Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Here's what I hate about UFO's (i.e. Unfinished Objects):

What was I doing? What was my plan? Did I have a plan? How the heck was I going to tie it all together? Why, oh why, in my frenzy of creativity do I NEVER think to leave myself notes? (Or let's be accurate - why don't I make myself take the time during my creative frenzy to write it all down?)
This is Havoc's 'Kindergarten Quilt' which didn't ever get finished even though it was begun MONTHS before Havoc's first day of Kindergarten. The school sent a letter to us right after we registered that took the wind completely out of my sails. Apparently Kindergarteners no longer take naps at school (no time for that) and therefore don't need nap mats or blankets (no room for that). Sad.
Now that Havoc is in SECOND grade, do you think it's time has come? Perhaps if I work on it now, it will be finished in time for Havoc's son to take to Kindergarten. Maybe by then, it will be fashionable to let Kindergarteners nap at school again. I'm fixing to get ready to think about getting started to finish this sucker.
Bright side alert: I'm in my studio (even though it's not perfect or quite finished) and this is (I think) the first time I've posted any actual quilt content on my blog (even though quilting is what I wanted to blog about MOST when I began blogging almost a year ago!)

Lilymane's Soapbox

The drive to school this morning was bad for my heart.
My son Mayhem (12 years old) has decided to join FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) - which is fine - except for the part where the FCA I remember from high school was a bunch of pious jocks who were complete jerks to everybody else. And now he's reading Left Behind - which is also fine - except for the part where I think it's the most ridiculous, poorly written piece of crap on the market in addition to my opinion of the mean and narrow theology underlying the series. I told him my opinion of both the FCA and Left Behind. I told him there was no one 'right' opinion - considering that our opinions are grounded in our experiences and our experiences are different from each other. I told him that it is important for him to know how I feel and what I think but I made sure he heard me say that it is equally important for me to know how he feels and what he thinks. He absolutely does not have to have the same opinions or feelings as I do - and he doesn't have to defend or argue them with me. He gets to tell me and I won't try to sway him or change his mind about any of it. I just love him. In toto. I want to know what he's doing, experiencing, thinking, etc. Then I told him I loved him again. (But bleck. Left Behind? I hate that fear mongering dreck. <---I didn't say that part again. Once was enough - but wow I couldn't stop ranting about it in my head. Ick, icky, nasty, yucky - I don't want my kids getting sucked in with people who are so mean and exclusive!)

On the way home from dropping the greebles off at school - I listened to the news. (Speaking of dreck...) The president responded to this situation by saying someone is trying to confuse the American people about the nature of the enemy (and he wasn't speaking about himself!) Gee, a report that says not only are we NOT safer since we manufactured a war and began terrorizing Iraq - but that we've created a whole new crop of terrorists in doing so? Strikes me about the same way as the multimillion dollar study did which concluded that mothers of young children are chronically sleep deprived. YOU THINK???

That said...I do have to add that I have serious issues with intelligence being leaked to the media. Support the troops my ass! People who leak intelligence are endangering the troops! It infuriates me to think of our intelligence assets being hung to dry by cretin journalists/politicos. The intelligence oversight committee (and other checks and balances) need to do their jobs - and maybe we need to look at how that part of the process works - but the solution is NOT declassifying a document that compromises our folks over there - no matter whether you think they should be there or not. I happen to think they shouldn't be there and that our troops should never have been there, but the stunts people pull with intel back here in the States is tantamount to friendly fire. When it doesn't outright kill our troops, it makes their job harder and riskier. WHY WOULD WE DO THAT? WHY WOULD WE SHOOT OUR OWN PEOPLE?

If Bush and all the other Christo-fascists would go away (like to Mars) I would be a happier camper. Just saying.
Peace. Peace. PEACE! Do you hear that universe?! Lilymane wants PEACE. (Is that too much to ask for?)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Random Jesus Things

Jesus is a big deal in the South. Maybe he's a big deal in lots of places - but he's a big deal in weird ways around here. VBGF's mother (in the Appalachians) has these slippers delicately placed beside her bed - but she has them positioned like ballet slippers perpendicular to one another. I don't think she's ever actually worn them.

This weekend, at the wedding in Philly, we were comparing notes with a woman (named Hannah) from western North Carolina about regional expressions. The old standards came up: my (very Southern sounding) sister who can make the word 'hey' have more syllables than letters and Hannah's being accused of always 'fixin' something. But then Hannah came up with one I've never heard of. A common expression in her hometown (apparently) is "my hair is dirty, my feet stink, but I do love Jesus." I had never heard this - ever. I googled it and the closest hits I got were all from or about Jimmy Buffet's song. But then there was this reference which was also close and said it was a North Carolina expression. I dunno. Do you?

