Sunday, September 29, 2013

More Funder

I was sitting there, you know, inflagrante whatevero in my bathroom this morning and the errant thought crossed my mind, "I love listening to the rain!" The thought had 0.00000000000237 seconds to envelope me in its cozy, comfy arms before that mommy thing went off and I flew through my business and launched myself into the office to stand there at the door panting--well, panting and contemplating the fact that Squib would have to make his usual trek from his new room in the Big Red House to the Hobbit Hole in THE RAIN. Yes, the rain.

As we all know, rain begats funder. Funder begats stark-raving terror and irrational behavior in the Squiblet. It's actual fact that he can leap a quarter-mile without touching the ground to wrap his tentacular arms and legs around my body if he even whiffs an abundance of ozone. So, I had a dilemma.

Paranoid, over-mothering choice number one: Wake him up at 5:30 a.m. and carry him over to the Hobbit Hole in the (pseudo...never tell him it's pseudo until this passes) safety of my strong, caring embrace and tuck him in my bed before I started to get ready so that I'd not miss him if he called or came through the door and needed me. I'm pretty sure every one of my nine googleplex and ten cells voted this way.

Yes, moms have that many cells. It's a lot. More than average. It's why we get so d***** up in a huff when your dust hits our offspring. When you have that many cells hollering directions at you....well, you listen!!!

Laid back, nurturing, but not paranoid choice number two: Go about business as usual. Buddy and Mimi and Baba are in the Big Red House. I'm out here. The door is now unlocked. If he wants to come out here, then there are several options for him to choose from. Have confidence in his ability to overcome his fear of thunder and, well, precipitation in general.

So, like most mothers, I got in the tub and worried about the whole thing. I was toweling off when I heard the front door fly open and a little white blur landed in my bed buried by my comforter before the door had even stopped slamming.

You see, when I was little, my dad (Buddy) would put lawn chairs out in the front of the garage or on the porch and take me out there with him and we would watch the storm. Yes, I was scared, but I loved the lightning. I liked counting the distance between the flash and the thunder. Of course, most of that time we lived in Oklahoma. If I was going to be anywhere it was going to be attached bodily to my dad. Not everyone has hidey-holes in Oklahoma. In fact, a large number of people don't. We also used to go watch planes take off at the end of the runway...the VERY END...the tarmac Hobby Airport back when there was just a wooden reflective fence to warn the planes. We sat on that. So maybe I have a skewed perspective of safety.

So, dad and I had Squib with us out on the porch of the Big Red House one day while watching a storm roll in over the lake. We were talking about the lightning and counting from the "flash" to the "boom." Then the flash hit right smack in front of us. Squib burst into tears instantly and I scooped him up to take him inside just as fast as my little feet could carry us. Just for motivation, two near strikes seemed to follow us into the Hobbit Hole. He threw back the covers on my bed and dove beneath them and then yanked them over his head. I have to admit....that never happened in all our storm watching years when I was young. Even dad and I were rattled. Dad was screaming from the porch for me to run faster and get inside. So....yeah....I helped create this little funder monster. Squib had gotten over his thunder issues from early childhood. This? Very different.

Later this morning we were all in our various Bible Study classes when the avalanche of rain let loose. It truly was a beautiful thing to hear. I wasn't going to go out and watch it or anything...even I'm not ready to do that again yet. As I left, though, and stood under the car port with Sassy (new person!) a brilliant flash preceded a ground-rattling boom by only a hair of a second. My mommy radar had been pinging for about ten or fifteen minutes already (some of those cells, they do that kind of thing). I knew instantly he'd be fried by that one. About thirty seconds after that hit, my phone rang.

