Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ree-box With the Stress

Riding up the road the other day with the three older Shorties in the backseat of my car, I'm flipping through the radio dial channels (a habit that drives The Husband insane out of his mind, but I find rather relaxing), and I pass a song that is the kind of music that you usually hear via a beat from three cars over while parked in traffic.

I hit the seek button quickly again to move on, surely there's some Captain and Tennielle or Abba on this thing somewhere, and from the back seat I heard three little voices in unison yell out, "HEY, MOM!" meaning go-back-quickly-or-we-will-stage-a-riot-and-possible-hostile-takeover-from-the-backseat. (This sound is usually reserved to when I accidentally pass over a Miley Cyrus song.)

I hit the back button, and the car filled with the sounds of singing, um, rapping, or maybe sort of the yelling of a song (you can clearly see how cool I am). Then my kids start singing the song that's playing on the radio word for word. (Well, word for word according to what they think the words are. Thank you God they only knew the chorus and got most of that wrong.)

Because the LAST thing I want to hear my five-year-old fabulous son and seven-year-old precious angels singing along with is "Shortie got low, low, low, low, low" and something about some inappropriate club behavior and spankings and boots with fur on them. As my children were dancing and singing along in unison from the backseat, I let them finish (because what's the point of a freak out, they already know the song), then I set about the difficult task of discussing the song.

First, we discussed where they heard that song and where they heard that song enough times to know the words to the chorus by heart. (Hey thanks, all you helpful Cousins.)

I tried to explain that the song lyrics were inappropriate and that we probably shouldn't be listening to that or singing along with that. Everyone listened patiently while I explained that we have to honor God with our thoughts and our mouths. I felt pretty good about my parenting skills before the question and answer portion of the deal started.

Carter logically asked, "It's about shorties Mom, and that's what you call us. It's cool. It's like a song about us."

Me: "Um, okay, that's sort of true because I do call you 'Shorties', but I'm pretty sure it means something different in that song."

Carter: "Like what?"

Me: "I think it's slang for a good looking girl." (Not having been clubbing in oh, like 50 years, I'm not up on my hipster jive slang.)

Carter: "No, it says 'shorties'. I can hear that part clearly. And WE are the Shorties."

Elise: "But why was the good looking shortie girl in trouble?"

(Don't ask, don't ask, don't ask, just shut it down right now, but no, I can't help myself...)

Me: "I don't know what you mean. What kind of trouble?"

Elise: "Well he says that he smacked her bottom."

Elaina: "Yeah, but he didn't say 'bottom'."

(Lots of giggling.)

Carter: "And what are ree-box with the stress? How are they stressed?"

Elaina: "Can we sing it but leave out that bad sentence with the bad word? I think I'll sing this one at the next talent night at church."

Okay then. (Note to self: tell music minister to preview Elaina's songs for talent night.)

We get home, finish dinner, homework, and baths, and tune in as a family to one of our (my) favorite shows (which could be an entire discussion on its own about why we are watching people who are not married to each other sling around the dance floor half naked, but Dancing With the Stars is just fun), and what does the first chick dance to?

Ahem. You got it.

So you know my four Shorties jumped up laughing and dancing around wildly, arms in the air, heads slinging to and fro and got low, low, low, low, low...

(Note to self: Repent in altar Sunday for every bad CD I ever owned or currently own.)

This is all of that AC/DC and Whitesnake and all of those concerts I went to in the 80's coming back to bite me in the apple bottom jeans. I get the point, God. And all of you out there reading this in Parental Smugville can shut it. Half of you sang along to the tune, so there. :-)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No Girls Allowed

NO Girls Allowed (Except for Nana, Mama, and Lily)
It must be very difficult to be the only Big Boy in a house full of girls. Seriously. The bulk of the clothes are for girls. Almost all of the toys are for girls. If you want to play with someone, there are only girls who want to play girl games. And the worst part is they are bigger than you and you can't even defend yourself adequately yet from the twins (which is probably why Lily was still allowed in the Inner Sanctum).

Oh, but there is one bonus. You get your own room.

The World Is Mine

Here are some truths from my small town that have struck me as incredibly funny.

We live on the side of the road. When people who are driving out here want a landmark and I tell them that we're right beside the church, they'll ask, "What's the church beside?" And I'll respond, "Nothing. There's road and then there's the church and our house and then there's more road." We are literally in the middle of nowhere.

