Hints for Household Helpers Under the Age of 16

Good morning Everyone!

Certain circumstances having arisen in my household, I wish to aid household helpers under the age of 16 with the following hints.

  1.  Pushing the vacuum cleaner over the floor does not count unless the vacuum cleaner is also removing dust, dog hair, paper and other detritus from the floor.
  2.  A see through canister on the vacuum cleaner is not there merely for your viewing pleasure. When the canister resembles a water balloon about to burst, it needs to be emptied.
  3. If the engine of said vacuum cleaner starts to smoke, the canister definitely must be emptied.  Unplugging it at this point is a good idea, too.  Please remember that we keep the fire extinguisher centrally located for the good of all under the kitchen sink.
  4. The terms “window cleaner” and “window streaker” are not synonymous.
  5. Dishes that come out of the dishwasher without feeling clean should be returned to the dishwasher for another round.  If they still are not clean after that, you must hand wash the items.
  6. If the drink glass you pull from the dishwasher feels as if there is a hidden message transcribed in braille on the outside, it is not clean.
  7. Putting said drink glass on the highest shelf possible does not render the glass clean or relieve the household helper of culpability.
  8.  If you have pets, pantry doors and trash bins need to be firmly closed once the cleaning is done.  Otherwise, you will end up doing it all over again after the pets enjoy the wondrous smorgasbord you have set before them.
  9. The phrase “empty the dishwasher” is not synonymous with “empty the dishwasher – except the silverware.”  Parents do notice when they open the silverware drawer and find the silverware set consists of two teaspoons and a knife.
  10. If a parent begins any sentence with “Perhaps you should….”  the following instruction is not optional.  Your parent is trying to tell you something nicely.
  11. The “whole house” means the whole house.  It does not mean the living room and the kitchen only.
  12. Please explain exactly how you can claim to have vacuumed or dusted thoroughly when items such as clothing and shoes that were on the floor when you began your work remain in the same spot in an unaltered state when you are finished.
  13. You are not abused or misused because we expect you to help with the housework.  And yes, when you go off to college, we will probably hire someone to do the house for us once a week.  Get over it.  You can do the same thing to your children once you have them.
  14. Most of us do not expect your work to pass the white glove test.  (Google it.)  However, if the dust on the surface of anything is deep enough that we can write our names in it or draw pictures, it needs to be dusted.
  15. We parents appreciate your help.  Really.  It’s just hard to remember to say so when steam is blowing out of our ears because you know and we know that you have not given us your best effort.

Happy helping, household helpers!

Have a great day everyone.



Good morning Everyone!

I thought I’d share a clip with you of a small snippet of a Saturday morning at a local campground. This is one of the many reasons I like camping.

The gray, white and pink pajama fabric at the end is just a bonus!

Have a great day!


Anyone’s Cat Missing a Life or Two?

Good morning everyone!

I think Mandy has stolen several lives from a cat of origins unknown.  Mandy is our husky basset hound mix and our scavenger extraordinaire.

Basset Hound, Husky Mix

Mandy Out for a Drive!

Over the years, she has eaten anything and everything from socks and handkerchiefs to medicated creams like Neosporin and been none the worse for wear, but yesterday she finally went too far.

When I got home yesterday,  I went inside to my normally enthusiastic greeting from both dogs.  Rounding the corner of the couch, my blood chilled (cue the screeching violin motif from Friday the 13th) when I saw:


That most terrifying of sights, a large box of golden raisins, chewed open, with the plastic bag that contained the raisins therein lying empty beside it.

To the untutored individual, this scene would be banal.  However, I am blessed/cursed to know better than that.


Dog, eating, counter

My reprobate


Dogs can eat almost anything we can, but there are a few – very few – things we can’t share well. Chocolate is one of those. Dogs lack an enzyme needed to digest it properly.  I know this because I sat up with Mandy one night after she had scored an entire family size bag of peanut butter M & M’s and since what goes up must come down, you can guess what an exciting night we both had!

Another is grapes. Grapes release toxins into the blood stream of a dog that can cause kidney damage, apparently do other things to the hemoglobin in the blood and cause death in the right circumstances.  Raisins, of course, are dried grapes, which means that eating a box of raisins is eating grapes in quintuplet.