My littlest boy was huddled in his little booster seat in the Toyota with Buddy and Baba with his jacket (fleece for crying out loud, but better for hiding from funder apparently, so he'd chosen it to wear over his t-shirt and shorts) over his head and synched up. He was calling from Buddy's phone to see when exactly I was going to be home so he would know how long he'd have to be under the covers alone. Apparently the only safe spot is my bed. I have to agree with him there, but for entirely different reasons altogether. When I got home, his saucer-sized eyes peeked over the comforter at me and he said, in his typical all-or-nothing style, "I do not wike dis day."

After we agreed we liked donuts (they serve them at church...not the best reason to go, but hey, he's eight), friends, the freedom to write books about dinosaurs, and iPads, then he renegotiated.

"Fine. I wike dis day, but you can not make me wike da funder."

I'll take what I can get.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Because I'm His Mother

Squib and I have a twice yearly tradition. We pack up in the car and go to the Grand Theatre to view the newest 3D kids' movie. Sometimes it's thrice yearly, but more often than not it's about every six months. With regard to our budget, it's an extravagant expenditure. However, there are some things that are just worth it. Squib just loves it and he gets so excited that it makes me so excited that I just can't stand it.

We pack up our devices (my phone with earphones and a charger pack for me and his iPad with headphones for him) for the drive and my jacket and hop in the car and head west to the theater to see the newest 3D flick that Squib is ecstatic about. Today it was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, II.

A huge bank of clouds built up and met us about fifteen minutes into our journey. I lost my jacket to Squib's fear of thunder as he huddled beneath it in his booster seat in the back. I made a mental note to pack two jackets the next time we went to the theater together. He asked a lot of questions about the thunder (that I didn't hear) and whether or not there were to be storms during the movie (which I didn't know based on my weather check before I left). It was dry weather with overcast skies when we arrive and we made it into the theater with not a drop of rain on us.

As usual, the film was really good. I enjoyed it a lot. I thought our last one--Monsters University-- was a better pick, but this one was deep into the creative side. I've not seen Despicable Me, II...I wanted to...and I suspect it would have been the best of the three. However, today's film was great.
(whinging alert)

The only thing lacking was my jacket which Squib needed due to cold temperatures. It's a mother's job to sacrifice, right? And I did. Also, he wanted the adult 3D glasses, so I had the tiny blue kids' glasses instead. It was 3D, but felt like a strain on my eyes so I had to take a pill for my eyes. 

I am complaining!!!! I'm stopping right now.

He laughed a lot and so did I. We shared our favorite parts. We giggled and had a few outbursts (silently) and, in general, had a fabulously wonderful time.

It isn't often that you find moments with your eight-year-old son where you identify and talk and share interests and likes, but this was one of those events. I like sharing brain time with Squib and making connections like this with him. He's growing up so fast and it won't be so long before he'd rather do that with his peers.

I'm a very, very lucky mommy. Cold or not.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

lEt'S taLk AntS

The varying lower and upper cases in the title have nothing to do with anything other than my continuing efforts to understand my youngest little Squiblet. If he were sitting here, then I would ask, "Is that what you mean about using the capital letters to make the word look a certain way?" I'm convinced he wouldn't even take a breath before emitting a cotton-candy lead-brick, "no." I sooooo appreciate his honesty. To me, "AntS" has one effect and "aNTs" has another effect altogether and since we can't agree on which we prefer, then we need to use a convention....a ha!...I love it when I have exciting ideas about how to explain "Whhhhhhyyyyyeeeeeyyyyyyy?????" to him. We use conventional rules in order to understand each other.

I'm glad we can understand each other. With Beanstalk, sometimes it's an instantly explosive smile. You may also get his inspiring laugh. You won't be able to do anything else but stop and enjoy the world with him for a bit. He makes life more enjoyable. If you've totally scored, then you'll hear him say in his tiny voice, "Tryyyyyy mooo-ooore." Life is what it is, though, so with higher highs come lower lows. Beanstalk not liking something ranges from him plugging his good ear with his finger (My personal favorite. Totally not my fault if people haven't picked that up by now) to meltdowns that take every ounce of strength I have to prevent him from clonking himself in the head or banging his head on the floor. I don't know how I got here, but clearly I did. When I am in that moment with him I don't dwell on the why's. After, though, it guts me to know that my baby, my first born can't tell me how he feels and I can tell him until I'm blue in the face, but I'm not sure if I'll ever know if he heard me.

