The Case Of The Four Missing Assignments

(Tonight’s blog post is a little story about the boy.  He’s read it.  And he gave me permission to hit the PUBLISH button on the post, so that we could share it with y’all.)

Sometimes you have those lazy weekends, where the fireplace and Netflix both run nonstop, while you shuffle back and forth between the kitchen and the living room, IN YOUR PAJAMAS, for hot cups of coffee and popcorn refills.

Or maybe it’s just OUR family that enjoys a weekend of nothingness like that.  Maybe other families are responsible and productive and contributing to society every Saturday or Sunday.

Well, we pulled our weight there THIS weekend.  We spelled Productive with a capital P, and then we sort of decorated it with balloons and streamers, because LOOK AT ALL THE PRODUCTIVITY WE ARE PULLING OFF, IN THE NAME OF GET ‘ER DONE!

It all started on Friday morning.

The boys didn’t have school on Friday, because our semester here has ended, and teachers had in-services around the district.  I was shown the Favor of the Lord on Friday, because OUR in-service at the little private school where I teach was all about science.  Our principal pulled our art teacher, our music teacher, our Spanish teacher and ME, the PE teacher, aside and whispered the words that are every bit as magical as YOUR LOTTO TICKET NUMBERS MATCH THE ONES ON THE TV SCREEN.  She said, “Since you four don’t teach science… I don’t see why you need to be here Friday.  Go forth and sleep late, and please!  Enjoy your day off!”

I assume that she meant, “Sleep exactly as long as Thing 2 will let you on Friday morning,” which turned out to be until 5:50.

Our calendar for the ENTIRE LONG WEEKEND was one blank slate, and we had exactly zero intentions of changing anything.

Netflix and popcorn and pajamas, WE BELONG TO YOU!

Until, of course, I checked the boy’s grades online first thing Friday morning, because I was just checking to see if there was any real possibility of him SOMEHOW getting an A in the Class of Death.

The Class of Death is a college-level, college-credit history class, and I am OVER. IT.  My child, the straight-A student who doesn’t know what the letter B actually looks like on his report cards, has labored like a giant elephant stuck in a mud hole to keep from sinking in this class.

Calculating the mass of the universe is easier than this class.

Bringing peace to a nation divided over the recent election is easier than this class.

The boy studies for his Advanced Placement United States History (also dubbed as APUSH) class for a minimum of two hours, every night.

Monday nights?  Yes.  Two hours.

Tuesday nights?  Yes.  Two more hours.

Wednesday nights?  Well… sometimes they have pop quizzes on Thursdays, so sometimes Wednesday evenings require three hours of dedication to APUSH.

Hubs and I have gone to bed over and over and over, and left our teenager up, sitting at his desk with a book the size of Saturn in his  lap, STUDYING.

The class is hard, the teacher grades hard, and lectures only cover one-fourth of what the tests will cover.

The boy got a big, fat B in APUSH the first quarter, and he was frantically clutching at another B for the second quarter, and WHAT ARE THESE B GRADES???  WE NEVER SEE THOSE!!

So on Friday morning, I looked online, hoping that MAYBE the boy’s GLAD-TO-HAVE-IT 88.9% had somehow been transformed into a 91%, after the 4,000 hours he spent studying for the final.

And that, y’all, is when I saw that we had FOUR (One, two, three, FOUR!!) missing assignments in APUSH on Friday morning, AFTER grades had closed.

You know when you spray a wasp hive with water?  And do you know how the little flying snots come zipping out, ready to slam a stinger into anything that moves?  Well, those wet wasps are capable of showing more CALMNESS than I was capable of showing on Friday  morning.

I talked to the boy, and this is what he told me…

“Mom, I did the math.  I ran the numbers.  I ran them several times, and what I decided is that there was NO WAY I could get an A.  So then I ran the numbers a different way, and I decided that even if I didn’t do the last four assignments, but did FAIRLY OKAY on the final, I could STILL keep my B.  And if I had any intention of doing FAIRLY OKAY on that giant final, then I needed more time to study.  So, I took the time that I would have used doing those last four written assignments, and I devoted it all to studying for the last exam of the semester.  And… guess what?  I did FAIRLY OKAY on the final, after studying like I was trying to pass my medical boards, and I’m still going to get a solid B, even without turning those last four assignments in.”

And WHAT, pray tell, does a parent do with THAT?!

I called Hubs.

He had to tell me to stop talking so frantically and fast, because I was jabbering on faster than the speed of sound.  He couldn’t keep up with ALL THE WORDS being thrown at him, because SONIC BOOMS.

Thankfully, Hubs saw things MY way, which was, OF COURSE, THE RIGHT WAY.  We decided that since the boy didn’t want to do SCHOOL work… then he could do HOUSE work.

Which is why I made a second cup of highly-caffeinated coffee to fortify myself with, before I sat down at the computer and literally TYPED OUT a to-do list that included all the chores I’ve been wanting done, which were also all the chores I had no real desire to DO.

Clean the giant linen closet in the bathroom that looks like it holds towels and junk for thirty-six different families?  CHECK.  That kid’s gonna do that!

Organize the pantry that looks like a grocery store after it had been hit by a tornado?  CHECK.  The boy’s gonna spend some quality time with boxes of cereal and cans of tomato soup.

The list went on and on.

And then, as the boy got busy with his consequences, I finally cooled down long enough to realize that I KIND OF… SORT OF… thought he was brilliant.

BECAUSE WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF CALCULATING HIS GRADE, AND KNOWING WHAT TO THROW OUT IN ORDER TO DEDICATE MORE TIME TO STUDYING?!

Part of me was downright giddy over HOW CLEVER I thought that kid of mine was.  Part of me was really actually QUITE IMPRESSED with what he had done, and how he’d managed to MAINTAIN his grade, minus four assignments.

