Friday, October 26, 2012

The Entertainment

I was pouty when I needed my husband to help with a couple of my son’s geometry questions.  Math is outside of my realm of expertise, but I figured I could hang in the homework circuit through elementary school.  I didn’t expect to call in a pinch mathematician in third grade.

Well, turns out, it could be worse.  I could, hypothetically, be unable to figure out one problem on my kindergartener’s math homework!

Reckless is in a “Math Stars” program, so she has special assignments for math each week and I got stuck on one this time.  Hypothetically!  I looked at it for twenty minutes and still had no clue.  My husband had cackled when I called for help with our son’s homework, so this level of disability would surely entertain him.

I consulted with another academically gifted person in this house first, to save some marital embarrassment/ammunition.  Brainy wasn’t sure how to solve it either, making me feel a little better.  We both assumed we were missing something obvious and fundamental that his dad would point out when he got home.

But, no.  My genius husband didn’t know either!  That made me feel WAY better.  If he couldn’t solve it; it was virtually insolvable.  We turned in the assignment today with number 7 blank.  Maybe it was a test to smoke out the next Albert Einstein.  In which case I can report he/she does not live in my house. 

Technically, I didn’t show Stretch the problem, but while discussing her upcoming field trip on the way home from church Wednesday night, I said the play was going to be downtown and she asked, “Is that in the United States or no?”  We may keep her on basic counting for now, so we have time for some remedial geography lessons.

Anyway, when there are news reports about how bad other nations are beating us in math and science, I just want you to know they mean me.  And my mom.  I blew it.  I put every ounce of intellectual energy into language and arts and now I make nary a dime because of it.  But hopefully all you left-brains will keep supporting us right-brains because we’re fun to have around.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Goal Guy

My name is Heather and I have a life coach.  As a disclaimer, I should say this just started a week ago.  Otherwise you might take a birds’ eye inventory of my life and think yikes, how much of a mess would she be without a life coach?

I know you’re wondering what kind of handicapped I am to need a coach for the basic function of living.  It’s one thing to need a soccer coach or a reading coach, since those are skills we have to learn, but a “life” coach?  And, even more alarming, this man approached me and offered his life coaching services pro bono.  That had a major “charity case” feel to it.  It’s sort of like someone saying, “Do you want me to do something with your hair for you?”  I guess I just have that “fixer-upper” look about me.

But, after talking with him, I’ve decided to look at it more along the lines of showing potential.  Like the first time someone saw Michael Phelps swimming laps in the pool and said, “Hey, with the right coach, he could be great.” 

The other reason this came about is that a friend of mine at church is currently getting credentialed to be a life coach and he needed guinea pigs experience.  He chose me and a basketball player from North Carolina playing professionally in Israel.  We’re both supposed to be shooting 90% from the free throw line by March.

This life coach knew me well enough to know I’ve failed some “life tests” in my past and that I can be very disciplined at achieving goals when I stay focused on the right things.  And, just like anyone who’s ever met me, he can see that I’m somewhat of a flibbertigibbet and lose focus easily.  So, he’s offering to help me be all I can be.  (I may have actually joined the United States Army; I’ll let you know.)

My coach was finishing lunch when I walked in for our first official “practice” yesterday.  As I took my seat, I asked him five or six questions in under twenty seconds, and he said lesson number one might need to be learning to ask one question at a time because not everyone thinks and responds at MACH III like me.  They don’t?  Well, that explains some things then.

In case you don’t have all the answers either, I’ll share my findings.  “How is a life coach different than a counselor?”  Not that I couldn’t use a counselor, just wondering.  Counselors deal a lot with the past, working through things that have happened.  Life coaches focus on the future, on things that could happen.  Flying cars, of course, but also on what I could achieve on a personal level if I apply myself.  There’s an outside shot that those will be one and the same, but don’t hold your breath.

I also wondered how a life coach helps a person succeed.  Would this be a trust fund situation?  Did he maybe have an executive at Random House in his back pocket?  Would he be shouting at me in the gym when I felt like I couldn't do one more pull-up?  Does the pro bono package include him preparing healthy snacks for me?

The answer to all of those is, sadly, NO.  He is an encourager and motivator.  I set goals and he guides me down the path to achieving them.  Turns out they have to be realistic goals, like setting aside two hours a week to developing characters for a new novel or maintaining my weight, not things like moving into the Governor’s mansion by the end of the year or separating calories from Reese’s peanut butter cups.

And probably the biggest appeal of having a life coach is that he helps me achieve goals in every area.  Which means I can now fire my career advisor, weight loss counselor, family therapist, and sensei – Mr. Miyagi.  (His Karate Kid money only went so far.)

This year I got an agent, a mentor, and a life coach.  Depending on how you look at it, I’m either one babysitter short of a strait jacket or one bodyguard short of an entourage.

In other news, I’m now accepting applications for the bodyguard position.Photobucket

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Presidential Debate

I’ve never used my blog as a political forum.  You’ve probably been able to ascertain that freedom of speech is almost as important to me as frozen yogurt, but the only “party politics” I ever engage in on here have been along the lines of “I’m having a football party and you’re only invited if you’ll cheer for the Giants.”

But it’s hard to avoid political conversations with a Presidential election rapidly approaching.  I won’t go into all of my personal politics and defenses of them here.  I just want to make a couple of quick remarks regarding this election and then I’ll take three to five pre-approved questions from the audience that my team of writers has prepared answers for.

Number one, I am so sick of Mitt Romney being criticized for his wealth.  Why does the media keep insisting he isn’t qualified to be President because he’s too successful and out of touch with “normal” citizens?  They are essentially implying we should elect some minimum-wage earning, modestly educated, underinsured laborer to our highest office just because that person could understand us better.  Really?  Then they should nominate the assistant manager of my local Harris Teeter to be President of the United States of America.

It’s ridiculous.  Why wouldn’t we want someone who knows how to grow a business and amass a fortune?  He’s good with money and our economy is broken, seems like a good fit to me.  And you don’t have to experience unemployment to help find a solution for it.  Jonas Salk cured polio even though he’d never had it himself. 

And even if Romney didn’t care about low-income families out of a spirit of humanity or moral obligation as a leader, he would still want to improve their circumstances because it’s guys like him (multi-millionaires) who are giving up nearly 50% of their income to support the government assistance programs that sustain (and at times coddle) these citizens. 

And, yes, Romney will give rich people a tax break, because he sees the injustice of punishing people for their success.  But even with tax cuts, wealthy Americans will contribute way more to the federal budget than the rest of us.  As it should be.  If Kobe Bryant paid 15% of his annual income in taxes and I paid 15% of my annual income in taxes, he’d be giving about 4.2 million and I’d toss in another twelve dollars.  That seems fair.

