Posted in Family, Minimalism, Quirks and Other Weirdness, Uncategorized

In the market

After completing a three-hour road trip where an antifreeze leak kept us smoking a good deal of the time (I should clarify: the car was smoking, Kevin and I were not), and also left us driving in 27 degree weather with no heating capabilities, I am reminded that I am in the market for a vehicle.

Now, when I say ‘in the market’ for something, this merely means I am beginning to think about a purchase. I tend to think and plan and shop for an item so long  by the time I decide to pull the trigger, I’m mentally tired of it and change my mind.  I’ve been ‘in the market’ for new living room chairs since this time last year and still have yet to purchase any appropriate seating for said room.

That being noted, I am in the market for a perfect vehicle.

It should:

*Have seating for 8. Or better yet, 10.
*Have a relatively short wheel-base so it’s easy to parallel park next to the coffee shop.
*Have cup holders wide enough and deep enough for my 32-oz Contiga flip-top water bottle and my 16-oz latte-to-go.
*Come with voice activated heat/air and stereo controls. You know, Distracted Driving is Deadly Driving.
*Get 30+ miles to the gallon. In town.
*Be self-cleaning, like my oven. Although, in all fairness, I actually USE my vehicle, so that gives the oven an unfair advantage.
*Cost less than the remaining mortgage on the house.
*Have a nifty little compartment specifically for my diva sunglasses.
*Have a center console large enough that my daughter doesn’t inadvertantly buckle my purse straps into the passenger seatbelt, leaving me frustratedly fumbling for my lipgloss while driving.
*Be a pretty color. Not like a “SWEET, there goes Stephanie!” pretty color, but more like
“That vehicle is nicely understated and Honda-Odysseyis unobtrusive in the driveway
and doesn’t at all clash with the shutters.”

There. Like I told daughter-face earlier this week, “I am not that picky”.

“MmmmHmmm,” she replied, as she buckled my purse strap into her seatbelt.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Uncategorized

Dirty Santa and the Great Mystery

The way I see it there are three good gift types:
1. Something you need that you can’t afford. (Furniture; new car tires; stainless steel cookware; etc.)
2. Something frivolous you love that you would not likely buy for yourself. ($100 hurricane lamp; rabbit-lined leather gloves; 600-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets)
3. Something fun that suits your personality and interests. (a massage; tickets to a concert; a first-edition book)

This leads me to question the “Dirty Santa” game we play with my husband’s family each Christmas. The girls bring a girl gift, the guys bring a guy gift. The girl stuff ranges from spa gift cards to jewelry to chocolate. No problem there. It is the guy stuff that perplexes me. This year the gifts were as follows: wire-ties4Electrical tape; Duct tape; garden hose roll-up thingy; plastic rain gauge; wrench; box cutter; a dozen pairs of work gloves; and various colors of plastic cable ties. Seriously. And they grappled over these things like Hungry Hungry Hippos going after marbles.

Now, I gave this some thought. The girl gift equivalents would look something like: A travel sewing kit; box of safety pins; nail clippers; twelve pairs of yellow dishwashing gloves; spatula; a curling iron caddy; and an old lady clear-plastic rain bonnet.

Am I the only one who sees the humor in this? These are not gifts. These are the purchases of 5 men who do not have a clue how to shop and were equally relieved that none of the other guys knew how to shop either.

Gift cards make sense to me. Big boy toys I can appreciate. Electronic gadgets I understand. Game systems I even like myself. But plastic cable ties remain a mystery to me.

Posted in Family, Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Parenting

Visions of Sugar Plums…

I did not feed my children anything sugary until they were 2. I figured, why give it to them when they don’t even know what they’re missing? Besides, no candy for them meant more for me.  🙂

Anyway, for Kevin’s first Christmas (he was 11 months old), his sister (7) wanted to decorate our tree with a candy-cane motif. So we hung candy canes, candy cane treestrung homemade peppermint garland, wove in red & white striped ribbon, and adorned the very top with our traditional Santa hat. It was super cute!

Now, because we were “family bed” people, Kevin didn’t have a nursery.  For that matter, he didn’t even have a crib to confine him.  He was, what I call, a “wandering baby”.  You just never knew where he was going to be when you woke up.

