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

Welcome, 2017!

Well, we have rung in the new year.

And by rung it in, what I really mean is that Thing 2 spent the night at Mam and Pa’s house on New Year’s Eve, in a much-anticipated sleep over, while Hubs and I stayed home to grill steaks for dinner, as the boy celebrated the end of the year with friends, as teenagers tend to do.  We had discussed dressing up and making reservations at a restaurant with real linen napkins, but then we remembered that there really isn’t a restaurant in town that can create the culinary delight of Hubs’ steaks, so we hit the grocery store for ribeyes and fillets.  It was our best decision of the holiday season.  Nothing says, “Bring in this new year,” like one of Hubs’ fillets and a baked potato, while everyone is wearing sweats.  We then went on to make poor choices in TV shows, that caused us both to raise our eyebrows and ask, “Why did we waste our time watching something so utterly ridiculous?”  Poor acting, poor plot, poor everything.

It was an hour of our lives we can never get back.

And then, while Hubs went on to read the news on his iPad, as all old men do, I fell asleep before 10 PM.  I feel like it’s exactly how Prince William and Princess Kate probably did things.  I mean, seriously.  I’m sure Kate said, “Wills, I know Charlotte and George are at your grandmother’s palace for the night, making homemade Play Doh with the queen, so go ahead and catch up on FOX News, to see what’s going on around us.  I’m going to go on upstairs, wash my face, use my $4 tub of facial cream from Target, put on my pajama bottoms with the cows all over them, and go to sleep.”

It was everything Prince intended, when he encouraged us to party like it was 1999.

I woke up at midnight to the horrific noise of fireworks being set off in our cul de sac.  Apparently, our neighbors live life more adventurously than we do.  I smiled at their enthusiasm and dedication to the midnight hour, fell back asleep fourteen seconds later, and woke up at the unholy, very sinful hour of 8 AM on New Year’s Day.

I felt like it was exactly how 2017 should’ve been ushered in.

Of course, we were SUPPOSED TO travel hither and yon, to see the Broncos play up close and personal, sitting in the stadium at 2:30 on New Year’s Day afternoon, with some good friends of ours.  The weatherman and his doomsday reports, though, kept us from going, as we kept hearing terms like ACCUMULATING SNOW, BLACK ICE, WIND ADVISORIES, BLOWING AND DRIFTING, and CONDITIONS OF LOW VISIBILITY.

This isn’t our first rodeo.  We have driven in more snowstorms and white-out conditions than most people, because… well… it’s SMALL TOWN, USA.  The weather here often sneaks up on you in unpredictable ways, leaving you on the interstate, with your passenger’s head hanging out the window, looking for the next reflector post to determine whether you’re actually still on the road or driving straight for a pasture of cows and death.

At the eleventh hour, we backed out of our trip, leaving our friends to go it alone.  Our tickets were put on a website and listed FOR SALE, and we stayed home…

… where it didn’t snow.

In other words, listening to a computer engineer predict the weather and tell us, “We will be FINE!  PLEASE!  Go with us to see the Broncos get pummeled by the Raiders,” is more reliable than listening to the weatherman, with the meteorology degree.

And the Broncos defied all the odds and crushed the Oakland Raiders, in their season finale, seeing as how NO PLAYOFFS FOR THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE.  We spent New Year’s Day watching them win from the comfort of Grammy and Papa’s leather sofas, with grilled bratwursts and home-cooked onion rings, while Thing 2 discovered the joys of Aunt Pink’s stapler.

She will now be flying back home at the end of this week, with no staples to her name.

Today we have enjoyed the thrill of a new year and its offerings of optimism and hope, by doing laundry, getting groceries, and wiping all the size 4 clothing out of Thing 2’s closet, so that we could bring in the size 5 hand-me-downs.  I know this is how Hollywood celebrities spent their STILL-A-GOVERNMENT-HOLIDAY-SINCE-NEW-YEAR’S-WAS-SUNDAY Monday.

I imagine the majority of celebrities also ate cold, leftover bratwursts that Grammy sent home with them for breakfast, along with their morning coffee today.

AND!  Behold!  I created a faux hawk on the top of Thing 2’s head this morning!

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We may have said goodbye to the adorable curls, but we definitely said hello to being fashionable and oh-so-very trendy.

Welcome, 2017!

