Wednesday, December 31, 2008



You were just a cat.

But just like the two legged burglar that is named for your species enters a person's home and steals his possessions, so had you entered my life and stolen my heart.

And it wouldn't have happened had our first cat, Columbus, not gone out for his nightly exploration one evening and never returned. After a proper mourning period I, being the indulgent mother (yet rebellious wife) that I am, promised our children they could each pick out a kitten to replace Columbus.

Two kittens to replace one cat seemed like logical math to me, the cat lover in the house.

Interestingly, Paul was in London when I made this promise. I would have some explaining to do when he returned from that business trip.

Having decided that our household did indeed need two kittens we - the kids and I - entered Cats Only and said "We'd like to see your two youngest cats."

Sadly, their two youngest cats were also their two sickest cats.

You, Boomer, had been found by the side of a dumpster, no bigger than a minute, too weak to hold up your head; tossed out like a piece of debris - left for dead.

You were taken to the Humane Society who had decided you were too sick for them to save.

Our Cats Only vet saw you and had different plans for you. She took you in and decided that you were not, after all, one to give up on life.

Within days of your first rescue, in walks this over indulgent mother who wants two kittens - for the children of course. We were told that you would be available for adoption if you made it through the next two weeks.

Your soon to be housemate also needed two weeks of nursing care before she could come home with us. We were willing to wait for both of you.

We were even granted visitation rights while the vet and her staff nursed you back to health. And we took advantage of that privilege and came every few days to look at you, pet you, allow you to get to know us. One day we showed up and a staff member was working who wasn't aware that we had been given special visitation rights. Sadly, I was not the most understanding (soon to be) pet owner and told her in no uncertain terms that YES WE DID TOO HAVE THE RIGHT TO OPEN THAT CAGE AND HOLD THIS KITTEN. WE HAD BEEN DOING IT FOR A WEEK AND I WASN'T GOING TO STOP DOING IT NOW. For the children of course. You just had that effect on us, Boomer. We were drawn to you moments after we met you.

Your first few days at home with us, you spent most of your time curled into our necks - probably seeking warmth. You loved anything shiny and were prone to chewing on necklaces. Your early illness and ongoing recovery, however, did not stop you from immediately establishing your position in the household.

You decided as soon as you walked in the door that the way to deal with the sixty pound Labrador who already lived here was to simply ignore her.

And ignore her you did.

While Bitsy, your fellow adoptee, chose to arch her back, hiss and spit, you would not even glance at the dog. You made it quite clear that this dog who always thought she was the ruler of the house, was not worth your time and would quickly be taken down a notch. Or two.

The king had arrived; he weighed less than a pound and his name was Boomer.


Thank you for making me smile.

I'm sorry.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The vet encouraged us to bring Boomer home today and see if he would eat and drink for us, since he refused anything by mouth while at the clinic.

He won't eat or drink for us.

The poor baby has been hiding under Kayla's bed.

He never hides under Kayla's bed.

Cats go to hard-to-find spots when they feel lousy.

The vet has called to check on him and, based on all the things she told me to look for (to hope for) I told her I think we will be bringing Boomer back tomorrow so that we can tell him goodbye.

She assured me that any decision we made, based on all of his blood counts, etc, is a valid decision. If his counts were half what they are, she would encourage us to hold out hope, but being what they are, she does not think it is wrong to relieve his suffering.

If he rebounds from this (which is doubtful) it will be short lived. I do not want to see him get well only to know that he has more suffering in his future, most likely every few months. None of us needs that.

I know he's just a cat. Somebody - a non cat lover, to be sure - once asked me what purpose this cat served. Why have a cat?

All I could say was that he makes me smile.

That's all. He makes me smile several times a day.

And really, isn't that an okay purpose to have in life?

Monday, December 29, 2008


On my way to the vet today, as my left eye was twitching from the ridiculously loud "MWWWWOOOOWWWW," coming non-stop from the back seat, I called Paul to confirm with him how we would pay for this visit. After all, spending money to keep this cat well just four days after Christmas is not on the top of our favorite things list. It most certainly is not on the top of Paul's favorite things list - especially the "keeping the cat well" part.

Within seconds of hanging up, he called me back and said "Um...I guess we never discussed how far we're willing to go with this. I hope you understand but we can't spend a ton of money on this cat."

Of course I understand.

Because we choose to spend our money on more frivolous things like say, oh, I don't know, inhalers for our asthmatic daughter, migraine medication, eye glasses/contacts for four people, dental work, utility bills and groceries.

Things like that.

So as the vet kept me informed of what was going on with Boomer (looks like some sort of kidney disease) I said "I love this cat and I don't mean to be cold-hearted but we have to be very conscious of cost with his treatment." She understood and did not make me feel like the most stone-hearted client she had ever met.

So she told me what was going on and what the worst- and best-case scenario would be.

As they were doing x-rays I stood in the lobby and called Paul to tell him what I knew and where we were at cost wise.

And being the doomsday, animal loving, pre-menstrual woman that I am, I started crying as I told him the details. Really, all I could think about was that I was going to have to decide to put this cat down and walk out of there with a plan in mind to tell my daughter why I made the decision that I made.

And Paul kept saying, "Honey, we can do whatever you want..." And I kept saying "Of course we can't, we have to be practical. We cannot go into debt for this cat."

''Do you want me to come and be with you?"

"No. There's no decision to be made yet. I'll keep you posted."

Then 30 minutes later as I was standing in the teeny tiny x-ray room listening to the vet say things like "renal disease" "blockage" "distension" "hydration therapy.." there was a knock on the door and one of the assistants brought my husband into the room.

He didn't want me to be alone as I faced a difficult decision about my beloved cat - a cat that has been a thorn in his side for five and a half years.

How sweet is that?

His first day back at work in ten days, and he left the office to stand beside me and look at x-rays of a cat that he despises.

If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I couldn't sleep last night.

It was probably the migraine pounding in my right temple - the third migraine since Christmas eve.

Or it could have been the fact that our cat has been vomiting for 36 hours and I am keeping him quarantined in the laundry room until I can get him to the vet on Monday. If I can find a vet, because ours closed. In the mean time he is putting up quite a fuss and the yelping is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

Or it could have been the fact that our sump pump sprayed all over our basement storage area due to heavy rains yesterday. Now our basement floor is full of items just lying around trying to soak up some warm dry air like so many sun bathers at the beach.

By the way these items include my wedding album.

This wonderful Midwest weather is like the gag gift that keeps on giving.


As is often the case when I can't sleep my thoughts turned to my children.

Kayla was happily tucked away in the basement with her cousin after having baked and decorated a giant cookie.

Blake was spending the night at a friend's house. A-Pat to be exact. A-Pat is a combination of his first and last name. Teenage boys are big on nick names. A-Pat is a bull dog on the wrestling mats. He's short and as muscular as they come - a compact package of power. A-Pat does not lose on the mats. It just doesn't happen.
While A-Pat is a bull dog, Blake is a Great Dane - all arms and legs and long lean muscle. While he doesn't have the bulk and power that A-Pat has, he's learned to use those long arms and legs pretty effectively.

And I realized again last night that I have simply blinked one time since I could gather those arms and legs onto my lap to rock my little boy to sleep.

See, I broke one of the cardinal rules of parenting when Blake was little.

I rocked him to sleep. Until two months before Kayla was born, I rocked him to sleep for naps and for bedtime.

Nap time was the sweetest time for Blake and me. He had a very precise sleeping routine as I rocked and sang to him. He would start out with his tummy pressing against me, his head on one of my arms, his legs dangling past the other.

Our hearts touching.

He'd watch my face as I sang, and I'd watch his. I'd watch his eyes grow heavy.

And just before his eyes would close for sleep he'd shift himself into another position. He'd turn his body so that his back was against my chest and his little legs dangled around my thigh, head leaned against me like the worn out little cowboy that he was. We somehow melted into the same position, with my hands clasped around his tummy - holding on to those moments for dear life.

Within seconds of his shift, he'd let out a tiny sigh and sleep.

And for some reason I had trouble pulling myself out of that rocking chair and placing him in his bed.

Friday, December 26, 2008


A few weeks ago while we were filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, I was overwhelmed at the thought of a child receiving ONE SMALL SHOE BOX for Christmas. That's all - one box filled with modest gifts. As we filled our boxes and did our best to cram as much into them as possible, I knew without a doubt that the children who received these boxes would be thrilled with their little shoe box of treasures - treasures that most American children would barely give a second glance.

So I made a decision to start a new tradition in the W household.

"Kids, we're starting something new. Every one of your Christmas gifts will fit into ONE shoebox for each of you. We're going to gain some perspective on how blessed we are."


