A Well-Rounded Education

Thing 2 came home from school this afternoon, and I quizzed him on how his day went.  This is a ritual that we go through every single afternoon, and it’s like encouraging a baby sloth to HURRY AND GET DRESSED, PLEASE.  The information is SLOW to emerge.

“How was school today?”

“I don’t know.”

“Was it good?”

“Probably.”

“But probably it… maybe… WASN’T good?”

“Maybe it was good.”

“So you had a good day?”

“I actually had an OUTSTANDING DAY.  My behavior clip was on OUTSTANDING, Mom.”

“Who’d you eat lunch with?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, who sat beside you at the lunchroom table?”

“A kid from my class.”

And then I turn to the wall and just knock my head against it, because that always seems to alleviate some of the burning pressure that is a sure-fire indication that the top of my skull is going to explode off, into fragments of QUITE THE MESS.

This afternoon, after asking Thing 2 sixteen questions to determine that YES, AND ALSO INDEED, HE SAT WITH HIS BEST BUDDY, AS HE USUALLY DOES AT LUNCH, I asked him how recess went.  I do this to kind of check on which kids he’s playing with, and to also kind of find out if my beloved son spent any time standing against the wall, in a RECESS BREAK, for such offenses as PERHAPS pushing or shoving.

Today, he immediately answered my question on recess, with GUSTO and EXCITEMENT, as he exclaimed in his loudest voice, “OH, MY GOSH, MOM!!  Recess was so much fun today, because we played MUTANT ZOMBIES!!”

So… you know… clearly we’re getting our money’s worth out of those tax payers’ dollars we give to the public school system, because we had no idea what mutant zombies were BEFORE we started kindergarten.  I think we’re getting a well-rounded education.

 

Dear Elf On The Shelf People, We Have Become One Of You.

As if December isn’t already crazier than we need it to be…

… the North Pole has gone and sent an ambassador to us.

Are Hubs and I a little afraid of what we’re in for during these next twenty nights?  Yes.  Yes, we are.  Did we just inform our seventeen-year-old son, “Start thinking.  You’re going to be helping move that elf around the house, or Santa will put YOUR name on the Naughty List”?  Yes.  Yes, we did.  Hubs and I are just disappointed that this ambassador from the North Pole showed up with a full-color storybook, that explains to little children what he’s all about, instead of a bottle of wine.  Hubs and I always have the worst kind of luck.

When Your Christmas Tree Starts To Undress Before December Even Hits

I don’t  mean to brag, but OUR Christmas tree (which is standing up, but still undecorated) is going to lose ALL of its pine needles WAY BEFORE yours does.   Our living room currently looks like a grenade went off in a pine forest.  You cannot even BEGIN to imagine the amounts of joy that this brings to me.

Thankfully, the little man who drops by to run my vacuum cleaner every hour is cute… and he works for gummy worms.

Thanksgiving 2017

I can’t believe that we’ve managed to flip enough pages in our 2017 calendars to be at the end of November already.  It seems like I was just griping about the heat… THE HEAT… STOP THE CRAZY HEAT AND THESE 96 DEGREE DAYS… last week, and here we are now shivering, because it is RAINING in Small Town, USA today.

Yes.  Raining… exactly like it’s November on the equator, in a tropical rain forest.  Apparently, Mother Nature did not read SUGGESTED DATES FOR RAIN in her operating systems handbook for our area, because… come tomorrow… this rain is going to be frozen into sheets of ice on our streets that make bobsled runs look mediocre in terms of HOW FAST CAN YOU SLIDE?  The end of November is not our optimal time for rain, what with the frigid overnight temperatures and all.

Go home, Mother Nature.  You’re drunk.

This is the type of weather that makes me crazy, as I send my seventeen-year-old off to school, yelling, “THE HILLS!  The hills in town will be icy!!  Try to drive on only FLAT streets!”  To this he yells back, “Ma, the high school is ON THE TOP OF A HILL!  And I’m a professional driver, Ma.  My skills make Richard Petty look like a preschooler!”

