Sunday, August 30, 2009

If Only Home Improvement Stores Sold Xanax

It all started last Sunday. A mere week ago I had a clean house and some sanity. Now I am living in a pit and I'm battier than a belfry.

After the invitation and final prayer last Sunday Mom asked if the kids and I would go with Pops and her to Grove to eat at Braum's and then accompany them to Lowe's. They are remodeling a house so I figured she wanted some input on cabinets or fixtures or I dunno, a paper towel holder or something. When we got to the parking lot she said, "I am remodeling your bathroom for you."

And because I didn't know what else to do, I busted into tears.

She said she wanted to do something nice for her girls and was able to do it, so Tater's getting a new kitchen overhaul and I got a new bathroom.

I've mentioned before that our house is 33 years old. 33 years old looks good on my little sister, however on a house...well, things start to surreptitiously fall apart. Sometimes you don't even realize they've fallen apart behind the walls, in the attic or under your very feet -- until you start doing one simple project.

Last Sunday we picked out a new walk-in shower stall to replace the bathtub, a new shower head, trim, a vent that actually works and a new overhead light fixture.

Over the course of a week she's also purchased caulk, nails and lots and lots of plumbing supplies. If she could've found Xanax for me it would've been helpful.

The project began, Pops and Paul dug in and .... One thing led to another and sheetrock had to be removed, the concrete floor had to be jackhammered away - twice! - and then one morning we woke up to carpet that said SPLOOSH and SQUISH when you stepped on it. That splooshy carpet led to a different wall being torn out. Paul has called the trim everything but trim and I'm telling you, the air in the bathroom was blue tonight from his name-calling. Heck, even I've uttered a few long-forsaken phrases this week. Splooshy carpet will bring out nasty old habits.

We are exhausted. We are cranky. We are discombobulated. We are upheaved.

But oh, our bathroom is gorgeous. We went from blue walls, white wainscoting and a bathtub to walls, trim and waincoting the color of a hot fudge sundae and the most gigantic shower I've ever had the pleasure of bathing in. When Tater saw it she said, "Oh my word. You could just take the kids in here and camp out for a few days! It's like the ultimate stay-cation spot!" I have a BIG shower.

And I have the best momma ever.

I will post pictures of the whole debacle tomorrow, but tonight I'm emotionally exhausted on top of physically worn out. I have the day off tomorrow and plan to finish painting the bathrom vanity and then put back all the stuff that used to be in a cabinet, but will now have a new home on the shelves my husband installed for me last night. (I haven't had a day in this house by myself in MONTHS. I am nearly giddy the thought.) While the paint dries, however, I will make sure to post pictures of wet, moldy insulation, rotten sheetrock, a cracked bathtub, wet carpet and who knows what else I'll find on that SD card.

I know you'll hardly sleep tonight, the anticipation will be so great.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Booty Shake Away from a Hoveround

These days my daytime TV begins with a hefty dose of VH1, MTV's aging cousin. When VH1 came on the scene it was marketed to my parents, a kinder, gentler music video channel. Now that MTV has all but given up videos the videos were given to VH1 as a gift -a loud, obnoxious, angsty gift. Those of us who grew up with Michael Bolton on VH1 have a hard time with this transition sometimes. Just this morning I sat slack-jawed, staring at the TV, wondering if Shakira's momma ever had a talk with her about "less being more" and the girl took it literal. I was apalled at the lack of clothing on the girl and sent a tweet saying,

And then I had a bran muffin and prune juice and sat there trying to decide if Lady Gaga is a boy or a girl. Not that it really's just that she's so both.

And I am so old.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Adventure in Babysitting

I babysit my cousin's little boy, lovingly known last year as Nonner, but now we just call him Conner, which is, ya know, what his parents named him so I'm sure they're happy about the change. He's been coming here since last September when he was the tender age of about 10 weeks. When school let out for the summer he wasn't crawling, just kind of rolling around where he needed to go.

