Monday, November 30, 2009

Cliffs of Dover

Yesterday I heard the story about Julius Caesar forcing his army to move into battle. It seems they landed on an island (Britain, to be exact) and Caesar had the audacity to torch the ships they had just journeyed on. Then, he walked the group over to the cliffs to take a look at the burning lot of boats. Since there was no way of escape, the troops had but one choice: battle and conquer. So, they did.

I am standing on the Cliff of December. Looking out at my calendar, which looks like someone tattooed it with black ink. I could stand here and scream, but I'm taking the high-road, much like Caesar's troops after they realized they were totally screwed, and moving ahead and conquering.

There are Christmas cookies to be made, an Advent calendar to stock with small gifts, chemotherapy appointments to attend, parties to host and dentist appointments to make. There are also Children's Choir and community band performances to enjoy, pageants to participate in, airplanes to board and dogs to kennel.

Almost everything in December is fun stuff, mind you. But, it's just in large quantities. Kind of like the weight most people will gain during the month.

So, I'm taking a deep breath and plunging in. I hope, come January 1 I'm still standing.

If not, please get in your car and go to the store. Buy plenty of fruits and vegetables. Then bring them to me.

I understand they are a good counter defense against the sugar coma I will be in.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

To Wipe or Not To Wipe, That's the Question

The Babe: "I am NOT going to wipe my bottom."

This, after his parentage flatly refused to wipe UNLESS he tried first. And had the toilet paper to prove it.

The Babe: "Help. That's all I need."

Mike: "You need to wipe your bottom."

The Babe: "I'm NOT going to wipe my bottom." All the while, he's walking around with his much-too-long-soccer-tee-shirt cranked up to mid-chest, to protect it from any dingleberries that might infect it.

The Babe, in his sweetest, most kind voice: "Mom? Will you please wipe my bottom?"

Me: "Only if you tried and you have toilet paper to prove it."

The Babe groans and throws his head around like a crazy rock star, mid-show, when the pain pills and vodka tonics he drinks on stage start to work. It's all head, designed to make a point. The Babe's point? You people are just ridiculous. It's just a little wiping.

The Babe: "OK. I'm just going to get poo on my clothes. Is that your choice? Yes? OK." I swear he's four going on 24.

He walked away from me and I have no idea where he is. Hopefully, he's not sitting somewhere other than a toilet seat or, later today when he's at preschool, I'm going to find a nice poo spot in the most unexpected place.

Apparently, The Babe is channeling Doug in the "I refuse to cooperate in the poo department."

Now, if we can get Doug to channel The Babe, we're making progress--I'll take a back-talking dog who poos in the toilet. Especially because I won't have to wipe his behind.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Red, White or Bordeaux?

WINE SNOB.

That is NOT a phrase someone could use to describe me.

If I'm accidentally given a glass of something I can buy at the local liquor store that costs above $10, I have no idea what the "complex mellowness" is. What some would identify as "guava and pepper undertones" tastes like "grape" to me.

I am enough of a wine snob to know that I don't like tannins, the astringent in wine that makes my mouth pucker and throat sting. I hardly can begin to understand why ANYBODY would find drinking a glass of liquid acid reflux anywhere near remotely pleasant. Waiters should deliver red wine with a complimentary sample of Prevacid.

I think I was recently slammed for my lack of wine knowledge and snobbery. The comment was made that "fruity whites" would be brought for our "unsophisticated friends". OUCH. But no worries, mates. Considering my first vintage was Boone's Farm "Tickle Pink", back in the day, I'd have to say I cut my teeth on fruity vinos*.

But, I'm getting better about expanding my wine horizons. Lately I have actually enjoyed a couple of reds that didn't turn my stomach. I've learned that wine has "legs", but I'm still wondering if a wine is ever considered "full-bodied", like beer**. And I'm thinking my stock of glasses is woefully inadequate for much more than the box wine that resides in my fridge.

Alas. I think I'm headed to my grave not knowing much more than "diddly" and "squat" about wines.

But, if I keep getting a once-a-year education about the subject, I should be spot-on around the time I reach 85.

And there is nothing sexier than an educated octogenarian, is there?



*That was a night which went down in infamy. And in two weeks of grounding. And in the need for a new mattress.

**I KNOW why beer is considered "full-bodied"--once you drink it, it goes directly to your gut and stays there. Permanently. The comment is really about the drinker, not the drink.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"...When the Bee Stings, When I'm Feeling Bad..."

These are a few of my least favorite things:

1. Receiving a "Thanks for being our new customer" email, from a company I just placed a first-time order with less than 24 hours ago, offering me free shipping and $10 off on my NEXT order when I just paid $6.99 for shipping and full price for the product. News flash: the REAL thank-you would be to simply deduct the $6.99 for shipping and the $10 off the order I JUST PLACED and send me an email telling me so.

2. Calling any company that loops gosh-awful music while I'm on hold and inserts a message like "Our representatives are busy helping other customers. Thank you for your continued patience." I'm not sure they realize, but by the time I've heard the song fourteen times and the message about thirty, I have NO PATIENCE and I hate anything remotely related to music.

3. Being in public during this phone call and "talking back" to the message. But not realizing I'm saying "I'm sure they're helping other people but I've been on hold since the Reagan administration and I have NO PATIENCE LEFT" in front of someone I don't know, who doesn't understand sarcasm or lack of patience, and has their thumb on the emergency, call-911 button on their cell phone because they think I'm about to go postal.

4. The same phone call, when I finally win the "waiting lottery", and, during the transfer process, my calls gets dropped and I hear "beep, beep, beep, beep, beep". There should be an option when I call back to press #7 and be immediately connected. They should refer to this as "Press #7 if our transfer process just screwed you".

5. Chicks who are anything less than a size 2 who have the audacity to complain about their butt size. If I scooped someone in a size 2 pair of jeans, I could get both cheeks in one hand. Please complain about something else. Those of us in sizes above 8 are easily frustrated and often turn to food in our time of need. You aren't helping.

6. People who enter the back of a church, after the service has started, talking into their cell phone, completing a conversation about lunch after the service. People! With the only prospect of food in our immediate future being a tiny wafer and a tablespoon of wine, your phone call just reminds us we were woefully late getting out of bed and had an inadequate breakfast. Double whammies on you if I hear you are going some place that doesn't have a $1 menu.

7. Cell phones going off at a funeral. I will let you pass ONCE at the movie theater, a restaurant (as long as I'm not paying over $30/plate), or as we taxi in on the red-eye flight. But, a FUNERAL? Have you ever heard of respect for the dead? The vibrate button? There just isn't enough stink-eye for you.

What I learned from this exercise, is that I don't much like phones or email. Or really skinny, whining girls.

I'm more of an "in-your-face" kind of gal. Old-fashioned, you might say. I like my conversations in person and girls who have a little curve and meat to them. When they complain, we share a Twinkie to take the edge off. I like that in a gal.

Maybe I'm just being pulled, by my hair, into the age of technology.

All I know is that I am going, kicking and screaming, like a fifty-something man going in for his first colonoscopy.

It isn't pretty.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are the things I am especially grateful for this Thanksgiving, condensed into two word statements.

