This might just be my favorite animal video ever. Make sure you watch til the very end.
This is a repost of a post I did years ago, but it’s a story I think of every Ash Wednesday. And who doesn’t love a good Ash Wednesday story?
There is a low-point in everyone’s High School career and mine was Algebra 2 with Sister Evangeline. I went to High School at a convent despite being a life-long Mormon and about half of our teachers were nuns (who, I was disappointed to find out, did not wear habits–only skirts and very frumpy shoes.) Sister Evangeline was one of those people who had a perfectly mathematical mind and simply couldn’t understand that not everybody else had the same. She would explain a new mathematical concept the same way over and over again. If you didn’t get it, she would just give you the exact same explanation but in a meaner tone of voice.
Every day a few unlucky girls were chosen to put their homework problems up on the board. Not being the kind of person who believes in homework, I never did mine. Ever. Instead I would copy the homework of Carla who sat behind me. She was too sweet and softspoken to ever refuse, even though I could tell she hated to do it. But I figured that if Carla didn’t have the gumption to say no, then I would continue to copy. It never struck me that this was cheating (it’s only cheating if it’s a test, you know. And I never cheated on tests. I failed miserably every time and couldn’t have cared less); copying Carla’s work was merely a more expeditious way of getting things done.
Algebra was my first period class and one particular morning Sister Vange came in with a giant blob of dirt on her forehead. Nobody took any notice. Nobody said a word. I looked around the room; the other girls looked bored as ever. No one was snickering or pointing. What in the world was going on? How did Sister Vange get a huge smudge on her forehead at 8:00 in the morning and how could she not have noticed? Well, if nobody was paying it any attention, then I supposed I wouldn’t either.
On the way to my next class I noticed a classmate with a smudge of dirt on her forehead. Only it wasn’t just a blob, it was in the shape of a plus sign. Hmmmm. The plot continued to thicken. I finally pulled one of my Catholic friends aside. “What is going on?” I demanded. She gave me a bored look, “it’s Ash Wedensday, Dummy.”
Aha! That holiday I’d seen every year in my little square Hallmark datebook! That wasn’t mud on their foreheads, it was ashes! And it wasn’t a plus sign, it was a cross! I’m sure we had a special liturgy at school for Ash Wednesday, but like most everything about Catholicism, I never quite figured out the idea behind it.
We Mormons don’t observe the little religious holidays. Things like Epiphany and Palm Sunday just pass us right by. I guess they’re too “Catholic” or something. Or maybe the idea is that it shouldn’t take a special day to make us think of the Lord. I don’t know. But I had never come across someone observing Ash Wednesday before that day at school.
Every year on Ash Wednesday I think about Sister Evangeline, my inability to do math, and how much I enjoyed going to school at a convent despite the fact that I have never been, and have no desire to ever be, a Catholic.
So Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone, even though I still don’t know what it’s about!
I have always been a deep, sound sleeper. It’s pretty much one of my talents, to be able to fall asleep anytime I’m horizontal. And I don’t wake up until the next morning. Normally.
Once when I was a teenager I fell fast asleep as usual. I woke up in the middle of the night, though, when I rolled over and felt someone’s arm under my pillow. I gingerly touched the arm; yes, there were fingers and everything. There is no scenario in which anyone I knew would have gotten in bed with me. Why would a stranger be in my bed??? I had no idea but it certainly was not good. Not good at all. My heart started to beat faster and I tried to think of various ways of escape without completely panicking. Due to the fact that I have enormous teeth, I have always resorted to biting as a means of self defense. This would be my tactic: bite the person’s arm and run like crazy.
I calmed myself down enough to chomp on the arm as hard as I could. Only the person didn’t flinch. He didn’t even stir. He certainly should have at least shouted out with that big of a bite. What was going on?
I threw back the pillow only to find that there certainly was an arm there. Only . . . . it was my arm. Completely fallen asleep. I stood up and my limp arm came along, pins and needles shooting through it. I shook my arm until I got the blood flowing again, the bite mark turning bright red.
