auntbijou: (Golden-eyed Weasley)
Most of the time, I deal pretty well with my mother having Alzheimer's. If dealing pretty well means living 150 some odd miles away and not having to deal with it every day, and avoiding calling sometimes because we have the same conversation every single time.

Some times, I feel like the worst daughter on the planet, and the worst sister.

Other times, I'm realistic about it. My sisters' kids are all grown up and mostly married with kids of their own, or at least independent. I still have teenagers at home, and though one will be starting college soon, the other still needs a lot of time and attention. I remember very well what it was like to have my mother caring for an elderly relative and babysitting a grandchild. Something had to give, and a lot of times, that thing was me. I won't do that to my son.

Every once in a while, though, it'll hit me, and hit me hard. Talking with my mom is an exercise in patience, because her short term memory is non-existent, so she forgets what she's talking about in the middle of a sentence sometimes. Her memories are compressed, so now, instead of my sisters growing up in the fifties and being teenagers when I was arrived as a surprise, now, we all grew up together and are only a few years apart. Then she sees my kids and corrects, but I can tell it bothers her and she can't reconcile it in her mind. That frustrates her and makes her unreasonably angry.

Well, actually, she does have a reason. She knows something is wrong with her memory, but she's not sure what it is. It frustrates her. And it scares her.

Flaky Sister has told me about times that Mom has attacked her or acted out with her, and I've tried to point out that it isn't personal, because it isn't. Mom will be furious with her and sulk... and three minutes later, she's completely forgotten about it. But Flaky Sister, who still has not dealt with her childhood the way the Blonde Sister and I have, can only see Mom through the lens of those years. So everything Mom does is deliberate and personal.

This worries me.

For now, though, there is nothing we can do about it.

This can't go on, though. We're going to have to put Mom in a home. She is already starting to exceed the Flaky Sister's abilities to take care of her. At first, Flaky wanted me to take Mom and put her in a home here, but I find the fact that our doctor refused to give me any kind of clues about what the home was like to be... ominous, and further research convinced me it wasn't exactly the best place for her. Plus, they don't handle Alzheimer's patients. This fact was confirmed for me when pleas went up on our local discussion board for places that do handle Alz. patients when the local home refused to deal with several patients who had reached the combative stage of their illness and wanted them placed elsewhere.

I have taken Mom for weekends, and I've told my sisters that three days is about my limit (they always want four or five). Three days is my limit, because I can't deal with the demand of taking care of my mom and my kids, and deal with my own issues.

Which my sisters conveniently forget, mostly because they don't see me all that much anymore.

I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease, and while at first, it just made me really tired all the time, now if I get a little virus or infection, it's like getting slammed with a brick wall. Seriously. Christmas 2013, we got the flu. My husband was up and about in two to three weeks. Me? I was down for nearly six months! I got over it and started getting better, and thought, well, I'm back to normal now, okay, yay, life!

Then I got a flu shot. And had an infection in my gums.

I'm still recovering.

It's like my immune system has turned into this hyper overprotective mother who has to completely overdo things and then turns around and punches my thyroid for reasons.

Where my mom is concerned, you have to be completely on your game. Seriously, her memory may be spotty, but that woman was sharp in her prime, and she still has her moments. The only difference is now, when she's angrily laying down the law or ranting about something, I can nod, and then say, "Look, Mom, DUCKS!" and it completely derails her.

It helps that we actually have ducks.

I once sat and watched I Was A Male War Bride on Netflix with her four times in a row. Why? Because every time the movie ended and the screen returned to the title page, she'd get excited and say, "Oh, let's watch this one! I've never seen this one before!"

The first two times, I tried to remind her we'd just watched it, but she had no memory of it, and I'd gamely start it back up again. After the fourth time, my daughter took pity on me and distracted Grandma with her art.

Oh, and I can't leave her sight. She'll look for me, so this makes going to the bathroom tricky. She's a fall risk now, and my sisters would absolutely kill me if Mom fell while in my custody and broke herself.

So my limit is three days. Three days on a weekend, because let's face it, we have to tag-team Mom. So that means two adults and two teenagers, plus three cats and three ducks, to manage one little old frail 87 year old woman who may not have her memory, but still has no trouble getting in trouble.

I still, however, am determined to find a group of willing bikers for a prank photo op. I want to take a photo of my mom astride a Harley, or some similar huge machine, with a big burly biker sitting behind her, grinning, and the rest of the gang around them, grinning. I want her hands on the handlebars, and maybe a bandanna around her forehead. Maybe a leather jacket on, too. And I'll send it to the Flaky Sister. And wait for the incipient heart attack.

That should pay her back for the four and a half days she left Mom with me nicely!

No, I'm not vindictive at all!
auntbijou: (Dancing Snape)
Yes, yes, haven't updated in forever, I know, I know. Life has been busy, and plenty to do and all that stuff. As usual.

So, how have things been? Well, let's see. After weeks and weeks of annoying low-level headaches thanks to being reduced to taking Prilosec while waiting to find out what exactly is going on with our medical insurance, I am now back on the Dexilant, and today is the first headache free day I've had in what feels like forever.

Second... I've been hesitant to proclaim this, but seeing as I'm back on the Dexilant, why not?

I haven't taken my asthma meds in over three months. I haven't needed my asthma meds in over three months. This isn't to say I don't have asthma, because I do, but at the moment, I'd say it's relatively mild, almost to non-existent. Why? Because... I don't think I have asthma. I have acid reflux. Which is being taken care of by the Dexilant.

And I have to say, it is the weirdest thing, to realize that I have been taking asthma medications for some twenty years now that... I probably didn't need. Except I did, because twenty years ago, they didn't have any of the medications that they have now for acid reflux. I remember actually getting medication for acid reflux twenty years ago that didn't even come close to making a dent in my asthma... and I wasn't being treated for acid reflux! I was being treated for a gall bladder flare up that had me throwing up almost constantly, and my doctor was trying to protect my esophagus. So... it's extremely weird to think that my problem all this time has been acid reflux, and when I told my gastro that, he said, "Actually, it's quite common," and he explained why, which I am not going to share because... EWWWWWW!!!

Still, I have to say, the Dexilant has changed my life, and I'm grateful. It's worth the hassle I've been through over the last two months. Seriously.

And I have some... pretty incredible news. Yesterday, for the very first time ever. EVER. The Impossible Son got a 100 on a math quiz.

*pauses to let you all absorb that*

Yes, you read that right. He got a 100 on a MATH QUIZ!!! HUZZAH!!!!!! *does cartwheels*

First, he has a pretty awesome math teacher. Second, because our district has not met "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) in math and reading (among other requirements that haven't been met) my son's class is required to take an extra class that is basically a tutorial class in math and reading. Which is awesome because Mr. Impossible is finally getting the instruction in all the stuff he was supposed to have learned in elementary, and they've finally stopped teaching the stupid "strategies" that were actually hampering his ability to learn math. I'm sorry, but teaching kids the "shortcuts" in how to do certain math functions before you teach them to do it the "long way" is... well... STUPID.

And over at the high school, the district has all of a sudden come to the horrifying realization that, "OMG, our students have no clue when it comes to writing! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???"

*makes a rude noise*

I'll tell you how it happened, you idiots. It happened because you were teaching the kids how to take a stupid standardized test for the last ten years, and you skipped over some very vital bits of instruction, and gave them the bare minimum it took for them to be able to write a little essay for the test. Woopie. Ding. Dong. And now, now that things have changed, that when you realized, hey, wait a minute... they don't know anything.

The Impertinent Daughter's class is the last who will take the TAKS, and only now is the district changing the curriculum and actually requiring them to know how to write. So over the last two weeks, Miss Impertinent has been literally sitting at the table, staring at her notes, her head spinning as she contemplates complex sentences and structure, compound words, predicate nominatives, superlatives, and all those wonderful parts of speech that my generation was learning in second grade, and that hasn't been taught in our schools in, what... fifteen years??? And all of a sudden, they're supposed to know it? Heh... I know my kid isn't the only one sitting in her chair, looking hopelessly lost while swathed in a paper cocoon of notes!!

So far, that's all I got. But... that's enough, don't you think?

Oh... and I'm contemplating the arrival of... 49. And gave the Blonde Sister heart failure when I pointed out that next year, I'll be contemplating 50.

Awesome.
auntbijou: (Steven Fry LOL)
So, we're having a late birthday party for the Impertinent Daughter. The twelve and under crowd is mostly in the living room playing on the XBox, the teenagers are in the dining room playing Scattergories Categories, and the adults are on the back porch, sitting around a table, drinking beer, chatting, and enjoying the evening.

Suddenly, Super-Goalie comes charging outside and says, "How do you spell intercourse? Is it with an I or an E?"

We all blink, and then one of the dads leans forward and says, in a deep, sonorous voice, "R-U-B-B-E-R!!"

*dies laughing*

I love my friends!!

Catching up...

