Angry Birds

This morning, I was out on my walk (I know, RIGHT?) and was heading back homeward.  I noticed something in the distance that looked like a black cat, with short stubby legs, crossing the street.  Followed by another one.  OTTERS.  The were ambling down my sidewalk.  Just then, the two Sandhill Cranes that loiter at the end of our street noticed the otters.  I see these birds most every morning while walking.  They ignore cars and humans, but still, I give them a wide berth.  Then with outstretched wings, they took chase after the Otters.  And they were angry.  I suspect there was some bad history between those two Otters and the embittered Sandhill Cranes.

And what luck, they were all heading towards ME.  I was immobilized.  I have a healthy fear of potential alligators when I’m out on my morning walk, but Otters have never given me pause.  However, LARGE ANGRY BIRDS THAT ARE MY HEIGHT AND HEADING RIGHT FOR ME, well, I may have issues with that.  I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.  I’m all MY EYES, MY EYES.

And with that I sprinted across the street to watch the spectacle unfold.  My earbuds kept me from hearing the sound of my own screams.

Do Sandhill Cranes even eat otters?  I knew that I didn’t want to bear witness to THAT.  But still, I was curious.

The otters cut through some bushes and made haste down into a canal and subsequent storm drain.  The Cranes, with their long spindly legs, made their way down into the shallow canal and cornered the otters, now safely behind the gated drain.

This was the only picture I captured.  Because what with fearing for my life and all.

The birds, intent on waiting them out, stood beaks pointed to drain.  Unmoving. I stood in relative safety on the other side of the street, hoping to witness the outcome.  As long as it wasn’t gruesome.

However, near starvation and thirst won out (mine).  I lost focus and headed home.

Fiddledaddy’s observation when I retold the saga: “I’ve got to train you to forgo your safety, in order to capture the photo.”

Otters in the hood.  I’m pretty sure our intrepid homeowners association will never approve.

We’ll just file this under “only in Florida.”

My Report Card

The Summer O’ Fun has been successful in that my children are so tired they don’t know up from down.  But it’s about to kill me.  I have to keep a cheat sheet in the van so that I remember who I’m supposed to have with me, where they are heading, and when I need to collect them.  There’s nothing worse than losing a teenager who doesn’t belong to you.  And in my defense, it’s only happened once.  But it was a nephew, and I don’t think he realized I actually forgot him (because I burned rubber getting back to where I left him.  I think he thought I was in the bathroom.  And we’ll just go with that.)

However, his mother reads this blog, so I may have some explaining to do…

In addition to surfing, bowling, and movies, we’ve added swing dancing, mall outings, and general “hang-outs” (play dates of old…generally involving old play date kids, just add years, hormones, and a potential for PMS or facial hair…depending on gender.)

I’ve spent the weekend finishing up their portfolios, report cards, and updating Emme’s transcript in anticipation for our annual Evaluation in the morning.  If the truth be told, I’m not running myself into the ground just because I want tired children.  Emme will be entering her senior year of high school next summer, so a very large part of me thinks that this could be my last Summer O’ Fun with her, while unfettered with the responsibility of a job, car insurance, and college prep.  A little bit of panic crept up into my throat as I put the final touches on her transcript.  I only have 2 more high school years with her.  And with that, her senior year will be spent in dual-enrollment at the local university.  Because I blinked.  And my sweet, so painfully shy she couldn’t even look you in the eye, tom-boy girl has blossomed into beautiful, tall, confident, mostly composed (she still falls down spontaneously, but it’s just part of her charm) young woman.

Boys are beginning to buzz around.  You should know that we’re dealing with that.  Boys who can drive.  Fiddledaddy would appreciate your prayers in this department.  And it will undoubtedly be a blog post unto itself, but I have to first get a job to pay my daughter all the money I will owe her because I’m talking about THAT.  As it is, I can generally get away with throwing a dollar or two at her to appease ALL THE EMBARRASSMENT.  But that post will cost me.