I am amazed, in the midst of a difficult year, that this list was so easy to write and so lengthy. Truly, so much to be grateful for.

Loving God
Good Health
Successful Adoptions
Peaceful Death
Making Love
Wonderful Family
True Friends
Long Chats
Happy Children
Biblical Truths
Sunny Weather
Cooler Nights
Warm Blankets
Canine Companions
Filling Meals
Kind Words
Selfless Acts
Crazy Schedules
Cozy Homes
Lazy Saturdays
Abundant Clothing
Busy Sundays
More Time
More Love

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Janet vs. Oprah

As Mike was panning past the Music Awards tonight, he noticed Janet Jackson was doing a montage of her career. He decided to stop and gander awhile.

The kids, meanwhile, were playing UNO on the floor of the bedroom. They didn't really care much about the TV because they were beating each other up with cards, but something about Janet's music made them stop and notice.

And that's when my sweet, older, extremely daytime-TV-ignorant son asked "Is that Oprah Winfrey dancing?"

Ouch.

It seems Janet has, ahem, put on a few pounds. But, enough to be confused with the Queen of Talk? I think not.

Well, at least one thing is for sure. Our kids have NOT been exposed to too much daytime TV. Or music videos.

Obviously.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dental Conundrums

I recently called our dental insurer to inquire as to exactly the kind of dental insurance we now have. PDO? MDO? Rip-off? Just need to know because I'm being asked whenever I make a phone call to try to schedule my own dental appointments.

Now calling any department in an insurance company is tantamount to showing up at the DMV on a Friday afternoon between 3:30-5:00pm. Not a good idea. You can be sure you are going to wait. And wait. And wait some more.

And, I did. For about 20 minutes. Only to be told the "computers" were acting funny and our policy wasn't downloading properly. So the person on the other end of the line couldn't see what kind of plan we are paying out the wazoo for.

So, forward I plodded, thinking I'd try another route. I called the dental office Mike and I have used for several years now. My brain reasoned "They should be able to access the policy online and see what is going on."

A little interruption for background information is important here. When we first started visiting this office, the dentist was a sweet old man. Emphasis on the OLD. He probably capped Adam and Eve's teeth at some point.

A couple of years after we started seeing him, he brought in an associate. And Mike's "money-dar"* went up and started beeping. I never felt an ounce of hesitation, of being ripped off, but Mike sure did.

It wasn't long after that that the associate took over the office. Mike's money-dar broke after that, because it couldn't handle the stress caused by dental bills and the possibility of being ripped off. He was sure he was being over billed for services he didn't need. He was sure the way widowed men in their 80's are sure that every woman who shows interest in them is "out to get their money". It got so bad he started practically refusing dental care.

But, back to my conversation with said dental office.

I called in, identified myself as an existing patient, explained I had a new insurance card, and wanted to confirm the dental office would accept the insurance.

The girl on the other end of the line said "Have you called your insurance company or checked online to see if we are on their list?"

ME: "I tried but I don't know the exact kind of policy we carry."

GIRL: "What kind of policy is this?"

ME Thinking: "Didn't I just say I don't KNOW?"

ME: "Well, I was hoping you could help with that. The screens for customers aren't showing the type of policy and without that information I can't tell which list to consult. I understand you can access this information, even though I can't."

GIRL: Slight pause "Well. I can put you on my To-Do List and get back with you in, oh, I don't know, a day and a half?"

ME: "Won't this just take a second, though?" I'm CLEARLY confused. When I show them my ID and insurance card at a regularly scheduled appointment, they produce a long list of what they plan to do and what my card will pay for. I'm then left with the daunting task of deciding if we should shoulder the debt for this visit or be able to buy groceries for the week.

GIRL: "We have a new computer system and I am SO FAR BEHIND. Would you like me to check for you and call you back?"

ME: Picking chin off floor so my tongue will contact the roof of my mouth and my response will be coherent. "You know. That's OK. I'll check back with the insurance company. And, I'll call you.**" I said that last sentence nice and slowly. The way you do when you are talking with someone who is one roll short of a full bread basket.

GIRL: Whose voice registered relief that she didn't have to put me on her To-Do List. Poor child clearly didn't interpret slow talk as sarcasm. "Well, OK. Have a good day."

Wow. Is this what we've been reduced to? Calling for help and getting put on some body's To-Do List? Really. Did Universal HealthCare pass while I was busy in the toilet? That's about the only thing that would explain why someone, in this lousy economic environment, would knowingly pass up the chance to schedule a long-term customer. Cripe, she even had the chance to shuck my call off on a co-worker. And she didn't!

Come on, people. I expect this in every government office I enter. When I am in and out of the post office in five minutes, I do the happy dance. Motor Vehicles? Thirty minus or less is reason for celebration. But a 36 hour delay to find out if the sorry dental office will accept my insurance? PUH-LEEZ.

Needless to say, we are finding a new dentist.

And I'll schedule appointments. Once I figure out what friggin' dental plan we are on.


*Money-dar is Mike's financial radar that tells him when money is being sucked, unnecessarily, out of his wallet.

**In case you don't know me very well, that's code for "You'll never be hearing from me again because I am tired of dealing with this junk and you are complicating my life and the last thing I need is more complication in my life."

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Little Ditty about Competition

Another ditty brought to you by the Nowell Three:

"First is the worst
Second is the best
Third is the one in the Barbie dress*."

This is a truly interesting philosophy. The more I think about it, the more I realize this is really the mantra of the overachieving underachiever.

This is for the person who claims not to mind being the Vice President, salutatorian, and the second-in-line bridesmaid who wasn't crowned Matron/Maid of Honor and has to walk with the dorky little brother of the groom. People who still THINK of themselves as being numero uno and are, sadly, always disappointed they just missed being first, instead of celebrating second.

It's for all the people who were within 1/1000th of a second of being first in the swim meet, track competition, or beer drinking contest. Especially the drinking contest.

These are the types who complain bitterly against the person who worked their butt off to get into first place.

This describes so many people today. People who are willing to put in a little work but, heaven forbid, really sweat and toil toward their goal.

I'm afraid this is what America has become: a nation of second-place citizens with a first-place wannabe mentality. People who won't give credit when people reach the peak of their success, preferring, instead, to tear them down with vitriolic hate mongering and insulting platitudes about how everyone who makes it to first was handed everything on a silver platter.

I intend to correct my children's philosophy. I don't believe I was put on this Earth to raise children who will scratch and tear at the competition to get to the top. I also don't believe my children should believe there is anything wrong with being first, as long as they approach the position with humility and gratitude to God for giving them the ability. And, if they take second? They should be just as grateful for the opportunity and figure out what they want the next outcome to be. Then WORK for it.

The minute they lose those qualities, they have a Momma, hand cocked and at the ready, to remind them that they aren't too old to remember the lessons of their youth. And if a hand upside the bottom doesn't work? I can execute a mind-bending wedgie.

Here's what I learned growing up:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

That means humility in victory and a congratulatory spirit in defeat. It means taking the number one podium with just as much pride as the guy on number two but with the understanding that the guy one step down could have just as easily been where you are standing.

