Something Wicked This Way Hums

I was at my kitchen window about a week ago and something caught my eye.  We get hummingbirds migrating twice a year, and I intermittently put a feeder up when I see them.  Let’s be honest: they’re kind of awesome.  They’re these tiny, fragile, beautiful creatures.  My original feeder (hanging up empty since spring) wasn’t easy to see from my window.  Once I filled it with the nectar solution, I started to see a small flock of them.  Of course I had to buy another one and put it right in front of my face.

I must say, y’all, that I have finally found something that fights more than my children.  These things are downright bitchy.  I have 2 feeders, each holding over a cup of solution.  It should be enough to feed about 200 hummingbirds for a full two days.  But there is one king bitch that is lording over them all, chasing everyone else away, up to and including dragonflies.  He dive-bombs me when I go to fill them up.  And did y’all know that they are vocal little things?  They talk almost as much as my son.  It’s been a lot of fun.  I hope some of them winter with us.  I’m about to start Googling wee little birdhouses for hummingbirds.

In other news, the kids had a busy and cerebral weekend.  I took them to our local art and science museum to play in the science room and check out the planetarium.  The next day, we drove down to New Orleans to hit the aquarium and the insectarium.  The major bummer was that the butterfly room was closed for cleaning.  But any disappointment and pouting was mitigated by a trip to the gift shop.  The little ingrates had the audacity to whine about being “bored” on Monday.  I was wracked with guilt.  Not.

Planetarium selfie!

If you get to the Aquarium early and get to the parakeet room, they might actually still be hungry.

Girl Scouts has geared back up – Brownies this year.  We have a bigger troop with 6 new girls.  I love our new additions.  All the girls come together in such a neat way.  What is hilarious are the reactions to our upcoming camping events.  We have several day trips and a couple of overnights scheduled.  This will clearly be the first time at least a few of these girls have spent any appreciable amount of time outside.  Several are allergic to mosquitoes.  One girl is allergic to grass – not grass pollen, mind you.  Another girl is allergic to snakes.

While it can be stressful and one more thing to juggle, I do love being involved with my Brownies.  This is my 3rd year with most of these girls and watching them grow up has been amazing.  It looks to be a good year for my little tribe.  Stella is doing well.  Felix seems to be doing well; at the very least, he’s been his normal chatty self, informing me that rhinoceros males use lots of kinetic energy (What 4 year old talks like that?!).

My kids are so lucky to be in a good school with good teachers.  Not every kid is as lucky.  Several of my girls have a teacher that isn’t doing so well.  One girl broke down crying during our meeting yesterday, quite likely from anxiety.  Her mom says her teacher is just freaking her out, and she isn’t the only one.  I hate that.  No kid should have to deal with that at the age of 7.  It certainly brings back bad memories for me.

Everyone be safe and good to each other out there.  Texas, we’re still thinking of you and sending help.  Florida, we’ve got your back as well.

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Putting the Chart Before the Horse

So it seems the charting has begun in Felix’s pre-K classroom.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I suppose I had hoped the new teacher would have stuck to her guns a bit longer, but hey – I’m just a dumb geologist, you know?

Growth.  It’s nice to have those “aha” moments where you really get that growth has occurred.  I got that today when I opened the Dude’s folder and saw The Chart.  A square for today was shaded purple.  Purple means he had an “OK” day, as opposed to green which means “great.”  I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t get a yellow (“caution”) or red (“Oh no!”).  But that smear of color was it. No explanation or clues.  I asked my son about it, of course, and apparently there was clip moving and he reported that he had done something “mean.”  I still have no idea what happened.  It may or may not have something to do with getting out of his seat.

But you know what?  I’m not worried about it.  I feel as if I’ve demonstrated that I am more than a willing participant in my kids’ education.  If the issue isn’t severe enough to warrant even a one-word description of the offending behavior, I’m not worrying about it. We’ll just be purple.  I dig purple. 

Lest you think me an asshole, I do totally get that my kids aren’t perfect.  My son never shuts the hell up.  He would irritate Beethoven if he was still around.  It’s constant.  My day today started with a dissertation on how “rhinoceros males have a lot of kinetic energy “. That’s a direct quote. I can’t make this shit up. And I can see where this behavior would be less-than-desirable in school.  I hope we can get some strategies to curb this -at least a little, but until someone talks to me directly, I must believe that his non-stop prattling isn’t so bad.  Maybe the other kids are paste-eaters or biters.  They’re only 4 after all.

