December 27, 2011

It's a good thing Catholics drink

Today was my grandma's funeral.  And I don't know how I feel about it.  I've spent the last week or so telling people, "I'm okay.  I know my grandma's in Heaven with my grandpa, which is where she wants to be."  And I do know that.  But that's not all I feel.

The early part of the grieving process is weird because shock plays a major role.  It cushions us from reality.  It creates a barrier that protects the grieving from facing things before we're ready. 

Shock is the grieving equivalent of diaper rash cream for sore baby butts.  The pain potential is still there, but thank God for the buffer. 

During the early stages of grieving, some feelings are like slaps in the face, while others are like wading through dense fog.  What happens in real time doesn't feel quite real.  And the memory of it slips away bit by bit like a fading dream upon awakening. 

Today doesn't feel real. 

Now, you might be thinking I need to up my bipolar meds.  And maybe you're right.  And I'm sure it won't help my case when I tell you that after the memorial service, we took my grandma's ashes in an urn to Golden Corral for lunch.  She was right there at the table with us.  She loved Golden Corral, and you know we have a history there, so it made perfect sense.

We had a deacon perform the funeral rite because our priest was out of town.  Another might-I-be-in-a-sitcom? moment was when I blurted out, "I don't believe my grandma's in purgatory and I don't think most of us even believe in purgatory anyway!" as soon as the deacon left the chapel.  He'd actually mentioned the possibility that my grandma might be in purgatory.  At. her. funeral!!!!  I couldn't believe it.  My grandpa was Catholic too, and there was nary a purgatory-related utterance at his funeral.  So it's not like purgatory references are standard Catholic funeral fare.  I don't know that I could have held that in for the entire funeral, so it was probably a good thing that the deacon left after his part of the service. 

After the service, I complained about the purgatory talk to my cousin and uncle.  I mentioned that when I saw the deacon at church on Christmas Eve, he asked me how I was doing with the loss.  I replied with my usual, "I know she's in Heaven with my grandpa..." comment.  And he hesitated for what was probably 3 seconds, but felt like a minute, and said, "Well, just continue to pray for her."  And I knew that purgatory was what he meant! 

In response to my complaining, my Uncle Craig dead-panned, "It sounds like the deacon must've known your grandma."

In case you are confused at this point, I'm Catholic.  But I struggle with some Catholic Tradition. (Like arbitrary capitalization, for example.)  Belief in purgatory is another Tradition that I'm just not down with.  And here's why:  Jesus already died for the forgiveness of our sins.  So why would we need purgatory?  (If you're a devout Catholic, it may seem ridiculous to you that I was offended that a Catholic clergyman mentioned purgatory at a Catholic funeral.  But see, my offense knows no denomination.  Catholic or not, I think it's annoying for purgatory to be mentioned at someone's funeral!  That's like saying, "She's in a better place.  Well, maybe.")

So that got me riled up.  I leaned over with a WTH? look to my cousin, Missy.  She had the same expression on her face.  Which made us both crack up, of course.  Which was totally irreverent and therefore, totally appropriate for a family gathering of my clan.

And then there was the music mix-up.  In planning the funeral, I'd requested Amy Grant's version of Amazing Grace.  When I showed up for the service, I was informed that the service coordinator couldn't find the song, so it would be Celtic Women's version instead.  No big deal, I thought.  And it started off fine.  Peaceful, like you'd expect Amazing Grace to be.  But come verse two, it got all, well, CELTIC up in there!  Not quite Riverdance, but still. 

And then Ave Maria was supposed to play as the good deacon finished up his part of the memorial service.  But it didn't.  I don't know what the service coordinator was doing back there, but she sure wasn't pressing Play.  So I encouraged the deacon to just keep going.  I thought we'd just skip the song, but apparently both the deacon and the coordinator had other ideas.  He asked for the song a second time and this time the music started.  But it wasn't Ave Maria.  No, it was an encore of Celtic Women's rendition of Amazing Grace!  And then it stopped.  And then it started.  And then it stopped.  And then it started.  It was like some crazed Irishman was trying his hand at skipping records!

This went on for a few minutes.  So I got up and went to the back of the chapel and said to the coordinator, "How about we just move on?"  The moment had passed, you know?  But she was determined, so she played it anyway.  As I sat through the 4 or 5 minute song, it was hard to keep a straight face.

I was a little afraid of myself at this point.  I'd planned the service well.  But the main players were not cooperating!  I wanted it to go PERFECTLY!  I wanted to finally be able to relax and just be present.  Not coordinating things.  Not fixing things.  Not worrying about the details.  Just being present.  And I felt myself fraying.  Going just a wee bit crazy.  Hence my "DOWN WITH PURGATORY!" protest.

Fortunately, things went more smoothly when they got more personal.  After the deacon left, I read my eulogy.  Laughed a little.  Cried a little.  Then I opened the floor for other people to share their Meemaw stories.  My uncle talked about how my grandma helped him walk again after the doctors threw up their hands at his polio.  My cousins talked about how they were scared of Meemaw while they were growing up.  That she threatened to swat them when they were kids!  And I was like, "What?!"  She wasn't that way with me at all.  At least, not until the past few years!  LOL! 

Also fortunately (for HER!), the memorial service coordinator got the third and final song right.  It was Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler.

Even with the glitches, I think we really celebrated Meemaw's feisty spirit.  There was reverence and tears.  But there was also laughter and joy. 

I don't think she would have had it any other way.


December 19, 2011

Rest in peace, Meemaw

My grandma went to Heaven early this morning.  She was ready to go.  And her passing was a peaceful one.  That gives me great peace.

Our awesome priest came to see Meemaw in between services Sunday morning. He prayed over her and performed the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  I am grateful for that.

I am happy that she is reunited with her husband (my Poppy), her mom and dad, and her brothers.  As well as with my brother, Collin.   And I love that she's meeting Jesus.  I hope they're all having a wonderful party!

And I am so thankful to have had my grandma for all 29 years, okay, 37 years of my life.  I know that many people don't have their grandparents that long.  Both of my grandparents passed away at the age of 87, far outliving the average life expectancy.  Another reason to say, "Thank You, God."

And thanks to all of you who have been praying for us.

Rest in peace, Meemaw.  We'll miss your sass and your pie crusts.  Thank you for calling me sweetheart.  I love you.

Dorothy Evelyn Eckmann Lambert
October 18, 1924-December 19, 2011

She did it her way.

December 18, 2011

Meet Tank

He's 80-odd pounds of drool love.  And he's spending the next couple of weeks with us to see if he's a good fit for our family.  He loves people and wants to get to know our lab mix Raven, but she's all I will CUT you.  We're hoping that's a temporary thing.

Nature Boy is super excited.  Tree Guy cracks up at Tank's snorting.  (He's not so crazy about the drool trails though...)  And I like Tank's wiggly butt and stub of a tail.

We're counting on Tank to bring some joy and laughter during this sad time.  My mom, GC Brawler, wants to meet Tank, so I'm taking him to her crib in a bit.  I'll kiss my grandma while I'm there too.  Hospice says it won't be long.  We decided to have an early Christmas this year.  We celebrated at my mom's last night.  Meemaw was able to open her eyes long enough to see me and Nature Boy looking like crazy folk in our Santa hats.  I hope it made her smile on the inside.

Please say a prayer for my grandma.  And for us.

December 16, 2011


I've got sad news to report.  My grandma is actively dying now.  Her hospice nurse told my mom that it will likely happen before Christmas.  As I'm sure you remember, Meemaw is naturally a feisty lady, quick to threaten to shoot you in the foot if you get on her nerves.  This geriatric badassness was still present a week ago.  She was getting physically weaker, but still had that essential sass that Meemaw is known for.