It's what America needs to remember so we start steering our own ship again. We need to recall that we are the number one democracy in this world and not be ashamed, preferring to offer our help to others who want to replicate what we have. It's pride in who we are as citizens of this great country while remembering that we shoulder a huge burden of helping those less fortunate, no matter how "unfortunate" we are. It's building up the victor and working a little more the next time, so we can be number one instead of griping about how "unfair" it is to be in second place.

We can start by cheering on Brazil as it hosts the 2016 Olympics. Chicago should be proud they were the number one city picked in this country to potentially host. And L.A. should take pride in being second.

Think about it. Cause if you don't? I'm crowning you third place.

And, if you've seen the trash Barbie is wearing lately, you're going to look ridiculous.



*Or, as The Babe mistakenly chimed in, "Third is the one with the Barbie chest." Yes, he's four. Good Lord, please help us all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Beatdown

I think it is the height of ridiculousness that, when we wake up on Sunday morning, fresh and ready to go to church, that the morning often collapses into a yelling match that would rival most professional yodeling contests in sheer volume and irritation.

We intuitively know we need two full hours to get the Nowell show on the road. That gives adequate time for bathing, dressing, eating, and getting everyone settled into the car. Plus, of course, drive time.

Since we need to be at church by 9, it would reason that we should get up by 6:45a.m. This morning, it's 7:15a.m. and Mike isn't even out of bed. Me? I'm blogging.

And I wonder what the "boondoggle" in this plan is? UM.

About 8:42a.m., this is what our house will sound like

Some parent "COME ON. We have to go."

Some kid or kids "I know."

Some parent "Have you brushed your teeth?"

Some kid or kids "Yes." Lying. Flat lying. A quick check reveals so.

Some parent "HURRY." There is no time for the parental chastisment regarding the actual toothbrushing lie. That will be dealt with in the privacy of the car.

After toothbrushing, Some parent will say "Where are your shoes? And socks?" To at least one, if not, more kid. The parent's eyes will be flashing fury because the shoes and socks were laid at the feet of the kid who has no Earthly idea where they ended up.

Some kid or kids "I don't know."

Some parent "OH MY GOSH. I put those shoes and socks at your feet 15 minutes ago! (heavy sighing) It goes like this every Sunday. What is the matter with you guys? We are going to be late for church. AGAIN....."

(The SAME parent is still going FIVE MINUTES LATER and hasn't taken time to breathe. This parent is now really red in the face and their pitch is so high that neighborhood dogs are beginning to bay)

"....AND BUCKLE UP THAT SEATBELT. WE'RE LATE." It is now five minutes until nine.

Generally, the griping in the car continues until someone manages to turn on the radio and find a preacher doing his thing. Or Christian/symphony music. Any of those shocks us back to the proper attitude for a Sunday morning and quells the screaming adult(s) in the car.

And that brings us back to the point of this blog.

WHY do Sundays always seem to go this way? They should be lazy, relaxing, peaceful mornings. But, since having kids, they are, in no way, like this. A quick check of my lady friends reveals it is like this in more houses than just my own.

What is it? The devil? Children? Slow risers? Bloggers?

I'm sure it is some lovely combination of all of the above.

What's darn sure missing, in the midst of all the freaking out, is God. Thank goodness our destination includes him on Sunday mornings or we'd all be in really big trouble.

Amen?

AMEN.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shopping for Christmas

Lest you think I made this up, let me give credit where it is due--to a clothing company--for its amazing rendition of "holiday" cheer:

Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.

Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever holiday you wanukkah.

WOW! Are you cathching this? It's the ultimate "Do whatever makes you feel good this holiday season." NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, if off limits.

Is it just me, or has the liberal agenda attacked Christmas?????

The actual commercial features a large group of cheerleader-types dancing and singing, not at all out-of-breath, being all happy-clappy.* It is actually an appealing commercial, which makes it all the more insidious.

So, fair blogger friends, why would I spend precious blogging time on this?

Because it is just another slight erosion of Christmas. And they seem to be coming fast and hard these past few years.

If you look around you'll see many stores have dumped the term "Christmas" from all their advertising, choosing the generic term "Holiday". Or, in this case "Wannukah".

If this weren't such a trend, I wouldn't even mention it. But it has become quite alarming to me that those of us who fill the coffers of these major retail giants are being told our Christmas celebrations don't matter any more. And, the saddest part? We're taking it without a peep.

I would encourage you to really look around this year and make a stand for Christianity. Don't shop at stores who refuse to acknowledge that Christmas is the holiday in December. If they want to throw Hannukah in there, fine. I'm all for preserving the REAL holidays. But, when they decide Christmas can be thrown out, like the baby with the bath water, we fine Christians should let our money do the talking.

By the way, the retailer whose marketing department is so liberal, so "liberating", so anti-anything establishment? The comglomerate that is Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores.

For shame.

*http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVMPWlWDvsI

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't Knock It

So, I know some of you wait patiently for your daily dose of craziness from yours truly. And, since I'll be away from my computer all day today, I thought I'd leave you with a little HI-sterical Knock-Knock Jokeage.*

Knock. Knock.
Who's There?
Little Old Lady.
Little Old Lady Who?

I didn't know you could yodel!!

Knock. Knock.
Who's There?
Boo.
Boo Who?

OH. Don't cry.

I suggest you try these on the tween set. About the age of 8, if possible. They seem to get it and think it's funny.

Of course, there are some dimwitted 43-year-old women who also think these are funny, so you never know until you try.

Now, go out and enjoy your day. And don't knock it before you try it.**



*I am, of course, not actually reponsible for people's reactions when you retell these jokes. Not to compare you to me or anything, but, if you don't get a laugh, I can't help you.

**Badumdum.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bathtubs and Beer

On occasion, I offer myself up to the survey industry to participate in some random "research" on the products of the future. At last count, I was on the books of three local and one national company, so I get fairly frequent communication asking me to send an email or call to see if I "qualify".

Here's an example of their emails:

THUMBCO, the company that sticks their digits in the air to figure out what the consumer will be buying next season, is looking for qualified women-folk between the ages of old and older*, to participate in a two-hour study, at our local office in a subpar office building off a major highway. We are looking for people who frequent WALMART. Tattoos, exposed thongs, and T-shirts with questionable slogans are not necessary, but are acceptable**. Please email THUMBCO@THUMBCO.COM or call 555-555-5555 to see if you qualify.

I thought I had ceased being amazed at the stuff being tested until I received an email asking for people who enjoyed taking baths and who drank beer. WHA???

I didn't put my name in the hat on this one. I just couldn't imagine the freak show I'd encounter in the waiting room if I was fortunate enough to be picked for this study.

I mean, really, what IS the connection here?

1. The last time I put those words in the same sentence, it was at a college frat party. The beer was being cooled in a bath of ice inside a tub. Can you say "Pass me a cold one? And all the germs that cause the flu and colds and athlete's foot?"

2. Beer and coolers go together. Bubbly goes with bathtubs. And the last time I had a glass of champagne in the bathtub was on my honeymoon. And, I'm sure as poo not going to discuss THAT with a group of strangers.

