoo ran upstairs to get dressed, too.  Giant was kind enough to help him, and put a sweater right over top of Cuckoo's clothes he had worn all day.  When I told him he just wasn't old enough, he replied, (as he touched his toes and ran his hands all the way up to his head) "I grew this big and am big enough to wear a sweatshirt.  I can go."  The look on his face when everyone got out of the van except him about broke my heart.  No crying, no tantrum.   Just the pouty lip and sad, sad eyes. 

**************** 5 ****************

 To curb the sadness, I asked him what he would like to do on our date, seeing as we were the only two left without something to do.  (Phoenix was at basketball.)  "I want to go to a playground and a restaurant."  Since it was already dark outside, we went to Chick-fil-A.  We were there for an hour and a half, and only ten minutes were spent on the playground.  He just couldn't stop talking long enough to eat his four chicken nuggets.

I love a good date with one of my kids.

******************* 6 ***********************

Did I mention that you need to come back tomorrow to see me connectin' with moms?  Yes?  Well, I'm just reiterating.  And to let you know that I learned a whole bunch about computers while doing this.  I even did HTML for the first time.  Still don't know what HTML stands for, and really all I had to do for the post is copy and paste the HTML Miss Cassie (from Two in Diapers) (she's the one hosting this connectin') sent me.

I'm kind of surprised she's letting me write for it, considering my overuse of parenthesis, commas, and quotes.  And I don't have Facebook or Twitter accounts, which I'm supposed to use to promote the connectin'.

But, when you do come back tomorrow, which I know you will, seeing as how I've played it up so much, it is a mom CONNECTION.  You are supposed to comment and get all connected, too.

And really, you don't even have to wait until the real tomorrow.  It goes live at midnight.

Saying "it goes live" makes it sound so big and important, doesn't it?
 ************************ 7 **************
 My friend living in Japan sent me a bunch of American items that had been made for Japan, and she put a post-it on each item explaining why she sent it.  On the Japanese Kit-Kat she wrote, "a snack for when you are taking kids hither and yon".  The following conversation occurred:

Star:  "What does this say?"
Me:  "Hither and yon."
Star:  "Who are Hither and Yon?"
Me:  while trying not to laugh too hard "They aren't people.  It means taking you guys here, there, and everywhere."
Star:  "Oh.  I thought they were someone's blog names."

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who Knew Train and The Hoff Were Friends?

Just to warn you, I'm going to be doing some braggin' on one of my kids today.  If that's not your cup of tea, I will most likely be making fun of at least one of them tomorrow.  I'll see you then.

My birthday landed on the day before Thanksgiving this year.  We were going to be very busy, with packing the car, Grandparent's Day at school, the feast at preschool, and the loooong drive to Northeast Ohio.  The kitchen is my birthday and Christmas present, so I expected nothing but a few hugs and well wishes.

As the kids were gathering their belongings before school, my phone dinged.  I grabbed it and this message was on it:
Check your music list
Happy Birthday
Completely confused, I looked to Hubby.  He had no idea what was going on.
I went to my music, which previously had all of one song on it, to find an entire "Train" CD loaded and ready to play.  I looked around at the kids, and Phoenix had a shy little grin on his face.
Apparently, the night before he snuck off with my phone, used his iTunes card to buy it, then set an alarm to alert me to the fact.
When you hear about how self-centered teens are, know that there are plenty generous, thoughtful ones out there, too.
And then....
The last thing I did before leaving the house for our long drive was grab the mail out of the mailbox.  The results from the high school placement test Phoenix had taken a couple of weeks ago just happened to be in there.
I about drove off the road when he read out loud, "We are happy to inform you that of the nearly 300 students who took the test, your score was one of the top 10." 
Woo Hoo!!!
Ends up, he actually had the 4th highest score.
And with that score came a nice scholarship for his first year of high school.
Double Woo Hoo!
That boy got to order as many crepes as he wanted at our dinner stop that night.
To be able to watch this boy as he grows and matures is such a blessing.  He is kind, he is funny, he is responsible, hard-working, and thoughtful.  Turns out he's pretty darn smart, too.
Such happy surprises on my birthday.
I'll leave you with this.  Man, I do love Train.  And the video... It's got The Hoff.  If you're German, I know you're clicking over.
Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Not Going to Join the National Opossum Society, but...

I tell you what, the opossum doesn't get the admiration it deserves.

