Saturday, February 24, 2007


Our trip to the Mall was very successful and efficient. As when the kids were pre-schoolers, we left the house with me reciting our itenerary. My goal was to work this trip out so that neither kid had to spend much time waiting on the other. That would lead to grumpy teenagers. We do not want grumpy teenagers.

First let me say that for one brief moment, my brain had a cramp when Blake grabbed the keys and headed out the door in a flash before I could even get my coat. I was thinking "What's he do...oh, he's driving." It's one of those things that still surprises me. But he is very confident and cautious - a good mix.

So at Kohl's we head to the men's sportswear and Blake points to some shorts and asks what size he will need. I tell him medium. So he picks up a pair of XL and says they'll probably fit. I have to remind him that we are in the MENS department, which causes my heart to do a weird flippy thing. So he grabs a pair of Medium and heads to the fitting room. He comes back and says "these fit, how many can I get?" After checking the price I say "5 pair." So he says "grab me 5 pair in navy and black, and then we'll pick out shirts at Finish Line." Then he picked out a pair of sweatpants. The whole thing took about 13 minutes. He went to Gamestop while Kayla and I finished our shopping. Gamestop is on the way to Finish Line so we saw him through the window, he put down the controller to the demo game and joined us again. Kayla and I didn't even have to break our stride. That is when I said "Dad would be so proud of how efficient our trip is." Finish Line had college t-shirts 2 for $20 so Blake picked out 4 and and then convinced me to let him get two more. He could not find tennis shoes. What is it about size 13? Does NOBODY carry size 13 for men? Kayla however found her blue plaid tennies at Shoe Sensation and they look just plain cute. Now the kids have a good start on spring clothes.

As Blake was driving us home I could not help but remember all our trips to the mall when the kids were little. I took them once a week, especially in the winter, to run around and eat at Corn Dog 7. Why did they close Corn Dog 7. We LOVED that place. We did not have a play place when they were little so they spent their time running up and down the steps in the center court where the fountains were. They always liked for me to count when they ran. They would say "Count for me, Mommy" meaning time them. So they'd run back to me and I'd yell "NINETEEN!" And they'd want to try again so they could get a higher number. In their little minds, the bigger number had to mean they were faster....

As they got older and in school, we went to the mall less frequently; but we almost always went when Daddy was away on a business trip. Sometimes we'd go for an early supper and have giant soft pretzels and fruit smoothies for supper. Anything out of the ordinary was a treat when Daddy was gone. And I would usually let them pick out a little toy to take home.
When Blake was already in school, Kayla and I had our "mall days" on Thursday. We went after her dance class. In the winter she'd walk around the mall with the skirt of her little leotard poking out of her sweat pants. In warm weather she'd walk around in the leotard and tennis shoes. And was she ever cute, with that leotard and the ever present giant bow on her head. My stars, she was cute. Dance was at 10:00, so we'd get to the mall a little after 11. As we'd leave the house on those mornings, I would say "after dance, we will go to the mall and take a walk and look around, and sit at the book store and read books." And I'd always warn her if there was any actual shopping to do, so she'd be prepared for the extra wait. And of course, I ended up buying a book or two for her and Blake. And then we'd go to Baskin Robbins. Every Thursday, we went to Baskin Robbins. BEFORE LUNCH. It was our "girls day" And by golly we were going to have ice cream before lunch. Since it was so early in the day, it was usually only the owner working and he'd see us coming and say "There's my ladies. How was dance today?" And at least twice he gave us our ice cream for free. Kayla always chose vanilla, and usually in a cup. Now she is more adventurous with her tastes, but she certainly enjoys vanilla on any given day. Vanilla ice cream to her, is like any sort of chocolate is to me.

One time when my mom was with us at the mall, we were sitting at the center fountain while Kayla ran up and down the stairs. The fountain is huge and is recessed into the floor, so it is actually very accessible (too accessible). I looked down once and Kayla was lying on her tummy lapping water out of the fountain like a puppy. So I trotted down the stairs and got her up and as I took her back up to Grandma I said "Let's go find your mommy. She wouldn't like you doing that, but she needs to keep a better eye on you."

