Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blog has moved

According to the stats, it looks like everyone is aware that i have moved. But just in case, if you're still reading this, you're missing out on all of the fun boredom of the new prose on another site.

You are welcome to join the new party, just email at the address in the last post and I'll tell you where to find me again.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moved the Blog

I have indeed moved the blog.

Email me at astlefamily at gmail dot com if you need the address to it.

Mr. Stalker has already made good use of that email address, so I have no problems handing it out. . .

I think I will be importing most of the posts from this blog to the new blog, so it will all be in one spot again. Because I have time for a stalker. . .

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Short Story

I can't go into all of the details, but the short story is that I have my very own stalker. I have to go file a restraining order today and everything.

If all goes well, he'll also be in jail tonight. And the FBI suddenly wants to talk to him as well. Note to self: It's not a good idea to threaten someone over email these days.

Did I mention that the guy is batshit crazy? And at 5'8" and 150 pounds, I can probably take him without the use of the various weapons at my disposal, should he choose to enter my house while I'm home. . . Why is it always the little guys that think they are so tough? He totally has small dog syndrome.

Anyway, two things:
1) I am probably moving the blog to a new blog address. Even though I don't think he has found this yet.
2) For the short term, until I decide, I am placing the blog on a password. I hope. If I know how.

If you have my email address and want to continue to read this, please let me know. Otherwise, post a comment and I will let you know how to find me or what password to use.

And for your reading enjoyment, a little snippet of the email that this guy claims was just to "get my attention and make me call him back". I'm sorry I can't get into the back story on this. Just as soon as I can, I will. . .

" So i will see you later and i will see you later and just remember that you bought this all on yourself,i dont know what kind of people your used to dealing with,but i dont think you meet a motherf****r quit like me...and dont trip Im a night owl,and the homies in the neighborhood love to do things at night so it works out for all of us.....I cant wait to see the look on your face....God is a forgiving God for I am Not....."

Kinda funny that he will now barely be able to move between all of the FBI, Sheriffs, and even CHP officers who think he's scum. I may be a suburban house wife, but I'm much better connected than he realizes. And I am good to my friends, so they like to help me, however possible.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bubbles

Once there was a child who was supposed to be babysitting.
She was supposed to make sure her brothers didn't burn the house down or drown in the bathtub or flood the hallway or make giant messes in the 10 minutes her mother was gone.
She was very good at ordering her brothers around.
Until she went in the garage and lit matches and burned things.

Once there was a mom who found a mess of burned paper, coated with carpet powder, all over the garage.
She was cranky and upset and most of all, freaked out that there were burned scraps of paper near gas cans and fertilizer and oil.
She asked all of her kids to tell the truth and fess up.
No one did.
Not even the child that had been left babysitting. That child blamed it on her brother.

And then mom figured it out.
And now that child has had her mouth washed out with soap for lying. Lots of liquid soap.
She is also residing in her room for a few months days.

Once there was a mom who needs a better punishment to get the point across on all levels of this disobedience and poor decision making. Please comment and share your thoughts.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pictures of Dance Festival



I'm sitting in a hotel room by the Ontario airport, feeling like there is no possible way I can stay awake for the hour it will take me to get home.

But, the busiest week of the summer is over and now the rest of my life can resume again.

We fell into our beds at 1 am, only to get up at 3:30 am to get Rebi to the airport for Yunasa summer camp with friends she rarely sees from all over the country. She woke me up twice in the night, singing in her sleep.

Apparently, dance festival was a hit. She'd better not still be singing in her sleep when she gets home.

I think I'm going back to sleep for another day or two.

Friday, July 25, 2008

More insanity

For Dance Festival, the 12 and 13 year old boys are dancing to High School Musical, Get Your Head in the Game.
This is a random sampling of the boys. It is representative of all boys this age. . .


So, it was a really great idea to try to teach them to dance and dribble a basketball at the same time. . .
The boys loved it. Every practice, basketballs were thrown, flung, kicked, and lobbed all directions, and women kept yelling, "Boys, Hold your balls!" None of the boys ever laughed at that. . .
And as it turns out, when you combine a google of boys with a google of basketballs, none of the boys hold their balls at all. Rather, they lob them quite firmly at other boys' faces. And, well, balls.

But thankfully, the Dance Festival coordinators took into account how immature a horde of 12 and 13 year old boys can be and gave them costumes that can't be used against them by the other boys. . .

Oh wait. My mistake. They all have elastic waisted shorts on. In that case, hold your balls and let the depantsing begin. . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Insanity


Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Which, by definition, makes me insane. This comes as a surprise to exactly no one.

But just to confirm it, today I let Rebi buy another point and shoot camera. Because the destruction of the previous one was so much fun, I'm dying to relive it. Over and over again. Wait. If I expect the same results, am I still insane?

I don't think I want you to answer that. I certainly don't want you to provide examples to prove your point.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dance Festival


I haven't posted much about dance festival, because it's one of those things that is too big to wrap my brain around. It's 3500+ kids doing 6 or 8 dances. Lots of practices. Lots of mistakes. Lots of funny things, but difficult to condense into a few blog posts.

So, let me share a little bit of what happened last Saturday.

For months, the kids have been practicing here, learning the routines in groups of 50-100, depending on the dance. This week, it was time for them to get together with everyone else dancing their same dance and coordinating all of the formations and such. We did this in Riverside, on a high school field. And it was hot.

They spent the first 2 and 1/2 hours standing on Astroturf trying to figure out the intro dance, and were eventually released to sit with their groups under the shade for some cooling down. As the kids filtered back in, it was clear that Evan was not in good shape. Several of the kids let me know he had a headache, his stomach hurt, and he was looking bad. His arms also hurt from having immunizations the day before. So, we plopped him on the cool grass, soaked his clothes with cold water, and made him start drinking up. Within about an hour, he still had a headache, but his skin was much cooler to the touch and he seemed to be perking back up.

And then he went to the bathroom, which was a couple of blocks away, through the sun.

I found him, slumped against the bathroom wall, out in the sun, pale as a ghost and shaking. I took him to the first aid tent, where they had buckets of ice water, and rags to soak him with.

The first thing they did was stripped him of as much clothing as possible, so there Evan sat, 1500 girls passing by, flexing his abs for all he was worth. Which was good. It told me we didn't need an ambulance or anything. . .

But I did feel it necessary to tell him that if he really wanted to impress the ladies, he should probably think about peeling the matching Tweety Bird band aids off each arm.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Surfing Pics

Serious. And addicted.

What a surfer.

"Maybe I'll wait for the next one. . ."

Paddling out to where the waves were cresting (sadly the other photos of Ellie didn't turn out).

Tyler headed back down the beach to catch some waves.

"Are you sure I can't try? I don't have a cast yet. . . and my butt crack isn't exposed."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Growing Pains

It's rather fun to watch as the kids put lessons I have been teaching them for years to the test with their friends.

I know they don't realize that in helping them deal kindly and appropriately with each other, I am giving them tools for dealing with the outside world. And most of the time, I'm not even sure they are listening to me.

But Rebi has both accepted and given some excellent advice in recent days. She has also navigated a gossip minefield, going straight to the other person involved and setting things right. I would be lying if I didn't say I was relieved. We all know what happens when gossip runs out of control.

