The Funny Farm Girl

Welcome to the Funny Farm. Where chaos comes home to roost.

30 April

Daily Activity Report No. 3423

That stress line in my forehead gets deeper and deeper because of evenings like this that begin with me….

Explaining to the oldest why letting your little sister pee in the bushes at the neighborhood park is generally frowned upon in today’s social climate. We’re already on the HOA’s hit list. Do you really want to add a charge of public urination to the list of our transgressions? Plus those bushes are pretty scrawny. How much cover could they have possibly offered?

And ends with me….berating the kids about picking their clothes up off the floor while wiping doggie piddle out of my shoe. Who knew 50/50 blend school chorus polo shirts were so water resistant?

13 March

Filling In The Background

OK little blog.  While we wait for someone at the Funny Farm to do something loony enough to be entertaining (it won’t take long), let’s spend some time giving you the background on who’ll be showing up here on a more regular basis. We’re a mixed bag of different personalities, quirks and general weirdness that is somehow managing to stick together in a cohesive unit generally recognized as a family.  So, (knuckles cracking….) let’s see if I’m up to the challenge of reducing each of us down into several precise but interesting sentences……..

  • Karen – One-time farm girl.  Two-time single adoptive parent (SAP. Yes a SAP I am.).  Life-long bookworm, master procrastinator and possessor of the world’s longest to-do list.
  • Evie – The kid who made me a mama to something besides a four-legged baby.  Leader of the girl gang that regularly invades our house.  Human equivalent of a big, goofy Golden Retriever romping through a wildflower meadow chasing butterflies.
  • Valya – Presumed lost heir to the Russian monarchy – at least in her mind anyway.  Future Academy Award winner for Best Dramatic Actress. Habitual litter-bug.  Next Top Model/Design Star of the kindergarten set.
  • Junebug – Toss-up for the world’s smallest Rottweiler or biggest Chihuahua. Has aspirations to canine Olympic glory every time an opened front door provides the opportunity for a blazing sprint down the street. Head of the house pack.
  • Maisie – Junie’s slightly overweight, persnickety sister.  Adorable, frisky puppy grown into middle-aged grouch.  Along with Junebug is the reason the Jehovah Witnesses involuntarily step back after ringing the doorbell.
  • Daisy – Also known (affectionately) as Dumb Daisy or Destructo-Dog.  The outcome of an ill-advised, spontaneous road trip to Georgia in the hopes of reducing sibling bickering.  The only thing reduced was my free time without a mop in my hand.
  • Ivie – Daisy’s pint-size little sister and the family favorite.  Three pounds of tail-wagging, face-licking exuberance.  Spends her time scampering after the big dogs and investigating the interior framework of the living room furniture.

So that’s the lot of us.  All the major characters in our story with occasional guest appearances from my sister’s family and a dwindling tribe of nameless gerbils.  Stay tuned little blog as I attempt to flesh out everyone’s profile in between recording the antics that make us the Funny Farm.

03 February

Hello There Little Blog

Hello there little blog.  Remember me?  Your neglectful blogging mama?  I bet you thought I’d forgotten about you.  How could I do that?  I think of you all the time.  I scribble here.  I scribble there.  Little things I want to tell you that never seem to make it from the scrap of paper in my hand to you here in the blogosphere.  All that’s changing though.  You and I are going to get reacquainted. So settle in and listen up.  I’ve got lots to tell you.

24 July

What Comes From Not Waiting Until The End……

You always hope that your kids are learning to become empathetic and concerned about their fellow human beings.  Then you have these kinds of conversations.

Out in the heat and humidity after supper last night, I’m whacking away at the weeds in the front yard with the lawn trimmer while the kids play with the puppies on the other side. I stop to catch my breath when Miss Valya comes up.

“Mama, you need to take it easy…”

Oh look!  She’s concerned about her ol’ mama out here in the heat and bugs working.  That’s my girl!

“we’re over here playing and you don’t want to hurt the puppies with that thing.”

Well crap.  Where’s the love? Where’s the compassion? The recognition of my hard work?  Where’s my glass of cold ice water you little heifer?



12 June

Why My Friends Keep Telling Me I Should Get Serious About Blogging…..

or alternatively known as Why The Cellphone Camera Was Invented….

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stories like……..

The Time Granny Brenda Found A Miniature Pig On Her Doorstep










Helping himself to the cat food on the porch……












…..then taking leisurely strolls through the yard enjoying the flowers……


piggie3     …..before posing for a few photos with the kids.

This so beats the story about the black Cocker Spaniel that gave me a heart attack following me into the house that dark stormy night.









14 November

Time For The Talk

Two weeks before Halloween and we’re in the costume aisle at Walmart. I’m pushing Valya through in  the cart looking at stuff I’ve already sworn to them I’m not buying this year.  Evie puts her hand on my arm to stop me and just as solemn as a judge asks me “Mama is Santa Claus real?  Tell me now. I’m old enough. Is he real Mama?”.

