Friday, May 30, 2008

Comedy of Errors

Ever have one of those weeks that you wonder why on earth it was even necessary to be a part of it? I've only had a few in my life, but this one just about ranks up there at the top. The worst, by far was the period of about a week and a half where:

a) Our attic caught on fire when our attic fan shorted out and if we hadn't been at home we would've lost everything
b) Kady got Roseola, but I didn't know it was Roseola when she spiked the 105 temp and was limp as a dishrag and scared the living crap out of us and I drove her to the ER on the verge of panic
c) My husband was hit by a car while on his motorcycle.

Yeah. That was a bad one.

But this one is close.

a) An electrical "leg" burned out (Hey, when the guy from REC first told me what was wrong I thought he said we had a bad "lay" and sent a Twitter to everyone in the universe declaring I had a bad lay. Yeah, Mrs. Coach thought that one was HIlarious) and we spent a week with half power throughout the house, which meant nothing 220 could be used and the kids and I had to drive to Mom's every day to shower. (Paul took cold showers. What a stud.)
b) The leg went out over the holiday weekend.
c) Both girls got sick with Strep
d) The bottom fell out of things at work and I cried a lot. (Exciting news to be announced on Monday - stay tuned)
e) When the electrician (my cousin, my hero) got out here to start the work, the guys operating the backhoe dug too deep and hit our main water line, thus spewing water from here to Guam and therefore causing us to be without power AND water all day yesterday.
f) The Brooks and Dunn concert scheduled for tonight has been postponed due to illness in the band. This doesn't really upset me (other than being out $90 if they don't reschedule) because frankly, I don't like country music, but Paul does so I'm excited for him, but it's just kind of the little cherry on top of the entire week's disaster sundae. I really needed to blow off some steam tonight, to be honest. Screaming amidst a group of drunk country music fans sounded kinda fun.

So I'm insanely glad today is Friday, except we let Mom and Pops off the hook for babysitting since technically Friday is their dedicated date night and we felt bad for holding them to sitting when there is no concert, BUT now we can't find a sitter so we can go to the movies.


So far not one person has submitted a question for the Blogaversary Marathon of Celebrating and I'm kinda disappointed about that. Paul says it's because I leave absolutely nothing to the imagination when I post every detail about my life. He says no one has to ask a question because sooner or later I'm going to tell it all anyway.

He might have a point.

But just in case there's a burning question (not a burning sensation - can't help you with that one) on your mind, by all means, boost my ego and ask it, for Pete's sake.

The Blogaversary Marathon of Celebrating won't be so celebrate-y if y'all don't participate!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Upcoming Events

What with the whole burning-of-my-hut issues and all, I have made a decision. It wasn't my mind-melting all by my little self that helped me come to this conclusion. No, I have My Favorite Texan, Lori, to thank for the pep talk/self-esteem boost/kick in the pants she gave me last night. (I'm telling you, people, my life is better because of her.)

For one thing, if you're wondering (because I know I would be if someone posted a cryptic hut-burning-in-Oklahoma story the previous night) why I am an emotional wreck and about THIS CLOSE to smoking and drinking and cursing with wild abandon and maybe even dipping snuff and running with scissors, it has to do with my job. While I don't think anyone from work reads my blog I'm not taking any chances and I won't go into details. Let's suffice it to say that yesterday's events left me wary, sad and in desperate need of a change. Because my family is already tired of the crying.

So starting immediately I am facilitating this change.

Oh, I'm not coloring my hair orange or piercing my nipples (not that there's anything wrong with that) (because some days that actually sounds fun) but I am overhauling the way I look at this blog, the way I treat this blog and (drum roll please) I am going to get like, crazy serious about writing. No more sitting around whining about "Why do Heather and Danny get book deals while I sit here and whine?" Well, here's a newflash - they didn't sit on their asses and whine about it, they actually went out there and DID something. (See? There was a lot of whining in that paragraph and I didn't even realize it.)

I am going to be stepping way outside my comfort zone, doing things I might not be entirely comfortable doing, but if I don't try I will never know. What do I want to know? If writing is really what I'm supposed to do, if me being a stay-at-home mom once again is feasible for my family, if I am capable of pushing myself further than I've ever pushed before......

It's scary and exciting all at the same time. Okay, terrifying is a much better word.

My office is undergoing a major overhaul, I will spend at least two hours a day "working" in my office on writing, blogging, getting my name out there, etc. As you yawn, you must wonder why I am telling you this. Well, accountability, silly! If I tell the innernets I will look like a fool if someone calls me at 9am and I'm still in bed, in my pajamas, surrounded by my children who are watching yet another Disney movie. Because the internet is all about accountability.


Just go with me on this one, okay?

And anticipation of my four year blogaversary, I am now taking questions for my (insert loud monster truck announcer voice here) MARATHON OF QUESTIONS that will take place all day on not-the-date-of-my-blogaversary. But Diva, why not on the date of your blogaversary? you ask. Well, I'm so glad you did. The reason? Because my momma is getting married on that day!!

And while I just said that I was getting all serious and stuff....well, it's not every day that your mother gets all married and stuff. So that totally trumps a marathon of blogging.

Therefore the official Day of Blogging this year will be on June 8th. Mark your wall calendars, set an alarm in your Blackberry, put a little Post-it flag in your daytimer and be ready for something. What, I have no idea.