Not anymore.

She can barely talk or open her eyes now.  She has trouble eating and drinking.  A few days ago I told her I love her and she was able to say, "I love you too."  At that time, I knew that it was likely the last time I would hear her say it.  But I will always feel it.

When her husband, my Poppy, was dying in 2008, his hospice nurse told me that hearing is the last sense to go in a dying person.  Even when a person is in a coma-like state, he or she can still hear us.  I know that Meemaw knows I love her and am grateful for all that she's done for me.  But I'm going to continue to tell her every time I visit her.  I'm going to continue to share funny stories with her, so that even if she can't laugh, she'll be cracking up on the inside.  I'm going to talk to her about her husband.  Her husband who is waiting for her in Heaven.  The husband that she can't wait to be reunited with.

She's been saying, "I'm ready to go whenever the good Lord takes me," for the past few years.  I know she is ready.  And that does make it easier to accept that it's happening.  But it's still a shock.  It's still painful. 

I can't imagine a world without Meemaw in it.

December 13, 2011

Guest post: Eight Ounces

Here is part three of the Brie trilogy.  Thanks to the lovably sardonic Wendy for submitting these.

Eight Ounces

In my background as a mental health nurse I’ve learned many different theoretical models for treatment. Freudian therapy, behavior modification, solutions-based treatment, to name a few. I’m currently formulating alternative plans for a problem a certain family member has been experiencing since she moved in with us. Her name is Brie and she’s a dog.

The recent incident of her digging up, killing, and bringing a gopher inside the house and placing it in a not-so-obvious spot has put these alternative plans more in front of my mind. Have you heard about the gopher? It’s not so much that she lovingly killed the rodent and brought it to the one she loves the most as an offering of her devotion. I can appreciate that. It’s just that she placed her offering under my desk and behind a mesh bin where I store homeschooling supplies. I’m not really sure of when she did this, but gradually the odor of her offering caught my notice. It must have been at least 4 or more days before I fully investigated the smell, and discovered it was the smell of rodent death. I was not happy, and even today I have to make the choice to forgive her rather than hold anger against her. I remind myself that holding something against a person, or a dog, only hurts myself. Forgiveness is vital to move forward. Deep breath.

Moving on, it was my mother that brought up this alternative treatment in regards to Brie. My mother. You have to know her. She adores, not just simply loves, she adores dogs. She treats her own dog better than she treated me as a child. I’m not angry, just saying. This dog simply looks at her and my mom interprets him as saying, “I love you so much but my tummy is empty. Could I please have a little snackie?” And my mom feeds the dog. She lets him lick out dishes of ice cream. She allows him to have no boundaries so he jumps into people’s chairs or laps and puts his paws right up on their chests. He jumps up to greet anyone that comes to the front door. No boundaries. Life is all about him.

So my mom reads an article, cuts it out, and brings it to me. Frankly, I’m shocked. I thought she loved Brie but obviously she doesn’t. Here is the solution she shared with me, and that I’m considering should Brie not conform to the rules of my household:

Baked Brie en Croute With Pears

Ingredients –

2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
½ cup water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 8-ounce Brie
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
3 cups baby greens

The recipe is pretty complex but you place the baby greens on a serving plate and place baked Brie on top. Serve warm.

I’m still trying to figure out what 8 ounce part of Brie to use…..

December 12, 2011

Of skinny tees, iridology, and e-collars

My grandma wasn't lying when she said, "It's hell to get old."  Not that I've experienced it myself yet.  But I've watched it, first in nursing homes when I was a gerontology student in college.  Then as my beloved grandparents aged, both of them eventually developing heart disease and lung cancer.  We lost my grandpa to cancer in 2008.  My grandma is now bedridden with it.  Please say a prayer for her.

I haven't written much about Meemaw lately because my mom is now her caregiver.  She's the one who's there for the day to day stuff.  And we've been busier than usual.  Since October, our days have been wrapped up in the slave market known as community theater.  For several weeks, Nature Boy had play practice four times a week, followed by a week of daily practice, followed by a total of SEVEN shows.  We're theatered out.

Also during this time, our 10 year old lab mix, Raven (who was sick this summer with a mystery liver ailment) got sick again.  She developed a giant hot spot, a fever, and joint pain.  Like last summer, the tests revealed exactly nothing.  This is her second hot spot in 3 months--after a lifetime of being hot spot-free.

Hot spots are no joke, people.  But they do necessitate interesting apparel.

$1500 in veterinary bills later, we still didn't know why our always-healthy dog was suddenly getting sick.  Conventional medicine wasn't giving us answers.  So we went to a Native American healer.


Phyllis sees both pets and people--for free--on a first come, first served basis.  She practices iridology, an alternative medicine technique.  Her family has been doing it for generations.  We entered the herb store and took our place among the other freeloaders.  We waited about an hour before it was our turn.  Phyllis looked into Raven's eyes and asked me if we'd sprayed our yard with chemicals over the summer, as she suspected Raven had been chemically poisoned, thereby inflaming her liver.  We had.  But Tree Guy assured me he'd used a safe spray.  Our next door neighbor, however, had used all kinds of crap--toxic stuff.

She told me the hot spots were due to a wheat allergy.  And that Raven's immune system was weakened after being sick all summer, so when her skin got itchy and she created infected sores by licking, the infection became systemic.  That was the cause of her fever and joint pain.

And really, it makes perfect sense.   

Phyllis "prescribed" a multi-vitamin and a probiotic, along with a few other herbs.  She recommended a switch in dog food as well.

She also "read" Nature Boy and me.  She asked about my right lung.  (I had a biopsy in my right lung in 2006 because of Bird Fancier's Lung, and I still have some fibrosis there.)  She was concerned about my blood sugar and mentioned digestion issues.  (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Crohn's disease.)  She noted Nature Boy's allergies and told him to avoid wheat, corn, sugar, and cow's milk.  We knew about the cow's milk.  He pretended not the hear the part about sugar.

Nature Boy and I were given a list of supplements to take and foods to eat for better health.  (Good cabbage recipes, anyone?)

And to think, before our dog got sick, the closest we'd gotten to alternative medicine was the chiropractor.

December 10, 2011

A little unsolicited advice

The thing about having a blog is that you gotta rein yourself in sometimes.  You know, budget your creativity wisely.  A little funny here.  A little self-deprecation there.  A little rant over yonder.  If you blow it all in one place at the same time, you're gonna run out of crap to say.  And people will be disappointed that you can't keep it up.

It's like wearing makeup.  If you (like me) rarely wear makeup, people get used to looking at your natural (dark-circled, ruddy) face.  When you deign to put on a little shellac, people think you look like a supermodel.  Whereas if you always wear makeup, people get used to the spiffy you.  So when you don't have time for The Face one morning, or you just want to give your skin some breathing room, people assume you're sick or that your husband left you. 

It's all about lowering people's expectations, see.  And I, for one, think it's a good game plan for life.

My theory is that when you lower other people's expectations, any little thing you do is magnified to greatness.  Are you a terrible housekeeper?  Make the bed.  Your husband will be amazed!  Can't cook?  Throw a bunch of stuff in the Crockpot.  Your children will be in awe!  Never fix your hair?  Invest in a newsboy cap.  You'll look stylish without even trying. 

Don't show your game face all the time.  That way you can surprise people. 

And sometimes, you might even surprise yourself.