Really?  You’re going to ask me this now?  When I’m pushing your five year old sister in the shopping cart through the Halloween decorations?  Your sister who only has one American Christmas under her belt so far but says the words Christmas and Santa Claus with the same reverence in her voice as when she talks about bologna and Coca-Cola?  I really got to trot out my lame answer “You get presents every year don’t you?” right here by the plastic spiders and the rubber rats with bloody, dripping fangs?  Mama and I had our own talk about Santa in the hallway between the bathroom and the back door so I guess any place is a good place.

I guess it’s time for a talk.  Not The Talk.  We’ve already started covering that in a series of car conversations that could be titled Discussing Sex and Reproductive Health With Your Preteen in 10 Traffic Lights or Less.  That I can do.  No it’s time to set the record straight on ol’ Santa Claus.  Time to crush one of the last vestiges of childhood into a fine gray powder and sprinkle it over my child’s innocent faith in a guy who basically commits B&E in a few million households every December 24th.

Luckily, we turned the corner and she was distracted by some very realistic-looking vampire teeth and I got a reprieve.  Not sure what I’m looking forward to the least.  Killing the fantasy of Santa Claus or the questions.  Because, Lord, with Evelyn there are always questions.  “Where do you hide the presents?” “How do you get them in the house?” “Where was Butterscotch the Pony hiding that year” “Who’s been eating those cookies and Krispy Kreme doughnuts and drinking the milk and Cokes we leave out every Christmas Eve?” I’m tired just thinking about it and I’m pretty sure it will take more than 10 traffic lights to cover.

02 August

One Year. Two Pictures.

Last summer I spent 10 days bouncing around the Russian countryside in the backseat of an SUV, listening to Russian pop music, alternately comatose from motion sickness medicine or staring out the window at the most open country I’ve seen outside of Texas.  One of the main objectives of the trip was to get this picture for Evie of her soon-to-be Little Sister.


Valya during our visit with the bear Evie sent her.

 Since that picture was taken, two immediate changes to our family life come to mind…

  1. Our household ketchup consumption has skyrocketed dramatically.
  2. This kid’s addiction to bologna needs to be addressed soon.  Otherwise, Oscar Mayer will have to start a subsidized feeding program for her.

Taken the same day one year later this picture gives me hope that all the tears, tantrums (hers, mine and ours) and trials are finally winding down and that little missie is settling in. 

Still got the bear!

 Two thoughts for this picture?

  1. Valya’s finding out that having a big sister has it’s advantages.  Namely, access to multiple shades of nail polish and sparkly tattoos.
  2. Somehow Yellow Bear has managed to fly under Junebug’s radar for an entire year since he still has his button eyes.  Something that cannot be said for most of the stuffed animal population in the house. 




11 June

7 Thoughts I Have About Getting Older

My birthday was this past weekend.  Happy Birthday to Me!  Forty-ra-ra-ra isn’t so bad.  So here are seven thoughts that cross my mind while I’m scarfing down leftover birthday cake…

1.  The gray in my hair is outpacing my purchases of L’Oreal Excellence #5.  It’s the closest my hair has been to it’s original color since I started going gray at 25.  If you had the aggravation and the mama I had, you’d be gray at 25 too.

2.  I’m no longer referred to as “Short Stuff”, “Shortcake”, “Little Karen” or “that little girl”.  I’m now addressed as “Ma’am” or “Miss Karen” by most of the people I come into contact with.

3.  I felt a little guilty watching The Prince of Persia on Netflix just to drool over Jake Gyllenhaal.  But, c’mon now!  How was I supposed to ignore those shoulders!  That hair!  But “admiring” Zac Efron in the preview for The Lucky One just made me feel creepy.

4.  Was it too much to ask of the liver spots cropping up on my body to quietly join the assorted freckles, spots and scars without pushing and shoving their way in?  Instead they’ve crammed in like Baptists at the new buffet in town on Sunday afternoon.

5.  I’m beginning to feel like my inner Walter Matthau is closer to my true personality that he was a few years ago.  Sometimes I feel like there’s a grumpy old man in a baggy cardigan sweater inside me just waiting to bust out.

6.  Speaking of entertainers, I’ve started channeling Phyllis Diller since I now wear a sleep mask to bed.  Although, hers was probably black satin and came from a store on Rodeo Drive.  Mine is hot pink synthetic, has Naughty embroidered on it, and came from the Target dollar rack.

7.  My balloon blowing days are over.  That sort of panting should be reserved for scaling the Himalayas.  Or picturing Jake Gyllenhaal with his shirt off.

