Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why I'd Rather Stab Myself in the Eye with a Fork than Shop for Bub

For as long as I can remember, Bub has had a very specific sense of style...that style has changed through the years (from cowboy boots with everything from sweats to swimwear to the hobo/orphan look to his current look, which I would describe as extremely-conservative-but-casual-bible-belt-older-gentleman), but it has always been extremely SPECIFIC.  (Read:  PICKY.)

Until this spring, Bub attended a private school with a uniform, which gave me a little bit of a break from his stringent sense of style (sure, he'd only wear THREE colors of polo, but since he HAD to wear polos, at least the style of shirt never had to be hyper-analyzed).  But, transferring to public school opened up whole new style options...and a whole new set of rules regarding what he would and would not wear.  And, let me warn you, this is the guy who has been known to say, "I just don't like white that much..."

Open up another tab as you read, and go to any moderately trendy site that sells men's clothing so you can follow along.  (Just for reference, I'll be on American Eagle.)  Did you do it?  Because, if you aren't looking at men's clothing, you  might not be able to adequately feel my pain, here, so...DO IT.  Ready?  Let the shopping adventure begin!  (And, by "adventure," I mean "nightmare.")

Let's start with shirts.  First, and foremost, Bub will NOT wear a tank top of any variety.  I pointed one out to him the other day (just to test the waters).  "I like that shirt..." (stoic silence from Bub)  "That looks like Logan, to me."  (You should know that Logan is, like, the second coolest teenager I know!  Before you judge me for my attempts to manipulate my kid, read on!)  "I bet Logan would wear that!"  To which I was, finally, rewarded with a response, "Yeah.  I bet LOGAN would..."  We scrolled down further and Bub systematically rejected:  shirts with patterns, v-necks, shirts with a contrasting pocket, shirts with contrasting sleeves, shirts that are "stripey," solid color shirts without graphics, shirts with attention grabbing graphics, long sleeved shirts, sleeveless shirts, button down the front shirts, hoodies, sweaters of any kind, and sweatshirts.  He "might" wear a polo...as long as it doesn't have stripes.  He won't wear shirts that are:  red, pink, purple, any color green except army green, navy blue, light blue, royal blue, yellow, white, or burgundy (which, apparently, is disqualified based on its redness).  As far as shirts go, that leaves us with t-shirts that are orange (but NOT bright orange), turquoise (but NOT bright turquoise), grey, black, army green, or brown and have a small logo or subtle graphic whose message Bub doesn't mind being associated with.  (BTW, California...Bub has poo-pooed you.  No California or surfer graphics for him!) He WILL wear performance fabric t-shirts, but only in the previously mentioned approved colors...which seems doable, until you think about performance wear.  Because, as a rule, it's ALL brightly colored.

Moving on to jeans...Bub is not going to be caught DEAD in skinny, slim, or tapered jeans!  He also shuns straight, regular fit, and boot cut jeans because he can't stand the way they feel on his thighs.  His German engineered legs are too restricted by anything but "loose" or "relaxed" fit jeans.  In addition, he won't wear "destroyed" jeans.  You know, the cool ones with all of the manufactured holes and flaws?  Those are disqualified!  He'll wear jeans only in certain colors, as well.  Thumbs up for medium or dark wash jeans...but NOT "extra dark" wash, light, black, destroyed, or vintage wash jeans.

As for shorts, my son will wear athletic shorts around the house, to mow, or to do athletics, but he isn't going to wear those babies to school!  He won't wear denim shorts or plaid shorts.  Add to the rejects list:  twill, embroidered, flat front, striped, or cuffed...and all of the shirt color rules apply!  To make a long story short (pun intended), Bub will wear khaki or (green) camo cargo shorts.  And that's all.

Even shoe shopping for my guy is quite a challenge.  He doesn't wear sandals or flip flops or cowboy boots (sigh...I miss the cowboy boots & underwear stage...).  He wears tennis shoes & hiking boots.  His hiking boots have to be brown and mid-cuff (not low top OR high top).  His tennis shoes cannot have BRIGHT colors (please refer to the short list of approved colors).  Of course, to athletic shoe manufacturers, the brighter the better, so finding tennis shoes with subdued colors on the approved list is next to impossible. Good thing my picky kid doesn't have weirdly shaped, hard to fit feet or anything...oh, wait.