P.S.  I'm working on a cold sore now, just so people will think my lips look AWESOME at Christmas in comparison.

December 07, 2011

Those street sweepers move fast, y'all

There's an event in my life that I don't think I'll ever live down.  It follows me hither and yon like an illicit fart that you walk away from in the hopes that someone else will get blamed.  (Or maybe that's just me.)

I forget about it from time to time.  It's nice, really.  And then some smart ass relative or friend brings it up and everyone has a jolly HARHARHAR at my expense.  I mean, I can take it.  It is kind of funny.  It's one of those things that makes me unique.  Special.  You know, if I was at a conference and we were playing an ice breaker game, I could totally check off the box that says, "Have rear ended a street sweeper."

It was April 2006 and Nature Boy and I were headed somewhere in our new-to-us car.  He was in his big-kid booster seat (yep, I'm one of those moms) in the middle of the backseat.  I was driving.  I've mentioned before that I have OCD, right?  Well, sometimes it can be a bit of a road hazard.

We'd just left our subdivision when I had the obsessive thought, Are my eyebrows even?  Perfectly normal thought to have whilst driving (or any old time, really).  I glanced in the mirror conveniently located in my sun visor (for exactly this purpose, I'm sure).  The evenness of one's eyebrows are of the utmost importance, of course.  A girl can't walk around with eyebrows all akimbo. 

It seemed like it was just a second, but in that second, a giant grey street sweeper jumped out in front of my car.  One second the road was clear, and all of a sudden a giant metal tank appeared.  And it was coming up fast.

I mentioned earlier that this car was a new one.  I didn't know it had anti-lock brakes.  My old car didn't have anti-lock brakes.  I didn't even know how anti-lock brakes work!  And to be frank, I like to be in control of my own braking thankyouverymuch.  Anti-lock brakes think they're the boss of me, and I don't take kindly to that nonsense.

Anyhoo, I slammed on the (pitiful excuse for) brakes, but the car just started lurching forward.  I was slowing down a little bit, but was in no way stopping.  The street sweeper was getting much closer.  I realized that since my brakes were obviously bad, I probably wouldn't be able to stop in time.  So I weighed my options:

1.  drive over the curb into the grass, most likely damaging the front end of my new car  
2.  swerve into the middle turn lane without looking first
3.  take my chances and keep wrestling with the control freak brakes

I chose option 3.  We weren't going fast anyway, since we'd just pulled out of the neighborhood.  I figured either we'd stop just in time or we'd barely tap the street sweeper.  I figured at the most we'd have a small dent in the bumper.  I also figured fixing a dented bumper would be cheaper than repairing the front end.  The drive shaft or fly wheel or whatever it is that gets damaged when one curb-checks like a mofo.

In short, I figured wrong.

Nature Boy and I kept lurching forward.  I clenched my butt cheeks.  And we ran into the street sweeper.  It wasn't a major crash.  No big deal, I thought.  And then I got out of the car to look for damage.

A little bitty dinky air kiss with a street sweeper totally screwed up my car's bumper!  There was absolutely no damage to the street sweeper, of course.  To add insult to injury, the street sweeper-keepers called the police!  They claimed they were required to do it because street sweepers are government vehicles.  Yeah, whatever.  I mean, why couldn't they just shake their heads at my stupidity and then drive away like the couple I'd rear ended a few years before?  (I was making sure my eyelashes were even that time.  Totally different situation.)     

In addition to a messed up bumper, I got a ticket for reckless driving.  And we had to fix our own car, of course. 

Which makes this the most expensive eyebrow job I've ever had.

December 05, 2011

The winning contest entry! (Finally...)

Below is the winning entry for the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest. Enjoy!

The Offering

Brie is Stefan's dog, but she loves me the most.  Why?  Because I give her daily massages and tell her what a cute dog she is, and she really is! I basically treat her with dignity and respect, as much as a dog deserves, considering she licks her butt then wants to kiss your face.  I even feel compelled to feed her when Stefan forgets.  It's the eyes.  I'm putty when her eyes give me the "I'm starving" stare. 

Stefan is the human that Brie can play with, especially when it means getting out of homeschooling (for Stefan, not Brie), and who roughhouses with her when she is in the mood.  He's the one that steals her toys and then tempts her to play tug of war with him.  Brie has to sleep in a kennel in his room...and she does, reluctantly.  If he forgets to latch the door to the kennel, like clockwork, Brie's on MY bed downstairs at 4:30am, snuggling.  And I let her.  It's the eyes.

Then there is the Great Leader.  He's that guy that Brie adores from a distant, yet creeps to be near him, only wanting his approval and even that rare pat on the head. If The Great Leader says something like, "You're a stupid, smelly dog, Brie,” she beams with joy as the Great Leader has spoken magic words over her.  I watch this display with disgust.  He hates you, Brie.  Why are you always trying to suck up to him?  Don't you know he loves cats?  Get a clue.

So one day I’m sitting down at my desk and smell that "smell" again.  It’s been in the air for a few days. It's like something's sour, something's awful, something's....dead.  No way.  I looked to see if Brie was under the desk, thinking she was having gas issues (we don't talk about it in front of her - she's sensitive about it, you understand).  She loves to sit at my feet, probably because she worships me.  I punt her in the head every time I re-cross my legs, yet she still stays. 

Back to the smell. Brie's not under the desk so it can't be a fart, excuse the language.  On a whim I pull out the canvas crate I have in front of the drawer to get a better look under the desk.  I first think I'm seeing a RAT!  It's lying on its side as if it's resting, but the smell gives away its secret.  It's a dead animal, a gopher.  And it's not just dead.  It's really dead.  There is a difference, you know.  It's based on a smell meter, and by the smell of this rodent, it's been dead a while, thus I can categorize it as "really dead."

Oh man… Stefan comes up and doesn't want to have anything to do with this potential science project, as I'm getting a plastic sack to "bag" the critter and consider the possibility of dissection.  I'm a nurse, you might not know that, and despite being a mental health nurse and not the blood and guts nurse like my mom, I do have a particular bent toward dissecting things.  I blame it on my mom.  We've dissected a few snakes in our day.  Killed 'em for scientific a purpose, at least that’s what we've told the snakes as they were getting their heads chopped off. 

So I pick up this gopher, obviously brought in by the dog as my husband and son are not the types to even pick one up, let alone bring it into the house. Frankly, at this point, the smell (believe me, I’ve smelled about everything) is strong. I feel a slight bubble of emesis (AKA vomit) in my throat, and I am not one to vomit at anything. I decide this specimen is a bit too dead to even get my mom interested in doing a science experiment with me. It goes in the trash bin in the garage, and a full forensic clean-up of the carpet and air ensues. Bring in the special air machine.

Then it hits me – where is the proof?! I just got rid of the evidence too quickly without taking a picture! Drats. I’ll do it later. I’m still smelling “the smell.” So Scott comes home, realizes the garage stinks horribly like something dead is in the trash, and puts it outside on the curb even through it’s 2 days early for trash pickup and the neighborhood Nazi’s (AKA neighborhood association) will surely contact us to tell us we can’t do that.

So I don’t get the picture of the critter. And the dog (I don’t even give her the respect of calling her by her name) knows that everyone in the household is mad at her. She comes up to me with the eyes….I only turn away and tell her I’m still mad at her. I can’t believe she did this to me. She had to know that I’d wind up being the one to clean up the rodent death smell as the others are too weak in their stomachs. I’m feeling betrayed.

The Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” At bedtime I decided it was the Christian thing to do to forgive her. I called her on my bed. (Did I tell you that after the cleanup of the death camp under my desk, she got a full scrub-down bath and no nice talk during it?) I told her I was choosing to forgive her, as He has reminded me that He created dogs to do dog things, and not to do people things. She was designed to dig - that’s really what Scottish Terriers were bred to do – dig out rodents, I found out AFTER we had adopted her. And she was designed to bring those trophies so proudly captured and killed to the one she loves most. Me. Yep. Her prize of this gopher carcass to me was only a sign of her immense respect for the one who cares for her the most. It was her offering to me. I didn’t want it. She knows that now. We’ve had a long talk (I did most of the talking) about what are appropriate behaviors of affection and what are inappropriate. Her motivation was right; her expression was wrong. She now knows that all gopher offerings are to be dropped outside the back door.

Her eyes told me she understood.

November 30, 2011

Guest post: Neuroses - Mine or Hers?

Here's the first installment from the winner of the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest.  Enjoy!

Neuroses – Mine or Hers?

Let me introduce our new family member! Brie is adopted and has been with our family since the summer. Personally, I think she has the most beautiful brown eyes and lovely black hair. She doesn’t look anything like us. Brie is still such a little girl and turns 4 years old in January. She’s integrated into our family fairly well, considering she was adopted at this age, but she still isn’t close to my husband. It’s like she wants to please him yet he isn’t too fond of her. He’s made it very clear that they will never have a close relationship. He’s a cat person. Brie (did I mention this to you?) is a dog. A beautiful Scottish Terrier.

From the beginning, we noticed that Brie had some mildly neurotic behavior. Not psychotic, mind you. She’s fully in touch with reality. But some of her behavior is slightly out of the norm. Her previous family adopted her when she was just 1 ½ years old and she had been abused prior to that. If we stretched out our hand to pet her, she ducked her head as if she’d been hit. Holding or rubbing her feet caused her to want to get away at times. She barked at thunder and lightning, running around the back yard looking at the sky, as if it was the enemy. One would think in this situation that she was a Rottweiler in disguise as a terrier. She’s ready to rumble.

I would have hoped she would be a great guard dog, learning that Scottish Terriers are quite possessive of their family. Brie, not so much. She sits happily in her chair looking out the front window to the street, calmly watching people walk by our house without a sound from her. But if there is a cat at the END of the street in someone else’s driveway, she goes on Full Alert. Whining, barking, running over to us to inform us of this critical situation and that she needs out to take care of it. NO cat or animal creature is allowed anywhere on the street or in their own yard. That’s her job. People, burglars, hooligans – that’s all fine. Not her job.

Another noticeable neurosis is her speed, or mode of operation. Brie has three modes. One is her usual calm, slow, observing speed. She doesn’t get excited easily. (Except if it’s another animal.) Her next speed doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s like someone has tied a firecracker to her tail and she’s madly running away from it. I call it her “dog on crack” speed. Suddenly it occurs with no known cause. She runs in the living room, tail tucked under, gaining speed on the carpet, into the entry way, sliding on the hardwood floors, just barely missing buying the farm into the wall, again getting traction on the carpet in the homeschool room, only to turn around and repeat. It’s crazy. She runs madly around, sliding, getting her speed up, grunting at times, low to the ground. It lasts maybe 2 minutes at the most when she suddenly stops in the living room and sits down. Done. No explanation obviously needed. None given.

Her last mode is called “Stealth.” It occurs when she is in the back yard, usually sniffing around for where the latest gopher is digging underground in her territory. We crack open the back door and yell at her to come inside. She jerks her head up and looks at us, obviously hearing us. She stands. She goes into her stealth mode, thinking “If I stand really still, I’ll blend into the scenery and they won’t see me. Eventually they will leave.” We yell again. She stands. We yell again, not happy at all now at this stupid dog. She’s not moving a muscle or even blinking. I don’t even think she’s breathing. This behavior is not acceptable for a dog. Commands are NOT optional. Who does she think she is?! It causes us to go back inside the house, track down a pair of shoes, sometimes grab an umbrella as it’s raining outside, and then literally stomp out in to the yard. By this time, OUR “anger mode” is happening. We have to get within a yard to confirm to her that she is NOT invisible, and shoo her into the house, where she runs inside like she’s in her “crack mode.” No beating has occurred, mind you. It’s often thought about, frankly. Stupid dog.

The way I think about life is that we ALL need therapy at one time or another. I specialized in mental health nursing as my master’s degree and have worked with individuals, couples and families. I’m not practicing now, but am fully using my mental health skills on my family, in homeschooling, and now on this dog. We’ve tried the “clicker” method of dog training. We’ve tried the positive reinforcement with petting and treats. Lots of treats. We’ve tried kenneling her when she’s behaved negatively in situations. Nothing is really proving that it works. Brie’s neuroses are still there. All the techniques in my arsenal have been tried, so I’m beginning to think the problem isn’t Brie. Am I feeding in to her neuroses with my own neuroses? Hmmm. 

Anyone know of a cheap shrink that works with people and their dogs?

November 28, 2011

Announcing the results of the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, y'all!  We visited Tree Guy's parents and that zany bald guy, Uncle Jake.  It was good times.

I enjoyed reading your entries whilst inhaling delicately nibbling three slices a single tiny sliver of pie.  Thank you so much for participating.  My panel of "experts" and I have decided on a winner.  Or three. 

So without further ado, I give you the grand prize winner The soon-to-be-recipient of a crazy wig and a draweringThe empress of Everyday Hilarity!  And the award goes to............................

She who wrote "The Offering"!  Congratulations!

Alas, this writer doesn't have a blog, howev, she provided me with two more essays (a before and an after) to go along with her winning entry.  My next post will be her prequel to "The Offering."  Stay tuned for the winning entry later this week. 

But why stop there?  Howse about we top Charlie Sheen and be tri-winners?!  We've decided on two second place entries. 

The shared second place winners wrote such gems as "It Will Grow Back...Won't It?" and "A Glimpse of Motherhood."  Click on the titles to check out their blogs.

Both writers win goofy wigs perfect for embarrassing spouses and children!  I will feature the second place entries here on my blog next week.

So, trio o' wordsmiths, send me an email with your mailing address and I will get your prizes to you ASAP.

BONUS!  Grab a button and announce your award wherever you'd like!  (Three woots for shameless self-promotion!)

Yeah, I said it Blog

November 22, 2011

Last call for Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest entries!

I know I'm not yer mama, but I'm gone nag you anyway because it is HIGH TIME, missy, that you sent your submission in.  Don't you know that the deadline is tomorrow?  You think the Blog Fairy's gonna fly in with your story all done up for you?  If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times that there ain't no sense in waiting 'til the last minute to do what you got to do!  Prince Charming ain't gonna ride in here on no white horse and carry you away to no castle!  Where is your head, girl?  Now, enough of this here fiddle-fartin'!  Just go on now and git 'er done.  And look here, Mama's gone make you a pie.  A PIE!  I shore am.  So get movin', little lady!   

That's a good girl, now.

November 18, 2011

Fit 'n' Fluffy: a business model

Dancing in front of my bedroom mirror to 80s music was my favorite form of exercise as a teenager.  My adolescent vanity demanded that I have an audience, even if that audience consisted of only myself.  (If a teenage girl does the Running Man and no one's there to watch, does she still put on a good show?)

Twenty years and 60 pounds later, in front of a mirror is the LAST place I want to be when it's time to get my groove on.  Not that I happen upon many occasions to cut a rug.  I'm just saying that when I do, I find that no audience is the best audience.

