Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I used to be funny.

I used to be able to tell a story, and people would be falling out of their chairs laughing.

Now, I don't have any interest in being funny. I feel more poignancy-inducing than hilarity-inducing.

Erma Bombeck once said, "Humorists can never start to take themselves seriously. It's literary suicide. "

I don't take myself seriously--seriously has been taking me.

However, dear Ms. Bombeck also said, "If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it."

And that is what my sister and I do. I am certain that people think we are horrible or heartless or even completely nuts, but we have faced so many heartbreaking things in the last five years, and we have laughed to stay sane.

Which leads me to people who have survived much, much worse than we have--Auschwitz, seeing their children die, war. I admire their resilience and their determination.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update on the Dog

We finally got a call from the emergency vet--we could go pick up Dirty Harry.

When we got there, he appeared fine and was happy to see us. I went up to pay and was told the bill came to $987 dollars and some change.

Whaaatt? I was told about $600 dollars. I spoke to the vet, who slashed $100 off of the bill. She said she didn't know the antibiotics were so expensive. She said she didn't know we'd need all those x-rays, but we had only one more set when I got the estimate. She also told me that her total and the computer total were different and she didn't know why. The whole thing appeared to be horribly disorganized.

Needless to say, I am going to follow up on this bill.

EG is dreadfully unhappy about the bill; although we have the emergency funds to pay it, that is a lot of money for one day of hospitalization.

Before I left, I asked when to look for a bowel movement. I was told, "Soon" and informed that I should check it.

When we got the dog home, he immediately went to the bathroom, having a normal visit. The kids applauded him, and EG commented, "A nine hundred dollar bowel movement."

Is this where we say "priceless?"
Yesterday I spent a good deal of time at the emergency vet with Harry, one of the dogs. Harry can and does eat just about everything, but in this case he had eaten something which hadn't agreed with him, which generally means that it was a razor blade, drain cleaner, or an atomic weapon which has detonated.

However, in this case, it was apparently a ponytail holder.

This side trip to the vet meant that I lost ten hours of time I had set aside to do things around the house, like work in the flowerbeds or file papers or the like. There is so much that I don't get done around here--last year I neglected to mulch the rosebush, and this spring the poor thing was a bunch of dead twigs.

Of course, I felt guilty, but I didn't get to the removal of the rosebush. Last week I noticed that there were green branches in with the brown thorny ones. I decided to let it go a little longer.

This afternoon, while we were waiting for the call back from the vet to see if the dog will need surgery, we decided to let the kids swim in the pool. I looked over at the rosebush, and there were three blossoms.

This has been a rough summer--the kids are bored and challenging, I am never alone, and we have lots of stress and emotional issues to deal with, especially this week. I have always been pretty resilient, dealing with each additional stressor as it comes along, but this week sidelined me; my coping bucket is pretty much empty.

The rose reminded me of something which happened several years ago. We were at our old church, where we attended Mass on Saturday evening. A wedding had taken place earlier that day. Nita, who was about three then, found a rosebud in the pew and handed it to me; I put it in the hymnal rack. When Mass let out, I spoke to Betty, a lady who worked in the rectory, as she left.

Suddenly, something told me, "Give the rose to Betty."

I chased after her and handed her the rose, saying, "Will you please take this home and put it in some water?"

She mumbled some thanks and left.

A couple minutes later, there was a touch on my elbow.

"I want to explain my behavior," Betty said. "You see, my daughter's breast cancer is no longer in remission. And I have been praying the last couple of days for a sign that my daughter will be okay. I've been asking St. Theresa, the Little Flower, to send me a flower as a sign."

I looked down at the rose, which was trembling in her hand, and we both cried.

I'm not the kind of person who asks for signs, nor do I look for any special meaning in things. But this rose reminds me of so many things: first, things are tough right now, but not unbearable; second, there just might be hope when things look like there is none; and, third, we don't know the reasons for things which happen to us.

I am going to take a picture of this rose and leave it on my cell phone as a reminder to myself.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Restful weekend, anyone?

