Monday, December 28, 2009

Randomly heard in the car

Let's set up the scene first:

We were in Florida. We'd visit Dan's family in Daytona for a couple of days after taking a cruise to Jamaica. We were flying home out of Ft. Lauderdale, where the rental car had to be returned by 9:38am. 9:38am. And Ft Lauderdale airport was basically 4 hours away. Meaning we had to be up and out the door by about 5:30am. With two teenagers and a twenty year old. Sure. No problem, mon.

The night before, I mentioned to Dan about the idiot who decided to try to blow up his underwear, and a whole Airbus full of people, in Detroit. Detroit happened to be where our layover was going to be, so I had some concerns about what travel would be like the next day. Now let me tell you, I fly with Xanax on board, but I don't have enough to share with cranky teenagers, so I had a legitimate concern. Dan was worried about the weather on Sunday, which was our day to fly out. This was how we made the executive decision to go home a day early.

Dan insisted that getting up at 5:45 was going to be plenty early, so I set his cell phone alarm for 5:15 and when it went off, made him get up and at 'em. I had suggested to the boys, only half joking, that they sleep in the van the night before, but alas, they were on the couch, head to head. Woke 'em up, then went and woke up Jill. There was much unintelligible speech. I actually believe that the only thing I understood was the fact that Thomas couldn't find his phone. Oye and vay.

"You had it last."
"No, you probably lost it."
"Actually, I had it last, but it's been moved from where I left it."
"I don't know why you people can't give me my stuff back after you borrow it. I need my phone."
"Well where did you leave it?"
"I didn't have it last."
"You had it last....."

See where this is going? In the midst of this, another conversation starts.
"It's cold out there. Can I take a blanket?"
"No, share your brother's."
"I don't want HIS blanket. I want a blanket of my own."
"What are you going to do with a blanket at the airport? We already have one to deal with. Just dress warm."
"Can I take a pillow?"
"I don't know how you think I'm going to be able to sleep when it's this cold out and I don't have a blanket or a pillow."
"I'll turn the heat on in the car, dear."
"I still haven't found my phone."
"Why doesn't someone CALL your phone?"
::vibrate vibrate vibrate::
"I think it's in the couch."
::triumphant look from owner of the phone::
::triumphant look disappears when he realizes that the phone has fallen into the couch, right where he was sleeping:: It's hell taking responsibility for something you've been blaming other people for. We headed out to the van.

It was still dark out, so the kids knocked right back out. After an hour or so, Dan decided to call Northwest to see if we could, indeed, get a flight out when we arrived. Now let me say, Dan is from the land of Speak Loudly on the Phone. This is something he inherited from his dad, and who knows, maybe his dad's dad, but Utter men are LOUD on the phone. Heck, they are loud when NOT on the phone. In either event, he started talking to Northwest, and the boys woke up. Here's what ensued:

"Yes, my name is Mr. Utter. We have reservations to fly out on Sunday, but I wanted to see if we could leave today, as we have a medical emergency at home."

From the far left back seat, in a very shrill voice: "I'm bleeeeeding...."
Deep voice from the far right back seat replies "I'm dyyyyiinnng...."
Near back seat yells "SHUT UP OR I WILL KILL YOU ALL."

"Well, I can't afford $1000 extra to change these tickets. I thought we were on the list of states that can change our itinerary for free, due to the weather."

Far back left seat yells "I want $1000."
Far back right seat replies "You already GOT $1000 that you didn't deserve."
Near back seat bellows "Shut UP."

"I don't think we can make the 11am flight. That's probably cutting it too close."

Far back left seat says "Is it weird that I am most excited about getting home to see my dog?"
Near back seat says "I don't want to go home early. Why are we going home early?"
Far back right seat replies "we have a medical emergency. Dundundun...."
Near back seat: "what the hell?"
I say very little, as I am both laughing through the entire exchange, and mystified as to why he feels we have to have a medical emergency in order to get home. We usually create them without any problems. I don't tempt fate by making them up.

Dan finally got the tickets changed, and no, it didn't cost $1000. We got it done for free. He announced that we're leaving at 3pm.

Female voice says "are the seats together? I don't want to sit next to some creeper. I know that we're gonna end up separated, and I'm gonna be the one next to a creeper."
Far back seat says "I just want a window seat. I've never gotten one."
Far back seat now is snoring.

Dan asks if anyone wants cereal. It gets very quiet. Turned out he had brought a box of Honey Bunches of Oats, a box of Frosted Flakes, some Pop Tarts, and a gallon of milk was chilling in a paint bucket full of ice. The boys decline, which confuses Dan, as he is also from the land of Eats-a-lot. Jill went back to sleep. Every few minutes, Dan asked the boys if they want some cereal, but it had quiet back there too, so he didn't get a response. He kept asking me too, though I have no idea how I could've eaten cereal whilst driving, even if I had wanted it. Dan even offered to feed me, but after I told him that I was sure to vomit if I ate Frosted Flakes, he finally gave up trying and fixed himself a bowl. And a Poptart.

Pretty soon, Seth started writhing around in the far back seat. Jill, who had been collapsed on the seat behind me, sat up, looking rather dazed. Seth said "I'm so uncomfortable. I hate this. I need to move and I can't." "Why can't you move?" "Thomas has his head on me."
Apparently, Thomas had keeled over and was sleeping basically with his head in Seth's lap, which is a direct violation of the Bro Code. I guess even Jill knew this, because she immediately offered Seth to move up with her. At which point I almost dropped dead of shock, as Jill has personal space issues, and doesn't usually like anyone piercing her bubble. "You want some cereal," said Dan, for the 56th time. Seth just shook his head, but Jill took him up on it, but only after announcing "I don't remember getting in the car."

So yeah, this is how we roll. With cereal, non-existent medical emergencies, and milk in a paint bucket. And just in case you haven't figured it out by now, we've got issues.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

One Flew Outta the Cuckoo's Nest

So, how was your Halloween? Halloween is, as many of you know, NOT my favorite holiday. I've always considered it to the The Holiday to Punish Uncreative Parents. Maybe it all goes back to the Halloween that someone cut our cat's tail off. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that on Jill's first Halloween, when she was ten months old, we dressed her as a Damnation, then she promptly vomited all over the entire outfit after the first stop we made. I really do hate Halloween.

I don't get into the whole make-a-costume thing. The one and only time I actually made a costume was for Seth, the year he wanted to be Link, from Legend of Zelda. Link wears a tunic, a pair of Robin Hood type tights, and some elf boots. Seth's Link consisted of a felt tunic that was glued and stapled together, a pair of girls leggings from the DAV (no way I'd have gotten him into tights), and a cute pair of 80s pixie boots. He never knew that half of Link came from the girl's department. Guess he does now, but he loved that costume.

So yeah, I am not into the whole Halloween thing. This year, since Dan was going to be at church most of the evening, cleaning up after the fish fry, I debated not even getting any candy, and just hiding from the wee ones. In the end, guilt won and I bought our usual $80 of candy, cause we get a LOT of trick or treaters. I got the candy ready, and Seth, God love him, said he'd take the dogs up to his room, cause as we all know, Boo is just plain crazy, and Timmy is getting old enough that he's confused a good portion of the time. He figured that if he took them up there, maybe the trick or treaters would live.

So, my friend stops by with her kid, right about the time the neighbor says "you MUST go over on the other block and see the tree, before they close it down. It's hilarious." We'd already have 150+ kids at our house, and it finally was slowing down, so we decided to get in the car and go see. You may remember that I'm not so good at driving in reverse, but I've done pretty well lately. Still, I started backing up, felt a bump and thought it must just be a pile of leaves. That was before the headlights shown on the screen from Seth's room. Uh oh.

I stop the car, we all look up, and Boo is getting ready to bail from the second story window, and Tim's looking just confused enough to follow. Oh Sweet Baby Jesus. Seth bails out the back seat, grabs the screen, and sprints for the back door while my friend and I are frantically telling the dogs to Stay. Lest you think we overreact, Boo WILL jump off or over just about anything, so it was a relief when Seth got up there and got the window closed before they lept. Whew!

Our relief was short lived, however, because when Seth got back in the car, he mentioned that Bandit, our very fat, very long haired, very DUMB cat, had been hiding in the bushes in back when he unlocked the door. Bandit, who had, till that point, been sitting on the windowsill in Seth's room. On the second floor of the house. Bandit apparently freaked when the dogs rushed the window, and fell straight out the window with the screen. Apparently Bandit is too dumb to even get injured, because he's not even limping, and doesn't look any more confused than a normal day.

And the tree we were going to see? It was worth the ride, because they had created a tree that talked, and sprayed water at people, all while telling funny and gross stories to the trick or treaters. Up to that point, I had thought that the mom who showed up with her trick-or-treaters, telling them to "say thank you" whilst she ate a salad was the funniest thing of the night. That tree? Best thing I've seen in a while, even if it did involve Halloween.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Twenty Year Old Mulligan

Dan has always told the kids, from a very, very young age, that if they could make it to the age of twenty with no altercations with the police, that they would receive $1000 on their twentieth birthday. Now, you might think that this is a little crazy, but case in point: Dan, by the age of twenty, had had two tickets, and two car accidents, one of which left his mother's Grand Am straddling a median on Post Road. (I think there was tequila involved). One of our friends' daughter had two wrecks in her first year of driving. Another had two speeding tickets in the same timeframe. We'd probably pay out $1000 in insurance premiums if that happened to us, or at the very least, spend the same in gas and Xanax, if they screwed up and we took the keys away and I had to drive them everywhere. What I looked at at first as a silly little bet became a huge carrot, and a big savings for us, both in our checking account as well as my nerves.

