Monday, December 31, 2007

It Didn't Seem Like a Bad Idea...

We moms think about lots of things that might kill our kids. Speeding cars. Swimming pools. Crazed maniacs. Errantly-swallowed whole grapes.

Amish farmers, though? Not so much.

My friends, add it to the list. The Amish are to be feared.

We've been away this week (sorry to have vanished). At the lake. And this morning, we used a gift certificate DH won at a conference for a free sleigh ride at an Amish farm. Horse-drawn, candle lamps, the whole shebang. Only, it hasn't yet snowed so the sleigh was mounted up on wheels. We got to the farm right on time, met the farmer, two dogs, and a horse named Bud, and started on our way. Clippity clop, clippity clop.

Down the road. Clippity clop. Kids are laughing. Poop jokes are flying. We're chatting with the farmer. All's well with the world. Clippity clop.

We turn onto a dirt path. It looks a little narrow and it's way muddy from the rain last night, but whatever. I hear the farmer say, "Bud? BUD?" the way you do to a child who's about to pick up a knife. And Bud suddenly jerks to the left, pulls a 180, and starts to run.

In slow motion, the sleigh tips. DH and I throw our weight to the other side, but my kids go flying out. As if they've been catapaulted. I watch them fly up and over and splash down in a muddy stream, face down.

I scream bloody murder. DH yells "STOP THE DAMN CAR!" The farmer pulls. The horse slows. I grab both sides of the sleigh, heave myself over the edge, hit the mud, and run as fast as I can back to my babies. By now, they're both standing up (thank God). They're covered with mud. The little one is hysterically crying. The big one is laughing and yelling, "Do it again! Do it again!" DH goes for the boy while I scoop up the girl, hug her tight, and put her back down on the velvet seat of the sleigh, mud be dammed.

All's well that ends well. Eight hours later, the mud has been washed off, the kids are laughing about it all, and I have sore knuckles and an aching back. My visions of my children either under the wheels of the carriage or lifeless in the water have subsided. The farmer likely spent his day scrubbing seats and blankets and calling his lawyer--he really felt awful and was very nervous--and we're thinking the horse may be glue by now. I'm vindicated in my lifelong aversion to horses, by the way. Toldja so.

Add the Amish to your list, ladies. Avoid them. Keep your children away.

As DH said in the car on the way home, "You know, this wouldn't have happened if they'd been home playing video games."

Happy new year, gang. Let's hope it's less eventful.

(I swear to all that's holy, this story is true. But I'd never have believed it if I hadn't been there.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Still Here!

Hi gang.

Thank goodness most of the blogs I follow have been slow this week. I don't feel so guilty. It's that time of year, and things are insane. Trying to get everything done before Monday hits and everything dies for a week.

DS lost his first tooth yesterday! Very exciting--he's the last kid in his class to get a holey smile. The tooth fairy left him a gold dollar coin, and he woke up (I swear this is true) at 4:59 this morning to check it out. We may have to switch time zones for Christmas if the tooth fairy got him that jazzed. **zzzzzzz**

We're having 12 people for Christmas dinner. Should be fun, I hope. Everybody's getting mismatched silverware and dishes because I don't have 12 of any single set. Ah well--shabby chic is in, yes? I'm heading out this morning to find stemless wine glasses. Too many elderly ladies and kids will be here to risk the regular kind.

We toured the White House the other morning, courtesy of my soon-to-be-ex neighbor, who's a Secret Service agent. Tres cool. Saw the gingerbread/sugar White House in the state dining room. I'd read about it in Roland Meissner's book and it was pretty awesome to see it live and in person. Not as elaborate as the photos I've seen of his houses, but pretty nonetheless.

With that, I'm out of here. The benefit of having your kids up before 5 a.m. is that you can hit the grocery store before it gets crowded, even four days before Christmas. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Conversation with the Four Year Old

me: "That's because you're really smart, you know that?"

daughter: "Yeah. And Mommy? You're just a little smart."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Can You See Me Blush On the Phone?

The popcorn guy called tonight.

IMy son sold popcorn to help raise money for his scout pack. $450 worth of popcorn to be exact. Good stuff--kettle corn, microwave butter, caramel, chocolate hazelnut, cheese, and something called "military" corn, which translates to tins of popcorn that are delivered to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

I He spent about a month on this project, selling it and delivering it all to friends and neighbors. Hard worker, he is. And it was good for him. He learned a little bit about money and a lot about filling orders and walking two or three cans of corn down the street even though it's cold and windy and he'd rather be playing. Because that's the right thing to do, see.

