Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ooooh, Shiny...

I am far too easily distracted. While it's not so much a true case of ADHD, it is definitely an "Oooooh, shiny!" sort of situation regardless of what I happen to be doing at the moment. Mother used to say insanity was hereditary--- one gets it from one's children. While insanity is technically a legal term rather than a psychiatric one, I do notice than my ability to concentrate has diminished progressively with the birth of each child. The level of distraction is exacerbated by large crowds of people or objects grouped together in one location.
My spouse remarked on the progressive aspect of this odd form of what may be dementia pointing out that my Mammy (My cousin named her well before I ever came along.) could cruise a megamart or craft store for hours as she inspected each item proffered for sale. K-Mart was especially exciting as we were called to assorted spots all over by the siren call of the fabled "blue light special". My Papa wisely opted to sit in the car chewing a cigar and reading a Louis L'Amour western or doing a word puzzle. My mother "runs" into a store after one or two items to emerge thirty or forty minutes later with many things which may or may not include the original target. With each year of age we all seem to get a little slower, and a lot more interested with all the pretty packages and varying price tags. The advent of price scanners to confirm prices have only added to the level of interest and adventure to in store for one. My Dad has taken to staying in his truck on more and more occasions or visiting other areas of the store. My own husband vacillates between just rolling along with my wandering way and roving eye and pushing on toward our original shopping goal. Sometimes he just stays home.
For a truly impressive marathon trip, let any combination of my mother, auntie, or my middle daughters and I loose in a store or shopping mall. We can all wander for hours. With entry into a retail location, any one or all of us can enter the land that time forgot. (It's really quite a talent.)I'm quite sure the odd trance-like sense of relaxation as we trundle along behind a cart or meander along admiring the lovely what-nots in windows or on racks is reducing our collective risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack. It's an odd sense of unreality and relaxation. Some of the ladies have a compulsive need to purchase on these little excursions while others are entirely content to browse a bit while window shopping.

Friday, August 29, 2008


This morning I found myself questioning whether or not one can actually feel an aneurysm--- assuming such a thing could occur as a result of mounting blood pressure. (Unlikely, but it seemed like a distinct possibility.) After the barrage of expenses this week for assorted items not included in pre-paid school supplies and band fees, we had a really nasty surprise. The purse strings are beyond feeling a pinch. The latest trauma kicked in while I was checking our medical claims.
Two weeks ago, I discovered that June and July claims for a $5K treatment that rolls around every four weeks had been denied because someone processed them improperly as pharmacy claims rather than home health claims. While rooting around in the claims information, I was bewildered by the website showing $2100 to go in our out-of-pocket and $1400 paid out thus far this year despite six $450 payments coming out of our pocket plus a host of smaller claims for labs and outpatient procedures. That precipitated another phone call to the world's rudest rep. (Thanks, Crystal, you have made an already stressful situation worse. Good customer service does not ever involve making the client feel stupid.) The next rep was actually helpful, and he figured out quickly that our $300 deductible was met, but not applied, and that claims where we were paying were not being accumulated in our out-of-pocket total because of a computer glitch. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord for someone with brain cells and a kind demeanor answering this morning's call!
As frustrated as I am with the situation, I am also relieved to know that in fifteen business days, we may finally have a resolution. Fortunately, the company providing the mega-bucks treatment has agreed to accept what is likely our actual amount due while waiting on our goofy insurance company to untangle the mess with our numbers. Perhaps other customers will benefit from the insurance company correcting the computer issue as well. I can hope that there will be benefit to others out of my own situation at least.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Somehow the boy made it to eighth grade without ever purchasing a gym suit. (I explain that dressing out is to help keep one from being Super Stinky and offending others with one's vile reek. He says there are only four people who ever tell him he smells, so he figures this is an issue for those four people, and not so much for him.) This means that I had no idea that gym suits were ordered in the Spring for the following year. The children said the gym suits could be ordered, and they obligingly picked up order forms as instructed by their coaches from the office. The forms say uniforms ordered will be in around September 30th, but the coaches say the students must dress out by today. So we decide we will not order these uniforms after I fill out the forms to purchase the $30 (!) shorts and t-shirt combo.
We pile into the car in the middle of dinner preparations to pick up one item needed for the meal, gym clothes in the specific color shorts and shirts, and whatever else the kids need. A band binder, a package of a zillion (when we only need 10) sheet protectors, and the hunt for Red October... er, a pencil pouch and gym shorts later, we discover that we will have to go elsewhere. We head home to inhale dinner with me fuming over these constant one-more-thing trips.
Don takes Katie back out in search of P.E. clothes because I am determined that Erin will shower in hopes that some of them will be in bed on time. Kate and Don have to hit not one, but two Targets, before turning up any navy shorts in Kate's size at all.
There are no pencil pouches whatsoever left in all the world except some with flowers or others with kittens on them. I filched the one from my stash that was intended for the boy's art supplies (because he says he already has everything he needs) to give Katie for band. Evan then states he might not have everything he needs, and he should have a binder and (Grrr.) a pencil pouch. He also looks at me like I have lost my mind when I remind him to take his gym clothes to school. We repeat the stinky conversation, but he fails to appear convinced. Why exactly did we race around looking for gym clothes?!