A bank near me once had a bobble-head Jesus at one of the teller windows - but it wasn't there when I went back to take a picture of it. (The teller was AARP aged and sincere - if slow as molasses as a teller. I don't think she had it as a joke - but maybe the bank made her take it down in case someone took it the wrong way.)

And (last two things) there's this website - which I don't quite get. And this one - which I don't get at all. Those aren't Southern - they're just miscellaneous Jesus things I found while trying to find the origins of 'my hair is dirty, my feet stink, but I do love Jesus'. Clearly a lot of work went into those websites. But why?

From there to here and here to there; Jesus things are everywhere!

Bonus feature in the form of advice: whatever you do - do NOT google the word "Jesus" with any food item. I do not want to admit how many hours I spent trying to find a food that had not at some time in some place borne the face of Jesus. Aspargus, tortillas, grilled cheese, radishes, fish sticks, peach pits - the list goes on and on!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Toynbee Tiles

Hey! Last week (Friday?) I heard half of a commercial for an upcoming (weekend edition) NPR story about Toynbee tiles - and then - we saw one in Philadelphia! We were so bent on navigating traffic (oooh - Philly drivers curse and honk at pedestrians!) and looking for cheesesteaks that it actually didn't register until about a half a block later. I just stepped up onto the curb and went on - but somewhere inside my brain something clicked. "Hey, did you hear that blurb about the Toynbee tiles on NPR?" I asked VBGF. "WHAT are you talking about?" she said. I did a totally half-assed job of explaining (since I hadn't listened all that well to a commercial for a story I knew I wasn't going to be able to listen to since I'd be in Philadephia - and they didn't say anything about Philly in the promo!). I muttered Stanley Kubrick, Jupiter, mysterious tiles - and "I think that cracked mosaic thing back there was one of them." "OK." she said. Now I wish I'd made a bigger deal and gone back to actually look at the darn thing. But still...I saw one. Me, pop culture, timely intersection! Fun!
Peace (and Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter)

**Also - I think "Toynbee" would be a great dog name! Apparently, in my next life I plan to come back as a dog breeder because my list of dog names is waaaay too long for someone who can't get another dog for 13+ years!

Bibble Babble

I'm barely functional after SIX HOURS in the Philadelphia airport yesterday. Thankfully it was a wonderful day in football land with the Colts, the Redskins, the Eagles, the Broncos and the Dolphins all winning! And thankfully the sports bar in the Philly airport takes credit cards! I'd have been okay without the explanations of exactly why things get so backed up at that airport. (A very nice lady explained how, due to the geometry of the river, they can't build any more runways so the take off and landing strips criss cross and have to take turns so it's easy to get grid locked if even one plane gets behind. Another nice lady came on to explain that it wasn't OUR plane that had a mechanical issue - but they took our plane to replace the one whose windshield wipers broke and they were looking around for one for us to use. The words 'cascade effect' were used several times. I decided the explanations made me worry more than they reassured me - so I stopped listening and ordered another beer.)

But all of that was worth it - because the wedding was delightful. And interesting! St. Ann's friends are all preppy girls from suburban Philadelphia who went to all-girl's schools and JTM's friends are from New Jersey and build robots. The wedding was in a tiny chapel in the middle of a graveyard*(built in 1715). It was perfect space. The four kids (they each bring a boy and girl into this) were their attendants. The boys carried the rings (tied to R2D2 figurines) and the girls each read a passage from Scripture. It was a lovely ceremony (with the bonus of having gravestones for the kids to play hide-and-seek among during the receiving line!) They held the reception outside in the luscious back yard of the house they just bought. Giant hostas, gorgeous lawn, charming stream complete with footbridge crossing it: it was storybook. There was a delicious dinner to savor, a moonbounce to play in, and a super-cool go-cart race to watch. There were fascinating people to talk to and lots of little kids to watch. (My favorite little girl was about 5, had a bowl cut and was wearing a purple t-shirt underneath a satin/tulle flower girl's dress with rainbow-striped, wool tights covering her legs and birkenstocks on her feet.) It really couldn't have been sweeter or more fun.

Before we left Philly, VBGF and I ventured to South Street for cheesesteaks. (How could we not?!) Jim's (we were told) is over-rated. The place to go is Ishkabibbal's*. I wish I could say that we got cheesesteaks at Ishkabibbal's because it is such an incredibly fun word to say! However, while it smelled heavenly, it turns out that Ishkabibbal's is a tiny, shack kind of place with no seating to speak of. We needed to sit! We did find yummy cheesesteaks at a sports bar (charmingly located close to the Condom Kingdom). Our waiter was wearing a Ukranian National Soccer shirt and had obviously had too much fun on Saturday night - but it was a great place nonetheless. VBGF ended up chatting with the owner about local beers and even though we couldn't buy a six pack of fun IPA to take home because it was Sunday, he gave her a pint glass as a souvenir.

