Randomly we roll along

My alarm clock went off at 5:45 this morning for the first time since last Thursday, and verily, I didst think Very Bad Words Indeed.

In a discussion with some friends (okay, FINE; it was a thread on Facebook, because we all know I never actually talk to people face-to-face anymore), I realized just how LONG of a day the kids have, for no discernible reason. I mean, okay; Monkey is gone by 7:15 but is generally home before 3:00, which just seems like a long day for a little guy. It’s not beyond the norm, I suppose, although the schools are always bitching about how they don’t have time to teach [fill in this blank with “the standardized test material” or “the real learning stuff we’d still like to teach aside from the standardized test material” as you see fit].

Chickadee, however, leaves the house before 8:00 (though she is blossoming into So Not A Morning Person and gets up with the rest of us so as to grunt her way into alertness by bus time) and is rarely home before 5:00, or later on activity days. But at least she spends that entire time sitting on a bus or behind a desk, with none of that pesky fresh air or exercise stuff getting in the way!

I begin to understand how people warm up to homeschooling, when I think about this stuff. I mean, at least we could sleep in. And free up a whole lot of time.

* * * * *

Chickadee’s vegetarianism (we are coming up on a year of it, with no signs of flagging) has really influenced my cooking. Mostly in a good way, I think. It’s also led to things like tonight’s dinner, which I like to call That Vaguely Indian Bean, Lentil and Veggie Dish Wherein I Substituted Approximately Twelve Of The Thirteen Ingredients To Suit What I Had On Hand, Plus I Put It In The Crock Because I Am Lazy And Don’t Own A Pressure Cooker. Now, I’ll admit that sometimes such experiments turn out great. “Let’s see what happens” is one of my favorite cooking methods, actually. But sometimes it results in, “Well, now. Who wants pizza?” And I just peeked in the crock and I’m thinking this can still go either way.

* * * * *

Licorice continues to enjoy Doggie Class. There are several Doggies Behaving Badly and her favorite thing to do is park herself under my chair (she makes herself a little cave) and cock her head at the dog who constantly barks or the one who prances around like a reindeer. In this sense, she is a model student.

On the other hand, most of the other dogs are puppies, and so by comparison, Licorice is the old dog trying to learn new tricks. So while the other dogs are all OHTREATS! ILIKETREATSGIMMETREATS! IWILLJUMPFORTREATS!, Licorice is happy to do what I ask if she understands it immediately, and if she does not, she loses interest and figures I am not going to give her that treat, and furthermore, she doesn’t need my stinkin’ treat and she will just lay there and look annoyed.

For example: The only thing I’ve been able to teach Licorice on my own is “Sit.” And even that was sort of an accident, but she knows the VERBAL command. She will sit if 1) you SAY sit and 2) you have a treat in your hand. In class, we’re learning hand signals. And Licorice is not so much interested in hand signals, thanks. So I can cheat and tell her sit, or continue gesticulating wildly while she rolls her eyes at me. Or at least, that’s what I thought would be our fate. Somehow, JUST TODAY she has learned the hand signal for sit (finally). It’s kind of a power fist gesture (closed fist, knuckles straight up), and every time I do it now and she actually plops her rear on the ground I kind of want to demand a fist bump from her as well. But her little paws are not so amenable to making fists.

The triumph over sit-on-signal came just in time, because I had been growing despondent over her unwillingness to lie down on command. The other dogs, you slide the treat down their chests and they collapse to the ground, happily. Not Licorice. She backs up and cocks her head at you and eventually wanders away. Same thing for any sort of “luring” behaviors where we’re supposed to be able to bring the dog along by waving food. Every other dog is leaving a trail of drool and Licorice is all, YAWN. If you wanted me to have it you would give it to me, she thinks.

* * * * *

Somehow I forgot to remove lunchboxes from backpacks before the long weekend, and Monkey’s lunchbox now smells like grim death. I don’t know what was in there, nor do I want to know. But when I went to fix lunches this morning it was enough to make my eyes water, and to cause me to pack for him in our Emergency Backup Lunchbag. Then I threw the stinky one into the washing machine even though it says “hand wash only,” because I washed it by hand and it still smelled like rancid turds.

