Thursday, February 28, 2013

I've Got a Question

My head is spinning with so many things I want to write, but I can't land on one thought for long.  Another Bermuda post?  An ode to M&Ms?  The story behind the actual apology that began, "I'm sorry you have a waffle on your butt." 

Nothing sticks.

So, I am grateful for Lillian's tag today.  (Lillian is a fabulous writer and painter from It's a Dome Life.  She lives in a dome.  For real.  She painted this


while in her dome.  She paints chickens.  I have a chicken coop.  We're made to go together.  She paints lots of other lovely things, too.  Go to her blog to take a gander.)

Update:  Dyanne at I Want Backsies also tagged me today.  Dyanne is brand new to blogland, but you'd never know it.  She has a positive, funny outlook on her life as a preschool teacher and mother of 2 teens.  That outlook continues when she talks about her breast cancer diagnosis less than a year ago. 

I get to answer questions! 

1. Where were you born?  Canton, Ohio.  Or, as Hubby calls it, the armpit of America.

2. Were you named after someone?  If I remember correctly, I was named after my dad's first fiance, who drowned in her backyard after a flood.  Check the comments in a day or so.  I'm sure my dad will set us all straight. :)

3. How many children do you have?  Six. 

Gotta say, these questions are the easiest ones I've ever had to answer!

4. How many pets do you have?  I don't know if you can say we have any pets.  No animals actually step foot in the house.  Our dogs are working dogs.  Their job is to cover our land with animal carcasses and tear up all landscaping, cars, and miscellaneous other objects in order to deter all potential burglars. 

5. Your worst injury.    That I inflicted or was experienced by me?  My worst injury I experienced is a toss-up between the cut on my lip that needed stitches or the road rash I got after crashing my scooter in Bermuda.  I once killed a dog with my minivan.  That's probably the worst injury I caused.

6. Do you have a special talent?  You mean like driving a 12-passenger van in reverse without hitting anything?  Check.

7. Favorite thing to bake?  Banana bread.  It is so yummy, so easy, and the kids always help me.  It's the one time when "help" actually means help, and is not a sarcastic "help" which means they only make things worse.

8. Favorite Fast Food?  I don't eat it  unless it's for a school fundraiser at Chick-fil-A.  I used to, but since I stopped, it just tastes awful to me.  Except Taco Bell crunchy tacos and Arby's roast beef sandwich.  I will eat those maybe once a year.

9. Would you bungee jump?  Now?  No.  In 30 years?  Heck ya.  I don't want to do anything that is remotely dangerous while my kids are still living with me.  Once they are all independently wealthy, I am going to be the grandma you all follow on youtube, doing all sorts of outlandish things, just because I can.

10. What is the first thing you notice about people?  Their footwear.  I'm constantly looking down, keeping tabs on little boys, so feet is what I see first. 

11. When was the last time you cried?  Watching this video yesterday.  Two different people showed it to me, and I cried both times.  But I cry about everything.  I cry during the singing of the national anthem at ball games.  I cried at the 8th grade vs. teachers volleyball game.  I'm a sentimental crier.

12. Any current worries?  The usual.  "What's for dinner?"  I'm not a worrier.  There are very few things that I ever worry about. 

13. Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.  Milk and water are the only two things I drink every day.  Or even every week, for that matter.

14. What’s your favorite book?  I really don't have one.  I read everything I can get my hands on, then promptly forget what it is I just read.  The latest book that I have read and remember really liking is War Brides by Helen Bryan.  I am approximately 58% of the way through (Anyone else get annoyed by the Kindle's inability to tell me what flippin' page I'm on?) Green Girl's book and am enjoying it very much.

15. Would you like to be a pirate?  Glad you asked.  I don't understand the whole pirate thing at all.  Why do people encourage their children to dress up/act like pirates?  There is nothing good about a pirate.  Their entire purpose is to drink rum and cause all sorts of problems for people, what with the stealing and walking the plank.  Why would anyone want to be one?

16. Favorite Smells.  a flower bed full of hyacinth, garlic sauteing in butter, donuts, my husband.  If my husband ever came home carrying a bouquet of hyacinth, after working in a donut shop in the morning and an Italian restaurant at lunch, I'd jump him at the door.

17. Why do you blog?   Recently, a friend introduced me to her husband by saying, "This is Christine.  She likes to talk and laugh."  While not exactly a glowing introduction, it is true.  When I blog, I get to talk all I want without having to be concerned with hogging the conversation (which I've been known to do many times) or coming up with questions to draw the other people into the conversation.  And, I can laugh as loud or as much as I want without people judging me.  Well, people besides my family, but I don't care what they think.  Basically, I am having fun.

18. What song do you want played at your funeral?  There can't be just one.  I want lots of songs.  I love music, and I want people to celebrate who I was/am.  I'm done with this topic.  I don't like talking about myself like I'm not here anymore.

19. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?  My vanity.  (Perhaps the song "You're So Vain" should be at my funeral?  That would be funny and true!)

20. Favorite hobby?  I wish I could say something cool and interesting, like surfing or rock climbing, but I can't do those things.  Really, I like to garden and read. 

21. Name something you’ve done, but you never thought you would do?  Anyone who has read this blog knows the answer to this one.  Dispose of a 200 pound pig.  Duh.

22. What do you look for in a friend?  I want friends who are funny, confident, compassionate, good parents (You know a friendship cannot work very well if you can't stand the way she parents her children.) and have positive personalities. 

23. Favorite Fun things to do?  a.)Vacation with my family.  Anywhere.  Any length of time.  We just have so much fun.  (b) Hang out with friends. 

24. Pet peeves.  Meetings that aren't run well.  They should start on time, have a point, stay on topic, and end in a timely manner.  Secondly, the phrase, "I could care less".  I notice it every time.  If you could care less, then it means you care about it at least a little bit.  Don't you mean to say, "I couldN'T care less".   The pet peeve isn't that people use it.  My pet peeve is that I actually notice such ridiculous things.

25. What's the last thing that made you laugh?  The conversation I had with Hubby this afternoon.  I'll eventually get to write a post about it, but it has to do with that giant pencil from a few weeks ago.  Yes, we're still dwelling on that.  We are very immature people.

I am now supposed to tag a bunch of other people, who may or may not choose to answer the questions.  It is completely up to them.  I'll read their blogs whether they play along or not.

A few blogs that I enjoy:

Camp Patton

Life on the Funny Farm

Oh, Jones

Notes from the Shallow End

Hye Thyme Cafe

Here's the Thing

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

I sat down to write a post about a time my mom lied to me, but then it led to thoughts of my grandma.  I can't tell the story unless I tell you about my grandma first.  I promise, I'll get to the lie and the big, embarrassing reveal at the end.

My mom was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  In Canada.  She's still Canadian, actually, choosing never to become a US citizen.  She left everything and everyone behind when she met, eloped, and moved to the US with my dad.  (They met when they were all of 20 years old while she was on vacation and he was on a mission with the Marines in Barbados.  (Don't ask why a Marine was in Barbados on a mission.  It's a secret.)  It's a miracle neither of my grandmas died of a heart attack upon hearing the news.)  Most importantly, she left her brother and her mom in Canada.  My awesome Grandma Slade.