Shopping for Bub is kind of like finding a needle in a field full of haystacks.  But, when exasperation threatens to get the best of me, I think back to the orphan/hobo stage when he refused to wear anything that DIDN'T look like it had first been caught in the greasy gears of some great machine and then drug cross country from the undercarriage of a semi...and then I grit my teeth and keep shopping.  He may be a pain to clothe, but, darn it...he looks good!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Puberty is Hard Enough Without Epilepsy

It's only been about 2 years since I first heard the word "seizure" applied to my son.  At the time, he was experiencing phantom smells, tingling/wet sensations on half of his body, and a hand that would twitch uncontrollably.  None of these things occurred together, but he was having episodes of one type or another once or twice a day.  They were weird and slightly disturbing, but he had just survived bacterial meningitis...we expected some effects.  I, finally, mentioned what was happening to a doctor and he said he thought Bub might be experiencing "focal" seizures.  It was nearly a year later, that our neurologist first used the word "epilepsy" to describe Bub's seizures.  He has had a few generalized tonic-clonic seizures, absence seizures, and myoclonic seizures, but typically, he has "simple partial seizures."  Simple Partial Seizures leave the person alert and able to remember what happened.  The seizures themselves can affect the senses (Bub's phantom smells, for example, or the tingling) or cause rhythmic jerking of one limb, part of a limb, or the face.  They may last a few seconds or several minutes.  Usually they fade away on their own, but, sometimes, they can progress into a generalized seizure that effects the entire body and impairs consciousness. 

Annually, people all over the world wear purple on March 26th to promote Epilepsy Awareness.  Today is the first Purple Day our family has participated in, but it won't be our last.  Even though I can't get him to wear purple (apparently it isn't a manly color), I wear purple for Bub.  This is why:

*Lab Rat Status-  Having epilepsy means that Bub has to travel 3 hours one way several times a year to be poked & prodded, hooked up to or slid into machines, and see his pediatric neurologist.  He has to get blood drawn (locally) periodically and any time there are any changes to his medication.  We know every phlebotomist in town and Bub can tell them where and how to best draw on him. 

*Medication Malfunction-  There are many types of seizures and many types of drugs used to treat them.  Unfortunately, it seems that there is also a good deal of trial and error associated with finding the best medicine for each individual.  The first medicine we tried Bub on was a nightmare.  Not only did it not decrease his seizure activity (he was having 10-20 a day at that point...mostly simple partial), but it caused serious side-effects.  Suddenly, Bub was having seizures AND had riding an emotional rollercoaster that in one day could take him through despair, rage, anxiety, giddiness, hostility, and deep sadness.  The kicker with seizure meds is that you can't just pull a kid off of them...even when they seem to have suddenly gone off the deep end.  We had to wean Bub off of that medicine for an entire month while gradually adding in a different medication.  Fortunately, the second medication worked like a champ with no loony-bin side effect!  Unfortunately, Bub is still growing, which means that periodically he starts having more seizures again...which means that we head back to Tulsa to the neurologist, up his dose, and have at least one lab draw to check his levels.  It's very hard to keep a teenage boy at the right level on seizure meds because they grow like weeds.  Over the last year, we literally had to quadruple Bub's dosage to try to keep up with his growth spurt!

*Medication Malfunction (Type 2)-  When Bub was going through that terrible experience with his first seizure medication, his school was VERY understanding.  There were days that I had to go pick him up because he couldn't quit crying or because he couldn't control his rage.  The school really tried to be accommodating and understanding, but it is a school...there has to be order!  It killed me as a parent feeling like the other parents saw my kid as a problem.  I knew that a fair number of parents (and probably staff, too)  were interpreting Bub's behavior as his PERSONALITY and his CHARACTER rather than a medical side effect that was beyond his control.  Yes, he was out of control.  But it was awful for him, too.  It broke my heart when I picked him up from school one day and he said, "It's like I can't control my body OR my emotions!"  Over a year later, it still ruffles my feathers when people comment on how much Bub has "improved."  He hasn't so much "improved" as returned to normal!  (By the way, I'm under no delusions that my son exhibits exemplary behavior aside from medication side effects...) I just hate it that people still judge him based on a 3 month period of his life and circumstances beyond his control. 

*Loss of Control- Yes, loss of control during a seizure, but there is SO much more.  Not knowing if you will be able to take driver's ed with everyone else your age or if you'll even be able to get a license.  It's not the not being able to be in the military or law enforcement, it's the loss of the CHOICE that's most upsetting.  People with epilepsy have a lot of choices that they just aren't going to get to make.