Number two, I don’t want to hear Barack Obama and his peeps telling us he needs more time to make that change he promised four years ago.  Four years is a LONG time.  Maybe not long enough to fix everything, but certainly long enough to fix some things.  Four years should be enough time to instill confidence in your nation that you are definitely the right man for the job. 

This isn’t about what Obama did or didn’t do.  It isn’t even necessarily a remark on this election and Presidency.  I just think that politicians can’t ask for more time to do what they said they’d do.  The length of a Presidential term was chosen because that’s long enough to make a positive impact on our country, long enough to achieve your goals if you’re capable of achieving them.  And if you do a great job, there is the option (not right) of doing it again.  A second term is meant for repeating successes, not still trying to accomplish the first ones.

And even if a President is phenomenal and we wanted to elect him a third time, we can’t.  Because the framers of our constitution realized that our country can and will benefit from changes in leadership, from fresh ideas and perspectives.

I don’t agree with everything that Mitt Romney has said and done in his life.  And I don’t agree with everything Barack Obama has said and done in his life either.  Honestly, I don’t agree with about half of what I’ve said and done in my own life.  But I’ve seen how effective Barack Obama is as our President and I’m not very impressed. 

If this was football, and oh how I wish it were, and our team had a man at quarterback for four years and we hadn’t won very many games, wouldn’t we put in a replacement quarterback?  Maybe we didn’t even have a losing record, but we failed to make the playoffs for four consecutive years and our fans were disheartened.  We’d try out someone new at quarterback, right?  We’d probably sign some new wide receivers and safeties in the off-season too.  It would come down to who on our roster impresses us and where was there room for improvement.

But one thing’s for sure, I wouldn’t discount a potential quarterback because he had only played in Super Bowl games and never thrown a regular season pass.  Or because he didn’t know what it was like to be an offensive lineman.  It’s not his job to be an offensive lineman.  Obviously any quarterback would want his offensive line to be successful, because his success is dependent on their success, just as a President’s success is dependent on the success of American citizens. 

A quarterback understands and appreciates the role that the offensive line plays in winning a game even if he’s never been on that line himself, just like Mitt Romney can understand the need for a strong middle class and the plight of low-income families despite having never been in those positions. 

I’m sure there are legitimate arguments for why neither of these men should be President, but Mitt Romney being wealthy and successful isn’t one of them.Photobucket

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pro-Life and Anti-Histamine

We have had the most amazing weather here in Raleigh these last few days.  Sunshine that makes you smile, but not sweat.  Air that moves enough to tickle any exposed skin, but not so much that you have to cover every last inch of it up.  Each day lately there is a perfect cerulean sky with a few splashes of marshmallow fluff white for effect.  We’ve had no rain, no humidity, and zero volcanic activity which is an important part of any good weather pattern.

There’s only one problem with this welcome weather change – I’m allergic to it!  My body is designed for the extremes of 100 or 10 degree temperatures and the lack of sustainable horticulture that accompany them.  Because all of this 75 degree comfort and goodness is toppling my sinuses.

This happens every September.  I long for a break in the heat, a chance to wear jeans, an excuse for a sweater, all of the hallmarks of fall, which is just slang for football season.  But they’re always delivered with a side of sneezing and topped with watery eyes.  I’m usually crying because of allergies, though, admittedly, I’ve been known to do it over an early season loss by the Hokies or the Giants.

I tend to let the sneezing situation get pretty out of control before I take medicinal action.  Often to the point of, “Heather, oh no, what’s wrong?  Are you okay?  Did something happen?  Is it one of the kids?  Did Timmy fall down the well?”  I would interrupt the concerned party to reassure them that I’m fine, but I can’t because I’m choking on histamine and my own reactionary secretions.  (You weren’t eating dinner while reading this, I hope.)

So today I broke down and took my first Claritin of the season.  The box promised 24-hour relief of allergy symptoms with just one tiny pill.  Was it presumptuous to think that would be the 24 hours immediately after taking it?  Because I’ve sneezed another 217 times since I swallowed that pill, that lie.

Perhaps my naivety is assuming it meant 24-hour relief for me.  I mean, it didn’t explicitly say it would relieve MY symptoms.  It just said 24-hour relief of allergy symptoms.  Maybe someone else’s?  Maybe yours?  If you’re out there frolicking in this autumn preview, all wide-eyed and completely unaffected by allergens, then you’re welcome.  Clearly I’m fighting them for you.  Oh, and you owe me eighteen dollars for the Claritin.Photobucket

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Harmful Myths

I realize I’m not a wizened senior citizen or repository of all medical knowledge, but I’ve been here for 35 years now – enough time to make it around the block.  And therefore I knew that if a foot were broken, you couldn’t walk on it.  It would probably also be black and blue and hurt intolerably.

I’m not so shocked that I was wrong, thirty-five years is also enough time to figure out my own fallibility.  I’m shocked that I erroneously believed the “can’t move it if it’s broken” lie so thoroughly and for so long.  Do you know how many times my three kids have gotten hurt and I assured them their arm, hand, knee, foot, etc. weren’t broken because they could still move them and they looked fine?  Well, at least one too many.  Stretch has been walking around for eight days on a foot that is broken in two places.

She fell down about half of our stairs last week.  Not for the first time, but she did cry longer than she usually did.   But, for the record, my criminal one, she was already crying before she fell down the stairs because she suffered a serious blow to the head during a pillow fight she got into with her brother and his friend.  (No charges were filed in that case because the plaintiff hit herself in the head with her own pillow.  So glad I didn’t name that one Grace!)

No matter how many kids are doing something questionable that could end in tears, it’s always Stretch who gets hurt.  There could be three or thirty of them running at the pool, or jumping on the beds, or throwing things, but having Stretch take part guarantees the safety of the others because she consistently sustains the token injury.

After hobbling around for a day or two, she returned to her normal awkward, long-legged, uncoordinated gait.  I considered a trip to the pediatrician, but we go for so many obvious illnesses that I didn’t want to throw another twenty-five dollars at them just so they could say she had a sprain or a strain or a flair for drama.  And, as I already stated, she could move it, walk on it, and even skip when giving chase to butterflies or cupcakes.

But today we went in for the twins’ six year check-up, so I had their doctor look at Stretch’s foot because it was a little swollen and still bothered her sometimes.  She gave me a transparent look of reassurance as she suggested we get an x-ray.  A harmless little x-ray.  As a precaution, right?

When the orthopedic doctor announced it showed two small fractures, I needed a new kind of doctor that could prescribe me the antidote to being sick with parental guilt.  I failed one of my kids.  Again.  “God, please let that be the last time.  So, you know, make me perfect, please.”