Then she dropped me off at the Philly airport and I'm still there. (Just kidding.) She dropped me off at three something and I got home at midnight something. Some of that time was not actually spent in the airport, but rather sitting on the plane on the runway (trying not to worry that we could perhaps be sitting ducks for planes landing criss-cross to us.)

*I did learn some interesting language factoids this weekend. Do you know the difference between a cemetary and a graveyard? And did you notice at the end of that fun article that the author says US dwellers "have been internetting much longer than the Brits"? Internet as a verb!! Then finally, while looking to see if Ishkabibbal's had an online presence (ha ha ha - they don't have chairs much less a website - they have one thing and one thing only - chicken cheese steaks), I found the word ishkabibble. I LOVE IT. It is really too much fun to say. I think I will have to name my next dog Ishkabibble.

That's my weekend wrap up. I'm headed back to the hayfeathers to see if Morpheus (not Morpheus) will give me just a few more hours!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Going To The Chapel

My wonder twin, St. Ann got (unofficially) married on a beach in Cancun when we were all there last September. This weekend she and her husband(-to-be), John the Magnificient, are getting (officially) hitched in Philly - YAY!

Fun way for them to celebrate their first anniversary, don't you think?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Snakes On A Bike

Mayhem (while riding his bike today) had two separate snake incidents. And by 'incidents' I mean 'collisions'. I am not sure how he managed it - but he hit one snake head-on and then ten minutes later ran over another one. We're talking snake parts in bike spokes. ICKY!

I have ridden hundreds and hundreds of miles and I have never even seen a snake while cycling, much less run over one, much less hit two in one day! Not that I'm complaining (really I'm not, because I'll take the weirdness of this week over the meanness of last every time) but things have been decidedly odd in Lilymania recently! Like, Odd. Decidedly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Plan B

Something I forgot to mention about my weekend:

Travel plans (in the form of a girlfriend getaway - me, Nurse Nice, and VBGF heading to Charlotte, NC to meet up with some of NN’s friends) were totally sunk by last week’s stress fest. So…Plan B!

We went to get NN’s nipple pierced by the world’s cutest piercer! And ran into a bunch of (<--by 'bunch of', I mean 52) drunk, nudist bikers who were also getting nipples pierced – and who were (sadly) ahead of us in line and who (also sadly) had camera phones and were not afraid to use them! They did have clothes on for the occasion – er, well, if you use the term ‘clothes’ loosely, as several of the ladies were wearing see-through blouses and apparently nudists just say no to bras – but hey! Some clothes are better than no clothes! Especially when it comes to bikers over forty with very few teeth! Just saying. There was one sober designated driver in the herd (I know you were worried about that) and I’m pretty sure he must have been driving a tour bus, because forget the Harleys, a full-sized van wouldn’t have worked. These folks were…zaftig! (<--Thanks DebR for the great word!) But nice. A nicer bunch of nudist bikers, you’ve never met.

I'm thinking of marketing myself as an 'alternative travel agent'.
Weekend plans fall through? Don't worry! Just call Lilymane's Plan B Excursions! 1-800-WHOA-WTF! (Nudist biker encounter free to first 100 callers!)

Plan B Merchandise

As seen this weekend (and yet, as unable to be shown to you via a web link - what's up with that?):

An ecru shirt that says (in sparkly letters): OFF-WHITE TRASH

Bwah ha ha ha.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Looks Like A Sheep, Acts Like A Squirrel

My dog is eating an acorn.

Funny, Funny, Funny Get Your Chaos Here

You should very much worry if Chaos tries to tell you a joke. And you should also refuse to listen. His jokes are not funny. At all. He is so not funny, in fact, that his brothers and sister think he is hilarious (which does NOT help the situation). When he was little, his favorite joke was "What do eggs and bananas have in common? SLIPPERS!!!" We explained that his joke didn't make any sense. That it wasn't actually a joke. Clearly he had mangled the original joke that he'd heard somewhere. But how do you explain the mechanics of 'funny' to a four year old? Or for that matter (ten years later) to a fourteen year old? Because I have to tell you that whatever it is we said to explain 'funny' - did NOT take. You want proof? The kids went on a joke telling jag in the car last night. After a round of knock-knock jokes from the little ones this was Chaos' offering:

Why did the clown go to Vietnam?
Because he knew the Viet Cong were shooting at soldiers.

