Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bilbo?

Yesterday afternoon I had my act together, and had had it together for hours, when I had the thought, "This can't last.  Something's bound to go wrong."

And I was right.  After one of the children had been grounded, I had lectured all three of them, and I found my hands in my hair, getting ready to pull hanks of it out by the roots, I got out the bubbles, because bubbles fix everything.
Well, maybe not everything, but they do seem to act as a magical reset button for children.  I don't know why this is, I just know that it's true.  Why is that piece of information not in every parenting book?  Instead they drone on and on about potty training and how This is the Only Proper Way to Discipline Your Children and how if you let your baby cry it out you're a terrible parent and deserve to die and how if you pick up your baby when she cries you're a terrible parent and deserve to die.

I'm not big on parenting books.  Give me a real live fellow parent with actual conversation any day.  Them I will listen to.


Aside from bubble meditation, we've been taking family forays to the driving range.
This involves all three male Crislers hitting small balls with metal sticks, and yours truly sitting on benches that I can only assume are there for people like me.  I like these benches.  They provide a perch for me where I can do all my golf course activities, like taking pictures and reading books and not golfing.  Adelaide was absent for this particular outing.  She spent zero hours grieving.

We have a new resident in our backyard.
This started as a regular ol' brush pile.  It has been shaped and molded into a domicile complete with a tunnel running straight through it featuring front and back entrances.  Our children swear they did not do this.  Am I freaked out by this?  YES.  Yes, I am.  The best possible answer to "Who built a house made out of weeds in our backyard?" is "Hobbits," but it's more likely "Grass demon who sneaks out of its creeping Charlie igloo and sits on the chests of our children at night and sucks the breath from their lips."

You know- something like this:

Um, Grandma?  Why did we watch this movie at your house so often?


But seriously- what is living in our backyard?




Tuesday, May 24, 2016

She Should Have Been a Mole or a Bat Instead

Some time ago, my mother sent me a photo of herself, her sisters, and a couple other girls, all dressed up for Halloween in the sixties.

Now, all of her accompanying text within that email contained useful information, but the one thing I haven't been able to get over is her final statement:  "I don't have any glasses on, this must have been before the school nurse figured I was half blind at school."

I mean
First of all, just for today, we're going to ignore the girl in the nightmarish mask- we'll have to address that on a separate day, when I have emotionally prepared myself to do so.

For now, I'd like to focus on the girl in the cheetah costume:  My mother.

Seriously, though.

Does it really take a brilliant diagnostician to realize that the girl smiling thirty degrees to the left of the camera can't see a dang thing?


Every other person looks as if they've gone through the requisite party ritual of, "Okay, everybody, say, 'Cheese!'"  All look at the camera and parrot, "Cheese!"  Unless you're poor, blind Lorri, however; in that case you're wearing a vacant smile and staring at nothing.

Now, you could argue that the object of her gaze is merely out of range, that I have no way of knowing what she's looking at.  As a terribly, terribly near-sighted person myself (thanks, mom), I heartily and vociferously disagree, as I have pasted this facial expression on my own visage many times, when the contacts are safely soaking in their case, my glasses are on my nightstand, and Derek says something to me that requires a reply.  I have to wait for him to move in order to know where to turn my head and aim my voice at; otherwise, no idea.  None.  Just a blind smile, staring forty paces to the left of the person attempting to interact with me.
Kinda like this, actually.


I wonder how many walls she offered to "Trick or treat" that night.  Bless her heart.  Still, things could have been worse.
What the heck, 1967?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Running and Food and Illness and Gardening. Oh, my?

It's that time of year again, where early Saturday mornings are dedicated to a long run, prepping for some fall race or other.  It's not yet hot or humid enough to be a slog and I'm not yet burnt out or fighting injury as I surely will be late in the summer.  In short, because I gave up any aspirations of a spring distance race, I'm in a sweet spot of my running season.
Good morning, forest preserve entrance.  I wish I could wake up looking that good.

But come, let us speak of more important matters.  Like cheese.
My mom gives first-aid kits and fire extinguishers as wedding gifts.  I give box graters.


