Monday, September 27, 2010


When you have a child in the house who stayed home from school with vague, flu-like symptoms, hearing something that sounds like water hitting the floor in intermittent torrents, is quite alarming.

Especially if you are awoken, after falling asleep in front of the TV, to the show "25 Sexiest Cover Girls" and you don't even remember changing the channel to E!.

I immediately figured "Shoot. Hooman isn't over this" and headed straight for him.

But I was stopped as I passed The Babe's room because something was wrong. Horribly wrong.

There was a puddle of "water" on the floor at the entrance to his room. The lights were turned all the way up to "blindingly high for this hour of the night" and there was a little guy, vertical, doing his best impression of "water the garden so the plants grow big and tall and healthy."

Except, I don't think sealed hardwood floors actually grow.

When I say a puddle, that is just the beginning. How, I don't know, but that boy managed to create a STREAM, emanating 6 inches in front of him all the way to the entrance to his room.*

And, as I came in and gently tried to wake him up, he put the finishing squirt on his business and SHOOK. I swear. Then he returned his property to its rightful holder, turned around, crawled back into bed, and pulled up the covers.**

Even stranger than that? There was a roll of toilet paper on the shelf hook where his hoodies usually hang at the head of the bed.

I don't even want to know what that is there for. And I'm sure as heck not going to venture to that side of the bed unless something starts smelling afoul.

*Just so you wouldn't think I was full of crap, this morning I measured. This was a FOUR FOOT water event. At the least. No lie.

**Now, how can a sleep-walking boy manage to keep his pj bottoms dry while peeing out of the top of his britches when a grown woman can't manage that fully awake, squatting in the woods?

Dirty House Comparisons

It seems I am thriving on back-handed compliments lately. This one took me about 36 hours to properly process and go "WAIT A COTTON-PICKIN' MINUTE!":

"I feel really good about the state of our house after being in there!"

This comment was delivered with a wink and a grin by my hubby.

THERE was the pseudo-house/trailer at the back of the wildlife refuge where the capuchin monkey and lion cub were kept. And, apparently, where exhausted employees hung out to watch satellite TV, drink carbonated beverages, and catch a little shut-eye when tired.

I think their maid didn't show up. For, like, the last twelve years.

It looked like a frat house after a Saturday night. And, I'm sure, if you were waking up from a bender and saw the lion cub and diapered monkey, you'd wonder if the alcohol needed a few more hours to wear off.

So, a comparison to our house is a little stretch. But, apparently, in the wisdom of my age, I'm taking this at face value, as a compliment.

Now, where is that damn monkey? I need him to fetch me a cold one from the keg....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Camping, Nowell-Style

1. If you plan to build a fire, both wood and matches are critical.
It is NOT a good idea to count on dry wood being strewn around the forest floor or match fairies to be at the ready when you realize "It looks like it just rained here and I have no clue how to strike two rocks together to make a spark."*

2. It is critical to know where the flashlight is located for the middle-of-the-night pee excursion to the bathroom.
If you are rendered blind by the velvety, pitch-blackness of the Chickasaw National Park, you might stumble eight feet, end up squatting next to the car, and accidentally pee on your pajama bottoms. And then wonder, the next day, "Why does it smell like urine next to the Armada?"

3. There is nothing funnier than a child observing the "...rain from last night..." based on a brief clutch of your soggy pajama bottoms the next morning.

4. It turns out that government workers CAN put such thoughtful construction into a camp pad site that the packing of the ground is rendered the hardest material known to man**.
Further, it seems that the result of three pregnancies worth of extra hip padding is NOT enough to counteract sleeping on ground that feels like granite.***

5. Raccoons are crafty little critters and CAN figure out how to open the top of a cooler.
They don't much like it when you yell "HEY!" at them in your best, mad voice. So, as a courtesy, they leave nasty, muddy paw prints on every square inch of both of your coolers.

6. The most romantic gift a woman can receive at a campsite is not the last s'more, but a camp stove, thoughtfully purchased at the local Wal-Mart in the wee hours of the morning by her hubby, so she could awaken and brew her cup o' morning joe.

7. If you visit a wildlife sanctuary with five 12-and-under boys/one girl and it is feeding time in the lion's cages, don't be alarmed when the live chickens (AKA: dinner) are caught and killed by the hungry lions and all the kids are glued to the action.
However, when they concoct cooler things to watch being taken down, such as live gazelle, even the tour guide might begin to worry and get that "Am I in the presence of future gun-toting, whiskey-drinking, mass murderers?" crease in his forehead.

8. "No, honey. The 'Golden Corral' sign on the tiger's cage doesn't mean the TIGER eats at that restaurant. It means the company pays money to the sanctuary so they can feed the tiger in that cage. Yes, same thing with the 'Burger King' sign."

