Sunday, July 29, 2012


Sucking in your stomach will not make the lawn tractor fit in smaller spaces.

Worry for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I knew this would happen eventually.

Brain overload increases exponentially to maximum at which point aural sensation is not interpreted well at all--certainly not in sync with visual input. Brain overload (BO, it's not what you think) accelerates with decreasing energy (E).

If you chop down trees for two days straight such that your 40-yr-old body can no longer even lay or sit comfortably enough to sleep, then juggle that with your normal workload and multiple efforts to tailor resumes for a recruiter who is also juggling several opportunities for you in a short time frame and then leave your house at a really unmerciful hour to retrieve your youngest son, then....this is what happens later that morning:

Squib: "Hey Mom!! (he shouts...always...the shouting)"

Me: "What (leaping five feet in the air and rotating to face him)!??

Squib: "Dr. Scott the paleontologist says that hadro-wheeeecarnieeeeeeeesaureeeeealloeeeeeeeeeeenviroeeeeeepleoeeeeeteraeeeeeeeediurneeeeeeeeepothehyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and nocturnal creatures that we see at night are bats, possums,  creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee whhhhhhhhheeeeetureseeeeemigratoreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeicthioeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooonk and then they do this eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee so we should go out and eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrthrough their rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrforeshortened forearmsrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.""


Right what? If it's not a Tyrannosaur or Brachiosaur or Diplodocus or one of the dinosaurs we had back in the 70's I'm really out of my league here. I'm learning, but he's learning faster. Can we alphabetize elements instead? What did he say? I Just. Don't. Know.

Maintain eye contact. (didn't work)

Tilt head from side to side for better reception. (did not work)

Stare directly at the mouth and pray you can lipread. (nada)

Switching to plan D...

Me: "I. Don't. Know. (but this is my thoughtful, studious version)."

He ponders this thoughtfully and squints at me. (ah oh)

Squib: "I don't know either!

Phew. He smiles and skips off merrily. Two, minutes pass.

Squib: "Mom! Eeeeewwwsauruseeewingedeeeeeestegoeeeeeeeeeepteranoeeeeeeeee.........."


It's gonna be a long day...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I'm 40 and I'm still learning. I have a general philosophy that if another human can do something, then I can too. I don't extend this to brain surgery (learning process and cost are generally self-limiting ;) but other repairs I tend to stare down and take in hand. But I'm here to tell you...

At least in my toilet, there is no such thing as a flapper ball. It's JUST A FLAPPER. Damnit.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Voyage of the Blue Banana

Someone around here wanted to learn to fish.

I'm not that much into fishing unless I can also read or lay back and chill on the water a bit. And get wet. I'm also not really a motorboat kinda person. They're loud, bumpy, and lately I've noticed that all the newer ones on the lake are also blaring loud music. I'd have to go to a rock concert to enjoy any more nature. So I've avoided the lake in past seasons like the plague.

Don't get me wrong. Seriously loud, deafening music has it's place. Just not on my lake. Fishing. Duh.

About two months ago, Squib burst into the office yelling, "I want to go on a trip in a canoe down a river." Every syllable was enunciated so clearly and deliberately that I looked right out the office door and sure enough, there was Buddy grinning like a carved pumpkin. Right. Squib wants to canoe.

So when Squib turned seven, someone (who doesn't even live here) gave him a fishing pole and a full tackle box (thank you so much). And that was that. He brought it back from a vacation with his dad and Buddy and I looked at each other and chortled with joy. Callooh, callay. And all that junk.

Having sold our motorboat (thank God and all his henchpeople) all we have left are a couple of canoes (from the dark ages) that are stored elsewhere (no comment) and an inflatable kayak.

Right about now you should be thinking: Child. Inflatable. Fishing.

Or possibly: Hook. Puncture.

I was raised in an Old Town Tripper model canoe. And I do mean raised. I think we packed all four of us in an interesting fiberglass job from Coleman once. And I was loaned out at the age of 12 to take the bow seat on a horrifying trip for a week with another family's 16 year old boy. Russel. Parents, just...just don't do that to your pre-adolescent girl. Sheesh. Anyway. The Voyage a la Russel was a Grumman aluminum can odyssey. Ew. Just ew. And the Trippers were 18" deep, so portage, portage, portage, and row, row, row. Especially the Ouachita river in Oklahoma. Never. Go. There.

So needless to say, when I got in the inflatable I turned it on a dime in a complete circle in about one stroke. Go, mom! It was originally purchased to keep in the Caymans for snorkeling, so fishing on a lake was probably not what it had in mind. Snooty thing. But on the second day we came to an agreement.