Now, about the ants. I think I wrote at some point about the incredible sinking house. It happens to be my house, too. How a single bedroom/bath (that's the only portion on piers) is making piers sink is beyond me unless they're just too heavy. In that case, it's simple physics and we're going to lose that battle no matter how many times we jack them up and fix them. Greater density sinks. So there are places where you can see daylight between the walls and where they should be tacked to the floor.

Don't panic. I have a hard time thinking of this as anything more than "the lake." It has its own dress code. No one bats an eyelash. I still walk down to the pier (not the one under the house) and throw in rocks and stand on the railing by the light where I used to stand with my dad. I still want to shut my eyes and dive into the water from that very place. I would, no doubt find the one tree that's six inches under the surface. I also like to go crashing around in the woods where attrition and I used to take the dirt bikes and go hiking. We sneak over to the big house using the trail and hike over to the airfield.

Of course, we also drive donuts in the front yard and where the pond used to be, so thus endeth the romanticized ideal of life lived full of meaningful experiences in the country. Don't even ask about the things I've done on our ZT mower including pulling down a tree. Heh.

So file this next issue under things that detract from my slice of Americana: The ants are coming inside. This is not knew. They've been coming inside since July. I've been sucking them up, cleaning them up, and generally overdoing it in an effort to exterminate what seems to be the entire population of Texas fire ants. We sprayed around the house outside. I went on a rampage and got everything up off the floor and swept. I've been anal about every single crumb or drop of water,'s weird...they haven't gone for that in the longest time.

I think tonight I found their hidey-hole. I was getting out a t-shirt for tomorrow and it was covered with them! I looked down on the floor and they were trucking everybody in like they were setting up shop in there. And they were! So the scenario here is that it's after nine which (as much as I fight it) is the time I turn into a pumpkin upon the last strike of the hour. I'm hurriedly picking some clothes out to wear. I can do this task in the morning, I do know this. It's passed on from habit into tradition, so just kiss my grits. I'll likely not wear any of it in the morning, either. You may deal with that, too.

Several ant bites, a very full load of ant-infested clothing out in the driveway, and a pile of drawers on the driveway as well finds me more tired than usual. Well, so did the Benedryl. I'm becoming downright homicidal about these crazy ants. What in the blue freak do they want with my t-shirt drawer? Some of my lingerie was in there...maybe they liked the view better. I don't know. I do know that they totally miss that part of the Dr. Pepper spill that I missed when I wiped up. They also gave no thought to the cheesy powder Michael left sprinkled around after he fixed himself some macaroni and cheese. So, I'm thinkin' that they're going to ignore my "peanut flavor" ant traps.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I'm probably not supposed to discuss this "in public" or say the actual word, so I didn't. I mean, really, what's a century or so of European art and architecture among perfect strangers on the Internet? Because even back then you might tell everyone over the dinner table that you were down to a few pounds (the curly L sort that I can't locate on my keyboard), whatever the hens lay, and maybe a goat for emergencies. Then, you would go to bed secure in your knowledge that everyone is aware of the "era" you're living at the moment.

They most definitely would NOT go straight out to the market the very next day and spend all the pounds and a few more (even then I'm sure the, ummm, "establishment" understood cash flow or had some method of causing the family accountant to fall over dead, revive, fall over dead, revive, etc. wash, rinse, repeat) commit the hens to some serious egg-laying, and paint a bulls eye on the goat that has just become your sole source of food.