3. Maybe Coors is testing their new cans, with mountains that turn blue when the beer is sufficiently cool, in bathtubs. But, EW. Would I have to actually get IN a bathtub during this study to test this out? Double EW.

As you can tell, I try to put quite a bit of thought into whether or not it is worth the cash to actually go to one on one of these fun adventures.

The "B and B" study? Sorry. There just isn't enough beer in this world to make showing up for the study worthwhile.

Next!



*Yes, 30 to 40.

**Frankly, I love Walmart. I don't have tattoos, am not going to discuss my underwear, and the only T-shirt I will wear doesn't have a slogan, so I know I'm being a little stereotypical of small town Walmarts here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drinking Separates the Women from THE Women

I recently took a trip with a bunch of women I don't know all that well. We stayed over the weekend at a B&B not too far from Dallas.

When we arrived, life had been hitting me from all sides and I was just TIRED. Tired to the point that I took a 1.5 hour nap and could have stayed there double that had I not thought someone would have put a suicide watch on my sleepy butt.

One thing I learned on this trip is that alcohol is the great divider. Up to this point in my life, I wasn't observant enough to realize this, but the weekend added a great deal of clarity. Here's what I now know about drinking women:

1. Drunk women who allowed themselves to almost fall in the fire pit have lives that I don't want to be part of. I will avoid pursuing these women's friendship at all costs.

These types are impolite because, if their "look-at-me-Mommy", two-year-old imitating, weebles-wobble-but-they-don't-fall-down routine had actually resulted in a fall, I would have had to put my s'more down to help. Separating me from chocolate at this time in my life is absolutely homicidal.

2. Tipsy women who were a little TOO comfortable drinking WAY TOO MUCH will not become part of my inner circle either.

Social drinkers (as society has so politely coined these folk) may be nice people, but they needn't apply for my hand in friendship, even if they are the "nice" kind who don't become obnoxious. I really don't need more drama in my life in the form of Al Anon meetings, late night phone calls from jail, or puke in my car.

3. Women who drink, who know how to drink and when to stop, are my kind of gals.

Though I wasn't drinking myself*, I could see myself totally hanging with them in the future. They were respectful of those around them and could have easily and safely driven women who almost tripped into the fire pit to the nearest hospital, thus saving me and my s'more from drama.

Now that I think about it, my next girl's weekend away is going to involve two major themes: napping and s'mores. I might even sneak a little drinky-poo.

But I'm leaving those drunk women in Dallas.



*Some of you don't believe me. If you fall into this category, I likely have a good story or two to tell about your drunken escapades, so keep it shut.

Fur Coats and All...

If anybody ever tells me that dogs aren't children with fur, I'm sending them this. Because I have proof. And I'm not afraid to use it.

Lately, I've noticed, our dogs are SUPER picky about what they eat. Today, The Babe dropped about 13,245 pieces of his fruit bowl on the floor. The dogs wouldn't touch ANY of them. If Babealicious had been eating anything meaty, the hounds-of-hades would have jumped on the table and gnawed his arm off. Vegetables receive the same treatment when they hit the floor. The dogs just can't be bothered with them.

Most kids I know FREAK OUT when you put something new on their plates. Last night, the shriek-evoking vegetable was zucchini. Even the biggest boy at the table kind of wrinkled his nose at it. I resisted the urge to give him the stink-eye.

We didn't even try to see if the dogs would become zucchini connoisseurs.

The dogs are also completely indiscriminate about how/where they use the toilet. From the closet floor, to the carpeted guest room, to the dining room rug, they've* mastered everything interior but nothing exterior.

I swear that we let our dogs out to do their business about forty times a day, the first time being somewhere between 6 and 6:30a.m. I generally will smell something amiss before 7:30a.m.

If the dogs could hear the sounds of my brain, they'd know I was thinking "THAT'S WHAT GOD INVENTED GRASS FOR! You were JUST THERE. Why pee and not poo? It's like milk without cookies--they go together, for crying out loud. For the thousandth time, YOU POO OUTSIDE, you imbecile."

If you've noticed, boy kids have HORRIBLE aim on the toilet. If they get distracted, midstream, urine will paint the walls because they'll turn in the direction of the sound, without stopping the blatantly obvious yellow stream emanating from their bodies. Better yet, if they discover they have to pee when they are outdoors, they'll just let 'er rip. Off the back porch. They might even have a peeing contest if someone else realizes they had to pee at the same time.**

So, if I have this straight, dogs like an indoor bathroom and kids like an outdoor bathroom. Well, slap me stupid! I thought it was the other way around. Silly girl.

Our dogs also find it charming to go right back to exactly the behavior they were just chastised about.*** Case in point: Tex and anything resembling a chair, couch, or perch. If I walk in one room and he's on the bed, which is a big No-No in this house, he'll immediately tuck tail and run out of the room. In five seconds, I can be assured I'll find him on a chair or couch he's not allowed on. After that, he'll move somewhere else, equally as forbidden, until he realizes 1) I'm on to him 2) He must go to his bed/cage/lair to convince me he's not going to do something bad again.

Do I need to point out the obviously twin-like behavior of children? Really? If so, you must have an sound-deafening Ipod in your ears and drink copious amounts of straight booze whenever you encounter children. That, or you didn't read this message very well.

Might I suggest you start again at the top, if that's the case? And, read S.L.O.W.L.Y this time.

While you read, I must excuse myself to go remove a half-eaten, completely shredded maxi pad from Doug's mouth.

I don't even want to know where I'll find the other half.



*READ Doug. Not Tex. Doug is about to get his butt-whooping in the ten-day training session where dogs learn how not to ruin their owner's homes. I don't care if they water board the darn dog, as long as I don't smell poo when I round the corners in our house.

**I didn't help that much. I once had a peeing contest, into a measuring cup, to prove I had to pee more than one of my sons. I won. But, I'm not sure WHAT I won.

***Maybe the kids taught them this?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Super Fly

Doug has managed to wrangle himself a fly. A BIG fly. The type that makes so much noise trying to get to the other side of the glass that you get annoyed by the sound. The type that make you wonder "Fly! Dude! Did you not get it the first 3,245tries? Really, it's GLASS. Buzzing near it doesn't make it magically disappear so you can escape."

We're talking the kind that bother the rear ends of horses named Buttercup. Or Champ. Or Steve. Flies like this are indiscriminate. If something smells like poo, they are all over it.

But, thankfully, for dogs like Doug, these flies are sometimes stupid and/or lazy. I think this one was lazy. It landed on the floor, for crumb-sake.

Once there, Doug pounced with a ferocity generally reserved for smallish lions playing with scorpions. He'd throw his paw on the thing then back off quickly with a "What was that?" look about him. Seems the buzzing was throwing off his groove.

When the fly managed to limp/walk underneath one of the kid's backpacks, Doug took to shoving his nose where it wasn't wanted. Again, buzzing. Seems buzzing around a dog's nose is annoying to a dog.

But, Doug, like a matador being charged by a bloodied bull full of banderilleros for the umpteenth time, wasn't about to give up his prize. When the fly got disoriented and wandered from beneath the backpack, Doug conquered his trophy one last time.

"Take this, buzzing bug!" He seemed to say.

Then he ate the darn thing. Buzzing and all.

