Saturday, January 20, 2007


Cubby is here this weekend. You know, Blake's best friend. Cubby's family is spending the weekend at a university, speaking to the football coach. It looks as though his big brother is going to be offered a scholarship.
Cubby's mom has often introduced me as his second mother, and we jokingly tell them that each month we look for the child support check in the mail from them. He's just one of us.
But poor Cubby could not have chosen a worse weekend to stay with us. Here were his choices for how to spend the day today:
- driving 6 hours with his family and then following his family around a college campus and/or sitting in a hotel room while they take care of college business for his brother

- spending 9 hours at a wrestling meet with Blake and Paul - his face was PRICELESS when I told him what to expect from THAT.

- spending the day at our house with ME.

He chose option #3. But I know it is only because it was the least painful of a list of very unappealing choices. Thankfully Cubby is a very (I mean VERY, VERY) easy going young man. He also happens to like Blake's X-Box LIVE, so he does have that to do all day. We tease Blake that his friends only love him for his X-Box LIVE. It is not uncommon for Blake to be in the basement watching a movie while one or more of his buddies is in his room playing X-Box LIVE. In fact, Blake told us Cubby stayed up most of the night playing. I also am under no delusions over that. I am certain he stayed up all night so that he could spend the day in sweet oblivious slumber and not having to visit with ME. Although, he did not seem at all repulsed by the idea as we discussed it at dinner last night. I told him I would bring him lunch from the mall, if I went and I asked him what kind of cookies he liked, because I'm going to make peanut butter cookies for Blake when he gets home from his tournament. Turns out Cubby doesn't like peanut butter cookies. So he will get a batch of chocolate chip. Kayla will get chocolate chip-LESS. She likes the toll house recipe without the chocolate chips (go figure) So I usually keep half of the batter plain.
I love having extra kids in the house. Really, I LOVE IT. And as my own kids grow so quickly, I have realized I will miss their friends also.
I will miss Cubby and Ryan and Drew and Sarah C and Hannah.

I have also decided that God gave us the teen years to prepare us for the empty nest. Our kids are on the go nearly all the time; going to ballgames, birthday parties, sleepovers, THE MALL...practice, games...
Weekends seem to be merely blocks of time during which we are either waiting for them to check in or preparing to take them to their next activity. Yesterday when I reminded Kayla that next Saturday we are hosting a bridal shower and I will need her help, she smiled and said "I will be sure to fit that into my schedule."

That about sums it up.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I am a Republican. Not an Ann Coulter type Republican, but just your ordinary sort. Although there are things I disagree with regarding our current president, I voted for him and I will probably vote Republican in the next election. Although, truth be told, I vote basically on one issue. I vote Pro-Life. Period. But I do not wish this to be a discussion on political views and opinions that will cause arguments. I truly believe politics is a hot topic that is best left alone with most people, as I found out one Thanksgiving when I made an off hand comment about our previous president (whose last name is the same as my brother's first name). I didn't say anything hateful, just something like "I didn't vote for him.." But my cousin's husband nearly leaped over the pumpkin pie to defend said president and enter a heated debate with me. No thanks. I just moved on.
Anyway, as a Republican, I was just appalled at a comment I heard on the radio today on my way home from work. Somebody called in and said, based on the "Left Behind" book series, they believe Barak Obama is the Anti-Christ. Does that book really indicate that the Anti-Christ will come from an African country??? Maybe I misunderstood. But this woman was pretty clear in her opinion. I actually said, to my empty van "OH, COME ON!!!!" I think we have gone a little too far when we start calling members of the opposing party the Anti-Christ.
And here's the depressing part. This is only January of '07. We get to enjoy all of this until November of '08. UGH!!


And now a question for you.

