Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fluffy Slime and Cherry Red Lipstick (a.k.a. The Working Girl's Blues)

Little Sunshine brought home a science project assignment a couple weeks ago.  She had volunteered to make "fluffy slime".  I did not know there was such a thing.  But apparently it is a YouTube video staple.  She excitedly told me that she was going to do "research" on her tablet to find a video to help us.  She made a list of ingredients and very seriously and slowly (sometimes I am insulted by her estimation of my intelligence) explained to me the importance of making sure I went to the store to get everything, and she meant everything, on the list.  I think she even shook her finger at me.

I resisted the urge to cross my eyes and stick my tongue out at her.  I must admits she gets it from me after all.

So the next day during my lunch hour, I went to Walmart and quickly gathered the list she had given me.  MOM OF THE YEAR!

When we all met at home that evening, I proudly handed her the bags with all of her supplies.  She grabs them and tells me, "Oh, I forgot to tell you I already had the foaming soap."  I waited for her to follow up with something like "But you are the best, mom!"  "Thank you so much, I love you!"  or even "Well done, servant."

But, I got nuttin'.

She informs me that I should make a note that we will need to make the fluffy slime on Wednesday night so she can present her project that is due on Thursday.  "Yes, Master."

Wednesday arrives, she rides the bus home and calls me at work:  "Don't forget we are making slime."   "I remember, I have to finish working."  "Ok."

My phone rings two minutes later:  "Uh, mom, I have everything out and ready."  "Ok, I will be home after I finish working."  "Ok."

Four minutes later:  "Yeah, um mom, what time do you get home?"  "I'm wrapping up and I will head home in a bit."  "Ok."

Ten minutes later:  "Are you on your way?"  "Yes.  Leaving now."

Ten minutes after that, as I am literally pulling into the driveway:  "How much longer?"  As the garage door opens, I see feet on the other side, and I answer:  "5 seconds".  She giggles as she hangs up.

I was informed I was to join her in the kitchen to "supervise".

The Mad Scientist got to work and apparently fluffy slime was created.  She was happy.

The next morning, the Mad Scientist turned into the Absent-Minded Professor as she forgot her project on the kitchen counter.

Angry call 1 from El Hubbo:  "HAVE YOU LEFT THE HOUSE YET?"  "No."  "Will you go to the kitchen and see if YOUR daughter left her slime?"  "Yep."  "SHE IS GONNA PUT ME IN AN EARLY GRAVE!"  "Hmmmm, like father, like daughter."  "WHAT?!"  "Seems like I remember an award-winning salsa maker leaving his salsa behind recently."  He hung up on me.

Angry call 2 from El Hubbo:  "YOUR DAUGHTER!"  "Why do keep saying she's mine?  You have no proof - she looks like you!"  "QUIT!  LISTEN!  She just called me from the office and told me she FORGOT that the project isn't due until NEXT Thursday."  "Ok."  "SHE'S GOING TO GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK!"  "I don't think that is something she can give, maybe you should calm down."  He hung up on me.

So.....about the Cherry Red Lipstick in the title:  (I knew you were wondering....I'm getting there, I promise.)   Recently, I found myself in the makeup section of the store staring morosely at the lipsticks wondering what neutral shade of mauve/pink/boring whatever I was going to get.  And then I saw a tube of cherry red lipstick.  It made me think of my grandmother.  She wore red lipstick.  She had an old-world classy sense of style that I think she inherited from her English ancestors.  She never went out with out her makeup and hair affixed perfectly.  I happen to look just like her.  Like in a scary way.  Except I am missing the old-world classy sense of style and I resent every day I have to fix my hair or put on makeup.  If you took her face and put it on a big ol' Irish farm girl, then you would have me.  Regardless, I was inspired, and I bought the cherry red lipstick.

Today, I finally got up the courage to actually wear the cherry red lipstick.  I kept it freshened all day and thought of my grandmother frequently.  I imagined she and my mother were probably having a good laugh at this as they both were frustrated by my overall lack of concern over my appearance most of the time.

Ok, so I'm beginning to actually get to the part where I tie these stories together.......(glad you have hung in here so far.....)

Little Sunshine informed me as soon as I got home that we would need to make more fluffly slime tonight after Bible class.  Ok.

We go eat.  I touch up my cherry red lipstick.  We go to church.  Little Sunshine walks in the door and immediately goes to the restroom.  Not a good sign.  I check on her.....looks like we have "tummy issues".  And, boy was it "issuing".  Great.  I go round up El Hubbo and Number One Son and let them know we need to go.

We may have exceeded the speed limit driving the 25 precarious minutes home.

Little Sunshine ran inside and got changed and then came and told me we needed to make her project or she would get a zero.  This is the child that gets good grades because she cares.  (The other one gets good grades because he fears his mama.)

So, I tell her to pull all her ingredients out.  I go change into my normal attire of well-worn t-shirt, capri sweatpant things, and pull my hair up into a messy knot on top of my head.  But, my cherry red lipstick was perfectly affixed.