I will just add the memory of the "Cat Fight at Kohl's" and then I will stop. At least until tomorrow, when I might add more memories for my kids to read.
Kayla was about 2 and Blake was not quite 5. We were walking down one of the main aisles at Kohl's and I heard some lady speaking to me. I turned and said "Pardon me." And she said "I said your kids are so cute and well behaved. " And I said "Well, thank you so much. They're usually pretty good." And in my minds I was telling myself "You big FAKER." Because we had just come out of the shoe aisle where the kids had been scratching each other's eyes out. Obviously it was an intense experience because I still remember it clearly. We were strolling along, all of us enjoying our day when out of nowhere both kids were yelling and crying and arms and legs were flailing everywhere. I do not know what set it off, but I will say one thing. Kayla could really put up a good fight for someone so little who was strapped into a stroller. Heaven help the evil person who ever tried to snatch her from me. I do not remember how I smoothed things over. But I remember being exhausted and completely bewildered that it happened so quickly. I am fairly certain Kayla started it. She probably pulled on Blake's shirt one too many times or threw something at him. But the storm passed and we continued on our way. Only to be complimented for our excellent behavior.
Go Figure.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Last night Blake and his friend Drew were working on a Driver's Ed project together. They had to find 20 articles about car accidents and glue them to a poster board.
Blake got all of his printed, cut out and lined up on the poster board. Our conversation after that went something like this:

Blake: Mom, do you think Kayla would glue all these on for me if I paid her?

Mom: Call her down here and start negotiating with her.
(I knew this would be interesting because Blake never has any money. Kayla, on the other hand, is loaded)

(which reminded me I should have said "quietly go to her room and knock on her door to ask her in a civilized manner.")
So Kayla appears.

Blake: Will you glue all these on for me if I give you five bucks?

Kayla: TEN!!!

Blake: ah, man.

He glued them himself.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


So yesterday evening Blake says "Mom tomorrow after school could we go to the mall to shop for new spring clothes?"
Wait, what?
BLAKE SAID THAT. Not my 13-year-old fashion expert daughter, but my 15 1/12 year old fashion challenged son. My mind was saying "It's a not fall for it..."
But he said he wanted some new shorts and t-shirts, and it IS about that time of year...
Let me just say that Blake has not waited for spring to be wearing shorts again. When I picked him up from school last month he came out of the building in shorts. In January. In Illinois. It was about 25 degrees. See, the boys not only wear shorts under their sweat pants; they wear shorts under their jeans. Then when they get hot in school, they can slip their jeans off in the restroom, or just not put the jeans back on after P.E. class. It is a little disconcerting for us moms who are certain we saw them leave the house in jeans that morning. This shorts-all-year phenomenon has been going on for a couple of years. Blake's grandparents think it is terrible that I allow him to wear shorts in the winter months. I finally started to reply to their outrage with "He's 13 (or 14 or 15) he knows when he's cold. And besides, he only goes from the car to the bus to the school and back again."
So we will head out today to shop. Kayla has her eye on some cool tennis shoes (blue plaid) that she will probably get.
I am tempted to buy Blake 7 pair of black or denim shorts. That way he will have a pretty good chance of matching. Blake has no desire to match his clothes. It is sometimes painful to the eyes.
I guess I have been somewhat of a clothing snob for Blake. I buy two brands - Nike and "And One." Not because I will only buy top of the line, but because they wash up beautifully. I mean really. If he did not outgrow them, these brands would last forever. That is important for boy clothes. And I have always bought them in sets - navy shorts with a navy shirt, burgundy set...whatever. Blake has never felt the need to keep the sets together, however, much to my and Kayla's horror. Our favorite pairing of his is the burgundy shorts with the orange shirt. OUCH! My only comfort in this fashion travesty is that most of the boys look this way. Except Cubby. Cubby dresses really neat.

Kayla, of course, is the opposite of Blake when it comes to fashion. She somehow manages to look cute in plain jeans and a t-shirt. Like today. She went to school in jeans and a black t-shirt. But the silver belt was a perfect touch. And I think she had a red ribbon in her hair. You cannot go wrong with red accessories when wearing black. I tried to impart important wisdom like that to my children at a very young age. I do not seek out the name brands for Kayla, but I will admit to buying her MORE clothes. But she uses them (as I remind Paul every time we trudge in from the mall with 2 or 3 (or 6) sacks. She has different outfits for everything. She has babysitting outifts, going-to-the-movie outifts, eating-out-with-Mom-and-Dad outfits (which luckily does not include dark glasses and a trench coat...yet) hanging-out-at-the-mall outfits. And sometimes she will wear several of these in a day. But I suppose if I'd had that many clothes when I was 13, I would have "utilized" them to the best of my ability also.

