Saturday, May 28, 2005

#39 - Another Skeleton in the Ol' Family Closet

We have a disease in my family.

It's genetic, and there's no hope for a cure. My parents both had it. All of my siblings have it. Our kids all have it. Even my wife has it. Boy, did she marry into the right family!

We've all thrown money after the problem, but, as I say, there is no cure. Unfortunately, there is also no serious research being done. No university with any shred of self-image left would dream of touching it, let alone ask for a grant.

To get some background, I point you to this article. My brother has, perhaps, the most advanced form of the disease of any in our family. Imagine two vending machines. One machine has every kind of snack food available. Everything costs one dollar or less. The other machine carries pamphlets by obscure LDS apologists, each costing one dollar. Now imagine that my brother is stranded on a desert island with these two machines. There is no food or water anywhere to be found, except for the snack machine. He has one dollar in his pocket. The problem would not be which machine gets his money, but rather which pamphlet he should buy. After all, what if he disagrees with the author? Such would be my brother's dilemma.

There is, of course, a companion disease. Not only do we buy far more books than we could ever possibly read and yet remain employed, but we also horde everything we buy and cannot bring ourselves to throw anything away. Ever. Not books, anyway. Jewelry, yes; we could easily toss out old diamonds if they just didn't have that sparkle anymore. But toss a book? Sacrilege.

So the idea that my brother has given 27 boxes to our sister and her hubby is nothing short of heroic. Or whatever adjective you may prefer in this case. My sister, on the other hand, being still relatively inexperienced with the disease, seems genuinely glad to have them.

My wife and I, at least, try to deal with the symptoms. About once every three years we get a sudden urge to trim down. Purge ourselves of all the stuff we know we'll never use/wear/read or otherwise consume any time before the Woodyettes begin having children of their own. It's a comical event, really. Mrs. Woody assumes her place in our bedroom where most of our books are stored. (We also have some in our family room, but we're more likely to read those. At least, that's what our ten year plan says.) We know in our hearts that we must eliminate as many books as possible, especially now that we must rearrange the entire house. Something's got to go, and it's not going to be my priceless collection of Earth, Wind & Fire LPs from their post-Disco, pre-CD era. Don't laugh... it's the last time I was ever considered somewhat hip.

I unload each and every shelf (we have five bookcases in that room!) and place them on the bed in front of Mrs. Woody. She examines each one and asks herself the following tough question: "Is this book ever really going to serve a purpose besides being some obscure reference for home school?" The answer, of course, is no. Every book we have in the house will ultimately be used for home school, according to Mrs. Woody. We need all those books in Spanish she picked up while serving her mission so we can teach the girls Spanish. "Donde està el escritorio?" ("Where is the desk?") "Tu eres un lapiz." ("You are a pencil.") My Sherlock Holmes collections will help the girls learn critical thinking skills: "Elementary, my dear Sister. The ashes were of a type found only when you burn the hair from the blond Polly LostInYourPocket doll. Of course you did it!"

Ultimately, we manage to agree on one paltry box of books that must be donated away. The last such box of books we gathered up, though, somehow managed to avoid the executioner and are still to be found in our bedroom, still in that same box, and shoved unceremoniously underneath our table. They will remain there until sometime after the Millenium begins.

No, brother of mine, you only think you've gotten rid of the books. You are not so easily cured.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

#38 - Happy Mother's Day!

Today has been an especially nice Mother's Day for the Woody household. I didn't have to work too hard to get the Woodyettes out of bed this morning. Once I reminded them that this was Mommy's Day, they both "jumped" out of bed (their word, not mine) to help me make breakfast for her. We gave her our little gifts and cards that the girls had made. Then off to Church where Daddy sang a solo consisting of a poem that he'd written literally a week ago. The trick there was to set it to music that didn't make everyone want to stick their fingers down their throats. It worked, because Mommy loved it.

We've also heard from my son today. Woody Junior (hah!) lives with his Mom and Step-Dad in Minnesota. [Insert your own brain-in-perpetual-deep-freeze joke here] My son has always been pretty good about calling on important holidays, and Mrs. Woody certainly appreciated hearing from him. We're standing by to ring in that important time in his life when he casts aside the uncertainties of adolescence, and enters the unholy terror of adulthood. Serve him right, I must say. (For any of you who claim to be my son: "Just kidding!")

Actually, my son is quite an eclectic collection of talent and accomplishment. Primary among them is his uncanny ability to make my hair turn spontaneously gray at any given moment. Also, he has the soul (and now, apparently, the wardrobe) of an artist. At least, that's what I presume from looking at his blog. Oh, yes. My son has a blog. I will link you to it after issuing the obligatory warning that his blog is, oh, let's say PG-97 material. Meaning even I am too young to read it. So here it is: Woody Junior's Blog.

