Tag Archives: family

In Which the Ghost of Christmas Cheer Goes Missing


Good morning Everyone!

Last Friday was the last day of school for 2015 for Kayla.  The day before, her home room decided to plan a breakfast party in celebration thereof.  So far so good, but then my child (or perhaps this time she was Mark’s child!) volunteered to bring cheese grits for the class.

When she announced this to us, neither parent was thrilled.  Mark, because he had to go to Wal-Mart with her to get bags of grit after work and me because I was informed that I would be getting up to help her prepare them.  This announcement was doubly troubling to me since I had sworn off making her grits ages ago, since every batch I made was judged inferior to any batch made by either grandmother.  (See, Grits.)

Mark hates Wal-Mart and only goes there as a last resort, but by the time I got home that night, the two of them had already been and returned – with two five-pound flour bag size packages of grits.  I think he got off light.

When I awoke the next morning, Kayla already had plopped three stock size pots on the stove and filled with them water.  She was standing in the kitchen waiting for them to boil.

Unreasonable woman that I am, I studied the directions on the back of the package, and asked, “Did you measure out the water?”

“No, I don’t have to.”

“But the package says…”

“Well, Grandma Pat never does…”

(At this point I started gritting my teeth.)

The water in pot one started to boil, and Kayla added  about three pounds worth of grits into the pot.

My next question:  “Do you have the cheese ready to stir in?”

Disdainfully:  “Mom, you never stir the cheese in; you just put it on top.”

“It’s better stirred in.”

Aggravated sigh.  “Even Cracker Barrel and Huddle House just put the cheese on the top.”

(At this point I started biting my tongue and walked off into the other room.  With a decided lack of wisdom, I decided to reenter the kitchen.)

Studying the huge batch of grits stirring in pot #1, I suggested that pot 1 was all she would need.

“Mom, I have to prepare for 32 people.”

“Kayla, that’s enough for 32 people.”

“No it’s not.”

(By now, I’m ready to start snarling, so I jump to the true root of the problem.)

“You know, when you’re volunteering to bring something to the party at the last minute, you should volunteer to bring something we can just buy at the store.”

“I was going to bring plates Mom, but when people were saying what food they were going to bring, I kept asking for cheese grits and no one would bring them, so I did.”

The child then emptied another two pounds of grits into pot #2 and began stirring.

“Kayla, you have enough grits.  You don’t need the third batch.”

“Yes I do.”

“No, you have enough.”

“But mom…”

Then a shout came out.  “I don’t care what you say, I am now ORDERING you to not make the third batch.”

“Well, there’s no need to yell at me!”

I again left the room, this time to allow my blood pressure to come down.  After too short a period, I am called back in.

“Mom, did Grandma Pat teach me how to make good grits or what?”

(Note:  I don’t like grits; never have, never will.)

She then announced “You know I’m going to need you to help me carry this stuff in.”

I studied the kitchen counter, where a large assortment of very small Tupperware containers were spread out.  “Honey, you can’t take all my Tupperware containers.”

With a huff:  “Well, I have to take them in SOMETHING!”

After a moment’s thought, I found a very large stew pot that she could pour both batches in.  Now all she had to carry was her backpack, slung over her shoulder and the stew pot, which had handles and a lid.  She informed me I still needed to go in with her (which involves parking the car in the school parking lot and walking into the school) rather than just take her through the car rider line (which means I get to stay in the car while she gets on out.)   A snarling cross-examination established that the only reason I needed to go in was that she was embarrassed to carry in her large pot of grits by herself, which really set me off.

At the end of the appointed time, I managed to get the daughter and the grits to the right place at the right time.  My parting words to her as I walked from the school back out to the parking lot included a reminder to clean the kitchen as soon as she got home that day.

For the record, there still is at least one pot that has not yet been cleaned to my satisfaction.  It took all day Friday for my Christmas cheer to return!

Have a great day!

Nancy

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Merry Christmas!


Good morning Everyone!

We got the tree and other Christmas decorations at our house up last week.  As I share them with you, I also am wishing each of you a Merry Christmas or other holiday greeting of your choice!  Here’s to a fond farewell to 2014, and a hearty hello to 2015!