Yikes! And double Yikes! I tried to impress upon Chaos that there is NO WAY a joke with clowns and the VC in it could EVER be funny - no matter how interested in history he is - but I'm not sure I got through to him because the other kids had started in on blonde jokes. I nixed those and Havoc wanted to start a riddle game but Chaos wanted to tell a really funny joke first. I made him promise there was no ethnic weirdness, or people going into a bar, or death or ANYTHING remotely objectionable about his proposed really funny joke. He solemnly promised and then told the following 'joke':

What did the Flying Dutchman do when he crashed his ghost ship*?
He got a ghost car.

*I have to admit that for a split second there was quite a bit of inadvertent humor and horrified laughter because we all thought he said "goat shit" not "ghost ship". But, even so, I think you'll agree that this is nothing like a really funny joke. So we tried number jokes:

The Ninja Princessa (repeating Nurse Nice's favorite joke):
What did the zero say to the eight?
Love the belt!

Havoc (repeating VBGF's favorite joke):
Why is six afraid of seven?
Because seven ate (eight) nine!

Chaos (worrying me with the opening line, but actually going nowhere disturbing):
How is six like nine?
By standing upside down!

(Well, ok. A little disturbing but not like clowns and the Viet Cong!) "Chaos, yes we understand that a nine is like an upside down six - but it's not a joke. Yes, it's numbers but it's not funny! What do you mean, why not?!" More explanation about lines and word play and expected vs unexpected. "Arrrrrgh!" (<---Saying this led us to a round of pirate jokes.)
What's a pirate's favorite letter?

Princessa (stealing Havoc's favorite joke and pissing him off so much that he put his thumb back in his mouth and refused to tell any more jokes):
What's a pirate's favorite type of socks?

Chaos: "I have one, I have one!!"
(Oh god I don't think I can take it!)
"Please mom!"
(Gulp.) "Ok, go for it."

What did the pirate say when he saw 40 tactical nukes headed his way?
Fetch me my brown pants? (<--I wish I could say I didn't bust out laughing at that.)
Chaos (slugging his little brother):

YAY!!! A joke! One that made sense and was a play on words and even fit with a theme! Never mind that Mayhem (who has a quick and sick mind and a great sense of timing) stole Chaos' thunder! Never mind that it had tactical nuclear weapons in it (we'll work on that later!) CHAOS MADE A JOKE! And we didn't even know that we were getting a jump on International Talk Like A Pirate Day!
Avast ye!
And peace, mateys!

(VBGF - Shhhh! If you read this before Chaos gets a chance to ask you what the pirate said..., don't let on! He's very proud of himself and wants to be the one to tell you his joke!)

Monday, September 18, 2006

A New Week - A New Focus

Last week? Not so much fun.

I was a total stress ball. There were days when I sat down to blog and everything I could think of to blog about was negative: grouchy, grumpy, sad, no fun. Not that I want my blog to be all fakey fakey, everything is rosy but I don't want to wallow in a week that (besides the anniversary of 9/11) included a death in my family and an ex who was ridiculously icky (day after day after day and who, oh!, sent a sheriff's deputy to my door with a court summons just to make sure the fun and games continue). I certainly don't want to dwell on the undeniable fact that all was not right in football land yesterday. (Yay for my Colts - but the Redskins really, really, really let me down by forgetting to show up to the game in Dallas. DALLAS! I fucking HATE the Cowboys. Cartwritght with his 100 yard kick return is the only Redskin to escape my wrath. And the Titans? Apparently 'we're rebuilding' is a code phrase for 'we suck rocks'. )

But enough of last week. This week I'm concentrating on fun stuff.
Er - ok, so maybe it's more like weird, freaky stuff.

Like...what to say about the gummi bra and gummi thong the troll boys brought to game yesterday? Who knew there was a market for gummi underwear? (The package said 'single use item'. You think?)

And epsom salts. It's crazy what you can learn when you read packages. Epsom salts are marketed as a first aid product, a gentle laxative, and a gardening supply. What, no julienne fries? It's an odd trifecta to say the least.