So I’m letting it go until I am given cause to do differently.  It’s pretty F’ing liberating, I must say.  And I’m further buoyed by Stella reporting that she and her new teacher have daily hugs.  That made my day.

As a final, serious note, please please keep our neighbors to the west in your thoughts.  We here in Louisiana have a pretty good idea of the enormous awfulness that those folks in Texas are dealing with.  We still have people from last summer’s flooding that are not back in their homes yet; you can see them practically breathing into paper bags, terrified we’ll get too much rain ourselves again and feeling such sorrow for the people now enduring what they did.  It’s a shitty feeling here, not being able to help – to help with supplies, laundry, cleaning.  Lots of our “Cajun Navy” have headed that way- just regular guys with boats helping to pluck people out of the water.  They are lucky in that they are able to make such an important and immediate difference.

If y’all want to help, I would suggest donations to the Houston area food bank or ASPCA.  If you are part of a church, see if your congregation can organize something with a church in that area that can distribute aid directly.  Just food for thought.  Thanks.

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Memes Like Old Times

Do y’all remember that old movie, something about Bodysnatchers?  As I recall, it’s basically the classic scenario where aliens descend and use mind control to take over people in an attempt to ultimately conquer the planet. I think those bodysnatchers are real.  I know this because each and every day my children come home with their memory completely blank or erased.  To be fair, a more realistic scenario may be that they both suffer from multiple personality disorder – I think they call it dissociative personality disorder nowadays – but I speak of the variety in which the personalities are not necessarily co-conscious of each other, rendering the afflicted with huge chunks of lost time.

I know this is a thing.  I’ve seen the memes.

It drives me crazy.  I have no idea what is happening at school.  I know, I know.  I need to get all Elsa and let it go.  I suppose to some parents it’s enough not to get calls from the teacher or principal, or to get scathing notes sent home full of frowny faces or red ink applied with such irritation and force that the words are embossed into the paper.  No, that’s never happened to me. Why do you ask?

Part of this is due to the fact that Stella had such an amazing and heroic teacher last year, and now the bar is set so high that it has left Earth’s atmosphere.  No teacher will ever compare.  I get that.

But this year, crickets.  Cheeeeep, cheeeeeep.

Stella will answer direct inquiries if phrased correctly.  It’s like a damn game of 20 questions.  If you ask what ancillary classes she had, she’ll tell you, or if you ask if she played with anyone at recess she’ll name a kid or say she did her own thing.  If you ask her something generic like “what did you do today” she’ll say she doesn’t know.  If you ask her “well, weren’t you there?” she’ll look at you like you’re the crazy one.

Felix is another matter altogether.  He won’t answer generic questions or specific questions.  If I say “Hey Felix!  Did you sing songs today?” he’ll say something like “This box is part of my special machine.”  Or he’ll run away.

We finally had open house last night, and I got to speak to each of their teachers, albeit briefly.  Stella is apparently doing well and not acting like a jerk-face.  Felix talks.  A whole lot.  Oh, and he has a friend named Sawyer.  So I guess that’s something.  But I’ll tell y’all something: I wouldn’t say no to a couple of those tiny go-pro cameras, just to see what’s really happening.

See? He torments his MyMom. Little brat.

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All Creatures Ingrate and Small

Kids can be real jerks.  Any parent knows that.  Do y’all remember last Xmas when Stella acted like an ungrateful so-and-so  ?  Since then, I’ve made a real effort to talk to her about gratitude, and to help her recognize that while we’re not wealthy, we are ok, and that’s better than so many others.  After threatening that Santa would not only not come back to her house if he heard her act the way she was acting, I informed her that he would take back what he had given.

Over this spring and summer, we’ve discussed homelessness a lot.  On a couple of occasions – when the mother bear in me felt it was safe – we have purchased food and supplies for homeless people outside of stores and given it to them.  She’s asked questions – good ones.  Why don’t they have a place to live, food to eat?  Why don’t they have a job or clean clothes?  Why did we buy a sandwich, chips, and drink for that man, but not give money to that man on the corner holding up a sign (and appearing intoxicated, in my opinion)?

