May 29, 2012

Flashback: Top 10 Most Annoying Things People Do (Part I)

Happy day after Memorial Day, y'all.  I hope you had lots o' BBQ and fun time with family and friends.  My mom and Shrinky Dink and her man came over for barbecued ribs, baked beans, corn on the cob, sweet cornbread muffins, deviled eggs, and Shrinky Dink's Loaded Baked Potato Salad.  (YUM.)  Strawberry shortcake and margaritas for dessert!

I wrote the post below a little over a year ago.  It's one of my favorites.  Hope you like it.  (Part II will be published next week!)  

P.S.  I'm working on another rap video.

P.S.S.  This one will also feature Nature Boy!

P.S.S.S.  I'll publish the video here when it's done.


If you're like me, stuff gets on your nerves a lot. So I've compiled a Top 10 List of the most annoying things people do. Because I'm such a gracious blog hostess, I illustrated each one using examples from my life. That's a lot of drawerings, y'all, so I'll have to list them in two installments. (Click pictures to enlarge.)

10. Letting their dogs roam the neighborhood.

This just happened yesterday. We live a few houses down from an antisocial young family with a stinky, mangy, um, unaltered bulldog. This bulldog somehow frequently manages to get out of the house without anyone knowing. He then proceeds to sexually harass the female dogs on the street, peeing and pooping indiscriminately on the way. Bolt (his real name) pushed his way into our living room yesterday when my son opened the door to tell me the dog was out again. Bolt is way too interested in our 9-year-old (spayed) female lab mix. Although she responds with, "I will CUT you!", Bolt doesn't seem to want to take no for an answer. To demonstrate his displeasure, he took a dump in my front yard while I was waiting for his owner to come get him.

9. When a crowd of people stops to chat right in front of the exit.

This is a common occurrence. You're in a crowded place and foot traffic is proceeding in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, some idiot decides that he can't walk and talk at the same time so he stops right in the path to the door. Then the flock gathers 'round. Perhaps it's due to my impatient nature, but this peeves me.

8. When people offer their unsolicited opinions about my family size.

Sometimes when we're out in public, people I don't even know ask me if my son is my only one. When I affirm this, they ask if I'm going to have any more children. Why do they need to know this? Is it a clue in a scavenger hunt they're participating in? Are they brushing up on their trivia for a future Jeopardy game? When they ask, I usually feel compelled to explain that I have secondary infertility. I guess I could just say, "Nope." But then I worry that they'll think I'm so disappointed with this parenting go-round that it's soured me to future child-bearing. And my kid is awesome, so I don't want to misrepresent!

Even worse was the time a neighbor told me straight to my face that she thinks having an only child is a horrible thing to do to a child.

She's lucky I'm medicated.

7. Interrupting me when I'm reading.*

Last week I was sitting in the waiting room of the chiropractor's office, happily reading my favorite magazine, Real Simple. A lady sat down next to me and picked up a copy of Hippies R Us Magazine (or some such) and began making noises of interest and revelation over the contents. When I didn't express an interest, she forged ahead anyway and began talking to me about diatomaceous earth. I made noncommittal sounds, avoided eye contact, and hunched further down into my magazine. She persisted. Not only did she persist, she went on tell me that she hadn't taken a shower in three days, she doesn't usually wear flip flops out in public, and her mom used to call cleaning yourself in between showers "taking a bird bath".

6. When doctors treat patients like crap.

I've seen a doctor or two in my day. It's another gift that autoimmunity brings. Most of them are nice, but some of them are buttholes. Some specialists in particular seem to have God complexes. In my experience, it's been gastroenterologists (hee hee, I said buttholes earlier) and psychiatrists. Years ago at the end of an initial appointment with a new psychiatrist, I asked her what her impression was. And I got the response in the drawing above. I was younger then, so I just kept quiet and never went back to her again. If that were to happen at this point in my life, I'd probably respond more like the cartoon me.

And that's it for today, folks. Stay tuned for the second installment!

*YouTube sensation Julian Smith made a hilarious music video about this very topic. Check it out.