For the past two weeks or so, we have been without television of any kind. I told them they could watch TV again if they could go and entire day without fighting. Interestingly, it is taking this long to fully sink in that I mean no bickering at all. And today, one of them said, "This not fighting thing is hard. I'm really working at it!" And they are. And the relative peace is a little slice of Heaven.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Surfing = Torture

Really, after 5 summers of "forced" beach day, I should know better than to expect my kids to jump out of bed and make sure they have everything they need, right? Which should consist of:
1) a swimsuit
2) a towel
3) drinking water
4) lunch
5) shoes

Too much to ask? Apparently, although I would like to be the first to point out that the boogie boards, surf board, and beach chair all made it to the car. Shoes were too much to ask of Nate. Of course, we didn't know that until we got turned away at Denny's for dinner 10 hours later.

And somehow, even though she had her ipod, several magazines, makeup, a brush, and a full change of clothes, Rebi realized after she got done surfing that a towel would have been a nice addition to the party.

And even though I packed the food and drinks and harped on them to get all of their stuff and get in the car, we were still an hour later leaving the house than we had agreed upon. Because Rebi was texting and Ellie was madly folding clothes so that she didn't have to stay home with Dave, Tyler and Evan were playing a game, and Nate was busily burying all of his shoes in the backyard so that I can never force him to wear them ever again. OK, not really, but honestly, it feels that way most days.

And they force me to abuse them all the way to the car because surfing lessons are so evil and mom tortures them so very much to make them go out in the balmy water on a nearly perfect Southern California day, with two teenage boys who exactly fit the surfer profile. Which, of course, is not how they really feel- although I don't think Ty cares much what the boys looked like- and not how they acted once we got there and got surfing.

Sometimes I wonder just how spoiled my kids are around other people. Because I am obviously not instilling a sense of gratitude. I did instill some pretty good exhaustion today. This is the quietest midnight I've heard all summer.

Tyler, no surprise, was a natural, learning to surf on a short board very quickly. Ellie and Rebi were both able to catch some waves and now just need beach time. Just. Getting a hotel room is probably less expensive than driving back and forth to the beach from our house.

Evan's had lessons before so he didn't go out today. And as far as Nate goes, does anyone know what the risk of a broken arm that might need a green non-waterproof cast is as a result of surfing? Until I know that, I really just can't feel that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Escape from Alcatraz


Nate: Mom, do you know that Alcatraz was the hardest jail to escape from? Because it's an island. And sometimes prisoners can't swim so they can't get away. But I could get away. First I would have to get the keys from the guard and I could do that if I knocked him down first. And then I would unlock my cell and get a ladder and climb up over the wall. But I would have to have a boat waiting for me so I could jump off of the wall and right onto the boat and then it could hurry and get me away before they know I'm gone.

Mom: Nate, why are you worried about escaping from Alcatraz.

Nate: Because Mom, you wouldn't want to be in jail. . .

Mom: Well, than maybe it would be easier not to do bad things that might land you in jail?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Speaking of the Therapy Fund

I forgot to blog about this last month, when it happened. Because I was such a well of funny and interesting posts, I didn't have any room to fit it in. . .

While Tyler was at his friend's house, his friend's sister was limping around from an unspecified knee injury. She had seen a couple of different doctors, and no one could tell them why her knee wasn't working. She and her mom (and Tyler) had a little conversation.

Mom: Come here and let me massage your knee. Let's see if we can get it working again
A: Why?
Mom: Because if we don't and your knee doesn't heal, you're going to have to go to physical therapy and it will probably hurt.
Tyler: My mom has a physical therapy fund. She puts money in it for us all of the time.

Hmm. . .close. Very very close.

Monday, July 14, 2008

From the mouth of Nate

Also known as "7 year olds do not appreciate their moms. AT ALL!"

Nate: Mom, your "about me" profile isn't really true anymore."
Mom: Why do you say that?
Nate: Because you don't do the laundry anymore.
Mom: Shut-up, you turd bucket!
Nate: What? You never do laundry anymore!

(How much money should I put in the therapy fund for calling him a turd bucket? How much should I take out to punish him for not noticing me slaving over laundry???)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Consumerism

As a part of a unit study for homeschool, the kids and I started looking at the economics of our nation, and in particular the shift to a consumption based society. It's clear that lifestyle is over for as long as housing markets remain severely depressed, and food prices continue to rise. Even with the government going into debt to send out stimulus checks, there just isn't enough money to fuel a consumer lifestyle right now.

As all of this was beginning, and before I started paying attention to the current events, the kids and I decided we would try to consume less. Less electricity, less junk food, less clothing, less everything, except gas because we are still learning much of our curriculum via field trips and experience.

This is my other blog, dedicated to occasionally writing about the journey. And the truth is, deprogramming is a hard thing. Luckily, I was blessed with a mother who knows a thing or two about avoiding pointless purchases. And, as a result of marathon back-to-school shopping trips as a child, I believe I have been blessed with a life-long loathing for shopping. So, my journey might be easier than others'. But it's still a journey, and one that becomes more necessary with every day.

Feel free to comment about your own experiences weaning off the consumption cycle, or how you really feel about the non-consumption movement. Even dedicated shoppers are welcome here. . .

Saturday, July 12, 2008

5 weeks to sanity

So, now that everyone has noticed that I'm *ahem* boring as of late, please allow me to explain.

Summer is totally killing me this year. The teenagers want to go to the pool with this friend and the mall with that friend and the sleepover with another friend. They want to walk to Jamba Juice and look for a few things at Target and PLEASE buy one pair of earrings at any place besides Wal Mart and does Kohl's have a cute top because mine are really wearing out and by the way my church clothes don't fit and I have a dance practice in an town 45 minutes from where we live. And that birthday party is not to be missed and there aren't any decent presents in the birthday drawer and did you remember my gymnastics banquet and WHERE IS MY FLASHLIGHT, I'M LATE FOR CAMP.

And lest you dear reader forgot, I work full time. Or at least I try to work full time because while the teenagers are harping about all of the above stuff, the younger kids are all, I'm bored and I don't want to go to the pool again. Can't we have the TV cord back because we really won't fight anymore and why can't we turn on the air conditioner and please can we just have a water fight and will you fill up 3000 water balloons and store them in strategically placed trash cans all over the neighborhood so that no less than 23 of our closest friends can make a muddy disaster of our front yard? And did we mention that our church clothes don't fit? Neither do our shoes. And then, of course, there's the I'm bored! Come play a game with me and help up put together a 4000 piece puzzle of a polar bear in a blizzard and just one game of Monopoly, even though one of us always quits 1/3 of the way through any given board game leaving the other siblings to complain, whine and throw tantrums and don't we have a church activity today and weren't you supposed to make cookies, and did you forget to wash my swimsuit and why aren't there any clean towels and I hate peanut butter and jelly even though we're taking them to the beach. Can we go to the pool? PLEASE?

And I was supposed to bring two kids for this dentist appointment? Are you sure it wasn't just one? You can fit the one I left home in tomorrow? Great. I guess tomorrow it is. No, I did not forget that doctors appointment. I remembered it 5 minutes after it was too late to get to it, but I certainly did remember it. What is the reminder on my cell phone ringing for now?

So, because I am sleep deprived, 13 loads behind on laundry, everything at work is 3+ weeks past due and there are now 3999 white puzzle pieces spread throughout my living room. And because I have spent well over $400 on gas in the past 4 weeks and for no apparent reason, spending days canning jam was a excellent idea, I am warning you that I may not have my funny back for awhile. I can hardly string 3 words together to make a sentence, let alone a funny sentence. And trust me, I miss my funny every bit as much as I fear the green non-waterproof cast. On his right arm. Not that I'm predicting anything.