When the kids finally started driving, I'd tell them "you know, you can speed up a little bit," and would be met with "no way Mom, I'm driving the speed limit, cause I want my thousand bucks." I started realizing that this bet had MEANING. We did mention to them that it wasn't totally on their word, since we have friends who are police officers, and we'd be running a police report, so they'd better not lie to us.

I should probably mention here too, that I have always told the kids that if they ever wanted to call me and have me pick them up, I'd pick 'em up anywhere, but if they called me from jail, they'd better be telling me they were getting comfortable for the night, cause I would not pick them up. "Well Mom," they would say, "what if it wasn't our fault? What if our friends did something, and we just happened to be there?" Well guess what? Mama didn't raise no dumbies, and I told 'em that I didn't raise them to have stupid friends either, so if they had stupid friends, then they deserved to be in jail, and they'd better not call me. I did mention, however, that their father, probably remembering his youth, would give them one chance, so they could pray that he answered the phone.

Side note: Jill called the other night, at 11:15pm. Phone rang five times, less than three feet from Dan's head. He never budged. Note to children: don't call Dad.

So, Thomas hit the big day on Saturday. The big 2-0, and the boy was chomping at the bit for his moolah. We camped the weekend before, and I told him, "knowing you, you'll end up with a ticket on Friday night," to which Seth's BFF Chris said "many, you'd better walk all week." Nope. Friday night, I give Dan the information to run the police report. Saturday morning comes, and Dan leaves me his checkbook, telling me to make the boy out a check. I think Dan was sweating a little bit. So off he goes to work, ready to meet us at lunch. I decided that it wouldn't be prudent for the boy to walk around with cash or check all weekend, and being a procrastinator, probably until next Thursday, when he would finally go to the bank, so I just went to the bank and transferred the money. Called Dan to verify where the money was transferring from, then called the boy and told him he was $1000 richer. He was pretty happy.

So, I picked up Thomas, grabbed Seth from the house, and drove to meet Dan for lunch (Jill was working and couldn't go). Dan sits down, looks the boy in the eye and says "can you look me in the eye as a man and tell me that you've made it till the age of twenty with no interactions with the police?"

The kid caved.

Turns out that he had a seatbelt violation in April that he neglected to tell us about, to the tune of $25 bucks. He said he came home and told Jill, who promptly told him not to tell us, lest he lose his 1000 bucks. This kid, who always said that he wouldn't lie if we asked him a direct question, caved under pressure and told the truth. Good for him, but dammit, that money was already in his account, so he made off like a bandit, thanks to a forgiving father who gave him a mulligan in the form of a seatbelt violation.

What a guy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Excuses, excuses

I've been a nurse for 26 years. I've been a triage nurse for ten years. In that time, I have heard just about every excuse there is for losing a prescription for "the good stuff." But today, I heard what will probably go down as my favorite. More on that later.

Here are ones that we hear so often, you shouldn't bother with them:
  • "I dropped it in the toilet." Please.
  • "I left it at the hotel, and the maids stole it."
  • Someone cleaned out my car and it got thrown away.
  • It got stolen when I went in to pay for my gas at the gas station.
  • It got stolen. Now, I did get a bit of extra credit to the guy who called one Saturday and said his house had been broken into, and all they stole was his prescription. Hmmmm.... Well, toddle off to the ER with a police report, and maybe, just maybe, they will give you a script. Next day, the same guy calls back, saying "you aren't gonna believe it, but my house got broken into and they stole my police report." You're right. I don't believe you.
Up till today, the best one I'd heard was someone who said "my Xanax got stolen at a baby shower." Now that must've been quite some baby shower, and maybe she didn't get a new prescription, but I did give her points for creativity.

Today, I had the penultimate reason given to me: "The South Korean government confiscated it." And the funny thing is, it was true. Without going into details, let's just say that the Koreans don't like anyone bringing medicine out of the country, so somewhere there's a South Korean guard standing at attention, with a goofy blank look.

Make that guy pee in a cup.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Jillie Scorned

Disclaimer: I know what my parents will say when they read this.

Last week, Dan and I were messing about in the yard. He of the paintbrush was doing as painters do, and I was just hanging out. Had the Big Butt dog out there, and the Whirling Dervish as well. Just a nice relaxing evening. On a Tuesday. (Make note of day.)

Dan decided that he would go up front and bring back the trashcans, since trash day was long gone. The Whirling Dervish followed him and, since that monster only listens to male voices, he wouldn't come back to the back. I warned Dan to send him to the back yard, and Dan assured me he would keep an eye on him, and he was fine. And yeah, he should've been, because he only listens to men. No joke. I can talk till my heart's content, and he won't budge till he hears a male voice, even if it's a block away.

Three hours later, I was vacuuming in the living room, and suddenly realized that I wasn't being chased by that squirrely puppy. Asked Dan where he was, and got the typical mumble from a husband who's not really 100% invested in the conversation. I asked him again, with The Tone, and he suddenly looked at me with a look that told the whole story. He hadn't let him in. We had no idea where he was. It was just starting to get dark, so we got in the car and went out looking for him, figuring maybe he'd be running in circles around someone who was out walking their dog. There were TONS of people out walking that night. Walking is the key word here, because there was no dog tripping them by running in frantic orbs around them.

We looked at each other with a "you tell Jill look." Nobody really wanted to say a thing, cause she was upstairs doing her teenaged angst thing in her room. So, I waited till she came down the Pattern Central, and casually mentioned that "oh, by the way, you realize we have no idea where Rocky is, right?" Unhappiness reigned, then sadness when the reality hit that he was likely gone. We went out looking for him every day since -- except Thursday, when Jill left for school, and we got to spend several hours in the car with her, much of which was spent listening to Taylor Swift (that's a whole different story).

Jill swore, before she left, that she could hear him barking from far away. I believe her, because there was one time -- yes, the parents were here -- when Timmy got loose and ended up at the Humane Society. Jill walked in that back room and I swear, she recognized his bark in the caucophone of 100 dogs, and walked straight up to him with no guide to take her there. She HEARD Rocky now, as well. I have to admit, I did too. Not all the time, but sometimes. On Sunday, Seth and I jumped in the car and drove around, because I not only heard him, but when I yelled him name, he barked back to me. Of course, we didn't find him, but we did give some guy a startle when we slowed down and stared at him as he was walking his older-version-of-Rocky dog. I finally got out and told him I really wasn't a stalker, and explained what had happened.

And then, on Monday afternoon, Animal Control called Jill and said they had Rocky. Well, I'll be double dipped. So, of course, it was up to me to go get him when I got off work, so I walked into the pound and announced that I was there to get Jill's dog. The woman who shall henceforth be called Hater Bitch (HB), immediately told me that I couldn't get him, because she would have to pick him up herself. The other saintly woman, henceforth known as Terri, cause that's her name, said that "her daughter is only 17, so we can do it." Me being me, and being honest, cause I'm a preacher's kid, I said "no, she's 18, but she's 3 1/2 hours away at college."

Well then it was on like Donkey Kong. HB recognized her opening and said nope, she's going to have to fax us her ID AND a letter saying blah blah blah blah blah, to which I responded, you know, I can tell you ANYTHING about this dog. No matter, HB wanted ID and a letter, blah blah blah. So I informed her that I was gonna call Jill and SHE could tell her the whole thing, and why she wouldn't let me have her dog. "I see no reason why I should talk to her," says HB, to which I responded "You don't live with a teenaged girl. I'm not taking the blame here, and YOU can listen to what she has to say about all of this." And so it was that I handed her the phone and let Jill get her instructions. When she handed the phone back, Jill was pretty frantic because, beind new on campus, she didn't know where a fax machine was. I reminded her that she only had about ten minutes before Animal Control closed, at which point HB said "No. She has EIGHT minutes."

If looks could kill, HB would not be here today.

I sat there fuming, waiting for The Brat to call me back or fax or something, when Terri came over and said "why don't I go ahead and get your id and copy it, just to get things started?" That was when I knew it would be ok. So we're chatting whilst she does this, when my phone goes off. It's Jill, who is beside herself, because she had run all the way across campus, barefoot, nearly mowing over The Hot Guy in her dorm in the process, but the library didn't have a fax. I told her to run to the Bursar's Office, and she said she didn't have time to get there before they closed. At this point, she yelled "let me talk to that lady. I want to talk to her." At which point, I told her to be nice, because we were now dealing with someone reasonable. I handed my phone over to Terri, who listened, handed the phone back, and said "I'll be right back," and headed right to the manager's office.

"Oh God, girl, what did you say to her," I asked, to which Jill replied "I yelled at her. I want my damn dog back." That's the point at which I realized that my darling Bratty Girl has turned into her mama, cause she ain't taking no crap offa anyone. Good thing Terri has teenagers in her house, cause she was feeling my pain, I'm sure. She came wandering back over, looked at me with a purposeful look and said "OK, is the dog's name Rocky?" "Yes." "Is he neutered?" "Yes." "Is he microchipped?" "Yes." "Ok then, I guess he's your dog," she said, with a wink.