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 10:00 pm
auntbijou: (Dancing Snape)
Okay, so... let's see... I went to see an orthopedic specialist two weeks ago about my knee. Verdict, yes, I banged it up good and proper, I also have osteo-arthritis in my right knee (not unexpected, considering the way I've injured it in the past), and... at some point will need intervention. I'm too young and active for knee replacement, he could do surgery to clean out all the crunch stuff in there, but it would come back eventually (also true), or there's an injection he could give me after the inflammation and irritation calms down in my knee called "Synvisc One" that would basically replace the fluid that lubricates and cushions the joints in my knee. He's had good results with that one, and it turns out that the mom of one of Mr. Impossible's team mates has had it and said, "OMG, Auntie... get it. It's wonderful. I can move, I can walk, and it doesn't hurt!!"

You know... I was doing pretty well there for a long time. I mean, I was able to run and play with my kids, and while stairs were tricky at times, mostly, things with Rice Crispy Knee were good. Until now.

So for the time being, Dr. S. gave me a steroid injection in Rice Crispy Knee to calm down the inflammation and help with the pain, and advised me to stay off of it as much as possible, no stairs, no bending it, no kneeling, no lifting, etc., and to use a crutch when I needed to walk around.

Okay, cool, I can do that, and I promise, I've been very, very good. Very good. Except, I haven't told my mom about it because... really, she would freak for no good reason, and right now, I just can't see the point of upsetting her. Really. Besides, I really, really don't want to hear the "Marching Band Ruined Your Health, And So Did Drum Corps, If You'd Only Stayed In Swimming And If You'd Only Gone to Bellaire High School, You'd Be So Much Better Off" lecture again. I got a five year break from that one, but now that she has Alzheimer's, she doesn't remember settling that one so... it's being recycled. Yay.

Last week, the Impertinent Daughter turned... sixteen.

*incipient freak-out*

Have I mentioned how awesome my daughter is? May the 4th is her birthday, it's Star Wars Day, and "The Avengers" came out in the theaters. TRIPLE BONUS!!! So... we took her to San Marcos for dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant, where the Impossible Son got this in his fortune cookie...



If you can't read it, it says, "About time I got out of that cookie!"

After that, we went to the theater where I'd pre-ordered tickets and got in line. And hey, I just have to say, I really like this "ordering movie tickets online" thing, because the show was sold out!! It was awesome!! Yes, yes, I know, welcome to the 21st century, Auntie.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, too. The Impertinent Daughter is absolutely NEVER allowed to ever, ever, EVER drink Mountain Dew again. As far as she's concerned, it's a controlled substance. OMG... one of her friends gave her a can for her birthday, and she was feeling tired when she got home from school. She wanted to stay awake for the movie, she said, so she decided to drink the Mountain Dew with her snack. This is around 4:30 p.m.

Holy Mackinoly, y'all, that child was wired for sound!! I mean, seriously, she talked nonstop (except when she was eating, and even then it was a close thing) from 4:35 until 1 a.m.!!!! EVEN DURING THE MOVIE.

I would shush her so I could hear the dialogue, and I'll say this for her, unless her enthusiasm got away from her, she mostly kept her voice really soft and quiet, which had irritations of it's own, because I couldn't hear her well enough to understand her!! And she tried valiently to be quiet in the car on the way home after, but... chatter chatter chatter!!! At least it mostly made sense!!

"The Avengers" was ... awesome by the way!!! Just... oh, yeah, gonna go see that again just so we can catch what we missed the first time!!!

The Impossible Son had a soccer game Saturday, and didn't play like himself at all. By Saturday evening, he had a fever of 103 F (39.4 C). That was fun. Turned out to be a virus that's blasting its way through town. The Impertinent Daughter fell victim to it Sunday night, but her temperature didn't get as high as the Impossible One's did, thank goodness. Mr. Impossible missed Monday, and Miss Priss should be back at school tomorrow.

After her doctor's appointment tomorrow, I shall retire to the couch with pillows to prop up Rice Crispy Knee with an ice pack and not do one damn thing until the kids get home from school!!!
auntbijou: (Default)
So, what has Auntie been up to lately?

Coping, mostly.

The Impertinent Daughter has recovered from her concussion and is back playing soccer. In fact, her final game is next week.

The Impossible Son is also playing soccer, and is doing well. School-wise, however, math continues to be his Achilles heel, and I have gotten to the point of throwing up my hands. Seriously, his math problems are not going to improve without outside intervention, because he is being confused between what the school is trying to teach him (and I'm using the word "teach" very lightly here) and what we're trying to teach him. Getting his teacher to send home homework has been like pulling hen's teeth. It's frustrating and excruciating watching him try to do what little gets sent home.

He's making A's and B's in all his other subjects. He's got a really high grade in science! But he's making D's and F's in math.

*head-desk*

And then there's my mom.

Okay, so... Mom is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. Yeah, I didn't see that one coming at all. But then, we know almost nothing about her mother's family, because she was raised by her father's family, and they couldn't stand her mother's family. So, for all we know, there are people in her mom's family who had Alzheimer's. People in her dad's family tended to be as sharp as a tack up until the day they died. Some of them had strokes, but even paralyzed and unable to talk, their minds were still sharp and clear.

Mom is getting vague and dithery, and forgets what she's said half the time. Her short term memory is going. I already knew that. This, though... yeah, really caught me off guard. It's really difficult to accept that this bright, intelligent, sassy woman is going to... fade away.

Okay, I can't write about that any more.

Anyhow, she gave us a scare earlier this week. Got up and didn't feel right, went to call the Flaky Sister, and by the time my sister got to her, Mom couldn't talk and was glassy eyed. Flaky called 911 after getting her back in the bed, and she was rushed to the hospital with a suspected stroke.

After some tests, however, they determined she had a Transient Ischemic Attack, also known as a T.I.A. or mini-stroke. They gave her some medication and within the hour, she was back to her normal self. Or, as normal as she gets these days. They kept her, though, because she needed to be checked over, and decided to go ahead and run some tests she's been needing, but been avoiding (because she hates hospitals). She should be coming home today, though.

I've been staying in contact with the Blonde Sister through all this, because we decided after an event earlier this month that the Flaky Sister is simply not allowed to call me and "let Auntie know" what's going on with Mom. Why? Because the Flaky Sister is simply incapable of telling me, "Mom has bronchitis and they put her on antibiotics, oh, and when they did a chest x-ray, they figured out she has very light emphysema."

No, it's more like, "Mom's been feeling pretty bad, she's been coughing so hard she shakes and so we took her to the doctor and after an x-ray, they found spots on her lungs, and she now has emphysema, so her smoking when we were kids is coming back to bite her in the ass, and the doctor wants to put her on a bronchodilator, but I said no because it will make her heart work to hard, and she'll freak out, and we won't have her with us much longer, so you need to start accepting that now."

O_o

The Blonde Sister's version? "Mom's been coughing, so we got her in to see the doctor. She has bronchitis, and while he was listening to her chest, he heard some extra wheezing, so he sent her for x-rays. The x-ray came back clear, but there are signs of mild emphysema. However, two days of antibiotics and the wheezing has cleared, so it's not affecting her too badly. Funny thing is, when she saw the doctor last week about the cough, the doctor wanted her to take Mucinex to loosen the phlegm, but for some reason, she heard it as "Benadryl." And so she was taking that, but not only that, she'd forget she'd taken it, and would take more, so that's why she was all woozy and dizzy and sleepy all the time. I've hidden the Benadryl so she can't take it any more. Other than that, she's fine!"

Yeah, I'm not liking Flaky Sister so much lately. If she doesn't watch it, I'm going to give her a good whack upside the head with a Clue by Four.

*sigh*

And I am soooooo not looking forward to next week. The Impossible Son will be taking the S.T.A.A.R. tests, which have taken place of the TAKS testing that has been the bane of our existence over the last few years. He'll probably do just fine in science and reading, but math?

*groans*

It's hard not to feel like I'm failing him in this. It's hard seeing him struggle like I struggled. And it's hard to feel helpless. Dammit.
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
So, after the Impossible Son's soccer practice, it was decided to head to our favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant, Mr. Taco. We were in the mood for fajitas, or at least the Husbandly One, the Impertinent Daughter, and I were. We have discovered that Mr. Taco's "fajitas for two" plate feeds the three of us nicely. The Impossible Son had his usual chicken strips, no gravy.

We forgot that Thursdays are live mariachi band night.

Did I mention there are all hard surfaces at Mr. Taco, with nothing to absorb sound?

o_O

Anyhow, yeah, it was loud, but the food was worth it! Once we'd eaten ourselves to a lull, the Impertinent One begged a pen off me, grabbed a clean napkin, and immediately began to sketch the mariachi band members, then took it to them before fleeing back to our table.



They passed it around among themselves, looking at it intently, then marched over to our table and serenaded her with "Just My Imagination," and a Spanish/English version of "I Just Called To Say I Love You."

Her smile was incandescent, and she giggled almost the entire time, hiding her face every once in a while, but mostly beaming at them with delight. I rubbed her back from time to time when it looked like she was getting overwhelmed, but mostly? She absolutely loved it!

I think she was also chuffed that two of the mariachi singers actually fought over who would get to sing to her! And if you've never seen a violinist and a trumpet player arguing over who is gonna sing to the pretty girl, then you have no idea what you missed!