Much of our week was spent in this fashion, because apparently that's just what we do now:
Thankfully we somehow managed to keep Atticus from infecting the rest of the family, so he was the only one with the fever and vomiting and extreme lethargy.  Oh, and congestion, leading me to look around one morning and say, "What is that noise?" thinking it was some kind of machinery outdoors.  I used my Indian tracking skills to chase down its source.
Then I took a video and laughed at my sick kid who, for four straight days, kept dropping off to sleep within seconds anytime he went horizontal, because I am a compassionate, nurturing, decorous mother.  Don't forget to turn the volume up on that video.

Other ways I am a delight to live with:
I eat the edges of any brownie pan, because the edges are the best part:  Chewy in the middle, with a nice, crunchy crust on the edge.  Perfection.  I've thought about getting one of these
but first of all, those pans are expensive, and more importantly, I would no longer be able to blithely say, "I left you a big piece of brownie," to Derek, knowing full well it's only the inferior middle of the dessert.  There would be no pieces left to offer Derek with a pan like that.  I do not need a dessert enabler like that in our house, however brilliant a concept it may be.

I spent more time in the garden, and emerged with its usual offerings.
Clockwise from the upper left, that's a piece of glass, a rubber tube with very sharp pokey wires inside, a dirty piece of porcelain, a nail, a screw, and a hunk of metal there in the center.  All marvelous things to find whilst digging around in the soil with your bare hands.  I've heard that in some biker gangs you get a tough nickname; what with all the metal and glass I've encountered, I feel like I've earned the right to the same with my dangerous forays under the surface of our yard.  It's, like, extreme gardening.  What kind of nicknames would an extreme gardening club/gang even have, though?  "Thornbush"?  "Poison sumac"?  "Spade"?  



Tell me now:  Are you a pre-packaged shredded cheese sort, or dyed-in-the-wool grater?  How do you feel about the geography of a brownie?  What would your gardening nickname be?


Monday, May 16, 2016

Somebody Make This Woman a Cape

Last week, my mom received the news that she was the Kansas State School Nurse of the Year.  This means that she is the best school nurse in the entire world.  Well, that's what I've decided, anyway.  And so that's what we're going to talk about today.

See, the more I talk to people, the more I read, the more I interact with the world at large, the more I find that many are still operating under the delusion that school nurses spend their days sitting in their offices, just waiting for a sick kid to wander in.  But the people who nominated Mom- fellow staff members, bless them- and the people who decided that she is The Best- fellow school nurses- all know better.  They know about all the vision and hearing and scoliosis screenings.  They know about endless blood sugar level checks (shout out to the diabetic kids), and finding someone who can speak an obscure language so you can communicate with a new family (shout out to the Chuukese), and finding some way to make CPR training entertaining for the tenth year in a row (shout out to anyone who's ever been the butt of one of my mom's jokes- it was for a good cause).

And that's not even getting into body parts being cut off because locker doors are surprisingly sharp and all the other astonishingly stupid ways middle schoolers can find to hurt themselves and each other.  It's also not getting into all the grant writing for health careers classes or AEDs or any of the other things schools need but don't get funding for (in Kansas?  That's basically everything.), or doing anything and everything to get parents and staff alike to make healthy choices for their kids, even if they're bound and determined to do the opposite.
Basically my mom's job.
Or hey, let's talk about some of the more glamorous aspects of her job.  Like nit picking!  I mean literal nit picking, as in picking head lice and nits out of kids' hair because apparently no one else is going to do it.  And what about that time she turned to my sisters and me and informed us that we were not allowed to answer the phone because there was a crazy, negligent, borderline abusive parent harassing her for doing her job?  Or if you really want to get scary- what about all the paperwork generated for everything I've just mentioned?  What about that?

Congratulations, Mom.  You're the best school nurse/obsessive hand washer/stand-up comedian specializing in blood-borne pathogens/mortifying sex educator/mom I've ever known.

"Lorri, someday you're going to be the Kansas State School Nurse of the Year.  All it will take to get there is swimming through an ocean of paperwork, ignorance, and disgusting bodily fluids."  "Super!  Sign me up!"  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My First Scary Bulb Sale

Yesterday morning, the nearby public garden had its first ever Bag'O'Bulbs sale, where, if you showed up at a certain gate with grocery bags, you could get freshly dug tulip bulbs for $10 a bag.