And then the part of me that’s HIS MOTHER was still freaking out, because HELLO?!  McFly!!!  WE DON’T SKIP ASSIGNMENTS IN THIS FAMILY!!!

In this family, we turn assignments in!

So, I kind of helped him with all the ugly tasks…

… except the linen closet, which he did completely by himself, while I cleaned our kitchen and swept our floors and folded our laundry.

And now?

Well, I have cooled completely off.

Our linen closet is perfectly organized.  Bed sheets, towels, and washcloths are meticulously folded and stacked.  Bubble baths and bath oils are all organized together.  Sudafed and Benadryl and Band-Aides and asthma inhalers are all in one tub, neatly.  The Windex and the Clorox and the Pine-Sol are all corralled in a plastic tub, too.

The closet glows with all of it’s beautiful, perfectly-aligned luster.

Our pantry is even better.

I cannot even tell you how many times I have thrown open the pantry door this weekend, JUST TO STARE.  I gaze, and then I kind of hold my heart a little bit and think, “This!  This is the definition of Beautiful Organization.  My heart will go on…”

IMG_0920 IMG_0921We’ve had burned out light bulbs in all of our ceiling fans, which are sixteen feet in the air, because of this little thing called VERY TALL CEILINGS.  Those burned out light bulbs have needed someone to haul the ladder in from the garage and go from room to room, changing them.  The effort has always seemed greater than the inconvenience of living in darkened rooms…

… until this weekend.

Our house is so bright now, we actually have to wear sunglasses, as we try to adjust to having FULL LIGHTING CAPABILITY around here.

My floors are vacuumed.

My stairs are vacuumed.

Bed sheets have been changed and washed and folded and PERFECTLY PLACED into the clean linen closet.

The boy and I were like well-oiled machines this weekend.

The laundry is done.

The kitchen sparkles.

There are no crumbs on our floors.

Thing 2’s toys have all been gone through and reorganized.

We are ON TOP of our game around here.

Hubs, not to be left out, caught the GET ‘ER DONE bug this weekend, too.  The brakes on his Honda have been squealing, so he and the boy ripped them apart and replaced them.

Hubs climbed the giant ladder and VACUUMED our ceiling fans off, and then wiped them down with wet cloths, after the boy changed all the light bulbs for us.

He pulled the refrigerator out and fixed the waterline that has been giving us fits for weeks.

He dug a blue Lego brick out of our garbage disposal.

And we even squeezed in a lunch date with good friends this afternoon.  We went out for Mexican food, and finally relaxed for a bit, after all of the chores we pulled off.

IMG_0937 IMG_0943 IMG_0958Thing 2 was so happy to spend some time with his best friend, that he got a little rambunctious with hugging her neck and declaring his love for her.

IMG_0949And now, we are facing Monday morning tomorrow as an organized family.

If you’re in the neighborhood, PLEASE!  Stop by and see the glorious work the boy has done on our linen closet and pantry.  Please!  Admire our clean ceiling fans, that were cloaked in dust for the past three years.

And if your own boy ever calculates his grade to determine exactly how much homework he DOESN’T have to do, to still maintain one B and six A’s, don’t be too hard on him.

I’ve decided that it’s a bit of genius.

I’ve decided that sometimes sixteen year old boys get overwhelmed with too much homework, and when we tell them to SAY NO TO SOME THINGS, sometimes they say NO to written assignments.  And granted… that’s NOT what we want them to say NO to, but sometimes the stress of keeping your head above the water in a class that is just flat-out, ridiculously hard needs to be acknowledged.

I love my teenage boy.

I’m proud of that kid, for who he is.

But… from  now on… we are going to say NO to OTHER THINGS.  We are going TO DO ALL OF OUR ASSIGNMENTS, because it’s our responsibility.

Right, Boy?!

We will DO.  ALL.  THE.  ASSIGNMENTS!!!

Y’all have a fantastic Sunday evening.

Well… The Colleges Are Now Breathing Down Our Necks

What I don’t like to talk about very often is that we are now smack in the middle of our sophomore year of high school.  And by WE, I really mean THE BOY.  THE BOY is smack in the middle of his sophomore year of high school, because Bon Jovi, Debbi Gibson and leather bomber jackets are a thing of the past, so I would have no idea how to navigate the hallways of Small Town High right now.  This pretty much translates into the fact that there are now a very finite amount of mornings that the boy will shuffle out of bed to shower and head off to school, while he’s still living in my house.

Don’t even get me started.

And then the boy took that PSAT test this year, just to SEE what kind of score he might be close to grabbing onto when he takes the actual SAT.  He managed to score in the 95th percentile, nationwide.  He got none of his brains from his mother, because all I know how to do is put periods and commas and semicolons in the right places.  I can keep pronouns singular when they need to be, and I can tell the differences between a hyphen and a dash.  I can no longer calculate any enormous, formula-using problem, and the only chemistry I do is adding oregano and basil to a pot of boiling, bubbling broth once in a while.

After his test scores came back, our mailbox started to fill up.

We have college after college after STINKING COLLEGE sending the boy envelopes crammed with pamphlets and letters and COME TALK TO US lines of encouragement.  The boy’s email in-box is exploding with college solicitations, and I basically want to sit down and cry.

WHEN did we go from jumping around the front yard, twirling a light saber with authority, to getting applications for universities?  When we get the mail from the colleges, I simply stand above the garbage can and say things like, “TOSS THIS ONE; IT’S TOO FAR FROM HOME,” and “TOSS THAT ONE, BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE THE LOOKS OF THEIR PAMPHLET,” and “HAWAII?  SERIOUSLY?  HAWAII??!!  It will take me hours of flying and six entire bottles of Dramamine to get to you!  Toss it!”