I had three alarmed and very hungry children waiting for a good chunk of the afternoon on a pink cast to be built from her toes to just below her knee.  We tried to distract Stretch from the pain by discussing what we would eat for lunch.  Or dinner, if our ordeal dragged on much longer.  But all the talk of milkshakes and French fries made our growling stomachs louder than her crying.  It wasn’t helping.  Instead, we talked about where we might purchase her rainbow colored flying unicorn kittens instead, since Mommy blew it and desperately needed to make it up to her. 

The doctor said it really didn’t matter that I waited a week; the breaks weren’t that severe.  I reminded him that it wasn’t his job to assuage my guilt; he’s an orthopedist, not a priest.  “No really,” he said, “it was easy to miss and it probably didn’t make it worse at all to wait.”

“Oh yeah,” I countered, “even when her sister accidentally sat on it in the toy room this weekend or when her brother stepped on it trying to get around her in the hallway yesterday.”  Because she walks slow, because she’s crippled, because her mother doesn’t take good care of her!

“Those things aren’t great for a broken foot trying to heal,” he admitted, “so we’ll avoid them for a few weeks with this cast.”  He didn’t mention how to avoid making this same mistake again, so I guess anytime one of them says something hurts, we’ll go get x-rays just in case.  Because who knows how many broken bones they’ve already had that have gone untreated just because they could still move something.  Apparently, I’m only qualified to diagnose paralysis, not broken bones.Photobucket

Thursday, August 23, 2012

For The Love Of Reading

I feel like I just came out the other side of a sandstorm of school fundraisers, and birthday parties, and writing assignments, and my own crippling sinus infection, which probably qualified for medical research but not blog material.  Though, to be honest, for the last four days, a lot of my free time has gone into Greg Heffley and his repeated diaries about life as a Wimpy Kid.

My son asked if he could start reading these books last week.  Apparently they're all the rage amongst the literate third grade crowd.  I had my suspicions that anything that popular with little boys probably contained messages that are contradictory to some of the actual good parenting I've attempted, so I told him we'd read them together.

I was right.  The main character/narrator promotes laziness and selfishness and general dishonesty.  But, the fans are right too - he's hilarious.  I don't exactly have to force myself to read them.  I still can't keep up with my son though, who is currently holding two very nice librarians hostage until they deliver into his hands the fifth book in the series.  They promised him they'd call as soon as they got a copy returned or transferred into our library branch, but he wouldn't budge from in front of their desk, so I just left him there to wait it out.

We've discussed a couple of scenes in each of the books that I decided to use as examples of what not to do, but I pretty much gave a broad warning of, "If you start acting like Greg, you'll stop reading about him."  And, fortunately, the mom in the books, Susan, does some decent parenting of her own and tries to instill some values into her sons and the readers.

And I'm willing to talk through the bad to benefit from the good.  Because my son has never been this excited about reading.  He's never been this excited about anything other than sports and dessert.  If a sarcastic, scheming, sullen middle-schooler is what it takes to spark his interest in books, so be it.  Now I just need to find a series to bridge the gap between this elaborate cartoon and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series.

Since Brainy is tracked out right now, we practiced some of the laziness this wimpy kid preaches and watched the first two movies on Tuesday.  Which, as always, aren't as good as the books.  But my son's reward for getting through four full weeks of nightly football practice (and tackling a lot of teammates to the ground) is that I'm taking him and a friend to see the third movie at the theater tomorrow.  If I can get him to abandon his post at the library that is.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Technological Entanglements

This is sort of embarrassing to say as a “writer”, but I didn’t own a laptop until last week.  I know most people over the age of twelve have one already, but I’m slow to warm up to advancements in technology.  I try new flavors of M&Ms the minute they hit the shelves, but that’s because I’m comfortable with chocolate.  Computers, phones, and Blu-Ray players baffle me.

I have to take this opportunity to mention that we owned a Blu-Ray player for almost six months before I realized it.  I was actually at a Redbox renting a movie for the kids and I said, “Oh, they only have this one on Blu-Ray.  We’ll have to pick something else out.”  Brainy looked at me sympathetically (because I’m mentally handicapped and he’s kind) and said, “Mom, we have one of those.  The white Sony player downstairs.”  Oh.

Anyway, my career is looking more promising, so my husband bought me an Ultrabook.  I would tell you that’s another word for a laptop, but I’d get in trouble.

I’ve been really busy lately, so it wasn’t until today that I had a chance to take it for a spin.  (Just kidding, honey, I handled it more carefully than I did our children as newborns.)  And, well, things didn’t go so smoothly.  I had the whole thing locked up inside of twenty minutes and I was probably crying out of frustration after ten.

First of all, I’m not very adept at avoiding an invisible mouse that’s playing possum underneath my wrists.  And I’m just typing along, crafting beautiful prose and whatnot and then the bottom falls out and suddenly my fonts change, or my margins, or I’m knee deep in a find and replace edit that I never even started!  Sometimes my paragraphs would go rogue and set themselves up like poetry stanzas.  For every three words I typed, I was hitting the undo button or backspace ten times.

And it isn’t just the mouse that’s sensitive.  The keys are too.  I was trying to think of the appropriate adjective for a thought I was trying to convey, and I left my fingers hovering over the keys for a moment while I looked up and pondered.  When I conjured the word I was looking for and returned to my document, there was half a page of Ls.  And don’t even think about breathing too hard near the caps lock button.  Or CapsLk as he goes by in Ultra circles.

So, I got this great gift and I can’t use it.  Not effectively.  Once The Voice of Reason unlocked my keyboard, I started typing this blog.  That was four score and a fortnight ago.  I’m hoping practice will make possible – perfect being too far of a reach at this point.  I had a similar learning curve with my smart phone when I got it for Christmas.  I still don’t take advantage of most of its features, but I’ve learned to use the ones I need, like checking the weather and quicktexts and getting gmail updates.

The plan was to use this contraption to blog, do my writing assignments, and create amazing works of fiction on the go.  You know, like writing the next New York Times bestseller on the sidelines of football practice or in carpool, obvious places for great ideas and inspiration.  But none of that is going to be possible if I don’t conquer this mouse pad.

My mother-in-law was asking me tonight if there was something she could get me for my birthday to go along with my new Ultrabook.  Why yes, some patience and an IT specialist to travel around with would be lovely.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spare Parts

There are storage facilities everywhere and I’ve always wondered why there’s such a big demand for them.  Are there really that many people with homeless possessions?  Isn’t it just a way to pay rent without actually using your things?  Doesn’t that mean that you don’t really need those things?

Storage facilities were a mystery to me because I’ve never needed one.  But based on the prevalence of them, I assumed I was one of the few people who don’t.

