May 30, 2011

Tell me something good

It has occurred to me that I focus a lot on things that annoy me here at Yeah, I said it.  And you know, that's kind of the point.  As my tagline says, I point out life's absurdities so you don't have to.  (You're welcome.)  But I don't want y'all to think I'm all storm clouds and stinky socks.  Nay, part of the fun of being bipolar is that the good times are REALLY good!  And part of the fun of knowing bipolar people is that you get to come along for the ride!

It is a well-known fact my personal experience that as the days get sunnier, so do my moods.  And everybody likes that.  Why, come summer, I've been known to spontaneously break it down on my husband Dirty Dancing-style.  TMI, you might say.  But I'm talking actual dancing, preferably while my dear man is cooking dinner or watching a documentary or my personal fave, talking on the phone for work.  I think this requires a visual.

Click to enlarge.

I've also been known to sneak up on my son and his friends and scare them.  I creep to wherever they are and then jump in the room and yell, "RAAAAH!"  It always works.  And my son always says, "Sorry guys.  My mom's crazy."  I suppose I'll have to stop doing this eventually.  Tween boys find it funny, but I'm thinking teen boys might just find it creepy.  I reserve the right, however, to harass my son's future girlfriends.  Any girl for him will just have to accept the fact that a crazy mom is part of the package.  

Click to enlarge.

Anyhoo, I'm thinking that periodically I'll include something positive here.  Some things in life are absurdly good, you know.  (Like embarrassing one's children.)


May 27, 2011

Flashback Friday: No place like home

Have I mentioned that I'm really digging this Flashback Friday thing?  It's a total slacker tool.  I heart it.

This post was written about a year ago. 


No Place Like Home

I am feeling so grateful tonight.

I met the leader of my homeschool group tonight for coffee and conversation about her experiences homeschooling her six children, several of whom have learning differences. She has dyslexia herself, so I was really excited to hear her perspective. I sipped my caramel latte and listened to her calming words. What she said made so much sense.

One thing that stood out was the idea that the popular method of educating children is backwards. The elementary years are spent focusing on mechanics or skills, such as handwriting, spelling, and calculation. By the time kids are teenagers and can finally use their creative gifts (such as in projects and creative writing and daily arts classes), they've lost a lot of that spark and inherent love of learning. They've been so bogged down in basics that they've forgotten how joyful and rewarding learning can be.

Young kids are naturally creative and eager to do what they're good at. They don't get a lot of time and space to excel in their unique strengths in today's elementary schools. What if things were reversed and kids focused on creativity and content in elementary school while saving the skill study for the teen years? Perhaps this would preserve their love of learning.

Perhaps learning "disabilities" would be much less common. The late bloomers would have those extra years to develop readiness for serious study. There are no science or history learning disabilities. There aren't physical education learning disabilities either--and we all know that kids (and adults) vary widely in physical skill. Might learning problems be a timing issue?

I'm grateful for this mentoring. I needed it! I feel like I have some direction now.


I am also thankful that my family and I are safe from the tornado that went over our town this evening! My husband and son were at home when the tornado sirens went off. My friend and I were at the coffee shop and didn't hear the sirens. We kept chatting, oblivious to all but the torrential rains (in the weatherman's words) that started as we were arriving. Suddenly Panera Bread's baristas ushered us into the walk-in fridge. Sardined in and freezing with 15 of my closest strangers. There were a couple of aging hippies, a 8 1/2 months pregnant woman who'd been contracting for 2 weeks, a shaking, weepy teenage girl, and a partridge in a pear tree. I was cracking jokes to lighten the mood (and heat the air?) when we got the news that the tornado warning was over.

I must need an ear candle because I didn't hear my cell phone ring either. Yes, to make matters worse, J was freaking out because he and his dad (carrying our anxious 40 pound dog) were heading over to the neighbors' storm shelter (in the aforementioned torrential rain) and he wasn't sure I'd be safe. My husband and my mom each called several times, but I didn't hear a thing. Which freaked J out even more. By the time I noticed my missed calls and called home, J was almost hysterical with worry. Poor little guy. I came home and got a big, relieved hug from my boy and a dog water-shake from Raven. I think my husband might have collapsed on the bed in exhaustion.

Ahhh. There's no place like home.

