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Monday, December 20, 2010

"Sixteen Days of The-Never-Ending-Christmas-Vacation

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved to pay for Winter Vacation Camp

We are now in Day 3 of the "Sixteen-Days of-the-Never-Ending-Christmas-Vacation-of-original-toys/games-to-entertain yourself-without-spending-any-Money if you don't count therapy sessions.

Now I concede that more than one child has had more fun playing with the boxes than with the presents that came in them. And most children with a yard have played mud pies or in the sand pile with just a spoon and a tin can. My children, however, seem to have set the bar for creative play things.

How many children have spent three weeks entertaining themselves by dragging around a flip flop tied to a short piece of rope? Granted, he was three years old but most of the time you can't keep a three-year-old's attention more than three seconds, much less three weeks. And wadding his sisters' shorts into a ball then wrapping a towel around it to form baby "Coverly" is a classic example of a super creative child, or one with some serious issues.

I sold our ancient piano a few years ago but that did not deter my children from developing the right or is it the left side of their brains. I can't remember because my brain has turned to mush. On Day One of the Never-Ending-Vacation, I was privileged to hear a twelve-hour outdoor concert for white plastic barrel, hammer, and galvanized pipe. Music was written with lyrics and actually sung, sort of. The windows in the house are still vibrating.

On Day Two of the Never-Ending-Vacation, when they couldn't find the hammer (I had confiscated it) the five-year-old and the nine-year-old invented the Roll-Out-the-Barrel-with-Your-Sibling-in-It activity. The nine-year-old put her brother inside the plastic barrel and rolled him down the hill. They actually took turns trying to knock the other's brains out and to see who could get the dirtiest as each rolled through the piles of ashes left over from burning leaves. Since I could only see the whites of their eyes as they came mumbling incoherently in to supper, I declared it a tie.

Day Three of the Never-Ending, well, you know, found both children in the pasture again with their toy of choice, the white plastic barrel; only this time they weren't inside rolling down the hill. I had carefully explained that Medicare did not cover barrel-rolling-induced-strokes in elderly mothers. Instead they had straddled the toy four wheel 'gator and were busy "herding" the barrel all over the pasture. I don't know if they were inventing a variation on NASCAR, demolition derby, or playing 21st century Cowboys. If I had known they could have had this much fun with a plastic barrel, I would have gotten them one long ago. Hubby said it was a genetic throwback to his old car tire rolling days although he had to admit he never participated in the Get-Inside-the-Tractor-Tire-and-Roll-through-the-Cow-Patties activity.

The children have now been bathed. It only took a thirty minute soaking followed by fifteen minutes of scrubbings using one bottle of body wash per child tonight. I have had my Valium, Advil, Zoloft, and a quick three minute shower. I had caught just the tail end of their conversation "With the drill and the jigsaw..." so I dared not take any longer.

Tomorrow will be Day Four with only twelve more days left in the "Never-Ending-Christmas-Vacation". I am currently searching the internet for Holiday Camps. Spring break will be here before you know it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Toys R Not Us

By Jody Worsham.
All rights reserved for custom monograms!

I don't know why I buy the children toys. Years ago when the nine-year-old was a four-year-old, her favorite toy at Christmas was the box our 37" TV had come in. She colored it, I cut holes in it and it became a McDonald's Drive-Thru, a house, a fort, and a space ship among other things. The best part was that after two weeks of non-stop playing, it was in shambles and ready for the burn pile. Nothing to store, trip over, or pick up when she was through playing. And, if she wanted another one, I had only to go to the back door of Sears and pick up another cardboard box.

Yet who wants to be known as the cheap Grinch of Christmas who gives children cardboard boxes? Not I, so when little brother came along every Barbie, Ken, Cabbage Patch Baby, Tonka truck, and match box metal die cast car that ever graced a Toys-R-Us store shelf, is now piled in a baskets in the bottom of their closets. With toy chests you can't close and shelves dripping with toys classic and new, their very favorite thing to do is play in the sand pile with a rusty spoon and tin can.

Now with the never popular daylight savings time that turns afternoon play time into night time, the children have had to abandon the sand pile in favor of inside activities. Now maybe they will play with some real toys, I thought.

Last night the five-year-old came into the living room carrying a blanket wrapped around a pair of wadded up shorts belonging to his sister. I put down the book I was reading, "How to Raise Your Second Round of Kids when You Are On Your First Round of Medicare", and decided to play along.

"Well, what do we have here?" I asked.

"This is my baby. This is her face. Don't worry, the shorts are clean."

That was reassuring so I continued. "What a lovely child. What is its name?"


"Well that's a very unusual name."

"Yes, but if you call her that, she'll come to you."

Which makes sense, if you think about it; your name is your name after all.

I began to think of what names my great-grandchildren might have, given who their parents will be. Probably nothing I could find preprinted on a Hallmark Christmas ornament or on hot chocolate mugs at Wally World. No Sue or Brandon for sure. I doubt "Coverly" would be on any of those pencils or calculators you find in the bookstores before school starts.

No, I'm sure expensive custom painting, engraving, or embroidering will be required for their names. At least I'll save money when it comes to toys. I'll just spray paint a tin can, add a rusty spoon, and put those in a cardboard box.

I'll write their names, whatever they turn out to be, in permanent marker. Coverly and Preseptorian will think I'm the coolest granny ever! And I will be! Cheap, but cool! After all Toys R Not Us!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Half-Naked Santa

By Jody Worsham,

All rights reserved to clothe the other half

The five-year-old was cast as Santa in the school Christmas program. Yes, this little public school can say Merry Christmas and have a Christmas program without going through 27 pages of protocol to make sure they don't offend anyone; rare, but true.

He was especially excited because he got to say his lines into a microphone. I hauled out the microphone and amp at home and he practiced. "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight." He opted to say the words rather than sing them; a decision we all supported.

I cut his beard out of quilt batting and secured it to the sides of his hat and got him in his costume for a quick check. I felt like putting a name tag on his costume because otherwise, no one would ever know who he was. He was completely covered in a red suit, hat, and beard. I had him say his lines to make sure the beard would not muffle his words. Yes, this Santa was definitely going to be heard.

Now having subbed in kindergarten one whole day but taught high school students for a long, long time, I knew the kids needed to see him in his beard before the performance. "What if they laugh," he asked. I honestly told him, "They will laugh but not at you but because they haven't seen many five-year-olds with a beard. Ok, they have never seen a five-year-old in a beard but laughing is good. It means they are happy." I don't think he bought that for a minute.

The children did laugh, but not at his beard. The pillow I had used at first for Santa's stuffing was too big and heavy so I had taken his sister's white tutu and pinned it to his t-shirt for padding. It was light weight, fluffy, and, I thought, a clever solution to the padding problem. They only saw a boy with a tutu pinned to his shirt. Something else for him to talk about when he's in therapy

I watched part of the dress rehearsal for the Christmas program or what I thought was the Christmas program. Eighty kindergarten children on a stage at the same time could be doing anything and were. I think they were in the process of re-writing the program and disregarding anything the teachers had planned. Some children were engaged in a calypso type number while others, dressed as cheerleaders, were having a major discussion on the order of letters in the world T-R-E-E-S. At least they weren't trying to spell H-E-L-L-O. I could just see Miss O deciding she wanted to be at the head of the line and the whole program going from G rated to R for language. Everyone got over their giggles at Santa's beard and stuffing. I made a mental note to get BIG bars of chocolate for the teachers.

Performance night arrived and I hustled Santa with his beard firmly pinned to his Santa hat to his classroom. There amongst assorted angels, cheerleaders, human Christmas trees, and I can only assume various mini-sized delegates to the UN, I deposited Santa. I then raced to the caf-a-gym-na-torium to get a good folding chair.

I looked for the kindergarten teachers. If they were highly visible to the audience, I could expect a good show. I noticed four people huddled together against the side wall in heavy trench coats, hats, and sunglasses. They were mumbling something about "Only … eleven days …..till the… Christmas break. I can do this…I..can do this…." Oh, boy.

The program began. After a near fight, the "head cheerleader", got T-R-E-E-S spelled correctly on the stage and the audience applauded. I'm not sure if the applause was for the head cheerleader's leadership skills or that they spelled trees correctly.

The introductory music for "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" began and all my cameras were aimed at Santa. The big moment had arrived. Santa stepped up to the microphone, but the microphone was still set for the two foot tall cheerleader. Santa was at least three feet six inches tall, not quite ready to ditch the booster seat. He would never be heard, I thought. Not to worry, Santa belted out his lines right through the tutu stuffing and batten beard. No need for a mic for this future Thespian! I was so proud!

After the program I went back to the classroom to get Santa. That's when his teacher told me to leave all of his costume on the table; there was another performance in the morning. Fortunately I had put shorts on Santa to wear under his red pants but that still left him shirtless. To his credit, he did not want me to take his shirt off in front of the cheerleaders who had launched into another chant "Take it off, Take it off, Take it off!" Fashioning my puffy coat into a make-shift dressing room, the tutu attached t-shirt came off and I put my big purple coat on the half-naked Santa. He looked like the guy wearing the purple grapes in the Fruit-of-the-Loom commercial. More material for the therapist!