We only got to see Grandma Slade once a year when she came to Ohio for a visit.  Oh how I wish it was more than once a year.  Grandma was one funny lady.  You never knew what was going to come out of her mouth or what she was going to do next.

Grandma Slade is on the left.  My mom is holding me.
To illustrate:  Grandma always said she wanted to live on a nudist colony.  Clothes (particularly the seams) annoyed her something fierce, and if she could find a colony of nudists, she was moving in with them.

When we kids would act up, Grandma would grab a (clothed) boob and yell, "These are large for a reason.  I am not afraid to hit you upside the head with one!" 

While we were at the table eating breakfast, she would put a bowl upside down on her head and walk around serving us as if she were a Chinese man.

One year, instead of just staying home for her visit, we went on our one and only trip to Disney World.  We met my mom's brother and his family there and had a riotous good time. 

Out of so many great Disney memories, one I will always love is the day we spent by the pool.  Throughout the day, she and my aunt had shared a bottle of wine.  Combined with the heat, the wine made Grandma a little tipsy.  I was chewing gum and blowing bubbles when she said, "I never learned how to do that.  Can you teach me?"  I spent an hour trying to teach her.  She just kept spitting, and the gum kept flying out of her mouth.  We laughed and laughed between gum spits.

Hours later, we were at a pizza place for dinner.  I asked her where her gum had gone.  Her reply?  "Oh, it got stuck in my dentures long ago!"  She wiggled her teeth around and once again tried to blow a bubble.  She gave it all she had, but alas, never did blow a bubble.

Whenever Grandma came to visit, we did things we only did with her. 

My mom would pull out the ancient juicer and make freshly squeezed OJ.  And since the pulp about gagged us, Grandma would strain it for us.

We played Cribbage for hours and hours.  She loved that game, and we loved playing with her.  As soon as she left, though, the game was put in a closet.  It lost its magic when she wasn't there.

She always brought us footed pajamas, and we had to wear them.  At some point, when I was 11 or so, the one-piece full-body fleece Pjs finally came without the feet attached.  There were slippers, though, made of the same material.  With lovely, not-annoying-at-all elastics around the ankles. 

In 1981, my mom took my brothers, sister, and me  (At the age of 9, I was the oldest.) to Halifax to visit Grandma Slade.  We got to fly in an airplane and everything.  (Years later I found out how stressful the whole trip was for my mom.  She had only been divorced a short while, and the stewardesses were threatening strike.  She was scared to death that we would get stranded halfway to Canada.)

It's funny, the things we remember from our childhood.

Grandma lived in a trailer.  I had never stepped foot in one before.

She hung her clothes out on a line, underwear and all.  I had never seen someone air-dry her clothes.  (And I was mortified when she did our laundry and tried to hang MY underwear.)

We were at a park near the beach, and I was trying to get a squirrel to eat out of my hand.  I had no idea that there was another squirrel right behind me (though Grandma and my mom did) until it ran up my back, over my head, grabbed the food, and took off.  I screamed while my mom and grandma laughed themselves silly.

I thought it was so cool that everything was written in both English and French.  I had no idea that countries could be bilingual.  In fact, I had never seen a single word written in anything but English.  I bought a pack of Dentyne just so I could take it home and show my friends.

One night, we went out to a restaurant which had an all-you-can-eat seafood bar. My siblings and I had never eaten most of the kinds of seafood that were on that bar, and my brothers were most adventurous about trying them. After we left and were on our way back to Grandma's trailer, it was discovered that my five year old brother had something in his pockets. When told to empty them, he sheepishly pulled out handfuls of mussels.  (To this day, that same brother cannot drive by an all-you-can-eat-seafood place without stopping in for a meal.)

We took a spin on a round-about for the first time ever.  I was so impressed that my grandma could drive such huge, confusing circles like a pro.

While in Halifax, we went to Peggy's Cove.  It is a huge cliff on the ocean, with a working lighthouse and rock as far down the coast as you can see.  We ran around those rocks all afternoon.

The one with the poopy-colored outfit and buck teeth is me.  The adorable blond is my sister.  Once again, I ask you, how are we related?  Anyway, this was taken on that super-fun day.
At one point I found a HUGE shell.  It was completely intact, both sides still together.  It was bigger than a man's fist.  I was so stinkin' excited to find that thing.  Of course, once my siblings saw it, they were on a hunt to find some for themselves. 

Amazingly, we each found one. So exciting. So mind-blowing, best thing that ever happened to us exciting. We were so proud of those shells. We took them to school for show and tell. We recounted our story of their discovery. We told everyone what good shell-finders we were, seeing as how no one else had such treasures. In our bedrooms they were placed next to our most special possessions. Mine was right in there with my track medals. 

This is not the actual shell, but it looked a lot like this, top and bottom.   One of my kids broke it about 10 years ago.

Did I mention that we were excited about the shells? 

Skip ahead 7 years.  It was Christmas.  I was 16 years old.  In attendance were approximately 20 people, including my boyfriend of one month (my now-husband) my mom's new husband, his children, and his children-in-law.  Our fist holiday all together.

Somehow we all got to talking about our trip to Halifax when my mother said, "Oh, and do you remember those shells that Mom planted?"

Cue the record scratch that occurs when something is said or done to stop a party in its tracks.

All four of us yelled at the exact same moment, "What?!?!?!?"

Mom (with a horrified look):  You didn't know?

Us (still screeching):  How would we know that?

Mom (barely containing her laughter):  You never questioned how they got to the top of a 75-foot cliff?

Us (still screeching):  As a matter of fact, we did.  Ever heard of a hurricane?

Mom (not even trying to contain her laughter):  What about the glue?

Us (even louder screeching):  What are you talking about?

I then went to get mine from it's prominent position in my room.  Yes, at the age of 16 I still had it on display.

Mom (taking the shell and laughing so hard she snorted):  All of this around the seam holding it together?  It's glue.  Grandma bought these at a tourist shop.  When you guys were off playing, she hid them in the rocks for you to find.

As all of our guests howled at our stupidity, Mom continued her cackling and the telling of the whole story.

A honeymooning couple saw you guys and your shells and asked where you had gotten them.  When you told them you found them on the cliff, they took off to find some for themselves.

Apparently Mom and Grandma had even more fun than we did that day, laughing until they peed themselves.

I am just so grateful that none of my siblings knew of the deception.  If just one of them had figured it out and kept the rest of us in the dark, we would have looked 1,000 times more stupid.

Wonderful, silly, adventurous Grandma Slade died at the age of 61 from colon cancer.  She had fought it once before, but the second time she refused treatment. 

I know she is still with me.  I know she is still watching over me.  I can feel her.

I just wish my kids could, too.

I tell them stories.  I show them photos.  The problem is, when you only got to see someone once a year, there just aren't enough stories to tell or photos to show.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes a Few Days Early

I went to write my post, and quick takes were going through my head.  I went with it.  Pretend it's Friday.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 208)

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

For those of you who do not have the opportunity to live with growing boys, here is a little glimpse into the life:

At dinner the other night, one of the boys let loose with a loud burp, then continued to shovel food into his face.  When he looked up, he saw that I was giving him the look that shouts, "Really?"