I thought we had made some progress.  Then Crispi came to town and the subject of last Xmas somehow came up.  Do you know that little ingrate is still complaining about that?  About how she “only got one thing on her list that she wanted?”  Y’all, I almost lost it.  Clearly I have more work to do, and I have no idea how to do that.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about that.  This year, Stella WILL help me pick a name off an angel tree and we will go shopping for that kid – NOT for her. Santa is not going to be as generous.  He may even leave a note about overhearing nasty comments.  What makes it worse is that it’s just stuff, dammit, plastic stuff that she doesn’t even play with.  For her, it’s the just act of receiving the stuff that matters.

From now on, we will be experience-driven.  I’m not even sure if I want to do a birthday party this year for her.  Maybe we’ll just have a weekend of experiences: go-karts, Chuck E. Cheese, the zoo.  For Xmas if people ask what she wants, I’m going to suggest more active things: play dates, coupons to go berry-picking, a trip to the mall to ride the carousel a few times.  Felix can do the same thing.  He makes his own toys, after all, but putting together random bits he acquires through day-to-day life.

I don’t think I’ve spoiled my children.  But clearly an important part of a critical message has been missed by my eldest.  Anyone else have any trouble with this?

See? Experiences. Like a beautiful makeover.


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Shrine On You Crazy Diamond

There has been a renaissance, of sorts, involving my son.  Y’all know he’s always had Preciouses.  Lots and lots of Preciouses.  From Donuts, to cans of soup, to teen tiny sandwich, to gears, to Lightning McQueen, my kid has been a hoarder collector.  Often, the Preciouses simply had to be placed in his bed.  I often wondered how the hell he was able to sleep.

He still has a fondness for things, don’t get me wrong.  Lately it’s been keys, my old geologist’s hand lens, and shell ball.  I wish I understood what set objects apart and made them Precious.  I doubt I will ever know.  But it’s less and less likely that these Preciouses need to be in his bed.  Some of that may be due to the fact that they’re often small or pointy;  I think I’ve managed to convince him that those are not desirable qualities in a sleep buddy, particularly since said object may end up lost.  That’s a deal-breaker, the potential loss of a Precious.  Now there is a new, better way.  He’s made something of a shrine.

It’s the bookshelf by his bed, which doubles as a nightstand.  He carefully placed his bust of Beethoven on it, and the rest has evolved from there.  Beethoven is the guard, the sentry, the gatekeeper.  He keeps the Preciouses safe.  Periodically when he’s away from the house, I do a purge and remove non-essential Preciouses, particularly if they are organic in nature and might smell.

But don’t f#&k with Beethoven.  He’s a brute.

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Never Let Them See You Threat

The top of my refrigerator: where we keep our cereal, bulk food/paper towel storage, and a penal colony for the toys of misbehaving children.  Do you have a place like that at your house?  Please tell me I’m not alone.

Let’s face it.  Little kids can be difficult to reach sometimes.  All the gentle, firm lip service only does so much.  Time outs can often feel like a time for quiet meditation, or more likely a strategy session for the next wave of jackassery.  Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, such as the sight of a favorite toy looking forlornly at you from atop the fridge.

I give warnings.  Do I ever!  At the onset of pretty much any activity, I caution my darling children that there shall be “no _______ drama.”  I don’t want crayon drama, or cup colors drama, or popsicle drama.  I don’t want kinetic sand drama, play-doh drama, bubble drama.  But do y’all want to know something?  Almost invariably they give me drama.  I don’t understand this.  I even make them repeat after me: “mom doesn’t want any ______ drama.”  It’s no use.

I’m generally not for corporal punishment.  Like at all.  So when that’s not typically part of your arsenal and all the usual stuff you’re supposed to do as a disciplinarian falls short, what’s left?

For me, it’s absurd threats.  I don’t even mean for that to happen, but this weekend alone I’ve threatened to pop every balloon in the whole world and break all the crayons in the house.  No.  Not my finest parenting moments to be sure.  I think that sometimes subconsciously I say that stuff to make sure anyone at all is listening. Maybe I’m forgetting to say shit out loud?  Maybe I’ve gotten so good at fussing about people under my breath that I’ve adopted that method of speech?  But most of the time the little creeps don’t hear me.  So top of the fridge it is.  Until I can come up with some other method of mom-intimidation. 

Poppy’s appearance in this blog post should be in no way considered a commentary on her character

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Spa’d Goals

You know how sometimes shit just doesn’t go the way you think it will, even if it’s something you’ve done a hundred times? My mother has just had one of those times.