After a moment of panic, I threw both dogs and Kayla into the car, barreling at 80 miles an hour to the nearest after-hours pet emergency clinic, which was in Montgomery.

Mark met us there – he hadn’t been able to get home yet since traffic had been gridlocked.

How, you may ask, did we know that it was Mandy and not Darwin that ate the grapes?  We didn’t, which is why we brought both dogs.  Upon reaching the vet’s, we had to choose which dog to treat first. This guess mattered, because we were already well past the two-hour window that you normally have to empty a dog’s stomach of anything that shouldn’t be there.  We made an educated guess that Mandy was the only one of the two to have enough bravado to enter the pantry and pull out her very own personal snack.  Darwin would help eat something if it was readily accessible, but wouldn’t seek it out like that.  And when Mandy goes to that kind of trouble to get a snack, she will not be sharing.

The decision made, we handed Mandy to the vet tech and off trotted my reprobate, tail wagging and looking like this was the outing of the century.

After the vet convinced the dog to empty her stomach, the vet tech came out to tell us that not only had we guessed right, but also they had been able to get almost all of it back up – because Mandy had eaten one of Kayla’s socks the day before, and it was slowing her digestion of a number of items, the grapes being one of them.  (The sock made its reappearance, apparently, sometime after the grapes.)  This may be the first time in recorded veterinary history that the consumption of one undesirable item by a dog saved its life after the consumption of a second, more toxic, undesirable item.

Mandy 1 for web

Mandy  coming home after the first Very Large Vet Bill.

Because Mandy is probably around 12, they have kept her overnight pumping fluids through her, and Mark is going to pick her up this afternoon after he pays a Very Large Vet Bill that dwarfs our last Very Large Vet Bill. Darwin believed it was right thoughty of us to include him in all of the excitement, and has done surprisingly well at home without Mandy, but you can tell he misses her, as do we all.

And on that happy note, I hope each of you have a great weekend!


P.S.  I skipped a couple of steps between the discovery of the grapes and entering the car.  Accordingly, I’d like to thank my youngest sister for her help in getting a message to her friend, the vet, and her sympathetic support via text thereafter.  I’d also like to thank her friend, the vet, who did her best to help given that she was two states away and not where she could talk.  If I knew then what I know now, we would have provided immediate assistance to Mandy by giving her one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, and then a second one fifteen minutes later.  Hind sight is, alas, 20-20.

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Dress Wars

Good morning Everyone!


What to Wear? http://www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved

It is one of the oldest arguments that exist between mother and daughter.  I have had it with Kayla, my Mom had it with one, or all three, of her daughters, and I’m willing to bet that she had the discussion with her mother also.  It always begins with a variation on the question, “You weren’t going to wear that, were you?”

To reach the earliest recorded instance of this argument, we are going to have to resort to the Ugg Clan Chronicles.  As was briefly discussed in A Highly Biased History of Writing, Part I, two of Ugg and Uggette’s 14 children, Uggodu and Uggodo, had an interest in substances from which would eventually spring the art of alchemy.  As part of that interest, and as a result of a string of both fortunate and unfortunate accidents involving a dried out animal skin, a summer long camping trip, mammoth and wolf dung, lots of water as well as oak and the lack of a strong sense of smell, they discovered the art of tanning, which takes animal hides and turns them into a fabric of sorts that doesn’t putrefy when wet (or dry, for that matter).  Once Mrs. Ugg finally discovered what they had been up to, and viewed the final result, she was instantly taken with the new invention (although, due to the malodorous nature of the process, she was forced to require Uggodu and Uggodo to conduct their experiments in a swamp that was normally downwind and about three miles away.)  Because the process took time, Mrs. Ugg reserved the twins’ leather for special occasion garments only, leaving the family with regular animal skins for every day wear.