Perhaps a Paypal button.  (Insert maniacal laughter.)  She did peer over my shoulder while I was typing and informed me that if I use the name “Emme,” “first born,” “favorite child,” “high school junior,” etc., I will owe her $3 per mention.  PUT IT ON MY TAB, NUMBER 1.

After tomorrow (should I pass), I will be homeschooling a high school junior, a freshman, and a 6th grader.  Our homeschooling odyssey will be entering its 12th year.  Who would have thunk.

And on a different note, Fiddledaddy is giving me a blog MAKE-OVER!  Beach themed.  See?  Pigs really do fly.  Still a work in progress, but coming along.

Happy Monday!


July 18, 2016

Bowling Tales

Our Summer O’ Fun continued with a trip to the bowling alley with friends.  Friends who bowl.  Friends who wheeled in fancy bags containing their own bowling balls (with finger holes drilled to perfectly fit their fingers) and their own sanitized bowling shoes.

It seems there has been some sort of homeschool bowling league which I’ve managed to ignore, but most of my teenager’s friends have frequented.

The most important aspect of bowling to one of my teenagers was the outfit. This would be the teenager who came up with this ensemble for 4th of July:


Patriotic shoes courtesy of Goodwill.

For her bowling debut, she wore a polka-dotted vintage inspired dress, with matching hair tie.  I wish I had a picture.  But just getting that one out the door takes every one of my very last nerves and I cannot in the heat of the moment even think about preserving said moment in picture form.

The other teenager can throw herself together in five minutes (she’s still in the will) and the boy child likely wore whatever it was he wore to bed the night before.

I found a bowling shirt on Fiddledaddy’s side of the closet.  If I’d had a cursive “D” I would have stapled it onto the front.

I’m here to tell you that I birthed 3 of the worse bowlers in the history of all bowling.  Emme SKIPS up to the line and tosses her ball into the air willy nilly.  She would turn and refuse to even look to see if she hit anything.  She relied instead on her friends to give her a thumbs up or down.

Cailey  tiptoed up to the line and let her ball fly.  I’m not sure she even broke 20.  BUT SHE LOOKED GOOD.  And that’s what counts.

Jensen’s ball often ended up in the lane next to ours.  In a bid to use the LIGHTEST BALL POSSIBLE, his fingers got stuck, so where his ball would end up was anybody’s guess.

No one was killed.  I’m happy to report that.

I, on the other hand, was in rare bowling form.  The following was captured by my nephew:

While I didn’t break 100, I did make up for it with enthusiasm.

And now I’m getting nice and familiar with the business end of the ice pack.  The children were all complaining today about various muscle aches and states of exhaustion.  They are going to be BEGGING ME to start school next month.

Mission accomplished.



Fireworks by
After nearly 10 years of over-sharing blogging, I may repeat a story or four.  This may be one of those times.

Fiddledaddy and I were discussing the 4th of July and our plans.  I decided to stroll down memory lane.  “Remember when Cailey couldn’t say FIREWORKS?”

Indeed, when Cailey was very small, and she tried to say fireworks, she would throw her chubby little hands up in the air, and in her little girl cartoon voice would shout “F*** UP!”  I wish I were kidding.  It’s not an expression that she had EVER heard, but that was her interpretation of fireworks.  And we usually began the sentence with “LOOK UP! Fireworks!”  She was simply abbreviating.

When various aunts and uncles discovered this fun fact, it became a party game for them at all family gatherings.  “Cailey, say FIREWORKS!”  Awesome.

And all was well and good until one fateful Sunday morning when our church displayed a picture of fireworks on the giant overheard screen.

We miss that church.

Not really.  But whatever.

Fiddledaddy asked me when we should reveal this intel to Cailey, and I said when she is grown and has children of her own.  It is then that I will be awaiting the weekly phone call apologizing for everything she has put me through.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.

Have a very blessed Independence Day!  And thank you to the men and women who serve our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms we hold so dear.