Small boat, closer to the water! Far better when it's hot out and you want to use it to stay cool.  Plus the boat already has holes in the bottom which is pretty good for boggling your kid for at least five minutes.
Second day on the water. This is probably the only time Squib's mouth was fish ;)

This is just pretty and I risked my phone to take pictures, so there you go.

We went in the evening, so fewer large boats were out and we were, of course, hugging the shoreline. I suspect the same is true of earlier in the day, though more fishermen are out then so screaming, excited 7-yr-olds are probably frowned on, but oh well. Lake Livingston is a big lake, so there is a ton of paddling around the lake if we want to work out arms off.

I have more complaints about the nature of the boat (Buddy and I both needed to be in the stern--one to corral Squib and the other to corral the boat, lol) because of it's lightness on the water even with three people in it. We'll get the hang of that eventually. Maybe if I just name the thing 'Drifter' it will be kinder to me.

Buddy wants to canoe the Trinity River to the overpass at I-59. If he wants to take the Drifter we're going to have to come to grips with each other or there may be words.

Yes, that is my hat. Shush.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paleontologist Squib is 7

The Squiblet is now seven years old! Happy Birthday, Squib. You are all I've ever wanted and more in a miniature paleontologist/fake food chef/car aficionado/budding second language speaker. You're also growing faster than I imagined give all that heart defect/surgery nonsense and I'm so glad you're still around else I'd never know how to operate our new Dish Network services.

As usual, he was opening his hoards of gifts--lots of family on his dad's side--and came across one called the T-Rex Takedown. Basically it involves a T-Rex and ramps for hotwheels cars. There's just one thing...

"This is not a T-Rex." Squib picked up the box and examined the dinosaur very closely with the characteristic wrinkle in is brow.

"See here, Mom." He pointed to the arms "Too big in proportion to the body."

He turned it over and over looking at the toes and fingers and peering in the mouth.

"Do you think this claw is more prominent than the others?" He he pointed and asked me. "The body is all wrong for a velociraptor, but they may be trying to do that."

He lapsed into a little babbling at this point. I caught "-saur" here and there as he finished his anatomical inspection.

"This is really just a ramp for cars that has a dinosaur." He finally pronounced with a shrug.

OK. So the dino business is serious around here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


So. We have iDevices around here. Four, to be exact. And it's no small thing that Apple chose to make large portions of them out of glass(-ish stuff). I bought the iPad used, but it was still expensive for me. The iPod was a hopeless case from day one, but I fixed it and it worked so...we have an iPod. The iPhones were painful purchases all-around. No two ways about that. If they die, it's legal pads for the masses. We'll throw notes wadded up at each other instead of texts. Just sayin'.

So now that we've had all this crap for three years, it's no secret that it's been my mantra this whole time with the under-aged ones that we do NOT wander around with mommy's iPad. We do not run. We sit. "We" is free to walk about with their iPod, but not run. And "we" must use our Otter boxes as though our very life depends on it.

Then, three weeks ago...

I was happily mowing about on the lawn tractor when I felt a sharp yank on my ears as the headphones detached and I glimpsed my pink Otter box-covered phone fly out the left side of the deck. This is why Gravely makes an auto-killswitch for their mowers because I threw the handles back and jumped off while it was moving. The phone was fine! The Otter box had a chunk out of the rubber, but you could barely tell. Still...

So life went on. No more phone in the pocket while mowing. I pin it to my shirt in a ziploc baggie like a kid taking lunch money to school (assuming they do that any more...mine don't).

The following week, I came back from a run and walked by where Buddy was working on his van. He asked me to listen for an air leak, so I stopped to grant the deaf one a favor and do as he asked and put my paraphernalia including the iPod in it's leather belt clip on the trunk of the car.

The morning progresses and it starts to rain. Buddy and I are on the porch now discussing the radiator leak that we discovered on the van and the future of oil in an unnamed state when he spies our neighbor running across the yard way off by the road in the rain. He jumps up to give her a ride home and tears off up the driveway.

About the time I'm thinking, "Fabulous. Dog smell in the car. Dog smell from a dog that's just left me a fresh poop slick to drag around with the tractor tires. Ew." (that bit right there is a freebie) Right about then it dawns on me that I left the iPod on the trunk of the car. So I take off up the driveway on foot after the car--because all supermoms can catch moving vehicles. I don't know why. I catch him at the end of the driveway loading the dog (who doesn't want in the car...good doggie), but it's too late.

The iPod made it all the way up and made one plop onto the ground and shattered.

Two days later, my phone fell maybe six inches? My guess is that it was injured *somewhat* by the mower trip and this was the final insult.