I think she's just beginning to have an inkling of the doors her art can open for her. This is going to be an interesting journey to watch!

LIFE. It Happens.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 11:44 am
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
Can I just... step off the roller coaster for a few minutes? Kinda feeling dizzy... just a bit.

Let's see, we're having to replace the central air/central heating unit in our house because (1) it has reached the age where there are no spare parts available any longer and (2) even if there were spare parts available, it wouldn't be safe to fix.

*sigh*

Yeah, that was fun. The guy who came to repair it works for the company who installed it in the first place some twenty years ago, and after first telling me what needed fixing and how much it would cost, then telling me the parts that needed fixing needed to be replaced, then telling me they don't make those parts any more, I got to deal with the blustering, Good Ol' Boy owner of said company. Mr. Good Ol' Boy took one look at me and decided that I was the type that could be easily manipulated into what he wanted me to do, and proceeded to try to intimidate me into agreeing with him that his company should be the ones to do the work.

Y'all know that went over like a lead balloon, right?

Funny how Mr. Blow Hard and his tech went all through the closet where the CA/CH unit is housed, with Mr. Blow Hard taking measurements and loudly telling his tech that they'd have to rip out the wall, and probably part of the floor to put in a new coil, and he would recommend a contractor to rebuild the wall after they were done replacing the unit, blah, blah, blah, and it never occurred to him that I was texting the Husbandly One basically a blow by blow account of what was going on while I sat quietly at the kitchen table with the laptop. Mostly, Mr. Blow Hard shouted out a series of arcane numbers that I'm guessing were supposed to be measurements of some kind, or maybe it was just supposed to impress me with how technical he was...

When he finally "presented" me with his "findings," I said politely, "Well, I'll discuss this with my husband, and we'll let you know what we decide."

He frowned, then smiled indulgently and looked at his tech, nodding as he said, "Oh, right. You'll discuss this with your husband." He snickered. "You mean, you'll ask him what to do and then do what he tells you."

Yeah, that pretty much made me see red, but I just raised an eyebrow and said, "No, I mean I'll discuss it with my husband. We're partners. Neither one of us makes big money decisions on our own. We talk it out, go over the pros and cons, and go from there. Sometimes he has the final say, sometimes I have the final say, but either way, it gets discussed, we do research, and decide how big a hit our budget can take, because it affects both of us. So when I say we'll discuss it and let you know, that's precisely what I mean. You have a problem with that?"

"Well, if you go with us, you won't have to pay the service fee for this visit," Mr. Blow Hard said, still trying to work the intimidation factor. "But if you go with someone else, I'll have to send you a bill for $85."

"That's fine," I said with a sweet smile. "We'll let you know."

"You should decide soon, because we might be booked up," he said as he headed for the door.

"We'll take that chance," I said firmly. "Bye now."

Yeah, that was fun.

We called a couple of companies, but decided on one recommended to us by the Tall Blonde. What settled it was (1) he got back to us and (2) he didn't just look at the main unit. He also went up into the attic to check the ducts and connections, and went under the house to check the coil and the drains. He was very patient with my questions, and also cleared up a mystery that's been driving us crazy for some time now.

Every time the A/C or the heat came on, I'd smell this... faint burning odor that made the back of my throat burn, and would sometimes set my asthma off. We had the unit checked several times because of this, but there was never anything we could find to explain it.

Then Mr. A/C guy takes a look at the duct work and peers up at the top of our unit and goes, "Huh."

Yeah, that's not a good sound, either.

Seems that when Mr. Blow Hard's company installed the unit, they used a type of duct work that has since been banned in our country because it's... well, basically a piece of crap. And when all the new ductwork was installed, they left this original duct work in place where the unit connects to it all. Basically, what happens to the crap duct is that it dries out and starts cracking, then dry rots and gets blown about in the system. That's what I've been smelling every time the unit comes on.

Mr. A/C said, "What I don't understand is why they left it there. Because even if the new duct wouldn't fit, there's a way to work around it and adapt it, so... why leave the old stuff? It's not safe!"

Well, judging by the crap unit Mr. Blow Hard wanted us to buy, I'd say it was done to cut corners. After all, how many homeowners actually look up into their attic to see what they've got up there? And how many of those that do would know what to look for or what they're even looking at?

We're fortunate that the weather has been mild, though the first three or four nights after we lost our heat were tough, because it got down in the thirties. Thank goodness for lots of blankets!! This house holds on to the cold like you wouldn't believe, and I've had to open the windows during the day just so I can feel my fingers!!

The Impertinent Daughter's team survived a three day soccer tournament over last weekend, and so did we! Again, in San Marcos at the fields where the Impossible Son and I froze our katooshies off. And, yes, it was cold, but not as cold as last year! Friday night, they were in first place, but by Saturday afternoon, because of the bizarre point system the folks who were running the tournament were using, the JV found themselves playing for third.

I'm still not sure where we placed, because every person I've asked have said something different. Personally, I think they placed pi.

Hey, it makes about as much sense as that point system!!

And the Impossible Son has started soccer practice for the rec league this week, which is going to be frustrating, I can tell already. Why? Because once again, there weren't enough coaches for the record FIVE U12 teams that were formed this season, so they basically started grabbing any warm body. And one of the warm bodies is the woman who is coaching my son's team.

I have nothing against her. She's a good person, I've known her since the Impertinent Daughter started playing soccer, and now her daughter and mine are playing JV for the high school. It's cool. However... she's never coached soccer before in her life and has no idea where to start. The good news is, she knows this, and has enlisted the help of several girls on the high school team, as well as any parents who have any sort of know how, or is willing to help out. This can work, I've seen it work before.

I've also seen it go to hell in a handbasket.

So... I'm hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that things will go well. However, the Husbandly One and I have decided this will be Mr. Impossible's last season playing here. If he plays rec league next fall, it will be in San Marcos.

And that is the State of Auntie so far. Woo.
auntbijou: (Voldie Santa)
... at least they didn't wait until we'd gone to sleep to wake us up all over again.

Still, do you have any idea how terrifying it is to be bent over, digging in a drawer to look for those gift bags from last Christmas because nobody can remember where the stockings are, and feel a hard, knobby, bony finger poke you in the side while a voice that sounds like a chain smoking six year old says, "Santa's running late, we got hung up in Poughkeepsie, and then there was a block party going on in Tulsa with search lights... Santa's way behind schedule, and you've got balls to blow up, here's the pump!"

I thought my heart was going to jump out of my mouth!!

I think the only reason that elf isn't dead, dead, dead is because (1) no gifts for the kids EVER, and (2) the Husbandly One wouldn't let me clock him with the lamp. He really likes that lamp. THO, that is.

So... yeah, it's 2:21 a.m., and we're done putting out the presents under the little artificial tree THO and I had the first year we were married. Yes, we still have it, and it looks so cute and completely dwarfed by presents! And I'm sure in the morning, I'll feel more charitable toward the elves, but right now? Not so much.

It was easier when the kids were smaller. Santa did the bulk of the present lay-out, and we just filled out the corners with the presents we'd gotten them. But since the kids have gotten older, it seems Santa is more and more pressed for time.

I'm beginning to wonder, though.

Anyhow, Happy Holidays to all my friends! Hopefully, you're getting more sleep than I am!!
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
I want to thank everyone for wishing the Husbandly One and I a happy anniversary! And I wish to thank [profile] kathrynthegr8 for the snowman cookie!! Hee!!

The kids and THO are on Christmas break, which means we've been busy, busy, busy pretty much since Saturday! We've mostly finished up Christmas shopping (most of our shopping for the kids was done online) and have bought and assembled a new shelving unit for the living room that will help corral the DVD's and games that were threatening to take over the entire house. Not to mention make us feel a little bit more like grownups and not so much like college students only pretending to be grownups!

Now we just need to replace the aging, wheezing, nearly dying refrigerator, and we'll be good!

That and catch up on sleep.

I'm enjoying having THO home, and it's going to be difficult when he goes back to work. Of course, it's throwing me off my schedule, but you know what? I don't mind it one bit. Because I really like having him around. It's like having my own personal man-candy wandering around the house... wait a minute... he is my own personal man-candy...

*dies laughing*

Okay, now y'all know exactly where my mind is, don't you?

We made the decision not to try to drive in to Houston on Christmas day this year. As much as I love my mom and would like to see my family, the truth is we've gotten used to having our own tradition of watching the kids open their presents and having a sort of lazy day at home, thanks to freezes and weather that made driving not so great an option. And you know, we're always so sleep deprived on Christmas day, thanks to Santa's elves waking us up at ungodly hours of the night to tell us Santa hit a whiteout in Omaha, or NORAD decided to scramble fighters because they thought Santa's sleigh was a bogey coming in to bomb New York and thus threw him off his schedule. So the elves wake us up, because Santa's dropping the presents off and WE have to set them up, because he has to hit New Mexico before 3:30 a.m. or he'll be late... yeah, I hate that.

Seems like that's been happening more and more often, lately.

Those elves have damn hard, knobby fingers, too. And they leave wet spots in the carpet from the melting snow. Damn it.

Anyhow, we're pretty sleep deprived, between that and the kids getting us up way before we're ready to get up, and making the three hour drive into Houston, staying for two or three, then the three hour drive back just... doesn't look so attractive, know what I mean?

