Sunday, August 30, 2009


Mace attended two days of preschool last week, so of course by Friday night he had a runny nose. So of course by today (Sunday) I had a sore throat and everyone in the house, except Joe, started sneezing.

But Joe has his own set of problems -- he can't really stand up straight. Last week sometime he lifted Mace above his head to throw a basketball in the hoop and wrenched his back somehow. By yesterday he was walking around the house like a 95 year old man -- when he was able to walk, that is.

In spite of the bad back, I asked Joe to come with me to register Casey for flag football. He didn't really feel like coming, but I told him that I would probably be the only mom there registering her kid and I think that did the trick. After we registered Casey, we went to the mall to get him some non-metal cleats. We found the cheapest pair they had at Dick's Sporting Goods and picked up a couple of pairs of shorts and two youth-sized footballs so the boys could each have one -- and don't forget the pair of socks we had to buy because Casey wasn't wearing any (I couldn't convince him to wear the little nylon hose footies they have in the box). At the checkout, I got distracted from what was happening at the register because I was watching Joe back up against a wall and slowly, slowly bend over. He was unabashedly groaning and I was a little afraid he wouldn't be able to stand back up or would just tip over onto the top of his head from that position. So it wasn't until we were halfway back down the mall that I started adding things up in my head and realized that the guy hadn't charged us for the shoes. I went back to pay for them and he was so grateful he gave me 50% off the shoes. Isn't that awesome? Honesty does pay sometimes! I was so excited to be able to share this life lesson with Casey, but when I told him he looked at me like I had three heads and then said, "We got chocolate milk while you were gone!" I suppose I should have taken him back into the store with me instead of leaving him with Joe, but Mace isn't strong enough yet to catch Joe if he starts toppling over.

Joe seems to be moving around a little bit better today, but is still making plans for when he'll start receiving his disability checks. I'm anticipating he'll make a full recovery and then promptly start sneezing.

Friday, August 28, 2009


When I was in junior high, I tended toward the silly. I'm sure this surpises you. I usually dragged (drug? no that can't be right) my entire family into the nonsense with me. We had abbreviations for things that might embarrass a junior high girl if the full name were mentioned in public. Toilet paper was "TP" and feminine protection items were "FP." My best friend in junior high, Shelda, heard me telling mom I needed FP one afternoon and she asked me if FP stood for Frog Panties (silliness runs in junior high girl friend packs). So from that moment on every time I needed feminine protection I would ask mom (or dad, poor fellow) to pick me up some Frog Panties at Revco (remember Revco?).

Speaking of Frog Panties, have you seen Target's new line of products (Frog Panties included)? It's called the "Up & Up" brand. They sent out a book of coupons to their credit card holders, of whom I am not one, but someone who lived in a camper beside our house for several months a few years ago (which is ABPA (Another Blog Post Altogether)) happened to be one so now I get all her Target coupons. So I used all of her coupons today to buy things like Up & Up SC (Shampoo and Conditioner), Up & Up PT (Paper Towels), Up & Up LD (Laundry Detergent), Up & Up DS (Dryer Sheets), and Up & Up TP (you already know this one). Here's what happened almost immediately with the Up & Up TP once I got home:

It went Up & Up. & Up. And then it fell down. And then it went Up & Up again. A hundred times. All afternoon. The video of the Great TP Tower Build is not that exciting, but Mace watched it 30 times in a row, probably trying to improve his technique. I won't post it here, because it's not nearly as exciting as this video:

It has rained like that at least six or seven times over the past three days. Our dirt driveway could be used as a mud bog for monster truck rallies. I don't even bother warning new clients about the damage sure to be done to the undercarriage of their cars before they come to see me because I already tell them not to worry, they're not driving down that dirt driveway into the woods to get murdered (cause that's happened on our driveway before -- ABPA). Why totally discourage them from coming? Joe says I should advertise more to get more clients, but really I'm just scaring them off with my cryptic allusions to bodies on the driveway.