I don’t know whether it was the adrenaline or humiliation that kept me awake for the rest of the night. But here are some lessons that you should learn from my experience:
1. Things always seem very alarming in the middle of the night. Never trust any judgement made at 3 am.
2. Never bite an intruder without seeing the whites of his eyes.
3. Don’t ever sneak into my bed. You will most certainly regret it.
Back in the early 80′s when I was an awkward pre-teen I fell in love with some animals. They weren’t real animals, they were much better than that; they were Critter Sitters. These were soft, adorable illustrations of animals dressed up all cutesy doing things that animals clearly aren’t meant to do: why would a koala rake leaves or talk on the phone? I never asked myself that question once. (Who decided there was anything cute about raking leaves anyway?) None of that mattered. I was madly in love with Critter Sitters.
I managed to get a few critter sitter folders since they were cheap and easy to find.
I also got a nightshirt that I wore to all slumber parties and sleepovers. I felt so attractive in it; like I was actually as adorable as the animals printed on the front. The holy grail of Critter Sitter items was, in my mind, panties. I saw a pack of panties with Critter Sitter characters on them and my heart nearly stopped. Now this was back in the day when everything came plain and you had to pay extra for cartoon characters. Nowadays it’s the opposite and I have to search high and low for plain, non-character clothing. Most of the underwear my mom bought for me was waist-high briefs printed with tiny rose buds. There was a pair with pink roses, a pair with blue roses and the most disdained: the pair with yellow roses. I don’t know why I didn’t just spend my allowance and buy some critter sitter underwear, but that wasn’t even in the realm of possibility in my feeble 10-year-old brain. So I decided the next best option would be to paint Critter Sitters onto my own underwear. I was born uttering the phrase, “I’m sure I could do that. How hard can it be?” Now that I’m an adult, that viewpoint has really come in handy. But preteens are not so good at doing stuff.
I got out a pair of silky white granny panties and the only paints I owned–watercolors–and set to work. Within a couple of minutes it became clear that, as brilliant an artist as I was, I would not be able to recreate the Critter Sitter artwork in any way. Instead of shrugging my shoulders and tossing the panties in the sink to rinse them out, I had that furtive sense of guilt that kids always seem to have. My only option seemed to be to throw the underwear into the woods behind my house.
It was a wet, muddy morning but I slipped out the siding door in my socks and flung the underpants into the trees as far as I could. (Knowing me, that was about three feet.) I thought I was home free until I noticed my little brother Ben watching me. He was old enough to know something odd was going on but young enough to not be able to speak intelligently. That kid sat next to the sliding door pointing and making babbly toddler noises until finally my dad decided to go check out what was out there in the woods that Ben was so fascinated with.
My father came back inside a few minutes later holding a dripping pair of panties. “I don’t know what Ben was so interested in, but here’s some underwear I found outside,” he said, tossing them to me. I froze and looked down. Instead of wondering why my underwear had painted stick figures all over them, my dad had only seen a pair of panties that had been rinsed out in the rain. I nearly fainted with relief. The idea that someone might find out that I had tried to paint my own underwear seemed beyond foolish and absurd; buying them at the store suddenly made perfect sense.
Now to come up with a plan to ride my bike on the freeway to the mall . . . . (oh yeah. It happened.)
I worked until my second child was a few months old but I made sure that I only worked hours that Mister was home so we didn’t need to put the kids in daycare. One day when India was a baby I forgot to restock the formula before I went to work but I figured it wasn’t a big deal; Mister was perfectly capable of going to the store. Capable, yes; did he want to? That was another story. I got home from work that night to find baby India drinking a bottle of chocolate Slim-Fast. Pretty much the same thing as formula, right? But it could have been worse. Happy Mother’s Day!
My kids have been bugging me for months to watch a bunch of YouTube videos by some German guy named Flula. Apparently he lives in America and has a bit of trouble figuring out the idiosyncrasies of our language. Finally I caved and watched some of these videos. They’re pretty funny, although he’s no Sweet Brown. This one was my favorite. These are a lot funnier if you have preteens to watch them with. (For some reason this guy alway tapes videos in his car. Kind of weird. And he is a DJ part time, hence the headphones.) If you want to see more of the German Guy his “Rock, Paper, Scissors“ and “Jennifer the Party Pooper” vids are also really good.