*Triggers, triggers everywhere-  Police cars.  Ambulances.  Movies.  Fluorescent lighting that flickers. Strobe lights.  Flashlights being turned off & on or waved around.  Flipping the lights off & on (and, isn't that the universal signal for "quiet" in classroom situations?).  Stress.  iPhones set to strobe flash with a text or call.  Sleep deprivation.  Blinking pop up ads. Being out of breath.  A ceiling fan and a light.  Sunlight through trees, slats, or reflecting off of a moving surface.  A million different light up toys.  All of these things can trigger seizures for my son.  I'm not sure people without epilepsy can even understand what it's like to walk through the world every day just trying to avoid all of the things that can bring on a seizure.

*Normal Isn't Normal-  You know what's normal for Bub?  Medication at certain times, weird feelings, auras, having to leave in the middle of a movie because his hand has developed a mind of its own, if he kicks the wall in his sleep his mother comes charging in and turns on the light, trying to wash EEG glue out of his hair, chopping pills in halves or quarters, requesting a certain person at the lab, wondering if the neurologist called, knowing what his "level" is, being accused of not paying attention when he has an absence seizure, trying to find a seat at the theater that isn't too close to the screen and will be an easy exit, being on a first name basis with the EEG, CT, & PET technicians...

I wear purple because my boy is affected by epilepsy every day in a hundred different ways but you'll probably never see it.  I wear purple because so many people know so little about epilepsy.  I wear purple because I am constantly amazed at how Bub can roll with all that life throws at him.  I wear purple because there is no cure for epilepsy.

I wear purple for Bub.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Emmaness in the Kitchen

Here's a great recipe for Cheeseburger Soup that I made recently...I'm including step-by-step instructions so you can make it just like I did!

(all measurements are approximate)
1/2 lb. ground beef (I used a pound...mainly because if I wrapped up the remaining half pound, I'd lose it in the freezer)
3/4 c. chopped onion
3/4 c. shredded carrot
3/4 c. diced celery
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley (didn't have any...I threw in some chives)
4 T. butter divided
3 c. chicken broth
4 c. peeled and diced potatoes
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. pepper
2 c. velveeta, cubed (thanks, Heather.  FYI: I used shredded cheddar because Velveeta...shudder!)
1/4 c. sour cream

1.  Brown the ground beef in a saucepan.
2.  While that cooks, compare carrot sizes and try to visualize how many of what size will make 3/4 c. once shredded.  You only need to either wash or peel carrots, but carrots look like trouble makers, so go ahead and do both.  Afterward, grate carrots into a bowl.  (You will now have either way too much grated carrot, or not nearly enough.)  Set aside.
3.  Using 3-4 paper towels or a rubber glove (if you have one), fish carrot peelings out of the sink and (defunct) garbage disposal while keeping one eye on the door in case your husband gets home before you finish.
4.  Check on ground beef.  It should now be really done on the bottom and raw on the top.  Chop and stir vigorously.
5.  Dice onion into the same bowl with the shredded carrot.
6.  Rinse and drain ground beef.  Set aside.
7.  Post a small child as a look-out/stalling tactic should your husband arrive home.  Using paper towels, a long handled, wooden spoon, and hot water, attempt to remove all grease from the sink (the garbage disposal fairies did not come do their thing during the last 3 steps).  
8. Check recipe and realize that the onion needs to be sauteed with the spices in butter. Painstakingly pick diced onion out of shredded carrots and place in a separate bowl.

9.  Melt 1 T. of butter in the same saucepan you used for the ground beef.
10.  Check the fridge for celery.  You don't have any.  Shrug.  Who likes celery anyway?  Throw onions and spices in pan with melted butter.
11.  Check recipe again and discover that the carrots actually are supposed to be sauteed with the onions and whatnot.  Dump them in.  Saute until veggies are tender or you're tired of stirring, whichever comes first.
12.  Meanwhile, wash, peel, and dice potatoes.  Eyeball saucepan and decide that it is not going to be large enough to contain all ingredients.  Get out the biggest pot you own.  Pour contents of saucepan into potimus maximus.  Curse your ability to generate twice as many dirty dishes as necessary.  Stir.
13.  Add broth, beef, and potatoes to the sauteed veggies and spices.  Eyeball potisaurus rex.  Acknowledge that it's way too big for the amount of soup that it's going to end up containing.  Face palm.  Stir.