Let's just say that there is not enough Up & Up TP in Target to soak up all the water that's standing on our property right now. I have seen more wildlife than I prefer over the last few days: alligators (not the big'un that tried to get Chance), snakes swimming in the creek, a possum (okay, I only saw that on video), and this afternoon, a rat. The rat ran into Joe's workshop while the boys and I were chasing it with the basketball. Did you know rats have hinged heads? An Orkin guy told me that once -- that's why they can fit through such small spaces -- their heads basically flatten out. I assume that the Orkin guy was right -- I've never thought to verify his assertion by doing the proper research for a definitive answer (on the internet, of course, where everything is true). One day, once she's done with her therapy, I'll ask Dez to guest blog on here and tell you her rat story -- she's probably hyperventilating just reading that I saw a rat today -- that's how bad her rat story is.

I can't bear to end this post by talking about rats, so let's talk some more about TP. My sister and I accidentally toasted 8 rolls of TP in the oven once. We had come home from the grocery store with my mom and (surprise) I was cracking myself up by putting things in the wrong place. My sister joined in and soon we were hee hee hawing about putting FP in the fridge and milk in the cabinet. You're right, it really wasn't that funny. But I was in junior high, so I was either laughing hysterically or bawling my eyes out at that age (cursed hormones). A couple of hours later, we decided to make brownies so I turned the oven on to preheat and pretty soon we were smelling melted plastic. My mom opened the oven and voila! TP toasted to perfection! The plastic wrapper had melted to the oven rack and was a beast to clean, but Toasted TP kept me laughing right up until my next crying fit, which was the next day, right after I asked my dad to pick me up some Frog Panties at Revco.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Flamingo Cafe

Chance has been stalking one of our trash cans for the past three days. Everytime I walked by the trash can on the way from my office up to the front door, Chance was sitting by this trash can. Chance stalks food on the kitchen counter the same way, so I didn't think anything of it. Once, yesterday, I thought to myself, "Maybe I should make sure there's not an animal in that trash can -- but if there was and it was dead, it would stink by now. If it was alive I'd hear it." So I kept passing Chance and that trash can for three days.

A few minutes ago I was going to upload some photos from my camera so I could post and I saw there was a new video on the memory card. Apparently, Joe had decided to actually see why Chance was stalking the trash can.

My favorite part about that video is that Joe is completely silent. No commentary. No squealing like a girl. Just a dude and his video camera making sure his wife has blog fodder. Such devotion. And don't you love it that he just let me find it on the camera and didn't run in and tell me about it after it happened? Had I known he was going to show such strength of character in our marriage, I would have made him marry me much sooner.

I'm pretty sure the possum was just waiting to have some Pulled Pork Pea Surprise sandwiches, which for some reason he assumed would end up in the trash can, not having been gobbled up by the kids.


In spite of the "look" he really ate that entire sandwich in the end. And it was his idea to hide the peas in the sandwich, not mine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009


Back during the summer, Joe got the idea to help his mom's church by having a coffeehouse in the church's fellowship hall. He talked to the pastor, got the musicians lined up, got the equipment lined up, and got Dez and I on board. I was somewhat reluctant at first -- I'd been fired from my previous singing gig a couple of months before because our church said they needed to "go in a different direction" that no longer included back-up singers and that felt particularly horrendously hideously painful and pretty much stole the joy from singing for me for a few months. If I wasn't good enough for a volunteer position singing at church, how on earth could I be good enough to not only sing, but play keys and sing at the same time, ten to fifteen songs every other week? But Joe apparently had confidence in us and even let Dez pick the male lead vocalist, Andy. She found him on Craigslist, but that's a different blog post. He's great -- here's a picture:

Andy's the one on the left with the guitar. Flamingo Joe's back there on congas and that's Glen singing with Andy.

So every two weeks for the past six weeks we've had a coffeehouse at Joe's mom's church -- that means we've had 3 (in case you were too tired to do the math). We do three sets of music, with a short devotional between sets 2 and 3. It's great. People actually show up! Here's a shot of some of the full group:

