Saturday, February 21, 2009

Things that are Slow

  • The line I pick at the grocery store.
  • Elephant gestation.
  • Televised award shows.
  • Recitations of Puritan sermons.
  • Ulysses, by James Joyce.
  • Mail in Rebates.
  • Wagnerian operas.
  • Professional seminars.
  • Omelet bars.
  • Mail order wine.
  • Toll plazas in Chicago.
  • Anything having to be stenciled.
  • Purgatory.
  • A&P.

Peter is especially slothful...

Me: Put your shoes on- the bus is coming in 10 minutes.

Peter: In a minute, I'm (Pick two- Reading, picking lint from my toes, laying in bed, staring at myself in the mirror, eating, combing my hair, complaining about my shirt, counting the hair on my right big toe, ignoring you. )

Andrew is similarly situated...

Me: We have to leave in 5 minutes.

Andrew: In a minute, I'm (Pick two- putting on my socks, reading a novel, arguing with you about who or what started the Battle at Gettysburg, staring into space, peeling an orange, inventing a hover car out of Popsicle sticks and string, ignoring you.)

To address this I could:

  • Scream
  • Argue
  • Beg
  • Plead
  • Drink
  • Laugh maniacally
  • Have another drink
  • Pray
  • Pull the fire alarm
  • Threaten any number of things including, but not limited to, the elimination of air, food or shelter
  • Make a souffle
  • Stencil my driveway
  • Read Ulysses
  • Recite my favorite sermons of fire and ice by Jonathan Edwards
  • Calculate how long my parental transgressions will get me sentenced in the after-life
  • Watch the bus leave and my offspring walk to school.

Kid: Mom, are you going to take me to (Pick two, scouts, school, church, the library, the store, prison, to see my probation officer)?

Me: Hmmmm, I'm moving a bit like a tortoise today....come back in an hour.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


As the resident crazy person, I do all variety of lunatic things. My borderline behavior is probably due to a lack of sleep, too much vodka, a generalized personality disorder, poisoning from my hair color, genetic defects of various sorts or perhaps just an overall lack of judgment when it comes to my children. For example, Andrew called me at work last week...

Kid: Hi Mom, I need to go to Sweden.
Me: OK.

That's not the worst thing that could happen. He could have said he needed to go to Uzbekistan. I don't have anything against Uzbekistan, but the plane tickets would be pricey and he'd miss a lot of school. Why would you NEED to go there anyway unless you're an arms dealer or in need of auto parts for your Volga? I digress...

Once when A&P were 9, we had a sleepover for nine of their friends- in our much smaller house. I did not learn from that experience, hence it was destined to be repeated....

Kid: I want to have a sleepover.
Me: OK.
Kid: We're inviting 10 friends.
Me: Each???
Kid: No.
Me: OK.

And so it goes. Two boys, ten friends, 8 pizzas, four gallons of ice cream, 6 bags of chips and a bag of marshmallows later, it's a sleepover for 11. (One of the invitees opted out of the festivities).

They all arrived at the appointed time of 6pm with sleeping bags and other stuff. One friend showed up with a clown car version of a duffel bag, large enough to hold a small sofa, containing a video camera, a tripod, Nerf guns, and every single XBox game from his home, much to the dismay of his brothers. We know this because a brother called to threaten his life.

Over pizza one kid offers:

Friend: I like girls.
Me: OK.
Friend: I'm a chick magnet.
Me: Not OK.

Later the friend's phone buzzes, repeatedly.

Me: Your phone is buzzing.
Friend: It's my lady friend.
Me: WHAT???
Friend: She's my lady, I met her on the Internet and she sends me texts. I've never met her.
Me: Not OK.

The friend returned to the ruckus. They stayed up all night- most of them. A few boys were curled up in various places. Arms were sticking precariously out of sleeping bags. Most were fully dressed. Some slumped over right where they were- game controllers in hand.

I'm not ready for the lady friends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Hey there Unc. A year ago you took your leave and left us with some fabulous memories, a blue van, a car or two, a boat keel, a fondness for Alaska and a lot of sailing trophies.

We're all doing ok, but I'm sure you know that. Grandpa's new knee is amazing and Grandma is taking prisoners at bridge games in Florida. Alex just turned 6 and Elena is the baby you never met. Aubrey sounds like Katharine Hepburn and A&P are as tall as me and want to be Eagle Scouts.

We miss you.

I imagine you dipping into the waves of the Pacific and swirling the ice crystals in the snow fields of Mount Healy. Your laugh still rings in my ears and I love your smile, wherever you are. A soul like yours surely found a place to stop and rest.

