Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Listicles - Mullets and More

Put your hair in your banana clip, your rear in some Jordache jeans, and your calves in their leg warmers, people.  We are talking Everything 80s for our Listicles topic this week.  Let's jump right on in. 

10.  The Limited Forenza sweaters.  My sister had one in every color, because she was fashionable like that.  Here she is in 6th grade sporting one for her school photo.

Isn't she cute, with the polo turned up, the cute hair, and, of course, the sweater?

9.  I got to sport some serious 80s fashion, too.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the coveted Forenza.  I had more of the fashionable redneck look going on.  The 80s couldn't be the 80s without

the terribly not cute mullet.  How are we even related?

8.  Too bad you can't see the jeans I was sporting in that photo.  They're pegged.

7.    The 80s was also the decade of my one and only Hollywood crush.  Bestill my heart, dearest Harrison Ford.  Oh, sweet Indy, what did Marion have that I didn't?  Shoot, I would have even played the part of Chewbacca if it meant getting to be with my Harry. 

6.  Hey, did you know that video killed the radio star?  Too bad reality TV killed the video star.   Can we start a petition for MTV to go back to its roots and play nothing but music videos?  Although, I don't know if I'd want the videos that musicians would have these days.   Nothing like Michael, Madonna, Prince, Wham, U2, Bon Jovi, Milli Vanilli, The New Kids on the Block, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, The Beastie Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince...  Oh, it never ends.  I loved spending hours and hours and hours watching that channel.  Loved it.

5.  Speaking of music, our high school had sock hops after every football game.  We teens took over the gym and danced our hearts out, while the parents played cards in the cafeteria.  Don't get images of dorky kids in poodle skirts.  Even the cool kids went, and the only reason it was a sock hop is because the administration didn't want us to mess up their gym floor with shoes we wore to a football game.  Those hops will always have a place in my heart, as a sock hop is where I danced my first dance with Hubby.  One of the funniest things we remember about the sock hops was the song that got banned.  The DJ played Mony Mony by Billy Idol, and we all broke into the added unofficial lyrics (sang in a call/answer sort of way) "Hey! Hey! What? What? Get $(($*!  Get #*$*#*!"  And that was the end of that song.

4.  I did a lot of babysitting in the 80s, which meant I was up late most weekends.  Really, it's the only time in my life that I was up late and able to watch Saturday Night Live.   Which is good, because it was really funny (and popular) back then.  Between Eddie Murphy's Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood and Dana Carvey's Churchlady, there were some funny, funny skits.  Of them all, my favorite was Martin Short's Ed Grimley.  To Hubby's horror, "I must say" I was very good at mimicking that little jump Ed did. 

3.  Sure, we didn't have the Wii or XBox back in the day, but we had Pac-Man.  My siblings (and my mom, for that matter) spent hours playing that game.  The one and only time my siblings were excited about something I did was the day I flipped the score.  Everyone saw that I was getting close, so they huddled around me and my Atari joystick, watching and waiting.  When it finally happened (I don't even remember what the magic number was.  Maybe 100,000?) and the score went back to zero, cheers rang out.  I was cool.  But then we realized that all it meant was that I was back at zero again and the excitement really just petered out.  I was back to being my uncool older sister self.

2.  ABC After School Specials.  My parents had it so easy.  They didn't have to have a single difficult discussion with me.  Just flip on the after school special, and my learnin' was complete.  I learned about AIDS from transfusions, drug use, peer pressure, being kidnapped by strangers, drunk driving, and a plethora of other touchy topics.  Why did they go away?  I have to actually find natural, teachable moments to tackle these things with my own kids.  And the ones my parents didn't have to deal with on top of it.  Don't you sometimes wish there was an after school movie on the perils of sexting you could have your teenager watch?

1.  Holy cow, going through this list, it appears that I did nothing but watch TV throughout the entire decade.  But how could you not, when such good shows like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Family Ties and The Cosby Show were on?   Bill Cosby was huge back then.  Besides his show, I was first introduced to stand-up comedy with his Bill Cosby:Himself video.  (On VHS, not Beta.  Remember that?  You had to pick your alliance and pray that you were stocking up on the right kind of video.  Poor saps who chose Beta wasted a whole lotta cash.)  Can you imagine having to live like our children and not know that Will Smith had a huge career way before Men in Black was ever released and his daughter Willow ever started waving her hair?  I still know the theme song by heart. 

Yo homes, smell ya later!

Head over to the Listicle fun.  Be sure to visit the blog of the funny lady who came up with this idea.  I hear Kate is letting us all in on the many ways she failed at 80s fashion. 

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quick Takes - Seven of Them

We're doing some quick takes tonight.  The quickest ever.

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

Cuckoo got a whole big book of tattoos for Christmas.  He wanted to put some on, so I told Buttercup to give him a few.  I clearly stated that she was NOT to go overboard as he would wish.  This is her idea of NOT going overboard. 

Nope, tattoos on his forehead, neck, both cheeks, chin, belly, top of each foot, and left leg was considered downright judicious.

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

I had a photography business in a pre-six kids life.  The knowledge I have of photography does not apply to taking self-portraits in a bathroom mirror.

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

Why did I need to take a photo of myself you ask?

In order to take a poll, of course.

I got my hair cut yesterday.  To which body part is it cut?

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

If you said either earlobes or jaw, you'd be correct.

Unfortunately, the person cutting my hair was confused and didn't know that my chin is actually the lowest part of my face, a couple of inches below my earlobe in fact. 

My hair is SHORT.  Curly hair is not exactly attractive when cut short.  In fact, it looks quite unkempt.

Until this grows, I actually have to "do" my 'do every single blasted day. 

I'm having to expend energy on making my hair look kempt.

Not cool.