Hubs and I are really working on the boy’s self esteem.

But yes.  Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and it treated us fairly well.

We started Thanksgiving Break by joining Thing 2 at his elementary school for their annual Turkey Trot.  This is when the entire school — all three hundred of their students and teachers — are joined by sixty-two million parents, and everyone trots along the streets, for a mile-long loop around the neighborhood.  The kids love that a policeman leads the way, with the lights flashing on the top of his car.

Although this particular Turkey Trot is not a race AT ALL, Thing 2 walked two blocks with me and Hubs, and then announced, “I’m totally going to win this trot!”  His competitive nature couldn’t take being twenty-five people behind the leading police car, so off he ran, leaving Hubs and I alone.

Clearly, it was a family affair… but the polar opposite.

At one point, Thing 2’s teacher asked us, “Are you two on a date without kids?”

Yes.  That was exactly it.  What we love to do together, when we find ourselves childless, is to walk a mile with three hundred other children who DON’T belong to us.

I suppose that it goes without saying that Thing 2 WON the non-competitive Turkey Trot, as he was the first one to step onto the school’s property, behind that policeman.  He was a little disappointed to learn that this was not a competition, and that NO, YOU’RE NOT GETTING A MEDAL OR ANY MONETARY AWARD.

Hubs and I finished somewhere around 30th and 31st place.  Come to think of it, I guess that’s not a bad finish, out of three hundred students and all the accompanying parents.

The kids didn’t have school on Wednesday, so they each did their favorite things.

The boy slept in until 11:30 that morning, and Thing 2 went ice skating with their cousin.  Cousin R is a freshman.  She is a SEASONED ice skater, and she ended up saying, “I can barely keep up with him out there!”  As much as the boy thinks he’s Richard Petty behind the wheel of his car, Thing 2 believes he’s Apollo Ohno and Wayne Gretsky, all rolled up into one small package, on ice skates.

After he’d gone to open skate with Cousin R, Thing 2 had his REAL hockey team practice.  He has been so excited to finally be old enough to play REAL hockey, that he could barely stand it.  That group of 5 and 6 year olds broke into little teams to scrimmage one another on Wednesday night, while we all cheered them on.  It was Thing 2’s very first experience playing in a real hockey game, and he LOVED IT.

He came away with a hat trick, plus one.

Yes.  That stinker scored FOUR GOALS for his little team in their little scrimmage.  He had a ball.  He came off the ice dripping sweat, grinning wide enough to split his face in half, and happy as he’s ever been in his life.

Ultimately, this means we may be traveling for hockey games IN THE WINTER.  Do you know what I HATE, LOATHE and also DESPISE doing in the winter?  That would be TRAVELING.  I had been hoping that Thing 2 would just play baseball, which is such a SUMMER GIG.

Anyway.

Every Thanksgiving, our church puts on a dinner.  It’s a rather popular place for members of our congregation to go, and everyone seems to bring friends.  We gave it a try this year.  Hubs and the boys and I joined Mam and Pa for dinner there.  The menu included all the traditional foods of turkey and mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casseroles, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies.

And then Hubs smoked four racks of ribs.  His biggest disappointment with the Pilgrims is that they decided bagging a turkey for their feast was good enough, when they could have shot a wild boar, trimmed it out, and smoked it right up over a roaring fire.  He threw the ribs on his Traeger grill at 6:00 Thanksgiving morning, and by 1:00 that afternoon, he wrapped everything up in aluminum foil and shouted, “These may be my finest masterpiece yet.”

We’re working on his self esteem, too.

I was a little reluctant to have him set SMOKED RIBS next to the traditional turkey on the buffet table, but listen, y’all.  EVERYONE THERE complimented Hubs on his ribs.  People argued over who got MORE ribs than others.  While I was in the kitchen, getting paper towels, one elderly gentleman came in to grab plastic wrap.  When he saw me, he smiled sheepishly and said, “I stole two extra ribs to wrap up and take home for a snack later.  I love them!”