Also, regarding shopping... I just recently told Paul that the kids are old enough to be doing much of their own. Kayla especially spends enough time at the mall, that I could just give her the money and tell her to purchase the shirts we've agreed upon, when she's there with her friends anyway. I think she'd go for that. Blake? Not so much. He might consider it just another chore. Unless I was sending him into the Video game store.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


So I walk downstairs this morning at 6:30ish after being awake since 5:15 (on a Saturday, I hate that) and look around my horribly messy kitchen and mutter "this is what happens when you give up." And then I looked out the window to see if the snow predicitons were true; that we'd be getting around 4 more inches after the nearly 12 we got 3 days ago. And it is falling nice and heavy. And I muttered "And still it comes."
It's been a bad week. Paul returns this evening after 8 days in London. The travel is nothing new to us but it has been awhile since he's been gone for so many days at once. I learned a couple years ago not to anticipate anything when he's gone. I have a habit of thinking forward into the week he's gone and telling myself "just get through...." fill in the blank, "and things will be smooth sailing from there."
I told myself not to do that this week, and yet I did. I had planned to take Thursday and Friday off work. So I kept telling myself I would just get through Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then I would have two days at home to catch my breath during this stint at single parenting and he'd be home Saturday.
Then the blizzard struck. I could not get to work Tuesday because our driveway was blocked by a 3 foot the end. The garage door was blocked by about 24 inches of snow. The middle part of the drive, however, was perfectly clear so the kids could have shot hoops, I guess, if they had the desire to do so in the 25 mph wind, blowing snow and 15 degree temperature.
I spent Monday night and Tuesday morning watching the drift grow bigger and bigger and worrying about getting out to work. Thankfully my boss called that morning and said not to get out. Wednesday morning, Blake and his friends got me shoveled out but it was fairly late, so I called my boss and said I would not be in that day either. I struggled with that decision but finally decided they would not fire me because all of the men in the office are afraid of the phones.
By Wednesday afternoon, the roads were passable so I decided to venture out and get a few groceries and let Kayla meet her friends for some sledding. I ignored the voice in my head that kept saying "sledding's not a good idea," all day long. As we ventured out I told Kayla "If the lane to the golf course is bad I'm not going to attempt to drive down it," still ignoring the voice in my head. The lane was fine. Halfway. When I got to the middle, I stopped and said "I can't go any further, you will have to walk or come home with me." We were only about 100 yards from where the kids had gathered and we could see them, so she grabbed her saucer sled and trudged through to the sledding party. That is when I knew I had to go back down the lane in reverse. That is when I got stuck. So I used the "rocking" techinque all midwest beginning drivers are taught. Drive, reverse. Drive, reverse. After about 6 times of that I got moving. Then I backed into a driveway to turn around so I could exit the lane going forward. And I got stuck again. Drive, reverse. Drive, reverse. Only 4 times of that and I was on my way. Thankfully there were two men using snow blowers on the lane who seemed quite happy to stop their work and STAND AND WATCH ME GET MYSELF UN-STUCK. I mean really, doesn't an audience make that kind of situation go so much better? So all the way to the grocery store I was thinking " What is the matter with you two men? You both should be ashamed of yourselves, watching a 40 year old woman struggle to get her mini van unstuck on snow packed roads. All I can say is you must be from somewhere else because here in the midwest we help each other out during blizzards, and after blizzards."
Needless to say, since I had missed work on Tuesday and Wednesday I needed to work Thursday and Friday. My anticpated week had been buried in 12 inches of snow. Yesterday I had to get out late to take Kayla to the church lock-in. It was snowing again. I was exhausted. I had only slept about 4 hours the night before. I had a sore throat and an earache. When I walked in after dropping her off, it was after 10. I looked around at my horribly messy kitchen and said to myself "I give up. I'll deal with it tomorrow." I went to bed but had to set my alarm for 5:30 in case Kayla needed a ride home from the lock-in. Thankfully someone gave her a ride. But I had to get up anyway to unlock the front door for her. And when she got home, I could tell just by our very brief "good morning" that she'd had a wonderful time. I'm glad I ventured out and took her. I did not begrudge her that; I had simply been nervous about the roads and was tired.
My mom raised four kids alone. I have been thinking about her a lot this week. I've been thinking about all single parents this week. How do they manage a household alone with no relief in sight? I've been so tired all week. I've been worried and anxious. I have spent some time crying. But I know help is on the way. The cavalry is coming. There will be more trips to come, more "opportunities" at single parenting. But I have reminded myself that this is only an 8-day stint. There are so many parents out there who cannot fill in the blank when they say "just get through..." because they do not see an end to their loneliness.
Today I saw the snow falling and said to myself "And still it comes." I wonder how many of these single parents simply open their eyes in the morning and say "And still it comes."
I will be praying for them.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Since he was about 12, Blake has occasionally asked "Can I drive?" when we are heading out the door to go somewhere. And I would always reply with something like "Did you have a big ole' plate of crazy for breakfast?"