Otto said, “Maybe it’s time to buy a new one? Isn’t it over a year old?” And it is, but it LOOKS fine, and is plenty sturdy. It just reeks. The idea of chucking it is hard for me.

Also, it’s from LL Bean, who theoretically guarantees products for life. So THEORETICALLY if I call them up and say that I am dissatisfied with their product, they will replace it, no questions asked. I think that’s hilarious, because if they DID ask questions, I would have to confess that my dissatisfaction stems from my own inability to remove rotting food from said item in a timely manner. It doesn’t seem like that’s their fault, frankly. (Side note: No, I would not ask for a replacement in this case. Just saying that I could, which is silly.)

* * * * *

This morning Otto declared that he needed to quit his job so that he would have time to do all of his chores. I laughed and then shoved him outside and changed the locks.

Not really.



  1. Ani

    Am I the only one whose head explodes when they whine about instruction time…and then it turns out that the correct answer to a problem labeled “Mental Math” (ha) is to WRITE OUT THE PROCESS THEY USED TO DO THE “MENTAL MATH”???? And not, you know, the answer to the actual math equation. (which was correct, but still got marked wrong, because it was all about the process…)

    And also, “instructional time” dedicated to coloring a picture, beyond kindergarten?


  2. Megan

    I used to think I was the Poohbah of All Dog Trainers because our sweet mutt puppy was housetrained in under a week, learned sit, lie and come in TWO HOURS (stay was harder, it was ‘wot is this stay you speak of? And why would I do it when you and the treats are over there?’). I mean sure she never did quite get the walking-on-a-leash-without-throttling-herself thing, but I blamed the fact that we were in the depth of winter in Alaska and she was too small to walk for more than ten steps without shivering all over.

    Then I met our rescue dog, our pure-bred Irish setter and my Dog Trainer cape and boots had to be turned in. Dog was either the most stubborn critter ever borned ever (including Child 2 which makes option a) utterly impossible) or was too bone-headed to be trained. Sigh. Sounds like you’re doing very well indeed with a not-a-puppy dog!

  3. Mama Bear

    Stinky lunch box= Stuff it with wadded up newspaper for a few days/a week. It worked with one of our coolers after Mr 19 took it on a camping trip, then neglected to unpack it for a week.

  4. Katie in MA

    1. IF you theoretically had to call LL Bean and ask for a replacement, you COULD tell them that if their product wasn’t so good at holding in that stench, you surely would have realized it before it became a fatal error. Ergo, their fault. Totally. (Maybe?)(sigh.)

    2. But just think! If Otto quit, he would have so much more time for all of YOUR chores, too!

  5. Billie

    Too bad you are not pregnant, you could use my “trick” to get Monkey to remember to clean his lunchbox.

    Shortly after school started, my 9yo left a bologna and cheese sandwich in his plastic sandwich container in said lunchbox in my car over the weekend. YUCK! Monday morning rolls around and I ask where it is so he brings it to me. I threw up when trying to clean it (I usually have a hardier stomach than that but I was 5 months pregnant). It made such an impression on him that he started emptying any uneaten food in the trashcan at school.

  6. Lindy

    When I was in school, the way the route was – which was totally unfair – we were the first kids picked up and the last kids dropped off in the afternoon. I think the bus driver lived farther out in the boonies than we did. So by 6:30 a.m. every morning we were on the bus, sleep for over an hour until we got to school, and we’d generally get home sometime after 4 p.m. and miss all the good TV shows. Once we got in high school I just carpooled with older kids. Because I was cool like that. I think it’s worse now with schools around here? I can’t imagine homeschooling my kids though, unless they had some really, really special needs. Seems to me all the homeschooled kids that come out of these parts of the woods for the most part usually turn out to be socially retarded bible-beating weirdos who are bad at sports.

    And I wouldn’t feel bad about the lunch box thing. When my brother was about monkeys age he left an apple in his winter coat pocket (he didn’t even like apples but it came with his school lunch and he just couldn’t bare to throw it away). Mama never cleaned out his pocket later (Mama gave up on cleaning about anything with him) before putting the coat away for the summer. Next winter there was a very rotten, very stinky, withered apple in his pocket. He’d do the same thing with bananas in his book bag for some reason.