So that was how, after a week of being gone, driving probably fifty miles through a neighborhood that's only a few blocks square, hanging up flyers all over, and putting up with a lot of guff from The Brat, that Rocky returned home, after a week of being gone. And also, I might add, how the microchip information got changed to my name.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's the end of the world as we know it

Well folks, believe it or not, the fast has been broken. Jill ate meat. Well, not exactly meat, but after nine years of not eating anything with a face, the girl ate a bite of chicken.

I made a thrown-together dinner tonight --- chicken breasts, lightly browned, cut into pieces and thrown into the pot with some tomatoes, beans, corn, herbs, garlic, and whatever else I thought fit. Threw in some cheese and sour cream and call it a dinner, cause that's what I did. In typical Dan fashion, he added some broken up chips (he can't have a dinner without a lotta carbs), and there we were.

There we were, fixing up nice bowls of this mix, and in walked Jill. Uh oh. Normally when I cook something like this, I mix it all up and add the meat last. That gives me a chance to fix the vegetarian girl the same meal as us, without me thinking too awful much. Tonight, I totally forgot to do that, which meant I had one big pot 'o Mexican stuff, and no pots of vegetarian stuff. Sometimes that is still ok with The Brat, cause she'll just pick out the meat if it's in chunks, so that's what I suggested. She started staring it down, and thought that the chicken wasn't so chunky, and it was gonna be hard to pick out. I begged to differ, but after a long day working in the barn, she gave up the ghost and fixed a bowl anyway.

We were sitting there chatting away, when she came upon a big chunk 'o chicken in her bowl. She held it up and perused it, turning it all around on her fork, staring at it the whole time, before she announced, "I think I'm gonna eat this piece of chicken." Now, I've heard this before. She said a year ago, maybe two years ago, at Thanksgiving, that she thought she was maybe going to have some turkey. I told her she could eat what she wanted, and no one really cared, because it was up to her. Chickened out at the last minute (pun intended, maybe, I don't know). Ate no meat until tonight, when she sat there staring down the chicken. She looked a little apprehensive, then asked, "who thinks I should eat this chicken. We're gonna vote." Dan's hand went up in the air immediately. Seth's hand went up too. I waited, vetting the possibilities: vote no, and I'm telling her what to do. Vote yes, and if she ends up mad later, it'll be my fault. In the end, I made it a unanimous vote, at which point that chicken disappeared quicker than a Dairy Queen Blizzard, and history was made. Jill promptly announced that she's going to eat turkey at Thanksgiving, too.

It's the end of an era. Chickens all around the world cried.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A potpourri of information for the no-longer-homeschooled

Seth started high school last month. This child, who had never graced the halls of higher education, who was fascinated with the inner workings of a non-electric pencil sharpener on the one occasion he visited a school office, is now a publicly educated young man. By his choice.

So here are a few snippets of information, after three weeks of school:
  • As a freshman, stay far, far away from the upperclassmen. They are not kind to the underlings. Find a table of freshman at lunch, and plant it.
  • If the band instruments have not yet arrived, do something. Anything. Do not, under any circumstances, when the principal is talking to your family during the Welcome Picnic, mention that "we finally did something in band besides sleep." It WILL raise eyebrows, even if the band instruments haven't arrived, and even if it's the truth.
  • Do tell your mother, on the other hand, that "I think we're going to do something in band now, instead of sleep." When she asks how you know this, tell her, as the Spare to the Throne did, "because she told us to bring a pencil to class."
  • And the following day, when your mom asks why said pencil was required in Band, do tell her that it's because you took notes. The irony of that statement, when talking about band, will further amuse her. Your mother needs amusement.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, tell your sister of any altercations at school, if she has, as The Brat did, tell you that she would cut anyone who messed with her baby brother. You really can't be sure if she's kidding or not. Teenaged girls are unpredictable.
  • Do, on the other hand, tell the Heir to the Throne about any seniors who are messing with you. Why only seniors? Because, as he says "I'm not going to jail for any little babies. They have to be 18." Oye AND vay.
  • And lastly, when you find out that your lockermate is the principal's son, do find a way to work that to your advantage. I would think that there would be a way to work it out so that a grade is improved, or something. Even if the principal's son is as messy as you.
  • Shoot for straight A's, if you want to shoot for the moon. If you want it more interesting, shoot for straight B's, as my friend's no-longer-homeschooled daughter is. Think of that -- it would take some doing to get straight B's. Shooting for straight A's just means you shoot for the best. Straight B's? You'd have to do some figuring to make that work. It's a rather creative goal, if you think about it.
  • And yes, when you realize that maybe you should get up just a little earlier, set your alarm clock twenty minutes earlier. That's what Seth did. When I pointed out to him that he was still asleep when I got up this morning, I was met with a blank stare, and the he said "mom, I use that twenty minutes to sleep."
I will leave you to ponder that little Seth-ism. I'm still figuring that out myself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

There was a time, some years ago, that we bought a car from our neighbors. He was over 80, and she was close to it, and they were moving to an assisted living, so we bought their 14 year old Grand Marquis. It had something like 40, 000 miles on it, and had literally been driven only to church on Sundays and to get Inez' hair done on Mondays. A beautiful piece of machinery it was, although I called it the aircraft carrier. Heck, I often said I could have fit six dead bodies in that trunk. It was huge.

One day shortly after we bought it, Dan had a flat. He didn't have time to go get it fixed, so he was riding along on the spare for a few days. For some reason, I had to drive him somewhere and drop him off, so we loaded up the kids and took off. I can't even remember why I drove him there, but there I was on the way back, on 465, going probably 70+ mph, when I heard a BAM, and then a horrible banging noise. Oh man.

I pulled over to the shoulder and got out to inspect the offending tire, and was shocked to see that the tire was still inflated, but that I could've literally peeled back about 18 inches of tread from the innertube. Weird. I've never seen anything like it, but the tire was as inflated as it was before it happened. I was faced with a strange dilemma, especially since the kids were with me. Seth was a baby, so Thomas and Jill were probably kindergarten and first grade. I wasn't near an exit and was not really in the mood to haul the kids down the shoulder, then climb a fence into a total stranger's backyard to see if I could use their phone -- and who would I call, because Dan was incommunicado? We were too broke at the time for AAA, so the options were rather limited.

I sat there and mulled over my dilemma for a few minutes while the kids offered their own suggestions through the window, then decided to go for it and just drive home. The problem was that I didn't want to drive it too fast, because every time that tread came around, it would BANG onto the wheel well really hard, making a horrible racket and, I feared, putting me at more risk of a flat, on the side of the interstate, with three kids, on a warm summer night. I decided I'd just stay in the shoulder, which was working fine till I came up on someone who was changing their tire in my lane. Had to sit there and wait till the traffic cleared, then I passed them very slowly, while they stared at the crazy lady with the banging tire.

Right about then, Thomas said "boy oh boy would Dad be mad if he was here." Pretty soon he said "this reminds me of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which resulted in all of us singing a rousing rendition at the top of our lungs, while still in the emergency lane going roughly twelve miles an hour. With the tire still banging every time it rotated. Oye and vay. This was our situation when I saw the red flashing lights. "Oh great," said Thomas. "We're getting pulled over." "I got news for you, baby," said the mother. "We ARE over."

The cop rolled up next to us, rolled down his window, and asked if we were ok. I explained what was going on, all while still rolling slowly down the road, and told the officer that I was just trying to get to the exit -- we were close now -- and then would call someone from the service station to come pick us up. He must've felt pretty good that we were ok, because he took off, and I went to the exit, drove up to the service station and, when I realized that the tire was still perfectly fine (except the huge piece of tread hanging off of it), I decided to drive the remaining couple of miles home. And yeah, I'll be darned, we made it. With the tire still inflated.

Crazy, I know, but then Dan got home. More about that tomorrow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Don't mess with Mother Nature

The Brat works at a horseback riding stable. This is her second full year there, and she loves it. She gets to ride her own horse a good portion of the time, and gets to ride a lot. Only my Jill could enjoy shovelling horse poop all day long, but she does.

The other day, she was the guide for a group that included a 15yo boy and his grandparents. Said boy was working my girl's last nerve, because he didn't want to follow instructions. Kept taking his feet out of the stirrups. That's a no-no. Then he'd drop his reins. Another no-no. Kept repeating his errors, which was working her nerves. You don't want to work Jill's nerves.

His final sin was when he finished his water bottle, then lobbed it over to the brush. It hit a tree, then bounced back and hit his horse. Uh oh. Jill stopped, dismounted, and had another customer hold her horse's reins while she walked back to the offender.

"Get down," said the girl.
"What?" said the offender.
"I said get down."
"I won't be able to get back on." Uh oh.
"I'll help you get back on. Get down."

Now she's getting testy. You don't want Jill to get testy. Especially if you are a teenaged boy, because she is the middle child and the only girl, sandwiched between two teenaged brothers. She KNOWS how to handle teenaged boys. To the point that one kinda crazy right-wing homeschool mom told me that she may just have trouble finding a mate, if she didn't learn how to speak nicely to the boys. Now, I have to say that since she was 15 at the time, I really wasn't too concerned about her finding a mate, but I will say that she won't take any crap from the one she finds.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch..........the offender finally realizes that he'd better obey the guide, cause she ain't gonna back down and, if history tells us anything, she most likely had a rather crazed look in her eye. He got down off the horse.

"Now, go pick up that bottle."
"What am I gonna do with it, cause there's no trash can."
"You are going to carry it," says she. "Pick it up."

He does. She helps him back on his horse.

She says "now, how do you feel?" "Well honestly, I'm kinda embarrassed."

"Good," says the girl. "Now you know how The Earth feels."

