Friday, December 31, 2010


It started simply enough, as these matters often do. Mom and I were discussing the latest of a series of disasters in my life.

“It’ll be okay, Honey. Sometimes blessings come in disguise.”
“Sometimes? SOMETIMES? How about ALL. THE. TIME, Mom?”
“Every gift God sends me comes in the most atrocious gift wrap imaginable. He’s seriously got the worst gift-wrap department in the history of…of gift-wrap.”
“IT’S TRUE! You know it’s true. Look, everything has an opposite, right? Isn’t that what you’ve taught me?”
“Think about it. Satan sends things all wrapped up in pretty packages with shiny bows and you open them and there is NEVER anything good in there. NEVER. Whereas God? He sends us the most fantastic things but most of the time we don’t even realize it because the packaging is AWFUL.”
“Am I not right about this?”
“Well…yes, but I just don’t think we should SAY things like that. It sounds sacrilegious."
“Oh, like God doesn’t KNOW me? Trust me, He knows me. He knows what I mean. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, I’m just saying. Great gifts, horrid gift wrap.”
“Well yes, God knows your heart and knows you don’t mean anything by it but…”
“But? Isn’t His opinion the one that matters?”
“We just need to be careful about how we say things.”

I’ll try to remember that in the next life, where I will no doubt be writing to her from Hell.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


One of the biggest challenges I’ve run into with raising Son has been getting him to appreciate the value of honesty; that integrity matters and really, life is so much simpler and easier if one just tells the truth.

So one day my brother and I were commiserating about the challenges of raising our respective stubborn little people.

“I don’t get it,” I complained. “It doesn’t matter how I approach it, or what I do, he just doesn’t seem to care. And the sad thing is? He‘s an only child. He‘s the ONLY ONE WHO COULD HAVE DONE IT! I am running out of ideas, here.”

“Oh really? Don’t you remember what Dad used to do to try to get the truth out of YOU?”

It was about then that I realized it was vitally important to change the subject. You see, Dad had some rather, oh let’s call them “creative” methods of getting the truth from us, and I never came out of those particular power struggles looking good. And to make me squirm even more, I know quite well that I was every bit as stubborn as my own child is. A trait which no doubt contributed to the desperation that drove Dad to such creativity. Sure as an adult I understand the necessity of personal integrity, but as a child…it was all about the power control. But my brother wasn’t about to let the subject drop.

“Remember the ‘Flame of Truth’?” Boy, do I ever. According to Dad, if he simply held a flame beneath our palms and asked us a question, we wouldn’t be burned as long as we told the truth. It didn’t teach me much about honesty, but I do admit that I’m very afraid of fire. I have no idea where he came up with this stuff. And I probably should point out that Dad never reached the point where he actually started any fires. Or maybe he did but Mom wouldn’t let him. One of those things. At any rate, trying to teach me honesty by lying to me didn’t seem to have the desired effect.

“Oh!” my brother went on, warming to the topic, “and weren’t you the one who lied while swearing on a bible?”
“Hey, I was SEVEN.”
“Whatever. You LIED under OATH! About eating TWINKIES!! You sold your immortal soul for a TWINKIE!”
“You know, technically I was holding my hand so it hovered just barely above the bible. I wasn’t actually touching it.”
“Wow. That’s just…sad.”
“It was NECESSARY. After the whole rat poison incident, perjury was the least of my concerns.”
My brother paused, thinking. “Okay, remind me about the rat poison, because I don’t remember that one.”
“Sure you do. Someone had liberated Dad’s stash of cashews and when he went to get them and found the empty can he informed us that he’d covered the nuts in rat poison, remember?”
“He threatened us with rat poison?”
“YES! He said that if one of us had eaten the cashews we needed to inform him immediately because otherwise we would die a slow and agonizing death. How do you not remember this?”
He was still drawing a blank.

“Ok, Dad gathered us around and said that the guilty party had about 5 minutes to come forward if we were going to get to the hospital in time to get the antidote.”
“So who came forward?”
I shrugged. “Well that’s just it. No one did. Finally he just gave up and sent us all to bed.”
“Yeah, pretty much the longest night of my life. Just lying in bed…waiting to die.”
“I knew it!”
“Yes, from that point on I figured I was pretty much invincible.”
“That explains a lot.”
“It does, doesn’t it?”

We passed a moment in silent reflection. Finally I asked, “So, do you think it’s genetic?”
“What? The lying or the Gestapo inquisition tactics?”
“Hopefully just the lying. I haven’t been reduced to threatening my child with the Indian Rope Burn test. Yet.”
“Dad did that?”
“Dude, where WERE you? It’s like you were raised in a completely different house!”
“Maybe they just did it to you because you were the only one who lied?“
“No, I was just the only one who got caught.”
“Nope, I’m pretty sure you were the only one who lied.”