That picture was taken at the second coffeehouse before Joe figured out how to put the lyrics up on the wall without the big white box (now only white words and nothing else shows up on the wall -- very cool when the projector's not crooked). Hannah and Jeffrey sang with us at that coffeehouse (that's Dez between them). You can't see Georgie on bass and I don't think we had an electric that night. I'm on keys over there on the right. Note that I am not actually playing and there's a good reason for that. I took seven years of piano lessons when I was a girl and another semester in college -- and of course it was all classical music -- you know, where the goal is to actually play every note. But I had never played to accompany anyone, so when Joe told me I needed to play keys, I told him I didn't know how and he looked at me kind of goofy before he said, "Here, I'll show you." Joe doesn't play the piano. So he pulled out a book called "YOU CAN PLAY THE PIANO" or something like that -- I'm sure Joe will correct me in the comments with the actual name of the book. I thumbed through it and realized that if I could play the chords I might could wing it, which is what Joe had been telling me all along and of course I didn't believe him until he showed it to me in a book (that pretty much summarizes our marriage). So I do okay on keys. Barely. When I can't keep up, I stop playing and start clapping in time to the music and grin like crazy as if I'm caught up in the energy of the moment. Cause seriously, you may know how to play F#sus4 every time you see it, but sometimes it slips up on me unaware.

So with this coffeehouse thing, the whole family (including Dez, who is clearly family now) is in on the planning and execution. Joe lines up the musicians and gets set lists and charts out, and is in charge of setting up and tearing down. Dez and I handle the marketing and decide which music to do, with Andy's help. Grandma bakes the cookies and brownies and gets the coffee ready. And the kids provide comedic relief:

Dude. We are soooo Partridge Family.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Day of School

What a difference a year makes! Last year, at the start of Kindergarten, I was a nervous wreck. Casey was starting at a new school (with uniforms!) and we had missed the Parents' Night meeting because we were still on vacation and the New Student Orientation got cancelled because a tropical storm hit hundreds of miles away somewhere and had no effect whatsoever here. So we appeared at the first day of Kindergarten with Casey in the wrong uniform. I was mortified. Casey didn't care. Here's a picture of him last year on the first day of Kindergarten:

Look at the poor child -- blissfully unaware that he is not even dressed properly for his first day of school!

Anyway -- this year I made it to the Parent Night and I took Casey to meet his teacher the day before school started. While we were walking across campus, I was almost skipping with delight. I was so excited for school to start! And not for the reason you think -- sure, it will be good to get Casey back in the routine of school and homework and out of the routine of TV and video games. For some reason, Casey going back to school made me feel like I was going back to school and I loved school. I would go back again if someone would pay me to. Seriously, the beginning of a new school year is fantastic, right? New notebooks, new pens, new teachers to impress, fresh new books! Poor Casey. I was walking along with him and just gushing, "Isn't this exciting?? New teacher! New books! New P.E. clothes! This is going to be a GREAT year, don't you think? Don't you think you'll learn SO MUCH? Aren't you just giddy with the possibilities??" Casey said, "Do we still get to have pizza on Fridays?" Ah, well.

Note three things: 1) proper Chapel uniform for the first day (way to go, Mom); 2) tennis shoes that have to be tied (as opposed to zipped or velcroed); and 3) (although you can't really see this) shorts that button. So Casey pulls his shoes on and off without untying and retying them and pulls his shorts down and back up without unbuttoning or buttoning them. It's like he missed getting the gene for manual dexterity. The first day he didn't even go to the bathroom at school. When we got back to the house he flew to the bathroom (after asking me first to unbutton his pants). The next day was when he figured out that he could actually pull them down and up without having to unbutton. And check this out:

He's definitely the biggest kid in his class. I saw the high school varsity football coach in his classroom on Friday scoping him out. By the end of his first day, he was miserable with that shirt and tie. The collar was itching when I dropped him off. At some point during the day, his teacher unbuttoned his collar for him. But even so, I felt so bad for him when I picked him up that afternoon -- it was over 90 degrees and the kids had been waiting out on the "deck" for longer than usual because pick-up is always a little slow on the first day. He was dripping with sweat and the minute he got in the car he was getting that shirt and tie off. Come to think of it, he managed to get that shirt off all by himself, buttons and all! Not to mention the tie! In about 16 seconds. I guess needing to go to the bathroom doesn't measure up to the urgency of getting an itchy shirt and tie off. We all have our priorities, I suppose.

Mace was disappointed that he didn't get to go to school with Casey. So he consoled himself by wearing Casey's uniform around the house for a few days:

He starts preschool next week, lucky for him. Maybe they'll teach him that his pants go on the bottom. Thank goodness there's no uniform.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


My mom had a dream last week in which I got run over by a 16 passenger van while I was standing in the middle of the road facing it down as if I could stop it in my own strength. My stare is pretty potent when it comes to keeping the kids in line, but when it comes to stopping vans dead in their tracks, it's mostly ineffective, or at least it was in my mom's dream. I can interpret this dream without employing any Jungian dream analysis whatsoever because it's so obvious. The 16 passenger van is the same van most churches have. I was totally getting flattened by my church in that dream. That pretty much sums up my summer. It also explains why my blogging has been irregular -- it's hard for me to muster up humor when I'm sad.

