I Am Officially A Criminal On The Most Wanted List

Well.

It has happened.

My library privileges have been suspended.

Every week, I take Thing 2 to the library.  We read books at bedtime every night of the week, and I can only read the same book over and over and over again so many times, before Mama just needs to call it quits and day drink.  So, every week, we get a stack of books that weighs as much as four kindergartners, and I lug them all home, on my back, like I’m a lumberjack who scoffs at chiropractors.  Never mind the fact that I usually end up pulling a shoulder muscle and digging around the car for ibuprofen before we head home.

Who says you can’t be injured at the library?

Two weeks ago, I got an email saying that we had a book missing.  It was flagged as overdue, and I was instructed to make an appearance before the library judge and pay my fine, before I received a jail sentence.  I wasn’t at all worried, because I know they have TVs in jail, along with time set aside to just lay on your bunk and read a book without being interrupted, and all that actually sounded like a genuine vacation. Plus, I knew I had returned the book, so I ignored the email… ignored the fine that I shouldn’t have had in the first place, because Y’ALL HAVE THE BOOK SOMEWHERE DOWN THERE AT THAT LIBRARY, PEOPLE… and I figured the darn thing would turn up at the circulation desk.  I knew they’d find the book, and then they would send me an apology email, begging my forgiveness for accusing me of basically being a street criminal with prison tats.

Only that didn’t happen.

Instead…

… I got an email today explaining that I had been found negligent in the case of PUBLIC LIBRARY VS. JEDI MAMA, so they were suspending my library privileges and freezing my library card to all future transactions.  I’m telling you… if the mafia ever needs help shutting someone down, they should contact the front desk of Small Town’s public library, who gets the job done.  Never mind the Mob fellow and his violin case.  Our public library can ruin someone with a single email.

I immediately told Hubs that my library privileges had been suspended, and that I basically felt like someone who had been put on the international NO FLY list at every airport on the globe.  I had been wrongly accused of losing a library book.  I had been accused of not paying $6.99 in racked up fines.  I was fairly certain that my picture had been photocopied onto an 8″x10″ sheet of paper and hung up with a giant thumbtack to the library’s front door, with the words WE DO NOT LEND BOOKS TO CRIMINALS written in an enormous, bold font underneath.

Bless my heart.

Hubs looked at me and laughed out loud. And then he said, “Who even ARE you any more?  You used to be so responsible, and now you can’t even be trusted by the public library system!”  And then he basically informed me that this was very possibly the worst thing that could happen to a nerd, as he said, “I’ve never even had a single library fine in my entire life!”

Um… Hubs?  That’s because you have to actually USE your library card in order to even incur a fine, and that would involve having some knowledge on WHERE the library is even located.  Plus?  You basically NEED A LIBRARY CARD, TOO, TO GET A LIBRARY FINE!  How Hubs and I even managed to get together is beyond me, because I was the girl who stayed in study hall and did my homework, while he was the boy who checked in during the first twelve seconds of study hall, and then left to go downtown for a hamburger, using a bathroom pass.  I was the girl who studied like crazy and spent days writing term papers; he was the boy who paid someone else to write his high school essays for him, and he paid them a bit extra to make a few grammar mistakes to make it sound legit, while he was at wrestling practice.

Clearly, the heart really does want what the heart wants.

I know that I returned this book!  I’m so honest, in fact, that I once admitted to the library staff that a two-year-old Thing 2 had puked all over a book we had checked out, while I was reading it to him when he had the stomach bug.  I had sopped up the vomit, wrapped the book up in a  Ziplock baggie, and taken it straight to the front desk to admit, “We will buy you a new book, because I doubt you want this one back.”  And the library staff informed me that it would cost me $32 (THIRTY-TWO AMERICAN DOLLARS!!!) to replace the book, with a restocking fee.  I told them that I’d already checked, and that I could buy the book on Amazon for $11.99, and have it to them in two days.  They informed me that their policy didn’t allow for individuals to replace books on their own, but that their policy was to have the library staff order replacement books themselves.

They failed to mention that they obviously order first-book copies, with gold-leaf lettering on their hardcovers and signed by the Queen herself.

I paid the $32.  I did.  Because I’m an honest sort of girl.  Later, I told Hubs, “I cleaned that book up well enough that I should have just returned it.  No one would ever have known that there was once chucked-up Pedialyte between pages fourteen and fifteen.”

Anyway.

Apparently, I now have to hold my head high in the midst of my library shame, and walk into that building this week to pay for a new book, which will cost me far more than the $6.99 they’ve currently charged me in late fees.  My best guess is that when their library staff orders a replacement book for the one I didn’t actually lose, I’ll be out a fifty-dollar bill and all of my pride.  Or… I can start reading books from home to Thing 2 every evening before bedtime, over and over and over again.  I just worry, though, that if I choose to do that, the library will keep tacking on late fees, until my children one day inherit my estate and $54 million dollars in library debt.

I don’t see any other way to get myself readmitted to the Library Book Loaning Program, as I’ve been found guilty by the LBLP and sentenced to BANISHMENT.  “Get thee from the library, and sew this scarlet B and this scarlet L onto thine garments, to indicate that thou art a BOOK LOSER!”

And y’all wonder why I have stress.

