Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The unfairness of it all

I got a text from my mother stating, "70F whole area here and your area @40F seems unfair 😜💙😜💙"

I've been thinking about Triskal and how she hated the rain, which was hilarious as she was a webbed-footed, double-coated, water-rescue-bred Newfoundland. Even the kids laughed at her every time we sent her out in the rain because she made this mournful face like, "I can't pee in these conditions. I might get wet." We miss her. Man, she'd have hated today, though:

I love leaf-filled puddles. And I love that you don't have to shovel rain. And if it's warm enough to rain, then that means I might not be freezing to death, though let's face it, I am happiest at 80F and sunny. 

And our Leak is back.

And I'd been outside four times between about 7 AM and 10:30 AM. Twice with the kids to the bus stop and twice to pick up and reposition the dratted trash and recycling tanks. God in his mercy had allowed the recycling to be picked up early, so that one was empty- hallelujah and amen, because let me tell you how much fun it is NOT to be out there in the Leak playing 52 pick up with recyclables.

I have hopefully wedged the trash tank well enough this time that it will stay put until it's emptied. Then it'll probably fall into the Leak itself. 

The ditch creek out back isn't overflowing yet. The ones along the roads looked pretty darn full on Monday when we did our karate run, so I can't even imagine how they're faring today. Perhaps we should invest in a canoe...

Damon and I did hear our first killdeer of 2018 this morning while waiting under our umbrella for his bus. That along with the Facebook posts of tulips and crocuses from friends in Oregon tell me that spring is on its way. 

God save us, we still have to get through March...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


We have a small "pond" out front, one that really is supposed to be there. It was added to the landscaping on purpose before we bought the house. It has hosted fish and frogs but every autumn it begins to host leaves. Lots and lots of leaves.

Last fall, we thought, "we are intelligent people. Let's drain the pond and cover it lest it fill up with leaves. And more water. And ice."


Carrie and her friend Isaac, whom she didn't know spectacularly well yet but who was a great sport anyway filled bucket after bucket and figured out a way to use the hose to drain the pond into the creek ditch out back. Dada used our two exercise balls (the kind you sit on for balancing or ab work- heck, we weren't using them) to toss into the pond and then found plastic sheeting to cover everything up. The idea was that the balls were taller than the pond was deep and the rain and leaves would then fall onto the plastic and cascade off.

Yay for gravity, right?

Except physics works in strange ways sometimes. The balls decided it'd be less work to just float over to the edge and hide out among the rocks rather than stay in the middle and hold up the plastic. The pond is now a plastic covered, water filled, leaf filled, leaf and water covered mess.

So Liam, who went out to feed the birds, decided he'd liberate the ball which, turns out, he had been using as a seat at the poker table where he keeps his Legos. 

"Can I bring this back down to where I play Legos?"

"Tell me you did to bring that disgusting ball from the pond into the house."

"It wasn't IN the pond. It was OUTSIDE the pond, on the edge."

"And tell me you wiped it off with something to clean it off."

"I did. I wiped it off with..."

Dada and I trade glances and mouth, "hands."

" pants."

Dada makes a valiant attempt, but still erupts into chuckles and remarks, "you better hope you can run faster than Mama, Liam..."

Eh. I wrote this episode. Which is why it's here. Happy Springish Slop, everyone!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Draft of a draft of a draft... a stew of thoughts

No, I haven't given up blogging for Lent. 

Yes, I'm sick of winter. Yes, I'm staying up too late watching the Olympics. No, I'm not exercising enough at all. Yes, the puppy is still chewing things apart. No, the kids haven't magically grown out of arguing and complaining about doing the routine Stuff of Life that we do. 

I'm just heavy hearted.

No, not just because of, dare I say it, the latest school shooting, though I find myself morbidly addicted to returning to the timeline here on CNN. Like everyone and their mothers, I'm praying for peace and healing to the families of those with injured or lost family members, for wisdom and sense for our lawmakers who have been and will be meeting to discuss what needs to be done to prevent this from ever happening again in our great nation, but I'm seeing clips like this, also from CNN,  and am just as discouraged as the next person about the likelihood that it will be on the news again far sooner than I'd like. In fact, that is discussed here by someone with far more expertise than myself.