Well, mystery solved.  Almost.  I still don’t know how so many of them end up abandoned and on A&E’s Storage Wars, where odd people come in and bid on the units at auction with only a glimpse and a guess from the outside.  (I’ve never actually watched Storage Wars, but I have friends that watch it and have told me more than I ever cared to know about it, so I’m semi-qualified to mention it in this blog.  Clearly I’m also “semi-qualified” to choose friends.)

But at least now I know why a normal person would need to rent one of those.  My brother, who is arguably the most normal person in my family, invested in not one, but two storage units because he’s moving.  He put his house on the market and it sold in the first week, sooner than expected, too soon to move into his new home.  This stroke of luck (who sells their house after one showing these days?) left him with three months of homelessness that he’s decided to wait out in an apartment.  An apartment that can’t even come close to holding all of their things.

So, The Voice of Reason and I spent two sunny and muscle-testing days helping him move, store, and arrange.  And I got my first experience with self-storage.  It’s a different game than Storage Wars, where someone wants to get everything out of a unit.  Our game was how to fit as much as possible into one.  Well, two.

It reminded me of my true calling as a structural engineer.  Because for a girl who has always loved to pack a trunk like I’m assembling a puzzle, this was like the world championships of that event.  Standing with one foot on the back of a sofa and the other atop a bookcase, I was able to drop rolls of Christmas wrapping paper into a cylindrical slot between workout equipment and a high chair, winning me the gold medal in acrobatics and mental acuity.

But all the while, I was wondering why a guy who has never wrapped a Christmas present in his life had so many rolls of Christmas paper.  I used to earn extra Christmas presents from him by wrapping all of his to other people.  

I had one of those he-doesn’t-need-me-anymore moments because I realized that his wife wraps their Christmas presents now.  But then I figured out how to thread his weed eater between the two kayaks and it reminded both of us that I’m still useful.

And that’s good.  Because if there’s one place you don’t want to find out you’re expendable, it’s a storage facility.  Someone could knock you off and toss your body into one of those units and it probably wouldn’t ever be discovered.  Unless those Storage Wars weirdos show up and bid on the leather recliner and mahogany table they see from outside and then get burned not only by too much wrapping paper, but also a dead person.  Because who needs more of those?

So, storage facilities exist for in-between stages of life and homicides, mystery solved.Photobucket

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Harry Potter Healthcare

Wanna know why you shouldn’t fast forward through all the boring countries during the opening ceremony of the Olympics?  Because someday you may need to flee the country and hide-out where the C.I.A. would never even think to look for you.  If that scenario is not a remote possibility in your wildest imagination, then I’m sorry your life is so boring.

Anyway, my list of remote locations to start a new life now includes the following:  Benin, Burkina Faso, Eritrea (I think one of my kids had that when they were little; it’s a stomach virus), Lesotho, Mauritania, Saint Kitts and Nevis (they might think to look for me on Kitts, but never Nevis), Sao Tome and Principe, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu (I hope they speak French there because I remember four words from high school).

I am certain that these countries would welcome me with open arms, because, assuming I bring my family with me, I would be doubling their population.  And I don’t think they get a lot of tourists to those places since none of us had even heard of them before they decided to send two people to the Olympics, one to compete in Judo – which seems to be a fairly easy sport to qualify for, and the other national representative is a mystery, competing in something that’s not televised on any of NBC’s forty channels.

If I flee to one of these countries, I could probably even become President or Queen or Prime Minister or Chief or whatever they have.  How much competition could there possibly be?  Definitely no one else that can make glitter posters like me.  But, I probably shouldn’t become a world leader while I’m laying low and letting the heat die down.  It’s pretty easy to slip by the C.I.A. in my experience, but having my face show up on the money of my new home country would be pushing my luck.

Speaking of glitter posters, I think the opening ceremony needed more of those and less creepy children’s hospital scenes.  Clearly, I had no idea what a big deal the National Health Service is across the pond.  Maybe that part of the show was to brag about their successful nationalized health care system, to snub their noses at us a bit even, but honestly, if nationalized health care means a bunch of hyperactive kids jumping up and down on their beds all night long and doctors and nurses with dance degrees rather than medical ones, I’ll pass.  I definitely don’t want Voldemort managing my prescriptions.

The rest of the opening ceremony was pretty good.  Except for those face dresses.  Did you see those?  I mean, I got a pretty good look at some of the volunteers during the opening theatrics and most of them did not have faces worth recreating and preserving in tunic form.

The British have definitely contributed musically over the last fifty years.  Which is more than I can say for the people of Timor-Leste.  Unfortunately, the British are still trying to pass Paul McCartney off as a rock icon.  I know I’m about to offend a couple of people who think criticizing a Beatle is akin to blasphemy, but I really don’t think McCartney is all that.  The Beatles were great and revolutionary in their time, but their time is over, and let’s be honest, the one that was the most qualified to break off as a solo artist got killed in 1980.  Why do they keep trotting out Paul McCartney like women and girls are still going to pass out at the sight of him?  Frankly, he looks a lot like a girl himself.  And if he’s written anything new since the 60s, it’s not good enough to be played on the radio, and apparently Justin Beiber IS good enough to be played on the radio, so….?

All I’m saying is that The Wanted are British and they’re awesome.  Why didn’t they end the music portion with “Glad You Came”?  Wouldn’t that have been better than “Hey Jude”?  Critiquing Sir Paul McCartney is probably what’s gonna lead to my extradition, so I should wrap us this blog and start Googling my new home country of Mauritania, so I can pack my bags accordingly. 

I gathered in my preliminary research that buckets and shovels will be handy because three-fourths of the country is desert, so I guess we’ll be building lots of sand castles.  I’ll probably take along a lot of bottled water for the same reason.  If there aren’t any frozen yogurt shops there, I may have to take my chances here in the states, rely on the underground network of Paul McCartney dissenters to hide me in their attics.  I’ll need a night light though because I’m still having bad dreams about the children’s hospital.Photobucket

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Madam Secretary

For the past three years, Brainy attended a really nice private Christian school.  The level of parent involvement there was off the charts, and I often found the mothers to be intimidating.  Kind, but intimidating.  Sometimes I’d be sitting in the carpool line at 7:45 in the morning and look over into the windows of the Cadillac Escalade next to me and be rather appalled at the smiling Stepford mommy inside of it.  A mommy who would have her hair done and make-up on and be wearing something like a freshly ironed pink sweater set and heirloom pearls. 

Meanwhile, it was all I could do to get Brainy to school before 8 o’clock, so I usually had on the t-shirt I’d slept in with whatever shorts I found on the floor of my room, be those mine or my husband’s, and at least half the time I didn’t even have shoes on.  And I could tell, by the look on her children’s faces, that she had squeezed fresh juice for them for breakfast and served it with warm muffins and scrambled egg whites.  “Brainy, don’t mention you had toaster waffles for the twenty-sixth day in a row.  It might make the other kids jealous.”