 

Twenty-Three Years

Twenty-three years ago yesterday, I said, “I do” to Hubs.  Yesterday, I said something a little less romantic, like “At least turn the fan on, if you’re going to do something like THAT in here!”  Twenty-three years is a long time to be married.

It’s true.

Twenty-three years is plenty of time to see each other at our worsts.  For example, vertigo kicked my knees out from under me on Friday evening, and I didn’t resurface until this morning.  If you’re doing the math, add the one, carry the two, and that comes out to be three full nights and two and a half days in bed.  I actually went to the ER with vertigo last March, because there just comes a point where you can no longer take the spinning room and wondering if you’ll ever be normal again.  I was thrilled to hear the ER doctor announce, “This is classic, textbook vertigo.  It can last anywhere from a few hours to six months.”  I couldn’t imagine six entire months of walking into walls and needing to clutch the bathroom garbage can tightly to my chest, every time I rolled over in bed.

Thankfully, that episode cleared up in four days, and I wasn’t a bit sad to see it go.

And then it came back Friday evening, and I finally started feeling better this afternoon.

I had taken a shower on Friday morning.

And I took another one on Sunday night.

There was no showering or hair washing or face washing or ANY KIND OF WASHING in between those times.  At one point last night, when we were lamenting the fact that I would throw up any steak dinner Hubs grilled to celebrate our anniversary, he looked at me… and I mean, he REALLY looked at me.  And then he said the words every girl longs to hear.

“Why don’t you see if you can jump in the shower and get that hair tamed down a bit.”

And THAT, y’all, is how I know we are still in love.  Because even when my hair looked like a nest inhabited by rodents… even when I walked into the wall every time I set foot out of bed… Hubs was still there, consistently asking me if I needed anything.  He offered to bring 7-Up with straws.  He offered to run into town for anything that sounded like it might sit well on my tummy, if I was hungry.  He offered to turn the ceiling fan on a little higher, which was an enormous act of love, because Hubs hates the ceiling fan.  And then, in the end, he offered me the sound advice that I probably needed to try some hot water, a bar of soap, and a stick of deodorant.

Happy twenty-three years, Hubs.

Math Worksheets

Our two boys are a solid eleven and a half years apart.  Having them spaced this far apart has come with a whole lot of PROS, because Hubs and I can tell the boy, “Watch your brother for an hour here, because your dad and I have a meeting in town.”  Of course, we never tell them that our meeting was a date over ice cream cones or coffee, because then we have to field a thousand questions in regards to WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE US?  It also means that I can shove a booster seat in the backseat of the boy’s car and wave goodbye, as they both head off, over the river and through the woods, to Grandma’s house, while Hubs and I are left alone at home to survey the seventy-four thousand Lego bricks covering our hardwood floors.  Those are the times when we consider how beneficial a Shop Vac is to a family.

Having that many years between your two children also comes with some CONS.  Namely, we have a six year old who doesn’t understand why he can’t do some of the things his older brother gets to do.  Thing 2 is fascinated with the fact that his Bubbie can go to a movie AFTER BEDTIME… at 9:30 PM, of all the crazy late times!… while HE has to be in bed.  He’s overwhelmingly irritated that Bubbie can walk through a parking lot with us… and not have to hold hands with Mom.  And… Thing 2 has never understood why the boy gets to have homework, when he doesn’t, even though we’ve explained the differences between your kindergarten year and your junior year.  (That’s primarily that your armpits don’t smell bad in kindergarten, while 11th grade is ALL ABOUT THAT DEODORANT!)

We have had a lot of IT ISN’T FAIRs shouted out, so Hubs and I solved that issue by having Thing 2 read out loud more.  This summer, I bought some workbooks targeted at the kindergarten and 1st grade levels, and our little man has been thrilled to sit at the kitchen counter and labor over them… exactly like his seventeen year old brother slaves over his calculus book.  Thing 2 has even been quick to insert a lot of eye rolling and heavy sighs when he adds a picture of four cookies to a picture of three cookies, because he has learned that this is what you do when you’re waist-deep in homework.  It’s basically hysterical.

Last week, Education.com emailed me and asked if I would like to take a look at some of the educational worksheets they offer, and if I’d like to review those worksheets in a blog post.  I checked out their website and decided that this was definitely something I could handle, because honestly?  I am all about educational worksheets and keeping our little brains fresh on math and phonics skills over the summer, when we have three months to forget our short vowel sounds and the different number combinations that can be added together to equal ten.  I am all in for summer worksheets that give my boys that “September edge,” when they return to their classrooms, armed with their freshly-sharpened pencils and brand new sneakers.  Education.com sent me a worksheet, which I printed out and promptly handed over to Thing 2.  He did the usual eye rolling and deep sighing, because WHAT IS THIS ATROCITY OF HOMEWORK IN THE SUMMER?!  I told him, “I guess you can do it later,” but he quickly hollered out, “No!  I’ll do it now!  I love my homework!”

The boy overheard that comment and said, “You’re going to get to a point very soon when you’d rather have your eyelids removed than do another page of homework.”  Thing 2 replied by asking, “How do you even take your eyelids off?”  (That’s another CON of having boys spaced eleven and a half years apart; the older one can be a bad influence with his graphic comments.)

Thing 2’s worksheet was one focusing on addition facts.

He got his faithful purple Crayola marker out, because he couldn’t find his faithful BLUE Crayola marker.