Last week my cousin brought to me a walking, babbling little ball of fire. 14 months old, the child is now and goodness, if they could figure out how to bottle up what this kid runs on we, as a societal whole, would be much more productive.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week my kids were here to keep him occupied and pretty much give him anything he wanted, when he wanted it - visits outside to see the "hi kitties", many wagon rides around the yard, swinging in the yard swing at the mere point of a finger and the eating of graham crackers galore. Thursday morning when the kids got on the bus he got royally whizzed at the universe for taking away his playthings and newfound servants and immediately, upon entering the house, threw himself to the ground and commenced to screaming angry baby expletives at me. Or at least I assume that's what he was saying in his garbled verbal explosion.

Funny thing, though, by day's end Thursday, the boy had figured out that his Kiki is nearly as awesome. Paul and I call Conner our practice grandkid. We have some rules, we make sure he's safe and then we just spoil the ever-lovin' heck out of him. Basically what I'm angling for is that someday I hope I'm the person he declares he's running away to when his parents are unfair and mean.

My youngest is 7, so even though a mere two years ago I had a veritable herd of rugrats milling about my house we're kind of out of practice with small human beings that can't wipe themselves and get their own juice. Cousin Courtney kept saying, "He will wear you out. Really. Kristin. He will wear you out." So far I'm not so much worn out as just completely confounded at how he can move so stinkin' fast when he has some sort of contraband grasped in his pudgy little fingers.

Friday I had gotten him out of his chair after breakfast, washed his hands and face then settled him with his toys in the living room. When I made sure he was occupied sufficiently I ran back to the kitchen to finish loading the dishwasher and start it. Now, were I in practice dealing with chunky little monkeys of the toddler variety I'd have remembered that my time was extremely limited and I wouldn't have decided to take the knobs off my glass-top stove and proceed to scour off the burnt-on goo off the burners. Yeah. Guess how out of practice I am. I was in mid-scour on a particularly nasty stain when I realized it was quiet. Too quiet. Just like in horror movies.
I threw my baking soda-laden scrubber, grabbed a towel to wipe my hands and started hollering his name before I even got around the corner to the living room.



"Hey, Conner! Wherrrrrrrre's Conner? Come on out, buddy. Kiki's looking for you!"

Still nothing. I couldn't see him, hear him or smell him. Yeah, I was even hoping for a good ol' poopy diaper to give me a hint at that point. I knew he hadn't gotten out of the house because I keep the doors locked all the time, but our house is really long and I couldn't decide which way he might've gone. Had he gone right? Down the hall to the kids' rooms where there are all kinds of delicious Polly Pocket shoes and Legos to eat? Where there are scissors and glue and MAKEUP? Or had he gone left? Had he ventured into my room and/or office? Oh gosh, there is no limit to the things out there that can ultimately lead to michief out there.

Finally, after more hollering and trying to make my voice sound playful and not "You're in big trouble, mister, not to mention how much trouble I'm in with your mother if I have lost you already" I saw his little blonde head poke up from between my big chair and the ottoman. I took about two steps toward him, but stopped when he stood up and - wha? When did Conner start smoking? And when did they start making Droopy? Twisted cigarettes?

The moment I realized what he had and the moment he realized he was SO busted were one in the same and as I moved toward him again the child took off sprinting toward my bedroom door with a red Twizzler hanging out of his mouth and the bag clutched in one hand. It was downright amazing how fast he propelled himself away from me. I caught him just as he stumbled down the small step into my bedroom, attempted to take the Twizzler out of his mouth, but that's when he whacked me with the half-full bag of Twizzlers. Now, it didn't really hurt, but I can honestly say that's the first time that had ever happened, being smacked in the face with a bag of Twizzlers. I took the bag from him, pulled the Twizzler from his little maw as he was desperately trying to chew as much in as he could. Man, he was wood-chipping away at that thing quick as you please.