Friday night, I found a mouse carcass in the trap in the basement. I did what any normal, red-blooded woman raised in the country would do--I screamed. I hate mice, not because I am afraid of them, but because they are nasty.

So I threw out the little corpse in the field for the coyotes or fox. I scrubbed and swept the basement while EG plugged their newly-discovered entrance hole and put brass mesh over the opening. We figured that should take care of things, at least temporarily, so I could relax for a while.

This was my restful Saturday morning. Harry got up at six with an upset stomach. At nine I took him out, and he was in obvious distress--he wouldn't walk.

I called the regular vet, who told me to take him to the emergency vet. On the way there, the work crews had the main road shut off, but I was first in line for a five to ten minute wait while cars came up from the center of town. I finally told the workers I was on my way to the emergency vet, and they stopped traffic so I could cross the road.

Got to the emergency vet. They rushed us in. They sedated him. They took X-rays at 100 dollars a pop and said he was full of fluid in his abdomen. They sedated him more and pumped his stomach.

They X-rayed him again. They said it looked like he had swallowed a spoon. I was to consider surgery (two to three thousand dollars) or them using a scope (five hundred dollars) to retrieve the spoon; if the scope didn't work, then we have to do the surgery. I call my regular vet, who is part-time retired but a fabulous surgeon. He would operate on Monday, but he recommended that I have the dog done where we are. I called EG, who carriesd on for five minutes but decided to have the surgery done.

Meanwhile Harry woke up from the anesthesia, bit the tube in half, threw up, and aspirated some of the fluids. The staff pulled the rest of the tube out of his stomach, and stuck him with some antibiotics so he wouldn't get pneumonia. They $$-rayed him yet again. Guess what--no spoon. So they examined his stomach contents and found a ponytail holder. I can see why they confused the two.

Surgery was put on hold. Dog appeared to feel better. They $$-rayed him one last time and found an unexplained mass in his stomach. It could be food or it could be some other kitchen utensil or the napkin he ate yesterday or grass or dog food--it's like a game show. They want to keep him overnight (more antibiotics and an IV) and X-ray yet again in the morning to determine if they need to operate.

I come home and find out at four thirty that the food I got for the party tonight and specifically told EG to not give the kids was consumed for lunch with EG's permission.

I may scream.

Honestly. I need to go back to work to get some rest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

One more step

Wednesday, my mother was experiencing shortness of breath. Her pulse oxygen was at 70 percent, and she was anxious. The nurse called my sister, who has medical power of attorney, and mentioned that the nursing home might want to send my mother to the hospital.

My sister discussed it with me, and we agreed that Mom should not be sent to the hospital. She got confused and agitated and combative the last few times we had her there. The most recent time, I got off the elevator to find my mother, in a wheelchair by the nurses' station, berating the nurses, doctors, and guests alike. I wanted to back right back on the elevator and slink away.

It is a hard thing to decide to let your mother receive comfort care only and die.

Mom did recover with the help of some medication. When I went to see her last night, she was confused and couldn't verbalize. I know she knew that she knew me, but she had no clue how she knew me.

It is a bad year for fleas, and I have been fighting them on the dogs. The mouse came back last night and crawled up under the siding of the house to hide.

In the middle of the night, I woke with a panic attack. My doctor told me it wasn't elevated blood pressure causing my symptoms, but something else.

My office mate said to me, tongue in cheek, "You need to get rid of some of those things causing that stress."

Oh, so I need to evict my tenant, quit my job, shave the dogs, burn down the house, divorce my husband, send the kids into foster care, and hurry my mother's demise? No, I need to adapt one more time. Yet again.

So here I go again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Progressive Dinner

It is dark today because it is storming.

Early this morning, I put a chicken in the crockpot and left it to cook all day.

Rocky just walked in and asked me if we were having anything with the chicken.

I asked him if I ever served a roast with nothing else, or steak with no side dishes, or baked fish on the plate by itself.

He said, "No. So, are we having anything with the chicken?"