I go to "supervise" the slime-making project.....and Little Sunshine informs me we have no glue.  Apparently this is a key ingredient.  She did find some glitter about we try it?  Go for it.

It didn't work.  Of course.  Fear of a zero brought out the tears....and I died a little inside as I faced the fact I was going to have to go to town.

I grab my keys and wallet and jump in the car.  at 8:19 PM I am driving to town.  Here you need to understand that as I make my way into town, I enter a part of town that may be frequently showcased on our local news channels.  Not for good reasons.  A sane person would probably have chosen to drive a little further into town to reduce the odds of a mugging, but I was tired, surly, had my "Harley Tucker" walk (Pure Country movie reference), and was generally relying on the fact that I look like too much trouble to tangle with.

Praying the dollar store would have glue, I pull up and enter the store.  I was greeted by a heavily-tatted clerk who looked like possibly he had been recently paroled.  I was not to be I search for glue, I get a call.  "Um, yeah, mom?"  "Yes?"  (I don't know who she thought would answer.)  "yeah, I can't find the shaving cream.  I know it was on the counter and I have looked everywhere and "........her story went on and on, but I was not listening as while I might not have had enough common sense to seek a store in a safer neighborhood, I do have just enough to know I should probably pay attention to my surroundings.  Finally it grew quiet:  "So, I need to get shaving cream.  Got it."  The shaving cream was easily located, but there was no glue.  UGH.

I put my can of Barbasol on the counter at the checkout and the tatted clerk decides to strike up friendly conversation.  I'm not the best at talking to people I don't know (or even those I do know for that matter), and I could not for the life of me figure out why he was talking to me.  And I think the expression on my face probably revealed that.

I grab my Barbasol and unlock my car and throw it in.  And then I decide to walk next door to the big grocery store and get the glue.  Surely, they will have glue.  Now, I have seen some interesting things at this grocery store.  Actually, I should say, interesting people doing interesting things.  Interesting things that should catch the attention of the local authorities.  Trips to this store are often entertaining for me, and El Hubbo has expressly stated that I am banned from going there at night.

It was night, but I was on a mission, and so the ban was not going to be heeded.

I was not disappointed.  As I strode big and bold toward the door, I passed several "ladies" hanging out.  Oddly, there were some "gentlemen" hanging out near them.   As I entered the store, it occurred to me I had just walked strait down the middle of a pimp/prostitute gauntlet.  Awesome.  And the path back to my car would take me right back through it.  Great.  Nothing to be done now but to just get on with getting my glue.

No glue.  Double UGH!

What is up with no glue in this town!  Is there a run on glue?  Then i remember some people use glue for purposes other than what it is designed for and that is probably a common thing in this area of town.  I take a deep breath and start to stomp back out of the store.  I purposefully scowl at the "gentlemen" and mentally record descriptions to give to the police (just in case) and I see one raise an eyebrow and lift his chin in customary gang greeting style.  This confused me.....I had just given the challenge cue that any attempts to engage me will be met with physical resistance and I got a "hi" in response?  I must be losing my touch.  And then it dawned on me......the "ladies" aren't like what you see in the movies all dressed up with teased hair and inappropriate outfits.....they have on t-shirts (some admittedly exposing more than others), sweat/yoga-pants, somewhat extreme makeup.......not dressed too differently from me, and I have on CHERRY RED LIPSTICK.

I hurry to my car, equal parts appalled and amused at what just floated through my brain.  I went down the road to my third store of the evening where I managed to score (I feel that an appropriate word-choice given the neighborhood) THE LAST BOTTLE OF GLUE.

I hurry home, "supervise" the science project, and wash my face.  El Hubbo asked what took so long.

I replied, "I think I was mistaken for a prostitute."

His head snapped around, he gave me the "please, continue" look, and I told him......"You'll just have to read all about it on the blog."

I don't know why my grandmother chose cherry red lipstick, but it sure made for a good story for me!

(Note:  El Hubbo would like me to inform you that the "Working Girl's Blues" title was his idea.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sleeping Beauties

It is 4:48 a.m.

This is generally not a time on the clock I usually see.  At least not for any good reason.  But, it appears in a moment of pure insanity a few weeks ago, I agreed to let Little Sunshine have a slumber party for her birthday.

I mean, really, how hard could it be?  Girls are the gentler sex.  They are predispositioned to be dainty and clean and genteel.  They are sweet and quiet.  LIES, I TELL YOU, LIES!

Let me back up a little bit.  In the aforementioned moment of insanity, I apparently also agreed to assist El Hubbo with a brisket/pork butt smoke.  So, on Thursday night we smoked pheasants, german sausage, ears of corn, 12 briskets and 12 pork butts.  This is an all-night process, that admittedly I work only until midnight.  El Hubbo stays up all night.  I get up and get him coffee and breakfast and resume assistant duties until everything is done, packaged, delivered, cleaned up.  So, this process began about 5:00 on Thursday and went until 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, the girls began arriving.  Squealing, screaming, extremely active girls.  It looked like a bunch of jot dots bouncing off the walls.  The only request Little Sunshine had was that I make homemade pizza.  I begged to be allowed to drive to Dominos to pick up pizzas.  The despot would not allow it.