On the way home, I gushed praise on the half-naked Santa in the hope that it would counteract any emotional scars my creativity had heaped upon him. I didn't think it wise to show him the DVD when we got home.

There's only so much a former short-bearded-tutu-stuffed-Santa-stripper can handle in one night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Paula Deen Curse

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Culinary Therapy

Thanks to Paula Deen everyone thinks if you are from the South, you can cook. If you can't make the Southern Sacred Sweet (pecan pie) than you are immediately suspected of being a transplant, an alien, or worse…a Yankee!

I don't know why I keep trying to cook except for fear that my five-year-old will be the new poster child to End World Hunger and I might have to relocate up North! I simply can't cook, or maybe I can't read, or maybe I can't read and cook. It is even difficult to type this, not because of any emotional feelings of inadequacy or failure, but because I burned my finger and I didn't even burn it on the pecan pie I was trying to make. I burned my finger on the syrup that got on the hot pad while I was trying to remove the pie from the oven before the smoke alarm detonated.

Let me back up a bit. I left the house alone this morning at 7:30 for a three hour trip to see my mother to try and convince her that her refrigerator was not trying to kill her, and to make sure she was really alright after the doors to both her freezer and refrigerator fell off their hinges a few days ago knocking her on her ninety-year old behind. That's another story; see previous blog.

The new 46 inch TV my sister and I had gotten her for Christmas and given her early had her mind off the Attack Refrigerator. She was feeling well enough to have me haul her ninety-year-old self to CiCi's Pizza for lunch, Wal-Mart for house shoes, icy hot patches, aspirin, Christmas toys for her great-grandchildren, then to another grocery store to cash a check, then back to her apartment. Each stop necessitated me hauling out the mini-step, flipping down the legs, helping her out of the car, de-flipping the legs, putting the mini-step back in the car, and repeating it when we got back into the car. When I arrived back home at 4:30 my head and back felt like a refrigerator door had fallen on me.

While I was gone, my hubby came across the old screw type pecan cracker that he and his grandmother had used when he was a child. The children were not only fascinated with the machine but were even more motivated to shell the five gallon bucket of pecans (he just happen to have) when he told them I would bake them a pecan pie when I got back.

The nine-year-old has developed a strong desire to cook, probably out of hunger and desperation. I traded her twenty minutes of violin practice in exchange for helping me with the pies. I would make one while she was practicing, and then I would help her bake another one when she finished.

Ok, I am one of those people who failed the Follow Directions Test in college, the one that starts "Read all questions first". Yes, I was standing up shouting "Bullfrogs" to question #3, patting my head while whistling "Dixie" to question # 9 and totally embarrassed when the last question read "Now go back to question number one and sign your name." I read the list of ingredients for pie #1 and dumped everything in the bowl. Only when I turned the page did it give instructions as to the specific order. Also, at no place in the recipe did it say "deep dish pie pan". Fortunately, from my many cooking disasters in the past, I knew to spray the cookie sheet with Pam before placing the full-past-the-brim pecan pie in the oven.

Pecan Pie #2 followed a different recipe. I figured I would claim the better tasting pie. The nine-year-old did a better job of following directions than I did, and she's dyslexic. My pie had to cook for an hour; her's fifty minutes or "until firm." Now if they had just left that last phrase out all might have been well. Exactly what is "firm" and firm compared to what?

After twenty additional minutes of cooking pie #2 trying to determine firm and bandaging my burned finger, I removed the pie from the oven. Firm can be like cheesecake, or pound cake, or Jell-O, or it can be something else.

Anybody ever taste Pecan Pie Jerky?

Curse you, Paula Deen!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Attack of the Refrigerator

By Jody Worsham Nov. 2010

All rights reserved for a Whine Cellar

If you live to be 90 there are going to be some challenges. Our ninety-year-old mother is an avid sports fan. She played professional basketball in the 1930's and to this day when she watches games on TV, she dresses in her favorite team's jersey, has the team throw emblazoned with their logo across her legs, and her Diet Coke in the team sanctioned koozie.

She insists on having more clothes than will fit in her assisted living closet. My sister and I asked her why she needed so many clothes. She said "People talk if they see you in the same outfit during the same month." "Mother, most of these people can't remember what they ate for breakfast." "Well, I can: toast, scrambled eggs and bacon." We bought two of those rolling laundry type hangars to cram into her tiny apartment. Every outfit must have a matching pair of shoes and jewelry. The jewelry we could handle, but finding orthopedic shoes in every color in the rainbow was something else. We resorted to spray paint.

Most of these challenges we have managed to handle but the attack of the refrigerator caught us both off guard. My sister was 2,000 miles away when the nurse at Mother's assisted living facility called her. "Hum, your mother fell. She's alright. She will be a little sore….the…uh…refrigerator door… fell… off…and…uh…your mother fell …back." "WHAT?" "Thedorfellofftherefrigeratorandknockedyourmotherover….but she's ok."

Fortunately Mother did not suffer any broken bones, however, when my sister called me three days later it was Houston, we have a problem! Our mother had decided that the refrigerator was out to kill her. No amount of logic, reasoning, or physical evidence of rusted hinges would convince her otherwise. The refrigerator was out to get her. She took everything out of the refrigerator and placed it on the kitchen cabinets. We talked with the facility manager about getting another refrigerator. My brother-in-law has been checking the hinges daily but still Mother is convinced that somehow during the night when no one is watching, the refrigerator will sneak up on her and do her in.

My menopausal sister was at the end of the chain our mother was jerking, but I knew just what to do. There are certain advantages to being a Medicare mom. It has only been three years since my five-year-old was in the terrible two's. There is a definite connection between the Terrible Two's and the Nerve Wracking Nineties. There was only one solution. Get her mind on something else.

Mother had commented recently on how clear a flat screen television was at some restaurant where my sister had taken her. We had decided then that we would get her a new super large TV for Christmas. Santa is going to make an early delivery.

I had ordered the TV on line and had it delivered to my house so we could surprise Mother. With this newest challenge, my sister told Mother she was getting a new TV, a really big clear one. She would be able to see Dirk Nowitzki up close and really good. She would be able to read the scores at the bottom of the screen without having to get up and walk up to the screen, like she would need to check any stats on a ball game she was watching. In that respect, her mind was as sharp as it was when she was twenty. That was all that was needed. Her mind was now on Dirk Nowitzki.

That was on a Wednesday. I told my sister I would bring the TV and the cabinet to Mother's on Sunday. "NO, I can't wait that long. I'll make the three hour drive today; in fact I'm in the truck now headed your way. I think there is a game tonight and she wants her TV NOW". My sister made the three hour drive to my house in record time without getting a ticket. We loaded the TV, the cabinet I had refurbished to hold it, the chocolate cookies I had made, and she was off on the return trip. Total time as my house 8 minutes and 13 seconds.

Later that night I called my sister to see how things were going. "Great! The refrigerator is no longer a threat. Mother has stopped relating the story of the Attack Refrigerator to anyone who walks by her door. She has her Mavericks jersey on, her throw blanket, and her koozie all ready to watch the game tonight AND she even opened the refrigerator and put the cookies you made inside without using the Grab-it stick we got her to pick things up off the floor." This was real progress. "So the refrigerator is no longer an issue?" I asked. "Not the refrigerator. We'll have to see what challenge tomorrow brings."

Todays' challenge met and conquered, now on to the next. When your mother is 90…that's a good thing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Friday Shopping Tips

By Jody Worsham Nov. 2010

All rights reserved for mobile SWAT shopping cart

Judging by the massive preparations going on, you would think the 8th US Army battalion was preparing for a twenty-five mile hike or Elvis had been discovered living in Greenland and tickets were going on sale in thirty-six hours for his next live concert. Actually, it is just Black Friday Survivors getting ready to launch their next shopping spree.

Food, gum, bottled water, a camp stool, bungee cords (for attaching two shopping carts together), and a thermos of coffee are crammed into a duffle bag and strapped onto their backs. Others are perfecting their fake limp in order to snag a handicapped scooter at Wal-Mart. Still others are preparing by sleeping an extra eight hours two days before the sale starts.

The first rule for Black Friday Shopping is to plan ahead. Several online Black Op sites feature comparison shopping, store maps, launch times, and a printable list for the what, when, where, and time for each store's specials as well as links to cyber sales that may or may not coincide with Black Friday or the alignment of Mars and Jupiter.

Once you have your plan of attack, it is time to suit up. Boots with steel toes are recommended if you plan to battle it out for the latest electronic must-haves; otherwise your best arch-support-long-term-standing-in-line-NASSA-designed-foam-lined-gel-tennis shoe will suffice. Outer wear should support sub-zero temperatures if you are waiting outside in a line six block long. Inner wear should support tropical approaching desert temperatures to compensate for the body heat of ten times the maximum capacity of persons in any given store at any given time.