One morning during the holiday season (pretty sure it was “7 Swans a Swimming” day), I woke to odd noises emanating from the living room. Remember that sound your great uncle made when he was trying to suck a piece of pork chop out from between his front teeth?  Yeah, same sound.

A quick investigation revealed those wet, slurpy noises to be my barely-steady-on-his-feet baby boy, standing as high on tiptoes as footie pajamas would allow.  His neck outstretched like a Serengeti giraffe as he nursed the end of a no-longer-decorative candy cane.

He had bitten off the plastic wrap, then sucked the peppermint to a dangerously sharp point. The slurps and groans grew increasingly louder as he neared the end of his height range in relation to the dwindling stick of candy.

He pivoted quickly when I asked, “Kevie…whatcha doing?”

Verbal communication was not exactly his strong point, but the cuteness factor told me everything I needed to know.  He broke out in a 6-toothed grin, pointed at the candy stripes and enthusiastically implied, “Dearest mother, it’s not that I don’t appreciate your generous and abundant breastmilk, but woman…you’ve been holding out on me!”

Posted in Family, Parenting, Uncategorized

the calm before the storm

We are entering the season: traveling, Christmas shopping, decorating, the early December “calm before the storm.”  I love the holiday season.  Really, I do. I just want it to last twice as long and be four times less hectic. And while I’m not generally a procrastinator, except when it comes to Christmas shopping. I haven’t even begun to think about it, much less actually do it. (sigh)

 I love the cold, the dark, the white twinkle lights, humongous bows on packages, snow, boiled custard, holiday get-togethers, timers that automatically turn my trees on and off, Christmas music, my rabbit-lined leather gloves, appetizers, holiday movies, sweaters, and reminiscing about previous years as we hang each ornament on the tree . . .

aalights (2)I’m not so crazy about wrapping gifts, turkey in any form, pulling boxes out of the attic, property taxes, vacuming pine needles, “Santa Baby”, pumping gas when it’s 18 degrees, or, one of the great mysteries of life: untangling Christmas tree lights which were most definitely NOT tangled when we put them away 11 months ago…

Mostly I just love the whole “being together” thing – the dropping of everything else that clutters our lives every other day of the year to munch on maple bacon and boiled shrimp the size of your palm, play cards, and laugh at each other.  That’s my favorite part of Christmas.

Well, that and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Minimalism, Parenting, Uncategorized

Refined Taste

 

Standing here at the stove, making a big pot of chili (and wondering just exactly how much cumin is too much?), I realize I’m going to have to make a cracker run before the cowboy packs his lunch.  Eating gluten-free has had so many benefits, but good crackers is not one of them.  In fact, I have come to the conclusion that gluten-free crackers are not crackers at all, but merely packing material disguised with flaxseed.

cracker clubI don’t know if you’re a fan of crackers or not, but they rank pretty high on my snack food list. Club crackers, much like eggs and toilet paper, are a staple at our house. Remember when they used to be in 2-packs in a basket on every table in every restaurant in North America, and how you would make a half-dozen sweet-&-sour cracker sandwiches waiting for your WonTon Soup to be served?

Anyway, one time the kids asked me if I would buy them some more “Good Crackers”. I assumed they were asking if I would replace the Club crackers, you know, since I had finished them off prematurely in a big bowl of milk as though they were corn flakes. So, next shopping day, I brought home a couple of the green boxes.

They never complained, but the next time I was Kroger-bound they asked again,“Please Mom, would you buy The Good Crackers THIS time?”  Sure!  Since Clubs weren’t “the good ones”, cracker goldfishI splurged on a sack of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (which are price-equivalent to a 16-oz ribeye).  This time I was met with enthusiasm! Yes! Score one for Mom! Goldfish crackers are practically CANDY to children. I mean, how do you not love the snack that smiles back? They enjoyed feasting on them for several days.

However, the question was soon asked a third time:  “Mom, you keep promising to buy the Good Crackers.  This time, please?”  The Goldfish weren’t right either?  What ARE the Good Crackers?  crackers wheat thinsThe children couldn’t tell me by name. So, again I perused the Ritz and Cheese Nips and Triscuits, and  decided they must want Wheat Thins. Once home, I waved the yellow box in front of them with a satisfied smile and asked, “Are theeeeese what you wanted?”  Two disappointed little faces told me I had failed as a parent.