And middle school students. I helped VBGF grade math quizzes this weekend. Who knew math quizzes could make you laugh out loud? Seventh graders are an ODD bunch of folks. One boy added comments to his quiz: the answer was 'v+8' and he wrote a little aside with an arrow "V8 is yummy!" Then there was the section where the kids had to name the property being demonstrated. The correct answers were associative of addition, commutative of multiplication, additive identity, and transitive. Some of the answers that were written on the quizzes (I kid you not): "Ass. of Add.", "communicative multifraction", "addictive identity", and "translative". The 'addictive identity' property is my favorite. It is AMAZING how much middle schoolers push limits. The 'ass of add' smart aleck (who turned out to be an ESL kid) got a little note saying to "please use 'assoc' as the correct abbreviation". The kid who tried to get away with "AOA", "COM", "AI", and "T" got a bunch of little red x's and zero points.

And football. Steelers vs. the Jags tonight. (This item rightfully belongs in the 'fun stuff' category, not the 'weird, freaky stuff' category. I do think it'll be a good game, but there's not much that's very weird about it - unless you count Troy Palomalu's hair.) Go Steelers!!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Teachable Moments And Football

Havoc and I were reading my NFL football magazine when we came across an add for poker (a website? a tv show? I couldn't tell.) It was a picture of a woman's cleavage and a pair of melons. Nice, eh? Havoc says, "I don't get it." I say, "It's an add for poker. Two pair." (Sidenote: My ex (Mr. Tapioca Head) taught Havoc and his brothers to play poker years ago.) Havoc says, "I still don't get it mom. What's the second pair?" I say, "Boobs." "Boobs? That doesn't make sense. Why not watermelons or at least fruit? A pair of BOOBS? To go with a pair of cantaloupes?" he is aghast. I tell him that if he is going to watch football or read football magazines then he's going to have to get used to seeing boobs even when it doesn't make sense. "Why?" "Well, grown men like boobs so advertisers use boobs to sell things like beer and trucks. If you look on the sidelines you'll notice that the cheerleaders aren't actually leading any cheers for the team. They're dancing around in outfits that show off their legs and boobs. It sells the game." "OH!" he says. "Like the way commercials during kid shows are either for toys or sugar or more tv, football has beer and trucks and boobs?" "Yes," I say, "exactly like that." He puts him thumb back in his mouth and thinks for a minute. "Mom. I don't really like trucks or beer or boobs yet. But I still like watching football with you. Is that ok?" "Yes, pumpkin. It's more than ok. It's exactly right."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Things That Go Beep In The Night

Sweet Hubby is in Kiwi-a-gogo-land for the month. I miss him. A lot. Especially at night. Because I can't sleep. I could be all romantic and say that my sleep is dependent on having the curve of his body against mine. It would be a romantic thing to say but it would also be a lie. While I do LOVE the curve of his body - I usually sleep better on my own. Not this time. This time is very different. This time there are things - THINGS - in the room interfering with my sleep. Beepy things. Beepy-in-the-middle-of-the-night things! Beepy and blinky and flashy things even!

Maybe twenty minutes after I fall asleep the first night there is a loud "Ba-whoosh" and a green flash. SH's computer and monitor come alive and demand passwords. The computer seems as disoriented as I feel - as if we're both staring at each other thinking "Why the hell did you wake me up?" The only possibility I can come up with is that the dog must've bumped the desk and jiggled the mouse and woken us all up. I get out of bed to turn the thing off and hear Wasabi startle awake in the other room. He comes running in to see what's going on. Eeeek. Now I have NO IDEA how (or why) the computer woke itself (and me and the dog) up. Bad dream? Maybe not but it sure doesn't want to go back to sleep! I can NOT get it to hibernate or suspend or anything. I know better than to try to turn it all the way off because SH has it programmed to do regular maintenance (supposedly during the day!!) and also to record 'Eureka' - the only TV show I've cared about in almost ten years. I finally think to turn at least the monitor power off. The computer is NOT happy. Actinic light is frantically flashing from the computer's brain box on the floor. I throw a pillow at it (and miss and have to throw two more) to block whatever message the machine is trying to send. I am so NOT in the mood to decipher. I want to get back to sleep.

I finally drift off again. A nanosecond later there is a strange electronic trill. I am wide awake. (Again.) I listen. I wait. I hear silence. And more silence. Twenty minutes more silence. And then five more minutes. And then I have no idea how much more because I fall back asleep. Beep, beep, beep-be-beep. Grrrrr. I sit bolt upright. I throw a pillow at SH's computer. After launching the pillow at the computer on the floor, I wake up enough to realize the peppy chirping is coming from the TOP of the desk and to the right. In addition to the location differential here, at this point I have a large enough statistical sample of sounds to compare and the indignant, crackling sh-sh-ing and small, muffled, whumping sounds now emanating from the floor are nothing like the sound that woke me this time. Hmmm. Maybe he left his phone? But no. I know all of his phone's sounds - and this is not one of them. Besides, I distinctly remember handing him his phone and watching him tuck it into his carry on. I go back to sleep. For maybe an hour. There it is again. Dammit!