Sure, it is one of the ugliest creatures ever put on this earth.  I am completely with you on this one.

And yes, it has a stupid name.  That "o" at the start makes a person sound like she is talking to a baby.  As in "Oh, possum, you are so silly."

They are mean little things, too.  Stealing chickens just isn't cool.

However, they do have some very good points.

First, they are marsupials.  The only ones in North America.  Related to the kangaroo and all.   Doesn't everyone want a relative who lives in Australia to provide cheap lodging when she takes a dream vacation there?

Most importantly, though, they are brilliant.  The way they "play possum" is fascinating.  We've watched their cleverness in action many times here on the farm.  Not one time has an opossum been killed by our dogs.  Which is astounding, as our dogs kill absolutely everything else they can get their teeth on.

When the kids were heading out the door for school yesterday, they noticed an opossum right near the walkway.  The dogs were calmly lounging in the flower beds.  (Who am I kidding?  They are weed beds.  Every time I plant flowers, the dogs dig them up, so I've given up until such a time as the dogs die.)  At one point, we saw the opossum stand up and slowly creep away.

Picture someone sneaking up on another with a purpose of scaring him.  The exaggerated high knees, quietly tip-toeing across the floor.  That's what an opossum looks like.  When an opossum is creeping, it is as cute as an opossum can get.

Eventually, Hershey will realize that her prey is escaping, and will simply go grab it and bring it back.  As gently as a mama dog bringing back her baby.

She plopped the opossum back in the front yard, then went off to play.

That clever little opossum waited until the coast was clear and tip-toed her way towards freedom yet again.

It actually made it to the tree line on the third attempt.  Unfortunately, Hershey tracked it down and brought it back to the yard.

Finally, the opossum got the break it was looking for.

The kitchen workers arrived, which totally distracted the dogs.  The clever opossum took full advantage and snuck out to freedom.

We have a lot to learn from those ugly, ill-named creatures.

Just because I can't stand them, doesn't mean we can't learn from them.

When faced with adversity, play dead.  Not forever, but until no one is looking.  Then quietly sneak away.

Someone confronts you about something you did or didn't do?  Drop to the floor and pretend you are dead.  Patiently wait for the aggressor to go through the stages of confusion, boredom, and distraction.  Once she's distracted, quietly tip-toe out of the room and into the safety of your car.

I think I will use this the next time one of the kids gets cranky and demands dinner.  I'll let you know how it goes.

But, that won't happen until I get this blasted Christmas card done.   I swear, blogging has ruined the Christmas card for me.  I am so distracted by all of the post ideas that I can't focus on the card.  It will be a good one, if I ever get it done.

And yes, I realize that of all my big post ideas that are distracting me, I chose to write a ridiculous post about an opossum. 

A hint about the card.  A quote.  I can't explain going crazy or being crazy.  Crazy is just being myself.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Phone Photos

The Golden Spoons

On Saturday I discovered a treasure trove in the form of photos Hubby has taken with his phone.  I simply wanted to download the photos I took at the Turkey Trot, but instead found the horribly hilarious chronicles of Hubby's life over the past year.

I will admit that Hubby did take a few good pictures.  However, I'm not going to show them to you.  The other ones are so much funnier.

1.  I thought the boys had fun at Holiday World.  According to this photo, I was wrong.

2.  A warning:  If you are going to take a snooze at work, I suggest you close the door to the office first.  This poor guy still doesn't know that his photo was taken and passed around the office.

3.   Clearly Hubby hasn't mastered the camera phone.  Instead of taking a bad picture of the court at the Pacer's game, he got a terrible picture of his screen as his phone tried to focus on something not quite the court.  He has no idea how he took this photo.

4.  Same Pacer's game, he let our child walk around like this the entire evening.

5.  Same place, different day, different kid.

6.  His attempt at taking a staged funny photo.  Buttercup and Hubby were touring Notre Dame between soccer games.  Get it?  It's funny 'cause she's 12 and reading A Guide to the Socialist Economies.

7.  While in Chicago for work, he visited the art museum.  This is the one and only photo from there. 
Apparently he was in such a hurry to get through the museum, he couldn't wait the two seconds for this stranger to move out from in front of the one painting he recognized.

8.  I was out of town, and he took the kids to Golden Corral for dinner.  This is the dessert Hubby let Turken choose.  It will be the last time Hubby takes the kids to Golden Corral.