Parenting is far more complicated than I ever imagined. I don't know if previous generations feared or doubted or second guessed the wisdom in sending their children to school, but I'm supposing not. I also tend to doubt that they would ever think that their child athlete would be molested while they were in the same room as their family members, but we've seen in the Larry Nassar case that that is not out of the realm of possibility. To those amazing girls, you are survivors. I'm not as worried about you as I am for your parents, who will hold themselves to a standard of guilt that you are free from. To have a supposedly trusted doctor affect so many children in such a despicable manner just takes my words away. My condolences for what you've gone through, which I can't imagine, and my awe and amazement that you continued on to become stars in your sport and for the rest of us on behalf of the USA. Incredible. 

Through an email, I found this link which made me furious. The previous evening I had attended a PTO meeting in which some of the primary teachers were talking about mini grants and if the roughly $730 left in the literacy line of the budget could be used for them to buy books for their classroom through a separate book supplier than the one which was used previously. I heard numbers like $350 to $750 thrown around in that video clip and thought, "how are some males spending that much in one meeting when there are teachers who could put that money to use immediately and for years to come?" And then I thought about churches. And shelters for humans or for animals. What must $350 look like to them? How many dogs can you feed with that and for how long? How many books could a library purchase? How many school lunches could you buy? How many meals for the homeless could you serve? What about with the $750? And 
that money was spent on one... here words fail me. Encounter? Those women spoke of repeat customers. Imagine having that money to spend, repeatedly. You could start a scholarship for a kid at a school. You could send kids to camp who couldn't otherwise afford to go. You could pay a single parent's car payment for a month or two. There's truly no end to the possibilities of what one could do with the money that one is instead spending on oneself while contributing to the enslavement/humiliation/repression of another human being.

"But some women spend that much on handbags. Or makeup. Or shoes."

Okay, that's valid and yes, there are very likely underpaid women and children and maybe men who are working in conditions we would call inhumane and backward and unfair and whatever else. True. I agree. We should all be more conscious of where and how our belongings are made, yes. Made for Freedom is one such corporation dedicated to fairness and freedom which I would urge you to look into. I own a pair of their most excellent charcoal pants which I would recommend every day of the week. 

I guess the difference is, even though all sin is equal in God's sight (1 John 5:17 All wrongdoing is sin...), being awful to a woman who is right in front of you versus one who is in a factory or sweatshop or in some other conditions which we don't ever see... here's where I get stuck, so bear with me. You may not be able to fix the part about the sewing woman, because she is so far away, other than with your purchasing power. However, the act which you're purchasing in the here and now, with against a woman who perhaps has tried to run away, is an immediate act which you are in charge of and can see immediate results. Obviously I'm still working through all of this in my head, hence the title of this post. 

I have a beautiful teenage daughter. She also happens to be a certified Black Belt in karate, not only for the self defense aspect of the martial art, but for the additional benefits of regular exercise, pursuit of knowledge through training and everyday school studies, self discipline, respect, and others. Last year I read this post on a friend's wall on Facebook. Karate is just one tool in her tool belt, and we have a long way to go in filling the other slots with tools like situation awareness, using the buddy system, determinedly avoiding alcohol and other drugs especially before being allowed to legally, and so on. 

I keep thinking about how God rested after he finished creating. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." My study note for that verse reads, "God made both man and woman in his image. Neither one is made more in the image of God than the other. From the beginning the Bible places both man and woman at the pinnacle of God's creation. Neither gender is exalted over the other nor depreciated." 

To me that says that the genders are complementary, not in competition with each other. To poke fun at "Jerry McGuire", we complete each other. So why do people throw the word "feminist" around as though it's an insult? The dictionary on my phone tells me that "feminism is a belief in or advocacy of women's social, political, and economic rights, especially with regard to equality of the sexes." I found this video particularly fascinating. How can we better teach that every child, every little girl and boy and homeless person and veteran and grandparent and waitress and server that they matter? How are we to internalize that essential belief that others are every bit as important as ourselves so the degree that there would never be another massive shooting or gang rape or bullying trend? 