May 21, 2012

Flashback: Just another manic Monday

Oldie-but-goodie post numero uno was originally written in February 2011.  Back then, I was just introducing you to my BFF, Shrinky Dink, and her trio of bloodthirsty ninjas adorable daughters. 

So pretend it's cold outside and settle in for a peek into life with my bestie.


Schools were closed again today due to last week's snow storm. And I say, Hooray! We homeschool, so a snow day means the neighborhood school kids are available to play all day and I have a legitimate excuse to be a homeschool slacker. Shrinky Dink and others of her ilk aren't so thrilled about the news. They aren't used to being in close proximity to their delightfully moody pre-teen children for days on end. I swear that Shrinky Dink has developed an eye twitch in the last week.

In a selfless act of mercy, I agreed to an afternoon of McDonald's and errands with Shrinky Dink and BeBe's kids her kids. My son (who I'll call Nature Boy) and I bravely accompanied them to public places(!) with only the occasional smack down occurring amongst the children. McDonald's was fine. Shrinky Dink and I even managed to have an adult conversation (once her kids un-Vecroed themselves from their mom). No food fights broke out. No blood was shed. We call that a good day.

And then we went to Hobby Lobby. Yeah, I don't think we really thought that one through. Our thought process went something like this:

Shrinky Dink: Hey, let's go to the local Fragile Goods store and spend an hour with all four children!
Me: What a great idea! I mean, the kids have been getting along so well all afternoon, and they are really stir crazy from being stuck indoors all week. Let's set them loose amongst glass wall art and ceramic decor!


The good news is that only $14 worth of damage was done to the store. The bad news is that I nearly had a nervous breakdown. I was so stressed out that I got all PTSD and left my purse in the store. Which only became apparent when we arrived at our next destination. Then my son had the nerve to complain about the drive back to the torture chamber Hobby Lobby to get my purse. "I don't want to have to be in the boring car even longer!" It's a good thing I'm on Zoloft, y'all.

On the way, Shrinky Dink and I had a Seinfeldesque conversation about last night's switcharoo emailing with the guy. She said, "It reminds me of that story about the guy with the big nose who writes the letters to the girl because the other guy can't do it." I was like, "What are you talking about?" She said, "You know, that guy with the big nose..."

Me: "Pinocchio?"
Her: "No! It's a Shakespeare story about a guy with a really big nose...."
Me: "Look, Disney's all I got, okay? I don't know anything about Shakespeare and a guy with a big nose."
Her: "Yeah you do! Remember, there was a movie and Steve Martin played the guy with the nose--"
Me: "Now that you mention Steve Martin, something is coming to mind."
Her: "He was in a movie with Daryl Hannah, and it was called Roxanne."
Me: "Yeah, and he sang (singing) "Roxanne! You don't have to put on the red light!"
Her: "No, that was Sting."
Me: "No, I'm pretty sure Steve Martin sang that song."

Shrinky Dink's delightfully moody pre-teen daughter (who I'll affectionately call Thing 1) had been smarting off to me (as well as to anyone within hearing distance) for the past half hour, and in a display of efficiency, used the extra van time to insult and threaten Nature Boy under her breath (reminding me again why I'd hoped for a boy during my pregnancy). Yes, the impulse to backhand her from the front seat was strong, but verily I say unto you, the Lord stayed my hand. (Which is a good thing, because while Shrinky Dink is slow to anger, you really don't want to piss her off.)

Somehow we made it back to our neighborhood. We were lulled by a brief period of peace in the van on the way home, so Shrinky Dink and I decided to extend our time together and work on the craft projects we'd picked out at Hobby Lobby. Aside from Shrinky Dink's littlest girl's puking-in-the-garage episode, most of the evening went well. We (responsibly) parked the kids in front of the TV and sat down at the kitchen table to work.

We were in our creative zones when we heard, "I'm bleeding!" coming from the living room. Not wanting to be left out, Shrinky Dink's middle child (Thing 2) had slapped my son in the face and scratched him under his nose.  I'd like to say that my perfectly well-behaved son had done nothing to bring on the slap, but in reality, he'd grabbed Thing 2 and her slap was a reaction to being surprised. Sigh.