Which was not exactly the response I was expecting. Don't get me wrong. I knew they would come around to the idea pretty easily; I was just hoping the prospect of one tiny shoe box for Christmas would cause them a little more angst. It just doesn't seem like much of a lesson if they say "Cool," while you're presenting it. And I was really hoping to upset them a little more this holiday season.


I must say the challenge was more mine than theirs. It was I who had to continue to reign myself in with the gift buying. With each purchase I made I had to ask myself "Will this fit into the shoebox, along with everything else I've bought?" Then it actually became fun to challenge myself to find small items that each of the kids would enjoy and that would fit into one shoe box.

And make no mistake, these were SHOE boxes. I would not allow Blake to give me his cowboy boot box, nor would I allow Kayla to give me the box from her high-top basketball shoes (she wears a size ten) Each of them got a box from my closet - a box that had once held a size 7 1/2 ladies loafer.

And you know what?

We did it.

Each of the kids received one shoe box for Christmas (along with their stocking full of candy). And each of them was very pleased with the contents.

I certainly realize that it does not make much of a statement on moderation when we are blessed with the means to buy an ipod touch for each child; and an ipod touch certainly fits into a shoebox. I realize that we have a ways to go on getting back to the basics when our kids' gifts did not all come from the Dollar Store. But it's a start.

Our kids did not see a pile of gifts spreading out over our carpet like in years past. They saw two small boxes and each of them received one of them.

And they were happy, and I was proud as can be.

And a tradition was started.

Things I was able to put in each box besides the ipod touch (hanging head in shame)

an itune gift card

3 or four shirts - rolled tightly

a small bottle of cologne or perfume

a wallet for Blake and a change purse for Kayla

two tubes of chap stick with our school logo on it

two pair of panties or boxer shorts (sorry kids)

a gift card for one meal at their favorite restaurant

a gift card for ten dollars at their favorite mall store

a necklace for Kayla and an extra shirt for Blake

I must also add that in their stockings, each of them received a Pooping Candy Dispenser. Blake got a little reindeer that pooped little sour pellets and Kayla got a snowman that pooped little sour pellets.

Because nothing signifies the spirit of Christmas more than cheap plastic toys that defecate in rainbow colors. Oh, and they sing while they poop. And I was the one saying "You gotta take those to Grandma's house. Grandpa will love them."

Is it any wonder that this evening Blake said "Mom, you're kinda goofy...."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


We have a Lucky Charm situation going on in our house.

The other day at the grocery store, Kayla picked up a box of Lucky Charms. It was a small box and I knew it was too small to survive long in the jungle that is our kitchen but I didn't have my act together enough to say "Go get a big strong box that will last in the wilds of the W house." I thought it; I just didn't form the words.

About 27 hours later, the Lucky Charms were no longer with us.

At the end Blake poured out half a bowl and got all that sad powder stuff that settles at the bottom of the box and he said "What's the deal with my Lucky Charms? Who ate 'em all?"

And I replied "Your sister actually picked those up and your father and I actually paid for them, so I'm not sure you can claim ownership of the Lucky Charms."

Na Na Na Na Boo Boo.

Then when Kayla got home from basketball practice, the poor thing looked high and low for the Lucky Charms only to have to face the dreaded fact that the Lucky Charms were no longer with us. There, in the deep recesses of the garbage can, lay the remains of the Lucky Charms box.

It is indeed a difficult thing to see your child's heart broken.

"Great! Who ate all my Lucky Charms?"

"Your brother."

Confession: I ate a bowl (or two) during those 27 hours, but we'll keep that to ourselves. M'kay?

But I have no problem at all throwing one of my own offspring under the bus when it comes to Lucky Charms.

I'd also like to note the interesting use of the word "MY" as each of the kids was talking about the beloved Lucky Charms. Although, Kayla certainly had more right to claim ownership than Blake. I mean, she did make that long walk down the cereal aisle and make the Lucky Charm decision.

So when Paul made his next trip to the grocery store (poor Paul - he's been to the store a lot these past several days) I told him it was imperative that we buy more Lucky Charms. Two Big Boxes.

We have a cereal war brewing here and I do not want blood shed over the Christmas Holidays.

And now both boxes are sitting OPENED on the counter. I can only assume that each box has a specific owner and that some sort of special entry code is required to ensure that only authorized personnel enter it's sugary goodness.

I'm thinking, though, that I can crack each code.

And then blame one of the kids.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


On our way to church this morning the car thermometer said 2 degrees. By the time we got to church, it was zero. ZERO. DEGREES.

I guess the fall in temperature was because we were driving north.

At one o'clock this afternoon, as we were headed to lunch with Paul's family, the temperature had reached four degrees.

So I immediately raced home and took inventory of our sunscreen.

We're going to the pool, kids - grab your floaties.

At about six this evening we discovered we have a frozen water pipe. Thankfully our bathroom is the only room so far with a frozen pipe.

We have space heaters blowing hot air into our bathroom cabinets to warm the pipes. (We are a fireman's nightmare)

These pipes MUST NOT BURST.

We have our thermostat set on 70. Our thermostat is NEVER set on 70 in the winter. I guess it would defeat the purpose for me to crack a window so I could sleep better. It's hot in our bedroom.

These pipes MUST NOT BURST.

Our bathroom is upstairs and the pipes are housed in a wall that is part of the garage, thus the reason it froze first, I guess. The inside of that wall is our dining room. If that pipe bursts, it will be the dining room wall that has to come down.

I do not want to redecorate my dining room.

These pipes MUST NOT BURST.

We've taken all the steps we know to take and now we are just lying around waiting to see what disaster will hit us first.

Flood or Fire.

It's just a merry little winter wonderland around here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


So here I am whining and complaining that somebody hurts my feelings on a daily basis. Here I am playing the Woe is Me card because I didn't get the best when God was handing out families.

And then I am directed to this blog and I see what heartache really is.

And I am humbled.

I am humbled at the strength of these young parents - any parents - who can survive the death of a thirteen month old child and the subsequent serious illness of another baby. How they have not gone stark raving mad is beyond me. How they can lift their heads off their pillows in the morning is beyond me.

I have so much to learn.

Please pray for this family.

Friday, December 19, 2008


We've had bad weather for the last couple of weeks. The roads have been icy and the temperatures so low that salt won't melt the ice; and yet, school has still been in session, ballgames have been played, wrestling meets have been wrestled. Life has gone on.

With the icy roads and the low temperatures, I have really wanted to stay inside. Drink coffee. Read blogs. Wrap presents. I've really wanted to ignore the fact that we were out of apples and running low on bread. I've wanted to ignore the fact that there were still a few gifts left to buy.

I've wanted to use that ice as an excuse to stay home. After all, if it won't melt, why am I expected to navigate it?

Because life goes on. That's why.

Sometimes, you have to get out on the treacherous path and just navigate, even when the ice won't melt.

There is somebody in my life who has a very hard heart - a heart so full of anger and bitterness that I fear nothing will soften it. I pray daily for this person's heart to be softened. I pray daily that I can do what I need to do, say what I need to say, to minister to this person and their bitter heart.

But sometimes I get weary. So weary.

I get weary of the anger and the bitterness and the spite-filled darts that are thrown my way. I get weary of being taken off guard because there are days when everything seems to be just fine and I let my guard down. And that's when I am hit. There are nights when I crawl into bed and feel like my body must surely be covered with little pin pricks left by these darts. Certainly my heart is full of holes on those days.

I want to stop fighting the battle. I want to raise the white flag and surrender. I want to forfeit the match. But I know I can't. It is my sad job to keep on keeping on with this person even when it would be easier to just quit and pretend this person didn't exist. It is my sad job to keep slip sliding along on the icy surface of their heart. I've made it clear to God that I don't want this job. It's not fair for me to have this job. There is no reward for doing this job.

And He keeps telling me I can't quit.

The other day while I was out navigating the icy streets, with not a salt truck in sight because it was so cold the ice wouldn't melt, I think I got it.

This is it, isn't it Lord? This ice won't melt but I have to just keep moving slowly and carefully because life goes on. Their heart won't soften but I have to just keep trudging along, ducking and dodging and protecting myself the best I can. I have to learn to navigate through this heart that just won't melt, don't I?

And for a brief moment, I felt some peace in that realization.

Until the next dart pierced me.

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness - James 3:18.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Last weekend I was approached by a very important person who asked me to make some greeting cards for the women in his office.

The conversation went something like this:

VIP: Hello, I'm a very important person and I think the women in my office would love some greeting cards. Can you set me up by Friday?

HW: I sure can. But I need to let you know I usually charge ten dollars for a set of four. And by usually I mean twice. Twice I have sold greeting cards - once to a good friend who wanted to prove to me that they would sell easily and once to my mother. But they both paid me ten dollars. And in these tough economic times I'm afraid I cannot offer any discounts. I have a family to not support. Anyway, how many women are in your office?

