A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


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Fashion Weak

As the mother of two boys, I resigned myself long ago to the fact that when it comes to clothing, my choices to outfit them would be limited to dinosaurs, animals, super heroes, planes, construction equipment, stripes, and sports.  As they have gotten older, the choices narrowed even further to plain, minimal stripes, and (the very expensive) sports team/logo wear.

My boys hate the feel of jeans, so when we find a pair of sweatpants/shorts that fit and are deemed cool enough to be seen it, we buy them in every color they come in. Which brings us back to limits once again, as the color choices they have started gravitating to in their teen years are shades of grey, navy, and black. Hooray for the neutrals, because they will go with any of the outrageously expensive logo wear/sports team tops they pick up from the floor and sniff before shrugging their shoulders and putting on the offensive smelling item anyway.

Recently, we relented and went shopping for Fall/Winter clothes for our oldest and a few items to fill in the gaps of the hand-me-downs for our youngest. Because who doesn’t want to spend a Saturday evening in crowded rural mall, shopping with two teenage boys who could care less about clothing?

thisgirl

Our first stop was Old Navy. My husband and I spent a lot of time trying to decipher what “I dunno”, “whatever” and “sure” really meant as we held up options for our 14 year old to decide on. It got even tougher to tell what he thought as he moved into the non-verbal responses of “major eyeroll”, “shrug”, and “heavy sigh while snapping one’s head back”.

Which pretty much made me do this:

eyeroll

After finding a few sweatpants styles and some long sleeve shirts that fit – and buying them in the three neutral colors available – we headed to H&M. I’d heard the clothing was affordably priced. What I hadn’t heard about was how much I wouldn’t be hearing after being in a store that blasts hipster emo tunes. #OldPeopleProblems

The clothing options were minimal at best and we quickly determined that our decidedly non-emo sons would not find anything of interest. On our way out, I spotted this:

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$30 for a sweatshirt that comes with holes already in it? Uh…that’s a big “fuck no.”

I immediately snapped a picture and commented, “If you boys want something like this, I’ll take you to my parent’s house and you can pick one from granddad’s closet. For free.”

Next it was on to American Eagle, where I spotted this and told my husband “if you become a stripper and wear these sparkly blue underwear, perhaps we can afford all these clothes we have to buy the kids.”

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The salesgirl smirked and asked if she could help me find them in my husband’s size. My husband then rolled his eyes, shrugged, and let out a heavy sigh while snapping his head back as he headed toward the door.

By the time we got to the fourth store, my sons’ and husband’s enthusiasm for the whole shopping excursion had really waned (as if it going lower than from where it started could even be a possibility). Their diminished enthusiasm was almost inversely proportional to their growing hunger for dinner. My oldest spent a solid three minutes in the store, where he picked out 3 shirts (same style, different colors) and quickly made a beeline for the exit to discuss restaurant options with his dad and younger brother.

Our shopping trip had taken less than an hour and a half. I think we spent more time on dinner at the restaurant when you count driving to it, waiting for a seat, ordering, eating, paying the check, and driving home.

Fast forward to last night and just three weeks after buying the new clothes. My oldest walked through the family room and I yelled “Stop!”.

“Are those a pair of your new sweatpants?”, I inquired.

“Yes,” was his response.

My close to 6′ tall, size 13 shoe-wearing oldest stood while I took a photo. The new sweatpants are already too short.

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He’ll just have to hope he doesn’t grow any taller because I can’t update his wardrobe with new navy/grey/black sweatpants every three weeks.

Boys’ fashion is certainly not for the weak of heart. Or the weak of wallet.

 

 

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Some Ground Rules for Summer Vacation

The beginning of the kids’ summer vacation happens to coincide with the week of my husband’s annual golfing vacation with his dad and brothers. How convenient is that for everyone…other than me?

So in order to give myself a little more convenience, I have decided to institute the following rules after only one day into the decidedly too-short break from someone else  watching my kids school.