Anyway, tonight, the popcorn volunteer from his troop called to see what prize we'd like for the boy. The choices, he said, were a marshmallow shooter, a hiking set (carabiner, thermometer, water bottle, etc.), or a pocketknife.

I was all set to say "Pocketknife, please!" Thinking that we'd show it to him and put it away and then get it out for camping trips and other events when DH would be there to demonstrate and supervise. Never once thinking we'd just hand a sharp implement over to a six-year-old and be done with it.

I opened my mouth and said "P", and then Popcorn Man said, "Of course, he's probably too young for the knife. But that's your parenting decision."

My mouth, which had already formed the "o" that comes after the "P" just stopped. Just stayed there, like it was waiting for something to fling itself in there and call itself dinner. My parenting decision? Like, if I actually say, "pocketknife," are you going to hang up and call Social Services? Are we going to be booted from the troop and blackballed from future activities in the fear that we'll just let first graders grab weapons all willy-nilly and impale themselves while we're off doing more important things? And then does that mean you'll call the Girl Scouts and put my daughter on some kind of "watch this one" list before she even signs up next year?

My mouth re-engaged, finally. "Hiking kit." I'll have to ditch the bright red fanny pack it all comes in, of course, but the stuff inside is pretty cool. For a six-year old.

We hung up. And then I went online and ordered the boy a pocketknife for Christmas.

After all, it's my decision. Heh.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Serious?

I laughed out loud in the car this morning at the report that "millions" of baseball fans were likely to be shocked that a whole bunch of their favorite players were about to be outed for steroid use.

Fer real, Ruby??

I mean, come on.

If a kid is good at a sport, we plop them into competitive leagues as soon as their little feet are large enough to support the weight of cleats. They practice two, three, sometimes four times a week while their families arrange their schedules around weekend and nighttime games. The sport becomes the center of the family, and little Babe Ruth is cheered on and begun to be taught that he is the best _____ player ever! Keep practicing, buddy!

Once school starts, the hard work continues. So, of course, does the adoration. My kid is six. SIX. And the most popular kids in his class are those who dominate the playground with their baseball or football skills. Little Pied Pipers in uniform. Jocks in the making.

Who do the girls want to date in high school? You betcha--the quarterbacks. And who gets the very bestest scholarships to the most well-regarded universities? The kids who play sports. We won't even get into the fact that the vast majority of those scholarship winners don't meet the minimum academic requirements for admission. Sports equal money, baybee, and those colleges want those all-stars! Bring on the free rides!

I read a study recently that said the University of Maryland hasn't graduated a basketball player in more than six years. Not a single one. Zip. Zero. Nada. And UMD isn't unique--the statistic held for nearly every state university in the country. How many of those players can't really read very well? How many probably can't do basic algebra? But we glorify them. Adore them. Hoist them up onto marble pedestals in the sky, and tell our kids that those are the people to admire. They're the million-dollar babies, and if you work really hard and become the very best at your sport, we'll all cheer for you too!

Steroids are a fantastic way to be your best. And when everybody else is doing them, well, it's hard to compete unless you do too. It's not rocket science, gang. Two plus two equals four.

The baseball commissioner came out today in favor of putting the whole soggy mess behind us. Let bygones go and all like that. How nice. What a kind, forgiving man (who also wants his pockets lined by all his winners).

What a cop-out.

I'm sorry to anyone who's shocked by all of this. I'm saddened to think there are people out there spending money on jerseys and tickets and all the accouterments of fan-dom, and who help drive the cranes that balance our heroes up on those marble altars in the sky, and who really truly had never once thought their playas were doping up for their talent. Who thought a college education was legitimate, even if one did wear an athletic uniform and spend most of their time either on the field or on the road. Who believed this was all on the up-and-up.

The athletic industry is a mess. And until we all demand better and stop brushing this under the rug and being so darned forgiving, it's going to stay that way. What a sad commentary.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


You know your six year old is super furious with you when, confined to his room on the second floor, he squeezes into an impossibly small space between a huge armoire and the wall just to be sure that when he yells at you (in the basement) through the heating vent that's just above the floor in that tiny corner, you're sure to hear him.

*rolling eyes*

Friday, December 7, 2007

Elfing Myself

I bought myself a Christmas present today. Nothing big, but it makes me happy. :)

Mine will have a K on it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rule #1: Never Blog About Serenity

Yeah. That gentle snowfall? The inner peace? The enjoying the season?

It all went to crap right around 10:30 yesterday morning.