VIP: Four, but I only need three sets. One of them doesn't do anything for me.

HW: Oh, well that's a nice holiday attitude. Nothing exemplifies the spirit of Christ and the joy of giving by only giving to those who do something for you. I'll make four sets and you will give four sets.

Because I'm a very bossy and judgmental business woman.

VIP: ALLLLRIIIIIIGHT. Not Christmas cards - something they can use all winter.

HW: So four sets of winter themed note cards. Let's talk color schemes and styles.

VIP: Huh?

HW: Will these women want whimsical cards? Country cards? Elegant cards? Do they like soft colors? Rich colors? Bright colors?

VIP: Four sets of winter themed note cards.

HW: Okay, but would they like cutesy cards? Funny cards? Elegant cards? Whimsical cards? How about sparkles? I think I'll put some bling on them. Would that be okay? What woman doesn't like bling?

VIP: Four sets of winter themed note cards.

HW: Is there a female I can speak to about this order? And how will you be paying? I don't except credit cards - cash or check only.

VIP: Can I work it out in trade? And then he winked at me.... the nerve!!

So tomorrow is my deadline and I need to get busy to complete this ever so important job. Although I must say I've never had such a difficult customer. My other customers have been much easier to work with.

Both of them.

I'm really hoping we can settle this matter in a favorable way. If this customer doesn't pay my asking price, my husband won't be getting a Christmas gift.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Monday night, since it was a balmy ten degrees, Paul and I decided to head on over to the girls basketball game. You know. Take advantage of the nice weather and all before it gets REALLY cold.

Actually, it was a JV/Varsity game, and sometimes Kayla plays JV so we like to go if we can just in case she gets in.

She didn't get in, but it was still nice to be out socializing in the bleachers.

Plus there was that nice weather to enjoy.

Sometime during the evening I wandered into the cafegymatorium because one of my friends was in there decorating the stage for a concert the next night.

Her little girl was with her (I think she's eight) so I struck up the typical week-before-Christmas conversation with her.

"So, what do you want from Santa?"

"Some yellow nail polish, some blue nail polish and some grippers."

"Oh, what are grippers?"

"Those things that go on a pencil to keep your fingers from getting sores when you grip your pencil."

"Cool. What else do you want?"

"That's all."

"Wow! Santa's elves love lists like yours."

And I gave a conspiratorial look to her mom and asked with my eyes "is she for real?"and her mom said that probably Santa would throw in a few other things but that those three items were all her daughter was asking for.

And that little girl's Christmas list has stuck with me for two days.

How sweet, in this age of ipods and video games, cell phones and uggs, this little girl was asking for three items that could be found at Wal-greens.

Somebody already knows that simple is sometimes best.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Dear Friends and Family -

We at the W house wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Let me catch you up on our family as we've had a tremendous year.

Kayla continues to be the social butterfly, as evidenced by the new tattoo she is sporting that says "I *heart* My Friends." It goes well with her other tattoos that say "MOM" and "Love to Shop." Her new boyfriend is quite nice and they look just darling together as they speed away on his motorcycle in their matching leather chaps. They spend a lot of time at the Harley Davidson shop down the street. How sweet is that?
Kayla also continues to thrive in her athletic pursuits. She only got three technicals last week on the basketball court. Her anger management classes are paying off. She did have a little run-in with the umpire at a softball game last fall but I highly doubt she called him what he claims.
Other than friends and sports, Kayla loves to spend her time at the mall. The security guards are letting her shop there again since her probationary period ended last month.
Her freshman year in high school is going well. She is so popular, even with the teachers, that she gets to spend lots of time visiting with the principal. I think it's so he can get to know our family and learn how he too can raise such great kids. We are so proud of our little princess.

Blake is thoroughly enjoying his junior year in high school, especially since we got that second suspension lifted. Since the administration could not trace that box of matches back to him after that unfortunate fire; they had to let him return to class. He must be doing extremely well, as his teachers send me notes daily to request conferences on his progress. I hate to brag, but I doubt many parents have teachers contacting them so often simply to say how great their son is. We are, indeed, lucky parents.
Blake ran Cross Country this year to build his endurance for wrestling. The practices seemed to be quite long and when I asked the coach about this, he said something about Blake disappearing for long periods of time during their individual runs. Once again, our son's dedication amazes us and continues to be a source of pride. This pride of course carries over to the wrestling mats. What a pit bull our son is. That report of him biting his opponent on the nose was never confirmed so the coaches have continued to let him wrestle at each meet. He is, of course, The Splaedle King, so they really need him to inflict torture on the other team. I think the referees at the meets really like him because they always stop the match just to speak to him. I think they must want to remind him of the rules so he'll continue to be the best. Blake's anger management classes also continue to go well. I think those anger management classes will look great on his college applications. He must be overwhelmed with all of his educational options because he is keeping all of the college packets in a special place in his room, insisting that I don't need to get involved. What a bright independent young man.

Paul continues to advance at work and impress all of his colleagues. Professionals far and wide are learning of his expertise in the financial field. He's even had people from the FBI questioning him for the last couple of weeks, in order to learn more about what he does. I also think the SEC is scheduled to be in town next month. They have requested some meetings with him so they can report back to Washington on exactly how he manages to be so successful. His bosses are so pleased with his performance that they have given him some time off - an unspecified amount of time to stay home. How lucky are we? There is even talk that he might get to go spend some time at a special resort. If we're lucky he might be the subject of a book next year. I am blessed to be married to such a great provider.

And I continue to enjoy my life as a stay at home mom. I am known around town as the foremost expert on the plot lines of the Afternoon Dramas. I have worked hard to maintain that title, but it is worth it to help others who might have missed a few days of their favorite shows. Other moms call me regularly to receive reports from me if they have had to be away from home. It does indeed require dedication to be certain I miss NOT ONE episode through the week; but I have always enjoyed helping my fellow man so I try not to complain. I also have decided to lend my expertise to the chocolate industry, agreeing to sample all the national brands and report back to them on how each tasty tidbit ranks against its peers. These two jobs of mine keep me quite busy. So busy, in fact, that I have not been into my kids' school for the last two years. To be honest, I'm not even sure where my kids' school is. But they don't seem to mind, as they know how important it is for mom to share her knowledge with others. Such a selfless family I have.

That about sums up our family's year. We will be praying for all of you, that you too can achieve what we have and live in such peace and contentment.

Happy Holidays,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I wasn't going to tell you all about the last two chapters of my dwindling dignity, but since this blog is a legacy for my children, I felt I owed it to them to record my perpetual search for pride and self respect while out in public.

After all, I have high hopes that they will read this blog one day and say "Gee. I want to be just like dear old Mom. She was such a woman of high class and decorum."

So the most recent chapter in The Case of the Disappearing Dignity happened today. But before filling you all in on that, I must take you back a couple of weeks to the installment that I was trying to keep secret.

After today, there is no secret to keep. The author of this blog cannot go out in public without making a spectacle of herself. And, really, why try to keep it a secret? I am nothing if not humble. As I've said before, I've learned to lower my own standards of self respect when out in public. I had hoped such incidents were limited to Wal-Mart but apparently they are not.

A couple weeks ago, I entered the mall for my morning walk. As is wont to happen, I was distracted by a BOGOF (BUY ONE GET ONE FREE SALE) sign at Kohl's.

You don't have to ask me twice!!

I had been hoping to find a quilted vest because that seems to be the latest rage. Lucky me, I might walk out with two quilted vests, what with that BOGOF sale going on.

I did indeed find some vests that were just what I was looking for.

I took the vests into the dressing room area and stood in that little hallway space with the three way mirror. I slipped my jacket off and put the vest on over my t-shirt.

Let me just say. The vest looked PRIT. TEE. cute.

So I decided to take advantage of the BOGOF and get a couple.

It's a good thing I was in the dressing room area and not out in front of one of the "public" mirrors.

Because when I took the vest off, the tags got caught in the back of the neckline of my t-shirt.

And there I stood in front of the three-way mirror with a vest hanging off my neck and down my back.

After chasing my tail for a couple of seconds, I decided there was only one way to handle this.

I marched right up to the check out lady, vest swinging from the back of my neck, and said "Could you please stick your scanner gun thingee down there and scan this? I really want it and it seems to be stuck."

Oh, stop!! I'm kidding.

You all should know by now I would never do something so silly.

I finally managed to free myself from the burgundy vest, picked up the cream one and purchased them like any other ordinary shopper. *ahem.* For a few minutes, I deluded myself into thinking nobody would learn of the incident; but then I realized there are probably security cameras in the dressing room area.