This is getting annoying. Worse is that the sound itself is pleasant. It is not the mournful, eeyor sound of 'low battery'. It is not the Chicken Little cry of text message 'alerts' zapped to SH's phone to warn of downed servers in the OR. This sound is...sweet. If it weren't repeatedly waking me up in the middle of the night I would not be contemplating hurling a hammer at whatever it is.

I finally get up and locate the bugger. It's a pager. On his desk. I have no idea why there is a tiny pager hunkered down under a stack of papers. I don't even know why pagers exist now that there are cell phones with text messaging capabilities. Poor, obsolete thing. That I still want to smash with a hammer. I don't though. I have mercy. I smother it with my next to last pillow and go back to sleep.

In vain. The phone rings. Wrong number. I contemplate the effort it would take to introduce a bill to Congress that would make calling the wrong number at 4:17 a.m. a federal crime with the death penalty attached to it. I fall asleep just in time for my alarm clock to wake me up with its horrendous, broken-sounding buzz. (Aside: It sounded broken even before I threw it at the wall this time - because, er, um, it is not the first time I have thrown it against the wall. I have LOATHED the sound of this alarm clock since we got it. I hate it enough that I usually wake up and turn it off the split second before it's set to make that horrible sound. The problem arises on days when I'm too tired for the split second timing bit to work well. On those (i.e. bad) days, when I am awakend by the screechy-buzzy-makes-me-want-to-beat-the-fuck-out-of-somebody sound, I typically sling the alarm clock across the room in the split second before I am awake enough to realize the poor machine is merely doing what I asked (i.e. forced) it to do when I clicked the 'alarm on' button the night before.)

Mama is not happy. (Neither is the alarm clock.)

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I am even more not happy after two additional nights of this. SH's computer is still frantically trying to communicate with me (or maybe with aliens) in the wee sma's. I have managed (with some help from my buddy Mat-a-tat-tat) to make the happy pager shut up. But for some reason (and Mayhem is his name-o) the timer on the kitchen stove took up where happy pager left off by buzzing in the middle of the night (and scaring the shit out of me). ("Uh, I thought I set the timer for 8 minutes. I guess I set it for 8 hours. Sorry mom.")

I have glared individually at all the noise-making appliances in the house and put them on notice. If one of them so much as makes a little, bitty peep or flashes one, tiny LED's Hammer Time (only without the parachute pants.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Havoc's Collection

When we took the kids to the science museum at Easter, Havoc spent all of his money ($22!) on a round, handblown glass paperweight. Sweet Hubby tried to talk him out of it. After all, Havoc's seven. The paperweight is glass. In the shape of a ball. There are all manner of bad combos there. Havoc would not be swayed. "It's a beautfiul orb! I really, really, really, really want it. Pleeeeease! I promise I'll take care of it." Orb?
Turns out Havoc collects* orbs. He has one. This one.
(*Sidenote to St. Ann - I know, I know. Apples don't fall far from the tree, do they? I told him that if he called it a proto-collection and whined about how he'd been trying for YEARS to collect them, then suddenly he would have orbs galore.)
Havoc LOVES this orb. I have (on more than one occasion) found it in his bed. We had to put a stop to that though, since braining Mayhem (who sleeps on the bottom bunk) in the middle of the night would not be cool. Mostly Havoc's orb lives on my desk when he doesn't need it. Need it? He giggled gleefully when I asked him what he could possibly 'need' it for. "It's the Orb of Confusion, mom." With that non-explanation, he snatched it and ran. He's cute but weird. I may have mentioned that before.

So the other day, Havoc and I were eating breakfast together after the big kids had gone to school. Havoc turned to me and said, "You know what I'd like to try?"
I said, "What would you like to try?"
"To eat??"
"People don't eat bats."
"Well, maybe not for breakfast, but they do for dinner."
"Yuck. They're like mice that fly. People do NOT eat them. For breakfast or for dinner."
"Mom, they don't fly. They swim!"
"Bats don't swim. What are you talking about?!"
Pause. Blink. Blink.
Giggles poured forth from my child. Howls followed. When he could finally get a hold of himself somewhat, he said, "I don't want to eat baTs. I said 'bass'. The fish! You know how we're going fishing with Cub Scouts? FISH! You thought I wanted to eats BATS! You are sooo weird." Me? Forget the bat part, he's the one who was thinking about eating bass for breakfast! I'm weird? This from a kid who collects orbs! Speaking of...the Orb of Confusion: it was sitting on the kitchen counter right behind us. I pointed to it. I asked him if THIS is what he used it for. That set him off again. He absolutely dissolved into belly laughs. "BATS! You thought I wanted to eat a bat." The child could NOT stop laughing. I asked him if he had added to his collection. I wondered if perhaps he had acquired the Orb of Silliness when I wasn't looking. "Mama, you are soooo weird." He made himself snort he was laughing so hard. Just when I thought he'd pulled himself together, I heard him say "Bats!" while he was putting on his shoes in the other room. He got on the bus and shouted out the window, "Bats for breakfast!"
We're having hamburgers for dinner tonight. I think I'm going to be hard pressed to keep myself from slipping a plastic bat underneath the top bun on Havoc's plate. I'd do about anything to make him laugh like that again.
(I try not to imagine a thirty-year old Havoc explaining his childhood. "Well, there was this one year when my parents gave my brother a toilet seat for his birthday and then my mom served Batburgers for dinner. ")