So yeah, enjoy the beautiful day, but don't be embarrassing The Earth. Elsewise, you might just have The Brat coming down off her high horse and taking you down a notch or two.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bedtime with Bozos

So, we decided to take the kids to Cedar Point this weekend. Thomas wasn't up for it, so we took Seth's BFF Chris, who appears to have joined our household, with the blessing of his parents, most weekends. Chris is six weeks younger than Seth, and they've been friends since they used to sit on Zoe Martinez in the nursey of our church, when they were less than a year old. They are two mismatched peas in a pod -- Seth stands about 6-8 inches taller than Chris, at this point -- but they are definitely buddies.

A lot can be learned from teenagers, especially boys, and even more especially while on an extended ride in the car. Take, for example, movies. Chris cannot make it more than about ten minutes in the van before he wants a movie put in. I personally don't care, because I'm driving, but Jill likes movies too, and this time, she happened to bring a whole CD casefull. After much voting by raising of hands, they decided to put in Eagle Eye, with that Leboeuf boy that Jill is always remarking about. This, of course, meant that surely there would be peace in the van but no. Halfway through it, Jill woke up yelling that the movie was too loud. Big surprise, as this movie has a LOT of explosions in it, and the fact that the volume has to be up pretty far in the van for anyone to be able to hear it.

Later, after we were settled in the hotel, the kids had been for a swim and we'd had dinner, we sat watching some fabulous food channel show that involved people making cakes based on various Pixar films, Shrek 2 on Broadway, and the like. Yummy stuff! We finally had to turn it off not only so we could get up in the morning, but so that we didn't get a sugar buzz. Jill was sleeping with her head on the opposite end on the rollaway bed, Dan and I had one bed, and the boys were sideways on their bed. Pitch black. A round of "Night John Boy, 'Night Mary Ellens, and we were near sleep. Then it broke loose.

I think it started with Seth doing something to Chris. I'm not really sure what, but Chris jumped on top of Seth in retaliation, causing his head to crash against the nightstand, and he emitted a newly deep man-voice shriek of pain. Chris laughed, of course. I couldn't tell what had happened, because a) it was pitch black in the room and b) I didn't have my glasses on. Seth was half laughing, half wincing, when he said what happened. I asked if he needed the light on so I could look at it, but we were all rather in fear of waking up Jill again, so he said no.

Silence fell over the room.

From the other bed, Chris and Seth started again, a scuffle ensued, at which point I got up and whacked whomever I could reach, as hard as I could with a pillow. I think it was Chris, but truth be told, I have no idea. All I heard was a loud OOMPH, a "you're gonna wake up Jill," and then quiet, before Seth started laughing again, the cycle started anew, and it all broke open all over again. At this point, I realized Dan was no longer in our bed. Before I could figure out where he'd wandered off to in the dark, I heard Seth saying -- VERY quickly, and in a crescendo of pubescent male voice -- "coldcoldcoldcoldCOldCOLDCOLD" that sounded distinctly like there was probably ice involved. Ice going down the back, perhaps. "What in the world are you doing NOW?" I said.

Seth replied "I just got hit with a peach."

That was it. Any sense of composure was lost. It wasn't so much WHAT Dan did -- I'm still not sure, but I do know that a peach from the refrigerator ended up against someone's bare back -- it was Seth's delivery of the line that got me, and I got the giggles so badly that yes, I woke the sleeping giant. Jill blasted out of her bed, yelling about being SO tired, and why couldn't we KEEP IT DOWN. Our response was, of course involuntary fits of giggles, until she said forget it, she was leaving and going out on a walk, because we obviously were not going to let anyone sleep.

That walk lasted about two minutes till, we found out later, she wandered into the hall, only to hear two drunken guests explain in some rather graphic detail what they planned to do to one another when they got back to the room. I guess after that, her out of control laughing family seemed pretty good, because she came back in, silent, and climbed back into her bed in a now pin-drop-quiet room. Of course, she couldn't see how our bed was shaking, since Dan and I were still being wracked with uncontrollable giggles, but at least we had silenced the beast.

Next day, it was off to Cedar Point, where I got to enjoy such interactions between the boys as this one:

Seth: "Wow, Mom, that looks like the salt water taffy Jen brought us from Florida."
Chris: "Wow, maybe that's because it IS salt water taffy, dumbie."

Yeah, you gotta love 'em. Can't live with 'em. Can't assault 'em with a peach. 'Night John Boy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How things roll.

Rocky went missing yesterday. Jill had changed the rules-of-feeding here, and wants the dogs fed in the morning. Fine for her, cause she goes to work very early in the morning, but Seth is a) still not complete familiar with the concept of morning, and b) a creature of habit. The habit has been feeding in the evening, so the morning feedings on the weekends (Seth's days) is a bit spotty.

I wasn't sure if he'd fed them yesterday or not, so I asked him about 6:30pm if he'd done it. I got the blank "omg, I'm not sure" stare that said "uh oh, the sister's gonna kill me." Which is generally what happens if he forgets, so yes, he had reason to be concerned. He thought about it for a while, then decided to go ahead and feed them, just to be sure. The dogs, of course, weren't saying, cause they will take food at any given moment that someone offers, and frequently when they don't.

Seth came back in the kitchen and asked where Rocky was. I had no idea, and told him to ask Jill. He already had, and she had said he was in the crate. "He's not in there," said the boy, so I told him to check in the corral outside, where I'd put him earlier. I looked out the kitchen window as I said this, and saw that the gate was wide open. Uh oh. No Rocky outside. How the heck did he get loose? I always check the gate when I close it, but Seth and I looked at each other, knowing that the specter of doom had just entered our kitchen, because if Jill found out, we were both gonna be dead.

We took off in the van, looking for him. No go. Came home, and Jill was now gone looking for him, according to Dan. We went back out. Came back, and Jill was crying on the front step. Dropped off Seth and took off again with Jill, who was sure that the wicked witch had made off with Toto, and we would never see him again. We must've driven the neighborhood ten times or more, to no avail. I still held out hope because he had both a collar and a microchip, but Jill was convinced that whoever had found him would keep her darling little baby (aka ball of fire that chews up bras and anything else he can get hold of). I told her it'd be ok, and we'd just go home and wait.

She was pretty upset, till about twenty minutes later, when Seth came down and said that that little idiot dog had been in the crate all along. Jill shot him the look of death, my jaw dropped, and Seth just looked straight at us and said "I know.........I'm stupid."

I still have no idea how the boy didn't know he was in the crate. Apparently, the crate had been put in the bathroom upstairs, and I'm not sure how or why that was either -- maybe Seth had put it there because he was moving mattresses downstairs from Thomas' old room -- but he wasn't talking about it, and still hasn't.

So that's how things roll in the land of Utter Chaos, where you can spend two hours searching for a missing dog that isn't, and where a crate can grow legs and walk, with the dog still in it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Great Mouse Hunt Part II

I talked the other day about the mouse in the house, and his sad flight into the neighbor's next yard. Well, that wasn't the end of it all.

Let me first say that Dan works with Freddy, who happens to be from Guatemala. Freddy's a great guy, an Apostolic who is devout in his faith. I'd actually love to go to his church, because I suspect that there's nothing quite like a bunch of Hispanic holy rollers. I think it would be inspiring. But I digress.

Freddy has pretty good command of the English language, though he does have a thick accent. Dan likes working with him, because he's really improved his Spanish, and of course, Freddy's improved his English. Every once in a while, he'll come out with "oh my Gah," when something happens, which Dan, of course, emulates when things need lightened up around here. The topic this week has been "Michael Yackson," and all of the sad events related to his demise, because Dan loved MJ, and is amused by the fact that Freddy knows about him, too, even if he can't say the name right.

Dan usually carpools with Freddy to worksites, driving Dan's old minivan. (Hey, we have teenagers. We can't afford one of those fancy-schmancy painter's vans, thought it is Dan's dream.) He drives an old minivan that he'll drive till its dead -- the mechanic actually told us last year that it would only last another six months. It's been almost a year. Well, the van started out white, and now has paint dabs all over the doors, and a gold hood, where a customer "forgot" that he was there, and backed right into his van. Goofy.

Anyway, his van is usually packed up with dropclothes, paint poles, and a big Rubbermaid container full of brushes, rollers, and the like. He will lug it out once in a while, dump it all out, and reorganize. He's a very organized person -- unlike me. So he lugs it out at the job site on this particular day, he said, and later wondered why the heck there were flies all around it. Didn't think too much about it till he dug around later for a brush, and found a dead mouse.

He pulls it out and says "hey Freddy, look," as he's holding it up by its tail. Freddy replied "en espanol, raton," with that trilling r that I can't do. Dan says "raton is dead," to which Freddy shrugged and responded "go with Yackson."

Dan just cracked up. Funny thing is, maybe Freddy's right -- Yackson did sing Ben, after all, and maybe it was mini-Ben got lugged over the fence the other night, then found his revenge in Rubbermaid.

Go with Yackson.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Movin' on Up

I think I've mentioned that Thomas is moving out. He's getting his first apartment, and he's pretty pumped up about it. He came down the other day and asked me if I'd help him pack. I shivered at the thought.

I told him he should start with his clothes first. Do the winter clothes now, and save what he needs to wear this week till later, but bring down the dirty clothes, cause I didn't want him packing away dirty clothes. "I don't have any dirty clothes," said the heir to the throne. Sure. Right. Those of you who have read about his laundry in the past know that it is a thing to be feared.

