Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lies and Toothpaste

I have heard that highly intelligent children are more prone to lying than those of average intelligence. Presumably they think everyone else is too stupid to figure out they're lying.

Max is currently my liar. The other kids have gotten over it.

Fortunately for me Max's lies are awful--and by that I mean he lies miserably. Before Little Mark was old enough to walk, or to get into the mischief he is usually guilty of now, Max would blame him for complicated feats of destruction that would be impossible for a suckling to commit. Often he would tattle on LMark in order to make his lie more believable.

"MOM! LawMark climbed up da shelves in da pantry and got down da box of Cheezits and took dem into da bedwoom and dumped dem out and ate dem!"

Or he would lie where there was no need:

"Max, why was your underwear hidden in the basket next to the toilet in the bathroom?"
"LawMark did it."
"So Little Mark took your underwear off of you, and hid it in the basket?"

Fortunately, I think, Max is beginning to discover either he's a bad liar, or his mother isn't as stupid as he thinks. The lies he uses now are easily discoverable. He might lie if he is told to change his underwear or to clean up his room or to do something that might buy him some time before I check up on him.

One thing he lies about is brushing his teeth, so I will often need to drop what I am doing to go corroborate the tale. One of the most obvious pieces of evidence is the state of the bathroom.

If the bathroom is clean, I will check his toothbrush to see if it is wet. One might think that the toothbrush-test should come first. But the fact is, when Max truly does brush his teeth, he gets toothpaste everywhere. In his defense, the type of toothpaste dispenser we use, if squeezed properly, can pop out glob of toothpaste in an impressive arc one or two feet away from its source. But this is the kind of toothpaste we like, so we live with the messy consequences. I find toothpaste on the counter all the time, sometimes on the toilet, sometimes on the wall, the mirror, the cabinet, and very often on the floor.

So this morning when I asked Max if he had brushed his teeth, he happily replied, "Yap!" And his evidence: "See I got toothpaste on mah foot!"

So I believed him...

...but I might still check his toothbrush in a minute.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When Should A Man Obey His Wife (or Read His Wife's Blog?)

Having today discovered speckled-green clothes in the dryer only four months after the episode which inspired this little essay, I thought I might post it again, since the impact seems to have worn off. Hopefully a larger font will make the words resonate with the person for whom it is intended.

The simple answer to "When should a man obey his wife?" is the following: when she says, "Whatever you do, I don't care about the circumstances, never put a crayon in your pocket." Also he might pay added attention if she includes the phrase, "Never, never, never put a crayon in your pocket, ever, ever, ever."

But the Good Lord didn't intend that a man obey his wife. Which is why crayons end up in the man's pocket, and then into the laundry, and then into the dryer, which then, in varying degrees, bespeckle all the clothes, and completely turn the interior of the dryer a Crayola brown and "mountain green."

This has happened to me several times before, and I haven't been able to trace the culprit as easily as I can now. This doesn't matter because I can already hear, not only from the man, but from every corner of the blessed earth: "You should have checked the pockets."

Yes, I know, thank you very much.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Long Distance Affair

I heard a funny story yesterday while we were doing house-blessings in Charleston. Because there are so many people involved, I thought I shouldn’t put up all their names. Most of the names are Orthodox anyway and it might be harder to keep up with them than if I just put up the initials.

O told me the story of her morning, which began and 8 AM and ended around 11 AM.

Cast of Characters:

M: D’s father
C: D’s brother
N: C’s wife
O: N’s sister
R: D’s girlfriend
L: D's Mother

O’s Mother
R’s Mother

D is a young American studying in Russia. He is visiting Moscow and staying with O’s mother. O’s mother needed to get some groceries so she left D at the apartment while she went out. D locked the door and took a nap.

When O’s mother returned she found herself locked out and unable to wake the American inside. She knocked, rang, and called the home phone, but to no avail.

Desperate, she called O in Charleston, SC, to see if she knew D’s cell phone number. O did not. O told her mother she would make a few calls.

O first called D’s father, M, also in Charleston, SC, but there was no answer. Then she called her sister, N, in Connecticut, so she could ask her husband, C, if he knew it. C had already left for work, so N called C. C didn’t have it, but he thought D's mother L would have it. L didn't know it but L knew the phone number of the home D stays at in D.C. C called there and spoke to woman of the house, D’s girlfriend’s mother. She didn’t know it, but her daughter, R, did. R’s mother called R and asked for D’s cell phone. R gave it to her. R’s mother called D.

D woke up.

D unlocked the door.

True story.