I had laid out on Wednesday (anticipating I may be a bit tired come Friday) snacks, drinks, fruit, etc.  Emma had spent Friday cleaning up and pulling out board games and planning her entertainment.  At 6:35 the "When are we eating?", "I'm hungry" statements began.  So, I started making pizzas.  Three homemade pizzas later, my kitchen was wrecked and my dining room table was piled with paper plates.

I took a quick headcount and gave the number to El Hubbo so that we could tag team on wellness checks.  At 6:45 p.m. he told me was going to our bedroom and good luck.  Number One Son had already moved everything he considered essential for survival and taken refuge in our room.

At 7:00 p.m. I started wondering if their was a noise ordinance for our neighborhood that I may be in violation of.  Granted we live in the middle of cotton fields, but I was pretty sure the decibel levels were high enough to get the attention of the police in at least three local cities.  At 7:05 p.m., I took some medicine for the headache that was building.

Between 7:06 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. I refereed at least 4,167 disagreements.  It was difficult to keep track of who hated who and who was best friends at what point in time.  At 10:00 p.m. I informed the girls that I was headed to my room, please keep it down (ha, ha, ha) and to send Emma back if they needed anything.  "Goodnight, Mrs. Martinez!" they said in unison.

At 10:05 p.m. I was summoned for an important emergency.  One had fallen and was hurt badly!  I hobbled to the other side of the house, prepared to do field stitches, CPR, whatever.  Adrenaline coursing through my veins, I burst into the scene of the accident to find one girl down, tears rolling, gripping her leg.  I dropped to my knees and started the evaluation.  No blood.  No swelling.  No limbs at odd angles.  Alrighty.  Will a hug help?  Yes?  Ok, here you go.  All better?  I guess she was as she had rebounded and was back chasing and screaming with the rest of them.  I then spent the better part of three minutes trying to figure out how I was going to get myself up off the floor.

I return to my bedroom to find El Hubbo, Number One Son and Doc Holiday (my traitorous pup) all asleep on the bed.  Still waiting of the adrenaline levels to drop, I muscled my way into the bed.  I fell asleep somehow somewhere around 11:00 p.m.  I guess at this point I had grown immune to the noise.  Or possibly had become deaf.

At 11:05 p.m. El Hubbo wakes up and decides he is thirsty.  He returns to the bedroom and says, don't go in there mama.  Just. don't.  I ask if they are all still here, and he said, "yes, I came up with the right number.  I think."  That's reassuring.

A little after midnight, I am once again summoned for a major emergency.  Someone had fallen and was hurt badly!  My reaction times were severely impaired by the lack of sleep, but I stumbled to the scene.  As seven different stories flew at me, I managed to ascertain that the victim of the accident had fallen, apparently hit the brick on the fireplace with her knee, and was quite positive the knee was about to fall off.  I asked to see as I had never seen a knee fall off.  It was, fortunately, still attached.  No blood.  Ok, will an ice pack help?  Yes?  Ok, let me make you one.  As I begin to prepare said icepack, I realize I am not alone in the kitchen.  And I see arms and heads everywhere.  And cries of "are there any more snacks?"  "Got anything to eat?"  I hear the freezer door open.  I shoo them all out.

The icepack gets applied to the knee.  I think it was the right one, anyway.  The victim was wiggley and obviously well down the road to recovery.  I look around at my living room and kitchen.  I sigh heavily.  Cups, plates, goldfish cracker bags, orange peels, whipped cream from the Pieface game.  Markers, game pieces, half-drank bottles of Powerade, water, and Big Red.  Stuff I couldn't identify.  Floors sticky.  Oh. My. Goodness.  It looked like a tornado had gone through.  Or perhaps we had taken up residence in a landfill.

I thought it was time to just go back to bed and deal with it tomorrow.  Or later today as the fact may be.

The following few hours I dozed and was periodically awakened by singing, squealing, and the sounds of girls having fun.

At 4:00 a.m., they were still going strong.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I head to the living room.  One was passed out in the floor.  The others were having a pillow fight over and around her.  Oy.  Wishing to avoid major emergency 5,395, I firmly said, "Alright girls, time for a movie."  There was much debate over what it would be, but finally I settled it and said, "Sing, you shall watch Sing.  Get still, grab a blanket, everyone quiet!"  I turned out all but one light, and started the movie.

I head back to my bedroom  At 4:05 a.m. I return as I heard voices escalating in disagreement.  I bark "Quiet!" and they all hush.  I stand there and watch as by 4:10 a.m. all but one was out.  And when I say out, I mean mouth hanging open, snoring, a train through the room will not awaken out.