Of course, I immediately became the enemy, even though I was laughing the entire time, and he pitched himself backwards which is always my cue to put him down. He laid there on the floor for awhile glaring at me any time I looked at him.

We have eventually made up and I have learned that I can pretty much get anything I want from that child by waving a Twizzler at him. Time to clean up? You betcha, you get a Twizzler, buddy! Naptime? Oh yes, there will be Twizzlers afterward.

I'm just hoping he will always be this easy to pay off. He'll be about the right age to mow yards in about 13 years.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Let He Who Casts the First Hailstone

Night before last we had some pretty whoppin' storms roll through our neck of the woods. By whoppin' I mean they surpassed toad strangler and at times it even rained harder than a cow peein' on a flat rock.

Now with those redneck colloquialisms out of the way...

I had gotten Twitter updates all day from various weather gurus, The Weather Channel included, and knew we were probably going to get hit with something before it was all said and done. I am a weather nut and really, I find it one of my most endearing qualities, but most just find me geeky and annoying with my tweets, Facebook updates and because my mother subscribes to none of that techno mumbo jumbo she gets personal phone calls regarding the weather. See? Endearing isn't it?

Wednesday night was First Day of School Eve and even though I had been trying to implement school bedtimes for TWO WEEKS and had yet to really succeed, we managed to get everyone in bed at the appointed times. I made sure the NOAA radio was plugged in and ready to go on the far edge of the window seat, made sure my phone was charged and the volume up nice and loud so I'd hear if The Weather Channel sent a severe weather alert during the night. Those previous two actions would haunt me as the night went on.

After going through the house and saying good-bye to my new windows, because I was certain they were going to be busted out by the bowling ball sized hail on its way, Paul and I managed to get to bed around 10 or so because I had to get up at 5 and he had to get up at 5:30 the next morning. Of course, because he is male and his timing is unfailingly impeccable and he is eternally amorous he wanted to get his groove thing on. No sooner had I finally relented to his annoying romantic overtures than the NOAA radio went off. At full volume. My heart was racing at that point, but it had nothing to do with my husband or his mojo - I was just scared. There I am trying to listen to the robotic voice detail our imminent doom across the air waves, Paul still bound and determined to be romantic, when my cell phone began loudly declaring A SEVERE! WEATHER! ALERT! Then? My favorite friend Lori sent a text as well to make sure we were okay. Ever heard of sensory overload? Ever seen those cartoons where something scares the cat and then you see the poor kitty hanging by its claws from the ceiling? That was me around 10:45 Wednesday night.

When we got our new windows we, of course, had to take down all the blinds and the ones in our bedroom kind of got broken when we washed them and hung them on the line and uhm....kind of forgot about them and a storm came through one night, thus breaking them beyond repair. So when there is lightning we basically get a light show from our bed until it passes. That particular night the light show went on until about 4:30am. I'd like to say I enjoyed it, but the fact at one point during the night when I got up out of bed to turn off the screeching weather radio I literally stomped my foot and said, "STORMS ARE STUPID AND I JUST WANT SOME SLEEP!" probably means I didn't enjoy it very much.

Over the course of that night the NOAA radio went off about 15 times and my cell phone about 439. Remember when I said the radio was on the far edge of the window seat? That meant I had to get up to turn it off. Remember when I said I had the volume up good and loud on my phone? That meant every time it went off I hit my target rate. I was so punchy and goofy that it never occured to me to turn the volume down or move the radio to within arm's reach. I'm brilliant like that.

Around 3 things quieted down and I relaxed enough that I started to drift off. Then it sounded like someone was throwing rocks at our house. I didn't even move from my position at first, I just said, "Hail." Paul mumbled, "Why are you cussin'?" I said, "HAIL, not HELL. It's hailing!" We both jumped up, he grabbed a pair of shorts, stepped into his shoes as I stood there screeching, "What are you doing? Seriously! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? If you go out there you will be killed and I have NO DESIRE to raise those kids by myself! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO???"