It was time to go. It was BEYOND time. But the streets are covered in snow and ice and the little pukester (who I'll call Peppermint, because that's what she calls people when she wants to insult them) was asleep on the couch, as was Dr. Jekyll/Mrs. Hyde Thing 1, so Shrinky Dink couldn't take Nature Boy and me home.

So I called my husband (Tree Guy) to come pick us up. He was in the throes of trying to set up our new Blueray player to stream Netflix, so I benevolently offered to wait another 10-15 minutes. After 20 or 30 minutes, Tree Guy still hadn't shown up. Nature Boy was getting cranky and tired. So we decided to walk home in the snow and ice. Tree Guy opened the door for us in (mock) confusion. "Why didn't you call?" I was a little crabby at this point, but I patiently said, "I DID call! I said you could pick us up in 10 or 15 minutes!!" He said, "Oh, I thought you said you'd call in 10 or 15 minutes." Yeah, right. I think he just didn't want to leave the peace and quiet of our house to go pick us up.

And really, after the day we've had, I can't blame him.

May 19, 2012

A little corn with my flakes

So uh, instead of pondering for the entire summer whether or not I'll resume blogging in the fall, the decision took me all of one day. Because my impulsive ass doesn't need three months to methodically weigh the pros and cons and stew in the resulting angst.

Nay, with the help of my legions of blog fans (read: about 8 people), I've determined that this blog is worth continuing. I really do enjoy writing it. And let's not forget that reading my blog affects public policy, raises money for cures for obscure diseases, and shapes the very fabric of a generation. (I just made that last bit up.)

I still need to spend a lot less time online though. So what's a girl to do?

This girl has decided to stick with a summer blog hiatus and to give up my less rewarding online activities so I can continue blogging after the summer break.

Pinterest-schminterest. Youtube-booblube. Message boards--I can't think of one for those.

In the meantime, I'll be reposting oldies-but-goodies each week.

P.S. To get you in the mood for summer, here's a picture I took at the pool of the whitest guy in America.

You're welcome.

May 18, 2012

Life, or a reasonable facsimile

My first blog lasted a year and a hundred-odd posts.  I have been blogging for about 15 months this go-round, churning out 150 posts before this one.

I stopped blogging the first time because I noticed that I was spending more and more time living a virtual life, and less and less time living my real life.  Technology is a greedy beotch.

Balance is the word I chose for 2012.  And I am not living up to it. 

I'm blogging and Pinteresting and Facebooking and message boarding and emailing and Youtubing and Googling.  It's all too much.

I enjoy blogging because it's a creative outlet.  This blog is "me".  It's all audacity and wordplay and sarcasm and joy-seeking.

But I love my real life more than my virtual life, and I can't seem to walk the line between the two.


I've been that mom who stays up really late blogging (3am) and then sleeps too late (11am) only to jump back on the computer to check for blog comments as I'm eating my peanut butter oatmeal.

I've been that wife who says, "Sure, I'll put your clean clothes up when I'm done with this," only to drag my computer-zombie ass to bed with nary a pant hung up.

I've been that homeschooler who creates exciting learning plans for the day only to realize at 4pm that all I've accomplished is the drawing of a bad cartoon and some witty Facebook updates.

I've been that friend who says, "Yeah, I'll meet your kids after school," only to show up 10 minutes late because I "just have to finish this one thing" online.

I've been that driver who returns text messages at red lights, and if I'm being honest, who has even texted while driving a few times.

I've been that family member who plays online like a teenager instead of helping a tired, sore loved one with housework. 


I don't do balance very well.

I was already turning this over in my mind when I found  I was really touched by what I read.  Especially How to Miss a Childhood and A Well Loved Child.  

I think I happened across this blog because I needed confirmation of what my heart was telling me.  I need a break from technology.  I want it to be an option, not a daily requirement. 

I need to be more present in my real life. 

So I'm taking the summer off, y'all.  I'm going to spend these months slathering my white ass with sunscreen, reading a lot of good books, splashing at the pool with Nature Boy, and enjoying BBQ with my family and friends.