14.  While that cooks, melt remaining butter in a small skillet.  Add flour.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Stir into ginormous pot of soup.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for approximately 2 minutes.  (But don't actually stir the whole time...who does that?)  Reduce heat to low.
15.  Add cheese, milk, salt, and pepper.  Cook and stir until cheese melts.
16.  Realize that it is now 7:12, your emaciated family are clutching their bellies and moaning weakly, and you forgot to make any muffins (or anything else) to go with the soup.  Call for hand washing and hastily slop together butter & jelly sandwiches.
17.  Dish up soup into a hodgepodge of containers including (but not limited to) bowls, coffee mugs, gravy boats, and Tupperware....raid dishwasher for (still dirty) spoons and hand wash as many as necessary.  Alert the fam to "come and get it!"
18.  Go back into kitchen to get your soup once everyone is seated at the table and the prayer has been said.  Notice sour cream sitting on counter.  Check recipe, but say nothing to your starving family who are shoveling in soup like there's no tomorrow (except your youngest, who has opened her butter & jelly sammy and is currently licking the jelly from the bread while looking warily at her bowl of soup as if it might try to jump in her mouth).  Quickly blend the forgotten sour cream into the still hot vat of soup.  Add a dollop of sour cream toYOUR bowl of soup.  Ignore your guilt.  Now that you know the sour cream is absent, you'll miss it.  Besides, your family is obviously enjoying their incomplete soup...except for your youngest, and you know that sour cream is only going to make her less likely to actually consume any.

Voila!  This is what my emmaness looks like in the kitchen.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Have Spanx, Will Travel

Attention Male Readers:  Please stop reading now.

Did you think I was kidding?  Why are you still there?
I'm serious. READING THIS WILL FOREVER ROB YOU OF APPRECIATING THE SENSUAL MYSTERY OF WOMANHOOD! Also, you may never be able to look me in the eye again.

Fair warning. Don't say I didn't tell you so...because I DID!

I recently found myself in need of a formal gown for an event.  If you know me at all, you know that I am not one of those women who wants to rush right out and buy a new dress at the slightest provocation.  On the contrary, I LOATHE shopping for clothes.  Also, I'm not the kind of gal that has lots of opportunities to wear such frilly and fussy garments.  Let's face it.  I pretty much wear t-shirts and yoga pants as much as possible.  Even if I had opportunities to dress up, I'd try to justify yoga pants. (I mean, really, why can't a girl just throw on a great pair of heels with some yoga pants and call it good???)  So, in order to avoid shopping, I dug deep, DEEP into the darkest corners of my closet and managed to unearth three formal/semi-formal/cocktail dresses (I'm not actually sure what differentiates those styles...so, I thought I'd cover all of my bases).

Dress #1 was a saucy little number I made for the first cruise J and I went on...12 years ago.  Sized in the single digits, it was an easy elimination in theory.  I didn't even try it on.  My self-esteem can't take that kind of hit.
I wore Dress #2 to every Spring Banquet I attended during my 7 year stint as WCA's principal.  It's kind of a mother-of-the-bride looking dress in dusty rose.  In other words, not very chic, but it covers everything.  I actually put that one on.  (Here's a little advice, ladies:  if you are trying on a dress and are somewhat less than thrilled with your body, do NOT go ask your 10 year old to zip it up for you...even if you nearly dislocated your shoulder trying to zip it up yourself. Because, if SHE can't zip it up, she will say some brutally honest things about your body.  Things that you know, but don't want to hear from ANYBODY else.  EVER.)  That dress almost fit.  By almost, what I mean is that it fit me perfectly up to the band of my bra and then it gaped by an inch...even when I exhaled and hung on to the post of the bed, urging Princeska to pull harder (if you are picturing a southern belle weeping in pain as the servant tightens her corset like a vise, you've got the right idea).  But, my bosoms refused to be contained.  How is it possible that my boobs are bigger if the rest of me is the same size? Why is my chest 4 sizes bigger than the rest of me?  How long have I been deformed?  Why hasn't Jason told me? (Never mind on that last one...)
Dress #3 was an eBay bargain that I wore once to the Mom Prom.  (So. Much. Fun.)  It's super cute, but it doesn't have any structure to it.  In other words, every time I bend, I get visible folds and opposing bulges.  It's grotesque.

I knew I needed (what we call) a "foundation garment."  These are undergarments that suck you in, lift you up, smooth you out, accentuate the positive, and minimize the negative.  The most popular (and apparently effective) brand of these wonder unders is "Spanx."  No, no...Spanx are TOTALLY DIFFERENT than girdles!  Because girdles are the foundation garments that ladies wore, like, in the 50s and...and...and...Spanx aren't! Actually, Spanx are wonderfully soft and stretchy and have no clasps, wires, or ties.  The girdles of old were pretty industrial looking...probably engineered by some man!

Unfortunately, I don't own any Spanx (or any other variety of foundation garment).  Frankly, I don't mean to brag, but...I don't, generally need them. I totally rock my yoga pants and ratty t-shirts sans Spanx!