In other words, Hubs just proved that what everyone wants for Thanksgiving dinner is a piglet with a thick, seasoned, smoked crust.

Also, it was exactly like I didn’t even know myself on Thanksgiving Day, because I took ZERO PICTURES of my children that day.

Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.

The only picture I took on Thanksgiving 2017 was this one:

When you live in a house dominated by boys, you’re never surprised at the weird things you find.  I walked downstairs on Thursday afternoon, to find Spider-Man, hanging out, tearing both of his rotator cuffs, as he whispered, “Could you bring me a plate of turkey with extra gravy and some Ben-Gay?  My shoulder muscles are a little achy.”

Every single year, on the  Friday night after Thanksgiving, Small Town closes off our main streets in the downtown area, so that everyone can mill around, jaywalk and enjoy some nighttime shopping.  It’s kind of a big deal here, as the entire town’s population shows up.  Every single year, we pop in to see Santa Claus.

This year, Thing 2 was a wee bit worried that he was actually on Santa’s Naughty List.  He kept telling me, “I’m not going to ask him for anything, in case I really AM on the Naughty List.”

I guess he knows himself pretty well.

In the end, Santa asked him what he wanted, and Thing 2 blurted out, “I want a drone and a real snow blower.”

A REAL snow blower?  He IS his dad’s boy, with the same motto of “Go big or go home.”  I just worry that Santa isn’t going to come through on that gift.

In fact, I already know that Santa laughed his head off over that and didn’t even bother to write it down on his list entitled WHAT AM I TAKING TO THING 2’S HOUSE?

Later, after we’d left Santa Claus behind, Thing 2 looked at me while he was holding my hand and asked, “Mom?  Did I ask for a drone?  Did you HEAR me ask Santa for a drone?  I was so nervous to talk to him, I don’t even remember if I asked him for that!”

Later, Thing 2 wanted to ride one of the tractor-pulled wagons, and he talked his big brother into riding it with him.

We managed to bump into EVERYONE we knew downtown on Friday night, because… well… EVERYONE WE KNEW was actually DOWNTOWN.

Thing 2 scored a skewered marshmallow, which he roasted over a fire pit in the street.  He toasted it to an absolutely picture-perfect golden, toasty brown.  It was the most beautiful marshmallow I’d ever seen come out of a campfire!  How OUR KID pulled it off, without shoving that chunk of spun sugar straight into the flames and incinerating it to black ash, is beyond me.  But, it was roasted perfection.  Thing 2 gobbled it straight down, and then he looked at me, sighed and declared, “This was the best day of my life!”

And really?  Everyone should enjoy the simple things in life, to where a toasted marshmallow and a wagon ride can give you the best day of your life.

We did a little shopping in the stores after that, roamed the street in the dark, bought the boy a pair of loafers that were on sale for Black Friday, and talked and talked to everyone we passed.

Hubs and I ended up taking Thing 2 out to eat dinner, while the boy met up with friends and stayed downtown.  Then we took our little man to the 8:00 fireworks show, where he managed to watch the FIRECRACKS without screaming like a banshee with his robe on fire this time.

We chalked it up as a Christmas miracle.

On Sunday morning, we had to WAKE this kid up for church:

The Thanksgiving holiday had taken its toll on him.

The boy and Cousin L looked kind of cute at church, so OF COURSE there was a picture.

And I couldn’t resist a picture of my boys together this morning, seeing as how the boy actually GOT UP EARLY ENOUGH to stop and smile.  That in itself was a Thanksgiving weekend miracle.

And the answer is YES.  The boy really IS wearing the same shirt today that he wore to church yesterday.  But, in his defense, he wore it for ONE HOUR on Sunday, and then he tried to take it off and throw it into the dirty clothes.