I also have another daughter who does not blog. At least, not that I know of. Frankly, I suspect she's a tad too busy to be able to spend much time surfing just for the halibut. She lives on base with her Air Force hubby and my granddaughter. The heck of this arrangement is that she now lives on the east coast, and I keep forgetting that it's, like, a hundred hours later, so when I look at the clock and think, hey, 7:00 would be an okay time to call my daughter, Mrs. Woody gently reminds me that to do so on a school night would mean having my son-in-law call in air strikes on our mobile home. *sigh*

I must tell you that the Woodyettes had a banner day today. Part of what made Mommy's day so special was the fact that both of her little Woodyettes sang in Sacrament Meeting today! This is significant because my girls are not the bravest souls on the planet. You know how chameleons can instantly change color and blend in with their backgrounds when they sense danger? My daughters can blend in with the scenery while the chameleon is still trying to figure out how to make its skin turn mauve. They'll sing in Primary just fine, thank you, especially when parents aren't around to hear them, but standing in front of "hundreds of people" (to use the Elder Woodyette's description) seems to terrify them.

This has been painful for Mommy and Daddy every time the Primary kids sing in Sacrament Meeting. Especially when you consider that Daddy has a ham-bone that obviously came from the Pleistocene Era and belonged to a pig that could easily devour your house. I'm not saying I'm stage-struck - I'm saying I'm stage stuck. So to have my girls both make like clams under attack every time they go up to sing is a direct reflection on my gene pool. Today, however, they both broke with tradition. First, Woodyette Number Two could actually be seen mouthing the words to the actual song the rest of the kids were singing! Breakthrough indeed! Then, if that excitement weren't enough, Woodyette the Elder put her head down and plowed through the entire second song! Mom and Dad were in a catatonic trance! What a day!

It just doesn't get better than that.

So, life for the Woodys is good today. We love our kids - all of them - and they love us. Mommy had exactly the kind of day we wanted her to have.

To all you Moms out there, present or future, we wish a wonderful Mother's Day and many more throughout the year!

UPDATE: Busy night tonight! Now that I have my son's blog address, I decided to add him to the ol' blogroll. Just realize that he is, after all, a teenager, and as such does not feel a need to comply with any given FCC regulation.

Also, Woodyette the Younger - codenamed Doodle Woodyette - has been feeling left out of the blog game, and requested one of her own tonight. So, you will find her new blog listed on my Offspring roll as well. Both Woodyettes wanted to share their Mother's Day experience with you. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

#37 - A Moving Experience

I despise moving. Moving, in my mind, ranks right down there with dental care and federal elections on a list of things I'd rather be doing today. I really don't care for packing things up, tossing them on a truck, then unloading them, carrying them into the new house and unpacking them. It's an experience that makes me look back on wisdom tooth extraction with fondness. In my mind, moving would be a lot nicer if we could just leave the old house as is, with all its stuff, and move into the new house with all its stuff. Nothing would fit for awhile, until we bought new clothes and things. And, of course, the new house would have to be pre-decorated to Mrs. Woody's liking, but I still think it would be easier than the traditional moving experience.

For those of you who happen to be my family, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we are most definitely not moving. The bad news is that we may as well be moving.

A well known American sociologist, Dave Barry, has carefully documented the female need to rearrange furniture. He has said that a man may occasionally wake up in an entirely different house if the wife gets motivated enough. Some facetiously call this the "nesting" urge. Hah. Birds, at least, have sense enough to just abandon the nest when they no longer like where the big sofa is sitting. The rest of us will rearrange the furniture until our backs begin looking to enter the Federal Back Protection Program.

Such is the case here at La Casa Woody. The time has come to give the Woodyettes separate rooms. This is because the Woodyettes have entered that stage of life known scientifically as the "Stage Where Two Girls Get On Each Other's Nerves Often Enough That Mommy and Daddy Have Had Enough" stage. While my two youngsters generally get along very nicely, they seem to require space away from each other more frequently of late. So, Mrs. Woody feels that this would be a good time to give them their own rooms. Also, we have both a family room and a living room. The original idea was that we would do all of our entertaining in the living room, and the family room would be where we rested and relaxed and watched some TV on occasion. We also have an office that sometimes doubles as Mrs. Woody's scrapbooking place. The "office" actually supports our homeschool. Small as it is, it will become the older Woodyette's new bedroom, the family room will be consolidated with the living room, and the family room will be converted to the new homeschool/scrapbook/project area. It will be large enough to give Mommy and the girls room enough to hold school there by day, and Mrs. Woody can be our Scrapbooking Maven by night.