So, I did what any Spanx-less girl who hates to shop but spends a ridiculous amount of time on social media would do...I posted a plea for Spanx on Facebook.  You wouldn't believe how many Spanx were offered to me!  My sisters!  Curvy girls rule the world!!!

I looked FABULOUS in my dress thanx to Spanx.  (See what I did there?) Except for one. Tiny. Thing.  Dress #3 is a one shoulder number. (Ooh-la-la, tres chic!)  Remember the girls?  Lucy & Ethel? (for reference:  http://itsmyemmaness.blogspot.com/2008/08/lucy-and-ethel.html )  My disproportionately large jugs?  Yeah.  I don't own a strapless bra.  Mainly because strapless bras in my size are held up by a crane & winch...and, let's face it, why wouldn't you just go with straps?  The last strapless bra I bought hovered around my mid-section like a wide belt that contained my boobs.  Sooooo attractive.  If I wanted them that far south, I'd just tuck them into my waistband!  Neither do I own a convertible bra (if any of you fellas are still reading, convertible bras have straps that come of and can be reattached in a variety of ways...because being a girl isn't complicated enough).  My bras have straps that mean business.  In fact, they're kind of like me:  broad, strong, and carrying a heavy load.  They don't have any do-hickeys that might spring loose, unleashing a tidal-wave of boobie.  They are working bras.  If convertible bras are merry-go-round ponies, my bras are Clydesdales.  What I'm really trying to say, here, is that one formidable bra strap was going to very obviously hang out.  Okay, not HANG out...the thing would be on my shoulder, but it would NOT be covered by my dress.  Savvy?

I tried the obvious solution, which was to slide my arm out of the offending strap and tuck it down into the dress.  That strategy would have worked, except that things were then a bit uneven.  By "things," I mean my breasts.  Without that heavy-duty strap towing its share, my boobs looked like they'd had a stroke...Ethel was up where breasts are supposed to be, but Lucy?  She was limping slowly toward the floor.  (Lucy! You got some splaining to do!)

I finally just hid the offending strap by putting a black tank top on over my bra (and Spanx).  My trendy one-shoulder gown is now less trendy, but my fat is tucked in and my bosoms aren't discombobulated.  I call that "good to go!"

Girdle circa 1950


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Blame the Kids

Not that I'm making excuses, but this is why blogging is a struggle for me each evening.
Here's a pretty typical glimpse of what goes on at my house when I sit down to blog:
Tonight, when we got home from church, I sent Buttercup upstairs to get ready for bed, Princeska to the dining room to finish her math homework, and Bass-Man upstairs to take a shower (how do teenage boys get so sweaty at BIBLE STUDY???).  Thinking I had a few minutes, I sat down at the computer to blog.  I, quite literally, didn't even have the web address typed in before it began...

Buttercup:  Mom, if I take headache medicine, will I have to go brush my teeth again?  (Seriously?  How good of a job can she possibly have done in 2.5 seconds?  Anybody know of any speed brushing contests I could enter her in?)
Me:  Do you have a headache?
Buttercup:  Yeah.  Wait...that's when your head hurts, right?
Me:  Yes. And, no, you won't have to brush again. (Yeah.  I caved as fast as she brushed.)

I get up and we walk into the kitchen where I pour her EXACTLY the right dose of children's ibuprofen (her teeth may rot out, but her liver will be just fine, thank you).  She verrrrryyyy slooooowwwwlllyyyy slurps the berry flavored goo out of the cup and then runs her tongue around the inside several times just to make sure she got it all.

Me:  Do you want to go watch a movie for a little bit?  Just until Princeska finishes her homework?
Buttercup:  Yes!  I know exactly which one I want!

I linger in the living room while she selects her movie, then I put it in for her.  Of course, she's chosen a VHS tape is all the way at the end.  As our ancient VCR grinds, squeals, and rewinds the movie so slowly a 90 year old sloth would get impatient waiting for it, Buttercup launches into a story about one of the little girls in her TeamKid class who doesn't recognize her even though they are VERY BEST FRIENDS.  I have surprisingly little wisdom to offer her, but I listen and I comfort.  FINALLY, the animated version of "The King and I" (which is every bit as awful as you are imagining) is fully rewound.  I start it up for her and then head back to my blogging.  
I managed to get signed in before...