Consequently, because of his concern and despite it being only four thirty, I sent his sister downstairs for some rice to serve with the chicken.

Rocky is happy now.

I finally realized that he has some basis for his concern. I do not cook by the clock. My mother used to time the meal so it was ready at six o'clock and on the table by 6:05 p.m. However, since EG works evenings, I am pretty relaxed about timing my meal. It could be served any time between five thirty and eight o'clock, depending on the day and what else is going on. The dogs, though, eat between six and six thirty each night, but they are more insistent and less inclined to snack.

Two weeks ago, I got the meat done, but the side dish was not ready by the time we had to leave for boy scouts. Rocky ate in installments that evening, kind of a progressive dinner but all at one house.

So, I guess Rocky has some basis for his concern because his mom is not motivated to see he gets a healthy, nutritious meal to fuel him through his boy scout meeting.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

I remember my mom saying, "I'm not going to tell you again."

And she didn't. At least not in words.

However, she also didn't have Rocky as a child. I have told Rocky at least 962 times to not let the dogs lick him. I told him the dogs lick their own anatomy, that the dogs have germs, and that I don't want to reinforce that behavior in my dogs. I have also told him innumerable times that he should not sit below the dogs so their heads are above his, as the dogs view that as submissive behavior.

So, of course, at least five times a week, I walk in the living room to find Rocky on the floor, the dog above him, slurping his face.

Let me point out, too, that this is the same kid who won't use the same unused napkin his sister had next to her plate because it has germs.

The same thing with table manners. Rocky will pick up his sandwich, thumbs on top, elbows winging out to the side and causing the rest of us to bob and weave, and take a huge bite, causing food to fall out onto his plate, the table, or the floor. He picks up things like macaroni by using the points on the fork, going bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink-bink and then quickly transporting the laden fork to his mouth to catch as much as possible before it falls back off the fork. I have pointed out to him that he can do this maneuver slower and more quietly, but again, I must be lapsing into Tagalog or some other language he finds unfamiliar.

Plus, the kid eats like he's been lost in the wilderness for five days, and finally, finally he is getting something other than grubs and roots. I hesitate to put more food on his plate unless he has backed away and the fork is on the table.

I have come to the conclusion that this is a male thing. No offense to the men out there, but let's face it. Many times, I have asked EG, "Who did you ignore before you met me?" I will tell him something, and he will reply appropriately. A few hours later, he is in complete denial that the conversation ever took place.

Plus, I remember seeing Mel Gibson eating pie in a movie role (why can't I get into acting and get that kind of role--mine would most likely consist of me, a deranged person, and a power tool; but I digress). Anyway, the Melster devoured that pie, in huge chunks, leaning his arm on the table. I just know somewhere his mother was rolling her eyes and HOPING he was simply keeping in character but deep down convinced, despite her best efforts, he wasn't usually eating with his pinky extended, let alone knowing whether he should fold his napkin at the end of the meal.

So, to my future daughter-in-law: Don't blame me: I really did try.

Friday, July 18, 2008


When we moved in here, the neighbors were far from welcoming.

My one neighbor was really nosy and called me long distance at my old house, before we ever moved in, to express concerns she had about my children's behaviors, never mind the fact that her son shot my daughter in the eye with a rubber band gun. She told my kids they weren't allowed to play with her family because they were having "family time." When I was a kid, if someone's mom or dad was outside, they played with ALL the kids equally; they didn't send other kids home because of "spending time as a family."

It nearly broke my heart to watch my two youngest stand along the property line, hoping to be included when my neighbor's kids played with another neighbor's kids, and being ignored, or worse yet, told "no" when they asked if they could come over. When Rocky came home and said, "I don't know what's wrong with me that she won't let her kids play with me", I broke my rule about not badmouthing another adult around my children. I hurried to tell him it wasn't him. There was something wrong with the neighbor that she made us the usurpers, miscreants, lepers, unwelcome ones.