You’ll have to excuse our handwriting.  We are six and work on projects at a speed that would make Dash Incredible sit up and applaud, and our 8s look like drunken half moons who can’t find their shoes.  We also made a backward six to start with, because it’s summer vacation, and WHICH WAY DO SIXES GO AGAIN?!  The first attempt had to be crossed out and remedied.

We used our fingers for some quick help, because calculators aren’t allowed in kindergarten.

And… boom!  We nailed the right answer!

Sadly, we picked the wrong answer for the next problem, so we had to fix that one, too.  I believe this is a fine example of why teachers prefer actual pencils with chubby erasers on their tops, over purple markers that last forever on paper.

We also employed the ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU KNOW FIRST method of doing this worksheet, which is a fancy way of saying OUR KID HOPPED ALL OVER THE PLACE AND WORKED ALL WILLY-NILLY, WITH NO RHYME OR REASON TO WHICH PROBLEM HE SOLVED NEXT.

But!  We finished every last problem on that worksheet, and he grinned when it was all done, as he exclaimed, “THAT was a  piece of cake!”

And basically, that’s what my hope is for him with summer worksheets — that when he walks into his first day of the first grade at the end of August, he won’t have lost any ground from all the time spent in kindergarten math.  I want him to walk into the first grade and be on top of his math game, thinking that September math REALLY IS a piece of cake, so that he doesn’t have to spend any time catching up again.  For that reason, I think Education.com is a website that we will be using all summer long.

You can check out their homepage right here (EDUCATION.COM).  If you’d like to see some samples of math worksheets, you can find them RIGHT SMACK HERE, and download some free ones for your own kids, at their own levels.

And then you can sit back and drink an iced coffee, while they roll their eyes and sigh and ask you why you’re ruining their summer lives!  To that I simply say, “I’m helping you become the best version of your future first grade self that’s possible!”

Y’all have a very happy weekend!

 

 

 

The Camera Went CLICK-CLICK, While My Heart Yelled MAKE TIME STOP!

So.

THIS happened.

I believe this is what you call… how do I say it in English?… Senior Pictures.  And I can’t say that I was incredibly thrilled about it shaking down, because this means that Senior Year is so close on our horizon, we can touch it.  This little smarty pants will head back to high school at the end of August… take some more classes, like String Theory and Brain Surgery and Nuclear Physics… and then it’ll all be over with before I’ve had time to sneeze, and I’ll be frantically searching out a phone number for a good graduation party caterer.

If you need me, I’ll be sitting on the floor of my closet, rocking back and forth, while I try to pour sand BACK INTO Father Time’s hourglass.

 

Why… Yes! We Have A Pool!

This morning I woke up with zero ambition.

Clearly, I needed to take Dolly’s advice from 1981 and tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen, to pour myself a cup of ambition.  So… I did… because everything Dolly says is golden and should be followed.

It actually took two cups of hot ambition with some extra cream, as the good Lord intended His coffee beans to be treated, before I was able to get my act together and accept the fact that WE LIVE HERE.  Ultimately, this means that the house that was perfectly clean YESTERDAY morning looked like an F5 tornado had hit a dedicated hoarder’s house THIS morning.  I don’t know how our turnaround time, from clean to crime scene status, can happen in a matter of hours… but it does.

So, the hot cups of ambition finally worked their magic.  I got beds made and dirty dishes cleaned up.  I threw sixteen pounds of paper and tape (some call it kindergarten art projects; I call it clutter) into the garbage can.  (Don’t even talk to me about recycling the kindergarten art projects, because the recycling truck only comes every two weeks.  This means that those PROJECTS will sit there, waiting for that truck, for fourteen days.  Fourteen days is plenty o’ time for a six year old to happen upon his ruined masterpiece shoved in the bin and declare you to be the WORST MOTHER SINCE MOMMY DEAREST!  I can’t risk this happening, because then we have to rescue the crumpled papers and cardboard pieces and the seventy-four miles of Scotch tape, bring them back to our bedroom, and put them back on display.  The garbage, which is taken out DAILY, is the only option.)  I started a load of laundry in the washing machine and folded another load of laundry.  I scrubbed dried yogurt off the dining room table.  I picked Legos up.  I picked more Legos up.  And then I found four more stashes of Lego piles, and I picked those up.

And then I sat down to make a grocery list, because we are at the point in our lives where I open the fridge and see the bottle of French’s yellow mustard and the cantaloupe half that’s mushy, and wonder what recipe I could make with them.  Sadly, by then my ambition had worn back off, and I simply decided that we didn’t actually need dinner tonight, because I couldn’t bring myself to responsibly plan out a menu and list all the ingredients I’d need at the store.  However, I can’t put this grocery-fetching task off much longer, because TOMORROW IS THE DAY THE TOILET PAPER WILL BE GONE AT OUR HOUSE.  Clearly, that means that tomorrow is the day that I will be forced to get a full cart of groceries and Charmin, because man shall not live without the toilet paper.

Anyway.

After I dropped Thing 2 off at soccer camp this morning, I came home to find the boy dressed in golf slacks and a polo.  I was surprised that he was up so early on his day off from the golf course, but he grinned at me and said, “I thought I’d go golf eighteen holes.”  Because OF COURSE.  If he is not working at the golf course, then the boy is GOLFING at the golf course, or he is sleeping.  The end.  (And, for the record, his eighteen holes of golf that he said he was going to do turned into twenty-seven holes of golf.  We may need a twelve-step program, because I think we may have a golf junkie on our hands.)

