Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's All Relative(s)

A woman parks her car and begins to unload the occupants while passersby observe the procedure. The 14 year-old boy exits the front passenger seat and holds the rear door open on the sedan to allow the 5 year-old girl to exit. The woman opens the other back door to help the 7 year-old girl to do the same. She then watches to make sure the young girl makes her way safely to the boy, who is standing on the sidewalk by this time. The woman then removes the car seat containing the 3 month-old baby from the middle of the back seat and makes her own way to the sidewalk after retrieving the diaper bag.

Finally, one spectator comments. "That's a beautiful family you have there," he says.

"Thank you," the woman replies.

"How old is your son?" he asks.

"He's 14," she states.

"No, I mean the baby in the carrier," he says.

"He's not my son," she replies. "He's my grandson. And he's 3 months old."

"Oh!" the man says in a perplexed way. "I thought . . ." Then turning to the 7 year-old girl he says, "I bet you like your little brother a lot, don't you?"

The little girl politely replies, "He's not my little brother. He's my cousin."

"And who is this then?" the man asks, pointing at the teenaged boy standing next to her.

"He's my uncle," the girl says.

Now the man is really confused. He looks at the youngest girl standing there. "And how are you related?" he asks.

"She's my sister," the little one replies as she points to the bigger girl.

"As I said earlier, you have a beautiful family, ma'am!" he states with a smile as he continues on his journey down the sidewalk.

I think I'll start carrying genealogy charts with me on the days the Bear, Polly, Tigger, Fen, and I go to taekwondo and/or run other errands besides. We once held up the line at the post office for several minutes when one of the postal employees was just trying to make polite conversation. :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Speaking of Birthdays...

Mine is coming up soon. Specifically, my [drum roll] 50th!

My friend, Donna, sent me an email recently reminding me that Barbie also turned 50 this year. And man, doesn't Barbie still look good? But you know what? I'd probably look that good, too, if I had as much plastic in my body as she has in hers.

Donna also sent me a picture of what Barbie would look like today if she had been allowed to age through the years to look like the rest of us who were introduced to the world in 1959.

Yep. That's me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tigger and Large, Gray Mammals

Our second granddaughter, Tigger, will be celebrating a birthday very soon so preparations are being made, shopping is being done, menus are being planned, and laughter is already abounding. Let's get this party started!

Polly reminded me yesterday that this is the birthday when Tigger "becomes a handful." If you'll think back you'll remember that my first-ever blog post was about the conversation we had last year about this. Read it here if you need a reminder. And remember that GD2 quickly took the name of Tigger for future posts. :)

I asked Tigger the other day what she wants for her birthday. She replied, "A manatee."

Of course she does. What else could Tigger possibly want?! Then she explained that somehow, her mom was going to come up with a manatee cake.

I was relieved for two reasons. First, she isn't heading for obvious disappointment when she opens her presents and finds no living, breathing, belly-button equipped (don't ask!) manatees swimming around in an oversized aquarium. Second, I was relieved that I wasn't asked to bake the cake! She was a bit worried though about how the decorator was going to achieve the proper belly-button effect. Hint: Might I suggest a raisin? After all, what's a manatee without a belly button?

So back to the question of what she wants for, you know, gifts.

Well, it seems that for Polly's 5th birthday - almost 3 years ago now - Pastor Dad and I bought her a bike. NOT a bicycle, Tigger was quick to clarify. A bike. Evidently, there is a difference in her mind. And evidently, we must now provide one for Tigger's 5th birthday.

Okay, so she says her favorite animal is the large, gray mammal known as a manatee. I think she might have it confused with another large, gray mammal known as an elephant. She sure has the memory of one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"That Face Seems Familiar"

You're gonna think I'm bonkers - ha! you already did anyway - but I said, "That face seems familiar," to myself while watching the Bear recently. No, I haven't been diagnosed with any form of senility so I wasn't having any problems actually recognizing the Bear. And it isn't because he has similar facial features to his sisters. It's just that . . . Well, I couldn't put my finger on it for awhile.

It all started when he began student teaching for his taekwondo master at the homeschooling co-op as part of his black belt training. When the Bear is helping the instructor I am in a nearby room that is designated as the parents' lounge. The door has a window that looks directly into the part of the gym where the Bear and the class are located. What I saw made me think that elusive thought.