The plan is to arrive at the first shopping stop at least five hours before the official sale starts. Sometimes rooky salespeople will panic at the sight of a restless mob and begin giving out vouchers, armbands, or secret locations of the "real" TV's, computers, I-Pads etc. Hint: If you are a retired airline stewardess, veteran air traffic controller, or former kindergarten teacher, you can usually pick up some part time work on Black Friday working crowd control.

Here are a few lesser known tips for Black Friday Shopping that I have gleaned from past Black Friday Sales Survivors.

  1. Always shop with a partner. If there is a limit on the number of items you can purchase, you have an extra person to buy the additional items needed. Also you can swap out if you need to make a potty run.
  2. Make sure your i-phone is powered up for any online specials or E-bay auction items. This is also necessary for communicating with other operatives located in nearby stores
  3. If a particular item is not at the top of your list, wait until the frenzied shoppers have decimated the pile, and then circle your buggy in a six aisle radius. Often when mob crazed shoppers come to, they realize they don't need six waffle makers or portable DVD players and will dump them on the nearest shelf. I found $3 mixer on the underwear aisle that way
  4. If the shelves were empty before you got what you needed, hang out around the check-out lines. Many sale items will be eliminated at the register due to maxed out credit cards.
  5. Security knows nothing. If you want information, ask a person with a walkie-talkie attached to their belt, ear phones on, wearing a really ugly vest, and preferably standing on a ladder with a bull horn. If that fails, follow the buggy with the most items in it or the person wearing the camo t-shirt with BARGAIN SHOPPER embellished in crystal dots.

By following these simple tips, you , too, can spend the next eleven months paying off your credit card in order to take advantage of the next Black Friday Shopping Op!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Thanksgiving Beast

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for chair and whip

When the five-year-old came home and said his class was having a Thanksgiving Feast, I thought he said Thanksgiving Beast. After attending the luncheon, I think we were both right. It was a Thanksgiving Feast for the Beasts.

I arrived early to help decorate the gym at the local church where the feast/beast was being held. The decorations were quite clever, hand prints of the children cut from construction paper and attached to birch branches stuck in a tin can weighted down with rocks. The tin can was then placed inside a paper sack with ribbon and raffia bows tied around it, straight out of Martha Stewart. Thanks goodness I wasn't asked to execute that design. Mine would have looked like sticks stuck in a can and no amount of ribbon or raffia would make it look cute or clever.

Each family brought a side dish or dessert for the feast. The super clever turkey cupcakes mentioned in my last blog took center stage on the dessert table even though I had shoved them over to the side as far as I could. I'm surprised the icing didn't melt considering all the flash cameras that were going off. Did I mention no one was taking pictures of my sombrero/pilgrim hat cookies?

At 11:30 the children arrived and practiced their songs in their "quiet practice" voice before all the parents arrived. When four more parents showed up they sang in their "loud performance" voice which wasn't any different from their "quiet" voice as far as I could tell. The window panes rattled both times.

After the song, the children in Pilgrim and Indian hats were released to their parents and the feasting began. I must say there are some very good cooks among the parents and grandparents of this kindergarten bunch; I'm not one of them but others are. The adults ate until they resembled the stuffed paper sack center pieces; the children pretended to eat until it was time to attack the dessert table.

The turkey cupcakes were gone in a flash and I noticed several of my pilgrim hats were gone. I was pleased until I noticed the kids who took them were gobbling down the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and tossing the cookie part.

Exactly fourteen minutes and ten seconds after the dessert onslaught, the sugar high hit and transformed the Pilgrim and Indian hat-wearing children into the Beasts. A re-enactment of Custer's Last Stand and every John Wayne Indian movie plus the entire Star Wars anthology was being staged on the gym floor. Pre-dessert sedate little Pilgrim girls were attempting to scalp Indians who were frantically making another pass at the now crownless Pilgrim hat cookies and any other dessert left on the table.

As the Thanksgiving Feast quickly morphed into the Thanksgiving Beast of Play, I sought out his teacher to see if I could take my beast home. Silly question! What kindergarten teacher in what's left of her right mind at this point would want to take a fructose supercharged five-year-old back to school and try to have class? "May I take my child home now?" I foolishly asked. His teacher stared at me blankly, and from somewhere deep in the abyss where an intelligent mind once thrived and actually took classes to become a kindergarten teacher came a raspy "Pleeeeeeease!" "Do I have to sign him out?" I queried. "Nooooooo, just goooooooo!" she whispered glassy eyed.

I loaded my "beast" into the car situating him in the back seat where I could utilize two seatbelt buckles to try and keep him from becoming airborne during the ride home. When we arrived home, I sent him immediately out to the trampoline with the hope that he didn't launch himself onto the roof. "How did you like our Thanksgiving Feast?" he yelled on the way up…or down…or both. "Well, I sure heard a lot of thanks being given as we left." I honestly said. "Yeah, it was a great Thanksgiving Feast," he bounced.

I would have sworn I heard him say "Yeah, I was great Thanksgiving beast." Either way, it was and he is!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Objects on Cookie Sheet are Worse than they Appear

cObjects on Cookie Sheet are Worse than They Appear

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved to purchase paper goods

My five-year-old is going to a new school so my reputation as a non-cook had not gotten there yet. That is the only logical reason I can think of for his teacher to ask me to make a dessert for their Thanksgiving Feast instead of asking me to bring paper plates and plastic forks.

It has been four years since the now nine-year-old's kindergarten Gingerbread House fiasco so I mistakenly thought I might have improved over time. I remembered some darling pilgrim's hat cookies a friend of mine had made for a school party so I asked her how she made them.

"Oh, they are so easy," she said which should have been my first clue that this was going to be a disaster. "Remember, I don't cook," I reminded her. "No problem, these cookies are already made so all you have to do is decorate them." That phrase "all you have to do" should have been my second clue.

I bought the fake cheap Keebler knock-off grasshopper cookies that were coated with chocolate icing on the back. That would be the brim of the pilgrim hat. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups would form the crown of the hat only she didn't tell me what size so I bought a package of the regular size and the snack size. Turns out it was the snack size so I ate the package of the regular size to keep my children from getting a sugar overload when they got home from school.

"Now to decorate, use your narrow icing tip, you've probably got that already, with white icing to form the headband around the hat. Use your narrow tip to form the buckle in white icing; then use the yellow to form the buckle. See soooo simple," she said as she was putting the finishing touches on the darling turkey cupcakes she was making for her daughter's class.

First, the only tips I have around the house are 1) Remember turn on the oven before cooking the frozen pizza, 2) Tuesday is 99 cent leg and thigh day at Popeye's, and 3) TV dinners are in the big freezer. I bought the white squirt icing with the attached tips and the Easy Squeeze yellow icing and began to assemble the hats.

Now, she never said to put the cookies and the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the freezer first. Maybe she just assumed I would know that so by the time I had everything laid out on the cookie sheet the chocolate on the cookies and the peanut butter cups were starting to melt. By the time I glued the peanut butter cups (yes, I used icing) to the brim, the chocolate was sticking to my hands leaving bald spots on the hat crown.

I assembled the tip for the squirt white frosting and aimed it at the spot where the crown meets the brim and twirled the sticky cookie. That was supposed to look like a narrow white band according to my friend. My icing kind of exploded from the tube and resembled a white avalanche completely obliterating the crown. The next one resembled the south of the border influence if the Pilgrims had landed in Galveston. After several attempts, any good milliner would swear whoever put the hat bands on those hats was intoxicated. I wish!

"Just use a quick touch with your flat tip to form the buckle" was rattling in my brain as I steadied my hand for the super easy buckle decoration. My buckle was more of a blob. I gave up on the decorating tip and found a toothpick and sort of drug the extra icing from the headband up to form…something. I couldn't even come close to putting the yellow in the center of the buckle so I resorted to separating out the tiny yellow squares from the candy confetti I had thrown on some birthday cake sometime in the past.

After two hours I had twenty pilgrim hat cookies, sort of. I thought about telling my five-year-old's class that these hats were made by the Indians in their first attempt to assemble English fashion into their culture using native materials…leather, straw, rocks. I'm not sure they would buy it. I'm sure there will be a quick stop at Wal-Mart for already-decorated-cupcakes on my way to school tomorrow.

At least next year, I know I will be asked to supply the paper plates and plastic forks for any school party. I've already got a closet full!

I bough

Monday, November 15, 2010

Miranda L-a-a-a-a-mbert!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for hearing aid


Admittedly, I have not attended many concerts. Ok, I've attended one, Ray Charles Live, when he was alive. My knowledge of country western music dates to the time when there was country music and there was western music. Dolly Partin and Porter Wagoner, in sequined costumes that would have made Liberace and Elton John opt for darker sunglasses, twanged their acoustic guitars and sang about Mama crying over her coffee while listening to the train taking her son to Folsom Prison. Not my favorite music genre.