That was yesterday. The day we entered the Baroque period. Today, as is typical of Baroque periods, the carriages have started to mutiny. I came home at lunch to get better footwear. The Baroque librarian had her one pair of nice heels on and it was stupid. Not as stupid as some things, but still stupid. Needless to say, my carriage lost at least one horse and most of the leather whatever-you-call-it that connects the horses to the carriage. I shall have to ask a student what all of that is. The real name, anyway. Around here there are some who will know.

At my house, we'd say it lost a squirrel and half the rubber bands. I took a look at where the alternator is supposed to be and I already know this repair involves me because a) we are Baroque and, b) I have the smallest hands in the family and even I have to perform hangar tricks to get belts back on. That Honda is put together tighter than sardines in a can. Alternator repair apparently involves removing part of the exhaust...a special length made to come out just in this special case. The compressor replacement is starting to sound rosy. But we are waiting for the Age of Enlightenment (at the very least) for this repair

Meanwhile...thus continueth the 17th century. People keep handing me receipts and bills that need paying to which I keep replying (in order) "that's not doing a thing for me" and "there is nothing I can do about that." I'm the sort of person who naturally worries about where THE FREAKING HELL is the money going to come from. I don't chew my fingers off or occupy my mind with it, but I think some people just have a brain that thinks a certain way. Mine is detailed. It's back there crunching numbers. So far, it's concluded that by the time all these people are dead (and I'm not) I'll be living in a box.

My brain also just naturally intuits random things like the one job I have isn't going to be enough. It's making a huge difference, but it hasn't been long enough to tell that. I'm not patient when it comes to results sometimes. However, in my defense, we can go from modern day whatever to Baroque just while I'm at work for the day.

Maybe we should stop using debit cards! :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

So It's Like This...

There are capital letters and there are lower case letters. You are supposed to use capital letters at beginnings of sentences and at the beginnings of proper nouns. EtC. In Squib's classroom, there is a copy of all the lower and upper case letters on his desk and on the wall.


He has a different concept of the use of capitalization. The artiste believes each word should be crafted or sculpted to look just so. That includes random capitalization. Grammar, syntax, style manuals be d*****, that child writes with great emotion and "big" versus "small" letters are all a part of what I can only say is the Squib Manual of Style. And to anyone who believes they can change him, I say...

Good flipping luck.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I've been sitting here in my sweet, isolated, mommy-of-special-kids cocoon contemplating when it's time to not let my children see me naked. (mostly only in bathing situations) It only happens on occasion (well...) and only because we live in a house the size of a postage stamp. They are 8 and 11. Boys. Boys have a different relationship to nakedness than girls. I realize this. However, they still need to learn. This isn't an issue for Beanstalk for several reasons. He can shed his pants in one-quarter of a blink. He'd never think mom was doing anything weird or giving a personal anatomy lesson. Also, he never sees me naked.

Squib, however, being the scientific-creative-whimsical-curious-contemplative one is not just interested, but deeply interested in anatomical parts. Also, he is carrying on this 24-7 narrative of "important stuff" that cannot under any circumstances be interrupted by anything ever never ever. Not even shaving. He's not doing any of this in any sort of malicious or inappropriate way. He studies everything's anatomy and can't understand what the difference is here. The psychology is pretty much lost on him still. I tried to explain nakedness and the fact that we don't share it with anyone unless mom says ok (you know as in he shouldn't let anyone touch him--not even a doctor--unless mommy or daddy is there). He knows that, but it's academic. If he has a question and I'm shaving my bikini line, then so be it. Then on the other hand, I had to be clear that he shouldn't be sneaking around trying to solve the mystery of how you pee without a penis. There. Now you know. That's what he wants to see. So I've banned him (politely and with all the proper mommy-explanations) from the bathroom when I'm using it or bathing. So he still comes in (he forgets...he says) and he still peeks around the curtain (then slams it shut). There is no door except the one that divides the house in half, so it's been a bit frustrating and I was wondering if I was being picky for no reason.