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

Because breaks from school make me want to celebrate, I went crazy and bought up a bunch of clearance Christmas candy.   And because candy doesn't have enough sugar on its own, I bought ice cream and Cool Whip to go with them.  (I would have bought chocolate sauce and cherries, too, but I knew we had some in the fridge already.)

Last night, we had a little no reason ice cream sundae celebration. 

Do those kids look happy or what?

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

Don't know if you noticed, but we ate those sundaes out of real, non-paper bowls.  That's right, our paper days are behind us.  We have running water in the kitchen.  A sink and a dishwasher up and running. 

I once again get to holler, "How hard is it to scrape the food INTO the trash can???"

And the ever popular, "Who didn't rinse their plates before putting them in the dishwasher???"

Oh, I missed those days.

*********** 7 **********

And because we have a functioning kitchen, for the first time in two months, I was able to make a real breakfast.  We had eggs this morning.

OK, that looks really shiny and unappetizing, but I promise I can cook a mean omelet.  The kids were thrilled to have their eggs; omeleted, burritoed, or scrambled.  I cooked to order today.

Now hop on over to Jennifer's to read her quick takes, as well as plenty of others.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

And So I Allow Him to Go Unharmed

The morning started with me wanting to do physical harm to my husband.  I don't mean a slap kind of harm.  I mean real harm.  That includes blood and broken body parts.

Yesterday, we spent a whole lot of time shoveling.  I took care of the porches and walkways, while Hubby spent a couple of hours making two tire tunnels for his car.

I in no way want to make light of the amount of work Hubby put in yesterday.

He started at his car (which we strategically placed facing down the driveway before the snow started.  (This ain't our first snow dance.)) 

and continued all the way down the .35 mile driveway.

The closest dot you see is Hershey.  The next dot is Roy.  And lastly, aaaaall the way at the end of the drive, is Hubby. 

He worked his tail off, hoping that the two lines he shoveled lined up and gave him enough room to get the car out in the morning.

After the sun went down, our lovely neighbor showed up with a scooper truck.  That nice man followed Hubby's tracks and cleaned up the rest of the snow.

Now, look at the photo above again.  See where our vehicles are?  When Hubby went out to thank the man, he didn't think to ask, "Would you mind clearing off the bit to my wife's van, too?"

Nope.  Just so he could get to work, he was happy.  Which meant my car was completely blocked in by the 10 inches of snow, plus the piles of snow left by the scooper.

Normally, not too big of a deal.  The kids and I could have lived on candy until he stopped at the store on his way home from work.  Except, I had one errand that had to get done.

Just before Christmas, Hubby asked me if I had sent in our homestead exemption form when I paid our property taxes.   I had no idea of what he spoke, so clearly the answer was no.

He said, "We (meaning you) have to file them before Dec. 31."  I couldn't do it before Christmas, so today was the day.

So, guess who was outside shoveling a path through the snow this morning? 

I might have said a few bad words in the process.

But, I got the van out and braved the bad roads to make it to the county auditor's office.

Where there was a loooong line of people also needing to get their exemptions filed by Dec. 31.

After half and hour, I finally made it to the desk.  I handed over our paperwork, and the dear woman said, "You have already done this." 

Come again?

"Have you refinanced?"


"Well, you filed this in 2010, so you don't need to do it again.  Once and done."

Are you saying I didn't need to come down here before Dec. 31 to file any paperwork?

"No ma'am, you didn't."

Flippin, flappin, sugar bits in my grits, my husband is in super big, very bad trouble.

Cuckoo and I left the office, texted Hubby a terse note, and headed to the grocery store, which of course, wasn't crowded at all, being the first day after Christmas and a blizzard in which stores were open.  Nope.  Not crowded at all.

I came home in a lovely mood.

But, I am to the point that I no longer want to hurt my husband. 

Christmas candy was half off, so I gave up my M&M fast and bought myself two big bags.  (Just throwing it out there, but I just may be an emotional eater.)  That made me happy.

The sun is shining, and the sun always makes me feel better.

As I stand on the front steps, I can hear little drip, drip, drips all around me.  Snow melting in the sun and dropping off the roof, the downspouts, the trees, the picnic table.  It's a pretty little symphony, just for me.

While on my porch, I saw a couple of cardinals cavorting in the snow-covered trees.  I love, love, love the sight of bright red cardinals back-dropped against bright white snow.

I have all of my kids home with me.  And they're getting along nicely. 

The plumbers have made it to my house and, as I type, are working to get running water into my kitchen.  Thank you, God. 

Lastly, I just got an email saying that a picture I sent to a fellow blogger is going to be on her site today. Anna from My Life and Kids does a series on messy houses that is hilarious and makes us all feel better on days that we don't quite get to the housekeeping. Today, she is doing a messy house: kids edition. Our dearest Cuckoo made the cut with the mess he made in the bathroom one day over the summer.  Seeing the photo made me smile.  I can laugh about it now that it is in the far, far past.

So, really, my husband is a lucky man. The good is outweighing the cruddy start to my day that he created. There will be no husband beat-down when he gets home from work.

Although, with a kitchen sink up and running, I will finally be able to make all of the food I've been missing.  That's gonna mean a whole lot of messy dishes for Hubby to clean. 

Not that I'm into paybacks or anything.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Anyone Seen the Shovel? Or the Dogs? Or the Driveway?

The weather men and women are in their glory.

It's Blizzard 2012, people!  (Why aren't other storms named like hurricanes are?  Blizzard 2012 is a pretty lame moniker.)

All over town, low folks on the totem pole are standing out in the snow, letting us know just how bad the weather is. 

They have their shovels.  They have their yardsticks.  They're bundled up to say things like, "I'm on the corner of 31 and 65, not that you'd know it.  I can't even see 65!"