"We don't have a gun problem." You're only partially right. We have a sin problem. We have a we-can't-fix-this-ourselves problem. We are not and will not be perfect regardless of that law is or is not finally passed. 

I haven't said much lately because I'm too angry to be coherent. I didn't want my yelling to be added to the mass media noise. As "Game of Thrones" fans know, "words are wind."

So I'll close with this. Be kind. Hold a door open for someone else. Pick up what someone dropped. Pay for the coffee for the person behind you. Pick up the tab for some elderly couple's dinner out. Bring your neighbor's trash can back from the curb when you fetch yours. Mail a care package. Kiss your spouse when they make it home. Thank a vet. Talk to strangers. Wink at small children. Hug your kid.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

"I swear I ain't droppin' no eaves..."

The problem with shared technology is that one can't always tell exactly who is having the conversation with whom. This text exchange began with me (blue) texting Dada (gray). See if you can figure out where Carrie took over the conversation.

I can only imagine the Shenanigans once she finally gets her own phone...

The Bosley Chronicles, episode 2

Such a sweet, innocent face, right? Two of the most endearing traits this dog possesses are the brown, dotty eyebrows I find completely irresistible and the "who me" face.  I mean, how could something this hilariously adorable possibly cause Shenanigans (yes, indeed, with a capital S)?

I'll tell you.

We knew he was big into shoelaces, having chewed almost through a pair of Damon's, a house guest's, and the ends of some others. We knew he likes paper as he regularly steals from the box of to-be-used-as-firestarting-material. We have caught him redhanded with slippers in his mouth. He has a special fondness for socks, some of which has been encouraged by us as we've tied together mismatched socks as a tug-of-war toy. 

Until recently, it's just possessions which have been left on the floor that we've had to safeguard. In some respects, that's just fine as it teaches the kids to pick up after themselves and not leave their lives strewn everywhere if they don't want their sparring bags and equipment gnawed to pieces. 

However, he's now tall enough to peruse the holdings upon the coffee table. This includes tax bills. And, alas, library books:

Sweet Dada found another copy on Amazon and I did the walk of shame to the library, performed my lament, replaced the book and brought the gnawed one home. Dada looked it over and said, "they didn't mark anywhere on here that it's no longer theirs?" My first thought: we hold these truths to be self-evident...

I had already done another walk of shame into the tax office where I endured a much warmer reception that I'd gotten from the librarian. In fact, there were delighted giggles when I sadly informed the ladies, "I'm 42 years old and, for the first time, can honestly claim 'my dog ate it'..." There was general merriment, inquiries as to what kind of puppy ("some dumb shepherd/hound mix"), and a story about their boss's son's Great Dane who devoured said boss's shoes and then refused to allow the delivery person access to drop off the replacements she'd bought. 

Plus, he's a grade-A Photobomber: 

Still, he is pretty cute, and he is not quite 8 months old yet, so I guess I should give him some slack. And find his Kong.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

One hot mess, all the live-long day

We've been having some rough mornings around here this week. Monday turned into an icky weather day which cancelled school, just like last Friday, so it's been extra hard to focus on a back-to-school routine. The only day they went last week was Thursday, their first day back. We got a solid Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday rhythm going but are facing a preemptive delay already for tomorrow morning. Given that they have Monday off for Martin Luther King Day, there is a very real possibility that we're staring down another four-day weekend. 

Send rum. And Samoas. Lots and lots of both.

This morning we went our usual rounds of "yes, you're going to school, so go XYZ123, etc" with the typical threats of violence and more than usual antagonism. Part of it I'll chalk up to hormones. The rest is just... I don't even know. 

At any rate, the big kids made it onto the bus without being maimed- always a plus. 

I come back in and am in the middle of round two of "yes, you're going to school, so go XYZ123, etc" again when Bosley starts that hurking sound that dog owners know immediately of which no good will come. Damon, transfixed and horrified until he realizes what's going to happen, just stands there... and then he bolts for cover. I'm hollering, "Bosley, Bosley, come, come, COME!" and he finally scurries over to me. Right after hurling on the carpet. Two inches from the linoleum. And it's not even Monday.