I look forward to seeing myself on Youtube by Christmas.

Fast forward to today.

I started my Christmas shopping today. And whew!! What a relief to have a good chunk of it done.

The beating my dignity took today, however, was in a more public place than a couple of weeks ago. This beating took place by the play place where all the young moms had gathered to let their little ones run off their energy before nap time. Lucky me.

I stopped there to put my coat on and gather my sacks out of the cart. I swung my coat around to put it on - you know - like any normal person would do.

And the snap on the hood got caught in my hair.


Let me just say. This predicament did not last long. I didn't even have time to panic. There were no sweat droplets forming on my upper lip. But still, I had managed to get my coat stuck in my hair.


But regardless of how quickly I managed to free myself THIS TIME from the deadly grasps of an item of clothing, I doubt I would have panicked anyway. I think I am beyond embarassing myself.

Lord help me.

Is it any wonder my children are so proud of me?


We have this routine in the morning.

And when I say "we" I mean Paul.

Paul has this routine in the morning. He gets up at 5:15, runs five miles (sometimes 7 - and nobody is chasing him) and then comes home to take our dog for a quick walk at the park across the street.

I would join Paul for this routine if not for the 5:15 part. Or the running part. Or the walking the dog part. Other than that....

"Our" routine was a little off today.

And I found evidence of that on my purple bathroom rug when I got up. Our bathroom was occupied so I had to come down to our half bath first thing this morning.

Guess what I found there? Right in the middle of the purple rug?

Guess. Go ahead, guess.

A big pile of dog poo.



She obeyed but she wouldn't look at me.


"Did you do this? Did you? Did you make this mess on my rug?"

Still no eye contact. AND she wouldn't look at the rug.


I questioned her for several minutes but she kept denying any involvement.

Then she lawyered up.

So I went upstairs and interrogated Paul through the shower curtain.

"Honey? Did Cookie get her walk today?"

"No, I'm pressed for time."

"Oh, well, then. She pooped on the bathroom rug."

"YOU'RE KIDDING? Well, I let her out earlier."

So we have a rebel on our hands.

We are certain she pooped on our purple rug because she was mad at Paul for skipping the walk.

In ten years, she's never done anything like this. One time she ran through her electric fence when I brought her home from the kennel. I think she was mad at me that time.

But pooping on the rug?


Should I call a pet psychiatrist?

Friday, December 05, 2008


When my son asked me to pack him a lunch for his all-day wrestling meet tomorrow, I was on it in an instant. I actually made a list. A list that makes it look like he's hiking across Alaska this weekend - like perhaps he'll be gone for a week instead of twelve hours.

I can't help myself.

He just inspected his lunch and found:

3 sandwiches - 1 ham and cheese; 1 chicken and cheese; 1 ham, chicken and cheese

3 Colby jack cheese sticks

2 apples

2 strawberry cereal bars

2 small boxes of dried cranberries

2 juice boxes

1 banana

1 sandwich bag full of cashews

money for supper on the way home

4 bottles of water waiting in the fridge for him.

What did I get for my all careful planning and efforts?

A big fat "This is perfect, Mom. Thanks." And a big ole' hug from my favorite wrestler.

Life is good.

Monday, December 01, 2008


There was a time when my refrigerator was covered with colorful alphabet letters and pre-school drawings. From there we went to school lunch menus and grade school papers.

Now my refrigerator is covered with schedules.

Six schedules.

I have two children.

You do the math, because I can't.

Until Saturday evening, my refrigerator held SEVEN schedules for my TWO children but we got through the girls basketball tournament so I got to throw that bracket away.

Now we are down to six. We're making headway.

In the upper left corner of my fridge is a Bible verse. It says "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?"

Oh!! You know I'm kidding.

It says "Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure" (Psalm 16:5) It's a fitting verse, I think, for this busy time of life -for any time of life.

But moving on from there, let's talk about my six schedules, shall we.

We have the carpool schedule for girls basketball. The carpool schedule that seems a little useless since practice times keeping changing and games keep popping up where there were none before. I spent two hours making that schedule...

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Then we have the actual GAME schedule for the girls basketball team. This schedule includes the JV/Varsity games and the Freshman games, which really doesn't mean anything since our daughter has to be at both.

Moving on from there, we have the concession schedule for the GIRLS basketball games, which are supported by the Girls Athletic Boosters. If your girl plays ball, you work the concession stand for some of her games. Fair enough.

And over here we have the concession schedule for the VARSITY BOYS basketball games. As I've mentioned before I was not smart enough to raise a slacker; so as a class officer Kayla and her fellow officers have to stock and staff the concession stand to earn money for their class. Translation: Kayla's mom and her fellow officers' moms have to stock and staff the concession stand to earn money for their class. But don't worry, these kids WILL WORK at that concession stand.

Oh Boy will they work. (insert whip cracking sound here.)

Let's see. Oh. Then next we have the schedule for Kayla's pitching instruction, because we have become THAT family. That family that sends their young athlete to a private coach in hopes that she will become the next Jennie Finch. Truth be told, Kayla's father set this up and it IS only every other week, but it still makes us one of THOSE families - one of those families I said we'd never become (hanging head in shame). But I do believe calling it "Pitching Instruction" sounds a lot more reasonable than "Private Pitching Coach." Don't you?

And finally, we have the Varsity Boys Wrestling schedule.

I don't even know how to describe the torture of sitting through a wrestling meet. Watching your own son wrestle is very exciting, but it's a quick few minutes and then you have to wait and wait and wait some more, until he gets to wrestle again. So you spend hours sitting on the bleachers, practically drooling on your own shirt out of boredom, until your son wrestles. Then you get to stand up and cheer and hoop and holler. You get to work the kinks out of your bones and feel your heart rate rise. And then it's over real fast and you return to your coma until they call your son's weight class again. It is a true physical and emotional roller coaster.

Fun times.

And now I just got a phone call reminding me of the post prom committee meeting on Wednesday night at 6:30. Because I was naive and dumb enough to say "Sure! I'll be on that committee." So I have added that little reminder to the fridge.

DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE POST PROM PARTY. I am in tremendous inner turmoil over my involvement in this - so much so I have not even been able to blog about it.

I know. How crazy is that?

Let's just say I am struggling with what I perceive as COMPLETE OVER INDULGENCE OF OUR CHILDREN.

And I need to stop right there because my eye is starting to twitch.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Senator Richard Durbin
State Capital Building
Springfield, Illinois

Dear Senator Durbin,

Please excuse what may or may not have been my husband's fullest potential in that meeting you attended at his office yesterday. You know that meeting that was don't really know what it was about, but I bet it was real interesting.

Anyway, while he had been working very hard preparing for said meeting, he faced some major distractions.

See, his wife (that would be me) kept calling him about some pressing family matters - urgent matters that concerned the education and welfare of our precious daughter.

I was making price signs for our concession stand, and I needed his advice a couple of times. While we (other officer mom and I) were able to come up with a sign that is just darling (HEY! Why not come to one of the games and see it?) we did not know how to actually SEND it to my husband who had offered to print it on his giant poster sized printer. Think Lucy and Ethel at the computer.

So on the second phone call (or was it the third?) my husband made some comment about how he was simultaneously working on two projects that fell on opposite ends of the spectrum of importance - his upcoming meeting with you, Senator; and pricing m&m's and hot dogs with me. I'm sure he meant no disrespect when he implied that his meeting with you was trivial compared to our concession stand sign, but we all have our priorities.


And in these tough economic times it is the duty of the class of 2012 to offer a low cost but nutritious dinner at basketball games - hot dog, chips, candy bar and water. Anything to stimulate the economy while helping the average Joe.

Plus if we sell lots of stuff, we totally don't have to hold another major fund raiser this year.

While I'm sure my husband did a bang-up job at his meeting with you; I hope this letter explains why he might have seemed a little preoccupied. He truly had some heavy matters weighing on his mind. Further, I know that he is especially grateful to me, his wife, for allowing him to be involved in this major concession stand project. I do believe it is important for children to see their parents tackle life's major problems together. Don't you?

I think that falls within the category of FAMILY VALUES.

Thank you for your time, Senator. Please stop by one of our boys' basketball games and enjoy some of our delicious treats from the concession stand (although, I'm afraid we won't be able to give you a discount) The stand is easy to find. Just look for the brilliant signage.

Yours truly,

Friday, November 21, 2008


Hey readers! Head on over to Antique Mommy and read her post about motherhood. I love Antique Mommy. LOVE. HER. And if I don't win that book, I'm totally buying it for myself.

Merry Christmas to me.

By the way, read ALL of Antique Mommy. She's lovely. And her little boy Sean? SWEET. HEART. I seriously want a five year old boy around here again.

After leaving my comment, I decided to hop back over here to my very own blog and expand on it.