They're measuring the snowfall, live, in several locations.  Like Grover in the Sesame Street episode, they move back and forth, always measuring.  Near...far...near...far.

The doofuses are out, getting their 15 minutes of fame when they are interviewed from the ditches in which they are stuck.  "I didn't think it was going to be this bad out here."

We were supposed to be driving home from Ohio today, but last night we decided differently.

Here in the north, we have lots of words for snow, flurries and snow showers being the most frequently used.  When the weather people started to pull out the blizzard word, we knew we needed to change our plans. 

We hastily packed up the van and headed out of Canton at 8:30 last night.   Arriving home at 1:30 am, we beat the snow by 4 hours.

Best decision we ever made.  Wind and snow are so much prettier from the comforts of home than from a cramped van crawling on the freeway.

The only problem we have is lack of food.  Even 24 hour grocery stores close for Christmas, so nothing was open on our drive home.  We have a few glasses of milk and 2 loaves of bread.  Fortunately, we were given plenty of Christmas cookies and candy to hold us over.

Some photos:

I once heard a comedian say, "Northerners have picnic tables, not to actually picnic, but to see how deep the snow is without having to go outside."  True, dat.

I have to take photos from inside, as the snow has blown and drifted in front of the door.  I can't even open it to get a photo.
On one side of our house, the wind has blown the snow directly onto the windows.
My favorite tree on the property.  Just wanted a photo.
The kids just came in to say, "There's a whole in the window and it is snowing in the house."  Apparently, something hit the window, as the glass is inside the house.  Add "glass man" to the list of people to call.

Today, we are having a wonderful day relaxing at home.  We're watching old home videos.  We're playing with new toys.  I'm sure once the storm passes by, the kids will be outside building and digging and throwing and sledding. 
It's a great day to be snowed in.
Have a lovely day!

Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes

It's not quite midnight yet, so I'm going to sneak in some quick takes. 

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

I really wish I could have seen the events that led up to the following conversation with Cuckoo.

Me: Why don't you have pants on?
Him: They fell off.

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

Our three oldest kids had their Christmas musical last night.  Buttercup got to play a few Christmas songs while everyone found their seats. 

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

 Once the musical began, I was hit upside the head with a whole fistful of reality when I saw all of my babies up there with their classmates.  When all dolled up, their classmates look so very almost grown.   I was most struck by the girls.  It made me realize how much I have failed my daughter thus far.   She isn't a little girl anymore, even if that's what I see when I look at her.  For years, she didn't want me to touch her hair, so I would simply stick it in a ponytail.  Once she figured out how to do that on her own, I stopped doing her hair.  As a little girl, she was not interested in clothes at all.  I was happy to put her in sweats and similar play clothes most of the time.  Over the last 6 months or so, she's been getting up early to "get ready" for school.  I let her, but didn't get involved.  I realized last night that I haven't taught her anything about what to do.  How to curl her hair or straighten it or braid it or take care of it.  I don't discuss clothing with her, except on the rare occasion that she asks my opinion. 

It's shocking, really, as I was so, so awkward growing up, not knowing how to do anything with my appearance.  Now that I have learned, you'd think I'd be all over teaching my daughter and saving her from that awkwardness as much as possible.  It never crossed my mind. 

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

Last night, after the musical, after the middle school party, after the kids were in bed, I went up and climbed into bed with Buttercup.  She was quite taken aback, for sure, as I have only done that maybe once or twice since she was five.  I assured her there was no emergency or terrible news.  I simply wanted to apologize for not being the best "girl" mom I could be.  With five boys in the house, my "boy" mom tendencies got center stage, as they are so much easier for me.  I promised to change.  I will tap into that young girl I used to be and help her through these funky middle school years.

While she doesn't want me anywhere near the middle school party, (tough cookies.  I'm chaperoning.) I think she was quite happy that we had our little talk.

***************** 4 *************** 

Hubby and I watched a short bit of Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People show the other night.   After a minute, Hubby said,  "Add "my booty" to the end of any and all of Barbara's sentences".

You must try it at home.

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

Are you surprised and impressed that I got to #5 without talking about my kitchen?  Be patient.  It's coming.

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

The wind blew in yesterday, bringing cold, cold temps and snow.  It was the perfect weather for cuddling up in jammies for a lovely Christmas movie marathon.  Too bad it couldn't happen.  School was not cancelled, but delayed two hours.  And it was an early dismissal day.  So basically, I took the kids to school in order for them to turn in their last homework assignments and participate in their extra-long class Christmas parties.  I'm fine with that. 

And I'm not just saying that because the principal of the school has now seen the blog. 

Giant came home today with the news that my friend, the assistant principal, showed the blog to the principal.  Mrs. P approached Giant and said, "I saw A Fly on our Chicken Coop Wall and read the post about the pig.  Does your mom like to exaggerate?"

When he got to this part of the story, I cringed.  I know him enough to know that he will say exactly what he thinks.  I really like to prep him for these types of questions.   My mind immediately went into damage control mode, coming up with a plan in case he called me out as a liar.  After the killing the bitch essay, I'm a bit twitchy when it comes to my kids telling stories about our family.

I was so, so happy that his reply was, "No, she doesn't.  That's really how it happened."

******************** 7 ********************

And the moment you've all been waiting for.  Unless you're tired of hearing about my new kitchen, which is really quite possible.  The counter tops were put in today!  Because of the bad weather, it was delayed a bit.  Just a bit, but enough that the plumber couldn't get here.  So, while my kitchen looks good, it is not quite usable yet.

The view from the mudroom:

and from the dining room (that doorway in the previous photo (while standing on a chair)):

******************** 7 1/2 **********************

It's finally starting to feel like Christmas.   We have been able to move a lot of things out of the piano room and into the kitchen, thus leaving room for a tree.  We have a tree!  Tomorrow afternoon we will decorate it.  Seeing as how Santa is coming to our house tomorrow night (We're on a special "We travel for Christmas and aren't about to drag gifts for six children back from Ohio" route.)  I'd say it's about time. 