I'd love to see you swagger into Grandma's kitchen on Chinqapin Way with a Budweiser in your hand. You're wearing your jeans and your stocking feet and you're smiling because you just posted the lottery ticket odds on the bulletin board in the hall. I haven't had a lottery ticket since the last Christmas you bought us all a piece of the action.

Losing you broke our hearts. You're still there though, at the edge of my thoughts and pushing me to wring life out of every single day I have. When you left you slipped into the sky, silent on owl wings, above your cabin, the mountains, the lake and became a part of the landscape of the place you loved most.

So here's to you Unc. I have your picture with Linda, Carolyn and Stuart on the fireplace. It was a beautiful day in August in Alaska when they came to visit you. You are all radiant, full of life and there you will remain in my thoughts for always.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Favorite Vehicle, Feet

My pal Sparky over on My Thoughts Exactly got me thinking about vehicles, modes of transportation or whatever moves things when she tagged me on her post. I certainly meant to post before now, but time flies and the blog sits stagnant even though we're running around, day in and and out, like a bunch of bargain hunters at a half price yard sale just when it's starting to drizzle.

Regardless, the challenge is to name your favorite vehicle or some such thing and since I have the best of times on my feet, I'll share my podiatric memories here.

My feet are of average size and disposition. They manage to cram into pointy toed shoes on occasion, mostly when I'm trying to be taller than everyone else and cougar fierce. I like my hiking sandals the best and so do the feet.

These feet ran after my ornery boy when he was trying to go pick up leaves in the street.

These feet climbed to the top of Harney Peak in South Dakota to listen to the wind and the deafening sound of silence.

I got married with my feet jammed into little white shoes.

Jammed into saddle stirrups, my feet kept me from taking a header off of a spirited horse who was rapidly sinking into spring mud in the Tetons.

My toes dangled over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

The feet carried me to far away chalets deep in the mountains of Montana and to the top of mountain peaks where the goats climb.

My toes dipped into the oceans and splashed the waves in the Great Lakes. My feet even carried me back to a cabin on Lake Michigan when I got lost when I was 9.

Feet are handy on a bicycle.

Feet are noteworthy for standing when doing any of the following:
  • Hollering from the driveway to no one in particular "DINNER!"
  • Digging up weeds and other stuff
  • Flinging laundry
  • Twisting and spinning around in circles until you are dizzy
  • Employing the tippy-toes for the top of the Christmas tree
  • Giving bear hugs
  • Running away from anything with teeth, that is drooling and licking its lips, while looking at me like I might be dinner (for example, the Big Bad Wolf or any type of Bear, regardless of brown or black)
  • Cheering, screaming and otherwise acting like a side-line fool during any of A&P's sporting event
  • Occasional stamping, stomping and other sundry activities that might be associated with a good, old-fashioned temper tantrum. Yes, I still have these.
  • Creeping down the hall and pretending to be the tooth fairy
  • Dancing as only a white girl can (or cannot)

As Annie sang in her orphanage; FEET, GLORIOUS FEET! Wait, that might have been about food... Never mind.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In Your Corners!

If I hear one more scream, or yelp, or

"MOM, he's coming after me with something pointy!", I am resigning.

Yes, I am resigning. Having a sibling is not an easy thing. Having a sibling that looks exactly like you and probably does everything that drives you straight to crazy town, has it's own set of problems. Regardless, I, heretofore, refuse to be your referee. You're on your own.

Dear Children:

First, let me say that I appreciate the confidence you have placed in me as your Mother. I realize that at the time you hired me, I was not qualified in the least. Peter, you especially have an axe to grind since I let you roll off of the ottoman when you were like 3 weeks old. I pretty much caught you anyway, so no damage done. Andrew, I used to paint your toenails so I wouldn't confuse you with your brother. I see now that this was just the first of many errors, so how you've tolerated my sub-standard parenting performance this long, is beyond me.

I think it would be best to tender a resignation, but Dad thinks I could be rehabilitated with the use of some aggressive metrics, timetables and charts of my shortcomings. Besides, I've become rather attached to you even when you're screaming "I HATE YOU!" or "I WON'T EAT THAT FOR DINNER!"

We set some pretty aggressive goals earlier this year and I know I've failed. Case in point, I was supposed to stop talking like a truck driver. I haven't and I've probably gotten worse. Just wait until Grandma finds out that Peter's favorite word in a stressful situation is "crap." I was never allowed to say that so I guess I'll have my parents to answer to as well. This totally sucks.

I'm not sure that goals will help since I do this job for no pay, no retirement plan and no health coverage, no mini bar and no expense account. I could really use a psychiatrist on call but your HMO keeps denying it. Regardless, I had to get that job I go to everyday to keep my sanity and everyday about 3:00 I wonder what the heck I think I'm doing leaving you two home alone. I really wish you would only fight in the basement so there's no opportunity for neighbors to peer inside and see you body slamming each other on the kitchen floor.