Monday, August 25, 2008


The whole crew was up and ready to go before 7:00 this morning. This would be great if any of them needed to be at school prior to 7:30 and 8:30. Middle school starts at 7:45 and elementary classes convene an hour later. Realistically, our youngest daughter need not stir from her bed until her elder siblings have left for the day, but, alas, she shares her bedroom with a sister who requires light for dressing. And is across the hall from the loudest Boy in the Universe. (His "creeping" is more of a clumping...) Needless to say, I did have ample opportunity to snap photos of the trio this morning, but it was a challenge to keep Captain Impatience occupied until it was time to leave.
The Boy professes to hate school. In a remarkable paradox,he also wants to be the first person to set foot inside the building as soon as the doors are open to students. If he can slip in any earlier, so much the better. The motivation baffles. This morning he was sent to shower in hopes of killing off a few more minutes before the inevitable impatience and potential countdown until time to leave kicked in to drive everyone else in the household to the brink of sanity. (I remember wondering how the Autism unit teachers kept themselves from looniness after observing a whole room of AU boys counting down to lunch, a field trip, and the assorted other markers of time that divided their days. It is reassuring to know that other AU kids have this irritating habit, and we are not alone in the this off-kilter, structured world.) Bicycle tires needed air which took some more precious minutes off the countdown. He hunted for his phone for a while. Then he tried to be patient, but the pressure was palpable.

Middle Child marked this day of passage with a series of photos. She obliged her mother who wanted a longer series than was reasonable because Mom needed to stop time for a brief moment today. The images that appeared startling when compared to the accustomed images of sweet-faced infant, the inquisitive four-year-old, or the careful pre-adolescent Kate who now inhabit only memory. Kate's photographer snapped away thanks to a fascination with the emerging young woman at the end of the lense. The mother feels the burn of tears and cannot fully understand how this person could be her baby, but the photographer's eye is fascinated by the slowly unfolding bloom of youth taking place with such rapidity that the shutter can hardly keep up.
Thankfully, the moment finally arrived for our two eldest children to strap on their helmets. ("I'm more interested in protecting your brains than in preserving your hairstyle.") A few more photos to mark Evan's final year and Katie's first day of Middle School. Evan was growing increasingly anxious, but we continued to hold him suspended for another moment to reiterate the after-school meeting place for them. With a final reminder to "Come straight home..." (with an unspoken, "... so I will know you are safe, and can hear about the world you are inhabiting away from the staid, safety of our home.), I watched them wheel away even as our youngest child slid seamlessly into her "Look at me!" role asking for her photos to be taken on the front lawn even as I took a final shot of the Eldest disappearing around a curve in the street.

Erin smiled and pouted for an assortment of obligatory back-to-school shots. She then determined that mosquitoes had hatched courtesy of two weeks worth of rain puddles, and she was done with me. Eventually, she did agree to a few final photos of her on her bike. I suspect she could outride the winged stingers that made still shots so unappealing. Photo-session complete, Don and I hopped on our bikes to ride with Erin for her first-ever solo day of school. She has had Kate in elementary with her every year prior to this one, but a catch formed in my throat this morning as the idea occured that she will never attend school with either sibling again because she will lag just enough behind their world to create her own despite the likelihood of name recognition associated with the earnest, bright , work-a-holic sister, and the mercurial, brilliant, unmotivated brother who proceed her.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

In Too Deep

I asked my spouse a question about dogs whelping while we were walking without thinking. He gave me his best answer, and then began to shoot off his own creative variants on ways to say delivering. I was on board with "laboring" and even "birthing", but I was none-too-pleased when he continued to spout tacky phrases typically utilized by the male of the species to describe trips to the toilet where they will be seated. Not awesome. Did I mention that our seven-year-old was along on our evening walk?
Before I could derail the conversation, Erin was off down the path wondering about our dogs having puppies. She was just full of questions. I gave fairly brief to-the-point answers hoping to halt the inevitable. I shot Don a moderately venomous look while hissing that he had the girls confused because he thought we had already covered the basics of boy/girl anatomy... which is true of Middle Child, but most certainly not of the Little Bit! (There was also a decidedly obscene gesture outside of the child's line-of-vision because someone found the situation amusing.) Until today.
We covered the basics from female ova (Don and I were both compelled to specify that the "eggs" were not chicken eggs.) and male sperm to zygote. Asexual vs sexual reproduction and cells that reproduce until specialization kicks in to make assorted cells with specific tasks were particularly intriguing to her. Thankfully, she did not ask how the sperm and the egg manage to hook up in the "baby tummy that is called a uterus which only girls have"! Again, we were walking down the street having this conversation. I just stuck to directly answering her questions.
Naturally, we reached the house just in time to conclude this little adventure in Intro to Biology. The conclusion was the typical caution against sharing one's new knowledge with one's friends. If a friend should ask directly, one may politely respond with, "It would be best if you ask your parents." Should a friend attempt to educate, there has also been a warning to check all information for accuracy with Mom and Dad. Eeeesh. I was so not prepared for this today. I suspect I will be even less prepared in several weeks when we attend my sister-in-law's baby shower. I can only imagine what she might say.


