April 30, 2012

Big girl friendships - part deux

I've written before about the difficulties of making new friends when you're a grownup.  It can be hard to break into an existing group, especially if that group formed back in Ms. Childers' 3rd grade classroom.  Trying to join a group of old friends can feel like a particularly painful game of Red Rover.  You start out standing tall, but end up on your ass.

I had a lot of friends during my school years.  When Tree Guy and I moved to another state for a job after college, I assumed the friend procurement process would continue to flow smoothly.  Nope.

I remember that feeling of loneliness and near-desperation.  Just one!  Just one friend and I'd be happy, I thought.  Someone to chat with, to share a cup of coffee with, to see a chick flick with, to talk books with.  How hard can it be to find one new friend?

Once I made one friend, more came along.  That's a curious thing.  No one wants to be friends with a singleton, but add one friend and suddenly she's got the Girl Seal of Approval for Potential Friendship.  If there were friendship reviews, I imagine mine from that period would be something like the following:

5/2/1999 subrbanhippee08
Danielle is a little desperate for get-togethers, but otherwise she seems okay.  A little crazy maybe.  Keeps mentioning something called OCD and that she still loves watching Beverly Hills, 90210.  That's weird, but she makes really good cake.

6/14/1999 acctntchick$$$
Just met Danielle today through a mutual friend.  She told me Danielle would be a goofball, and she was right.  I wish she could be a little more serious.  Does she not realize that she is a white person?  Don't think I've ever met a rapping white woman in person before.

7/26/1999 frmrsdaughter#1
Met Danielle at a baby shower today.  She knows nothing about gardening or homesteading, but she does like a good book.  Maybe we'll have more in common.  She said she's an animal lover.  I wonder if she likes rabbit stew? 

Because I remember well my former friendless state, I make a point of welcoming new folks to the fold.  I'm the person who notices and chats with the new girl.  And it's not just some act of charity either.  A lot of the time, I don't feel like I fully fit in with whatever group I'm with, so it's actually a relief to take a break and meet someone new.  I know that it's harder to introduce yourself to strangers than it is to be introduced by a mutual friend, so I try to spread the love.  And that's not exactly selfless either--I like the convenience of having all my friends together in one place!  I'm all for efficiency, yo.

Which is why I'm super excited about a new group I'm starting with a few friends.  We call it the Homeskool Mafia, but it actually has little to do with homeschooling.  (And approximately nothing to do with the mafia.)  We just wanna hang out together during the day when all the suckas normal folk are at work and school.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time last night cartooning all the inaugural members.  For fun, and for the eventual t-shirts I hope we have made.

Check it out.

April 27, 2012

My kid's a genius. And so is yours.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein


I love Albert Einstein's views on learning.  He was an out-of-the-box thinker.  And a little bit of a goofball.

The quote above really speaks to me.  (Thanks, Al.)  What an affirming message for kids who struggle with our society's limited definition of childhood success. 

Kids basically have 4 ways to be declared a pint-sized success.

Society's Magic 4:

1.  Be an athlete.
2.  Be a music or art prodigy.
3.  Be really attractive.
4.  Get really good grades in school.

When they meet one or more of these criteria, life is easier.  They get kudos and gold stars and blue ribbons and good report cards.  People smile at them more often.  They have more friends.  Their parents brag in their hearing or put bumper stickers on their minivans.

(P.S.  Nature Boy totally nails #3, so please don't mistake me for a bitter parent.  :D )


The truth is, there are many, many ways to be a success.  Our kids need to hear this.   Over and over.  And we need to believe it. 

How do we help our kids find their inner superheroes?

The best place to start is right where they are.  "What the world needs now" is whatever gift your child brings to the table.  If he's a fish, let him be a fish.  If he's a tree climber, let him climb the s#!t out of that tree. 

But it doesn't stop there.

We have to learn to value whatever it is that makes our kids special.  We have to look beyond society's Magic 4 and celebrate our kids' inherent awesomeness even if they have two left feet, can't play a note or hold a paintbrush, and have giant Charlie Brown heads. 

If we value more than the Magic 4, our kids will too.

So I propose a revised list of possible childhood success markers.  Feel free to add your own.

Hey, Kid!  You Rock If...