Monday, September 11, 2006

Above And Beyond Whelmed

Overwhelmed is an understatement.
September 11th.
I'm sure there will be brilliant and heart rending posts today.
Not here. Not mine. I feel sad and scared.
Sad when I look at the hole in the NYC skyline. Sad to think that even a hole that big can't represent the holes left in people's lives.
Scared when I think about how many terrorists we've created in the last five years. Scared to think that our administration has wasted thousands and thousands of lives (American and otherwise) on a course of action that has made the world a worse place. I'm trying not to be scared that my sweet husband is on a plane over the Pacific at this moment.

He says that he can't think of a better day to fly. I guess he's right. There are bound to be many who wouldn't dream of flying today. And I'm sure airport security is as 'tight' as it can get. I also admire a certain amount of the 'we'll show 'em' attitude. All the same, I'm looking forward to his call this afternoon to let me know he arrived safe and sound.
Peace. Peace. And more Peace!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Calendar Mom

Usually I like being the keeper of the calendar. Sometimes it wears my ass out. Recently it's been much more of the latter than the former.

Collecting the information to put on the calendar can be somewhat of a challenge. My boys seem to lack the ability to transfer information from the school to the parent in any reliable way. Chaos will say things like, "Hey mom. There's a dude coming to speak at the high school sometime and they said to make sure to tell you about it. He's an expert." Date? Time? Subject of Mr. Dude's talk? "I don't know, mom, that's all they said." I used to think that when Chaos said the words "at school they said..." that he was telling me about an announcement made at assembly or over the intercom. Knowing my child and his Calvinesque ways, I was not surprised that the pertinent facts were either garbled or completely absent.

I convinced myself that I had to make do with Chaos' paltry hints about middle school happenings. My options (as I saw them last year) were to use his vague, factless statements as diving off points for major research projects or (more often than not) miss events entirely. The middle road between those two extremes involved comparing rumors with Chaos' friends' mothers and seeing if we collaboratively could arrive at an idea of what was going on at the school. My saving grace was that the REALLY important stuff goes on the sign in front of the school which is on Main Street and hard to miss. (And er, well, you do receive a personal phone call from the Vice Principal when your son gets OSS.)

We are only three weeks into the new school year, but the tides, they are beginning to shift! The ratio of elementary schoolers to middle schoolers having gone from 3:1 last year to 1:3 this year means I have a new resource at my disposal: the Ninja Princessa.
Here is a sample of how the new system works. (Sidenote - the family rule is that they have to participate in ONE school-related extracurricular, be it a sports team for a season or a special interest club for the whole year.)

First Shot:
Me (the first week): So, what club did you decide on and when does it meet?
Chaos (age 14): I want to play paintball.
Me: Yes. And you can. But that is not an organized school activity. I repeat, what club did you decide on and when does it meet?
Chaos: I guess I'll join the Geography Club. They go out to eat.
Me: Ok. How often do they meet? When is the first meeting? Do they eat out every time? How much does that cost?
Chaos: I don't think it costs anything. They said at school that it would probably start meeting in September but it's during the day so we don't have to worry about it.
Me: What's during the day? The meetings? Well how do they go out to eat? How often do they meet?
Chaos: I don't know Mom! They just said it would start in a few weeks. I'm sure I'll find all that out at the meetings.
Me: (silent but with raised eyebrows)
Chaos: Ok, ok - don't spaz. I'll ask my homeroom teacher.

