Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome to...My Life! Mice, Stitches, & Spark Plugs

The last 24-hours have been filled with adventure and mayhem.  Well, more so than usual.

Let's begin with last night, shall we?  The kids and I were all snuggled in the front room - some of us on the couch & others on chairs scattered around - watching an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (a classic, to be sure).  Suddenly, I saw something scurrying along the wall to my right.

A mouse.

If you're not sure how I feel about mice, read about the last time a mouse was spotted in our front room.  Yeah, that was about how it went last night.  I was calm, at first.  I remained on the couch keeping my feet elevated to make sure the furry creature wouldn't try to bite my toes.  The mouse had run behind the piano and the kids were trying to trap it.  However, it ran out from behind there and across the room.

"It's under the couch!"

THAT'S when I jumped off the couch and flew out of that room in record-breaking time.  The kids thought that was pretty funny.  I watched from a safe distance as they tore apart the sleeper-sofa looking for a mouse that might be taking a nap.  There was none to be found.  Therefore, when Daddy came home from late-night mowing, he provided a couple of types of traps for the kids to lay out.  This provided them with another opportunity to see mom jump as my 14-year old thought it hysterically funny when he set the traditional "snap-trap" off behind my head.

Hardy-har-har.

When the kids went to bed, I headed up earlier than usual.  There was no way I was sharing the same space with some fugitive mouse ready to crawl across my feet or up my back.  No way.

This morning, the good news was that the mouse was dead.  Seeing the remaining blood and fur on the "sticky-trap" where my husband had scraped him off was simultaneously nauseating and comforting.  Life could get back to normal.

For about 15 minutes.

I had asked our 10-year old daughter, Katrina, to take out the garbage.  Sadly, there was a broken glass in the bag and it scraped against her ankle.  Actually, it didn't scrape.  It gouged a hole in her ankle taking out a large piece of flesh which resulted in a continual flow of blood.

Is that graphic enough?

Off to the doctor we went.  I'm not one who runs to the ER for every little thing and I wanted to be sure that stitches were necessary.  Never mind the fact that you could count the three layers of skin just by looking at the wound.  So, after getting the predicted answer from the pediatrician, we headed to the hospital.  We were treated wonderfully and we were out in 2 hours.

By this time, the patient and her sister were pretty hungry.  I swung by McD's to get them a bit of a treat (otherwise known as a very unhealthy lunch) and then to Tim Horton's to get two LARGE coffees - one for me and one for my mother, who was waiting for us at our house.  While pulling up to the drive-through window at McD's, I realized that the lady with whom we checked-in at the hospital earlier that morning never returned my license and my insurance card.  Oh well.  Those could wait until later.  I needed coffee...NOW.

We were about a half-mile from home.  Katrina was doing well.  The hot coffee was in the cup holders and my mom was waiting at home for a relaxing chat.  I stopped at the new stop sign at the intersection.  No cars.  I took my foot off the brake and pressed the gas.

That's when it started.  The horrible clunking sound in my engine.  One half-mile from our house.  (Praise God I decided to go to the local hospital and not the one we usually go to 20-minutes away!)  I immediately pulled over and called my husband.  Who needs AAA when you've got a husband who gives immediate roadside assistance and will tow and fix the vehicle for free?!

After calling my husband, I called the house to let my mother know we'd be a couple of minutes later as we now had to walk home.  As we began to climb out of the car, I realized something.  Katrina had just gotten stitches in her ankle.  There's no way she should be walking a half-mile down the road.  Fortunately, my mother has a better head on her shoulders than I do and was already on her way to rescue us.  Her little blue car was directly behind my husband's big truck.  My two favorite people who are constantly rescuing me!

Apparently, our van blew a spark-plug.  When I first heard that, I thought, "Good.  Spark-plugs are no big deal."  Wrong.  Replacing a spark-plug is no big deal.  Fishing one that has popped off and flown into the engine and repairing the damage...THAT'S a big deal.

But, my can-do-anything husband has it under control.

I ended up having a relaxing time with my mom.  She later took me back to the hospital to get my license & insurance card.  I had my identification and my life back.

Interestingly, my day just about ended where we began.  Remember those mouse traps in our front room?  Yeah.  My two youngest kids found them.  Oh, not the "snap-traps" - but the "sticky-traps."  Did you know once you touch those, every piece of dust, lint, and fuzz instantly is attracted to your hands and fingers?  It takes a serious amount of scrubbing to get that glue off.  When we did, I told my daughter to get rid of that trap.   She found it.