Christmas 2016

Well, I imagine that I should get Christmas wrapped up here at Jedi Mama, Inc. before the end of the year.  Once January hits, no one is going to want to see pictures of kids standing in front of a festively-decorated tree and opening packages, because they’ll be entirely too busy concentrating on shopping for kale and carrots and bottled water and salmon fillets at the grocery store, right before they drive themselves to spin class.

Christmas 2016 was a quiet one this year.

Hubs and I have always hosted Christmas Eve dinner at our house, for my side of the family.  I always make a pot of soup, the cousins all beg to open gifts, we tell them NO, NO, NO, and then they make reindeer food, right before we go to the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church.  This year, Sister and her family were drafted to be greeters at our church, for both of the services, which meant that they wouldn’t be coming over for dinner.

So, we threw caution to the wind, thawed some Fillet Mignon steaks from our freezer to grill, and had A COW for Christmas Eve dinner, with just my parents, instead of our annual pot of soup.  Hubs, the boy and Pa all clapped their hands like lunatics, because they only pretend to like vegetable soup, when what they’ve really wanted for their holiday dinner all these years is a slab of tender beef, accompanied by baked potatoes and lemon-spritzed asparagus.

Somehow, our boys still got to open their annual ONE gift before the candlelight service.  Their parents got them Nerf guns, which resulted in an all-out, un-holiday-like battle-to-the-bitter-death gunfight, right before we left to hear the story of our Savior coming to earth as a baby.

img_0685There’s no time like Christmas Eve to head over to the church and hear the story of salvation, right after you’ve shot your brother in the back nineteen times with Nerf darts from your semi-automatic weapon.

Of course, I caught up with the cousins, and snapped some pictures with my iPhone.

img_0690 img_0703 img_0699 img_0710During the service, the little kids were asked to come up to the stage to hear one of our beloved elders, Gary, read the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus in the stable, right before he was placed in a manger.  Hubs and I had some reservations about sending Thing 2 to the stage, because Thing 2 tends to use his opportunity in front of a crowd of people to state opinions and dance.  Against our better judgement, we let him follow the other kids to the steps, where he managed to position himself next to Little Cousin H, who was next to Gary.

img_0711This meant that Thing 2 was very, VERY close to Gary’s microphone.

As Gary read the story out loud to the children, he read about the animals singing at the birth of Jesus.  He then turned from the book and said, “Isn’t that nice that the animals sang when Baby Jesus was born?”

Polite society dictates that the children would mumble YES!  YES, THAT WAS NICE, and then go back to sitting very quietly, with their hands in their laps.  Thing 2, however, has never been a member of polite society.  He turned toward Gary and announced, right over the microphone that picked up his booming voice, “The animals didn’t sing, Mr. Gary!  Animals don’t sing!  That’s ridiculous!”

That was the comment that drove me from the back of the church straight to the front row, where I positioned myself directly in front of our outspoken preschooler.  I caught his eye, shook my head, gave him my MEAN MOTHER LOOK, and basically threatened him, without words, that Christmas would be ENDED if he chose to speak out again during the story.

A little later, Gary read about a donkey in the stable, and said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a donkey?  I’d sure love to have a donkey of my own!”

Without missing a beat, Thing 2 announced, over that nearby microphone, to the entire congregation, “Well, I would never want a donkey, Mr. Gary!  They stink!  They smell awful!”

And that, y’all, was the precise moment that I lunged forward, snagged my four-year-old by the arm, and pulled him straight off the stage, in front of a laughing crowd of people, who were there to celebrate the birth of Jesus here on earth.

May this child of ours never run for public office and have a microphone in front of him and his bold opinions.

Later in the service… and again, against my better judgement… we let Thing 2 hold a candle.

img_0713Thanks to Mam and her quick thinking, she managed to save his curly bangs from the flame, so that we avoided having our hair on fire by three millimeters.

img_0716The fire department was never called to the church, so we considered the candlelight service to be a total victory.

Afterward, Hubs and I drove around town with our two boys to look at all the Christmas lights.  Thing 2 ooh-ed and ahh-ed and fully appreciated every single light he saw.

By that time, it was 8:00 and past Thing 2’s normal bedtime.  He kept asking if Christmas would be NEXT WEEK.  In a sinful moment, Hubs and I both announced, “Yes!  Christmas is going to be NEXT WEEK!”  Because?  People, had Thing 2 realized that Christmas was going to be WHEN HE WOKE UP, he would have gotten up at midnight and never gone back to sleep.