Even more, I miss the opportunity to sequester my children in the house for weeks on end because all of their friends are in school and can never socialize due to their volumes of homework. I will continue to post the boring travel logs. And, I hope that a true funny or two pan out before school starts again. But, just in case you are tired of reading about the many things I should not be doing instead of working, I just wanted to give you permission to stop reading for the next 5 weeks or so. I promise, you're really not going to miss anything.

Thank goodness summer is short for everyone else this year!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Crescent Bay Beach

As always, no camera. Someday, I will buy a small one and pictorially document every second of my life. Maybe. Then again, that sounds like a lot of work.

The kids and I, sans Rebi who is at camp, spent today on a very quiet beach in Laguna Beach. And when I say very quiet, I mean it. Even Ellie kept her mouth shut for the first hour we were there because there were no kids under 12 and no one else was talking. Other than my crazies. Have you ever felt the need to shush the children at the beach? Certainly not me. I'm the mom that tells them they can fight all they want at the beach, as long as I can't hear it over the crashing of the surf. I don't take them because I love them, I take them because I need the pounding of the waves to drown out their whining. But with the silence, I was feeling the pressure to place library rules on them.

Luckily, traffic picked up after noon and each of the kids found a friend to hang with. We were also lucky enough to have dolphins swim in and check the kids out- from a distance, but close enough to appreciate. That's the second time this summer, and compared to the "Great JellyFish Attack" of 2006, Ellie is mighty glad it's dolphins.

This beach is also lucky enough to have some really cool tide pools. Starfish, crabs, mussels, hermit crabs, Anemones, and a variety of algae and other unrecognizable growths. Out of all of the tide pools we have seen these past 5 years, these ones were the best. Ons of the kids informed me that it was "too bad it's summer because this would have made a nice field trip."

I quickly replied, "I'm enjoying this field trip quite well, no matter what the season." I do believe they forgot momentarily that they get to learn year round and not just when school is in.

So Mom, get your plane ticket. Laguna Beach is begging you to come explore it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Health Benefits of Jam



After constant stirring of 14 batches of jam, I do believe I have increased the muscle mass of both arms. After standing for 9+ hours cooking jam, I can feel the stretch in my hamstrings. And, the beauty of it all is that I fell asleep easily and slept soundly.

The joints didn't flex so well this morning, and even after my double dose of steroids, I still can't move so far off of my couch, but I'm going to be eating jam for months. Nothing but jam for my 3 month of pantry items. . .

Amusingly, I slept so deeply last night, I had several vivid dreams. Most nights, I toss and turn and don't dream at all, so the sleep was nice. The dreams, not so much. I dreamed Nate broke an arm. Must be about time again, eh? He got a green cast and it wasn't waterproof and I had to hear all about it the entire summer. Nightmare!

In the second dream, I was parachuting for the first time with no help. My two buddies had jumped out before me. And the parachute was all messed up. Rather than being frightened, I had an incredible feeling of floating in mid air. Of course, one of my buddies watched me plummet past him and started yelling and I realized I was in big trouble with the parachute. Which is really typical of my life. I think I'm doing just fine until someone points out I have a problem or two. Or ten. But who's counting?

It was just before I hit the Earth with a splat that I woke up and realized I am indeed sore all over. Still, the floating in air leaves me with an amazingly peaceful feeling. Or maybe that's from 6 uninterrupted hours of sleep all at once.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Still Jammin

With the help of a friend, we've canned nearly all of the apricots and some of the plums. We have 25 bottles of jam, currently. And all of them seem to have sealed, which I don't remember from my growing up years. We did can an amazing amount of food back then though.

I find that the full-sugar jams are just too sweet for me, so I am going to do a couple of batches of apricots with the less sugar pectin. In all of the freezer jams I've done, it's never worked right. So, here's hoping! But, our test spoonfuls of the other batches of jam have all looked great.

If I can find more free or inexpensive fruit, I will try my hand at bottling whole fruit and not just jams. I'm still hesitant to bottle the tomatoes when they come in. Because we all know I would be the one to give the family a deadly dose of botulism by not processing the food properly. . .

Monday, July 7, 2008

Jammin


Me, exhausted from a long week? Apparently not, as I was given an opportunity to pick fruit for free today and will now be making jam.

Has anyone ever made green plum jam? How about preserving grapefruit? I haven't googled any of this yet, as I still have to go buy canning equipment.

I never put the cart before the horse or anything. . .

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day of Rest


Sunday is here just in time for my tired feet. Last night at the powwow was pretty cool though. Lots and lots of beads and jewelry for sale, lots of fry bread, and really interesting dancing. At one point, there was a dancer alone on the field and people began walking up to her and leaving money in front of her. It shows honor and respect. When she was done, all of the money was gathered up and distributed among the elders in the audience, no matter what ethnicity they were. They were passing the honor and respect on. And in our society where we place our elders in homes away from us as they age, it was cool to see that level of respect still.

But perhaps the best part of the evening was brought to us again by Nate, who is really good at saying what ever pops into his head. Right as we walked in, we passed someone dressed in his traditional clothing, standing fairly still, with sunglasses on. He looked a little bit like this:

Nate stopped, started at him and started laughing a little. "That's funny!" he said, pointing. And then the guy waved back. Poor Nate was mortified. He thought it was funny they had dressed up a "robot" (although I think he just meant mannequin and doesn't know the word) and put sunglasses on it.

The kids all want to go back today to see more dancing. Not me. I'm going to church and going back to bed. All of this partying has worn me out.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bad at Blogging

Because I am bad at blogging, I didn't take my camera along for any of our 4th of July fun. And really, it's not that I didn't want photos, it's more that I don't have a little camera to carry nicely in my pocket or purse. It's kind of difficult to pack around bags of things like water and snacks and jackets and blankets and lug around Tyler or Nate when their legs get sore and still have the will to hang a heavy camera from my neck.

So, in the spirit of America, let me reassure you we have eaten every deep fried battered treat available to us in the past few days, including fried twinkies from the Del Mar fair. Sure it was pricey and my stomach hasn't yet recovered, but well worth it for the experience.

We went to the beach on Tuesday, the fair on Wednesday, stayed home Thursday, the 4th of July carnival in our town on Friday, and today we're going to a Powwow. More fried food. . .yum! I bet there's grilled food too. . .

We'll be doing two nights in a row of fireworks as well. Which is good because the next time the kids tell me they hate me, I can remind them of how I let them eat Bavarian chocolate cream funnel cake until they were sick. (And it was really good!)

I'll try to have a few photos of the Powwow, but don't hold your breath.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Extraordinarily Painful

A house 2 doors down from us, with the same floor plan, was just listed for $335,000.

That is a full $200,000 less than what we paid for ours 3 years ago. And the house is not completely trashed. It needs less than $1000 worth of repairs.

Someone is going to get a fantastic deal. But we're just a wee bit screwed on the home equity.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ode to a Toad

Last week, Tyler got to fly to Salt Lake to hang out with his best buddy.
While he was gone, I checked on his toad and she was dead.
She lived 3 years with our family.

This picture does no justice to the gross factor of the dead toad.
We had great plans to bury the toad and videotape the burial, but couldn't find the video camera.
So, we had no choice but to deal with the stink factor until Tyler returned home for the burial.
The toad lived in his little box, wrapped in paper towels, outside for a week.

Once Ty got back, it was both birthday and funeral time. Poor kid.

Lovingly, the kids decorated the coffin.
We all gathered outside for the funeral. The stench was better out there. But not much.
Everyone said a few words, including sweet Ty.