"Guess what they did," she said.  "They flipped it upside down...on the rug!"

Welcome to...my life!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Apostrophes or Apostrophe's?

Apostrophes are among the most misunderstood grammatical markings in the English language, second only to the comma.  While the rules of the comma are somewhat flexible, the rules of the apostrophe are not.  My blood pressure is normally low, but I can literally feel it rising when I see the apostrophe misused.

Maybe I need to relax and let things slide. Then again, maybe people just need to use this mark correctly.

The main rule for apostrophes is not complex.  Here it is:  apostrophes show possession.

That's it.  It's not difficult nor does it require a college degree to understand.  Apostrophes are used to tell us when a thing belongs to something or someone.  They are not used to make a word plural.

Allow me to give you a couple of examples:

1.  The moms met together for lunch.
Here, the word "moms" is plural.  It is used to tell us that there is more than one mom at lunch.  Notice the lack of apostrophe as it is not needed.

2.  I wore my mom's wedding dress on my own wedding day.
Here, the word "mom's" shows possession.  It tells us that the wedding dress of which we are speaking belongs to mom.  It speaks of the singular  mom (only one).  The apostrophe is necessary.

Oh, and I did, indeed, wear my mother's wedding dress the day I got married.  :)

3.  The moms' group raised money for the school.
Here, the word "moms'" also shows possession, but for more than one mom.  Just as the "moms" went to lunch, there's more than one.  In this sentence,  the group belongs to these mothers.  Therefore, an apostrophe is needed.  Because there is already an 's' in the plural form, there is not another 's' added after the apostrophe.  This leads to a quick example of one of the most complex rules regarding the apostrophe...

4.  Jesus's disciples followed Him.
In this case, the name 'Jesus' ends in an 's'.  Because His name is not a plural form, we do add an 's' after the apostrophe.

I truly hope this helps some of you.  I truly hope you begin to use apostrophes correctly from now on.  It will reflect much better on you and it will enable me to have a future that is free of high blood pressure medication.

*In one of the comments in the last post, it is mentioned that blogs are not expected to follow the traditional rules of writing.  While this is true to a small degree, it does not include misspellings and blatantly incorrect punctuation.  Bloggers are given the liberty to ignore paragraph & common sentence structure, to a degree.  For instance, in the above post, my second paragraph is only two sentences long.  This is not the traditional structure, but is acceptable in the blogosphere.  Also, the occasional fragmented sentence is allowed for emphasis, as well.  
Please keep the comments coming.  While I may not respond to each, I do read them, love them, and enjoy the thoughts they provoke.*

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Few Rules Every Writer Must Follow

Is it too much to ask for people to follow basic grammatical rules? I'm not sure if I've ever posted on this subject before, but I have thought about it often. Daily, I see bloggers & business owners butcher the English language by ignoring elementary grammar rules. It never ceases to set my teeth on edge.

If you do any type of writing - whether it be for a business, a blog, or just a friendly letter - please realize that your writing is a reflection of you. People will perceive you as either smart or poorly educated based on your word usage. As I am a home-educator, it really infuriates me when I see homeschool graduates (who are supposed to be among the best educated) consistently produce sub-quality writing.

I fear many think that writing skills are not important, especially in this day of spell-check, etc. However, spell-check does not determine what form a word ought to take in your sentence. When apostrophes are misplaced or the wrong form of "to" is used, a piece of writing suddenly insults the reader in assuming he/she won't know the difference. Many readers do, indeed, comprehend grammar rules. These readers, myself included, will steer clear of an author, blog, & business when they continually prove themselves careless in the use of our English language.

Maybe some writers truly are not aware of the perpetual errors they are making. Below are listed common mistakes along with their corrections:
1. There, their, they're -
a. There - location (over there)
b. Their - belonging to 2 or more people (this is their house)
c. They're - a contraction meaning 'they are' (they're going away)

2. Two, to, too
a. Two - the number
b. To - an infinitive; a preposition; used to link words & phrases together (I am going to the store)
c. Too - meaning 'also' or 'as well' (I went to church, too)

3. Its, it's
a. Its - belonging to it (the dog hid its bone)
b. It's - a contraction meaning 'it is'
When unsure which of these two you need to use, ask yourself if the phrase 'it is' works in your context. If not, leave out the apostrophe.

Apostrophes need an entire post for themselves. Look for that in the next day or two. In the meantime, begin implementing the aforementioned rules immediately. Your readers will be grateful.