So… I started my third novel of the summer, which makes me feel empowered and like a normal human being again.  I haven’t been reading lately… and by lately, I mean in the past six years… because there just isn’t TIME to read, when you’re the mother of an active infant / toddler / preschooler / kindergarten graduate.   But, I felt like I was on top of my reading game this morning.  I managed to read AN ENTIRE CHAPTER, before the laundry bells whistled and then I never did get back to look into chapter two.  Soccer camp was over, we went to the park with one of my friend’s and her five-year-old son, and we came home for a lunch of gluten-free corn dogs.

(Let me endorse the gluten-free corn dogs and just say this one thing:  THEY.  FALL.  APART.  They’re quite delicious, and Thing 2 is quite smitten with them, but all that gluten in a regular corn dog must hold the breading together, because the ones without the gluten crumble like cracker crumbs and leave you with a naked dog.)

And then… after we had picked up all the Legos again (because that is the story of our lives), we hauled the kiddie pool out of the garage and tossed it onto the deck.  Today was our first day without clouds in ages, and filling a little blue plastic pool felt absolutely as American as apple pie and baseball.

The only thing we were missing to complete the all-American afternoon were those tubes of artificially-colored popsicles.

You know the ones:

After our trip to the grocery store tomorrow, we can add some of these to our freezer, and we can enjoy the summer as it was meant to be enjoyed… circa 1977.

Have a great Thursday, y’all.

Sticky Situations And The End Of School

Small Town’s movie theater puts on a series of summer matinees for the kids, because they enjoy providing the children with something to do once a week in June, July and August.  They also know that EXTRA CONCESSION SALES ALL SUMMER MEANS CHRISTMAS BONUSES COME DECEMBER.  That theater is thinking ahead.  I used to buy the strip of tickets, which covers all three months’ worth of weekly shows, for the boy, when he was a little tot, and we always had so much fun going together.  And then the boy grew up, and he decided that his teenage self had far better things to do with his days of freedom than watch an animated film with his mama.

Cue the years when we didn’t do the summer movie matinees.  Those afternoon movies were something we simply forgot about.

And then Thing 2 came along, and FINALLY!  The kid can now sit still long enough to appreciate a good bag of popcorn, an air-conditioned theater, and a decent cartoon.  So, for the first time since the boy hit seventh grade, I bought strips of tickets for the summer.

Today was a movie matinee day.

And it poured rain today.

The type of rain that comes out of the sky like no one has witnessed since Noah was here.

Thing 2 and I were in the library when the storm struck.  We tried to wait it out, because our car was on the far side of the library’s parking lot, but that horrendous downpour showed absolutely zero inclination to ease up, so we ran.  I held hands with my six year old and tried to protect our stack of library books, as we ran like racehorses for our car.  Clearly, the time I spent with the hot rollers in my bathroom this morning was a complete waste.  We were soaked clear through to the bone, but we still made plans to hit the movie theater.

As did every!! single!! child!! in Small Town.  Actually, I suspect that all of the other children’s MOTHERS made plans for them to see the show today, because RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY, THESE KIDS STUCK INSIDE MAKE ME CRAY-CRAY.

Or something like that.

Let me tell you, that theater was pushing the fire codes on seating today, and… to my utter delight… the little girl behind us dropped her kid pack of popcorn AND her soda.  Since the theater slopes downward, toward the screen, gravity took over, and her Dr. Pepper ran beneath my feet.

There ain’t nothin’ so wonderful as having your feet stick in a fresh soda spill for ninety-four entire minutes, while you watch an animated flick about squirrels reclaiming a city park during the wicked mayor’s construction scheme to destroy it.  Everywhere I put my feet was another spot that was dripping Dr. Pepper.  The obvious solution would have been to just move and change seats, but that wasn’t possible, as EVERY SINGLE SEAT was taken.  We had a zero percent chance of finding anywhere else to park ourselves, if we dared to stand up.

The noise level before the show started was the equivalent of a poorly-run chicken farm, boasting thirty-six thousand laying hens.  I texted Hubs about the catastrophe behind me.  I told him my feet were stuck to the floor, that my eardrums would never recover from the noise, and to PLEASE COME TRADE PLACES WITH ME!  I encouraged him to be the PARENT ON DUTY this afternoon.

Hubs texted me back and said, “Hush.  I just closed the blinds in my office and tipped my comfy desk chair back.  I’m going to have a little nap right here, in all this quiet.”

And THAT’S why Hubs is having cold cereal for supper tonight.

ANYWAY.

I am nearly three entire weeks late posting the pictures, but I really DID take some snapshots of my boys on their last day of school, because OF COURSE I DID.

These little stinkers finished up kindergarten and the eleventh grade.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so emotional over a last day of school before, because this fall… when they return to school… the boy will be a senior.

It will be his last year of school.

I can’t even deal.

And kindergarten is over… for the second time in our lives.

I can’t even deal there, either, because there is something completely magical about kindergarten.  Those little six-year-olds are so bright-eyed and full of wonder and love.  Helping with kindergarten centers every single week was a complete joy in my life, as I moved about the classroom, helping kids with their letters and numbers and sentences.