In retrospect, I have to question my own lack of common sense in watching this whole, sordid, murder-in-my-home play out.

I mean, really? Has life come to this? Entertained by a dog and a fly.

I guess, for today, it has.

SIGH.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whack A Mole

"Raising kids is the world's worst migraine mixed with a kick to the balls"--Jill Nowell

I credit myself because, I figure, someday I'll be famous for that humdinger.

I truly don't know how any generations ahead of ours managed to make it through the joys of parenting without becoming homicidal or suicidal. On second thought, some of them WERE both or either of these, but those of us left standing were, um, still standing. And able to procreate and start the whole vicious cycle again.

It seems that once you have one behavior tamped down another one rears it's ugly head. It's like playing a game of "Whack a Mole" with a smallish human being.

*Monday: Disrespectful? Whack--grounded for the evening.

Tuesday: Lied about doing homework the previous night ("I left it at school. Completely finished.") Whack--redo homework and write an apology to teacher.

Wednesday: Hit brother for no apparent reason. Whack. Time-out. Decided to leave time-out prematurely. Whack. Another 20 minutes......Two hours later. Finally out of time-out but now it's time for bed. Whack. Another 20 minutes for rude comment about parenting style.

Thursday: Left house without telling anyone where you were going. Gone missing until almost bedtime. Whack. Two weeks without TV or friends.

Friday: Near perfect morning except somewhere between breakfast table and brushing teeth, went temporarily insane and missed carpool ride. Whack. $5 allowance penalty.

And on it goes. Painfully. And, some days, slower than maple syrup in a blizzard.

Where it stops, only God knows.

Frankly, if I knew that what I was doing today wasn't going to lead to better behavior between now and college, I might just up and go all John Gosselin and leave my abode and shack up with a 20-year-old hottie.

Saddest part of that scenario? There is no doubt in my mind I'd suffer the consequences and end up pregnant again.

WHACK.


*Each example is for illustrative purposes only and may/may not have occurred in this household or the household of our parents.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Drive-Thru Church

As I'm checking out the countryside around Rhome, Texas this afternoon, I run across a church in Paradise. In front are no less than six signs, each about 10 foot by 3 foot. All advertised something the church branded "wonderful" about itself.

My favorite? 39 Minute Church. Dot com.

I just couldn't resist running back to the B&B and checking out how accurate the signage/hoopla was. I'm thinking "In the middle of nowhere, I've discovered a church that has managed to downsize the worship service to less than 45 minutes and NOBODY in the metroplex has thought of this? Surely not."

Well, the website delivered. This is, as advertised, church in 39 minutes flat. Starting at noon. Sharp.

They toot their horn with this bit of information: "This innovative service is for anyone looking for something a little different, has limited time, or wants to get a few things done on Sunday morning before coming to church. Plow a field, work some cows, play a round of golf, get in a quick fishing trip or just sleep in and relax on Sunday morning."

Now, when you figure that, in the number of minutes in a given week, the 39 Minute Church will take up about .003 percent of your time, this is a really efficient way to do church.

But, I couldn't help but wonder, is this what church has been reduced to? Is this the church of RIGHT NOW, for those who spend too much time in the car, with too much fast food, and too little family time? Worse yet, does this cater to the crowd that views church as one more thing to check off their To-Do list on Sundays?

Sadly, I'm afraid this is what church has been reduced to. 39 Minutes of your time, when it seems most convenient, and you have done all the stuff you need and want to do first. The focus, it seems, is no longer on God, but on us. What's convenient, when it's convenient. Because, if it's not, we won't show up.

Somehow, driving through Paradise wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Women's Retreat?!

I must have somehow gone temporarily mad when I signed up for the women's retreat at my new church.

Actually, I was temporarily exhausted and at my wit's end with how we were going to go make fall happen in our house. At that point, I still couldn't wrap my mind around how our four adult arms and four adult legs were going to get everyone everywhere they needed to be. AND intact and sane, that is. I figured this would be my stretch goal: if I was still alive come November 13th, I owed it to myself to go on this retreat and relax.

I attempted, that ill-fated day, to convince one of the Moms I quasi-knew to join me. With hope in my heart that she'd be signing up the following, and last, weekend, I penned my name and handed over my credit card.

Turned out, my newish friend couldn't attend. I was completely on my own.

Now I know some people who would have taken this as a challenge and made up some game against themselves where they attempted to get to know five people they didn't know when they arrived on Friday.

Me? I'm kinda a one-trick pony. I generally like to go with a smallish group of people and stick kind of close. If I don't quickly find someone warming up to my warped personality, I engross myself in reading, writing, and napping. That's not all bad, but it certainly doesn't fit the concept behind the weekend.*

I'm going with the attitude "What the heck?" and, I'm sure, will get to know some of the other lovely ladies at the church. I'm not going to put myself full-out-there unless I've had at least one glass of liquid courage** OR so much chocolate I'm running on a pure sugar high.

So, I'm starting at the neighborhood Exxon. Where I intend to buy one of every kind of chocolate known to man.

I think that should probably do it. That and my bottle of Fetzer.....



*UNLESS, this happened to be a silent retreat. I checked. It isn't.

**The antithesis to my time in Baptist land? On our checklist of things to bring: a bottle of wine. Wine glass optional, but only to distinguish your fermented grapes from that of your neighbor. OH YEAH!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poor Baby

BAM. CRASH. "Dang it!"*

That's the sound of me learning I was being pushed off the top of the "Best Mom Ever" trophy I THOUGHT I had previously earned title to.

That's the sound of me after I was told, by The Babe, that "You are not the best Mom in the world" along with the cousin statement, a brief three minutes later, "You are the worst Mom in the world".

What, pray tell, did I do to deserve such fierce commentary?

I didn't order overpriced Preschool pictures.

A few weeks earlier, we had been to Target to take his birthday photo. With the Preschool pictures being taken in late September, I also was looking at a budget that was replete with school expenses. I just didn't think having yet another set of photos I'd eventually have to distribute made ANY sense.**

According to the sob story I received, Mr. Nadaphoto was the only kid in class not to get a set of pictures. I guess the rest of the kids are first-borns, come from homes with bigger budgets, or are more adored than my kid. Pity him.

Once we got home, he wanted to see his Target pictures again. When I handed him one, these same pictures he so adored upon pick-up, he pronounced them "dumb" and said "everyone is going to laugh at these". I beg to differ.

No offense intended, Jesus, but I understand*** the Preschool pictures this year were taken in front of the Jesus statue. The one that is about two stories high with hands which are disproportionately large. Mike and I wonder how this bronze beauty made it through the initial phases of planning without someone going "GEEZ. What's up with the hands on that dude?"

Somehow, big-handed Jesus in the background of my kid's picture just doesn't work for the world's worst Mom. Finding this out made me DOUBLY glad I hadn't sent through the order.

The world's most neglected, unloved, photo-deprived child would disagree, though.



*That's a cleaned up version of what I would actually say.

**Yes. You are right. You haven't received your picture yet. It should be coming with the Christmas card. If you want it earlier next time, you'll have to come to Target WITH me when I pick them up.