Running Amok

Since I’ve been feeling better, I started walking early in the morning.  Exercise was one of those things that I knew I needed to do, but near-debilitating joint pain and discomfort stood in the way.

Not all that long ago, it occurred to me that nothing hurt.  I stood still, closed my eyes, and had a revelation that I was not experiencing any pain.  At all.  And that feeling continued.  One of the only two supplements I’ve been taking is CuraMed (for inflammation and it includes Curcumin) and Vitamin D.  This is a very different regimen from when I had to take upwards of 70 pills a day including antibiotics and various herbal medications.

So now I walk.  I do kind of a fast/slow interval walk, replete with 70’s music piped in.  My children would be horrified.  I really have perfected speed walking, even what with my stubby legs and all.  Fiddle daddy calls me Shorty McShorty.

He gets really agitated when he climbs into the van and I have the seat set to “crush upon impact” so that my feet can reach the pedals.  He has bruises on his knees that he will show you if you ask.

So I was on my walk yesterday and I had a thought.  “I want to run.  On purpose.”  Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t run.  Even before the Lyme Disease, and even before two unnecessary knee surgeries left me with a severely thinned ACL, I didn’t run.  And if I did happen to run, you needed to run too because something really really bad was coming.

So I took off running.  And to the naked eye, it might have looked more like Phoebe from Friends attempting to run.  (Look it up on youtube.)  That’s what the neighbors were treated to.  But still, I ran.  Not far. Not fast. Not pretty.  But I ran.  And I didn’t break anything.  Except a sweat.

I returned home looking more disheveled than usual.  I informed a child that I ran.  “MOM RAN?”  As other children heard this they repeated incredulously, “MOM RAN????”

Word got around to my dear friend and partner in crime, Andrea, who I talked into coming to the beach nice and early with me the next morning.  She and I have always stood in solidarity that we don’t do the beach.  And yet, there we were sitting in our beach chairs, watching our teenagers surf, while facing the ocean and beautiful billowy clouded sky.  I audibly noted how nice the sand felt on my toes.  She shifted uncomfortably.  Then she remarked that I was eating something that looked like a delicious dessert concoction, but I told her it was a salad.  After a few moments someone offered me a chocolate-filled donut, which I politely declined.  Just then a bike rode by in front of us, and I mused that it might be fun to ride a bike on the beach.

She couldn’t take it any longer.  She turned to me “WHO ARE YOU?”

I chuckled.  I KNOW, RIGHT?

I’m just someone who is anxious to do a lot of catching up on life.  I will simply need to do it in my orthopedic sneakers.


In the Driver’s Seat

Somewhere in the blink of an eye we’ve gone from this:

To this:


In the spirit of full disclosure, my Dad has never actually allowed his granddaughter to commandeer his beloved ’31 Packard, but he has let her sit in the drivers seat a time or two.

In the Spring Semester of her Freshman year of high school, Emme began taking Driver’s Ed through Florida Virtual online classes.  I had been hiding my head and dragging my feet about the fact that she  turned 15 and could take the class and potentially get her driving permit.  She wasn’t pushing it until a few months after turning 15.

The instructor told me it would likely take her 8 to 10 weeks to complete.  She did it in 4.  With an A. Why can’t that happen with Math?

And when she wanted to go take the written test I said “ok” knowing that many of my friends had kids who had to take the test 4 and 5 times….  She passed it the first time.

Then it all got real. Fast.

Right out of the gate I informed Fiddledaddy that since I taught her how to read, it was only fair that he teach her to drive.  The first few driving lessons went well (I only know this because no one died) and eventually I took a valium and sat in the passenger seat of the van while she steered a two-ton vehicle down the road at a rate of speed that would make it difficult for me to jump out if I felt the need.

It really was close to impossible to hand the car keys to her.  I had even more issues with riding shotgun.  And the thing is, she is a really good driver.  I had to admit to her that perhaps I have control issues.  “Ya THINK, MOM?”