You are genuinely a nice person.
You help others when you can.
You are polite.
You have eyeballs.  (Everyone's eyes are gorgeous.)
You are kind to animals.
You have a good imagination.
You help around the house without attitude.
You stand up for what is right.
You are nice to the kids other kids don't like.
You have a good sense of humor.
You smile at folks.
You persevere.
You passionately follow your interests.
You create things.
You build things.
You take things apart to see how they work.
You laugh a lot.
You make other people laugh.
You are friendly with old folks.
You are patient with younger kids.
You don't litter.
You recycle.
You care about the environment.
You like spending time in nature.
You are curious.
You are a fast learner.
You take your time.
You are a good conversationalist.
You are a good storyteller.
You are a good listener.
You take good care of your stuff.
You like to work with your hands.
You follow the rules.
You respectfully question the rules.
You love music.
You love art.
You love politics.
You love animals.
You love books.

You love people.
You care about the less fortunate.
You try your best.
You have a strong faith.

And my personal fave:
You think your mom is cool.

April 26, 2012

Signed, the pet police

I don't think I've ever gone off on irresponsible pet owners on this blog.  Which is surprising, really, as neglectful owners are a major "pet" peeve of mine.  (Har har.)

I own up to the fact that I am a long-time member of the Pet PoPo.  I have strong opinions about what responsible pet ownership is, and it shouldn't surprise you that I share these opinions when need be.

Which doesn't exactly win me friends now that I live "out in the country".

But I don't think I'm really that hard to please.  While it's true that my Labrador mix has had acupuncture, and ate home cooked chicken and rice with fresh chopped parsley from the garden and plain yogurt with flax seed meal and scoops of Balance IT doggie vitamin powder mixed in for 4 months last year to help her heal from a mystery illness, I don't think my standards are too high.

I've been laughed at for my canine cuisine, and Tree Guy complained that our dog was eating better than he was, but I believe I just did what any dog mama worth her salt would do in my situation. 

Right?!  Right.

So, surely you understand my frustration with pet owners who slack.  People who don't provide regular vet care, who don't spay and neuter, who don't let their dogs and cats inside the house, who don't bother to put identification on a pet's collar.  WHO DON'T BOTHER LOOKING FOR THEIR PETS WHEN THEY GO MISSING!!!

My first year as a suburban transplant has taught me that there's a distinct difference between country folks and suburban folks when it comes to lost pets. 

City folks are all, "$$$REWARD!$$$  Help us find our little smoochie poo!  She's on Royal Jelly and homeopathic treatments for her anxiety and she needs her meds or she will have a nervous breakdown and have to go to Betty Ford again!"

Country folks, on the other hand, are all, "...(crickets chirping)..."


And if, by some miracle, the (saint of a) dog rescuer does happen to reunite a country dog with its owner, the response she gets is something along the lines of, "If you would have left him alone, he would have come back home after a few days.  He always does."  Like their dog was KIDNAPPED FROM THEIR YARD OR SOMETHING!

To that I say, you're welcome, muthafu*^%rDon't make me sick Bob Barker on you!  (Surely you saw the Bob Barker beatdown in Happy Gilmore.  Bob is all about responsible pet ownership.)  

Anyhoo, check this little guy out.  We found him roaming our neighborhood 4 days ago.  With a collar, but no tags.

Shrinky Dink's keeping him at her house for now.  I've been calling shelters, posting ads, and searching for lost dog postings online and in person for 3 days now.  With nary a response. 

He's a friendly little dog.  Likes kids.  Not a barker or a digger.  Not a fan of Shrinky Dink's boundary-ignoring husky/pit mix, Balto (which is kind of understandable...), but still.  He's a good dog.  And no one is looking for him?!  His owner can't be bothered to put up a flyer or call the city shelter or post on Craigslist?

We are now assuming that he was dumped, so we're trying to find him a new home.  With an owner who values him enough to actually seek him out.

(Why do people think dumped dogs fare better out in the country anyway?  Don't they know there's coyotes in them thar hills?)   

Sigh.   (Stepping down off my soapbox now.)

April 25, 2012

Confessions of a Homeskool Mafia Queen

I'm just gonna say it:  I don't think I'm a very good homeschool mom.

For real.

(P.S.  This is a self-flagellation instrument.)
(P.S.S. Don't ever try to look for self-flagellation images on Google.  Just don't.) 

I don't homeschool because I think I can do a better job than people who have trained for years.  I don't operate under the delusion that under my superior tutelage, my son's learning disabilities will magically disappear.  I don't think that homeschooling is for everyone.  Or that it is a panacea for society's ills.  Or that it produces high-achieving super children who will one day rule the world.  Or that people who don't homeschool are subpar, half-assed parents.