***With The Babe as my source, how could this be wrong?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nakedness

Four-year-old logic is an oxymoron. Four-year-olds couldn't reason their way out of a cardboard box with an opening on the top. But, their lack of logic makes for good blog posts....

On the way to Preschool today, The Babe asked if monkeys were naked. I pulled the parenting stunt of responding to a question with a question "Do YOU think monkeys are naked?"

"No, I don't."
Being a little cantakerous, I responded "Well, if your penis and bottom were showing, would you be naked?"
Giggling "Yes."
"Well, then, why aren't monkeys naked if THEIR penises and bottoms are showing?"

Conversation paused for a good 30 seconds while every neuron in his brain fired at full capacity.

"They just aren't. They're monkeys."
"Well, what about dogs? Are Doug and Tex naked?"
Giggling again. Looking at Doug. "Yeah. But they don't care."

True. They don't. They also don't mind leaving poopy presents on the back seat of the car when Mommy runs in for a bagel and coffee after Preschool drop-off. Naked or no, they're lucky their full-clothed owners aren't prone to snap decisions about returning pets to their original owners.*

The Babe nor I came to concensus on what constitutes animal nakedness, but it made for interesting conversation.

And, I avoided being sucked into a never-ending debate on adopting a baby monkey.

Thank goodness for being first in the carpool line when that line of questioning started.


*Or, driving them far away from Dallas, to an open field. I'm pretty sure we'd have a full-length movie come out of it if we did this to Doug because I'm CONVINCED that "I'm-going-to-crap-where-I-want-and-you'll-like-it" hound of a dog would find his way home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bribery in Hell

"First, he whacked me, like five times with his stinky gym bag while I was trying to tie my shoe" This is coming from middle son, with the beginnings of stinging tears in his eyes. "Then, he wouldn't quit, and he said he'd tell if I didn't give him a dollar. HE TRIED TO BRIBE ME!"

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out WHAT in the conversation was bribery material. The rest of the story, as they say, came from my oldest.

"Yes, I whacked him with the gym bag. I already said I was sorry for that. But, he said I should be in Hell."

Yet, my oldest left out the crucial bit of information that he told his brother, for a measly dollar, he could acquire a "Get out of Jail Free" card and have his little exorcism-like comment purged from memory.

If this were a headline in the Dallas Morning News, it would say "Brother whacks sibling with gym bag and is sentenced to Hell. Bribery charges against whacker being considered."

I quote Mike on this "Well, at least he didn't say he should GO to Hell."

We Nowells are quite adept at finding the silver lining in every stinkin' cloud.


Editor's note: Both boys asked the other for forgiveness and, begrudgingly, hugged each other. By the time carpool arrived, they were laughing again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas song remix

The latest Christmas song to be modernized in our household is to the tune "Deck the Halls" and goes:

Deck the halls with poison ivy
Fa la la la la, la la la la
There is no second verse
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Break a window, pop a tire, set your wafflemaker on fire
Fa la la la la, la la la la
The concluding verse is not complete
Fa la la la la, la la la la*

As usual, I tried to maintain a serious look on my face and correct the boys by saying "Why do you continue to ruin perfectly good Christmas song lyrics?"

To which, my oldest, with all seriousness, replied "We're boys. What do you expect?"

Um. A modicum of decor. A little self-restraint. Lyrics that wouldn't embarrass nuns. Nothing Earth-shattering, really.

I realize kids aren't perfect angels. Heaven knows they aren't the spawn of perfect parents. But, sometimes, I think they must have a little devil on their shoulders.

I know this devil hasn't taken up residence because they've all, save The Babe who doesn't quite get it yet, accepted Jesus into their hearts.

But, just for good measure, I checked all their near-bald heads today.

No 666 on any scalps.

WHEW. (That's me. Breathing a big sigh of relief.)


*Christmas-carol-writers around the world are not shaken, nor stirred, by this rendition, nor do they feel the need to get to work, based on the Nowell boys complete lack of writing ability.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Removing Mascara the Old-Fashioned Way

A couple of summers ago a friend loaned me a book with a really cute puppy on the cover. She gave it a glowing recommendation.

It sat on my bedside table for several weeks before being moved into a drawer during some "cleaning" frenzy*. When it finally resurfaced, several months later, I gave up on the idea of reading it since it had become a movie. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and go see the movie.

Then the movie completed its run on the big screen and went to DVD. I still hadn't seen it.

Until tonight. When I had the absolutely brilliant idea to rent "Marley and Me".

Let's just say I have rarely cried so hard in my life. At one point in the movie, the little kids were saying goodbye to their dog and one of the kids had a "lamby". Well, one of the Nowell boys owns a "lamby"; I friggin' lost two pounds of my body weight boo-hooing at that one scene.

It got so bad, Mike thought I had fallen asleep. I informed him it just LOOKED like I had fallen into slumber because that's how swollen my eyes were.

I decided to go for broke and break every capillary in the sensitive area around my eyes by completing the entire movie. Should provide a really attractive look for our anniversary celebration tomorrow.

Truly, there are some movies you can only emotionally handle once, movies like "Schindler's List" or "The Passion of the Christ". Not that "Marley and Me" is going to win any Oscars, or is anywhere as deep or important as the others, but it is a tear-jerker in the same league, if you've ever owned a dog you loved.

Once the movie was over, I decided I needed a fix of something that would not, in any way, make me cry. I yearned for time to recover before I put myself through something like that again. I also needed several hours with steeped tea bags over my eyes for the swelling to dissipate.

I've got my sights set on "Drag Me to Hell".

Now, if I can just figure out how to convince Mike**.....



*It likely went straight into the drawer covered with dust, so I'm not sure I can really call this "cleaning".

**I would NEVER, in a million years, call my husband a WUSS, but he doesn't watch horror movies like normal people. He continually has one hand, sometimes both, close to his face, so to quickly cover his eyes, only to open his fingers slightly to "partially" see what's on the screen. I still haven't figured out how his arms don't cramp.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alex, I'll take "G" for $200

Being the almost-totally-phonics-literate Mom that I am, thanks to Dr. B and hours of practice with my sweetheart of a son, nothing makes my skin crawl more than misuse of the Queen's English.

Like the time my friend's Grandfather loudly asked for "fajitas" in a Mexican restaurant, but pronounced it so they rhymed with "vaginas". Yeah.

So, this week, I drove to Baylor to meet Mom for an appointment. In the building that houses her doctor is a construction project that would make most people question the entire idea of a recession. We're talking sparks-flying, walls-being-erected, paint-splattering, millions-of-dollars good times.

Unfortunately for me, I was running a smidgen behind. When I thrust the car into PARK, I hit the ground running, hoping to make it exactly on time, since I had approximately 2 minutes and 14 seconds.

Building one, the address I was positive I had visited two times before, looked strangely unfamiliar. I rounded one corner and didn't recognize ANYTHING.

"Strange." I thought "I could have sworn this was the place. Must be the stress."

So, I ran out the front door and to the next building, about 100 feet away.

As I entered, I realized this building also looked completely foreign. But, I reasoned, maybe I can ACCESS the floor I need by elevator. I scanned the directory, located the doctor's name*, and got on the elevator.