Have a lovely day!

And because Hubby is in bed already, I have to tell you what I just did.

As soon as I pushed "publish" I broke into a coffee cup of Hershey Kisses I received as a gift from one of my preschool students.  (I recently gave up my peanut M&M habit, and wanted just a bite of chocolate.  (Get your jaw up off the ground.  I don't move enough to work off the pounds of M&Ms I consume.  So I quit.)) I popped it in my mouth, only to discover that the green tinfoil didn't just mean Christmas, but also mint.  I hate mint.  If you like mint, I don't want to hear it.  Mint is a polarizing taste, and I hate it.

So, to get rid of that horrible taste in my mouth, I grabbed a piece of candy my mom sent back with us from our trip to her house in Kentucky last weekend.  I don't know what it was, but it tasted terrible.  I actually spit it out into the trash.  So, I did what any desperate woman with a horrible taste in my mouth would do.  I cut myself a big ol' piece of apple pie that a baker-client had given Hubby for Christmas.  

I know there's a moral in there somewhere, but I'm too tired to figure it out.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Which I Vomit Randomness All Over You

Sorry for the gross image in the title.  I have a cold.  I'm in a gross mood.

A cold is a tiresome inconvenience when one is trying to get a whole long list of things done six, five, and four days before Christmas.

You know what else doesn't help?  Lack of sleep.  For some reason the past two nights I've woken up somewhere between 1 and 2.  Not a big deal if one can roll over and fall back to sleep.  Big deal if you can't.

Do you know what won't help one get back to sleep?  Calculating how much sleep you've gotten, then saying, "If I go to sleep right now, I'll get 3 more hours".  Pressure to fall asleep rarely helps one fall asleep.

I'm not all doom and gloom and gross, though.  Some bright spots have come my way.

I may not have many Christmas decorations out this year, but I do have one new one, thanks to my friend Jen at Overholt8.  She made a lovely Christmas banner for our home.

She makes all sorts of lovely things.   You can even purchase them. 

I would give you more information about how to purchase them, but I can't at the moment.  While I was at the boys' basketball game, Hubby found Jen's business card and gave it to Buttercup, as she has a business card collection.

I asked Buttercup to get it for me before she left for school, but, surprisingly (That's a joke.) she forgot. 

The child will leave her wet towel on the wood floor in her room, her clothes scattered hither and yon, her other possessions strewn about the house, but the one thing that I need, she puts away.  And I don't know her secret business card hiding place.

So, if you would like to see some more of Jen's work, go to her blog and leave her a message/comment.  I'm sure she'll get back to you.

Oh, did you notice where my new banner is hanging?  Why yes, that is the doorway to my new kitchen. 

Which leads me to...the counter tops will be here earlier than expected.  Friday morning to be exact.  And the plumber will hook everything up Friday afternoon. 

Sweet mama, I am going to have a kitchen this weekend!!!!!  Happy dance time!! 

You know what else makes me happy?

I drive a 12-passenger van.  A lot.  Gas prices going back below $3 makes me happy dance some more.

You all need to thank your lucky stars that I can't take a video of myself.  I am not a pretty happy dancer.  Especially when I have a cold.  Movement seems to make the snot run freely.

I've found that it is very helpful to have a child with size 13 feet.  If I have to run out to the car for something, I can just stick my feet in his tied-up shoes.  Even with my hands full of stuff.

It is a bit difficult to drive a 12-passenger van when one has some sort of neck/back spasm limiting one's ability to rotate one's head.  Kinda need that motion in order to check for oncoming cars. 

I don't know exactly why my neck is doing this to me, but I'm guessing it may have something to do with this sign:

Remember how I think it is one of the dumbest signs ever erected?

Seems I'm not the only one.

I did one violent double-take when I drove by and saw this:

Hubby thinks the homeowners association read my blog and said, "Take it down!  The lady from the coop is making fun of us!" 

Who knows.  Can't wait to see what they do next, though. 

For my birthday last month, my friend in Japan sent me a bunch of products made there.  She put Post-it's on each item to let me know what was inside, seeing as how I don't read Japanese.

One of the items was a giant travel package of Kleenex for my purse.  I stuck it in my purse, because that is what it was for.

A week later I was watching Phoenix play a game of basketball.  One of his teammates got hit in the nose and immediately began bleeding all over the place.  I gave his mom my package of Kleenex to help clean him up.  In her haste, she ripped the package open. (A shame, since I can't now take a photo of it.)

It was a giant package, as I said, so there were still some left.   I have since been carrying the Kleenex in a sandwich baggie in my purse. 

As I stated above, I have a cold.  We were out and about on day 1 of the cold, so I was very glad to have that package of Kleenex in my purse.  Snot was about to drip off my lip, so I grabbed one. 

Let's just say, it wasn't quite enough.

It was the most useless Kleenex I have ever seen.   It was far worse than the cheapest, non-lotioned, cardboardesque facial tissue gracing the shelves of any store in America.   No wonder people were scrambling for paper towels for the kid's nose instead of just using my Kleenex.

I thought, "Do Japanese people not get snotty noses?  Do they never have to honk out a great big glob of mucus?"  Apparently not, judging by the quality of their Kleenex.

Tonight, I was talking with my friend in Japan.  I told her that the Kleenex she sent me were unable to handle American-sized nose-blows.  They're basically useless, unless it is an emergency situation and you have nothing else to dab at your nose.

That's when she remembered to tell me, "I bought some for myself when I bought yours.  I have since been told that they aren't Kleenex.  They are hand warmer pouches."