My mom has been staying with us for the past 8 days or so. This was part long overdue visit, part helping me out with kids during the dreaded transition from camp to school, and part moral support for me as I packed my little bitty dude off to big kid school. Yes. I cried. But no matter.

Now my mom, “Crispi,” is a full-time RV’er. She has spent much of the summer up in Canada where sometimes the water systems are a bit iffy, chemically, leading to strange hair reactions – not to mention what it can do to laundry. As such, my usually-blonde mother arrived at my house rather drab in color. While here enjoying good old Amurrrrican water, she opted to buy a basic highlight kit, with the added bonus of having me there to pull the teeny bits of hair through the teeny holes in the plastic bonnet. No sweat, right? She’s always been a DIY hair dye chick with a long and positive track record so this wasn’t even something to mention.

I left my mom in her plastic bonnet and took off for carpool. Carpool has been extra nightmarish lately. I mean, I get that it’s only the first few days of school and all, but the worst offenders (and there are MANY) are those with kiddos in grades 1-5; in other words, this shit isn’t new to them. It’s like the entire parental pool has suffered blunt-head trauma. Anyway, an hour later I come back home to my mother, the Khaleesi. Well, Khaleesi with a slightly frumpier wardrobe (sorry, Mom) and lacking the three dragons.  

Y’all, it was startling. I mean, I couldn’t look away. It was bad. It was really bad. And I should know because I, too, tried the Khaleesi look, and I did it on purpose, paying loads of money to look really horrible and strange.

We agreed that something needed to be done. My mom figured some kind of rinse would take the edge off of whatever horrendous shit had taken hold of her hair. I gave her my car keys and directions to Sally’s. She tried that rinse twice. It did nothing at all.  

This morning after I took my last baby to school and cried a while, we were back in Sally’s. The manager was trying to help- low-lights this and processing that. I was admiring the cool colors in the meantime. We immediately agreed that going obnoxious would totally be the correct decision in this case. Blue. She would be blue.

So after a pedicure, during which we both went blue, and some Indian food for lunch, I dyed my mother’s hair blue.

It is fabulous. She is the rockingest blue-haired grandmother I’ve ever seen. It is glorious, and so much better than the wanna-be Khaleesi hair.
Later: I had to skedaddle earlier before posting, but something alarming is happening. She’s getting bluer. She’s blueing. The shade has gone from pretty sky to fairly-saturated Smurf. Where this ends, I know not. But it’s still better than it was.

My mother is cooler than your mother.

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I Know Why the Caged Nerd Sings

Y’all.  I finally got to see Wonder Woman.  With my mother in town, Will and I got our first date in at least a couple of months.  We made a beeline to the theater and caught it on what may very well have been its final day showing in our town.  I loved it.  The first thing out of my mouth was “I wish Stella were older so I could take her to see this.”  The second thing I did was express total awe and admiration that Gal Gadot shot most of those scenes while like 5-6 months pregnant and she looked amazing while kicking ass.  Then again, none of my maternity clothes ever had an accompanying CGI team or had blue-screen panels sewn in.  Then again, that wouldn’t have helped me a bit.  I  barely managed to haul my swollen self to the office.  She is a woman of wonder, that Gal.

See? This is what I get to wear to work sometimes, although a short little outfit with a sword and shield would have been a poor choice for wandering around inside one of those giant above-ground storage tanks they store oil/gas in.

But I was so thankful for a cool female character.  Will and I watch a lot of the superhero genre, as it’s one of those realms we can agree on.  We’ve done Daredevil, Arrow, the Flash.  They all have one thing in common: their female characters are all either whiney tits, unstable, evil, or a combination of the three.  It’s boring.  It’s also pretty damn frustrating.  In the series mentioned above, you’re waiting for them to hurry up and be killed off, thereby removing the distraction.  With Wonder Woman, you had something believable, or at least as believable as a superhero can be.  She emoted when necessary, but it was justified and didn’t require an orchestra with a bulging string section to do it.  You  never once wondered if her hormones were out of whack.  Why is it so hard to write a decent female character?  Why can’t they be funny?  Smart?  Tough?

Sorry.  I am a nerd.  I have grown to accept this.

And even during an innocent carousel ride, I can’t help but think my son was channeling his inner Khal Drogo. Yep. Nerd.