When the boy walks into the kitchen and asks what I’m up to, I just tell him, “Oh… you know… throwing some junk mail sent from Hawaii away.  Who needs beaches and palm trees, when we have all this luxurious SNOW?!”

He’s none the wiser that he’s being asked to consider Hawaii.  Why would he be?  I’m totally homeschooling him for college, and I feel like it’s my duty right now to shelter him from the siren’s call of sandy beaches.

Anyway.

I had no point in all of this, except to say that the people you considered OLD when you were a young whippersnapper, getting married and having babies, knew exactly what they were talking about when they announced, “They grow up so quickly.”

In other words, the moral of this story is to listen to the old people, for they are a wealth of wisdom, except when they say things like, “No one has been able to replace Lawrence Welk on the television set.”

In other news, I got a pedicure this afternoon.

It was the first pedicure I’ve had in over two years, which means the tools were gathered up from the stable, as my nail technician needed the hoof trimmers.  Thankfully, my nail technician is also a good friend of mine, so we sat and talked and laughed, while my feet soaked in an acid solution that takes forty years of callouses off your feet and makes you feel like you’re twenty again.

My toenails are all an electric pink right now, that pays homage to all the neon in the ’80s.  I felt it was an appropriate color for such tasks as throwing college pamphlets from North Dakota away, because GAH!  YOU THINK IT’S COLD HERE??!!

We wrapped up our day today with a matinee.  Somehow, the memory of the last movie we hauled Thing 2 into the theater to see has become a blur that I couldn’t remember (probably because I blacked out at some point), so I thought we could surely handle another such outing.  The boy and I stood in line to buy our preschooler a little box of popcorn, which was supposed to come with a small candy bar, but which ended up coming with FRUIT CHEWY SNACKS.

The devastation was a real thing, as Thing 2 announced to the teenager behind the concession counter, “I don’t want these!  These aren’t real candy!  I want real candy!”  She assured him that the winds of change were upon us, for health reasons, and the kid pack now comes with artificially-flavored fruit snacks, that have half the sugar as a candy bar.

And then she filled his kiddie cup to the brim with 7-Up.

Bless her.

We saw the movie Sing, and honestly, I loved it.  Thing 2 loved all the popcorn and his soda and the singing.  When the cartoon characters were NOT singing, Thing 2 loved crawling all over my lap and asking big questions, like “When are we going home?” and “Can I buy some real candy now?”

And now!  LOOK AT THE TIME!  It’s pretty much 7:30 in the evening, which means I need to brush a four-year-old’s teeth, rinse the dirt off of him, stuff him into some clean pajamas, and rock him to sleep.

Don’t judge me because he’s nearly five and I still rock him to sleep in the rocking chair EVERY!! SINGLE!! NIGHT!!

This time next month, Hawaii will probably be contacting him, to see if he’d be interested in attending their college on a surfing scholarship.  Time whips by entirely too quickly, and I’ll rock that boy to bed until he no longer fits in my lap.

Y’all have a good weekend.

That Time I Experienced The Early Morning Traffic Jam

Thing 2 had been complaining of an ear ache for the past week, because OF COURSE HE HAD.  We just shelled out ALL THE DOLLARS in November to meet our insurance deductible, with a little trip to the hospital called LET’S PUT ANOTHER SET OF TUBES IN THOSE EARS, so why wouldn’t he complain of ear pain after we had flipped the calendar over to January?

New year.  New resolutions.  New insurance deductible.

His appointment this morning was for 7:30, which might seem daunting to some, but listen:  Hubs and I have reached a point in our parenting career where 7:30 in the morning feels like we should be, at the very least, preparing for a nice brunch, and, at the very most, microwaving some hot dogs for lunch.

7:30 AM appointments do not scare us, because 7:30 AM is not early.  By then, we’ve showered, completely caffeinated ourselves, and been through the horrors of making a bowl of oatmeal for the preschooler’s breakfast, only to have him look at it and announce, “I just want toast with cinnamon on it, instead.”

I woke up at 4:45 this morning, saw the time, and thought, “I should just get up and shower.”

And then, apparently, I dozed off, because the next time I looked at the clock, it was 5:04, and I figured that I really SHOULD get up then, because I have some pride, which includes showering before I take my child to doctors’ offices.

And then suddenly, it was 6:10, and WHOA, NELLY!  Look who fell back asleep, and now look who’s going to have to run like it’s a Presidential Fitness Test in 6th Grade PE to come out looking like a winner, complete with mascara and shoes?

And also… GUESS WHO SLEPT IN UNTIL 6:35 THIS MORNING??!  Yes.  That would be the preschooler.  Clearly, he caught wind that we had an appointment at 7:30, so he decided to just go ahead and sleep, while his mother needed to be up, using the hairdryer and the bottle of perfume.  Don’t worry.  He’ll more than make up for it this weekend, when he gets up at 5:20, because we don’t have to be anywhere.

Anyway.

I’m happy to report that we made it to the doctor’s office at 7:33.

Yes.

I was late.

And it was every bit my fault, because I take Thing 2 to preschool every morning at 8:15.  I leave my house at 8:15, and his class starts at 8:30.  I remain strictly on the far edge of our city limits, as the preschool is only a small, downhill coast from our house.  The left-hand turn for the road to the preschool is BEFORE Starbucks, so I’m not even distracted by the thought of a grande, no-water, extra-hot, no-whip chai latte, until AFTER I’ve dropped him off.

I haven’t been out in a real car at 7:20 in the morning for AGES, because the boy drives himself to school, and I forgot what the traffic in the city is like.