I homeschool because that's what my child needs. 

And (most of the time) it's fun.

And (some of the time) it's satisfying.

I don't think I'm alone in occasionally wondering, Am I really the kind of person I want my kid to be around all day?!

Sometimes the answer is a straight-up NO.  I'm moody and sarcastic and tired a lot, and I have an irreverent sense of humor.  And I suck at consistency.

This lack of consistency is at the heart of my assertion that I'm not a good homeschool mom.

My son likes my zaniness, my we-don't-need-no-stinkin'-rules approach to life.  He's grateful that I don't force him to try to be someone he's not.  That I'm more than OK with quirks and goofball antics and controversial statements.  That I value humor and creativity.  He admires that I stand up for what is right (as long as I don't embarrass him in the process!).  He likes having a fun mom.

But does Fun Mom get things done?  Does Fun Mom cover all the stuff that her kid is going to need to get into (and stay in) college if he decides to go?  Is Fun Mom the ideal homeschooling parent?

The Magic 8 Ball says, "Reply hazy; try again."

The truth is, I don't think I'm the ideal anything.  I just don't know that I can be different than I am.  I don't think I can be that person who sits at a table for 4 or 6 hours reading through textbooks and going over workbook pages. 

My son is not that person either.  He needs to be interested in what he's learning.  He needs to move around and change course and interrupt.  He needs to create and laugh and roam.  Sometimes he needs to have his head on the floor and his feet in the chair.  None of these traits are conducive to a good classroom experience.

Even though I know this, I still worry.  (Oh, the ANXIETY!)  I so wish I could be a confident homeschooling mom.  I don't know how they do it.

Can an imperfect, moody, inconsistent mom be a good homeschool mom? 

If homeschooling was a competition, I certainly don't think I'd win any awards.

I can only hope that I am a good enough homeschool mom.  That my imperfect way of teaching and raising my boy is the right way for him.  I have to endeavor to be the mom and teacher that he needs--even if it means I don't measure up to the professionals.

I can only trust that God knew what He was doing when He gave us each other.


This post is linked up at:

April 22, 2012

Real love

We have been sold a line of crap, y'all.

I blame fairy tales. Girls grow up believing that love is all sunshine and flowers and happy forest critters at our feet, which does less than nothing to prepare us for real relationships with our own (ahem!) princes. I say less than nothing because believing in fairy tales creates unrealistic expectations which we spend so much time and energy trying to get met, that we don't get to experience the real love we have.

We grow up thinking that happy, loving feelings are the most important factors in romantic relationships, despite the fact that we fight with our frenemies, have mama drama, and alternately adore and hate our siblings—all while continuing to love them.

In no other relationship in our lives do we expect to feel loving and happy all the time.

How many times have you heard a girlfriend say, “I love him, but I'm not in love with him”? Maybe you feel that way yourself. The thrill is gone. It's all work and no play. There's no connection, no passion. You're more like roommates than lovers.

That sucks, no doubt. But before throwing in the towel, especially when a marriage is at stake, take a look at the big picture. There are many facets to a healthy relationship: friendship, companionship, partnership, co-parenting, mutual financial advising, co-dreaming, sex, affection, fun, learning together, laughing together. How are the other aspects of your relationship going? Do you have fun together? Have you talked about future plans you can both get excited about? Do you have each other's backs when the going gets tough?

There's nothing wrong with valuing passion and excitement. They have their place. But they aren't enough by themselves to sustain a relationship. So get real.

Sometimes the change that is most needed in a ho-hum relationship is the one we make in our heads.

April 21, 2012

If You Give a Boxer Ear Drops

If you give a boxer ear drops,

he'll probably shake that big box-head all over the place.

Then you'll have ear drops all over you,

which is particularly problematic if you wear glasses.

If you drive home from the vet right afterward,

you'll also have ear drops all over your car.

But there are no windshield wipers inside your car,

so visibility might be poor on your drive home.

If you make it home safe and sound,

you might want to change clothes.

Or even take a shower.

Used ear drops do not smell very fresh.

If you shower and change your clothes,

your boxer will likely shake that big box-head all over you again.

In protest.

Which is understandable.

If this is, indeed, a boxer we're talking about,

you'll probably also have drool flung far and wide.

Their giant, droopy lips do not contain it.

You'll have to use a towel to sop up the mess.