I strongly suspect the dislike, or perhaps lack of comfort, is because EG is Mexican and two of the kids are African American. I have always viewed this as a convenient excuse, but several comments the neighbor, who has told me she is a Christian, has made has made me aware that she is not the type of person who handles differences well because she has preconceived notions about people, which is sad.

What pretty much clinched it is she put her house up for sale three weeks after we moved in. Unfortunately, it didn't sell. Most likely, our kind brought the property values down.

Anyway, being realistic that the neighbors weren't going to include us for barbecues and bonfires and evenings on the deck, and certainly not welcome the kids into their yard or home, we bought our kids a pool. Not large, and certainly not roomy enough for all five of us at once. Each day, the kids will spend two or three hours in the water, making up games and splashing around and teaching themselves the physics of swimming. Plus, they sleep so well at night.

What is sad is that neighbor kids will come outside in their bathing suits, obviously hoping for an invitation. They are nice children, and certainly should not be punished for their mother's attitudes and abrasive personality, but I cannot bring myself to invite them. I don't want to hear the excuses, the criticisms, the probing questions which even the kids have learned to dodge. I don't want to have any phone calls after the fact, telling me who did what to whom and why this is a bad thing.

The last few days have been over 90 degrees, and I feel so sorry for those kids, who have been with their grandparents all day while their mother works. I know that they would find a dip in the pool refreshing and fun, and they also would welcome time with other kids. However, I am taking care of myself and my kids--I guess this is what neighbor thinks her motives are, too. So I wonder--am I any less a good person because of it?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yesterday I spent the day at Boy Scout Camp.

Since the married couple who leads the troop had an emergency, the troop was two people short for checking in and getting set up. I volunteered to help out with paperwork and wherever else I was needed.

Eventually, I got appointed security detail. This consisted of sitting in a lawn chair and "watching" the campsite in case someone tried to steal something while the boys were tested for swimming levels and the acting leader registered. Then I would be forced to shout, preferably something official like, "Halt!" or "You there!" According the the person in charge, my presence would be a deterrent. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not.

Anyway, as part of the afternoon's festivities, I watched a man wearing a school bus yellow shirt and cowboy hat rake hay in a field at the bottom of a nearby hill. He had started earlier that day, and he worked steadily at spreading the drying grass.

Then a bunch of boys came back to the nearby campsite and changed into matching green troop tee shirts, and they joined the man, who put the hay into piles for the boys to carry to the far end of the field and place in a heap. Periodically, the boys would freeze, looking at the ground, animatedly talking, and would gather around and stare down, ambling slowly along. Then an argument would ensue, followed by one boy, obviously the winner in the selection pool, reaching down and tentatively snatching in the hay, jumping back every so often, and eventually coming up with the very tail end of a garter snake in his grasp, holding the serpent far away from his body.

The boys would all back away, forming a semi-circle and warily staring at the snake as if it would suddenly increase massively in size and writhe out of control and strike out at them. The snake handler would walk over to the woods and put the snake down as the other boys watched in rapt amazement. They all would rapidly backpedal away, just in case the garter snake was more miffed than he or she appeared. Once the snake was released, the boys would go back to the hay, and another few minutes later, someone else would find a snake. This went on for nearly three hours, during which the man in the school bus yellow shirt continued to rake the hay in a measured way, mostly ignoring the boys and snakes.

As the sun went down, our boys came back. The boys with the hay went to change for supper at the mess hall, and the man put his rake away and walked the other direction, still not in a hurry and apparently not tired out from his labor.

It drove home wondering so many things: Did the man tell the boys to be gentle with the snakes, or were the boys just naturally resprectful of nature? What was the deal with the hay? Why not simply rake it all down the field into a big pile? Who was this man in the yellow shirt and what was the importance of the hay?

I most likely will never know, but I did enjoy the glimpse into the lives of boys when they thought no adults were looking.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Motor Mouth

Kiki was prowling around last night at 9:30. Since she has gotten crabbier and crabbier as the week has progressed, I told her, “Turn your light out. You need to sleep.”

“I’m not tired,” she replied.