I went up to his room, and was met with the normal view -- floor covered with clothes. I pointed to one pile and asked, "what is that?" He said "oh, those are dirty." "So you DO have dirty clothes up here. What about these?" I pointed to the pile next to the other one and asked "what's up with these?" "Oh, those are clean." Just exactly how he could tell the difference is something that only a nineteen year old boy would know.

I folded a few things and got him started, then left him to his own devices, telling him to bring the dirty stuff down. A little bit later, he comes down with half a hamper of clothes. I told him that no way was that all of it. He said "well, you don't want it all. There's a LOT." OK, now we're getting to the bottom of it. I told him to go back upstairs and toss down the dirty stuff, cause I was doing laundry, and wanted to do it all at one time. The result was an avalanche of clothes that darn near could've knocked me out, and completely blocked anyone from the stairs.


At this point, I yelled up "throw your sheets down, too." "WHAT," he replied. "THROW YOUR SHEETS DOWN." I gave up all hope with the response:

"I have sheets?"

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Great Mouse Hunt

Seth told me the other day that he had heard something crunching in his room the night before. Those who have read this blog in the past know that Seth tends to travel in a little different orbit than the rest of us, so I just told him maybe there was a carpenter bee behind his dresser. Or maybe something had found some of the food that is bound to be in a 14yo boy's room. Who knows. He was serious, and just knew that something was in there, and for some reason, he thought it was a rat. Hmmm.........

Later that afternoon, he came out and said that Bandit, our big dumb lug fat cat, was stalking something, and he had, indeed, seen a mouse scuttle across the room. Crazy. Now, we do tend to see ONE mouse a year in this house -- it's an old house -- but it's always in the fall, right when the cold weather starts. Not in the summer, but hey, the kid saw it, so there must be one. I went in to check it out, and the Fat Cat was trying desperately to get behind the dresser, and Jill's dog was, for some reason, desperately trying to get under the bed. Well, I had Seth pull the dresser out, and found the dog brush that had been missing, several pens, a pair of flip flops, and enough dog hair to stuff a small pillow. Kinda like when I cleaned out the couch. The only thing we didn't find was a mouse, but we did get all the crap cleaned out before we put the dresser back, almost crunching Bandit in the process, because he was determined to get back there.

A couple hours later, Seth ran out and said that Bandit had indeed caught a mouse, followed by the inevitable "SEE, I told you I heard something in there." Turned out that Bandit, the big fat lug, had caught the mouse, tossed it around a couple of times before dropping it, giving it ample time to run for its life into a corner and disappear. Seth was, of course, freaked out, thinking that Bandit would drop it on his pillow in the middle of the night.

Next morning, I checked: no mouse on the bed. No cat stalking. Life moves on, at least for us, cause that mouse is probably dead.

Mid morning, Seth tells me that Bandit caught the mouse whilst I was in the shower, then ran downstairs with it. Not good! There is a lot of stuff in the basement. Stuff that I don't want a mouse eating, and stuff I don't want a mouse rotting in. We went down and tried to find it, to no avail, so I just prepared for the worst: opening a box one day and finding Mickey dead at the bottom. The day moves on, and then about 9 o'clock, Dan yells "come here, and bring the camera." Well, my camera is dead, and it's in the basement, so no go on that one, big guy. I run over, and he and Seth are standing on the stairs, staring at Bandit.

Apparently, the mouse either dragged itself out of its grave, or Bandit came back and got it, because now it was lying on the basement floor next to him. He was looking mighty smug, probably because we'd all said that he was too fat to grab it, but there it was. I asked Dan if it was dead, and he said yes. Seth said it wasn't, and I wasn't convinced either, so Dan tossed a wad of paper its way, and yep, it moved. Not much, but more than a dead thing would. I told him to get it the hell outta my house, and put it out far enough that the dogs wouldn't get it.

Few minutes later, I'm sitting on the couch, innocently IM'ing my niece, when in walks Dan, carrying a plastic drinking glass that he's covering with a gloved hand. He came over and started to lift the hand off the top, and was met with a blood curdling scream from his soul mate, followed quickly by me yelling "GET THAT THING THE HELL OUTTA MY HOUSE!" It was at that point that he stopped, stared, and turned the glass over, dumping the contents on my new rug. Only there were no contents. That damn glass was as empty as Sarah Palin's head, and Dan just doubled over laughing. I did too, and laughed literally till I cried, until Seth came skidding in the room, asking what the heck had happened. We couldn't even tell him.

A while later, I asked Dan to get me a glass of water, because he was in the kitchen. In he walks with the same stinkin' glass, now half full of water. I was horrified, even when he insisted that the mouse had never been in that glass, but I told him I didn't want hantavirus, so go wash his hands and get me a different glass. He did, but he was still laughing when we went to bed.

Dan said he'd taken it outside and tossed it over the fence in the backyard. Poor thing! First it survives one cat attack. Then it survives a second cat attack that involved just about everything but waterboarding, only to be followed by an Air France flight over our fence, and Dan laughing about the whole thing. Seth still has that "I told you so" look whenever it's brought up, and Bandit looks alternatively proud of himself, and pissy that we took his prize away. Me? I am gonna get my own drink the next time.

Click the image to shop.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What goes around, comes around

Thomas is moving out soon. This, of course, may be of little significance, since a lot of times, I forget he even lives here. Thomas is the quiet one in the family: the only one who isn't a talker. Add this to the fact that he works evenings most of the time, then stays up most of the night, and we don't usually see him till dinnertime anyway.

On Sunday of Memorial weekend, we were sitting around, trying to figure out some plans for the next day. Whatever it was, Thomas mentioned that he couldn't do it, because he had to work the next day. Since he normally works day shift on weekends and holidays, I didn't think a thing about it. Noon the next day, who wanders into the living room but Thomas. "What are YOU doing here," I asked him. I was, of course, met with a look of "my mother is an idiot" from the heir to the throne, who merely responded, "uh, I live here." "Well, I thought you were working today." "I don't work till this evening," he said. Oh!

Mid-afternoon, Jill wanted to go to the movies, and as we were getting ready, Dan asked if Thomas was going. I said no, he was working 3-11. "Well," Dan said, "then why is his car here?" "Oh, dear Lord, he must've lost track of time," I said, and ran upstairs in a mild panic (see, I still kind of feel responsible, though I don't work there anymore). I said "What are you doing here?" The look of "I am the child of an idiot" came my way. "I told you, I work tonight." I slunk out of his room, feeling rather dumb that he must've been working at 4, not 3.

Off we went to the movies. We got home, and there he was, washing his car in the driveway. Well now I was SURE that he'd screwed up. Jumped out of the car and demanded "What are you doing here?" He just shook his head at me and looked away. "Seriously. What are you doing here?" He was till looking at me like I was an idiot when he told me that it was Monday, which means he didn't have to go in till 10. Yeah, all of these exchanges, and I never found out what time he actually was supposed to go in. Guess that would've been valuable information, since he goes in at different times on different days, but meantime, the boy is probably still shaking his head and wondering why the heck his mother keeps asking him what he is doing here. In his own home.

The answer? He lives here. But only till the 13th, after which time he'll probably answer the door at his apartment and ask me "what are you doing here?"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

News from My Orbit

We recently had our hardwoods refinished -- as usual, a long involved process that included a dog jumping through a bedroom screen, but hey, that's how we live around here. Happily, as soon as that ratty carpet came up, I was able to get off all my asthma meds, so yeah, hardwoods are good.

Flip side is that I told Dan I wasn't turning on the A/C until the ducts got vacuumed, cause I knew that they had to be full of sawdust. I scheduled an appointment with Hoosier Air Solutions, after a very interesting conversation with Dana, the owner. Nice guy who knows his stuff, so I felt good going into this. Felt even better when the tech showed up on time and ready to roll, had a USI shirt on (that's where The Brat is going to school in August), and was seemingly an equally nice guy. We were off to a great start.

So I was showing said guy around the house, when he asked to see where the furnace was. I was walking downstairs to show him when I heard the back door open and who should show up but Dan's brother. Four dogs, two cats, two teenaged boys, a brother in law, and a HUGE vacuum cleaner was going to, I knew, make for yet another interesting day in the land of Utter Chaos.

Brother in law said he needed to use our internet connection, cause his laptop wasn't working at his sister's hours. Fine. If there's one thing that we do well around here, it's internet connection. Basically, if our internet connection went wonky, I'm pretty sure three of us would have to be committed, so yeah, coming to our house to use our connection isn't any big surprise. Since James is doing a class online, he really needed to get a good connection, so he plopped on the couch and started working.

He got to the website and his computer froze. He was not happy, as this is a problem he's apparently been having, and a couple of reboots later, things weren't looking up. I told him to borrow Dan's, but he kept trying to reload the site, without success. This set off a bit of a fit that involved some yelling at the computer and slapping of the keyboard, and ended with Dan's laptop in his lap. Great. He set off to working on his class, which happens to be medical terminology -- right up my alley.

Dan had told me some time ago that he was doing a medical terminology class, but when I asked Dan why, he said that he was working toward being a medical transcriptionist. Whaaaat? Even Dan couldn't explain how a deaf guy could be a transcriptionist, since that is 100% taking dictation, which usually requires hearing, but if anyone could work it out, it'd be James, so fine. When he showed up to work on his class, he mentioned he's working on being a medical biller and coder, which makes MUCH more sense to me. Thought I was losing it for a minute, but James explained it much better. And although James lip reads, and speaks fluently, I'm sure that his normal vocabulary isn't 100% what ours is, but he's doing great in school, with a B average.