Rule #1: When you are asked to clean the lint out of the dryer before the next load goes in, the lint goes one place. And that place is not on top of the dryer you were just asked to clean it out of.  By not putting lint in the trashcan, you have just moved the potential fire hazard from inside the dryer to on top of the dryer. Gross. And no.IMG_1425

Rule #2: When you are asked to help with the laundry (and once you have the whole lint thing figured out), “taking care of it” does not mean shoving the clean clothes into baskets and dropping them in the middle of the family room floor as you race back to the to play on your iPad. While I’m thrilled you can kick ass at whatever game you are playing or that you can delight in watching inappropriate videos/Vines, I would much rather have you take pride in kicking ass at folding laundry and putting it away. IMG_1427

Rule #3: We don’t need to pull out every cooler we own to figure out which one to use when we go to the pool. And once we do decide which cooler to use, we need to put away all the others before mom cracks her toe on one of them because she couldn’t see it, from carrying the last basket of clean clothes you ‘forgot about’ and left in the laundry room.IMG_1424

Rule #4: We don’t leave our size 12 canoes slides near the dogs’ dishes. Unless, of course, you like chasing Mocha and Jake in the backyard when they grab one and decide a game of keep away from the owner is the funnest damn thing ever. Which IT IS NOT.IMG_1426

Rule #5: This is a double whammy because backpacks taste like rawhide to dogs AND they cause quite the stumbling hazard for moms with that laundry basket you ‘forgot about’. Pick yours up from the middle of the floor and put it out-of-sight. Make sure it’s somewhere you won’t remember, so we can freak out the night before school starts in the fall, yelling at each other in a total panic about whose fault it is no one can remember where the #$%&-ing backpack was put for safe keeping just 9 weeks earlier.IMG_1428

Rule #6: All that shit that was in your backpack? It does not belong in the foyer. Or the floor of the foyer. Or my dining room table, the kitchen table, shoved in your closet, behind a dresser, or any other location you deem appropriate. It belongs in the trash. Because I don’t scrapbook, so just get rid of it.

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Rule #7: While I’m always excited about the prospect for new decorating ideas on the mantle in the family room, empty chocolate milk glasses ARE NOT DECORATION. They leave marks. They smell bad. They are tough to get clean once the milk and chocolate mixture has time to set. We can avoid all this by you putting it in the dishwasher the millisecond you are done drinking it. Or I can just stop buying chocolate syrup for milk altogether. Your choice.IMG_1431

Rule #8: iPads can be stored in a number of places. The recliner that the dog likes to jump on and sit in is not one of them.  You are tempting fate.

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Rule #8.5: If rule #8 is not adhered to and the dog does decide to jump in the recliner, breaking/ruining/scratching or otherwise rendering your iPad useless, it will not be replaced. And no, I will not download all those apps to my phone so you can use that instead.

I’m probably too busy cleaning lint off the top of the dryer to download apps, anyway.


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What If…

What if…six years ago I had really put my foot down and said no when my husband announced that Alex was going to play football?

I mean, was he crazy? I didn’t want my precious 8 year old baby getting knocked around and possibly hurt in such a rough sport. My husband reassured me that at the Mini-Pony level Alex would be playing on, coaches were on the field to help and instruct. It wouldn’t be until the next level that they played “real” football games. So I agreed to one year and we could assess it after that.

What if…after that first year — in spite of my reservations — I was totally hooked?

What if…I loved Saturdays at the football field (minus the concession stand work, of course!), couldn’t wait to sign up our youngest son Nick for next year, couldn’t wait for Alex to play again – the “real” kind of football?

What if…I blinged out spirit wear, took tons of photos, and bought Lion paw earrings in blue and gold?

What if…I captured unforgettable moments on video that Mini-Pony season? Like our team’s touchdown pass to win the SuperBowl in the final 6 seconds of the game:

What if…the emotional post-game coaches’ speeches after that Mini-Pony SuperBowl win were also part of the video memories I made? Including one speech that choked up the head coach, a man who usually doesn’t get too emotional:

What if…many of those boys went on in the next stage of their junior football careers to play another SuperBowl two years later in the Pony division?

What if…we were playing a team we had beaten in the regular season, so spirits were high for a win?

What if…I painted my face with Lion paws, had on my blinged out spirit gear, and made a ton of cupcakes for the boys, coaches and fans in attendance?

All this really shows is that I need to touch up my roots and that a chemical peel might be a good idea.