9.  Vegas through the eyes of someone who has had a bit too much to drink?

10.  I've made fun of Hubby enough, so we will end with the best photo he took.  A view of Chicago from a conference room in the former Sears Tower.

Any good photos on your husband's camera?

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Middle-Aged. So Be It.

On the day before Thanksgiving, I turned 41. 

I'm officially middle-aged, and this Thanksgiving week, I found that it is the perfect age to be.

Each year, our family runs in the local Turkey Trot.  We have participated for so many years, we could clothe and entire African village with Turkey Trot long-sleeve T-shirts.  Last year, my sister and her kids, as well as Hubby's mom, joined our little tradition.

As I am trained in keeping youngsters in line, I always get to run with the little kids in the one mile fun run while everyone else runs the 5K.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I don't run and would pass out if I had to run a 5K.

This year, these were my running partners.

Don't be deceived by their silliness.  These are hard-core athletes.

Turken and Niece were convinced that they could pass all 3200 runners and win that big, non-existent trophy.  They took off in a sprint and left me to weave amongst the walkers, pushing a stroller in which a three-year old Cuckoo was very unhappy that he was not actually running the race.

When the crowd cleared a bit, I let Cuckoo out to run.  Within a minute we lost sight of our rabbits.

Cuckoo was literally thrown back into the stroller in order for us to catch up.  We were getting close to the point where 5Kers and milers parted ways, and if they missed the turn, I would be stuck running the entire 5K.  I did that once before, when Turken was a baby and strapped to my chest in a carrier, and Star was running his first race.  It was an experience I did not want to repeat.

Once we made the turn-off, I let Cuckoo out of the stroller, never more grateful for him.  Without the short-legged three year old, I would have looked completely pathetic with all my hard-breathing, yelling at a 4 and 5 year old to slow down.

At the end of that mile, I was feeling mighty annoyed with myself and my out-of-shape condition.   That feeling changed, though, while we waited for the others to finish.  There were millions of leaves that had been blown into gigantic leaf piles.  My running partners and I took full advantage of them. 

I realized that I may be out-of-shape, but I can change that.  I'm grateful that I am still young enough to be able to jump in a pile of leaves and play with the kids.

On the day after Thanksgiving, I left Hubby with his mom for the entire day.  I spent the time away with people at the complete opposite end of the life cycle from Turken and Cuckoo.

One of my great aunts lost her husband 21 years ago.  For most of those years, I have been taking a couple of hours each time I head to Ohio to play her favorite game of Scrabble with her.  This year was no different.

After I totally beat her, I brought my great aunt back to my grandma's house, where I played Tripoly for five hours with six adults whose average age was 73. 

Amongst the talk of medicines and other old people talk, I had a great time.  As folks get older, they are much less worried about appearances, and their conversations can be hilarious.  Especially when those folks love each other and know each other so well. 

I realized that despite the fact that I was tired and sore from the day's activities, I have a whole lot more life to live.  If my family is any indication, I will be alive for at least 45 more years.  I'm practically a baby!

All in all, middle-aged is the perfect age to be.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Musings from the Minibus, Part 2

I'm all for polite.  I like polite.  I like people who think of others.  Except when those polite people are making bone-headed decisions that puts us all in danger.

There are many things polite drivers do that are problematic, but one makes me crazy.

For the love, people, if you are in the right lane of a busy, four lane road, do not, DO NOT stop to allow a person to make a left-hand turn if the inside lane isn't also stopped.  Oh the number of times I've clenched in horror as a car eeks out into traffic, unaware that a car is barrelling down on him.  Especially when that left-hand turner is on his phone, not really paying attention.

Oh, the bundle of nerves I am, while they go along their merry stupid ways. 

If someone in a great big silver 12-passenger van blocks you in when you are trying to make a left-hand turn onto a busy four lane road, just give a thank you nod and wave.  And no, I don't mean a one-fingered wave.  To you, it may look like I'm being a jerk, not letting you out like that.  I'm OK with you disliking me. (Just ask my teens.)  But I will know that I very well may have just saved your stupid life.


One more musing for today.  This one isn't mine, but is an observation that Phoenix made.

We were next to a truck, a common truck that I have seen a hundred times, and didn't think anything of it.

Until Phoenix asked, "Why did they put a picture of a guy tooting on the back of that truck?"