Except, when I entered the elevator and looked at the numbered buttons, there was no "two". There was a "Lobby/one" and a "three" button. No dice on the second floor I needed to go to.

Again, reasoning skills moved at warp speed, "Go to number three. Exit. Find stairs. Walk down one flight."

At the bottom of the flight of stairs I found floor number two locked. Crap.

Down the stairs and out the door I flew. Now I was really late. And more panicked than ever.

I must have looked like a crazed hyena as I re-entered the first building, because one of the receptionists asked if she could point me in the right direction. Eyes bulging, heart hurtling blood through my veins, I screamed "YES! How can I get to Dr. Mathew's office on the second floor?"

After a maze-like description of how I could accomplish this, I managed to get on the wrong elevator for the second time. When I exited on the second floor, the lady behind the welcome desk said "Are you looking for JYnecology?"

First, do I look like I NEED a gynecologist? Is there a countdown clock on my forehead with big zeros meaning it is past time for the joy of stirrups and lubricating jelly?

Second. You WORK for a GYnecologist. Not a JYnecologist. I realize it's a "vagina", but that's because the "g" sees an "i" and it then says "j".

Thank goodness I didn't say this. Because my phonics arrogance could have been cut with a knife.

After a couple of days of laughing at this ridiculous pronunciation I realized she was actually RIGHT. Why? Because the "g" sees a "y" so it SHOULD say "j". However, the word comes from Greek and French roots, so all the English rules get thrown out the window.

Bright side? Jyno-girl got me where I needed to go. Late, frazzled, but, still, before the doctor arrived. Thank you, oh woman of funny misprononciation.

Which just totally proved to me: people with poor pronunciation techniques make good direction givers.

Those of us who can pronounce the name of the medical specialty? Couldn't find our own butt in a store named "Rears R Us".



*Just to be sure I am in the right area of the hospital because I don't want to make another disastrous blunder. Late doesn't describe where I am now.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Fairy

"Grandma is going to have chemotherapy."
"What's that?" asks The Babe.
"It's medicine that attacks cells that aren't nice."
"Is the chemoFAIRY going to make her all better?"
"Honey, it's chemoTHERAPY."
"FAIRY?"
"No. THERAPY."
"FAIRY?"
"Oh, never mind."
"Well, is the fairy going to get her better?"
"We sure are praying that it does, buddy."

I love that my littlest guy thinks a fairy is going to visit his Grandma and make her all better. It's just so sweet my teeth feel violated.

When I think about a little Tinkerbell, coming down and waving her magic wand around Mom and making the cells go away, it makes me smile.

I imagine, when The Babe prays and asks God to help Grandma get better, that he is thinking about that Fairy.

You know, I'm not above letting a Fairy do the work. Of course, I prefer to think of Angels working with Mom's cancer, but I'm not going to get in the middle of a perfectly good four-year-old interpretation.

God works in strange ways sometimes. If he wants to send a gnome to work with the cancer, I'll gladly invite him over for lunch to thank him. I'm for whatever works here.

Angels? Gnomes? Fairies? Bring it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Priorities

Editor's Note: I am not claiming, by writing this today, that I do all these things. This is a list of things I WISH I could get right daily.



When you get your priorities REALLY straight you realize:

1. God
2. Family (your spouse, kids, and your parents/in-laws. Period. Family beyond that has their OWN family to support them--love them like crazy, but tend to your own.)
3. Friends

Anything you plan that involves all three groups is likely a blessed event. When you seek love, by spending time with those in this world who love you best, you are better able to spread that love around.

Make an extra effort to spend time with God every day and you will find Him showing up in the daily activities you do. Spend less time and see if the Devil doesn't find his foothold.

When you find yourself grumpy about doing something like laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, or carpooling, remember WHO benefits from your efforts. Your actions show love to those around you. That is true, even if you never hear a "thank you" from those who benefit. If you don't believe this, try NOT DOING your chores for a couple of days!

When your to-do list fills with things that don't seem to matter, put them up against the list. Do they benefit God, your family or your friends? If yes, proceed. If no, are they taking beneficial time away from God, your family or your friends? If so, dump those activities off your list.

Learn to say "no". Say it often. Practice in front of the mirror, if you have to. Remember, by saying "no", you are giving someone else the opportunity to say "yes".

If someone refuses to hear your "no", do what is right for God, your family, and your friends. Don't be pressured into doing something because someone else thinks it is a good idea. But, balance that with trying to love people who can't, won't, or don't understand your priorities.

When you have a chance to say "yes" to God, pray and proceed. Again, an opportunity to do good doesn't mean that opportunity was meant for YOU. That's what prayer is for.

Attend church weekly. Or more often, if you can. You live 168 hours every week. God asks for less than 2 hours of that time in his house and for one, 24-hour-day, of your week to REST. Do your best to rest.

It's all about the time. Not about the color of the decorations, or the weight of the invitation, or the perfect cake. It's about talking, sharing, and being together. Just being is all that matters. Because being together communicates love.

Learn to communicate with those you love. Figure out how to talk politics or religion or parenting skills without offense. Accept differing opinions and attitudes. But NEVER compromise on what you believe is right by God. Listening and trying to understand those we love communicates love, not acceptance of their opinions as your own.

When in doubt, err on God's side, as you see it. If you have doubts, see if scripture backs up your thoughts. If it doesn't, don't hesitate to reexamine what you believe. Prayerfully.

Ask for forgiveness. From anyone and everyone you offend or hurt. So many people will never know what it means to be asked for forgiveness in this world. It is a humbling experience to ask and a humbling experience to respond. If you are brought to tears by asking, you probably needed to ask in the first place.

When it comes time to go home, you aren't going to be worried about who will get the retirement account or the fur coat or the collection of comic books. You will be doing a mental checklist of the PEOPLE. And being sure they know you loved them. And being sure you were loved by them and by God.

If you don't believe love is all that really matters, talk with anyone who has been with someone who is dying. Time and time again, love is all that matters.

Love well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vacation Updates? No.

I have a friend in a remote, beachy location right now. She sends sweet little updates to Facebook, updates like "Standing on Walahlah Beach, loving the sound of the ocean".

I love you. But I also want to rip your friggin' head off.

Somehow, this just gets under my skin. Isn't it rude to make people suffer through the joy of your trip while you are STILL ON IT? As if, upon your return to the world as the rest of us know it, you aren't going to send us 5,134 pictures off Shutterfly to clog up our inboxes?

We all want to be happy for you but, secretly*, we are just a little pissed.

Anyway, enjoy your fresh pineapple appetizers and hibiscus flower leis while they last. And I'll just ignore your hourly updates that make me throw-up a little in my mouth.

Because, someday, when I'm standing in Switzerland eating the best chocolate in the world, with snow-capped mountains and Swiss chalets in the background, I'll be sending bite-by-bite updates to you.

Paybacks, as they say, are Hell.


*I guess, if she reads this blog, it's not much of a secret anymore.....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Great Quotes from Little Boys

"Obey the wife."

That is a direct quote from my middle son. To Mike. As he was arguing with me about something so vanilla, so forgettable, that I have no idea what it was.

But the quote? It stuck with me.