9. Petting a 7.5 week old Indo-Chinese tiger is as cool as it sounds. And totally worth the price of admission.

10. Rocks beside a freezing cold river have no mercy when a Mother yells "Don't get wet!"
In fact, they seem to come alive and add slimy, slipperiness to themselves so your children fall in harder and faster.

11. Falling prey to rocks by Arctic-temperature water gives you an excuse to tell your boys to shuck their shirts and to take cute pictures of your bare-chested men-in-training.
Bonus? Pictures that, quite possibly, will allow you to check "Take Christmas card photo" off your exhaustive to-do list.

12. If you attempt to make homemade marshmallows and graham crackers for your hyper-allergenic children, they will fail. Miserably.
But, you won't know that until you get them out in the forest to eat them and everyone is salivating in anticipation.

13. When your attempt at keeping s'mores from driving your children into food-induced craziness fails, your best friend is the Mom in the next pad site, who has all the makings, plus some. And is totally willing to share.****

14. When you borrow a second tent from a neighbor and sleep separately from your kids, it is a good idea to move at warp speed when one of them calls for you in the middle of the night.
If you don't, one of your kids will sleep walk, unaware of where he is, and piss all over the interior of your tent, adding a little hip motion for good measure, and hit most of the length of the structure, including a good-soaking of one brother's pillow as payback for some unknown act.

15. When you are rudely awoken from the second night of relative sleeplessness, by the sound of a sprinkler hitting a window, and realize "HEY! There are no windows or sprinklers here...IS THAT A PEEING CHILD?!?!?!", neither the bride nor the groom is very happy/cordial/pleasant.

16. Should you decide, since you are up anyway AND your bladder is screaming AND you have a flashlight, NOT to travel to the bathroom because you are freaked out by the thought of going alone in the pitch dark because surely you will meet your demise at the hands of Jason/Freddie/Chucky, you WILL pee on your panties, even though you've chosen a ledge, a long, long way away from the car.***

17. The first taste of Fall feels better when you wake up to it in a sleeping bag. Even with bruised hips.

18. It's good for children to see wild bison so they can exclaim "THAT'S what you've been fixin' us?....COOL!"

19. Solar-heated water in a communal bath house in the woods feels good. But, old-fashioned, scalding water in a shower attached to a brick house feels even better.

I agree, Dorothy, there's no place like home. But, there's also nothing like escaping for a weekend in the wilderness, either.

Next time, though? At least two of us are wearing diapers to bed......*****

*And, Bear Grylls? You are totally full of horse poo. "Man Vs. Wild" was of ABSOLUTELY no help to us in this situation.

**Move over diamonds.

***At one point in the night, I realized I was just like the character in Princess and the Pea. But, with extraordinarily good reason.

****She is also the most prepared Girl Scout I've ever met. I aspire to be just like her next time I go camping!

*****The woods are no friend to a girl who has to urinate. Or a smallish boy with sleep-walking issues.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

A few weeks ago, I recounted the sad news that Hooman lost a fish to that big tank in the sky.

Well, today, I almost murdered Nickels fish.

And it all goes back to my appalling lack of/desire for/interest in cleaning.

Somehow, the enviable task of cleaning fish bowls has fallen on me for the past several weeks. After I had watched others in the house do this chore, I decided I might have a quicker way.

This morning, sub-7a.m., I "conditioned" filtered water* so it would be ready after I returned home. Mr. Blue Fish was transferred to a "holding tank"** and I washed the bowl and stones and poured in the now perfectly tempered water. Everything but the fish was in place.

In my infinite wisdom***, I decided to pour Mr. Blue back into his bowl AFTER pouring most of the water out of his temporary home. And that's where trouble started.

See, I hadn't really gotten around to cleaning out the right side of the sink after dinner or breakfast. And there was quite a collection of dishes, hanging out, waiting for their proper rinse and deposit in the dishwasher.

To point, in this side of the sink were the following:

1. Large frying pan containing remnants of the white sauce from last night's pasta dinner

2. Large sauce pan with steamer insert from broccoli (again, dinner)

3. Medium stirring bowl used to make morning muffins

4. Medium sauce pan from breakfast's boiled eggs

5. Miscellaneous utensils

6. Strawberry "tops" cut so berries could be sliced for lunch boxes

and 7. Egg yolks removed to placate picky eaters.

It was quite the collection. And, I had already run ONE load in the dishwasher this morning****.

And over said collection, I began pouring Mr. Blue from one container to the next.

That's when I rediscovered an inconvenient little fact: fish are slippery. So slippery that Mr. Blue took a perfect 10 dive from one cup straight into the potpourri of grossness that was my sink.

All I could get out of my mouth was "Blue fish in drain. Blue fish in drain. Blue fish in drain." It was a weak attempt to communicate to Mike that I needed help. NOW!

I started pulling stuff out of the sink at lightning speed. All my brain could think was "OHMYGOSHHEISDOWNTHEDRAINANDTHATISDISGUSTINGBUTIHAVETOSAVEHIM." After all, this is my son's fish! And, Heaven forbid, I should be the one who orchestrated an accidental***** hit on his fish.