It took Squib about five seconds to assemble all these facts once they had occurred and determine that I had not been playing by my own rules.

"You run with my iPod? When I'm not using it?" I try to maintain eye contact. It's supposed to make me creditable. Or something.

"Yes." His eyes open a little wider for a second.

"And you broke the iPod and your phone?" A hint of indignance there.

"Yes." I'm still using the eye contact thing like a life raft.

"May I play with my iPod still?" He's the prince of probers.

"No. It still works and Mommy uses it, but I don't want you to get glass in your fingers."

He nods. Once. The gears in his head are fairly shreiking with force as they turn. He's already raised one eyebrow.

"May I play with your iPad?" He also knows how to strike a bargain like a seasoned CEO.

"Yes, but all the same rules apply."

Then he makes this face which, suffice it to say is rather characteristic of him but speaks volumes. Smug. Knowing (the kid knows and I just have to acknowledge that). And....belabored...or something. As though breaking me in is tiring him unnecessarily. You know, "Parents, you have to go slowly and talk a little louder." With Beanstalk there is no such wringer to go through. Squib is compensating for that loss.

"So, I can't touch the broken ones, and I still have to sit and stay seated using the iPad? But you don't."

"Yes." I'm starting to see his point here. Eye contact. Eye contact.

"Why?" Valid question. And instead of addressing the obvious differences between us, which granted, at the moment weren't much. I said...

"Because I'm the mom. And you're the kid."

I can't believe I said that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Have I Done Since Then?

It's been a year since my grandfather passed away. Honestly, the day snuck up on me. But there it was. June 18. I sat here at my desk where I usually sit and more or less said, "Hmm. We're still here a year later after all."

I'm not sure what I thought would happen in this last year. I distinctly remember my thoughts after all the family went home following the memorial service. "How are we going to make it?" "This changes everyhing." And the most gut-wrenching one:

"What do we do now?"

I took over the books. My grandfather had slowly but surely been handing that over to me for some time well before his treatments started tiring him out. I'm not nearly as obsessive as he was but he wasn't nearly as accurate as I am. He preferred to play spider solitaire and mow on the tractor (a whole other blog that tractor stuff is). He'd read bills and decide they should be smaller and hand them to me and demand that I call the provider in question and lower our costs. Period. The most famous assisgnment was for me to call AT&T to get our cell phone bill lowered. And if I hit a brick wall there, I was instructed by one gnarly and seriously abused index finger, "Now you tell them we'll just up and move to Verizon. See what they say to all that!"

And immediately back to solitaire.

You could bring him an issue and 9 times out of 10 he'd think about it and dismiss it with an imperial wave as if to say, "That is of no consequence to me." Or a shrug. Like yoda only...well, actually the same size. At which point a switch flipped in my mind and I thought that if Mr. 32 Patent Geophysicist gave it the cold shoulder, then perhaps I could learn to take so many of these things, look at them, and shrug with equal levity.

And indeed, now I do.

"How much money is in the main account?" **shrug**

"I threw my red socks in with your white laundry." **imperial wave**

"Where's Squib?" **shrug with confused reminiscent look**

"Mom, Crackers the deer is in our house again." **imperial wave accompanied by pack of crackers**

I have even perfected my own methods of coping with the insanity here at Green Acres:

"Do you know where the map is for RFI-101?" [there are 100's of maps here, of course I know the location of each and every one--not] **blank stare**

The following is my favorite:

Someone: "Can you find me a thus-and-such online?"

Moi: "Yes." (I like to mimic Beanstalk when I do this. Then they know I'm screwing around.)

[long, blessed silence]

Someone: "Will you find me a thus-and-such online?" **shrug**

("Someone" (Buddy) is always asking me to find thus-and-suches. I just google like everyone else.)

"An animal has turned over the trash cans and made a mess everywhere out here." **blank stare**

And one to keep us all feeling young:

"I lost my underwear." (Squib says while standing there holding his underwear). **blank stare w/finger point**

I'm not making light of important things, just learning to laugh and putting things in perspective. What's funnier than your six-year-old standing there in flagrante delicto looking for the undies he's got in his own hand? Not much. And he laughed too. What's worse? Losing a map, pink laundry, or--say--cancer. You decide. Should I enable everyone by doing the things they don't think they can do (or maybe don't want to) or should I encourage them (admittedly in my own way...and let's face it, it ought to be fun) to learn to do it themselves. After all, it's just Google. Well, and the map thing, and the online banking thing. And don't go thinkin' they don't dish it right back out to me, either. If any of the natives say that it's lies...all the way down.

The motto?