Motherhood takes a toll on our bodies, regardless of how we become mothers. Nobody told me how motherhood would be an all encompassing physical attack, not just from the pains of childbirth but for every second that we are blessed to be called Mom. We feel motherhood in every inch of our bodies.

Let's start at the top, shall we.

The Brain. Motherhood makes your brain bend. Whether it's geometry, biology, or trying to figure out WHY? Why, did he think he could climb on the roof of the grade school? Why? Why did he think it was a good idea to set his army men on fire? Why? Why are there SEVEN bath towels on the floor of their bathroom. Why? Why won't my child's fever go down? And sometimes motherhood can make our brain explode. With anger, that is. Most of the time it's more like an IMPLOSION where we keep all the damage inside our head. Sometimes, though (and I hope I'm not the only one) it's a true explosion that sends splinters and shrapnel across the room - "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!"

The Eyes. For some reason, my eyes water a lot since I became a mother. Happy things, sad things, it doesn't matter. My eyes tend to water a lot for the past 17 years. Sometimes they twitch too, now that I'm a mother.

The Mouth. I admit it, since becoming a mother, certain words slip out that never would have slipped out before. Maybe once, my kids have heard me use a curse word, but I try to be very hypocritical and only utter those words out of their hearing.But motherhood makes us utter things we would not speak if our hearts weren't living outside our bodies. "You went poopie? Big boy-eee" "No, we cannot get a pet lizard. Or a hedgehog." "Don't pick your nose." "Be nice to your brother, you may need a kidney someday." "Seriously, kids. You're fighting over cereal?" "If you don't get BACK IN THAT BED..." "Of course Santa is real." "Never enter mommy and daddy's bedroom without knocking..." "Yes, you can wear cowboy boots with your shorts." "Pink mittens in May? Sure." "Running out of Mt. Dew is not an emergency. Don't call us again unless you're bleeding."

The Shoulders. Motherhood makes our shoulders strong but that strength does not come without pain. Whether we are toting a toddler while carrying a giant diaper bag, or feeling the weight of a teenage daughter's heartbreak, somehow our shoulders can manage it all.

The Spine. Sometimes it disappears while we raise our children. Does he really NEED that Cubs sweatshirt? No, but your spine has disappeared and you buy it. Does she really NEED to go to the movie again? No, but your spine has disappeared and you drive her. Did you think they'd outgrown hugging you? Yes, and your spine disappears when they do. Motherhood turns us into noodles.

And yet, the spine can reappear as needed. NO, she won't be going to that other school's homecoming dance. NO, he won't drive three hours on a Saturday night to watch a fight. YES, I will confront the adult who bullied my child. YES, I will fight the battle of modesty. YES, I will fight the battle of working to potential. NO. YES. Hopefully the spine makes its presence known when needed.

The Arms. Motherhood makes our arms ache. From the joy of holding our infants to the ache of emptiness when they no longer snuggle in them, our arms ache. My arms ache a lot these days.

The Hands. Motherhood makes our hands magic. Our hands touch burning foreheads, place band aids just right, hold down a screaming toddler during shots, frost cupcakes, catch bugs, swat bottoms, wipe noses, color maps, glue collages, place birthday candles, pat backs, tie shoes, struggle with tights, clap, clap, clap. And daily fold themselves together in prayer.

The Stomach. Motherhood makes our stomach weak. And strong. We can catch vomit in our hands and our stomach remains as steal. We can watch our child break a bone, and our stomach revolts. We can watch our child go to her first high school dance and our stomach does flip flops. My stomach does a lot of flip flops these days.

The Legs. Motherhood turns us into runners. Or not. We take baby steps when we're teaching our child to walk. We learn to run when they do. We can move at the speed of light to keep them out of the road or away from the stove. Our legs our horsies, jungle gyms, and arm rests for wobbly toddlers. They know every inch of the hallways of our child's school. They have climbed the bleachers a million times. They could outrun a freight train to save our child.

Our knees. Motherhood weakens our knees. Our knees go weak with worry when our child is sick, weak with relief when they are well again, weak with pride when they've succeeded. And weak with joy simply from seeing them smile and hearing them laugh. My kids' laughter still makes me weak in the knees and I'm sure it always will.

Our feet. Motherhood earns each of us a daily foot massage. Our feet walk the floor at night when our infant is ill - sometimes all night for several nights. They have held the weight of our children as they stand on our shoes to dance. They've paced the halls of hospitals and quickly walked out of church to quiet an angry toddler. They've made a path to the front door as we watch to see if he'll make curfew, and tiptoed around the Christmas tree to play Santa. They've stepped heavy on the gas pedal when our child is sick at school. They've gone without that perfect sandal when our child "needed" light up shoes (see THE SPINE).

And now, though it's closer to the top, the most burdened body part of mothers - THE HEART.

Motherhood makes our heart burst. Over and over again, our heart bursts. It bursts at the first sight of our child. It bursts at all of our child's firsts - first smile, first tooth, first step, first day of school, first date, first prom. It bursts with disappointment, sadness and even anger.

Motherhood makes our heart divide. Somehow our heart is able to divide itself and yet remain whole with each child that God places in our arms. Somehow our heart can be in two (or more) childrens' beds at night, two lunchboxes at grade school, two lockers at high school, two cars on the weekend, two sets of bleachers.

Motherhood is indeed a full body workout and, most of the time, it is my favorite form of exercise.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


What? Two posts in one day? Well, yes because, apparently the day could get worse.

After being told by my door painter that I could be keeping my door a little cleaner...ahem...I skedaddled on out of there to run some errands. Some vital errands.

I had to run to the post office and buy a roll of stamps so that we cold mail out the concession duty schedule to the freshman class. Surprisingly that stop went off without a hitch and I managed to leave our tiny little post office without humiliating myself. The victory would be short lived.

Next was a stop at Staples where I was to have 85 copies made of said schedule, along with a couple of other vital papers for the class of 2012 - four pages in all.

Did I mention it was really windy today? REALLY windy.

So windy, in fact, that when I opened my van door, and stepped out with the vital Freshman documents in my hand, the wind grabbed them and sent them flying like so many white kites into the neighboring empty lot.


I had a fraction of a second to decide if I wanted to chase the documents down, pretending that I was the only person on earth and that nobody would be watching, or if I wanted to call the other mom who had those documents on her computer and run to her house to print more.


Deciding I did not want to swallow my pride (or take the time) to drive to "other mom's" house to get those papers re-printed, I decided on the easy way out.

I chased the papers down.

All four of them.

In fourteen different directions.

Blowing away from me at 12-15 miles per hour across that empty field.

Because that wasn't swallowing my pride at all. Oh no, that was the dignified choice. And I am nothing if not dignified.

And wouldn't you know? Just when I got close enough to one of those papers to pick it up, the wind would snatch it away again, sending me stomping after it for a few more feet until it would tease me again, daring me to reach down to pick it up and then - WHOOSH - off it would go again.


After gathering three papers I stood in that field looking all around for the fourth like one would look for his lost pet. Because by golly I was not going to sacrifice my dignity (and what had been a pretty decent hair day up to that point) for three of the four papers and then give up. Oh, and speaking of pets. I did see a wild cat charge by me. I totally would have brought him home had my mind not been on other matters, mainly because I know how much my husband loves cats....

Finally I spotted the lone paper wedged against something on the ground so I trudged over to pick it up, wondering why on earth I thought it was so important for my daughter to be well-rounded.

See, I wouldn't have been doing this if she wasn't a class officer. But NOOOOOO-uh. I had to raise an ambitious, diligent young woman who wants to participate in things that will look impressive on a college application.

I am totally going to teach her to be a slacker next year. Seriously, leadership is over rated, don't you think? But I bet she would have been proud of her over achieving mother today.

So then.

I walk into Staples with my crumpled papers, march up to the copy center and say:

One tequila - straight up.

Oh, you know I'm kidding; it's just been a while since I typed tequila.

I actually lay the papers on the counter and smooth them out like a fourth grader who had rescued his homework from the dog. And that's when I the edge of one of the papers. I'm not sure what it was and I won't even allow myself to speculate. There was also a suspicious smudge on another paper - obviously something picked up from that blasted field. These papers did not look pretty. At all.

*Note to self - donate hand sanitizer to Freshman class - 85 bottles.*

But that wasn't the end of my really good fortune.

Seems the copier at Staples was down and the repairman may or may not make it today so I had two options:

Let them go ahead and charge my credit card and stand at the "do it yourself" machine and run the copies myself.

Leave the papers with them, NOT let them charge my credit card, and return tomorrow to pick up the copies - letting the nice young folks at Staples do it.

Um....normally I may not have minded standing at the copier at Staples and running 85 copies, times four, but today?