Her 16th birthday came and went and she was content to hold her permit and not go for the license yet.  In the state of Florida, you have to have your permit for a full year before taking the actual driver’s test.  We’re now past that.  And she’s turning 17 in a few months.  SEVENTEEN.

She did discover that she might have a little bit more work to do.  A few weeks ago, Fiddledaddy came in looking a tad disheveled.  It seems he had to grab the wheel to avoid certain collision.

Him:  “She may have to review the lesson on adjusting the sideview mirrors.”

Me:  “She knows how to set the mirrors.”  That’s the first thing she does when she gets into the drivers seat.  I take comfort in that.

Him:  “She adjusts them SO SHE CAN SEE HERSELF.”

Blink.  Blink.


Back to the drawing board.

At dinner tonight, Cailey casually mentioned that she will be turning 15 in a few months and was looking forward to taking Drivers Ed.

I look forward to hyperventilating in the corner in a fetal position.


Running the Dogs

My girls have had an action packed June which began with High School Youth Camp in North Carolina, then a week of VBS volunteering, followed by a week of Surf Camp.

All in a bid to WEAR THEM DOWN.

What I’d like to discuss are the joys of Surf Camp.  This is a camp conducted on the campus where our Co-op meets one day a week during the school year.  The church has been offering this Surf Camp for 18 years.  Happily, the building is right across the street from the actual ocean.

I want to say something about moving near the ocean 18 years ago.  I was not happy.  I’m not a beach girl.  Give me wide open spaces and tall trees.  If it weren’t for the sand, the beach, I suppose, would be tolerable.  Fiddledaddy still wonders how we ever got together, as this factoid never came up in premarital counseling.

Neither did his obsession with medical knowledge and his desire to pass on EVERY MINUTE DETAIL OF THE HUMAN FRAILTY to me in email form.  But you don’t hear me complaining.  He can actually say, before giving unsolicited advice, “I’m not a doctor, but I have played one on t.v.”  (Which is true.) Like that works with me.  He has also been known to inquire, “Did you BLOCK MY E-MAILS?”

Where was I?  Oh yes.  Fiddledaddy grew up locally, a few miles from the beach.  Although he never picked up surfing, he did rock the tan and groovy feathered long blonde hair.  He dearly loves the beach.

I signed the girls up for Surf Camp before the end of the school year, because A) a number of their friends were doing it, and B) I wanted them to be tired for a week.  Plus Surf Camp involved some really awesome evening worship music and a fantastic message from the pastor.  You can never get enough of that as a teenager, I always say.

At first they were dubious because, you know, A NEW SPORT.  I stuck around on the morning of the first day of camp and enjoyed the pastor’s speech on ALL THE RULES.  First rule, NO PURPLE.  What that means is that the boys are blue and the girls are pink.  And if the two mix, purple (this is not true as my art teacher friend informed me).  But the kids got the idea.  There were also rules about modest bathing attire, clean language, and no smoking or drinking.  I think just the moms applauded, but whatever.

They run a really awesome surf camp, comprised of 300 teenagers and many many volunteers.  I was impressed.  And my girls were hooked on surfing that very first day.


The week culminated with a surfing contest.  In the Beginners/Intermediate Division, both of my girls made it to the semi-finals, and Cailey advanced to the finals.  That night, Cailey learned that she had placed 4th in her division.


Pretty much all they’ve been able to think about is surfing since the camp ended.  And over the weekend they spent some of their savings on two starter surf boards.  We’ve hit the beach with their other surfing buddies several times since surf camp.

It should be noted that we have purchased Cailey’s weight in sunscreen products.  She turns pink if she saunters past a window.  One salty old surfer noticed her gliding through the parking lot with her board and hollered to me, “HOW DO YOU KEEP HER SO WHITE?” She was not amused.

And guess who shuttles them to and fro?  Me!  A funny thing has happened in my Lyme Disease journey.  I’m actually feeling good.  Good enough to haul a bunch of kids and their surf boards to the beach and back.  And guess what else?  I’m starting to actually be OKAY with my toes in the sand.  In fact, right now, there is sand all over my mommy van.  AND I’M NOT FREAKING OUT!