Turned out, lucky guy had fallen into the big frying pan full of creamy white sauce. Adding to his already slippery exterior was the fact that now he was swimming in an olive oil-based goo. "Slime" doesn't cover it.

After I managed to save him and rinsed him off, I dropped him back into his normal dwellings and he was all deflated. Literally. This is a Betta we're talking about here, and his fins were basically GLUED to his body. No thanks to the cream sauce, I'm sure.

So, I did what any desperate Mother would do, short of giving the little guy CPR: I moved his tank close to his mortal enemy, Mr. Red.


As you can tell, he's back in "Japanese fighting fish" form. But, for the next 24 hours, I'm going to be watching that little dude, just being sure he's OK.

Mike asked if I would come clean with Nickels on this whole sordid mess.

The jury's still out on that one.

*Not water out of the tap or toilet but out of the refrigerator door. Read: Pampered fish.

**Reminds me of jail. I wonder, if every two seconds when his brain recycles, if he thinks the same thing and gets that feeling of "OH NO!!! Why am I in the clinker?"

***Which, in this case, would fit on the head of a pin.

****I know you are jealous of my cleaning prowess but PLEASE don't hold it against me.

*****Which reminded me of the scene in Pulp Fiction where the kid in the back seat gets shot and John Travolta's character is all "WHAT? It told you it was an accident?"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheap, I Tell You

In case you didn't hear, Nickels, our oldest, got his nickname by swallowing two Thomas Jefferson-headed beauties.

A few days later, he brought me a dime and said "HERE."

I went "Why are you giving me a dime?" And he said "Because you said you wanted your nickels back."

Then I asked "Well, where are the nickels?"

And he said "I just flushed them."

See, he knew I'd be cheesed that he flushed PERFECTLY GOOD NICKELS so he gave me the dime.

Yeah, I'm cheap. So cheap I expect my kids to actually dig money out of the toilet if they've developed a penchant for swallowing coins.

But, if you are wondering, I prefer to be called "thrifty", not "crazy", thank you.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Power of Mentos

A while back, the Hooman attended a party themed "Mythbusters". One of the fun experiments they did was the Mentos/Diet Coke explosion.

In case you are one of the dozen or so people who haven't Goggled "Mentos" and "Diet Coke" and seen You Tube footage of crazy people all over the world "proving" the theory that Mentos are actually a leftover weapon from the Cold War, let me tell you: this works. Explosively well.

For the Hooman, having a gift card to Target that had been in his possession for almost seven WHOLE days was restraint generally reserved for monks in a sex shop. It was practically burning a hole in his hand and he decided the logical way to spend his money was to create a Diet Coke geyser. Being only cold and heartless 15% of the time, Hooman pounced on the 85% chance he would get lucky with his ride request and caught me in the "Sure. I'll drive you to Target" zone.

After arriving home and prepping our experiment*, it didn't occur to me to actually lay down the law about WHEN and WHERE this experiment could be conducted. I assumed that the whole shooting match would be taken out of the house BEFORE the Mentos were actually inserted into the 2L bottle.

My error was the assumption. While I was getting the camera ready to record the whole event so I could send it to Mike's parents, I heard screaming.

Scratch that. I screamed when the TENS machine molested me. He screeched. Wailed. He stopped just short of howling.

And this is what I heard:


Now, at this moment, I'm in the kitchen. And I realize that it sounds like this commotion is coming from the other side of the wall. Which would put my son in the TV room.

I moved at a speed only previously seen when the sample lady at Costco had a tray-full of "brownie bites" and I could see she was about to close shop. I flew into the room and saw this:

One smallish boy attempting** to hold the cap on the Diet Coke which had, obviously, ingested the Mentos and was, therefore, violently spewing itself out of the perfectly drilled hole in the cap. And all this drama? Taking place within 3 feet of Mike's prized TV.

You don't know the TV? The one another woman had sent back to Best Buy because (and I quote the installer on this one) "it (is) too big"? The deal Mike couldn't refuse* because we "get the 25% open box discount!!!!!"? Yeah, THAT one.

It was within milliseconds of hitting the door that I started barking orders like the captain of a sinking ship. "TAKE THAT THING OUTSIDE. NOW!! OUTSIDE. OUTSIDE!!! MOVE."

Clearly, my instructions were succinct, loud, compelling and, did I mention, LOUD, because both he and I were at the door to the garage within a matter of .5 seconds, all the while, leaving a sticky, brown trail of Diet Coke on the floors, furniture, rugs, shoes (that weren't put in the right place. AHEM.), garage floor, a random bin of Legos and, finally, the entire width and breadth of the driveway.

The poor 2L bottle had literally expelled its contents in one direction and gotten thrown in another. I think it was doing its best imitation of a freshman sorority girl at the first fraternity-party-by-the-pool. Ain't no one coming out of that situation without a) getting wet and b) throwing up.