May 26, 2011

Intolerance. It gets on my nerves.

People are different, yo.  And that's okay! 

I think a lot of judgment is caused by our need to validate our own choices.  It's like this:


Them: (happily doing whatever it is they do)

Us:  Hmm.  They are doing something differently than the way I do it.  Since I am the standard of normal in all things, that must mean THEY are doing it incorrectly.  Because it couldn't possibly be that I am doing it incorrectly.  And because the whole world is black and white, it's definitely impossible that we are ALL doing it correctly, but just differently. 

Them: (happily doing whatever it is they do)

Us:  Man, that really pisses me off that they are doing that incorrectly.  And I bet they think I'M the one who's doing it wrong.  Because otherwise they'd be doing it the way I do it!  Aw hell naw!   How dare they think that when THEY are OBVIOUSLY the ones who are in the wrong here!?

Them: (happily doing whatever it is they do)

Us:  Look at them flaunting their smug wrongness in my face!  I'm gonna correct their assumption and let them know in no uncertain terms that I AM RIGHT and THEY ARE WRONG!

Them:  (glancing over at the red-faced, sweaty pillar of rightness walking toward them)


Them:  (glancing over their shoulders wondering who this escaped mental patient is talking to)

Us:  Yeah, I'm talkin' to you!  Don't you know that what you're doing is WRONG?  Everyone knows that the way I do it is the NORMAL way, therefore you are ABNORMAL and WRONG!

Them:  (glancing around for hidden cameras, certain that they are on an episode of What Would You Do?)

Us:  Don't you know that you are damaging your health/your children/the economy/the state of marriage/the environment?!  If you would do things the RIGHT way (like I do them), all the world's problems would be solved and I wouldn't have to deal with the ambiguity of multiple possibilities of rightness anymore!

Them:  Uh, sorry?  I'm just trying to walk along this path.  I don't know the way.  I'm just trying to find my way...

Us:  Only I, the keeper of all knowledge and standard of normalcy know the one true path!  If you go any other way, you will not reach your destination!

Them:  Yeah, I don't think I want to go where you're going... 


It doesn't have to be this way, y'all.

May 25, 2011

5 Things Not to Say to a Fat Person

My mom is celebrating a month without smoking cigarettes!  Woo hoo!  She recently posted this article on Facebook.  It got me thinking.  Maybe it's my duty as an outspoken fat person to get the word out. 

There are some fat-haters out there.  I don't mean people who don't like their own fat.  I mean people with a real hatred and disgust for fat people themselves.  At a popular website for angry ranters (that I'm not going to link to because I don't want to promote it), there are 3 pages devoted to fat-haters.  That's as many pages as there are for criminals, liars, and rude people combined.

I had a hunch, so I looked at the other categories.  Nope.  There are no categories for any religious or ethnic groups, for gay people (though there is one for heterosexuals), or for disabled people.  So the powers that be at this website obviously made an attempt at political correctness.

This is an illustration of the fact that fat is still fair game.

Therefore I find it necessary to post a political correctness guide for the unenlightened.


Don't say these things to a fat person.  We might sit on you.

5.  You'd have more energy if you'd lose some weight.

Perhaps.  OR maybe I'm depressed or have anemia or a vitamin D deficiency or an autoimmune disease.  Or maybe I didn't sleep well last night.  Fat people have issues that aren't weight-related just like skinny people do.

4.  You just need to develop self-control with food and get off the couch.

And you need to develop self-control with what you say and get off my back.  We all have our crosses to bear.

3.  Fat people die earlier than skinny people.

Except for all those skinny people who are already dead.  They died before me.   

2.  Did you see how FAT that woman is?!

Yes, it's like looking in a mirror.  What's your point?

1.  You're such a pretty girl.  It's a shame you're fat.  

You're so perceptive.  It's a shame you're an ass.

Click to enlarge.

May 21, 2011

Hospitality. It ain't my thing.

There were many great things about being a favorite of my grandma.  (Sniff.  Good times...)  She did my laundry until I insisted on doing it myself at age 17.  She cooked all the meals.  (Her cooking is awesome, y'all.  I wish she still cooked.)  She did all the housework except that I kept my own room clean. (OCD, remember?)  She and my super wonderful honorable gentle kind pretty-much-perfect-in-every-way grandpa drove me everywhere, so I didn't have to get a job to buy my own car. 