I don't know which makes me laugh harder, the person tooting on the back of the truck or the fact that my 14 year old son said "tooting".

I love that boy.

To my American readers, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family love and fun with little to no family drama.  I pray you have safe travels with little to no whining.  Eat well, with little to no weight gain.  I hope you have some great Black Friday shopping deals with little to no punching in the face.

To my non-American readers, will you also have crazy people in spandex fighting over the three $10 big screens in Wal-Mart?  What about insane adults duking it out over some Tickle Me Dancing Karaokeing Texting Elmo?  Just curious.

Have a lovely rest of your week!

If you would like to read the first installment of Musings from the Minibus, go here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Monday Listicles - My Brain Can't Take All This Learnin'!

It's Monday!

And you know what that means.

Monday LIsticles!

The theme this week is 10 Actual Skills or Enlightenments that I Learned in 2012.

First thing that came to mind is blogging.  It wasn't until this year that I really figured out this blogging thing.  I realized that I don't care how many people read my blog.  I'm not looking for a huge following so I can make money or get a book deal.  I am writing because it is fun.  I enjoy meeting people I would never meet otherwise.  People that make me think, laugh, learn, and see things in new ways.   If I can do that for other people, too, it's a bonus.

Fortunately, with blogging, I can go through and see all of the other things that I learned.

For this week's listicles, I am going to shamelessly direct you towards past posts that explain what I've learned.

My Brand New Skills and Enlightenments:

1.  I learned both Ashtanga yoga and the fact that I need better friends in one fell swoop.

2.  I am no longer afraid of dogs.  Well, I'm not afraid of one dog in particular.

3.  I learned I am not as crafty as I used to be. Poor Cuckoo and Turken got the short stick on this one.

4.  I realized that not only am I old, but other people know it. 

5.  Even in a drought full of 100+ degree days, you can't fry an egg on the sidewalk. Or a barn roof.

6.  Deciding to potty-train a child by encouraging him to pee outside can backfire.  Who knew?

7.  I spend too much time in the van.   Which means I see too much and think too much.

8.  Our kids still listen to us.  I don't care that they're only doing it in order to get more material with which to mock us.

9.  I may actually have what it takes to be a real farmer.  Maybe someday.  If I work really hard.

10.  Lastly, I learned how to dispose of a pig that drowned itself

You had to know that one was coming.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Kitchen Is Coming!

The guy building our kitchen and mud room is a genius.  I have never seen such talent in a person.  I have to admit, in the early days of this renovation, I was a bit nervous about him.  No longer, my friends.

Remember that our house is almost 150 years old.

This guy was in my house for less than five minutes.  Perhaps two.  He had no paper or pencil.  Yet he was able to duplicate the window and door frames exactly.  Almost.  I thought they were exactly, but he told me that the one piece (out of 14 around just one window!) isn't cut that size anymore and is 1/8 of an inch smaller.  Slacker.

Some not-the-best-photos-but-you-are-going-to-be-OK-with-it-because-my-real-camera-is-broken:

Oh, and he cut the wood for two windows and four doorways in one day, then assembled the frames the next.  The guy is lightening quick!

Then, he moved on to the lockers/cubbies for the mudroom.

He measured the kids' soccer bags to make sure he made them wide enough.  I thought I knew what I wanted, until I saw what he was planning. 

Holy storage, Batman!

The entire wall around the windows is going to be storage.  A total of four lockers, shelves above, benches below.  The lockers are going to have shelves/benches that line up with the ones above and below the windows. 

He isn't putting a "floor" of the lockers to make for much easier cleaning.  No lip of a shelf to block the way when I decide to mop.  Or rather, when I make a child scrub the floor.

Two more, larger lockers are on the walls next to the wall of storage.

Folks, this mud room is going to change my life.

I am so, so, so, so excited!

The kitchen sink, the faucet, and the stove are sitting in my entryway, waiting to be installed someday.

I still need to pick pendant lights, door pulls, and a microwave.


The cupboards will be her the week of Dec. 3.


Have a lovely day!

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1.  Completely unprompted and out of the blue, Turken said, "Mom, you aren't old enough to be turning 41.  I think you are only 28 and will be 29 on your birthday." 

And now Turken is my favorite.

2.  The next day the same child drew this.

At first I thought he drew a picture of me with my brains actually swirling out of my head in one of my mommy meltdowns. 