The coffin was then placed in a specially prepared grave and solemnly buried.

Comforting hugs were given.
I hope they always turn to each other during times of grief and trial.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Inevitable

Too much sun, too much TV, too much computer and not enough structure. I suppose it happens every summer, but somehow I manage to forget about it until it comes round again. . .boredom meltdown. Which, I am supposed to solve while still working full time, fixing them food, doing laundry, taking them to the beach once a week, and carting them around to friends' houses.

I wish I could understand why they melt down when so many fun things are happening.

But here we are, and as a result of poor attitudes and blatant disobedience and disrespect, 0ne child has lost their cell phone, one has lost their computer privileges, and I have just unplugged the TV. Tomorrow should be loads of fun. If they get too out of sorts, I'm sending them all upstairs to do math. Nothing wrong with getting a jump start on school for the fall. . .

Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Tyler

Legos

Cash

Hair just like his brother's

A ripstick-which is kind of like a skateboard with two wheels instead of 4 and has been sawed in half so it pivots in the middle. Yes, I have video. I just have to take the time to get it off of the camera.

According to all sources, the birthday was a hit. Although, we haven't had birthday dinner or cake yet because he wasn't feeling well yesterday.

Happy Birthday Ty! We love you!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sickening



Real life gas prices from downtown San Diego. And the prices in our neighborhood honestly aren't that much cheaper. Makes me wonder if the Peak Oil people are onto something after all. . .

Saturday, June 28, 2008

22 minutes

That was all it took before 2 and 1/2 quarts of milk became a puddle. I knew I was going to win.

Here's the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcsWbrylKiU

It's too big to embed quickly, and I didn't want you to wait one more minute for the joy.

I'm not sure why it was a good idea to try and film this in the dark, but it's still funny.

It turns out, drinking and puking fast is much less painful than trying to actually win the contest. I wish I had known that 18 10 years ago, when I was 17.

Thanks, Rebi for the excellent editing.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer just got better!

Our town has a rec center which we have hardly used. A few days ago, the kids begged and begged and whined until I took them to the CRC to swim.

Much to my surprise, I found out that they can swim without an adult- under the supervision of the 5 lifeguards- once they are 7 years old. And how old did Nate just turn? That's right, 7!!

So, currently they are swimming away happily. And I am working. . .not so happily, but at least quietly.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Disney Television

I am not a big fan of Disney programming. I think it's stupid and ridiculous and a total waste of time, with few exceptions. It relies heavily on slapstick or unrealistic sequences of events and always has a trite message at the end. My kids love it.

Life is Ruff is no exception. Except it takes all of the worst qualities of Disney programming and amplifies them. Honestly, one scene is a dog show which is won by a dog who very rapidly crashes through every barrier on the agility course. And of course, he wins first place. Right.

At another point, one kid fakes an asthma attack for the "Very Dumb Parents" while two other kids break into their home via the back door and steal a dog. The fact that VDP's occur in nearly every show also annoys.

Luckily, I missed most of the show, but I can't help thinking that even the kids fighting with each other would have been more productive than losing brain cells watching it. I think it's time to disconnect the cable.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Milk Game

I'm going to refrain from posting any of the videos I found relating to this post. Because all of them end in puke.

Last Sunday, I was talking to one of the kids at church, an 18-year-old boy. Let's call him J to protect his privacy. J told me how much he hates bananas and we started talking about food loathings, which led to my detestation of milk. I literally cannot stomach the stuff. I can eat it on cereal, on occasion. And very very very rarely, I will dip Ooreos in it. But, mostly I drink water. Unlike several other foods that make me retch at the thought of passing them through my lips, I know why I hate milk. It all started the summer before I turned 18.

That summer, I stayed in Vegas with my cousin Jen for a couple of months. I no longer have any idea how it started, but two of our friends bet us that we couldn't drink a gallon of milk in an hour and keep it down for an hour. We both looked at each other, looked back at them, looked at each other again and said, "Are you serious? How hard can it be?" Because honestly, in Vegas in the summer, it's pretty easy to put a few quarts of fluids in your system on a hot day. And it was a hot day. And we both liked milk. And since I've always been pretty cocky and sure I was capable of anything, I agreed. Jenne, being smarter than me hesitated a little, but figured it was a slam dunk.

We pulled two gallons of milk from the fridge and sat down at the kitchen table. There was chit chat, a serenade or two, lots of bantering and cup after cup of milk went down. We were having a great time, feeling pretty cute and pretty sassy, showing the boys how it's done. As if we weren't awesome enough to win this simple bet. Whatever. . .It's funny. I totally remember knowing that I was capable of this. Not based on past experience or anything, just the overconfident vanity that strikes most teenagers. Some harder than others. And oh my, how I was stricken.

Lucky for me, there is a rapid descent into the pit every single time I allow pride to get the better of me. I know, I'm so blessed.

And the milk was no different. Because 2 quarts went down nice and smooth. We were still laughing and joking. I suspect we were even flirting with the boys. And then we started on quart number 3. 10 cups into the gallon- more than 1/2 way through- and it was sitting in my stomach like a brick. Jen, being smarter than me and also now more humble, quickly realized that if she didn't want to puke, she'd butter stop drinking and fast. And she didn't want to puke. She hates to puke. She calmly asked one of the boys to return her undrunk milk to the fridge, almost half full. The green was in her gills, but the milk did not come up.

I, being stupid and arrogant, felt the milk sitting in my stomach like a glob of wet cement and decided that I was no quitter. I would drink it down and keep it down, no matter what. Mom, you can at least be proud for instilling the tenacious tendencies. . .I think.

11 cups down, my stomach felt like I had eaten a whole turkey, feathers on. It was swollen and extremely painful and I was starting to feel some serious queasiness creeping up my throat. So I waited a few minutes. I figured I still had 25 minutes to drink 5 small little cups of milk. And as I poured another cup out, there were murmurs of respect from the boys. They were impressed by my abilities. Jenne, feeling nauseated, just cringed. She may have even begged me to stop. But, with 5 measly itsy bitsy cups of milk, only 40 oz of 164 left, I could feel the victory.

And I started to sip, because my throat was catching, making it almost impossible to swallow. Which in hindsight, really should have been a clue.

I was almost to the bottom of the 12th cup when I gagged. I could feel myself gagging so I breathed deep, sucking in air to stave off a full on puke. To no avail. And suddenly, I knew I was dead in the water. I hurled myself from my chair, leaped across the kitchen, and careened down the hallway, slamming into the floor with my face in the toilet as 3 quarts of milk solids spewed back up. Yes, spewed. Like a white lava volcano. Chunk after chunk, it caught in my throat as my body desperately expelled it.

I don't remember ever being so sick in my life. And mad that I lost. And pissed that the boys were howling with laughter in the other room. And mortified that I couldn't stand up and wash my face because my stomach was a distended agonizing fire ball.

After telling J this story, his exact words were, "I could totally drink a gallon of milk in an hour." So of course, I bet him $100. Because being older and wiser has some benefits. One of them is the sure knowledge of an easy $100.

Even better, he pulled someone else in on the bet. J is motivated. After one more warning for me, which was met with my very own words of, "How hard can it be? Honestly, you have no idea how much I can eat," he has $200 riding on his stomach being 3 times the size of an average human. And let me reassure you, notsomuch. Honestly, every time he opens his mouth to tell me how easy it's going to be, I can hear the exact words I was thinking so many years ago when I sat down with my first cup of a newly opened gallon. A tune I no longer whistle, to be sure.