We'll go sometime next week. I hope.

*sigh*

In the meantime, we have our own thing, and... I'm pretty darn okay with it. Just so long as we get the tree up between now and Christmas!

Don't. Even. Ask.

So, today we have a bit more shopping to do, and then we're done! And I need to do a bit of wrapping, and figure out what to get the Tall Blonde as thanks for taking me out for a girl's afternoon out and getting my hair cut as my Christmas present from HER, and... man, I am so stumped!!

Chocolate. Can't go wrong with chocolate, right? Lots and lots.

I'll figure it out. Hopefully sometime BEFORE Christmas. Which is... in two days.

*head-desk*

Okay, time for me to get up and get busy! Happy Holidays to you all if I don't get to post again!
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
I'm fresh from a game of In A Pickle, and oh, boy, my sides ache from laughing!!

The Husbandly One and I love playing games of In A Pickle with the kids, because not only do we get into hilariously silly word strings, but... our kids learn to think on their feet, they learn to use their skills of persuasion and argument, and they learn to think creatively while justifying their choices.

It's a win-win, because while THO and I are demonstrating the skills we want our kids to learn, we're also getting a glimpse into the way they think. And, disturbingly enough, they're getting a glimpse into how we think!

So, while we started with a cheeseburger eating moose in a bedroom, the Impossible Son added that it was all in fear, and he had to justify that all of that would fit in a fear, and we had a lively (and somewhat hysterical) discussion about irrational fears, and THO wasn't quite convinced that fear of a cheeseburger eating moose was the same as the fear of being watched by a duck. However, the Impertinent Daughter chimed in that she was sure there were many Americans who were afraid of having a moose in their bedroom, and that she, herself, would be very disturbed by a moose in her bedroom, and if it were eating cheeseburgers, that would definitely cause mental scarring for life.

I had pretty much laid my head down on the table at this point, in helpless tears of laughter.

So, once Mr. Impossible, with the help of his sister, had won his case, I decided that all of this was in the mind of a girl, and I got the pickle.

We've had a great deal of fun with this game, probably more than we're supposed to, because with our geeky brains, we probably get a whole hell of a lot more mileage out of the words than most people would. Come on, seriously, how many people would look at the words, "Venus Fly Trap," in their hand and think, "OMG, I know just how to use this!!" and go on a word string that has a Reflection of a Venus Fly Trap in a Mirror on a Submarine in a Parade? Or starts cackling with glee when they see, "Nun," and end up with Ants in a Nun in a Marriage (we didn't say she was a good nun) in a Warehouse in Paris?

Whenever someone goes a little too weird or too far, the rest of us make that game show buzzer noise, "EEEHHHHHH!!!" and "No, no, no, sorry, can't have a blimp in a cat, even if the cat is as big as a house, or a toilet in an elephant, because even if an elephant is bigger than a toilet, how would it get in there? An elephant is big, but has a small mouth!"

I won't even go into the arguments to justify how a toilet can get into an elephant!!

Of course, as the game goes on, we all get more desperate to not lose a turn, and it just gets crazier and wilder until we're all laughing so hard that we can't breathe, and I just ... can't help but find it so awesome that we can all do this, that we all get to do this together. To be as nerdy and silly and just plain goofy and... life is good.

Yeah. Life is good.

(no subject)

Saturday, July 9th, 2011 06:43 pm
auntbijou: (Steven Fry LOL)
The Impossible Son just came running into the room with a large Nerf gun in his hands. "This is a hold up," he shouted.

I blinked at him.

"Now... hold something up!!" he said, aiming his Nerf gun at me.

I grabbed my cup and held it aloft, my eyes wide.

"Okay, you're safe," he said, and departed.

Life in my house = never a dull moment!
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
You know, this whole raising kids gig has had its ups and downs. And anyone who has read this blog knows we have had our share of ups and downs! Sometimes funny, sometimes heartwarming, sometimes hysterical laugh inducing, and sometimes terrifying.

But you know what I think is the absolute coolest thing ever?

When your kids are old enough to start getting your jokes, to snort and laugh when you make obscure references that leave other people scratching their heads, because your kids really get it! It's like you become the coolest, most secret club ever, and you're automatically in!!

It is awesome, seriously.

When your kids are watching some of the same nerdy, goofy shows you watch, and see nothing wrong with it, and if their friends find out and make fun of it, they look at them like they're nuts and say, "But... it's the coolest thing ever and anyone who thinks otherwise is a loser!" And they make it stick!

It just... yeah, makes me smile all day long!

When the Impertinent Daughter drew the Spock fan art for me and now I've gotten her hooked on "Stargate Atlantis" and drew fan art for that, and then last night, we ordered Chinese takeout and sat in the living room watching a disk of "The Big Bang Theory," and it was just the most awesome thing ever! And I sat there on the floor by the Husbandly One's feet, looking around at my little family, watching them get the "Star Trek" references, and the comic book references, and I was suddenly just so happy!

It's one of those moments you just... kinda want to hold onto forever.
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
I was curled up on the bed with the laptop, and the Husbandly One was lying next to me when the Impertinent Daughter came in for advice about her class schedule for next year. Mainly on her four electives. And among the possibilities we threw out at her, one was "Small Animal Management."

"You're always wanting small animals," the Husbandly One said to her scowl. "Hamsters. Guinea pigs. Elephants."

"I think they mean critters like rabbits, goats, and chickens," I said to keep her from throwing something at him. And... that led into a highly inappropriate discussion about chickens.

I know I've told [personal profile] wolfiekins this story before, but I don't think I've posted about it and y'all need the backstory. See, back about five years or so ago, we became the unintentional owners of chickens, thanks to our landlord and his wife. The first one we got because they were moving and couldn't take the hen that had wandered up to their house as a chick along with them. Fine. And Super Chick was a totally awesome chicken, going everywhere our kids went and cuddling with the outdoor cats when she wanted to take a rest. She went with us when we moved, and started doing things like going down the playscape slide in our backyard with the kids and stealing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from them. And she laid the prettiest blue-green eggs you ever saw, so I'm guessing she was at least part Auracana.

Then we got two more that our former landlord's wife had acquired and realized she couldn't keep when her husband named them "Lunch" and "Dinner" and started eyeing them hungrily when they were old enough to start laying. Yes, I'm a sucker for hard luck stories. I took them, and we named them "Hedda Hopper" because she was always trying to hop onto our heads for some inexplicable reason. If you didn't panic, she'd happily perch on your head while you walked around, before dropping a seriously huge and nasty poop down your back, usually inside your collar. As you can imagine, we didn't let Hedda hoppa on our headas too much!

The other was named "Kung Fu Chicken" because she'd strut toward us making these... sounds that you only really hear from Bruce Lee before he's about to go all choppity on some bad guy, and you'd think, "Oh, gods, this chicken is going to kill me!" And then she'd either rub against you, or hop up in your lap to snuggle... or chase off the snake that you'd been about to step on.

They laid brown eggs. Don't even ask what they were, because Mrs. Landlord had said they were "Silkies" but when I looked them up, they matched none of the characteristics.

Anyhow, we kept them and happily collected eggs from them, which was wonderful, and exciting, because sometimes, the girls didn't want to lay in their nesting boxes. It was like going on an Easter egg hunt every day!! But eventually, and most unexpectedly... they quit laying.

Now, I will freely admit, we went into this blind, mainly because... we hadn't planned on acquiring chickens. Ever. And suddenly, we had them. I had gone into town (we lived out in the country at the time) to hit the library and look for info and that was when I discovered how woefully inadequate the town library was. I found everything on raising rabbits, goats, calves, taking care of cattle, wound care in steers, sheep, guinea fowl, turkeys, god-damned EMUS, fer gossakes... but nothing on chickens!!

Since I had to get feed anyway, I decided to ask at the feed store, because they were always a good source of information about chickens, since they sold them. And I got this energetic old lady who came out, listened sympathetically to my problem and said in a very strong East Texas accent, "Waaaaal, hon, ah think th' problem yer havin' is that yer hens is Egg Bound. So, what you gotta do is, you gotta grease up yer hand and stick it up your chicken's clo-WACKA!"

Yeah, I know it's spelled "cloacha," but... that ain't how she said it, yo.

I'm a city girl, raised by a country boy and a country girl, and we've had chickens and ducks, though that was when I was pretty small. So, I reacted as any girl raised in my circumstances would.

My jaw dropped and I said, 'You want me to put what WHERE??"

"Yew gotta put yer hand up the hen's clo-WACKA!!" and she proceeded to describe the procedure, which most decidedly squicked me something awful, and I decided then and there it was entirely worth the expense of a vet.

Okay, so cut back to tonight, when we're having our highly inappropriate discussion of chickens. I had just said, "I think they mean critters like rabbits, goats, and chickens."

And THO promptly said, "Yew have to put yer hand... up the chicken's clo-WACKA!" and the Impertinent Daughter started laughing.