But this morning, when he said "Mom, are you taking Kayla to the church lock-in tonight?" and I said "Yes," he asked "Can I drive?" And I had to say "Sure." Because today he gets his learner's permit. HIS LEARNER'S PERMIT. It was a struggle to calmly say "sure" to his request because my eye started twitching, I could feel sweat breaking out on my upper lip, my stomach did a flip-flip. He's driving. Starting today. Paul is in London. I am the one with whom he will be driving. On icy roads 3 days post-blizzard.

I am absolutely certain it was just last week that the only thing Blake drove were his matchbox cars and his "diggers 'n' dumpers."
My favorite story of Blake and his matchbox cars happened one weekend afternoon when he was about 2 and a half. I was pregnant with Kayla and taking a nap on the couch while Paul played cars with Blake on the floor. When I woke up I saw the cars in a huge straight line across the carpet. I was impressed. So I said "Blake, that is really neat the way you lined your cars up so straight and even." To which Blake replied. "I didn't do that. Daddy did that while I was in that corner poopin.'" So I just turned my head and gave Paul the raised eyebrow look and said "And have you changed that diaper in which he's been poopin'?"
Blake also loved his diggers and dumpers. Mainly because they were good with dirt. He loved dirt. The first time we built a house, he was five, and I decorated his room with diggers and dumpers wall paper, complete with dirt piles. Anytime we'd leave the house and I would be cleaning him up to go out I'd say "We need to stay clean, so no playing in the dirt on the way to the car." And, without fail, on his way to the car, he'd squat down and scoop his little index finger into the dirt and smile and continue walking to the car, grinning at his finger as though he was carrying a treasure. He was clean from head to toe except for one finger tip. And that little finger tip of dirt made him happy.

And now the diggers and dumpers are stored away, only brought out when little ones visit. The same with the matchbox cars. They've been replaced with a key chain. To hold real keys to a mini van and a jeep, and eventually a third vehicle whose license plate I hope will read CHPST 1.

Nobody warned me about this. This feeling of desperation to stop time. This feeling of disbelief that makes you want to argue "But 15 and a half years CANNOT have gone by simply because I blinked. There has to be some mistake!!" But to whom would I pose my argument? This is the way it should be. This is the plan. To let them grow up and gradually move farther away for longer lengths of time. I am doing my best to cherish this phase; every phase. Because to fail to cherish it is to miss out on it.

Just like Blake spent days counting and counting and counting, when he started kindergarten. And just like he read everything in sight when he was in first grade and eager to show off his new reading skills; I have a feeling we are in for 6 months of "Can we go to (fill in the blank)? I'll drive." And I will lift my eyes heavenward, and breathe some silent prayer and place myself in the passenger seat and buckle up.
This parenting trip is turning out to be an exciting ride.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Yesterday at 5ish, I left the house with 3 kids to go to target - Blake, Kayla, and Cubby. When I returned at 6:30ish, I had 5 kids. There are still 5 kids in my house. Please be sure to show your work when coming up with the answer to this math problem.