And Hooman? He decided the best way to handle this situation was to pout in his fort. And refuse to come out. And refuse to listen to reason ("There are a LOT MORE 2L bottles in the world" to which he whined "BUT I DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR ANOTHER ONE."*****)

And just about the time this whole sordid mess was almost cleaned up, I got a phone call from a girlfriend of mine who tumbled dry a load of clothes that had been peed on by her cat and ate a portion of a bag of trail mix that contained a caterpillar (at least that's what they THINK it is.)

Yeah, so no pity party going on here. Just another 2L bottle purchase and an explosion OUTSIDE tonight.

It was awesome. Just like raising boys.

*Remove the cap, drill a hole in said cap, string Mentos onto a pipe cleaner. You know, standard scientific procedure crap.

**This took superhuman strength. Go Goggle "Mentos" and "Diet Coke" if you have any doubt.

****I understand he heard Don Corleone speaking into his ear at the moment he spotted this beaut.

*****If I had a dime for every time I thought this about sport's equipment, which manages to disappear, get cruelly run over by our cars, or simply implodes on itself, we could sponsor the lottery next week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Separated at Birth

Sometimes, I cruise around to other people's blogs to amuse myself. And, frankly, to dredge up good ideas about how to ridicule myself for your pleasure.
It's hard work. But, YOU ARE WORTH IT.

A couple of the blogs I scope out are written by people I've known for several years since attending church with them in the previous century. I console myself with their blogs to keep up with their lives since Nowell-people can't seem to plan ahead enough to see anyone who doesn't 1) live directly on our block or 2) go through the same carpool lines or 3) spend half their lives/paychecks at the local Whole Foods.

The other two "regular" blog haunts are written by people I have no relationship with AT ALL. They just happen to be some of the funniest women on planet Earth and my stretch goal is to someday meet at least one, if not both, of them. Over drinks and fattening food.

So, today, I was at Jen Lancaster's blog ( I've mentioned her before, if you've been reading this long enough, and she merits mentioning again.

Because I know she HATES IT when people steal her writing, I am posting the following disclaimer so there is a bat's chance in Hell of meeting her someday and not getting pummeled by her designer bag when she figures out I am the one who posted her stuff and accidentally, through omission, took credit for it.

Here goes:

Now you may proceed to read. Just don't go drinking something hot while reading this because it will make you laugh, which will create the probability that hot liquid will come flying out of your mouth, which will create the possibility that you will burn your body. And I don't have time for your lawsuit.

***********************BEGINNING OF JEN'S POST**********************
Finally, I thought I had my whole Ambien thing under control. I'm much better now about getting my dumb ass directly into bed after taking it and I haven't done any shopping under its influence in ages. However, a couple of nights ago I took my pill and then had a cup of decaf ginger lemon tea. (Sidenote: in addition to a lot of questionable wallpaper, the new house has a boiling water tap and now I drink 9,000 cups of tea a day, less because I love tea and more because I'm bowled over by the convenience.)


It would seem the act of drinking a boiling hot beverage caused the Ambien tablet to flood my system all at once and I began to full-on hallucinate. (Sidenote: not unenjoyable.) Fletch said he tried to kiss me good night and I stopped him, claiming he looked different. I accused him of having turned his face to rubber. Then, I'm told, I pinned him down and started to work my hands like sock puppets and explaining I needed "to use my crab pincers" to "rearrange your Stretch Armstrong face."

He escaped and went outside to have a glass of wine in lieu of me trying to mold his cheeks into interesting shapes.

I think it's possible that I'm the reason he drinks.

*********************END OF JEN'S POST*************************

See? Separated at birth.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exercise Ain't For Sissies

One of the benefits of going to the WORLD'S GREATEST CHIROPRACTOR*, is that she gives you cool stuff to help you when you aren't in her office.

Which leads me to admitting that I'm clumsy.

Two weeks ago, on the tennis court, I fell backward trying to hit a return to my competition. Not only did I fall, but I fell awkwardly. Enough so, that the muscles in my neck, that I was straining to try to keep my head from hitting the concrete, decided to pull in a way that was causing me to either need to a) continuously drink to keep from saying "OOOWWWWWWWW" or b) start taking muscles relaxants, chased with drinks.

I decided to do neither because, fortunately for me, I had an appointment with the wonder-doc the very next day and a massage scheduled the day after that.**

And the very next day, after cracking my neck so loudly I think I'm one step closer to deafness, and realigning my back and hips, that sweet bone cracker doctor o' mine hooked me up with a "TENS" machine.

Yeah, I didn't know what a "TENS" machine was either.

Turns out, this little gem sends electrical pulses through these sticky pads (that look like the pads used for heart tests) and, literally, wear your muscle out with their pulsating. I learned, very quickly, that the knob that controls the pulses goes from "gentle massage" to "MY MUSCLE IS CONTRACTING AND I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER IT" in a very short time.