Mister finally bought a Prius after thinking about it for about five years. Now he needs a new license plate. Here in Texas we have about a jillion different plate designs and I had fun looking for one. I also found out that the name Hildie is available! I should totally get a personalized plate, shouldn’t I? They’re $150 per year so I doubt I will, but I had fun trying out some designs. This one is my favorite. I do love a good cheeseburger.
Mister is a big Dr. Pepper fan. Me, notsomuch but this would certainly be a unique plate. In case you’re thinking that it’s a totally random license plate design, Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco, TX.
Of course, Texans love Jesus too. You’d better be a nice driver if you commit to this license plate. If you feel like your Jesus fish on the back of your car isn’t hardcore enough, consider this one.(Or you could just let your kind Christian behavior speak for itself.)
Say you’re really into NASCAR. Texas has not one, not two, but four NASCAR designs. Why does that not surprise me.
And let’s not forget the hunters. If you are super into killing wild Turkeys, now you can inform everyone behind you at the stoplight. You wouldn’t want people to think you kill deer or boar or something. Make sure you let everyone know that shooting turkeys is where it’s at. And you don’t kill those tame turkeys either; only crazy wild ones. Hey, there’s is an actual federation dedicated to them! I’ll bet those are some rootin-tootin conventions.
This one just plain confused me. BYU is in Utah. But I can have a Texas plate with a Utah school on it? That’s like ordering a Steak Gordita at McDonalds. Weird.
If you have a tribal tattoo you’d probably like this plate as well. That way people know you’re a badass even though you’re driving a Corolla.
This design is my favorite but I have to say I was a little disconcerted with the way they split up my name:
Suddenly Texas is telling me they want me dead? Although I have to say I love the tagline, “Texas 4 Ever”. Did you guys watch Friday Night Lights? Did you see the show’s finale when Tim is looking over his property and says, “Texas Forever”, just like in the very first episode? Man, I was doing the ugly cry. Texas forever, indeed.
One of my very favorite things growing up was to come home and find my mother not there. She was very bossy and we fought a lot but that wasn’t the reason why; I loved to make baked goods while she wasn’t around to tell me I was doing things wrong. She also would make me share anything I baked and that was entirely distressing to a sugar-crazed glutton like me.
The year I turned 11 I learned how to make pie crust. I suppose my mother taught me or maybe I just went through her recipe files and taught myself. Either way I figured it out. At first I stuck to making rolled out dough sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s still one of my favorite treats to this day. But eventually I decided to incorporate one of my other favorite ingredients: strawberry jam. It wasn’t homemade. I don’t think I knew that homemade jam even existed. I used plain-old Smuckers to make tarts. I called them tarts as they looked like pop-tarts. This is how they looked in my nursery rhyme book too (“The Knave of Hearts, he stole some tarts”). Nowadays, though, tarts are just teensy pies. The things I traditionally think of tarts are called hand pies. This term is horrid. If an apple pie is made of apples and a lemon pie is made of lemons, what conclusion would you draw of a hand pie? Exactly. If you know a better name, please tell me.
I could barely wait until my jam tarts were out of the oven before gobbling them up. Usually I didn’t wait and would burn my tongue on the steamy filling. Once I added a spoonful of marshmallow fluff to each jam tart but that was gilding the lily a bit, even for a passionate sugar-lover. I would happily eat an entire batch of tarts, wrapping them in the prettiest dishtowel I could find and sneaking them throughout the evening. Everything would be cleaned up meticulously before my mother got home. Not that she would have cared, really, but I liked having secrets.
Not all my goodie-making experiments turned out so well. Once I tried to melt chocolate chips in a saucepan thinking that they would magically become hot fudge. Instead I completely burned the chocolate and could not get it out of the pan to save my life. Panicking, my solution was to throw the pot into the snowy woods in my backyard. My idea seemed to work and nobody noticed. I’m sure my mother tore apart the kitchen looking for her pan but nobody thought to ask me, seeing as how I was only nine.