I think it happened something like this.
Blake had money to spend which never lasts for long, and I had things to get at Target so it worked out for us all to go to Target. The boys (I am always saying "the boys" even though I gave birth to only ONE) spent an hour in electronics, and Kayla and I got a few grocery items and then browsed in the essential aisles - purses, shoes, makeup...
Blake and I got a Starbucks. Kayla and Cubby got an Icee.
After THE BOYS loaded the van with all of our stuff. I heard Blake say, "Cubby get in the way back." "uh, Blake why are you getting in the way back" "Because we're picking up Cody and Ryan." "Wait, what? I didn't know that." "I told you, Mom" "No you didn't, Blake." "Well, can Cody and Ryan come over too?" "Sure, but you didn't tell me." "Sorry."
The truth is I don't care how many boys come over. At this age, it is very easy to have 4, 5, 10 boys over. They play video games and eat. They are polite and funny. They make an admirable attempt at cleaning up their messes.
The same goes for Kayla's friends. I love for this house to be full of kids.
Last night was a little tricky because I wasn't expecting FOUR teenage boys to be eating. I was expecting TWO. That is the difference between two armies or 4. I cooked up a really big bag of barbecue wings and put out some chips, dip, cookies...
Before I called the boys down, I told Kayla to get her plate and fill it. We all know what happens when the boys start eating....Then the boys came down. All but Blake. I looked at the pan at one point and saw 3 itty bitty wings left. I laughed and said "what, no wings for Blake?" One boy said "ooops". One boy didn't answer because his mouth was full of wings. And one boy said "He had his chance." Blake came down 30 minutes later and ate waffles.
So before we went to bed last night, I told Paul that with Cubby, Ryan and Cody here along with Blake, I felt pretty well looked after because we had 3 football players, 2 wrestlers, and 2 basketball players in the house to do the heavy lifting. You do the math. And again, please show your work.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


This post was written several days ago, when Paul was on an 8-day trip to London. We try to let as few people as possible know when he is going to be away; it just seems prudent.

Paul and I were still in college when we got married. We had been high school sweethearts and it was just part of "our plan" to be married when we were. We know many people raised some eyebrows over our young age, but even looking back as an adult who has seen a lot, I can truly say we knew what we were doing. We were both paying our own ways anyway. We had both been raised in such a way that we were pretty mature and level headed, even at 20 and 21.
Paul finished college in 3 1/2 years, so we were only married 5 months when he graduated and started working for a big accounting firm in Little Rock, while I finished my degree. He was an auditor. Being a CPA (although he does not work in accounting now) Paul often gets calls from people seeking tax advice (especially from family members). When somebody asks me if he'll do their taxes, I usually tell them "well, actually he was not a tax accountant, but he'd be glad to audit you."
So early in our marriage, Paul started traveling quite a bit. In the accounting field, it was just to various locations within the state (first Arkansas, and then Illinois) where he would audit corporations, universities, city offices. He was usually gone a week at a time. Depending on the length of the job, he'd leave Monday morning, and return Friday night and then repeat the process.
When he left the accounting field, he had a brief period where he worked in internal audit. He did not travel. It was a wonderful time.
Let me just brag a minute about Paul. When it comes to his professional life. Paul's just got it. Really, he is very bright and dedicated. I do not know if I'd call him ambitious because he has managed to do quite well in the business world without sacrificing his family. Because of this "IT" that Paul has, he progressed pretty quickly in this new company as well. Soon he was asked to join a group of about 6 men that would be starting a new company. The new company went around to basically third world companies building or investing in power plants.
So the travel began again. Only this time it was to places like Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Pakistan. And it was often on very short notice. Again it was a situation where he would leave on Monday morning and return on Friday night, and then do the same the next week. There was once a nine week period where he was gone 7 of those weeks.
And this time we had babies. It was a very difficult time in my life. I seemed to live in fear. I was treated for depression. I was basically raising two babies alone. And my husband wasn't across town or even a few hours away. He was on a different continent. He could not get home to me in an emergency. We could not meet for lunch. He could not swing home for supper and then head back to work.
But when he was home, nothing else seemed to exist but his family. I know now I was not always as supportive of him as I should have been, but I was completely overwhelmed and had basically no support system.
After a few years of this, Paul left that company, for various reasons, one of course being the strain it was on our family. He took a pay cut. A 15% pay cut. He worked for 18 months for a family owned business as their CFO. He spent much of that time trying to show them how they needed to cut costs. So they did. By eliminating his job. They gave him 3 months to find something new. It was very fun for both of us when he was able to go in after TWO WEEKS and tell them he had already found a new position. A position that gave back the 15% pay he had lost, plus some. I know to my very core, God had a hand in this. He had used the other brief job as a stepping stone, a way to allow us to catch our breath and re-evaluate our lives.
During his time at this company (where he works now), Paul has also traveled a great deal. But not as much as with the power company. The trips are usually shorter and there are fewer in the year. They are usually to London, Toronto, Brussels, and the different plants within the states. He has gone to Singapore once for this job. Our experience with the "power company travel" has made these trips seem quite easy. Everything is relative.
Paul still somehow manages to be a rising star at work but also our kids' hero (and mine too) He takes overnight flights and arrives just in time for a meeting in London, so he won't miss a concert. He will take a 4 am flight rather than the 6 pm the night before, so he can coach a softball game, or sit through Blake's football game. He will excuse himself from a business meeting in corporate headquarters in London, so he can talk on the phone with the kids about their day.
He fills my van with gas, checks the tires, has the oil changed before he leaves town. He runs to the grocery store for me to spare me having to get out in the 12 degree weather. He always asks if I have plenty of cash so we can order pizza or eat out, while he is gone. Anything to make my time as a single mother a little easier.
I always stick notes in his suitcase, one note for each day he will be gone, so he can know each day how much I love him and appreciate how he provides for our family.
Is it any wonder, that even after twenty years of this business travel, I still miss him? Oh my stars, I miss him. Not the weeping into my pillow, stuffing chocolates into my mouth kind of missing him. But the kind that just makes me want to stare out the window and and lose focus. The kind that makes it difficult to sleep at night, not because I'm scared but because something is just not right.
But I am thankful for this job. Of course, it has provided for us and made it possible to plan to send our kids to college and not expect them to pay their own way. It has given us a home, two vehicles, some extras. But I'm also thankful for it because I know Paul likes it, and I have learned that it is vital for a man to like his job, regardless of the job he is doing. The travel is just enough to keep it exciting for him, but not so much that it is overwhelming for our family. It seems to be the perfect balance. God is really good at the balancing act.
This is the first time in a long time that Paul has been gone for more than a week. I have dreaded it for the 3 months that I have known about it. I have realized, though, that I am blessed to have this "something is missing" feeling when he is gone. In the notes I send with him, I write things like,
"my circle does not close when you are gone." "The sun is not as warm when you are gone." "Even chocolate is not as good when you are gone." All of these feelings are blessings, I know. They mean that my life is complete when he is home.
And I simply cannot wait for him to be home again.