Literally, if you crank this baby up as high as she goes, you can WATCH your muscle contract. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, let me tell you how cool: the next day, the muscle in my neck didn't hurt a bit. And it has been fine ever since. Miracle, I tell you. M.I.R.A.C.L.E.

So tonight, I realized that I had torqued my shoulder muscle*** and got out the TENS machine. It was slightly after bedtime and two of the three kids were tucked in for the night, so I headed up to Nickels room to finish the rounds.

On my way out, I turned the light out in the kitchen and the entire living room went pitch black. The TENS machine was firing along nicely, meaning it felt prickly to my muscles, and I decided the best way to navigate the black in order to keep myself from serious bodily harm was to put my arms straight out, all Frankenstein like. That way, if something was ahead of me, my arms would feel it before my body contacted it. Logical, right?

Attempting to execute Project No Injury, my arm brushed the side of my body, where the TENS controller was hanging off my pajama bottoms, and sent it into "extreme shock mode".

Not only did I THINK that someone had roughly touched my shoulder, it felt like it. And, being in the pitch black, I had no way to tell my brain "SHUT.THE.HECK.UP. There is no one there, idiot." So, what did I do?

I screamed. Like a woman being mugged. At the top of my lungs.

Freaked Nickels out. He was all "MOM? ARE YOU OK? WHAT'S HAPPENING?"

By this time, I've realized I'm a complete buffoon and lowered the amperage down to negative five. And I yell "It's all fine. Mom's just an idiot."**** And he said "You really scared me."

After apologizing profusely, I retired to my bedroom. I was about to take the TENS machine off when Nickels appeared in my doorway.

"Mom? I'm scared. Do you mind if I sleep on Hooman's bunk?"

Yes. I get the Mommy Gold Star of the night for freaking my son out so bad that he couldn't even sleep in his own room.

All because I'm clumsy and have to send electrical pulses through my body to survive exercise.

Stay tuned for more hilarity. We're only into week two of tennis and it's a LOOONNNNGGG season.

*Since it was written in my code of conduct not to name names, call me for a referral.

**Thank you, Lord, for concocting my schedule and taking care of me before I even knew I would need it.

***Yes, I'm aging. Thanks for reminding me, body.

****Come to think of it, my son didn't disagree. HMMMM.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


One of the pleasures of being married to a PK* is that you get the actual "P" in your life.

I hit the lottery with my father-in-law, Pop. He is, besides being a great father, a great advisor, a witty conversationalist, and he doesn't shy away from giving his opinion in a non-offensive, perfectly-timed way.

He was invited back to the first church he every pastored, way back in his pre-seminary days, to give the message on "Homecoming" weekend. Since Mike and his sister weren't even a twinkle in their parent's eyes at the time, he thought it would be fun to have his family join him. Of course, we agreed.

So, this morning, the Nowell clan left Dallas and headed out for the two+ hours it would take to get us to "God's country"**, AKA Redtown, Texas and Tabernacle Baptist Church.

There were so many charming things about our trip that I can't possibly highlight all of them. I love, almost enough to pick up the entire clan and move out to the middle of nowhere, the lack of fuss folks in the sticks make about detail***, pretense, or status. They are genuine, down to the core.

I adored the way the male singer of the special singing group "Grace Trio" said, of Jesus, "They spat on him, they WHOPPED him, they killed him." Only in deep East Texas (or, possibly, Kentucky) would Jesus get a whopping instead of a beating. And the group sang "I Believe He's Coming Back" that included the lyrics "The saints from every nation will lose gravitation."

The bio for Pop stated that "He has severed in churches in Texas and Louisiana". My brother-in-law pointed out that Dad, obviously, had split many congregations right down the middle.****

Even the Hooman found humor in the aptly titled "Heavenly Highway Hymns" placed strategically in the book rack in front of our pew. In all my years in Baptist church, I'd never sung the hymn "When the Roll is Called up Yonder"*****, though Mike tells me it is a gospel standard.

Most definitely, our proudest moment was when Pop stood up to give the message. It was a wonderful sermon on not losing the music in life because you are too focused on the letter of the law. If I hadn't known any better, I'd swear he preached every Sunday to a crowd of people, he was that good.

About the time my butt was starting to fall asleep, somehow The Babe lost his balance and fell off the pew. I think it was because he was doing his best pastor imitation, hands at chest level gesturing wildly, saying everything Pop was saying, just on a delay basis.

Two hours after the service started, we prayed over the food and went to a display of Southern home cooking that would make Paula Deen say "Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!" Three kinds of mac and cheese, fried chicken, shepherd's pie, peas of every sort and desserts. Oh, the desserts. Pie, cake, pudding, brownies. If you inhaled too much, you would have gained weight!

I counted about 75 people in that little country church in the middle of nowhere. But, there was no way to count the heart that was present. It was obvious these people love each other and pray for one another and are proud of where they serve.