However, when my nine-year-old promises to keep her room clean for a month, clean the kitchen every night, and do her homework without complaining if I would just take her to the Miranda Lambert Concert, it was a deal I couldn't refuse. The price of the tickets would have taken care of a full time housekeeper for a month, but it couldn't buy complaint free homework.

I know that country has crossed over to western but I didn't know they had both leaped to rock and roll. Guitars have become electrified, drums have expanded to the point where a trained octopus would have trouble keeping the beat(s), and fiddles were non-existent. A banjo and an electric slide guitar did make a brief appearance. As near as I could tell, with cotton in my ears, the lyrics still dealt with beer, whiskey, broken relationships, daddy's little girl, and friends.

What I wasn't expecting was that country/western/rock and roll had gone so high tech. There were at least four eighteen wheelers in the rear coliseum parking lot parked next to three motorhomes and about a dozen assorted trucks, vans, and cars. On stage first were four sixteen foot tall light towers, six platforms with speakers, and about eight banks of robotic lights with strobes. On either side of the stage was a rack holding six to ten electric guitars. What? Do the strings get hot with all that wattage flowing through it so they have to get a new guitar after every song? They don't know how to tune the one they have? They are sponsored by several guitar makers? For me, watching the roadies breakdown all that equipment, load it on to a hydraulic lift, and roll it down the alley way of the coliseum without crushing somebody was as entertaining as the pre-show singers.

The stage was essentially bare for Miranda Lambert except for a drum set, assorted guitars and four panels for projections. I wondered if there was a correlation between talent and the amount of special effects equipment needed. I did notice that on some songs the cell phones came out in force. Either they were videotaping the song, taking pictures, looking for the dropped package of corn nuts, or catching up on their e-mails. So I couldn't tell if they liked the song or not.

At 10:30 after noticing the nine-year-old had dozed off to sleep, we left. I told her the concert was just about over. No singer could keep up that pace for much longer. I learned later the concert lasted until midnight.

On the way home I asked what she thought about her first concert. "Well, it was long and loud. I think I would rather have the CD. Then I could listen to the songs I really liked over and over."

I got my kitchen cleaned, her bedroom cleaned for a month, complaint-free homework, and no desire to attend another concert. All in all, not a bad investment of time and money. Thanks, Miranda!



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Up and Decorated

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for annex tree

There are those who would say putting up your Christmas tree before December 1 is a no no. I, however, think no tree should go up before Halloween; the orange is just not a Christmasy color. November 1st is Christmas-Tree-Putting-up-Day at our house. It helps that now we have an artificial tree; before we had to keep watering the thing and sweeping up the needles. By Christmas Day our tree often looked like the one Charlie Brown and Snoopy had.

Tree-putting-up-day now starts with a family discussion on where the tree should be located this year. Placing the tree in different rooms and different places in the room helps us remember what year it was. When the children were younger you could tell the year by the placement and kinds of decorations. If we had a toddler in the house, all the decorations began about two feet up the tree. The next year, as the toddler would then be in the terrible-twos, the decorations moved up the tree two more feet. Later as the children grew and wanted to help, most of the decorations on the seven foot tree were concentrated in the middle with none at the top and only a few on the bottom (to allow for more presents).

This year with no toddlers, the tree will be in the living room between the two sofas. That decided the hunt was on as to where the tree was stored last year so it could be retrieved for this year's placement. I used to store everything in the hall closet. When Christmas decorations exceeded the size of the storage space, I stored everything in the upstairs bedroom; however, the rickety attic stairs made it difficult getting the bins and tree box down. Since my knees were more rickety than the stairs, last year some of the decorations were moved to the barn, some made it back to the hall closet, and others migrated up the rickety stairs again. It may be February before we find everything.

At first it was easy to put the artificial branches into the tree pole. Everything was color coded and there was a diagram as to where each color went. After a many years, the colors began to wear off the ends of the branches and the color coded diagram somehow got separated from most of the tree.

One year we fortified ourselves with plenty of eggnog before attempting to assemble what was basically a jigsaw puzzle tree. That year was easy to remember because our tree resembled one of those biological cross pollinated experiments gone bad, sort of a Bonsai topiary.

The next year we decided to forego the liquid refreshment and assemble the tree first. We measured each branch, retaped each with the appropriate color of tape and made several diagrams of the colored coded branches in order to assemble it into some semblance of a Christmas tree. Now we can actually start assembling the tree on November l and have it finished by November l… of the same year and have it look like a Christmas tree.

Putting our tree ornaments on the tree for us is more a trip down memory lane than any kind of thought out well planned HGTV Design-on-a-nickel aesthetically pleasing design statement. Fifty years of tree ornament collecting and eight children's school made ornaments have left no branch tip unadorned. Once I tried to cull some of the faded construction paper Santas, the Popsicle stick reindeers, and the plastic/paper mache apples, but the creators of said decorations declared it wouldn't really be Christmas without them on the tree.

Some of our adult children have set out on their own life's journey that doesn't always allow them to be home for Christmas so when I look at the tree and see their ornaments, I think of them and wish them a Merry Christmas across the miles. As the five-year-old and the nine-year-old continue to add their decorations, I'll just have to add an annex tree. No way will I leave off those memories for the future.


Friday, October 29, 2010

I’ve Gone International!

by Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Passport

I was playing around with my new found STATs on my blog and guess what? I've gone international! According to my "audience" stats, people from all over the world have accidently or on purpose found my blog. I seem to be popular in India, probably due to the Icelandic/India girl who helped me get connected to dial-up. We were on the phone together quite a while. I think she may have told her immediate family because 46 people from India looked at my blog spot, or 23 people couldn't believe their eyes and clicked twice. I think they may have e-mailed their friends in the UK because either 11 clicked on three times or they actually had 33 friends there.

I'm not too hot in Denmark, only 8 page views there. They probably thought I was some kind of medical-menopausal-reversal project for wanna be moms 61 and older.

I only had one page view from Slovenia but I think there is only one computer in that country.

26 people in China clicked on my blog but that may have been from the same household.

All in all, my writing-ego-self-esteem has improved. I'm coming out from under the bed, After all, I'm known around the world! Ha!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

May I Have the Envelope, Please!

By Jody Worsham

All right reserved for birthday candles.

The children and I had been planning my husband's birthday party for a month. It's not every day you turn seventy! We decided to have his birthday celebration at our favorite campsite and invited all his friends and family to join us there. The birthday menu consisted of brisket, potato salad, beans, and what I called the Obama cake (looks good, tastes good, but definitely not good for you).

The day of the party, the children blew up balloons and tied them to the camper awning which was still intact thanks to my previous efforts to hold it down during a thunderstorm (see blog "Hold Down the Fort"). We put up a yard sign announcing the event.

I had found a few pictures of my husband in the baby book his mother had given us. Being the fourth child of seven, there weren't very many pictures of him and even fewer of him alone, mostly his school pictures. I copied the pictures and attached them to a poster board with the caption "Do You Know this Man?" Then we listed several questions. Guests were invited to write their answers on post-it notes and attach them to the appropriate question. Here are some of the results

"How old was he when he got an indoor toilet?" Answers ranged from 7 years to 16 years old. The answer was 22 years old. I remember because all of the future Worsham daughters-in-law did the dance of joy when it was installed.

"How many Dr. Peppers has he consumed in 70 years?" Answers ranged from a low of 49,000 to a million to six more than Campbell. I don't know the actual answer but I wish I had invested in Dr. Pepper stock back in 1945.

"What previous jobs has he held before coming to the college?" Tinsmiths, highway construction, high school teacher, bus driver, all manner of farm work were among the jobs listed. All true.

"How many gallons of water has he pumped out of his pond since he began digging it out seven months ago?" That was easy for the person with a calculator, 1, 250,000 gallons of water which is why most of the wildlife in our area have been using our swimming pool as their watering hole. Hubby had kept the ponds dry.

"What position in college basketball did he play?" Most were surprised that he played college basketball so "on the bench" was the most popular answer. Actually he played forward.

After going over all the remaining questions, it was time for the lighting of the birthday candles and the group picture. I opted not to light 70 candles on the cake because a) there's a fire ban in place and 70 candles might bring out the fire trucks, b) candles 1-5 would be completely burned down by the time I got to candles 65-70, and c) it's hard to find 6 boxes of birthday candles all the same color. I had bought a single "7" and "0" candle for the cake. I brought out the Obama cake but the search for and the #7 candle and the #0 candle did not yield either. At home I had several sets of numerical candles because I could never keep up with the candles I bought, or I was always off one number. Ever the queen of improvisation, I grabbed the envelope from a birthday card and wrote 70 on it and stuck it in the edge of the pan. Everyone smiled, picture taken, however, I did not light the envelope.