I repeated that she should turn her light out, and then added, “And I can hear you yawning, so I know you are tired.”

And like we have experienced so many times, Bad Sense ripped open the door to her mouth, yanked Good Sense out of the way, and hopped into the driver’s seat. Bad Sense caused her to call me a liar.

“Okay,” I told her. “One more word, and it is going to get ugly. You need to be quiet and do what you were told.”

Bad Sense, obviously at the encouragement of some ornery hormones cheering him on, showed off and stomped on the accelerator, and Kiki’s mouth skidded out of control. One minute later, she was sobbing incoherently at the injustice of it all—it had gotten ugly. She earned a day on Blackout and has spent all of today in her room. (Reading back over this, I realize that I wish someone would sentence me to a full day in MY room. Maybe I need to rethink this.)

It has been a remarkably peaceful day without her complaining and bossing. I am seriously considering installing a dumbwaiter and getting her a microwave and some frozen dinners, and letting her stay up there until she can be human or turns 30, whichever comes first. Or last.

Let’s think about this…our wealthier forefathers (most likely at the encouragement of foremothers) used to send their children to boarding schools. Those who were not financially well off got their kids jobs or sold them into apprenticeships. Okay, this sounds like the most profitable and least stressful approach, but we’d have to have a clause that there would be no returns. Kiki would rather spend twice as much energy complaining as she would working. Plus, once she opened that smart mouth of hers, and it yet again got away from her, those people would be bringing her back for a refund.

However…what I might be able to arrange is for them to SELL her back to me at a small loss on their part. Then I could stock up on some frozen dinners until the next sucker came along. Caveat emptor.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thriller in the White House

Rocky was sitting at the breakfast table, and he just now asked, “If Abraham Lincoln was the fifth president, why isn’t he on the nickel?”

As Kiki would say, “That was random.” We all stopped and stared at him.

One thing I have learned is that there is usually some convoluted logic to these thoughts he has, so I investigated further. It turns out that he thought that we should have presidents on money based on when they served. According to this theory, JFK should be on the thirty-five cent coin, not the fifty cent piece. Now that I think about it, with the dropping value of the dollar, this is not completely out of the realm of reality.

Anyway, we asked Rocky to list the presidents in order so that he could discover the flaw in his logic.

He began: George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Michael Jackson…

Whoa. Since it was pre-coffee, my mind wasn’t functioning fully yet, and history is not my strong suit, but even I caught that one. Now I am faced with visuals: moonwalking to the press conference, question and answer sessions punctuated with WOO!, and instead of Camp David, trips to Neverland.

A half hour later, we have finished the presidential clarification lecture, and we are moving on to adding and subtracting mixed numbers. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Right Stuff

This whole thing with the pet therapy has taken on a life of its own.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a local library—they were doing a program on Max the Bunny, and they wanted to know if Bob would come for the program. Of course he would—he loves kids, so as his social secretary and driver, I made the arrangements. Plus, the librarian was so charming and had such a delightful sense of humor, I wanted to meet her. She said she would send some paperwork.

A few days ago in the mail, Bob received what appears to be a contract, of all things. I need to fill it out and mail it back before his appearance.

And today, a lady is coming to interview Bob for a small local paper. She, too, has a wonderful sense of humor. Since it is an interview, I have the feeling I will be doing a lot of the talking. Now I have become Bob’s publicist.

We are having a tremendous amount of fun with this, but during it all, Bob is the one who has remained focused on what is really important—his visits. He would prefer a carrot over his picture being in the paper--he would most likely eat the paper without glancing at the picture. He couldn’t care less that we decorate his basket with garland or ribbon or lights. He just goes into the facility, sits in his basket with his feet tucked under him in what we call the “Bunny Meatloaf,” and moves his nose while he quietly bonds with whoever is with him. He is the one who is getting it right.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

There is a Maori proverb which says, "Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." Maybe this is the reason I like early mornings.

Even as a teenager, I didn't sleep in. I believe the latest I have ever slept has been about 10:30, and this was after staying up until three or four in the morning.