Come again?

"Yeah, they put little bead things in the pouches, warm them up, then put them in their gloves or something." 

I pulled my emergency-only Japanese Kleenex out of my purse to give them a closer inspection. 

It's official.  I'm a moron.

And I am terrified to open and eat the thing she labeled candy.

You may go clean the vomit off of you now.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Step Away from the Toy Store

Still have little bundles of children for whom you need to purchase gifts?  Wanting to avoid any and all toy stores like the plague?  I have a few ideas for you.

Regardless of what you buy, keep the child in mind.  If you want your gift to be the one the kids want to open first, purchase a gift that goes with his/her personality.  Don't just get generic toys for a certain age group.

Here are some ideas that parents will love for their lack of plastic, battery requirement, and noise.  Kids will like them, because they are just plain fun.  And cool.

 I love a good theme.

1.  Arts and crafts:  Buy a small tote box or other container with a lid and fill it up with crafty things.  Keep the parents in mind when choosing the items.  Glitter is bad.  I just gave these to a few nieces, and their boxes included:

box of 64 crayons
colored pencils
glue - both stick and liquid
glitter glue - you get the sparkle without the mess
construction paper
make your own greeting card pack
colorful index cards
fun Post-It notes

2.  Garden - When my brother and his family moved to a farm, I gave a garden kit to my niece.  I put the following in a basket:

child-sized tools
watering can
gardening gloves
garden apron with pockets

3.  Baker:  A different niece who likes to cook with her mom was given this present.  It included:

mixing bowls
measuring cups
measuring spoons
chef's hat
children's cook book

4.  Farmer:  My nephew received this gift this year.  He is a child who rises on his own bright and early every day and immediately heads out to do things around the farm.  He loves farm life, so I went to Tractor Supply to buy:

a book titled "Raising Chickens for Fun or Profit"
work gloves
a face mask type hat for the coming cold weather
a T-shirt that says "I do more by 7:00am than most people do all day."

5.  Entrepreneur:  This will work for any child who likes to pretend play.  I got it for my nephew in Hawaii who was baking mango bread and other delights to sell on the beach.  I went to Office Supply and purchased things like:

receipt book
debit/credit book
fancy paper for fliers
order tickets (like waitresses use)
money apron

6.  Carpenter:  Star has always loved to get in and help Hubby build things (on the rare occasion that he builds)  One year we got him started on his own tool set.  Bonus on this one, he actually uses it to help around the farm.  I can't tell you how many tree limbs he has cut for us, and had a smile on his face doing it.  His starter set included:

a tool box
work gloves
protective goggles
screw drivers
measuring tape

8.  All dolled up:  Girls of any age like this, as long as the girl is a "girly" girl.  Don't get this for a girl who clearly leans toward the tomboy personality.  Some options:

a variety of nail polishes - colorful, glittery, crackled
stickers for nails
nail polish remover
cotton balls
toe separator slippers
pretty head bands and clips
bobby pins
fun chapsticks/lip gloss

9.  Books:  I give a whole lot of books as gifts.  Each niece, nephew, and child of mine gets at least two each year.  I get a lot of them from Scholastic Book orders the kids bring home from school.  I also go to the local resale book store.  Of course, sometimes I do go to Barnes and Noble.  Paperback books are very reasonably priced.  Some you might consider:

I have yet to meet a boy who doesn't like the trivia books.  Be they about gross things, world records, or animal things, boys like a good trivia book.

They also enjoy comic books.  Favorites are Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes.

Junie B Jones, A to Z Mysteries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Geronimo Stilton are good series.

On my sidebar are a few of our favorite picture books.  You can't go wrong with a funny picture book.

As always, think of the child and his or her interests.  A book on dinosaurs for the dinosaur fanatic would be good.  

I have also just gone out on a limb and gotten books I think the kids will like.  Every once in a while it flops, but sometimes I get a child started on a desire to read each and every book in the series or on that topic.  I love it when that happens.

10.  Clothes:  You need to be careful when purchasing clothes for kids/teens.  Some kids, like two of my nieces, love to get cute clothes as gifts.  Any cute clothes will do.  However, not all kids are thrilled with a gift of clothes, so you have to put more thought and effort into it.  You can purchase clothes for any youngster, but make sure it is something that would be interesting or fun or "cool" to him/her.  My farmer brother's family had just gotten a wiener dog, and I found a T-shirt with a blingy wiener dog on it.  My niece loved it.  For boys, T-shirts with funny sayings or favorite characters are a good choice.  Perhaps a hat or shirt with a favorite sports team logo.  Star and Phoenix have been thrilled to receive pairs of the "cool" brand of basketball socks. 

Have fun purchasing and giving gifts to kids.  Be creative and think outside the plastic, battery-powered box.  The kids will certainly appreciate it.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

I'm sure you all have been unable to sleep, waiting and waiting for me to post the letter for this year.  It was a difficult one this year.  I do believe blogging had something to do with it.  I started writing it at least five times, saving them each as something different.  The title started as "Christmas Card".  Then "Christmas".  At some point it was "THE card".  Lastly, it became "For the last time".  I tried a texting theme, an obituary theme, a straight out letter from Phoenix.  Finally, for some reason I looked up insanity quotes.  And the letter was born.  Get comfy.  It's a long one.


Dearest Friends and Family,

We have a bit of a debate going on at the Coop house.  Basically, has Mom lost her mind?  We would like you to weigh in on the topic.  First, the kids will give you the family point of view.  Mom will then give her rebuttal statement. 

