Saturday, October 28, 2006


Here is Blake before the homecoming dance>

And Kayla in Grandpa's sweet ride.


When Blake was in 5th grade he wore a sleeveless t-shirt (a muscle shirt?) to school. I didn't really like the look but in an un-airconditioned building, you kind of go for comfort. Anyway, he came home and said, "Mom, I'm wearing this kind of shirt alot." Then he made a muscle with one arm and tapped it with his finger and said "The ladies like these guns!!." Of course he said it in a schmoozey kind of voice. At age 10, of course, his guns were pretty much pea shooters, but he didn't seem to care. Also, in 1st grade he told me that "the girls like me because I make them laugh. Oh and I'm attractive too." There is absolutely no self esteem problems with this kid. A year ago, I found a t-shirt that had an outline of a body-builder on it and it said WELCOME TO THE GUN SHOW. Remembering Blake's fine physique, I bought it for him.
A few nights ago, while Paul was in London, Blake came into our bedroom to "fill me in on the plans for the rest of the week." He was in flannel pants and no shirt. I couldn't help but think of him as a little boy flexing his muscles. But now, he really has some guns!! I was thinking "Holy Smokes. He really does have some guns now. So this is what a year of wrestling, football, and weightlifting has done to my little boy. Wait! Wait! Where is my pudgy little boy that loved his green tractor and couldn't walk to the car without dragging one finger through the dirt to take some with him?"
Every now and then, my mom comments on how thin Blake is. Of course it is usually when she sees him in his football uniform. (Perhaps I need to wear football pants if they make one look too thin) And I always remind her that for breakfast he eats 4 waffles or 6 pancakes and 2 big glasses of milk. He orders potatoes AND french fries when we eat out. He eats a whole 14 inch pizza alone. He is just so active. I feel like I need to reassure her that I AM feeding my child. So when she was here the other night, I really wanted to make Blake strip his shirt off so she could see that he is not too thin, that he has muscle. Just not ONE BIT OF FAT (the little stinker) But I didn't. Instead I let her sit back and enjoy the show of Blake and his friends eating the pie she brought them. Blake called her a few days ago and said he was craving her pumpkin pie. Well, Grandma baked a couple pies and Kayla's favorite cake and drove up to deliver them. Grandma was in shock when Blake and his three friends cut the first pie into FOUR pieces and then each devoured their 1/4 of a pie in under 4 bites. Then they cut the 2nd pie and started on it. She said she didn't know why she was in shock, she raised 2 boys and her oldest grandson used to eat a big mac in 3 bites. Some sights just never cease to amaze us.
Then Kayla got home and ate about 3 bites of her cake and moved on. This is the child that has passed up a brownie for yogurt. One time at Christmas, her piano teacher gave her a bag of candy and an apple. She came running out of the house yelling "mommy, she gave me an apple!!!" Of course, I was thinking "great, can I have your chocolate!"