So, I said, "Yep, you gotta greeeeease that hand up, and just shove it on up in thar, and then you feeeeeel around and if you feel a leetle bump, and then one BIG bump, that's Egg Bound, and you just squeeze it off. But if all you feel is two little ol' nubs, you ain't got a problem! And I said, yes, I do have a problem, I have my hand up a chicken's butt!"

THO snorted then said, "Wow, Mama, you'd be fisting a chicken!!"

I thought the Impertinent One was going to suffocate, she was laughing so hard. "Stop, stop!" she wheezed at us.

"I cud slick 'er up real good with vaseline, or Crisco, if you prefer," I said, and sent both of them off laughing.

Then THO said, "We could get you a bumper sticker. I Fist Chickens."

"Oh, EWWW!!" said the Impertinent One.

"Chicken Fister?" I said, grimacing.

"AW, STOP! Stopstopstop!!" wailed Miss Impertinent, waving her hands and laughing helplessly.

It got highly inappropriate after that, and we were laughing and hooting and wiping tears off our faces. Somehow, I don't think we're ever going to look at chickens the same way again!
auntbijou: (Kirk duh what??)
Had one of those, "WTF, Brain??" dreams this morning.

I have no idea why my brain induced me to dream about high school soccer, and a distant town with a massive fireworks factory that blew up and threw fire trucks around like toys, or why I was standing in the middle of the soccer field, fending off those fire trucks with my amazing super kinetic powers of doom. Of course, the previous sentence makes about as much sense as my dream did.

Makes me wonder if it's going to be setting the tone for the day.

O_o!

It's probably because I'm somewhat anxious about Christmas. In some ways, I'm looking forward to it, and in other ways, not so much. I love being around my family, most of the time, as long as it's not for too long (two days is about my saturation point). Beyond those two days, I have a very hard time hanging on to my patience. Not that we're going to be there for more than a day, if we can help it. Maybe stay the night, but I don't know. The Husbandly One and the Blonde Sister know better than to put me and Scary Niece in the same house for more than six hours, and definitely not overnight!

I'm dreading another situation like the one I witnessed over Thanksgiving, and this time, I won't be so polite about it. Because seriously, y'all, that totally pissed me off. I know I didn't post much more than to mention some unpleasantness had happened, but you know, if it happens again, I'll do more than "voice my disapproval." I'll call the damn cops.

Yeah. That's probably the reason for the stupid, doesn't make sense, dream of exploding doom.

Ugh. Time to go outside and do some nice, hard, physical work to diffuse my tension. Wreak havoc on the wildly untrimmed hedges and rip out the squirrel planted pecan treelets, and hackberry sprouts in the garden. Woo.
auntbijou: (Voldie Santa)
*hugs internets very hard*

Oh, how I missed you yesterday!!! The city was doing some work on a road they're... pretty much constantly working on (see "Great Unfinished Works"), and they cut AT&T's lines and pretty much lost the internet for the whole damn town. That's the third time they've done that this month, the idiots.

*grumbles*

Hmmmm... Thanksgiving. Well, the food was good this time. This, of course, was because Mom pretty much did the cooking herself, with assistance from the Flaky Sister. Mom was sort of worn out and after some discreet questioning, I found it was because Mom would hop up and run to defend the food every time she saw the Flaky Sister with a salt shaker or a stick of butter in her hand. That's not easy when you're 83 and arthritic, but Mom's pretty spry and energetic when she has good cause!

It went well, and I had a lot of fun getting to know Second Oldest Niece's brand new husband (ooooo, shiny!!) and have come to the conclusion that when the Husbandly One gets over his stand-offish, how-dare-you-marry-my-niece thing, he and New Hubby will get along famously and be as thick as thieves. I foresee many epic pranks in the making!

Hmmm, I think from here on out, I shall call Second Oldest Niece "Coach Niece" (because she's a high school softball coach) and her husband shall be henceforth called... "Mr. Coach." Because... he's married to her, and... he's a coach. Yeah, yeah, I know, how original, but hey, it works!

ANYHOW, Thanksgiving went well, without the usual family drama that seems to be the norm, thanks to Oldest Niece whom we sometimes term Scary Niece for good reason. Well, during the main event, that is. She saved the drama for after mostly everyone had gone except for THO and I, and Coach Niece and her husband. I won't go into it except to say that fortunately, she is still scared of me and needs my good opinion (which she lost a long time ago, but we don't need to tell her that, do we?), so it only took my voicing my disapproval to put a stop to things.

After she and her family had fled from Auntie's fury gone home, THO and I had settled in to get ready for bed, since we were spending the night. However, being weather obsessed, I made the mistake of checking the weather report for home on my Blackberry, and ended up on Mom's computer, accessing the local Weatherbug and then checking the local weather report.

When we'd left for Mom's, Austin's weather forecast was for a low of 45 (7.2 C), so the Husbandly One hadn't bothered putting on the heater (the high for the day was in the eighties) since we'd be back the next day.

However...

The updated forecast predicted a low of 32 to 25 (0 to -3 C ), which meant we needed to worry about the cats and the water pipes. The cats, because even though they're indoors, the house does get cold when the heater isn't on, and the pipes, because our house is up off the ground on a pier and beam foundation. Pier and beam foundations are common in the South, because it's hot here eight to nine months of the year, and allowing air to circulate under the floor keeps the house cooler. However, this means during the winter, the floors can be freezing cold if not properly insulated, and if your pipes aren't protected/insulated, they'll freeze and burst. Most of the time, this isn't a problem if your heater is on!

What did this mean?

It meant we had to pack up everything and ... go back home. After 10 p.m.

*head-desk*

You'd think after living out here for 14 years, we'd have learned not to trust the weatherman, right? I mean, when we lived in the 21 House, we pretty much accepted that during the winter, it would be 10 degrees colder than whatever the predicted low was, and during the summer, it would be 5 to 10 degrees hotter. If they said mild to moderate thunderstorms, we'd get a tornado. I mean, you'd think I'd remember that, right? HA!

*makes a rude noise*

The Impossible Son was not happy with us at all, and almost inconsolable at having to leave. He was sooo looking forward to spending the night, and getting up to make breakfast for Grandma (we have decided, as a family, that the Flaky Sister is not allowed even remotely near the kitchen when we are visiting), and being able to talk to her and... *sigh* The Impertinent Daughter wasn't happy either, but she understood and made an effort not to make things harder for Grandma (or me), and we loaded ourselves in the minivan and headed home.

You know, a long drive becomes even longer when it's late at night and... you have no caffeine. I felt obligated to stay awake to help the Husbandly One stay awake (since he was driving) and as moral support. Don't know how supportive I was, because I kept nodding off and waking up abruptly when we'd hit a bump, or I'd dream there was an elephant in the road ahead that we were about to hit, or have tea with, or something like that. I wasn't very talkative but then, my dad had years of conditioning my sisters and me not to talk in the car, so... it's not unusual that I was quiet.

The kids made up for my lack for about the first hour, but soon, the road hypnotized them into a sleepy daze, and it seemed only THO had the iron will to stay awake, thank goodness!

What was odd to us was driving into town finally around 12:45 or so, and the THO rousing us from our stupor with, "Wow, would you look at that!"

So we did. It was the local WalMart, which isn't unusual in itself, but... the parking lot was packed all the way to the highway. I mean, every single parking space was taken, and it had overflowed into the parking lot next door. That store must have been positively crammed to bursting with people! In all the years that I have lived here, I have never seen the local WalMart parking lot that full. Ever.

It was all for Black Friday, which it technically was since it was after midnight.

But... WalMart??? Seriously??

Anyhow, we made it home, crashed face-first into our beds, and slept the sleep of the just. Or at least, the just-got-homes.

Oh, and by the way, we resigned from the soccer board. Finally. Yeah, it was a long time coming, but when one of our board members told me to make sure to get a USB drive and download all the meeting minutes into it, the Husbandly One realized that there was going to be a move to either get me removed as secretary, or him as president, because we're viewed by this one particular person as a "voting block," never mind that I don't always vote with THO because I don't always agree with him. Funny thing is, I never wanted to be secretary, and would have gladly given it up to whoever else wanted it but... there was nobody else to take it. Seems this person also wasn't too thrilled about me being secretary because I'm "too outspoken," and never had a problem shutting him down, or telling him he was wrong and how precisely he was wrong, or keeping him from veering board discussions too far off track.

Apparently, I'm not supposed to do that.

And one of the other board members attempted to start a flame war of emails, which THO doused very quickly, but that was it for him. He said, "How sad is it to get an email from a board member who berates everyone for being unprofessional, and then turns around and calls us all losers? How unprofessional is that?? You know what? I'm done with that." And that was that.

So, he sent out an email to the board saying we were resigning, effective immediately, which gets us out of having to go to the last board meeting of the year, and means we don't have to be there for board elections or any of that bally-hoo. Which makes me very happy, because this means I don't have to sit there and practically bludgeon everyone into agreeing on set dates for spring registration, and times, and settle Miss Eileen down when she starts getting all wound up because this is soooo different from how it was done before, and fussing about kids using the same jerseys from last season and will the numbers not be duplicated, and what about the sponsor names, and...

... I don't have to do that anymore? OH... wow, I feel so... light!!

Yes, I'm enjoying this far too much!