  7. Sharkey

    The hand signals are a pain now, but you’ll be glad for them when Licorice is old and deaf (but still happy and otherwise healthy!), many, MANY years from now.

  8. Lindy

    And I mean that homeschooled kid comment in the nicest way possible. They’re not all that way. And there’s nothing wrong with being bad at sports.

  9. Beth

    We had a “Mom-made-dinner—it-sucks—now-who-wants-pizza” night last week. Ick.

    Our dog, an Australian Shephard, will only respond to the HAND signals. He won’t sit without his command (which puppy classes tried to change from what we had taught him), nor will he lay down without his signal.

  10. Liz

    If Licorice isn’t motivated by food, try something else like a ball or a toy as a reward for doing what she’s told.

  11. meghann

    The not getting up early is definitely a perk to our homeschooling. None of us are morning people. And here in the great state of Georgia? You’re only required to have 4 1/2 hours of instruction time per day. So I can wait till noon to start, and still be done before I need to cook dinner. It’s a wonderful thing.

    And, as far as I know, our family isn’t a socially retarded Bible beating weirdo one, and all of my kids show an aptitude for sports, except my oldest, but he’s missing part of his brain, so he gets a pass on that.

  12. annette

    Let’s make a deal. You likened your Monkey to my child once upon a time. Everyday I think I should home school him and save us both a lot of headache. Then I remember. I would probably kill him. I will remind you of this, if you will remind me, K? Otherwise, you go first, tell me how it is going then I will try it!

  13. alice

    I’m liking the newspaper suggestions. For stinkiness, I’ve been blown away by the XO stuff they sell at ACE hardware (or DG hardware, if Georgia is like Florida and got bought out recently.) I don’t know what’s in it, but it works on *everything* I’ve tried so far. Kind of scary, but dead useful.

    I hope that your patience holds out for the doggie classes! I’m supremely lazy, and can’t imagine the work needed to train a dog, much less re-train a dog who already knows how she wants to get along in life, thankyouverymuch.

  14. Jean

    Love your cooking style. In my family’s vernacular, that would be a “one of a kind” recipe. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

  15. loonytick

    The newspaper trick really does work. I used it a few weeks ago after my son put the mini-thermos back in his lunch bag on a Friday without either (a) finishing the contents or (b) screwing the top all the way on, and I also did the trick of not checking the bags again until Monday. I washed it; it still stunk. I crammed it full of newspaper and let it sit for a couple of days; the smell was totally gone.

  16. andi

    My mom loved to experiment in the kitchen. On occassion my dad’s reponse would be “That was great honey but you don’t need to make it again.” I remember one fateful soup that was full of expensive ingredients… even the dog wouldn’t eat it!

  17. The Other Leanne

    Never-fail stinkage removers:
    1. Nature’s Miracle–purchase at any pet store.
    2. Tomato Juice, and purchase a little extra for your Bloody Mary afterwards.
    3. Put item in a plastic bag or other closeable container, completely covered in fresh, clean clay kitty litter. The stuff was invented for the purpose of absorbing $h!t-like smells.

  18. Tracy

    I feel for kids these days. They spend entirely too much time riding the bus. Also, I’m with Otto on the lunchbag thing…throw it out and go to Wal-mart for a new one. And with Licorice, poor thing, I can understand how she feels, sometimes us old dogs don’t like or need new tricks. I’m just sayin’….just give us the treats just cuz!

  19. Sarah

    if you’re looking for vegetarian recipes you might like this one (heavily adapted from and Anne Lindsay cook book)

    El Paso Pilaf

    Chop and stir fry an onion and some garlic in 1 tsp oil.
    Add 1 cup each of rice, frozen corn, salsa

    Add 1 can kidney beans, 1 can chick peas (rinse well)

    Add 1/4 cup lentils (optional) and 1-2 tsp each of basil, oregano, garlic powder, chili powder … and a bit of cayenne if you like it spicy.

    Stir in 2.5 cups water (or vegetable stock)

    Cook covered until the rice is done (20-25 min)

    Serve with cheese, plain yogurt, torteilla chips

    makes lots (enough for 6 adults easily)

  20. Nicole

    You could probably tell LL Bean you’ve been using the lunchbag as a travel potty and they’d replace it for you. I’d like to buy a lunchbox from there just to give it a shot.