He dumped the contents of the basket on his end table, snatched up his keys and said, "I'm taking my truck to the barn! Unlock the back door so I can come back in that way!" As he flew out the front door I said, "Fine. But when you are dead I am going to be SO mad at you!" I stood at the front picture window and watched him dodge little marbles of ice as he ran to his truck. It then hit me that we both essentially freaked out over incredibly small hail, but see, we have a metal roof and boy howdy it sure sounded like someone was lobbing icy grapefruits at our house when we were half asleep.

I ran to the bedroom, unlocked the back door and waited for him to run back up from the barn. I waited. And I waited. It quit hailing and then began the heaviest downpour I think I've ever seen in my life. Then I saw headlights from the barn, speeding through the field, coming back to the house.

I started laughing at that point because I assumed he'd decided that since the hail was over and it was raining so hard he'd just drive back up to the house and call it good. When he came through the front door, dripping, soaked to the bone, I was still laughing. He took the towel I handed him and said, "I know what you're thinking. But the tractor battery was dead. Couldn't get my truck in the barn. Hush."

Shortly after we got back in bed, neither of us the least bit sleepy, Sam joined us because the child got his mad light sleeping skillz from his mother. The three of us enjoyed the light show until about 4:30 when Sam decided we were all out of mortal danger and could go back to bed.

Looking back, we should've just put the kids to bed in the cellar that night, tucked ourselves in with them and set an alarm for 5am. Because sleeping in lawn chair in a 6x8 concrete underground room would've been WAY more restful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wherein I Wax Annoyingly Sentimental

My kids are growing up.

I swear it had to have been just yesterday Abby was puking and yakking all over everything in her path, Sam was screaming his ever-lovin' head off for no reason whatsoever and Kady was glaring at us all, probably plotting our imminent demise much like Stewie Griffin.

Now Abby has a cell phone, a Facebook page and is officially two whole inches taller than her momma.

Sam has braces, wears enough Axe body spray to kill a full grown camel and even though he makes all kinds of noises and faces when there is kissing on TV I know he secretly likes it when it comes on.

Kady has gone from enraged and murderous to free-spirited, I love the color of the world in Kady-Land and -- ooh look! A squirrel!

Tonight was Open House at their school. We went to the Middle School first and it didn't take me long to realize that Abby, who has never, ever been a conformist, is starkly different from most of the other 7th grade girls. She isn't squealy, she is rarely giddy and I can count on one hand the times she's acted like she's just eaten a big ol' bowl of Crazy Flakes and is about to unleash her pubescent freakishness on the world. She is definitely Hoover. I remember when my 7th grade BFF DeLisa and I were in 7th grade we giggled at the drop of a pin. Heck, pins didn't even have to be involved. We giggled because giggling made us giggle.

In the past few weeks Abby has expressed no anxiety over the coming school year. Wait, I take that back - she did mention more than once that she really hoped she got a top locker. (She got a bottom one, by the way.) But tonight we walked into that school - after her being accosted by a classmate who nearly squeezed her in two, all the while squealing and screaming her ears off while Abby just smiled and patted the girl's arm - and Abby got all shy and bashful and backward, much like the little 4 year old who dropped out of PreK because of extreme shyness. The Home Ec teacher scared her. The new coach who is teaching her math class this year "looked mean" she said, even though I think he's charming. After I bought last year's yearbook, watched as she carefully hung a picture of Taylor Lautner in her locker and visited with another Mom we walked across the street to the elementary. She quickly, almost imperceptibly, touched my arm, quietly groaned and said, "Oh man...I need my Zantac." Open House was obviously stressful for her.

Sam waltzed right in to his classroom, found his desk, located his friend Patrick's desk, calculated the distance between the two, visited with his teacher, showed off his braces and in his usual Sam way, touched, poked, prodded and just generally explored the room. I visited with his teacher, who had also been Abby's 5th grade teacher, about orthodontist appointments and supplies and schedules and meetings and volunteering. I was considering a swig of Ab's Zantac at that point.