We are 15 minutes from fast food and a grocery store.(We have a little hometown gas station with some staples for sale, but according to Small Town Rules the store opens and closes when the owners show up not on some sort of schedule. I'm a particular fan of this sort of quirkiness. It suits my crazy family.) We are 30 minutes from a shopping mall and 30 minutes from the orthodontist and 20 minutes from the elementary school and 45 minutes from the dentist and 30 minutes from Wal-Mart.

And let me be perfectly clear here, I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. Everyone I know who lives In Town would be happier if they moved into the Middle of Nowhere.

It's quiet. The kids can play in the enormous back yard for hours without intense supervision. Everyone knows everyone, so if there's a strange car in my driveway, everyone who lives out here and happens to drive by slows down to take a peek at what's going on. I can call a dozen different people who will be here at a moment's notice to help with any number of things. Like when lightning hit the house--five families here checking for fire in less than three minutes.

And when we called the local fire and rescue when my mother had a spell--at least 12 pick up trucks full of families came to help when they heard it on the scanner. That night I literally drove away from my house following the ambulance and left a neighbor woman and friend who took over bathing my kids and laid out their school clothes and got them ready for bed while The Husband was on the phone calling family.

It's just about the perfect place to raise children. I sit in the mornings and drink my coffee on the screened-in back porch and listen to birds and watch the trees move in the breeze. I wouldn't trade with anyone.

But there are some funny, quirky things going on out here too. Like the businesses. Down a county road near me is a brick house that has a nice, professional sign out front that says: ABC Computer Repair. On the bottom, they've stapled a handmade, painted sign that says: Goats For Sale. Okay then.

And then there's the water tower when you drive Into Town (this is what we call going into any area where there are businesses). Someone has crawled up to the top of the water tower and painted "The World is Mine" in black spray paint. It struck me as sort of ironic considering how small the world is from that particular vantage point.

But the best one ever is an advertisement that really runs on our local a.m. radio station. It's for two businesses owned by the same person. I'm sure he wanted to save money on the advertising, so he combined, but this is sort of how the radio spot goes. (The names are changed to protect the innocent.)

Somber Voice: At XYZ Memorials we sell the finest selection of marble and granite tombstones and can accommodate any special requests blah-blah-blah. (Then the announcer abruptly shifts into Big Car Salesman Voice) And he says: Then stop on in at Fat Daddy's Ice Cream Parlor right next door and get you a double dip of the finest ice cream in the county.

Only in small town life are you moved to paint the water tower as a show of independence, can get your computer repaired while you browse for goats, and I don't know about you, but buying a tombstone for my newly departed just gives me the hankering for a double scoop of chocolate chip mint and butter pecan on a sugar cone, so it's particularly neighborly of Fat Daddy.

Our family finally isn't the most eccentric on the block; we fit right in here. Dude on the water tower might have actually been onto something there. The World IS Mine. :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free to Good Home

It was inevitable.

It soon became apparent after the National Geographic Special that ran in our front yard a few months ago that we were going to be With Puppies sometime this spring. (It was quite the educational experience at our house too: as in from Lily, “What Bi-kit doin’ to no-ball, Mommy?”)

And the natural result was that Snowball (see the Yard Dogs post if you’re not up to speed) had those very puppies in my carport on Monday. I’d have taken Snowball to get fixed long ago, but The Husband INSISTS that the Yard Dogs aren’t Our Dogs and refused to haul them to the vet. Now we have seven puppies that also aren’t Our Dogs, yet, as the evidence clearly proves, they are living in my carport (aka Sanford and Son).

Of course, following right in time with the Johnson Good Luck, they were born on the coldest night in months. Really, really cold. So, I spent most of the night running back and forth between bed and the carport making sure that Snowball had the puppies covered up with the quilt and that she’s not on top of the quilt and accidentally smothering them to death. Here is what I rigged to keep everyone warm.

The Husband went to see the man up the road who technically owns Snowball, and he was pretty clear that she isn’t his dog because she lives at our house. (He has a point.) So, now, I’m free to put a collar on Snowball and haul her to get fixed. Well, I might have to sneak her past The Husband. (Shhhhh)

And folks, starting May 21st, have I got a deal for you.

Choose from seven beautiful full-blood mutt puppies.

Five solid black sweeties. Sired by a gorgeous gargantuan full-blooded black lab with papers (who came to the wrong side of the tracks to catch up with our white terrier mix. I know how big he is since I personally chased him off with a broom every day for a week, not because he was after Snowball, but because Biscuit was obviously having some Small Man issues and kept trying to fight over Snowball with the monster dog who outweighed him by, oh, 100 pounds).