But do not despair, dear readers.  I'll be back come fall with plenty of steaming fresh crap to say.

Have a wonderful summer and stay tuned for weekly oldie-but-goodie reposts!


May 17, 2012

Farts: a compendium

In an effort to encourage Nature Boy to write more often, I gave him carte blanche when it comes to topics.  Because he is my son, he chose to write A Compendium of Farts.  Enjoy!

A Compendium of Farts

By Nature Boy

The Old Man Fart - an unacknowledged fart that just slips out
Silent but Deadly - quiet as a mouse; stinky as a toilet
The Stalker - follows you around everywhere you go
Taco Butt Fart - burns more coming out than it did going in
Train Fart - the never ending fart
The Workout Fart - lift a heavy weight & your breath isn't all that comes out
The Part - you mean to fart, but a little poop comes out
The Fart Blender - when several people in the same room fart
The Baby Fart - a tiny little squeak fart
The MAN Fart - a big explosion that really stinks; smells like meat
The Relationship Ender - happens at a key romantic moment in a public place; she will be so embarrassed that she breaks it off
The Squeaker - a tiny little mouse fart; higher pitched than the Baby Fart
The Movie Interrupter - occurs in movie theaters; smells so bad you have to take a raincheck on the movie
Knockout Fart - makes you want to pass out to escape the stink
The British Fart - a polite little fart
The Dog Fart - like Silent but Deadlies, but much stinkier
The Waker-Upper - an abrupt fart that wakes you from slumber
Musical Farts - when a family of farters takes turns farting in their chairs; closely related to The Fart Blender
The Ostrich - no matter how deep you bury your head in the sand, you can still smell it
The Ancient Fart - a fart before bed that is forgotten until it resurfaces in the morning when the covers are removed

May 11, 2012

Tree Guy wants YOU to know...

...that there is a right and a wrong way to plant a tree.

And that in his expert (he's a forester) opinion, far too many folks do it the wrong way. 

Therefore I bring you...

Tree Guy's Quick and Dirty Guide to Tree Planting

1.  Dig a hole a little bit wider and shorter than the root ball.

2.  Make sure the top of the root ball is a little higher than ground level. 

3.  Fill in the hole, but don't cover the part of the root ball that is higher than the ground.

4.  Put a few inches of mulch on top of the root ball in a circle around the tree.  Create a shallow "bowl" with the mulch, with the tallest part being at the outer edge of the mulch circle.

5.  To determine how often your new tree needs water, stick your hand down in the soil under the mulch.  If it's completely dry, water the tree.  If it's wet, don't water.  Trees can wilt with both too much and too little water.

That's it!  And if you break any of the cardinal rules o' tree planting?

You, like this forester's wife, will have a big mud hole for dogs in your front yard where a tree used to be.  RIP front yard tree!

May 10, 2012

Farewell Ol' Henry

As you probably don't recall (because only about 4.5 people read that post), the air conditioning in our sweet ride (an '02 Ford Focus with plastic rimz) has been on the fritz for about a year now.  The fix was estimated at around a grand, and we weren't sure the entire car was worth that much, so we elected not to fix it.  Nature Boy and I suffered through the ridiculous heat last summer (115 degrees!), tolerable only because Shrinky Dink took pity on us and let us borrow her van. 

A few weeks ago, Tree Guy vowed, "We shall never travel sweaty again!"  Not one to fiddle-fart around when it comes to spending moolah, I ran to the computer to start my car research.  We flirted with buying a brand new sub-compact because of the awesome price and awesomer gas mileage. 

Then we actually looked at some sub-compacts and remembered that we are not small people.  And we have freakishly large heads.

The wee Ford Fiesta

I got some leads on three 2010 Ford Foci (the plural form), and Nature Boy and I set out around 1pm to visit the dealerships.  We struck out at the first lot.  The car we came to see had already been sold.  We had better luck at the second place, so I arranged for Tree Guy to meet us there for a test drive after work.