All this really shows is that I need to touch up my roots and that a chemical peel might be a good idea.

What if…with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, the other team scored a touchdown to pull ahead of us?

What if…we were unable to score in the last minute and a half and lost the game?

What if…the boys had to stand on the field and congratulate the other team as they received the SuperBowl trophy, even though that’s the last place they wanted to be; would they appreciate this life lesson in good sportsmanship?

What if…one of the coaches had to give the post-game talk, and tell the boys through his own tears that he really was sorry because he wanted them to experience the thrill of winning a “real” SuperBowl?

What if…there were lots of 10 years olds in tears that day?

What if…truthfully, there were a lot of parents and grandparents in tears that day, including me with the blue and gold lion paws I had painted on my face running from the tears that betrayed all of hurt I felt as a parent when you see your kid experience disappointment?

What if…two years later, our boys had a good season and had to gut out a few wins toward the end in order to make it to the playoffs at the JV level?

What if…the boys played hard and got through the two rounds of playoffs to make it to another SuperBowl?

What if…we went up against a team we had beaten during the regular season — just like two years earlier?

What if…the score was 0-0 with 24 seconds left in regulation, and we scored a touchdown to take the lead?

What if…on the ensuing kick off, the other team ran it back for a touchdown, tying the game and sending us into overtime?

What if…we were not able to score on our 4 downs, but the opponent kicked a field goal on its fourth down and won the game?

What if…those boys had to again stand on the field and behave as gracious losers, congratulating yet another team as they received the SuperBowl trophy? Would the life lesson from two years ago help ease the pain a bit?

What if…in the post-game huddle, the coaches told the boys how proud of them they were, and told them to look ahead to their final year of junior football before high school, saying we would have an awesome team that could compete with anyone?

What if…the coaches were absolutely right?

What if…as if to bookend where it all started with Mini-Pony (for the Rice family, anyway), the Varsity team had an undefeated season this year?

What if…we headed into the first round of the playoffs facing an opponent we had beaten on their home field during the regular season?

What if…once again, spirits were high for a successful run through the playoffs to the SuperBowl as a #1 seed?

What if…it was not to be?

What if…our boys were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round game, as a drive to tie the game in the last minute fell short?

What if…the most true thing one of the coaches told the boys in the post-game huddle was: “A good team won today, and a good team lost today.”?

What if…that wasn’t the end of the story?

What if...I told you, a group of boys — some of whom I had watched over six years (a number have been playing together even longer) — became fine young men before my eyes that day?

What if…it was not because they had only one season in six years where they didn’t make the playoffs…and not because they had their second undefeated season in all those years…and not because they outscored their opponents 276 to 26 in the regular season of their Varsity year?

What if…they became young men because at the end of the game our team asked if they could pray with the team that had just knocked them out of the playoffs and dashed their hopes for a SuperBowl win?

What if…they became young men because they asked to kneel with ‘the enemy” to show solidarity for one of the opponent’s teammates — 12 year old Colby Reid — who was just diagnosed with stage IV Anaplastic Large Cell (Non-Hodgkins) Lymphoma and is now going through six months of aggressive chemotherapy treatments?

What if…our coaches had both teams gather in the center of the field, and one of our coaches led the players and coaches from both teams in prayer for Colby and his family, and our boys shouted a hearty “Amen” once the prayer was done?

Post-game prayer for Colby Reid

Post-game prayer for Colby Reid, led by Walkersville Lions coach Brett Hess. Photo courtesy of Michelle Ahalt.

What if…I had missed this incredible, amazing, heart-wrenching moment in the lives of these young men and their coaches?

What if…six years ago, I had said no to something that would have brought me so many ups and downs, wonderful memories, and a host of friends I now call my sports family?

What if…I get to keep it all in my heart forever?

My son Alex:

Six amazing years

Six amazing years

The 2015 Varsity Walkersville junior Lions:


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‘Teenage Safety’ Doesn’t Have to Be an Oxymoron

Today, my boys — and countless other kids — headed back to school. While I’m sure the Xbox will miss them terribly, it’s definitely time for them to re-engage their brains with something more taxing than figuring out whose turn it is to “kick some butt” at Madden15.