Our children and the visiting cousins disappointed at the lack of pyro-technics went back to playing. Our five-year-old and our seven-year-old were introducing them to Slide Down the Dry Bluff. When the dust clouds threatened to add flavor to our cake, I sent them further down the bluff to the little valley below our campsite where they were still in our sight but no flavor was being added to dessert. Later I observed them playing a game that I could only describe as "The Ninja Warrior Palm Frond War, Chase and Take". Being city children, the cousins could take them at Nintendo or any other computer game, but out in a field with no batteries, extension cords, or electronics, my kids were "Masters of the Dirt".

Our youngest granddaughter, age 16 months, wanted to join in on the fun and could have been a formidable opponent had she been allowed to compete, but she had to be content testing out all the lawn chairs. She spent the better part of the afternoon playing "Goldilocks and the Seventeen Chairs". No sooner had she climbed onto one chair, making a face that communicated total dissatisfaction, than she went for another. I think her favorite was the blue chair. She kept coming back to it as a touchstone when comparing it to the other chairs.

When the party tables were folded and the chairs and food put away, the kids declared this the best birthday party they ever went to even without a big birthday candle fire. I hosed the dirt off the children with a water hose and told them to run around the RV park until they were dry.

I saved the posters and post-it note answers. I was about to throw away the "birthday candle" when my husband said "May I have the envelope, please?" He took the envelope, pretended to open it, and takes out a card and read "And the winner is….me". Ok, that will get him at least 20 more birthday parties and kajillion more poker nights out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spit Rods

By Jody Worsham, Oct 2010

All rights reserved for membership in the NSA (National Spit-wadders of America)

In an effort to infuse our raised-on-the-farm heritage into my five-year-old and to insure that this historical school boy past time continues, I decided to teach him the manly art of spit wad shooting.

Now, as a teacher, I stand totally against spit wadding. If you have ever had to scrap spit wads off a black board aka chalk board, aka green board now known as a "white" board, you know that only Cheerios soaked in milk and sugar is harder to scrap off. Cheerios in milk and sugar is the forerunner of super glue. Still the boy needed to learn. Spit wads aren't the problem; it's the people who spit them and there is a time and place for everything, even spit wadding.

The time and place appeared simultaneously as we were waiting in the car for his sister's violin lesson to finish. We had made our prerequisite stop at McDonald's so we were equipped with the needed supplies: straws, napkins, and a very moist mouth. To keep him entertained, ok and me, we first had target shooting. We blew the paper coverings off the straws. The contest was based on distance, velocity, and aerodynamics. I won.

Having retrieved the straw jackets, we progressed to spit wadding. I showed him first how to tear off a bit of the paper straw jacket and chew it into a nice soggy wad. Now judging from his t-ball days (a few months ago) I knew he was directionally-challenged. To protect his fragile ego and bolster his self-esteem, I went for the ancient African Pigmy Blow-gun Technique. We retrieved our straws, tore off a piece from the paper straw jacket, placed the straw in our mouth and positioned the wad correctly, and let loose with a heavily saliva loaded wad. Bull's eye! He hit the windshield dead solid in the center. He was ecstatic! His Dad would be so proud. I beamed. Once a teacher, always a teacher I

Nothing breeds success like success. He continued tearing, salivating, wadding and blowing with ever increasing accuracy. When his sister reached the car, he demonstrated his new found skill by hitting her right between the eyes with a good wet one which immediately started WWIII.

After negotiating a peace treaty and reiterating the appropriate time and place, we headed for home. There were still mumblings coming from the rear seat. The nine-year-old had long ago mastered the womanly art of spit wad dueling. I think she was just waiting for a worthy opponent and one had been found.

Two minutes out and at the first mile marker, the peace treaty was broken and WWIV began in full force. It was only seconds before all napkins and sacks were decimated and the two children looked like they had some new kind of chicken pox. I pulled over with hazard lights flashing. "No more spit wads. The war is over and I am the victor!" I screamed. "Who's Victor?" whispered the five-year-old to his sister.

We drove on in silence past the three mile marker when suddenly "ping". Loose gravel? Ping! A petrified mosquito? Ping…! A glance in the rear view mirror revealed straws to their mouths but no evidence of white wads anywhere. As I turned into our drive-way and parked, the children bounded out of the car, each with a straw and a cup of ice. Ping! Ping! Ping ping ping!! Mouth Gatling guns spitting out ice wads.

"Hey Daddy", yelled the five-year-old, " Guess what! Mama showed me how to make Spit Rods." The ice pelting continued as both children headed for cover behind the frog condos in the sand pile.

"Spit rods?" quizzed my husband.

"So he didn't get the name right, but check out his accuracy. He's headed for the pros."

"If he doesn't head for the principal's office first."


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Two Dollar Concert

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for hearing aid

When the three-year-old and her brother came to live with us, I learned early on that her favorite game was "Playing School." She would line her dolls and stuffed animals in a row and "teach school." Sometimes I would find the baby in his baby carrier facing the wall away from the "teacher." "He is in time-out. He forgot to use his inside voice," said the "teacher.

later, in kindergarten, the dolls took on the names of her classmates and I observed her again mimicking her teacher. One particular doll, "Jesse" was always in time-out. As the year progressed I heard Jessey's name screamed over and over. I'm sure Jesse will appear on the FBI's most wanted list sometime in the future, but in kindergarten, he seemed contented to just torment his teacher. i often wondered if this was the first year for the teacher or just the first year with Jesse.

Over the years I've learned to rely on the school activity at home to find out what was going on in their classrooms. no need for conferences, just observe the children playing school.

This year the nine-year-old went to a new school. With added activities, there was less time for the children to play school since they were so busy being in school. If I had any worries or concerns about what was going on in her classroom, these were laid to rest the afternoon of the $2 Concert.

That Saturday morning began with what I thought was the worst pounding headache I had ever had. The "headache" was the early morning fifty-gallon barrel concert being rehearsed in the yard by the two children. They had gotten up early so as not to miss any play time. They informed me that later on my husband and I would be invited to a concert, but first they had to practice.

As the early morning pounding turned into early afternoon pounding and rehearsals were not improving their performance, my husband managed to replace the big, log sized drum sticks with smaller branches more in the twig-stick-size range.

By five o-clock the nine-year-old informed me the concert was ready only she had kicked the five-year-old out of the band. We had reserved seats under the tree by the horse washing rack. She said tickets were $2. "Two dollars...for a concert I've been listening to all day?" I said. "Ok, it will be $1 per person since there is only one band member, me" said the musician turned business manager. We bought our tickets and took our seats.

As the plastic barrel boomed (she had replaced the small sticks with even larger tree limbs_ she sang her original song lyrics. I must say they were equal to many of the songs I had heard recently on the radio. The five-year-old, who was not happy about being fired from the band, added his interpretive dance, which was part ballet part karate, to the performance.

The concert lasted one minute. Well what can you expect for $1? Afterwards she passed out a hand printed opinion poll for us to complete.

1. What did you like best about the concert? Should I be honest and say short?

2. What did we do the best? Stayed occupied all day with the need for any kind of negotiated peace treaty?

3. What could we have done better? Used a smaller barrel?

4. What do you think we could do to be better next time? Take up mime?

Of course we were full of praise and filled out the "opinion poll" as any proud parent would.

Later, when my hearing returned, I realized she was using the same evaluative criteria that her school was using. That afternoon she had showed us that she was learning some valuable lessons, and we were again reminded of those same lessons. All creative work is of value and takes many forms. Even a one minute concert requires hours of rehearsal. No work is perfect and art is seldom finished. There is always room for improvement. Economics follows supply and demand even in the arts.

Not bad for a two dollar concert!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Drive-by Wi-Fi

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for possible bail money

Recently my fingerprints were rejected by the FBI for "insufficient ridges", or so they said. I am scheduled to be re-fingerprinted next week so that I can continue to substitute teach. I guess they think I will grow ridges by then.

But I am a little worried about this next time. My behavior of late may seem a bit bizarre or strange to anyone other than fellow writers, mothers with toddlers, or persons with Alzheimer's.

I have been having severe trouble with my s-l-o-w dial-up so I have resorted to hanging out in town at places with free Wi-Fi. I spend a lot of time in the children's section of a local bookstore because there is a table with a plug nearby for my lap top. However, I have noticed the salespeople keep circling by and asking if I need any help.

My second free Wi-Fi of choice is our local McDonald's. Their Wi-Fi connections are fast, they have restrooms, and there is food and drink readily available for long term computer sessions. After visiting there several days in a row, I realized that their Wi-Fi suddenly closes down for no apparent reason and "all unsaved data" is lost. After a few more days of observation, I discovered that there is a two hour limit per "log in" on their Wi-Fi. After having to re-log in twice in one day, I concluded that my visits should be shortened there, plus their Mocha Frappes were beginning to show up on places other than the menu.

Still with no dial-up connections, I have been reduced to cruising the neighborhoods looking for free unsecured Wi-Fi. Unfortunately the neighborhoods with the most Wi-Fi connections also have a neighborhood watch. I think my license plate, "IRA Nitwit" has been reported to the local police.