Manger Scene

This is our family crèche, also known as our family manger scene. This is the first time in three Christmases that I have been able to put it up the way I like – the rental house we lived in for two years did not have a good place. It never feels quite like Christmas without the crèche up!

small tree 1, fiber optic

The last Thanksgiving that Mark’s Dad was alive (he died in May 2001), he and Mark’s mom and Mark and I went on a trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in our campers. We stopped at a Christmas store, and I saw my first fiber optic tree there, and bought it. We still put it out every year, and (knock on wood) it still is shining brightly.

small tree 2, fiber optic

The fiber optic cables shift between different colors.

Tree 2, pre-lit, white lights

Mark is a white light Christmas person, and I am a colored light Christmas person. We thought never the twain should meet until we bought last year’s pre-wired artificial tree – it has a dual personality!

Tree 1, pre-lit, colored lights

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Nancy

Riddle Me This!


Good morning Everyone!

Here’s a favorite family riddle:

WHAT’S BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER?

From Print Shop Professional 2.0
From Print Shop Professional 2.0

ANSWER:

 

 

 

 

Boo 1

BOO, ON SPAGHETTI NIGHT!

(Boo is one of Mandy’s nicknames.)

She looks very repentant when caught in the act, doesn’t she?

DSC_0614

Have a great day!

Nancy

Why I Enjoy Being the Mother of a Seventh Grade Girl


Good morning Everyone!

Here is my list of some of the reasons I enjoy being the mother of a seventh grade girl.

1)  I am no longer the most absent-minded person in the house – seventh graders apparently can hold only one thought in their head at a time for a maximum of 20 seconds.

2)  I live with 10 children for the price of only  one – happy girl, tired girl, sad girl, mad girl….

3)  In the person she is today, I catch glimpses of the wonderful woman she will be and the child she used to be – often in only a five-minute span of time!

4)  I can beam with pride when she does something extraordinarily thoughtful, like the sweet note she wrote and delivered to her dentist and her staff yesterday right before they pulled four of her teeth…..

5) While wondering at the same time exactly what information she missed in what class that day while writing said note.

6) I have her convinced I’m psychic.  When she’s mad at me but can’t say anything, I tell her to stop thinking what she’s thinking and am spot on.  She hasn’t yet realized that I remember myself at that age.

7)  The social world of the seventh grade girl and her friends is even more exciting than General Hospital when I was in college – without the murders, of course.

8)  The list of chores she is capable of doing has expanded from individual tasks to whole rooms.

9)  We’ve started a family pool betting on the exact date on which she will be taller than me – and I am on the inside track to win said pool!

10)  She still will hold my hand and sit on my lap sometimes – and I really love that!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Characteristics of a Buskey


Hi Everyone!

Meow0, who works over on the blog site Talented Tails, found the post last week with pictures of Mandy, Stella and Sawyer and wanted to know more about the buskey “breed,” so I thought I’d go over the characteristics all of you have helped me identify in buskeys that we have found so far.

1)  Geneology .  Buskeys are not an official breed, nor are they even an official mix like goldendoodles.  However, to classify as a buskey, a dog must have a basset hound and a husky as parents.

Basset Hound Husky dog

Mandy, The Quintessential Buskey

2)  What does a buskey look like?  A buskey has the long body and short legs of a basset hound, with hair about the length of a husky’s, and a beautiful curved fringed tail.  A buskey’s coloring is highly variable – so far, I’ve seen colors that range from typical husky colors (Mandy) to pure black.  Their eye color can range from two blue eyes, to one blue eye and one brown, to both brown.  Mandy’s eyes are enthralling – she has one blue and one brown eye, but if you look at the brown eye closely, you can see that even it has a patch of blue in it!

buskey, basset hound, Siberian Husky

Mandy – One Blue Eye, One Brown Eye

3) What does a buskey do?  Nothing it does not want to.  If you look at lists about how “trainable” dogs are, huskys (surprisingly) are close to the bottom of the list, and basset hounds (not surprisingly) even lower.  It’s not that they can’t learn to do things; it’s just that they’re only motivated to work on the things that interest them.  A buskey is highly independent.  Even when one is chastised for something, its nose never gets out of joint.  The buskey simply looks thoughtful for a minute, as if to say to the chastiser, “You have an interesting point of view” and then returns to doing whatever it was that got it into trouble in the first place.  Buskeys do love to run – and in spite of their short legs, they are amazingly fast.