As in, there were twenty-three cars lined up at a four-way stop, taking turns to get through, and I was all, “HEY!  I HAVE SEVEN MINUTES TO MAKE IT TO THE EAR, NOSE AND THROAT DOCTOR’S OFFICE!”

No one listened to me.

Everyone drove like sloths through the four-way stop sign, waving one another on with smiles to JUST GO ON AHEAD, EVEN THOUGH IT’S NOT YOUR TURN, AND WHY DON’T WE JUST LET THE CAR BEHIND YOU GO, TOO, WHILE I SIT HERE AND HOLD UP TRAFFIC ON MY SIDE OF THE STOP SIGN, WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE APPOINTMENTS, IDLING THEIR ANTIQUE SUBURBANS, BEHIND ME?  Normally, I’m all for this behavior, except when I need to work my way through the city in ten minutes flat.

It was with utter shame that I arrived at 7:33 this morning, because all I ever do is drive the carpool lane on the edges of town, at an hour PAST rush hour, and WHAT IS ALL THIS TRAFFIC?!

As it turned out, Thing 2’s ears were declared pink and healthy.  The tubes are still exactly where they should be.  Our beloved ear, nose and throat doctor announced that she couldn’t even detect a single possibility as to WHY HE WOULD BE COMPLAINING OF EAR PAIN.

And then she told us to discontinue using the prescription ear drops she called in to the pharmacy on Monday, to see us through until today’s appointment.  That was nice, seeing as how that tiny bottle was $165.

Is this a safe place to talk about insurance premiums and the cost of prescription medication?  Because one hundred and sixty-five clams for a bottle of ear drops that is the size of a hamster’s tea cup?  I’m pretty sure that Charles and Caroline Ingalls built their entire cabin, and then bought three good horses, three saddles, a milk cow and a year’s worth of sugar and coffee for $165.

So that’s how we started our day.

The rest of my day was spent wearing my robe and holding my gavel, as I played judge to forty-six hundred cases of tattle-taling, while I taught PE.  I don’t know if our barometric pressure has changed, but SWEET MOTHER OF FROSTY THE SNOWMAN!  The tattles were running at an all-time high today at our little school.

Thankfully, the game that I had planned for my classes was a smashing success.  It was new and fresh, and the kids loved it.

I’m pretty sure that I threw my shoulder straight out of its socket, as I threw balls from one side of the gym to the other, hoping to rescue players who had been tossed out of the game, by giving them something to catch to redeem themselves with.

And all of this stuff together?  Well, people, it’s why I’m going to bed at 7:45 tonight, right after I get Thing 2 rocked to sleep.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I would have gone to bed at 7:45 anyway.

It’s how MawMaw rolls.

Y’all have a good Wednesday night.

Life Lately

I feel like I haven’t written a real blog post in ages.

That probably has everything to do with the fact that I haven’t written a real blog post in ages.

Also?  Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve finally taken my mother’s advice.  She’s only offered up this advice for the past twenty years or so.  Clearly, I like to slowly ease into things.  But… y’all!  It’s no big secret that I have myself some Laundry Issues.  And by Laundry Issues, I simply mean that I don’t actually DO the laundry, until the piles are teetering on the brink of an avalanche, and Hubs starts complaining about being down to the single pair of boxers that he hates, which just happens to be the pair he is saving for the Apocalypse.  My mother has always said, “If you just do one small load a day, it’ll be quick and basically painless, and you won’t have to face this mountain of dirty clothes again.”

And, truth be told, my mother was right.

Last Sunday, I did all of our laundry.  I did.  I grit my teeth with a fierce determination, and I ran the washing machine like it was MY JOB, all the livelong day.  And come last Sunday evening, we had ourselves some clean clothes.  Washed, dried, folded, hung… AND ALSO PUT AWAY.  Folks didn’t know what to do at our house, when they walked into their closets to see PRIME CHOICES of boxers, and fresh socks, piled to the heavens in their drawers.

On Monday, I washed what we wore on Sunday.

On Tuesday, I washed some towels and a couple pairs of jeans.

And then suddenly, I was on a roll to keep the laundry baskets bare, and I haven’t looked back since.  So, while all of my friends have gone completely off sugar and are trading recipes for the Whole 30 program in a Facebook group and letting one another know that THIS SPAGHETTI SAUCE has no sugar in it, I’m ready to start a group of my own, where we encourage one another to just keep the agitator spinning and the dryer tumbling.  I envision a group where we can share pep talks and encouraging memes, so that we STAY.  THE.  LAUNDRY.  COURSE.

It has been a week, people.  One full week, and my laundry hampers are still bare and empty.  In other words, I’m writing it down as a Life Win.

In other news, we have been up to all sorts of things, if the photos on my iPhone are to be believed.

Before Thing 2 got his haircut, he (and his curls!) got to help one of his BFFs celebrate his birthday.  Of course, that led to a quick photo opp, with Thing 2’s best buddies.  We took eighteen pictures of the three amigos together, and there wasn’t a single one where all three boys were looking in the same direction.

Apparently that’s a life skill that develops around their freshman year of high school.

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We live next door to some of THE MOST FUN boys around.  The boy and the cute neighbor boy are good friends, who hang out a lot together.  They do manly things, like watch movies with explosions and challenge one another to see who can eat three Big Mac hamburgers in the shortest amount of time possible.

Sometimes, even sophomores and juniors need parental supervision at meal times, because THREE BIG MACS IN ONE SITTING?!  Where in the world were their mothers?

Thing 2 loves our neighbor boys, and they love to hang out with him and teach him how to crawl on his belly through the tall weeds to spy on bad guys.  Over Christmas break, the crew all got together for an afternoon of ice skating.   Thing 2 was SO excited to go with them and feel like a big kid himself.