Thankfully he explained.

 "I drew a picture of you getting a haircut.  You're sitting in the chair.  See, I even drew your curly hair!"

To make the moment a little more special, Cuckoo just happened to be singing One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful".  Except he used poetic license and sang, "I don't know you're beautiful." 

I hope a Great Clips coupon enters my mailbox soon.  I do believe I am in need of a trim.

3.  My husband oozes romance.  When I went to bed last night, I found this on my pillow.

4.  On Sunday, we went to 5:00 pm Mass in short sleeves.  The next morning, we had a blizzard.

OK, so it wasn't a blizzard.  It was a very strong flurry, though, that lasted a good hour.  This guy pretty well sums up my feelings on the snow.

5.  I thought a hand-held steamer was my house-cleaning BFF.  It does a bang up job cleaning the shower tile and that nasty area around the toilets.  Well, move over bacon, now there's something leaner.  And by leaner, I mean even better at cleaning.  And by better, I mean it cleans while I play with the kids.  Or blog.  Or do anything I darn well please.

People, vinegar is the bomb.  And I'm obsessed.  I knew of some of it's capabilities, but I've discovered more.  Just look:

The faucet in the kids bathroom.  Nasty green scum, no?

Tie a bag of vinegar and water to it...

and leave it be for untold hours.  Really, until you go in the bathroom and say, "Oh, yeah.  I forgot I was cleaning the faucet."  Voila!

While I was tying the bag onto the faucet, some spilled onto the paper towel I had on the counter.  I left it, just to see.  Wouldn't you know, the stains in the granite were gone!  So, I tried it on the granite around the shower.

Now get your jaw up off the ground and get that vinegar out of the cupboard.

6.  Before you start thinking I am the smartest person you know, I must tell you that in all actuality, I am a moron.  Not knowing that I am a tactile learner, the painter (yes, paint in my new kitchen!) came to show me a sample of an option for the texture for the ceiling.

7.   I love unexpected funny moments.  I got one yesterday in the dentist's chair of all places.  After almost two hours in the chair for a crown on my wisdom tooth, Cuckoo got tired of occupying himself and got on my lap.  Yes, I was upside-down, the dentist and his assistant had at least four instruments in my mouth, I was given instructions to be completely still for three minutes while the mold set, and my three-year old chose that moment to get on my lap.
The funny moment came when he tried to get a better look at the goings-on.  He leaned forward, and for 15 minutes I got to look at this:

Did I mention he was bracing himself on my boobs the whole time?

With that visual, I leave you with

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Don't Pin This

Speaking of castration...

(If you are confused, read yesterday's post.)

I work in a preschool class one day per week.  I don't have to do any planning.  I simply show up and do as I'm told.

The teacher in my room was telling me about a craft she had started with the kids and we were going to finish yesterday.

Basically, each of the kids cut out previously-traced leaves, then the teacher wrote what each child was thankful for.  Yesterday, we were making faces and adding arms and legs to the leaves.

The teacher then held up an example.

I simply laughed and said, "Did you mean to make them all boys?"

Perhaps it was because I have boys.

Maybe it was because I had a certain something on the brain from yesterday's post.

Or I'm just immature.

Regardless, with each one we finished, I laughed harder and harder.  Which made the teacher laugh harder and harder.

Honestly though, wouldn't you?

The teacher's plan was to hang these leaf people on the wall next to some turkeys the kids had made, but no way were we going to be able to put these up.
"Have no fear!" I cried.
"I know how to fix this!"
Pun totally intended.
Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TALU Tuesday

Every Tuesday, Anne at Life on the Funny Farm co-hosts a link-up with I am not Superwoman, Sugar in my Grits, and Wrinkled Mommy.  You would never know that I participate in this link-up, because I don't have to write anything new to participate.


I don't have to do anything but link up an old post and sit back while people flock to my site.

Today, I'm linking up one I had completely forgotten about.  It's from way back.  Way before anyone, including my dad, read this here blog.  Thought you might enjoy it.  A blast from the past.  January 26, 2012 to be exact.


  I was happy to hear that the nine year old was reading one of my favorite books in school.

So when he was looking up vocabulary words for homework, I didn't think twice.

Until he came to me and said he couldn't find a word.

Which word?