The Kids’ Statement

This past year has been a rough one for Mom.  She has been acting quite off most of the year, and we are starting to wonder if the many events have finally pushed her over the edge.  Our suspicions started at Easter.  She wished at least five people, including the pastor who had just officiated the Easter Vigil Mass, a Merry Christmas.  Things have gone downhill since then, to the point that she dropped Phoenix off at a basketball practice that didn’t exist.  Two hours later, she finally went to get him, unaware that he had been alone at a facility full of strangers.  (It’s Phoenix here.  Just thought I’d throw this out in case anyone talks to her.  I could really use a phone.)

We did some research on insanity, and we think we may have to do something about this real soon.  Here is what we’ve found and observed:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. –Albert Einstein

1.      Like constantly doing laundry, dumping the clean clothes on the couch, and expecting children who never do anything without being told to jump up and not only fold but put the clothes away without being told.

2.     Or expecting Cuckoo to wipe himself, despite the fact that for months, each and every time he goes to the bathroom (8 times a day and twice at night) he screams from the throne, “Wipe my bottom!”

3.     During the drought this summer, Mom was cleaning out the pig waterer every single day.  Birds, in their attempts to get a drink, would fall in and drown.  Some days she would find three birds floating in that waterer.  One time, she even found a live opossum.  Did she do anything to cover the waterer in order to keep the birds out?  No.  She just kept on changing the water, each time saying, “Surely it will rain tomorrow.” 

4.     Every year Mom plants flowers somewhere around the house, and every year the dogs decide that the newly planted area is the coolest place in the yard and dig up every plant.  This year, she chose to plant some flowers right next to the front steps, an area too small for the dogs to lie down.  She got one side looking nice, went to get something from the garage, and when she returned, the flowers were on the walkway and Hershey was lying in the freshly turned dirt. 

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

1.      Cuckoo needed to be potty-trained.  He was ready.  Unfortunately, since we are always going somewhere, Mom didn’t have time to train him properly like she did with us.  It proved too much for her.  In the end, she simply encouraged him to pee outside.  Before we left the house and as soon as we returned and when we were outside playing or working in the yard, all he had to do was pull down his pants and let loose.  When he started dropping his drawers at inappropriate times and all over town, everyone but Mom was mortified. He once ran out the door naked, yelling “I have to go potty!”  He once tried to pee poolside at a friend’s party.  At least Mom caught him that time.  The time he did it on the soccer field of Giant’s game, right in front of the parental spectator line, she was too late.  The pee was flowing.  Instead of stopping him, she simply used her umbrella to shield him from the players.  Sane people do not do this.

2.        Plumbing in the kitchen has been a problem.  It started when the kitchen ceiling started falling down.  Three plumbers and a new toilet later, we still had a leak.  Mom couldn’t take it anymore, so she simply shut off the water to her master bath toilet.  Three months later, the ceiling started to fall again.  This time, it was her tub.  More of the ceiling came down, and plumber number four was finally able to fix the two leaks.  The hole in the ceiling remained.  As did the leak in the kitchen faucet.  Plumber said that it would be too much trouble and money to clean up that mess.  He advised her to simply put a bucket under the sink and hurry up to get a new kitchen.  She put the bucket under, but wasn’t able to get a kitchen until mold overtook the cabinet under the sink. 

3.      Two days before Halloween, our kitchen was ripped out.  Down to the studs.  In her attempts to cook with no oven, stove, or kitchen sink, she has resorted to some odd meal choices.  One day, she cooked a whole chicken in the crock-pot.  It stunk.  Both literally and figuratively.  We won’t get our new kitchen until December 21.  Someone needs to step in and give her some perspective.  A meal out every once in a while ain’t gonna hurt anybody.

4.      In the span of 2 months, Buttercup had a heart scare, a head scare, and breathing problems.  After an MRI, an EKG, a heart monitor, and lots of doctor exams, she was diagnosed with isolated PVCs, a pretty good concussion, and sports-induced asthma.  She was banned from any physical activity for approximately four weeks in those 2 months.  Mom broke out into tears at least 15 times in those 2 months.

5.      With four of us now in middle school, the homework is getting more time consuming and harder.  We have to ask for help more than we’ve ever had to before.  We may have to start going to Dad more often, though.  Giant’s class was reading Old Yeller and they had to look up and write down the definitions of vocabulary words.  Giant went to Mom, unable to locate the word “castrate”.  After reading the section of the book to make sure “castrate” really was a vocab word, Mom simply told him, “They cut off the pigs’ balls.”  Giant’s bugged-out eyes told us that he was appalled.  We don’t know if he was appalled with the thought of castration or with the fact that Mom could be of so little help.

6.      She is no longer able to conduct herself in an appropriate manner.  Dad was invited to a Colts game, in the suite right on the end zone.  He made the mistake of taking Mom with him.  The game came down to a last field goal attempt, aimed directly at the suite they were in.  In her celebration of the completed field goal, Mom stepped on the game-winning ball, got her rear end on the big screen when she bent over to pick it up, then got caught in the field goal net when it was being raised.  We could have forgiven her for all of it if she was embarrassed, but sadly, she was not.  She was actually calling around to see if any of her friends saw her on TV.

7.      Mom is also starting to overreact to situations.  When the pigs were delivered, Roy went berserk, barking his full head off as Dad and the farmer unloaded them into the barn.  At one point, Roy jumped the fence and ran into the barn.  While he did get in the pig’s face, Dad was there to stop anything that might happen.  Mom didn’t wait to see.  Instead, she jumped over Dad and a pig, took a flying leap, and tackled Roy.  Took him out and put him in a headlock until Dad could save him.  Poor Roy.