In the meantime, submit your questions to me via email (theredneckdiva (at symbol) gmail (dot symbol) com) and ask me the burning questions, the things that keep you up at night, the whys and wherefores and which stain remover I use in my laundry - whatever you want to know. I hope that I have so many that I can't answer and post them all, but something tells me that you'll definitely see your question on the blog that day.

Any other suggestions for something big on that day are welcome, too. I'm thinking a giveaway of some kind. Sorry, I'm not giving away a Dyson like another popular mommy blogger did awhile back. I'm thinking like, an autographed picture of my husband in his camo shorts, black socks and Crocs. (Just kidding. It's enough that I have to witness that.) More on a serious giveaway in a day or two.

In the meantime, keep those cards and letters coming, kiddies!

And keep praying.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My momma told me

Tonight, I called my momma because when things take a dive, after I cry to my husband and he puts his strong arms around me and tells me he'll kick the asses of whoever is making me cry, I call my mom for sympathy and advice. As I sat here in my big chair after a very tearful conversation, my momma told me a story:

There once was a man who was stranded on a desert island. (Don't all good stories start with the desert island theme? Where are my coconuts?) He was alone in the middle of the ocean - no ships were seen, no planes. He was alone and unsure of what to do. Finally he decided to make the best of his situation and he started to build. He built himself a hut. It turned out so well, he built himself some furniture. He was happy in his new little island home. To celebrate, he decided to go fishing and have a feast. (A fish feast!)

While he was fishing his little island hut caught fire and began to burn. When he returned to the beach and saw his hut on fire he fell to his knees and asked God, "Why did this happen? I don't understand!"

He eventually fell asleep and awoke hours later to the sound of a boat coming ashore on his little island. Astonished, he watched as his rescuers approached. He ran to them and smiling, one of the sailors said, "We saw your signal fire."

The moral to this story? Sometimes it's not a bad thing when your hut burns.

My hut is burning. I hope the signal fire brings something better. All prayers appreciated.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Oh and by the way.....

The new perfectly purply look?

Courtesy of my favorite Texan, LORI, who worked up some new colors for me just 'cuz she loves me!

She rawks.

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

In a nutshell......

For some reason an electrical leg burned out between the pole and the house (Lightning strike? Leftover ice storm damage? Who knows?), leaving us with only half power throughout the house. The half that's out would be specifically: the oven, the stove, the dryer, the washing machine and the hot water tank. This means we are hungry and stinky and I just thank God that I caught all my laundry up on Friday otherwise we'd be naked, too.

Fortunately, the air conditioner is on a completely different leg and we can run it. So we don't have to add sweaty to the above list as well.

Of course, this all happened on a holiday weekend, so not even my cousin the electrician has returned my desperate calls, but I totally understand the need for a holiday. Totally. But I am seriously needing a shower in my own house, so I'm glad tomorrow is Tuesday. Business will resume and hopefully we'll get some power or at least get on a list.

I'm inconvenienced as all get out, but my mother in law put it all into perspective for me the other day when, after a particularly raucous whining session on my part, she reminded me that she was fairly sure that some of the people of Picher would love to be sitting in their house with half power right about then.

Humbled much.

Oh and in the meantime, it would appear that Abby has come down with yet another case of strep throat. Oh and Kady? Yeah, she woke up with a sore throat today, too. She's currently sprawled across me, which means I have typed this entire post with only my right hand while she occasionally emits a moan not unlike a zombie in Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

Best part of the last few days? The kids got to run to the 'fraidy hole earlier this afternoon. We were under a severe thunderstorm warning, but nothing just insanely freaky right then, but as soon as I said, "Hey, kids, go find your shoes and get them on" they were running for blankets, stuffed animals, pictures of Zach Efron and Kady came out trailing her woobie behind her as they ran for the cellar. Oh and they each had a popsicle in hand. You know, just in case they were stranded down there for all of 10 minutes or something. It wasn't a necessary run, but they had a good time and before we knew it, the storm had blown over and they were back here in the house watching Boomerang like nothing had ever happened.

Me? I stood in the yard and text Mrs. Coach while the storm blew through.

I am a nervous wreck having the computer plugged in right now because obviously the electricity in our house is hinky, but I was having serious withdrawl, so I'm chancing it. Plus, there's another round of storms on the way so I'll have it all unplugged here in a bit anyway.

I'm supposed to go to work tomorrow, but with two sick kids I'm not sure...... There will definitely be an early morning phone call to the PA in an effort to try and beat all the other mothers who are calling at the same time I am because they, too, have spent the holiday weekend with sick kids and are trying to beat me. They're outta luck - I got mad dialing skillz.

As if there was any doubt...

You might be a redneck if every time you do laundry you come up with one entire load that is nothing but camouflage. Ranging in sizes from girls size 7 to men's 2X. My dryer lint is so pretty after that load.

I just told Paul about the all-camo load of laundry and between bites of beef jerky while sitting in his recliner in his black socks, Crocs and camouflage cargo shorts, he replied, "Hell yeah!"

I love my life.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I know, I know

I don't post for a week, then I post a dang meme. What can I say - I've been busy.

Blame the meme on Sam who is so knocked up it's shameful (in a good way) and blame the lack of posting on Tater since I've had her kids for the last three days and taking care of five (and six when a girl in Ab's class came over) kids is exhausting.

So now the meme.....