Friday, February 09, 2007


It started with the dishes. Two years ago I asked for new dishes for my birthday. I know, I know, boring...but I really wanted them.
I didn't get them.
So I saved all my birthday money and then some, and went out to buy the dishes.
The thing is the dishes were sold, as my mom says "by the each", meaning, since I wanted service for 8, I had to place 32 individual plates, bowls, salad plates, and mugs in my cart. Also, the dishes came in many colors and I wanted 2 blue, 2 red, 2 green and 2 yellow...of plate, bowl, salad plate, and mug. Don't worry a friend was with me. And she examined every piece before setting them in my cart with me. Then she patiently stood at the check out and helped wrap each and every plate, bowl, salad plate and mug in paper as we sacked them. Then she came into my kitchen and helped me unwrap every individual dish. By this time, the dishes were really not looking so attractive and the visions I had of setting a multicolored table in my red and yellow kitchen were not quite so appealing either. But once they were all unwrapped, washed and stacked in my cabinet, I was thrilled. When I set the table the first few nights, I was thrilled.
Until I noticed the chips in the finish on some of the dishes.
First I thought it was a fluke, so I actually went out and replaced a blue dinner plate and a green bowl because they were chipped. Then I kept noticing more chips. Also they got VERY HOT when I microwaved them. So I looked at the bottom of one. "Dishwasher safe." Wait, what? Not microwave safe? Oh for the love of Pete. How can dishes not be microwave safe in 2005? And why in the world were they chipping? Why were these dishes that took two hours to purchase at the mall one day turning into a nightmare? What about my beautiful magazine-photo table settings?
So it was a sad day when I stacked the dishes and carried them to the basement kitchen to be stored and brought out very rarely. It was an even sadder day when I resigned myself to a boring table setting and bought dishes at Wal-Mart, in PLAIN WHITE for about one-fourth of the cost of my ideal colorful ones.