Yep, definitely time to get back to language arts and improving vocabulary.

But if the photo of them I took getting ready to head to the school bus is any indication, vocabulary is the least of our worries:

Did you wash your hands before you started annoying your brother?

Did you wash your hands before you started annoying your brother?

Our real worry might be that we need to reinforce what it means to behave in such a way that they come home safely each day. And by safely, I mean 1) in one piece, 2) with no notices from teachers of inappropriate behavior, 3) with no “where is your child’s homework?” messages, 3) as germ-free as possible, and 4) having not generated a call to me or their dad from anyone with the word ‘principal’, ‘counselor’, ‘police’, or ‘officer’ as part of a job title.

My young teenage boys tend to block out my voice — especially when the words “clean up”, “pick up”, “stop that”, “knock it off”, and “I better not have to tell you again” are used. But, I decided to review some important safety messages with them for the start of the school year anyway.

When it comes to…

  • Cell phone safety: You do not need your cell phone with you to function effectively as a 7th or 8th grader in middle school.
    • Yes, I know that your friends Jacob, Owen, Jake, Brett A, Brett B, Ben, Nick, Ty, and every other kid in your class gets to bring their cell phone to school because their parents are cool and I suck. But I need you to focus on school work when you are at school — not Snapchatting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and/or Tweeting.
    • Nice try, but you won’t need the calculator on your cell phone, because I forked out $25 for a scientific calculator for you to use in Algebra.
    • And you won’t need your cell phone to reach me in case of emergency. There is a phone in the principal’s office and the school bus drivers all have a cell phone. Besides, if I get a call from the principal’s office, it better be because you’re sick, or you’ve broken your leg, or you’ve just won the Nobel prize. You feelin’ me?
  • Food safety: You need energy, and food is your fuel. At lunch, food is for eating and will provide the fuel you need to be alert and stay focused in the afternoon. And just to be clear, food is not for:
    • throwing: the last thing I need is for you to use your PB&J sandwich as a projectile that accidentally lands on the nut-free table, jeopardizing any classmate with an allergy.
    • smashing: if you make a mess, you will be cleaning it, not the janitor. Same rules apply at home: substitute ‘your mom’ for ‘the janitor’.
    • trading: eat what ya brung (or in my kids’ cases – what ya bought).
    • taking pictures of and posting to social media: see cell phone safety above.
    • experimenting with: gross. Just gross.
    • teasing people with: see cell phone safety above with regard to phone calls from principals and/or counselors.
  • Germ safety: You are no longer a toddler shoving everything not nailed down into your mouth (with the exception of cheeseburgers and fries). This means your (most likely dirty) hands should be not touching everything within your ever-widening wing span. Here are some good rules for keeping germs where they belong, which — to be clear — is Not. On/In. You.
    • Those dispensers of soap in the bathroom: USE THEM.
    • Those dispensers of hand sanitizer located throughout the school: USE THEM.
    • Those boxes of tissues we send in at the request of your teachers: USE THEM.
    • Wet willies and spit balls: No. JUST NO.
    • Crayons, markers, and other writing instruments: OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. You never know who else has been gnawing on them, what’s at the bottom of the bookbag where they have been residing, or — heaven help us! — what they are made of.
    • Handling someone else’s cell phone: No. JUST NO.
    • Sharing drinks at lunch: No. JUST NO.
    • Coughing into the sleeve of your shirt and not into the face of your friend(s): YES! ALWAYS YES!

Have a safe school year boys. This will be great practice, because wait until you see the safety rules I’m working on for your next Summer vacation.

Ready for 7th grade -- and two thumbs up for moms safety rules.

Ready for 7th grade — and two thumbs up for moms safety rules.

Ready for 8th grade, but bummed their is no advanced course in Madden 15.

Ready for 8th grade, but bummed there is no elective for Advanced Madden15.


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Nick and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

When you’re 12, life is pretty simple. All you have to do is a little homework, a few chores, and spend the rest of your waking life 1) annoying the snot out of your older brother, 2) pretending you don’t hear your parents when they call your name, 4) watching vines of guys getting hit in/on/around their balls, or 3) complaining about the fact you have no clean socks.

But a few weeks ago, my son Nick’s life turned from simple to simply terrible. Simply horrible. Simply no good. Simply very bad.