During my canvassing of the neighborhoods, I have begun to encounter some of the same cars each day. I believe they are experiencing some of the same problems judging from their license plates,"No S Sky", "No-net Jef", and "Tre-B-Gone."

This little Wi-Fi-scavenger-road-rally may actually evolve into some kind of sport for computer-savvy generations to come. I remember playing CB radio tag with my friends when there were no cell phones. This could somehow become Wi-Fi tag.

I can see it now, a new Olympic event. Geek meets Greek. Contestants are given a lap top with a two hour battery life, no USB port, but with Wi-Fi capability. They are dropped by helicopter into a neighboring country currently not at war with anybody. Ok, right now that would be Switzerland. The contestant able to send e-mails from the most Wi-Fi spots with extra points given for the most remote Wi-Fi spot in that two hours time is the winner. This might really stimulate the economy in say third word countries as McDonald's, Starbucks, What-A-Burger, Borders, via to have the most remote Wi-Fi spot in that country.

Getting back to my problem, you may ask, "Why not ditch the dial-up and get high speed Internet?" Ah, would that I could! But like my friend in the blue Camera, "No S Sky", I also do not have a clear unobstructed view of the southern sky. Like the lady in the black truck "Tre Be Gone", I have a forest of thirty year old pine trees surrounding my house. Even to use my cell phone I have to stand in the front yard with a coat hanger in my left hand, my cell phone in my right hand, and my back against the tallest pine tree in the yard.

Until technology catches up to nature, I shall continue to roam the streets in search of free Wi-Fi, drink myself into a caffeine coma from establishments touting free Wi-Fi, or my face appears on the FBI Most Unwanted list.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What I Learned on Late Night TV

by Jody Worsham, all rights reserved for NyQuil, Lunesta, Tylenol PM

Never drink two glasses of iced tea before bed; between the caffeine and extra liquids, you won't get any sleep.

However, while flipping through 150 channels last night, I discovered some interesting tidbits not available during the daylight hours. For example:

1) If YOU ARE DEAD OR HAVE SUFFERED DEATH, you may be eligible for compensation if you ever took the drug Avandia. I guess you have to go through a medium or psychic to file a claim.

2) You can only file a claim if a loved one has died or been diagnosed with Mesophelioma. If you hated the (_*$_#&*^^*&, then I don't think you can file a claim.

3) Shipping and handling are more expensive than the item you just purchased (if you are able to read the small print as it flashes across the screen.)

4) A new joy toy, known as the Trojan Trilogy (I think that was the name. I was in shock over such a commercial and had my eyes partially covered) can't be ordered if you live in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi or Georgia. I wonder what that says about those states?

5) The Australian girls you brought you the Pedi Egg, now bring you the suctioned cup plastic spiked flip-flop foot scrubber. It's amazing what your imagination can create from that one left over flip-flop after the other one breaks.

6) If you turn the sound completely off of the weather channel, you can play meteorologist and project when and where the next hurricane will make landfall and with just as much accuracy. You can also upgrade the next tropical storm to hurricane status and name it after your boss, ex-spouse, or latest wild child.

I think I will opt for warm milk tonight.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rejected by the FBI

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to pay for free lawyer

If you write and submit your writings, you expect to be rejected…a lot. If you suggest any rational or practical ideas at say an economic summit, you can anticipate no one in an elected office will listen to you. But if you sign on as a substitute teacher in a state so desperate for subs that anyone whose breath can still fog a mirror, even slightly, is called until rigor mortise sets in, you expect to be accepted on the sub list. Not so. I shall explain.

To increase security, or possibly to give some brother-in-law’s failing company a gigantic economic boost onto the bottom rung of the Fortune 500, our legislature is now requiring all teachers and substitute teachers to be fingerprinted at a cost of approximately $52.75 per teacher/sub. The fingerprints can only be taken by ONE company, the brother-in-law company; but once entered into the Brig Brother Data Base, you can substitute anywhere in the state.

I do not have a problem with this, well except for the Big Brother part and the single company monopoly part. When we adopted our last two children four years ago, both my husband and I had to be fingerprinted for a criminal background check. I think we may have even been fingerprinted when we applied to adopt two donkeys form the federal government’s Burro Reclamation Project in the 80’s. Since I also have a passport and driver’s license, my fingerprints are in several systems. Fingerprinting is not the problem.

The problem is the system. I was given a time to be fingerprinted. I had my Fast Pass, required before you can be fingerprinted, not to save time. I think the brother-in-law CEO of the fingerprint company may have just gotten back from Disney World. I had my driver’s license and my social security card. I even brought along my passport just in case. No one asked for my teaching certificate, number of years teaching experience, or my birth certificate. I guess that did not matter. I was anticipating and waiting for the fogged mirror test.

I think I have watched too many episodes of “Law and Order’ or “Matlock” because I also brought along baby wipes to remove the black ink. This was not needed as fingerprinting has gone high tech. I was photographed, each hand was scanned on a computer, each digit was rolled across the screen, and I could see the entire process on the monitor. The required sums were paid and I was dismissed.

A week later I still have not received any calls to substitute and I am sure rigor mortise has not set in. I currently have a heart beat and I can fog up a mirror. I am confused.

Today I received a letter from the brother-in-law fingerprinting company saying my fingerprints had been rejected by the FBI. Now I was not applying for The Silver Fox Anti-terrorist School for Retired Teachers. I did not want to be in the newest class at Quantico. I just want to substitute teach.

Rejected! Thirty-nine years in the classroom as a certified teacher with a master’s degree in three teaching fields and I was rejected. After I calmed down and found my glasses, I read on down to the bottom of the page where I saw REASON in big letters followed by “First rejection.” Were there going to be more? Then below that was “ridges too faint to read.”

Faint ridges? Faint ridges? Faint ridges! I have no fingerprints! Does that make me a vampire? No, vampires have no reflections. What is it when you have no fingerprints? A ghost? A mummy? The mob’s best friend? Then it hit me. Well of course the ridges are too faint to read. They are almost seven decades old. I’ve patted eight children to sleep over a period of forty years, sewed thousands of costumes, built a house and a barn, graded a million papers, and driven a quadrillion miles taking kids to and fro. I’ve even burned those ridges the few times I tried to cook. I pound a computer keyboard several hours a day and my new lap top doesn’t have a mouse. You just tap...with your fingertips. Of course they are worn out! But I can still out-teach a “mirror-fogger.”

I read on further. There was a number I could call to reschedule a second fingerprinting/scanning session. If I reschedule, maybe I’ll get the Elmer’s glue and squirt a sad face on my finger. I’m not saying which finger. I’ll bet those ridges would scan.

The phone is in my pocket. I’m still thinking.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Six Words Worth Six Hundred

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to buy paper and pencil

There is a contest currently running in the AARP magazine ( that asks you to write the biggest mistake in your life in six words or less. If your six words are selected, you win a t-shirt with your words on it and you are published in their newspaper. I guess the AARP magazine, writing primarily for senior citizens, figures that six words is about as long as our attention span is for reading. Or else, if they didn't limit the words, we have lived so long and made so many mistakes that "War and Peace" would look like a mini novel compared to what we could write.

At any rate, I gave it a shot.
My biggest mistakes in 6 words or less.

Met your mom.
Your wife?

Friday’s funeral,
Thursday’s beans
Pardon me!

Lost one shoe
Limping diploma

Dress size 6
Body size 16.

Then I got to thinking about some of my postings. What if I reduced them to six words?

"Back to the Future...and It's Scary! becomes:

Kindergarten substitute
Smart Board, Dumb Sub!

"I've got Stats" becomes
Stats? Rats!
No one there (sigh)

Nah, economy of words is over rated!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I"ve Got Stats!

by Jody Worsham All rights reserved to purchase free AVG.

I don't know when I got them or how but judgjng from my blog where I accidently clicked on something, I now have STATS. I still don't have a blog counter. I've tried that twice. The last time I almost got to the end when it said to click some button, only there wasn't a button there to click. According to my STATS 782 people have looked at my blog (course 743 of those would be me clicking to see if anybody had left a comment.) but I don't have to tell anbyody that, right?

I gave up on trying to contact a living person at the McAfee Security place out in cyberspace and now have my computer at the computer 's doctor's office. I'm waiting for the diagnosis. I hope it died.

While I was out I decided to see if there was a way to connect my lap top to my existing printer. I asked about connecting my new lap top to my old Dell printer and the young (better-not-let-me-find-out-who-your-mother-is) man just laughed. I went to Wal-mart, bought a cheap printer, a USB cable thing, paid for it, loaded it all in my car, and promptly rolled back into a tiny Crown Victoria that was hiding in the blind spot of my suburban. He was older than me. I'm sure he thought he was honking at me and I'm sure I thought I was listening. The insurance lady asked if I was on a cell phone or a GPS (like I could operate those and drive, too.) Luckily she didn't ask me if I was thinking about computers and what I could do with smug-still-in-diapers-computer-type geeks.