I've never really felt comfortable dancing in front of other people.  If I was really as cool as I like to think I am, I wouldn't care about looking stupid.  I'd clear the floor and drop my big butt down into a Tootsie Roll.  Or get all punky and dance like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club.  As it is, I can't even do a watered down version of The Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  My moves are not for public consumption.

But I wish that wasn't the case.

So I submit that what the world needs now is a dance class for big chicks.  No chicken littles allowed.  And if all that boogieing down leads to massive weight loss, the newly-skinny chicks get kicked to the curb.  (Sorry, lil'uns.  Them's the breaks.)  That way, curvy girls could attend a fun fitness class without feeling judged or the need to compare.  We'd all have wobbly bits on display.  Kinda like at a nudist colony, only we'd be strictly genital-free.  (Well, members could bring their genitals, but they'd have to store them securely in the overhead bins.)

Our dance room would have mirrors, but only the skinny kind you find in a fun house at the circus.  The AC would be blasting at all times because we big girls need some help in the temperature regulation department.  No windows, because we don't want to attract chubby chasers.  There would be cute and comfy plus-size dancewear on sale up front.  We'd have a nice big pool to cool off in after class where we could wear our skirted swimsuits in peace.  Finally, there would be roomy private showers.  And each shower would be connected to a private dressing area, because don't nobody need to see that much ass in one day.  Not even us.

So who's with me?! 

November 16, 2011

Reel life

So you know how we like drama in this here family?  (Well, Nature Boy and I do.  Not so sure about Tree Guy on that one.)  My son and I got the chance to be in a movie a couple weeks ago!  We found out about the opportunity the day before filming, and since we are slackers very relaxed homeschoolers, we actually got dressed for the day cleared our schedule and headed over to the set.

We were extras (extra AWESOME, that is) in a Christmas pageant scene filmed in a local children's theater.  Nature Boy was originally supposed to be an audience member like me, but he got pulled to be one of the shepherds in the pageant.  He was so excited!
I was a mere 5 feet away from Vivica A. Fox and Eric Roberts, y'all!  Viv and E. Ro (yeah, we're tight like that) brought down the house with a soulful Christmas song as I sat in the front row of their "audience".  We filmed several different audience reactions.  My favorite was the one in which we had to crack up, of course.  We were supposed to pretend that something hilarious was happening onstage (one of those childrens' pageants-gone-awry situations).  I hope my guffaws don't look stupid on film... 

Not that anyone really pays attention to the extras in a film anyway.*  The audience will likely just seem like a big emotive mass eclipsed by the wonder that is the beautiful Vivica A. Fox and the charismatic Eric Roberts.  (Who wears rose perfume and can make noises that sound like a trumpet with his mouth, respectively.)

When we got there, we were told not to bother the stars (as if we would ever stalk a public figure!!!), not to take pictures or video, and that we'd have to stand until it was time to film our scene.  There's a whole lot of waiting around on a movie set, y'all.  We did about 4 hours of waiting and about 1 hour of filming.  But it was FUN!  The only annoying thing about the day was that the "kid handler" was constantly yelling, "SETTLE!!!!!!!!"  Which was more disruptive than the chatting kids if you ask me...  

Nature Boy was armed with the latest 39 Clues book and his Nintendo DSi, and I was armed with granola bars, so the waiting wasn't too bad.  The director of the movie was wonderful.  (He looks a lot like Donald Sutherland!)  His wife was sweet too.  So This is Christmas is scheduled to come out in Fall 2012.  Check it out!

*Of course, I fully expect you, dear readers, to watch the movie and intently stare at the front row of the audience during the pageant scene.  I don't care how well Vivica breaks it down, I want your eyes on me.  Got it?  Kidding, of course!  (Kind of.)

November 13, 2011

Sundry Sunday

So here I am on a Sunday night, trying to think of something to write about.  Rutabagas?  My joyful discovery that some brands of sharp cheddar are lactose-free?  The fact that we still have a (fake) jack-o-lantern and skull decorating our living room?  They've taken quite a "shine" to each other.  (Sorry.)

Maybe I'll write an ode to my boyfriend, Bob's Candy Canes.  Or about my snot factory sweet son who is sick right now.  Poor Nature Boy.

Ooh, I know!  How about the fact that today is my in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary?!  Yeah, that's it.  The folks who raised Tree Guy surely merit more than a mention.  So here it goes.

Aren't they cute?  He's a silver fox and she's a white hot blonde.  They have tons of friends (only one of them is invisible), and they enjoy traveling and red wine.  This photo was taken 5 years ago at a gigantic family reunion. (I married into a prolific family.)  Check out Tree Guy's brothers.  Somehow my in-laws managed to raise three awesome men.  They were raised on a diet of Star Trek, Weird Al, and marching band, yet they turned out just fine.  (Amazing!)  And 40 years later, Nana and Papa are still partners and friends.  Such an inspiration. 

I did some research and discovered that the traditional gift for a 40th anniversary is ruby.  My father-in-law is fantastic at buying his woman jewelry, so I'll, uh, leave that to him.  I want to give them something meaningful though.  A ruby red grapefruit?  A puppy named Ruby?  (My father-in-law would LOVE that.  He's similar to Tree Guy when it comes to pets...  Scrooges!)  Help me think of something, y'all!

P.S.  Don't forget about the Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest!  Get your submissions in by November 23rd so I have something to read while I scarf down my pumpkin pie.

November 11, 2011

Shrinky Dink 'n' Me

Shrinky Dink is totally my sister from another mister. I'm so lucky to have her in my life. (Bebe's kids, wild dog, crazy ex and all.)

Shrinky Dink and I first crossed paths at childbirth class in 1999. I remember her mostly because of her (based on first impressions, butthole of a) husband who self-importantly talked on his cell phone in the hallway for most of the class. She remembers me mostly as a (likely single) woman who (most likely) pretended her husband was sick so she didn't have to admit that she had no man to accompany her to childbirth class. Turns out, her now-ex really is a butthole and I really was (and am) married. (Tree Guy didn't come to the class because he was sick, and we were afraid he'd pass it along to all the mamas-to-be in class.)

Fast forward 9 months or so, and Shrinky Dink and I met up again, this time at a young mothers' group at church. We both had our adorable, chubby, big-headed, blue-eyed, six-month-old babies with us.

We immediately started comparing notes. We discovered that not only did we go to the same church, but it was the first time for both of us to come to the young mothers' group; we were both raised in different religious denominations, but "converted"; we were both born in the same state; we both graduated with social science degrees; we both had our babies delivered in the same hospital by the same obstetrician a mere 4 days apart, and our kids had the same pediatrician.

We started hanging out.  Over time we discovered that we also share a tendency to neurosis and a really goofy sense of humor.  Bonus!  We bonded over baby-obsessing, coffee, and shared values.  Her baby pinched.  Mine hit people with sticks.  We went to story time at the book store.  To the zoo.  To birthday parties.  Shrinky Dink had two more kids.  I found out I had secondary infertility.  She helped me through health crises, hospitalizations, surgeries.  I helped her through a painful marriage and a just-as-painful divorce and custody battle. 

And here we are, 12 years later.  Living on the same street by choice.  Sharing meals and gripe sessions, and as always, coffee.  I help her with child care.  She helps me with highlights and eyebrow maintenance.  She's a fabulous cook.  I can entertain slumber parties of giggly girls.  She knows how to use a power drill.  I can organize like a mofo.  If we were fundamentalist Mormons, I'd totally choose her for a sister-wife.