Kindergarten is EXTREMELY magical.

And, at our school, part of that magic has to be because of the teacher my boys had.  They both had Mrs. F.  The boy had her when HE was six, and so did Thing 2.  She is the gentlest, kindest, most compassionate girl we know.  She is soft-spoken and radiates kindness and love.  She handles everything, from a fistfight on the playground to hurt feelings to puke on the floor, with grace and mercy and wisdom.

Basically, she’s the wind beneath my wings, and we all love her.

It was hard for us to accept the fact that she was going to pass Thing 2 to the first grade, because that means that we are done in her classroom.  We tried to convince her that we should repeat kindergarten, but she wouldn’t even consider it.  I don’t know whether Thing 2 is just that smart… or whether she was secretly pouring wine in the teachers’ lounge because she had survived the school year with him.

Anyway… we adore this girl.

Here she is with the boy, on HIS last day of kindergarten, when she was eight months pregnant with her second baby.  That second baby is about to turn eleven now, which doesn’t even seem possible, because it was just yesterday I was bringing her decaf lattes when I showed up at the school for kindergarten centers in 2007.

And…

… yes.

It would appear that my boys wore the same shirt on their last days of kindergarten.  What are the odds, eleven years later, that Thing 2 had on the boy’s old sleeveless shirt?!

Now, if y’all will just hold me and counsel me and pat me on the head with some thoughtful “There, theres,” as I gear myself up to HANDLE MY CHILD’S SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL WITHOUT TURNING INTO A TRAIN WRECK, I’d appreciate it.

And if you can offer up some prayers for Thing 2’s first grade teacher, Mrs. R, who is a beloved friend of mine who really thinks she can handle our second son with ease and barely any wine, that would be fantastic.  We’re planning to come in hot to the first grade and set her world on fire!  I’m also planning to consistently bring her lattes this fall, when I come for first grade centers, to keep that darling girl fully caffeinated.

Happy Wednesday, y’all.

 

An Early Summer iPhone Dump

Hello, good people of the World Wide Web, who continue to open this blog in their browsers, even though I have basically discontinued all forms of writing here.  I always have an excuse for ignoring my office here at Jedi Mama, Inc., and tonight I blame the books.

As in, the REAL BOOKS.  Once upon a time (Did you see what I did there?  Talking about books?  And then I used a story starter for this paragraph?), I used to read and read and also R-E-A-D.  I was a voracious reader, who devoured approximately six books every month, give or take.  And then Thing 2 arrived in my golden years, when all of my friends are at an age where they’re attending book clubs while they sip wine, learning pinochle and taking up full-time knitting in the heat of the afternoon.  Thing 2 keeps us on our toes, because… well… he proved to scientists across the globe that perpetual motion CAN be achieved.  So, while my friends are all sitting in lawn chairs on their decks, knowing that their teenage children can fend for themselves, I’m over here at my house, hollering, “WHY are there foam Nerf darts in my refrigerator?” and “We NEVER stack two chairs atop one another to reach the upper cabinets!”  Keeping Thing 2 alive is a full-time job, so something (mainly, the reading of actual books) had to give.  But… WHOA, NELLY!  Because I am not even kidding you when I say that I have already read two entire books THIS SUMMER, and it’s only June 19th.  I haven’t read two books in the past eight months, unless you count online articles entitled IS MY KID WEIRD BECAUSE HE JUST USED A PURPLE MARKER TO COLOR HIS BARE ARMS, FROM FINGERTIPS TO ELBOWS, SO THAT HE CAN PRETEND HE’S A PURPLE DRAGON, as a book.  I feel like I’m ready to join a book club now, as long as no one minds that I sign up to bring paper plates when we meet each month, because the chances of me having enough time to make roasted figs with prosciutto and goat cheese is a solid, rock-bottom zero.

Anyway.

I just downloaded a heap of snapshots from my iPhone to my Big Mac, and thought I’d give y’all a glimpse into what’s been happening around here lately, based on the sort of pictures I take.

Also, I should warn you that these are not the typical snapshots that appear on Instagram.  I peek into the lives of so many strangers on the Insta, who all have these gorgeously decorated homes, with these gorgeous children, and everything is always just… well… gorgeous.  The reason I can’t achieve perfection in my iPhone pictures, is because I have to say things like “You have bark chips from the playground IN.  YOUR.  UNDIES!!!” and “How on earth does one kid get this much sand in his hair?”  If it’s outside, you can bet your last package of bacon that Thing 2 will be bringing it INSIDE.  Currently, Thing 2 has a Tupperware container on his bedroom dresser, which holds six dead bugs.  Tupperware containers are where Thing 2 puts bugs… to die.  He keeps them as pets and loves them with an enormous heart, but being carried around in an unventilated, plastic container tends to take its toll on an insect.  I also pulled a handful of dried lilacs out of Thing 2’s bedding a few days ago.  I’m to the point in my life now, where I seldom even ask WHY.  But that night I did, and my son replied, “Oh!  So that’s where those went.  I picked them for you, Mom… and then I lost them… but I guess they were in my bed.”

At any rate, the snapshots are certainly not glamorous, but they show our lives CLEARLY.