Favorite person (outside family): T-Racey, the other aide at work who not only is one of the coolest people I've ever met, she does the same job I do and therefore shares my daily frustrations and woes. She's also knocked up and daily gives me a case of BABY FEVER. I heart her.

Favorite food: I think it's a toss-up between chicken chimichangas at El Charro and Mom's meatloaf. I know, how can I even put deep-fried tortilla goodness in the same category as my mother's home-made meatloafy nirvana? Well.....if my mom were to like, you know, actually make me a meatloaf this weekend it might knock the chimichangas out of the running. Just sayin'.

Quirks about you: I've mentioned on here more than a few times about how I alphabetize my canned goods. I also type everything I hear and speak. I have woke Paul up in the middle of the night, typing on his arm or his back. Oh and also? I play "air piano" when listening to music. The other day Ab said, "Uh, Mom? You're doing that weird finger thing again."

How would the person who loves you most describe you in ten words or less? Since he's sitting right here next to me, I decided to just ask him. His response? "Hell, I don't know." So much for that.

Any regrets in life? Plenty. Would I change any of them? Probably not. Maybe a few, but more than likely not. My life is just exactly how it's supposed to be, so why mess with it?

Favorite Charity/Cause: I'm not a big contributor to any particular cause. Why? Well, because in recent years we've been too busy trying to stay out of collections on a regular basis, so charitable contributions were kind of pushed aside. Call us selfish, whatever. However, I do have a soft spot in my heart for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, since I had a cousin who had it.

Something you cannot get enough of? SpongeBob.

Worst job you have ever had? Even though I don't count my current job as my favorite, I certainly don't count it as the worst. The worst was the daycare I worked at where I was in charge of five 4-5 month olds with no relief helper AND I had to wear a dress or skirt every day to work. I was stuck in an itty bitty room with five baby beds and a rocking chair for 8 hours at a time. I would go through the whole day without a bathroom break and the tray they'd bring me for lunch would go untouched simply because I didn't have time to do anything more than feed, change or rock those babies. It was a horrible place to work and their turnover was outrageous. Wonder why.

What job would you pay NOT to have? Teacher. No way I could do what those people do. They are saints. Now, substituting is fine, but I have no desire whatsoever to teach as a profession. *shudder*

Guilty Pleasure: Bud Light on a hot day.

Got any confessions? I'm not Catholic.

If you HAD to spend $1,000 on YOURSELF, how would you spend it? A new desk chair, a tattoo and PhotoShop for the laptop. Whatever's left would be put toward the Disney World Fund for Wayward Rednecks.

Favorite thing about your house? Location, location, location. We are set back off the road, we can't see our neighbors, it's quiet - what's not to love?

Least favorite thing about your house? We need another living area and another bathroom and MORE CLOSETS

One thing you are good at? Making people laugh.

If you could change something about your circumstances, what? I'd be a stay-at-home mom again.

Who would you like to meet someday? Paula Deen, Stephen King, Heather B. Armstrong, Sam, Anna, Danny and the one that will actually happen this summer, LORI!!!
What makes you feel sexy? A tan. I am absolutely amazed at how much better I feel about myself now that my skin doesn't give people retinal burns.

Who is your real life hero? My mom. She's always been my hero and always will be. I tell her she's the wind beneath my wings and we both laugh, but well, she really is. She's amazing.

What is the hardest part of your job? Seeing a really bad case of abuse or neglect come through the office, taking the referral and hearing the details, seeing the children and the effects of the sucks.

When are you most relaxed? I don't think I am ever relaxed. Everyone told me before I started tanning that they always fall asleep in the bed - I mean, EVERYONE told me that, but I just about lose my mind for those 17 minutes I am captive in a large glowing tube. I cannot lie still for even 17 minutes! I realized awhile back that I am never still, I constantly move, shift, wiggle, etc. I might need some meds for my ADD.

What stresses you out? Being late for something, being in a situation where I don't know anyone and I'm uncomfortable, knowing I have stuff that needs to be done and not knowing how in the world I am going to create an extra few hours in the day. Typical stuff for those of us who are neurotic.

What can you not live without? God

Do you agree or disagree with the recent article that reported that blogs are authored by narcissists?
We're not narcissists, we're just really interested in telling the world about ourelves.

Why do you blog? Because if I don't write, I go nuts. I consider it practice for when I'm a "real" writer. I love getting comments from people, I love being recognized in Wal*Mart, I love it when people stop me and say that what I wrote last week made them laugh so hard they wet their pants or squirted Dr. Pepper out of their nose. I've always been told I'm funny, so now knowing that I'm making people laugh all over the place, people I've never met and may never's mind-boggling.

I'm not tagging anyone, but if you do the meme leave a comment or email letting me know so I can go check it out. Here are the rules if you're interested:

1. Answer the questions
2. Link back to whoever tagged you
3. Tag eight bloggers to do the same, 2 from each category:
a. New/newer bloggers
b. Bloggy friends
c. Bloggers you would like to get to know better
d. Bloggers you don not think will respond, but you hope will.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Growing Up

As I mentioned in the last post, last night I helped my oldest daughter clean her room. I will never forget last night for the rest of my life. When I am a feeble old lady sitting on my Hoveround in The Home I will look back on last night through the fog of dementia and see it as clearly as if it just happened.