Maybe. But honestly? I think he’s lying.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All Thumbs and Not a Single Green One Amongst Them

For Mother's Day, Son presented me with a lovely plant. It's not one I'm familiar with. Being the awesome botanist that I am, I tend to call it "The pretty orange plant." Yes, I know. My knowledge is dazzling.

Anyway. Since it was a gift from my son, I feel some obligation to make an effort to keep this particular plant alive. No easy task, my friends. You see, I have a certain...effect on living things. Plants in particular. No matter what I do, they just don't seem to thrive. Usually they see me coming and commit suicide rather than allow me to handle them. I'm not making this up. I once had a beautiful orchid that msyteriously fell from the table onto the floor, smashing its pot. I suppose it could be ghosts doing this, but the suicide theory is equally probable in my opinion.

The execption to this law where I can't keep anyhing alive for long, would be Son. No one is certain why he's made it this long under my care. He keeps hearing he grows like a weed. That makes a little more sense. I am AWESOME at growing weeds.

On Mother's Day, I was asked by my brother-in-law if I had gone to church and dutifully collected my geranium. (To honor mothers here, traditionally some token of appreication, generally a small potted plant, is given to each mother in the congregation.) I had, for various reasons, elected not to attend services that day. And so no. No I did not get a geranium. And seriously? I committed an act of agricultural humanity that day. I saved A LIFE, people. I'm a hero, really.

Nevertheless, I feel a strong desire to care for and love Son's gift to me. Rather than the ubiquitous cut roses or orchids, he chose something so unique, unusual and beautiful. It's one I've never seen before, or anything quite like it.

And so I turned to the internet, as I am wont to do in cases like this.

"Oh no," I muttered as I read. Hubs wandered through and asked, "Problem?"

"Well...apparently I'm supposed to take a sharp knife (already a red flag. Sharp knives and I have never had the most harmonious of relationships.) and then cut the mother plant away from the others. (Is it just me or does this sound like an odd thing to do on Mother's Day? Separating the babies from the mothers seems...cold somehow. But what do I know? Maybe they're like guppies and eat their young if not separated quickly.)

"Ok, so after I violently separate this little family, I'm supposed to repot each plant individually."


"No, in SPECIAL dirt. Like... Plant... Diva dirt."

"They make dirt for plant divas?"

"Yes. Yes they do. And I'm going to need some."

"Ok, so then what, that's it?"

"Oh you'd like to think so, my little friend, but no. Next we have to plant them over beds of gravel."

"Sounds comfy," he replied. I glared at him for a moment because CLEARLY he has NO sense of urgency. Or botanical rescue missions.

"No, beds of gravel, so the roots don't have to sit in water."

"Sounds complicated," he observed. I could only nod my head in bleak despair.

"So...what you're trying to say here is it's going to die, isn't it?" He asked.

"I'm not going to lie to you, Hubs. It's not looking good. Not good at all."

So really my predicament comes to this:

Do I:

A. Stock up on these plants so when one dies I can replace it quickly and pray he doesn't notice. It didn't work so well with the goldfish but you never know.

B. Try my best to make it work and then tell him the plant went to live on a farm where there are lots of puppies and bunnies to chase...though that worked better with the dog, come to think of it.

C. Buy silk flowers and plant them outside. And then repent for laughing about our neighbor who planted silk flowers in her yard for years. True story.)

D. Realize that this is for my boy. And when it comes to that boy, I will learn whatever I have to learn. For him, I will even touch dirt. (But just diva dirt.)

Keep your fingers crossed for me. Who knows? Maybe soon I'll have a whole garden full of Orange Star plants in their diva soil, and I'll tend them and baby them and love them...right up until I back over them with the car.

And yes. Oh yes. It'll happen.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


There are so many reasons to love my mother.

I love the way she laughs at something inappropriate then claps both hands over her mouth in horror upon realizing that she probably shouldn't laugh about it.

I love the way she refers to Dad as "Joe-Your-Father" when she tells stories as if I would be utterly confused if she didn't clarify who "Joe" might be.

I love the way she always walks me to my car after I visit her and then stands in the driveway blowing kisses and waving as I drive away. Sometimes there's even a little dance that goes with it.

I love that she's always a little startled to realize her children in any way take after Joe-Our-Father. I really love that she always attributes any weird quirks we may have to Joe-Our-Father's side of the family.

I love that she still tries to buy my love even though she's always had it.