The boy saved us from needing to march into confession by saying, “Mom, technically, Christmas IS next week.  Today is Saturday.  Christmas is on Sunday.  Sunday is the first day of the week.  So CHRISTMAS IS NEXT WEEK!”

I have never loved that boy more than I did on Christmas Eve, when he saved me from the sin of lying to my four-year-old, so that we could all get a good night’s sleep.

And THAT is why Thing 2 slept in until 6:15 on Christmas morning!!

When he woke up, he assumed it was just another day, until Hubs and I encouraged him to run into the living room and see if Santa Claus had stopped by.

Honestly, for as long as I live, I will never forget the shrieks of utter delight that erupted form the living room, while Hubs and I were still trying to wake up in bed, when Thing 2 discovered that Santa had left him the train he had asked for!  Hubs and I laid in bed and grinned like love-filled parents.  Thing 2 whooped and hollered; he shouted his thank-you’s to the world, and then raced back to us to yell, “Come quick!  I got a train!  I got a real train!!!”

img_4553 img_4568 img_4560 img_4564 img_4557 img_4583 img_4580 img_4587 img_4594He loved that Polar Express train so much, he even took the time to lean down and give it a great big hug!

img_4567The biggest difference in having little kids and teenagers on Christmas morning is that teenagers don’t necessarily need to get up at the crack of ugly.

By 7:15, Thing 2 was itching to find out what was in his wrapped packages, so we sent him to wake the boy up.

Yes.

We had to WAKE THE BOY UP at 7:15 on Christmas morning!

He came out joyfully, expressing words of love and kindness to everyone.

Except… yeah.  It was the exact opposite of that.  The boy was a touch grouchy at being woken up so early, until Hubs and I reminded him of all the years he woke US up at 4:30 on Christmas morning!

img_4609The boy gave Thing 2 his very own roll of aluminum foil for Christmas.  Thing 2 has a bit of an obsession with tin foil, as he loves to wrap all kinds of stuff up in it.  I was so tired of him stealing MY aluminum foil by the gigantic sheets, that I suggested to the boy that he might want to buy him his own tube for Christmas.

That little kid was DELIGHTED with his simple gift.

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img_0733Later on Christmas morning, we met up with Sister’s family at Mam and Pa’s house.

The Littles were a bit disgruntled that everyone wanted to EAT BREAKFAST before they attacked the presents, so we gave them the iPhone to watch Frosty the Snowman on, while they waited for breakfast to finish up.

img_4643And then, the presents commenced.

img_4645 img_4646 img_4657 img_4652 img_4650 img_4647 img_4648 img_4662 img_4669 img_4659 img_4666 img_4690 img_4691 img_4699 img_4696 img_4672 img_4675While we were at Mam and Pa’s on Christmas morning, the Great Blizzard hit.

It was the blizzard that made everything Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about look plum MILD.  The snow was blowing sideways.  The interstates got themselves closed.  The wind was whipping stuff around wildly and causing white-out conditions of zero visibility.

Hubs and I were supposed to show up in Small Mountain Town, twenty miles away, for Christmas with his parents’ and all the other cousins, at 2:00 on Christmas afternoon.

We watched the weather out the windows.

We checked the weather online two hundred and nine times.

We looked at road closures online ninety-one times.

And then Hubs announced that he was starting to get a good headache, and he didn’t feel like digging us out, if we ran off the road.  And then I remembered how my biggest fear in this world is driving in white-out conditions.

So…

we completely and utterly ruined Christmas for our boys

… and we drove the three miles across town, from Mam and Pa’s house, to our house.  We didn’t go to Grammy and Papa’s house, even though Hubs’ brave brothers DID.  We received text messages from them that said the words WHITE-OUT, GIANT DRIFTS, BRING THE SUBURBAN IF YOU COME, and I CAN’T REALLY SEE THE ROAD.

So… like a family of cluck-cluck-chickens, we stayed put.  We turned on our fireplace.  We watched The Polar Express with our very grouchy boys, who thought SURELY we could have made it to Grammy’s house in the Great Blizzard.  We had hot cocoa.

And that is how we came to miss the annual Christmas picture of all the cousins on the sofa, which Aunt Pink managed to pop off this year, minus the boy and Thing 2.