Yesterday I didn't do too much: got a haircut, bought new curtains, washed some windows, emailed a new employee, sat by the pool while the kids swam, cooked supper, took Rocky to scouts, picked up a few groceries, did some laundry, visited my mom. So, today I woke up at four and got up at five. This gives me time alone, if you don't count the rabbit mooching a snack by standing on his hind legs and pitifully staring at me, nose weakly wiggling, and the dog who keeps sighing in exasperation because he thinks breakfast sounds like a plan and I obviously don't.

I am always amazed at the term "daybreak." Day doesn't break--it eases us back to consciousness and our lives, gently and almost imperceptably. It is as if anything less serene would scare us back into hibernation, much like Punxatawney Phil and his shadow. I like to be present when dawn brings us back from sleep--to experience a sweet, quiet transition back to the world.

It is just now getting light and the birds are waking, calling, and in a bit, I will go out on the porch and absorb some of the early part of the day. Then I will start in again with my life: investigating who took one battery out of my flashlight, wiping spills, feeding pets, doing laundry, running kids to music lessons, mediating arguments, preparing lesson plans, planning meals, paying bills, all the things which seem to suck the essence of ME out of myself. I will once again become Mom and Wife and Daughter and Employee. But right now, for just a few more minutes, I am alone with myself and the morning.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fun with chocolate chips

My mother has Alzheimer's, and recently I was visiting her when she experienced what I am sure was a stroke. However, the typical signs of stroke weren't reportable: sudden confusion (no, not sudden), weakness on one side (she had weakness left over from the polio she had as a child), severe head pain (she did have that).

Anyway, in the week since the incident I have noticed that she has lost a lot of her ability to communicate, to complete sentences, and she has been upset easily--increased rate of breathing and agitation. I had the chicken and egg dilemma--did the increased respirations cause the agitation, or did the agitation from not being able to talk cause the increased respirations? No one could tell me.

Lately, I have been trying to get to the nursing home for at least five meals a week. Mom needs to be fed and is on a pureed diet, which is not all that bad because of careful planning by the kitchen staff, but the aides and nurses have a tendency to mix everything together to help her eat more expediently. Imagine pureed kielbasa, mashed potatoes, and pureed carrots all stirred in a lump on your plate. Mom once said, "It looks like the cat was sick." That pretty well covers it.

Anyway, I like to be there at mealtime so I can see how well Mom is swallowing, how well she is eating, and what the nursing home is giving her. Sometimes I will ask for some of what the other residents are having--cream pie with graham cracker crust, for example. I am always told, "Now just don't let her have the crust--she might choke." I always nod and then mash the crust up into little bits and give it to her anyway. She has never had any difficulty whatsoever.

Yesterday, I was there for lunch: chili, cornbread, cucumber salad, and some form of dessert for the regular residents. Mom had pureed chili and some glossy brown lump that I could not identify. I tasted it. Not bad, but not good, the unfortunate color notwithstanding, and it was still not anything I could name. I asked the nurse. She tasted it and didn't know, either.

Mom ate a few bites of chili, two bites of the other brown stuff, and eyeballed her Jello with no enthusiasm whatsoever. Since I pretty much feel the same way about Jello, I went to the kitchen for something else to give her, and the staff gave me vanilla pudding, which is also used to administer her ground up pills. Yippee.

However, the lady from housekeeping came to the rescue. She brought in a bag of chocolate chip cookies, completely contraband, and slipped them to Mom. I took the cookies, put them in a bowl, crunched them up, dumped some milk over them, and fed them to Mom. She moaned in sheer joy. We both inhaled the aroma of the empty bag, and Mom laughed when I told her that it made me want to crawl right in there. When we finished and had scraped the bowl, Mom turned to me and said her first complete sentence of the day. "That was fun," she announced.