Our lovies should definitely be feeling good about saving these days! To encourage them to add to their savings accounts, we offered to match any savings. 100% growth immediately seemed like a good offer, but it was met with lukewarm enthusiasm. Last week each child made a deposit. Evan put in $5, and he was gratified to watch Mom fork over another $5. Katie opted for a $4 deposit which increased her fortune by a total of $8. The youngest of our herd o' kiddies also has the smallest savings balance because her account was not opened until several years after her older siblings' accounts. She is attempting to bridge wht she percieves as a gross inequity by depositing $15. (This surprisingly large deposit required me to cash a check because Miss Thing only takes cash to the amusement of our very patient teller. I knew it was smart not to attempt the drive-through!) The matching amount made for a dramatic $30 deposit. That's big money for a seven-year-old who is still doing well to remember which coins are worth what amount.
Last night I fired up my inbox to find a message for the kids. Grandma (who is the other adult listed on the darlings' accounts) had seen their deposits (or heard about them from Granddad). Their grandparents wanted to encourage the kids to save. So they matched the deposits shown on the kids' accounts. The children were all very pleased by the immediate 300% growth in their savings deposits!

Friday, August 22, 2008


The rising cost of food seems to be the hot topic lately. In order to adjust our family's budget, each expense this month has gone into a spreadsheet to be clear on where the family fortune is being frittered away. Despite regularly showing savings of 30-50% on the receipt, the total 2/3 of the way into August is somewhat disturbing. There will definitely have to be another allocation adjustment. Ugh. One drain on the groceries has been identified, and hopefully a new measure will help to slow our losses.
Three times this week the boy has been found to have removed food items from the kitchen to eat in secret in his bedroom. (This explains the ants that are driving me up the wall.) While he is at least 'fessing up when directly confronted, the pilfering takes a toll on the already ugly grocery costs. My patience has long since reached its end (We've been fighting the "secret" eating habit for years.). While he has carried off $10 in groceries (that I know of anyway) so far this week, he also outgrew the waistband on all of his shorts and pants thanks to a fifteen pound gain. The disappearance of food stuffs caused me to have to run to the store for missing items in the midst of meal prep wasting gas, time, and paying more for items that are musts in whatever recipe is in the works. Grrr.
Tonight I decided that there will be payback. I charged the kid $10 for the food he has taken (outside of the three meals, assorted snacks, and beverages we provide daily). He was not pleased. I explained that we will certainly not charge for his needs and provided treats, but that all items carried off to eat in secret will result in fines equal to replacement cost. If he cannot afford the food he carries off, he will be assigned chores. Nothing else has stopped his secretive overeating, but something has got to give besides the budget and his waistbands.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oral Fixation

I remember when my children were very small, and I greeted the emergence of their teeth with relief because it meant the crying would stop. Or so I thought. It turns out that those teeth came in crooked. Or the palates of said children are too narrow to accommodate the many teeth they have produced. Or some other issue exists to indicate the opportunity for applying assorted torture devices at great expense to their mouths.
Because of the boy's hygiene issues (Again with his feeling that Mom's "standards are too strict" with the expectation of twice-a-day brushing and flossing... Grrr.), the orthodontist and dentist agree that we will delay or completely skip what could otherwise be beneficial orthodontic treatment for Junior. Middle child is receiving the necessary treatment to allow all of her teeth to fit in her mouth and to correct a speech issue. We are attempting to keep her front teeth straight while correcting the alignment of her jaw, but the proposed second round of purely cosmetic work won't be happening. If she wants model-perfect teeth, she can seek that treatment on her own later in life, but the Bank of Mom and Dad will only finance the correction of the formative issues that cannot be easily altered once she finishes growing. The little one has her second appointment next month to determine whether or not it is time to put a her in braces or other nasty bits of oral engineering.
Middle child's assorted orthodontia is completely paid for because there is a discount when one pays up front. (I think it makes one more likely not to shirk appointments, too.) Youngest child inspires fear because her mouth is a mess even to my untrained eye. There is going to be a cost that leaves my jaw on the floor associated with correcting her assorted oral issues. I stare at her mouth imagining the potential cost of turning all those crooked little teeth and spacing them out so more can pop out. Funny how orthodontic insurance (which not all dental insurance plans offer if one is lucky enough to have that...) caps out way before the various recommended "phases" of treatment can be completed. It's one of the very few areas where our privileged kids do not receive all that is available to them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dinner Date