Shortly after all this business, I was with a friend at her house and we were bathing the kids to get them all ready for the next day. Babies/girls, then boys style. This is the country and they are used to all this. This is how I was raised with all my cousins. Most of these kids are related or believe they are anyway because everyone here is your "Aunt." Or...she will be some day...I guess. Anyway, I went to grab one of the babies (we don't separate babies out by gender and when it comes to the bath mill they are pretty compliant) and was carrying him back into the bathroom just as my son had his hand on the knob of the door where, on the other side was a bathtub full of nine-year-old girl about to get out of the tub.


He was only trying to ask me a question and he thought I was in there with all the babies. However, the close call made me understand clearly that what he experiences at home needs to prepare him for possible situations outside of home. So, things need to change.

Like, knocking!!!, for crying out loud! Of course, no one here knocks. After they don't knock, they don't observe any other sorts of manners, either. This is why you can sit on the toilet in your very own bathroom while your father discusses disbursements of your grandmother's annuity at seven o'clock in the morning with barely a curtain between you. Yes, you heard me right. That was the tame example for the media. Everyone here has seen everyone else naked. And not just because we were somebody's baby. We're talking in the last three years. Baba and I try to limit exposure to only necessary events like hospital stays and recovery therefrom. Dad and Squib have no limits...on anything...including the areas they dedicate to momentary outdoor urinal conversion. When they have to pee, apparently it's NOW. Mimi generally escapes the wrath via a strict use of lock and key combined with growling and some sort of unknown communication. When I discover her methods I intend to patent them and put them to use, but there again I need another couple sets of doors. I use locks, too, but they're on the front door and office door. Then the pounding on the doors (and windows because they assume I'm dead if I don't come running and answer my phone) makes me absolutely irate and I can't relax and do my thing. So. It's basically like a monkey house over here. Only Beanstalk doesn't throw any poo anymore.

Thank heavens for that.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Being a grown-up...

Sometimes being a grown-up really blows.

6:00 a.m. last Saturday morning, Squib asked me the same question he always asks me on mornings when he gets up, but doesn't have to: "Can I be awake, Mama?" I always say the same thing: "You ca-an." This time I attempted to depart with some serious advice.

[Correction: Usually, when he asks if he can be awake, I say no and he gets up anyway. This time I answered as above/below.]

"Look, bud, seriously...every other day and even on some Saturdays you have no choice about waking up before you want to and you complain. "Too bright!" One day, you'll be grown up and you'll have less than no choice about waking up early and you'll wish on every object that isn't nailed down that you had layed in your bed as long as you were allowed to do so. Why not lay around a bit?"

He looked at me like I had horns, asked if I was going to use some discarded piece of trash that he wanted for his next sculpture, and padded off into the office to otherwise destroy the planet in under an hour.

Right now it's 9:43 p.m. on Thursday. I left the house at 6:45 a.m. and I am just now back at home and sitting down for the last time. I am supposed to be balancing the books. My parents and grandmother have dutifully saved all the bills for me to pay and receipts to put in the ledger. All I really want to do is kick my legs and scream and thrash and howl.

But that would take energy that I desperately need to use for sleep.

I have a job that I love. I can't imagine getting to the bottom of the workload anytime within the next couple of years. I can imagine nodding on occasion (the place gets hap-hazardly quiet on occasion regardless of our efforts to the contrary), but there are active things to do as well. I get to work with a supervisor I get along with. In every way (except the hourly rate...just being honest) it's ideal. Considering the break I get now that I have benefits, the hourly rate is tolerable (certainly preferable to nothing!!) what with my medical, vision, and dental expenses over past years.

It's just the normal issues of being an active adult added to work hours that begin to chip away at my sanity. Get up (at 4:30...I know, right??!?), do my normal hours of study and writing, exercise, errands, volunteer, chores, church activities, kid stuff, be at work around 7:00 a.m. and leave around 4:00 p.m. (-ish). That's all. I've been a good little grown-up for almost two weeks now. Mostly.


Ok, not really.