Monday, October 23, 2006


To go on another guilt trip. I just called into work to tell them I won't be in today. My daughter was up all night being sick to her stomach. I was going to go on in because I would leave at 10 and my husband would come home at noon until I returned at 2. But she was apprehensive about being alone even for two hours. And I don't blame her. She said if it was just a big nasty cold, she wouldn't mind, but with throwing up....again I don't blame her. I, personally, turn into a GREAT BIG BABY when I am throwing up. Which may be happening soon because I am feeling queasy. But I am trying to tell myself that I am paranoid, or overtired.
Anyway, I am still fairly new at this job thing, so calling in to take the day off makes me nervous. I feel terribly guilty. Even though I just answer the phones, they get real jumpy when I'm not there because the ringing phone bothers them, although there are days it doesn't even ring that much. Acutally they went about 10 years without a receptionist before they hired me part time, so I would think it'd be no big deal. I just keep telling myself, I must put my family first, and they knew they were hiring a mother when they hired me so this just can't be helped.
Anyway, it is days like this that I really regret taking the job. The job has been good for me in many ways. It is an ideal situation for my family and it was practically handed to me on a silver platter, so I shouldn't even question whether it's right for me. But, to be honest, I don't HAVE to work. When our kids were little, and we lived pay check to pay check, I was determined to stay home and raise them, and we have no regrets. But THAT was when the extra little pay check would have come in handy. I guess I kind of look at this as making up for what I didn't do then. But I'm not working to put food on the table. I know we are blessed by the fact that I don't have to work to keep my kids in shoes. Although I have said that my paycheck is quite handy these days because high school is QUITE expensive, but that's another blog.
So I am doing a lot of second guessing these days. Of course having my kids sick makes me wonder if I've done the right thing by returning to work.
And also my father is seriously ill and I would love to be over there more. In two weeks, we will know if he can have surgery or if they will continue with chemo and add radiation. Either way, his need for help is going to increase dramatically, and it has become clear that I am probably the one that will be most able (and willing?) to go over there for long periods of time. Will I know if I'm supposed to quit my job? Will I feel comfortable just asking for an extended leave? I know for certain I will feel guilty taking time off because I won't be giving 100 percent to my job, but again, my family must come first. I pray daily about this. I pray that I will see what is the right thing for me to do. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 16, 2006


Dear Blake and Kayla,
As you become young adults, I am sure you have tuned in to enough adult conversations to pick up on some of the issues I've had with my parents. Perhaps you have picked up on the painful childhood I had. I have never seen the need to share my painful past, but I will never lie to you. I might, perhaps, put off answering questions until I think you are old enough to see the whole picture.
Because of my childhood, I hope to model two things to you as you choose your paths in life.
First, I hope to model a life of forgiveness. I am not perfect at this, but I have learned a lot in my nearly 40 years on earth. Sometimes you will have a heavy load to carry as you face adulthood. Forgiveness lightens that load. Learn now to forgive the small things and it will be easier to forgive the larger things later on.

Second, I hope to model a life of "no excuses." A bad break early in life is not an excuse to behave badly later in life. Hopefully, your dad and I will spare you from any of these bad breaks, but we can't predict what life has in store for us. If you have a setback, mourn or grieve or get angry; but then pick yourself up and learn from it, and move on. Use that setback to make your life better and to improve the lives of others.

And now, I promise you two things.
I promise you that, as long as we are on this earth together, your dad and I will be partners. Before we got married, we looked at each other and promised that divorce was not an option. You can always count on us being a unit. When you choose one, you choose the other. Together we will raise you. Together we will discipline you. Together we will rejoice over your successes. Together we will watch you make mistakes. Together we will decide when to lift you up and carry you and when to let you pick yourself up and brush yourself off. Together we will lay awake at night and watch the clock when you start to date. Together we will mark each milestone in your life - graduation, college, marriage, new babies. Each of you has caught us kissing in the kitchen and dancing in the dining room. I promise that you will have many memories like that. It is our job to be partners for you. It is your job, at this young stage in life, to take for granted the fact that we will always be there as a unit. Because we will.

I promise you that, no matter what, I will never choose to be removed from your life. From the day you were born, I knew it was my job to raise you and let you go out into the world. But even when that day comes, I will never remove myself from your life. I will watch you go off to college. I will watch you make a home and family with your spouse. But I will be there. There will be disagreements, but none will ever be bad enough to make me turn my back on you. As long as I am on this earth, I will love the sound of your voice. I will crave the sound of your laughter and I will look forward to every bit of news you are willing to share with me. As long as I am on this earth, I will hurt when you hurt, and I will enjoy what you enjoy.

This I promise you.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I'm home. Paul picked me up on Wednesday. Kayla took the day off school to make the drive with him.

I have a really cool dad, I guess. He drives (when he's healthy) a 2005 red Mustang GT (with black leather interior). We drive a 2006 Toyota Sienna mini van that seats 8 (and although I only gave birth to 2 kids the seats are usually full - another math puzzle). Dad and Marilyn quickly realized how easy our van was for them to get in and out of, he with his sore back and she with her crutches. So Paul offered to leave the van with us and he'd rent a car to drive home. "No," Dad said. "Drive the mustang." Yay, Paul.
So Paul got to spend the week with the red baby. And the kids got to ride to school and all their activities in style. But alas, the joy ended when we came home, and Dad could not be persuaded to let us leave him the mini van "for his own good, you know" and we would drive the mustang "just to help them out." They'll be sorry. They'll miss that van. I know they will.