I was sitting in Ab's floor, she was sitting across from me. Between us was a pile of junk we had gathered from the various hiding places throughout her room and I was determined to get rid of some junk. In that pile, among other things, was a flowered notebook holder (Trapper Keeper, to those of who are completely old school), a picture frame with a picture of one of my old babysitting babies in it, a spiral notebook or seven, some friendship bracelets she and her friends had made at school, more than a few notes from her BFFs and her "Cubby" bear.

Cubby is a Ty Beanie Baby from way back when, but Cubby was never put in a display case and his tag was ripped off immediately upon entering the clutches of his captor, my daughter. Cubby went to Lab School with her every day her first year because she was a stay-at-home kid and had never been away from her momma. She was quiet, shy and incredibly uneasy in situations where she knew no one. Even though we were discouraged from sending toys and blankets from home, she needed her Cubby bear in those first few moments of the morning and her teacher allowed it. More than once I left her with Miss Charlene, clutching Cubby and looking like she was going to completely implode at any second. It was those days I promptly left the school, busted into tears in the parking lot and wished I had my own Cubby bear.

I picked up Cubby and looked at him. He was a shiny silvery blueish purple when he was new, but now he's more of a gray. He's kind of nappy looking, actually. I sat him back down and didn't say anything. Abby immediately picked him up and said, "We're not getting rid of him. Period." Okay, I wasn't going to argue. I told her to put him up on a shelf with her disco ball and plasma light. As she came back over to me, she folded her long legs as she sat down and pulled out the big purple laundry basket that held her dolls. She didn't make eye contact with me when she said, "I want to get rid of my dolls."

I was proud of me because, first off, I didn't immediately burst into tears. I just took a deep breath and said, "Oookay..." She picked up one of her Cabbage Patch twins, Emaleigh, and smoothed her hair down. She looked at me and said, "Well, I mean, I don't like, play with them anymore..." Then quietly she added, "They're kind the way...." She looked at me and I caught a glimpse of my four year old clinging to Cubby in the entryway of the Lab School, but it was gone in an instant as my 11-year old brushed her flat-ironed hair back from her eyes and set Emaleigh aside. I picked up Emaleigh's twin, Hayleigh, and blinked back a few tears. I said, "Well, I hate for these to just go to the flea market or the garage sale. Uhm....would you be okay with maybe setting them on a shelf or something?" I gave her the permission she needed to hang on a little longer and she nodded her head and smiled. The Cabbage Patch twins, the one named Abbey and another one that Cousin Courtney gave her are now sitting on a shelf in her bookcase, right underneath the framed photos of Zack Efron and Keith Anderson.

She is growing up. I can't stop her. This week she finishes elementary school and will officially become a Middle Schooler. She's taller than I am, has the beginnings of a figure that I only dreamed about when I was a teen (Heck, I only dream of it now) and exudes a confidence that I cannot believe comes from that little girl in pigtails who clung so desperately to a purple stuffed bear a mere seven year ago. She has had the same boyfriend for two years now, but adamantly insists that she's nowhere near ready to kiss or even hold hands. (Thank you, Jesus!) She hates math and has no desire to be in the band, but she is counting down the days until she can be on the Drama/Speech team, though. (Again, thank you, Jesus!) She doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up, but I tell her it's okay to not know when you're 35.

I know that every parent reaches the point where they come face to face with the reality that their child is no longer a baby and I know that what I'm experiencing is nothing new to the world -- however, it's new to me. I find it utterly fascinating, yet at the same time incredibly terrifying. Our relationship is changing as well. One minute she's lying curled up next to me, holding my hand and the next minute she is crying and stomping around and declaring me to be the most unfair person to ever breathe. I'm trying my best to give her boundaries but at the same time allow her some freedoms. I know all too well what happens when parents are too strict - they turn out to be me. Not that I turned out all that bad, but if I can spare her some pain I'll sure try.

We went through the basket of baby dolls and clothes. Some of the doll clothes were passed down to her little sister, but most of them are going into the garage sale. By that time she was getting tired of me going through her stuff, she wanted to watch TV and send a text message or 40 from my cell phone to her BFF's. I told her I wanted to at least get things clean up to her desk, which we can tackle another day, and that's when she threw a flipflop at me. What ensued was what will forever go down in history as The Great Flipflop Fight of 2008. Sam and Kady came running when they heard the screaming, squealing and giggling coming from their sister's room. There I was, red-faced from spending a little too long in the tanning bed that morning, there she was, red-faced because I was totally kicking her butt by beating her near-senseless with a pink flipflop. Eventually she cried uncle and I held my flipflop in the air in a very Rocky moment. She threw her arms around my neck and whispered, "Thanks, Mom. I love you." Then she grabbed my cell phone and raced to the other end of the house.

I glanced over at Emaleigh and Hayleigh, the twins from the Cabbage Patch, as I turned out her bedroom light. I hope they're content to just watch things from the sidelines for awhile.


Yesterday we got a gigantic cabinet from Mom's house (Upcoming-Marriage Liquidation Sale! Everything! Must! Go!) that is about 400 years old and held our stereo (with turntable!) when I was a kid and probably held the Ark of the Covenant before that. I put it in Ab's room to hold her radio (karaoke machine entirely too big, had to rearrange a few things) and her Littlest Pet Shop menagerie, eventually a whole lot of dust and of course, junk that is only important to the pre-teen set.