Not every mother there drove an Escalade, though the amount I saw on that campus would rival any Cadillac dealership in the nation, but it’s just that I was always in carpool line next to one with a smiling angel mom on board.  

And on orientation nights, there would be these sign-ups to help with things in the classroom, plan parties, or be a room mom.  Mommies would clamor up to scrawl their names on those lists, already discussing their great party ideas or fun activities and crafts they wanted to try with the class, sometimes I’d overhear things like, “I already bought the cutest little….”, and I thought to myself Seems like they got this under control; I should just go take a nap.  I didn’t have party ideas or classroom friendly recipes; I didn’t even have a pen on me to sign up for lunch duty.  I had to borrow one.

Between my lack of qualifications and the fact that there was a twelve month waiting list to even bring the teacher an apple, I didn’t get very involved at our old school.  My other excuse is that the twins were still home with me most of the time.

Well, we’re at public school now and a new day has dawned.  Not only am I not working outside of the home any more, but now all three kids are full-time students.  Don’t worry, Reckless is still a part-time daredevil.

On the second day of school, I got a call from the P.T.A. president.  She knew me because her son plays Upwards basketball at our church and she ran into me at the girls’ kindergarten orientation the previous week.  She called to ask if I’d be the P.T.A. secretary this year.  The elected one had just announced she needed to step down.  The president said that they’d have enough members present at the first meeting of the year, two days later, to formally elect me in on her recommendation.  The job was mine if I wanted it.  “Sure,” I said, wondering if I should mention that I had never been to a P.T.A. meeting in my life.  But, nah, might as well jump right in with a cabinet position.  My next thought was I’m gonna need some pearls.

You think it’s odd that I ended up in a magazine?  Well, it’s even a bigger shock that I’m P.T.A. secretary!  This time last year I was waiting tables and line dancing at Texas Roadhouse.  I couldn’t even remember school picture day.  Now I might have some say so as to when it is. 

In honor of my new membership into adulthood, I got my hair cut.  No more halfway down my back, auditioning for a music video hair; now I have neat layers that come to my shoulders.  And for my first P.T.A. meeting, I wore a ruffled sleeveless blouse and khaki pants that were NOT purchased in the junior’s section at Kohl’s.

And the best part, the unbelievable part, really, is that our new school starts at 9:15!  Now that’s a start time I can manage, with shoes and everything.  I’ve volunteered twice in Brainy’s class already and I’ll be helping in the girls’ rooms as well.  It’s like…..I’m responsible.  If you knew what I made them for breakfast before school yesterday, your head would really be spinning.  But making you dizzy wouldn’t be responsible.

Now, the question on a lot of people’s minds is this:  With all three kids in school, what will you do with your free time?  Easy.  I'm going to do what any other normal, responsible, suburban mother of three would do....train for the Olympics. Photobucket

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Like A Fish Out Of Water

Almost overnight, Stretch has learned to tie her shoes, ride her bike, jump rope, and swim.  Not just doggy paddle, either, but full-on under-the-surface darting through the water like a sea lion.  I’m pretty sure that page two of the Good Mommy Handbook states you should never compare your daughters to sea lions, but I wasn’t sure how else to describe her new skill.

The swimming, and all those other accomplishments, is a sign of something bigger.  A sign that my baby is growing up.  And, no, I don’t have two babies just because the girls are twins.  Reckless was born two minutes before Stretch and quickly took on the role of big sister.  Not only did Reckless roll over, sit up, and walk first, but she’s been riding her bike without training wheels and swimming for two years now.  She’s always been fairly self-sufficient.  I’m pretty sure I caught her ordering her own cell phone on line last week.

But Stretch….well, she’s always needed me.  It’s been exhausting at times, but now she’s figuring things out.  And, she’s starting kindergarten on Thursday!  Technically, they both are.  But my only concern about Reckless and school is that she’ll break out and hitch a ride to Vegas.  With Stretch, I worry that she’ll need something and we won’t be there to help her.  Or that worried me until recently.  In lieu of her swimming performance at the pool today, I’m starting to suspect she’ll be just fine.  I’m also starting to suspect I’m not her real mother.

Because I’m not a good swimmer.  I can swim, but I’m self-taught, so it’s sloppy.  And, I’m not the only member of my family that is aquatically challenged.  My brother just took lessons a few years ago and prior to that, he couldn’t so much as float.  He also struggled with snapping his fingers until he hit 30, but other than that, he has excelled at everything in his life.

My mom still can’t swim, which explains her fear of boats.  Her absence of fear about flying is intriguing in light of that.  I’m fairly certain my maternal grandparents couldn’t swim, but I doubt it came up since they likely never even saw a concrete pond.

I enjoy swimming though.  Sometimes I go up to the neighborhood pool early in the mornings and swim laps to give my joints a break from all the running I do.  It’s a good workout if you’re doing it right; it’s a GREAT workout if you’re doing it just a little bit wrong.  My swimming is always accompanied by a subconscious fear of drowning, which further elevates my heart rate.

That fear was instilled when I was learning to swim.  And, now that I think about it, self-taught is probably the wrong descriptor.  I figured out how to swim because my teenage babysitter’s younger brother repeatedly tried to drown me in the lake every time she turned her back.  Maybe self-preservation is more accurate.  And, maybe mankind would learn to fly if we were repeatedly pushed out of airplanes without parachutes?  The repeatedly part of that equation is tricky.  But maybe someone should check with my mom.  I suspect she already knows how to fly, or else she’d show some kind of reluctance about boarding planes.

But this blog isn’t about my mom being a superhero.  It’s about Stretch finally finding her own wings and learning to fly.  I assume she’ll still be coming back to the nest after school each day, so I won’t cry too hard on Thursday.  But I hope she’ll continue to let me tie her shoes from time to time.  And I hope that one day she’ll teach me how to swim like her.Photobucket

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Picture, But Not A Thousand Words....

*This won’t be my normal style of blogging, but lots of people wanted to know how I ended up in the August issue Good Housekeeping, so….

I was standing in a supermarket check-out line in early 2009.  Thanks to the recession, my husband had recently lost his job, when the company he worked for the last eight years went bankrupt.  I often flip through magazines when the line is long, and I noticed a little blurb in Good Housekeeping asking for readers to submit their weight loss stories.  Since I had lost nearly sixty pounds, I thought, Hey, I’m a pretty good writer, maybe I can get paid for my story!  I was just trying to help out financially.  I went out and got my first waitressing job that same week. 