Our biggest news is that our boys gained two extra cousins this weekend!  Hubs’ brother got married on Saturday, and we enthusiastically welcomed his new wife and her two children into our family, because they’re simply wonderful.  Cousin Z and Cousin T are two of the best teenagers around!

And?  Have I mentioned how much cotton the giant cottonwood trees in our neighborhood put down?  This snapshot is ONE DAY’S WORTH OF COTTON SPILLAGE.  Hubs and the boy can’t breathe while the cotton flies, because SEVERE ALLERGIES.  I have no seasonal allergies to speak of, but I have SEVERE IRRITATION over all the yuck from these trees.  Every single day, that cotton gets wet in sprinklers… or from evening rain showers… and it turns to white, fuzzy slime in my flowerbeds… and on my car… and on my deck… and my patio… and everything else that lives outside.  It’s enough for me to tell Hubs eight times a day, “I am ready to move!”

And… as if the cotton isn’t enough… when the wind blows… the SEEDS are shaken right out of the trees.  It’s always so lovely to come home after a good windstorm and find your driveway covered in a layer of muck that needs to be swept off.

Thing 2 is going through a ninja / spy phase at the moment.  His greatest joy comes each day when he rips off the outfit I’ve dressed him in and changes into his “black-on-black-on-black” ensemble.  He then sneaks around the house, hiding behind furniture and offering karate-style kicks for free.

Also, sometimes kicking ninjas need to ride the train to the next town, so they assemble one in the dining room and pretend to be the engineer.

Thing 2 went to a local Vacation Bible School this week.  He had a blast because they had squirt gun wars almost daily, and then sent the kids home soaking wet.  Squirt gun wars are our boy’s love language!  My friend Jill was the official VBS photographer last week, and she managed to get a good shot of our kid laughing, while he took a direct shot from a friend’s gun.

When Hubs and his co-worker are out of town for business, that co-worker’s wife and I haul the kids out for a nutritious dinner of ground beef and down-home potatoes.

The only thing more nutritious than a dinner like that is a breakfast that involves giant gluten-free monster cookies at the local coffee shop.

Sometimes, Thing 2 uses his imagination, a roll of old Christmas wrapping paper, and twenty-seven miles of Scotch tape to make himself a costume, when he’s NOT being a ninja / spy.

The boy had a band concert the week school wrapped up.  Thing 2 and a friend of his were hauled along to watch their big brothers perform on stage for the crowded auditorium, and I am happy to report that BOTH of these kindergarten kiddos SAT POLITELY FOR NINETY-MINUTES!  Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!

Our local library has enormous tubs of Lego bricks, which the librarian puts out on Friday afternoons.  The kids can build to their little hearts’ content, and then the librarian puts their masterpieces on display in a glass showcase in the front entry.  Thing 2 LOVES to pop in on Fridays for this, to keep his architectural skills sharp.

Cousin W graduated from high school at the tail end of May.  Thing 2 wrote him a paper note and wrapped it in a Happy Meal box.  He was so incredibly proud of his wrap-job, his heart was bursting.  He couldn’t wait to deliver his homemade, home-wrapped present to W.  And Cousin W, who wants to be a teacher because he loves kids so much, showed the same amount of appreciation for that little note in the Happy Meal box as he would have shown for a brand new Maserati in his driveway!  He thanked Thing 2 repeatedly.  He’s gonna make one dang good teacher!

The cute neighbor boy also graduated from high school at the end of May.  For his graduation party, his dad made cotton candy.

I don’t even remember if this snapshot of Thing 2 was him posing with his first cotton candy, his second cotton candy, or his third cotton candy, which was the one his mother cut him off on, because RESPONSIBLE PARENTING.

Hubs’ parents hosted a family barbecue over Memorial Day Weekend.  All the cousins were there, and Thing 2 talked them in to hiding EASTER EGGS, of all things, for him!  He spent the afternoon searching the yard, and having a bawl with his “Easter at the End of May” game.

Hubs took Thing 2 to a building workshop at Home Depot.  Apparently, every kindergarten child we know had the same idea, because it was like a six-year-old reunion down there, amidst the hammers and tiny nails.

In early June, the reason Hubs and I had MAN CHILDREN became clear, as we needed to trim the cottonwood trees lining our driveway.  What we REALLY wanted to do was chop those cottonwoods off at their bases with giant chainsaws, but we settled for taking the limbs that smacked our vehicles on a daily basis out.  And?  GUESS WHERE THE BULK OF OUR MANUAL LABOR CAME FROM?!  That’s right!  FROM THE CHILDREN!

And then, as if cutting and hauling trees wasn’t enough work for one day, I made them help weed the rock beds too.

Thing 2 has been using his dump truck to haul the big stuff around the yard this month.

And in new developments at the Jedi House, the boy brought home an actual trumpet on the last day of school, because he announced that he was going to teach himself to play it over the summer.  I imagine for the normal child, teaching oneself to play a brand new instrument might be kind of hard, but the boy is musical… times one thousand… and he’s almost mastered it.  Hubs played the trumpet for three years, before the music teacher kicked him out of band class forever, for blowing boxelder bugs out of his trumpet, across the classroom.  And, after three years of lessons, Hubs announced, “The boy already plays the trumped a million times better than I ever did, after two days of practicing.”

Of course, the little brother likes to have HIS trumpet lessons, too, so you can imagine how my nerves feel around this house these days.  I believe I texted Hubs at one point and said, “The trumpet playing is going to kill me dead with all it’s off-key, full-volume trumpeting!”