When I got home, no UBS cord, no receipt for one either but I know I bought it. I can still see that silly grin on that How-May-I-Help-Make-You-Feel-like-a-Dinasour Wal-mart salesperson. So I bought another one, got it home and took a day off to lower my blood-pressure, cholesterole, and re-think my gun safety course.

Today, after much trial and horror and growling, I got it hooked up. I printed what I needed printing. However, one piece wouldn't let me print it. That piece was the reason I bought the *&$)&#(&b extra printer in the first place. I think I would have been better off just copying the thing by hand from the computer.

To breathe some sanity back into my life, I went to McDonald's, odered a super-size Chocolate Mocha Frappe, and just waited for that size 2 server to gasp, roll her eyes, size up my supersize t-shirt, or suggest she make it sugar free.

I think I may stop by the t-shirt place and have them make me up a t-shirt that says "Don't Mess with a Texas-size Computer Freaked-Out 67 Year Old Mother of a kindergartener and a Fourth Grader". I'm sure Miss How-May-I-Help-You would agree that there is plenty of room for all that on my t-shirt.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Old and the Sleepless! or Dr. Pepper Seniors, Up at 10,2, and 4

By Jody Worsham All rights reserved for a herd of sheep and a fence.

One of the side effects of getting old….er is the fact that you only sleep for about three hours at a time. Something about lessening levels of serotonin or increased melatonin. I personally think it’s the shrinking bladder which causes frequent trips to the bathroom that keeps you from your eight-hours-straight. Course add to that mix a five-year-old, a nine-year-old, and a thunderstorm and you can forget about any kind of continuous sleep.

Last night between claps of thunder, rounds of bedroom roulette, and trips to the john, I made some interesting discoveries. For example, did you know that even if you have 150 channels on your TV set, there is nothing worth watching at 3a.m.? Or if the reason you are up and watching the TV at it’s because you are suffering from low back paint which only a Joy Seat can cure, you are still cleaning your floors because you don’t have a Shark Steam Clean Floor Cleaner, or you feel the sudden urge to chop grape sized bits of onion, pickles, and tuna for a sandwich and you don’t have the Magic Slap-Chopper?

Not only that, did you know the TV shows that you watched before 9p.m. start repeating at 1 a.m.? Now this can be a good thing for me because I usually fall asleep before the third choice of a vacation home on Devil’s Island is revealed. I have, on more than one occasion, awakened three hours later to not only see the third choice but get in on the final decision, never the one I would have picked.

And, surprise surprise, the 24/7 live recorded weather channel is on some kind of video loop. I almost moved the entire family into an interior walk-in closet before I realized I was currently watching a rerun of the same thunderstorm I had just experienced an hour earlier. I watched that same storm cross my part of the state four more times in much the same way one watches reruns of a movie, just to see if you missed something the first three times. Plus I wasn’t in the market for a genuine cubic zirconium naval ring even if they were going fast and there were only 1,200 of them left.

I also discovered that there is a direct correlation between when a roll of toilet paper will actually run out and the wee-wee hours of the morning. However, this has not been totally verified as the empty-roll-syndrome has been known to happen when a) there’s absolutely no one else in the house and b) when there is absolutely everybody in the house including the preacher regardless of the hour.

I realized, too, that my hearing is 200% better in the hours after midnight. Why are sounds, any sounds, louder, spookier, and more irritating the closer it gets to morning? Tree frogs that were soothing sounds of nature at 10p.m suddenly sound like the latest reject of American Idol at 4 a.m. and can set every dog in the neighborhood howling at the moon, even when there isn‘t a moon. A slight drip from the water faucet you didn’t quite turn off at 7p.m. becomes Niagra Falls on a gigantic tin drum in the early morning hours.

I finally gave up on any kind of continued sleep and headed to the kitchen. That’s the other good side effect of getting It’s always time for
10, 2, and 4.…and all the times in between.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Love's Labor Lost

by Jody Worsham. All rights reserved for labor intensive rest time.

Labor Day Weekend is aptly named. It was a weekend for labor just with an extra day. Why is it that camping involves twice as much labor intensive loading and unloading as just staying put?

At least this Labor Day weekend was as close as we have ever gotten to a Norman Rockwell holiday. Our children had fun. They discovered cousins. Well, they were their second cousins. Actually, they were both their second counsins and their great-neice and great-nephew. However, genetically speaking, since ours are adopted, they weren't any relation to the others at all. Ok, it was not a normal Norman Rockwell. Like I said, it was as close as we got.

We slapped down two tarps on a hillside, turned on the water, poured a full bottle of Joy on the tarps and watched the four great-uncles-great-aunts-second-counsins-just-kids slide down the hill ending in a massive cloud of soap suds. They climped up the hill, slid down the hill all afternoon and went promptly to sleep at 7:30 that evening without a peep and totally clean.

The next day we labored over the grill and labouriously climbed in and out of the RV's for salt, spices, spatulas, plates, ice, drinks, porkchops, bratzs, napkins, forks, salad, chips, corn etc. Once it was all assembled, we ate the rest of the weekend.

On Monday we packed up the RV and returned home, unloaded, cleaned up, and repacked the RV. Thus we labored over Labor Day Weekend. Thank goodness there's not another holiday until October!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to the Future...and It's Scary!

By Jody Worsham, all rights reserved for Valium!

Emitting from the darkest regions of a lost and forlorn soul, the screams reverberated around the room. Such keening and wailing caused window panes to vibrate. The high pitched crying had dogs baying at the sun, small children covering their ears, and senior citizens tossing their hearing aids. And that was just from me.

Nothing in my 60 hours of college education courses, 39 years of teaching experience, or raising eight children had prepared me for this. I was being propelled through the time-continuum portal of substitute teaching in…kindergarten.

My 39 years of teaching experience occurred mostly in the last half of the twentieth century, and mostly PC (pre-computer). Even as a recent substitute, I had encountered the occasional power point presentation or DVD left by the teacher to be played, or the request to take attendance using the computer. Nothing, however, had prepared me for High Tech Kindergarten substituting.

My instructions were printed out. The first thing I had to do was log in on the computer as the children arrived and sat on the carpet. Actually, the first thing I had to do was find the computer. I was looking for something similar to my ‘05 Dell, you know, big tv type monitor, tower, and keyboard with mouse, not a gray-black rectangle the width of a desk blotter.

After finding the blotter sized lap top I then struggled with how to open it. After a trial and error period of 10 minutes I succeeded. There was no icon, button, or big red flashing arrow to indicate that was where I was to log. When in doubt, click everything. The teachers’ aid rebooted it for me. The teacher next door came and clicked onto the Alphabet program then turned on the wall switch to the “Smart Board”. Thus I firmly established myself as an authority figure, one to be reckoned with, firmly in charge of the situation in front of my sixteen kindergarten students. Not! It went downhill from there.

Unlike my high school students I had for an hour and a half, I had these children all day long. And while I could divide my high school students into reading groups, send one group outside to rehearse an acting scene, and tell another group to begin painting; these couldn’t read, couldn’t be left alone a second , and t would sooner color each other than what they should be coloring. This was a whole different world I had entered.

By the time I got through the first page of instructions, I was twenty minutes behind schedule and would have missed the bathroom break if six little boys hadn’t suddenly broken into the Potty Dance. As a mother of eight, I know that dance well. After trying to herd my chickens to the restroom and back, I was now ten minutes past Alphabet time.

Alphabet Time had to do with the Smart Board and the Dumb Sub. Fortunately one of the five-year-olds was in charge of this portion of the lesson. He touched the picture of an arrow on the giant screen and the picture changed. He did the calendar as well. He drug the date from the side to the calendar. He moved the star to the correct month. Then he touched the arrow again and the letters of the alphabet appeared giant sized on the screen. The children were to trace the letters. I looked for some chalk but the five-year-old-techno-genius said “We use these” and gave me a pitiful look along with some kind of giant computer crayon. We were supposed to stop at Ee but we had to stop at Bb. It was lunch time.

I again began my attempts at “sweeping feathers” toward the cafeteria. Each child had his name on a “credit card” located in a slotted board. They had to have their cards to get lunch. I had left my glasses in the room; they couldn’t yet read their names. I held their cards out as far as my arm could reach and squinted amidst cries of “I’m hungry,” “Hurry up!” “We’re going to miss lunch”. “I want my Mommie.” “Our real teacher let us eat”.

After passing out all the cards, I was left with one. Panic set in. I had lost a child! I quickly scanned all the tables but I was having trouble trying to find my missing child among the 50 plus children with catsup smeared all over their faces. It was steak finger day. I asked the Aid for help. She told me that child had brought her lunch. Ok, LCA (Lost Child Alert) averted,

After lunch, we had recess. One hyper little child asked if he was going to have to miss recess because of his bad behavior. I thought to myself “Not on your life. Run, Forrest, run” He did. When we returned to the classroom, it was nap time. I needed it, but when I read down further, it was only for the children.