Next Victim:
Me (just a few minutes after the conversation with Chaos): So, what club did you decide on and when does it meet?
Mayhem (age 12) : Club? I have to join a club?
Me: Yes, remember we talked about this? A sport or a club - but something social at school.
Mayhem: Oh yeah right. I remember now. Ok. I'll join the Math Club. Math is awesome.
Me: Great. Math Club. You sure they HAVE a Math Club? Did they make any announcements about it? Did they give you any papers? When does it meet? How do you sign up?
Mayhem: I have no idea. No one has said anything about it. I KNOW they have one because my friend was in it last year. (Sidenote: anyone Mayhem has talked to once, even if it was for one second, he refers to as 'my friend'.)
Me: Your friend was in the Math Club at the elementary school last year? We need info on the middle school Math Club.
Mayhem: Mo-om. My friend is in the seventh grade. He's older than me. (Sidenote: my child is rolling his eyes at me.)
Me: Ok. So what else did he say about it? Or wait - really what we need is official info, buddy. Has your homeroom teacher said anything or passed out anything about sign ups?
Mayhem: Nobody has said anything except my friend. But I'll find out. Math is awesome.

Final Victim:
Me (just a few minutes after the conversation with Mayhem and one final sidenote: the Princessa and Mayhem are in the same homeroom): So, what club did you decide on and when does it meet?
Ninja Princessa (age 11): I want to join the Writing Club! It doesn't start until September 6th at 2:45 in Ms. Crawford's room but I want to start working on something before then. We meet twice a month - on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, I think, I'll have to double check - but Heather and I were thinking that we could get together on the other Wednesdays and have a writing club of our own outside of school. What do you think about that? Oh! And here's the paper that our homeroom teacher gave us yesterday about all the clubs. I would have given it to you last night but I was copying it all into my planner. Oh! And here are two forms that don't have to be turned in until Friday, but we get extra credit if we bring them back tomorrow. Oh! And they made an announcement about the parent information website. It has a new address. I wrote it down for you. Here. Oh! And on that sheet - it says the sponsor for The Something Something Club is Ms. Soandso, but it's not really, it's Ms. Suchandsuch so if you ever need to call her be sure to use the right number and not mix them up. Can I go over to Rachel's?

My head almost exploded at this most unusual and unexpected influx of actual information.
I know my temper exploded. The Princessa and Mayhem are IN THE SAME HOMEROOM! They are exposed to the EXACT SAME information. The are given the EXACT SAME papers.
"I promise Mom. I've never seen that paper. I don't know where she got it!" Grrrrr. We're in the process of developing better systems so that everyone acquires some organizational skills - but the Ninja Princessa is certainly helpful in the checks and balances department! Also - I just have to add that the Geography Club does NOT meet during school, but after school just like every single other club does.

And then! (Tapioca warning - my apologies for letting the rancidness ooze twice in one week - but if you only knew how much I could say and don't!!!) My ex (Mr. Tapioca Head) has a fucking HISSY fit that I didn't tell him about the Open Houses!

Lucky for you I have just erased about 6 paragraphs but the gist of it is - I sent the man paper - hard copy - black and white notice! I handed him a bag full of papers including forms and calendars. I had gone out of my way to xerox standardized test scores (which I could have made him request directly from the school). I even put in two papers that I only had because my step-daughter (i.e. NOT a child he and I have in common!) gave them to me. I instructed the boys to be sure to show their dad the schedule in their agendas. (The school requires that the kids keep these planner/agenda thingies and write down all of their assignments. It's a fabulous tool and I check it all the time now. But honestly, it was a long shot that either boy would remember to show their dad the planner. It was only a layer, a side item, not the main dish.) Mr. Tapioca Head received not only but extra. Lastly, he has the exact same access to the sign on Main Street, the website, and teacher email that I do!

And what do I get from him? I get a completely sarcastic, vile email (that I could read but not respond to) saying he is done trying to work with me as a co-parent. He has found out about the open houses in spite of the fact that I did 'tell' him about them. When I do finally have a way to respond, I send the NICEST email possible. Not chummy - but very polite. Not apologetic - but rational, and calm- explaining that I did indeed 'tell' him. I mean it - my letter should be sent to the Nobel committee. What do I get back? A completely UNHINGED response. The most bizarre part of which is where he chides me about my opinion of the sexual orientation of one of our sons! Um - WTF???? (For the record, I have formed no 'opinions' as my boys don't seem to be much interested in girls or boys 'that way' and when they do get interested, I promise you I don't care which orientation they choose!!) The least bizarre thing the man said is that he's scheduling appointments with the principals of the schools (presumably to tell them what a terrible mother I am and how I am trying to keep him out of his sons' lives).

Being Calendar Mom is a difficult and unrewarding job. I think I'll put in for a transfer. Do you think there's an opening in the Rich, Bon-Bon Eating, Margarita-Drinking, Has Maid Service Mom department?