I just hope that I am not so soft in my old age that I can't break into peals of laughter when he is doubled up, crying from the agony that is milk which turns solid when it hits stomach acid. Because it would be such a pity if I actually felt sorry for the kid.

It's going down Friday night. I've already told you how it ends. I just hope I don't start puking when he starts puking. 45 months of morning sickness in 7 years will do that to a girl.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Testing the new Office Software


Not without its pitfalls, I have allowed Dave to upgrade my Office software. It isn't that I hate the new shiny stuff, I just don't currently have the time to learn new things. Still, it only took me a week to figure out how to "save as" and 10 days to generate this post with it. By next year, I'm guessing I will be able to save a document in such a way that I can then email it without errors. Then again, there's really no reason I would need to be able to do that, seeing as I never send out proposals, confirmations and insertion orders as a daily part of my work.

But if this goes smoothly, blog posts just got easier (hence the wild formatting. This is a test. This is only a test).

Politics in a nutshell

Thanks Alex!

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Barack Obama: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE! Yes, he can!
John McCain: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

Hillary Clinton: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One! -- that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.......

George W. Bush: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

John Kerry: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

Bill Clinton: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

Al Gore: I invented the chicken

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Three Cups of Tea


While Evan and Ellie were at the orthodontist the other day, I was browsing Target.
And lately, because I have lived in one house for three years and I am feeling restless, foreign aid and foreign travel have been on my mind.

No, I don't know why. As I've expressed in past posts, partly I have a desire to remove myself and my children from our comfort zone in order to understand the blessings we have. In part, I have a desire to fully experience something new, something challenging like a new language or a new culture.

Mainly, I have always been consumed by a desire to make things better. Usually, this was fighting for the underdog at school- and yes, the VP of students knew me well. Any injustice towards the weaker kids, especially those who were mentally incapable of standing up for themselves, and I usually ended up front and center with Haslam. It didn't really win me any friends.

Regardless, I am determined that somehow, someway, we are going to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than us. And while there are lots of opportunities to serve, I have concerns about fundraising when our economy is unstable. Because I really don't like to ask for things like help. Or money.

Anyway, because of all of this, I was intrigued by the book, "Three Cups of Tea". It is the story of a failed attempt to climb K2 in the Himalayas and how that failure combined with one man getting lost in the middle of nowhere has brought education to thousands of children, especially girls, in the farthest regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is one of the most inspiring stories I have read in a very long time. It made my wanderlust even worse, and made me even feel compelled to do much much more than I am doing to help people who have nothing.

Now, I just need to consult with the kids and decide on where that help will be focused. And even more difficult, I have to figure out how to find the funds to actually make it happen.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cub Camp Summary

Friday:
  • 112 degrees
  • 1 boy removed by ambulance for dehydration
  • 1 powerful fire hose with plenty of pressure
  • 1 dead field now a big mud puddle
  • 12 boys whose ears had clearly swollen shut from the heat and were incapable of hearing a word I said.
  • 3rd degree burns from 212 degree black porta potty seats. Men have no idea how easy they have it.
  • 100,000 ants crawling on my back.
  • 1 ant in my eye
One more year before we do it again. By then, I will totally be up for it again. And I get to take Nate and Ty. Nate with a BB gun. It scares me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cub Scout Camp

If you missed the first part of this saga, you can find the friends of scouting story here.

The title really says it all, but let me reassure you, no cub lives were lost during my stay at cub camp today. I can't vouch for tomorrow though.

A few highlights from today:

5 straight hours in 108 degrees while getting squirted with spray bottles and sprinklers will make your hair stand on end. I'm not even posting a picture of me from today.

"LDS" scouting moms get their way if they refuse to pay for an "approved" T-shirt. The staff stops referring to them as intruders about the time they realize they need them to run activities. Because while there were at least 100 adults present on Day 1, by Day 3 of sweltering heat on an arid field, many of the adults have wimped out and stayed home.

If a cub scout can not use his toothpick arms and wet grassy sweaty socks to pull himself over these pegs and onto a slide, There's probably not much a 35-year old woman riddled with arthritis can do. Which in no way stops her from launching herself awkwardly over the edge of the inflatable toy to hoist a very embarrassed and very sad child up over the pegs.
Because the slide was mocking him. And about 30 other kids just like him. It was a fabulous fun filled day at the bouncer. I'm just saying.

Last, I have finally found a location hotter than Hell. I plan to threaten my kids with it the next time they are turds. So tomorrow morning, pretty much as soon as they wake up.

Today, I made the mistake of using a porta-potty. After 3 hours of cub scouts using it. Which is funny, because most of them were capable of shooting BB's into a bullseye from 15 feet away.

I had to pee really badly when I went in, but the 150 degree internal temperature immediately caused my body to return the pee back to my blood stream. Handy, since the smell of evaporated urine caused me to retch. Honestly, my own personal hell will not only be hot, but will smell like concentrated pee and contain large numbers of crying spindly armed boys. Because I cannot bear to watch them clinging desperately to the middle of the peg ladder, praying for just one trip down the slide.

And tomorrow, I get to do it all over again. But hopefully without inflatables. I gave 110% on the flying dive rolls over the side today. I've got nothing left for tomorrow's whiners.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Too tired

It seems that our first summer beach day did not go so smoothly yesterday. But it has left me way too tired to post the details.

And, the puppy started in with the barking at 6:45 am. And someone started texting me at 7:15 am and then work called and whined and screamed at me to stop neglecting it. And I am just too tired to add any wit today.

Tomorrow might not happen either.

Could you all entertain me with funny stories in the comments instead?

Or maybe introductions so that we can all get to know each other? Because that would help me ignore the work I've been avoiding. . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

B.Y.O.S.

Do you remember the days before sunscreen? The first day of summer, we all put on our swimsuits and washed the car, ran in the sprinklers, or met at the local pool. We splashed and soaked each other for hours, somehow forgetting that this exact behavior had ended badly just 12 months before.

But in those days, no one had 4 different types and strengths of sunscreen at the ready. Instead, the bravest of us basted ourselves with baby oil for that golden brown look. Except golden brown always turned red a lot faster than we expected. And soon it became a tradition that the first day of summer would be spent getting the sunburn of a lifetime and the rest of the week meant chills, aloe, and a lot of time laying face down, crying in agony. It was a summer ritual in our house, one I'm sure my mother gritted her teeth through each and every year.

And because she cursed me so many times with a daughter just like me, I too get to experience the joy of the first week of summer. Because this year, this child neglected to inform me that she had her swimsuit on when she went to her friend's house, and she didn't get 4 types of sunblock applied to the stark white sections of her body. And she wore a swimsuit that has different lines that her normal standbys. Next year, on the first day of summer, remind me to coat all of them the second they get out of bed. . .

Poor thing. Even the burn relief spray is agonizing for her.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Phobias


I'm not scared of spiders. Or any bugs, really. But when Evan came in and said there was a black widow living in the garbage can, I was concerned. Because if there's one, there are probably more. And they are probably all over in the garage as well as the wood at the side of our house.

This particular spider was living inside the handle of the garbage can, which was manufactured as an open tube, perfect for housing creepy crawlies of all kinds.

Luckily, the bug spray got right in there. Does bug spray kill the eggs in the 3 egg sacs she had around her?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hi Fatty


For Father's Day, the kids bought Dave a Fat Cyclist riding jersey. Which he was willing to try on for you.