(Dang, I guess I pretty much bummed off my grandparents until college.  Suddenly I feel a little less cool...)

Anyhoo, I was totally spoiled and totally unaware of that fact.  It was GREAT.  But being my grandparents' late-in-life chance at a parenting do-over also made me kind of -- lazy.  I didn't offer to mow the lawn for them, carry in the groceries, or clear the table after dinner.  The first time I attempted to cook a meal, it was for my high school boyfriend.  (I beat two french toast prototypes to death thinking they had to be smashed down to cook all the way through.)  I don't think I ever cleaned the bathroom in my college dorm.  And when I got married, I resented the (unfair!) expectation of my husband that I cook dinner every night.  My thinking at the time went something like this:

So what that I don't have a job and he does.  He'd have a job even if he wasn't married to me, so he's not doing any MORE work than he would have done if he'd stayed single.  But cooking dinner every night is more work for me because if I was single, I would be eating Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch cereal for dinner every night.  

Yeah, I was great wife early on.

Now I cook all the time, and I enjoy it.  I no longer resent the fact that people need meals on a regular basis and I'm the obvious one to prepare them, since I'm a stay-at-home mom.  I actually experience satisfaction in providing for my family in this way.

Though I've overcome my domestic laziness, I am still developmentally delayed in the hospitality department.  I didn't realize that it's polite and customary to offer to help clean up when one is invited to someone else's home for a meal until about 5 years ago.  I just figured my sparkling presence was enough.  I also figured that since I don't want people helping me clean up after dinner (because they are my guests and guests should just sit there and bask in my sparkling presence, and because I don't like working in a crowded kitchen), that other people feel the same.

The caveat is, I've never been big on inviting people over.  My obsessive need for orderliness and a chaos-free environment has kept me from hosting dinner parties, weekend get-togethers, and neighborhood BBQs.  So while I comfort myself with the fact that I don't expect my guests to help clean up, I completely ignore the fact that I rarely have guests over in the first place.  (Twisted logic.  It's a gift.)

So it is with great pride that I tell you that I hosted my first luncheon/party/tea thing today.  And it was great!  I called it the End of the School Year Party, and I invited several of my mom friends.  We had fruit and muffins, hummus and cheese and crackers, and chicken salad sandwiches with cucumber.  I felt relaxed and really enjoyed myself.  I'm grateful that our new house is nice to entertain in.

And I'm perfectly okay with the dirty dishes that are sitting in the sink as I type.

Dear Diva, I mean Dani (a letter to my 16 year old self)

I got this idea from the fabulous and gorgeous Jessica over at Bohemian Bowmans.  I love getting blog inspiration from other people.  Copying off other people is so efficient.  It gives me more time to watch Glee on Netflix and compulsively read Allure magazine's makeup tips for the makeup I don't wear.  Plus, it brings back fond memories of high school chemistry.

The idea is to write a letter to your 16 year old self.  What would you want her to know?  In my case, a heckuvalot.

Dear Dani,

Lose the boyfriend.  Seriously, you will save yourself so much heartache and future relationship neurosis if you break it off now.  High school is for fun and friends, and if you're lucky, learning.  Take this time to learn about yourself, to experience things, to enjoy your life.  You're going to get tired of the emotional abuse and dump him after your first year of college anyway.  Why wait?

Respect yourself.  Sex doesn't get really good until you're in a solid relationship with a man you trust completely. It might be fun, but it won't be meaningful.  You need both.  These boys aren't worth it.  Your future husband will be.

Spend more time with your brother.  He needs you.  He admires you, even though you're a punk teenager.  He's only going to be around for 3 more years.  He won't make it to the age you are now.  He will take his own life during your first year of college.  Maybe if you get your head out of your butt and connect with him, he will reach out to you instead of feeling that his only option is suicide.

Respect your grandparents.  You owe them.  And you're going to realize how much you love and need them when you leave for college.  They will get to meet and know your future child, and they will be blessed by him.  Don't worry so much about losing them.  They'll both live a long time.

Stop fighting with your mom.  You're going to start getting along during your college years anyway.  She will be a great help to you when you have a child.  You'll laugh together.  Your similarities are why you clash, stupid.