Okay, I've rambled on long enough. Time for me to go wash some dishes, yo!
auntbijou: (Dancing Snape)
So... the Impertinent Daughter and I went and saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1" last night at our tiny local cinema.

It was hard to talk the Husbandly One into letting us go without him, but I pointed out that the Impossible Son now gets very freaked out at scary things, whether it's on TV, in the movies, or in a book, so it made sense to scout out the movie first and get a feel for whether we thought he could handle it or not.

I missed most of the ending of "Half Blood Prince," because the Impossible Son and I hadn't gotten to Dumbledore's death yet (we were still reading the book), so he was completely unprepared for it when it happened in the movie. I can't believe I was so stupid about it, but I didn't want to spoil the book for him, and had one of those, "Duh, Stupid," moments of thinking waaaay too hard and not clicking that, duh, he'll see the movie and know how the book ends!! *head-desk* I spent most of the time after Dumbledore's death holding him while he cried quietly with his face buried in my shirt and his hands cutting off the circulation in my arms. Not one of my more brilliant mom moments, no.

He very much wants to see this movie, so... I wanted to be sure and see how many "Impossible Freak-Outs" there would be, and... there's a lot. So... I'll have to balance how much he wants to see it against how many nights I want to spend several hours guiding him through pushing the bad dreams that will inevitably result away.

Anyhow, the Impertinent One and I were determined to go, so after receiving THO's blessings (and possible forgiveness for seeing it before he does), I went early to buy tickets... just in case. Small town, small movie cinema... it just pays be be prepared. I asked if they had sold a lot of tickets yet (it was almost 7 p.m.) and the cashier smiled and said, "So far, we've sold about 60, but we're anticipating selling out. There's been a lot of phone calls over the last week, and there's probably going to be a lot of people buying tickets just before we start the movie."

That sounded about right, so I paid for the tickets and hurried home, because it was getting COLD!! A front moved in last night, so the temperature was dropping, which... sort of added to the mood, you know?

Anyhow, Miss Priss and I had to repress our excitement and do our usual evening things. Eating dinner. Doing homework. Pretending to read the paper or watch TV while really watching the clock. Heh.

When it was finally time and we got to the cinema, we found that so many people had come to watch the movie that they had to open a second theater! And that one was filling up!! It was awesome!!

I had no idea there were so many Harry Potter geeks in our town!!

They had a trivia game for free movie passes, and I was polite and only answered one of the questions, and we got two free movie passes!! SQUEE!! So when (and if) the four of us go to see it a second time, two of us will go free! SWEET!!

And we had a lot of fun, too! At 14, the Impertinent One is old enough to whisper back and forth with me as we make jokes, or complain about things they changed from the book, or notice Things (Or People) That Should Not Be There, like the hapless member of the film crew who got caught in a shot during one of the forest scenes, and had to creep away through the trees in the background. That was worth a bit muffled laughter on our parts!

I do want to make one querulous complaint.

Okay, so... we see Bellatrix Lestrange in "Order of the Phoenix" in prison. She's dirty, has matted hair, torn clothes, but... her teeth are clean and quite nice. And they look even better when she shows up in the Ministry. Then we see her again in "Half-Blood Prince," and again, nice, clean teeth.

So... where the hell did the mossy, snaggly, possibly-borrowed-from-a-dental-hygiene-challenged-troll teeth come from??? I'm just sayin'...

Anyhow, we sat there for a moment after it was over, going, "WHOA!!" and just ... trying to process it all. OMG... it was... like riding a roller coaster on a cold day with a sharp wind, and you forgot your hat and your eyes are constantly watering, but you don't want to stop or close your eyes, and... WHOA!!!

And Steve Kloves? Thanks for giving Hedwig a total BAMF moment. I think I fell in love with you a little bit for that!

WHOA!!! Just... WHOA!!!
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
So there I am, supervising the Impossible Son as he cuts butter into flour and salt to make pie crusts when the dulcet tones of Toploader crooning, "Dancing in the Moonlight" alerts me to the fact that someone is calling me. I look at the Caller ID, see my mother's name, and immediately think, "Uh-oh, the Flaky Sister is calling."

Yeah, I know, that's not a normal conclusion to jump to, but see when my mom calls me, she calls me from her landline hone to my landline phone, because that's just the number she's used to, and knows she'll get me eventually.

The Flaky Sister, however, when she calls me, she wants me to answer, dammit! And she knows I always have the mobile on me, so... she calls me from the landline phone she shares with Mom to my mobile. Because she knows I'll always answer (unless I'm at the doctor or in a movie theater).

So, I answer cautiously because lately, when the Flaky Sister calls, it's because something is wrong.

I say, "Hello."

"You and the Blonde Sister are coming here the day before Christmas, and you're staying the day after Christmas, because I. Am not. Doing this. Again. Ever."

Ooookaaaaay...

Apparently, Mom was criticizing her cooking.

*pause to die laughing*

As some of you will remember from past Thanksgiving debacles, the Flaky Sister isn't exactly... the best of cooks. Ouch, I think I just strained a muscle saying that.

She thinks she can cook, but... gods, there just is not enough antacid on the planet, I swear!

Mom wants to be sure the meal is edible so... she's... trying to head Flaky off at the pass, so to speak, but... well, Mom and Flaky get along about as well as oil and water, you know? So, I said mildly, "Mom's micro-managing your cooking?"

"Gaaaaah!" the Flaky Sister said, then she asked in stern tones, "Do you know how to salt and pepper a turkey?" and I had a moment of utter panic, thinking OMG, is she dumping Thanksgiving in MY lap at the last minute, WTF???

Instead, I said mildly, "Yes, I do. Who do you think helped Mom with the turkey after you and Blondie got married?"

The Flaky Sister said, "Yeah, well... so do I! But does Mother think I can salt and pepper a turkey?"

I refrained from saying, "Well, she knows you can salt and pepper a turkey, it's probably the amount of salt, plus the stick of butter you're trying to add that has her concerned..." because, well, I don't know she was trying to add a stick of butter...

Instead, I said, "She probably misses being able to do the turkey herself."

Not the most diplomatic thing I could have said, but... there you are. I won't go into the rest of the conversation, which was short, but... I ended up promising that we would arrive earlier than usual, to help out. And you should be very proud of me, I didn't do anything more than wince when she told me she was making stringbeans with parsley, thyme, oregano, bacon, and oh, I hope, I so hope I misunderstood her, but... possibly basil or was it something that makes me think of lemons... oh, I dunno, but... it was not something that is normally added to stringbeans, and knowing the ingrained habits of my family... no one is going to want to eat it.

I called the Blonde Sister after I'd gotten the pie in the oven, just to find out what the HELL was going on. After asking if she had received a grumpy call from a very cranky sister, I said, "Remind me again, why did we decide the Flaky Sister would be handling Thanksgiving and Christmas?"

"Because she has a bigger house?" The Blonde Sister said cautiously. Then she laughed and said, "Guess I'd better take Christmas after all, huh?"

"Please! I mean, seriously, at least one of our holiday meals should be edible!"

She died laughing and said, "The Brotherly One said the EXACT SAME THING!!!"

I knew there was a reason I liked him so much!!

We chatted a while longer, laughing and venting a bit and shaking our heads over our sister. I didn't know until tonight that the Blonde Sister had no idea that the Flaky Sister thinks of herself as the "Good Daughter."

"What, is she trying to say that you and I are the BAD ones here?" the Blonde Sister asked with an amused snort.

"Well, I'm the Black Sheep, I don't know what the heck you're supposed to be," I replied.

"You're not a black sheep," she said, laughing, "We're both black sheep!"

"Own it, Sister!" was about the only thing I could say at that point.

Funny thing is, I only just realized lately how little my sisters have really talked with our mom. Well... let me rephrase that. How little my sisters have listened to our mom. Both of my sisters have complained over and over about how Mom refuses to open the curtains in the living room. Or raise the blinds over the kitchen sink. I pointed out that both sets of windows are on the side of the house, facing into the side yard which looks like an alley. And Mom has issues with that.

The Blonde Sister had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to explain yet again about when Mom and her family lived in downtown Houston next to an Italian restaurant called "Delmonico's." And that there was no restroom in the restaurant (it was 1930's Houston, what can I say?), so male patrons would go into the alley between Delmonico's and the house Mom was living in to relieve themselves, and because they didn't want to piss against the wall of the restaurant, they'd face the house.

They had no air conditioning, so the windows in Mom's family's house were always open, night and day, and so when Mom would go into her bedroom, it wasn't unusual to see two or three men's heads right at the window sill, peering in while they relieved themselves. And sometimes, they'd try to talk to Mom and her brothers, and it always, always freaked her out (can't blame her at all, either).

The Blonde Sister had no idea. "Mom wasn't like that about our house!" she said in surprise.

"Yes, she was," I said calmly. "That's why Daddy planted rose bushes by all the side windows of the house. It was the only way he could get her to open those windows. The rose bushes made her feel safe."

"How do you know all this?" the Blonde Sister demanded.