Unfortunately, I am now awake at this point.  So, I grab a trash bag.  And I spent 48 minutes picking up trash, scrubbing tables and counters, sweeping up popcorn.  I decided mopping the floors could wait, and perhaps that would be the penance El Hubbo would pay later for leaving me without backup.

But, right before I sat down to report on the goings on, I did take a look at that room full of sleeping girls and smile and shake my head.  Everything can be cleaned and mostly restored to it's almost original condition.  It's a small price to pay for what will hopefully be a good memory for all of them.

It's now 5:32 a.m.  In a couple hours, I'll start breakfast.  Guess I'll go watch the end of the movie until then.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tumbling Tumbleweeds & Face Palms

I'm returning to reporting the more humorous events of the homestead.  I have a couple short stories for you about the offspring.

El Hubbo is off on the stock show circuit.  And since we no longer have pigs, (see prior post), I have been re-relegated to the role of Stock Show Widow.  I am barely holding it together y'all.  Bible class, church service, chores, domestic animal care (the four-legged kids who mind), basketball games, basketball practice, karate practice....I'm forgetting something.....oh yeah!  School and work!  I'm EXHAUSTED.

But if I had to spin this for the positive, the chats with the kids in the car are priceless.

Tumbling Tumbleweeds

As I was driving Little Sunshine to a practice of some sort (I can't remember, it was dark, we are in the country, every night drive looks the same.).....I had to use my masterful defensive driving skills to dodge something in the road.  Good thing my reflexive responses are not declining as quickly as my night vision!   I said, "Whoa!  What was that?!?"

Little Sunshine, who was unimpressed by her mother's superior 007-like driving demonstration, said, "It was a tumbleweed."

"How do you know?" I said.  I had only quickly assessed that something large was crossing my path, and I needed to activate the vehicle avoidance response.

"Hey, after three days of write-ups in a row, one thing I know is tumbleweeds."

I almost wrecked the car I was laughing so hard.  Around our house, trouble at school means extra-hard chores.  There is weed-pulling.  My personal favorite is the moving of the brick pile.  That pile of bricks has rotated from one fence to the other several times.  The theory (and this has thoroughly tested over several generations) is that if one has the excess energy to get into trouble, one may need to work some of that off.  If one is too tired to cause trouble, life is better for all involved.  Moving the pile of bricks also gives one ample time to consider the error of their ways.  The frustration of knowing that the pile of bricks is being moved for no real purpose other than the fact that trouble was instigated by the brick-mover, and that the pile of bricks would be waiting for a return journey back to its original location if said brick-mover didn't straighten up, provides a solid reason for the brick-mover to work on avoiding repeating such behaviors.

El Hubbo much prefers the tumbleweed removal project.  The crushing futility that creeps into the offender's soul as they walk dejectedly from the fence with tumbleweed in hand out into the field to release it, only to have the wind roll it back to it's beginning place emphasizes the need for immediate behavioral adjustment.  In west Texas, it is truly the never-ending project.

Three write-ups had earned Little Sunshine some time hauling tumbleweeds away from the back fence.  Perhaps one of the ones she set free had rolled it's way across our path!

"Tumbleweeds come in all shapes and sizes, they look different, and I can spot one from a mile away.  And, they have thorns.  Lots of thorns.  I hate tumbleweeds."

"Well, little girl, your mama and daddy hate write ups."

"Oh how I know that's true!" she replied.

(See, it works!  I should probably thank my father for the pile of lumber I moved repeatedly in the backyard.  I also may owe him an apology.......I may or may not have contemplated building his coffin out of it when I was a kid.)

Face Palm

Driving to yet another somewhere with the kids, I was getting the report of their days.  These reports go into great detail, especially as they each have figured out that the longer they talk, the more irritated the other becomes by having to wait for their turn.  I learn about the breakfast offerings, what each of their classmates ate, who sat where in the hall before school, who ate how many bags of pancakes (I know, a "bag of pancakes" does not sound appealing to me, either).  Number One Son began a portion of his report with "I was nice to a teacher today.  I thought about not being nice, but then I decided it wasn't worth getting in trouble."

Now, that is an attention-grabbing sentence right there.  I made a mental note to address the fact if you only did it to avoid trouble, it may not actually fall in the "nice" category and may more appropriately be in the "self-preservation" category.

"Do tell, son."

"Yeah, so the teacher was writing something on the board....."  I break in to give you some context.  This is a teacher that may not be his favorite.  In fact, he's often declared this particular teacher his least-favorite.  I consider this a learning experience, as life is not always filled with people you "click" with.  I've told him he has to find a way to get along.....maybe this is him heeding this advice.
"So they were writing a word on the board.  And they actually asked the class if they spelled the word correctly.  No one said anything, but it was wrong, so I said, and I did it politely, I promise, yes, you spelled "r______" wrong.  And I spelled it for them.  And they erased it and rewrote it and misspelled it differently."