If you used the last clean towel,

you'll have to wash a load of towels for future use.

Because these ear drops must be given once a day,

for the next fourteen days.


Man, what's up with social media's fascination with NEWER!  BETTER! DIFFERENT!?  Facebook's always changing something, making even veteran users feel like newbies.  (I still hate that stupid side ticker.) 

Now Blogger's "upgrading" things too, with a new (more embedded, less intuitive) dashboard look.  I don't know about you, but whenever a social media change is announced, I stubbornly keep things the old way for as long as possible.  Because I don't like change unless I choose it!  All this does is delay the inevitable, but hey, it gives me more time to be the boss of me.  And that's always a good thing.

I can totally see why so many people prefer Wordpress over Blogger.  Wordpress has a bunch of cool features that Blogger doesn't.  I've remained with Blogger though, because when I tried Wordpress, it seemed like more work.  In my not-so-humble opinion, Wordpress's dashboard isn't as obvious or visually appealing as Blogger's WAS.  With the old Blogger dashboard, all the options were right there, side-by-side. 

Not anymore.

Now Blogger's dashboard is more like Wordpress's.  Which makes me think that maybe I should go ahead and make the switch. 

Have you switched blogging platforms?  Are you considering it?

April 19, 2012

Shite happens.

Today's dose of humor comes to you via my hard-working husband, Tree Guy. 

Tree Guy's a utility forester, but he also does landscaping projects on the side.  For the past several months, he's been working in the evenings to maintain a doctor's monstrous property.  Whilst weed eating the place last week, Tree Guy came across the nemesis of all utility workers:  dog poop.  Usually my man navigates clients' poop minefields with ease, but this time, he didn't see it 'til it hit him.   


Since I've been watching entirely too much Sons of Anarchy on Netflix, I'm inclined to think Tree Guy was set up.  Everyone knows there's a blood feud between utility workers and dogs.  Workers roll up on canine territory without permission all the time.  And landscapers are even worse.  They tear up the Canine Crew's turf!  It's like they're asking for a war.

I'm thinking the doc's dog must be pretty deep in the CRA (Canine Republican Army), because she sure knows how to set a poop bomb.  Since she doesn't know I'm Tree Guy's old lady, maybe I can make some connections for my own side project.

April 16, 2012

Kicking and screaming: an unschooling story

Hey peeps!  Have I mentioned that I'm one of the writers at the newly relaunched Christian Unschooling website? 

If you'd like to find out how we stumbled into this thing we call unschooling, click the button below.  (Yes, there will be cartoons!)

April 14, 2012

Times, they are a-changin'

My guys and I watched War Games the other night.  Remember that '80s Matthew Broderick movie?  It was pre-Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  (Which is my mom's all-time favorite movie, in case you're writing these things down to share with the tabloids when she becomes famous for her buffet eatery superheroing.) 

Matthew Broderick was a cutie.  (Is it just me or did he actually get shorter in the past couple decades?)  Tree Guy and I got a kick out of how much has changed since that movie came out.  During one scene, he actually had to tell Nature Boy, "That's called a telephone booth, son." 

I don't think I'd even heard of computers before that movie.  They seemed magical and mysterious and just a wee bit threatening.  People must still be scared of computers, because nearly 3 decades later, filmmakers are still making COMPUTERS TAKE OVER THE WORLD!! movies.

I find it strange when kids think I'm old.  I don't feel old.  In fact, I feel younger than I probably should.  I am a 37-year-old woman who still plays practical jokes and wears goofy wigs.  And now I've added rapping on the Internet to my list of er, accomplishments.  Clearly there is something wrong with me.  Still, you'd think being considered old would be less of a surprise for me, what with all the arthritis and whatnot. 

Yesterday I was at Shrinky Dink's house and her oldest daughter made a comment about blending families and the practicalities of sharing space with step-siblings.  She's a girl who likes to have it all figured out (read: run the show), so although her mom's not even engaged, she's already called dibs on a bedroom in their (non-existent) big, new, custom-built house.  Which will be painted purple and have bean bag chairs, I'm told. 

I played along, mainly because Shrinky Dink makes really good coffee and I wasn't done with my cup.  So I likened the big blended family thing to The Brady Bunch.  And she just looked at me blankly.  I said, "You do know what The Brady Bunch is, right?"  And she said no and walked away because my old ass was boring her.

Why, back in my day, children didn't walk away from a conversation with an adult until they were dismissed!  Hooligan!