"I asked her!" I said, exasperated. "Good grief, Blondie, Mom has all these great stories, and you'll never hear them if you don't ask her about them. Try asking her what Houston was like when she was a little girl. Or ask her about how Aunt Dee Dee handled ice deliveries. Ask how Aunt Dee Dee kept the mockingbirds and blue jays from picking the paper caps off the milk bottles when they were delivered in the mornings! Or about how her brothers embarrassed her by putting boobs on the snowman she built."

Sometimes, my sisters annoy the heck out of me. Whenever Mom gets onto one of her fussing jags, all you have to do to distract her and get her onto another groove is ask about her childhood, or about the war years, or the summers she spent on the family farm in Louisiana, or how she managed to date our Marine dad despite three extremely over-protective Navy brothers who had no love for Jar-heads.

Well, the cookies are baked, the pies are done, the tarts turned out fine... and I am ready for bed.

And I promise not to kill the Flaky Sister. I don't look very good in orange, anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
auntbijou: Thank you, Karadin! (Gackt eats!!)
Yes, yes, I know this post is long overdue.

Last week, I was having some major discomfort in my side. We thought it was my spleen, because of the fact that it felt like someone had jammed a softball up under the ribs on my left side. Not only that, but pain was radiating up behind my left shoulder blade, and down into my left arm.

The doctor poked and prodded me, much to my annoyance though I recognized the necessity. It could have been my spleen. It could have been a huge case of costochondritis, which I do get from time to time, thanks to the coughing I do because of asthma. It could have been any number of things, so she sent me to a surgeon who had his own ultrasound in hopes he would take a look and see what he could find. Well, after sending me to have a few tubes of blood drawn.

He didn't do an ultrasound on me. He poked and prodded even more than my doctor did, which hurt like... a huge frickin' amount, and after contemplating my family history, felt that my problem had more to do with G.E.R.D. than it did with my spleen, and started asking detailed questions about my asthma, like when did it start, how bad is it, when do I mostly have it, how does it act when I take antacids, do I have heartburn, etc.

The upshot is, I'm on a medication, Dexilant, to control the acid production in my stomach, and I'm going to be seeing a gastroenterologist of my own, and possibly have my very own endoscopy. Yay.

(just in case y'all didn't notice, I'm saying this with a marked lack of enthusiasm)

My mother waited until after all of this went down to tell me that the Blonde Sister has pre- Barrett's Esophagus, which is what my dad was diagnosed with (without the "pre" in front of it) before it developed into full blown esophageal cancer. Fortunately, the Blonde Sister is only showing the first signs of the precondition, and this means she can take steps to reverse it.

It's going to be painful, because she's going to have to give up Mexican food, by the way. Did I mention, her husband is Mexican?

*snorts*

So... I've been on the meds for about a week now, and the softball under my ribs feels more like a golf ball. It's still very tender, and Dr. W. is still very puzzled by it. As she said, it's too far over to the left to be my stomach, but... she's sending me to the stomach doctor anyway, because of my family history. I agree.

I have to say, though, it was awfully entertaining when the surgeon was asking me about my family history, and we were talking about my maternal grandfather. Grandpere had colon cancer, and the surgeon said, "How old was he when he died?"

"53 or 55," I said, "depending on which source you use to find out his birthdate."

He nodded. "What treatment did they use?"

"I think it was all palliative," I said, "because they didn't really have treatments back then for cancer."

He frowned and looked up. "Back then? When was this?"

"1927 Louisiana," I said with a grimace, because I was still hurting, dammit.

He boggled. "1927??? Wait... how old is your mother?"

"83." I watched him boggle some more. "She was 3 months old when he died. And the youngest of seven."

"And... how old are you again?" he asked, staring at my chart.

"47," I said helpfully. "My mom was 36 when I was born."

You should have seen his face when I told him my great grandfather served in the Civil War!!

*needs to get out more*

And in other news, my second oldest niece is getting married this weekend. Yes, this is the same niece for whom I bought the now infamous Pizza Pan.

Is it me, or am I including a lot of links in this post?

Anyhow, she's getting married this Saturday, and we have to go, except the Flaky Sister is being... very odd, and now the Husbandly One and I are debating... do we go to Houston tomorrow, spend the night, and have the general circus of trying to get ready in an unfamiliar house in the morning? OR... do we stay here, then drive in early Saturday morning, and run the risk of being late for some inexplicable but inevitable reason regarding either something we have to return here for, or some sort of bizarre traffic tangle between here and there involving an elephant, a Honda Civic, and a pair of fuzzy dice? No, seriously, y'all know what my life is like... what are the odds?

Plus, I made the bride's earrings, and scored these awesome garnets cut in the shape of leaves to add as dangles that matched some weird little bead and sequin pattern on her dress... and she said, "Um... I don't know if I am comfortable wearing dangly earrings. I'm just not a dangly earring sort of person."

Okay. Fine. That's... fine. Except... you approved the sketches of the dangly earrings! *sighs*

So, yes, I remade them. And I hope like hell she likes them, but just in case... I'm taking my tools and supplies with me.

Aw, geez... I just realized... I have to shave my legs.

*whine*

Tell me why I'm doing this again? Oh, right. I love her.

I must really love her, because it's a Catholic wedding, so... lots of upping and downing, and putting my hand across the Impossible Son's mouth whenever he pops out with the sorts of things a curious 9-year old boy is bound to say at the most inconvenient moments.

Did I ever tell y'all about the time I was at a wedding and was forcedblackmailed told to sit with Great Aunt Nosy and expressly charged with gaggingredirecting her if she started to drop one of her verbal bricks? As her name implies, Great Aunt Nosy was a major gossip, and had no tact whatsoever. So, we're at her next door neighbor's daughter's wedding, and we're watching the bride float up to the altar, a very vision in a frothing, fluffy confection of white, her face beaming with joy, her groom clearly stunned at the sight of his gorgeous bride coming to him.

Up to that point, I had done rather well at my job of cutting her off at the knees distracting her, but... I had relaxed. I thought she'd be as hypnotized at the visual of the bride as everyone else. But, in that moment of silence after the "Bridal March" fades out, and everyone is taking a deep breath for having managed to walk down the aisle without face-planting in the aisle, the unrepressable Aunt Nosy leaned toward my mother and said in a whisper that could be heard all the way to the back of the church (we were sitting in the front), "Of course, she doesn't deserve to wear white, because you know, S and R were living together, in sin, and you know, I don't think they were sleeping in separate beds at all!"

My mother and I were frozen in horror, me with my hand inches from Aunt Nosy's mouth because I was too slow to slap her muffle her, and we could only watch as the three people sitting in front of us turned slowly around to GLARE at her. And the bridesmaids turned to glare at her. And the groomsmen. The bride and the groom, the bride's face beet red with fury, the minister... even the flower girl and ring bearer were glaring at her with all the ferocity five year olds can muster.

Aunt Nosy looked around innocently, wondering what all the death glares were about. My mother gave me the Hairy Eyeball and not so gently kickednudged me with her foot, with a clear message of Fix this! And all I could think of to say was, "Hey, Aunt Nosy, why don't you say that a little louder? I don't think the people in the parking lot could hear you."

Everyone laughed, and Aunt Nosy's mouth closed up tighter than a miser's wallet at a Sunday meeting!

Okay, I'm babbling now. Time for me to go to bed!

WHEEEEEEE!!!!

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 11:29 am
auntbijou: (Golden-eyed Weasley)
I want to thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes! And thank you, [profile] lusiology for the cake! Hee!!

And you should all be very, very proud of me. I started walking again a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to walk a mile today!! YAY!! Once I work myself back up to five miles, I'll start running again.

I'm kinda tired of being "pleasantly plump."

We've had all kinds of adventures over the last week around here. Friday night, we had friends over, so I spent most of the week tidying things up, and Friday morning, while I was picking up shoes, socks, books, and other detritus that the kids tend to leave all over the floor, tables, couches, etc, I discovered the desiccated remains of... the gods only know what. Might have been a mouse, might have been an unfortunate member of the spiny lizard tribe... who knows. So, after about ten minutes of squeamishness and, "oh, ugh... blech... why am I always the one finding this stuff," among other complaints, I picked it up carefully and disposed of it. Found a few more, got rid of them, and thought that was it.

However, once our guests arrived, I noticed R kept wrinkling her nose, though she was trying to be subtle about it, and I thought, "Oh, great, there's probably more of whatever it was that I didn't find, and now it smells... wonderful."

We never smelled it, even after going outside and coming back in.

Then Saturday morning, I got up and shuffled into the kitchen for caffeine to wake my brain up... and beat a hasty retreat back to the bedroom, gagging and wheezing.

Seriously, guys, you shouldn't have to think, "Dear gods, what the hell crawled into my house and died," before you've even had enough caffeine to be even semi human.

A frantic search of the house narrowed it down to the kitchen/living room/utility room. But practically tearing those rooms up revealed nothing, and we had soccer to deal with, both with the Impossible Son having a game, and the Impertinent Daughter refereeing a U6 game. *sudden LOL at the thought of the "Impertinent Referee"*

Except... I started itching like crazy while we were out there, EVEN THE INSIDE OF MY MOUTH!!! WTF????