While we waited for Tree Guy to finish his work day, Nature Boy and I went to the third dealership.  There we met car salesman Ricky Ricardo Jesus Velasco.  And he was a hoot.  Not only was his I Love Lucy-esque accent entertaining, but the man invited us to his house this weekend for some of his mom's homemade tortillas. (Heck-to-the-yes, Jesus!)

Of course, the invite came only after I joked during the test drive that we were planning to kidnap him and force him to cook us the authentic food of his culture.  So maybe it wasn't a real invitation.  It's quite possible that Jesus was just playing along until he could safely exit the vehicle I was driving.

Note:  Some of you may be thinking that I was being culturally insensitive.  But I assure you, that is not the case.  Jesus is married to a gringa, so he was already well aware that white women are crazy.  How do I know Jesus's marital status, you ask?  Because I asked, "So, are you married to a white woman, because I see a bunch of gringitos in those photos on your wall."

What?  He laughed!  (I guess you had to have been there.) 

(You know, I get away with crap like this all the time.  All I can say is, craziness has its rewards.)

Anyhoo, we really liked this guy!  But fickle gringos that we are, we didn't buy a car from Jesus.   

I know!  We really wanted to buy a car from him.  He was the best salesman we worked with all day!  But the right car for us just wasn't at his particular dealership.  The one we came to see had already been sold (again), and the one he showed us had a dent in the bumper and a shimmy in the steering wheel.  (Lo siento, Jesus!)

So Nature Boy and I met Tree Guy at dealership #2 to test drive the car we'd seen earlier.  And guess what.

People were test driving it when we got there, and they bought it!  It was sold right out from under us! 

Apparently, 2010 Ford Foci are seriously in demand.

So we were back to square one.  We worked with like, three different salesmen at dealership #2 and the three of them together did not equal one Jesus Velasco, I tell you. 

However, one of the Triplets from Chevyville showed us a sporty blue 2011 Focus with under 17,000 miles--for pretty much the same price as the denty-bumpered, shimmy-wheeled one at Jesus's place of business.  And voila!

Tank, modeling the 2011 Ford Focus SE

Seriously, this dog loves the new car.  He was giddy with joy! 

Raven got tired of his frolicking and tried to herd him out of the car.

It didn't work.

May 07, 2012

Whiter than I wanna be

I like to tell myself that I'm not as white as your average suburban homeschool mom in the Bible Belt.  That I've got soul.  That I appreciate diversity.  That I'm down

I shop at Aldi partly because of the panoply of cultures in evidence.  (Cheapness is the other reason.)  I am fascinated by other cultures, and I want Nature Boy to share my appreciation.  Shopping at Aldi reminds us that while we may live in the seeming epicenter of whiteness, there's a whole world out there.

And it seems that my efforts are paying off.  Nature Boy loves world history.  He enjoys exotic teas and sushi.  He collects Egyptian decor.  He aspires to ninjadom.  And he thinks black folks are da bomb.  One morning after his hip hop dance class on the north side of town, he said, "I think black people are cooler than white people.  They invented, like, everything cool!  Funk, the blues, soul music!"  (***wiping a proud tear***)

That wistful admiration is how I've always felt about Asian cultures.  (The Han Debacle notwithstanding.)  I love Asian historical fiction.  I enjoy the movies with their balance of delicate beauty and bad ass fighting scenes.  I totally cheered for the Ichigeki dance crew in Planet B-boy.  I think Asian women are beautiful.  I love the food.  I think Asian guys are hot.  (Ahem, I mean I used to think they were hot.  Before I married the hottest, whitest boy a girl could wish for!)

I used to speak Spanish.  I was so proud of my bilingual self.  Then "use it or lose it" came into play and now, no tanto.  As is evidenced by this conversation Nature Boy and I had in the car today.

Nature Boy:  Mom, why does Dad not want me to say "puda"?  It's just a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic word.
Me:  Because it sounds too close to puta, the Spanish word for the bad word for vagina.
Nature Boy:  Yeah, I know that word.  What's the bad word for a guy's manzone?
Me:  (...pause...)  Uh, your grandpa's name.
Nature Boy: (...thinking...)  Phil?