Sawyer dives for something

Sawyer dives for something

4) What is a buskey’s temperament like?  A buskey has the most infectious joie de vivre of any dogs I have seen.  Imagine a dog that smiles all the time, much like a dolphin, and you have a good idea of the look on a buskey’s face 99% of the time.  The buskey I have, and the buskeys I have learned about are, without a doubt, the happiest, most content dogs the owners have ever had.  My Mandy, for example, is simply never in a bad mood.  Ever.  Unless you mess with her food bowl.

 

Bo, a black and white buskey, exhibiting the joie de vivre characteristic of the mix

Bo, a black and white buskey, exhibiting the joie de vivre characteristic of the mix

5)  Is there anything buskeys are exceptional at?  Yes.  Foraging.  Mandy grazes the counters and tables at my house regularly, unless we stop her.  Trash cans pose no obstacles to her, either.  I once spent $65 to buy a large kitchen trash can with a pedal and a self-closing lid to try to thwart her garbage foraging habit; she had it figured out in 30 seconds, and turned around to look at me, wag her tail and thank me for my thoughtfulness, since the self-closing lid was slower than the previous trashcan’s lid, so she had time to be more selective in the scraps she chose to pursue.  If there is an apocalypse, and Mandy and I survive it, I am following her to the nearest feeding ground.

Dog, eating, counter

6) Is the buskey a family dog?  In spite of its independent streak, yes, a buskey is a fabulous family dog, loving, sweet and happy.  They do well with children, and other dogs.  I have yet to encounter a buskey owner with a cat, so I’m not sure how they do with animals besides dogs.

buskeys, dogs

Tyra and Mandy Share a Walk

Mandy and Darwin confer

Mandy and Darwin confer

7) Where can I find a buskey?  Beats me.  Every single one I know of so far was adopted from a rescue shelter, so it appears to be pretty much luck of the draw.  If you ever see one, though, you’ll recognize it instantly.

Stella as a Puppy - the only buskey puppy picture I have!

Stella as a Puppy – the only buskey puppy picture I have!

8) Why bother writing about them in this blog?  It’s a basic consumer demand type thing – my first post on Siberian husky/basset hound mixes, which I used to highlight my Mandy, is one of my top 5 posts of all time – it gets viewed continually, and many people now are kind enough to tell me why they are looking and all of them either have or are considering getting a buskey.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Amnesia Anesthesia


Good morning Everyone!

Bibliophilic Friday will return next week with a discussion of Helen Hooven Santmyer’s And Ladies of the Club, one of my all time favorites, but today I wanted to share a couple of funny stories with you.

1) Anesthesia Amnesia

female dentist

A Trip to the Dentist
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Kayla has had the same dentist since she was 2, a wonderful woman she trusts.  Unfortunately, ever since she was about 7, she also has had to have a lot of teeth pulled.  So, while she doesn’t mind going to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned, she always is a little afraid that she is also going to learn that she has to have some more teeth pulled.

Last year, we found out that she needed to have four permanent teeth pulled out to make room for others, and the dentist recommended that we go to an oral surgeon so that everything could be done at once.  The other option was to stay with Dr. Miller, and go back twice.  Kayla instantly chose to go back to Dr. Miller.

The subject came up a couple of weeks ago, and Kayla started to share the story again.  Indignantly, Kayla said, “She was going to send me to someone else who would have given me amnesia!”  It was a few seconds before either Mark or I could stop laughing hard enough to explain that the correct word would have been anesthesia.

2) Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Tyra Running from the Rain Photo Credit: www.clickartonline.com

Tyra Running from the Rain
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Tyra also had a moment the other day.  Tyra hates to go out in the rain by herself.  She will happily go out on a leash with a human beside her, umbrella or no umbrella, but she does not do rain individually.  We have accidentally had all three dogs out in a downpour before; Mandy and Darwin come in soaking wet, but Tyra will be bone dry – even if all three of them never left the patio!

We have had a pleasant break from normal August weather, with the temperature getting down into the sixties at night and very low humidity, which means, of course, that the dew has fallen several nights.  The other morning, I let Tyra out and was talking her down the stairs.  When she reached the second stair from the porch to the back ground, a drop of water from the roof fell on her.  She immediately assumed that it was raining and started to turn back around.  It took all my urging to convince her that it wasn’t raining and to get her started back down the steps again!

3) Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Don't Worry; Be Happy! Photo Credit: www.clickartonline.com

Don’t Worry; Be Happy!
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Finally, we are always trying to encourage Kayla to dial down the drama she lends to every day ordinary events and I suppose somewhere along the way we have exposed her to the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”  We were driving to Montgomery last weekend, and Mark was getting frustrated because the seat belt kept creeping up his shoulder until it hit his neck, starting to choke him.  I’ve been there and done that and it is extraordinarily annoying.  As he began to express his frustration, a voice came from the back of the car.  “Hey Dad!  Don’t worry; be happy.”  Of course, we all had to laugh again!

Have a great weekend!

Nancy

Growing Up


Good morning Everyone!

growing up cartoon

Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com; hand colored by me

My beautiful Kayla is steadily growing up on me – she is already taller than my mom and my aunt, is probably taller than one of my sisters and I fully expect her to end up being an inch or 2 taller than me or my other sister when all the growing is over with.

Growing up is fun (when you’re a kid, at least), but it does have some negative consequences.  A series of those happened this week – for the last three nights, Kayla has come back out of the bedroom crying after she went to bed.

Last night, as she was wiping her eyes, she looked up at me and asked, “Mom, am I going to cry this way every night until I’m over with puberty?”

Exactly how do you answer that?

Have a great weekend!

Nancy

The Bear Comes Out of Hibernation


Good morning Everyone!

We are back from what was a delightful trip to Destin, and two days out Mom is here to pick up Kayla and take her to Washington D.C. to visit a family member.   They need to be on the road by 8.

I woke Kayla up and she was rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when I walked out of the room.  About ten minutes later, an indistinct roar/moan/groan has emanated from the hallway – proving that Kayla’s nickname, Bear, still remains apt!

For those keeping score, I had Mom’s coffee ready before she got up, so she is in much better shape than Kayla is!

Have a great day!

Nancy

All in a Day’s Work


Good morning Everyone!

Our Old House

Our Old House

In the very near future, we are going to be moving again – back to the town and house we reluctantly left two years ago. Needless to say, we are very excited about getting to go back home, but I am not looking forward to the pre-moving “happiness is a full trash bag” stage. Mark has a new job, back in Montgomery, with a very interesting company that I may write about some day if Mark doesn’t mind, and our house in the old town never sold – and it was on the market for over two years! Our rental house has been fine as far as it goes, but I still think of the prior house as home.

However, our “pre-moving” goals got an unexpected boost the weekend before last. Over the two years, we had slowly moved everything out of the old house, and had just gotten the final batch moved this March, which meant that we had a patch of 12-15 boxes in the corner of the garage by the water heater and the air conditioner drain. Friday night, as I got out of the car to enter the house, I noticed that a couple of the boxes weren’t standing flat any more – they looked like they had buckled under from the bottom.

So Saturday, Mark, Kayla and I sallied forth into the garage to figure out what was going on – and were not pleased with what we found. The air conditioner drain had become clogged, and had been spilling water onto the floor of the garage for an undetermined period of time.  (I missed the “what to do when the air conditioner drain clogs and floods your garage” episode of This Old House, didn’t you?)  The boxes were “buckling” under because the bottoms and bottom sides up to a point had gotten wet and collapsed, while much of the sides still remained straight.

So of  course we had to pull out all of the boxes that were wet, open them and check (and redistribute into the house) the contents thereof. I was pretty worried, to be honest with you – there were precious artifacts in those boxes that I really did not want to lose, especially pastel and acrylic paintings Kayla and I had done, family photograph albums, loose family photographs and my (and Kayla’s) most precious books – those we decided were so important to us that we wanted them nearer to us than the storage room we rented for most of our surplus stuff from the old house. Miraculously, NONE of those items were ruined, and only a very few of them were even damp! What was damp and mildewed were clothes and sheets and bedspreads/comforters that had somehow ended up at the bottom of every box. All of those have been pulled out and washed so that we can decide what to do with them without the mildew/must/mold in the dampness triggering the worst of our allergies. What a relief!