More weeks passed, and on this trip to the market, the kids were with me. As we strolled down the cookie/cracker aisle, they came to a screeching halt.  

They stood, frozen in their tracks, staring at the floor. Heaven opened up. Beams of light illuminated the place at my children’s feet, and I heard the faint singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

“Mom!!! The GOOD crackers! Please!?”

I looked, and there, at their feet, were the Saltines.

The good crackers.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Quirks and Other Weirdness

traditionally untraditional part two. OR why Kevin wasn’t allowed to eat the rum cake.

The most bizarre of the untraditional has to be the characters around our table and the conversation that ensued. Did we share all the things for which we are thankful?  No. Did we discuss politics- Hillary, the Donald, immigration, or the economy?  Thank heavens, no. Was there mention of deflated footballs, California wildfires or Syrian refugees? A discussion of the year’s best books or most disappointing movies? No. No. No. No. No.  

Instead, Kevin nearly stabbed the cowboy in the face (accidentally?) with a steak knife, while Mom displayed a burn on her hand from a glue-gun mishap. 

The 10-person, full-table Thanksgiving dinner discussion
went something like this:

“Three things you should never grab with your bare hands:a pan right out of the oven, a sharp knife, and a hot glue gun.”

AND OH, THE ARK OF THE COVENANT!” the cowboy instantly interjected.

Kacey and I reenact the face-melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“Yeah, that would be a bad way to die.”

“True.  Speaking of bad ways to die: would you rather get chomped in half by a

Woodridge, IL, USA --- Great White Shark Opening Mouth --- Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

shark or swallowed whole by a whale?”

“Shark…no, wait…whale.”

“Seriously?!?!”

“Yeah…I’m afraid that the lower half of me would be bitten off by a shark,
and the upper half would still be alert and know what was happening.”

“True, but if you were swallowed whole by a whale,
you might get in there and find out you aren’t alone.”

Kevin waved, pretending to be inside a whale, and said, “Hi Elvis!”

“Speaking of dead, how many squirrels have you killed at the bookstore this year, Dad?”

“342 of those glorified rats, all with a single shot 22!”

Wow. These potatoes are so creamy.

Of course none of those squirrels were shot when Nana was around!”

“Of course not! Nana would set them free, then cut down an oak tree so they can find food without endangering themselves.”

(Nana asks if anyone wants rum cake. We are all stuffed from pork tenderloin and potatoes, so the answer is a unanimous “no“).

2369764376_9931db8a8cThe conversation continues with my sweet 90-year-old grandmother: “I used to catch mice and put them in the garbage disposal.”

I’m sorry…WHAT???????  

She repeats with her delicate soprano voice, “I used to catch mice and put them in the garbage disposal.”

Shock and Awe. Oh, and Disgust.

Kacey turns three shades of green (chartreuse, pistachio and olive drab, to be exact) and begins to look like she is going to lose her just-eaten holiday meal.

Nana asks if anyone wants rum cake. It has been approximately 6 minutes since the last time she asked. The answer is a resounding, and again unanimous, “NO!”

Since Kacey is now feeling pukey, she shared the memories of a “Fear Factor” competition from her college days at Lipscomb fear-factor-logowhen she finished drinking a pureed hamburger, peanut butter and DIRT milkshake and was the only remaining female competitor.

(Yes, yes. A proud moment INDEED in her $80,000 college career.)

Kacey tells her end of the table (mostly men): “After that I quit. The final contest involved eating bull balls.”

The mostly female end of the table didn’t quite hear her, so she repeated louder, “After that I quit. The final contest involved eating bull testicles.”

The cowboy then wanted to know why she felt comfortable using the term “balls” with him, but chose to say “testicles” to the matriarchs.

These potatoes are so creamy.

“I used to eat brains and eggs. I liked brains and eggs.”

“Gross. I can’t imagine eating brains, though I do like me some eggs.”

“Hyena eggs?”

“WHAT?”

“You said ‘hyena eggs’.”

“No I didn’t. I said ‘I do like me some eggs’.”

“Oh. Nevermind.”