He responded (with a mouthful of food), "What?"

I said, "Next time, keep your mouth closed and say excuse me."

Then I silently prayed that none of them caught it.

A full 30 seconds later, Phoenix, with a gleam in his eyes, opened his mouth nice and wide to give a boisterous burp.  He immediately clamped his mouth shut to say, "Excuse me."

Of course he caught it.  He always catches my misspeaks.

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

If you have not seen this adorable child yet, watch the video. 

We now have a new phrase in our house.  Every time someone doesn't like what another has done, he yells, "Not cool, Robert Frost!" 

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

The definition of irony:

Yesterday, Buttercup was wanting to download something on the computer, and was unhappy that I was making her do her homework and chores first.  These words actually came out of my mouth:

"I am teaching you to use your time wisely.  Do the things you have to do before you do the things you want to do."

Probably would have packed a bigger punch if I wasn't sitting on the couch reading a blog while clothes were waiting to be folded and a kitchen floor was waiting to be scrubbed.

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

Fun Dip should be banned from Valentine's Day.

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

Buttercup had a late-ish volleyball game, so on the way home I asked her to call Dad and ask him to put some water on to make pasta for dinner.  He did, and when the boys asked what we were having, he told them, "pasta".

When I got home to a boiling pot of water, I went to the pantry and discovered that we didn't actually have any pasta to make.

Plan B:  grab some pre-cooked ground meat from the freezer, a couple of jars of our homegrown, canned tomatoes, and a can of chili beans and make some quick chili.  Throw together some grilled cheese, cut up some apples, and dinner was served.

Some of our children are not big fans of chili, but were determined to eat it, knowing the kids' PE teacher had given us a big bowl of Death by Chocolate for dessert.  As Cuckoo choked down his third bite, he said, in a menacing, well-enunciated way, "Why. didn't. you. make. pasta?"

This would be his, "I don't like chili" face.

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

Almost looks like he can actually read.  He can't.  But he has to have the RED box to "read" when he eats his cereal.

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

Cuckoo may not be able to read, but the boy can draw.  He's into drawing snow men lately.

Have a lovely day, even if it is raining all the live-long day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Listicles - Buyer's Remorse

As you know, I have no problem throwing my poor husband under the bus if it means a good, funny listicle.  I've paraded his terrible phone photos and I've told of the ridiculous gifts he's given to me.  It's only fair that today, Stasha gives us the task of listing our 10 Dumbest Purchases.

I don't take my children shopping unless I have to.  Shopping with six children is horrible.  (For those of you with young children, this is as easy as you will ever have it in a store.   It gets worse as they get older.  While I don't have surprise poo explosions, I do have kids the same size as adults goofing off in the aisles.  When they were 6,5,4, and 3 they were a whole lot easier to corral and contain.  Unfortunately, a child that is five feet tall doesn't fit in the seat of the cart anymore.)

Since I rarely have time to myself to shop, I don't buy much.  But holy cow, when I am on my own and have the time to peruse and ponder and listen to stupid sales pitches, I lose all brain power.  I make the dumbest purchases when I am without the kids.

Buyer's remorse?  Yeah, I've had that.

My 10 dumbest purchases to date:

1.  Sun dresses.  Do I wear sundresses on a daily basis?  No.  Are they practical for my lifestyle as a fake farmer?  No.  So why do I have so many in my closet?  Because they were on clearance.  Look at that pretty dress!  And it only costs $20!  Forget the fact that peach is not a good color on me.  Forget that I have a smaller chest than most 40 year old men.  These dresses are great deals!  So, they sit in my closet, unworn.  For years. 

Pretty, but not good for me.  Not good at all.

2.  Nail buffer/shiner thing-a-ma-jiggies.  Walking through the mall, a nice man stops me and asks to see my nails.  Oh, the horror of the nails!  He gasps, then pulls out the first thing-a-ma-jig and starts buffing a fingernail.  As he does each finger, he talks.  How little time it takes.  How lovely my nails will look.  How, if I buy one set, he will throw in another for free.  I drive a hard bargain, ready to walk away, so he cuts the price for two even more, if I agree to take a broken box.  So, of course I buy them.  One for me and one for my mom.  My nails were so pretty!  How could I not?  Only later, when I could get away and get my brain back did I realize what a schmuck I am.  I am a fake farmer!  My hands are in the dirt or picking up horrible things most days.  I will ruin my pretty nails in two seconds flat.  Oh, and I found out that I can only do this buffing thing every once in a while, as it actually takes off a layer of each nail.  Not exactly good for them.  I have used the thing one time, and they didn't look nearly as good as that first time.  And, I've never given the other set to my mom.

But it comes with the lotion!  It must be a good deal!
3.  Mouth guard.  I have always been a nighttime teeth grinder.  I have actually ground my pointy teeth down to the point that they aren't pointy.  When I was in high school, I was fitted for a mouth guard to wear at night.  I apparently didn't like it, as I would (in my sleep) take it out and throw it across the room.  When I would wake up in the morning, I would have no idea where it was.  I once found it behind my dresser.  I finally just stopped wearing it.  (Yes, Dad, I know how much you spent on it.  No need to comment.) So as an adult, when my dentist told me I needed one, I really should have just said, "Yeah, I won't wear it.  Don't bother."  But no, I am a rule follower.  And a wimp in certain situations.  I went ahead and got the molds done and bought the stupid thing.  In the last 4 years, I've worn it a few times. 

4.  A smartphone for Phoenix.  I went into the store with a used iphone to add to our account for him.  I walked out with an off brand smartphone (which means none of the games and apps he had on his ipod would even transfer) and a huge monthly bill.  Luckily it took me only 30 minutes to realize what a schmuck I was.  I had to pay a $35 restocking fee, but did walk out with a simple slide phone and no data plan for him. 

5.  A Scentsy "candle".  While I've never given Hubby anything as bad as a bathroom scale, I haven't always given the best gifts.  Two Christmases ago, I was at a loss as to what to get him.  Two women in my Bible study group (one of whom sells Scentsy, of course) were talking about their Scentsy candles and how surprised they were at how much their husbands liked them.  My own husband was in a kick of always lighting the teacher gift candles that I have received over the years, so I thought he would like it.  Just so you know, no husband wants a Scentsy for Christmas.  Duh.

Used twice.  Out of pity.
6.  Magazine subscription.  Each of my kids has his own magazine subscription, and they love them.  One year for Christmas, I got all of my nephews subscriptions to Zootles, one of our favorites.  When my family got together at some point after Christmas, I asked my siblings if they had received them.  The responses I got were not good.  "Oh, I thought that was a publication from the zoo.  I just tossed it!"  about sent me over the edge.  I never did hear how the kids liked them now that my siblings knew to look for them.

How could this be thrown away without being read?!?!?