It started with one of the other moms telling me at a lacrosse game on May 16 about a book report each kid in the class was working on, due on May 29. Funny, Nick hadn’t mentioned anything to me. So on the way home, I asked him about it.

“Oh yeah,” he responded. “I have to draw a comic strip representation of the story. It should be easy.”

“Have you started reading the book yet?” I questioned.

“Um…no. It’s only 200 pages, so I figured I could do that the night before and just draw the comic strip, too.”

Read a 200+ page book and draw a comic strip representative of the characters, storyline, plot, conflict, and resolution in one night when you’ve had a whole month to work on it? Terrible, Nick. Just terrible.

On May 19, I got a call from the assistant principal at Nick’s school. It seems that during recess (his favorite part of school) he and classmates had been playing kickball. A kid who (allegedly) constantly interrupts the game, goofs off, and doesn’t play fair started doing just that. And Nick — in his words — just snapped. “He does it every recess and it ruins the game and then we don’t get to spend our time playing because of it!” The Assistant Principal let me know that Nick had started chasing the kid when he purposely kicked the ball over the fence, effectively ending the game. At some point the kid turned around and hit Nick in the face.

Both boys were called into the principal’s office separately. Nick had given his side, the other kid told his side, and both sets of parents received a call.

So, tell the assistant principal you ‘just snapped’, and chased a kid because he ruined your kickball game at recess? Horrible, Nick. Just horrible.

On May 20, we got an email from one of Nick’s teachers. He was missing some homework and she asked us to check his binder when he brought it home. I’m not sure how most teachers define ‘some’, but I certainly don’t define it as more than 8 homework assignments not done/not turned in since early April. The teacher had provided a list of all the missing items and highlighted them. My husband spent most of the evening barking at Nick because he’d been telling us he either did it in school or had no homework.

Later that evening when the barking subsided, Nick sat with me at the kitchen table and cleaned out his binder, put papers in the sections where they belonged, and completed EVERY LAST FUCKING PAPER LABELED HOMEWORK that I could find.

At one point he wailed, “but mom, we did ratios way back in January. This one doesn’t matter.”

To which I hissed back “It. Matters. To. Me.”

Which made Nick’s face do something like this:

Yikes.

Yikes.

Not doing your homework, not turning it in when you do complete it, and lying to us about having and/or doing your homework? No good, Nick. Just no good.

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I was working from home. I heard a strange noise coming from our deck where the dogs were. Going to investigate, I found Jake with what appeared to be a grin on his face as he chewed. I attempted to reason with him … “what is that?”…”give me that”…”this is not a game you dumb furbag”. Reasoning with him didn’t work. When I was finally able to snatch the object from him, it was the remnants of Nick’s retainer case. And no remnants of a retainer.

This was his third retainer because 1) our other dog Mocha sampled and destroyed the first one, and 2) because Nick thought his pocket was a great place to store the second retainer until he sat on it and broke it in half.

For the record, retainers cost 12 pedicures (@ $25 per pedicure), people. TWELVE!

My husband and I had no idea if the retainer had been in the case, since Nick is notorious for forgetting to put it back in after meals, after brushing teeth, or after his parents have harassed him repeatedly with comments like “perhaps a little Gorilla glue will help you remember to keep the damn thing in your mouth!”.

So when Nick danced in the door that afternoon and shouted out “Three day weekend, baby!”, he had no idea his celebration would prove premature. My husband called him into the office where he was working. I heard him ask Nick “do you have your retainer in your mouth?”.  Nick mumbled something back. And the next thing I heard may have rhymed with “Well why the duck not?”

Leaving your retainer case where counter-surfer Jake can get it, so that your parents have to buy a third replacement retainer for $300 in less than a year? Very bad, Nick. Very bad. (You too, Jake)

Let’s just hope his brother Alexander doesn’t have a similar kind of experience…

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Welcome to the ‘Hood

Today, my oldest son turns 13. It’s not like we haven’t seen the signs of adolescence approaching…

  • “Look mom — pit hair!”
  • Moodiness (would Midol help with that?)
  • Growing faster than shoes and clothes and my paycheck can keep up with
  • An insatiable desire to stuff food in his mouth
  • The need for Clearasil
  • “Look mom — more hair. And not in my pit!”