(I can only be grateful that no one had the same first initial, otherwise this would have been an impossible tale to tell)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Agony, Desolation, and Shoes

Rose has spent the last six months giving me grief over how she can't sing, can't act and will never be able to get a part in the musical, Little Women, playing at our local theater. She practiced the songs from the musical. She read and studied the story. She tried to perfect frail and sickly, so she could audition for the part of Beth. She nagged me daily about how she knows she's a horrible singer and she'll never get the part.

Well, after trying out Sunday evening, she didn't. In fact it was embarrassingly disappointing for her.

She was required to prepare 16 bars of music to sing. She was number 32 of 40 actors. About 1/3 of them couldn't carry a tune in a bucket if they tried. One girl sang "Happy Birthday" and lost her pitch on every single note. I felt like I was watching American Idol. The director and the music director were patient and polite.

By the time Rose climbed up on stage, it was apparent they just wanted the nuts and bolts of the song to show the singer's range. They weren't interested in anything pretty. Frail and sickly didn't matter if Beth looked too young for the part, which apparently was the case (we didn't find this out till the next day).

Anyway, the pianist messed up about the fifth bar; Rose lost her pitch; regained by the sixth bar; and was cut off by the 8th with a polite "Thank you." It was devastating and embarrassing for a girl who had spent a half of a year working for a part which she lost in 45 seconds or less.

The drive home was very quiet. She went inside, showered for about 30 minutes, and reappeared puffy-eyed and very pink. I did my best to talk to her about all the wise blah-blah I need to tell her so she can grow up to be a strong and confident woman. But this was very difficult. She had assured me the day before the auditions that she wasn't very attached to this role, so if she didn't get it she wouldn't be upset.

That plan didn't work out.

The next morning I could tell by looking at her that she had cried herself to sleep. It wasn't long before she showed up at breakfast with a tissue and watery eyes. Over the course of the morning she would sob over her grammar, sigh over her science, and stare out of the window in perfect agony.

I decided I wasn't going to talk about it because I used up all my wise blah-blah the night before. So I called my mom to see if she was available. Rose needed to pick up her winter-formal dress that had been altered, and shop for some shoes for the homeschool-formal taking place next Friday.

They left and returned four hours later with the dress, some lipstick, and a cute little pair of black patent-leather, baby-doll, three-inch heels that work perfectly with the dress. We decided we'll get her a red purse and a red bow for her hair, which she'll wear pulled back in the bow and curled around her shoulders.

Later in the day she came up and hugged me like she hasn't done in a long time. I could tell she was finished crying. As I hugged her I said, "Rose, I know the real problem is not that you sang poorly, but that you were dismissed with all of the other girls who were really bad. But you need to know that when you put yourself out there to be judged by someone else, there's always the chance that they are going to judge you negatively. You can spend your life being afraid of being judged negatively by someone else, or you can just keep doing what you love to do. When I was a kid, I would never have done what you did. I was too afraid of someone telling me I wasn't good enough. What you have done in your short little life is prove to me that my fear kept me from doing many exciting things and meeting wonderful people."

..and shoes work magic.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's going to be Fred

I can't tell if I am a very political person. I love Rush, and I have issues that are important to me, but I never march or carry signs. I don't have any bumper stickers on my car, except for a two-inch Orthodox cross.

But I vote, and this time it's going to be for Fred.

I liked Huckabee for about a week after I saw the Chuck Norris commercial. Then he made a joke about "sleeping at a Holiday Inn" when he was asked about national security that I thought was a little flippant. I started looking at his record, and paying attention to him and decided I didn't really like him after all.

I thought I liked Romney, and I do believe that a person can have a "Road to Damascus" conversion about political issues--I know I did. But recently I found out he was being accused of "flip-flopping" even when he was trying to assure everyone he was a pro-choice candidate. It just leaves a person wondering.

Because of the way issues can be spun one way or the other, it's not easy to whittle down every vote and every issue as to who is the most conservative candidate among the Republicans.

For me, the predominant issue is abortion. I ran across an excellent article several months ago about how pro-lifers are winning the war, not by changing any laws, but by changing people's hearts. If this is really the case, then it seems to me that a candidate has be consistent if he is going to make an impact on a person's heart, much less the laws.

So, since South Carolina gets to make an early vote, I thought it was time for me to decide. And for me it will be Fred.

My secular positions don't make much impact, which, for my neighbors, might be a good thing since I have strong opinions about parking and lawn maintenance. I also doubt my insignificant blog can make an impact, but I thought I would at least put up a few links, a widget, and increase my font size.