7.  Bikes for my children.  Normally, these would be great things to buy.  Except I don't know the sizes of my children.  I have purchased a bike WAY too big for Giant, so he had to wait a year before he could actually ride it.  I bought a purple bike with a basket for Buttercup, which she enjoyed for about 6 months.  Lastly, a tricycle for Cuckoo for his last birthday.  While it is adorable, I found that he is in reality much bigger than he is in my mind.  The trike was too small for him the day I bought it, but he loved it so much we couldn't take it back.

I guess he's not going to be my little baby forever.  At least I learned that now and not when I bought him a pair of OshKosh overalls for his 10th birthday.
8.  Weights.  I didn't actually purchase these, but I asked Hubby to get them for me for my birthday one year.  He did.  They moved with us from our apartment in Arkansas, to a storage place while we lived in Bermuda, to our apartment in Bloomington, to our apartment in Indy, to our first house.  I used them 5 times.  They did not make the cut when we moved to the farm.

Just like mine, but mine were blue.

9.  Bike and workout clothes.  Back when the big kids were little, I was determined to get myself in gear.  I got up at 5:30 each morning to go for a run or head to the gym to swim or ride the stationary bike and be back before Hubby left for work at 6:30.  I trained long enough to be able to race in one triathlon.  One.  And have never willingly been up at 5:30 again.  The bike has sat unused ever since.  The clothes are probably dry-rotted in the drawer.  I wouldn't know.  I haven't touched them in years.

10.  Wii Fit (or whatever the thing is called.)  Hubby and I decided we were going to spend our time together at night doing something healthy.  It lasted about 3 weeks.

Well, this little list has really shown me how gullible I am as well as how little gumption I have when it comes to physical fitness.  Good to know.  I will now go hang my head in shame for the rest of the day.

Or until I find an AS SEEN ON TV Shake weight or Ab burner at Walgreens.

Wow, can't believe I found someone who looks so much like me!

 Have a lovely day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Words of Unnecessary Wisdom

Today, our Finish the Sentence Friday prompt is right up my alley. 

Finish the Sentence Friday
I have advice for people running through my head at all times.  I'm a problem solver.  I see someone with a problem, solutions instinctively start flying through my head.  I'm not judging in any way (usually).  It can be a silly, fleeting problem or a more difficult problem a parent is having with her child.  Strangers, friends, family.  It doesn't matter. 
Fortunately, I don't open my mouth and tell people how to solve their problems.  I am smart enough to know that such behavior would make me an outcast of epic proportions, shunned from all social gatherings, figuratively tarred and feathered by an entire community. 
For today's FTSF, I have been given the chance to let loose.  Give advice without being asked.  Tell people what to do and not be told what a know-it-all I am.
Thank you, Kate, Stephanie, Janine, and Dawn for giving me the opportunity to open my filing cabinet of ideas.
So, after much unnecessary ado, I give you...
Speaking from experience, I'm going to give you a little advice on...
getting along with your child's teacher.  I have been a teacher for many years in many grades.  I have had children in school for 11 years.  I know of what I speak.   Having a good relationship with the teachers and staff (yes, all of them.  You never know when you might want/need something.) is going to make the school years so much easier and enjoyable. 

1.  When your child's birthday rolls around, DO NOT send in those blasted bakery cupcakes with the colorful icing piled a mile high.  Don't do it.  I don't care how much your child whines.  Do not send them in.  They are a nightmare.  Besides the fact that they make a mess, they are difficult for little hands to get out of the plastic container.  My first year teaching preschool, it was Colt's Day.  The entire class had white on.  The birthday boy's mother brought in chocolate cupcakes with blue icing.  Just don't do it.  I beg you.  Your child's teacher will be so happy if you bring in a simple sugar cookie.  Or a snickerdoodle. (Yum!)  It doesn't matter what the birthday kid wants.  Make the teacher happy.

2.   Send in food.  For one teacher, for the whole staff.  Perhaps a large box of bagels in the teacher's lounge on a random day.  Veggies from the garden are always welcome.  Slyly make sure the secretary knows it was you who brought it in.  She'll spread the word.

3.  If you are going to get the teacher a Christmas present, (and you don't have to.  Honestly, the vast majority of teachers would be perfectly fine if you didn't buy anything.) make it personal or useful.  Don't give a coffee shop gift card to someone who doesn't like coffee.  I have received so many candles and bottles of lotion that I can't/don't use.  Then I just feel bad.  An idea: let the kid pick the gift.  Half the time your child knows the teacher better than you do.  The teacher will appreciate it, even if it is a broken moose wall hanging (true story.  In preschool, Buttercup picked out a wooden moose, but when we got home, the antlers had broken off.  She insisted that her teacher would love it.  She was right.  It hung on the wall at school the whole year and the next.)

4.  Say thank you.  When a teacher does an activity that you thought was good, send her a quick email to say so.  If you only send emails to complain or bring up a problem, she isn't going to want to read your emails.  (Teachers are human.  How would you like to receive nothing but bad critiques?)  Even the worst teacher has some good qualities.  Look for them and mention them.

5.  Don't take everything your child tells you as fact.  Your child's teacher will then be less likely to believe everything your child says about you.

6.  Instead of hounding the teacher when your child messes up, hound your child.  For example: My children have a tendency to temporarily lose their minds in 7th grade.  They decide that as long as they get As on tests and are passing the class, homework is optional.  About one particular math assignment Buttercup failed to turn in on time, she said she was waiting for the teacher to tell her which problems on the page she was supposed to do.  I responded, "Your teacher did his job when he gave the assignment the first time.  You are the one who chose not to do it then.  He is in no way responsible for your choices, and he doesn't have to hurry to get you the information you want.  Do not ask him for the problem numbers again.  Simply do all the problems on the page."   Don't give the teacher more work.  She's not paid enough.

7.  Teachers spend a lot of money out of their own pockets to teach our children.  How about on a random day in October you send an email asking if the teacher needs anything?  Offer to pick up something she would like to have in the room.  Sometimes it is something as simple as a game for the kids to play at indoor recess. 

8.  Don't say negative things about the teacher when your child is around.  Sometimes you will be unhappy with the way a teacher handles a situation.  Sometimes you will just be unhappy with a teacher.  Period.  Telling your child how awful the teacher is will not help.  Your child will still have to sit in her room all day.  How do you think it will go if he knows you don't respect the teacher?

9.  Don't listen to other parents about which teachers are hard/difficult before you even have her.  Each child is different.  Each child will feel differently about each teacher.  Some kids will find a teacher to be mean, while others will find her to be fun.  Don't go in with preconceived ideas that will ruin your chances at a good year. 

I could go on an on.  Basically, just be nice.  Treat teachers and staff the way you want to be treated.

Although now that I've written this, I realize that I chose the wrong thing about which to give advice.  As far as I know, only nice people and homeschoolers read this.  (OK, that sounds bad.  My homeschooling readers are lovely people, too.)  These words of wisdom are completely unnecessary.

How about I just tell you to...

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

High School: It's A-Comin'

I know I promised you something funny for my next post.  I know three contemplative posts in a row is not what you all signed up for when you chose to "follow" me.  So sorry.  Gonna have to do it to you.