8.      The pigs are going to be the end of her.  One morning this summer, she went out to feed them and found one pig halfway in the waterer.  Unfortunately, it was the part of the pig that does the breathing.  She had a 200-pound dead pig upside-down in the waterer.  It was 100 degrees that day, so Mom needed to take care of it immediately.  And this is where her insanity really started to show.  She made Phoenix get some gloves on to help her drag that sorry animal across the pen so she could attach it to the mower.  He may have put the gloves on, but he wasn’t much help.  All we can say is, Phoenix did not choose to be a farmer, and a 200-pound, drowned pig is heavy.  And disgusting.  And muddy.  And smelly.  And made worse by the three other pigs trying to eat it as it was drug across the pen.  She then used the mower to drag it out to the field.  We’re still finding its bones scattered all around that field.

9.      Each year it is a bit of an ordeal to get the pigs on the trailer for transport to the butcher.  Mom thinks that just because she dealt with the dead pig, she’s a real farmer and can help Dad and the two farmers load up the 300-pound uncooperative pigs.  We’ll just say that at one point, the biggest pig did a duck and swerve to get around one farmer, then went straight for Mom.  He went through her legs, and, being 300 pounds, got stuck.  More accurately, Mom got stuck and rode that pig backwards all around the barn until she could get a leg over and fall off. 

In closing, we love our momma.  She just needs a bit of a break to get back in touch with reality.

Mom’s Rebuttal

Happy Groundhog’s Day!

Sorry we have to pull you into this little bit of family drama, but I have my good name to protect.  I have a few quotes and observations of my own. 

The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success. – Bruce Feirstein

1.       Sure, there were a couple of unfortunate incidents of pants-dropping, but the kid potty-trained in record time.  And more importantly, with very few accidents that required me to do even more laundry.  I am a successful genius. 

2.      When working with kids, you need to talk to them in words they will understand.  Giant understands the word “balls”, so now he understands the word “castrate”.  That is called success, my friends.  If his teacher doesn’t like the answer, she shouldn’t have asked question.

Insanity is hereditary.  You inherit it from your children.  – Sam Levinson

1.      During Buttercup’s two-week heart scare, the song she was learning on the piano was “Her Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic.  Of course I was crying.  I think she did it on purpose.

2.       Cuckoo gave up napping this summer, and when Cuckoo is sleepy, he gets very ornery.  Ornery enough to rip wallpaper off the walls up the stairwell.  And flush his new favorite socks down the toilet.  He has also intentionally clogged the bathroom sink with the hand towel in order to fill and overflow the sink.  He takes his socks and shoes off in the car, then chucks them to some dark corner of the van, requiring a search party to be formed in order to track them down.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the change could be predicted.  Unfortunately, he goes from sweet and well-behaved to ornery bugger in two seconds flat.

3.      I received a call from school saying Star knocked out a front tooth while playing tag at recess.  After a two hour dentist appointment, it was explained to him that he could never again bite into anything crunchy, like carrots or apples.  All was well until the day I got another call.  He rebroke his tooth.  This time it wasn’t from tag, but because he tried to open a packet of sour cream with his teeth.

4.       Picture little birds in their nest, waiting for their mom to bring some food.  Their cute little beaks open and non-stop cheeping coming from them.  Now picture those birds as six children, and instead of cute little cheeps, there are non-stop calls of, “Mom!  Mom!  Mom!  Mom!”  Non-stop.   At home.  At the grocery store.  At the shoe store.  At the fair.  Everywhere, all the time.  Not one of them waiting long enough for me to answer.  Not one of them waiting their turn to ask a question.  Just, “Mom!  Mom!  Mom!  Mom!”  If I am insane, I most certainly got it from my children.

The thoughts written on the walls of madhouses by their inmates might be worth publicizing.

1.      From Cuckoo: “I pooped out my nose.”  Turken translated: “I think he means a booger.”

2.       After being told that we have pigs so we can eat their meat, Turken asked, “When will they start laying it?"

3.      While playing “It’s a Small World” on the piano for the first time, I asked Giant if his piano teacher picked it for him to learn.  He responded, “No.  I asked her if I could.  I want to annoy Star, and he hates this song.”

4.      After the kids were told to clean up the mess they made while playing house, Cuckoo yelled down the stairs to Buttercup, “I’m the dad, and dads don’t clean!  Put this toy away!”

5.      From Turken:  “It’s hard to burp your ABC’s.”

6.       After finishing dinner, which included some delicious ribs, Hubby went to give the bones to the dogs. In my concern for the dogs, I jumped and said, "You can't feed those to the dogs! They'll choke!" Hubby was quick to remind me, "Honey, the dogs have been known to eat pig ribs directly off the dead pig lying in the field. I think they'll be alright."

7.      I’m not a fan of all the pink during October, and the kids know it.  While watching an NFL football game, someone pointed out the pink flags the refs were using.  The kids then had this conversation: "Mom doesn't like pink." "I bet she doesn't like the pink flags."  "Yeah, Mom doesn't like breast cancer awareness."  "She doesn't want people to be aware."  "She doesn't want them to find a cure."  "She likes cancer."  "Yup, she's pro-cancer."

 We leave you with our new family motto:

I can’t explain going crazy or being crazy.  Crazy is just being myself. 

Merry Christmas!  We pray you all have a fun-filled 2013! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Musings from the Minibus 3

Well, we haven't moved, so I'm still driving.  A lot.  Which leaves me some time to ponder the things I see and have weird conversations with my children.

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

My aversion to stuff may have affected my children.  This morning on the way to school, Turken asked me if he would be able to keep the gifts he gets for Christmas.
Me:  Of course, Honey.  Why wouldn't you?
Turken:  I get to keep them?
Me:  Yes.  Where else would they go?
Turken:  We don't have to take them to that place we go to drop stuff off?
Me:  Um, do you mean Goodwill?
Turken:  Yeah.  Do we have to take my gifts to Goodwill?
Me in my head: Not right away.