During this very long day of pulling out stuff, unpacking it, putting it away, throwing it out or washing it, Kayla was an absolute trooper! Mark had a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning, so when she and I were ready to get “up and at them,” it was just her and me there. I simply told her that we both had to do things we didn’t like to do that day, but they had to be done and I needed her help. That’s all it took – she was very helpful the entire day, vacuuming the house for me while I started in the garage during Mark’s doctor’s appointment, then coming outside to help both of us once he was home.

The door to the kitchen had to be held open during some of this activity; Darwin and Mandy tried to escape out it once during all of this. Darwin stood at the door wagging his tail, looked directly at Mark as Mark said, “No!” then sashayed out into the garage just far enough for Mark to discipline him. Mandy, who was only seconds behind him, stopped dead in her tracks just before she crossed the threshold and then started grinning and backing away, beaming because she hadn’t got into trouble for escaping but Darwin had. However, if you disciplined dogs based on intent rather than execution, she would have fully been equally as guilty!

After a long day, the garage was cleaned out, the drain was fixed, the wet boxes unpacked and removed and everything tidied up generally, which is what we meant to have happen anyhow at  some point before our move.

So I guess it all worked out for the best. However, I am watching our garage floor like a hawk now for any traces of moisture in case the drain decides to repeat its clogging performance – and the floor around it has several feet of clearance on most sides.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Tubing on the Little Pigeon River – ish


Good morning Everyone!

I hope each of you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  We spent the long weekend in Gatlinburg to attend the Gaither Family Fest, a three night series of concerts by some of the best artists in Southern Gospel music.

Even though our nights were booked up, we had time during the day for other activities, so we decided to take advantage of the pretty weather and try some sort of water activity one afternoon.  Our choices were inner tubing down the Little Pigeon River, going to the Water Park at Dollywood or white water rafting.  To be honest, Mark and I would have preferred to try white water rafting, but Kayla was pretty scared, and I had no wish to fight crowds at the Water Park when the main attraction for me there was the Lazy River, so the compromise agreement was that we would go inner tubing.  Somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that inner tubing down a river would be much the same as going to a Lazy River attraction, just on a real river rather than a man-made one.

Of course, the two are nothing alike.  My first clue came when my neck started hurting because there as nothing on the inner tube to support it.  The best way to get relief was to stretch out in full nap position across the top of the inner tube, which would have been okay except for the shoals – there are two or three spots on this particular inner tubing path where the water gets very shallow and runs over a series of rocks.  We called them “the rapids” although I am sure they were quite tame when compared to the real thing.  They were not designed with naps in mind.

Because the rapids are so shallow, it is easy for your inner tube to get hung on some rocks.  You can get “unhung” in one of two ways – either you push yourself off of the offending rock and back into the mainstream of the river, or another inner tube does that for you.  However, when I got hung, another inner tube coming up behind me hit me at just the right spot to flip me out of the inner tube into the shoal.  The water was only mid-calf deep, so I wasn’t in any danger, but the current was very fierce, and the rocks very slippery so I couldn’t get my footing to stand and get back in my inner tube.  While I was still pondering my way out of the dilemma, another inner tube came along and bumped me in just the right way to separate me from the inner tube I was seeking to get back into.

So now it was just me sitting on the rocks in the rapids.  I saw that Mark had caught my inner tube down the river and was trying to get it back to me, but the current at my location was too strong.  Finally, I ended up scooting myself over the rapids rock by rock like an upside down inch worm – my posterior in the water – until I could get to the deeper, quieter water.  By the time I was reunited with my family and my inner tube, I was exhausted.

The other problem with inner tubing is that the river is completely in control of your progress and path.  While I don’t think of myself as a control freak (Kayla, stop giggling here), eventually the lack of control started driving me crazy.  The river liked to drive me towards the banks where there were more rocks and things for my inner tube to catch on, while I wanted to keep towards the center of the river.  Apparently inner tubes were not designed to allow you to use your arms to steer them, so my attempts to do so left me yet again exhausted.  It was a great upper body workout though!

There were some parts of the river where you could just float lazily along and relax – one part was so placid I think we almost stopped – and the people inner tubing along with us were incredibly friendly and nice, so I’m glad we did it.

I’m even gladder, though, that there are no photographs of me during my impromptu inchworm impersonation.

Have a great day!

Nancy