Then it was the bath accessories. I have never been one to buy a ceramic waste can, soap pump, tissue holder, etc for my bathrooms. Mainly because I haven't had border or curtains that came with all the matching stuff. And also, they can be quite expensive and I just haven't chosen to spend my money that way.
Until I found the set that "are the perfect match to the paint on our bedroom and bathroom walls, honey." Since our master bedroom and bath are painted a very, uh, well unique color (kind of tomato reddish) I was thrilled when I found a ceramic bath set in a floral print that really complimented our walls. So I bought 2 cups, two soap pumps, and one little soap dish (which I use for tiny perfume bottles)at first to go on our sinks.
Within one week, I had knocked my cup off into the sink and broke it into about 4 pieces. Well, sugarfoot. I replaced it. The next week, I picked up the soap pump to clean it and it came clean off the base (which by the way is a beautiful wood). Well, sugarfoot again. Then Paul picked up his cup one evening and it came clean off the base. So we spent some time one Saturday gluing our bath accessories back onto their bases, using my hand weights to brace them (see honey, not all exercise equipment is a waste of money around here.) And now to top it off, the beautiful wood bases of the bath accessories are chipping. CHIPPING! Now perhaps they shouldn't get damp, but you would think a decent bath accessory would be able to tolerate a little dampness considering it is being placed IN A BATHROOM!! So my plans to go back later and buy the tissue box have been cancelled. Same for the waste basket.

And now it is the jacket.
I noticed it while I was walking at the mall one morning before Christmas. I showed it to Paul and he said "Don't you have one kind of like that?" Which shocked me because I didn't think he knew what was hanging in our closet. I must be more careful. About 5 weeks later, I noticed that the jacket was still there and that there was one left in my size. Knowing I could wear it with many different things, I decided to go ahead and buy it. After all, I'm working now.
The jacket snags. Very easily. When I move my arm it snags against the zipper. When I carry my pen wrong at work, it snags. When my necklace catches on it, it snags. When I wore it to church, I spent the 15 minutes between Sunday School and Church services tediously pulling threads back through all over my right arm. Here's the thing. It's a pretty jacket. Really pretty. But it is very unpleasant to wear.

So a few things are looking better to me now:
paper plates
bottles of "Equate" liquid hand soap and
the other jacket "kind of like that."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Yesterday I turned 40.
I waited all day for the depression to hit. I had been warned by a couple people that I would feel it. "You just wait. When you're 40, you'll be depressed and have a hard time too."
And...not so much.
I love being 40. Actually I think it's silly to be depressed about a birthday. Why get depressed that God has given me one more year?
So my sweet husband got me a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. And no flowers or writing because I do not like white icing at all, and I think the decorations ruin the taste. And we went out to eat with friends for dinner after a massive snow storm. Both the kids were very sweet too.
Kayla got me a set of jewlery - necklace, earrings, and bracelet. It has everything - gold, silver and "diamonds" I love sparkles.
Blake got me a big book of the comic strip "Zits." Have you seen it in your paper? It absolutely cracks me up. It's simply about life with a teenage boy and it is SO VERY ACCURATE. For instance, the one I turned to last night, showed his parents asking him basic questions about his day, but with each question they asked, he was imagining himself in a different medieval torture device. It is SOOOO Blake.
And Paul got me a little CD player to hang under my cabinets in my craft room. But here's the thing...a little TV screen pops down. So now I can watch Andy Griffith and Super Nanny while I'm crafting.
And my coworkers had decorated my desk with black streamers yesterday morning, and brought in donuts and gave me a really cute card.

Also, on the way home from work yesterday, driving through five inches of snow, I came across a young kid who had run off the road and damaged all of his tires. It was right outside the mall, so we were in a very high traffic area. He started walking and I could not help but think that in a year, that could be Blake. Two other ladies had stopped, and rolled down their windows and said something to him but drove on. I offered to make a call for him and I could tell he was close to crying. So I offered him a ride home. Turns out he goes to Blake's school, knows Blake and is just a year older than Blake. His home was about 2 miles away and he was planning to walk. It was 14 degrees at the time and, being a teenage boy, he had no hat or gloves, and his coat was hanging open. So all the way to his house he kept telling me how he sure hated to call his dad and tell him, that his dad was going to be furious and kill him. I asked about his mom and she happens to work out of state through the week (at Paul's company, actually). I tried to tell him that his dad will be thrilled he was ok, and that in this weather even adults have accidents, and he said that he wasn't supposed to be out driving (the kids had been released from school early and evidently he had decided he could make it to the mall.) So there is that disobedience issue, I guess. But I prayed all the way home, that his dad would handle this well and not let anger make him blind to what was important. And, of course I worried all evening and have even thought about calling this evening just to make sure he is still ok.
Kayla stayed home sick today. Paul stayed home for the morning because we had the repairman come for the refrigerator(to be discussed later). He went to work at 12:30 and I got home at 2:30 so Kayla only had to stay home for 2 hours without us. And being nearly 13, she was fine with that, since she wasn't vomiting and just has a cold and slight fever.
I, however, hate it. I left Blake home sick one day last week, although he called Paul at 11 and had him take him to school. And I hated that too.
Even though they are nearly 13 and 15 1/2, I do not like leaving them home sick. Especially for me to work part time when we are not desperate for the money. The kids are fine with it, but I just know there are little things I would be doing if I were home. I would be offering popsicles. I would freshen their cold drinks. I would ask them what movies they wanted to watch. I would just peek into their rooms and watch them sleep for a moment. And I would just know. Know that I was the one there in case they needed something.
I know we are blessed. I know we are blessed that I have this ideal job and that Paul has a job where he can usually stay home, leave early, go in late. And I especially know we are blessed that I don't HAVE to work. But I have been praying for an answer to this question: Am I really meant to be working, even just part time? Am I only working because society says that, with my children nearly grown, I should be?
The uncertainty at work does not help the constant feeling of being unsettled. With the changes that happened in the fall, brokers and other staff started asking me if I was going to be let go. To which I respond, "uh...I sure don't know."
So today when I left Kayla I thought "ok. This is it. I am not going back to work next August." Isn't it ok to be a stay at home mom even when your kids are older? Isn't it ok to ENJOY the role of homemaker in 2007? But I have already found myself questioning again. What does God intend for me to do? Does my resolve lately to stay home again mean He has answered my question? Or does it mean I am not waiting for His answer? How will I know his answer?