First, the "light dusting on grassy areas" turned into a good four inches of wet, cold snow all over the place. It's a non-discriminatory snow--it's on the sidewalk, it's on the street, it's all over my car. And it all froze up last night so right this minute, it's a big gigantic pain in the ass kind of snow. I'm waiting through a two-hour school delay, which means the little kid won't go to school at all.

Ordinarily, that'd be good. But two leetle tiny things are preventing me from breathing right now. First, I have a boatload of work to get done today. And second, I haven't bought the kids snowboots yet.

Yep. Mother of the Year yet again, ladies. You can all stop campaigning. I've got that one wrapped up.

The snow also means that the tree people are not, in fact, coming out to take down the Godforsaken Walnut Tree in my side yard. The tree I've loathed for eight years. The tree I've begged and pleaded to have replaced. So DH now has four more days to reconsider. See, he's a tree freak, and it doesn't matter how messy or dangerous that particular tree is. Thank God I already put down a deposit on the work, that's all I can say.

Moving right along...I was supposed to have lunch with a really good friend of mine yesterday. And around 10:30--right as the world was drowning under a "light dusting on grassy areas"--her husband called me. To tell me she was in the hospital.


I then set to work worshipping the Gods of Sugar and Cocoa, to put my worried mind at ease. Which means I still won't fit into a dress for this black-tie, command performance party next Thursday night. "Hey, there's Kim...what a fatass!!" O Hershey, why hast thou forsaken me?

I can't find a decent source for an article I need to finish. Oh, and the post office, once again, lost a package of mine. That package happens to contain three prescriptions--one for my blood pressure, one for allergies, and one also for my blood pressure in that it keeps any more two-legged living beings from joining our happy, happy family.

The post office denies all responsibility. In between popping her gum and sighing heavily, the oh-so-professional worker who answered the phone explained it all. "Ma'am, it's the holidays. We have a truck of 500 packages we haven't even unloaded yet. Maybe it'll come tomorrow."


The prescription company was equally helpful, in that fantastic American managed care kind of way. "We can't replace those meds, Mrs. F. You don't have any refills remaining."

I get that. But I didn't actually receive the final refill. And I fail to see how that's my fault.

Long story short, I spent 45 minutes on the phone with various levels of management until I finally yelled a rant about this being the reason people hate mail-order pharmacy, and slammed the phone down. I never hang up on people. But right that second, I hit my limit of Shit I'm Willing To Put Up With. Done.

Needless to say, this all wasn't helping the blood pressure. For which I'm out of meds.

Anyway, the night ended somewhat quietly. I have a new day for the Godforsaken Walnut Tree to come down. My friend is feeling better and hopes to be discharged tomorrow, so that's a relief. The snow will melt. Boots will be bought. Like the song says, I will survive.

But I might be darn grouchy for awhile.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's snowing outside as I write this--the most gentle little snow I've seen in a long time. Tiny little flakes, almost specs, floating down from the sky and softly coating the grass in my yard.

I'm not a snow person. For the most part, I'm not into being cold and wet, and being outside in the stuff usually means just that. It's messy and makes the streets slippery, and hypes my kids up like some kind of naturally-occurring kiddie crack. We fight with boots and mittens and snowpants, we get the bathroom floor filthy each time we go in and out (and we're in and out a lot--I'm thirsty! I hafta go potty! I don't WANNA play in the snow!).

They're saying, though, that we'll get an inch. Two, tops. And it's not really laying on the sidewalks or roads, so that's not an issue this time around. It's just this pretty wintery coating where we don't need to walk. Very Christmasy against my neighbors' lights and our red bows on our wreath and windowboxes. Very quiet and still.

I'm trying hard to be quiet and still this holiday season. There's lots going on, but I'm working on keeping my blood pressure down and my voice lowered and my tension in check. Enjoying the season, as it were, and trying to control it instead of vice versa. Most of the shopping is finished, cards are mailed, menus are being planned, and while the calendar is filled, I know there will be lots of time to breathe and decompress in January.

It's not easy. I'm prone to yelling, quite honestly, and prone to worrying and stressing out. It's an effort. But if it makes this year's holidays a little more enjoyable for everyone around me, it'll be worth it. And maybe I'll enjoy it more, too.

I'll have the radio on today--we Washingtonians tend to panic when wetness falls from the sky, and I'm anticipating an early school closure this afternoon. But I have a steaming mug of coffee here and, for the moment, it's peaceful and calm and beautiful.

Have a good one, gang.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Miss me?

My beloved laptop is back, new hard drive and all. Most of my stuff is back too, thank the heavens above and Geeks On Site. I'm on the serious prowl for a decent backup system...I am NOT going through that again.

More later today...