Her birthday's this weekend.  (Psst!  She's got a BOYFRIEND!  Finally, a guy we can actually be around without throwing up in our mouths a little.)  So I probably won't get to see her much.  I'll make her a cake anyway, even though she selfishly declined to babysit the house painters for me on her birthday.  (I mean, what else does she have to do that day?!) 

Happy birthday to my BFF!

November 07, 2011

Everyday Hilarity Writing Contest--with a prize!

I'd like you (bloggers, non-bloggers, whoever) to write about something hilarious that you've experienced.  I want the story, your perceptions about it, the aftermath.  All of it.  Keep it PG-13 and 750 words or less.  Include photos if you want to.  Submissions will be judged by a panel o' 3 people with fantastic wit (including me, of course).  Depending on how many submissions I receive, up to 3 winners will be chosen.  Winners' stories will be posted here on my blog and I'll send you a.......(wait for it)..........


But wait!  There's more!  I'll also illustrate your story (yep, a custom drawering by yours truly) so you can post your story on your own blog/Facebook, etc.

It might be a 'fro wig.  It might be a Donald Trump wig.  It might be a vampire wig.  It might even be dreadlocks.  (Don't worry fellow paranoia-sufferers, it will be sealed in its original packaging and I won't share your address with anyone.  Wait a minute.  This means I have to share my address with the winners.  Okay, that freaks me out a little.  Hmmm.  Maybe I'll put my mom's address on the package as the return address.  She's not paranoid.  Okay, we're good.)

I will accept submissions until Wednesday, November 23, 2011. Send your stories to yeahisaiditblog{at}gmail{dot}com.  Winners will be announced on Monday, November 28, 2011.  Bring it on, y'all.

But first, grab my button!

Yeah, I said it Blog

Another day, another earthquake

So Tree Guy and I had never experienced an earthquake before.  Then this weekend we had two in one day!  The first one happened at 2:30am Saturday morning. Tree Guy was in bed and I was folding laundry. It sounded and felt like the Jolly Green Giant was jackhammering our house. Tree Guy woke up and yelled, "What the hell was that?!" He was certain I did something to mess up the washer or dryer, thus creating the ruckus. No amount of denial on my part would convince him.

After the 5th "Are you sure you weren't using any kind of appliance?", I yelled, "Noooooooooo! I WASN'T USING ANY KIND OF APPLIANCE! Maybe it was an earthquake." Which was a ridiculous suggestion. We live in a part of the country where earthquakes aren't common, and the ones we have usually can't be felt. Nothing was showing up on the news yet, so I checked online for word from those faithful twitterers and discovered that, lo and behold, it was an earthquake! A 4.6 on the Richter scale. Cool. Nature Boy slept through it.

We knew to expect aftershocks. But Saturday night at around 11:45pm I was jackhammered awake by another earthquake. This one was bigger and longer lasting than the first one. Tree Guy was the one up this time, so he got the full experience. Our dog Raven just chilled out on the floor next to my side of the bed. (She freaks out at thunder, but doesn't bat an eyelash at an earthquake.) Nature Boy slept through this one too. Turns out, this earthquake was a 5.6 on the Richter scale. The biggest earthquake in our state's history. The only damage done that we can see is that the dishes in the dishwasher were all knocked around and there's a big chip in my great-grandma's serving bowl.  (Stupid earthquake.)

Tree Guy is a big disaster movie fan. His favorite movie growing up was Red Dawn. We just watched Cloverfield Friday night, then BAM!, an earthquake. I figured it would make Tree Guy all eager to have a disaster movie marathon, but when I mentioned it, he was all, "Um, no thanks." We are soft here in Oklahoma, I tell you.  We know what to do when a tornado comes to town, but send us an earthquake and we freak out.

And the Californians laugh.

November 06, 2011

Another day, another chocolate bar

Man, y'all.  In the past week, I've made appointments for a glaucoma screening (for my EBP), a mammogram, and an endometrial biopsy.  This means at least one of the following:

1.  I'm a hypochondriac.

2.  I got the short end of the stick genetically.

3.  I'm getting old.

I seriously doubt #1 is the answer.  I've been traumatized enough medically what with the bowel surgeries, dreaded NG tubes, collapsed lung, and that whole paralyzation thing.  I sure as heck don't seek out more of the same.  If anything, I wait too long to go to the doctor.  I usually have a laundry list of complaints gathered over months before I deem it time to visit my PCP.  (Doctors love that, right?) 

I definitely think there is something to option #2.  It's a trade off though.  If I hadn't inherited the autoimmune problems and mental health issues, I'd have missed out on the good stuff--like my sunny disposition.  Yeah.  My mom's side of the family has a strong history of cancer, hence the mammograms. And colonoscopies. (Crohn's disease makes having them more often than usual a necessity. Hurray.) Fortunately, I have a good butt doctor who is generous with the drugs, so the worst part about my colonoscopies is the prep. Greasy Sprite followed by hours on the john, anyone?  

I'm not going to insult my brethren by calling my 37-year-old self old.  But if skin tags, night sweats, and chin hairs are any indication, I'm at least on my way.  And arthritis has me walking like Frankenstein right now.

Do you feel sorry for me yet?  I think I need some chocolate--STAT.

November 05, 2011

Some kids are a-holes

I know it's not PC to say so, but as I am constitutionally incapable of keeping my opinions to myself, I had to let it fly.  And I don't think I'm alone in my assertion.  Y'all know what I'm talking about.

You're at the grocery store and a teenage steam punk/emo/scene/whateverthehell bumps into you and then has the nerve to say, "Watch it, old lady."  Or you're at the skating rink with your kids when you see a little rink-hag totally cheating at the Red Light/Green Light game by moving forward 5 feet after every other kid has stopped. She gets away with it every time and wins, of course, because her big brother is the DJ, and no one makes a fuss because the prize is just a stupid plastic bead necklace of which you have 20 at home from that crazy trip to Marti Gras in college.  Or you're at play uh, football practice and the kid who's had the lead role in the past two shows been the quarterback on your son's team every year since first grade keeps interrupting the director coach to draw attention to himself because he's just too charming and hilarious to settle for mere applause a trophy after the show championship game.  And he gets away with it because he's too darn talented for anyone to expect him to follow the rules all the other kids have to follow.  Or you've been carefully nurturing and protecting your child's fragile self-esteem for years when one (stupid, ugly, turd-burglar, poopy face, jerk-of-a) bully with a motor mouth and a cruel streak makes a few comments totally zeroing in on your child's insecurities, and that delicate balance you've been maintaining is thrown off kilter.  And then the bully throws in a punch or a kick for good measure.  And you feel like kicking that kid's ass.  (Or maybe that's just me.)

I'll give the moms of toddlers and (because I'm feeling generous and, okay, I had a fit-throwing, head-butting preschooler myself) preschoolers a free pass.  These little ones may be infuriating at times, but they don't have the impulse control or the maturity to do better.  And I'm not talking about garden-variety, normal kid misbehavior either:  sneaking candy, eye rolling, no-I-don't-have-any-homework, occasional smart-mouthed comebacks, I-didn't-do-it-maybe-it-was-my-sister kind of behavior.  I'm talking about kids of the age of reason who know they are breaking the rules and don't give a crap because the rules don't apply to them, what they want takes precedence over the rights of everyone else, and everyone knows that grown-ups are too stupid to figure out what they did anyway.

I think allowing these behaviors, writing them off as oh, they're just being kids, is a good recipe for cooking up an entitled, narcissistic adult. 