Fred on Life Issues
Fred on Guns & Crime
Fred on Borders
Fred on the Economy

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Bird in the Hand...

Rose has a very tiny bedroom. I think it is 7' x 15'. Many walk-in closets are larger than her room.

I decided to make her a collapsible desk. I saw a homemade desk like this once, but never something similar in a store or online. The desk attaches to the wall and flips up into a desk with fold-out brackets. When you're finished with the desk, you fold in the brackets and the desk folds down.

I made one.
I am very proud of it.

A few years ago Mark got me a circular saw for Christmas. It took me about two years to get up the nerve to use it. Since then, I have almost cut off my leg only once. This is a complicated tale of my stupidity, and I don't wish to share it at this time. Really, I didn't even cut myself--or my leg. But I almost did, which was enough to teach me an additional amount of caution.

I was thinking about how people often say the first part of well-known adages like: a bird in the hand...; or if at first you don't succeed... Everyone knows how they end, so often the first part of the phrase is supposed to suffice for wisdom. What a world of fools we will be if these concluding words are ever forgotten!

Yesterday I discovered that I did not know the conclusion of the little aphorism: measure twice, cut once.

There is, in fact, a concluding phrase, not as well known, which I will record below.

Measure twice, cut once.
Measure once, screw through the surface of the wood, unscrew, apply wood putty, go to Lowes, screw again, mess up, unscrew, go to Ace Hardware, attach, detach, cut twice, reattach.

It is not quite as catchy or as poetic as some of the other aphorisms I know, but it is at least as educational.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I Heart Serbians II

I talked to H today, of our new Serbian family. She said that her daughter wanted to know if we will be burning a tree on Christmas Eve.

I had another speechless moment.

I was wondering if this was a symbolic thing the Serbians do to protest American involvment in the United Nations or some imperialistic blah blah. I briefly imagined a lighted, decorated spruce going up in flames while our Serbians and their children dance around it shouting "Death to Amer--"

She expounded before my vision went too far.

I found this
Christmas Eve is celebrated among the people in the Church according to an ancient ritual on the eve of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. The yule log (badnyak) is burned at twilight in the presence of a priest who blesses the gathered people in front of the church. The remaining logs are then taken into Orthodox Christian homes where they burn until midnight when Christmas celebrations begin. In cities, the tradition has been simplified and all that is taken into the home is a small package of dry branches from the Yule log, and hay.

The Yule log, according to tradition, is a symbol of the tree brought to Joseph and Mary by shepherds to light a fire and warm the cave where the God-Child was born. According to the Gospel, Lord Jesus Christ was born on hay and hence the hay included in the package of Yule branches, as well as the tradition of spreading hay in Christian homes.

Celebration of the family is also tied to the bringing into the home or the burning of the Yule log. All the members of the household gather around the Yule log in the warmth of love and the unity of the Christian faith.

It is also believed that the light of the Yule log, as the light of Christ's Nativity disperses the darkness of ignorance and evil.

I told H, "Every time I think I've found enough reasons to say I love Serbians, they give me yet another one!"

My Kuma, Zora, passed away on New Year's Eve and will be laid to rest on the Feast of the Nativity, Monday. May her memory be eternal!

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Yesterday and today my niece and nephew came to visit while my brother and his wife were on a several-day cruise in the Caribbean.

I think I deserve a cruise.

Anna, my three-year-old niece, whose standard volume is eleven, was giving my mother some difficulty during supper last night. My mother, a Baptist, said "Anna, don't you want to eat your carrots and be an angel?" Anna replied, "NO I WANNA BE A PINK POWER RANGER!!!!"

Anna's Catholic.

Today Max was playing the game Scramble with his cousin, Stephen. They had each won one game. The timer was ticking as they were both furiously trying to put their shapes into the holes. When Stephen finished first, Max burst into loud wails and ran from the room.

I began putting the game away. After a minute, Max returned like a beaten and pathetic puppy. He appeared to be expecting sympathy.

I took his hand, "Max, you are what is called a sore loser."

"You're calling me a loozah?!" cries he.

"No Max," I said, "A 'sore loser' is a person who likes to win all the time and cries if he doesn't win--A real winner is a person who, even when he loses, stands up and shakes hands."

He was unmoved.

I decided to use the method we often employ to get him to eat any non-peanut-butter-and-jelly-based meal: "Max, you can't grow up to be a Gamecock if you don't eat your food."

So I said slyly, "When the Gamecocks lose they still shake hands..."

Max: "But they always lose."

Sad but true. Still Max shook Stephen's hand.

So there was a win for the Gamecocks today.