Dress Argument

Uggette and Uggita Discuss Dress; http://www.clickartonline.com, All Rights Reserved

In November of that year, the Ugg’s received a cordial invitation by smoke signal to attend a campfire festival attended by all of the families in the surrounding area, of which there were two besides the Uggs – the local medicine doctor’s family and the distinguished Oop Clan.  Uggita, the oldest of the 14 children, was very much enamoured of the eldest Oop son, Alley, Jr.  Because of that, she waited until it was time for the family to leave before showing herself ready for the family procession dressed in the leather dress Mrs. Ugg had prepared for special ceremonial occasions as opposed to casual get-togethers, at which point Mrs. Ugg laid down the gauntlet by proclaiming, “You surely are NOT going to the campfire fest wearing that, are you?”  After about 10 minutes of heated argument, finally settled when Ugg, being a wise man who loved domestic harmony, weighed in on Mrs. Ugg’s behalf, a sulky Uggita returned to the cave to reemerge wearing her every day fur skin.  (For the record, Alley, Jr. found Uggita captivating even if she wasn’t in ceremonial dress.)

The second recorded instance of such an argument that I am aware of (I am sure there are many such records, but I don’t know about them) proved that even royalty is not immune from such discussions.

Maria Theresa of Austria, Hapsburg

Empress Maria Theresa, 1759 By Martin van Meytens – Buchscan, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68471

The Sep./Oct. 2016 issue of National Geographic History contained an article about the dress standards of Marie Antoinette and her court.  (Maria Pilar Queralt del Hierro, “Rococo Revolution:  Marie Antoinette’s Courtier Couture”, pp. 10-13).  Included in a sidebar to the article was the following excerpt of a letter from Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to her daughter, Marie Antionette, upon receiving a painting of Marie Antionette after she became Queen of France:

As you know, I have always been of the opinion that fashions should be followed in moderation but should never be taken to extremes.  A beautiful young woman, a graceful queen, has no need for such madness.  On the contrary, simplicity of dress is more befitting and more worthy of a queen.  I love my little queen and watch everything you do and feel I must not hesitate to draw your attention to this little frivolity.

Id., p. 11.

Marie Antoinette with rose

Marie Antoinette of France, 1783 by Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun; Public Domain Due to Age of Painting

So mothers, when you feel the need to challenge your daughter’s choice of attire, hold your heads high!  You stand with the company of your forebears and royalty when you do so.

Have a great day!


















































































































about the dress habits of Marie Antionette and her court


Dedicated to All Frustrated Parents of Teens

Good morning , everyone!

Whether you’re parenting a teen with another parent, or doing it on your own, I salute you!  Carry on bravely, my suffering brothers and sisters! I  feel your pain!

Parent Pulling Out Hair
AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH! from http://www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved.

To All Frustrated Parents of Teens

The 14 year old mind

Is a strange, wondrous thing;

No one can account

For the thoughts which it springs.

One moment high fashion

Has it enthralled;

The next, finding rations

Puts flights to all else.

It has not a filter,

At best, one too late;

Arguments it adores

Much too much to forsake.

It wades only in shallows,

Concerns chill it not,

Yet strong loves wells deepen,

As do new, wondering thoughts.

When its parents despair

Through long suffering in vain

That wisdom shall ever

Elude this young brain,

A small touch on their shoulder,

A hug in the mall,

A smile on a cold day,

A kindness, too small

To affect fates of nations,

But which heartens those close,

A keen observation that

Will pierce other’s boasts,

Reminds family present

That hope is not lost.

This mind will grow wiser

With the age of its host.

Have a great day!


Reaching Out

Good morning Everyone!l

I love the English language.  I love its richness and sonorousness.

I love the nuances present in different words with similar meanings such as the words “create” and “engender.”  I create a painting; I don’t engender it.  On the other hand, a hospital staff’s decision to make customer service a top priority can engender a sense of hope and pride in the surrounding medical community rather than create that sense.  “Engender” implies more of an outgrowing and flowering  than does the word “creation,” at least to my untutored etymological ear.

I also love the sheer number of words in our language.  After all, how many other languages have a name for that spot on your back that is unreachable when it itches?  For those of you wondering, the word is “acnestis.”  (Yes, I am nerd enough to subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day..)

English’s flexibility is also an advantage.   If our language didn’t change, we wouldn’t have been able to invent words for new inventions and actions such as television, planes, internet, googling, cable, e-mailing and scanning.

There are times, however, when American English’s penchant for changeability gives rise to meanings that are more annoying than helpful.  “Actually” is a good example of such a word, as I’ve mentioned before.