Here's some food for thought.  Imagine being at work when a coworker comes up to you and says, "You're a stupid, ugly loser and no one likes you, " and then pushes you down on the floor.  You'd go to your boss and complain, right?  (Unless you have your crazy papers like I do, in which case all bets are off.)  Imagine your boss responding, "Oh, that's just how coworkers are sometimes.  You've got to let it go.  Do you have any brothers?  No?  Ah, well then you must just be overly sensitive to rough housing."  The end.  Doesn't that sound crazy?  Is there any justice in that?

Kids have to deal with this kind of thing all the time.  We would never tolerate attacks from other adults.  But kid bullies are tolerated because it's just the way kids are.  Being bullied is a rite of passage.  Bullied kids are just being too sensitive/wimpy/reactive.  Blah blah blah.


Could it possibly be that tolerating bullying among children is one of the last vestiges of the time in history when children weren't so precious?  Do children have full legal rights (including the right to live free of violence), or do they only earn those rights when they reach the age of 18?  Is it okay that kids have to deal with behaviors that we, as adults, would never stand for among our peers?  And if it is, why?  Because the sink-or-swim approach just works so wonderfully for children?  Because we had to deal with it, so by God, they do too?   Because they need to be toughened up for the real world of adulthood?  (You know, the one in which we don't stand for verbal or physical abuse.)

Let me know what you think.

October 31, 2011


Nature Boy as a super scary (barefoot) werewolf.  Note to all you concerned grandmas out there:  (Nana, I'm talking to you!)  He only went Huckleberry Finn for photos.  I made him wear shoes once the candy harvesting began.

Tree Guy normally eshews Halloween costumes.  But he was in the mood to scare the kids in our new neighborhood this year, so he made an exception.

Shrinky Dink (the witch) and me (the soul sister). 

Tree Guy scaring the locals.

Next time I take Nature Boy to the Han house, I'm totally wearing this getup.

October 30, 2011

The upside of dementia

Do y'all remember that I told you a month ago that my small but mighty grandma moved in with my mom? (It was necessary because of health and memory changes.)  After 30-odd days of never-a-dull-moment, GC Brawler (aka Badass Kas, aka Ain't Hearing No Sass Kas, aka Mimi) came up with the following:

Top 10 Reasons Dementia Isn't So Bad  

1) There is no such thing as leftovers.
2) Someone can really piss you off and you won't remember it.
3) YOU can really piss somebody off and you won't remember it.
4) If someone is talking to you and refuses to shut the hell up, you can just say something crazy to put a stop to it with no explanations. EX: "Have you ever thought about killing someone?" and "Where's a good place to hide the body?" Or, "Is lime still really cheap?"
5) Summer reruns are no longer boring.
6) People who repeat themselves are no longer boring.
7) Anti-psychotic meds are great sleeping pills.
8) Everyone you come in contact with seems like a new friend.
9) No one expects very much from you.
10) And, if you're any good at messing with people just for grins, no one will know when you lose it all for real.

October 26, 2011

Zoo day!

Nature Boy and I are all for fun masquerading as education. How awesome is it that homeschoolers can go to the zoo and check it off as a school day?! Wahoo!

I'm one of those weird girls who thinks frogs, toads, and bats are cute.  So I stalk them.  I took this picture after scaring off all the other bats.

My mom, GC Brawler, and I were trying to remember the name of the shade of blue in the picture below.
Her:  I really like that color blue.  I can't remember the name of it.
Me:  Is it cobalt blue? 
Her:  No. 
Me:  Cornflower blue? 
Her:  No.
Me:  Teal?
Her:  No.
Me:  That's all I got. 

A week later...

Oh yeah.  It's PEACOCK blue. 

(Duh.  That reminds me of the garbanzo bean/chickpea gaffe.)

Nature Boy's crush.  Ain't she cute?

October 24, 2011


What with all the recent dissing of my kid, spouting of anti-Pokemon rhetoric, questioning of our faith, and most recently, griping me out for a parking faux pas, it's all I can do to keep from slapping somebody.         

I think these fools risk these things with me because they don't know about my inner sista.  They assume that, for the sake of politeness and good will towards men, I will be a good little fellow white middle class suburbanite and let rudeness and offense slide without a word.

They obviously haven't heard about the Golden Corral Incident.

I grew up in St. Louis and Dallas.  Both cities are racially mixed.  In elementary school in St. Louis, my white self was actually in the minority.  I had great, sassy friends.  I loved their no-crap-taking attitudes.  So I developed one of my own.   

Then I married Tree Guy and we moved to Oklahoma for a job.  The relative lack of diversity here was a shock.  I try really hard to fit in here.  I learned to bake high fiber muffins.  I recycle.  I arrange play dates.  I buy foods with no trans fats.

But underneath all this affability, there's a chick biting her tongue to keep from going off on folks.  I will say it again: it's a good thing I'm medicated. 

So here's the latest installment in the Let's Piss Danielle Off campaign.  Nature Boy has a friend at church named Hoon.  Hoon and his family invited Nature Boy over for a play date.  When we arrived, several boys were playing basketball in Hoon's driveway, so I pulled our car in front of part of a neighbor's driveway.  (It was a 3-car garage, and I was partially blocking one car.)  Granted, not the best arrangement, but I only needed to be there long enough to let Hoon's mom know that Nature Boy was there.

Of course, at exactly that time, it was necessary for the neighbors to leave in the exact car I was (partially) blocking.  So I ran over to the wife as the husband backed out and around my car, and in my best white middle class suburbanite voice, I say, "Oh!  I am so sorry for parking in front of your driveway!  The boys were playing basketball in my friend's driveway and I only ran in for a minute..."  It fell on deaf ears.  Not only that, but when I apologized to the husband (who looks like the titular character from Weekend at Bernie's), he said, "PARKING IN FRONT OF MY DRIVEWAY!  SO STUPID!!!!!  DAMN!!!"  Then he shook his head in disgust at my stupidity. 

Hoon's mom came out and apologized to her neighbors profusely, again explaining that the boys were in the driveway so I couldn't park at her house.  Bernie mouthed off something to her that I didn't catch and I drove off while she stood staring in confusion at her neighbor's retreating form.  I felt sorry for her.  It wasn't her fault I parked there, thereby incurring the wrath of her neighbors.

A couple hours later I went to pick up Nature Boy from the Han house.  (I parked in their driveway this time!)  As soon as I got in the door, Mrs. Han told me that her neighbor is very angry.  I told her that I gathered that when he yelled at me.  Then she said he's very upset that I just drove away without apologizing.  I told her that I had apologized, to both the husband and the wife, but that neither of them acknowledged the apology. 

And she asked me to go apologize again! 

Hoon and Nature Boy have known each other through church for years, but this is probably only the second or third time I'd talked with Mrs. Han.  I didn't know how to respond to her request that I go apologize again to someone who yelled at me the first time I apologized.  What would you have done?

Even though I really didn't want to, I decided to do what she asked and go re-apologize to Bernie and Co.  The Han family has to live across the street from them, after all, and I didn't want to cause any trouble for them.  They are very quiet and polite and I assume, haven't had trouble with these neighbors before.