Phoenix, my oldest, my baby who is taller than me, my sweet little guy who loves his mama so much, had a meeting with the counselor and chose his classes for his first year of high school this morning.   And I didn't get to go. 

Part of me is so sad that he's growing up.  I only have four more years of him in this house.  I know that as they get to be seniors, most parents are ready to kick their "I know everything and you know jack" teens to the curb.  But they don't have a sweet, funny boy like Phoenix. :) 

Part of me is so excited for him.  He will be going to a fantastic high school with so much to offer.  He is excited, but it's only in a "I hear school is fun, but I have no idea why" kind of way. 

Most of me is scared.  Scared for a whole variety of reasons.  Of course, there's the fact that he will be getting his driver's permit in approximately 8 months.  (AAAHHHH!!!)  That is enough to put a whole mess of fear in my heart.  I'm scared that he will take on too much, seeing as how his plan is to take at least 7 AP courses before he graduates, plus play soccer and other things.  (Don't forget a job, there Big Boy.)  But mostly, I'm scared about girls, and what stupid things he is going to do because of them.  I'm scared, because Hubby and I met when I was a freshman in high school then started dating when I was a sophomore.  In a mere six months, Phoenix could meet the girl he will eventually marry.  (AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!)

So, to help dear Phoenix along, I'm going to give him some advice.  He needs to learn from others' mistakes (namely, boys with whom I went to high school (Hubby included)) so he doesn't embarrass the tar out of himself.

1.   When I was a freshman, my Civics class was about to get started, and we were all in our seats.  The teacher handed me a folded piece of paper.  I have to believe she was completely unaware as to what that paper said, because it was, in fact, a love-ish letter from a not-so-popular, shy senior.  He had this teacher for an earlier class, and since he and I didn't have any classes together, decided he would just ask the teacher to give it to me.   Since it was from the teacher, I opened it and read it right away.  Big, fat mistake.  Somehow, someone caught a glimpse of what the note said while I read it, and within the blink of an eye, everyone knew.  I turned purple from embarrassment and had people hasslin' me for months.  (I eventually had to talk to him face to face and let him know that we could not date.)  

Moral of the story:  DON'T USE A TEACHER TO PASS NOTES!  OK, that's a little dated, seeing as how everyone and their brother has a phone and simply texts.  Kids barely know how to write an actual note, let alone know what to do with it.  So, an updated version will be:  DON'T USE A TEACHER TO TEXT NOTES!  Or something like that.

2.   There is a story that won't die about a certain boy who, while dancing with a girl at one of our school's weekly, after-football game, sock hops, went onto the dance floor with gum in his mouth.  When he returned to the wall where his friends were gathered, he was no longer chewing gum, but the girl was. 

Moral of the story:  DON'T KISS ANY GIRLS!   OK, that's probably not going to happen, but I had to throw it out there.  I told you he is a good boy who loves his mama.  Perhaps there is a chance he'll listen to me.  If not, then the moral is IF, WHEN YOU ARE A SENIOR AND FINALLY READY TO HAVE YOUR FIRST KISS, FOR PETE'S (or should I say Patricia's?) SAKE DON'T DO IT ON A DANCE FLOOR! AND SPIT YOUR GUM OUT FIRST! 

3.  When Hubby and I first started talking during my sophomore year, he was sorta dating another girl.  Really, they had only been on a few dates.   I still don't know how he broke up with her.  I guess I never asked.  All I know is that at some point after he had asked me out, she received roses from him.  He has always claimed that it was his mother who sent them.  There was some confusion about the entire situation.  All very strange.  I still make fun of him for it.

Moral of the story:  I have a bit of a dilemma.  As his mom, I'd like to say DON'T DATE!  As a friend, I'd say DON'T GET YOUR MOM INVOLVED IN YOUR DATING LIFE!  But I'm his mom and he darn well better be talking to me about who he's dating and what they are up to.  I guess I'll go with DO NOT ASK YOUR MOTHER TO SEND FLOWERS TO ANYONE! 

4.  A friend of ours had been dating a girl for a month or so.  Certainly not very long, but that month happened to be around a holiday.  Christmas if I remember correctly.  He spent quite a bit of money to buy her a nice necklace.  Less than a week after giving it to her, she dumped him and didn't even give the necklace back.

Moral of the story:  DON'T DATE!  Oh, there I go again, being the mom.  I guess the more realistic moral would be: DON'T BUY EXPENSIVE GIFTS UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO BUY AN ENGAGEMENT RING! 

5.    Halloween just happened to be two weeks before Hubby and I went on our first date.  Our school allowed us to dress up for the day, and Hubby and a friend (who happened to be a girl) decided to dress alike.  No big deal, except they dressed up as clowns.

Moral of the story:  DON'T DRESS UP LIKE A CLOWN!  EVER!  You will look like a dork.  And clowns are creepy.

Alright, I think that's a good start.   Follow up lessons will be forthcoming, since we haven't even touched on the topics of buying flowers for the prom or picking out a tie.  

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It Just May Be A Midlife Crisis

The Valentine's cake is finally gone. 

Now I just need to finish off the Girl Scout cookies.

These extra junk food treats certainly make giving up M&Ms a little easier.

I am surprised by the difficulty I'm having giving up the M&Ms.  It's not that I am craving them.  I'm not.  It's that I am now so hungry all afternoon.

Just about every day for lunch I eat a sandwich, an apple, and one other fruit.  I then eat M&Ms until I'm full.  I don't eat anything else until dinner.  Through Lent (and beyond is the plan) I'm not eating M&Ms or any other junk food with lunch.  By the time the kids get out of school, I'm starving and have to eat a snack with them.  I know this is much better healthwise, to eat a healthy snack mid-afternoon.  I'm just surprised at how hungry I have been after this one change.

Perhaps it is just pointing out how many M&Ms I was actually eating.

Making one healthy choice so often leads to others.

I have actually had the urge to go for a run a few times in the last couple of weeks.   On one particularly nice day (sunny and 40 degrees) I mentioned this to the children who happened to be standing next to me.  Giant looked at me with a confused look on his face, then said, "Huh?"  Buttercup just laughed.

I didn't say I wanted (or would be able) to run far.  I probably wouldn't make it to the end of the driveway. 

I can understand their reaction.  Despite the fact I went to college on a track scholarship, I hate going out for a run.  They have no recollection of me ever doing it.  To them, Dad is the runner in the family.   He's the one who does 5Ks with them.  I am the one who stays with the little kids and cheers them on.

My core strength ain't what it used to be.  I don't like that feeling.  I need to do something.  I really want to swim.  That will be easiest on my joints, and I just love that feeling of gliding through water.  Once Cuckoo goes to school, I will be in a pool.  Until then, I want to do something else.

I mentioned it to Hubby last night.  I knew he'd understand, seeing as how he has been unable to do any exercise since breaking his foot.  The conversation went like this:

Me:  I know you won't believe me, but I've had the urge to go for a run.

Hubby:  You mean to the bathroom?  I have to do that several times a day.  It's called aging.

And then we laughed.

At least my abs get a workout from all of the laughing.