He's bringing sexy back, one belly at a time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bike Sense

A few weeks ago, a bike was left on our lawn when a child bought candy from the kids' candy stand. It has never been reclaimed and periodically, someone picks it up off of the lawn, pedals a bit, and puts it down again. Last night, that person was Nate.

Nate: Dad, can you put the seat down on the Mongoose so that I can ride it?
Mom: Nate, why don't you ride your own bike?
Nate: I can't. Tyler's riding it.
Mom: Well, why don't you ride Tyler's bike?
Nate: I can't. It's too big for me.
Mom: The Mongoose is too big for you as well.
Nate: Dad, can you just put the seat down so that I can ride it?
Mom: Why don't you get Tyler's bike out and trade him bikes?
Nate: I can't. Dad! Can you pleeease put the seat down on the Mongoose?

Dave gets a few tools and lowers the seat, but the frame of the bike is still very nearly too big for Nate. I think he realized it was going to be hard to swing his leg over, because instead of getting on at the lowest point, he tried to climb on over the seat from the back of the bike.

Dave: Nate, you know how to ride a bike, right?
Nate: yes!
Dave: Then come over to the side and swing your leg over like you should.

Nate complies and after much struggle, ends up with both feet on the ground on either side of a very high bar. There's no room for error here. Or it's going to end very painfully.

Dave: Nate, just push off and ride.
Nate: (now perched on the bar and not the seat) Like THIS?!?!? Dad, that is highly dangerous!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rodents

Summer is here.

The public schools all let out yesterday, complete with 8th grade graduation (which Rebi attended) and a pancake outing, pool parties, and high school graduation parties.

I can tell summer is here because in our safe, sleepy town, it is a given that teenagers will have nowhere to be except for hanging at the park and wandering the streets in packs. I lovingly refer to them as the Street Rats.

Last year, they got in the habit of setting trash cans on fire. With all of the vacant houses in our area, I wonder what kind of fun we'll have this year.

Ah, summer.

Bring on Wednesday Beach Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bedtime Nazi

I believe I will try a new bedtime routine. Because bedtime around here is nothing less than exhausting. And, after they go to bed, I still have work that needs concentration.

Bedtime usually goes a little like this:

9:15- Ty,Nate, go brush your teeth and get them flossed.
9:18- Ty, Nate, go brush your teeth and get them flossed.
9:19- Ellie, Evan, get your teeth brushed and flossed and get to bed.
9:21- Tyler, Nate, Evan and Ellie. Tyler, Nate, Evan and Ellie. Tyler, Nate, Evan and Ellie!

Now that I have their attention, they all begin to whine that they are starving, and descend like locusts on the kitchen. At this point, everyone begins to whine about why don't I buy and how come we never have and Jamie's family gets and our food is so boring and there's NOTHING TO EAT!

9:40-
Ty,Nate, go brush your teeth and get them flossed.
9:42- Ty, Nate, go brush your teeth and get them flossed.
9:45- Ellie, Evan, get your teeth brushed and flossed and get to bed.
9:46- Tyler, Nate, Evan and Ellie. Tyler, Nate, Evan and Ellie. Tyler, Nate, Evan and Ellie!

And this is where they all think I care about the funniest thing that happened on Sponge Bob today or how I should buy a timer so everyone can only play Wii for like 30 minutes because not everyone got a turn today. And oh yeah, did I mention that I have to babysit and the crack of dawn and I told them you would run me over and I forgot to tell you that _________ is coming over to __________ at 7am and I told her you'll be home so to plan on it. . .

And still, not one child has even thought of their toothbrush, let alone put paste on it and stuck it near a tooth.

Usually, at 10:15, I am finally able to manhandle children to the various bathrooms and drag them towards the stairs. I settle down to work and the noise upstairs gets higher and louder and more manic and I begin to worry because it sure sounds like someone is spinning someone else and haven't we had enough broken bones for heaven's sake? And I can feel myself coming unhinged, in a smoke blowing out both ears sort of way. Because let's face it, I'm exhausted. I am mentally and physically tired and there is nowhere I would rather be than in bed. And after I get done working, I really do have to pick mildewed towels up off of the new carpet and put another load of clothes in the washer and attempt to chip dried milk off of the counter and let the dog in and turn off lights and lock up and probably do one last load of laundry or dishes. And they have all of the energy in the world to scream around upstairs at 300 decibels. And I get cranky and mean with them every single night. And then we do it again the very next day.

So, because I can turn a sock into dental floss, I am thinking outside of the box. But not too far out, because I think I swiped the idea from a friend. From now on, I will give them one warning. If I have to tell them again, they pick up 100 things somewhere in the house. And trust me, on any given night, there are always 500 or more things that need to be put away. It's astounding. But that is a very depressing post for another time when I have less pride.

Tonight, I didn't really warn them what the consequence was. I just told them, go quietly to bed, or else.

Evan and Ellie earned it first. And it was a beauty in the art of sibling bickering that put them in my grasp. Evan had to pick up 100 things in the kitchen and Ellie had to pick up 100 pieces of laundry. After their arguments were met with an invitation to pick up 200 things, they did not utter another peep. Not while picking up, and not while getting their sorry little butts back to bed. Bliss.

And I think this will work at least another two days. I will get some quiet time at night and I won't even need to "hire" a "housekeeper". Or shave her chin.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Outside of the Box

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I worked in an office. I believe it was Franklin Covey, but very well could have been Discover Card. It's all a distant hazy memory now. However, both of those companies were all touchy feel-y, object lesson-y, team building-y goodness. At one of them, there was a big object lesson on thinking outside of the box. We were divided into two teams and sent to separate offices. Upon arriving, we were instructed to pull an item out of a paper sack and then were given 5 minutes to think of any possible use for it.

The item was a sock.

After 5 minutes, we had the usual suspects of a cleaning rag, a bag, entertainment in the form of a puppet, a warmer of things, a bandage, and variations of those themes. The other group fared about the same. We failed. We could not think outside of the box. And when the facilitator gave us a bunch of other weird and unique uses for a sock, we all shook our heads and oohed and aahed and promptly forgot any but the most obvious uses. Clearly, none of us were innovators.

Which brings me to Nate and Ty. A few days ago, my friend gave me a basket of shells. I brought them home, intending to use them as decorations. Or, at the most bizarre, some sort of art project. I was a little mystified to see the boys like this :

"Roger, Roger! Come in 5 Star General, Tyler"

"Copy that. Proceed, 4 Star General, Nate"

Mom: Tyler, why do you have shells in your ears?
Tyler: These aren't shells, these are Conch Communicators.

It almost frightens me to think of what they might do with a sock.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I should be fired. . .

. . .from my job as a housekeeper.

I still haven't cleaned my nasty kitchen. I have been to WalMart 3 times in 3 failed attempts to make our new insurance pay for prescriptions before the insurance cards arrive.

I love benefits changes. They are always so much fun.

However, I am very glad we both have jobs. Unemployed would be so much worse than schlepping to Wal Mart all day.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cleaning

I hate cleaning. I clean and 5 minutes later, it is dirty again, which makes me lose my will to clean. But tomorrow I have an appointment at the house and then a meeting south of here and then another appointment and then a meeting. . .

So, if I don't want to answer a lot of questions about the foul state of my kitchen after a weekend of baking, I should probably go clean it. Which I hate. It's a vicious cycle.

But the banana-pear-apple bread, the white bread, the brownies and the cookies were all delicious. I hate scales. I weigh myself and. . .

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

Rebi and Tyler are sitting next to each other, eating cake.