Today, after running through the field chasing papers, gathering said papers, smoothing them along my leg as I entered the store, noticing on half of said papers, knowing for certain that my hair looked ridiculous, and then being told that the copier was down? And all that after being told by a construction worker in my very own home that I need to clean my door better?

After all that and having to ask myself YET AGAIN why I can't manage to keep my dignity in tact when I leave the house; did it really seem reasonable that I would want to stand at Staples and make copies?

I think not.

To top it all off, once the freshman class finds out about my incompetence, I'm likely to be fired. My title of "Class Officer Mom" might be revoked.

Yeah, right. I could be so lucky.


I was recently telling some friends about the time the Salvation Army refused some of my furniture.

I know.

My furniture was not good enough for the thrift store.

I have never been so indignant in all my life.

I had this sofa to get rid of and, to be honest, the only reason we were getting rid of it was that I was bored with it. It had a small tear in the upholstery but it was by no means a piece of poo. I also had some bar stools to get rid of. Rather than try to sell them through an ad in the paper or by word of mouth, we decided to donate them.

So I called the Salvation Army and arranged a pickup time.

The big truck backed into our driveway and I opened the garage door and showed them the furniture I was wanting them to have, fully expecting them to heave it all into their big truck, hand me a receipt and drive away. But NOOOOO.

Um...we can't take those.

Wait, what?

See that tear there in the sofa? We can't take furniture in that kind of shape. Also, these bar stools? They have some scratches on them here, here and here. We can't take furniture with that kind of damage.

Wait, what?

Sorry, we can't take it., what? My furniture isn't good enough for the Salvation Army? No offense to your organization but.... wait, what?

Apparently, I am also quite eloquent when I'm being insulted.

So, they didn't take my furniture.


If that's not a blow to one's sense of style and decor, I don't know what is.

Fast forward several years to, well, today.

I have a couple of workers here fixing up our door situation.

The man who is going to paint our front door was looking at the inside of the door to decide how to paint it to match the new surrounding trim he is installing.

He pointed to the border around the oval window in our door, rubbed his finger on it and said:

Ma'am, this doesn't have to be painted. You can just wipe it off.

Wait, what?

OHHHHH! I can clean that? Well, that IS a good idea.

Now I think his partner was a little embarrassed that the guy just told me to clean my door better, but I was laughing and, to tell you the truth, I don't think either one of them gets my sense of humor.

Imagine that.

I have never claimed to be the best of housekeepers. In fact, oddly enough, I was a better housekeeper when the kids were little. Now? With the schedules of two busy teenagers, something's gotta give.

And it's been the housework.

But, come on. How many of you think to clean the trim around the window in your front door on a weekly basis?

But to be told by a construction worker that my cleaning standards may not be up to par?

That is as bad as say...I don't know....having your furniture rejected by the Salvation Army. But wait, that happened too.

So I give up. I'm off to shoot me a squirrel for dinner and then I have to whip up some flour sack dresses for me and the younguns. We gotta look spiffy this weekend 'cause two of our cousins are getting married - to each other.

Monday, November 17, 2008


We have a problem.

We have a swarm of fruit flies in our kitchen. We cannot get rid of them. We have no produce out on our counter. We have no food out on our counter. We just have fruit flies swarming around our counter -specifically the sink area. I've cleaned the sink and garbage disposal - thoroughly and multiple times. Paul has set out a cup of vinegar and a cup of water/liquid dish soap per Google's instructions. And still, the fruit flies cometh.

God? Is that you? Are we being plagued?

And darn if I don't want to grab a jar of ether and start suffocating the little devils.

Remember? High school biology? When we got to sedate the fruit flies - the Drosophila - in a test tube and then tap, tap, tap, them out onto the lab table to sort them while looking through a magnifying glass? Remember?

And if you didn't work quickly enough with your sorting, they'd start to wake up and then you'd have to wave the ether-soaked cotton ball over their tiny little bodies to knock them out again so you could finish your experiment?

Except, inevitably, some of them would reach way down inside themselves and gather the strength to get up and fly far....far far away? And then you'd be mad because your ever-so-important experimental statistics would be messed up because you let one with white wings or red eyes get away?


Remember how back in the eighties, fruit flies were merely a means to an end? A project to complete to get an A in high school biology?

Plus, they were like the funnest unit EVER....

And now? They are still a means to an end. They are the means by which I am going to end up a raving lunatic.

I am off to Menard's today to look for a big ole' can of "Fruit Fly Be Gone."

Any other suggestions?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Last night, as Blake and I were discussing his desire to serve in the military, the conversation naturally took many different turns.

At one point - I don't even know when it happened, or how - my son said

"You have to admit, Mom, that there are a few things where I'm smarter than you and dad.."

"Um...first, Blake, I don't have to admit any such thing. Second, I think what you mean to say is that your opinions on many things differ from ours..."

"Yeah, okay, but I will say this. I am SO GLAD I don't have ignorant parents. If I had ignorant parents, I don't know how I'd make it through this life."

Aw, gee. Thanks, son.

I think.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Last week, we got home to hear a message on our answering machine in which the voice simply said "CLINT!!!" And then the sound of a phone being hung up.

That is how my brother lets me know he's trying to reach me. While I desperately wanted to call HIS answering machine and say "WHAAAAAT?" and hang up, I didn't because it was late and I was tired. And, why make my brother think I'm too eager to speak to him?

Instead I sent him the following e-mail this morning. He should receive it at work any minute now. Which means I have about 2 hours before my house is surrounded by federal agents for some reason or another. At least that's the kind of thing he likes to threaten since he works for an agency under the Department of Homeland Security. I tell him that he overestimates his own importance and that I have plenty of dirt on him. Blah, blah, blah.

So after seeing the note I sent him, you all will instantly understand why I'm his absolute favorite person in the world.

Dear Clint,

I received a very succinct (apparently encoded) message on my answering machine the other day. I believe it was the evening we had been at the U of I watching the U.S. Gymnastics team perform. Jealous?

Anyway, since the message just said “CLINT!!!!" I immediately picked up the phone and called my good friend Clint Eastwood. While he was happy to hear from me, he assured me he had not called. He did however suggest we do lunch soon. I said “Great, I’ll have my people call your people.” And he said “Go ahead. Make my day.”
I must remember to pencil that in.

Since it was not THAT Clint who had called, I assumed it was you. After listening to your encoded message many times I decided it could mean a few different things:

You were trapped under something heavy and needed my help. And, well, since that was five days ago, I guess you’re out of luck.

You won the lottery and wanted to send me half.

You suddenly remembered you owed me $400.00 and wanted to tell me the check is in the mail.

You wanted to know my favorite flower so you could send me a “BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD” bouquet.

You wanted to apologize for that time you buried my Barbie doll in the backyard next to the cat’s grave.

You wanted me to shovel your driveway since you’ve been hit with a blizzard. Again, you’re out of luck, because you are the one with the fancy new snow blower, while we just have three shovels.

You are coming home for Thanksgiving and want to stay in our guestroom. Please please please let it be number 7. Note: Due to the failing economy we’ve had to raise our rates; I'll send you a new brochure.

I didn’t pick up the phone and call you back because I was tired and my husband has taken away our long distance on the land line and I didn’t know where my cell phone was and I couldn’t see taxing myself to go find it simply to ask you “WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

So, what do you want?

I love you man.


Friday, November 07, 2008


*Updated below*

When Blake was in first grade, Paul and I were going over some things with him that he needed to take to school. I can't remember exactly what it was but I think there was something he needed to give to the teacher.

Evidently our reminders insulted him because he stopped our stream of parental advice by putting his hands up, palms facing outwards and said:


In a tone that let us know he thought he'd never get us raised.

We weren't really surprised by this because he was always one of those kids whose vocabulary was bigger than he was. And nine times out of ten, he used the words in the correct context, if not in the correct tense.

Last night, Blake approached me with a request. A few months ago, he had pre-purchased a video game at our mall and the game was going to be available at midnight. The store was going to be open and he wanted to know if he could go out at midnight and pick up his game. The mall is extremely close to our house; you don't even have to get on a highway to get there from here.

Remembering his assurance, at the age of six, that he did indeed have responsible, I immediately said "Sure. And why not stop at the pub and have a beer with the guys while you're out."

Oh stop. I'm kidding.

I actually said, "Well, I think that would be okay, since you're seventeen and you wouldn't be breaking city curfew. However, if your dad gets home and disagrees, then you'll have to wait until tomorrow. Also, you have to get up without prompting in the morning."

And he accepted that.

Then I asked him about the game and he said it is an alien war game - outer space aliens, not immigrant aliens. And, apparently, it's all about fighting off these alien invaders.