As with most things, this feeling will pass.  Probably as soon as spring hits and we have hours and hours of yard/garden/animal work to do. 

Hm, two days in a row with the contemplative posts.


I do believe this ridiculously unending cold and windy weather is getting to me.

I'll do my best to make something funny happen today.

I will probably stop short of doing anything like purposely tripping a child on camera.


Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!

The question is always there.  If complete strangers aren't voicing it, then it is in my own mind.

How can you possibly give each of the six children the attention, love, support, encouragement, discipline, and time that each deserves?

There are days when I am one "Mom!" away from a meltdown.

You know, something like this...multiplied by ten times a day...multiplied by six kids.

Thank you, Angela, for leading me to that video!

There are moments when I let the voices of doubt wiggle their way in and leave me completely unable to do anything but just get through.  Thought leaves my head and pure emotion takes over.  I get angry at the slightest things, but I don't stop to correct my mood.  I don't have time.  Before I can deal with the thing that set me off, something else has happened to tear me into another direction.

Usually, I can take things as they come and laugh about it.  Sometimes, though, every once in a great while, I'm just not in the mood to be a good mom.

I started to get into that bad mood bad mom funk a few weeks ago.   Lots of things have been going on, one fire after another that needs putting out.  I swear, if one more person in my family breaks something, I am never letting another one of them play a sport again.  (The tally since January 8 is now Hubby-broken foot, Giant-broken nose, Buttercup-broken finger, and Giant came home with a swollen and black and blue big toe after soccer on Sunday.  We're keeping an eye on it.)  Other things have been gong on that I just can't talk about, as it's not all about me.  (You know if it was just me, it would be all over this blog in a hot second.)

Fortunately, I recognized the funk and had a three-day weekend to get those sour-puss voices of doubt out of my head.

In three short days, I

1.  Nursed a sick Star.  (Who is still sick and didn't go to school today.)
2.  With Buttercup's help, got pounds and pounds and pounds of food cooked, bagged, and frozen for later use. 
3.  Played (and lost) lots of games of Scrabble and Rummy with Phoenix and Giant.
4.  Went on a dinner date with Hubby.  (We went to a new place, and holy deliciousness.  I now think about the duck spring rolls every time I drive by the place.)
5.  Went to Bloomington with Buttercup for a soccer practice/scrimmage in a huge, indoor IU facility.
6.  Got 2 kids' eyes checked.  (All good, for now.)
7.  Played many rounds of The Sneaky Squirrel Game with the little boys.
8.  Got Buttercup in for the haircut she's been dreaming of.
9.  Went to Mass with the non-sick members of the family and got to actually pay attention and get some extra, much needed prayer time.  (Hubby had the start of a migraine, so he stayed home with Star and Cuckoo.)
10.  Went on a date with Phoenix to the antique mall.  He's been wanting to go for a while, but there is no way I'm going with all six kids.  We finally had a chance last night, so the two of us spent over two hours taking our time and perusing the entire place.  We then went out for a pleasant dinner, where I didn't one time embarrass him by bringing up the subject of girls.
11.  Got lots and lots of hugs and cuddles from all the kids.

I was able to kick the voices to the curb and get back on track.  It's a good feeling.

And it's a feeling I can only have because I am not raising these children on my own. 

While I was cooking, Hubby was playing plenty of games with the boys.

While I was in Bloomington, Hubby did a mess of laundry.  (So much laundry that I didn't even get upset when he washed and dried my favorite, dry-clean only pants.)

While I was at the mall with Phoenix, Hubby made dinner and got the other kids to bed.

While he was home, Hubby kept the "Mom!" cries to a minimum.

To answer the question, I can't.  I can't give them all the attention, love, support, encouragement, discipline, and time that they need. 

I'm not supposed to.

When those doubts start creeping in, when I start to feel like I'm failing, I need to step back and name my problem.

My problem isn't too many needy children.

My problem isn't my inabilities and inadequacies.

My problem is my inflated ego, thinking that I am the only one influencing these children's lives.

My children are who they are, not just because of me, but because they have a wonderful father here on earth and a God in heaven who guides them and loves them better than I ever could.

Darn good thing.

Now, if only I could teach them to say, "Dad!" a little more often.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Monday Listicles - Joy. No, Not the Dish Soap.

After Friday's list of things that frustrate me, it's probably a good thing that the Monday Listicle for today is something positive.  We are to come up with 10 Tiny (or Secret) Things That Bring You Joy. 

I talk too much, so I don't have any secrets about myself.  (About others, plenty.  But that info is in the vault.  (Name that show!))  Guess we're going with just plain old tiny things that bring me joy.  

Things like...

1.  Seeing the first robin of the year.  Robins are so much better at predicting the start of spring than that silly groundhog.  Today, the first robin showed up in our yard.  Praise Jesus, I will be warm again some day soon!

2.  Speaking of the groundhog, it is bringing me so much joy that Turken cannot remember the word "groundhog".  He keeps calling it Mole Day.  When he sees the picture of the groundhog he colored in school, he calls it a mole.  You may be saying, "Groundhog Day was weeks ago.  Why does he keep talking about it?"  Because I keep asking him about it.  And I will keep asking him about it until he figures it out.  Mole Day just cracks me up.

3.  Clever, funny commercials.  Lately, it is this one in particular:

4.  Learning something new.  Like how to put a video in a post.  BAM!

5.  Finding that my husband has made the bed while I was getting breakfast for the kids.  Really, anyone making any bed without being asked brings me immeasurable joy.

6.  Going on a walk around our yard without finding any dead animals or bones left over from a dead animal.  Come spring, I will have quite the dilemma on my hands.  Go outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, or stay inside and avoid all the carnage?  Decisions, decisions.

7.  A nice big bowl of Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream.  So. Much. Joy.

8.  The wonderful aroma of a flower bed full of hyacinth.

It's why I take the kids to the zoo.  The folks at the White River Gardens (next door to the zoo) always plant lots of hyacinth just for me.

9.  When someone says, "Do you have ____?" and within seconds I actually do have ______.  I love being organized, or at least tricking people into thinking I am organized.

10.    Unexpectedly receiving a hug or a peck on the cheek from one of my kids.  Makes my heart so very joyful. 

You know I had to get one sappy one in there.  I'd look like a terrible mom if I didn't even mention my kids in a list of things that bring me joy.

No school today, so off we go to get kids' eyes checked and hairs cut.  I know how to bring my kids joy, for sure.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Few Things To Get Off My Chest

Finish the Sentence Friday
Our sentence to finish this week is I get so frustrated when...

Oh, I got lots of those.  We'll make our entire 7 Quick Takes into 7 Frustrations just from this week.

I get so frustrated when
...holidays can't just be simple holidays.  They have to get blown way out of proportion, to the point that Valentine's Day becomes the Lazy Kid's Halloween.  Just as much candy, but without the hassle of walking around the neighborhood and actually thanking the people handing out the candy.
...businesses use texting lingo in their marketing.