IMG_0823Speaking of ice skating, I feel like Thing 2 has become a rink rat, who basically LIVES at the ice rink.  He LOVES skating.  He’s fast.  He talks a lot of smack.  And he will skate and skate and skate, until the zamboni driver makes him get off the ice to go home for dinner.

IMG_0861The preschooler has also totally nailed the art of getting a drink without taking his helmet off, all in the name of not wasting any time on the ice.

IMG_0825The little stinker is getting pretty good at whipping around the rink.

And I’m getting pretty good about remembering to warm his skates up for him, instead of leaving them in the back of the Suburban, where the wet shoelaces freeze and make his rink time miserable.

IMG_0845I had a Mother Win last week, when I ordered $14 worth of drawer organizers from Amazon and smacked those suckers into the top drawer of Thing 2’s dresser.  He’s four, and his idea for “looking for a pair of socks” involves him stirring through the drawer’s contents, like he’s stirring an oversized pot of soup.  Instead of blending the oregano with the chicken broth, he gets busy blending the socks right into the superhero underwear, and then no one can find anything they’re actually looking for.

But… BEHOLD:

IMG_0877Socks stay where socks are meant to be.  Undies stay where undies are meant to be.  And the middle section there catches the belts and ties and baby shoes that I will never part with.

Thing 2 had a dentist appointment last week, to get his teeth cleaned.

IMG_0850The dentist chuckled over how many teeth he’s already lost and said, “I haven’t had a four-year-old with permanent teeth already fully in his mouth for QUITE a long time!”

Thing 2 followed up his cleaning appointment by losing his FOURTH tooth the following day.

IMG_4941 IMG_4943AND… he has two more loose teeth, which I don’t expect to hang in there much longer.

The Tooth Fairy, being the forgetful, elderly slacker that she is, REMEMBERED at 7:00, as Thing 2 was going to bed and announcing that he couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and see what the fairy had left him, that she had a preschool fellow booked for the night, and written, IN INK, on her day planner.  Thankfully, the Tooth Fairy has a sixteen-year-old boy who helps her out.  When she handed the teenager some cash for a new Matchbox car, with enough leftover for a SODA from the store, he was more than happy to drive himself to Walmart and pick up the goods.

Hence, Thing 2 woke up the following morning to find a 1940-something Buick Matchbox car waiting for him, which is what happens when you’re losing teeth at the age of four and have no concept of money.

We have spent the majority of January hunkered down and trying to avoid the freezing temperatures.  Seriously, we have had windchills of 20, 30 and even 40 degrees below zero, with real temps of MINUS TWENTY-TWO DEGREES.  It’s ridiculous.

We’ve also had more snow than the North Pole has had this winter.  Small Town, USA has become something of its own Polar Ice Cap.

IMG_0870Hubs took Wednesday afternoon off from work last week, when it FINALLY STOPPED SNOWING, so that he could plow us out.  He and Thing 2 and two of our neighbor men, who also came home from work to get some snow removed, all went to work.  There is  nothing in Small Town that brings people together and shows the goodness of folks than a full-on snowstorm.  People are just willing to work together here, to dig one another out.  Hubs and our two neighbor guys had the four-wheeler with the plow, two snow blowers, and three snow shovels, with Thing 2 bringing up the caboose with his own, pint-sized snow shovel.  By the time I got home from work late Wednesday afternoon, I could drive through our cul de sac without getting stuck, and we once again owned a bare driveway.  Those three guys and a preschooler had completely moved snow out of our cul de sac and plowed and shoveled everyone’s driveways.

IMG_0872 IMG_0873 IMG_0874 IMG_0876On Thursday afternoon, I ended up with the mother of all migraines.

The mother ship crashed.

I took some migraine tablets and curled up on the sofa, with a blanket and the fireplace.  And… somehow… all the angels cleared the way for me, for a restful afternoon.  Thing 2 was, THANKFULLY, ready for some downtime, too.  I put The Lego Movie on for him, and he didn’t even move through the entire show.

IMG_0881By dinnertime, I was fully recovered.

On Friday night, we kicked off our weekend by going into the city, and parking twelve blocks away from the pizza parlor that we were meeting some friends at.

Apparently, everyone had the same idea of kicking their weekend off with a dinner out, since the streets were fully plowed and the temperature was finally a balmy eleven degrees.  We ordered pizzas, the kids played on the video games, and we talked and laughed… and laughed and talked.

Afterward, I tried to take a picture of Thing 2 with his other best friend, Vivi, but they were both a lot more interested in watching a loud diesel truck turn the corner behind me.

IMG_0890These two cuties sat by our fireplace one morning.

IMG_0896And then we spent this last weekend going to one of Thing 2’s friend’s birthday parties at the ice rink.  The boys all skated like madmen and devoured a cake shaped like BB-8, from the Star Wars movies.

We made a Walmart run this weekend, where we basically bought half of the store, as we were out of ALL.  THE.  THINGS.

We sat in our pajamas and had coffee late into the morning.  We watched Zootopia in our living room, with the fireplace running, as a family.  We went to church.  I stuck with my “one small load of laundry a day” commitment.  If it takes twenty-one days to make a habit, then I’m on Day Eight.

And basically, the weekend was all good.

Happy Monday, everyone.

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The Night Herod Feared The Police Boots In Bethlehem

ME:  “What did you learn in Children’s Church, Buddy?”

THING 2:  “We learned about a really bad guy.  He was going to kill a bunch of babies.”

ME:  “What was the bad guy’s name?”

THING 2:  “His name was Herod.  He was a baby killer.  I didn’t like him.”

ME:  “Why was he going to kill babies?”

THING 2:  “Because he was trying to kill baby Jesus.  He didn’t want baby Jesus to grow up and be the king.”