UM… SON?!  Hang that shirt back up in the closet, save your mama some unnecessary laundry work, and wear it again!

Anyway.  That’s how we spent OUR Thanksgiving Break.  What did all y’all do?

Thanksgiving Ribs And Parties

Well, it’s the eve of Thanksgiving, and everywhere across America, turkeys that are hopefully completely thawed and ready to go, are soaking in good brine recipes, in eager anticipation for the feasts tomorrow.

And then there’s us.

Hubs and the boy are preparing four racks of baby back ribs and getting them securely wrapped in aluminum foil, in eager anticipation of putting them on the smoker before the sun is up tomorrow.  Apparently, I missed that part of history class, when the pilgrims slaughtered a pig and invited the Native Americans over for ribs and pumpkin pie.  But, if anyone has ever said, “You know… what I WISH I had slapped right here on my plate… right next to the mashed potatoes and the Stove Top stuffing and the cranberry sauce and Aunt Mary Beth’s green bean casserole… is a couple of amazingly-smoked pork ribs,” then our family has you covered, because the pigs who breathed a sigh of relief that this was THANKSGIVING and NOT EASTER, had never met their worst nightmare… named Hubs… before.

Thankfully, there will still be a turkey tomorrow and all the carbs that make us sit up and give thanks for our best stretchy pants, but there will also be ribs.

You’re welcome.

And also?  Well, six entire years ago, on Thanksgiving Eve, Sister and her husband got a phone call that said, “SHE’S ARRIVING EARLY!!”  And the little girl who was due the second week of December, who was being born on the far side of our big state, decided that she should be born that very day.  And since her birth mama had handpicked my sister’s family to adopt her and become her forever family, Sister threw a thawed turkey at our mother and said, “We’re leaving!  She’s here, she’s here, SHE’S HERE, and we can’t host Thanksgiving dinner!!”  Except Sister shouted all of that into the phone, in one long breath that was almost impossible to decipher, right before she slammed the lid on her suitcase, with the arms of a sweatshirt hanging OUT of it, and jumped into her Suburban.

And that was that.

Six years ago, November 23rd was on Thanksgiving Eve, and little Cousin H arrived in this world.  Sister texted a snapshot of her, as soon as they could, and that little picture on our phones stole all of our hearts.

Because she was just THE SWEETEST THING.

They drove home with her on Thanksgiving Day, when she was a whopping twenty-four HOURS old.  We all fought over WHO would get to hold her first, as we welcomed that teeny, tiny, newborn girl into our family, through the miracle of adoption.

And tomorrow… on Thanksgiving Day… she turns six.

Sister had Little H’s birthday party this past weekend, to celebrate BEING SIX.  Or rather, to celebrate being NEARLY SIX, as she still has to wait until tomorrow to be OFFICIALLY SIX.

I have no idea how she’s this old already, because I swear it was JUST YESTERDAY that Sister handed me a bundle in a pink blanket and whispered, “Do you just love her?”

Yes.  Yes, I truly DID love her, right there on the spot.  Which was, you know, YESTERDAY.  Except apparently it wasn’t, because that adorable little stinker is already in kindergarten and told me that her favorite word to read is the word IS, because the S is tricky and sounds like a Z.

Little H got everything her heart desired at her party, because her heart desired pink Legos, Elsa costumes, Barbies and every troll doll in existence.

And because she’s as girly as girly can get, she picked out a fancily-decorated cake, with a big vanilla flower smack on the top.  Nothing says LET’S DO THIS SIX YEAR OLD THING quite like an elaborate flower constructed from pure sugar.

Of course our big kids were at the birthday party, too, but they seemed rather hesitant to jump into the crowd of kindergartners and ooh and ahh out loud over the presents.  Apparently, when you reach high school, you like to sit on the sofa, out of the reach of the camera’s lens while the troll dolls are being opened, but you still like to score a piece of the birthday cake.

Happy birthday, Little H!  May six be as wonderful to you as five has been!