If you had...say...$80,000 to $100,000 in an account at a certain financial institution, would you take the time to contact said financial institution to let them know of your new address so that you could receive statements and updates on all that money? I believe I would. I have spent the last couple of months trying to track down several account holders who have evidently moved and not bothered to let us know where they are. This is just crazy to me, regardless of the size of the account. I am thinking of suggesting a policy that states: If a client moves and fails to let the institution know, then said institution will try for 90 days to find client. After that time, the money will be awarded to the Low Man on the Totem Pole who has spent that 90 day period searching for said client. Finders Keepers.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I'm giving a wedding shower in a couple weeks so I've got household things on my mind. What does every bride need? Though most of these would not make a nice gift, they are the things I simply HAVE to have in the house:

- Ziplock bags. I love these things. The gallon size ones. I use them for EVERYTHING and usually buy them in bulk at Sam's. I know; I have issues. I store food in them; produce, leftover pancakes, cookies, blocks of cheese, opened packs of brown sugar. I store odds-n-ends in them; straws, plastic forks and spoons, chip clips, craft supplies. I used to use them to send papers to school with the kids on rainy days. I carry toiletries in them when I travel (because if they spill they won't ruin a ziplock bag, as opposed to an expensive cosmetic bag.)My love of Ziplock bags probably is connected to my obsession...I mean passion for purses.

- Paper towels. I use a gazillion paper towels in a week. I use them to clean my counter tops a couple times a day. I dry my hands with them. I spot clean the floor with them. I actually have a paper towel holder in my kids' bathroom because I was deluded enough to think they would grab one every morning and wipe out their sinks. So I grab one a couple times a week to wipe out their sinks. Again, I always buy these in bulk and I'm pretty sure it drives Paul crazy.

- SOS pads. If every cleaning supply were taken away from me but these, I'd survive. They are the handiest little things and make my sinks and faucets sparkle. I love things that sparkle.

- My little wooden stool. I am short and I got tired of dragging a bar stool around the kitchen to reach things from the tops of the cabinets so I bought a little wooden stool with a handle cut into the top. It matches my cabinets. Oh, and toddlers love to sit on it. It's just their size. I also keep a Rubbermaid stool in my closet to reach things on the top shelves.

- My pampered chef mini spatula. It is the PERFECT size for small brownies, bar cookies, and cake slices. Ok, it is so small that I end up eating 4 brownies instead of two, but you get the picture. I have considered buying another one of these because I get a little rattled when it's in the dishwasher and I need it.

- My electric griddle. I finally bought one of these when Blake started eating 4 pancakes at a time. Seems he would grab the four fresh ones off the stove top griddle before Kayla even had a chance. Now Blake grabs 6 pancakes at a time and there are two left for Kayla (before I start the second batch) I LOVE being able to cook so many things at once. It is especially handy when the kids have company. You can fit a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches on that thing. Those of you with more than one child...say triplets, perhaps...should think of getting one of these.

- My label maker. OK, I go through phases with this, but when I'm in my organized phase, this thing is SO FUN. If my children were pre-schoolers, I'd have everything in the house labeled "for learning purposes" - PHONE...CHAIR...TELEVISION...CAT...

- Liquid hand soap. I do not think I am phobic about germs but I wash my hands a lot. I keep a bottle on both sinks in our master bathroom. I will probably go through 3 bottles to every one of Paul's(but that could be a guy thing. I always have lots of liquid hand soap on standby in the laundry room - in a little plastic basket labeled HANDSOAP.

- My iron. I iron EVERYTHING. I got this from my college room mate who even ironed her t-shirts. I keep my ironing board set up in my bedroom because I know I will be using it every morning. My grandma used to iron her sheets, but I have not gone that far yet.

Umm. That's probably it. But I'm sure Kayla will read this and be able to remind me of a few other quirks I have not mentioned. Right, Kayla? I still do not know what I'll get the bride and groom. I'm thinking a gift basket with these items in it would look a little neurotic.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Kayla has asked me what this nostalgia thing was going to be about and I told her "oh, just memories and stuff..."
It is interesting to sit at a wedding and remember holding the groom in your arms when he was a newborn baby. And it is interesting how one memory leads to another, and then another, until you can sit back and sigh in contentment or you can collapse in a puddle of tears at how quickly these children have grown up.

Ryan was born during my freshman year at college, and since I went to school in Arkansas, I didn't get home much to see him as a little one. I spent more time with his older sisters because I was in high school when they were babies/toddlers. I have always thought; however, that it was very thoughtful of Ryan to be born on Thanksgiving Day during my freshman year. At least I was home on break and could see him a little bit before going back to school.