61hrB4WrkXL._SY355_“Speaking of balls, when is Nana going to pass on her Christmas ornaments to the girls?”

“HEY! Some of those decorations are MINE!” Kevin objected.

68423_0000“Yes,” Kacey said, “But the Frosty Friends are all mine.”

“Fine. But I get all the Star Wars ornaments!”

Yes, because nothing says “Happy Birthday, Jesus

” quite like a Sith lord.

“Speaking of frosty, anybody want rum cake?”

“NO!!!”

“Well, what does everybody want for Christmas?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t even started thinking about Christmas yet,” says my mother.

“How can you not be thinking about Christmas when the entire house is decorated for it already!?!?”

“I had to start decorating early, we’re having a party here next weekend. I can’t relax till it’s done!”

“Speaking of relaxing, did I tell you I had a facial last Monday? It lasted for a full 90 minutes.”

“I got a pedicure for Christmas one year. It lasted for a full 9 months.”

“Nine months? The pedicure lasted for 9 months?”

“No, the polish on my toenails lasted for 9 months.”

Dad interjected, “Apparently they painted her toes with automotive enamel.”

christmas 2Really, ya’ll, does anybody want rum cake?”


We finally acquiesced and imbibed in a rum cake so strong it was illegal for Kevin to eat.  Then we cleared the table, put away the wheat stalks and turkey 
rings and helped Nana redecorate the dining room with a trio of glittered Christmas trees.

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Parenting

Cool Hand Kevin


To preface this story, I almost never wear sunglasses – they’re oppressive, like socks. But I bought a blingy diva pair anyway, for a 14-hour Texas trip, and I tucked them away in my purse.  

260575528409591555Tgmf1bB0cA few hours into the drive, somewhere around west Memphis, Kevin wanted to stretch out a bit.  He started rearranging all the bags and snacks and speakers and road trip stuff in an attempt to build his nest.

“Hey, before you get too comfortable,” I said, “we’re about to head west so I’m going to need my glasses out of my purse.”

“Huh?” he responded eloquently.

I repeated myself, speaking slowly this time, “We’re…about…to…head…west…so… I’m…going…to…need…my…glasses…out…of…my…purse.”

“WHY do you need your glasses when we turn west????” he quizzed with a look of irritation.

“Well, Kevin, let’s use our brain and find the answer to that question. Why do YOU think I need my glasses?”

“I dunno.”

“What happens when we turn westward?”

stbcs“Um…the letters on the signs get smaller???”

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.  

Let’s try this again. “Kev, before you get too comfortable, we’re about to head west so I’m going to need my SUNglasses out of my purse, not my EYEglasses.”

Posted in Family, Just Funny, Parenting

Dissecting Frogs in the Car

Did you know the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary?

1526092_766739986239_1681683817_nMy kids love to pick on each other. I mean, they SAY they love each other, but they agitate until they are exasperated.  

Once, not so awfully long ago, Kevin convinced Kacey he was left-handed. (Kacey was 23, Kevin, 16)  She was so befuddled by his insistence, she marched into the den with her hands on her hips and proclaimed, “He is NOT left-handed………… IS HE?????”  Of course, he is not, and she KNEW that, he is just such a stinking convincing liar that she began to doubt herself.

A few nights later, before Kevin and I took a road trip to Texas, he and Kacey were talking on the phone.  He was moaning about all the school work he was going to have to do on our car trip.  1917367_198145571800_4446435_n (2)She  told him to “suck it up” and “do the work like a man” when he said something like, “Well that’s easy for you to say…you don’t have to dissect a frog in the car!”

“Neither do you, goofball.”

“YES I DO!”

“Kevin, you cannot possibly dissect a frog in the car. Why don’t you just do it when you come back on Monday?”

“Because I have to make a diagram, label all the parts, and have it turned in by Friday night!”

“Kevin, you are such a liar!”

“Kacey, I’m serious. I’ve got to dissect this stupid frog in the car on the way to Texas!”

“Seriously???”

1917367_207857431800_3306124_n“Um, yeah.  And by the way, I’m left-handed.”

Kacey gave him a verbal long-distance lashing for making her feel gullible yet again, while he and I fought back tears of laughter.   

Is it okay that I’m strangely proud of my kid for being a great actor liar?