Because here is one of the joys of a day spent at the beach:

Those comatose lumps on the couch are my daughters. They’ve looked like this for the last couple of hours.  Periodically, I check for a  pulse.

Around here, we like to call this phenomenon RUNNING THE DOGS.  And it’s going to make for a great summer.  Cowa. Bunga. Dude.


The Homeschool Convention, or as I like to call it, Summer Camp for Weary Moms

I find myself right smack dab in the early part of summer.  And I have a span of time wherein I do not have to cart children off to whatever respective camp.  Hence, I have WORDS and time to WRITE THEM.

We ended our school year in May, and I made the annual pilgrimage to the Florida Homeschool Convention with my two cohorts in crime (sisters-in-law Trish and Cathy).  I’ve made this trip every year since Emme turned 4 and Fiddledaddy desired for her to be homeschooled.

I desired for her to be shipped off to boarding school.  In an uncomfortable climate.  But that could have been sleep deprivation talking.

When a homeschooling girlfriend mentioned the annual homeschool convention way back then (before Kindergarten), all I heard was VACATION.  Fiddledaddy was onboard because he knew the the mother of his children was not homeschool mother material.   He hoped the convention would aid me with tools I might need to, you know, teach.  It did.  I’ve only missed the convention one year and that was because I had given birth to the SURPRISE boy child in 2005.  So we’re talking 11 years of convention attending.

Not only have I amassed much learning, I also have a respectable collection of hoopty ploopty hotel lotion samples, as we stay at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando.

A few years ago, we began opting for the atrium room view.  I prefer to take in the view from the safety of the interior of the room, but I do enjoy the sights and sounds which waft through the doors.

This was our view on this particular visit.  Spectacular.

Fiddledaddy happily holds down the fort at home while I attend, so I can take full advantage of all that the homeschool convention has to offer.  I may or may not have sprung for a pedicure.

I have a good deal of dear homeschooling friends who attend with their entire families in tow.  I would like to tell you that I feel guilty leaving my husband and children at home.  But that would be a lie.  As I left, my children mumbled for me to say HI to ALL THEIR FRIENDS that would be there.  I was all OKAY, AND MAYBE I’LL SNAP A PICTURE OF THEM TO SEND YOU!  Bitter, party of 3.

At one point, my friend Michelle texted me, “I’m at the pool, what are you doing?”  (You know, in between lectures.)  I sent her a picture.


This was prior to the alleged pedicure.

I went down to the pool to join her, but she texted me as I arrived that she had to leave to take over CHILDCARE RESPONSIBILITIES in her hotel room.  So I sent her another picture.

Convention2She posted the following to social media along with the picture I sent her:

This is my friend, DeeDee, at the home school convention.
DeeDee didn’t bring her children.
DeeDee is smart.
Be like DeeDee.

Although, when it came time to party with the moms (who had their husbands on child-care duties), I had to reply to that text with, “I know it’s only 9:00, but I’m in my pajamas.  In bed.”

Because secretly I’m 92.

Part of the joy of attending the homeschool convention with the sisters is that we’re almost always in bed by 9.  Heavenly.

On our last evening, my SIL, Cathy, was joyfully expressing how stress-free this convention felt as opposed to past conventions.  I added THAT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE NO LONGER HOMESCHOOLING.  “Oh,” she mused with a snort.  “That’s right.”

Indeed, she graduated her last child this year.  Yet still chooses to attend with us.  The love of learning continues I suppose.  Or the love of atrium views, time away, an exhibit hall which contains all manner of fun, and more laughter than 3 grown women ought to ever experience over a long weekend.

It is therapeutic.  And what keeps us pressing on.  If the other sister or I ever start researching local schools, we remind each other, “But, remember, the convention.”  The light at the end of the long homeschooling tunnel.


June 20, 2016