First off, let me just say that my eldest child is a slob. I mean, a t-total, downright slob. Even though the call had gone out just about 30 minutes earlier for all errant socks and underwear in need of bleaching, we found - KID YOU NOT - 13 white socks, two pair of underwear AND 7 toe socks that should've gone in the winter clothes when I put them up WEEKS ago. Where did we find them? A few were in her bathroom floor, but most of the mysterious reappearing socks were found under her bookcase, one in the floor vent (how it got there without her INTENTIONALLY STUFFING IT THERE I'll never know) and one in a pencil box IN HER DESK. Do you sense my frustration? Is it coming through clear enough with the gratuitous capitalization? Because I don't think I can adequately convey to you the anger that boiled up within me as the pile of socks grew and grew. I had to buy her new socks a few weeks ago because she didn't even have enough to get her through a week. Oh, but now she has plenty, trust me.

And then, after the socks were all taken care of I found a dirty spoon that had like, four year old chocolate pudding dried on it on top of some books in her bookshelf, a half-eaten jumbo sized Laffy Taffy (which the orthodontist barred her from eating), a fruit snack that had teeth marks in it (hopefully human, but in that room it could be rodent) and roughly 359 snotty kleenxes from when she had a cold a few weeks ago - A FEW WEEKS AGO!!

Now, constant reader, I have admitted here many times that housework is not my forte, nor is it even something I enjoy doing, but I am not a slob. I am a clutterer, yes, but I have never NEVER left a spoon in my nightstand drawer for weeks on end. I may have a messy desk, but I can put a snot-filled kleenex in the nearest trashcan even when I'm sick.

I guess what I'm trying to say is - she must've gotten it from her father. Yes, her father, the man who, when the call goes out for socks and underwear, can produce at least four pair of socks and never kick the footrest down on the recliner. He also hoardes wrappers and notebooks with one page left in them, which are stored right next to the pile of toenail clippings on the end table next to his recliner. I bought him a pretty cloth-covered basket (Oops, did I say "pretty?" I mean, manly) and presented it to him for Father's Day last year just chock full of beef jerky, peanuts, Pringles, etc. in sincere hopes that he would take the freakin' hint and keep his crap together in some kind of order. The other day I was going through the living room, picking up and straightening up and found -- IN HIS SNACK BASKET -- a pair of his black work socks, a roll of toilet paper, a screwdriver and a tile cutter. We haven't had any tile to cut in this house EVER. And a box of kleenex was sitting on the table next to his chair, so why the toilet paper?

If you ever come to my house and my husband offers you a snack from the basket next to his chair, politely decline. Unless, of course, you're totally okay with eating a Slim Jim that's been nestled next to a sock for God knows how long. Instead, choose something from my neatly organized and alphabetized pantry. Just sayin'.

Random Thoughts, The Sunday Edition

Right now it sounds like a small village is being plundered right outside my back door. Why? I took all five kids to the Dollar Tree after church and bought water bombs. I just sprayed them all down with sunscreen and sent them out, locking the door behind them.

I am the coolest mom/aunt ever. I also have just guaranteed myself an hour of blogging time.

I also truly believe that the person who thought up the concept of Dollar Tree stores is a flippin' genius. Seriously.


Follow the path of the coney, man.


Friday was Track & Field day at the kids' school. I never make them go on that day because they hate it. (If the principal is reading this she's going to now know for 100% sure that my kids haven't all been sick on T&F day for the last six years. Busted.) I hate stuff like that, they do, too, so why make them suffer? It's the one day that I let them skip, sue me. My mother-in-law came over to inspect the new storm cellar while I was tanning. Now, when I tan on days that I don't work, I don't get fancied up. That morning I had pulled my hair into a sloppy ponytail on top of my head, threw on some capri sweats and didn't bother with any makeup. When I got back from tanning Paul said she wanted to go see the tornado damage in Picher and did I want to go? I said yeah and got in the van, still looking like a trailer park matriarch and smelling faintly of tanning bed and fried sweat. It was when we were about halfway down the driveway that my mother-in-law announced that she was taking us all out to lunch. At the steakhouse. I sweetly asked if she wasn't sure that maybe she felt like Sonic instead because I, uhm, kind of looked bad and smelled funky. She said, no, she definitely wanted a steak for lunch. I looked at my husband, smiled and said, "Well, the you're going to have to take me back up to the house so I can put on some makeup and fix my hair."

This did not go over well with the mother-in-law. But Paul knows me well enough that had he not taken me back I would've made him miserable the rest of the day. Because I may be redneck, but I am also very, very diva.

I ran into the house, dropping my pants as I ran down the hall and tossing my shirt onto the bathroom counter. I quickly smeared some deodorant under each arm, sprayed about half a gallon of body splash from head to toe, threw my makeup into a bag so I could put it on in the car and pulled out the sloppy ponytail on top of my head. I rearranged my curls into a big poufy thing in a clip, spritzed them with some curl stuff (that stuff is sheer, pure, unadulterated magic, people) and ran, shirtless and pantsless, back down the hall to my room. I grabbed a pair of denim capris from off a hanger, slipped on my black sequined flipflops as I pulled a shirt over my head. I was back in the van in 4 minutes. Paul just looked at me, shook his head and grinned. I think he secretly likes it that I'm vain. That's what I tell myself, anyway.

At the steakhouse I dripped salad dressing right down the front of my shirt. My mother-in-law had an evil grin on her face and Paul nearly choked trying not to outright laugh at me. Salad dressing stain or not, though, I had awesome hair.


Abby spent the night with a friend Friday night. Kady and Sam went to Ain't Pam's house to spend the night.