Oh, my. I can hardly contain the "Whoo-Hoo!" of this mighty fine Tuesday. It started out pretty ordinary, but things have been picking up steadily all day long with tonight holding some serious promise. I heard from Sister, who was hunting a ride for the seminary student, and while I was not useful in that endeavor because there was, in fact, a left turn and a highway involved to my eternal chagrin, I am thrilled that Don and I will be joining Student and her hosts for dinner tonight. Did I mention previously that Student has spent the past few years serving as a long-term missionary in... (Hee!) Poland? I cannot wait for a dinner tonight!

Update: Bad Shelley! A certain Polish MISSIONARY sent me a greeting for our dinner guest that she claimed was a polite "Pleased to meet you...", but I was a bit concerned about what I thought was the Polish word for "horse". Luckily I couldn't remember the wahtever-it-was I had been instructed to regurgitate. I get home from dinner to find an e-mail with a tone that was clearly laughing saying that the real translation was, "I have to pee like a racehorse." Niiiice.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It Could Be Me

What should my slightly bored, wandering eye spy in the headlines but this horrifying headline regarding a 16 year-old who has dropped out of high school to play Guitar Hero full-time at I don't even bother with a "What's wrong with the parents?!", but immediately proceed to a serious sinking feeling coupled with the quintessential "Uh-oh." I follow that with a vow to keep the boy off the internet, and hit the knees to pray that this is not my own parental future.
Thankfully, the blogger who shares this terrifying tidbit of not-quite-news does proceed to delve into the living that won't be made playing video games professionally as well as the pitfalls of upgrades and new games at which one might not necessarily excell bringing a precarious career to an abrupt end. Seriously, my kid could not pick out the instances of gratuitous alliteration in this post, but he can play fast and frenzied "Free Bird" (Or is it "Freebird"?! I just don't know my Skynyrd.) on "Guitar Hero" as well as a host of other electronic feats unlikely to provide him with the luxuries of food, clothing, shelter, running water, and medical care. I repeat, "Uh-oh."

Gettin' Ready

Tonight we have a parent meeting for the 'rents of incoming 6th graders. As usual, I am a couple of years behind the emotional curveball. When the boy headed off to kindergarten it was no big deal. This probably reflected his going off on the little yellow bus to preschool for children with disabilities since he was three--- it wasn't really all that new to wave bye-bye by the time he was five. Not so with Katie then or now. The boy has fully two years of middle school behind him, and yet the idea that Katie will enter the not-so-funhouse of adolescence otherwise known as middle school seems somehow strange and wrong. How can my precious, little girlchild be old enough for middle school?! I cannot quite explain why I have a visceral response that wrings out my emotions to Middle Child's climbing the educational ladder while Eldest and The Baby seem to be doing exactly what I would expect them to be doing even as they progress at the very same rate. Odd.
Our middle school made a blooper with schedules which were supposed to be ready for pick-up last week so we have to make a second trip tonight to receive 6th grade schedules, and still another tomorrow night for 7th and 8th grade schedule pick-up. *Groan* While there seems to be a fundamental lack of excitement regarding the hour-long parent meeting (on both nights!)and the following tour of the facilities (that always makes me think of the loo...), Katie is entirely interested in hauling her supplies up to school for placement in her locker before the first day. She also wants to cruise the halls to find the best possible route from one class to another and determine whether or not she will have time to visit her locker between classes. (That's my girl. How can I be critical of someone wired just like her Mama?!) While entirely approving the level of detail the kid puts into her planning, I do not necessarily want to be along for the ride.
Maybe I'll take the camera. Sometimes something ordinary, or even unpleasant, can turn out to provide remarkable photo fodder. I may just do the same with tomorrow's 8th grade visit and Thursday's 2nd grade "Meet the Teacher" and "Supply Night". My favorite subjects are after all these three remarkable people who will be going out into the wider (and hopefully well-supervised) world without me five days a week in a very short seven days. I greet "Back to School" with both a dread of long days without them and joy at the idea of respite from long days with them.