When your mom mentions an arts magnet school, seriously consider it.  You could get a scholarship to college and avoid all the loans.  Do musical theater in college.  It will be fun.  Your future kid will love musical theater too, so it's great preparation.  You'll eventually teach a drama class for kids, and be asked to head up a drama program for a private school.  Even if you decide not to do it, you'll have the skills. (It's okay to ignore her science and math school suggestion though.  I know, free college credits, but math.  Ugh. ) 

Don't smoke or tan.  It's stupid.  Smoking has been linked to the development of Crohn's Disease.  Maybe if you don't smoke, you can avoid Crohn's.  In your 30s you'll start developing sun spots and you will hate them.  Especially the big one in the middle of your schnoz.  Start the habit now of wearing sunscreen everyday.  You'll be ahead of the trend.

Don't let yourself gain weight in college.  It's much easier to avoid gaining than it is to lose it afterwards.  Adopt the attitude that eating well and being active are ways to take care of yourself.  Get rid of the weight shame.  P.S. You are HOT right now.  Enjoy it.

College is going to be awesome.  When the chair of the English department recommends you switch your major to English, listen to him.  He recognizes your skill even though you don't.  There's a reason girls in your dorm will ask you to edit their papers.  There's a reason a college senior will offer you money to write his papers so he can finally pass British Lit. and graduate.  You're not going to work in the gerontology field for long anyway.  It's a nice tribute to your grandparents, but not your calling.

Accept that you don't know everything and you aren't always right.  Learning is one of life's greatest joys.  If you think you know everything, you shut yourself off from that joy.  Plus, you just get on people's nerves.

Love yourself,
36 year old Danielle

May 20, 2011

Flashback Friday: When Mama ain't happy

Note:  I used to have a different blog.  It was my friend.  Then I got rid of the email address associated with it, which unbeknownst to me, also got rid of that Google account, which made it so that I couldn't resuscitate my old blog.  I did, however, save some of my favorite posts from that blog.  Hence, the Flashback Friday feature. 

This time I'm gonna take you back to July 16, 2010. 

Ever go off on somebody else's kid? Yeah, me neither.

OK, that was a bald-faced lie.

Actually it's happened twice with two different kids in the past couple of weeks. And while I can see that there were valid reasons for my annoyance, I would be totally miffed if someone yelled at my kid. (She says with a sheepish look...)  Here's my defense: In both cases there were four kids at my house, which is exactly three more than I usually have. I was overstimulated by all the noise. I told them to play outside, but these two mavericks kept coming right back in because of the heat.  (Which is totally a crap reason, right?)  And both kids were being little turds. Defiant, complain-y, smart aleck-y. They'd both been kindly and patiently warned told to cut it out multiple times. So they needed correction.

But it shouldn't have included the blowing out of ear drums and the straining of vocal cords. I could have kept my cool and still got my point across. (Although, have you ever noticed that some kids seem to think you're not serious until your eyeballs are bulging out and the spittle is flying?)

A confession here: I'm more tolerant of my own kid than I am of other people's kids (OPKs). I'm not a strict mom. I'm more "let's talk about this" than "obedience NOW!" That said, I turn into a drill sergeant around groups of kids. I guess I get overwhelmed. And not all OPKs respond to a cooperative parenting style. They don't respect people who aren't firm with them. So I am forced to oblige, see?

That doesn't excuse yelling though, so I apologized to both of the kids.

(Hopefully that won't take away their newfound fear of me. Mwahaha!)

Click to enlarge.

May 14, 2011

The battle of the sexes

Or as kids call it today, The Boy/Girl War.

It started back when Eve passive-aggressively gave Adam fruit from the forbidden tree.  (I think she must have resented her secondary role.)  Perhaps it went something like this.

Until my son went to kindergarten, most of his friends were girls.  And that's because most of my friends have daughters.  He didn't wear tutus or play with Polly Pocket, but early on, he didn't discriminate when it came to friends.