Well, why didn't you say so? Of course, I want you to have that game because I am all about educational activities. And I think it's hugely important for our kids to know as much as possible about our fight for independence from space aliens. History is important, you know.

So then.

As we all went to bed, he assured us that he'd be very quiet as he left and returned on his midnight run for his new toy.

I woke up at 1:30 and checked out the window and saw that his car was home and thought "Ah. He did it. He left and came home safely and quietly. What a big boy."

Turns out my little fella couldn't stay awake and he never made it out the door.

So this morning before school, he handed me his pre-paid receipt and asked me if I would go pick up his game. Because I am the best mom EV. VER. I told him I would take care of that and that I'm sure he wouldn't mind running to the store for me this afternoon to buy water so that he could do all the lifting and carrying. Knowing he had no wiggle room, he agreed.

However, he couldn't help himself from reminding me just how important this trip to the mall was to get his game. He couldn't help asking me a couple of times if I was sure I had the receipt. He even suggested he might call me through the day to see if I had picked it up "...not to remind you, mom, but to feel the excitement of knowing it's at home waiting for me."

Yeah, yeah.

And darn, if I didn't think to put my hands up and say "Blake. Son. I have responsible."

I am usually much more quick witted than that but I had not had coffee yet.

But I assume I will have a happy kid on my hands this evening.

Well, once he finds the game.

Because, since I'm the best mom EV. VER, I'm going to hide it from him and make him go on a scavenger hunt for it.

Maybe I don't have responsible.

This was the best part of my day. My normally well spoken son was completley flustered and without words when he walked in and found a note on the dining room table:

Blake, can you find your game. Clue: a peaceful religious sect.

I was at the comptuer when he walked in and I said "Hi Blake how was your day?" And I heard complete silence for a moment and then he mumbled "Is this a joke?" So I knew he had read my note.

Seriously, mom, what is this garbage? Where's my game? You HID my game? MOM! I cannot handle this today. Where's my game?

Think, Blake. What is a peaceful religious sect?

Mormons, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness....I don't know, where's my game?

Um...Blake, I know you've heard of the Quakers.

You DID NOT hide my game in a box of oatmeal.....(opens pantry door)

Ah, but what's your favorite flavor of oatmeal?

I don't know!!!!! Mom, I can't handle this.

Oh, your game is fine, just hunt for it...(desperately wishing I had made lots of clues to send him all over the house. This was much more fun than I imagined. I never knew torturing one's child could bring such satisfaction.)

Thankfully the twinkle in his eye and his obvious attempts not to laugh made me know he was having fun, which really didn't matter because I was literally doubled over in laughter. To see this big ole tough wrestler nearly fall apart over not being able to find his new toy was, for some reason, absolutely hilarius to me. I was just waiting for him to stomp his size 14 foot on the floor and say "I'm telling DAAAD-uh."

As he dug his game out of the box of instant strawberry oatmeal he said "Thanks mom, and I have to admit, that was pretty cute... but don't do that to me again."

I am going straight to hell for my fine parenting techniques.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


For the last few days my sinuses have been on fire. It feels like I've inhaled a pool full of chlorinated water - and not the baby pool, but the big pool.
I can't stop sneezing.
My eyes feel like they have razor blades embedded under the lids.
My nose goes from completely stopped up to running so badly I carry paper towels in my pockets. Yes paper towels, because tissues just aren't substantial enough. Pretty picture, huh?
And evidently I swallowed a feather sometime Saturday night because I can't get rid of that tickle in my throat.

Because I've been suffering the worst head cold ever (because MY colds are always worse than anybody else's) I haven't told you about my new dust mop. So I'm going to do that today. And if you're lucky, tomorrow I'll tell you about my new dish towels.


I've been wanting a new dust mop for quite some time. I like my plain old dust mop, but it's broken. Every time I shake the dust off of it, the head falls off and then I have to reassemble it while I mumble and grumble. But I want a new one just like it - a plain old dust mop. The kind my mom and grandma used.

The kind Aunt Bea used.

I do not like a Swiffer, because I don't like to add a fresh cloth each time I want to clean my floor and then remove the dirty cloth when I'm done. I don't want to change a dust mop diaper when my floor needs to be cleaned.

I found a new fangled dust mop a few months ago but nothing clung to it. It simply moved everything around and let all the dust bunnies fall to the floor. That, I believe, is called a broom; it should not be marketed as a dust mop.

Last week, I went to Menard's determined to find a plain old dust mop.

And it was in the mop aisle at Menard's that my early onset Alzheimer's reared it's ugly head.

First of all, there were no plain old dust mops, so I picked one up that had a large rectangular head on it, which I decided would be nice for the staircase. It looked like it would pick up lots of dust. Funny thing, the handle was quite short - like about 3 feet long.


I took it off the rack and held it by the very tippy top of the handle and "dusted" the floor at Menard's, experimenting with the short handle.

Why would it have such a short handle?

Is it better for my posture?

Is it ergonomically correct?

It didn't have "CHILD'S DUST MOP" on the label.

I decided I could try it, despite it's very strange handle. After all, who am I to doubt the scientific advances of dust moppery?

It was while I was putting the dust mop in my cart that I actually read the label and saw "handle expands to 62 inches."

OOOOHHHHHH! Now I get it.

So then.

I came home, more eager than ever to search for dust bunnies. I expanded the handle and started to swish swish swish my new toy across the dining room floor.

Only to have the handle collapse back to its original child size length.

And because evidently I don't learn very quickly, I repeated this exercise about four times, getting the same results each time.

Swish swish swish, collapse.
Swish swish swish, collapse.

Finally, I went to the garbage can and dug out the label and actually read the directions.

That's right. I had to read directions on how to operate a dust mop. My self esteem was taking a real beating that day.

Turns out I was operating it correctly, which relieved me greatly. It is nice to know my college education was not a complete waste. It appears, though, that my expandable dust mop handle is just a little loose and cannot withstand the swishing pressure of dusting my hardwood floor.

Because I didn't buy a service warranty on my dust mop and didn't want to call a repair man, I did something that will make my husband extremely proud. I taped the handle in place with black electrical tape.

Now I not only have my new dust mop; but it looks really classy too.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


The other morning, while I was giving my kitchen a (semi) thorough cleaning, I decided to go ahead and make the meatloaf I had planned for dinner.

That's right, by 11:00 am I had my meatloaf mixed up and sitting in the fridge all ready to bake.

June Cleaver couldn't do better.

Anyway, the phone rang while I was finishing up and the caller I.D. said "U.S. GOVERNMENT."

Well, Great! You rip one tag off of one throw pillow...

Turns out I need not have worried. It was simply an Army recruiter looking for my son.

Hello, this is Sergeant Bates (or was it Gates?) May I speak to Blake?

And in an instant I went from June Cleaver to Mad Mother Bear.

Blake is at SCHOOOOOOL. *snarl*

Oh, has he gone off to college?

No, he's a junior in high school. And you can't have him.

Not really on that last part, but I was thinking it.

Blake has been talking to a couple of recruiters. He's spent some time with a Marine recruiter and yesterday visited with a Naval recruiter. Of course, the Army got wind of his military interest and decided to get in on the action.

Regardless of the fear that grips my heart when he talks about a life in the armed forces, I can't disparage that choice.

See, the pebble of military service has left a huge ripple in the pond of Blake's life.

My great grandfather fought in World War I and World War II. He spent the last thirty years of his life in a veteran's hospital suffering from battle fatigue. His body came out of both wars unharmed, but his spirit was scarred forever. Perhaps that is a worse fate than a bullet wound.

His son-in-law, my maternal grandfather, also fought in World War II in the Navy Sea Bees, leaving my grandmother at home to worry over her father and her husband as they fought on different fronts.

My paternal grandfather landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought behind German lines.

My brother spent 22 years in the army.

My dad served in the army.

My surrogate dad, Uncle Ivan, served in the Army.

My cousin retired as a captain from the Navy.

My father-in-law, Paul's step dad, was a medic in Korea and Vietnam. He has seen first hand the atrocities man can inflict on one another.

When Paul was four, his dad died of cancer after serving nearly 20 years in the Air Force.

Blake's "godfather" was a marine.

His wrestling coach, the father of his best friend, recently retired from the Navy.

Make no mistake, Blake adores his dad. It still makes me weak in the knees to see the bond Paul has with our son. But besides Paul, all the men Blake admires the most have a military past. These are honorable men. These are selfless men.

And because of that, to disparage a military choice would be like cutting them off at the knees in Blake's eyes. Because of the long history of military service in my family, to disparage it would be like hating the very essence of myself.

As an American, I think military service is among the most honorable of careers. It is a selfless career. It is a difficult career. And, unfortunately, in our society, it is a career that is easily mocked and vilified, making it a courageous choice in more than one way.