But today I heard a message about God "scattering" his people -- He's about "scattering" and not "gathering." So that hit home with me and I consider myself scattered as of today. And I can definitely see where God has been working this summer to make sure we see at least the preliminary unfolding of His plan for us in this next season of our walk with Him. So back to blogging.

It's been a busy weekend. Friday night, Dez, Amy, Lauren and I went to a benefit concert for the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking ("FCAHT"). I really had no idea what FCAHT actually did or that they even existed before Friday night and I have to say that I'm not real sure I have a much better idea after Friday night (it was a college-student organized event, so you've got to cut them some slack), but it was a fun event. There were four groups playing: Pam Affronti, Preson Phillips, Glasgow, and The Broken. I enjoyed all the musicians except for Glasgow (who was REALLY REALLY REALLY LOUD so I couldn't stay in the room -- so maybe they were great, I don't know; I felt like a really old lady standing out in the hallway watching them through the windows). This is Preson Phillips:

Can you see that hole in his guitar? It's right under where his fingers are. Dez tried to catch him after the show to ask him about his guitar's testimony, but he had already left. Preson is (I think) not only the worship leader at Watermark Church in Tampa, but also the pastor. That's got to be exhausting, so he probably went home early to rest up for Sunday.

Here are The Broken (should that be, here "is" The Broken? Grammatically, identifying bands is very confusing):

And here is the interpretive dancer that came out during the last song:

Lauren is convinced she wasn't actually with the band, but I'm pretty sure she was. She was very good but I have to tell you something about interpretive dance -- it makes me uncomfortable. I know it's a perfectly acceptable art form, even in church (or maybe especially in church), but seriously -- it seemed like she was looking right at me the entire time (okay, maybe not right when I took this picture, but the rest of the time for sure). It kind of creeped me out.

Friday night was memorable for another reason as well -- we felt very hip (do they say "hip" anymore?) to be hanging with such a young crowd, but it was the first time I've been a room full of adults and for the most part, I was old enough to be each person's mother.

We've also done our school shopping this weekend. Casey starts back to school on Wednesday and Mace is starting preschool the following Tuesday. Casey still has to do his summer reading and math assignments. He's read the books, but he still has to draw pictures about them. And I'm not even sure what his math assignment is, but I hope it doesn't have anything to do with money, because everything he learned in kindergarten about money has fallen right out of his head. At lunch after church today, he held up a nickel and asked me what coin it was. He guessed that it was a quarter, so I showed him a quarter and said, "No, this is a quarter; what are you holding? Is it a penny, a nickel, or a dime?" He said, "A dime?" I held up a dime and said, "No, this is a dime; what are you holding?" He said, "I think a penny's brown." I said, "Okay, so what are you holding?" (crickets chirping) I tried again, "It's worth 5 cents." Silence for several seconds, then "A nickel?" Hopefully, identifying money is not at the top of the list of things they're supposed to have down-pat before going into first grade and identifying the various Wolverine characters is.

(Casey's Wolverine. Mace is Invisidude.)

And I think poor Mace is color blind. Grandpa Ray is color blind, so there's definitely a genetic link to it in our family. We go over colors quite a bit but he can no more identify red and green to save his life. For a while he was just saying everything was green and now he alternates between green and purple. He never ever guesses that something is red. I can't think of any other reason that he could identify the types of trucks in a book (dump, cement, monster, etc.) but not identify the colors that those trucks are after having looked at them so many times and heard their colors over and over again. We'll see, but I have a feeling that preschool this year will confirm not only that the boy is left handed, but also color-blind. I'll have to teach him to read before he gets to kindergarten so that he will be able to read the color labels on the crayons -- otherwise, he'll flunk all his Saxon Math worksheets.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Doggie Du Jour

So let's say you're an alligator -- and you want to grow up somewhere peaceful and serene. Somewhere where's there's plenty to eat and no one drives an airboat over your tail every six minutes or harasses you with sticks. So you make your way from some freshwater pond somewhere in a subdivision (where you have to share your sunning spot with fourteen Venezuelan Red-Eared Sliders (turtles) that people have released into the pond after getting bored with them as pets), to a brackish creek that flows into Tampa Bay. You're thinking to yourself, "Sweet -- all the otters I can eat!" And you glide along day by day enjoying the scenery. You're a little leery of the big yellow house, yet intrigued by the white dog who is continually in and out of the water as if he didn't realize you were there watching. And waiting. And hungry.