I love her because when the unthinkable happens, she still has a shoulder to cry on, a knee to rest my head on and an irreverent comment to make me laugh in spite of it all.

I love that she talks about dieting. While eating cake. Because Thursday is a cake kind of day and you can't diet on a cake day.

I love that she talks in her sleep. I love even more that she sometimes screams and then gets mad at us for hearing her.

I love that, like her mother before her, she has a very proper and sophisticated side that somehow covers one of the greatest comedic goofy sides I've ever known.

I love that on her Facebook page she's never bothered to correct the alterations I made to her date of birth or her children's names.

I love that for over a year, she didn't notice that the e-mail signature I set up for her included "By the way, Stacey has always been my favorite child."

I love her because she's Mom.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I May Be Just A Little Too Impressionable

Hubs: Uh...Honey?

Me: What?

Hubs: Well, it's just that this is the third time you've threatened to stab me today. It's starting to hurt my feelings.

Me: Oh. Well I'm very sorry for hurting your feelings.

Hubs: Well, that's ok, but where are you getting all this stabbing stuff?

Me: Oh, that. Well I've been reading about The Wars of the Roses. You know. Yorks. Lancaster. They were kind of a stabby lot back then.

Hubs: Well could you maybe read something less stabby? Because you're kinda freaking me out.

Me: I'm sorry. How's this: If you don't stop doing that I'm going to have you drawn and quartered. Is that better? It doesn't quite roll off the tongue the way "stab" does, but I'm willing to work with you on this one.

Hubs just walked out of the room. Probably because he hates history.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Slight Flaw in His Logic

Note: I have been informed by brother that I meant to say iPod Touch. Not iTouch. I stand corrected.

For various reasons, Hubs and I have set family rules regarding Son's computer use. For example, any computer he has access to is to be kept in common areas of the house, no computer in his room, passwords have been set so he can't go on-line unless either Hubs or I log him on and he isn't to use the computer unless there's an adult present. Son has made it known that these rules are outrageously harsh and extreme. Our response: "Tough."

We have relaxed some of the rules a bit over time as he has demonstrated the ability to stay out of trouble. For Christmas, Son received an iTouch. This is a HUGE show of trust since with the iTouch he can pretty much by-pass most of the rules. But, as I said, he has earned our trust. New rules have been put in place, of course. And he's so determined to show us he'll comply he's even set some himself.

"Ok, Mom? I want you to know, I appreciate the trust you're showing by giving me this, and to prove it I've put a password on my iTouch."


"I put a password on my iTouch. So I can't get on-line unless you or dad enter the password."

"YOU password protected your iTouch with a password that only YOU know?"

"Yep!" He patted me on the shoulder reassuringly. "See? I'm totally obeying the rules."

"Right. So you set a password and you're keeping it a secret from yourself so you aren't tempted to get on-line?"


"Are you planning to share the password with us?"


I'm not sure whether to be insulted or concerned that he thinks I won't see the flaw in his reasoning. Maybe both?

If Only He Could Remember These Conversations The Next Day

A few nights ago, I was in bed trying to defy the powers of the insomnia gods and actually go to sleep when Hubs came in. He climbed into bed and within minutes was snoring. This ability he has to fall asleep like that confounds me. I'm desperate to find out how he does it.

Once the snoring had escalated to "affect the rotation of the earth" levels, I gave up and since my laptop is kept right next to my bed, I pulled it over and started reading some of my favorite blogs. A friend noticed I was on-line and we proceeded to chat. At last, I started feeling sleepy and so I put the computer back and tapped Hubs gently on the shoulder.

"Hey," I whispered. "Would you mind turning onto your side?"

"Why?" he mumbled. You're the one that's snoring. I'm not even asleep."

"Well if you're making that kind of noise while you're awake you may want to have it checked out because that's not normal."

"What are you talking about? I'm just laying here trying to sleep. Which is hard to do with you snoring and clickety-clacking on your computer."

"What?? That doesn't even make sense. Ok, look, I'll admit to being on the computer. I'll even show you time-stamped posts which, due to their coherency and mostly correct spelling point to the fact that I was, in fact, awake when I made them."

"I was awake. I know I was because I could HEAR THE SNORING."


"Oh. Ok. So why were YOU snoring then?"


"Well if I turn on my side, I have to take out my headphones. Are you okay with that?"

"Why would I care one way or the other?"

"Well if you start to snore it'll wake me up. If I have my headphones in I can't hear anything."

"You can't hear anything? Like snoring? Or someone typing?"


"I give up."

This. THIS is why I often need naps. Also, I'm stealing his headphones.