Of course, these will not be the only rooms involved in the move. As long as we're moving furniture around, we need to involve our bedroom. At least one big piece needs to go in there, which necessitates moving our entire bedroom around. Also, our closet - the floor of which I've not seen in some two years - needs a little, um, straightening.

So far, the only rooms in the house that won't be involved in this pseudo-move are the kitchen (thank goodness!) and the laundry room. We have no way of switching them with other rooms, or consolidating them, so they stay where they are. On the other hand, the kitchen could use a little rearranging... the girls have reached that age where they need to help with setting the table and doing the dishes, but aren't either one of them tall enough to reach the dishes where they're presently stored, so I may have to do that, too. So, okay, the kitchen will "move," too. But not the laundry room. A man has to draw the line somewhere, and I'll draw it at the laundry room.

So, we get all the benefits of moving to a new house without the actual new house. It will definitely be less expensive this way.

Unless my medical insurance lapses anytime soon.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

#36 - Deficit Blogging

"I haven't seen any blogs lately," quoth Mrs. Woody.

I nodded. "Well, you know, I've been pretty busy lately. I just haven't had time to catch up on the 'Sphere; or get worked up about issues much less write about them."

"Those weren't the ones I meant," she replied.

I concurred. "I know, I know... but the Muse can't get through when I'm so distracted."

It's true. Because I'm not one of the full-timers in the 'Sphere, that means I spend my time where my attention is most needed. Generally, I'm either working a real job ("More work! Fewer resources!") or working at home. Either way, I've not been terribly prolific these past several weeks.

On the other hand, could there be some deeper meaning to Mrs. Woody's comment?

My extended family (along with my ex-wife) call me "the Great Communicator." They're kidding, of course. What they mean to say is, "Eventually he'll get around to telling someone about it, if he hasn't died first." This tends to be a problem during certain uncomfortable situations. For example, a surly gentleman might be at the door, and I'll suddenly look at my wife and say, "Oh, nuts! I forgot, Honey... they're repossessing the car today. I meant to tell you..." (Note: this particular scenario has not materialized, but I wanted you to know it was entirely possible. This is precisely why Mrs. Woody now handles the finances.)

Every family has at least one "Great Communicator" and one "Bulletin Board." My sister is our Bulletin Board. She's the one who calls every single member of the family at least once a week so she can be the one to break the news to someone else. I once took to calling her "Eyewitness News" until I realized it was a misnomer: She doesn't so much witness things as find out about them vicariously. Also, like any good bulletin board, you'll only get the information she contains if you ask. Which I never do.

Anyway, I simply have a nasty habit of forgetting to mention things that happen on a daily basis. For all my wife knows, I could have been promoted to CEO of my company. That fantasy hasn't been reflected in my paychecks, though, so I think she's still aware that I haven't had a real promotion in over ten years. The joys of direct deposit.

I've also learned over the years that some wives feel like Internet Widows. This isn't usually true in the Woody household, because Mrs. Woody and I both happen to be geeks (and I say that in a most loving way!). She's also a teacher, and spends just as much time online as I do. So if she ever feels like a Widow, I guess I can retaliate by feeling like a Widower. But we never do. We spend just as much time snooping over each other's shoulders as we do surfing on our own.

That's why I was only mildly surprised when Mrs. Woody heartily accepted my blog habit. I suspect she immediately deduced that she would, in fact, get more information out of her hubby by reading his blog than she ever would in the course of everyday conversation. Especially when I branched away from the political rantings of the Woundup in favor of my familial writings on The Inner Dad.

The way I see it, via The Inner Dad, my wife now knows that I am indeed aware that we have two youngsters still living with us. I even know their names, despite the fact that I only ever refer to them as "the Woodyettes." At least I recognize the fact that they are of differing age and height. Hair color, even.

Thus, when Woody hits a dry spell - for whatever reason - Mrs. Woody worries. Her best source of hubby-generated thinking has dried up! Disaster looms!

Aw, who'm I kidding? The one person on the planet with whom I communicate regularly and frequently is Mrs. Woody. This is as it should be. If for no other reason, Mrs. Woody can read me like a book and has a knack for asking just the right question to get my mouth motor running. Also, if Mrs. Woody ain't happy, I ain't doing my job.

So, I guess what Mrs. Woody really meant when she pointed out that my blog was running a little dry was that she missed what I write. She is, after all my biggest fan.

I live for my fans.