Left and the Highway

I'm in search of a ride for a friend of a friend. The local seminary starts up again this week entirely without any awareness on my part before last night during the Men's Gymnastics. An e-mail came across that I totally failed to see until almost late o'clock, but that lateness did not stop me from dialing the sender's Sister to interrupt her Olympic experience. Between the three of us (and all the other people we know), we will sort out the transportation needs of one student.
For those joining us late in the game, there are some issues with me driving anyone anywhere outside of Pleasant Suburb that Sister finds rather amusing. Sister and I have previously been part of a gang of grown women cruising around in a blue minivan making left turns and u-turns while howling with laughter... inspired by my teensy little issue with making left turns without clear right-of-way. Thank God for dear friends who will help me laugh at my many and assorted idiosyncracies that are just that--- weird tendencies (not fears or phobias by any stretch of the imagination). When I explained that I was her help in getting a former room mate (who has no car, and will be staying with Sister who has to be at work) to the seminary on Tuesday and Wednesday in Big City just south of our Pleasant Suburb, she cracked up. Sister's pretty sure the seminary is at least one left turn away... and likely requires highway driving.

Did I mention that I get a wee bit jumpy on highways and will take some rather interesting and circuitous routes to avoid them whenever possible in my day-to-day driving? Blue minivan's driver once drove all the way to Big City downtown with her five home-schooled daughters in tow because of a doctor's appointment to which I could not possibly drive myself knowing there was construction on the highway which made for narrow lanes. Another time, Sister and I shot across a busy street into a parking lot after she informed me that her bank would be a left turn out of her neighborhood. We had to turn around in the parking lot and make a right onto the street while wiping away our tears as we laughed at my failed attempt at turning left. That same day we drove along back roads so I could avoid the highway even though we were already running behind, and I was probably driving under the speed limit because it was not posted. (Your granny would leave me in the dust. Speed will be a tale for another day.)
Soooo. I am seeking out other seminary students who might be a source of transport not hampered by left turns and highways. It's really better that way. I will happily drive Student to Big City if that is the need, but I suspect there is likely to be another person headed to the same place who can provide a less harrowing ride for her than what she might experience with me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Ahh, eating crow... Unlike revenge (a dish best served cold per cliche), crow should be served either fresh or at least lukewarm; otherwise, one is likely to choke on it. After mouthing off yesterday to several people (who were doing their best in a difficult situation), I found myself seeking each one out today in order to apologize. The challenge was in avoiding attempted explanations of my less-than-stellar attitude, and just keep to the apology. Definitely a day to be thankful for the grace extended by all the other people involved. Ahhh. Crow and humble pie all at once.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Good Enough Isn't

"Good enough" is not a goal when it comes to food. "Good enough" is where one arrives due to constraints that can vary from budget to time. Why not take the extra time necessary to produce a "wow" moment rather than settling for just the ho-hum "good"?
There is a beauty in seeing something relatively mundane and necessary like food that has been crafted with careful attention and a desire to present one's best. A few days ago, the pastry chef in a local restaurant brought out the little treat pictured, and the ladies at our table were all Wowed. This plate featuring a pair of strawberries made my day with the level of artistry and beauty infused by the chef. Simple ingredients like berries, chocolate, and whipped cream were suddenly even better. That chef got it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Disjointed Learning

I discovered that I can be taught despite my almost magical inability to concentrate for more than about five minutes before the eyes go vacant and the mind has left the building. Today was fun computer training day. Databases this morning with Administrative Genius and this afternoon will be photo editing with Visual Arts Mom. Yesterday was food safety class day. (I am generally pleased to report that food coming out of the home kitchen is safe according to current standards, but that my hair needs to be restrained. The kids so need to take this class. I was pleasantly surprised not to be eye-rolling, yawningly bored. Bonus.) Anywho...
I am content in my technical illiteracy. It works for me, and it gives my spouse the opportunity to rescue his charming damsel-in-distress (as evidenced by mild expletives and stomping from my cubby office) from the bad, old computer that does not always anticipate what a user really means. That said, I am highly entertained by the opportunity to learn how to make the mean machines do stuff besides inspire my blue streak. Nifty. We'll see if any of it sticks.
All this training is in preparation to be able to give a hand with two industrious areas at our church. The creative, brilliant artsy peeps need an admin. I am not their admin, but I am pleased to be able to help out with data entry--- and thrilled to be learning about the unused programs that litter my desktop because I don't really know what they are for... although I loved working with some old photos of Miss Katie today as I learned how to do things like make a color picture black and white and color in one little bit. The food stuff is where my heart lies. Food is probably my art medium as well as my (Look, it's the "dork" button! If I push it...) love language. Mmmhmmm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Ooooh. Today was just ugly. All the zillion details I juggle came crashing down. Hard. On my head. So I did what any self-respecting grown-up would do: I cried. I yelled. I probably threw a fit. It was singularly unlovely. I hate the start of the school year. My house is out of order following kids home all day for weeks, the schedule is still a work in progress, and there is a need for more flexibility on a daily basis than a human pretzel could muster. So I snapped a little bit. Thankfully it does not appear to be a permanent break with reason and patience. Here's to a bit of humility that reminds me that I cannot be superhuman no matter how much effort is exerted.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