I taught Sunday School at our church for the first two Sundays in June, to a classroom filled with hooligans.

A friend of mine and I met in the park at 8:00 one morning last week for coffee.  While we sipped coffee, I told Thing 2, “Please play on the playground, and STAY.  OUT.  OF.  THAT.  DITCH.  Don’t get in the water and the mud!”  I believe that his outfit that day is a testament to whether he minded me or not.

Thank goodness another friend of mine came through with a king’s load of hand-me-down clothes, from her two boys.  We are all about the hand-me-downs at this house, and my friend Carrie delivers the best castoff clothing in the world!

Thing 2 and I were playing at the park one afternoon, when someone pointed out a mama owl and her two babies, high up in a tree.  We managed to catch a blurry shot of one of the teenage owlets.  Thing 2 was fascinated with them, and BEGGED ME to let him climb the tree and try to grab one for his pet.

Um… just no.

I took my rambunctious six-year-old to the local greenhouse one afternoon last week, and ran into a friend.  While we were talking amidst the perennials, Thing 2 disappeared.  I could HEAR him around the corner, so I wasn’t worried about him…

… until he came back to us, showing us the train he had made.  He’d linked all the wagons for plants together, and was busy turning them into the world’s fastest sidewalk train, as he RACED LIKE DASH INCREDIBLE through the greenhouse.  It was every bit as relaxing and wonderful as you would imagine.

We joined friends in the park one day, for swinging, climbing and grown-up coffee!  My friend and I got two full hours of “talk time over lattes” in, before the kids were even remotely exhausted.

We signed up for baseball, which happens bright and early every Saturday morning.  I don’t know whose idea THAT was!  Oh, wait.  It was mine.  Apparently, I’m trying to turn my hockey-loving son into a baseball-loving son, because traveling for baseball games happens in the sunshine, when there’s no snow.  Traveling for hockey games in the years to come is going to kill me dead, because I don’t actually DO winter travel on icy roads!  When we ask Thing 2 how he liked practice, he always tells us, “I love batting, but I don’t like being in the grass, waiting for a ball to come to me.  That part’s boring.  It isn’t as fun as hockey.”  Clearly, my plan for summer travel over winter travel is not going in my favor.

Thing 2 went to a birthday party a couple of nights ago, for a little fellow from his kindergarten class.  The boys were BEYOND THRILLED to see one another, after two weeks of no school.  Everyone hugged and screeched their enthusiasm at being together again, and then they had an enormous water balloon fight.  The mom said, “Well.  I spent one hour and forty-five minutes filling those water balloons, and they were all gone in four minutes!”  Funny how life works!

And we have a six-year-old who is in love with his summer homework right now!  I bought two 1st grade workbooks, to keep his brain fresh over the summer, and we have been trying to do a few pages in them each day.  Hubs and I just grinned a couple of nights ago when Thing 2 announced, “I just LOVE having homework!  Finally!  I get homework like a high school kid does!!”

And, finally, we’re kind of in to documentaries right now at our house.  Thing 2 is taking a break from nightly cartoons before bedtime (which is about the only time his stingy mom lets him turn the TV on), so that he can watch documentaries, filling him in on such subjects as penguins, dolphins, butterflies, volcanoes and trains.  He was absolutely glued to a train show a couple of nights ago, soaking in every bit of information the narrator gave him.  He then spends the next twenty-four hours, spouting all of his newfound knowledge to anyone who will listen!

And… JUST WHEW!  That should catch y’all up on what’s been happening around here.

And the boy?  Yes… I KNOW!  He barely appears in any of these pictures, because the boy HAS A REAL JOB, and he WORKS REAL HOURS, in exchange for REAL PAYCHECKS, and he REALLY LOVES IT!  He’s working again at the golf course this summer, and he’s averaging about fifty hours and fifty thousand dollars each week!  He’s simply never with us when I whip my iPhone out for a snapshot or nine!

Anyway.

Happy Tuesday night, y’all.

Summer Right Now

Well… we are knee-deep in summer vacation.  Thing 2 asked me the other day, “Is it Saturday today?”  I told him that it wasn’t; it was Tuesday.  He replied, “Well, it FEELS like Saturday!”  And I guess that sums up our lives at the moment:  Every day feels like Saturday, which is really the entire goal of summer break, right?

On the day that I checked out of my PE classes… after having filled out the appropriate checklist of DID YOU CLOSE ALL THE WINDOWS?  DID YOU FILL OUT A REQUISITION FORM FOR NEEDED SUPPLIES IN THE FALL?  DID YOU MAKE A NOTE FOR MAINTENANCE ON REPAIRS OR WORK THAT NEEDS DONE IN YOUR CLASSROOM? and turned it in to our principal… I walked out of the school with a light heart and thought, “This will be the summer when I get all kinds of stuff done at home.”  Oh, I had a mental list going, too.  Closets!  The closets need cleaned.  Actually, the closets at our house needed gutted, fumigated, and reorganized, if you want to know the real truth.  I have a cabinet that Hubs built for me years ago that needs painted.  I have a pantry that needs spiced up with some form of organization that we can stick to and not abandon two weeks after we clean it out.  I have GOBS of boxes and bags of hand-me-down clothes for Thing 2, which need to be sorted through, into piles of IT FITS NOW and IT WILL FIT NEXT YEAR.  I have toy boxes that need lit on fire and burned to the ground, because I am not passionate about 3.2 million toys that sit, completely unused, in them, hogging precious real estate in the little man’s bedroom.  So yes.  I walked out of my last PE class on June 1st and thought, “After our staff party to celebrate summer, I am going to become a machine that sorts out my house.”  I guess you could say this was going to be the summer that I got my affairs in order.