I'm pretty sure Jesus was looking down this morning, proud of his little flock and its pastor leader for the day.

I sure know WE were!

*Preacher's Kid. Yes, they are every bit as bad as the reputation that precedes them.

**One of my friends is fond of saying that land out in the country, where you can actually hear birds and crickets chirp without the aid of a sound machine, is "God's country". The very first sound we heard when I opened the door was crickets.

***I say that as a supreme compliment, without any sarcasm, because the English teacher in me is about nothing but detail and anal-retentive correction of anything that could possibly be construed as grammatically wrong.

****My bro-in-law is the other English geek in the family and noticed the spelling error before I did. Kudos to you!

*****I wonder if it is because most Dallasites have no idea where "Yonder" is?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sometimes the Truth is Stranger than Fiction

One of the perks of having a "junk" email account is that you can give your email address to people who look like serial murderers and not worry that they are going to flood your primary inbox with death threats.

This "spammy" address is where I've learned about erectile dysfunction drugs from Guatemala, vicodin from the kind folks in Canada, and how to make $3976 per month without leaving the comfort of my home.

So, this week, when I received a message that included information on a couple of weird massages, I was a little skeptical. But, just for grins, I had to share them, to brighten your day and make you glad that most spas offer a good old-fashioned Swedish massage done by a burly girl with lip hair named Helga.

Strange massage #1:

Snake massage: At a spa in Israel, you can have your back massaged by snakes..non-venomous reptiles whose touch is said to be relaxing and therapeutic.

UM. I hate to go all Indiana Jones on this, but SNAKES??? Why does it have to be snakes? Couldn't it be something cute, like a panda bear, writhing around on my back?

And, thanks for the "non-venomous" plug. Somehow I'm thinking that was added to calm my nerves and "relax" me into thinking: "Well, they ARE non-venomous, so what do I have to worry about? (YAWN) I think I'll take a little nap."

I find the thought of this treatment just about as relaxing as being followed on a major freeway for 13 miles by a policeman who pulled out from behind a car he just gave a ticket to and now is trailing Me. The "me" who was going 82 mph when I passed him.*

Yes, the snake massage is strange, but the following is almost beyond my grasp of understanding:

Breast massage: Said to regulate menstrual cycles, balance hormones, stimulate the lymphatic system, and prevent breast cancer, this intense Chinese massage won't be everyones cup of tea.

I'm thinking, "If you touchamybreast, I breakayourface."

Not everyones cup of tea? You got that part right.

And, even if that tea was spiked with Everclear, ain't no way some technician is regulating my cycle that way.

No, no, no, no, no.

But, you know what else I'm thinking? If Mike ever finds out about this and he realizes THE CHANGE has moved in to stay, he'll be flying some massage specialist in from China, in hopes that she can regulate me.**

Maybe I should just go ahead and order that panda massage right now....

*This doesn't resemble anything that has ever, ever happened to me.

**Good luck on THAT one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Serenity Now!

Even though I've considered the option of having one or both of the cars painted yellow and black checkerboard to match my chosen profession*, I still prefer to be in the passenger seat. Thankfully, I married a man who loves to drive.

Of course, he only loves to drive with me when I do what comes naturally in the passenger seat: sleep.

This morning we both road the carpool route, as the Hooman had a special request to have both Mom AND Dad take him to school.**

So, we assumed positions:
Hooman--back seat passenger
Doug and Tex--somewhere in the back of the car, seat belt optional

It became obvious we were going to have a problem when I realized Mike was tootling through the school zone a little faster than I would have normally driven.

My first comment was gentle: "Honey? You're in a school zone." He didn't say much.

The next school zone we came to was after drop off. We were a full eight miles over the limit and my head was calculating the ENORMOUS ticket we were going to receive when Ponch and Jon came out of nowhere on their motorcycles. I was a little less than tactful.

"YOU'RE GOING EIGHT MILES OVER THE LIMIT!!! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THE TICKET FOR THAT WILL BE?" Then I said something about "Other people slow down for our kids in school zones. You should show the same respect to THEIR kids."***

Mike did his typical "I married the world's biggest nag" mouth purse and didn't say a thing. And I ignored the three miles and one mile over the limit in the next two school zones and took my silent treatment like a (wo)man.

And, I'm sure, in his head, Mike was doing his best imitation of George Castanza's Father from Seinfeld.****

God Bless that sweet hubby of mine.

*Taxi driver...just in case your morning cup of glory hasn't kicked in yet.

**I guess he wanted to scare the living daylights out of his principal. Let's just say you could have refilled the oil in the Prius by scraping my face and squeezing my hair.

***And I calculated the embarrassment factor of meeting Erik Estrada looking like I belong in a Jiffy Lube.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tex and The Cherry Pie

Every once in a while I feel the urge to kick my dogs in the hind quarters whilst yelling at them. This was one of those times. And the following is the message* I actually sent to my sweet neighbor.