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Thankfully, our boys got over their grouchiness about missing Christmas with Grammy and Papa and six cousins, and we all had a very quiet, VERY WONDERFUL, time at home.  We have never, ever been in our own house on Christmas, during the daytime.

The next morning, Hubs and Thing 2 dug out our driveway.

img_4733 img_4731And then we drove, on snow-packed, slippery roads… but with GREAT visibility… out to Small Mountain Town, for a lunch with Grammy and Papa and Aunt Pink of warmed-up, Christmas leftovers.

We still had a lot of fun.  Dinner was still wonderful and delicious.  But we really did miss the chaos of eight cousins together in one house, ripping paper off of gifts together and checking out one another’s presents.

img_4738 img_4740 img_4742Brother and his wife and kids had left the Grave Digger monster truck at Grammy’s house, for Thing 2 to open.

It was one of the highlights of his ENTIRE LIFE!

img_4743 img_4765 img_4766The boy was pleased as punch, because Grammy and Papa took out a second mortgage on their home and bought him a Vineyard Vines golf polo as a gift.  That kid of ours has been itching to have a Vineyard Vines shirt, until his mama realized that you can buy one of them… or finance three years as an undergraduate at Harvard.  Ralph Lauren shirts are DIRT CHEAP, when you compare them to Vineyard Vines!  Grammy and I both told the boy, “Enjoy this shirt and treat it well; it’s probably the only one you’ll ever own in your life!”

img_4745 img_4750 img_4757 img_4763 img_4796 img_4797 img_4799 img_4802 img_4808The funniest moment of the day came when Aunt Pink handed a wrapped HOCKEY STICK to Thing 2 to open.

I asked him, “What do you think it is?”

He looked at me and yelled, “I HOPE IT’S A TOY TRACTOR!!”

Because… um… clearly a wrapped hockey stick COULD BE a toy John Deere.

img_4789Sadly, it wasn’t one.  It was just a Bauer hockey stick.

By the end of Christmas, our living room looked like this:

img_0772And THAT, y’all, was our very quiet Christmas of 2016.  We’ve spent time this week with family and friends.  We’ve gone ice skating a couple more times.  We’ve had dinners out with people we love and adore.  We’ve unpacked our Christmas presents and put them away.  The boy and I took our tree down and put the giant Rubbermaid tubs filled with our family’s Christmas decorations back in the storage room in our basement.  We’ve changed sheets on all the beds, scrubbed bathrooms, done laundry, gotten groceries, and now we look forward to ushering 2017 in.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy New Year!

Skating Our Way Through Christmas Eve

Well, a long time ago, there was a girl who had a blog.  She was a fairly faithful blogger, who consistently came into work five evenings a week to beat on her computer keyboard and let the world know what was going on in her life.

And by the world, she really means her mom.

Because her mom is basically the only person who reads the blog she works on.

And her mom already basically knows everything that has happened in her weekly life.

So… yeah.

Whatever.

But then real life happened, which means that she now owns a teenager and a preschooler and a house that never stays clean, and they always want to eat, ALL OF THE TIME, so she’s always at the grocery store or at home, trying to create dinners that are 99% beans and rice, which stick to the ribs and keep sixteen year old boys full for longer than twelve minutes.  Plus, her laundry is always out of control, which probably has everything to do with the fact that she found her laundry fairy dead in the bottom of the hamper.  The coroner ruled the cause of death SUFFOCATION BY AVALANCHE.  She’s tried to get the teenager to wash his own clothes, which he does by spraying a thick layer of Axe Body Spray all over a shirt, so that he can wear it again, which is why she reclaimed that kid’s dirty laundry as her own burden to uphold.

Sometimes the umbilical cord is just too thick to cut.

So basically, there was once a girl who was a fairly faithful blogger, and now she’s lucky if she shows up to work here at Jedi Mama, Inc. once or twice a week.  My apologies.  We’re planning to write her up and put the document in her personal file.

Anyway.

I have Christmas pictures, because OF COURSE I DO, but they’ll have to wait for another day this week.  Today’s post is going to be all about that time Grammy and Papa reserved the ice skating rink for their eight grandkids, who are all crazy-good, die-hard, hockey-playing ice skaters, who only choose to stop skating long enough to eat four or thirteen slices of cheese pizza to refuel.