One solid caramel colored runt: Clearly the baby daddy is Biscuit the Jack Russell/beagle something-or-another. (Johnson Bloodline if there ever was a one.) This one’s the under-the-radar pick of the litter. (Puppy voted most likely to become another Johnson Yard Dog.)

One black and white spotted little fuzz ball: also possibly a Biscuit baby (and the puppy voted to go first because it’s C.U.T.E!).

If you sign up now to pick one up the week of May 19th, they are FREE! Yes, that’s right, FREE! Folks, you can’t get cheaper than that. Any date after that, and I’m afraid I’m gonna have to charge ya. So, (to quote my favorite huckster of all time, the great buy-here/pay-here car salesmen god Chip Ellis) put the hot dog down, Baby, and come get you a 100% purebred Johnson Yard Dog.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Who Says Orthodontics Can't Be Fun?

Yesterday, the lovely Elaina had a rite of passage that I thought would come much further down the line, but no, we weren’t that lucky. The seven-yr-old had to get braces to start working on that bite of hers. (I take that back, unlucky would have been the TWINS in braces!)

And here it is in all its glory. (It must really stink having a mother who scrapbooks. Seriously, I’m going to have to learn how to use a telescopic lens so that I don’t humiliate my babies all of the way through middle/high school.)

I couldn’t believe how brave she was. This process is weird and painful and just dreadful. She was a complete trooper and did everything she was asked without complaint (of course, last night after church she was having a moment because it hurts a LOT).

I tried to joke and keep the mood light while the process was happening. So, while we were waiting on the next step to start up, I told her that when we got home, just at random for no reason whatsoever periodically throughout the day, I expected her to fling her arms in the air above her head and scream, “WHEEEEEEE!” at the top of her lungs.

She looked at me like I was crazy (nothing new there) and said, “Why would I do that?”

I deadpanned back to her, “Because we just put an entire trip to Disney World in your mouth.”

Elaina seriously said, “Well, it doesn’t feel like Disney World in there.”

Bless her heart.

Elaina Before
Star Trek has nothing on the gear at this orthodontist's office. Seriously.

She is going to kill me for this one day.

Elaina All Done! Just as fabulous as before...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Can I Get an Umbrella in this?

Funny conversation from the shower:

They served beer and wine at the bridal tea my mother's family hosted. Now, anyone who knows me at all knows that my husband is a pastor but that we don't call that a "hill to die on issue" meaning that I won't part company with you if you drink, but don't part company with me if I don't. That’s just how we see it.

Well, Elaina noticed the beer when she went out on the deck to get a Coke out of the cooler. She casually walked up to me, very serious, cutting her eyes to and fro and hissed in my ear out of the side of her mouth, "I think that is alcohol in that cooler." I whispered back, "Yes, it probably is." And she responded, "I thought that men at the football drink that; what it is doing at a lady party?"

I smiled to myself and told her we'd talk about it later. (How effective those advertising folks are that my seven-yr-old gets the fact that football and beer apparantly go together.)

So, after the party, we motored down the road a couple of miles and Elaina called out from the back of the van, "Is it time to talk about that issue now?"

Me (trying not to laugh out loud at her use of the word “issue” because that's just rude): "Some people drink beer, Elaina. It's not the end of the world, we just don't prefer to for some complicated reasons that I'll explain to you when you are older."

Elaina: "But that's not the problem, Mom, why were ladies drinking that beer?"

Me (confused because I’m obviously missing something here): "What do you mean? Do you think that only boys drink beer?"

, rolling eyes dramatically: "Yeah. Just boys drink it. And there were no boys except for Carter."

Now, since we don’t drink at all, I’m not sure where she’s acquired her copy of the Drinking Etiquette Rulebook, so I carry on, curiosity getting the best of me yet again.

Me: "What gave you the idea that only boys drink beer?"

Elaina (sighing deeply and becoming obviously exasperated with my ignorance): "Because girls drink ones with umbrellas, Mom."

Okay then.

Writing that down for my next vacation...girls drink ones with umbrellas. Got it.

(I crack myself up.)

Let Them Eat Cake

Hello, Friends and Neighbors!

I've returned this evening, tired and a little road weary, but since I put three-and-a-half hours in driving around Birmingham today, that's to be expected. Let's see...

