Getting Through This Post Will Completely Take Care of Your Summer Reading Program

My phone rang first thing this morning. You know, pre-8:00. Thankfully, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and completely in the process of applying eight layers of Big Sexy Hair hairspray to my mane, because I was having a fantastic hair day. I’m not sure what happened in the bathroom between the blow drying and the hot rollers, but it all came out looking rather smashing, so I made an attempt to shellac it and preserve it for a few hours.

The phone call was from Amy, who said, “Listen, Sister! Regs and I need your help. We need you to take some pictures. You need to meet us. Bring your camera, and I’ll bring the Starbucks.”

She had me at Starbucks.

Out the door I marched, with a glorious mop of hair, and that is when I realized that it! was! raining! And somewhere between the front door of our house and the door of my Suburban, the Big Sexy Hair went AWOL, and I was left looking like a celebrity mugshot gone bad.

But that didn’t matter, because the boy didn’t look much better. He’s on a mission to grow his hair out, so that it completely covers his ears. I’m all for the long, shaggy mop on boys, but when you have baby fine hair, it doesn’t always turn out that well. Because of this, our boy has always looked best in the short, neat, Ralph Lauren prep school cut, but he has completely given up on all semblance of looking respectable, so that he can have shaggy hair over his ears.

And also? He has announced that he really doesn’t enjoy combing his hair any longer, and that he would prefer it if he could wear the bedhead look all day, every day. Although the boy negotiated these terms, Hubs and I were quite firm with the compromise: His hair could be grown out over the ears, but if he waved good-bye to the hairbrush, he’d find himself plopped down in the big swivel chair at the salon.

The terms were accepted.

But this morning, with swim conditioning (in which the boy is forced, by his coach, to swim lap after lap after lap after endless lap) on our immediate horizon, I told him, “Just get some clothes on. Your hair will be dunked in the swimming pool soon enough, so you can skip combing it.”

His shouts of joy were heard at the space station.

And really? By the time the boy and I met up with Regan and Amy, we both had basically the same hairstyle, what with the rain and all the oozing Big Sexy Hair hairspray.

I snapped tons of photos for Amy and Regs (which will probably make it into another post, later on down the road), and the boy and I hit the pool. He swam eight miles, and I read a book.

And then?

Well, the boy had invited Enzo and Carter to come over to play this afternoon, only he now refers to it as hanging out. He saw the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid, where one of the junior high boys in the film asks the other one, in front of a crowd of peers, “Do you want to come over this afternoon to play?” And his buddy, who was the recipient of the question, cringes with horror and massive embarrassment, and he shouts out, “It’s called hanging out now! Don’t call it playing any more! Ask me if I want to hang out!”

So Enzo and Carter showed up to hang out this afternoon, but they didn’t do a lot of hanging out. Instead, they did a whole lot of playing. They donned every single costume that the boy owns (which is a grand-big-gob, people), and they had four hundred thirty-seven wardrobe changes.

I’ve always heard that little girls change their clothes two dozen times a day, creating endless loads of laundry for their mamas. Nine year old boys wear the same outfit from their closets all day long, but they will put on and discard a squillion different costumes on top of that one original outfit.

This is what the boys looked like for a great amount of the afternoon:

They were gangsters. And yes, they are pretending that they have cigars. They had been running in and out of the house for quite some time, and I’d been in constant conversation with them, asking them how things were going. Apparently, all was well, and they gave me detailed descriptions of how they’d taken care of some people and how those people were sleeping with the fishes. Later, when I noticed that all three of them had a Crayola crayon hanging out of his mouth, I made the suggestion that maybe (maybe!!) we shouldn’t pretend to have cigarettes in our mouths. The boy emphatically announced, “Mom, they’re not cigarettes. They’re cigars, and who was the last gangster you saw who didn’t have a cigar?” Really, after contemplating it a bit, and coming to terms with the fact that the three of them were toting machine guns and had done away with some bad guys, I didn’t feel like waging a no-smoking-cigars campaign on them was going to reform this pack.

However, when the boy stomped in the house with a tiny red cup out of one of his magic kits and headed to the kitchen sink and loudly announced, “Mom, that cigar is killing my throat, and I need a shot of whiskey to wash it all down with,” I did step forward as a responsible parent.

“There’ll be no whiskey drinking by small boys around here. And by the way, I think y’all need to quit smoking now; it’s very bad for your lungs. Maybe we could look into getting Crayola patches for the three of you boys.”

“Mom, that cigar was really irritating my throat.”

“Yes, I imagine when your teeth have been clamped on a crayon all afternoon, some of the Crayola shavings will indeed be inhaled and make your throat a little dry.”

And, just like that, the three little punks kicked the habit, and I started dinner.

The menu tonight was Bubble-Up Pizza Casserole, which I’d never even heard of before, but which I found this week in a magazine filled to the brim with kid-oriented recipes. You use biscuits and hamburger and pizza sauce and cheese, and you throw it all together in a 9″x13″. None of us had tried it before, but I was pretty sure that I couldn’t go wrong with boys and those four ingredients, so I started hacking refrigerated biscuits apart, and oh my lands!

I hacked right through the tip of my thumb, but, thankfully, the bone stopped the knife from completely lopping the end of my digit off. Visions of the movie Carrie were recalled, as I raced for the bathroom, trying to keep as much blood inside of my body as I possibly could with a kitchen towel. Four bandages later, and I pretty much had the Grand Canyon squeezed together. I’m quite certain that I could have used a stitch or six, but Hubs would have grumbled (had he been home at the time and heard my internal conversation with myself as to whether or not I should hightail it to the ER), “It’s a flesh wound. It’s a flesh wound, on a thumb, and we’re not paying for plastic surgery to make it look all pretty. Use a butterfly bandage and get on with the pizza casserole.”