Buttercup: (appearing at my elbow with the stealth of a mini ninja) Mom?
Me:  Yes? (I'm not gonna lie...I didn't even try to disguise my irritation)
Buttercup:  Are you doing anything terribly important?  (YES, my 5 year old really DOES talk like that.)
Me: (please insert long-suffering sigh here) What do you need?  (notice that I neither confirmed nor denied the terrible importance of blogging, thus retaining my right to declare its importance or frivolity based on her request...feel free to use that)
Buttercup: (who has sidled right up to me and is now leaning her head on my shoulder and running a hand up & down my arm...feel free to use that, too) Would you turn the fan off?  I'm getting chilly.
Me:  Sure.

I enter the living room and briefly consider pulling the ceiling fan chain until the fan is off but the light is still on, but abandon that idea out of pure laziness.  Instead, I walk all the way across the room to turn on a side-table lamp, then walk back across and shut off the fan/light combo with a flick of the switch.  Which, in retrospect, saved me neither time nor effort.  

Buttercup:  Aaahhhh!  That's so much better!
Me:  (turn around and get 3 whole steps)
Buttercup:  Mom?  Would you get me a cold cup of water?  (for reasons the rest of us don't understand and Buttercup declines to explain, she ALWAYS specifies that her water be cold...the request for a twist of lemon is probably just around the corner...after that, she'll be asking for "sparkling" or "flat")
Me:  (heavy sigh) Sure.
Buttercup: (calling after me as I walk into the kitchen to fulfill her majesty's wishes) And, no...I don't already have a cup somewhere.

I fetch and deliver Buttercup's water and sit back down at my computer.  Of course, at this point, I no longer remember the topic of the brilliantly witty blog that I originally sat down to write...I stare at the screen for a few minutes, then type out and subsequently delete several lame blog titles such as:  "My Day,"  "Blog Rhymes With Fog," and "Nothing Rhymes With Wednesday."  Clearly, titles aren't my forte, but, in my defense, you should probably have some idea of your topic before you try to come up with a title.  I started to mull over my day, trying to generate a blog topic more interesting than the massive amounts of laundry that occupied most of my time, but then Bass-Man walked in...

Bass-Man:  Hey, Mom!
Me:  Hey, Bub.
Bass-Man:  Are you feeling any better?  
Me:  Not really.
Bass-Man:  Are you using your phone?
Me:  No. (Here's a tip, fellow i-phone owners:  if you want to be able to put your phone down for more than 2 seconds without it disappearing and you have even one i-phone-less, i-pad-less child at home, do NOT download Minecraft.  Seriously.  I cannot emphasize that enough. DON'T DO IT.)

Bass-Man disappears with my phone and Buttercup re-appears at my side.  Honestly, they had to have crossed paths.

Me:  What's up?
Buttercup:  Oh...nothing...it's just...do you know anything about the school library?
Me: No. (I'm not proud of it, but I was hoping that would dissuade her from asking me whatever it was that she clearly wanted to ask me.)
Buttercup:  What would you do if everybody else in your class got a bookmark at the library except for you?   
Me:  Everyone got one but YOU??? (breathe, mama-bear, breathe...)
Buttercup:  Well, I don't know if it was EVERYONE, but I asked Leah and Karlee and they said she didn't just give you a bookmark, you had to ask for it...but we were already back in class when I noticed they had them, so I couldn't ask for one.
Me:  (urge to kill subsiding) Oh!  Well, I would just go ask for one the next time...okay?
Buttercup:  That's a whole week, Mom.
Me:  Maybe I have one you could use...or, maybe we could make one.  
Buttercup:  Can we make one?
Me:  Of course!
Buttercup:  Can we make it tonight?
Me:  (considerably less enthusiastic) Of course.

Buttercup and I raid the craft supplies.  I set her up at the table with paper, scissors, markers, and stickers.  Meanwhile, her movie is playing to an empty living room...but I'm not going in there to turn it off!  The ideal topic for tonight's blog has hit me...I'm going to be writing about the multitude of interruptions that I have to deal with when I try to do ANYTHING.  And I'm going to use tonight for an example!
I eagerly sit down and type out the title.