So let's say you're watching this white dog, day after day, calculating how big your jaws are compared to how tall and big around the dog is. Biding your time. Waiting for just the right moment.

And then one night, let's say about 10:00, you hear some activity at the big yellow house -- maybe like someone is having a party in the sweltering August heat (what are they thinking?)-- so you swim silently down the creek to have a look-see. As you get close, you realize the white dog is not only outside, but is standing in the shallow water at the edge of the creek. Jackpot! "Maybe this party is for ME!" you think. You swim closer.

And closer. You are getting really good at this silent gliding thing. When you get right behind the dog, you lunge . . .

And get nothing but air because that dang dog is so fast that as soon as you opened your massive jaws he yelped and jumped six feet in the air, while running. He was like a cartoon with his legs just spinning around and around without touching the ground.

That dog has more lives than a cat. Have I told you about the time he got bitten by a cottonmouth and we rushed him to the emergency vet? The vet came out and told us it would cost $1200 for the first dose of anti-venom and I gave the dog a hug and said, "Sweet puppy, it's been nice knowing you and you've been a good dog. I won't let you suffer." I asked the vet how long it took to know whether or not the dog would survive the bite and the vet said two hours. So I sat in the waiting room with the dog for two hours so that I could have him put down if he started having seizures or something. He laid at my feet, peaceful as can be and at the end of two hours I took him home.

He's killed more than one snake and lived to tell, but I'm pretty sure he won't win a battle with the alligator. Fish & Game better get out here quick.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Flamingo Joe Adds Another Candle to the Cake

Today is Flamingo Joe's 46th Birthday. We are glad he graced the world with his presence lo those many many years ago because without him we would never be able to fix anything or randomly add electrical circuits to our house whenever it suited our fancy.

To honor the anniversary of his entry into the world, I planned a mini-surprise party. The party was mini. The surprise was mini. Casey is a big blabbermouth, so you can't let it slip to him that you're planning on buying Dad a present or throwing Dad a party cause Dad is no dummy and will get the info out of him. So planning a surprise party has to be almost last minute and Casey has to believe it's actually happening the next night. It's very complicated.

So on Saturday via Facebook and Sunday morning at church, I invited the guests, and Sunday afternoon Grandma and I (with some help from Dez) got everything ready while Joe was upstairs working on the trim in our bedroom. I'm sure Joe was fuming upstairs because he was doing all that work on the trim himself and I had not even come upstairs to make the customary token offer of assistance -- "Need some help? No? Okay. I'll be downstairs. Just holler. If I'm not here I've gone out for more Bon Bons."

The party was supposed to start at 6:00, but at 5:20 Joe came outside where we had set up the chairs and tables and Dez and I said, "Surprise! Happy Birthday!" So technically he was surprised. At about 5:45 he looked around at the empty chairs and said, "Are we expecting people?" Of course we were! See --

They are having a wonderful time. They are melting, but still -- a wonderful time. (Note to self for next year: do not plan Flamingo Joe's party to take place outdoors in Florida on August 2nd -- unless you install a misting system first.) We had just finished playing "Pin the Tail on the Toddler" -- Dez won, obviously.

And then it was time for gifts. Flamingo Joe got a couple of very useful gifts, the most thoughtful of which was this toilet complete with magazine rack and orange caution flags:

I think you'll agree with me when I say he's as handsome as the day I married him nearly thirteen short years ago. Don't let it trouble you if you weren't in attendance at the ceremony; it was small, we couldn't invite everyone -- and quite frankly I don't think I even knew you then. Just trust me that he's always been a handsome devil:

Is that not the sexiest crease you've ever seen in his forehead? Well, not just in his forehead, but in anyone's forehead ever? He never noticed that was there until Heidi took a picture of him and pointed it out to him. Now he's super self conscious about it so make sure to mention it the next time you see him.

Happy Birthday Flamingo Joe!