I think you'll agree with me that, sometimes, life just deals you a deck of yuck.

Kindly Neighbor O' Mine--
I've been intercepting messages for Mike from your hubby and when he mentioned a cherry pie, I about lost my mind! I said I was coming to Bible Study in Mike's place, just for pie-sake.

Your hubby graciously offered a piece and I commented that I needed it like a hole in the head. I had NO IDEA how accurate that was until I arrived home tonight to a paper plate that looked, suspiciously, like none I had never purchased and that looked fairly well cleaned save a little bit of red residue.

Turns out, Mike put the pie on the counter, Tex decided it was for him, and I got the short end of the stick. Not that I'm bitter or anything, but this dog is darn lucky we've passed the return window the breeder set forth.

Needless to say, I am still without cherry pie. But, given that I didn't play tennis today due to the rain, I am not going to complain. I'm just going to send this note of thanks from Tex, the stealing, cheating dog who lives with me.


And the corollary message, because my neighbor is SO KIND that she would have sent another piece of pie just to console me....

Oh, and PS: please don't send another piece of pie. I'm sure some random burglar would break in overnight and I wouldn't get it anyway....

*Names changed to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The DOG WHISPERER Reincarnated

Being the kind* parents that we are, we allowed an impromptu sleepover on this-here holiday weekend.

Continuing in the vein of the word "holiday", we all slept in a little later than normal. I could hardly believe my eyes when I awoke to a clock that began with the number 6.

Since I knew I needed to replace the coffeemaker's glass pot and buy eggs at the same time, the logical store to hit, sub 7a.m. on Labor Day, was the neighborhood Walmart.

Off I went.

It became apparent that I was one of about three other people who awoke early once I hit Coit Road. I mean to tell you, it was DEAD out there.

Once inside the store, I grabbed my eggs (two packs, for good measure) and coffeemaker** and headed to pay.

Walmart was like Coit: a ghost town. I passed two other customers the entire time, so when I headed to the self-checkout I didn't have any issue going straight to the head of the line. In fact, I had my choice of four lanes, two of which had actual PEOPLE behind the register.

While happily scanning, I noticed something wet coming from one of the packets of eggs. Besides being totally grossed out at the slimy, snotty junk all over my hands, I was also annoyed that I had to trot all the way to the back of the store again.

I turned around to one of the employees manning an empty checkout lane and asked if I could leave my purchases and return to exchange the eggs. "Sure." was her response.

After a quick journey, I returned to find a person standing at the back of the lane my coffeemaker and packet of eggs were occupying.

I scanned the newly-acquired packet of eggs, swiped my credit card and, while waiting for everything to process, turned to her and said "I realized one of the eggs was broken when I scanned it. Sorry that you had to wait."

I noticed she was on her way to do a little home-salon job, as she was carrying a box of hair color (blond) and a bottle of shampoo and conditioner.

She didn't miss a beat "Well. You could have scanned all your items and paid for them and then returned to take the eggs back.***"

Now, my Momma taught me it is polite to apologize to people when you've inconvenienced them. And, if someone apologizes to you, you should be gracious.

In my mind, this was a Sesame Street "One-of-these-things-doesn't-belong-here" moment.

So, with superhuman strength, I gave the restrained response: "I guess that would have been smart." And, looking directly at her, as I was bending to retrieve my groceries: "I hope you have a wonderful day."

Generally, being on the receiving end of a smart ass comment like that, this would have been a "lion on gazelle" moment for me. Me being the lion, of course.

But, instead, I did my best to let it go, and said a prayer for that woman****.

And, considering she has to be related to the Dog Whisperer person we encountered a couple of month ago, she's been tagged the CLAIROL WHISPERER.

*Yes, you can call us "SUCKERS!"

**It was about $5 more expensive to buy a new coffeemaker than replace the glass pot. Crazy, no?


****"Lord, please help that bitchy woman to have a better day." I said I let it go at the register. But once I was in the car? Not so much.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Inside the Mind of a Five-Year-Old

In the Nowell house, we give a weekly allowance. This is more a matter of financial survival than a "teachable moment" vehicle, but the net result is some really good lessons.

And, complete and utter score here, we've seen a dip in "I need ____" and an uptick in "I'm saving for ____".

Except the poor, poor Babe. He just couldn't seem to catch a break.

So, he's utterly hooked on purchasing GeoTrax, the ultra-cool, "Every kid has them, so I need them, too", train toy by Fisher Price.

Now, those of you who are parents read the words "Fisher" and "Price" and collectively went "cha-ching". And, you were right.

Our rule for allowance is that you get a total, weekly, equivalent to your age. So, Babalicious gets $5, split between four jars: church (10%), spending, short-term savings, and long-term savings (30%, after tithing, each).

Do the easy math and you realize he's pocketing $1.50 weekly. Plus, if he already has $1.50 in his short-term savings jar, another $1.50.

