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.