ME:  “Did Herod kill baby Jesus?”

THING 2:  “No.”

ME:  “Why not?”

THING 2:  “Because baby Jesus’ mom and dad went and tapped a policeman’s shoulder for help.  The policeman came and told Herod, ‘If you kill baby Jesus, I will kick you right in the face with my police boots, and then you’ll be really sorry.’  And that’s how that story went, Mom.”

ME:

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Hi

Well.

I think I just walked through six cobwebs, when I came in to work here at the Jedi Mama, Incorporated offices tonight.  Who’s been running this place lately?

Oh, that’s right.

It’s me.

My only real excuse for skipping two nights in a row this week is simply this:  IT HAS BEEN COLD AS ELSA’S FINGERNAILS HERE.  And we’ve had more snow than any city hosting the winter Olympics would ever need.  In other words, don’t talk to me about global warming, because it certainly isn’t happening in Small Town, USA.  We are all lining up at Starbucks, asking for the added EXTRA HOT option on our drinks, wrapping scarves around and around and AROUND our necks, and running our gas fireplaces until our husbands cry out, “The gas bill is going to be an explosion of fireworks filled with dollar bill signs this month.”

I think we’ve gotten another foot of snow since last night, and the windchill on my phone told me it was a FEELS LIKE MINUS NINETEEN kind of morning at 7 AM when I bundled Thing 2 up, so that he could go outside and shovel.

Sweet mercy, that boy does love to shovel.

Why is it that when they’re four and can’t lift all the heavy snow and successfully accomplish a cleared patio, they’re ALL FOR, 100% IN on shoveling?  But when they’re sixteen and could shovel their way from here to the polar ice cap, they grumble and mumble and try to get out of shoveling in all sorts of ways?

We don’t do Snow Days here in Small Town.  Our school superintendent doesn’t believe in them.  He thinks we’re stout and strong and WHO WANTS TO MAKE UP A SNOW DAY, COME JUNE 1st?  He’s got us there.  None of us want to come back after Memorial Day, especially when three extra Snow Days have to be tacked onto the calendar.  So, we go.  We go to school in the snow and the frigid temps, even if it means hooking up the dogsled and packing a thermos of soup for the drive.  We go. even if it means our eyelashes will be frozen together when we arrive at school.

WHAT ARE THESE ELUSIVE THINGS CALLED SNOW DAYS?

Dear Alabama,

We saw on the news that you got a skiff of snow one day last week.  Like… almost an entire HALF INCH of snow.  We also saw that everything shut down.  Elementary schools, junior highs, colleges, gas stations, post offices, and everything else.  We didn’t mean to laugh, Alabama, but we did.  Our apologies.

Sincerely,

Small Town

And then, when we get to school on days like today… all the teachers get to host Indoor Recesses.

I, myself, pulled off two successful recess duties today, where I had ALL THE PRIMARY CHILDREN (kindergarten through 4th grade) in the gym with me.  If you want to know what that’s like, get yourself thirty golden lab puppies.  Then get yourself thirty fluffy-tailed squirrels.  Put everyone together in a gymnasium, shut the doors, blow a whistle, and see what happens.

What happens is called INDOOR RECESS.

Afterward…

… after I had SURVIVED a dodgeball game with three million kids, ranging in age from five to ten…

… after I was hit in the face by a wayward dodgeball thrown by a 3rd grader, while I was untying a horrible knot for another kid’s sneaker…

… I went into the school office and poured myself a cup of coffee.

I never drink coffee from the school office, because it’s the kind that drips into one gigantic pot.  Our little private school is poor, and our funds don’t cover a Keurig.  We are a one-pot school, where everyone is on the same coffee-taste schedule.  Our school secretary makes it, exactly how she likes her coffee, which is stout and thick and black as sin.  It’s stuff that almost needs to be chewed.  But, with enough milk out of the mini fridge in the school office and fourteen pumps of caramel flavoring, I made a mug o’ the nasty stuff, and then walked back into the gym to start 4th grade PE.

One of my 4th graders looked at me and asked, “Is that a hot Tom and Jerry’s you’re drinking?”

I have no idea what this says about me.

And THAT, y’all, is about all that’s happening around these parts right now.

EXCEPT… my dad’s most recent bladder surgery was a success on Monday, and the biopsy came back benign.  We have no new cancer spots right now.  Thank you for praying for that.  We’ve asked Jesus to step a little closer, so we could throw confetti all over Him, while we toot our party horns.

Stay warm, folks.  Run your fireplaces…

… and keep those Tom and Jerry’s flowing hot!  And if you’re one of the lucky ones who earn yourself a mystical Snow Day, think of us.  We will be there, having PE and algebra and learning our phonics.

I Don’t Blame The Grinch For Complaining About All The Noise, Noise, NOISE!

We just had a lovely dinner of baked pork chops with mashed potatoes, with a side of thick, hearty bread, straight from the bakery.  It was so fresh, I think the ladies in the white aprons probably pulled it straight from their conventional ovens at the store, about three minutes before we bought it this afternoon.  We slathered it with butter and nestled big slices of it on our plates, right next to those potatoes.

And now I’m kind of regretting my failure to choose something light, like a Caesar salad or some ice cubes or even air to go next to the potatoes.  Sometimes carbs deceive you into believing they’re your friend, when, in actuality, they’re nothing but a lying snake in the garden.

In other words, hello pajama bottoms with your cherished elastic waistband!

The pajama bottoms are going to serve me well right directly, because I intend to put them to good use with an early bedtime.

And seeing as how ALL my bedtimes are early bedtimes, I should clarify by saying AN EARLIER THAN NORMAL BEDTIME.

This wasn’t the weekend where we slept.