The latest annoying phrase I’ve encountered is “reaching out.”  This phrase has been adopted en masse by sales people under the age of 40 in the electronics business.  They primarily use the phrase in e-mails.  Lots of people “reach out” to me in e-mails asking me to buy computer equipment, electronic research and other such services.  Every time I read the phrase, my stomach squirms as I envision a horde of people extending their hands begging me to rescue them from a ship wreck or prison, which doesn’t increase the writer’s chance of getting a response.

Of course, I could just be evolving into a language curmudgeon as I age.  Help me out here by letting my know if you have any pet peeves regarding the English language to assure me that I’m not alone.  I’d love to hear about them!

Have a great day!


Justifiable Homicide?

Good morning Everyone!


From http://www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved. 


Things got a little tense at our household this morning thanks to contacts and baseball, strange combination that it is.

Kayla got contacts about a month ago and after the first three days, which were rough, had most of the kinks worked out – until this morning.  I knocked on her bedroom door to tell her I was going to take a shower, so I would wish her a good day then and to have a good day, and

got screamed

yelled at 

was informed tersely that her contacts were just “not working” this morning and she was afraid she was going to miss the bus.  [How something with no moving parts or motor can “not work” is beyond me.]

When I told her she had nine minutes left so she should calm down a little, I struck a spark onto a pile of dry twigs and leaves.  I’m not saying I slammed any doors over the conversation, but I  slammed my bedroom door over the conversation.

However, as we all know, Karma works its magic at the worst possible times.

Field Trip

From http://www.clickartonline.com All Rights Reserved

15 minutes after the bus came, Kayla texted  – she had forgotten her permission slip for the baseball game field trip her class is taking today and would I please bring it to her at school so she wouldn’t have to sit in the boring classroom all day long and us lose the $20  we had plunked down for the field trip?  [I’m sure it was our losing the twenty dollars that was worrying her the most.][Insert sarcasm font.]

I contemplated telling her “no.”  I should have told her “no.”  I almost texted her “no. ” But instead I clenched my jaw and started looking for it.  Once I found it, the following dialogue by text ensued:

[Typos in originals]

ME:  Leaving house now.  Please be at front at drop off line to pick up form.  Do NOT make me park and come inside. 

KAYLA:  I can’t do that its against the rules.

[At this point, I think most mothers would agree with me that she has achieved reached the level of justifiable homicide.]

ME:  Then how the )^&*&%$%(*&^( do you expect me to get it to    [text typing interrupted by further communication from Kayla.]

KAYLA:  I’ll try it

ME:  [Deletes above text without sending. ]

KAYLA:  coach dean said I could come to the carrider line.

My mood was not improved by the fact that I managed to lose the permission slip form three times after I found it before I entered the car which probably wasn’t her fault but which I will find some way to blame on her anyhow.

Smiling Snail

From http://www.clickartonline.com All Rights Reserved

The smile on her face when she grabbed the form from me, though, made it worth it.

Have a great day!






Finally – a Craft for Men!

Good morning Everyone!


A Craft for Men.

At a Michael’s Near You!


Have a great day!


God’s Sense of Humor, Part II

Good morning Everyone!

As I mentioned yesterday, twice recently I have been reminded that God has a rich sense of humor.  The second time came from a story an out-of-state friend told me and a group of women I was with.

She teaches first grade, and is still trying to figure out how to keep the kids quiet.  (She’s young.)  She told us that during Christmas break, she had been praying for patience.

Every woman over the age of 40 listening groaned; us older women know that if you pray for patience, you get plenty of opportunities to practice it.

When school started after Christmas break, she was called to the office during fourth period to receive a new student.

The student was named Patience.

Have a great day!


God’s Sense of Humor Part I

Good morning Everyone!

Never doubt that God has a sense of humor.  That fact was brought home to me twice recently.  The first time, the joke was on me.

www.clickart.com All Rights reservved

All Rights Reserved

Publisher’s Clearing House’s latest mega prize is something like one million dollars up front and then $10,000 a week for life.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of extra spending money in their bank account.  It is possible that perhaps in an unguarded moment (or twelve or ninety or one thousand unguarded  moments) I whispered something to God about how nice it would be to win Publisher’s Clearing House.  Two days after the Prize Patrol failed to show up yet again, I received a letter.

The letter,  from Publisher’s Clearing House, announced that I had won and my winnings were enclosed.

Sure enough they were – in a check for $10.

I suspect God smiled while I giggled.

Have a great day!