Then he went to public school.  And I started hearing about The Boy/Girl War.  Apparently, this is a very serious activity, one that requires strategy and military precision.  The Boy/Girl War involved groups of boys and girls sabotaging each other's projects at recess.  The girls would "bake cookies" in a hollowed out tree, and the boys would raid the tree-oven and stomp on the cookies.  The boys would build a fort out of sticks and limbs, and the girls would kick it all down.  Then the boys would chase the girls, and vice versa.  It was probably the only thing my son liked about kindergarten.

I thought it was a public school thing.  I was all, "School is like Lord of the Flies!  Homeschooled kids don't act like that!"

Yeah they do.

I'm sure there's some deep Freudian reason for this eternal conflict, but I have no idea what it is.  I only know that it's pretty entertaining to watch.

My best friend Shrinky Dink and I met at childbirth class.  Her eldest daughter (Thing 1) and Nature Boy are only a few days apart in age.  We didn't keep in touch after the classes were over, but when our babies were 6 months old, we ran into each other at our church's young mothers group.  We discovered we'd had the same OB/GYN, had delivered at the same hospital, went to the same church, both had degrees in the social service field, and were both born in Illinois, where our dads (but not our moms) still live.  We became instant friends. 

Since our kids were born in the same week, their birthday parties often happen on the same weekend.  Our respective parties went smoothly (except for that time Shrinky Dink unwittingly preheated her oven with a box of Krispy Kremes inside) until last year.

Below is a picture from last year in which Shrinky Dink brought a horde of female Rambo-impersonators to prank Nature Boy and the clueless group of boys we had over for an overnight birthday camp out.  They forked our yard (prompting a threat from our cranky next door neighbor to call the police), sprinkled glitter everywhere, flushed the boys out of their tent with air horns, and then went after them with Silly String.  It was an expert tactical maneuver. 

Yeah, they got us good.  They were very proud of themselves.  I think Shrinky Dink was prouder than the girls were.  The boys, however, could think of nothing but revenge.  They immediately began planning how to get the girls back. 

We played it cool, you know.  Hoping the girls would forget that we owed them one.  We waited A YEAR to return the favor.  On the day of this year's birthday sleepover, I pretended to be all cranky and fibromyalgia-y so Shrinky Dink would be scared of me kindly refrain from girl antics during the party.  (Yeah, I played the disability card.)  It worked.  Shrinky Dink made the mistake of going out to dinner, concerned about how my health would hold up to a crowd of rowdy boys, I'm sure.  I supplied the boys with prank rations and Tree Guy led the mission.  They did the toilet paper thing, the Silly String thing, and they wrote boy-promoting messages all over Shrinky Dink's driveway and house.

I'm woman enough to admit that their prank was better than ours.  But the girls should be aware that teenage boys are much better at pranking than pre-teen boys are.  We've got years to make it up to them.

May 10, 2011

All he ever wanted

Discovering musical theater has been a blessing for Nature Boy.  Life is hard for kids with dyslexia because so much of a kid's day is spent in school.  (Thank God for homeschooling!)  I think it's super duper important for kids to be able to spend even more time on their gifts and areas of strength than they do on their areas of weakness.  That's not what the schools say.  They're all, "You're messed up, kid.  And we're here to fix you."  Pshaw.  "Remediation" has its place for sure, but we can't let our kids' gifts and joys get shoved to the back of the closet.

The best homeschooling (and parenting)(and life) advice I ever received was that God knows what our purpose is, what our calling in life will be.  And we are created perfectly to suit that calling.  We are equipped/hardwired for the job we're meant for.  To me that means (you know, just off the top of my head) that a child whose tears are mixed with pencil lead while doing math problems, and who writes notes such as this one, isn't meant to be a mathematician.  And that's okay.

Every kid (and grownup!) needs to find his or her niche.  A place to shine.  Music and performing (and nature) are my son's.  Here's a video of Nature Boy performing a solo in his most recent musical.  (Note: If you have an email subscription, the video might not appear in the email.  Not sure why.)

May 07, 2011

Presenting...the Golden Corral Incident

I've got to tell this story.  It was one of those days that becomes a part of family lore.  Tree Guy, Nature Boy, Meemaw, my mom (GC Brawler), and I went to Golden Corral for dinner one night.  It was a weekend, so the restaurant was pretty crowded.

Wait a second.  I think this story deserves some artistry.

I think I'll tell it in lyrical verse.