There was the Bear, who is at least twice as tall as the young children he was assigned to help, holding a large padded shield that the young warriors were to attack with sidekicks. Some of the little guys obviously weren't understanding the drill as they were rushing head-long at the Bear with all their might and kicking from a straight-forward position. Some of the kicks looked like they missed the target altogether and landed squarely on the Bear's shins instead.

What was it about the face he made during this exercise that made it seem so familiar? It was a combination of slight amusement and calculated patience with a touch of boredom and a hint of annoyance. It was the look of someone who could easily do serious harm to the oblivious aggressor with the blow of one well-placed punch or kick. I just couldn't place where I'd seen that look before.

Then I saw it again the next day. Only this time, the look was on the face of the Bear's 60-lb. dog, Pepper, as she lightly held the 6-lb. dog, Fergie, in her paws while the little dog aggressively bit the big dog's throat in mock battle. It was obvious that Pepper could kill Fergie in one bite if she so desired but instead she laid there on the floor and let Fergie think she was subduing her. When Pepper had had enough she merely flicked Fergie off just like I saw the Bear lightly push some of the little guys off of him and send them back to the end of the line to wait for another chance to pretend they were beating him up.

I guess it's true what they say about dog owners and their pets looking more alike over time. Bear would still be considered more of a yellow Labrador as opposed to Pep's chocolate color, but the looks on their faces were identical.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mother Knows Best

I spent the day with my mother. As a young child, I would want comfort from her whenever I was sick or scared. I guess things haven't changed much even though I am almost half-a-century old.

The men went golfing today and mom was with me. I spent some of the time confessing my sins. Boy, does confession feel good to the soul even at my age. Okay, I didn't tell her everything I'd ever done wrong. There is probably a statute of limitations on some things and as I've said before, there wasn't a whole lot that was done when I was a child that they didn't know about anyway. When you're an only child like I am, any acts of disobedience that are discovered are just automatically assumed to have been committed by the only non-adult in the household. And if I dared to disobey elsewhere, like say, at my grandparents' house on a Sunday afternoon there were almost 35 cousins to witness the event and to tattle on me. Not much got past my parents.

However, I did confess to my mom just how deep some of the depression went when I was a young mom. I told her of the suicidal thoughts that never went beyond thoughts and into action but scared me nonetheless. I confessed having fought from time-to-time with her beloved-son-in-law (Pastor Dad) without going into irrelevant details that might embarrass all of us. I told her that I'd left him a few times but that I never spent a night away from him while we were angry. An hour or so was about all I could muster and that was usually spent walking or driving.

I told her about the arguments I had with my kids. I mentioned that they sometimes hate(d) me and I wondered if I would lose my hold on sanity in the dark moments.

I told her about the abyss I found myself in when the chicken pox disfigured me and led me into the dreaded autoimmune system disorder when I was 29 years old. She knew that, but she never had been told about the dark days of not being able to rise from the bed because I was prostrated by the resulting depression.

And do you know what? My mother didn't look the least bit shocked. Instead, she smiled and basically said that I'm not a superhero. And she doesn't even read this blog! I had to go back and read my own writing about being Super Mom before slapping my forehead while uttering an audible, "Duh!"

So thanks, Mom. It's amazing how much wiser you are now than when I was a kid! :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Marvels of Modern Medicine

Isn't modern medicine wonderful? I'm rarely sick enough to warrant a visit to my primary care physician but when I go I am amazed with the latest tools at his disposal and drugs in his arsenal.

Such was the case Friday. I desperately needed help serving eviction papers to the elephant sitting on my chest. My body temperatures were steadily holding in the tropical range no matter what I did and the elephant obviously was a fan of warmer climes.

My last fever-free day was Wednesday. The one from the night before had broken and the elephant must've been out running an errand because I was breathing well and feeling better except for a slight headache. I decided to go on to church. Since a headache can quickly escalate, I sat on the back row in case I needed to make a hasty exit. This caught the attention of a few church members. I guess I looked a little under-the-weather because one asked if I had Swine Flu.
  • What I wanted to reply was, "Of course I think I have Swine Flu! That's why I came to church on the first night of our mid-week ministries just so that I'd have a packed building in which to share the germ."
  • What I replied was, "No, I don't have the Swine Flu. Right now it is just a slight headache," as I fought the urge to roll my eyes.