Anyway, Happy Birthday to Me. And for those of you who have 40 to look forward to...
It's not bad. Not bad at all.

Friday, February 02, 2007


From GRACE FOR THE MOMENT by Max Lucado - today's thought:

Holiness Among Us -

God became a baby. He entered a world...of problems and heartaches.

"The Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness." John 1:14 NLT.

The operative word of the verse is "among." He lived among us. He donned the costliest of robes: a human body. He made a throne out of a manger and a royal court out of some cows. He took a common name - Jesus - and made it holy. He took common people and made them the same. He could have lived over us or away from us. But he didn't. He lived among us.

He became a friend of the sinner and brother of the poor.

"Shout and be glad, Jerusalem. I am coming, and I will live among you," says the Lord. Zechariah 2:10.

I love beautiful words. And these are some beautiful words.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I confess. I watch Super Nanny. Why? Because it makes me feel like the best mother in the world. Really. It's on Monday nights - ABC I think. Any time you are feeling like a failure as a parent, try to find it. You will truly be amazed at how some people choose to parent...well actually choose NOT to parent. And you will feel like somebody will be knocking on your door any minute to present you with that all illusive Mother-of-the-Year Award.
So this past Monday I sat around all evening like a slug and watched Super Nanny. And I did my usual commenting to the TV screen; "Are you KIDDING me?" "These people are afraid of their kids." Blah, blah, blah. I was feeling PRETTY good about myself by the time Super Nanny had saved one more family.

Then, continuing in slug mode, I flipped channels until I came upon my new hero, Michelle Duggar. The Duggars are on the Learning Channel. They have 16 children. SIXTEEN CHILDREN.
Have you seen them? They are a very conservative family in Arkansas who have gained all this public attention because they are raising 16 children. They did a whole show about the house they built, and this past week was about a big vacation the family took. ALL EIGHTEEN OF THEM.
The Duggars homeschool, and their children range in ages from 18 down to a few months old. Their are two sets of twins.
When I first heard of them, I thought I'd see a husband who was a little fanatical about the word "submit." I thought maybe I'd see a family who was a little superior in their attitude and stand-offish from "the world." But no, this is a couple who truly believe they will have the children God intends them to have. They were genuinely loving and respectful - one for the other. The kids were well behaved and respectful, but not in an unnatural sense. There is humor in their home. There is tenderness and patience and discipline. And that mom? She truly glows. She truly has the spirit of God living in her. In fact, at one point I squinted and really concentrated and I am sure I saw her halo and wings. Really.
As I listened to the children one night telling the audience some house rules (amid bloopers and giggles)I was amazed at how easy she made it seem. "Never raise a hand to hit. Never raise a foot to kick. Never raise an object to throw. Never raise a voice to yell." And that is when I said it.
Oh my gosh! Some days I feel like I am drowning in uncertainty and my own incompetence trying to raise my two children. TWO CHILDREN. And she is raising SIXTEEN and making it look easy. Her husband is one lucky man, and her children are SIXTEEN lucky kids.
I bet she never lies around on a Monday night watching TV in slug mode...