We was chillin' the local buffet
When some skinny white trash dude started to say
Words best kept out of a family joint.
So my mom stepped in and kindly made the point.
White trash dude kept it on the down low
For about 5 minutes, then...oops, oh no!
My mom got forceful; the dude called her a BLEEP!
All I could do was shake my head at the creep.
He had no idea what kinda lady he dissed.
He should have backed off quietly before she got pissed.
But hold up, the crazy dude didn't stop there.
No, he continued to swear as I said the Lord's Prayer.
You see my moms don't play when people act like a fool.
Don't even try to step up, or she'll get old school.
And you don't want that.  Believe me.  I've been there before.
You might think you're winning, but she'll settle the score.
'Cause she's gangsta like that; she's totally phat.
She'll have your white trash BLEEP! slinking off like a sewer rat.
But let's get back to the business at hand.
I was telling the story of the dumb buffet man.
His insults were flying; I just kept sighing.
"There's rules here, kid.  And you sho' ain't complying!"
But hold up, now Mrs. White Trash joined in!
It was two on one, and these folks was wearing thin.
So I told Mrs. White Trash to shut up her trap.
I wanted to finish my dinner free of this crap.
Mr. White Trash started throwing out threats.
He was so spitting mad, it's like he had Tourette's.
At this point the manager finally showed up.
She asked them to leave.  And not us.  Whassup!
Justice was served, as was our meal.
Dinner and a show--that's one helluva deal.

Somebody call a whaaaaambulance!

Here's a little bloggy topic that lots o' bloggers wonder about:  how to increase readership. 

Q:  Why don't we just shut up and be happy with what we've got? 
A:  Because...

1.  We're bloggers.  We are diametrically opposed to shutting up.


2.  Blogging without feedback can get lonely.  It's like you're yelling all your fascinating tidbits and genius insights into a giant canyon and only hearing your own boring voice boomerang back.

The exchange of ideas is what makes blogging fun in my expert humble opinion.  I think we all want to feel as if we are making our readers feel something.  We want to make them think.  We want to feel heard.  We want them to learn something.  We want to make them laugh and pee a little.  We want to connect

And we also want to be discovered for the closet prodigies we are.

Or maybe that's just me.

Do not click to enlarge.  My forehead is too big as it is.

As opposed to my usual posts, which are full of practical information and useful tips, this one is a request for advice from YOU, my faithful few. 

How do you increase your blog readership?

May 03, 2011

Author stalkin'

Nature Boy and I went to a homeschool convention this past weekend.  Homeschool conventions consist of workshops on topics relevant to homeschoolers (how to sew denim jumpers, the joys of copywork, Social Skills Are for Sissies--stuff like that).  Just kidding, y'all.  The topics of the workshops are actually pretty interesting.  One of my favorite workshops of the weekend was "Rediscovering the Lost Art of Adventure for Boys".

In addition to workshops, there are curriculum booths with tons of textbooks to stock up on in case Armageddon comes and you need toilet paper or kindling.  I don't use a lot of packaged curriculum or textbooks (we're more the relaxed, real books type of homeschoolers), so I go to the conventions for the workshops.

Nature Boy and I were totally starstruck all weekend because our favorite children's book author was there!   

John R. Erickson is the author of the popular Hank the Cowdog series.  Each of the 57 books in the series is also available in audio book format.  In Nature Boy's opinion, the audio books are the way to go.  The author does all the voices on the audio books, and he writes and performs two songs per book.  "Hank" even has two greatest hits CDs.

Here's a little sample from Mr. Erickson's concert at the convention this weekend.  It's a song Hank the Cowdog sings as he ponders his options regarding the hen house.

***Crazy Fan Alert***

I have to confess, y'all.  We might possibly have made ourselves a little bit of a nuisance to poor Mr. Erickson this weekend.  We got not one, not two, but three books autographed; I unashamedly videotaped part of Mr. Erickson's concert from the second row; we asked him a million questions about where he got his inspiration for writing; we asked to take a picture with him; I volunteered to be the workshop hostess during his concert; AND I bought him lunch at Chick-fil-a.  As he was preparing to leave, I even offered to help him carry his stuff out.  He was all, "No, that's okay.  I'm good." 

What can we say?  We love books.

Click to enlarge.