"Well, sometimes teachers just have a bad day."  I was afraid to ask, but I did:  "What did you do then?"

"I started to correct them again, but then I decided it just wasn't worth it.  I lowered my head and face-palmed rather than have them think I was a smart-mouth.  I may have rolled my eyes a little, but I get points for keeping quiet!"

This is progress folks.  Believe it or not.  It must be hard being Number One Son.  I certainly know how hard it is for him to keep his mouth shut.  And, I felt in the moment I should let the eye-rolling slide as I am pretty sure I was rolling my eyes as he finished his story.  I informed him the face-palm negated the mouth-shut points.

That's it - more places we have to be and people we have to see tomorrow!  There ain't enough caffeine.......

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sometimes, Life Ain't Fair

I generally try to keep my blog relatively light-hearted.  I poke fun at myself and my loved ones because I think it helps to keep perspective.  Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously, and we just need a reminder that life is pretty good in the grand scheme of things.

But sometimes, life ain't fair.

What follows is an honest, heart-felt post.  It will not be easy to read at times.  Consider yourself warned.  There are no such things as safe spaces in my world.

Few outside of an FFA or 4H program understand "why" we show livestock.   Sadly, the concept of raising livestock, having any kind of inkling or understanding of how and where one's food comes from (besides the grocery store) is foreign to most, even some of you who follow this blog.  (I love you anyway, but sometimes I worry about you.)

There is a fascination with our lifestyle, and I generally become the defacto ag teacher in work meetings as I explain what my kids were doing in recent pictures posted on social media.  I'm married to a real-life ag teacher, so I get to see even more of what goes into an agricultural science (emphasis on science) program.

So why do we do it?

We want our children to understand they are stewards of life - they take a baby animal and they raise and care for it.  They learn feeding techniques, nutrition, health and well-being.   They know their animals - they name them, work with them, pet them, groom them.  Every day our kids get up early, seven days a week, and they feed before school, church and everything else.   They go back int he afternoons and feed again.  They exercise them, clean pens, monitor for health and well-being.  And, yes, they grow attached.

We want our children to understand business basics.  Showing livestock, for the vast majority of us, is not a money-making proposition.  But, our children get to see first hand that there are costs.  They learn not to be wasteful - every ounce of feed, every bag of woodchips, medicine, the animal itself, comes with a cost.  Entry fees, travel expenses, medicine, vet adds up.  The revenue column is rarely as robust as the expense column, but that teaches prudence.

We want our children to understand that community and work ethic are important.  Long hours in cold barns, families traveling together, setting up pens, helping load trailers - everyone does their part and supports one another.  Any job worth doing is worth doing well.....and having the opportunity to work hard, over a period of months, and be able to show a judge and an arena full of people what you have produced instills confidence and pride.  It's not about winning, it's about showing what you have accomplished.

We want our children to understand respect.  At the Fort Worth Stock Show recently, it struck me how a barn filled with literally thousands instantly became quiet, everyone turned to the flag, hats came off, hands covered hearts, and the pledge of allegiance was said before the day began.  Respect for something - a concept, really - greater than yourself is not something I have observed much of lately.  Too many agendas driven by selfishness and promoted without respect or consideration for other opinions are too much in the forefront today.  Respect starts with day-in, day-out individual attention to how we treat others.  Parents, teachers, judges, ring attendants.....there are a lot of opportunities for kids to show respect.  Shake the judges hand, say thank you and excuse me.  Volunteer to help others.  I don't see much of this out in the general public, but I can assure it is alive and well in the barn.

We want our children to understand that loss is bearable.  We make sure they understand that there is a cycle - this relationship with this animal will have an end.  This is a hard lesson.  We parents fight back tears as we watch them sadly pet the pig before they go in the final show ring.  We stand at the gate, waiting for them, ready with a hug and kind word while Pork Chop or Charley or Big Red is herded down the chute to the trucks.  We know their little hearts are breaking, and if we are honest, so are ours.   But, we also know that life will continue, we can survive grief, and we will have joy again.  It's a horrible, horrible lesson, but one I am so grateful I can teach my children in this context, where I can hold them and help them through it.

Today brought a lesson that none of us were prepared to have our little ones learn.  We don't want our children to learn that sometimes, life ain't fair.  But, sometimes, life is determined to teach us.

Our little community of stock-showing families suffered together as we lost 11 pigs today at our ag farm.  A small pack of dogs tore through our pens, killing or maiming all of the pigs.  (An additional two were lost a couple weeks ago to the same pack.)  These pigs were animals that our community's kids had put months into preparing to take to the San Antonio Livestock Exposition in a couple weeks, or were feeding out to eventually put food on tables.  The dogs weren't hungry - they were a pack, with nothing but bloodlust on their minds.  Some pigs that weren't killed, had to be humanely put down.  A few are holding on as of right now, but we're just not confident they will make it.