Rebi turns to Tyler and says, thoughtfully, "Ty, I love you like a fat kid loves cake."

Pause.


"And I LOOOVE cake."

Because I LOOOOVE him

I'm a little bit in love with my boss. But now that I've annoyed him by calling him my boss, let me clarify. He's not. He's an owner of the company I work for, along with 4 other people. I happen to work with him quite a bit currently, but he's not my boss. I just don't know what else to call him. Maybe I can call him "My Don". Such a nice ring. And I love him. I love him so much that if he lived here, I would kiss him. Which he doesn't. So I can say that.

And since it's not likely that I'll ever actually meet him, I feel even safer.

To what does he owe the bestowing of my love? Last Friday, he fixed my SPAM problem. Because he's awesome.

Here's the chat that followed:

Me: I'm thinking I'll be dedicating a blog post to you tomorrow
12:23 PM Don: cool, maybe I'll get around to reading it. I had a lot of catch up to do.
me: Because I love you a whole whole lot right now.
Don: LMAO, why is that.
me:for the first time in months, I am not getting 300-500 (or more) email a day
12:24 PM Don: wow if i was that simple I would have stopped all of your email ;)
me: as far as I can tell, anyway. Maybe I should see what happens overnight before gracing you with my presence. . .
Don: yup
me: (by referring readers to your blog)

12:25 PM Don: ok, it wasn't creepy until after the disclaimer, but then I imagined you flying in and standing over the bed in the middle of the night ... then I got scared.
me: standing over your bed with what?
with a hatchet?
or a chainsaw?
but I LOOOOOVE you!
12:26 PM I'm a little giddy at the thought of leaving email hell
Don: as long as it's not a dismembered rabbit, it's probably ok to choose one of the other images.
12:27 PM me: you know, I never saw that movie. Maybe it's worth it to procure that from Netflix
12:29 PM Don: it is a little freaky. You could see it being a co-worker instead of a mistress.

Which makes me want to go to my room and die. Just a little, inside. Because I LOOOVE him and he only sees me as a crazy stalker. . .

But I can survive it, now that I don't have to wait an hour for SPAM to download every morning. And every mid-morning. And every noon. And every afternoon. . . A blackberry might even be a viable option now. Although come to think of it, I haven't been invited to update my penis for days now, which leaves me feeling hollow inside. What if I end up with the ONLY outdated penis in my circle of friends?

Is that worse or better than email hell?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Tooth What?

Please notice the permanent tooth visible behind the line of baby teeth


Nate: Mom! Mom! I lost my very first tooth! But not if you count the one the dentist took out. . .

Mom: Right. You lost the loose one that didn't rot and have to be pulled because you refused to brush it. Awesome! Go put it under your pillow.

Nate: Well. . . I already did put it under your pillow.

Mom: Really? Because the tooth fairy will never find it there. She's going to look under your pillow and see nothing and not leave any money. (might I possibly just maybe get a night without his feet in my back?)

Nate: Well. . . I can put my pillow in your bed and then she can find me there.

Mom: Nope, no go dude. She's headed for your bed, so if you want the cash, you'd better be in your bed with the tooth.

7 hours later, still lobbying to sleep in my bed:

Nate: Mom, why do you think I believe the tooth fairy is real? I think she is a myth. Because fairies aren't real. So I guess she is a fairy tale.

Mom: Really?

Nate: Yes, I think it is just a parent that lives in the house with the kids and takes the tooth and sneaks it to the garbage and doesn't let any of the kids see them and then takes some money from their pocket and leaves it under a pillow. So they don't have to sleep in their bed. Because your bed is softer and they could sleep better there. And besides, do you remember that fairies don't exist? So could you just let me put it under your pillow and I can go to sleep?

Mom: Nope. Go to your bed.

Nate: But why not? Then you don't even have to get out of bed to be the tooth fairy. You can just wait until I fall asleep and put the tooth in the garbage and give me money. How much money do you think you will give me?

Mom: Hey Nate. Do I look like the tooth fairy? I don't know what the going rate is for overused baby teeth and I can't tell you the tooth fairy can find you in my bed. Go to your bed, pull the covers up and go to sleep, or the tooth fairy ain't coming and there's no money for you. Whatever you choose is fine. Except you must be in your room.

Nate: OHHH KAAAAY. But I bet Dad's the tooth fairy then.


I can't wait to tell Dave that Nate called him a fairy. . .

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friends of Scouting















So, let's talk about Scouts. Specifically, let's talk about Cub Scouts and their upcoming summer camp in our area.

Because I love the full disclosure bit, I should take this opportunity to remind everyone that I am Mormon, or LDS, or belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or any other respectful way you would like to refer to my religion. It comes into play here.

Next week, I have the pleasure of attending Cub Scout Day Camp for the 5th or 90th year in a row. It certainly feels like 90 years, but since we mostly wander after boys making sure they don't poke arrows into soft places or walk in front of a loaded BB gun, it's not the end of the world. Hot, tiring, a wee bit on the boring side, but hey. I can do anything once a year. Except for this particular camp, ever again. Because these guys are a little nuts.

Silly me, when a mandatory meeting for everyone attending CS camp as adult volunteers was announced, I figured I could handle it. Little did I know the other side of scouting. And for those of you who are lifelong avid scouters, congratulations. I do believe it takes a special someone to have this kind of passion. I do not posses it. And don't bother trying to talk me into it. Not gonna happen.

There were around 50 of us at the meeting, at least half of whom look like the typical soccer mom, doing her LDS duty of attending CS camp with her 2 age- appropriate sons once per year. The other half of the crowd had on uniforms. Complete with green calf socks with red bands around the tops. They mean business, dammit. And they most certainly prefer the "traditional scouters" over the "LDS scouters", as they referred to us in the packet. I call religious discrimination! But hey, I can't really blame them. By and large, the Mormons like scouting, but we just don't do so well at the rules and regulations. We don't wear the exact uniform. In fact, most of us can't find any pieces of the uniform when it comes time to deck the boys out. We just have too many kids to effectively process laundry between the monthly pack meetings, and scouts is more about the fun than it is the badges. Which is not to say we aren't avid badge grabbers. We do love the belt loops and beads and pins and plastic flappy things (I just made half the scouting population in the world cringe. The other half are Mormon and don't care what things are called if they can just freaking find them and tack them to the uniform before the kids has to be seen in public) as much as any other scout. We just don't get hung up on it, as we are also carting kids to church, piano lessons, sports, the pool, and all other childhood functions.

Well, I'm not, but I have a therapy fund. So I don't have to try and be the perfect mom.

This meeting begins, basic rules are spoken of, we are told all of the kids will be expected to wear the same thing. I knew I was in trouble when we were handed a 6 page packet and the first paragraph states that there will be around 300 boys, 150 adult volunteers, 20 staff members, and 20 boy scout helpers. In case you don't add so fast, that's 300 boys and 190 "helpers". Which seems like overkill. Even better is the paragraph regarding attire.

"In the event that a person is seen in the camp area without a camp shirt or nametag, they will be assumed to be an intruder. . .This includes anyone who is dressed in part or fully in an official BSA scout uniform. . .Contact should not be made with the person by anyone other than the Camp Security Director unless he/she becomes a clear and immediate danger to campers, staff, or guests." Listen people. Boy scouts get kidnapped and/or dismembered at cub camp ALL OF THE TIME. By perfect strangers dressed in scouting gear. But do not approach these random dangerous strangers while they are rational . By all means, wait until they open fire on the crowd, and then take one for the team. Get in there and disarm him before Cub lives are lost! We're the Navy Seals and we expect. . . wait. Sorry, a little flashback there.