After a summer when I only bothered to pull out the calendar on two or three occasions, the busy-ness of Fall is already closing in on us. A couple of months punctuated by trips to the swimming pool, grocery store, and church have led to a decisive laziness and lack of focus. Suddenly the reality of school starting is imminent with middle school schedule pick-up and Meet-the-Teacher at the elementary level. There are a zillion small tasks to get the kids ready for school from regulating bedtime to helping Katie decide how she wants to blow-dry her new haircut.
After the summer of showing up at my neighbor's house a couple of days a week to share a cup of coffee, I have reverted back to sending out e-mails in hopes of juggling assorted women's wacky schedules to allow us to all end up in the same coffee shop at one time. The church is launching a mammoth volunteer training effort this weekend for which I have been offered the opportunity to join in some serious sandwich-making with an eye toward lunch for the assorted volunteers-in-training. First, I need to take a food safety course before my sandwich-making commences.
A couple of friends have offered to show me how to edit my photos and do some admin stuff because I am allergic to technology and they are tenacious. (We'll see who wins out. I'm totally rooting for them.) At some point, I volunteered for the elementary yearbook committee, too. Next week will also kick off my wee munchkin care on Monday afternoons. I suspect the lazy days of summer have already slipped away while I was furiously scribbling in orthodontist appointments and meetings back-to-back.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I live with a thirteen year old and an eleven year old. Mood swings are just the norm around here. If someone is going to be whiny, obnoxious, or otherwise unpleasant then that individual should do the rest of the household (and the planet) the favor of keeping to themself. This plan has served relatively well in all but one instance.
When Momma ain't happy--- ain't nobody happy. Oh, yeah. The Moody Me has been out and unleashed over the weekend. Part of it is probably related to last week's Benadryl in quantity during my IVIG, and then Benadryl and more Benadryl throughout the weekend thanks to some kind of bug bite and the ensuing allergic reaction. Awesome. Benadryl wacks out my sleep habits and I am generally mean and oh-so-easily irritated when under the influence.
I refuse to continue this venture on the Dark Side. I am quite capable of being irritatingly chipper and cheerful. I'll just deal with the burning, itching, and the pretty, red rash. Taking my obnoxious self off to be alone in my nastiness is not an option because there are other people who come looking for me. Constantly.
Aside from the allergy badness, and off to a whole new topic on which I do not have enough to say to qualify as a single post. Don found a new weird Olympic event for us to watch--- Synchronized Diving. Bizarre, but high on the entertainment scale. Perhaps the amusement will pull me out of my funk... and if not there's always emotional eating, right? I still have some of those lovely (FREE!) cookies.

Give, Save, Spend

Katie wants. Evan wants. Erin wants. In order to determine which wants to fill, and which will be ignored, the lovies have been given a list of chores that will earn them extra cash. Said cash can then be turned into the fulfillment of their assorted wants. It will be interesting to see how much effort they choose to turn into cash this week. I want a maid, but this is the next best thing.
There is a catch. The extra chores are not compensated unless all the regular chores (the ones required of them for being members of this household) are completed and reasonably maintained. This does wonders to avoid the rush to hop on the extra (and higher paying) chores while ignoring their own messy bedrooms and laundry piles. The girls have been dynamos declaring that "I can't believe we said we were bored when there is so much to do around here!" Seriously.
Their earning frenzy presented an opportunity to talk again about giving and saving. We have offered them a suggested starting point of giving 10% and saving 10% of their earnings which will still leave 80% for their assorted wants. They have savings accounts that their Grandma says are for a car one day, and their Dad and I have made them an offer of matching savings while stressing that any money going into that account will be off limits to them. They are welcome to increase those amounts, or keep a separate savings toward large purchases, but only money in the grandparent savings accounts will be eligible for parental matching incentives which are contingent on their giving. All three have requested "direct deposit" into their savings and a tithe fund. Alrighty then.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Ever have to go where you just do not want to go? The last couple of weeks studying the book of Jonah has had me rummaging around to examine just where I might be avoiding something that I need to address. Of course, a handful of different somethings have surfaced. Yuck. Somewhat content with my policy of avoidance, I regret that it failed to work out. I don't want to go to Ninevah even though I am not even entirely sure of where my Ninevah is yet. I also know that I do not want to be stuck in the gut of some big, stinky fish either. *sigh*