Nap time was an excersize in futility. I didn’t know how to get music on the Smart Board, or the computer and I hadn’t brought my old antiquated jam box and CD’s. I dared not sing so it was simply “Quiet time, please.” Four went to sleep right away. Seven did their best to keep five awake and did a very good job of it. I saw the 2020 gymnastic hopefuls working out their routines those who will one day appear on Dancing with the Stars were inventing new steps, and American Idol hopefuls were getting in tune. I just kept staring at the clock. At last it was time to go home. I got everybody who was riding a bus to the bus line. Everybody who was riding in a car was shuffled off to the pick-up line.

In theory substituting in a kindergarten class had looked easy. Follow the lesson plans and all would be well. In retrospect it was a microcosm of our world to come. Every kindergartener had a job, but just like their 20 year old plus adult counter-parts, they didn’t always like their jobs nor did they always do them. Shades of unemployment lines to come. One started crying loudly when another child cut in front at lunch. Geneva Convention violations. One moved his mat into another child’s space. Border disputes. Getting bumped by another student in line was a call to arms. Nuclear arms race continued. One child claimed another child had taken over his job. Labor Union negotiations .

I had observed in one day a microcosm of our world. I had been staring at the future…and it was scary!

When I returned home and reached for the wine bottle, no glass was needed, my husband was laughing.

“Ate your lunch, did they?”
“My lunch, my breakfast, and my supper.”
“Going back tomorrow?”
“Not on your life. I’m sending flowers, sympathy cards, a giant box of very dark chocolate plus a year’s membership to “Massage Stress Away Health Club" to every kindergarten teacher I know. They deserve it!”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chinese Fire Drill or Fire Ants Distrubed!

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to purchase spare gasoline tank

A Fire Ant Chinese Fire Drill, that’s the best way I know to describe the first day of school. In years past the first day of school for my children was also my first day of school so I missed out on this first-day-automobile-mayhem. However, this second time around, I was right in there in the line of cars that stretched from here to eternity.

The nine-year-old started school four days before the five-year-old. I thought to myself “This is good. This will give me a time estimate on pick-up and delivery. That first day I tried to drive right into the front parking lot of the school. I got funny looks and honks. No cutting, even in traffic. So I snaked my way around to the back side of the parking lot on the other side of the football stadium and lined up…and waited.

That same afternoon, I again drove into the front parking lot but I thought I would time the pick-up line and when the last car pulls around I will hop right in behind it. It was thirty-five minutes from the time school was out until I picked her up. Ok, got that down. This is going to work out fine.

Then the five-year-old started school along with the rest of the entire world. We left the house an extra ten minutes early. First, the nine-year-old would be dropped off. I couldn’t figure out why her drop-off line wasn’t moving. Then I realized the doors to her school did not open until 7:30. Also I had not anticipated the other elementary school next door starting at the same time with its own never-ending-car-line.

I then headed out for the second nine mile drive to the next delivery point. When I got within two miles of his school, I thought there must have been an accident or something because traffic was backed up and bumper to bumper. Then I realized it was the rest of the entire world lined up to turn into his school. I drove past the school and came back to it in the opposite direction, found a parking place and walked him to his classroom.

On the way out I noticed there was no one in the drop-off lane. I thought to myself, “Oh, this will be a piece of cake this afternoon.” NOT! School is out at 3 p.m. and I arrived at the turn-off lane at 2:50. “My, they must be limited in parking. There’s cars all parked on the other side of the road… headed to the school… with their motors running…and not moving.

At 3:00, I had moved up one car length. I also noted the row of “parked cars” had also moved up one car length. I looked behind me and counted 60 cars. At 3:15, I had moved up six car lengths. At 3:20 (the nine-year-old had now been out of school twenty minutes) I saw that the double row of cars merged into one row as they headed for the five pick up spots. At 3:30 as I moved into spot #1 to pick up my hot, sweaty, thirsty five-year-old, I estimated 200 cars had been ahead of me and there was another 150 behind me.

I then went to pick up the nine-year-old. The school had already called home to see if somehow, she had been forgotten. I guess that was expected since I had taught the principal and she knew me.

Tomorrow will be day two of this hurry-up-and-wait marathon. Now, here are my choices. I take the nine-year-old at 7a.m. and am first in line to drop her off at 7:30, then race to the other school and hope the line is not as long so I can drop the five-year-old in time for lunch.

OR I leave at 7a.m., have the five-year-old dress in the car and eat breakfast on the way, drop him off first and have the night-watchman look after him until the teachers arrive and the lights are turned on, then drive the nine-year-old back into town and drop her off and hope we make it before her classes start at 7:45 a.m. In the afternoon, I can get in the pick-up line at 2p.m. to pick up the five-year-old at 3:00 p.m. in order to be on time to pick up the nine-year-old before 3:30, when they start their E.T. Phone Home routine.

OR I can trade in the suburban for a pick-up truck with a cab-over camper and just sleep in the parking lot. The latter may be the best choice as I will soon have to factor in ballet lessons, soccer practice, violin lessons, and girl scouts starting next month.

Why did I think life was going to be less complicated when they were both in school?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for big back to school party for parents, no kids allowed.

As the song goes, with a few variations, "It's the most wonderful time of the year. Car pools are filling and lunches are brimming, and parents all cheer. It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Yes, school has started, at least for the nine-year-old. Last night she tried on six different clothes, new school, new teachers. It had to be just right. In my first term of motherhood, I picked out just the right outfit to make that first good impression regardless of what the child wanted. Now in my second term of motherhood, I realize the importance of the child feeling like she could be impressive on her own. With absolutely-the-coolest-outfit-on-the-planet laid out, everyone went to sleep...sort of.

Now this same child who has slept until 10 a.m. every morning this summer was up dressed, and sitting at the kitchen table at 6a.m. I was majorly sleep deprived from this same-earth-quake-category-5-hurricane-couldn't-wake-me child who asked me every two hours during the night: "Just checking to make sure you set the alarm", "Is it time to go yet?" "Are you sure you got all my supplies?" Oh, if it could only last.

Three days from now it will take three alarm clocks, a mountain of threats, and the final last resort, a spritzing of ice water from a spray bottle to get her up and going. By the third day she will have checked out all the new kids, cased the playground for the best monkey bars, fastest slide, and the longest swing. She will know just how far to push the teacher before she blows.

As a teacher I know how important those first three days are. It determines whether you start marking off the days until Thanksgiving holidays or you suddenly pause for a second and realize the year is almost over. It also determines who's the boss, you or them.

My five-year-old doesn't start until Monday. His biggest concern is the play ground, how much time he has to play, and when is lunch. Kind of like me.

As some of you parents fight the crowds on Tax Free Weekend, grabbing school snacks from the shelves and wrestling over the last package of biology paper, remember it's a full two and a half months until Thanksgiving holidays, and sing this little song in your head...or even out loud.."It's the most wonderful time of the year...!"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hawaii 5 oh,oh,oh,oh$

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to pay interest on the credit card for the next 20 years.

Everyone said the cost of living in Hawaii was very high so evidently most of the people there are tourists or people employed to take care of tourists, or homeless. We saw a lot of the homeless people in the park. I think one may have been a former Enron executive because he had his rolling office chair parked right next to his shopping cart. We passed him several times during the week and he was always there sitting in his chair. He was probably at the Hawaiian Hilton in the executive suite when Enron crashed so he just rolled his chair across the street and took up residence.

Our trolly driver was a pyro-techie for the movies but when business got slow (probably due to natural pyro-technics from the volcano erupting on the big island) he started driving the trolly. He showed us the school he attended. It was still standing so either he wasn't very good at hisjob, he didn't want to burn things down until he hit high school, or his elementary school had a very good fire prevention program.

Our waitress at dinner came to the island as a graduation present with her mother.
Mom liked it so much she moved here permanently a year and a half later. When our waitress graduated from a university in Virginia with her elementary certification she came back to the island to hang out for awhile. I asked why she wasn't teaching (our trolly driver said seven elementary schools had been added in the past three or four years). She said it's so expensive to live here, she would have had to teach school and waitress to make a decent living. "This way I can work and enjoy the island". I guess she made more waitressing full time than teaching full time.

The nine-year-old discovered the hands-on Apple Store our first day. On my third trip to the store and while leaning against a wall hoping the store would close early, a young man came up to me and said "I've seen that look a thousand times." I asked him if he was born on the island. No, but he had lived there since he was four. He asked where I was from. I told him Texas. He said he dated a violinst from Texas. I'm thinking, does he know how big Texas is? "Actually she played for the Symphony in the Pines. "In Nacogdoches, I said". "Yes." He had attended the University of Oklahoma and had visited Nacogdoches one weekend. What are the odds? I guess he was selling a lot of I-phones, I-Pads, or I-patches because he lived in Hawaii full time and he looked well fed.

McDonald's is always my barometer of expenses. You know you are in trouble when there is no dollar menue. There's a two dollar menue and there is no Happy Meals. The only happy people were the owners of the McDonald's franchise.