I made him show me the word, 'cause it couldn't possibly be a word in the book, let alone a word he needed to look up for homework.

He showed me. Pages 103-110 or so was all about how Old Yeller helped corral the hogs in order to clip their ears and castrate them.

Funny how one forgets such things in the decades since one read one's favorite book.

I immediately started having flashbacks to the horribly hilarious essay the ten year old wrote for the same teacher when he had her last year. We needed to avoid similar embarrassment.

So, I looked the word up in Webster. It says, "to render impotent or deprive of vitality". Funny, but clearly not helpful.

So I stalled.

Now, you may be wondering, "You live on a farm, and you raise pigs. How do your children not know that word?"

Simple. We're not real farmers. We get our pigs when they are 40 pounds and well healed from their own castrations.

I explained to him that our pigs are castrated before they come to us. That it is done to protect the taste of the meat. Blah, blah, blah.

Then I just blurted it out.

"They cut off its balls."

I can't believe the words came out of my mouth. I hate that expression. But when my boys say, "I got kicked in the...." that's what they say. I don't know where they learned it. I just know I needed to say something that he would understand clearly.

And did he ever.

His eyes bugged out, there was a long pause, and he said, "How am I supposed to write that?"

I suggested male body parts.

I don't know what he ended up writing.

I'm just grateful that this teacher doesn't require what many other teachers in the school do. Those students have to draw pictures to go with the vocabulary words.
I'm off to read some posts at the link-up before the kids wake up.
Have a lovely day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Monday Listicles - Secret Agent

Helloooo Monday Listicles fans!  Anja of Cocalores suggested the theme 10 Things James Bond to celebrate the 50th anniversary.  Luckily, Stasha added "or Any Secret Agent".  I've never seen a single James Bond movie, so I'd be in trouble.  Fortunately, I know plenty about secret agents.

Besides the fact that I have a friend who is in the Secret Service, I have another who is in the Air Force and has been to the Middle East many times as an information gatherer.  Plus, my dad was an undercover narcotics agent when I was little, then in charge of the undercover agents for about 8 years while I was growing up.

On with the list.

10 Secret Agent Stories:

1.  Facial hair is encouraged.  Apparently criminals have facial hair and/or trust people with facial hair.  This is a photo of my dad when he was an undercover agent.  (Just a touch creepy, no?  I have to say, a beard without a mustache is just a stupid look, unless you are Amish, of course.  I'd apologize to my Amish readers, but Amish folk don't have electricity nor read blogs the last I heard.) 

2.  Undercover agents are bold.  They have to be in such a dangerous job.  Many times they are funny with it, too.  Our Secret Service friend once offered to take a photo of some tourists.  After they handed over their camera, he spent a minute lining them up just right.  He did the countdown of 1...2...and then took off at a sprint, as if he were stealing their camera.  He ran for about 100 yards, while the tourists went crazy, before finally stopping and letting them know he was just kidding.

3.  Secret agents are just that.  Secret.  Their names will never be in the phone book.  (For my younger readers, the phone company used to have a book with everybody's phone number and address in it.)  They won't have their family info in the church directory.  It makes it a little difficult for their daughters and the boys trying to call them.

4.  It's also difficult for relatives.  My grandparents got tons of calls from people looking for my dad.  I always thought it was terrible that while we were safe and anonymous, my grandparents were out there with the wolves for any and all crazy criminals to find.

5.  One beautiful summer day, my brothers, my friend, and I went for a long walk in some woods by our house.  We ended up going much, much farther than we'd ever been before.  Farther than we should have gone, for sure.  At one point we noticed a man, but didn't pay him any mind.  At first.   When we saw him again, and then again in another spot, we were very worried that he was following us.  We took off running, but got all messed up and circled back.  We saw him one more time, but that time we saw that he was talking with another man.  My dad to be specific.  I had never been so afraid in all my life.  Not because we were actually in the vicinity of a drug dealer informant, but because I knew that if my dad saw us, we'd be dead meat.

We ran the entire way home, straight to my mom where I burst into tears and blabbed the whole story.  My mom told us that we were probably right, and there was no reason to tell my dad.  Never speak of it again. 

(Dad, if you haven't heard this story before, water under the bridge, right?  I won't be grounded over Thanksgiving will I?)