On Thursday night, Hubs watched a recorded hockey game, while I went to bed and read a book.  The book was so riveting, I lasted about nine minutes, before I had to take my teeth out, put them in the jar on the bedside table, pull the hearing aides out, and yank the covers up to my chin.

At some point before 10:00, Hubs must’ve come to bed.  I’d like to say that I noticed, but the honest truth is… I didn’t.  Which clearly means that burglars could’ve broken in and robbed me blind, because EXHAUSTION.

And then, at exactly 10:08, Hubs sat bolt-upright in bed and hollered, “Is it only 10:00?!!”

I snapped awake, with my blood pressure high enough to explode the top of my head off.  I squinted at the bedside clock.

10:08.

“It’s 10:08!”

“No, it’s not!  It’s… like… 3:00 in the morning!  You messed with the clocks, didn’t you?!  I know you moved them WAY BACK, so that I’d only THINK it was 10:00, when it’s really 3:00.”

Y’all.

I’m sure you’re as confused about that statement as I was, at 10:08 PM on Friday night, after having been yanked out of my REM.

Hubs was talking in his sleep.

Or rather, Hubs was hollering in his sleep, as his brain was tremendously concerned that it couldn’t possibly be JUST 10:08!!

Thankfully, he was out cold again, three seconds later, and had zero memory of being flustered by the time on the bedside clock, when he got up on Friday morning.

In fact, he went so far as to say that I had made the entire thing up, because he doesn’t think he would ever yell hysterically in his sleep.

I was awake from 10:08 PM to sometime around 1:30 AM, when my adrenaline finally calmed down enough to go back to sleep.

On Friday night, Hubs and the boy went to the golf course for dinner, as they’d scheduled a Man’s Night Out together.  They ordered prime rib and fillets, and sent me pictures of their dinner, while Thing 2 and I ate cereal at home.  Then they went to see the new Star Wars movie at the theater.  Meanwhile, I tucked Thing 2 into bed at 8:00… and I went to sleep at 9:00.  My twenty-one-year-old self shudders to think that her destiny as a forty-something woman was going to land her smack in bed, sound asleep, before 9:00 on a Friday night.  She shudders, because that would’ve been a horrid waste of an entire bottle of Aqua Net hairspray and bangs that defied gravity.

(God bless 1991.)

Later on, Hubs and I woke up at 12:30 in the morning to both of our iPhones SCREAMING out an Amber Alert, for two missing boys, several states away.  Apple didn’t mess around when they put the alarm for public Amber Alerts into their phones.  I think their design team rubbed their chins and said, “Let’s make the alarm for Amber Alerts sound like a tornado siren… EXCEPT LOUDER.  Let’s make the alarm on just one iPhone capable of alerting twelve entire counties of the Amber Alert.  In fact, let’s outdo SONIC BOOMS.”

And so they did.

Hubs and I had no idea, until our first set of Amber Alerts screamed across our phones at 12:30 in the morning.  I was out of bed, standing, with enough adrenaline coursing through my veins to lift a Greyhound bus up with one hand, before I was even fully awake.  We were both frantically trying to MAKE IT STOP!  MAKE IT STOP!!!  MAKE ALL THE NOISE STOOOPPPP!!!!!  Apple was going to have me banging on their front door, had they woken Thing 2 up.

So… it goes without saying that I wasn’t about to just RELAX AND GO BACK TO SLEEP, like Hubs did… four minutes after we’d silenced the alarms.  Nope.  I was doomed to be awake, so I prayed for the boys who were taken by their non-custodial parent, several states away from us…

… and then I stayed awake in bed, thinking about six thousand, four hundred and nine more other things, for the next two hours.

And then last night, the owls in the trees behind our house decide to party.  Apparently, Saturday night means something to owls, as they get the gang together for some loud music and a sing-a-long.

We have three owls.

The reason that I know we have three owls is because there are three VERY DISTINCT owl “voices” outside, whenever they decide to work themselves up in a hooting frenzy, which is a couple times every week.  You can very clearly distinguish their different sounds.  They are so loud and obnoxious, I want nothing more than to march outside and cause them death.

MUCH LIKE they caused the bunny who has lived beneath our pine tree for more than a year.

OH, YES!!  We have had a little cotton-tailed bunny, who keeps kept himself busy beneath the pine tree near our driveway, for at least a year now.  He would dart out once in a while, but, for the most part, he stuck close to the tree.

When we pulled into our driveway last Tuesday afternoon, there was our beloved cotton-tailed friend…

… looking exactly like the victim in a horror film.  I was APPALLED at the crime scene.  I was tearful.  I made the boy go get a shovel and dispose of our wild bunny.

And right beside the RIPPED-PLUM-IN-HALF, blood-sprayed-everywhere body of our rabbit friend were GIANT WING MARKS in the fresh snow.

So either a pterodactyl swept in and murdered him when he was just four steps away from his pine tree…

… or those dang owls did it.

Sometime in the wee hours of this morning, after I had been forced to listen to all the hoo-hoo-hooting for HOURS, I told Hubs, “Please!  Go outside… AND SHOOT THOSE OWLS DEAD!”

I woke Hubs up, which made me a little happy, seeing as how he’d gotten a weekend FULL of sleep.  He groggily tipped his head to the side at 4:00 this morning, listened for a bit, and said, “I love owls!”

And then he went right back to sleep.

So, y’all… seriously.

I’m off to put Thing 2 to bed RIGHT NOW, and then I’m going to bed myself.  My fingers are crossed tightly that there are no sleep-talkers, no Amber Alerts, and no vicious owls singing karaoke tonight.