So back to the wedding. When Kara, age 3, walked in with her fancy hairdo and dress, I of course was taken back to my wedding day when her mother, my second niece, was one of my flower girls. Michelle was ALMOST 3 on my wedding day. Michelle was a little blondie and Kara has dark hair. Other than that, it could have been Michelle walking down that aisle. I have never seen a child look more like a parent than Kara. Her face, her mannerisms, her movements. It is amazing.

So that memory of Michelle, of course made me think of her older sister, Angela, my first niece. She was also a flower girl at my wedding. Five years ago, when Angela got married, wearing my wedding gown and my sister's veil, my daughter was her flower girl. I remember looking at her wedding pictures and remembering her as a little girl at my wedding and realizing again what a blessing Angela has been to our family. Here's why.

Angela came into our family when she was 18 months old. Her mother had been married before and so when my brother Terry married Carol, we got an instant grandaughter/niece. I believe, to the very core of my being, that Angela was sent by God. I often kind of laugh that her name is so close to ANGEL.

Soon after my brother got married, my great grandmother (my mom's maternal grandmother)Grandma Hale had a stroke. She died about a month later. Grandma Hale had been my mom's rock. Having lost her own mother when she was 26, my mom became very close to Grandma Hale. We NEVER missed a Sunday afternoon at Grandma Hale's - even after we moved 50 miles away. We four kids used to walk by her house and stop in after school and have cookies and ice water (before we moved out of town). I remember staying at Grandma Hale's house one evening while my parents went out. She made a TRIPLE batch of chocolate drop cookies and just watched us all evening run back and forth to the kitchen and eat EVERY ONE OF THEM (because that's what grandmas do) Well, there were four of us afterall. My mom told me that when my brother Clint was 4 or 5, she left him with Grandma Hale. When she got back Grandma said he had cried a little when Mom left. Until Grandma got out her cutting board and a small hammer and nails. She sat down and helped Clint hammer nails into her cutting board. To this day, those nails are still in that wooden cutting board. Anyway, I know that Grandma Hale helped my mom through many, many rough times, including a divorce; and I know her own life is a testament to what a remarkable woman she was. Her death was devastating to my mother. Especially since my mom suffers from clinical depression. The loss could very well have been crippling.

But there was Angela. I was in high school during all of this and I remember Mom picking me up from track practice with Angela. Angela would come running down the hall and jump into my arms. Then she'd spend the evening with us. Or the whole night. Or two nights. Or three nights. Everything quickly became about Angela. If Angela wanted a bath at 4 in the afternoon while she was visiting, she got a bath. If Angela woke up and cried for Aunt Heidi, Aunt Heidi (gladly) got up and put her in bed with her - even at 3 in the morning. If Angela wanted apples peeled and sliced, Angela got her apples peeled and sliced ON EVERY VISIT. Uncle Clint would drag her through the house on a blanket. Or he'd grab one end of the blanket and I'd grab another and we'd swing her in it like a hammock. Over and Over again we'd swing her while she sang "Rock-a-Bye, Rock-a-Bye".
It was all about taking Angela for ice cream and buying cute little clothes for Angela. When is the next time we'll see Angela? The pile of gifts for Angela from Grandma on Christmas was easily twice as tall as she. Because that's what grandmas do. Angela did not run roughshod over all of us. We had not given control of the family to a toddler. But we all had a place to put our grief because of Angela. God knew that the way to restore joy to our hearts was to bring us a child. And Grandma Hale would have agreed completely. I honestly don't know how my mom would have handled the loss of her grandmother if Angela had not been placed into our lives.

Terry legally adopted Angela when she was four. And it was just a legal thing. Because she was already his. She was already ours. If you could have seen my brother give her away at her wedding, and then watch him dance with her at her reception, to Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wondeful World," you'd know exactly what I mean.
So that's the nostalgia. From my nephew's wedding, to my own wedding, to my niece's wedding, to grief, and then joy. Because of a little Angel. Plus "a".