A couple of months later, a Good Housekeeping editor contacted me.  They wanted to “do my story”, which is not the same as publishing the story I submitted, that, I must admit, was lengthy.  I think two and half pages.  But every word was important and inspirational.  Their idea was more along the lines of, “You’re beautiful!  Can we take your picture?”  Not what I had in mind, but flattered, so “Sure.”  They left me with a vague, “We’ll be in touch”.

I went about my life and then one day at the end of May (2009), they called me again out of the blue and said, “We’d like to fly you up to New York for a photo shoot in two weeks.  Can you do that?”  My husband was about to start a new job in Washington D.C., but my mom graciously agreed to keep the kids so I could enjoy the glamorous life for a couple of days.

For the next two weeks, leading up to my photo shoot, I did live like a model, eating like a bird, exercising at least an hour a day, moisturizing my skin and staying out of the sun, being careful to not get any bug bites or bruises.  (I avoided the sun because the article was originally supposed to run in the fall, which explains why I’m wearing jeans and fall colors in my picture.) 

Wanna know how models feel?  Well, if it’s like I felt those two weeks before I went to New York, they feel hungry, moody, and bored.  I couldn’t exactly go rollerblading, which I love, and risk a broken wrist or ugly bruise. 

I embarked on my new healthy lifestyle in January of 2007; the twins were four months old.  I lost weight gradually and steadily for over a year to reach my goal.  And that is definitely the way to do it because I’ve kept it off for five years now.  I started eating healthy, eating less, and exercising more.  Well, at that point, you could’ve left the “more” off….I started exercising.

It’s awesome to have my hard work validated and rewarded this way.  I really wish that every woman (and man) who loses/lost weight could get to experience what I did….

I was picked up at my house in a limousine and taken to the airport for my direct flight to New York City, where another man in a dark suit was waiting with a sign to escort me to another limo.  My bags were carried into a swanky five star hotel in Times Square and after a time to “refresh”, I went to the Hearst Tower, where pretty much all big magazines’ offices are housed.

After the initial security station/reception desk, I rode an impressive escalator that cut through an indoor waterfall.  On the next level, another security attendant assigned me an elevator.  There were no buttons on the elevator; he remotely sent it to the appropriate floor.  A high floor that was completely reserved for our photo shoot.  There were rooms FULL of clothes, shoes, and jewelry.  It was all loaned out by the designers, name brands I’d only heard of, but never worn.  And we had the most incredible view of the city from up there.  I felt like a princess!  I was happy for the little girl inside of me that had always dreamed of becoming one, because for two days, that dream came true.

I met three of those four women that are featured in the magazine with me, but the one that is on the cover is new.  I’m not sure, but I suspect she’s a recent addition so they could have appropriate colors and styles for an August cover.  Unfortunately, the original fifth member of our crew didn’t make it into the issue.

That first day was just a fitting and meeting with the stylists.  I mostly sat in a reception room, that had a buffet of fancy healthy foods and drinks, while these women came in and held pieces of clothes or jewelry up to my face.  Occasionally, they’d ask me to go into one of the dressing rooms and try something on for them.  Seeing the price tags on the clothes, I was extremely careful as I did so.  Ultimately, they liked the jeans I showed up in the best and just added the sweater, shirt, shoes, and accessories.  I guess I have good taste.  They still fit; I wear them a lot.

After my fitting, I went shopping, which is the only thing the magazine didn’t pay for while I was in New York.  (A wise financial decision on their part.)  And I ate a nice big dinner that night because the stylist said my size 8 jeans were a little too loose!  I wasn’t going to get into a size 6 by the next day, so I figured a steak and baked potato might help.  (I still need a size 10 in dresses though, so I made them put my size as 8/10, because I want real women to be able to identify with me.)

I had a ten a.m. “call time” the next day, and I was told to show up without make-up and not to do anything more than comb my hair after my shower.  Done.  That’s how I leave the house pretty much every morning; clean face, wet hair, and casual clothes.  Most mommies could get on board with that facet of model life.

When I arrived, I met the rest of the “team”; the make-up lady (on my right), the hair guy (blonde guy), the photographer (man on my left) and his minions.  The photographer, rather than the editor, was top dog there.  He had the final word on EVERYTHING during the shoot.

I’ve never had expertly applied make-up.  But if you look at the picture, you can see it was totally worth forty-five minutes in that chair!  Except for fake eyelashes though, that’s me.  No airbrushing.  Just lots of hair brushing.  My hair guy would step in every two minutes or so during the shoot and adjust one or two strands of hair.  He was OCD.

The photo shoot itself was incredible.  There was music playing the whole time, but the first song, the one playing as I walked into the room was “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.  They took my picture a million different ways for the next two hours.  But with the music, fans blowing, and even a girl whose sole job was to offer me water through a straw, it was easy.  After I was done, they popped open a bottle of champagne for me.  I don’t like champagne though, so the stylists drank it.

I spent the night visiting my favorite New York sights and then went to the movies before bed.  The next morning I got the limo/star treatment again, back to JFK.  And when I arrived in Raleigh, a big, handsome, twentysomething Italian guy in a black suit met me as I exited the terminal, took my bag, and then drove me back to suburbia and reality in a tricked out black Escalade.  When he was helping me into the backseat at the airport, I heard a family nearby saying “Ohmygosh, who is that?” about me and I laughed thinking, I’m just the crazy lady that lives down the street from you probably.

The article got bumped that fall because they got Paula Deen for the cover and couldn’t put weight loss in her issue.  It didn’t run in the months after that either, so I figured it wasn’t ever going to.  Imagine my surprise when they called this spring to make sure I’d kept the weight off and said they still wanted to run it.  I had to submit current pictures to show I’m still the same size, but I didn’t get to do a new photo shoot.  That’s okay, because I want to have my words read, not my picture taken.Photobucket

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Be Reasonable!

My husband left ten days ago.  Not for good.  I don’t think?  No, he’ll definitely come back.  He doesn’t know how to do laundry and he’s too frugal to keep buying new clothes every week.

I’ve done pretty well on my own.  I remembered trash and recycling day.  I fixed the ice maker when it broke.  I moved a piece of furniture single-handedly.  Well, I used both my hands, so…double-handedly.  And I kept the kids in line.  Once or twice, a literal line, but mostly I mean their behavior.  I locked all three doors approximately four times, and only left the garage door open at night once.  I should get at least a C for safety.

I have been trading everything from cold hard cash to warm soft cookies with people in exchange for babysitting so that I can go exercise.

Yesterday, reinforcements arrived in the form of my mother.  She came to provide a legal defense for the kids anytime they step out of aforementioned line.  And to make sure they have enough sugar to keep calmness at bay.