As the parents gathered, we were all sick.  We knew we had to take care of the logistics of the situation, however, none of us wanted to tell our kids what had happened.  As daddies held back tears, and mamas hugged each other, we all silently started to decide what would be said and how.   Our kids were robbed of hope for the upcoming show, robbed of experience, robbed of their opportunity to say goodbye to their animals, robbed of what little remuneration they do receive in return for their hard work.  It just isn't fair.  And there isn't a thing we can do to make it any easier.  And that makes us mad.  And sad.  And frustrated.  And we will walk through those same emotions with our kids.  But then, we started to work - taking down panels, hauling off animals, putting away heat lamps, planning to come back for additional cleaning later.

And then we look will we keep this from happening again?  What do we need?  Who do we need?  How will we rally the support we need?  And so, even from something so horrible, we will learn isn't fair, but that won't keep us from trying to make it better.  What our kids learn stock showing is too valuable.

I pray that our group of families will not lose heart....that we will work hard to come back next year.  The fact so many came so quickly and helped to take care of the situation is a good sign - they are good people.  I pray that more good people will step up and resources be put in place soon to do what needs to be done so that we can continue to teach these life lessons to our kids.  Here, together, where we can help them, and each other, through those lessons.

Sometimes, life ain't fair.  In fact, it is down-right hard.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear Tooth Fairy (aka, The Mystery of the Missing Tooth)

In yet another of a long string of parenting fails, El Hubbo and I have been named as complicit in the mystery of the missing tooth.

Number One Son is, I hope, nearing the end of the losing teeth stage.  I keep thinking surely what he has will be retained, and heaven knows he has certainly cost me a small fortune at the dentist to fill those he has.  

But, once again Sunday morning, he brought me another blob of bloody enamel he had yanked from his mouth.

We were busy getting ready for church, so I told him to go put it up and make sure to put his tooth pillow where the tooth fairy could find it.

Fast forward to today.  When he came home from school.  He said, "Hey!  Where's my tooth?"  Apparently the boy had left it in a ziplock on the kitchen counter.  That had been cleaned.  Oops.

I told him that maybe the tooth fairy had already claimed it.  (Whilst I earnestly prayed El Hubbo had remembered to notify the tooth fairy.)

"No, there is no money!"  So much for that prayer.

"Well, son, I don't know.  If you left it on the counter it may have gotten thrown away."

"WHAT?!?   What do I do now?"

Quickly thinking, I said, "Why don't you write the tooth fairy a letter and explain the situation and see what happens?"

So, he did:

"Dear Tooth Fairy, 

Someone in my family *cough* mom *cough* and *cough* dad *cough*....I had the tooth in a plastic bag on the counter because I pulled it out right before I had to go to church.  I forgot to put it in my pillow and when I checked on it Monday evening it was gone.


So, I was hoping you could pay me anyway because technically I had a tooth for you.  Emphasis on had.  If yes, thx.

Love, Jacob Martinez

P.S. If no, mom and dad should pay me, so send them how much."

My favorite part of that letter is the "dunh, dunh, duuuuuuunh".  Every good mystery should have that soundtrack!  Not too fond of how easy it was for him to accuse his parents of misdeeds.  That boy has no shame.

I'm sure hoping the Tooth Fairy pays him tonight, as we're between checks, and I do not need another invoice.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wax On, Wax Off

The title of this blog entry may not be completely accurate.  I am going to tell you about my first (and potentially only) foray into the world of Martial Arts.  In my mind, I thought perhaps I could become the Middle-Aged Karate Kid.  Oh, how wrong was I.  (El Hubbo wanted me to name this "Sweep the Leg, Johnny!")

I need to give you some background.  There was a time when I was an in-shape, stud-athlete, in-her-prime physical specimen.  I played any sport with ease.  Well, except maybe soccer.  Soccer was hard.  But, any other sport came naturally, and I was uber competitive, so I was driven to be the best.  Even if I wasn't the best, it certainly would not have been for lack of trying.  I played softball and baseball for 31 years.  In super -competitive A/B leagues in Houston, TX, for crying-out-loud.  I would show up to ballparks and reps from other teams waited to see if they could get me to play for them that night to fill in for other players.  Three or four games a night, two to three nights a week was not uncommon.  

In college, I was the girl the guys called when they were one guy short for whatever pick-up game they were playing.....volleyball, football, basketball, baseball.  I played softball on a men's league team.  

So, when I tell you I know what it is to be athletic and in-shape, I know where-of I speak.

Fast forward to when I got married.  I decided to hang up my glove.  I moved across Texas and took a desk job.  It is amazing how fast your body can fall apart under such circumstances.

I decided recently that I had had enough.  I know what it is to feel good....and I ain't feeling it.  Unfortunately, I know myself.  While I will run all day after a ball, or to prevent someone else from getting a ball, I HATE a standard workout.  Running for no purpose?  ANATHEMA.  Push-ups, sit-ups?  BORING.  I need something that engages the competitor in me.