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Yesterday at work I shipped a package to a UPS office on the East Coast. Via FedEx.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Yesterday was a big day. We went to my nephew's wedding. Yes, my nephew got married.
We walked into the church and there he sat in a chair in the foyer looking as happy and relaxed as a man can be.
It was a very sweet wedding. When the flower girls, one of whom is my great-niece walked in, I looked at Ryan, the groom. Seeing his little niece, Kara, who is 3 and thinks he's pretty darn cool, he just broke into a big grin. Then I saw the beautiful bride at the door and I looked back at Ryan just in time to see him brush a tear from his eye.
Throughout the ceremony, when the bride and groom had only eyes and hearts for each other, I found myself thinking "yep, they're going to make it just fine." My reasoning for this conclusion? They were both so relaxed and easy going about the whole day. When neither grandmother felt comfortable being ushered in to sit alone, per tradition, they both shrugged their shoulders and said "fine, whatever you're comfortable with..." When the flower girls, both 3 years old and cute as you can imagine, were quite wiggly and even a little talkative; no problem. Although, honestly I bet they didn't even notice, they were so interested in each other. You could just feel their ease and happiness. I have always said it would be nice if young couples put as much energy into making their future marriage perfect as they do making their wedding day perfect. I just had a feeling throughout the ceremony that the bride and groom knew what was important; not the picture perfect details with which they could have been consumed, but the end result. They would be married whether the flower girls wiggled or not. They would be married whether the candles stayed lit or not. They would be married whether each etiquette rule was kept or not.
And at the reception, as the wedding party sat at the head table before the meal, up runs Kara to sit with Uncle Ryan. Did he shoo her away and send her to "her spot?" Nope. He scooped her up and sat her on his lap. And a few minutes later Kara scooted from his lap to his bride's, where she was cuddled and loved and encouraged to settle in, right there in the midst of their bridal dinner. Now I think that was romantic.

Let me just say something about these flower girls. Anybody that has children in their wedding, surely must expect some comedy. These two little girls did a beautiful job spreading their petals up the aisle. Then they took their spot in line with the attendants. Where they did a very good job of sitting still. They also did a very good job of being quiet. Just not at the same time. When they jabbered to each other, they were sitting perfectly still. When they wiggled around, and even ran up the aisle a little way to try to gather their petals back into their baskets, they were perfectly quiet. I am certain that the adults at the rehearsal said "Kelsey and Kara, you must sit still and be VERY QUIET while you stand up here with the big people." I am almost certain that nobody clarified that they were expected to do both at the same time. Otherwise, I'm sure they would have. They are 3 after all. They were so cute, they even found themselves getting paid after the ceremony to gather the petals and put them back in their baskets. It was my husband who decided Kara needed something to do as we all waited for pictures and everything. So he said "Kara, you go pick up all those petals and then find Aunt Heidi and she'll give you a dollar." So she picked them all up and then found me in the crowd and held out her little hand. Paul had not informed me of his negotiations and just sat back and laughed while he watched me dig my money out for the deal he had struck on my behalf. I told him he would have fainted dead away if I had given her the 20 I first pulled out (which I eventually gave to Ryan for his dollar dance, even though I didn't dance with him) So Kara ended up collecting 4 dollars for gathering flower petals. Then I found Kelsey and figured I should pay her so I paid her just for being cute. I figure if my current job doesn't work out I'll apply for a flower girl position. Kara made 4 dollars for 30 minutes work. Not bad for someone who can't tie her shoes.

And this final note is for my Church of Christ friends. When the wedding party was dancing I noticed one of the (very handsome) ushers on the dance floor. He happens to be from a VERY (I mean VERY VERY) conservative Church of Christ family. So I was tempted to go up to him and shake my finger in his face and spout scripture about the evils of dancing. There are two reasons I did not do this:
1. I would have been out there myself cutting a rug, had we stayed long enough, and

2. He was dancing with Kara.

And that's one of the sweetest things I've seen in a while.

Next time: The Wedding Part 2: Nostalgia.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I recently read something where a woman had written that she does not keep sweets in her house because her kids would overeat on sweets and never eat anything healthy. So, for her family, sweets were only for very special occasions. I respect her decision and all but it made me think about my decision to do just the opposite with my family. I DO keep sweets in the house and for the most part have never limited my kids on how often they could have them.

Let me explain. I grew up in a home where cookies and snacks were ALWAYS available and we never had to ask for a snack. I also grew up in a home where we were NEVER allowed cold cereal for breakfast. Before I left home I had NEVER seen my mom in her night gown in the morning. During my grade school years, she was always fully dressed, hair and makeup done, standing at the stove making a hot breakfast on school days, when I got out of bed. EVERY SCHOOL DAY. Cold cereal was a treat for us. She also always made a sit down supper. So she WAS concerned about a healthy diet. But she never made us limit our snacking.