Dear business, let me put it in a way you will understand. 

yr  cYn  leadz me  2  beleev ur  itha  laZ  or  13.  itha  wa,  Ill  nvr  let  u  tak  fotos  of  my  kin.
...businesses try to make us think we should be doing something that is in fact ridiculous.  (see above sign)  People are just recovering from the torture that is the Family Christmas Photo.  Who do these people think they are, making us think that we aren't fulfilling some tradition by slacking of in the Valentine's Day photo? 
 ...we get all the way to soccer practice before we remember the phone call yesterday telling us that today's soccer practice was canceled.
...the children leave for school, and then I have to go turn off every. single. light. in. the. house.  Why, oh why, aren't children born with an innate reflex to conserve energy? 
...children don't use the appropriate "Mom!" yell.  There is the "This is an emergency" scream and there is a "Look how cool this is" holler.  It doesn't make me happy when I am getting dressed in the morning and I hear one of the little boys screaming for me like it is a matter of life and death from five rooms away, and as the "MOM!!!" screams continue, I trip over my half-pulled up pants on my way to see who is so gravely injured, but when I get to the child, there is no injury.  The moment Turken lays eyes on me, he holds up his cereal and says, "Look, two Cheerios are stuck together!"
...I find that I have hurt myself pretty badly but have no recollection of when or how I did it.  When my grandpa was alive, I used to be astounded when I would find him with his finger half shaved off, blood all over his hand, and he had no idea how it happened.  People, I have become my grandpa.  I got in the van yesterday, and when I put my hands on the steering wheel, I saw this:

except worse.  I had to clean up some of the blood before I could get my phone out of my purse to take a photo.  I took a chunk out of my thumb and have absolutely no idea how.  Or when. 

Was that seven already?  Huh.  I feel like I just got started.  I wonder if Jen could change this to 15 quick takes.  This has been quite cathartic. 

A bit about Valentine's Day:

You'll recall the day I slaughtered my husband and told you about the bathroom scale birthday gift.  Hubby has been known to really mess up with the gift-giving. 

As I was making dinner last night, Cuckoo came running into the kitchen to tell me Daddy was home and he brought something.  I was a touch worried and asked Cuckoo, "Did he bring flowers?"  I needed to prepare myself in case he did spend a fortune on flowers.  I needed to get rid of the horrified "you don't know me at all" face. 

Well, he did buy roses. 

Men, if you are going to buy roses for your Valentine, make sure they are made of sugar and are adorning the most delicious chocolate fudge cake you can find.

The man has learned.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Oh Look, I'm Talking About My Children!

Every year I send Valentine's gifts (really, most holidays) to all of my nieces, nephews, and godchildren.  It's not much, but simply a little token to keep me in their thoughts and in the spot of Best Aunt.  Oh, and to remind them that I love them.

What do my own children get from me?




Not a blasted thing.

My reasoning is they get to feel my love every single day of their lives.  Aaaaaand, I don't like to bring extra trinkets into my house that we will then have to trip over/find a home for unless I have to.

Each year, I wonder when my kids will notice.

After 10 years, Phoenix finally did. 

I'm still not getting them gifts today, but I did do a little something special to take away the sting.

I woke up early, and instead of just flinging a bagel or bowl of cereal at them this morning, I made special Valentine's Day pancakes.

Batter was the same, but with a whole lot of red food coloring added to it.

Once the gigantic pancakes were on the griddle, I added a heart made out of white chocolate chips.

Unfortunately, once flipped, the chips sunk into the pancakes and there was little trace of the heart.  So, for the rest of the pancakes, I waited until after the flip to stick chips into the already cooked side.


The kids devoured them with much thanks and gratitude coming my way.  It was a pleasant morning.

Until they actually had to get ready for school.  Then the usual "I can't find..." and "Get out of the bathroom!" and "I need ___today!" chorus began.

I'm now going to switch topics on you.  Still talking about kids, but no longer Valentine's Day.  Still talking about the lack of love the children apparently get from me.  The following is a conversation the little boys and I had on the way home from school the other day. 

 Turken:  Why don't you ever talk to us except when we say, "Hey, Mom"?

Me:  What?  I talk to you all the time.  Didn't I just start a conversation about your day at school?

Turken:  No, in the car.  You don't talk to us in the car except if we say "Hey, Mom".

Me:  Perhaps it is because you are both constantly saying, "Hey, Mom!"  "Hey, Mom!" "Hey, Mom!"  "Hey, Mom!"   "Hey, Mom!"  Maybe if you stopped saying, "Hey, Mom!" I'd be able to actually start a conversation.

30 second pause

Cuckoo:  Hey, Christine!

The more kids I have, the earlier the smart alecky behavior begins.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day!

Update:  After getting on someone else's case for not including recipes when discussing delicious food, she called me out for not having the pancake recipe in this post.  So, here we go.

It was pulled right out of my Betty Crocker cookbook. 

1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour (white or wheat)
3/4 cup milk (I use skim)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

I have also made buttermilk pancakes with this base.  Simply replace the milk with 1 cup buttermilk, decrease baking powder to 1 tsp and beat in 1/2 tsp baking soda.

For my family, I have to triple or quadruple this recipe.   I then use half white and half wheat flour.  You know, to make them healthy.

Beat the egg with a fork, then add all other ingredients.  Mix just until smooth.

 With the number of people and tastes in my family, I don't add anything else to the batter in the bowl.  If a child wants blueberry cakes, I add them once the cakes are on the griddle.

I use just a touch of butter to grease the griddle.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I'm Thinking Bill Cosby Wouldn't Approve

I logged onto Facebook, expecting to see nothing more than the usual posts from the one person who posts at least 8 Scentsy ads each day.  (I only have 12 friends.  My kids make fun of me mercilessly, but I like to keep things simple.  And drama free.)  Imagine my surprise when I saw...

My 88 year old grandmother doing a Jell-O shot. 

My grandma doesn't own a single product invented after 1973, let alone a computer, so I knew she wasn't the one who posted it.

Nope, it was my dad.  Her son.

This is the woman who told me over and over again throughout the years that she limits herself to one beer a day.  With all the stress my dad and uncle caused her in their growing up years, if she didn't limit herself to one beer, she would have become an alcoholic long ago.

This is the woman who, when I was 18, would always ask me if I would split a beer with her. She didn't want to blow her whole beer in one sitting.

The woman was doing Jell-O shots.  In the gym of my old high school.

I called her immediately to get the whole story.

And so it goes...

She was at my alma mater's fundraiser with her brother, sisters, cousin, my dad, and my stepmom. 

She had one glass of wine, which wasn't very good.

She kept seeing people walk by with Jell-O, so she asked one person where he got it. 

She's a sucker for Jell-O.  When we would go to her house, there was almost always Jell-O in the fridge.  In individual sundae glasses no less.  As she pulled them out of the fridge, she'd add a dollop of Cool Whip.  Of course.

I'm not surprised that she was eyeing the Jell-O.

I am surprised that she chose to imbibe after she found out there was vodka in it.

Her closing words on the subject were, "Good thing it was later in the night and I had already had the wine.  They were good.  I would have had more."

(If you want to see her photo and read what I wrote about her two years ago, go here.  She is one awesome lady.)

Have a lovely day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Listicles - Is It the Thought That Counts?