The boy sounded so Charlton Heston, as Moses, commanding his Father do something.

It caught us so off guard, both Mike and I busted out laughing. That, as any of you who are parents know, will promote this quote being used again and again. Probably a big blunder, but it really was that funny at the time. And, it completely put the brakes on a goofy disagreement.

I need to file this away for the boy's rehearsal dinner. And, for the first time I am standing in his kitchen, listening to an inane argument with his sweet wife-of-the-future.

Chickens, baby, chickens. Coming home to roost.

Sooner than any of us think.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kid-Style Questioning

When I was a little girl, eons ago, we used to ask questions like "Would you rather kiss Shaun Cassidy OR Leif Garrett?" There was the inevitable controversy amongst the bell-bottomed girls about which boy, blond or brunette, was the cutest. I'm not sure we ever got consensus, but it did lead to some interesting nine-year-old conversations.

Tonight at dinner I get asked the question "Would you rather be locked in a dungeon with a sumo wrestler with a machine gun OR lick peanut butter off a hobo's foot?"

First off, who still uses the word "hobo"? Really. Isn't that sub-1940's lingo?

Second, what the heck? I guess it's the testosterone. Scary situation vs. gross predicament.

Let's just say that what was sitting on the dinner plates really took the gross award earlier in the meal*, but I had just about had enough.

I prefer my mealtime musings be geared towards innocent, sweet questions like "Would you rather marry Miley Cyrus or Candice from Phineas and Ferb?" OR "How does Mom do it? Day after day of delicious, nutritious, portion-balanced meals? She's a GENIUS!"

But, alas, I've been dealt the male card four times over, six if you include the dogs, so I'm in for years of off-color questioning. Guess I should acquiesce now.

Incidentally, since I had to make a choice: I'm licking peanut butter.


*They were tasty enough, but let's just say the baked combination of gluten-free bread crumbs + turkey cubes look surprisingly like the clumps removed from most cat's litter boxes. I started chuckling when I was dishing them up and then Mike turned the corner and lost it. The kids? They've never seen a litter box, so when I dubbed our protein-entree "Sadie bites", after one of my now-deceased cats, it only made me and Mike bust a gut.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The 10 Plagues Countdown

A few years ago our house was blessed with a series of boils that was, almost, at least in our minds, of Biblical proportion. It seemed that they just kept coming and were always MRSA, meaning a compounding pharmacy would have to do the honors in mixing up the prescription, which was never covered by our insurance company because the meds were considered "experimental".

Plague number one. Endured. Appreciated for its ability to inflict scars and excrutiating pain on those affected. As well, for its ability to flatten a budget to negative numbers in two prescriptions.

Gross out factor: 115%+.

For Halloween weekend we visited my brother and his family. This was supposed to be the relaxing weekend trip that would leave Dallas and its worries all behind.

Except that, about two hours before trick-or-treating was to commence, one of our boys began scratching his head in earnest. This was nothing new to me. Child had been doing the same for about a week and I kept checking his head. Nada. I chalked it up to poor shampoo rinsing in the shower.

Problem wasn't that he wasn't covered in lice and eggs. It was that his Mama had no idea what she was looking for. Thank goodness for a street savvy Aunt.

The solution? Total head shaving. With dog clippers. Even though only one of the boys was affected, they all got the treatment, including Daddy.

There was much gnashing, wailing, and comments about being a freak with no hair.

Several hours later, every male Nowell had endured lice shampoo and had a newfound appreciation for how much a bald head loses heat in the cold. Momma discovered lice shampoo doesn't stink, but it sure doesn't do much for making hair easy to style.

But, after a few well-chosen pieces of candy and plenty of fun going house-to-house, every one retired to bed pretty happy with their "new look".

This morning, brother and sister-in-law were left with a portion of the dubious task of cleaning linens, beds, pillows, etc. We left, tails between our legs, hoping they will eventually forgive us.

Plague number two. Sucks. Bad. Kids look cute but I'm still grossed out. On the economics side of things, though, this one is a cake walk compared to the boils.

Gross out factor: 1000%+.

Still wondering: which plague is next? Locusts? Frogs? Blood in the water? WHAT?

Stay tuned, campers. With eight more possiblities, I'm positive there's more to come.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Cutting Edge

So I am the least fashion/style conscious person on the planet. In fact, to find the genes that have anything to do with anything remotely NOW, you'd have to go back several generations. Then, you'd be in the NOW of the past, so that really defeats the purpose. Let's just say that my side of the family buys into the phrase "It's your thing. Do what you want to do."

Since I'm prone to winging it when it comes to design* and, heaven forbid, NEVER consult magazines that would actually involve anything having to do with "Fall Collections" or "Latest Trends", it was nearly impossible for me to try to get the blank canvas of this house anywhere never presentable without competent help.

Plus, by remaining design-ignorant, I've kept myself from needing the latest and greatest and from running to the store every 20 minutes trying to keep up with the latest incarnation of bell bottoms, paisley prints, and the "in" colors.

This week, however, I was in need of help with color. For the walls. In the TV room.

I actually made a semi-design decision that too much green would be, well, too green. So, I found the email my former neighbor sent and emailed the woman she used to help redecorate her house on a shoe string.**

This is the response I got:

From: Stylishly Cheap Designer
Subject: RE:
To: helpmechoosecolors@yahoo.com
Date: Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 7:32 PM

Jill,

I would love to help you out but I am completely booked until the 2nd week in January. I start Christmas decorating next week - can you believe that?!!!

If you're interested in setting something up in January just let me know and we'll get it on the calendar. My # is 972/555-5555. Thank you so much for your interest in Stylishly Cheap Designer Interiors!

The Stylishly Cheap Designer

WHAT??? I've heard of paying someone to put up Christmas lights on the exterior of their house, but decorate the interior? Really? People pay money for that?

I understand the exterior light thing. What middle-aged man really wants to haul his over-worked, under-exercised body onto the roof, potentially exposing himself to a nasty fall and the holidays in a body cast? Please. Mike gave up on that in his late-20's and I was all for it.

The interior of a house, at Christmas, should feel cozy and warm and full of stuff that kids made at over abundant holiday parties, Sunday School events, and school craft times. There should also be the requisite ornaments handed down from the previous generations. Plus some junk picked up post-Christmas sales at 90% off.

Pretty much, once the tree is up and the flat surfaces of the house are covered with red/green/gold/silver stuff, you are done. The cost? A Sunday afternoon of your time and a few extra ounces on the body due to too many calories from the hot chocolate you downed in the process.

I emailed the SCD back and asked if she knew someone who could help before January as I would likely lose my sanity by then. Plus, I'm afraid our dear contractor will notice he's become part of the family, having been with us since last February, and walk just on that basis.***

We'll see what she says. In the meantime, I'm going to resist the urge to head out to Sherwin Williams for a quick look-see.

Last time I chose colors, we had Pepto Bismol pink in the entryway. I'd like to avoid another color faux-pas like that.





*Yeah. You noticed. Go ahead and admit it.

**I already liked this woman, sight-unseen, for the work she did in my friend's house and for her penchant for cheapness.

***Becoming an honorary member of this family IS that frightful.