Mrs. Han insisted on going with me.  We walked over to Bernie's house and she rang the doorbell.  I followed her to the porch, but she said, "No!  You stand back there!"  And she pointed about 10 feet from the door.  (WTH???)  I already wasn't liking how this apology thing was going.  Mrs. Han kept ringing the doorbell over and over.  No one answered.  I was like, "Oh well, nobody's home!!!"  (Hurray!)  Then Bernie peeked out from his side yard and I again entreated him with my best obsequious rendition of, "I'm so sorry about parking in front of your driveway today--"  Bernie interrupted me to yell, "That's all right, just don't park in my yard again!  I would have towed it away!!!!!"  And he stormed off.  I guess that's Bernie being nice

These kind of things happen all the time.  And I swear I don't go looking for drama.  The best I can figure is that there are just a lot of a$$holes in the world. 

So I think it's time to resurrect an outward manifestation of the inner me.  Maybe this will help.

I say resurrect it because this is actually my second 'fro wig.  (It is my firm belief that every family should have one.)  'Fro wig #1 got a lot of play.  Here's a picture of 6-year-old Nature Boy cooking in it. 

Like mother, like son.

October 14, 2011


Life has been way too busy lately for this slacker mom.  Nature Boy was cast in one of the lead roles in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the local youth theater, so we have to attend every. single. practice.  That means a 50 mile round trip three to four times a week.  Whew!  (And you know Ol' Henry ain't what he used to be.) 

The bankroller in the family is all, "Do you realize it costs $5 in gas every time you drive to the theater?!"  And I'm all, "Sometimes we must suffer for our art."  And Nature Boy's all, "Maybe we should get a hovercraft."

I really wish we had youth theater opportunities in our city.  We used to.  Back in the good old days when my friend Byn over at 365 Days of Clean Eating wrote and directed children's musicals a mere 5 minutes from my (then) house.  From what I hear, our community theater isn't interested in children's shows because they aren't big money makers.  Whatev.  We showed them it could be done.


October 06, 2011

E.B.P. with a side of cake

I consider myself to be pretty low-maintenance when it comes to birthdays.  I don't require anything fancy to feel loved.  I prefer good, old-fashioned family time with its attendant people, food, and laughter.  (A customized birthday rap is always a nice touch.)  That said, I'm far too polite to actually turn down a present.  So thank you, family and friends, for providing me with ample opportunity to display my gracious acceptance of your offerings!  :)

Nature Boy woke me up (early!) to make me a birthday breakfast in bed.  I lazed in the aforementioned bed until neigh on 1PM, because I was finishing up The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick.  Loved it.   

Tree Guy bought me one of my favorite things, a Yankee Candle Company candle in this scent:

My guys made me dinner tonight.  They worked together to grill some burgers, with Velveeta Shells and Cheese and honey-glazed carrots on the side.  It was really sweet.  Nature Boy did most of the cooking, and he was very proud of himself.


After dinner, we took a carrot cake with cream cheese icing (my fave) to share with GC Brawler and Meemaw.  I was given a journal, a notepad, a heart-shaped mirror, and a silver filigree cross necklace.  (Woo hoo!) 

It's such a relief to me that my grandma is doing so well now that she's living with my mom.  She's getting excellent care (as well as getting her "hair did" on a regular basis), and I think she's actually happy there.  Check it out.

And to top it all off, my bestie, Shrinky Dink, came over with her crazy, out of control somewhat active and persistent puppy, Balto.  She gave me a present too (a nature-themed plaque with the Serenity Prayer on it). 


It truly was a happy birthday. 

P.S.  E.B.P. is an acronym I made up for the phrase Eye Ball Problem.  E.B.P. typically refers to a condition that causes strangers to stare at you for extended periods of time.  As in, "What is she staring at?!  I guess she has E.B.P.!"  A second, less common usage refers to an actual physiological issue with an actual eyeball.  Remember when I had poison ivy on my eyelid?  It was skirting E.B.P. territory.  I now have something else going on, and I need your armchair diagnosis.  See this?

A week or so ago, I developed a sharp pain and pressure in my eyeball.  I pressed on it in an attempt to relieve the pressure, and was rewarded with what felt like an ice pick to the ol' sclera.  And now I have this pink thing going on.  Any idea what it could be?

September 30, 2011

Sometimes Christians get on my nerves

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.

I'd like to start off by saying that I am a Christian.  Yes, contrary to popular belief here in the Bible Belt, Catholics are Christians.  Yep, all of us.

If I hear, "Well, SOME Catholics are Christians..." again (seriously, that is so offensive), I'm going to hog-tie the offender with some rosary beads.  We believe in the Holy Trinity, that Jesus is the messiah prophesied in the Bible, that He died for the forgiveness of sins, and that He will come again.  We believe the basic tenets of Christianity.  That faith makes us Christians.         

I wasn't raised Catholic.  I spent most of my early years in uncomplicated non-denominational Christian bliss.  I joined the Catholic Church 15 years ago for family unity with my cradle-Catholic husband.  Making the Protestant-to-Catholic switch isn't so difficult when you come from a non-denom background.  I don't believe that Jesus cares about denomination. 

I have no interest in sitting in judgment of my fellow Christians--deeming this person fit for Heaven and that one fit for that other place.  But it seems to be a popular pastime among Christians today.  It's like that joke that has cycled through each religious group.


A man dies and enters Heaven.  On his tour, he is taken by several rooms.  As he and his angelic guide pass the first room, loud laughter erupts and delicious smells waft from the door.  The man asks the angel, "Who's that in there?"  The angel replies, "Oh, those are the Methodists.  They love their fellowship!"  They move onto the next room, where the man again hears laughter and also detects the distinct smell of alcohol.  He remarks, "Beer?  In Heaven???"  The angel replies, "Those are the Catholics.  They like to party."  At the door to the next room, the angel whispers, "Be very quiet.  These are the Baptists (or Presbyterians, or Lutherans, or Pentecostals, etc).  They think they're the only ones here."

If someone tells me she is a Christian, I am inclined to believe her.  That's between her and God.  Is it too much to ask to expect the same in return?

Nature Boy has been experiencing some of this Christian bigotry himself.  In our area, belief in a young earth is seen as the only way a true Christian CAN believe.  If you believe in old earth creationism (as in the day-age theory), your faith is suspect.  (I think it's okay to say, "I don't really know."  It's possible to have faith without having all the answers.)  The word "evolution" is a cuss word here. It no longer means, "a gradual change over time." Forget discussions about adaptation or changes within species. If you say "evolution", people assume you're talking about the origin of man. It's just better all around not to utter the word lest you be proclaimed a heretic. 

Today a boy in our Christian homeschool group told my son that Pokemon cards are of the devil, as God doesn't create monsters.  When Nature Boy said, "Do you really think Pikachu is evil?!", the boy said, "Don't even say their names!  They're demonic!"  He then stated that Yu-Gi-Oh! cards have a demon attached to each card!  Whah?!  This boy, long a friend of Nature Boy's, told my son that his mom doesn't think Nature Boy is good for him, and that in fact, she really doesn't like him very much at all.

All that Pokemon playing makes him a bad influence, apparently.

So where is this plank you're supposed to be pullin', you ask?

I'm just so angry.  I'm tired of having my Christianity questioned, and I'm beyond tired of the religious prejudice that my son has to deal with at our homeschool group of all places.  Do we not even fit in there?!  (Catholics may like to party, but it sure doesn't start in childhood.  The Catholic homeschool group in town is boring.)

But even if my anger is justified, I don't think God wants me to hold onto it.  And I do.  I keep that flame at a slow burn so that it's ready to flare up when needed.  As a result, when someone invariably makes a comment that I find offensive, I respond defensively.  And that doesn't help anything.  I don't want to create a new Catholic stereotype:  the angry, ranting Catholic Convert.

Because I don't drink, so I wouldn't be able to blame it on the booze.