But, she also came bearing expensive antibacterial hand soaps.  She always does.  It’s kind of a strange offering, but I’m anti-germ and pro-Bath and Body works, so I appreciate it.  I always buy the cheap foaming hand soap from Target, because it seems to clean and disinfect our hands just fine, and because we’re not the Rockefellers and can’t afford high end luxury hand soaps.

My mom’s not a Rockefeller either, unfortunately, but the people at Bath and Body Works don’t know that.  She refuses to leave any scent of hand soap or “wallflower” air freshner untested.  And, in her quest to control olfactories the world over, she stockpiles these items in her home and deposits them to all of her travel destinations.  (Mostly my house and my brother’s house.)

She doesn’t hoard anything else.  Nothing useful, like bottled water, canned goods, flashlight batteries, or cash.  The odds of her ever stockpiling cash are slim to none because she spends it all on Wildberry Hibiscus and Summer Escape hand soap.  Any leftover money goes to Dollar Store investments for her grandchildren.  My brother, a stock broker, investment banker, computer wizard type guy has probably already deducted that in lieu of soaps and bubble wands, she could’ve bought our kids college educations, but hey, what’s the fun in that?  And a college degree won’t disinfect your hands, that’s for sure.

All that to say, it will be refreshing to have The Voice of Reason home again.  My home is running on fumes of reason at best right now.  And, I prefer to have my doors locked for me!Photobucket

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The High Life!

Sorry about the disappearing act; I had actual work to do.  I'll try not to let it happen again.  But lest you fear I was ONLY sequestered away in my office editing the next great American novel, I should mention I also went on vacation.  And got so wrapped up in the NBA playoffs that I started calling personal fouls and 24 second violations on the kids at bedtime, but that's not much of an excuse for blog silence.

My vacation was a dream!  And a nightmare, but I'll come back to that.  We went to the mountains.  Boone, North Carolina.  I grew up in the mountains so I thought it was going to be like Mickey Mouse vacationing in Disneyworld, but it wasn't.  For starters, we stayed at a resort.  We not only had a luxurious two-story condo, but there was also a swimming pool, hot tub, steam room, paddle boats, putt-putt golf, play areas with swings and slides, a basketball court, and a quaint little game room that Milton Bradley probably made a fortune off of.  The only amenities I had growing up were running water and a tree house.

The laughter, smiles, and giggles from my children on our trip were the best, but other highlights include:

1.  Reckless getting excited and thinking she'd won putt-putt because she had the highest score.  Brainy was lightning quick to correct that misunderstanding.

2.  All of my kids sleeping until at least 8:30 every day!  I never tire of the thrill of extra sleep.

3.  The weather was perfect, 72 degrees, sunny, and zero humidity.  It cooled down drastically at night and I needed my favorite gray sweater!  Do you know how awesome it is to need a sweater in the middle of June?  Those of you west of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line, don't answer!  (I'd like to mention to those same people that they're missing out when it comes barbecue and Mexican food.)

4.  The food.  I suspended my regular healthy eating habits to enjoy the local fare.  I had the best New York style pizza I've ever had, and I've been to New York several times.  I had a sandwich at this hippie sandwich shop that tasted life-changing when I bit into it.  (Though hippies have been known to bake LSD into rye bread, so that might've been drug induced.)  And we shared some three story nachos and other waistline expanders that had more calories than I normally consume in a week at a local pub.

Luckily I didn't suspend my exercise regimen.  In fact, I tested my strength and endurance more than ever before.  Welcome to the nightmare part.  While my in-laws (told you it was scary) took the kids to a railroad amusement park, my husband, his sister, and I went hiking and mountain climbing.  Our death-defying adventure lasted three hours and ended with me literally kissing the asphalt of the parking lot.

The tallest peak of Grandfather Mountain is 5,946 feet, and by the time I stood on it, I felt like I started at sea level.  I climbed and dangled and scaled sheer rock face that was at maybe a 95 degree angle.  The times that it was straight up 90, there were wooden ladders to help us ascend.  No rails or ropes or harnesses, three feet to the left was an opportunity to plummet a mile to my death.  I told myself that the nation's top structural engineers probably came to test the soundness of those ladders every day.  But there were times that I was terrified.  I try to live a fearless life, because I think the only healthy fear is the one of God; all the others cripple us in some way.  But when we were faced with the most treacherous and challenging part of the climb, I almost chickened out.  I had come so far already though, and knew that I would regret the missed opportunity.  Well, not if I died seizing it, but I figured my chances of survival were at least 60/40.


All three of us made it to the top, without anyone crying, and the view and sense of accomplishment were totally worth it.  But the worst part of getting high is coming down.  My nerves and knees were equally relieved when we got back on solid ground.  Ah, vacation, so relaxing :)Photobucket

Monday, May 28, 2012

the Graduates

Reckless and Stretch graduated from preschool Thursday night.  Finally.  I suspect that my husband and I felt a little like the parents of those college kids that take like seven or eight years to finish their Bachelor’s degrees because it seems like the girls were at that school For.Ev.Er!



They started there in September of 2008, when they had just turned two.  I only sent them one morning a week, and it was basically so that I could have three and a half hours alone to contemplate the reasons I shouldn’t run away from home, which can be a hard thing to resist doing when you have two two year olds and a four year old.  Not to mention, I was worn out coming off of the previous year of having two one year olds and a three year old and I had pretty much faced that year in a stupor because before that I had two babies and a two year old!

The next year of their preschool life, they attended three days a week until November.  Reckless had a horrible, serious bout with pneumonia that had her hospitalized twice in one month, and the pediatrician recommended we take the girls out of preschool because if she contracted any other respiratory viruses that fall or winter, it could be life threatening.  Stretch hadn’t been as sick, but even though they were awful at sharing toys, they were great at sharing germs.  So, instead of taking a semester off to travel Europe and experiment with drugs, the girls took a semester off to watch cartoons and take steroids.

They made a triumphant return to school in April and finished out the year with their three year old class.  Sure, they only knew A-E and U-Z, but part of an alphabet can get you pretty far on the playground these days.

The next year, 2010-2011, they were in the four year old class and what we thought was their “senior year” of preschool.  Their health, thank God, had improved drastically by the time they were four.  And they’d both nailed down a major – Arts and Crafts.  But, when spring came, the teacher encouraged us to hold off on kindergarten.  She felt that since their birthday was so close to the cut off and they were born five weeks early and one of them was barely going to pass Calculus that year, they’d benefit from one more year of preschool.  She was so right.

We split them up into different four day a week pre-K classes this last year, allowing them to make separate friends, cultivate their separate personalities, and have at least a few hours a day to share germs with other kids, not just each other.  Granted Stretch was so tall by this year that many of her classmates confused her for a teacher’s aide, but that’s okay, she’s going to be a legendary basketball player as soon as we can figure out a way to keep her from running off the court crying.