6.  Children of undercover agents have exit plans.  I was always afraid that one of the guys that my dad arrested would get out and come after us.  I thought for sure that one day during an all-school mass some guy with a gun would come in looking to kidnap us.   Why it would happen at Mass, with hundreds of witnesses, I'll never know, but that's what I thought.  Since I was the oldest, my plan included crawling under the pews (We were in a future-thinking parish that didn't have kneelers to block my way.) to collect my siblings and duck out the side door.  (I was a server and knew all the secret doorways.)  I'm happy to say that I never had to follow through with that plan.  I'm sure it would have worked, though.

7.  Undercover agents have certain advantages when raising children.  We knew that if we ever got into trouble with the law, Dad would know about it within seconds.

8.  Another advantage: props.  All parents tell their children to stay away from drugs.  Just say no and all that jazz.  My dad took us to the undercover office, opened the safe, laid out the different kinds of drugs, and said, "This is what they look like.  Now you know.  If you ever touch them, I'll hurt you."  Enough said.

9.  Children of secret agents know things their peers don't.  We frequently went to the undercover office.  I felt so important to know that the building everyone thought was just an ordinary office was sometimes, after a huge bust, stuffed to the rafters with marijuana. 

10.  Lastly, undercover agents know things the general public doesn't.  It drove me batty when my dad would tell me I wasn't allowed to spend the night at a friend's house for confidential reasons.  I remember one friend in particular.  She was allowed to come to our house as much as she wanted, but I couldn't go to hers.  I was told that he could tell me the reason when I was older.  I haven't talked to that friend since graduation, and I don't remember what it was her mom was doing that kept me from going to her house.

And to end, I want to thank my dad and my friends, veterans all, for all they did and sacrificed in order to do their jobs.  It is a hard calling, and they have done it greatly.

Have a lovely day!

The Fun Continues - Kitchen Renovation Update

Holy choices, Batman!

My head is about to explode from all of the snap decisions I've made this week, but the rooms are coming along nicely. 

view from the dining room

The meals:

Because I know your first thought is for the welfare of my family, we are eating well.  We've had meatball subs with frozen meatballs I left in the crock-pot for a few hours.  We had loaded baked potatoes one night.  Chicken nuggets I had made and frozen were on Wednesday.  The kids actually cheered when my co-worker gave us an electric skillet to make some french toast.  We went out Thursday, and had leftovers on Friday.  We had $5 Little Caesars pizza Saturday, and I will cook hot dogs for the second time in my life as a mom for dinner on Sunday.

We're doing just fine on the food front.

The kitchen and mud room:

They are actually looking like rooms!  The insulation and drywall is up.  The lights are in.  I can finally imagine what the final look will be.

I have ordered the sink (a big farmhouse sink with a ten inch apron), faucet, paint color, range hood, mud room flooring, and the sink for the mud room.

The painters will be here Monday to get started.  The cabinets are supposed to be delivered the week of December 3.  We're getting there.

The Problems:

There are many this week.

1.  We knew it was only a matter of time before the previous owner's mistakes were uncovered.  Monday was the day.  All of the windows he put in the soon-to-be-mud-room-but-used-to-be-smoke-house were put in wrong.  Not only were they not level, they were leaking and rotten.  We had to replace four windows and the siding all the way around the outside of the mud room.

Can you say, "Budget buster"?

This is the new window.  The new siding will come on the first day that we don't have rain.

2.  Our fridge opens 150 degrees.  That means that the original design, where the fridge was up against a wall, wouldn't work.  We had a few choices, and of course the one that we consider the best choice is the most expensive.  I am happy with the look, though.  We are putting a vertical line of apothecary drawers and wine cubbies between the fridge and the wall.  Hubby and I had a long discussion about this one.  He didn't want to spend the money.  I did.  The alternative was to have a 5 inch piece of wood that just covered an open, unused space next to the fridge.  In the end, we agreed that Hubby being unhappy until we paid the bill was much better than me being unhappy for the rest of the years that we live in the house. 

3.  All of these extra costs have sent Hubby over the edge.   More than once I have found him in the dumpster.  He has become a dumpster diver.  He props up a ladder, gets in the dumpster, and digs to find things to salvage, because "Those builder guys are just wasteful."   When I made fun of him he said, "Look at this.  We can use it as a fence post." 

I'm all for being green and reusing materials, but these posts are huge, and he had to carry them out of there on a ladder in the dark.  Oh, and I have no idea what fence he is planning on posting.  Those "posts" will sit in our barn for years.