What To Do

Possibilities. I have yet to go back to school in pursuit of a degree because I do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Last year's nasty little melanoma incident brought the question of, "What would I do to support myself, three children, and the assorted furballs?" should the oh-so-euphemistic "something" happen to Don. I am uninsurable thanks to a bout with cancer in high school followed by the myriad health issues from the immunodeficiency to the connective tissue disorder and mini strokes. (If you don't believe in answered prayer, let's chat.) Uninsurable is bad when there's a $5K treatment that has to happen fourteen times a year. (Yes, I am the reason your insurance premiums are so expensive.) Any-who... back to the possibilities.
I do not want to teach, or do anything that involves strangers' offspring. I am neither an artist nor an athlete. My technical skills include crashing Windows and asking my daughter how to send a text to someone not already in my address book. I have no formal training in anything. Uh-oh.
Volunteer experience I have out the wazoo. My primary interest is in trouble-shooting, logistics, and strategic planning. I like to make things go without having to step out in front. At the moment several possibilities have opened up including one supporting a batch of artistic folk administratively and another playing with food and beverages. A friend needs childcare once a week so she can do her job well, and I happen to be willing and available to keep her lovies while my own are in school. There was talk of helping to put together the elementary school yearbook, too. In a perfect world, I would be an event planner. I love to take a zillion details, a group of people with their assorted talents and abilities, and see them all come together to create someone's dream. It's just nifty.
Interesting to see how the various opportunities will come together. I'm not sure which tasks will be spot on, and which ones will be filling a need. I am also looking for the elusive answer to what formal training should be pursued toward the goal of becoming a bread winner. Don has our needs and wants covered, but he is correct in his assessment that I ought to have something I can do as a Plan B that can provide both income and insurance coverage should the need arise.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


There are few things better than a cookie in my book. The obvious answer as to what those few things might be is "another cookie", but today we are enjoying the even better "free cookie". (I will also enjoy another one when the kids are not looking. It's good to be queen.) I earned these cookies by hitting not one, but three grocery stores yesterday in order to slash our grocery bill for the week with all sorts of specials. (The three stores are all within a mile or so of our house. There was no cross-country driving to suck up the savings on gasoline.) With both girls in tow, I found myself singing the "No" chorus so familiar to Moms everywhere as we cruised past the many and varied goodies proffered for sale.
I hesitated and nearly caved when Katie showed me the giant Snickerdoodle cookies on the thrift cart at one market, but after reading the label, I had to pass since one cookie had 300 calories. I also staunchly refused to buy the yummy little Goldfish crackers on sale 3/$5. I was exercising fiscal responsibility and good stewardship. It was the third stop where I finally caved. Read on before assigning blame for giving in to the wants and wishes of my darlings and my own cravings. Goldfish crackers were "Buy One Get One Free!" which dropped the 3/$5 price by a full third making my detail-oriented, cheapskate heart go pitter-pat. Then I saw the in-store coupons. Ooooh! Buy three bags of Goldfish crackers and receive a free (discount taken at check-out, nothing to mail in) bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies. Oh.
I felt my resolution evaporate as I stared at a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milk Chocolate Chunk Macadamia cookies. For those gentle readers unable to master the obvious, I was definitely going to take home my FREE (!) cookies. Purchasing only the required three bags of crackers for cookie coupon redemption, would mean leaving behind a free bag of crackers. That would be silly. With the tally already at four bags of Goldfish, what was the purchase price of one more bag to earn a third free bag of crackers and a second free bag of cookies? Who would pass up such a deal?! My reason is flawed, but I really don't care because I have not one, not a measly two, but 16 free cookies. It's good math when $6.50 brings home six bags of Goldfish and two bags of yummy cookies.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Sometimes reverse psychology works. It works best when employed unintentionally. Fed up with the children (who outnumber the adults around here) leaving their dishes out, I finally reached the outer limit of patience when I found a whole box of popsicles sitting out on the kitchen counter. This is a problem in Texas in August. In an unthinking moment, I declared that all three kids were officially grounded from getting themselves anything from the kitchen. Uh-oh. The smart mom in my head wished we could take it back, but the decree was loudly voiced and addressed not just one, but all three kids. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
This morning I left one child sitting at the table for five minutes waiting for me to get around to serving his breakfast which was a sane portion of food. (I am fairly certain breakfast cereal should not be eaten out of mixing bowls unless one is on a NFL payroll.) I offered the boy a second bowl of cereal if he would go for a walk with me. Nope. So he retreated to his bedroom. The girls' breakfasts were fairly uneventful.
Throughout the day, the kids had to wait on me when they wanted a drink or a snack. They had to remind me of their need for forks to eat pork chops. (Hee. That really was just an oversight.) One of them stuck her head under the kitchen faucet in a creative effort to circumvent the waiting, but I nixed that method immediately. (Ew.) By dinner time the whole brood was waiting patiently for me to make up their plates without so much as a complaint. I was highly amused by the excited responses when I informed the trio that they would be "allowed" the privilege of getting their own drinks for dinner.
I think I may be on to something here. All three kids feel like they have received a great privilege in being allowed to serve themselves. There is some serious potential here...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I don't get it. As I scanned the headlines online this morning, I was a little thrown by an article regarding cloning Boogers. Booger was a dog. Booger's owner paid the bargain rate of $50,000 to have her dog cloned after the critter's death in 2006. (The cost to have your pooch genetically reproduced is estimated at up to $150,000, but the Boogers' owner helped with publicity so she got a deal.) Yesterday, I posted the web address for a site detailing an opportunity to assist a family who are in the midst of raising the necessary funds to bring their daughter home from Guatemala. Today, I am nauseated by a woman who spent more than double the cost of bringing home baby to have her dog (okay, her beloved dog-who-saved-her life) cloned. Of the five cloned Boogers, two will be donated as service dogs while three will return to the owners' property to live amongst the other critters. Okay, I do get it, but it still bugs me.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Team Adriana

Check out Team Adriana at and join the adventure.