When I told my sister the story, I said, "'Fun' probably wasn't the word she wanted." My sister said, "No, but 'fun' works when it comes to eating chocolate chip cookies."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mortal Mickey

I rode to a meeting with the volunteer director of hospice. Her car was so immaculate I was inspired. Yesterday, I told the girls, "I am cleaning this car today, and I want you to get all that junk out of the back there."

They complied in record time. They threw it all in the front passenger seat.

We spent two hours throwing out trash, vacuuming the interior with a shop-vac and then the industrial vacuum at the car wash, cleaning the dashboard and doors, washing the floor mats, and wiping dog spit off the windows. While the car does look BETTER, it doesn't look brand new and gleaming, much to my disappointment. However, I do feel pretty spiffy when I run to the drug store.

Next I tackled the screened porch. Because the kids (and most likely us, too) have spilled dog food when feeding the marauding pack, we got dining customers. I came home the other night to catch a field mouse zipping up over the back of the glider. I yelped. "We have a MOUSE," I told EG in the same grim tones reserved for announcing pestilence and impending doom. That evening, I swept up all the dog food. As the little pest peered around the paint can under the glider, scuttled around the perimeter of the room, and escaped frantically through the crack under the storm door, EG asked, "Now what is that mousie going to eat?"

I gritted my teeth. "He isn't a 'mousie,' he is vermin."

Then I got the cute, God's creature, he gets hungry too, just one little mousie lecture. Lalalala, didn't want to hear it.

By the next day, the kids had named the "mousie," and I knew there would be no hope of using a trap on the nasty little critter. So yesterday I scrubbed and bleached and dusted the porch, too. Not only will the mousie not find even a morsel, he might die of the chlorine fumes.

Now I am getting flak from people who have watched Disney movies one too many times. Never mind that a so-many-times removed relative of mine was one of the people who put on the Mickey Mouse suit at Disneyland, vermin is vermin, Mickey notwithstanding.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Today we gave each of the kids a set of homework pages to do, as we do every day.

The girls did their work within an hour, and Rocky has been laboring away for two and a half hours now, and he finally finished the first page. Here is his method for efficient completion of his schoolwork.

*Stare at page: 3 minutes
Read problem: 1 minute
Watch dog drink water: 2 minutes
Stare out window: 2 minutes
Re-read problem: 1 minute
Stare out window: 3 minutes
Tell sister what she should do: 2 minutes
Ask Mom for a definition. When she tells you to look it up, fake it and try to fool her into telling you the correct answer.
Argue with sister about your attempt to fool Mom: 3 minutes
Cover your ears and yell "it'snoneofyourbusiness" 43 times: 1 minute
Re-read problem: 1 minute
Write incorrect answer: 30 seconds
Read next problem: 1 minute
Watch bird at birdfeeder: 3 minutes
Stare at page: 2 minutes
Realize first problem was incorrect. Repeat from * two times; finally get correct answer to first problem. Write the correct answer to first problem in the answer space for second problem. Move on to Problem 3.
Stare at page: 3 minutes.

I sincerely wonder how these homeschooling parents do it without snatching themselves bald.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Cold War

There are people who live here who believe I am unreasonable because I expect them to sweep the kitchen and driveway, run the vacuum, unload the dishwasher, put clean laundry away in the dresser and not on the floor where it can be walked on, and pick up their rooms.

These same people get an allowance, and they have more spending money than I do.

The other day, after I asked Kiki to unload the dishwasher, and she shrieked that I was mean, after I told Rocky to go out and sweep the driveway and two minutes later found him riding his bike (the broom was an obstacle to be steered around), and after I asked Nita to empty the wastebaskets and was rewarded with an ugly face and attitude to match, I decided I had enough. The reminders and requests for chores have stopped. Their dad and I have taken over the work again.

And what is interesting is that the kids completely stopped doing their regular chores and have accepted this sudden vacation as their due--mom and dad SHOULD do all the work.

Now, before you berate me for being a servant to my children, let me tell you that Saturday is Judgment Day. That day, when the kids remind their dad that it is payday, he is going to say, "What did you do to earn it?" And then he and I are going out for milkshakes that evening...because we now have more spending money.