Grammy decided that, as a Christmas treat, she would reserve the rink for the eight little loves of her life.  They would have the rink entirely to themselves, and the friends she encouraged them to invite.  So, on Christmas Eve Morning, we all met up for some fun skating.

Thing 2 has picked up skating like a champ.  He skates without an ounce of fear, which means he skates LIGHTNING FAST, while the words CONCUSSION, BROKEN FEMUR and CHIPPED TOOTH never cross his mind.  He is an amazing skater, for such a little fellow.

img_4257 img_4252 img_4293The boy LIKES skating, but he has never fallen in love with skating.  I think it’s because he  can’t play golf on a frozen sheet of water, so skating is not his favorite pastime.  If someone would drill some holes in the ice, so he could swing a golf club and sink a putt, he’d probably dedicate himself to skating a little more than he has in the past.  He’s much happier on a golf course than an ice rink, because the boy is a crazy-good golfer.

img_4317 img_4345The rest of the cousins are all hockey junkies.  They’ve all played for years, they can all skate backwards faster than I can blink, and every single one of them can turn sideways at full speed and spray you with three hundred cups of shaved ice.  It came as no surprise that they all brought their sticks and pucks and helmets to the rink, when Grammy rented it.

img_4271 img_4274 img_4295 img_4291 img_4279 img_4328Big Cousin H was home from school, so he joined us, too.

It’s very difficult to grasp the fact that H is now twenty-one years old and the owner of a beard, because I still think he should be sprawled out across his living room carpet, building a castle with Legos….

… and NOT needing to shave.

img_4284 img_4303Big Cousin H hung out quite a bit with Thing 2.  They worked on their “hockey stops,” so that Thing 2 could learn to turn sideways at 94 miles per hour and cover someone with enough shaved ice to feed snow cones to an army.

img_4306 img_4321The kids had a ball.

They skated and skated, and then they skated some more.  They smashed one another into the boards for hockey checks, laughed their heads off, and encouraged Thing 2 to grab a stick and join their game.

Thing 2 has the fighting mentality to play hockey, but Hubs and I aren’t really sure he can skate around the rink, with a giant stick in his hands, and not just whap everyone he passes… his own teammates included.

img_4456 img_4484Hubs’ sister, Aunt Pink, even skated with her brothers and nieces and nephews.

img_4278img_4275 img_4295 img_4300 img_4326 img_4330 img_4339 img_4345 img_4349 img_4336 img_4353 img_4390 img_4358 img_4377 img_4368 img_4362 img_4365 img_4388 img_4405 img_4430 img_4438 img_4481 img_4486 img_4467 img_4510  img_4495 img_4461 img_4457 img_4509 img_4517 img_4462 img_4470 img_4477The absolute highlight of Thing 2’s morning at the rink was when his cousins let him flop onto the ice and grab the ends of their hockey sticks.  They then skated ridiculously fast and pulled him around, spinning him wildly all over the ice.

He never wanted to quit.  It was like being on a roller coaster at Disneyland.

I think Cousin W and Cousin B both got to check DAILY CARDIO WORKOUT and DAILY BICEP WORKOUT off their to-do lists.

img_4397 img_4421 img_4522 img_4524

Afterwards, Cousin W sat on the ice.  He grabbed Thing 2’s hockey stick and said, “Now you get to pull ME across the rink!”

Thing 2 gave it his best shot!  He even recruited some extra cousins for more muscle power.

img_4497 img_4500 img_4505Thankfully, W traded places with his little cousin and pulled him around and around the ice some more…

… which is why Thing 2 looked exactly like THIS when it was finally time to leave the ice rink on Christmas Eve morning:

img_4538His coat was soaked.  His sweatpants were soaked.  His gloves were soaked.  The curls that hung out of his helmet were soaked.  He had ice in his eyelashes, but that kid was so happy, he could hardly stand it.  When we first brought Thing 2 home, I was sad that all of his cousins would be so much older than he was, and that he’d never know the bonds that form when cousins are all basically the same age and grow up together.  Hubs and his two brothers had six kids in nine years.  Big Cousin H was four (Thing 2’s age now) when Cousin W was born, and then we pulled off five kids in five years.  In other words, we’re going to be celebrating high school graduations on a yearly basis, right directly.

But!