Calorie Counter

Our scale cratered last week. That scale has been a faithful companion in the journey up to my peak weight of (Yikes!) 243 pounds, and it was equally trusty through the long days of the weigh down to the sane 160's. Seventy-something pounds do not shed themselves. That scale heard a few dirty words over the eight or nine months it took to reach my goal weight. I'm sorry to see it go, but the poor dear was claiming I weighed 110 pounds last week. (I'm five foot eight, and that number on the scale would be a cry for intervention had it been accurate.) Owning one of the irritatingly smug talking digital models that calculate body fat and water weight would've offered new opportunities to snipe at an inanimate object, but Don was set on a more basic model that only registered our total weight with a standard dial.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Summer days continue their inexorable creep toward the start of school. The kids and I are definitely thankful for the haven of the swimming pool, but those days are are already giving way to preparations for school. Last summer dragged on over four months thanks to new state regulation of the school calendar, and the first day of school felt unreachable. This year the summer blew by so fast that I think I missed the whole month of June. Just as I was adjusting to the wacky idea of July, it's August. I'm definitely not jazzed about our killer hundred degree or more temperature marathon, but for now we can at least seek relief in the haven of the neighborhood swimming pool.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

One Word. Sounds Like...

Yay! Our kids are back home after their very long week away. A big Tex-Mex dinner was just waiting for their arrival last night to celebrate. We hit the pool first thing this morning in anticipation of our 21st or 22nd 100 degree-plus day this summer. We will be washing all of their clothes, and there are new homes to be found for the assorted souvenirs from their travels in Missouri and Arkansas. Everything feels right as Don sits in a chair playing his bass while Katie attempts to pick along with him on an acoustic guitar. Evan is running through the shower so we can go out to run a few errands later, and Erin is reacquainting herself with her little bobble-headed animal toys. The washer, dryer, and dishwasher are all running.
These ordinary sounds are incredibly comforting to me after the past days of quiet while my favorite noisemakers were absent. In a couple of weeks I will enjoy the quiet during the day, but it will be broken each afternoon as the kids return full of news about their days away, the phone ringing with their hectic social lives, the sounds of multiple instruments being practiced, pages turning in books, kids arguing about inconsequential things, 13 year-old boys banging on bathroom doors locked by 11 year-old girls, the t.v. chattering, music playing, the fridge beeping its protest against being open long enough to cool the whole kitchen while someone decides there is nothing good available... the sounds of home.

Friday, August 1, 2008

All That Glitters

I find that it is a critical priority to teach our children how to make better financial choices than Don and I have made over the years. We pay them an allowance that doesn't go as far as they would like for it to--- which is a healthy dose of reality. The necessities are provided for these children, and many extras are covered as well. I do find that I have a different idea of what things should cost than the children. (My brain comes to a halt like the Price Is Right wheel slowly winding down to a final number.) For example: Erin thinks a forty dollar backpack is entirely reasonable for a seven year old. On hearing this news, I wondered if Erin needed to hear the "Just Say NO to Drugs!" talk again.
We cover this gap between reality and fanstasy by giving the kids said allowance and by setting spending caps on everything from their entertainment to clothing. A prime example is the kid who really wanted a $7 toothbrush, but I was only willing to spring for the least expensive battery-operated model. I found it interesting how quickly the want for the $7 model capitulated to a willingness to accept the $5 version when I offered to accept payment for the difference. This year, I gave them a preset spending amount for their back-to-school shopping after doing a mental tally of what their wants could cost. I figured they could sort out what was a priority and be doubly satisfied with what I intended to spend because they were given the freedom to determine the priorities knowing that Mom held a veto right.
Back to Libby's over-priced backpack. (It had glitter, a brand-name, monkey zipper-pulls, and a slight discount.) $35 seemed a bit much to me, but the lure of glitter is strong. I watched her fork over more than half of her total back-to-school dollars on the uber-girlie backpack and a lunchbox that was three times my top price. The fraction of her funds remaining purchased a pair of capris, two t-shirts, and a pair of slip-on sneakers at bargain prices. I was impressed to see that she actually purchased everything on her list without going over budget. She is happy with her purchases, and she compromised on items that will be mixed in with her assorted hand-me-downs already in the closet while splurging outrageously on the two items that she will use every single day. I think she may actually be teaching me a thing or two.