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

A few days ago, we noticed some major activity off to the side of the road at an intersection we pass every day.  We had a conversation about what the workers might be doing.  Our hope was that they were putting up some elaborate Christmas decorations.  Not once did we consider the end result to be this:

The name of the family?
The name of the neighborhood?
Someone been to Hollywood recently?
The pine tree behind each letter really gives it that "We'd really rather not like to see this monstrosity from our back porch" look.  Too bad they forgot to plant one behind the "d".
I only wish that the photo could show you just how huge these letters are, (They have to be at least 15 feet tall.) but it's kinda hard to take a photo that does the scene any justice when one is traveling at 45 mph. 

I have no thoughts except, "Why?"  Just tell me why!  I am very tempted to knock on the front door of that house to get some answers.  It just baffles me.  I hate to be baffled. 

Especially when I have to be reminded of my bafflement at least 4, if not 8 times a day.

Would it be so hard to give us a bit more information?


to let us know that Ashwood is in fact the name of the neighborhood.  Without such clues, I come up with my own explainations.

Perhaps it is the homeowner's name.  Regardless, he'll never be able to sell his house with that in the backyard.  He might as well change his name to Ashwood.

I wondered if there were a bunch of trees called ashwood to which they wanted to bring awareness.  Nope.  I looked it up. does not recognize the word.

Which leaves me with only one other conclusion.

Only a redneck would find something this tacky to be a good idea.  I should know.  I'm part redneck.

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

I was filling up the van, taking a gander at the ads hanging around the pump.  The van holds about 25 gallons of gas, so there was plenty of time for my mind to wander and ponder.

This kept my attention for a while.

Sorry for the crookedness.  I was just a touch self-conscious about taking a photo of an ad at the pump at a gas station on a very busy intersection near school where anyone, including the principal, could see me, seeing as how everyone knows our very large van.  Anything for my blog, though, right? 


I do not drink coffee.  Never have, never will.  The smell of coffee sent me running for the bathroom to vomit when I was pregnant with Phoenix.  However, I do know a thing or two on the subject.

The ad says, "finest Arabica coffee beans from Columbia".

Doesn't Columbia pretty much have a lock on coffee beans?  And really, I want to know the name of one Speedway coffee drinker who has any idea what "Arabica" means.  And would a single drinker know what the alternative to Arabica would be? 

The ad also says, "brewed to perfection". 

Whose perfection?  I know a whole lot of coffee drinkers, and no two have the same opinion on what the perfect coffee tastes like.

The ad also says, "ground fresh exclusively for Speedway". 

So many questions on this one.  Like who grinds it?  Aren't all beans ground fresh when they are ground?  How long ago that happened is what coffee drinkers want to know, right?  I would bet my new stove that the teenager behind the counter isn't grinding those lovely Arabica beans.  And the "exclusively for Speedway" part gives it away anyway.  They're telling us that they aren't the ones grinding the coffee beans, so how fresh can it be?

Why does Speedway use the fancy words and gimmicks to sell coffee?  When the coffee probably isn't much different (if at all) than the coffee they served 20 years ago?  They do it because they want us to think that for 99 cents we too can be cool and sound cool when we say, "I stopped to get my freshly ground Arabica coffee beans from Columbia".

Except it apparently isn't working for them.  The sign also says, "without the wait".  If their coffee was all that good, wouldn't there be a line?

FYI, I looked it up, 'cause I'm a nerd.  80% of coffee worldwide is Arabica.  Almost every one of those beans comes from South or Central America.  Which is where Columbia is.  Just sayin.  Speedway ain't no bigshot.

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

I am a ridiculous and I can't help myself.

When I pay for gas, I use gift cards that I pre-purchased at school (our on-going fundraiser).  I don't care how much I used or how much is left on the card.  I just know that it takes two trips to the gas station to use it up. 

What I am trying to say is, I don't need a receipt.  I don't care about a receipt.  I don't care about how much money is still on the card.

And yet, I stand next to my van, in the cold and rain, to push the "Receipt yes/no?" button.

Who does that?

No, really.  Who?  I need to know that I am not the only one who has to freeze her butt off to make sure that button gets pushed.  What the heck do I think is going to happen if I just leave?  Well, at the very least, the inside teller will have to get involved.  At the worst, the computer will completely malfunction, waiting and waiting for me to simply not be rude.  I feel like it is giving me a high-five and I'm leaving it hangin'.

So, every single time, I wait and freeze and get wet.  But that computer gets its high-five.

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

Driving around in December, I get jealous.  I so want to be a person who dresses her car like a reindeer for Christmas.

Auto Outfits Reindeer
I wouldn't mind a cute little car, too, but that's a whole different story.

Those antlers just scream "I am so fun.  Life of the party, right here, folks!"

Unfortunately, the van will never be antlered-up.

Do you see a problem with the positioning of the antlers?

Yeah, that person can never go through a drive-thru.  I don't care if it's an ATM or a fast-food window, a set-up like that doesn't work.  The moment you roll the window down, those anlters drop off.  

Which, I guess, is no big deal for those people who can remember that the things are on the car.  All he'd have to do is catch the antlers before they fall.

However, I would never remember.  I would be at the order window, roll down the window, and my antler would drop in the slush puddle between the van and the speaker.  I'd have to tell the person in the speaker to hold on, seeing as I'd have to retrieve my antler.  That would confuse the heck out of her, but I wouldn't be able to explain.  The people in line behind me would be laughing and/or swearing at me to hurry the heck up, so I'd be all self-conscious and throw the filthy, wet antler into the backseat, where I would inevitably hit one of the kids in the face.  Probably Cuckoo, who has very little sense of humor when it comes to such things.  My problems would only go south from there.

Don't doubt me.  The first time the Colts went to the Super Bowl, we got a flag to put on the window to show our support.

I know of what I speak.

So, reader, got any musings from your own drive around town?

Have a lovely day!