We went down to Kady's room, discovered that her BFF Jaycee had already chosen two desks side-by-side for them, we looked over the stack of books on her desk, visited with Queen Tammy whose son is in Kady's room again this year (yay!), congratulated her teacher on her recent Las Vegas wedding and then went down to the Indian lady's room for school supplies. (Oh thank the great and mighty Cherokees for free school supplies) When Mrs. Robin asked Kady a question she got suddenly shy and blushed bright pink. After that her hand pretty much stayed in mine.

After a quick visit with Sam's 4th grade teacher we then dropped school supplies back off at classrooms, went back across the street to the Middle School and about halfway there I said, "Ab, if you want I can stay out here while you go back in..." It was an honest, genuine offer and I wouldn't have been hurt in the least had she taken me up on it, but instead her eyes got huge and she said, "NO. I mean, no...really's okay if you go in. Really."

So holding Kady's hand, we delivered the 7th grader's supplies to her locker, watched my itty bitty niece tour her 6th grade classrooms and finally, made our way back to the van.

Abby's been quiet all evening, playing Uno on Facebook and keeping to herself. Kady had a borderline major meltdown after her shower, something I was totally expecting. Sam fell asleep on my bed at 7:30.

My oldest is in her 2nd year of Middle School, tall and confident even in her shyness. My son is a 10 year old on the verge of stinky pits, his first crush and a killer smile, thanks to the miracle of orthodontics. My baby girl will be writing in cursive by the end of the school year.

The evening pretty much went the way I thought it would. There were no big surprises.

So why do I feel this crazy urge to cry?

Extreme Home Makeover: Redneck Edition Part 3, the Final Chapter THANK GOD

After three days - yes, literally - of trying to upload pictures to Blogger and failing miserably because if I haven't mentioned it before, satellite internet is the serious pits, I FINALLY got pictures of the house uploaded.

First off, Sam's room.

Really, I didn't do much in his room. Last year we painted his room brown to match Tow Mater, but he's since progressed perilously close to puberty and decided that Lightning and his merry band of gearheads had to go. He opted for camo because well....he's a redneck-in-training.

I do apologize for the low light quality. It's cloudy today and I couldn't get any natural light and the overhead light wasn't any better. Trust me when I say his curtains are camo. And the poster? Star Wars. Geek meets backwoods. Great.

This is the wall lettering I did for him from Uppercase Living. He wasn't sure about basketball this year or any year, for that matter, so I didn't really want to put a lot of basketball-heavy stuff on his walls because his next interest may be shell reloading or macrame or whatever, so I figured I'd just make his name in HUGE LETTERS to slap on the wall.

This is Ab's room before. She had quit sleeping on the loft bed because at 5'4" she couldn't do anything more than lie down in her bed. She had been sleeping on a mattress in her floor for quite awhile before her daddy finally relented to take down the bed and move it across the hall.

Here's her room now. She and little sister swapped beds, loft for bunk. Pretty good trade. She was sleeping on the top bunk, but has since decided that's a great place for all the rogue dolls and animals she can't part with. She says she'll move back up to the top bunk in the winter because she learned last year that heat rises. Truthfully, she probably learned it years before, but just retained that knowledge last year.

No curtains on that window because she kind of lost one of the brackets. Yeah.

Here is a horrible picture of her curtains on the other window - SKULLS! Mom ordered these from the ABC catalog and she could hardly wait for the Amish to leave so she could put them up. Wish you could see them better...

And below is the reason I'm sorely tempted to take over Abby's top bunk. We are totally Team Jacob in this house. Le sigh.... Oh and the "practically perfect" lettering is from Uppercase Living as well. I put it on her wall to describe her, but I'm thinking it describes young Taylor as well. Yum.

This is Kady's room before. All pink and berry-rific. Gag. She outgrew Strawbaby Shootcake a lonnnnnng time ago, but it just never seemed a priority to redecorate. I'm so glad we finally did. It's berry much better.