I was sleeping peacefully (snoring and drooling) this morning when my father called at 8:15 and wanted to ask some questions that only I could answer (figures), so instead of snoozing until 10:00, I was running around the house. (It gave me traumatic flashbacks of my childhood when the man thought that it was a cardinal sin to sleep past 8:30 in the morning on the weekend because, darnit, there were tasks to accomplish! So, getting up early to do chores on Saturday is banned in my home. In fact, all chores are banned on Saturday, and if you wake me up before 9:30 beware the Growly Bear. Grrr.)

I got me, the four shorties, and the Nana cleaned up and in the road by 11:00 for Stop One on our April 2008 Tour of the Ham. We went to a bridal luncheon thingy for my cousin's future bride. It was really, really nice. Of course, we added something to the ambiance by crashing the party with four kids who weren't invited. I hate that when people bring kids to an event when they weren't invited. Sheesh. Some people. Of couse, today it was my turn in the cosmos to play the role of Some People.

See, my sister-in-law is expecting her first baby and her baby shower was scheduled for 2:00 this afternoon on the other side of the universe from my house and from this bridal tea, so I had no choice but to bring the Shorties to the first party on the Tour. Now, the reason I had 'no choice' and needed to go is that my mother wanted to go see her people, and how could I tell my mother no? It was a case of all or nothing, and I assure you that I'd rather have the people at the bridal tea peeved than to get on the wrong side of those Johnsons--they're crazy (in the best possible way--but still crazy.) No way was pregnant Aunt Janet driving up from Florida for her baby shower and not getting her hands on my kids. I'd be banned from the family or something.

The Shorties were under threat of death to behave themseles at the bridal tea, and they did fairly well. I also stuck to the 45-minute rule and had them in and out before anyone had the chance to throw anything, stick anything in the air vent, or hide food in the furniture. (Hey, you're not talking to an amature here.) My cousin Tamara brought the most incredible cake I've ever seen live and in person. This cake looked like something off of the Food Network. Seriously, I need a photo to put up on this blog. Someone e-mail me. She always does everything 1,000 percent all out, and this party was no exception.

Flashback Moment: On the way up to the house where the bridal party was (which is out of our area obviously), I thought everything on the road started looking familiar. I pulled up to a stop sign and right in front of me is my dear friend Lela's house. I haven't been there but a handful of times (since it's a day's journey to get there, so we usually meet in the middle for lunch or dinner or something). I called her on the cell phone and told her that I was driving past her house at that very second for a party and we would be popping in at her house in about 30 minutes and not to clean up anything or put on make up (nothing like the pop-in, is there?).

These are two steadfast rules in the True Friends Handbook. If you have to a) pick up your laundry b) put on make up and brush your hair out and/or c) dust or wipe anything down when someone is coming to your house then they aren't a True Friend. They are just Somebody You Know.

Back In the Story: We blew through the shower, ate food, ate cake, then loaded up the van and headed back to Lela's for a 30 minute visit. Then, I crammed everyone back in the van and off to Aunt Diana's house we trekked for Stop Two--The Baby Shower. Bessemer gets father away every time I drive there. Everyone was already present and accounted for by the time we arrived. I can't seem to get to a Johnson Famiy Event on time ever. Never, ever. It's the weirdest thing. I am on time for four kids worth of doctor appointments, dentist appointments, work, school, PTO, seminars, speaking engagement, etc., but when it comes to getting to their family events there's a big black cloud over my van. It's really Time Life Moment bizarre.

We viewed the gifts, and had some more cake, and rubbed Janet's huge belly (which looks WONDERFUL!). I'm so proud for her! I'm mostly excited on a personal level because Janet having a baby means that I'm not the oldest mom with a toddler at playgroup anymore! Whoo-hoo! (Smooches, Janet!)

At 4:00 sharp (this means that at 4:00 I started telling everyone to wash the cake out of their hair and pee, not that we left at 4:00), I started shoveling kids back in the van to drive the hour back home.

We start revival at our church tomorrow, and I want to sing in the revival choir (not that I'm helping them at all, I just like to sing). We had rehearsal at 6:00 tonight, and I pulled in the driveway just in time to change clothes and get to the church. We had a really nice potluck thing afterwards. Steve cooked his World Famous Lemon Pepper Chicken for the choir. Hey now, that chicken rocks. I liked it almost as much as that strawberry cheesecake from Edgar's that the choir director's brought.

I think I'm dying. Let's see....shower food twice, cake, cake, cheesecake...I'm thinking that I ate all of my Weight Watchers points for the week today. Ugh. I'm also pretty sure I grasp why my bottom is growing and not shrinking. That darned Weight Watchers--it never works. Ha-ha!