P.S.  He picked the wrong grandpa.

This conversation would be funny enough just with the Phil comment, but what makes it funnier is that puta does NOT mean the bad word for vagina.  (It means "whore".)  And the only reason I know this is that I looked it up on just now so I could tell you the Phil story. 

Disclaimer:  To the Parenting Police, I want to say that I don't include cuss words (in any language) in our homeschool lessons.  But if my son asks me about them, I will tell him what they mean so he is aware. ***

So vote for me for Mother of the Year!


***I realized the necessity of this when Nature Boy told me he thought prostitutes were people who stand up and talk in church. CHURCH! (Proselytizers? Prophets?)

May 04, 2012

Of conventions and crap I don't wanna hear

Are y'all tiring of my homeschool-related musings?  Are you all, "Enough already with the namby pamby kumbayah crap! Get back to making fun of people and writing songs and poems about poop and idiots!"?

Well, too bad.  'Cause I'm finna break it down again, homeschool-style. 

I can't help it.  I'm fresh from a homeschool convention.  Nah, not a hippie unschooling convention.  Much as I'd like to go!  I've been drooling over a certain unschooling conference for 3 years now.  But alas, I'm too broke to attend.  The Rethinking Everything conference is all about freedom.  Only it costs $150 a person to go, including children. 

Which proves the point that freedom is, in fact, not free.

So Nature Boy and I attended a more affordable convention for the bargain price of $49.  (Tree Guy couldn't go because he has to work to bankroll us freeloaders.)  We both had a good time.  A lot of moms go to homeschool conventions for the curriculum booths.  They get discounts on next year's curriculum if they buy at a convention. 

I go for the beer.

(Just kidding.  Beer is gross.)

(Now, if they offered Lambrusco....)

On a serious tip, the real reason I go to homeschool conventions is the sessions.  Attending those classes takes me back to my nerdy 4.0-having school days.  I LEARN new stuff, and I get to TAKE NOTES!  (Wheeee!)  Sometimes a speaker really, er--speaks to me.  There were two women at this year's convention who opened my eyes/mind/heart.  I'll share about one of them today, and the other in a separate post.

One messenger I felt like shooting spoke about being the mother of teen boys.  She said there's a change a-coming, and we have to roll with it or get left in the dust.  When moms of adolescent boys cling to their itty bitty cutie-poos, what often happens is the opposite of what they intended. 

She said, "We can choose to try to hold on to what we cannot keep (the little boy), or we can embrace that which has to come (the man he is becoming)."  And she said that if we don't let go, we will either end up with a grown up little boy who forever needs his mommy, or a son with a hardened heart who continues to push us away.

And I was like, DANG!  I don't want to give up kisses and hugs and spontaneous hand-holding and hair-smoothing and snuggling on the couch and deep conversations.  I love that stuff.  I live for that stuff.  It makes me tear up just to type it.  To think that in a few short years, my boy will be pulling away.  To think that that's exactly what he is supposed to do! 

How do moms survive the heartbreak of the teenage boy?  Of snubs.  Of avoiding kisses and hugs.  Of suddenly being embarrassed to be seen with mom.  You know, the woman who gave you life and changed your poopy diapers and let you in her bed when you had a nightmare and stayed up with you all night when you were sick and wipes all your tears away and is your biggest fan and would die for you!  (Ugh, tears again.)

Yet, according to this speaker, letting go is necessary.  It's essential to let our adolescent boys take the lead in determining the amount of closeness and affection and sharing.  If we desire a close and loving relationship with our grown sons, we have to accept (endure!) the inevitable separation from us that is part of becoming a man.   

And that sucks!

But it's probably true.

Which does not make it suck any less. 

Have you gone through the teen years with your son and lived to tell the tale?  If so, please share!


May 03, 2012

At what age does real life start?

This month at Christian Unschooling, we're sharing our initial concerns about jumping off the Tradition Train and embracing a relaxed learning lifestyle for our kids.  As you know, I'm prone to all manner of neuroses, so this month's topic was right up my alley.

Check it out.