The whole shebang began at 8 AM, which means I was there promptly at 8, eagerly clutching a bag and a Hamilton (maybe in a few years it will be a Hamilton/Mott/Truth/Anthony/Stanton/Paul, because apparently it's just too much to actually put a woman on the front of the bill, so instead they'll try to appease us with five women on the back, where they belong, amIright, fellas?) and wearing multiple layers of clothing, because it's May, so of course it's 30 degrees outside!

Gracious, that was a mess of a paragraph, wasn't it?  Ah, well.  I meant every word.  I really was there at 8.

I was joined by a host of fellow gardeners, and I, along with one other family from my church, probably brought the average age down by four decades.  This made me think, not for the first time, that I was made to be an old person; I mean, I love to garden and talk about birds, I am always cold, and I can pinch a penny until it screams for mercy.

Now that my stereotyping is done for the day, I can tell you about the actual event, which was a little bit of a fiasco.  I felt bad for the director of the whole thing, as he seemed to realize that it was not going that well and even went so far as to say multiple times, "Keep in mind this is our first year, and the first year of any event is always a learning experience, so this will only get better and better each year."

Their method in this inaugural year was to have us pay our money, shuffle into a small area just inside the gate, and wait for twenty minutes.  Then, an employee would drive up in a gator with a trailer attached, which was piled high with freshly-dug tulips.  At that point, The Frenzy would ensue.

You know those photos and videos you've seen of Black Friday hordes swarming through stores, hunting for marked down electronics they probably won't even use in a year?  It was kind of like that.  Or maybe sharks circling prey.  I like that analogy better, as it tickles me to think of these gardeners as predators.

I watched two big, full trailers come, be mobbed by grasping tulip junkies, and five minutes later go, depleted.  The third trailer just happened to pull up and stop right in front of me, so I filled my bag as quickly as I could lest someone cut me with their AARP card, and left.

In addition to his pseudo-apology, the director had some other interesting information, such as his suggestion to perhaps come later in the morning next year:  "I've been to these bulb sales at other gardens, and everyone lines up as soon as it opens, thinking that if they come later, they won't get any.  Well, folks, we have 47,000 tulips bulbs we're digging up today, so I promise, there will be bulbs for you to buy, even if you walk in at 10 AM."

I asked him what they've done with the bulbs in years past, since this was the sale's first year, and he told me they've always been composted, to which I audibly gasped and clutched my heart.  He also said that they can't simply give the bulbs away, but have to charge money because they're a public institution.  He was also very careful to instruct everyone there to plant their bulbs that weekend, NOT to store them over the summer until fall planting, and explained why.  Feel free to google this, because I'm sure not explaining it to you.


It really didn't feel like I'd gotten that many bulbs, but when I opened up the bag that afternoon, I counted out 65 BULBS.  For $10!

Atticus got to help me plant all 65 late yesterday because of some choices he made earlier in the week.  There's just nothing like manual labor for behavioral adjustment, is there?

I have no idea what colors these will be next spring, only that they'll be a mix, like what we saw when we were at the garden two weeks ago.  I'm sure by then I'll have completely forgotten any of this ever happened, so what a pleasant surprise it will all be!  I do have plans on being at next year's bulb sale, except next year I'll arrive later, and wear more armor.  I can't wait!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tulips and I Need Some Help

It's been a colorful spring for our yard.  The tulips have been productive, although I've definitely noted slowing in the cultivars I planted several years ago.  Shayla's Favorites (I have no idea what these are actually called; in my mind, they are always and forever Shayla's Favorites) are still producing the same number of blooms, but they're beginning to show their age with multiple blemishes on the petals.  Just not quite as hale and hearty as they used to be.  If I can find more of the exact same type- or more accurately, if I can remember to look for them in the first place- I'd like to fill in this bed with new bulbs of the same shade this fall.

I did the thing last fall where I plant a bunch of new tulips, don't write it down anywhere (except maybe here), forget over the winter, and surprise myself with fresh flowers in the spring.  I am so dang thoughtful.
These were unusual in that both Derek and two of the kids commented on how pretty they are. Every so often I drag various members of my family around the yard, forcing them to admire all the beauty I'm filling it with, but they don't generally make comments on the contents of my flower beds.  I was a little shocked to hear these compliments, and may or may not have made each person repeat themselves several times just to make sure we were talking about the same thing.  "Hang on- what?  Which flowers?  Those?  The tulips?  You think those tulips are pretty?  You like those?  Did Daddy tell you to say that?  He didn't?  Well, say it again.  Please."
They're possibly even better when viewed from above.  Excuse my favorite running shoes, photobombing a perfectly good tulip photo.