AND…

… if y’all have a mind to talk to Jesus, please mention my dad tonight.  He’s having YET ANOTHER little surgery tomorrow morning, so that his doctor can look inside his bladder and see if there are any more suspicious growths going on in there.  We are just praying for a CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH on the man tomorrow!  No.  New.  Cancer spots.  And amen!

I’m also praying for a very silent night tonight.

That One Successful Casserole

I don’t want to be all braggy or anything, but I just pulled off a casserole that our entire family actually ate.  I feel like this could be a Biblical sign of the end times, as casseroles are never a dinner item that meets unanimous applause at our house.  Hubs, himself, is a casserole sort of guy.  If it can’t be a dead animal grilled to perfection on his dinner plate, then he’s all about the gravy train that leads to a mixture of diced chicken, cream of mushroom soup and twenty-seven pounds of grated cheese.  I enjoy a good casserole, too, which is a sign of my maturity.  I remember looking at my plate of supper on Casserole Night when I was a little girl, and really hoping that I could just head straight to bed, without passing GO or collecting $200, because who thinks mixing ALL THE FOOD in one bowl and baking it at 350 is a good thing?  But, as the human body ages, it develops a need for cheating, reader glasses to see any print that isn’t written on a billboard, and then it develops a taste for a nice hot dish that could have come straight from the heavily-laden tables of a good Baptist potluck.

Our boys are not usually on board with casseroles at all.  The boy usually pleads SICK, because he is intelligent and knows how to work his parents so that they don’t suspect anything.  Sadly, his mom played enough Clue in the early ’80s to figure out what he’s up to.  True to form, he came out of his bedroom when I called him to dinner tonight, looked at the 9″x13″ on the stovetop and announced, “I’m not feeling so well.  I think I’m getting a stomach bug, and might just need to go to bed early.”  He proceeded to take a single tablespoon of casserole on his plate, to let me know that he’d give dinner one hell of a good fight, but that he really suspected the stomach version of Influenza A.

Thing 2 looked at his plate and announced, “This looks disgusting!”

Never mind that I paired this casserole with a nice bag of steamable, mixed vegetables, which included the little cube carrots, corn and green beans.  Mixed veggies is usually the death of any dinner, as far as children are concerned.

But, y’all, I am here to announce that, after Thing 2 smelled his casserole six different times, from six different angles, he tasted it and realized that, “Hey, Ma!  There are Doritos in the bottom of this supper!  WE HAVE CHIPS IN OUR DINNER!!!”  And that was all the encouragement he needed to lick his plate clean, mixed veggies included.  I’m telling you, miracles still happen.

The boy tried his tiny bite, with a little sigh, letting me know that he may be home from school tomorrow, because he really JUST!!  ISN’T!! FEELING!! WELL!!  And then, following in his younger brother’s footsteps, he announced, “The Doritos in this casserole are kind of awesome!”

And there you have it, folks.  If you put an entire bag of crushed Doritos beneath some diced chicken, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and twenty-seven cups of grated cheese, you may not be complaint with a Whole 30 diet, but you WILL win hardened hearts for the Lord.

Now, I’m left with a kitchen that is a bit out of control and in desperate need of some loving attention tonight, but a sink full of dirty dishes and counters filled with dinner remnants that need put away are all a small price to pay for four thumbs up over our meal.

Also?

Well, immediately after dinner (after his second trip to the 9″x13″, where the boy got an ENORMOUS, HEAPING PILE of chip-infused casserole to replace the mere tablespoon he had feebly managed to choke down at first), the boy made a full recovery.  He felt well enough to mix flour and cocoa and eggs and every other thing out of our pantry into a single coffee cup, which he baked in the microwave.  The end result was a gooey brownie, because modern mankind has made some culinary advancements.  I’m sure that the housewives of 1960 could never have envisioned a world of desserts, mixed up in a coffee mug and zapped with radiation in a General Electric microwave oven, in less than four minutes.

I know that this post has been riveting, as y’all have clung to the very edges of your seats, reading about our chip-filled casserole.

I aim to please.

In case any of you have a wild hair and are more inclined to eat a casserole filled with all the goodness of Doritos chips than a no-sugar, no-carbs version of dinner, in the form of grilled tomatoes and zucchini, let me share the recipe.

Your children will rise up and call you blessed.

Click here for Doritos Cheesy Chicken Casserole.

Y’all have a good weekend.

The Conductor

“Hey, lady!  Don’t stand on the tracks to take pictures of passing trains!  I’ve got a schedule to keep, and I’m about to sing you the song of my train people.  It’s a nice, long whistle.  I like to do it at a volume that shatters windows and glass microwave doors.  The railroad dictates that I blast that sound every four seconds, to keep caribou and looky-lous, like you, off the rails.  My apologies, but it’s in my contract.”

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Flight 9452, Recovered. Pilot Deceased.

ME:  “What happened to your plane?  It’s all wrapped up in Scotch tape!”

img_0819THING 2:  “Well, Mom, the pilot flew that plane straight through a giant spiderweb.  The web got all over the plane.  Do you like how I used tape to pretend to be a web?”

ME:  “Yes.  It was terribly clever.  Of course, you realize that we have NO tape left in our house.”

THING 2:  *blank stare*

ME:  “What happened to the pilot?”

image2 image1THING 2:  “Well, when he got out of his plane to rescue it from the giant spiderweb, the giant spider got him.  The spider wrapped him all up, and now he’s going to get eaten.”

ME:  “Any chance we could save the pilot?”

THING 2:  “No.  He’s a dead man.”

Dear Girlmoms,

I am so sorry that you never get the opportunity to discover stuff like this on YOUR kitchen counters.  It’s always lovely to move an airplane wrapped in a spiderweb out of the way when you’re trying to cook dinner.  I feel horrible that y’all miss out on this.

Sincerely,

A Boymom