At this point, they’re more than prepared for kindergarten.  And I’m more than prepared to have all three of my kids in full time, year round, school.  I survived off of one morning a week; I rallied when I had three; I finally saw some productivity out of myself when they were all out of the house four mornings a week, so this six and a half hours a day five days a week thing should have me thriving!  I can catch up on all of the books I’ve been wanting to read, the laps in the pool I should be swimming, the projects I need to tackle.  With that kind of time on my hands, I should be able to launch an effective campaign for the presidency and solve our nation’s fuel crisis!  I guess I’ll see how it goes organizing and painting the office and take it from there.Photobucket

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gym Class Heroes

I think the last time I learned ten new vocabulary words in one day, I was like three months old.  But after my friend M and I spent an hour with a trainer at the gym tonight, I’m speaking a whole new language.  I still speak the old one too though, and that’ll come in handy tomorrow when I have to ask one of my children to brush my teeth for me because I can’t move my arms.

M and I have been pretty serious about working out the last couple of months.  Or what I considered serious before tonight.  We were familiar with the machines and we spoke freely of sets and reps.  Who knew that was the tip of the iceberg?

Our new friend, J, offered to donate his services and help us take off the training wheels and learn how to do a "real" workout.  He offered on Monday night after we had spent the last hour doing what was apparently a make believe workout, that gave us imaginary soreness, and pretend perspiration. 

We met him tonight full of nervous excitement over what we would do and learn, but with a back-up plan of “If this gets too hard, one of us has to fake a serious injury and the other has to drive them immediately to the doctor.”

First up, the bench, the quintessential weightlifting experience.  But, despite my affinity for exercise and trying new things, I’d never been on it before.  The two of us going over into free weights land was a bit like teenagers sneaking into a nightclub with fake IDs.  We totally didn’t belong, but we tried to blend in.  Inasmuch as two confused giggling girls can blend in over there.

J explained good bench press form to us, showed us how it’s done, then took all of his weights off.  I bravely assumed the position and then looked up at my new trainer, wondering when he was going to add my weights.  He smiled and said, “Just try it with the bar.”  I smiled back, lifted the bar, then didn’t smile again for quite some time.  I don’t know how much the bar weighs, and maybe some of you do, but I’d like you to pretend you don’t, because I’m going to estimate it at seventy pounds right now and I need to believe that until my arms stop crying.

Not that they’re crying from just that.  Everything he made us do was extremely hard, and if we ever weren’t making an ugly this-is-killing-me face, he increased the weight and made it harder.  But he didn’t just torture us and give us seizures in our arms.  He also educated us.

He taught us the difference in compound and isometric exercises.  There’s a chance that my ninth grade biology teacher went over that, but I was too busy writing love letters to my boyfriend to notice.  J also taught us about drop sets and super sets.  Before today I was only familiar with twin sets and sunsets.  He explained what it means to go negative, and a few other terms that escape me because I’m in an ibuprofen induced haze.

But my favorite favorite favorite new word that I picked up tonight is “Diesel.”  M and I were telling him how we want to be fit and toned, but not scary looking like some of the women we see at the gym.  And he assured us that he wouldn’t let us get “too Diesel.”  As in Vin Diesel, the action star, an apparent gold standard for males who workout.

I’m a suburban housewife and mother of three that likes napping and frozen yogurt; I don’t think there’s a big risk of me getting too Diesel.  But, I do intend to make that name turned adjective a new staple of my vocabulary.  Like when the pool opens on Saturday and M and I are lounging by it, I will most definitely look over at my tiny friend and say, “Girl, you’re lookin’ Diesel!”
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Butterfly C.S.I.

One of the girls got a butterfly garden for Christmas from her aunt.  I thought that seemed like a good gift; I like butterflies and gardens.  Know what I don’t like?  Worms.  Wanna know another word for a worm?  Caterpillars.

That’s how it came to be that my husband took over this gift/project of butterfly farming with the twins.  They ordered live caterpillars and they came in the mail.  I found that unsettling.  I don’t like that we can receive living creatures via post.  What if someone mails us live squirrels or bats or something?  I’ve been checking the mail incessantly, at least once a day, waiting on my school track assignment, so if something’s gonna come flying out of there, I’ll be the victim.

Anyway, all my husband really had to do was open the box and wait.  They came in a ventilated plastic container that had their food.  They crawled around and ate and eventually, as lots of exercise and food does to any of us, they got sleepy.  They made their chrysalis, which is not to be confused with cocoon, apparently, my second grader informed me, because chrysalis is for butterfly and cocoon is for moths.  There was some elementary science mumbo jumbo about pupa that I might’ve tuned out because I still had a dinner to make.

My husband’s one job was to transfer the chrysalises to the butterfly garden after a few days, but before they turned into butterflies.  Today, I was working on something at the computer and saw the plastic container sitting on the top of the desk with two very upset butterflies on life support.  I panicked, had a Silence of the Lambs flash of butterflies being pulled out of people’s throats, then called The Voice of Reason at work.

“What’s going on with the butterflies?  Are they supposed to be in the container still??!!!???”  He started working on some kind of self-defense to explain his oversight in court, but didn’t immediately tell me what to do.  Luckily, Reckless was prepared!  She ran like an ER doctor into surgery, to retrieve the butterfly garden.  We rushed outside, on the off chance they would be able to fly, and opened the plastic container.

One of the butterflies was either dead or catatonic and I didn’t know how to take his pulse to find out which, so I transferred the one showing signs of life first.  I got wrapped up in some kind of sticky spider web type thingy he was caught in and cringed.  (No, I don’t want to know what it really was, and no, I wasn’t totally “wrapped up”, like head to toe, it was just on two of my fingers.)

At the point that I rescued butterfly number one, the three remaining chrysalis started to shake.  And not a little, like it could’ve been a breeze blowing them.  This was more like the seismic activity of an earthquake.  And that’s when I noticed the blood!  I’m not kidding.  I don’t know if it was blood of the ones trying to be born, or the ones that hatched earlier in the day, but I really don’t think there was supposed to be BLOOD!  It kept getting more and more like Silence of the Lambs.

I moved the comatose butterfly, a.k.a. Butterfly 2, into the “garden” and then dropped the shaking bleeding mummy ones into the bottom.  I zipped it up and ran inside to wash my hands.  What had we done?  My family.  Did we order innocent butterflies to slaughter?  It’s still touch and go out there for who might survive.  Reckless, in her limited veterinary training, is working tirelessly to save them and Stretch is periodically going out to wipe Reckless’ brow and get updates for the family. 

My husband and I haven’t handled a fish or butterflies very well, so we definitely shouldn’t be trusted with a dog.  Actually, come to think of it, we probably shouldn’t have been trusted with three kids.Photobucket