Here's why. When my parents were living in military housing in Germany, they were so poor they sometimes pooled their money with the neighbors at the end of the month. They would then go shopping together and get a few items that they would share so that each family could make it until the next payday. My oldest brother was 3 years old before he ever tasted a cookie (because they could not spend their money on luxuries like cookies) and that always broke my mother's heart. So she made a promise to herself that when they got back to the states and had more money, her children would always have cookies available and they would never have to ask before they had one. And so we were free snackers. And what was my favorite food as a child? Canned corn. My mom says I would have eaten a whole can at one sitting if she'd let me. When asked my preference for lunch, I did not ask for pb&j, or cookies, or a hot dog. I asked for corn.

And now, my kids are free snackers, because it just seemed natural for me to always buy the snacks, but still encourage healthy eating. Right now I have ice cream in the freezer that the kids requested 2 weeks ago. None of the containers has been opened. On any given day, you will find, in my cupboards, cookies, Little Debbie snack cakes, and sugar cereals. What are Kayla's favorite snacks? Popcorn, carrots, yogurt and GALA apples (at age 4, she decided that GALA apples tasted better than the other types) When she was in 3rd grade she started requesting raw broccoli and ranch dressing in her lunch box. Blake eats lots of rice cakes and oranges, and drinks LOTS of skim milk. The most frequent consumers of the snacks in our house are the kids' guests (well, ok, and me). One of those boys' mothers told me her son loves our house because we keep snacks and they don't. She asked if my kids eat sugar all the time. And I could honestly say "uh...actually no, they don't reach for the sweets just because they're available. In fact, they tend to ignore the sweets."

I am certainly not trying to disparage parents who have rules regarding sweets or snacking. I truly do not care to impose my food rules on anybody else. I think the reason this article hit home with me is that I was able to look at something I had done as a parent and see success. I was able to look back on something and see that it had worked FOR US. Also, in a broader sense, it made me realize how we take for granted things that are just always there. When we have someting around ALL THE TIME, we don't necessarily desire it or feel a need for it.

HMMMM. Kind of like that Bible sitting on my desk over there....

Wednesday, January 03, 2007



I've learned that 9th grade boys are funny. REALLY. REALLY. FUNNY.

I've learned that 7th grade girls are funny. REALLY. REALLY. FUNNY.

I've learned that teenagers have some sort of radar when it comes to a clean kitchen. As soon as the kitchen is in perfect conditon, they get hungry.

I've learned that as kids grow, so do their mistakes, but you keep loving them. In fact, you love them more.

I've learned that estrangement doesn't have to be forever.

I've learned that, on those days when you just don't think you can get up and face life; you manage to find a way, and it's not so bad after all.

I've learned that customer service is steadily becoming a thing of the past, so when you see a good example of it, you should acknowledge it with a great tip or at least a compliment.

I've learned it doesn't matter what my neighbor paid for his car or what the couple down the street is doing to their house. If it doesn't effect our salvation, or our safety, who cares?

I've learned that no matter how old your children are, their laughter is pure music.

I've learned that having company is about showing hospitality, not showing our house.

I've learned that when the neighbor's two-year-old throws a tantrum, it's a lot cuter than when my own children did it.

I've learned that no matter how low on the totem pole you might be at work, you should take pride in doing your job well.

I've learned that sometimes God makes something so clear to you, it's as though He has left a note on your bathroom mirror.

I've learned that sometimes I will drive a total of two hours to watch a 30-minute volleyball game. And that's just fine.

I've learned that sometimes God answers a prayer even before you've prayed it.

I've learned that wrestling is a difficult sport.

I've learned that a teenager would rather be in prison than on vacation with his family.

I've learned that any adult your teenager wishes to be around, if he/she is a positive role model, you should allow it. We can all use help doing this parenting job, and our kids need lots of people who just plain love them.

I've learned that time passes quickly. So quickly that it sometimes takes my breath away.

I've learned that hearing certain words come out of your child's mouth is like falling into an abyss. Words such as "we need to pick up my RULES OF THE ROAD book by Friday..."

And so much more....