Even though these cousins are so much older than Thing 2 is, they all play with him… but in different ways than they would have done, if they were just a year or two older than he was.  They include him in everything they do, and Thing 2 idolizes every single one of them.  They spin him on the ice and teach him how to skate.  They guzzle sodas with him and teach him how to belch.  They take him to movie matinees when cartoons are playing on the big screen.  They chase him down and shoot him with Nerf guns, and stage enormous gun fights with him.  They take him swimming and teach him how to do the water slides.  They eat watermelon with him and teach him how to spit seeds… at girls.  They build rockets with him and show him how to launch them.  They let him tackle them and teach him how to wrestle.

Having a big herd of cousins is seriously THE BEST thing ever.

Especially when it comes to being pulled across the ice!

Happy Wednesday, y’all.

When The Arctic Air Came Through Town

When we last left off over here at Jedi Mama, Incorporated, I had been in the throes of a passionate eye infection, while Hubs was suffering from the worst case of a sinus infection he’s ever had…

… since the last sinus infection he had.

And suffering is a relative term.  When Hubs is sick, Hubs suffers.  Scarlet O’Hara never endured a hardship like the pain of Hubs taking to his bed with the plague.

But yes.  I woke up on Tuesday morning with a raging peri-orbital eye infection.  This isn’t my first rodeo with these VERY RARE, NEVER-OCCURS-IN-ANY-NORMAL-PERSON’S-EYEBALL bouts of infection.  This was my fourth peri-orbital infection, which is exactly four more than any other human being has ever had.  In the past, oral antibiotics and shots have never worked.  I’ve ended up taking my eye (which always swells up half of my face and makes me look like I belong in a horror movie) to the hospital, where I endure three entire days being pampered with daily bedding changes by CNAs and an IV of meds.

On Tuesday morning, I called in sick to work.  I marched straight to the Urgent Care clinic and said, “I don’t want to mess around with the antibiotic cocktails you think you can create.  I know my eye, and I want an IV in my arm in the next five minutes.”

Except I wasn’t that bossy, because I can never be bossy to anyone, even though Hubs will disagree.

The Urgent Care doctor called in the ER doctor, and they both stared at my eye.  And then they suited up in rubber gloves, so that they could both poke and prod and squeeze my eye, until I felt a little faint.  And then the ER doctor said, “I want to try an antibiotic pill.”

Realistic, Debby Downer said, “It won’t work.”

The ER doctor said, “I think it might.”

Realistic, Debby Downer, who was on her fourth rodeo here, announced, “It will not.  And I will end up with a face the size of the Great Pumpkin, and THEN I’ll be in the hospital for an IV.”

But I took the prescription, which cost all of $13.42.

And, lo!  The angel of the Lord quietly whispered, “We’ve got this,” which is how an antibiotic that cost thirteen and a half bucks HAS WORKED!!!  Pop the champagne cork!  Praise that Jesus fellow!  Because He pulled off something great there.  My eye is back to normal now.  I wish I could say that about the rest of me.

In the meantime, Hubs continued to get worse and worse with his sinus infection, until he could no longer breathe or stop coughing.  He coughed and he coughed and he coughed.  He gasped for air, and coughed some more, and announced that he’d enjoyed being married to me, but that this might actually be the end of the road for him.  He had already seen the doctor, and she’d said the word that no one wants to hear:  VIRAL.

On Friday, ten full days after the VIRAL proclamation, I sent Hubs BACK to the doctor, where he basically said he’d buy antibiotics off the Black Market, if she didn’t put him in contact with a dealer NOW.

By Saturday morning, the guy was almost back to normal, which made us shout the word, BACTERIAL.

In other words, Hubs and I are planning to survive the eye and the congestion and the cough.

We got to see the boy’s band concert on Thursday night.

As we were driving to the concert, we had THIS little conversation:

THE BOY: “I forgot to tell you… I’m first chair in the clarinets.”
ME: “Son! That’s awesome! How long have you had first chair?”
THE BOY: “Well, pretty much all year. I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
ME: “You’re killing me, Smalls.” And then, joking, “Is there any other big news you’ve forgotten to tell your mom?”
THE BOY: “Well, I got the scores back on the PSAT that I took in October. I scored in the 95th percentile, nationwide. But I didn’t forget to tell you that, because I just got the scores today.”