April 13, 2012

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Ever have one of those weeks when it just might be hazardous for the general public should you venture out? 

When your kid is voluntarily doing the dishes, not complaining about school work, and is hiding out in his room rereading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to avoid your wrath?  When your man works overtime pretty much every day in the hopes that your crabby butt will have fallen asleep by the time he gets home?  When even your DOGS are like, Naw, we're good, when you half-heartedly toss them a tennis ball?  When you're so exhausted that you mentally run through the energy requirements for a simple, everyday task (like getting dressed) and go, Man, screw it?

I am having one of those weeks. 

Which explains why I haven't posted this week.  I've been too much of a beotch to write anything other than: I have been too much of a beotch.  And that's not funny.  Or interesting.  Now, sometimes my cranky moods are humorous.  Mostly because my bipolar-ass doesn't have that politeness filter than unipoles are blessed with/limited by.  Medicine keeps me on a more or less even keel, but it's not magic.  It doesn't createth in me a new personality.  It only slightly raises my tolerance for BS.

This is probably because psychotropic medication ain't got nothing on hormones. 

And I'm manufacturing that stuff like a crackhouse pharmacist.  I'm not really much of a PMSer, so this is new for me.  Which leads me to believe that I'm either incubating Edward Cullen's vampire child or I'm starting the CHANGE.  (As if errant chin hairs weren't my first clue.)

I realize that this is one of those TMI situations, and if I wasn't so hormonal, I'd toss out a half-hearted apology for that.  But I am so I won't.  Instead, I will leave you with some funny pictures to make up for my lack of joie de vivre.

You're welcome.

April 06, 2012

God is good

I've gotta take a minute to give a shout-out to God. 

I know I don't write about my faith much here, but I've got a strong one.  I guess I just don't feel the need to talk about it all the time.  I believe how I live my life (raps and passive-aggressive cartooning aside), along with acknowledging that I'm a Christian, is a much better witness than spouting a bunch of fancy words to prove how holy I am and how unholy other people are.  I know that I'm turned off by holier-than-thou folks, so I can only assume it makes nonbelievers throw up in their mouths a little.

I know I'm opinionated, and I don't mean to dis other Christians who feel differently.  It's just that for me, being a good person and attributing the good stuff to God is how I spread the message.  I think it's more effective to reach people where they are than it is to preach from the heights.


I'm just grateful for God's forgiveness.  I don't deserve it, but I'm forgiven anyway.  Even if I'm having an I Suck marathon, and I can't forgive myself for screwing up, God forgives me like a parent forgives a wayward child.  Seeing God as a father makes me believe in his ability to forgive everything.  Human parents do it all the time.  If we forgive our children's bad behavior without a second thought, how much more forgiving is God?

My view of God as our father also prevents me from believing that people who don't believe like I do are going to hell.  I believe Christians are going to heaven.  I also believe that Jews and Muslims are going to heaven.  We have the same God--but different interpretations of what He expects from us.  If God is our father, I'm pretty sure He wants us with Him.  God's not a deadbeat dad.  I don't think he's trying to keep us out of heaven. 

Which is why I also believe that nonbelievers can get to heaven.  I believe God gives each of us every possible chance to believe in Him.  What if, when we die, God appears to us, and gives us the choice to become His own even if we didn't choose that during our time on earth?  This possibility isn't a reason to put off getting to know God--it's just something to consider for people of faith who are certain that atheists and agnostics are going to hell.

What about the fate of people who die by suicide, like my brother?  I don't believe that God punished his hurting and hopeless 15-year-old self with eternal suffering in hell.  I believe my brother's spirit repented and asked God's forgiveness for not being able to stick it out, and that God had compassion for His child and was merciful.

I am convinced that there's so much that we don't know.  And I feel just as strongly that not knowing everything is perfectly OK.  None of us has all the answers. 

But God does. 

And even if we don't always have faith in Him, He always has faith in us.


April 03, 2012

Help me out, yo

I created a poll at the top of my right sidebar with some options for changes to this blog.  Just little tweaks and whatnot to make things more reader-friendly.  

Would you mind voting if any of the choices apply?  And if there's something else you think would make a good addition (or deletion), or you want more or less of something in particular, please leave me a comment with your recommendation.

I promise not to shank you.  


April 02, 2012

The one in which I get my rap on

Remember when I wrote that Golden Corral post four score and seven years ago?

Here's the rap version.

(Prepare yourself for my mad skillz.)