Paul got lucky.


Yesterday after I picked up all the kids from their various outposts, we stopped by to visit Mom at an auction she was working. It was surplus medical supplies and equipment. When I walked in Mom informed me that had I been there 15 minutes earlier I could've bid on an exam table. With stirrups. I texted that to Paul and he promptly texted back, "See if you can make a deal with the person who bought 'em."



Thursday night I went to a bridal shower for my mom.

When I was 15, if you had told me I would sometime in the future type that last sentence I'd have laughed at you.

It was wonderfully wonderful, though. Among the one nightgown, various picture frames, cookbooks (Paula Deen! SO borrowing that one!) and framed pictures, she got two toasters, which cracked me up! They are in their 50's and 60's and now are the proud owners of two new toasters. Mom was tickled pink - she said she'd been needing one for awhile, but figured she'd put her money on something more important.

Also, when you get a bunch of 50-something year old women in a room with a 50-something year old bride, the conversation apparently turns to sex rather quickly. I don't know how many times I had to tell Abby and Kady, "Cover your ears, girls!" which of course, made the women just cackle. Fortunately, the conversation didn't prompt any questions from my daughters afterward.....whew!


Water fight now turning to all-out arguing, whining and bossing-around. I am one minute shy of the hour I thought I'd get.

I'm good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow

Because he is nothing if not a persistent redneck, my husband managed to find us a storm cellar in the midst of every other resident of northeast Oklahoma looking for one as well AND have it installed yesterday AND, because the installation happened while I was at work, he took pictures of the entire process so I could blog about it. And I didn't even ask him. I don't know how I could love that man more.

Diggin' a hole. A big hole. They got about a foot down and hit limestone. Yessssssss. Our cellar is 12,500 pounds of steel-reinforced concrete set in a bed of solid rock. I sleep better at night already.

Paul had to take down half of the fence on one side of the driveway so the semi could make it in.

Down she goes........

And there she is. The installer just piled the rocks and dirt back on top and now it has to settle. After it settles we can pick out the rocks (I'm thinking it's a perfect job for the kids!) and cover it with dirt. Everyone keeps telling me that I should plant flowers on it and around it, but I totally have a vision of our cellar mound covered in pink plastic flamingos.......Tater said that was pretty much a guarantee that our house would be put on CNN the next time a twister comes through.

Of course, the kids think it's just a fancy new underground playhouse.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tracking Back and Catching Up

Whoo! Okay, where to begin..... with all the tornadoing and such I'm a bit behind.

Friday was Paul's and my day off work, as usual. The plan was to build Biscuit a pen outside because we are evidently not inside dog people. The chewing and the peeing was a bit much. Besides, we got him as an outside dog anyway, he was just too small to turn loose in the woods here with owls, hawks, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! But those plans changed when we found out Pops had started building on the storage building out behind Mom's (soon to be their)house and was trying to do it all himself, which of course, when we heard spurred Paul into loading up and heading in. I had a tanning appointment at 11:30 and hadn't planned on coming into town until after that, but the boys needed saw horses. I drove them in, visited awhile, then drove back out of town to the salon to tan (I went up to 15 minutes, BIG MISTAKE. I resembled a nuclear halocaust victim by that night.) then back to town to bring the boys lunch. Then Mom and I went to the rest home to see Nan, pick up her shopping list, bring some of her laundry home to dry (she doesn't like the home's laundry so she does it herself in the sink, bless her heart), went to Wal*Mart to pick up her loot, then back to the house to check on our men, throw in more much for a relaxing day off. We have yet to see one of those actually... But I did enjoy spending the day with my momma.

Mom and Pops were going to Joplin that night for their date night, Tater needed to go to Joplin as well to get some clothes for the Cruise! she's going on next week and we were going to Joplin to get me a new Bible for Mother's Day. Since we were all going up, we met at Fuddrucker's for dinner. I *heart* that place. We picked up one of Ab's friends and headed to Missouri. Well, on the way up Sam started complaining of how hungry he was, how his stomach was killing him he was so hungry and that he might die before we finished the 35 minute drive to Joplin to eat. I threw a bag of animal crackers at him in the backseat and told him to quit whining. When we got to Fudd's he was still complaining of his dire need to eat and the horrific pains he was experiencing as his stomach started to eat itself. I was just pretty much fed up with the little turkey when our food came. He ate about half of his burger and declared himself stuffed. Agh. He didn't even eat his free cookie. After Fudd's we went to the mall where Sam continued to complain about his severe stomach pain and would sit down in the floor every chance he got, which just about got on every last nerve I had. He doesn't like shopping and I figured he was just being a typical male in a mall. In fact, I halfway expected Paul to pull the same stunt. My boys, they don't like the shopping.

Sam slept the whole ride home and when we got home still complained of his stomach hurting. I, being the stellar mother that I am, told him that we were no longer at the mall and he could quit with the dramatics. It was right after that that my middle child turned my bathroom into something that closely resembled a crime scene. I have never seen so much puke in my life. The only surface that was spared was the ceiling and no, I'm not kidding. And I am considering moving my whole family to the Catholic church so that I can nominate my husband for sainthood. He cleaned up the entire bathroom himself and only puked twice. I, however, stood in the hallway handing him wad after wad of paper towels, gagging uncontrollably. Oh yeah and I did go under the baseboards with Q-tips to remove what had been hurled under there. I'm telling you, it was bad. That was the only vomiting episode and the boy made it through the night without defiling any more rooms of the house, but the whole next day he laid on the couch curled up in a ball with the stomach pain.