The pizza casserole, by the way, was a smashing success with the boy and Carter and Enzo. They inhaled it. They ate it faster than I could scoop it out of the dish and slap it onto their plates. My favorite line of the evening was this one: “I love this casserole because you didn’t try to hide anything gross in it, like olives or onions or green chunks.”

So really? All the housework that I did in preparation for our company of boys coming over today was completely lost upon them. Not one of the boys at my house said, “Gee, Mrs. Jedi Mama, your freshly-vacuumed carpet looks fabulous, and I can’t believe how your bathroom mirrors sparkle! Did you just use Windex, or did you throw together a vinegar-based, homemade solution?” But the Bubble-Up Pizza Casserole sang a love song to them, and they were overjoyed with it, and THAT is where they shouted out accolades.

After the scrumptious casserole with the rave reviews, I took the little punks to VBS tonight, where they confessed their sins of smoking crayons. All is well.

And then, as if I could possibly add even more to my day, Hubs called me this morning, while I was sitting poolside with my book, watching the boy do the backstroke, and he said, “Listen. I’m upgrading my cell phone for work. I need something that I can get online with. Do you want to upgrade with me?”

People, my phone is an ancient flip phone that Ruth from the Bible used to call Boaz on. I can text on it, but I have to scroll through the entire alphabet on each key, and sometimes men can build entire airplanes from scratch and get them into the air faster than I can get a text message out, even though I consider myself to be quite fast at archaic texting.

Needless to say, I decided to upgrade. My primary goal was to get a phone with a QWERTY keyboard on it, but then the sales girl (who was probably barely out of high school) told me about the camera inside a little different phone. The mega pixels won me over.

This is what I came away with:

People, this is the HTC Hero. Hubs and I now have the exact same phones, and Hubs has walked around all afternoon proclaiming, “These are not the droids you’re looking for!”

If I hear that quote from Star Wars one more time, I’m going to smack him up alongside the head!

Needless to say, my little Hero (Which, did you hear? It’s not the droid you’re looking for!) can seriously launch NASA’s next space shuttle into orbit. I have to laugh, simply because when I was in college, cell phones weighed approximately seventeen pounds, were basically twelve inches long, and they could get reception in six places in the United States. I distinctly remember being in a music and gadgets store in College Town, USA one day, when I was a senior at the old university, and we looked at the new cell phones which were displayed and decided that we’d never, ever own one.

The $650 price tag sounded absurd.

And now? Now I not only have a cell phone — I have a cell phone computer, and, with the touch of a button, I can launch space shuttles, signal airplanes to land, and find a Red Lobster in any town, in any state, on any continent (although I’m pretty sure that it has to be on this planet).

Making the phone switch at the local cellular shop took a sa-weet forever, and Hubs had to get back to work, because he had a meeting. This meant that I took my new shuttle-launching phone home, and I had no idea how to use it, and my IT guy had left me.

People, I had no idea how to even make a phone call on it! I kid you not! I smacked the touch-screen around, time and time again, and I couldn’t get to any location which seemed to shout out, “Hey! Stop here if you’d just like to dial a friend’s phone number!”

Hubs called me twice, and I missed both calls, because the little Hero had been set to silence, and I had no idea how to navigate it off of that option.

The boy and Carter and Enzo grabbed it, and, IN EXACTLY EIGHT SECONDS, they had the camera option working just fine, and were snapping photos of each other with crossed eyeballs and tongues lolling out of their mouths. I yelled, “Hey! Can you show me how to make a phone call?” As luck would have it, they didn’t hear, and they dropped the phone and ran back out the door.

So there I was. My IT guy had left me, and my pack of nine-year-olds had left me. I was alone with the phone, and I just let it sit on the dining room table.

It overwhelmed me, people.

And now, with a quick tutorial from Sister and Cody when we dropped the kids off at VBS tonight, I feel like I know 0.0004% of what that little Hero is capable of. Naturally, this makes me feel some heavy irritation, because there was a time in my life when new technology was introduced, and I could grasp it quickly and understand it fully.

The CD players? Yeah, I mastered those in seconds when they debuted. The DVD player? Didn’t even pose a challenge. The iPod? That took me a couple of hours, and then it was my new best friend.

And my little Hero (which is not the droid you’re looking for)? Well, I just want to sit in a dark corner somewhere, with a box of wine, and give up.

Thankfully, my IT guy is home tonight, and he, too, loved the Bubble-Up Pizza Casserole, and he has been helping me transfer my long list of phone numbers from the old, extinct LG Dinosaur, so that I can actually call people on my Hero. Hubs is brilliant. His little Hero gave him absolutely no heart palpitations or problems at all, regardless of the fact that mine seems to be more phone than I can handle or adapt to.

So really? If you call me or text me in the next couple of days, and I don’t answer, don’t worry. I just don’t know how to answer your call or respond to your text, but if you turn on Fox News in the morning and see that an unauthorized shuttle launch occurred, don’t turn me in. It was an accident.

And another thing?

THIS is what the family room in my basement looks like at the moment:

The noise coming up the stairs sounds like a full-on carnival combined with a three-ring circus on crack. It looks like the three boys have settled in nicely for the evening, and they are laughing hysterically over some game on the PlayStation 3.

I suggested a few moments ago that they all line up for a Tylenol PM.

Oh, I jest.

The Tylenol PM was entirely for me!

Wish me luck, people. I’ve got a family room full of sleeping bags and blankets and giggles and screams and boys, and I’ve got a phone that I have no idea what to do with.

But that phone’s camera is sa-weet perfection! And in the morning, I have every intention of asking the boy to show me how to take pictures with it!

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