  21. mama speak

    Nicole should get a prize for that one. Perhaps a stinky used lunchbox from LL Bean?

    Was going to suggest w/Licorice that you try something other than doggie treats; cheese cubes, lunch meat cubes, kitty kibble (one of our dogs went nuts for kitty kibble, who knew?) You may have to try a few to see what the true kryptonite is, but there always is one.

  22. Chuck

    I think random writing can be the best kind of writing. At least when I write that way and look back at it, I am usually pleased with how it comes out, vs. my attempts at organized topics. I probably need more practice writing in order for my attempts at organized writing to appear spontaneous.

    Also, I think schools are going overboard with the homework, etc. at increasingly younger ages these days. I was always in a pretty heavy academic track in public schools and I don’t ever remember getting out of school after 3 P.M. (even in high school.)

  23. BethRD

    I *made* pizza the other night and everyone still wanted to call out for pizza, it was that bad.

  24. Nicki

    Training the dog isn’t so challenging as training a man. Is there a class for that? (Who am I kidding? I’d still have to find a man to train first.)

    And be grateful that Otto even attempts to do chores. *sigh* It’s getting ugly at home.

  25. bad penguin

    I kind of wish we had taught our dog hand signals, because he is going deaf and really can’t obey a command he can’t hear. Of course, he generally only listened when he felt like it (stubborn beagles!) so it’s not like there is a huge difference.

    How did dinner turn out?

  26. Kelly

    The real question is how did that dish turn out?

  27. Nancy

    I love the LL Bean guarantee, although they are a bit pickier than they used to be. I once brought back a backpack with a broken zipper. They asked “how long did you expect this to last?” and I replied “as long as your guarantee I guess”. Did you know that people scour yard sales for LL Bean items to bring back for return? Only takes a few to ruin it for the rest of us.

  28. StephLove

    Feeling lucky my kid’s bus ride is 10 minutes long and wondering if we should give that short ride up by applying to the highly gifted center for 4th & 5th grade…

  29. Tam

    roflmao @ Nicole. And how did dinner turn out?

  30. Kim

    OMGosh ~ My dog flunked out of doggie training class. He was one of those that couldn’t stop barking and prancing around like a reindeer. He also growled (!!) at the other dogs in class, and therefore spent more time in “doggie time out” than he did in class. I finally got him to sit, but he won’t come when called and he loathes the leash.

    He’s three years old now and I have the worst. dog. ever.

    My last dog? Was housetrained in 2 days, loved her leash, knew sit, stay, lay down, roll over, shake and play dead. She learned all of her tricks in less than a month. I was convinced I was the dog whisperer. Now? Not so much. I just had a dog that really wanted to please me before. Now I have one that really thinks he should be handing out the treats. LOL

  31. Michele Bardsley

    That “what-ev-er” doggie apathy must be a Shi Tzu trait because mine does the same thing. He looks at me all time like, “What?” Sometimes, he just can’t be bothered with whatever the human wants.

    In Texas, school start and stop times are staggered. According to some sleep study somewhere, the older children get the more sleep they need, so the start time for middle school is forty-five minutes later than elementary school, and high school starts thirty minutes after middle school. My son started 6th grade this year, and I have to say that extra thirty minutes of sleep makes a huge difference in our day.

  32. Hip Mom's Guide

    You always make me laugh. I can just see your dog, lying there thinking, “Fine. Forget it then.” Possibly he’s related to my 13-yr old…

  33. Brigitte

    Wow, Michele, I’ve thought for DECADES (since I was a sleepy teenager) that high school should start later than elementary school, but it’s always been the other way around here.

    Many issues with schools tempt me to homeschool. But I’d go utterly insane and my only-child would have as few social skills as me, so there is that.

  34. chris

    i’m another shihtzu owner who battled her way through dog school with a little guy who just didn’t care to invest in all that perform on command stuff. our trainer used an adonis of a golden retriever as her demo dog, and i started to think my “bigger dog-bigger brain” theory was really the answer. when i asked, she shot me down with, “no, he just really doesn’t care that much about making you happy.” (he made us very happy, just not through performing!)

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