Anyway, Dad and Marilyn were very easy patients. They have a very set routine but they were very easy going and flexible about it. They are funny and positive. They are fiercely protective of each other. For example, Dad said he had questions for the doctor but did not want Marilyn to hear them because they would make her sad. And anytime Dad said he was craving something (since he has very little appetite), Marilyn got her purse out and handed me money so I could rush out and buy it before the craving passed. They are very much in love and so devoted to each other. They touched each other's hands during a conversation or would reach over and rub each other's shoulder. They've been married for 25 years, and I could see that they were truly best friends and truly enjoyed their marriage.

Now, I know this is all very normal stuff for those of you who grew up in a normal home. But this was the first time I had seen one of my parents in a loving, happy relationship. I loved witnessing it. Do I wish I had been exposed to this all of my life? Yes. Do I wish that it was my mother instead of my step mother with whom Dad shared this? Yes. Do I feel a great sense of relief that Dad has this special woman by his side during this difficult time? Yes. I am relieved they have each other, and I told them that we would be there to take care of Marilyn too, as the years passed. I do wish we could convince them to move back here, but they are set up with a great medical team now and they couldn't possibly move at this point anyway.

Now, about their routine.
They get up at 3:45. Yes, that is 3:45. IN THE MORNING. That would be 2:45 my time. Dad has always been an early riser and even though he isn't working now, the habit remains. So they get up at about the time I would have been feeding a newborn baby years ago. Then they have their coffe and watch Fox News for a couple of hours. Then they take their naps (only since they have both become sick/injured). Then they are ready for lunch at 11:00. Then more Fox News and napping. After lunch is when I had my daily "battle" with Marilyn to let me do her housework. She is one energetic woman. She has always worked out daily and she has the sleekest arms and legs I've seen on a woman, regardless of age. I think that is why she is adjusting to crutches easily. It is absolutely driving her crazy to be helpless. Their kitchen chairs have wheels on them, so she would simply push herself with her good foot, and do what chores she could. I did take Dad to the office one day so he could pick up some work to do at home. Anyway, after afternoon rest time - at about 3:30, we headed to Damon's. Damon's has been part of their evening routine for years. At Damon's Marilyn would have 2 glasses of white wine (she only had one when I wasn't driving. So that second was a treat) and Dad would have 2 beers, and I would have one diet Pepsi and they'd visit with all their friends, who were also very nice and funny. And then I'd drive them home and fix them supper. Then by 7:30, they'd both be exhausted and ready for bed. They slept in the family room on the couch and love seat because it was simply easier for them. I got their bedroom and bathroom. So after settling them in, I had the evening to watch tv, or read. Yep, it was a fairly easy job. Except for seeing how OLD my dad looks. And how slowly he walks. And how sad and scared they both are, despite their efforts to remain upbeat.
In case any of you are wondering. NO, I did not get up at 3:45. I rarely slept at all, though, because I woke up at the slightest sound from them through the night, especially if I heard Marilyn's crutches moving down the hall. I was so worried one of them would fall or something. It was a fall that started this whole thing, after all. But once I heard them getting their coffee at 3:45 IN THE MORNING, I slept pretty good for a couple hours because I knew they had made it through the night and the routine would begin again. I told them it was like taking care of a couple of babies. Feed them, keep them happy for a couple hours, then put them down for a nap again. And boy was it hard to leave, but there are still things that need to be done at home. Our lives seem to carry on, crisis or not.
I miss them. I know I won't be able to go back for awhile because I can't leave work. Well, until his surgery. Isn't it ironic, that I've started working after 15 years, and a parent becomes seriously ill? I am praying for guidance in that area of my life. Paul may go over for a few days, though, as he can easily work away from the office. Now, isn't that a sweet man? Willing to go take care of his sick father-in-law for a few days.