So there I am, sitting on the couch, working on my website, and James is working on a "reverse translation," which meant that he had to translate a paragraph from laymen's terms to medical-ese. You know, this is probably not the easiest thing to learn how to do, but imagine if you can't hear any of what's being said -- definitely makes things a bit harder. Well, he got stuck on something and needed help, so I started trying to explain it to him. Suddenly, I hear this whining that I thought at first was James' hearing aid, till I realized no, it was just the big ole vacuum starting up again. Cool. Cool, that is, till the dogs realized what was going on and started barking like rabid animals. James just kept talking and reading from his book to me, totally oblivious to the caucophony, much less to the fact that I couldn't hear a doggone word he was saying.

That's when it occurred to me: I'm sitting on the couch, dogs barking, big vacuum sucking out the insides of my house, trying to teach Latin to a deaf guy, and I'm the one telling HIM that I can't hear him.

So yeah, that's life in my orbit. How's yours?

Meantime, I'm too lazy to shop for vintage today, so just check out the Hoosier Air Solutions website, cause this is a good way to make life suck, but in a good way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Possum. And I'm not playin'

We have suddenly acquired a possum in our yard. This is not an easy feat, considering we live in a very urban, inner city area, but leave it to us to get a possum.

This fat thing showed up one night when Seth let the dogs out to do their business. He came running in the house, frantically looking for Jill's help, because Big Butt and Butthead were going nuts, whilst Rocky was, of course, oblivious to the entire thing because he is an idiot.

Next day, I was in the sunroom scanning patterns. It was about five o'clock or so -- broad daylight -- as I sat in front of the picture window, scanning away. Well, you know that feeling you get when something's just not right? I got that feeling, and looked out the window to see that that possum was eying me from on top of the fence, on the other side of the driveway. I mean EYEING me, like Louis Gossett, Jr and Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman." Creepy. Have you ever seen the claws on a possum? They are HUGE.

That possum sat there eyeing me for at least twenty minutes, even after the kids and the dogs came in the room and looked at him. We ordered Chinese, and long story short, Seth had to go out to pay the guy by going out the back door (maybe I'll tell that story tomorrow), went walking down the driveway right by that possum. Dan was cracking up, of course, and I was just hoping he didn't make it angry. Seth, as usual, was oblivious. When he came walking back up the driveway with the food, I was even more concerned, so I said "hey Seth, look to your left." He about jumped outta his skin when he realized that the possum was only about three feet from his head.

We've seen the critter off and on since, always on the fence. I haven't seen him in a while, but the kids have, so I'm always nervous letting the dogs out, especially at night. He kind of disappeared for a couple of days, so I thought maybe he was gone but oh no, he decided to appear today. Today. The day that the guys came to strip the hardwoods, and the dogs had to stay in Seth's room for the day. Seth's room -- the closest room to the fence. And the dogs saw him sitting there for the longest, till he ambled up the tree in the neighbor's yard, which I had suspected all along was his home.

Have you ever heard dogs going crazy over a possum? Three dogs? Try adding that to the sound of a pneumatic nail gun, a huge circular sander, a table saw, and several hammers, and that's how I spent my morning. My head is still pounding from the mayhem. And I get to do it all again tomorrow, since the floors still aren't done yet. So if anyone knows a good way to get rid of a gangsta possum from the ghetto, please let me know. Guns are not permitted, lest Jill throw herself between the gun and the possum, but I'm open for ideas. No dogs allowed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Southern Living

I had to drive down to Evansville today, so that Jill could get registered for classes and do freshman orientation. Just having Jill in the car can be an interesting experience, and we had to leave at 5:15, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. I guess I knew it wouldn't be normal when I saw her walk out to the car in her pajamas, with a comforter wrapped around her head.

It was pouring rain, too, which didn't excite me too much. I love my little Yaris, but when it's windy, it blows all over the place -- you'd think with this fatty in the car, I'd anchor it down, but no go. Add dark, semis and pouring rain to the mix, toss it in a bowl, and you get how I spent three and half hours of my morning. And without caffeine, too, which definitely made me cranky, but since Jill was sleeping in the back seat, I didn't want to stop and risk waking the sleeping dragon, so I just kept going.

Round about Vincennes, two and a half hours into our journey, Jill sat up and announced she was changing clothes. In the back seat of the car. I guess her days of modesty are gone, because after some muttering and kicking the back of my seat, she tossed the orientation schedule at me. This paper was something that she had gotten in the mail several weeks ago and me, trying to avoid being a helicopter parent, trusted her when she told me the time we needed to arrive. I asked her again the other day, and the answer was the same -- 8 o'clock. I even happened to remember that Evansville, being in the heel of the boot, so to speak, is on Central time, which gave us an extra hour. An extra hour, that is, till I looked at that form and saw the little blurb about the placement test starting at 7am. The mandatory placement test which, if you don't take it, you can't register for classes.

That's when the mama dragon woke up, sans coffee, and was not smelling roses.

I was pretty concerned about doing seven hours of driving, only to come home unscheduled for classes, but right about the time I started vocalizing my concerns, Jill said she felt sick. Said she felt sick in a tone that only a mother can appreciate, when you're in a car with a kid in a back seat full of stuff that isn't gonna be easy to clean up if she spews. I yelled at her to get in the front seat, thinking that all of the blowing around of the car might be making her carsick, and next thing you know, she's clambering over the gearshift and plopping next to me.

It was a miracle cure.

After missing a turn to the school, we finally arrived, only to be told that yes, she could do the placement test, but not till the afternoon, or she'd only have twenty minutes to do it. Sat through two long orientation sessions -- finally got caffeine in the break, which was a good thing, cause I was falling asleep for sure, and got the fisheye from a couple of the speakers. There may have been snoring involved, but I'm not sure of that. I do know that nothing will put a grown woman to sleep quicker than seemingly intelligent people asking stupid questions that have already been answered, especially when it involves financial aid. The other thing I know is that I walked out with another Mountain Dew in my purse, just for safety's sake.

Took The Brat to advising, so she could schedule her classes. Twenty minutes later, he walked out alone. No sign of Jill. They ended up taking every kid who was waiting, and a few more who walked in, before Jill finally reappeared. She looked happy, thank God. And so, after spending eight hours at the halls of secondary education, what was the one thing that Jill had to say about her day?

"Most of the guys I saw were not bad looking. Oh, let that guy out of his parking space first. He's cute." ::guy pulls out in front of me, after cutting me off in the first place:: "Oh, never mind, he's not that great. But that guy who handed me my bag? He was fine." Oh yes, great readers, you too will one day understand that the most important thing in freshman orientation is finding that the guys are not bad looking, and some rank as just darn FINE. And since she came home and looked up some of her professor's on Rate My Professors, she's already changed her schedule to something more acceptable. But one thing remains the same: those boys are fine.
God help me. I may need Xanax for this. Click the image to help with tuition money.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dude, where's your chair?

We went downtown today to the Earth Day celebration. Seth plays in an African drum group, and they've performed at Earth Day for three years running now. It serves the dual purpose of being their spring performance, but it sure is fun. They get to perform with the adult group, Village Drums, who are phenomenal to watch.

Seth got interested in drumming when he was about four. Our next door neighbor, Rad (yes, that's his real name) was in Village Drums, and he used to practice in the back yard. Seth was never, ever shy, and he used to stand by the privacy fence and bellow that he wanted to see what Rad was doing. Rad, being the nice guy he is, invited Seth over to play the bongo a little bit, and Seth was hooked.

Several years later, I saw a post on a homeschool board, from someone offering drum lessons to kids. It was just for a week in the summer, which was the perfect time to try it out. He returned in the fall for lessons, and has been playing for four years now. They play drums, cowbells, tambourines, and all sorts of percussion instruments that I can't even pronounce the names of. The first time they performed with Village Drums at Earth Day, I told him how cool I thought it was. His only response was the complaint that it was hard to play with the adults because he couldn't hear his part. As time has progressed and I've seen them play together several times, I realize it really must be hard for them, but they sound good nonetheless.

If you ever get a chance to go to a performance, or participate in a drum circle -- go. It's not something you'll forget. Of course, this year, the most memorable thing was actually after Seth was done. He and I were standing there listening to the adults play while Dan, as usual, wandered around talking to people. The whole thing was being done under a big tent, so we were standing on the grass. There were some chairs there, but not many, so I was standing there listening, when suddenly the guy in the chair next to me rolled right off his chair and onto my foot, doing a face plant right in the grass.

Now, I knew Earth Day is all about taking care of the earth, but doing a face plant onto Mother Earth is taking it a little far.

Heck, I wasn't sure if the guy was dead, having a seizure, or what, and I was a little stuck because a) he was on my foot and b) I was still carrying around the reusable tote bag that Walmart was giving out. We had wandered around getting freebies, so I had a lot of stuff in the bag, including a tree about three feet long which, when not held correctly, poked the nearest person in the head. So yes, I was planted there with a man on my foot and a tree that was gonna fall on his head or put my eye out if I moved wrong.