Little Sunshine has been taking Karate, and she looked like she was having so much fun, and it didn't look like something I would be bored with, and I would get to hit things - BONUS.  I talked to the instructor at the dojo and asked if they had (and I quote) "an old fat lady class?"  He said, come one evening in workout wear, he thought I would enjoy it, they had people of all ages and fitness levels.  He'd even let me try it for free.

Ok, great.  But, then just as I had my head in the right place, came all the roadblocks.  I had a scare from the doctor and had to have some ultrasounds and other tests.  Finally, the doctor decided I was ok.  Then, I showed up one night and chickened out.  I saw all the other people and they were not of "all ages" and "all fitness levels".  Then, I got sick with my annual sinus issues (thank you cotton harvest.)  Then I got a cold and was a mucus-generating machine.

Finally, today I decided was the day.

I planned.  Truly planned.  I lay out my workout pants and shirt so that when I got home I couldn't claim I couldn't find them.

I spent all day saying positive reinforcement like, you can do this, Brenda.  You know how to be an athlete.  Just do it.  And then I would follow it up with negative threats.  (Which mostly involved self-deprecating name-calling that I shall spare you.)  And then positive encouragement.

I had dinner planned, fixed and consumed early.  Taco Tuesday, if you are curious.  I took my cold medicine to hopefully keep my coughing in check.

I changed, gathered up my bag and told Little Sunshine to get in the car.

I watched her lesson and at the very last possible moment, I took a deep breath, and I went up to the counter and asked for the release form to try the workout session.  Little Sunshine came out and said, "You are really going to do it this time?"  (Thanks, kid.)  I handed her my purse and my phone and said, "Yep.  Hold my purse."

I strode confidently down the hallway to the door of the gym floor.  I took my place in line and lifted my chin with confidence.  (I have always felt that you should fake it 'till you make it.)

The instructor told us to run laps.  Ok, no problem.  I ran laps.  The floor is covered with cushioned mats.  So, running was not too bad.  No knee or hip-shock issues.  This may be doable!

Next came pushups and sit ups.  As I have admitted, not a fan.  But I did them.  

Then squats.  I've always been supernaturally strong in the legs, courtesy of my genetics.  (My poor Irish ancestors couldn't afford a mule to pull the plow, so it would appear they used the kids.  Never Indian leg wrestle with a member of my family.)  I was breathing fairly hard at this point, but still hanging in there.

Then the masochistic son of Satan decided we needed more pushups.  But not normal ones.  hands in triangle, nose to floor, offset hands (both sides), hands wide, hands below shoulders.  Ten of each of about 5000 styles.  I'm pretty sure I am forgetting some.  I am also pretty sure that I lost the ability to count due to the lack of oxygen I was experiencing.  There is no way I did all of them.

Then, we had to pair up.  The partner stood directly over you with their feet under your armpits, facing your feet.  You had to lift your legs up and they would push them down.  So, I had a great view of some guy's butt that i did not know.  I have a thing about personal space....and there is no reason someone I do not know should be that up in my business.  Even worse, when we had to switch and I had to stand over him, I spent half the time praying that I wouldn't cough and pee in his face.  (I have had two children, this is a reality most women can relate to.)

Finally, about the time I thought I was going to die, he decided we were warmed up.  I was told to go with the Krav Maga group.  (If I understood correctly, this is a form of Israeli martial arts.)

I thought, Ok, if I can catch my breath, now maybe we will get to the fun part.

He paired us up, and I was odd woman out.  He decided he would be my partner.  This is not's kind of like taking a class where the instructor wrote the book.  Sigh.

He grabs a big pad and explains that he wants everyone to punch the bag their partner was holding, and when he said drop, we were to drop all the way to the floor and then pop back up.  He looks at me and says, just throw some punches and then I'll work with you on technique.

I am the daughter of a boxer.  I know how to throw a punch.  I was, however, worried a bit about my ability to "drop and pop back up".  I mean, I could utilize gravity for the drop part, but gravity was going to be my enemy on the popping back up part.  We began, and he (rightfully so) had assessed my fitness level and decided he did not need to worry about bracing for my punches.  He was wrong.  While my fitness level stinks, and I was in sore need of an oxygen mask at this point, I am still strong as a horse.  After my first couple punches set him back on his heels, he put his shoulder into it.  Then he said, "Drop".

There is no "Drop" in my body.  Ergo, there is no "pop back up" in my body.  I think he may have rolled his eyes.  I was tempted to punch him in the face and tell him to respect his elders.  

Next he put us in threes.  I was teamed with a couple young ladies (at least 10-15 years my junior), who were obviously at a better fitness level than I.  The objective here was that one person had to hold the bag, while the other two had to fight to see who could punch it more.  Losers had to do pushups.