Interestingly, my sister can't go because she has "so many issues to deal with" and she doesn't want to leave her children. EXCUSE ME??? We all have issues, and it wasn't pleasant for me to leave my children, and to ask for a week off from work, and miss Kayla's ball game and to go days without sleep....But so far I have kept my mouth shut and tried to keep the peace.

The next time I post, I am going to ask this question: Why are some people trying to convince me to hold a grudge?

Monday, October 09, 2006


I am posting from my dad's house where both of my patients are resting. This experience of caring for them will make for lots of blog material.

This is for Jen3 who has asked for the whole story of the homecoming fiasco experienced by my son. Please be patient.

First a little background. We live in a town of about 2000 people (that's two thousand). We are in a consolidated school district with a town of about 1000 people (that's one thousand). That town is 7 miles up the highway. In the ten years we've been here, our school district has never been ranked below number 2 in state testing for our region, so even the consolidation is little bother for the fantastic schools we think we have. Our town is basically connected to a town of about 80,000. It has several public schools and one private Catholic high school (St. T) This school is our ARCH RIVAL in sports. It is a rivalry that seems to have reached animosity - at least when you are speaking to teenagers (and some parents, actually.)

Blake's friend Taylor was dating a girl from St. T. Seems she already had her dress for OUR homecoming,when Taylor broke up with her. So she asked Blake to take her to HIS OWN dance, even though she attends a different school. Boys being boys, Taylor didn't care a bit, other than to say "let Blake deal with the headache." I should have seen the red flag.

So she tells Blake her dress is green and he tells me his tie has to match her dress so I ask "what color green? Pine green? Sage green? Lime green? John Deere green?" He doesn't know but he'll ask her. She responds by saying she has a tie she wants him to wear, which I thought sounded a little controlling, but what do I know?

So we buy Blake his dress pants and shirt and a new belt and I wait around for the tie. Friday night (dance on Saturday) - still no tie. I ask Blake when we are getting that tie so I can make sure it is pressed, etc. Turns out we had to go pick up the tie Saturday morning, because evidently we didn't have enough to do on top of Kayla's basketball tournament, picking up a corsage, pressing clothes, arranging transportation, etc. etc.

Let me back up. On Thursday (two days before the dance) Blake called me from the after school festivities and said "Mom, she just called and said she doesn't want to go to the dance. Can you cancel the flower?" Sure. I think he was relieved. Then he called back 45 minutes later and I felt so bad for him because he said "Mom, now she's called and said she does want to go to the dance with me." Well, I didn't say what I wanted to say, but enough is enough. So I said "Blake you do NOT have to take her to the dance. If you do not want to take this girl, you have my permission to call her back and tell her that you are not going to be strung along by her. She can't play this kind of game with you." Please keep in mind, Blake did not know this girl very well, he thought he was just escorting her to the dance so she could be with her friends who had been invited. She is not the type of girl he has normally chosen to "date."

So, on the evening of the dance, we are all to meet at the pond across from our house for pictures. Blake and his date had their picture taken by her mother and before I could get in position to take one, she said "now Ryan, one with you." Then,
"Alex, one with you." And on it went. So I just said "I'd like one of Blake and his date, please." Though, actually I didn't.

THEN. We all load up to take the kids to Red Lobster and BLAKE'S DATE DIDN'T WANT TO RIDE WITH HIM. And neither did Alex's date. Then after eating, Blake and his date and 2 other couples were supposed to be driven to the dance by my husband. Paul said he got there and one of the girls said "Oh, my mom is taking all the girls." So the girls piled in one van and the boys piled in the other.

Later that evening, all the boys spent the night at our house. That is when Taylor said "next year, no dates. Too much drama."