In other words, the vast difference between the cost of a Happy Meal and my monthly budget to feed a family of five.

He's griping about this fact that *whine* "I can't buy anything" when he realizes "GUM. Maybe I have a shot at gum. Maybe I should ask?!" And so, he does.

Babe: "Mom? Can I buy gum with this money?"
Me: "Yes, honey. You have enough."
Babe (fist pumping in the air): "YES." And off he runs to tell* his brothers. Who, naturally, ignore him because Phineas and Ferb are into something really cool.

But, victory is his. And, for another week, ours.

Until he runs out of gum, that is.

*Actually more an excited SCREAM that deafened dogs in Brazil, who are still wondering "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?"

Saturday, September 4, 2010


The Babe: "Mom? Why are you here?"

I guess he thought, since it's Saturday, I should be out doing something. Anything but actually sitting at the table, eating lunch, at 1:25pm.

I responded: "UM. Because it's my house?!"

My REAL response took a few minutes to conjure up, but is far superior to the original: "I'll leave and I don't think it will take long for you to figure out what I'm doing here."

To which I received a hearty "OH, yeah. It would not be pretty" from Mike.

And, with that statement? My daily quota for backhanded compliments was fulfilled.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Opinion is Not Relative

In case you were wondering, my opinion isn't relative.

It won't change based on the color of the person, their sex, their sexual persuasion, whether I'm related to them or if they happen to be in the room.

I'm not out to offend anyone.

I'm not out to make people angry with me.

I'm not attempting to be pious or haughty or holier-than-thou.

I've done practically everything someone could think of to do that might require a quick test of common sense. And, I've erred on the "WATCH THIS!" side*.

And, I know the consequences. And they suck. And I'd hate to see anyone put themselves through unnecessary pain. So, I speak up. At the risk of sounding like someones mother whom they hate and wish would

So, know that my heart is not full of venom when you ask me how this applies to you, hoping you'll get a pass and some preferential treatment from my opinion because a) the same blood flows between us or b) you've known me forever or c) you do my hair.

No such luck, buckos. We all get the same. And, someday, I think we'll be glad that's the case.

It's getting through the here and now that's the hard part.

*Someone, somewhere said "How can you tell a trip to the ER is coming up?" Listen for the phrase "Watch this!"

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Today I called Mike on his cell phone and, when he FINALLY answered, he said:

"I was looking at the phone, knowing you were calling, thinking 'Should I accept or reject?'"* Of course, there was a wink in his voice, and I knew my man was joking with me.

My response was lightning quick "I see. After 13 years, it boils down to this. HMM. I can think of some OTHER PLACES where that phrase might come in handy."**

And that is all I'm going to say about that***.

*I'm pretty sure one of you is thinking you should throw me a pity party. Go ahead. I'll RSVP "yes".

**Winking back is just my style.

***Mark Twain, you rock my world!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being the Worst Mother In the World is a HARD JOB

Yesterday morning I reamed the HOOMAN for the following:

"I don't like this ham. I'm not going to eat it."

Well, it was sub-7am and I'd been up since 5:30. I had packed lunches, boiled eggs, whipped together waffles (complete with fresh strawberry topping, thank you) and fried some leftover ham pieces.

If I had had coffee, it obviously hadn't started to work, because the diatribe that follows spilled out of my mouth so quickly that Mike didn't even have a chance to chew his waffle and try to stop me.

"HOOMAN. There are starving children in India* who are searching through trash, complete with raw sewage and spoiled meat, just to find a little piece of ham like those on your plate. And there are children dying in Africa, being followed around by vultures who are just waiting for them to die so they can eat**. I provide three meals a day for you; I cook all three. I even make sure they are healthy and don't contain ingredients you are allergic to. Now, you need to eat your ham.***"

Everyone at the table was pretty quiet.

Someone said "I'm going to eat my ham."

Hooman said "I'm sorry Momma. I'll eat it."

And, later that night? He asked to pray and said "God, please feed the hungry kids in India and Africa." All while Mike is kicking my shin under the table and I'm biting my lip, trying not to cry or laugh.

I could have shrunk down to the size of a pea and rolled myself out of the house into a pile of Doug poo at that moment and I STILL would have felt like crap.

But, silver-lining-alert: I taught my kid a lesson that stuck!

Now, if I can just figure out how to do it without all the hostility of a swarm of disturbed hornets.

*Do you know how I know this? Because I watched "Slum Dog Millionaire". If your brain cells are even slightly firing, you'll realize I haven't traveled outside the states or done any overseas mission work. But, I believe this type of poverty exists because HOLLYWOOD TELLS ME IT DOES. I know how pathetic that sounds. But, please, don't hit the comment button to tell me so.

**Don't ask why I know this. It just sends me into fits of crying to even think about it.

***If you ever look up the definition of "overkill" in the dictionary, don't be surprised to see my picture.