Here's the loft bed in her room. She's only standing 4'4" right now, so she'll be able to use it awhile. Thankfully. I'm not sure her daddy's going to want to dismantle it again any time soon.

Santa brought the desk last year and had to bring it in blue because that's all had. Because that's all the elves had made and had shipped to apparently. So now I'm on a mission to find purple/lavender cloth baskets to replace the blue ones. If you see any let me know. Please.

And since her room is now done in everyone's favorite pixie-turned-fairy (Something I'm still not happy about. People at Walt Disney, I am talking to you. Tink is a pixie. End of story.) I went with this lettering from Uppercase Living:

Precious, huh?

And now, last but certainly not least, and I still have the sore muscles and splinters to prove it, the living room!

Below is a picture from several years ago, but it's the only picture I could easily find of the living room before we started painting because Paul kind of started before I knew he was in the process of gettin' 'er done and he insisted I just jump in and not go around "snapping stupid pictures" like I always do.

Notice the dark paneling and the bookshelves next to the fireplace. Now you see 'em....

Now you don't. I was never so glad to get rid of a set of shelves in my life! I also didn't realize how taking them down would open up the room before we ever began to put paint to wall.

And isn't my living room bright??

I still cannot get over how gigantic the room looks now. Whoever invented paneling, especially dark paneling, should be dragged into the street and shot. Seriously.

Here's a shot down the hall. Yes, I know the entry wall and hallway look like two different colors, but they are the same - the color of chocolate pudding. Trust me on this. The color down the hall is actually closer to what it really looks like. That entry wall really does look like peanut butter, though.

This is the view from the other end of the room. The paint was barely dry before the deer was hung back up. Partly because I think Paul feels like nothing in the world is right when it's not there and partly because after it laying in my office floor for three days I got tired of it still scaring the poo right out of me when I'd walk out there.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bouncy Painty

Currently I am at the Maccaroo Gym where my kids and their three friends are bouncing the heck out of their little selves. They bounced from 4:15 until 5 and it was then they all declared themselves entirely too weak from hunger to continue jumping. Nourishment has been doled out and now they are jumping probably to the point of puking. I fully expect someone to ralph. Or at the very least vurp. Yep. Parenting is so glamorous.

I have been missing the blog somethin' fierce, but Phase Three of Extreme Home Makeover: Redneck Edition has been going on since Monday night. (to refresh your memory - Phase One: pellet stove, Phase Two: new windows) Y'all...I hate to paint. I hate it even more now. BUT? My house looks great and I'm just glad it's over.

The house we live in was built in 1976, so it's as old as my darling little sister, Tater. She looks way better at 33 than my house did. As do most houses built in the 70's, our house was paneled. As in THERE IS PANELING ON THE WALLS. And we couldn't have just normal-colored paneling. Oh no, the home-builders were part vampire and liked it dark. The paneling was nearly black. Across the ceiling the beams are visible, giving the living room a lodge kind of feeling and eight years ago when we bought the house we were actually going for the lodge look. We decorated with fishing nets, creels, lanterns, pictures of fish and of course, like any good redneck family, we have a mounted deer head hanging proudly on the wall. (It's a 13-pointer, so that thing will be displayed until it literally disintegrates. Hopefully that will be soon.) But I have since outgrown the lodge look and THANKFULLY so has Paul. I talked him into painting it after a year of discussion and the moment he agreed I loaded him in the van to pick out colors.

We settled on Almond Cake for the living room and Cappuccino Spice for the entryway and hall. My sister's living room and hall are painted Cashew Crunch, Popcorn and Avacado. Something about us Bass girls - we like food on our walls. And I think I've passed on this desire to my children because yesterday as the paint was going on the walls of my hallway they were going to the kitchen and getting all sorts of food to see what color matched the paint best - bread crusts, pudding, peanut butter, wilted salad in the bottom of the bag, and melba toast. When it was wet peanut butter was a sure winner, but when it dried Hunt's Snack Pack chocolate pudding won.