And to all of you, may your turkeys be cooked to perfection, may your potatoes be fluffy and lump-free, and may your plates bear the pilgrims’ offerings of a good, pork baby back rib.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Y’ALL.  Count your blessings and hold them tightly.

Digging In The Backyard

Yes, there are folks who have fancy backyards.

And by fancy, I mean they have things like actual grass, that is probably watered with actual sprinklers in the summer, and where digging a hole with a shovel might be frowned on, because… well... YOU DON’T BURY TREASURE CHESTS IN MAMA’S YARD, BECAUSE YOU’LL RUIN ALL THIS LOVELY LANDSCAPING!

And then there are people like us.

Our front yard is landscaped, because WHAT WILL THE FOLKS WHO DRIVE THROUGH THE CUL DE SAC THINK?!  We put on a good show out front, y’all.  We have the immaculate lawn with the rock wall and the bushes and the decorative rock.

Our backyard, though, is an entirely different story, that starts with ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS A PLACE OF DIRT AND SEVERAL WEEDS.  But… lo!  It has a happy ending that goes, AND THE LITTLE BOY DUG IN THE DIRT, TO HIS HEART’S CONTENT, AND HE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

And everyone likes a story with a happy ending.  And… if that story also ends with a giant hole, dug by heavy Tonka machinery, that goes clear through the earth’s crust, and comes out in China, then I believe the story ends even happier.

A Tall Day

COUSIN H (at church on Sunday): “Thing 2, I’m taller than you are today, because I’m wearing my high heels.”

THING 2 (under his breath as we walked down the hallway together): “I HATE that girls get to have a TALL DAY, all because of high heels!”

This Post Brings BORING To A Brand New Level

I got up this morning at 5:00, because… well... OWLS.  Namely, the owl who sits in a tree outside our bedroom window, and hoots a long-winded story to his two fraternity brothers in nearby trees.  Hubs finds their hooting conversation calming and relaxing.  I find it creepy, which means there will be no more sleeping until they wrap up their lying, exaggerated stories about HOW BIG THAT RABBIT WAS and move on.

Which is how I found myself falling back asleep at 6:15 this morning.  I didn’t mean to.  I simply hadn’t gotten up, after listening to the owls, and then suddenly the clock was bonging 6 AM from the living room, and I must’ve laid there a few minutes more, and then BOOM!  It was precisely 6:34, and Thing 2 was hollering for breakfast.  I sat up, looking worse than Anna, when she wakes up in the Frozen movie.  I was disoriented, and desperately trying to remember what day of the week it was.  I’d been dreaming and drooling on my pillow, and WELCOME TO PARENTING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN IN THE HOUSE ON A WEEKEND MORNING.

I got up with the baby… made him a delicious, homemade waffle (which is to say, I toasted a frozen, gluten-free waffle and slapped some peanut butter on it, and then set a peeled banana right beside it)… made myself a cup of coffee, and immediately planned out everything I could get done before Hubs woke up.  I could wash Thing 2’s bedding, unload the dishwasher, and do some of my Bible study homework.

And then I sat down in the living room and played Candy Crush for forty-five minutes, while I slowly blinked and soothed myself with the thought that Thing 2 will sleep in when he’s fifteen.

We did make it to church this morning.

And we made it to the take-and-bake pizza parlor, because… well… we are out of the necessary grocery items to make homemade food… and we made it to the matinee to see Murder on the Orient Express, while Thing 2 played at Mam and Pa’s house.

In other words… HELLO, VERY LAZY SUNDAY.

And THAT is why I’m going to bed tonight with approximately six miles of bright orange Hot Wheels plastic track circling my living room, dirty dishes in my kitchen sink, and three-point-nine million Lego bricks scattered across our floors.

I guess every now and then we just need a Sunday where we do nothing, except pass eight levels on Candy Crush and chop up a semi-homemade pizza.

Happy Sunday night, y’all.  It’s 8:15 and past my bedtime.