Gotta tell ya, I didn't think there were worse things than political ads before an election.  But there are.  (Every kiss begins with) Kay and (He went to) Jared commercials before Valentine's Day are just gag me with a spoon bad.

Gag me.  With a spoon.  A spoon, I tell ya.

Fortunately, we have a wicked fun Monday Listicle this week to take our minds off of them.

Ten OH, NO YOU DIDN'T gifts 

The first five will be gifts that, thankfully, Hubby has avoided.  (Mostly because he learned from the mistakes of my relatives.)  The second five are things actually done by my dear, dear husband.  By the end, you will be shocked that I am still married to him.

10.  The expensive, predictable gift.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Don't buy roses on Valentine's Day.   Just don't do it.  Roses in June are lovely.  Roses on Feb. 14, when they cost 5 times their normal price, irritate me.  And it's not even original.

9.  Stuffed animals.  Once a girl passes the age of 5, just don't do it.  Hubby has not made this mistake, but my dad did.  When I turned 10, he gave me a stuffed bear and a stuffed carrot.  Kid you not.

The smile in this photo is completely fake.  I am and always have been a polite people pleaser, so I smiled for the camera.  (OK, after this post you may not believe my polite people pleaser claim, but it's normally true.)

I do not want stuffed animals.   I am not a kid.  Stuffed animals are not cute.  Even if there is a diamond necklace around that stuffed animal's neck, don't give me a stuffed animal.  Put the necklace in the box.

8.  Coupons.  You know, those handmade ones that say things like "I'll do the dishes" or "a foot massage".  It's cute when my kids give them to me, especially when they say things like "peace and quiet from me for one hour".   Regardless of who gives them, I'm never going to redeem them.  It's really a non-gift. 

I'm just saying, you darn well be doing dishes and giving foot massages without me having to cash in a coupon to make you do it.

7.   Clothes with animals or cartoon characters on them.  This goes along with #7.  When I was 17, my dad gave me a purple sweatshirt with a shiny cat on it.  Came with matching shiny cat earrings, too.  I am not a child.  My bosom may be small, but cute cuddly kittens do not belong on it.  (A note to the three men who read this:  Even if your wife/girlfriend would like a shirt like that, don't get it.  Save her from herself.)

6.  A Chia pet.  My youngest brother gave me one once, because he buys things he really wants for himself, then gives them to people.  Usually with the statement, "If you don't want it, I'll take it."  He's a bit immature that way.  Even the funny Chia pets that look like people with an afro should not be given.  (Unless you are at a party in which gag gifts are exchanged.  Then it is completely acceptable.)

Really, I'm not wanting any sort of plant.  I will forget to water it until it is drooping from dehydration.  So I water it and watch it come back to life.  And then I don't water it.  It starts to droop.  Eventually I will get very tired of this plant dance we have going on and just toss it into the compost.  No need to do that to either me or the harmless, innocent plant.

Do I sound a touch ungrateful yet?  Just wait.  It's time for the gifts my husband has actually given.

Before I throw him under the proverbial bus, I must show you how good he can be.  The potential he has failed to live up to.

Too bad for him, the first gift my husband ever bought for me set the bar way too high. We were 16 years old. He went to three different jewelry stores in town to find a necklace that matched my eyes. He finally found the one he wanted; a gorgeous blue topaz pendant on a gold chain. Undeterred by the fact that it cost more money than he had, he went to the salesperson. My dear boyfriend emptied his (Velcro) wallet onto the counter, told the man that this was every dime he had, and could he please have that necklace. The salesperson took pity on him and let him have it.

Tear jerker, I know.

Now that you adore my husband, I can get to the list.
5.  One year he mistakenly put off his Christmas shopping.  At 8:00 on Christmas Eve he went to Meijer (What do you get when you cross a Wal-Mart and a Target?  Meijer.) and purchased all of my gifts and stocking items.  I got a Farmer's Almanac for Christmas.   Clearly he forgot that I'm not a real farmer, but simply play one on TV.

4.  One year, when we had four young, young children, he got me/us a package of dance lessons.   He had the beginning of a good thought, seeing as how we had taken dance lessons before we had kids (as in, I was very pregnant with Phoenix) and had lots of fun.  The only problem was, he didn't think farther.  Who, I ask, was going to get a sitter lined up for each and every dance lesson?  Who, I ask, was going to get the kids fed and all ready for that babysitter?  That would be me.   It was just such a pain in the neck to actually get to the lessons, so we only used three of the seven allotted to us.  (Fortunately, he used this experience to learn something.  The next time he got me lessons, it was for a photography/darkroom class I got to attend all on my own while he stayed home with the kids.)

3.    For my 30th birthday, he gave me what woulda, coulda been the perfect gift; plane tickets to NYC with the sole purpose of seeing as many Broadway shows as we could fit into three days.  Awesome idea. Except we had children.  Children aged 2,1, and 5 months.  Children I had never left before except when I was in the hospital to deliver one of them.

While Hubby did think far enough ahead to schedule a person to watch the kids, it was his mother.  After her stints at watching them while I was in the hospital delivering babies, I was not exactly confident that she would be able to handle the three of them herself.   We'll leave it at that.

While his choice in sitter for my first time away was difficult enough for me, there was one bigger problem.  I WAS STILL EXCLUSIVELY NURSING THE BABY! Star had never set lips on a bottle when I got this wonderful gift. He was still nursing twice at night. The gift meant I had to wean him. He did not want to be weaned. We'll leave it at that.

While we did go on that trip, he was told in no uncertain terms to never, ever do that to me again.

2.  If you are a long-time reader, you might remember the compost bucket we had in our old kitchen.  The Meijer gallon ice cream bucket.  It was nasty, but it worked.  And it could be replaced each time we finished a gallon of ice cream.

Well, one year Hubby thought I might want a nicer compost bucket.  One Christmas, he gave me a lovely ceramic one.  Two problems.

One, we had an ugly kitchen that was falling down around us.  The Meijer bucket really fit the decor much better.

More importantly, (two) it was ceramic.  A child is in charge of taking the compost out to the compost pile.  It was only a matter of time before that child dropped the ceramic on the concrete walkway.

Each day at chore time, I was a nervous wreck.  As the child headed out the door, I would remind him, "Be careful!  That is fragile!"  (Always pronounced fra-gee-lay, thanks to A Christmas Story) and then I would pray that he made it back safely.

I only had to go through that daily torture for 3 weeks before the child came in crying and upset that he had dropped the ceramic compost bucket.  It was no longer a bucket but a hundred ceramic pieces on the walkway.

1.  This last gift is so, so bad that I really should have just given it all ten slots and called it a day.  At least then I wouldn't sound like such an ungrateful heel. 

The worst gift ever given to a wife by a husband...

After gaining 45 pounds during pregnancy, I delivered Phoenix in September, then celebrated my birthday in November.  For that birthday he gave me...

wait for it...

a bathroom scale.

He thought I would want to see how much weight I had lost since giving birth.

Too soon.  My dear, delusional husband.  Too.  (Still fat.)  Soon.

Go forth and have a lovely day!