20 April

Following The Elephants

I still have a Christmas cookie jar sitting out so it should not be surprising that I want to talk about 2011 in April 2012.  I wrote out this overview of our miscellaneous misadventures for the year right after the New Year and then procrastinated long enough for the kids to finish eating their chocolate Easter bunnies.

 The New Year has come and gone and as usual the parade has passed by and I’m trailing behind in the dust behind the elephants.  So let’s recap 2011 for posterity and my sometimes fuzzy memory…..

January, February and March are spent in a lower circle of Hell from a pinched nerve in my neck.  The agony culminates in a complete, sobbing breakdown in front of the boss and a trip to the emergency room where I’m so overwrought with blubbering that my sister has to do all the talking.  The coup de grace comes in the form of projectile vomiting all over myself and the backseat of Nan’s truck from the morphine and Valium cocktail the ER gives me.  The utter loss of control of my body at 70 mph on the interstate is staggering but Sweet Jesus the relief.

January – Sister Girl displays a hereto undiscovered talent for spelling.  She wins the class spelling bee, the 4th grade spelling bee and represents the school in the county spelling bee.  At the county competition the unbearable tension of waiting for your kid to screw up reminds me why I am not cut out for competitions of any kind.  She lasts a respectable four rounds and will forever remember how to not spell the word choir.

For the never-ending adoption paperwork, I get fingerprinted no less than four times in 12 months.  Probably beat ol’ Lindsay Lohan’s record for the year.  Would have been five, but I got tired of sitting on the curb outside the county detention center in 115 degree heat while the newly incarcerated cut in line ahead of me.  Know where being a responsible, tax-paying citizen puts you?  At the back of the line.

 April – I become the reluctant foster mother of the Wild Boy of Borneo again.  Discover that while I’m completely OK with adopting children, fostering a child whose parent is too self-absorbed to get it together is a whole other level of stress.  Give the kids a few glimpses of what it is for Mama to totally fall apart.

June – after a year of hauling around 50 pounds of adoption paperwork we get a referral from Russia.  Break the devastating news to Evie that she will not be able to go with me to see Little Sister over chicken and dumplings at Cracker Barrel.  She cries while the waitress refills her sweet tea.

July – leave my kid for longer than a day for the first time in 10 years.  She cries.  I cry.  Then I point out to Nan where my life insurance policies are kept in case of an EMP attack or a zombie war breaks out and I don’t make it back.  Spend 10 long, lonely days living on bottles of Coke and cheese crackers.  Read Stephen King’s Under the Dome in its cat-squashing entirety and a half dozen back issues of Reader’s Digest.  Spend hours each day bouncing around in the backseat of a car on back country Russian roads to see Little Sister at the childrens home.

 September and October – Wild Boy of Borneo goes back to live with his mama and I go back to Russia two more times.  Once by myself  for court where I’m told at the last minute that I will be required to give a 5 minute speech during the proceedings.  This kid better never say I don’t love her because I am absolutely petrified of speaking in public  Second trip is with Evelyn who’s finally allowed back into the mother country after her passport issues are straightened out.  Travel 12 days alone with two children in a foreign country whose language I speak about 10 words of.

Luckily for me the FBI isn’t too interested these days in wire-tapping the text conversations of harried, stressed out adoptive moms.  Otherwise the following texts to my sister could have been construed in a slightly incriminating context…..

Text 1:  Start praying. I can’t find my stash of money I put up after my last trip to Russia.

Text 2:  I hid the envelope in the house somewhere.  I checked all my usual hiding places.  Can’t find it.

Text 3:  Thank the Lord!  I found my stash!  It was with my drugs!

November – spend the month of my adoption leave waging the daily Battle of the Light Switches with a 35 pound Russian Cossack bent on complete domination of the household electrical system.  When’s she not flipping EVERY SINGLE light switch in the house, she’s pillaging every drawer, cabinet and closet she can sneak into.  We take to locking all the doors and carrying toothpicks in our pockets to pick the thumb locks.

December – to overcome the language barrier we develop our own peculiar dialect.  A mixture of English, Russian, Kid and Mom.  The adoption issue I thought would be the hardest to overcome turns out to not be that big of a deal.  I learn a few new words of Russian, but never figure out exactly what “nannyboodo0″ means but do know the gist is “I don’t like that’.



06 April

Field Day

Fifth grade field day today.  Sister Sue’s been prepping since Monday.  Either for that or she’s getting ready to scale Mount Everest.  She’s checked her gear umpteenth times and advised me not to touch the water bottle she prepared to her specifications.  Tried to get me to sign on as her Sherpa, but nuthin’ doing.  She starts rhapsodizing about all the activities and  I start having flashbacks to my own school field days.  Hot blacktop pavement playground?  Sporty activities involving RUNNING!? THROWING!?  No thank you.  The only race I wanted to participate in back then was the 50 yard dash to the cool and quiet of the school library.