Saturday Paul built Biscuit a puppy condo and, even though he isn't adapting well, Biscuit is now an outside dog. He is put in the pen when we aren't home and at night, but we let him run otherwise. However, he doesn't do much running - mostly he stands at the front door and whines, howls and occasionally pushes the plexiglass hard enough to get himself wedged between the storm door and the wooden door. Poor puppy.

Enter tornadoes.

Sunday morning was church where I made a poor attempt at teaching Youth Sunday School. (In my defense, the time I was going to spend working up a lesson was spent driving around Ottawa County trying to find my father and to check on my aunt and uncle.) I won a hanging basket of some kind of flower for having the most kids with me in the service (whew 3, I guess I outdid myself) and then Mom, Pops, Tater, the kids, and Uncle David all came out for lunch. Pops gave the kids airplanes that are propelled by twisted rubber bands, Mom gave them all picture frames to color and we grownups watched Dan in Real Life which made Tater and I both cry, since she's nursing a pretty broken heart right now and me because I'm a big baby like that.

I woke up Monday morning kind of queasy, but figured I was hungry. Boy, was I wrong. I wasn't supposed to go into work until 10, so I was planning on showering after the kids got on the bus, but shortly after the kids got on the bus the puking began for me. Fortunately, I hit all aimed-at recepticles as I puked and puked and puked some more until finally at 3:30 this morning I became officially puked out. Seriously, it got bad yesterday evening and let me tell ya, throwing up every thirty minutes for six hours straight is enough to kill a girl. I can't sneeze today without nearly crying, my ribs are so sore. I haven't moved from the couch except to make some soup, fix a couple of Cokes and pee a few times. I dozed pretty much all morning, but am trying to stay awake now so I'll sleep tonight. I was supposed to go with Ab's class on a field trip today, but she said she didn't want my germy butt there, so I stayed at home. Last week a co-worker said I should make eat an orange every now and then because I seem to be awful sickly. You'd think that working with children for four years solid would have made my immune system resistant to any measley adult germs in the work place, but I guess not.

More storms are on tap for tonight. Paul was really shook up by this last one. My husband, who doesn't get excited about much of anything, has already started calling places to get a storm shelter put in the yard. He also declares that we are going to invade his nephew's cellar tonight when the storms come in, even though I've tried to explain to him that Wyandotte is 30 minutes away and we'd probably be safer here at home, but he seems rather adamant. One of his security guards lost his wife in the Picher tornado and another casino employee lost her house and cars. I guess it hit too close to home for his comfort this time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

We are fine

All here at Diva Ranch are safe and sound.

This evening as I was driving out of town with a car full of kids and groceries, Tater called my cell and said we were under a tornado warning. About that time my cell phone also beeped in telling me the same thing, courtesy of The Weather Channel's free text message alerts (something I highly recommend living here in Tornado Alley). I called Paul and asked if he thought we should stay in town and find cover or head home. Since neither of us could see a funnel we decided I should come on home. I had a kid looking every direction with strict orders to holler if they saw something and I just drove and prayed. Tater almost got on the interstate to head for Joplin, but thank God she stayed in town since the twister touched down at mile marker 1 on I-44.

We made it home safely, but not before Sam called my cell phone, scared out of his little 9 year old mind (he had stayed home because he's got a nasty stomach bug). Paul had gone to the barn to secure vehicles and potential flying objects in the event the tornado came near and Sam just didn't like being in the house alone. I told him to go get Biscuit out of his pen and just hang out on the couch until I got there. He was pretty happy to see us drive up, let me tell ya. I sent the girls in (plus one of Ab's friends) in to get blankets and their brother and get in the bathroom. Then Paul and I did what all good rednecks do - we stood in the yard.

Apparently the twister went over us up in the clouds, hit ground just past us and hit Neosho, MO, where it turned over cars and semis and annihilated houses. The Lord was surely watched over us this evening. We are so, so very blessed. The meterologist said the tornado stayed on the ground for 90 miles, cutting a swath of destruction the whole way.

The town of Picher is all but gone. Granby, MO, was hit hard as well. The last count we heard was 17 fatalities in various counties in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. Sadly, I'm sure by morning there will be more.

My dad grew up in Picher (Home of the nation's largest superfund site whoo hoo!) and up until a few years ago Nana lived there. My aunt and uncle live just east of town. (Fortunately, they are safe.) We watched the footage tonight of Picher - what's left of it anyway - and I know for me it was with a sense of surreality. It was hard to make sense of the footage since there are literally no landmarks or anything else left to give you a sense of where you're looking. We talked to Dad, who had gone up when the call went out for all available medical personnel, and he said it's unbelieveable. A couple that we used to go to church with fortunately had recently moved to town when the buyout (more superfund fun) started, but Dad said their house is completely gone. There are two bushes that stood at the front of their house and that is literally all that is left.

The last time I talked to T-Racey one of our supervisors in Child Welfare is unaccounted for. She lived on Mineral Heights in Picher and Minerals Heights was the hardest hit neighborhood. Her husband is a volunteer firefighter and we are all praying she is with him, helping out, or at the very least was one of the 15 people they found huddled in a cellar in the Mineral Heights area.

If you are a pray-er, please do.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Random Thoughts

A few random thoughts on this incredibly early Sunday morning......