Figure out what's important...god and people. And get that straight so that they all know (it's best to tell them out loud). Then...
Live hard.
Love hard.
Do your best to laugh at the rest.

Who wants to arrive at the pearly gates in a pristine Cadillac when you could crash smack into them in your old Civic with no brakes left to speak of, radiator steaming, no AC, overheated, and chassis dragging the ground knowing you dragged every inch of fun out of that thing?

I'll be in the Honda


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fits, Spells, and Episodes

Usually the problems I have to solve are relatively simple. Like how to recover an escapist slice of honeydew melon (that missed my mouth) from the bottom of my reading basket. Surprisingly slippery, that little slice of mostly water ran rampant in what amounts to a picnic basket with papers, magazines, and books in it. It was mayhem, I tell you!! Or what to do about the fact that, in most of his pictures, Squib is wearing no pants. Underwear, yes, but no pants otherwise. This can really interfere with one's Facebooking. Somewhat. They already know this is a pants optional household, so what can I say? It's not like a nudist colony. The natives are "covered" and we wear pants in public, but...ya know.

The problem with writing things--or doing them for that matter--is that they often come back to haunt you. Two years ago I wrote a post called Spells Are For Witches in which I related our familial establishment of a rule prohibiting the used of "fit, spell, or episode" to describe an abnormal and/or alarming change in physical health (this is fast becoming a verbal battle like none other). It is appropriate to say "chest pain," "nausea," "faint," or "meltdown." That clearly describes the situation so as to minimize the sheer epinephrine-pumping panic.

Annnndddd then I started having SPELLS. Shaking so hard and feeling so weak I couldn't get up right along with a lovely cold, clammy feeling. They came with confusion and amnesia. Difficulty talking clearly (really convenient in a house with a deaf person), incoordination, headache. Truth be told this is what I always feel like before having a seizure. Two things have changed. Well, three. One, I'm on enough seizure medication to stun a large cow. They swear it's impossible to actually seize, but leave it to mother nature to speak for herself still remains in the back of my mind. Two, my father started suggesting I eat something when this happens and it worked to reverse all the symptoms (as opposed to laying on the ground--where I'd end up anyway--and waiting for it to pass). Third, these "spells" have increased in frequency.

So, yesterday, I was happily mowing the backyard. It's tending toward pasture. A yard is more like a swimming pool and greenery. This is way bigger. Anyway, at some point (that I don't remember) I started having one of these "spells" and managed to drive the lawn tractor back to the shed before calling my dad to come and help me get off of it (I can't walk when these spells happen). He fed me an egg and some cheese and I needed to rest because this was a particularly severe spell (there's that nondescript word again).

Needless to say, I was at the doctor's office today (dad drove, lol). And he asked a series of questions and looked through my records and said, "That's hypoglycemia."

I suppose you could call my next series of thoughts a "fit." I'll leave it to your imagination.

We reviewed my past history with "the spells" and there were many I could describe to him in terms of "before" and "after" but not "during." So a hint of amnesia. (If I were seven, that would be sooo cool! But I'm not.) Then, of course, all that I've described thus far and a giant swan dive into the do's and don't's of hypoglycemic life. Which is, in essence, a squirrel mentality. Eat early and eat often (every 2.5-3 hrs). No sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco. <---I am still chaffing at a couple of those. Keep a diary of intake and "episode frequency." And no fasting. After which he ordered a fasting blood test for Thursday, but didn't get the irony when I laughed.

So many things to giggle few with a sense of humor.

After observing my crop circles in the back forty when I got home I was sold on the whole thing. I ate an egg, packed some emergency string cheese in my pocket and went out to rectify that situation. I typically don't eat a lot (I'm just rarely ever hungry), so six meals a day sounds like binging at a day-long buffet. But neither am I ready for another "spell."

Upon discussing the topic, it has been determined that the record shall be changed. Spells are no longer for witches. "Episodes" are acceptable terminology for these...spells...when referring to them in public, especially. Baba Scat can use "spells" since that fits her generation. "Fits" are reserved for spells with great emotional content. Personally, I have no knowledge of fits. It's the amnesia, you know.

Keeping Life Interesting

Sunday, July 15, 2012

McGyver Doesn't Live Here

One month.

That's how long it took to replace the compressor in the Civic ourselves. And "Why," you ask, "did you not take it to a mechanic?"

**Excuse me while I cackle like a demented hyena. I'm just not 'right' anymore.**

The answer is best explained if you understand that we were living on "x" amount of money. And are no longer. Tempus fugit. And fugit it did. Now, it's all social security for those old enough to qualify and a hell-bent effort to find jobs that pay in the immediate sense. Meanwhile there is a simultaneous schlepping of what I can only refer to as "intellectual property" going on on-the-side as well. And in our copious free time we are busy--very busy--doing cancer still. Woo frickin hoo.