I always wonder why I planted the tulips below when their buds first form, as they're a somewhat unflattering yellow hue with just a hint of purple on the edges- "Shirley" tulips, because it turns out I do keep a label or two.  This photo is a few days after they first opened.
Over a period of weeks, however, they only become more beautiful as time wears on, and I remember how much I love them.  They bloomed for around three weeks, so they're some of the hardest working tulips we have.
Caedmon's getting better the older he gets, too.  Actually, all our kids are.  It's fantastic.

These surprised me.  I'd forgotten Derek's mom gave me some Gryffindor tulips last fall ("Gryffindor"- another tulip name I made up to suit my own whims and fancies).
I took that picture early in the morning as my family waited in the car, all packed and ready for a trip.  I was afraid the tulips wouldn't still be blooming when we returned, and just had to snap a picture before we left.

I think it's safe to say I was not everyone's favorite person when we returned home to these.

I was happy, anyway.


We have all kinds of other  delightful blooms dotting our yard right now, but what I'm excited about is this:

I need someone to make me a tiny sign like you see outside commercial construction sites:  "Future Home of Gladioluseseses, Zinnias, and Delphinium."


And now, for the help I so severely need (save the wisecracks, jokesters).

See this patch of yard, all around our dogwood tree?  Nothing will grow here.  Do you hear me?  Nothing.

"But Kristy," I hear you say.  "I see a number of green somethings growing in this picture."  Let me amend my statement to nothing you would want to grow in your yard is here.  That front-and-center space in our yard is 80% creeping Charlie, 20% grass.  Those little white things are the dogwood petals that have recently been blown and rained down upon the ground.

I have tried daffodils.  I have tried phlox.  I have even gone against my flower-loving heart and tried grass seed, all to no avail.  This is the Dead Zone, take heed all who venture and attempt to root here.

So tell me, friends, what do I plant here?  It's boxed in by sidewalks and our driveway, so I'm okay with trying something with a spreading habit.  It gets little sunlight, and the roots of that tree are very close to the surface.  We do walk through this a lot, but for the most part it's on stepping stones to get from the driveway to our front steps. 

Suggestions?  Anyone?  Please?




Monday, May 9, 2016

Gardens, But Not My Own

A week ago, even though it was chilly and wet out, we went to our local public garden one day after school.  This turned out to be a marvelous idea for a number of reasons, such as having the garden to ourselves, letting the children run off their post-school jitters/wiggles/mania,

and, of course, tulips.

Oh, the tulips.  Lavish in their beauty, and every time we rounded another corner we found another bed stuffed with tulips.


And just in case tulips aren't your thing (is this possible?  Is there a Tulip Haters Anonymous out there?), there were also certain other items of interest.
Those cardinals, the birdbath, water, everything, are made out of Lego bricks.  

Those deer are made of Lego bricks.

That spider suspended above our children is made out of Lego bricks.  

Are you sensing a theme here?  If not, well, honestly, I don't know what's wrong with you.  I have made this as obvious as possible.  Also, for the sake of your Monday, please embiggen this photo and take a closer look at those children.  I feel like I should probably admonish them to please let me get a nice photo every once in a while, but truth be told, these kinds of pictures are my very favorite.  Polished, we are not.  I am comfortable with this knowledge.

There were many other astonishing feats of Lego art we admired, but I'm tired of talking about Legos.  Let's get back to tulips.
If I can remember come fall, I'd like to try and get my hands on some of these Budlight tulips.  There has to be a reason they have that name, right?  Was the person who developed this particular type of tulip a big beer drinker?  Does anyone else besides me care?  



Tomorrow, let's look at my tulips (you just can't wait, right?!) and maybe someone will be able to tell me what to do with the Dead Zone, aka that patch of our yard where good plants go to die.  I swear I can almost hear them screaming for mercy when I plant them there, like a cartoon shoe facing The Dip.  I need help.  With gardening, not psychiatric or otherwise.  I realize parts of this paragraph may have convinced you otherwise, though.