Y’all!  Our kid is kind of quietly awesome!  So yeah.  First chair in the clarinet section, AND he scored better than 95% of the nation’s high school JUNIORS, while he is just a sophomore, who was invited to take the PSAT, based on his GPA.  His parents are kind of stinking proud of him.

img_4174 img_4179 img_0537On Friday afternoon, Grammy and Hubs’ sister dropped off an adorable little Christmas tree at our house, so the boys got busy decorating THAT late Friday afternoon, in the middle of a blizzard.

image2ssI think someone was a TITCH tired, because look at that YAWN I caught with the camera!  Also?  Well, I think Santa might’ve stopped off at Mardis Gras, before he decorated our tree.

images1 imagesdfd4In other news, THIS happened this weekend:

imagesds3If you’ve ever wondered what living on the polar ice cap, in an Igloo, with nothing but a small campfire would feel like, I assure you… we TRIED IT OUT this weekend.  Small Town went into storm mode, as everyone gathered bread and milk and eggs and chili ingredients at the grocery store on Thursday night, because THE STORM IS A-COMIN’, GLADYS!

But school?  Yeah, we still had it.  This is Small Town, USA.  We just add another layer, let the cars warm up five extra minutes, pull the snowblowers out of the garage, and get ourselves where we need to be.  It’s not like we’re… you know… TEXANS, who think 49 degrees ABOVE THE ZERO is suffering.

And lest you think I’m wrong on that, the cute neighbor boy and his two older brothers called the boy at 8:00 on Friday night, when it was twenty BELOW and said, “We’re going to see the new Star Wars movie at 9:30.  Wanna come?”

And he did.  He went, and he came home at 12:15 Saturday morning.  He said, “It’s a bit chilly out there, but the movie was AWESOME.”

Meanwhile, it was business as usual.  Hubs and Thing 2 dug us out of our driveway Saturday morning, after we had over a foot of new snow fall on Friday.

img_4184 img_4193And, to just mock the kids who think 49 degrees is too cold, Thing 2 yanked both of his bicycles out of the garage and rode around for a while, even though it was… well… 41 DEGREES BELOW ZERO WITH THE WINDCHILL.

img_4212 img_4215 img_4221I also baked cookies with Thing 2 bright and early on Saturday morning.  I had envisioned an idyllic morning of baking and sparkles and love glitters, but then reality happened.  Baking with a preschooler always means that your kitchen will look like Chernobyl, while you wonder if it’s okay to pop the top on the champagne and make yourself a mimosa, since it’s BEFORE NOON.

image3 image1ffAnd then, cold weather be danged!

We took Thing 2 out to his ice skating lessons, even though the windchill was still MINUS TWENTY-EIGHT when we drove him across town to the rink!

img_4233Sadly, Thing 2, who is as fast as a space shuttle launch on his skates, wiped out during the weekly races.

He wiped out…

… and another little boy BEAT HIM TO THE WALL.

Of course, he lost with grace and humbleness and great dignity.

img_4230Later on Saturday night, when we were back down into the windchill territory of MINUS THIRTY-FOUR DEGREES again, Hubs and I dropped our boys off at Mam and Pa’s house.  We went to Hubs’ company’s Christmas party at the golf course, and look!

image112Yep!  THOSE ARE BEETS ON MY PLATE.

I cannot tolerate the beets.  Thankfully, Hubs eats beets, and he cleaned them right up for me.

Hubs’ party ended up being the ABSOLUTE MOST FUN!  We sat and talked and laughed our heads off and drank key lime pie martinis with good friends, and then laughed until we cried during the White Elephant Gift Exchange.  I laughed so much on Saturday night, my sides hurt!

When we went back to Mam and Pa’s house to collect our boys at the UNHOLY HOUR OF 9:30 PM, we found out that Thing 2 had… um… FALLEN ASLEEP.

So we did the only thing we could do.

WE.  LEFT.  HIM.  THERE.

And then we came home and slept like rocks!!  I didn’t even open my eyes until 7:30 this morning!!!  Merry Christmas to us!!

Meanwhile, over at Mam and Pa’s house, Thing 2 woke up at 3:30 AM and never went back to sleep.

Which is why things looked like THIS at 11:00 this morning:

image3561And then things looked like THIS at 2:00 this afternoon, when Thing 2 was finally up and moving about:

img_4237That would be the unshowered hair of our youngest son, without any fresh product in it.

In other words, HELLO, HARLEM GLOBETROTTER!

And that brings us to tonight, y’all.  It’s going to be an early bedtime for all of us.

Happy Sunday!