And here I am, two full weeks later, with nary a single thing checked off my list except that one line item that reads TAKE THING 2 TO THE PARK.

So THAT’S happening around here.

And what else is going on at the Jedi Manor?  Not a lot.

Hubs and I did put apps on our phones that actually track the exact amount of time we spend on them each day, because we had each accused the other of being glued to an iPhone screen too long.  We made a bet with prizes for the winner, to see who uses their phone less in June.  I feel like I pick my phone up constantly, to fill every down minute of the day, and I’m horrified about it.  My 1988 self is also shocked, because GO TEASE YOUR BANGS SOME MORE INSTEAD OF OPENING FACEBOOK AGAIN… but also my 1988 self is a little impressed, because she always knew her future self would have a phone like Jane Jetson did.  Anyway.  We have had this app on our phones for an entire week now, and I beat Hubs five out of seven days for the least amount of screen time.  I made a giant point of declaring myself the WEEKLY WINNER OF THE CHICKEN DINNER last night, when Hubs explained, “I use my phone for work, you know.”

Ha!

I looked at Hubs and said, “I also use my phone for work, and look!  I logged in thirty-three minutes on it today, and you logged in an hour and forty-nine minutes.”

Hubs looked at me with his eyebrows raised and said, “You’re using your phone for work, too?”

Because it’s apparent that Hubs has hard feelings about summer vacation, but all I have to say is this:  He could have chosen to go into education as a career choice in college, too, for the payoff of JUNE, JULY and also AUGUST.  I told Hubs, “Yes.  I ALSO use my phone for work.  Just today, I had to text the boy to see if he needed me to bring him some lunch while he was working at the golf course, and I also had to Google MY PACKAGE OF BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS IS TWO DAYS PAST THE SELL-BY DATE, before I just went with my gut instinct and threw it out, to the tune of $9 in the garbage.”

Hubs said, “Well, I made real calls to real clients and fixed someone’s computer… FROM MY OFFICE, WITH MY PHONE.”

Blah, blah, blah.

In other news, the boy is working approximately fifty hours a week right now at the golf course, and then he golfs eighteen holes when he gets off work, so that translates into WE NEVER SEE HIM.  I know he still lives here, because he leaves wet towels on his bathroom floor, and he occasionally texts me to see if I could please wash his work polos.

Thing 2 has been at Vacation Bible School all this week, with nine million other children.  I was so excited to send him, because I basically had from 9 AM to noon each day this week to KNOCK OUT MY LIST OF CHORES.  What has ended up happening, though, is that I’ve come back home after the VBS drop-off… and heard all the utter SILENCE.

So I knocked out a John Grisham novel this week, which has been sitting in my bookcase, unread, for two years.  Apparently, this was the week where I expanded my brain’s capacity for knowledge by reading, and I do feel decently qualified to be a full-fledged lawyer at the moment, after reading up on a fictional attorney.  Call me, if you need any legal needs met.

And… I have knocked out the Mount Everest of Laundry this week, AND I power washed our front and back patios, the driveway AND the deck, which… let’s face it:  If nothing else gets done in June, there was at least that week when all the laundry was caught up and the outside areas were scrubbed clean for one day, before the cotton started flying again.

(Also?  In case you’re wondering… Hell is going to be covered in cotton that has flown off of trees.  It is going to stick to everything in Hell, and make your life as miserable as it can be here on Earth, when you have a six-year-old who leaves the door open for all the cotton to blow right in every day.  So… you’d better get yourselves right with Jesus, so you can spend eternity without ever knowing the pain of inhaling an airborne bit of cotton fluff straight up your nose.  Hubs and the boy cannot breathe right now, and their eyes are swollen and red, because COTTON ALLERGIES.  I missed out on seasonal allergies altogether, which I feel like I shouldn’t actually brag about, but I fight my own battle with cotton all over my hardwood floors, and cotton that has gotten wet from the sprinklers in my flower beds.  Now THAT is messier than a nose that’s stuffed shut.)

Plus, I paid someone real American dollars to come in and wash all of my windows, because I felt like this was a good use of my money.  Professional window washer have all the right tools, and they can knock out a job in forty-five minutes that would have taken me all the livelong day long and cut into my reading time.  (You know… since I am currently trying to beat Hubs by never using my phone.)  At this very moment, my windows are so clean, they look like they’re not even there, which means I have a completely UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW OF ALL THE COTTON SAILING THROUGH OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

God bless the cotton-filled cottonwoods, but it’s okay if He wants to strike a few with lightning bolts this month.

And… this is my baby this week, looking like he’s ready for college, instead of just the first grade.

I would post a snapshot of the boy as well, but I haven’t actually seen the boy long enough to take his picture this week.

Anyway.

I think that all the chores will get underway next week… unless I decide another book is calling my name.

Happy summer weekend, y’all.