Princeska:  Mom?
Me:  Yes?
Princeska:  I'm finished with my homework except for one page.  I have to have a supervisor time me and listen while I do these problems...can you do that?  Or???
Me:  Sure...Bass-Man?
Bass-Man:  Yeah?
Princeska:  What did you say?
Me:  I'm talking to Bub!  I need to use my phone for a minute.
Bass-Man:  Okay...(not moving from the couch)
Princeska:  I have to do them all in THREE minutes.
Me:  Okay...
Princeska:  You said ONE minute.
Me:  (with Bass-Man in the living room and Princeska in the dining room, I'm looking back & forth like I'm watching an intense tennis match)  I was just saying that I needed to use it for a little bit...I didn't necessarily mean one, exact minute.
Bass-Man:  What?
Me:  Not you, Princeska...I need my phone!
Princeska:  I don't have it, Bass-Man has it!
Bass-Man:  Okay...(FINALLY walks in and hands me my phone)
Me:  Thanks.
Princeska:  For what?
(Bass-Man gives me a concerned look, like he's worried about my sanity...apparently my kids can't hear the precise frequency of each others' voices)

It went on and on, my friends.  A full two hours have now passed since I initially sat down to write this blog!  I have been interrupted approximately 10,000 times and have had to leave the computer 879 times. I have answered questions, listened to stories and complaints, offered advice.  I have put in movies, initiated crafts, and timed homework.  I have gotten drinks, found missing papers, and pulled out leftovers (poor J didn't get supper tonight).  And, FINALLY, I have blogged!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Front-Yard Family Football

Just about every night when Jason gets home, Princeska starts begging him to play football with her in the yard.  Just about every night he (being the fantastic dad that he is) ends up outside, in the front yard, playing football with as many of us as he can talk into coming out to play.

Tonight, I wasn't going to go out.  I haven't been feeling the greatest, so I was planning on recouping after supper (you know you don't feel good when you need a rest after a 45 minute meal prep).  I even sat down on the couch after Jason and the five kids who aren't in college went outside...but the peals of laughter lured me out after only a couple of minutes.  I sat on the front step and cheered everyone on, and just enjoyed watching them play.

Tonight, the teams were Lulu & Bass-Man vs. Jason, Buttercup, & Princeska.  After a few plays, Bass-Man protested loudly, insisting that he & Lu NEEDED Buttercup.  (Because, apparently, the 5 year old is an asset on a football team???) But, no exchange of players took place.  On offense, Lulu played receiver and center, Bass-Man played quarterback and everything else.  On defense, they played a strategic-less man on man (Bass-Man vehemently points out that it's hard to have a defensive strategy when there are only two of you...).  On the other team, Jason and Princeska alternated as quarterback, Princeska & Buttercup took turns at center and receiver.  Their defensive strategy was J on Bass-Man, while Princeska & Buttercup used their unusual (but highly effective) tickle defense to neutralize Lulu.  Princeska threw the first touchdown pass to Jason and Buttercup had a long run for a TD (although, the defense seemed strangely sluggish on this particular play and even shouted encouragement to her as she ran her little heart out).  On the last play of the game, Lulu grabbed J and just hung on while Bass-Man ran the ball for the score.  Lulu had a pretty good run and probablyshould've scored (distance-wise), but, unfortunately, she ran across the street in an effort to avoid being tackled!  She may have run a quarter mile, but it was out of bounds...no score!
Bass-Man, directing his receiver.

I'm not sure if Buttercup is picking a flower or picking herself up...

Dad snags Bass-Man, but not before he gets the ball off!

Lulu is carrying the ball...right across the street!

The infamous "tickle defense."

Princeska, making the catch!

The joy of the game...

Buttercup's run to glory.
Every player in action!

Buttercup running the ball!

Saturday, September 7, 2013


I'm not sure exactly what the opposite of joy is, but that emotion is exactly what I felt today when our downstairs toilet started exploding with potato peels.

That's right.  Not poop.  POTATO PEELS.  Ones that went down our garbage disposal.  The garbage disposal that is in our kitchen. (Is anyone else humming "there's a hole, there's a hole, there's a hole in the bottom of the sea," yet?  If not, you are now.  You're welcome.)
My good friend who moved away recently was back in town and needed a place to nap for the afternoon.  Of course, I offered her the use of our basement. (There's a basement, there's a basement, there's a basement at the bottom of our house...)  The last time I was down there was when my girls who live in the basement ("there are girls, there are girls, there are girls in the basement in the bottom of our house!" Yes, I'll stop.) were gone on a mission trip and I cleaned their room.  Like, I REALLY cleaned it.  That's been a couple of months now and one of the girls is back at college.  Apparently, she took all of the clean with her.  Or, maybe it was still there UNDER ALL OF THE CRAP.  The basement was a disaster.  Lulu and I started working on it frantically and managed to get it bearable so that my friend and her daughter could rest there.  I went upstairs and laid down until the ibuprofen kicked in (pain management...different blog). Heather arrived and went to lay down.  Then our toilet started exploding. 

Jason started yelling for me and I hobbled down the stairs as fast as my crippled up body and growing sense of dread would let me.  He was standing in our tiny, main floor half-bath wielding a mop.  There was (what I assumed to be) poop water everywhere.  