I finally extricated myself from the foot, handed Seth the bag, and gave the guy a few shakes, yelling at him if he was ok (remember, there were a LOT of drums being banged, so it was not likely he was just napping). He finally said yes, but didn't move till I convinced him that he wasn't going to be able to lay there on my foot, facedown in the grass, looking dead, so he rolled himself over and sat up right about the time that Dan wandered over, oblivious to the whole thing. I asked the guy again if he was ok, and he said "oh yeah, I have arthritis." HUH? This guy was younger than me, and arthritis doesn't usually make you fall outta your chair like that, but that was all the explanation I was going to get, so we watched him for a while, then left to come home.

One of the more random things to happen to me, but remember, I live in Utter Chaos, so anything is possible. Sometimes I'm afraid to ask what's gonna happen next, but if this stuff didn't happen, I guess we'd be normal, and then I wouldn't know how to function.

Click the image to shop.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mr Potatohead

After the great potato peel adventure of two nights ago, Dan decided to take matters into his own hands. When a full bottle of Drano failed to work, I tried the old vinegar and baking soda followed by boiling water trick, hoping that the Drano had opened it up just enough to let the elements take over. No go. Still clogged, albeit not a full sink full. I went downstairs to check it all out, then came up and told Dan that I thought the problem wasn't in the kitchen sink trap, but in the trap for the dishwasher.

That's when he became a plumber, which usually ends in some kind of minor disaster.

He went down and eyeballed the entire situation, then wondered aloud why there was a piece of PVC routed off the normal route, but capped. "If that comes off, then maybe it'll let it all drain," said he, right as he yanked it off. The result? Mount Vesuvius, along with a lot of loud expletives -- enough to yank Seth off his computer chair and run downstairs to see what all the ruckus was about. By now, Dan had capped the entire thing again, but a few minutes and a few buckets later, he yanked it off again, and a disgusting Niagara falls ensued. After the buckets were empty, and Dan had plugged it all up again, he told me to go try the sink again.

You guessed it. It was still clogged. This was, as I told him, because he wasn't working in the area that was clogged -- he was working on the kitchen sink area, and the actual clog was further down, by the dishwasher. He fiddled around with it, and couldn't manhandle it loose.

That's when the hack saw came out.

Now let me tell you, a hack saw and plumbing is probably never a good thing, especially when being handled by an amateur. He started hacking, and Seth, standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, took a front frontal dose of greasy potato peel nastiness, soaking him from his head down. As if that wasn't enough, the pseudo-plumber asked Mr Potato Head to hold the bucket while he hacked away, which meant that he got it again until the bucket got positioned correctly. The poor kid may never be the same.

Of course, neither will the plumbing, because after hacking it all open, it couldn't be put back together again, and though the sink was drained, it was completely unusable, so it ended up with faux crime scene tape over it, with DO NOT USE written in purple Sharpie all over it. Dan put calls in to two plumbing friends of ours, but after not getting a response -- and Jill accidentally turning on the dishwasher to nowhere with Dan right underneath it -- we finally called a plumbing company. The end result?

1) A $1200 bill to completely replumb the kitchen, which we've known since we moved in 16 years ago wasn't plumbed right, because the entire thing is clogged from the dishwasher to eternity.

2) Thomas getting one hell of a deal on Dan's Town Car, which he sold to him to pay the plumbing bill and

3) Seth messaging me on Facebook, saying that after a 30 minute bath, he'll probably still smell awful. He's probably right.

At least at some point today, I may be able to use the kitchen sink and dishwasher again, and we can put it all behind us, till the next natural disaster happens in the land of Utter Chaos.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why my kid is smarter than your kid

Seth had drumming class yesterday, which means that I didn't get home till 6;15 or so. I put a nice roast in the crock pot, then called Jill on the way home and asked her to peel some potatoes so that we could have some nice mashed potatoes (which I seem to mysteriously have figured out how to make to Thomas' satifsaction).

Got home, had lovely potatoes, and even though the crock pot had somehow turned off and left the meat rather are, I finished it off in the microwave and we had a nice, albeit very chewy, dinner. Thomas amazingly unloaded the dishwasher without being asked -- be still my heart -- and we started cleaning up, only to find that the kitchen sink was clogged. Running the disposal was no help, because everything just backed up into the other sink. Yuck. I couldn't figure out what the heck the problem was till Jill said "the only thing I put in it was potato peels." Well, there was the problem.

Back when we lived in an apartment, the maintenance guy told me that the #1 clogger of disposals is potato peels. He told me what #2 was, but I can't remember -- I think maybe onion peels, but I'm not sure. In either event, I'm pretty respectful of the disposal, and try not to put anything too iffy in it. I always peel my potatoes onto a newspaper or plastic bag, then throw them in the compost pile, and even though the kids have done the same, I don't know if they knew why, but they did, till yesterday.

Dan was getting rather grumpy about the whole thing, because the one time episode of peels in the disposal led to a night of plumbing that ended up with us having no kitchen sink or dishwasher to use. He groused about the fact that the kids should know better, till I pointed out to him that it took me till 28 years old to find out that you can't put potato peels in the disposal and, since Jill is 18, she's ten years ahead of the game. He didn't have a response to that.

That reminded me of another kitchen rule that she knows, that maybe not everyone does: don't put dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher. Now, it might make seem to some that you can put Dawn in a dishwasher, but let me give you a clue: dishwashing liquid means someONE is washing dishes. Dishwasher liquid means someTHING is washing them.

Jill put Dawn in the dishwasher one time when she was about ten. Next thing you know, she's screaming, so I went running into the kitchen, thinking someone was dying. Well, she might've thought that she was heading toward a quick death, because the bubbles had already made it halfway across the kitchen floor, with no sign of letting up. Turning off the dishwasher was no help, because there's no way to get them out once they've started. Jill was looking rather panicstricken -- that look a little kid gets when they know that they are in real trouble -- when I just picked up a big handful of the bubbles and threw it at her. This turned into a melee of bubbles flying that only stopped briefly when Dan walked into the room to see what all the laughing was about. He just stopped, looked, and left the room without ever saying a word, while we went back to our own tamer version of Girls Gone Wild.

I didn't have to wash the kitchen floor for a month.

So yeah, my kid is smarter than your kid, cause she knows 1) not to put potato peels in the disposal, and 2) not to put Dawn in the dishwasher. Of course, she also knows how to do her own laundry correctly, how to saddle a horse, how to train a dog to do about a dozen tricks, how to plant bulbs, how to parallel park WELL, and how to bake some wildly delicious chocolate chip cookies, so all in all. That's just a sample of her talents. Like the apron pictured above. Click the image to shop, cause I've gotta pay the plumber somehow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Post Traumatic Seth Disorder

We had to go get family pictures done last night. Some of you may remember that we had them done last fall,
and that they came out rather nicely. Well, our church decided to redo the church directory, as they do every couple of years and Dan, being the frugal soul that he is, didn't want to pay the $10 to have our current family picture inserted, so we had to go and have it done again by the photographer that church hired.

Have you ever tried to convince three teenagers that they need to dress up for a family photo, for the second time in less than a year? Well, let me tell you, it's not fun.

First of all, you have to make sure that everyone is actually going to be around for the picture. Wednesday night was a good bet, because a) it's youth group night, so odds are that two of the kids will already be at church and b) LOST is on, so no one makes plans. This is the logic that I used, however Dan just planned it for a Wednesday by sheer luck. I told him that HE was going to be the one to break it to the kids, which he did, two nights in a row, at the dinner table.

I was rather surprised at the lack of response to his announcement, till I realized yesterday afternoon that no one had been listening. Jill called from work. I reminded her about the pictures, and she got a bit testy, saying that she was going to have to rush home from work and take a shower so that she didn't smell like the barn when she went, and why were we getting the pictures done again anyway? I tried to use the youth group thing as a rationale, and she even more testily informed me that she didn't get off work in time to go to youth group, and wasn't going to be able to go. Oh, and she was "in the mood for a good dinner." Whatever that means. She ended up hanging up on me when she found out that her father and I had made plans to go out to dinner with friends, thinking that the kids would be at youth group, so her "good dinner" was going to have to be prepared by her.

Seth was no problem, except he seemed to be having trouble understanding the English language, as usual. I told him to wear his jeans (Dan said he was wearing a suit and tie, and I informed him that he was going to be sadly out of tune with the rest of his family, because we'd only get them there if they could wear jeans. Jeans it was.) and to put on the blue polo shirt I had bought him last week. "What's a polo shirt?" he said. Oye and vay -- this could take a while. "It's the light blue shirt that matches the yellow one you wore to church on Easter." "The one I can wear to school? That's not against the dress code?" "YES!" He was also informed to take a shower and wash the hair that was sticking straight up from the back of his head. (He has a Dennis the Menace cowlick. You will see its importance shortly.) He showered. He brushed his teeth. He came out wearing jeans and a turquoise polo shirt that was a couple of sizes too small. "Is this it?" he said. "Uh, no. Doesn't that feel tight? You want the light blue one that matches the one you wore to church last week." "Oh," he said. "The one I can wear to school? The one that's not against the dress code?" (Can you tell he's more than mildly obsessed with the dress code in the high school he's going to in the fall?) "YES!" He wanders off to his room, then yells back, "is it the button down one?" "No! It's pale blue. It matches the one you wore to church last Sunday." "OH!" he says. "I found it."

I wasn't holding my breath that he was going to come out in the right shirt, but miraculously, he did. Two down.