Then the "Camp Security Director" stands up. And he had all of the charm of a prison guard trying to give up cigarettes.

After going on for a moment about not getting in the middle of boys fighting, because that undermines their den leader, he draws attention to the person we should go and get if a fight breaks out. Of course. We all know that 6-10 year olds are a rough crowd and must be handled professionally. Apparently by someone who was once a boy scout in a fight. A fight that wasn't broken up until a parent could haul butt across a city block, find the only person in a light blue shirt and haul butt back before death occurred. It must not have ended well for him since his front tooth or three was missing. Because if 2 boys are trying to kill each other it is always a great idea to leave them alone and wander among 490 people to find the solitary person "allowed" to break up the fight. Right. Not so much my style. Plus, I really don't need my kid to lose any permanent teeth. His baby teeth are in bad enough shape.

But, all of that said, things happen when you have 300 boys in the same place. Especially when you add another 190 adults trying to steer clear of violent strangers and dangerous cub scout fights. So it's reasonable that, "All accidents will be brought to the attention of the Health Officer on-site and the Camp Director" But, just to be sure, let it also be said that they are serious about their accident policy. Because:

"Any accident resulting in major injury or death must be reported to the Camp Director immediately."

What?!?!? No fair! I was planning on bringing my shovel so that if one of those fights ended badly, I could just bury the poor kid and continue on with my camp experience. I mean honestly, reporting a death would just be such a downer for the other scouters, why bother? But sadly, my back hoe is not allowed. I cannot say such things to my son as, "You'd better knock it off with the fighting or you're gonna regret it. I'll just bury you with the backhoe if you keep it up. . ." because that is against the rules. The packet says. (Also against the rules is "physical closeness, flirting, pinching, kissing, suggestive letters, lewd motions, obscene language, etc." Which totally sucks because I was also intent on reciting the Margaret Cho skits I have memorized, complete with hand motions and a dry-erase board. In addition, there is "no physical contact suggesting enamored feelings between staff/leaders." Which ruins my plans for hooking up with the gap-toothed wonder. It's just crap. A raw deal. Nor will they allow me to gamble, be under the influence of a controlled substance, intimidate others, fight, drive drunk, shoplift, use a weapon, or sell the kids drugs. What the hell good is Cub Scout camp?)

It is at this point, that we get the lecture on "missing persons". And here is an excerpt from the packet:
"Upon determining that a group has a lost, missing, or runaway boy, the leader shall conduct an immediate search of camp," (presumably looking for the back hoe or a freshly dug grave) And, "the leader will give a description of the boy, including what he is wearing." Umm. . . come again? Didn't you just tell us they're all going to be dressed alike? I'm pretty sure there's a flaw in that plan. Which I'm loving. I see the shovel idea right back on. When one of those crazy dangerous aggressive 6 year olds comes up missing, I just grab the nearest kid and say, "Here's one that matches the description. Same approximate age, close in height, same hat, and look. . . his t-shirt matches the description exactly! That's uncanny how well his leader remembered what he was wearing!"

It's all coming together now. Except that "in the event of a flood, leaders shall prepare the campers to evacuate immediately." They aren't going to turn a flood into a swimming lesson? What kind of crappy permanent Boy Scouts are they anyway? A stupid little flood might ruin camp entirely? Maybe I should just cancel now. Frankly, I'm a little worried about how Tyler will fair against the prison inmates he will be mingling with. Yes, those 6-10 year olds can be a rough crowd.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chat Session

There seems to be this weird phenomenon where people think that because they are communicating via a somewhat anonymous source, it is OK to force their opinions upon me. Not that their opinions are wrong, but always with the attitude that I need them to help me out- almost as if I asked for their opinion. . .

The fact that this comes from a 14 year old boy* makes this one even funnier. And let's just pretend all of his spelling mistakes are typos, shall we?

*Names have been changed to protect the annoying boy who knows nothing about home schooling

10:10 pm Boy
what are you ding up so late on the computer

10:11pm Melissa
I don't have school tomorrow. What's your excuse?

10:12pm Boy
checking things

10:12pm Melissa:
are you ready for summer to be here already?

10:13pm Boy
YES

10:14pm Melissa
what day is school officially out?

10:16pm Boy
School's officially out next friday but my friend E graduated from middle school today and is done he keeps rubbing my face in it too and he's really making me mad

10:17pm Melissa
yeah, my kids were done last Thursday. are you in 9th?

10:17pm Boy
yeah and do you have to rub it in?

10:18pm Melissa
lol. sure. just another benefit of home school

10:18pm Boy
yeah well they don't get the social interaction of normal school though

10:21pm Melissa
nice try. They probably get more social time with all of the groups and activities they go to. The only thing they don't get is loads of busy work

10:22pm Boy
shut up

10:22pm Melissa
not if you're going to make false statements. . .

10:23pm Boy
They won't get to go to many high school activities which many people consider to be of vital importance to the development of the growing child

10:24pm Melissa
again, I laugh. What are we developing? the ability to consume large amounts of alcohol? Swearing? giving in to peer pressure? bumping and grinding at the school dances?

They have plenty of activities through their home school group which give them the experience they need while allowing them to do course work appropriate to their learning styles and levels. Last week, they went bowling with a group on Wednesday and to Disneyland with a different group on Friday. I think they're getting plenty of social development. But thanks for being concerned.

10:25 Boy
there's lots of other stuff. they can't be homeschooled through collage and they will lack the neccessary abilities needed to function in a classroom not of thier own choosing and through a method not tier own

10:27pm Melissa
Rebi is starting college in the fall, so I'm not too worried

And believe it or not, if you choose, you can indeed get a degree by doing entirely correspondence (from home) college courses. I could have done it when I was in college.

10:29pm Boy
she's 13 for goodness sake she doesn't belong in that kind of enviroment, she's growing up without a normal childhood. I know I had to make this choice myself I was going going to be tested like this but i said no because I wanted to be able to have a childhood

10:30pm Melissa
you should probably do more research before making those statements. She has a perfectly fine childhood and she's making the choices for herself. She's happy with her decision. And there's nothing wrong with a college environment. Why would you assume it's a bad idea?

10:31pm Boy
just you wait and see, there's plenty of examples of this if you look for it

10:31pm Melissa
my point is not that our way is right for you, but that you shouldn't assert that your way is the only way.

There are plenty of examples of kids who go through 4 years of high school and end up total losers who can't hold down jobs. Or they get addicted to drugs or go to prison.

10:32pm Boy
i'm not asseerting that myway is the only way but that my way seems like the more logical of the ways from the way i'm looking at it.

10:33pm Melissa
Because that's the only way you've ever known

10:33pm Boy
and albert einstien's teacher said he was going to be a janitor when he grew up but now he's the most renowned scientist in the world
(note from Melissa: I need someone to explain how that supports his assertion that school is best for all kids.)


10:33pm Melissa
but if you assert that failure is obvious for home schoolers in our situation, then it is also true that failure is obvious in traditional schoolers, if you look for it.

right. what did his teacher know? That he didn't focus on the stuff she thought he should?

10:35pm Boy
my mommy says I have to go to bed
bye

And I'm still giggling, not at his assumption that school is the only logical choice for him, but that he is so very sure that Rebi is ruined forever going to community college. I'm willing to bet our school choices have been discussed around their dinner table!

Thank goodness we still get to choose. . . I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.