Then spring came. The snow melted. And one day my very angry father came storming into the house wanting to know who had left a pan outside. My brother was just a baby so my sister Arianne (who was six at the time) and I were told to stand on the steps so that our faces were at the same level as my father’s. Over and over he demanded to know what had happened. There was no way I was going to fess up. I knew that irate look on my father’s face well. It meant one thing: Spanky-town.
Arianne and I both adamantly denied any knowledge of the pot. Had I half a brain I should have blamed it on one of our terrible babysitters. But all I knew is that I wasn’t about to get in trouble. And no child was as stubborn as I was. My father continued grilling us for an eternity. Finally he announced, “well, I’m just going to have to spank you both until somebody admits it.” This was too much for my poor, tenderhearted sister. “I did it! I left the pan outside!” she wailed. I could not believe this brilliant turn of events. I looked at my sister out of the corner of my eye and remember thinking one word: sucker. I then skipped happily off to my bedroom while I assume my sister got laid across my dad’s knee.
I never felt bad for an instant. Looking back I can’t believe how horrible I was. Apparently those years of Sunday School lessons bounced right off my forehead. But I did learn to use a double boiler when melting chocolate.
*The picture is from one of my very favorite blogs: Aunt Ruthie’s Sugar Pie Farmhouse. She has a delightful–gulp–hand pie recipe that you might want to try.
I nearly forgot that today is the official Star Wars Day. (The unofficial Star Wars Day for fans is the other 364 days of the year). I can’t believe I came this close to not reminding everyone. Fortunately I have Kacy who keeps me apprised of all the milestones in Science Fiction.
My son York is fifteen and Star Wars is pretty much the most important thing in his life (he has never had a girlfriend, strangely enough). I would like to think that I, his mother, am most important. I only gave him life and read Things That Go three thousand times to him. You know, nothing special. Nothing like the things Darth Sidious has done for him. But he doesn’t have a corner of his room dedicated to me.
Nor does he have an assortment of posters with my face on them (you guys, this is only two of the Star Wars posters in his room.)
Nor does York have a clock featuring scenes from my life.
So I shall shrug my shoulders and make myself some cookies. Shortbread X-Wing fighter, anyone?
It is time at our Elementary School for the semi-annual book fair. Which I hate. And not just because we are on a very limited budget and the last thing I want to be spending money on is the hardcover version of Super Diaper Baby. I’m just playing; Super Diaper Baby only comes in paperback. I’m serious about not liking the book fair.
I don’t get how Scholastic totally nails it with dandy cheap books in the book orders, but turns the book fair into a super deluxe full-priced book store (that they have the audacity to suggest I work at). Yeah, it’s some sort of fund raiser. I get it. At least this way we’ll have books to show for our contributions to the school and not vile cookie dough.
But this jumps to the conclusion that I want a hard-cover copy of Pinkalicious. I don’t. I really don’t. I am extremely picky when it comes to the books my children read (my husband, not so much. Which explains why we actually own Super Diaper Baby. I made the foolish mistake of sending Jasper to the book fair with Daddy last year. And now said book is hidden because once Mister read it he was appalled that the title character actually battles a giant poop. I’m all, “Duh. What did you think it was going to be about? Tea parties?”)
There are some really great books at the book fair. I’m not knocking Scholastic. But unlike a book store or Amazon where I can pick out what I think is appropriate for my children, at the book fair they are dancing around with some sort of Poodle Princesses nonsense, begging and pleading and writhing on the floor that they will never be happy without this book.
But, as usual, I have to play
mean witch stern mother and tell my kids no. “No, Ada, I just bought you two books for your birthday nine days ago.” That doesn’t matter because everybody has rich mothers who buy their children everything they want from the book fair. At least that’s what my children say. I’m so wretched I won’t even buy the $5 Justin Bieber poster.
There is all this peer pressure to buy, buy, buy.
I am getting severely tired of this so I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Here are a couple of books that I “bought at the book fair”. I’m sure my kids will be thrilled!