Yes, my hallway is the color of chocolate pudding. I love it. It makes me happy. I think it will come in especially handy on those weeks I have PMS.

Paul asked me last night what the theme of the room was going to be now. I am happy without a theme, personally. We have a picture over the couch of a log cabin on the edge of a lake because deep down inside I am a recluse who would love to live in such a place - as long as it has WiFi. We have a floral couch. We have Paul's grandpa's gas lantern sitting on the mantle (WITH a dirt-dauber nest still in it) (because we are CLASSY). We have a 52" humongo TV, Wii, PS2, Super Nintendo, digital picture frame and the two laptops are perpetually sitting out in there as well. Basically, our living room is decorated in Middle Age Poverty with heavy Redneck tones and some Techno Nerd to accent.

No one can ever say we put on airs.

Seeing as how I'm 40 miles from home, I can't upload pictures of the new look, but of course, you know I will. There may even be one of me licking the walls in the hallway. I'm feeling a little PMS'y today.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Highway Robbery

Last week we farmed all three kids out to various places so we could take down mini-blinds, move furniture and spend a few moments of peace and quiet before the Extreme Makeover: Redneck Edition began.

Mom took Kady to her office for the day because she can put her on a computer, give her a can of Diet Coke and never worry a second she's going to get into mischief. Mom's new office is in a building that houses other offices and a community room and you can walk a complete circle through the whole thing through various hallways. For some reason the kids love "make the circle" when they're there and that day was no different.

Mom and Kady had gone through part of the circle when Mom said, "Kady let's stop here in the bathroom so Grammy can go, okay? You just wait out here and don't touch anything." Mom went in a stall and she could hear Kady humming and her flipflops flipping and flopping as she investigated her surroundings. All of the sudden she heard Kady gasp.

"You have GOT to be freaking kidding me!" Kady exclaimed.

Mom waited but said nothing.

"Oh my GOSH. Seriously? I mean REALLY??" she blurted out again.

Mom couldn't wait any more and finally asked, "Kady, what are you talking about?"

Kady huffed and said, "TWENTY FIVE CENTS FOR A NAPKIN? Who would PAY that? Good grief, Grammy, there are free paper towels hanging right HERE on the WALL!"

Extreme Home Makeover: Redneck Edition

Last Wednesday was the first day of Amish Window Installation '09. It's Monday of the following week and we're still in the midst of the saga. This is rivaling Lonesome Dove.

If you'll remember, when they first came to bid on the job, Kady asked why there was a leprechaun in our yard. Well, for the past week our yard has been brimming with the little guys. Wednesday it was just Raymond, Big Bad Leprechaun Daddy, and his 14 year old boy, Jedidiah, Thursday they were rained out, Friday they called in reinforcements and brought Toby to frame my bay window. Okay, so technically that's only three leprechauns, but when you're used to only rednecks, three seems like a lot.

They are not as hardcore Amish as I expected them to be, to be honest. I knew they had a phone and I knew they had power tools, but apparently they have a freezer somewhere, too, because Abby offered them all a popsicle and Raymond commented, "Yeah, these are good. My little girls love them. We keep them for them all the time." I know they can have the power tools and a phone in their workshops as long as they do not have them in their home, so evidently they have a freezer, too. If an Amish woman were smart, she'd put a washing machine in that workshop, too. I mean, heck, for that matter, I'd live in the workshop. But that's just me.

I also have come to the conclusion that hormones is hormones, be ye Amish, Baptist or even northwest Arkansas Duggar. Ab is on the cusp of teenagehood and at 5'4" she's long-legged and dang cute. I sincerely think young Jedidiah would risk a shunning in order to get a shot at my daughter. Bless his little heart, he watches her walk through the house, even though he thinks no one notices. He blushes when she brings him a drink. It is absolutely adorable. I asked her if she'd be interested in being Amish after watching him stare at her all day Friday. Her eyes got huge and she said, " I just got a Twitter account. I'm not giving it up."