We came home, where Auntie ingested mass quantities of Benadryl and passed out for the afternoon, thus enabling the Husbandly One to take the kids shopping at WalMart and stopping by a local resale shop to buy a 10 speed bike for himself (for $20).

This is relevant, trust me.

I woke up and was hustled outside so he could show off his acquisition. Not quite with it, I nodded, and watched him ride it around, and tried to be properly impressed. However, being in a Benadryl haze, I probably didn't succeed too well at this wifely duty. THO decided this bike, being a Bianchi (???), should go in the garage. So... he opened it up...

... and we all promptly staggered back, coughing, gagging, eyes watering, and flailing as we struggled to find the edge of the Funk Zone for some badly needed oxygen.

OMG... whatever it was... it was in... the ... garage.

The garage. Filled with boxes. And boxes. And boxes of... unpacked stuff from our last move.

Pity the Husbandly One. We all abandoned him to the thankless job of shifting the boxes to find ... The Corpse.

Of course, there was a corpse. There had to be a corpse. With a funk that strong? Honey!!

And... it was. It was the corpse of... a possum.

*pauses while [profile] eloquent_toast cries out in dismay*

We knew a family of possums had taken up residence either under our deck or in the bamboo of the backyard. Evidently, this particular possum found his way into the garage... but couldn't find his way out.

The Husbandly One removed le dead opossum and disposed of him/her/it properly, then sprinkled cat litter over the spot to dry it up and deodorize.

Eurgh.

Sunday, we needed to run into Austin to a Men's Wearhouse to get the Impossible Son fitted for a tuxedo. He is going to be an usher in my second oldest niece's wedding. And he is going to look unbelievably cute! And hell, yes, I'm going to take pictures!!

It was at the moment that we were walking out of the store that I suddenly realized...

1.) This was going to be a formal wedding.

2.) This was going to be a very formal wedding.

3.) One cannot wear the very casual clothing I have to a formal wedding.

4.) I have to go shopping, for myself, and for the Impertinent One for clothes for a formal wedding.

5.) I have no idea what the hell to get.

Y'all already know, right, that I am absolutely hopeless at shopping for myself? That I should not be allowed to buy clothes for myself, because I am pathetic at it?

You see the problem?

I was not mentally prepared to shop for clothes. It did not go well. One should not bring a 9 year old boy along to shop for clothes when one is trying to get used to the idea of shopping for clothes again.

It did not end well.

I also realized that I have completely lost my "shopping at department stores" skills. The Husbandly One is dreadfully spoiled, y'all. I don't shop for clothes all the time, and when I do, it tends to be jeans and such, and sneakers. Because I don't shop for shoes like I used to, either. And I don't shop for makeup. Which... I need to, now. Ugh.

And I have until the 16th.

*flail*

Needless to say, I'm doing my research now. And plan to hit either San Marcos or Austin's Barton Creek Mall this weekend for clothes. Hopefully, the Impertinent Daughter will keep me from making a frump of myself.

And, the Impossible Son had a project due this week. They're reading A Paradise Called Texas by Janice Jordan Shefelman in his class, and the students were required to build a model ship based on the Margaretha, the ship in the book that took German immigrants to Texas. It's both a test grade and a reading grade for the class.

Fortunately, I knew about this several weeks ago, so I'd been gathering materials beforehand to get ready. We built it out of two 12-pack soda can boxes, one for the body of the ship, one, cut into two pieces, for the poop deck and forecastle, and two cardboard tubes that came from boxes of parchment paper for the masts. A pencil was used for the mast that juts out from the bow of the ship, and I drew the figurehead that hung below it. We worked on it for three days, and it turned out to be absolutely awesome! Plus, made from recycled materials, YAY!! Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of it before it was taken to school. Blame fatigue and not enough caffeine!

And now, I must get ready to get my hair cut. It is time. Since my hair is growing back, thanks to the new meds, it is getting very thick. While the curl hasn't come back, it still has a mind of its own, so the best way to deal with it is to cut it into submission. It's already getting long enough to bother me, and I know my stylist is going to fuss at me again for not coming in every six weeks. Well... sometimes I can, and... sometimes I can't. That's the life of a busy mom for you!

See you later!

*goes off merrily on her way*
auntbijou: made by <lj comm=lvlwings_icons> (Delicious Hot Schmoes!)
There are many challenges to being a parent, not the least of which are those moments when your child does or says something that somewhere in the back of your mind, there's a niggle telling you that you really should reprimand him or her, but the rest of you is so caught up in either hilarity or admiration that you... just... can't quite manage it. Not without giving yourself away.

Or you don't know whether to scold... or applaud.

Tomorrow is the Impertinent Daughter's high school's homecoming game. For the uninitiated among you, Homecoming (and yes, it's usually capitalized like that) is usually held during football season for one specific game, and is ostensibly the game where the school's alumni is welcomed back. There is often a dance afterwards at the school gym, and a Homecoming Queen and King are elected by the students, along with their court, and theoretically at least, a good time is had by all.

There are also mums. HERE are some examples. Originally, they were these huge, ginormous, sometimes bigger than your head chrysanthemums, with ribbons that had your name, your date's name, the year, your school name, etc. written on them. Plus, there would be ribbons with charms on them, like miniature cowbells meant to jingle sweetly as you walk, little miniature football helmets, footballs, miniature school mascots, and so on. Nowadays, the mums are artificial, mostly silk, and you only get real ones if you're willing to spend megabucks on them.

With me so far?

Okay, so... the boy responsible for THIS got a mutual friend to ask Her Royal Impertinence to Homecoming. This friend, the Wombat (yes, that's his nickname, it's totally my fault, and I'm just lucky he likes it), asked her and was surprised when she said, "Oh, hell, no! no way!"

"Why not?" asked the Wombat, surprised.

She said she laughed and said, "Well, if he'd asked me face to face, instead of getting you to ask me for him, I would have respected him a bit more while I beat him up."

I completely lost it at that point. I was laughing so hard, I nearly wrecked the car!!

Of course, the Responsible Adult inside my brain was saying something ridiculous like, "That was very rude of her, and she should never be encouraged to beat someone up! She probably hurt that poor boy's feelings!!"

*snorts*

Fortunately, the rest of me quickly stifled the quasi-Responsible Adult, and not only died laughing again, but celebrated my daughter's independence and strength of character. She's got friends who have "dated" boys (they were only in junior high, so "dating" mainly meant they hung around together, held hands, and tried not to look too embarrassed by it), simply because the boy asked them, not because they liked them or anything. Because some of their friends told them that having the boy ask them at all obligated them to say yes.

Excuse me??

No, you don't have to go out with a boy just because he asked you, or because you don't want to hurt his feelings, or because you're "obligated" by his asking. You have as much right to say "No" as you do "Yes." If you don't want to go out with him, say so. If you don't like him... don't go out with him.

*rolls eyes*

Of course, once I calmed down from my laughter, I did offer some motherly advice:

"If you're going to beat him up, dear, please don't do it on the school grounds. It might get you suspended and your father would be inappropriately proud wouldn't be too happy about that."

The Husbandly One and I ordered mums this year. One is from us, and the other is from the Impossible Son. He gave it to her after they got home from school today. When I handed it to him, I said, "Son, you get the honor of being the first boy to give your sister a mum."

He frowned. "Is that important?"

"Yes," I said very solemnly. "It is. And it's very special, because you're her brother. You're her Knight in Shiny Armor, Protector of all Sisterly Honor, and Official Tormentor of all who come to court her. Are you ready to take up your duties, Sir Impossible?"

"I am," he said very solemnly, and then he giggled.

"Go for it," I said, and watched him give her the mum.

She was grumpy when we first got home, so I was honestly worried that she'd snarl at him when he gave it to her, but... she rose to the occasion magnificently. In fact, her whole face lit up, and she got that million megawatt smile going. She looked at it, squeed at the little soccer balls on it, then snagged him for a fierce hug and kiss on top of his fuzzy little head.

It was awesome!

Later, she cornered me in the kitchen and asked, "Mum, what do I tell my friends when they ask me who gave it to me?"

"You tell them your Little Bother gave it to you," I said with a grin, and the concern in her face just melted away.

"Yeah," she said happily. "I'll say, 'my Little Bother gave it to me, stop asking questions!' and walk away."

I laughed. "Just tell them your Little Bother gave it to you because he's cool like that."

Later, my friend, the Tall Blonde came by with the mum her papa and I are giving her (the Tall Blonde was returning a favor) and she was thrilled at the idea of having two mums to wear for Homecoming!! I'll have to take pictures in the morning!

All of it just made me think about what a challenge it is to make sure the little monsterskids we raise today turn out to be adults capable of making decisions and standing up for themselves while not destroying the world around them. It's a tough job. How to you balance teaching them to be polite and considerate of the feelings of others with keeping themselves safe and not letting other people treat them like door mats? How do you teach them the difference between not making a snap judgement about someone and listening to their own intuition? How do you teach them how to be constructively rude?

It's all a work in progress, really, and I'm making it up as I go along. Fortunately, neither the Impertinent Daughter nor the Impossible Son seem to be the worse for wear. At the moment, I'm just happy my girl didn't cave to the pressure of going out with someone she can't stand, just because he asked her.

It gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing something right.

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