Mom needs a margarita. STAT!

Even more delightful? The fact that his almost 12 year old younger brother is already embracing the sassiness that comes with teenagerhood, as evidenced by this exchange yesterday:

Nick: “Mom, can I have a brownie”

Me: “Didn’t you already have one this afternoon?”

Nick: (sheepishly) “Oh yeah…I must have forgot.”

Me: “Well, then, no. No more brownies.”

Nick: (after a slight pause) “So, you really aren’t interested in being Mom of the Year, huh?”

Me:

Me, after realizing this kid is just like me.

After admitting to myself my youngest is just like me.

So, as we get ready to head into the abyss of the years that comprise teenagerhood to the second power, I will keep these memories in mind:

And know that this is the fate for my husband and myself:

Oh yeah. We're in trouble.

Oh yeah. We’re in trouble.

Here’s to hoping the ‘hood doesn’t kick our ass.


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The Poseidon Adventure

School projects have a special place in hell, whether they originate in science, social studies, math, or history class. What the fuck ever class.  ALL. OF. THEM. SUCK.

Because…pretty much…here’s what we always learn when it comes to these damn things:

Truth. Image from Reddit.

Truth.
Image from Reddit.

My son Alex’s recent social studies project was no different than the science project he did earlier this year.  That one was an epic fail as a science experiment, but highly successful at getting his dad to cuss pretty much through the entire thing. But this time, we didn’t have the same amount of notice as we did for the science fair.

I had seen one of the other baseball team moms post this amazing creation on Facebook on a Saturday, with this comment “Jacob worked very hard this morning on his Ancient Greek House for his school project. He did an awesome job!”:

My son hasn't started making anything like that...

My son hadn’t started making anything like that…

So that afternoon at our baseball double header, I asked his mom what class it was for. She said all the kids in all the social studies classes were doing some sort of project.  I called my son over between innings and asked “is your social studies project done yet?”   His response was “Yes. I wrote my report.”

I prodded further “How ’bout the project part of it?”   “Um…yeah, I’m going to ask dad to help me with it Sunday night. It’s not due until Tuesday morning.”

So you can pretty much understand why I felt like this:

Only madder. And with more cuss words. Image from: http://thesuperzilch.wordpress.com/

Only madder. And with more cuss words.
Image from: http://thesuperzilch.wordpress.com/

So I put on a brave face:

Trying to smile through clenched teeth. Never works. Image © Copyright 2003 - 2014, SheKnows, LLC.

Trying to smile through clenched teeth. Never works.

I reminded him that his dad (who normally is in charge of this school project shit) was leaving on a business trip Sunday afternoon. I also brought to his attention that he had a double header of baseball Sunday afternoon, so just when the fuck did he think this was going to get done?

Oh,” was his immediate reply. Followed closely by “I gotta go, it’s my turn to bat.

So after the game, the family grudgingly made the trip to Joann’s to buy modeling clay. That’s because my son revealed that he had agreed to do sculptures of Poseidon and Zeus — which might have well been the latest DisneyXD show as far as I was concerned. I’ve never been really well-versed in anything Greek, unless pouring copious amounts of Zima down my throat in college counts. Zima – sounds Greek, right?

To help out my son, I went to the internet and found these inspiration pictures of the Greek gods that he could base his models on:

But let’s face it. This is more like what I wanted to see:

Shazam! Image ©2013-2014 Terachrome

Shazam-olopolus!
Image ©2013-2014 Terachrome

Alex was totally inspired by the photos and got right to work on Saturday evening, making his sculptures. He was thrilled to turn off the Xbox and focus his creative energy on something other than spending Saturday evening in a video game induced haze.

Repeat after mom: "I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project.  I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. Again."

Repeat after mom: “I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. Again.”

It took him a solid three hours of intense work. But this was the final product:

Two old buff clay dudes. Love the pecs.

Two old buff clay dudes. Love the chiseled pecs and abs.

He ended up getting 50 out of 50 points for the project.

συγχαρητήρια (congratulations in Greek), Alex. Perhaps I should celebrate with a few Zimas.