I am also raising nerd children, and you know what?  I’m totally cool with that.  Felix, especially, is obsessed with learning all sorts of random sciencey stuff.  Venus flytraps are huge right now.  Last week it was tornadoes.  He makes me find him YouTube clips and documentaries so he can learn more about his chosen topic of the day/week.  One night not that long ago, we watched sea cucumbers puke their guts out for about an hour.  That shit never gets old.  Oh wait.  It does.

The dude watching a bug being slowly digested.

I often wonder what it’s like to be part of a more typical household that watches football and stuff like that.  But I don’t waste too much time on that.  We have important science stuff to do.

Ignore me.  Today is Stella’s first day of 2nd grade and I’m a nervous wreck.  It doesn’t help that I couldn’t be there when she left this morning.

The Dude making a giant “spider web.” Shortly after this was taken I had to remove it, much to his intense displeasure. I couldn’t seem to make him understand that MyMom couldn’t cook safely with so many trip hazards present.

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Cook Before You Leap

One of my guilty pleasures is cooking shows, particularly those of the “reality” genre. Top Chef, Iron Chef (American and Japanese) -it’s all good. But the guiltiest one of all is Gordon Ramsay. I know it’s all bollocks, per se, but I get the biggest kick out of him hollering at people, calling them bleeping donkeys, bleeping muppets, or accusing them of having palates like a cow’s backside. That’s gold, I tell you. Gold.
Shifting gears entirely, mornings are pretty damn action-packed at my house. I suppose I’m experiencing it with fresh(er) eyes and ears since my mom is staying with us at the moment. You can’t help but wonder if she thinks we’re all utterly insane. We don’t ease into our day. Oh no. We never have, to be fair. We begin at full throttle – full volume.  

I think my blood pressure goes up at least 10 points every morning, and that’s a conservative estimate. There’s lots to do. Feed the cats. Feed the fish. Coffee. Take my vitamins and crazy pill. All the while the crescendo builds very quickly. Stella wants Teen Titans Go on TV. Felix wants to watch documentaries on Venus Flytraps on my phone -his latest passion- but it’s the same phone I’m trying to check email and the weather with.  

The volume gets louder as the squabbling over programming gets more heated. Then Will starts to bellow from the bedroom where he’s still trying to get his beauty rest so “OhMyGodShutUpSoYouDon’tWakeYourFatherUp.” But they’re bored, right? And STARVING. Suddenly Titans and Flytraps mean nothing. I am running Hell’s Kitchen. Stella wants a spinach omelet with cheese, but OH MY GLOB DON’T PUT THE CHEESE IN THE OMELET, YOU DONKEY! The cheese goes on the side!  

It’s also worth noting that this cheese? It’s the same Voldemart cheese we’ve been buying for years. But suddenly it’s unacceptable unless you cut it and serve it in a certain way. Dammit. Because I have nothing else to worry about.
And Felix wants waffles and toast. But butter! And absolutely no crust. Got it? And why are you cooking his breakfast before mine? I’m so hungry my mouth is watering. My mouth isn’t just watering-watering. I might drown it’s watering so much. And no crust, MyMom. You have butter, right? And I can’t hear my show! Bob the Builder is so loud I can’t hear Teen Titans.
Clear down, you muppet. Lunch is in a few hours. (Seriously, my children could give Gordon Ramsay the cold sweats.)

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The Catcher in the Why

Felix came home from school a few months ago singing this song – or a couple of lines from it – over and over again.  We tried everything we could think of to identify it.  I Googled every possible version of the lyrics I could make out.  Nada.  I got a video of it and sent it to his old teachers to see if they had a clue.  Nope.

It starts out pretty clear: We’re crashing in the why.

After that he gets really mush-mouthed.  Other than the “oh-oh-oh-ooooooh” part.

I think he made the whole thing up.  But dammit it’s catchy.  I catch myself whistling it when I’m doing dishes.  Felix gets pretty pissed off about that.  That’s HIS song, and I never get the ohs right.

Do y’all remember that old show Frasier?  There was one silly episode where Daphne had overheard some gross rock band’s song and the whole house was walking around singing the same line over and over: “Flesh is burning, do-do-do-do-do-DO.”  That episode has always stuck with me.  And now my Crashing in the Why is the Crane residence’s Flesh is Burning.

Crashing in the why, y’all.

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