4.  The guys did a great job putting up a dust barrier between the kitchen and the dining room.  No dust has made it through. 

Only one problem.  See that light at the top of the photo?  The one over the dining room table where we eat all of our meals?  Especially dinner, which occurs at 6:30, which is after sunset now that we changed clocks.  Guess where the light switch for that light is?

We've had some nice, romantic lighting for our dinners lately.

5.  I'm thrilled with the plans for the new pantry.  One that is deep enough to hold some food and has a door that works.  This is where it will be going.

The back wall of the pantry butts up against the game closet in the "game room".  When one of the boys opened the closet to get a game out, we realized our error in the sealing of the kitchen.

No one thought to seal up the pantry/closet.  Every single game and every single puzzle and every single piece in each game and in each puzzle is covered with a thick layer of dust and debris.  And once the kids opened the closet and dumped half the games, the closet is stuck open and dust flows into the room.

I have been avoiding the task of cleaning out the closet.  I really, really don't even want to think about how long this is going to take.  And how much sneezing will be involved.

Still to do:

I am now on the hunt for two pendant lights and the drawer pulls/cupboard handles.  For both, I'm looking for something to tie in with the rest of the house.  Something farmish, but Victorianish, perhaps copperish to pull out the copper-looking flecks in the counter. 

I also need to think about a small table and benches/chairs for a corner of the kitchen, and some stools for the kitchen island.

I'm off to enjoy some more of this GORGEOUS weather we are experiencing here in Indiana.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Things That Go Bark/Cough/Pee in the Night

Last night blew chunks.

I got about four hours sleep because:

a.)  two little boys needed help going to the bathroom three times during the night,
b.)  I was up comforting Turken through 2, 3, or 4 bouts of coughing fits,  (It's such a blur, I don't remember.)
c.)  I had to save the lives of an opossum and two dogs.

What, is heroism in the name of animals a normal evening activity for you?

Last year, I came downstairs to get the kids' breakfast before school.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Roy trying to get under Hubby's car.  Upon closer inspection, I also noticed a bunch of debris in the yard.  And then I saw that Hubby's car didn't look quite right.

Full realization took a moment, but when it did, I feared for the dogs' lives.

Under Hubby's 2005 Honda Accord was an opossum.  Teeth bared and completely alive.  Scattered around the yard were pieces of Hubby's car.  Two wheel wells were sticking straight out from under the car.  The bottom runner of the car was on the ground.  Some of it under the car, some of it in the grass.  His car was in at least 20 pieces.

In their attempts to get to the opossum, the dogs had torn the car apart.

I told the kids to get their own breakfast, tied Roy up (Hershey goes wherever Roy does) and grabbed my camera, of course.

I then got to work fixing the car before Hubby saw it.  I shoved what was left of the wheel wells back into place.  I snapped what was left of the runners back onto the car.  I gathered the pieces from around the yard.  Too bad a car isn't like a vase.  I couldn't just glue it back together and put it on a shelf, thus hiding the breakage until a later date.

Hubby was annoyed, to say the least.  But, he didn't try to kill the dogs like I thought he would.  He knew that the dogs were only doing what they did instinctually.  Dogs don't know that cars are of value, and so shouldn't be killed.

We have never gotten the car fixed.  We're just redneck that way.  Sure, the car makes a funny noise when you get up to speed and the wind catches a loose piece of runner.  And sometimes, when you turn the wheel just so, it snags on the broken wheel well and pulls it out so we have to stop the car and put it back in.  But that's the way we roll.

So, at 2:30 last night, after I rubbed Vapo-rub on Turken and was in bed trying to go back to sleep, I heard the dogs barking in an odd manner. (They bark at all sorts of random, invisible creatures all night long.) I got up again to see what was up.

And I found Roy and Hershey trying to dig their way under Hubby's car.

Because there was an opossum underneath it.

Fortunately, I discovered them before any further damage could be done.

I woke Hubby, who held the dogs, while I moved the car.

All's well that ends well and all that jazz.

So, for those who are contemplating moving to the country based on my glowing revues of this easy life, I have a little tip.

If you are going to have outdoor farm dogs, make sure that the farm comes with a garage in which to put your cars.

Or only drive 12-passenger vans that a dog can get under without difficulty.

One of the two.

Have a lovely day!