Now that you're 12, our only hope may be military school. I've been threatening this since you were born and refused to breathe. It didn't work then and heck, I'm pretty sure it's not working now. Really the choice is yours. You can barely make yourselves toast and if I left you alone for more than about 2 hours I'm pretty sure you'd be smothered by your dirty socks. I suppose I can stay around for awhile to get you a little more grown up, but if you ever call me at work again to make me referee your little showdown from off site, I'll bounce you both into last week. Yes, last week and on different days- so you don't fight about that too.

Love Yo Mama

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Melting Snow, Or Giant Bunnies

We have been graced with 40 degree temperatures the last few days and this has made a soggy, soupy dent in the blanket of snow and ice. There's still a lot of it and as it melts, the oak leaves and various animal tracks are exposed.

The deer use our backyard as a highway. They cut through in a perfectly straight line, right through the middle.

The rabbits are not as exacting, but we have hawks in the tree-tops so they have reason to take heed, lest they end up as some one's lunch. Their tracks weave around the yard like drunken tourists at the beach- under the deck, over to the pine tree, by the water and back. Before the snow started to melt, the rabbits had blazed a trail right along the back of the house, up on to the deck, down the side and into a hole underneath the bushes by the windows. Sometimes the rabbits and the deer come right up within a few feet of the windows and look inside at us. We're like the gorilla exhibit at the zoo- except we don't have tires laying around and we don't throw ourselves at the glass to scare our observers.

With the melt, the tracks elongate and it looks like we've had beagle-sized rabbits circling the house for weeks. A forty pound rabbit shouldn't be afraid of the hawks, but is large enough to bring in the newspaper. I'll have to leave them a note on the glass.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Together They are 24

Today is A&P's 12th birthday. I told them they had a surprise in the garage. It was Jones Soda. Cruel? Yes. No way should they be driving a car or doing anything else that requires a license.

Peter was very upset that I did not honor his Scout fire lighting credentials and allow him to ignite his cake. He could barely blow it all out.

Andrew told me that I am his servant for today. I don't think I was that delightful when I was 12.

Anyway, Happy birthday to A&P. Happy Birthday to me and Tim because we are still married after horsing around with these kids, diapers, barfing, school, homework, sports, coaching, vacations, nightmares, dirty socks and menus of only chicken strips for 12 years. This kind of feels like an accomplishment!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Camp Frozentoesen

This weekend-past, A&P ventured out to their rescheduled Camp Alaska. If you're not sure what this is, or its negative impact on my psyche, you may want to refer to this wacked out post from the last time this trip was scheduled.
Alas, that trip was canceled due to horribly inclement weather. You can read about my nervous breakdown this caused by referring to this equally wacked out post.
The Scouts are a tenacious lot. They rescheduled their trip of pure folly and A&P prepared with gusto. I took a different, calmer approach. I appealed to the happier, less crazed side of my brain to find inner peace despite the Shackleton-esque similarities of their adventure.
Andrew commented on my calm. "What's wrong with you?"
He pried, "Are you really OK with this or are you just being sarcastic?"
"I'm fine. Really."
"Who are you and what have you done with my Mother?"
After assuring him that I was in my happy place and I had not been kidnapped by aliens or roving bands of gypsies, we threw them out in the snow. As we waited for the Donner Party to leave, Peter confessed, "I have no idea how to make Ramen Noodles."
"Oh, then today is the day you find out! Just a hint, they shouldn't be crunchy."
As usual our local weather people were completely wrong and I had every reason to be an insane, institutionalized lunatic (non-toxic markers, rubber room and funny jacket with arms that tie together in the back crazy.) Grand Rapids, Ohio dropped to a frosty negative 1 on Friday night. I did not sleep a wink.
Saturday morning the phone never rang to tell me to meet the Med Evac helicopter at the trauma center so I relaxed a bit. Early Saturday evening, however, my sense of calm was shattered by a call:
"Hello Mom? It's Peter."
"Um, yes. It was negative 1 last night. I get an extra badge for that!"
"Um, yes, but my toes froze together. I had ice crystals on my feet and everything."
"Um, no. I put my feet in the fire and they're OK. See you tomorrow!"
"Hi Mom, it's Andrew. I'm fine and none of my parts froze. Hey, one of the boys named Leonard can write his whole name with pee in the snow. Cool, huh? See you tomorrow!"
We gathered them up on Sunday morning. They emerged from the van with wide smiles and a sheen of sweat, snow and campfire smoke. They were the cutest, loveliest children I had ever seen.