Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Eight Easy Steps to Torture Your Teenager

1. Write a blog about her--include personal information and pictures.

2. Include a link to your blog in your email auto-signature.

3. Send an email to her English teacher...

4. the middle of the school day while your teenager is sitting in English class.

5. Choose a day when the students are ahead of schedule in their Jane Eyre studies and have 20 minutes to kill before the bell rings.

6. Be sure the teacher has a SmartScreen or a some similar technology, so that she can project a magnified version of your blog to the front of the room for all to read.

7. Be sure the English teacher has a nice reading voice so that she will do a brilliant job of reading aloud the posts you've written--about your teenager, her boyfriend, her goofy behavior and her teenage temperment--for the entire 10th grade English class.

8. Also be sure the teacher has a whiteboard, a fresh dry erase marker and concise handwriting, in order that she may share your blog's URL with the students for them to also enjoy it at home.

That's it. That's all it takes. Have fun with it! (I sure did!)

Note: The ever cool cat, Sunshine, took it all in stride--although she admits to blushing furiously--and The Coop had a good laugh about it that night at home.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stop. Drop. And Roll.

From the time they are very young we start teaching our children to be safe. We warn them to stay away from the hot oven or the fireplace; to watch their fingers near doors; not to talk to strangers.  We teach them to stop, look, and listen before crossing the road.  "Never stick a knife in the toaster," we say. "Never play with matches." Then we prep them for emergencies, in case they do: "Stop, drop, and roll."

We warn them, again, as they grow older of the dangers of strangers; then the dangers of the internet; the dangers of drinking and driving; and eventually even about the dangers of premarital sex. So, so many dangers that I can't even come close to listing them here.

Then, finally, we will need to free them to the big, bad world--when all we can do is hope, hope that they remember what we taught them; that they think smart and act quickly; that they use their common sense; that they be lucky.

For the most part, I feel confident about my children's safety.  They're smart. They've got savvy. They follow rules. So, I sleep pretty easy at night.

Then I wake in the morning to this:

"What are you doing? Haven't I taught you anything?"

"It's okay, Mom. It works. I saw it on the internet." 

 Heaven help us! It's definitely time for some refresher courses.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Greener Grasses

Before we moved into our home, she had sat vacant for five years, so the neighbors have told us.  She wasn't in terrible condition, just sadly neglected.  But we liked the neighborhood and the price, and she was in better shape than a lot of abandoned houses in Vegas. So, last January, we bought her. Immediately, we tackled the most important work. We fixed what was broken and scrubbed what needed scrubbing. We ripped up the filthy carpets to lay shiny new floors; and then we unpacked. 
Right about that time, of course, began our five months of lousy hell, wherein all household renovations were put aside while we battled the bugs.
Then it was summer in Vegas and too damn hot to do anything.
But in the lovely temperatures of fall, and bug-free, The Coop finally got at our home-in-progress projects again, painting and decorating, and tending to our abode with all the TLC she hadn't had for so long. 
"It's starting to feel like a home," said Sunshine, and I agreed. Warm hues on the wall and some attention to cozy and comforting details had made the difference--on the inside anyway, but there was still the matter of the yard.  In the front it was fine. The demands of the HOA ensured that the bank had kept the grass watered and the weeds plucked, but the backyard was a whole other story.
For five years, the backyard, which was obviously once rich with greens and florals and palms, was left to grow dry and die, so that by the time we arrived to clean her up, we were forced to yank more than two thirds of the original trees and bushes, more than thirty, in total.  And the driest of dirt had long ago replaced the back lawn. 
First we tried seeding.  The result: Many, many birds. Then long weeds grew, in sporadic clumps, of the few seeds our feathered friends had missed.       
We would need to sod, we determined, but it would be expensive--and double that for the labor. 
"We'll do it ourselves," said Balthazar.
And, this weekend, we did!  Or rather, they did.
Hollywood hauled the sod from the driveway, where it had been delivered, to the backyard. 
Balthazar layed it out.
The Storm stamped it down and watered it.

And Sunshine tilled the dirt in prepartion for it all.
For my part, I made and delivered pancakes--they started very early on Saturday morning.
Kids today aren't required to do much manual labor, particularly anything so strenuous as laying sod. In one sense that's good; In another, it's a shame.  The physical exertion of heavy lifting is so thoroughly satisfying; the pride of a job well done is utterly fulfilling; and the pillow on your bed, at the end of it all--aah!--there's not much better.
All three of the kids had a blast! And Balthazar was mighty proud of them.  
Sure, they were a bit sore the next day, but it was that good kind of sore.
As for me, now I can say, without a doubt: The grass really is greener on my side of the six foot wall!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

Sunshine was two when we made our first annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  We were dressed in winter coats, of course, when we visited a farm north of Toronto, Ontario, where the cornfield maze was so large there were lookouts stationed in high set chairs, like lifeguards, to direct the too-long lost through bullhorns.
When Hollywood was two we moved to Iowa, where the corn stood equally high, and as far as the eye could see.  The pumpkin farms (and fun) went on for days--hayrides, petting zoos, mini tractor racetracks, and whole pools of corn kernels to dig in--and could be stumbled upon every few ever-so-flat miles. 
Now, we are in Vegas. The pumpkin patches come in from California to set down in parking lots on busy street corners.  When they finally haul out, Christmas trees replace them, on the blacktop. 
But they aren't without their thrills! 

Her smile says it all!