Now we were talking.  1. I operate best with a clear target/objective.  2.  I was very motivated to NOT do any more pushups.  This is exactly what I am born to do.  I threw my elbows, shoved, hip-checked and punched like my life depended on it.  In the midst of battle I gave no thought to the fact that my heart was about to burst, and my lungs were on fire.  I had been given an objective, my mission was clear, they were the enemy.  I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR.  After both those girls picked themselves up off the floor, somewhat ashamed that a woman of my age and obviously bad fitness level had laid them flat, I found myself bent over, unable to breathe and with the room spinning at an alarming rate.

For the first time since my old coaches in high school ran us until we dropped, I felt nauseous from working out.  I told the instructor, gotta go!  I wobbled (my legs were very iffy at this point) to the ladies bathroom.  Dizzy, cold-sweats, racing heart, inability to catch my breath, I determined that it was quite possible that I was going to die on the bathroom floor of a dojo.  Not how I had envisioned the end.  I hear a knock on the door, and a timid, "Mama?  Are you alright?"

Oh yeah.  I had forgotten that Little Sunshine was there and witnessing her mother's demise.  "Yes," I said, "Just give me a minute."

I finally managed to open the door and let her in.  The poor thing held my glasses while my dinner reappeared.  She patted my back and said, "Maybe we should leave now, and when we get home you lay down and I will bring you anything you need."

Thank you, my sweet child.  I'll double your portion of my will.

Finally, I get to the point that I think I might be able to drive, and we leave.  I motion to the instructor that I was leaving.  Little Sunshine carried my purse, got out my keys, and I admit at one point I considered letting her drive.  But, she can't reach the pedals.  Note to self, bring Number One Son next time.  He can reach the pedals.

I just sit in the car for a moment, not turning it on.  Just pondering the levels to which I have allowed myself to sink physically, and Little Sunshine reaches over and pats my shoulder again.  "Maybe you should not do this, mama.  Maybe we'll start slow at home and see if someday you can work up to this."

Thanks for the wisdom, girl-child, (and the vote of confidence) but couldn't you have told me that before I put myself through such a humiliating experience.

So, tomorrow will be interesting.  I have already found that my legs are so wobbly, I can only walk with locked-knees.  My fingers move now, but I can tell my shoulders and arms will be weak from the excessive push-ups.  I am not sure I'll be able to feed myself, so that may be a bonus.  I know I definitely won't want tacos.

It's almost three hours later and my heart still has not returned to its normal resting rate.  I may have to delay my plans of obtaining my blackbelt.  Perhaps I should follow Little Sunshine's advice and start with a more realistic goal more appropriate for a middle-aged woman of my fitness level.  Something that does not involve pushups.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell 2016, Welcome 2017

As we near the end of the year, we have a tendency to rehash the past months, or make huge plans for the upcoming ones.  I've spent this past week trying to simply stay in the moment.  As a working mom, I don't often have such extended time to spend with my family, and it seemed to me the best thing I could do was soak up as much of them as I could.

Time has been spent baking and cooking, watching movies, playing games, putting together a puzzle, going to the movies.  Laughing, cuddling, napping, and just generally trying to make memories.  

Today, we've packed in a trip to a well-regarded bbq joint, Evie Mae's.  It's the best brisket in Lubbock.....high praise from me, as I happen to live with one of the best meat-smoker's in the state.  As an amateur smoked meat connoisseur, I can tell you that the brisket is divine.  The turkey  is phenomenal.  El Hubbo has them beat on pulled pork.  (And, just so you know, I do believe El Hubbo is pretty close in the brisket department - if he could spend more time, I think he'd have them beat.)  

We then took a trip to Cavendar's for the annual shopping of the pig-showing outfits.  The kids must look as good, if not better, than the animals they will be showing.  And, as a long-time western wear afficianado, I have high standards for what the proper look must be.  

Next stop was an afternoon showing of Star Wars:  Rogue One.  I was highly confused as I was expecting this to be the next of the sequels, but turns out it was a sequel to the prequels, and it took me thirty minutes to figure it out.  But, a good movie nonetheless.

Home we came as we have no desire to be out amongst the crazy people.  We made our meal tonight as a family, and we used family recipes to do so.  My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook, and as Emma declared while browning meat:  "I bet Mimi could beat Bobby Flay!"  We made a hamburger stew she makes that I think is one of the best comfort meals ever.  To go with it, we decided to make tortillas.  We all donned our aprons, and flour began to fly everywhere.  This turned out to be highly entertaining, and the kids were pretty good at it!

The Martinez Tortilla Factory 
We specialize in state-shaped tortillas.  This is Vermont.

We'll spend the rest of the evening playing games, watching tv and getting ready for the new year.  My hope for us is that we'll all live a little more in the moment; worry less about what is outside of our control.  Smile more, let the inconsequential go, focus on what is important.  We'll thank the Lord for his patience with us, and try to do a better job of honoring him as our Lord and Master.  

And with that, I'll wish you a Happy New Year from El Hubbo, West Texas Mama, Number One Son, and Little Sunshine!