If I were to ever write a book from a dog's point of view (written in "first dog") I would use up my lifelong alotment of exclamation points and have to start taking them from other people. Your life would then be more boring because I was hogging all the exclamation points for my dog book.

Seriously though, I swear to you, everything Biscuit experiences I can totally narrate it with thousands, nay millions, of exclamatory comments.

"Ooh there's that white bear again! Must! Chew! White! Bear!"
"Let me out! I have to poop!"
"Toes! Look! Toes! Toes are yummy!"

Oh yeah, and according to my dog, night is definitely not for sleeping. Still.


I still *heart* Twitter. Especially now that I have unlimited texting.


Awhile back Abby wrote a book. I know! My daughter! wrote! a! book! (Don't get too excited - she declared yesterday that it was a total accident that it turned out to be good and she has no intention of ever doing it again because like, writing books is dumb and boring. Duh.) And because this book was so good she won a spot at an area Young Author's Conference where she and about 400 other young authors got to hear presentations by two authors, Marie and Roland Smith, a husband and wife who write children's books. I found Roland Smith to be utterly captivating and enjoyed his presentation very much. Sam was even inspired to start writing -- during the conference, no less -- a story about a boy whose family has a secret - a deep dark secret and that secret involves something about a robot shark or something.

However, as we met up with Abby afterwards and began our trek across campus toward the van she turned around and very dryly said,"Well, that's three hours of my life I'll never get back."

And while I'm a wee bit disappointed that the writing thing isn't something she wants to do, there is stil a chance she can become evil dictator of the universe. Or a standup comic. Besides, I'll just bask in the glow of her brother's mad writing skillz, but if he gets published before his momma he is so grounded.


I went with Sam's class to the Oklahoma Aquarium on Friday. The name Oklahoma Aquarium itself cracks me up because umm....we are Oklahoma. And we have an aquarium. I dunno, is it just me that is amused by that?

I was given Sam and his friend Patrick Who Loves To Scream to chaperone. Picture two nine-year-old boys who were born and raised in Oklahoma, one of whom is a dyed-in-the-wool redneck, in a gigantic room full of lures, rods, reels and boats. I had to pick up their jaws and carry them in my purse just to keep them from getting all germy and stuff there on the floor. And that was only the first room we stopped in. After that I heard "WOW MAN!" and "COOOOOOOOL!" probably close to 47 bazillion times over the following two hours as we saw all kinds of swimmy things, things with scales and things that I have probably eaten their cousin rolled in cornmeal and deep-fried.

It was when we were in the gift shop after we had looked at all of Oklahoma's aquatic wonders (Most of which we have in our pond anyway. Or the creek up the road. Or the river just on the edge of town. But it's SO MUCH COOLER to see it all behind glass.) that my sister and I had the following conversation via text messaging:

"Tell me - is $40 too much to pay for beaver? I'm just curious."

"WHAT? Please tell me ur in the gift shop."

"Nope. Street corner n Tulsa. I wanted to get Paul a gift. The gift of beaver!"


"Seriously tho? $40 for a stuffed beaver? Geez!"

"That seems high. I don't it's even that much for the diseased stinky kind."

And while I think she was talking about the mammal beaver that lives in a pond and has big teeth and builds dams I can't be 100% sure. And that is why I'm so glad she's my sister.


Last night we went out with Gentleman and Tater with the intention of having dinner and seeing Ironman but the movie started too early and I was already in the throes of chips and salsa and didn't want to rush that heavenly goodness so we did what we usually do - we gambled.

Paul won a pretty good hunk of money and declared that he now had enough money for drag pipes for the Harley (because it's not loud enough already?) and I gently reminded him that Mother's Day is coming up quickly and that ya know, I sacrified my girly bits to birth his children and stuff and I kind of ya know, expected something in return for my stretchmarks, saggy boobs and worn out uterus. We'd already discussed what I wanted for Mother's Day and I hoped beyond hopes that he was going to remember. He assured me did.

As we pulled into Tater's driveway to drop them off she said, "So Paul, ya won money for drag pipes - what else ya gonna buy with that wad?" I was too excited to let him answer. I said, "That money is buying the five of us tickets to the monster trucks next weekend for Mother's Day!"

Silence from the backseat.

Then Tater said, "You realize you just said that sentence out loud, right?"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dervishes that whirl

No, I'm not talking about the horrendous wind that is blowing through Oklahoma today and threatening to blow us clean off the map. No, I'm talking about actual dervishes that whirl. I'm watching Today and Matt Lauer is in Turkey in his quest to find Carmen Sandiego. He also doesn't shave when he's searching for that pesky Carmen.

Those dudes whirl for an hour or so! The Dervishes, not Matt Lauer or Carmen Sandiego. Or Matt's beard.

I'd puke if I whirled for an hour. Heck, the teacups at Silver Dollar City nearly do me in.

Stupid criminal - some dude tried to cash a check for $360 billion.

Istanbul. That's fun to say. Try it. Isssssstanbulllllll. I like it.

Okay, I don't think I should watch Today while I blog anymore.

Also, I'm taking a few days off the tanning since I burned my tender flesh yesterday. I chilled all evening and whined a lot. Now I remember why I haven't attempted a tan in years. I'm a big baby when it comes to sunburns. They hurt, dangit!

Oh and also, Sam - I put extra Oil of Olay on my nipples this morning and thought of you.

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...