Mess number one cleaned up, dog deposited outside, Damon onto the bus. Whew.

Just usual messes for the next few hours: dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dog hair, dog hair, dog hair. I thought Triskal's fuzz balls were bad, but I really don't understand how a dog a fraction of her size can fill an entire lint trap with dog hair just from the kids' clothes. Boggles the mind.

The kids get home in shifts and I send Liam to the shower, forgetting for a few that we need to bring in more wood before the imminent weather. Oh well. Damon makes it home, we suit up in our raincoats (as it's 50+ degrees and muddy, in fact it's 54 right now at 9:30 PM) and, the directions were, "wear your rain/mud boots, because it's muddy out. No, don't wear your snow boots. It's muddy."

Liam apparently has no rain/mud boots which fit, so he's in his snow boots bringing in wood. And mud. Carrie chose to wear her new snow boots, which she loves, as she's bringing in wood. And mud. Damon and I wear our rain boots, after surviving the drama of the hunt this morning to find a pair that fit him before school. 

Now, bringing in wood is always a misadventure. I've tried varying the system, with varying degrees of success. The only method that seems to be efficient is if one parent loads up each kid outside while the other parent stacks the wood brought inside.

Well, Dada was at work, and since there's only me, this time I picked the outside job. It was springy and fresh and muddy and I'm just as susceptible (thank you, spell check, goodness) to cabin fever as the next mom (thanks for getting it together, Mother Nature {see previous post}). So I'm loading kids up with proportionate loads of wood and trusting their good judgment, spatial estimates, oh heck, I'm trusting them to let me know when we've gotten enough to fill two rows inside.   

Assuming we have enough, I release them to go play, more fool me. I sweep up the dead oak leaves and mud and end up at the indoor wood stacks which look like this:

Jiminy Christmas.

We could have gotten lots more in here, but it's too late now as the kids have scattered to the four corners. Damon, predictably, has attached himself to the couch and is playing on the Wii. Carrie is outside, somewhere, and no matter how much I call, I can't find Liam. 

I hear a knock at the back door, which is unlocked and the glass door is still, in fact, propped wide open from bringing in wood, because the top metal piece is stuck and though Carrie and I have both attempted to move it, it ain't budgin'. I see Carrie and Liam, who is strategically hidden behind his sister. 

"Um, okay, don't freak out. Don't be mad. We fell in a mud puddle. Well, Liam did, and his boots got stuck, and I tried to pull him out and it pulled me in and we're sorry." Liam surveys the scene, the penny drops, and he tips his head back to wail, "and I JUST took a SHOWER!"

They then burst into chuckles.

At which point I did what any mom would do. I didn't yell. I didn't scream. I didn't lecture. I did briefly consider attaching the hose to the house and just letting them have it, but I refrained.     

I closed the door. And locked it.

After more giggles and a shake of my head, I told them they were taking everything off out there and getting showers. They attempt to gather up their stuff and condense the mess while I get towels ready for them inside. The big kids are flummoxed as to how to get all the mud off their snow boots. This is where I point out that we're supposed to get snow again tomorrow, and their boots are sitting in the garage, encrusted in mess and no doubt soaking wet. Has this occurred to them? Survey says, "doubtful."

Dada arrives home and does a dead stop when he sees the collection of muddy pants and raincoats and towels...

He's quickly brought up to speed, the kids eventually make it out of the showers and come to dinner. Damon is finished before everyone else and is maybe mid-dessert course or maybe even finished (I was in the kitchen and by the grace of God missed all this), when somehow he knocked over Liam's cup of milk which, from the sound of it, cascades all over Liam's math homework packet and then more of the table. I took up my post of handing out towels and refrained from surveying the damage- Dada was home and it was his turn.

Damon ended up in the bathtub, which had more dog hairs in it than mud after Carrie's shower, surprisingly. Or maybe not so surprisingly as she is his clear favorite because she encourages all his bad habits...

Now we have three squeaky clean kids, one muddy dog, and I have to go assess the load that is done in the washer. I quit. Next time, Deloris can have her turn.