Thomas had been warned multiple times of the countdown to the pictures, when they needed to be there, where they needed to go, etc., because Dan and I were going out to dinner, and expected to meet the kids at church afterward. I told Thomas to wear jeans, and some semblance of blue, as far as a shirt. I knew he didn't have a polo shirt, because he thinks that they are old men shirts, so I told him if all else failed, wear the shirt he wore for family pictures in the fall. I knew it was clean and hanging in the hall closet upstairs, so I figured I was safe, since he lives upstairs, right next to the hallway closet. The hallway closet that he asked me to clean out of all of the junk, so that he could store the stuff that he's bought for his apartment (then never used, but that's another story).

Well, Dan and I went to dinner, and got done early, so we went home to get the kids. One dressed, one in the shower, and Thomas nowhere to be seen -- not that that is really all that unusual. He's kind of a ghost around here. Jill finally got out of the shower and went upstairs, then promptly yelled down that she didn't have anything blue to wear. I told her just to find something blue-ish and that would be fine. She yelled back some unintelligible reply that expressed her unhappiness with life in general. I was in the kitchen straightening up when Thomas flew in and said "a button came off this shirt and it's the only one I have to wear, then disappeared. He left me holding a red plaid shirt, sans one button. It was now 7:20, with pictures to be taken at 7:50. I yelled out to him to look in the hall closet, because he had at least three shirts there that would work for the pictures, and he said he was getting in the shower. Nothing like waiting till the last minute. Thomas came back into the kitchen at 7:35 with soaking wet hair and said that he didn't have another shirt to wear. Another one who doesn't understand the English language. Oye and vay.

I told him to check the UPSTAIRS hall closet, you know, where you live, because he was going to find several other shirts that would work, and he disappeared upstairs yet again. Meantime, the next door neighbor stopped by, asking Dan to help, of all things, with opening a jar of artichokes, so in the midst of everyone getting ready, there is an exhibition of brute strength going on in the kitchen. Seth wanders in at 7:40 barefoot, carrying his socks, and Jill said something about her phone and went out the back door. I told Seth to get in the car, Dan yelled up to Thomas that the bus was leaving, and several honks of the horn, and a tight fit in the back of the Yarus later, we did, indeed, make it to church on time. It was at this point, standing in the hall of the church, that Thomas asked why we were doing family pictures again. "Because they're updating the directory." "Why couldn't we just use the other pictures we had done." Dan replied, "because I didn't want to pay ten bucks for them to use that one."

"Buddy," Thomas said, "I would've spotted you that ten bucks, just so we didn't have to do this again" -- a reply that was quickly echoed by the other two kids and the wife.

Took a couple of poses with the little family, and then got one of just the brats, since we'd forgotten to do that in the fall. We even managed to get one with Thomas almost smiling -- how that happened, I'll never know, since he was most unhappy that his hair was still wet. I just figured he looked like a good conservative Baptist, with his hair gelled back. We're Presbyterian, but oh well. Everyone was even in a fine mood on the way home -- probably because Dan sat in the back going home, to help keep the peace. Jill's lament, because at this point, she lives in a constant state of lament, was that "back in the day, it wouldn't be proper for a girl to be in the backseat with two guys," to which my response was that back in the day, a girl wouldn't BE in the backseat of a car with a boy unless her father was there, so it was all good.

We were joking and carrying on, right up till we pulled into the driveway. I was the first one in the house, and had just put my purse down when I heard Jill laughing, glass shattering, and Dan yelling frantically that someone needed to get a towel. Yep, it's not Utter Chaos till blood is flowing. Turned out that Seth was running to the house, because Jill has a penchant for playfully locking him out if she gets there first, which she had. He had his hand out to push the door back open, when Jill tried to slam it shut, putting Seth's arm right through the glass in the door, completely shattering it, and cutting Seth's arm in four or five places.

Dan yelled for some gauze, which Thomas got. Jill disappeared. I stayed away from the hallway because Dan didn't bring him in the house right away, and there wasn't room for all of us in there, and the dogs needed to be corralled. There was lots of yelling, dogs barking, blood, glass, you name it. Somewhere along the line, Thomas ran upstairs to get something, and informed me that he'd had to go online and tell his crew about what happened. Because, you know, it couldn't wait. Oye and vay. Jill finally showed up, and never would admit if she disappeared because she felt bad for trying to kill her brother, or if it was because she throws up at the site of blood -- which would have only added to the mayhem. A quick inspection showed that Seth had several areas that maybe could use one or two stitches, by my assessment, but Dan of course told Seth it'd be fine. He could just man up and it'd heal just fine.

So yeah, we now have Seth's arm bandaged up with a patchwork of gauze and bandaids, there's no glass in one panel of the back door, I've told Jill several ways that she could kill someone that would a) be less messy and b) wouldn't irritate her father in having to repair the door. Personally, I'm surprised that glass survived the last sixteen years we've been in this house, especially with three kids, but I guess all good things must come to an end. At least we're no worse for the wear.

And so I had to go find something appropriate to show you, and what else better than a brother-sister outfit from Simplicity? The pattern itself is a wounded bird, meaning it's missing pieces, but it's cute as all getout. It just wouldn't be ok to wear with the high school dress code this fall. Click the image to shop.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jen and Lisa's fabulous adventure Part 1 Dude, Where's My Sign?

So my friend Jen, of momspatterns fame, came to visit last month. Dan was going away on the missing trip, so we figured it was time for a little girl time. Jen knows my penchant for disorganization, so she was going to help me with some purging and such.

Dan, of course, was sure that I had invited a serial killer to the house because, you see, Jen and I had never actually met. She and I have talked online forever, via email, IM, and in different forums that we frequent, but she lives in Florida, and I live in Indiana, and the twain just had not met yet. Dan doesn't get the whole online thing yet, and it didn't help the cause at all when he heard that Jen had met her hubby online. He was relieved to know that he would be home to protect me for the first day or two. Yep, he's my knight in shining armor, protecting my against Xena-like pattern sellers.

So Jen and I talked a time or two on the phone before she came up --which was, in itself, progress, since we'd never talked before this either. We were pretty giddy about the whole thing, planning to go through my stash 'o patterns and catalogs and such. You know, it's not often that you meet a fellow pattern junkie, so this was really something! Jen asked how she would know me at the airport, because she had only seen a few pics of me in the past. I jokingly said I'd make her a sign, then enlisted The Brat to do it for me.

The Brat, of course, was not feeling her creative juices flowing until literally 15 minutes before I was to leave to pick up Jen, when she suddenly said "didn't you want me to make you a sign?" Uh, yeah...........three weeks ago, when I first mentioned it. ::sigh:: We started scrambling for things to put on it, and Jill wrote (what else) JEN in big purple letters on the posterboard. We added her website logo to it, some pattern pics, a picture of Sawyer from Lost (since he's her man), and some other random stuff, and I took off for the airport while the marker was still drying.

Indianapolis has a new airport, and I'd never been to it, so I was a little concerned about time. I left the house a little late, the new airport is a bit further away then the old one, and I had no idea about where to park, or where she would be coming out from the plane. The new airport is kind of funky -- I parked, then had to go up an escalator, down some stairs, across one of those moving sidewalks (which has lights that randomly light up and start playing disco music now and again, kinda like the Billie Jean video does 70s), then up another escalator, just to get to the terminal. Then I couldn't find where her gate was, because her flight wasn't listed on the list. Oye and vay. I was sure that, because I was a few minutes late, I had left a not-so-total stranger alone in a strange airport, and that's not really the first impression you want to make.
I finally asked one of the staff people, who pointed me in the right direction, where a flight was coming out. I didn't see her, and didn't even know if it was the right flight or not, so I started texting her to see if she'd landed yet. Next thing you know, I hear "where's my sign," look up, and there she is, all 5'10" of her, standing right in front of me.

I just said "OH! Here it is," and flashed it for her. She loved it, of course, and insisted on a picture of me with it under the Welcome to Indianapolis sign -- a picture where I am still laughing, because we were so happy to finally have met. Got the luggage, took her home, where Dan eventually showed up and pronounced her to not be a serial killer after all. More tomorrow about this fabulous adventure, but meantime, click the image to shop in Jen's store. She needs some cash after all the shopping we did whilst she was here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A stomp down Memory Lane

I've been dashing madly through three states in the past couple of weeks, gathering sewing patterns everywhere I go. Dan, of course, thinks it's really weird, especially given the fact that he doesn't like car travel, but I'm in my element.

The patterns I got today contained tons of wonderful styles, including 50s party dresses, 40s sundresses, and everything from playsuits to swimsuits and wedding dresses. But what I found interesting was the kids' patterns.

I don't usually get a lot of kids stuff, because it's not a huge market of mine, but these were some seriously cute ones. The one that caught my eye is shown at left. You may wonder why this one? Well, it's because it reminds me of my two sisters and me.

The dark haired one on the right reminds me of my "big" sister Linda. I say "big" because she's a few years older than me (ahem: eight) but she is quite a bit shorter than me. She does, however, have the dark hair shown here. The lighter haired one on the left reminds me of my "big" sister Amy, who is as vertically challenged as Linda. Being the youngest, I always looked at them as so cool, and such fashion plates -- especially because they wore cool 70s high school stuff, and I not only had no fashion sense, but also was too big to fit into their petite hand me downs, once I got to be about ten years old.

Tiny, petite cool hipster sisters. How cool is that? But look on that pattern envelope at the little tyke in front. That little one looks like she has some serious attitude, so she MUST be me! She looks like the sisters have probably told her not to do whatever she wanted to do, and in her little head she is saying "oh yeah, man, I'm GONNA," while she stomps off with her Barbie.

That'd be me, and I dare my sisters to say I'm wrong. They won't.