Me:  (stares, immobilized)
J:  (plunge, mop, plunge, mop, repeat) What IS this? (points out the large flakes of STUFF floating in the overflowing toilet) 
Me: That's...oh, gosh.  That's potato peel!
J:  (plunge, mop, plunge, mop, repeat)  Who put potato peel in the TOILET?!?!  
Me:  I don't know.
J: (plunge, mop, plunge, mop, pause, intense stare) You didn't peel potatoes into the toilet?
Me:  I haven't even peeled potatoes lately!  (Just for clarification, I'd like to emphasize that I have NEVER peeled potatoes into the toilet, but apparently my husband wouldn't put it past me...)  We had potatoes last night, but they weren't peeled.
J:  Then how did this get in the toilet?  Did you peel potatoes into the garbage disposal?
Me:  I didn't PEEL potatoes...but Buttercup was picking the peels off of her cooked potatoes.
J: I guess they went down the garbage disposal. (Please not that J does not suspect the 5 YEAR OLD of putting potato peels into the toilet.)
Me:  So...they are coming up in the toilet...from the sink???
J:  Get this water cleaned up!  I've got to go outside!
Me:  How should...
J:  I don't care, but it's going to run downstairs if we don't get it cleaned up!

So, I ran to the garage and grabbed the shop vac, plugged it in, and at the last moment remembered to check for the filter (this ain't my first rodeo).  Of course, not only was the filter on, but the dumb thing was full of dirt and junk.  Imagining the water running down the basement walls, I yelled for Lulu to grab a garbage bag as I unscrewed the filter.  When she got there with the trash sack, we used team work to empty the shop vac.  Finally, I turned it on and started sucking up the growing puddle on the bathroom tile while stressing about what all of this must sound like to Heather downstairs.  Meanwhile, Jason was in the yard, snaking the clean-out.  He managed to break through the clog (or whatever it is that causes things that went down your kitchen sink to come back up your toilet...) and the toilet gurgled and slurped like Jabba the Hutt AND THE FLOOD WATERS RECEDED!  

I was immediately relieved...and then I stepped out of the bathroom and surveyed the scene.  Gross.  I decided to clean up and put away the shop vac, first.  Because I know nothing about shop vacs ( I would like to point out again, here, that I REMOVED THE FILTER BEFORE USING IT TO SUCK UP WATER, though. So, there's that.) and I am the least efficient human being on the planet, I decided to start with the filter.  That filter was really dirty.  Like, it was just caked with dirt and it was completely encircled with hair.  Long, human hair.  And, having completely panicked about water running into the basement (let's all take a moment and blame Jason for this...), I had set that disgusting filter on one of our nice chairs.  When I picked it up, dirt fell onto the chair like ashes from a volcano.  I wasn't sure whether I should wash the filter, but since the dumb thing has to be removed to wet vac, I thought it was a safe bet that I should keep it dry.  I gingerly carried it over to the trashcan that was propping open the bathroom door and proceeded to bang it on the edge of the trashcan in an effort to shake out the junk.  Then I beat it with my hand like a really yucky tambourine.  Then I shook it.  I wasn't sure that I'd actually made any progress with the filter until I stepped away and there was a clear outline of my feet on the floor...where the dust couldn't reach the tile.  Fail.  I know when I've been defeated, people.  I tossed the filter back on the chair and pushed the shop vac aside for Jason to deal with!

So far, in trying to clean up the mess, I'd succeeded only in creating a mud puddle.  It was at this point that I remembered that my steam mop broke this week.  So, here's what I did:
I got out a plastic cup and filled it with floor cleaner and hot water.  I splashed that around on the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room floors.  I grabbed my Hoover steam vac from the utility room, turned off the scrubbing brushes, set it to "rinse only.  Then, I steam cleaned the tile with it, alternately spraying and suctioning just like on carpet.  And, IT WORKED!  Victory!  Miraculously, none of that disturbed Heather or her daughter and they emerged from the basement sometime later looking refreshed and ready to hit the road!

There are several morals to this story:
*People will never drop by unless your house is a complete wreck.  (Sub-moral:  despite your best efforts, your children will make sure that it's a mess.)
*If you manage to get the house clean before an expected visit from a friend, your plumbing and/or appliances will punish you for getting it together for a change.
*It's best not to delve too deeply into the mysteries of plumbing...for example, the inappropriate connection between your water using appliances and your poop disposing facilities.  You don't want to know.
*My husband thinks I may, occasionally, peel vegetables into the toilet.

Where the trashcan and my feet were.

After I shop-vacced.