Combine that with our own household sliding scale of people with other varying illness who, based on their treatments, receive more to help them get better versus those of us who don't. And the "who don't's" also tend to be the ones standing over a broken compressor observing the First Rule of Broken Machinery: If we can fix it more cheaply than having the shop do it, then we should do it ourselves.

So we did. And it took an entire month of our free time, one neighbor consultant, and my small hands and arms (and my magic clothes-hanger-belt-puller) to reroute the serpentine belt and get it back over the alternator pulley.

Shop Cost: Too Much

Our Cost: One-third of Too Much

So far, in the spirit of things we have replaced a radiator, the engine on the tractor (the original was out of production, fun fun), the compressor of course, and tinkered with various and sundry things. Inevitably, though, we always come up against a real head-scratcher. We stand there batting ideas around until we're blue in the face and finally someone will say:

"Um, go get me a hanger. A metal hanger, some duct tape, and a rubber band."

Take that, McGyver

Saturday, July 7, 2012

You Gotta Wonder

Squib is a funny little person. It would take me years to describe it any better than I do below. I'm pretty sure Beanstalk is just as funny. He's just quieter about it.

Scratch that. From the looks he gives Squib, I'm pretty sure Beanstalk has a little more common sense. Maybe.

Convo Number One:

Me: What's the matter?

Squib: I'm f-f-freezing.

Me: You're naked. Your hair is wet. The air conditioner is on and you're standing in front of the fan.

Squib: I know! (he grins)

Me: (pretends to poke at the thermostat and lose yearly mothering award)

Squib: Thanks!!

Convo Number Two:

Squib: Momma?

(He's given lizard-making a break and is in the bathroom.)

Me: Yes, dear?

Squib: Did you smell that fart?

(I look around. Why am I looking around and for what?)

Me: Thankfully, no. I'm not in there with you.

Squib: Not that fart. The fart that I farted when I was on my way in here. I left it right by you.

Convo Number Three:

Squib: Momma.

(This is his question/statement voice. I can't even describe it. He's about to relate something new or different. I'm replacing the serpentine belt on the Civic as this happens which means I'm up to my armpits in the world's tiniest car.)

Squib: Your phone rang.

(He has my total attention now. He's talking about my cell phone. Answering my cell phone is pretty much a no-no.)

Me: And?

Squib: I answered it.

(The only way I can see him is to put my head on the engine and turn it sideways. Either way he gets the full-on momma stare.)

Squib: What??!? I told him we don't have any money.

Convo Number Four:
Ok, this is really a proclamation from the king. Delivered wearing almost nothing except some very dashing Spiderman undies, a crown, and perched on his step stool that used to belong to attrition when he was little.

Squib: Ok, everybody! We are gonna have some pieces and quiet and we are gonna have 'em all night long!

Who am I to argue?

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Squib has been pining for at least a year (maybe more...seems like more) for a dollhouse. At first he called it a "people house" and even though I knew what he was talking about, he still dragged me through the mall to a toy store and pointed straight at a Barbie Dream house and said, "Like that."

I broke out in hives. I thought I had safely navigated away from the pink, noxious, money grubbing hell that is the Barbie institution by having boy children. That sounds a tad strong, but you get my drift. Believe me, Lego has nothing on Barbie. Besides, You can buy random lots of Lego's on eBay by the pound and my kids think that's the perfect gift. Anyone who tells them differently will be shot, drawn, and quartered.

However, Squib can be persistent. So I was pondering building a people house with Buddy. Until...

My friend called and asked if I wanted her daughter's Barbie castle.

"Castle, you say?"


And it's simply fact that castles are better than houses. Duh. So, I went and got it and a hoard of other goodies that came with. Squib's birthday is coming up this month, so this was going to be his present...buuuuuut...I couldn't really hide it anywhere (you'll see why). So he got it today :)

There is some very serious castle business going on here. Squib is unavailable, emkay? And if you want to visit our castle, then you should beware. It is inhabited by several snakes, lizards, animals of various species, and one very large crocodile. Oh, and one very woolly mammoth. Apparently the dinosaurs will arrive tomorrow for a visit. Judging from the roaring and hissing emanating from the depths of the castle you'll need tight weave chain mail and a very large sword.

We looked up medieval castle anatomy here and have made plans for elaborating on our castle grounds. Maybe when my office grows bigger or when Squib has a room the size of a football field because this thing is huge!

Yay for imagination!