They have a driver since they're all horse and buggy-fied and driving here from Chetopa, KS, in a buggy would take all day, they get around faster in a truck driven by someone else. Their driver is a royal pain in the rear, too. He is an obnoxious know-it-all and I say that as nicely as I possibly can. He began grating on my nerves the second he set foot on our property that first morning. The Amish themselves, however, are polite and gracious and appreciative and absolutely and utterly meticulous in their work. I don't know how they put up with him. Mom suggested that maybe he is their mission. They must be very devout in their mission. I'd have done lost it all over him by now.

We've been blessed with some cooler weather lately, but still, working outside in your hand-made denim drawers and suspenders has to be hot work, so I made some lemonade Wednesday morning. I made lemonade instead of sweet tea simply because I wasn't sure how they felt about caffeine - it's just so sinful, ya know. Just ask the Mormons. I was trying to accomodate, really I was. I mean, I was already offending them by wearing shorts and makeup, so I was trying to be nice by offering a nice, non-sinful beverage like homemade lemonade.

I stepped out onto the porch and asked if anyone would like some lemonade. Raymond and his boy nodded appreciatively, but old Driver Jim opened his big ol' mouth and loudly asked, "You got any Mountain Dew?" I blinked a few times at his brazen question. I mean, that whole gift horse and its mouth thing, ya know, but after I recovered I said through gritted teeth, "Well, actually yes, I do have some Mountain Dew. Would you like some?" He shook his head, hocked a big ol' loogie from the back of his throat, spit onto my porch and said, "Nope. But the Amish? They really like that stuff. Oh yes...the Amish love the Dew." The Amish love the Dew? Are you freakin' kiddin' me? That was a statement I never dreamed I'd hear in my life. I nearly fell in the floor laughing. But I brought those fellas some Dew and they were incredibly appreciative. Hey, anyone who can pull off suspenders in an ensemble can have my Dew any time. God love 'em. Driver Jim got lemonade. He is not Dew-worthy.

My bay window in the bedroom has given them serious fits and they have worked hours and hours and hours on it. It is GORGEOUS. I cannot wait to take pictures. I may carry one in my wallet to show off to people in Walmart or old classmates I haven't seen in a decade or so. "'s our youngest Kady. She's in 2nd grade. This is the kids last Christmas. Oh and here? Yes, that's my bay window. We're so proud. It's just gorgeous, isn't it? We never thought we'd be this lucky."

I have been a little grumpy since the whole process started. I've had a raging kidney infection (possibly a stone trying to make an appearance, perish the thought) on top of my peri-menopausal PMS that sucks my will to live once a month. Because of the perpetual nature of the kidney infection that has been ever-present for two weeks now, I also picked last week to drastically - DRASTICALLY, PEOPLE - reduce my caffeine intake. We've been without air conditioning since they create gigantic holes in my walls the entire time they're here and the electric bill is high enough as it is. And the flies. Oh. My. Gosh. The flies. They are kamikaze, ravenous, flesh-eating flies, too. And because my house is all open and stuff the crazy flies are all up in our business. Wednesday Tater decided to move a kidney stone of her own. AND? My 89 year old Nana was admitted to the ICU on the verge of The Big One. It was a week to forget.

I woke up this morning at 5 to get ready for their arrival at 6 and decided that kidneys be danged, I needed coffee. Paul and I spent a few precious, quiet moment visiting over coffee then it was off to grab a shower, move the washing machine and dining room table, wake up Ab since they were going to start in her room, say my morning prayers (Sis had her kidney stone busted up this morning) and mentally prepare myself for the arrival of Driver Jim and his merry band of leprechauns. They drove up, got out of the truck and ol' Toby sat his stainless steel insulated mug of coffee on the pickup bed and stretched.

The Amish not only love the Dew, but also apparently they're suckers for a good dark roast in the morning as well.

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...