My physician verified my claim by taking a swab. We discussed how quickly a diagnosis for things like strep and flu can be made these days. The swab would not tell if I had Swine Flu but if it came back positive it would assumed to be of that variety. He knew I didn't have it, and I knew I didn't have it, but given recent hysteria (and the fact that the person in the next examination room had just tested positive and was receiving an anti-agent) he decided to test me. Our conversation leading up to the swab went something like this:

Dr.: Do you have any flu symptoms?

Me: Every time I get a fever I experience some of the symptoms.

Dr.: Any muscle aches?

Me: I went canoeing last Saturday. Every muscle in my body ached before I got sick.

Dr.: Been around any college students from (named a couple of local schools) recently?

Me: Actually, we invited a visitor to Sunday dinner recently who attends one of them. He seemed fine at the time.

Dr.: Have you been in contact with crowds or sick people lately?

Me: Well, yes, and yes. I'm a pastor's wife who stands at the exit every Sunday shaking hands with all the adults and children (whom I'm sure don't always wash their hands properly after such unsavory activities as nose-picking, etc. - meaning the children). I think shaking hands with everyone could literally be considered "contact" with crowds.

Dr.: Nurse! Get a swab!

Ten minutes later I was certified flu-free with the diagnosis of an elephant named Bronchitis. I already knew this as the elephant was a frequent visitor when I was a child.

Further proof of how far medicine has progressed is that the 2-week rounds of antibiotics that I used to take have now been replaced with 3 mega doses. I like that so much better! It means less chance of forgetting to take a dose, or wondering if I've already taken a dose ("senior moments" makes this pretty important), or wondering if symptoms are caused by illness or side effects. But most of all, it means the elephant will be packing his trunk quicker than ever.

It also means fewer lost school days, but some people might not appreciate that. Good thing these advances in medical science came when I was an adult instead of when I was a child.

School reconvenes Tuesday. Holiday weekend, you know. :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

When Dust Becomes An Elephant

The Bear is taking biology this year and one of the things that we have reviewed is the way scientific laws are made and how they can be proven wrong. The prime example used is Aristotle's hypothesis that non-life could produce life, something which is known as spontaneous generation. Aristotle proposed his theory around 350 B.C. and the data obtained for centuries seemed to support it so well that it was firmly believed until Louis Pasteur conclusively refuted it in AD 1859.

What is spontaneous generation? It was the belief that rancid meat turned into maggots, pond water turned into frogs, and boxes of grain turned into mice. My question is why anyone would want to create organisms that God used as plagues to punish the Pharoah of Egypt prior to the Jewish Exodus? Shouldn't we be avoiding making maggots, frogs, and mice? But "make" them they did just to prove that they could.

Then Louis Pasteur came along with his experiments and he proved there were other things at work in each of those situations. Living things, that is. I happen to be a big fan of Pasteur and I thank God for him every time I reach for a glass of pasteurized milk. Three cheers for Louis!

But I think I have to disagree with him on one point. I think dust can turn into an elephant.

It all started Monday when I lost something behind a heavy piece of furniture. It was one of those pieces that doesn't get moved often merely because of its weight. But since I'm in my fall cleaning mode (I didn't get to do the spring cleaning) - and I really wanted the item I dropped - I decided to tackle that puppy. So with dustcloth in hand I bent over to clean the baseboard as soon as I had moved the furniture. Specks of dust flew up in my face like a flock of sleeping ducks that had been disturbed on a pond! I gasped in surprise, which caused the involuntary response of inhaling deeply.

Uh oh. I'm in for it now.

Sure enough, by Tuesday evening at least one of those specks of dust had grown into an elephant and he was sitting squarely on my chest. I could feel him with each breath I took.

So dear M Pasteur if you were correct - and you most assuredly were - when you proved that non-life cannot spontaneously generate into life, might I suggest a hypothesis of my own? If it passes scrutiny we could name it Karabeth's Law:

Cleaning is bad for your health.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

He's A Bouncy Baby Boy

Our little Fen is one of those little guys who always wants to be held. Getting anything done - like putting lunch on the table - requires putting him on the table for a few minutes as well. He loves his bouncy seat. I think it is because he knows how to turn it on and off with his feet! That's what's going on here.

Uncle Bear is so funny! He's always willing to make a guy grin.
I think he was trying to reach out and grab the camera from my hand. "That's enough pictures, Gram!"
It's difficult to get a "still shot" of our Fen. He's always on the move.