My theory, and the other mothers agreed, is that these girls simply used the boys to get into the homecoming dance of a rival school. Think of the drama they created by saying they got to go to this dance. Think of how they probably stirred things up with the boys from their own school. And honestly, I am disappointed that our boys did not decide to take girls from their own school, so I do not hold Blake blameless in this mess. I think he has learned a lesson. It was very hard for me to watch all of this unfold, but I was afraid the more I protested, the more tempting it might be for him to not only escort her to the dance but to keep having contact with her. Teenagers are like that, you know.

And guess what. At dinner the other night, Blake asked "Mom, Dad, would I be allowed to attend St. T's homecoming dance.?"
My response: "Not only NO, but NO WAY!!!"

Also, I do know that these girls are just kids and they may very well turn out to be very sweet young women. I do not mean to speak badly of kids. Because they are just
And now, a quick question.

I am nearing 40. And that is fine with me. I am accepting the hot flashes and the creaking my joints do. I am accepting the higher maintence costs in general that come with middle age. I am accepting that I am in a phase of life where I am raising teenagers AND caring for aging, ill parents. But why, oh why if I am on the threshold of middle age, am I still getting pimples?

Friday, October 06, 2006


Me 6 years ago at Blake's little basketball games: "Paul you need to tell him not to be so aggressive. Is he supposed to try to take the ball right out of the other players' hands?

Me Wednesday night at Kayla's basketball game (which by the way we won 31-2):

Me last night at Blake's football game: "FACE MASKING!!!!!!!!!" (I mean, really, if I could see it, anybody could....)



There's that old saying "when it rains it pours..." yada, yada, yada.

My dad had his first chemo treatment on Monday. My step mom broke her foot on Wednesday. He cannot get off the couch. She cannot walk.
They called yesterday to ask if I could come for a few days. I have used the time since then to find temporary homes for my kids and make arrangements at work. So after Kayla's basketball game tomorrow morning, Paul will drive me to Indiana and come home on Sunday. Then he will come back and get me....well, whenever they can manage or one of my siblings can relieve me or when Marilyn can get a walking cast put on her foot.

I cannot express the emotions swirling in my head. I have 2 brothers and 1 sister and, of the four of us, I have had the most distant relationship with my dad. There are a number of reasons for that, I guess. But suffice it to say, I have had less contact with him than the other three. There is no animosity or resentment on either part. But there is, I think, that uncomfortable feeling for each of us, that tells us there should have been more. Regret maybe?
So when they called and asked ME to come and help. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. I just wanted to say "ME? You've chosen ME? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
First, Dad and Marilyn are very independent and private people. I know how humbling it had to be for them to call and say "We can't do this. Can you please come and help us?" Especially given our history. Second, (and I don't want this to sound pompous) but I thought maybe, just maybe, in our rare contact with each other, something of me has shone through to him. Something of me (and my husband) has shown him that yes, we will come running when he calls. Something of me has said that the past does not matter. And I am so thankful that God has let me show whatever quality that is. We are in a phase of life now where he needs my help and I am able to give it. I am blessed to have a job that I can leave. I am blessed to be surrounded by families that will take my children in on short notice and I know they will be happy and comfortable. I am blessed to have a husband that will say "of course, we'll come" and then start making phone calls to arrange things so I don't have to worry about all the details.
Now, I just have to tell my mom. She is coming around, but I know it will be a difficult conversation. In our last conversation about this I simply said that I am doing these things for my dad for a variety of reasons but, as a mother, she should understand my main reason. And that is: my children are watching me. As in every situation, they are watching to see how I handle this. And I will not let them see me turn my back on a parent who needs my help, regardless of the past.

And on a humorous note; as I left work today my boss asked me to call in with the numbers at which I could be reached. I told him of course I would. But I wanted to say " really have no idea how little I do around here, do you?" He was afraid somebody might call looking for me. I have no idea who that would be. The only people who call me at work are my husband and my children and they will know where I am. All I do at work, basically is answer the phone. But let me tell you, some of these men go into a panic when that phone is unattended. One day when I was leaving and the other assistant was out, the phone rang. One of the brokers actually looked at it and raised up his hands and said "I don't know how to pick up." I guess I perform a valuable service after all.