As a mother, the whole story changes. As a mother, I want to bar the door. I want to throw myself at his feet and plead with him to walk a different path. I want to beg him to choose something else - ANYTHING ELSE - that would not put his precious life at risk.

But I can't do that.

I am coming to realize more and more that he has a heart for service - military service. He has a heart for this challenge. And who am I to quash that spirit, that eagerness?

Who am I to live in fear and teach him, at this late date in parenting, to live in fear?

He has one and three-quarters years of high school left. He has time to make a decision. We have time to have some serious conversations and ask some serious questions.

And I have time to pray. A LOT.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Every now and then, Kayla and I have girls night.

Surprisingly, our Girls Night almost always takes place at the mall.

I know. Who'd have thought?

Tonight she is getting her hair cut so I suggested we eat at her favorite Chinese place in the tiny little food court after her hair appointment. She was all over that idea like what on rice.

Get it? Chines food...white on rice...?


I really look forward to our girls nights. Girls night always includes:



-the latest news from her busy teenage life

-accessory shopping

-my staring at her precious smile and wondering how we got to this point so quickly.

-her telling me that NO that top is not too young for me or NO those jeans don't make my butt look like a barn, when I try on clothes.

How sweet is that?

I think tonight she will come home with a new pair of fall shoes. I had no idea how dire her wardrobe was until the other morning, when the temperature was about 38 degrees, and I saw her walk to Blake's car in her winter coat and flip flops.

Flip Flops. On a morning when they had to scrape windows.

The poor girl is so low on proper clothing that her wretched mother had not bought her any shoes to cover her precious feet in the harsh Mid Western Winters.

And if you believe that, you might also believe that I haven't eaten any of the Halloween candy I bought last week for our tiny trick or treaters.


The bad news is she is still wearing flip flops to school. The good news is, she can suffer frost bite on her toes while wearing at least 12 different Old Navy colors.

And, really, isn't that what it's all about, the color of your flip flops? Not like say, oh, the need to actually put on socks when we have to run the furnace in the morning.

Of course, how she is going to wear those flip flops when her toes have to be amputated due to frost bite is beyond me, but I won't give her nightmares by delving into that.


I've gently mentioned over the last few weeks that it is time to put the flip flops into hibernation and choose a different shoe that covers her toes. Truth be told, she's 14. She knows when she's cold and when she needs to bundle up, but still the offer is there to pick up some new shoes that cover her whole foot, or at least the front half of her foot and can be worn with socks. Some that don't look like they've been through six months of snow, ice, salt and sub-zero wind chills.

Kind of like the skin on my face, but that's a different post.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Sarah Palin has had some interviews which were, in her own words "Less than successful." She was stymied by some of the questions. She was caught off guard. She was simply unprepared. Whether the interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric were designed to make her look foolish or not, she did not perform well with them.

Politics not withstanding, I think the Gibson interview was out of line simply because of Charlie Gibson's demeanor. The way he sat nearly knee-to-knee with her, peering down at her over his bi-focals was, to me, an obvious attempt to make her feel and seem inferior. He reminded me of the very pompous guidance counselor we suffered in high school. That being said, she didn't have the knowledge necessary to answer the questions well, regardless of the rude way in which she was treated.

Governor Palin also floundered with Katie Couric and has admitted that interview didn't go well.

But here's the thing.

Every difficult question asked received some kind of answer. She struggled; she hemmed and hawed; she zigged and zagged, but she tried to put an answer out there.

She stood and fought til the end.

Unlike Senator Biden who evidently has decided that when he receives a question he doesn't like he gets to attack the interviewer by asking "Is that a real question?" "I don't know who's writing your questions for you." "Is this a joke?" and then decline to answer the question all together.

Come on Senator Biden, give us an answer. If you're uncomfortable with the question, at least put up a fight. Don't bury the question in insults against your interviewer. And then don't send a scathing note to the network saying they will no longer have the privilege of your company or that of anybody in your camp. Don't take your ball and go home, when the game on the playground doesn't go your way. After all shouldn't the rules be the same for both teams?

Help us set an example for our young people, Senator Biden. Help us teach them that when you are sent to do a difficult job, like represent your campaign in a television interview, that you do your best to represent said campaign and muddle through even when it's hard. Help us teach them that, whether you can believe it or not, not everybody in this world is going to fall at your feet in admiration and, when we run across those who do not want to coddle us, we must still be respectful and eloquent in getting our message out.

Because isn't that what campaigning is all about - answering the tough questions? And really, if you are firm in your belief of all that your campaign is representing, why was it a tough question? Why not simply say, "Really, Americans need to understand that Senator Obama's finance/tax package is not a Socialist ideal because...." and then explain it to us. Some of us may actually want to hear another explanation on this. Some of us really want to look at these issues in an objective manner; and every chance to hear from both sides on such issues is beneficial to us.

Again, political affiliation aside, I worry about what an Obama administration means to our freedom to question our leaders, if this and other incidents (attacking Joe the Plumber?) are any indication of what happens if one were to ask the wrong thing. How will we be able to depend on our press to keep us informed of our leaders, to help with the checks and balances of our governmental branches, if journalists are frozen out for bringing up a touchy subject?

Senator Biden, you have many years of experience in government. You probably are more qualified than Sarah Palin to take on the job of the presidency should your running mate be elected. But you, sir, seem to run from a fight. At least Governor Palin stayed the course. At least she was able to come out of her fight, battle scarred though she was, and say she hung in there until the end. She didn't attack her interviewers simply because she was caught unprepared.

You, on the other hand, were intimidated by the tough question and so decided to attack the messenger. You decided you were above the kind of journalistic hardball you expect your opponent to play.

You may be better qualified, but this is one case, Senator Biden, in which you were bested by a girl.

Friday, October 24, 2008


So we're about to make some very exciting changes to our house. We've tried for months to find somebody to help us make this change and finally we found somebody that would actually show up and meet with us about this project.

We're getting a new backdoor.

I know. How exciting is that?

Our old back door was leaking and it caused the sub flooring in the kitchen to get wet and there is actually a hole in the sub flooring beneath our kitchen linoleum. Thankfully it's right up against the wall so it's a no-traffic area. Because that would be really bad to have a guest fall through our kitchen floor. Unless it was one of my in-laws.

Oh stop, I'm kidding.

So we found this really nice young man who has a new baby and was recently laid off from his job with a home remodeling company. Not only is he going to install our new door, but he's going to rip up part of the kitchen floor and replace the sub flooring. Then another nice young man is going to come in and replace our whole kitchen floor. We're going with hardwood.

Please don't tell me hardwood is a mistake. Somebody else has already told me that and I really don't want to hear it. We have hardwood in the dining room and I like the idea that the rooms will flow together nicely if we put the same floor in the kitchen.

It's funny how a small job turns into a bigger job or rather several more small jobs. Once I learned how willing and friendly our door guy is and how capable he seemed, I decided to push my luck and ask him if he would be able and willing to replace the interior trim around the same kitchen door he is replacing. And he said sure. Then I decided to ask him if he could replace the interior trim around our front door and he said sure. Then I asked him if he happened to paint, because we've been wanting to paint our red front door and sidelights white and he said that he doesn't paint but that he knows a guy who would do a great job.

Then he left a door catalog for me. A door catalog is not quite as exciting as say...oh...a Talbot's catalog but it's still shopping. Anyway, I knew I wanted something quite simple - one with a window halfway up instead of the full view kind we have now. I picked out three for him to price for us. Then he said I could get any of those doors with a built-in blind.

And I saw sunbeams descend from heaven and blue birds hovering around him and placing a wreath of wild flowers around his head. I think I heard "Bippity Boppity Boo" somewhere in the background.

A built in blind!!!

Oh my heavens. I want it.

Our kitchen door is in the middle of a three sided bay window on the east side of our house. We get lots of sunshine from that bay window most mornings. And I don't like it. I'm very sensitive to light and I don't like all that sunny cheer first thing in the morning.

Perhaps I am a vampire?

So then I asked him to price out all those doors with and without the built in blinds.


I called Paul to tell him everything I had learned and everything I had asked door guy to fix. I'm sure I could hear him roll his eyes, and I have a feeling he's moving all of our money to a secret account right now. And because I can never leave well enough alone, I said "I've been thinking..." which never bodes well for him. "I've been thinking. While we are having the hardwood put down in the kitchen, might we go ahead and put hardwood in the half bath? After all, it's right off the little hall that's also hardwood and it's so tiny it surely wouldn't be that much more. Perhaps they can use scraps. That would really make things flow nicely, if we went ahead and laid hardwood in there too. You know, continuity in floor coverings."

Because floor continuity is a hot issue right now.

And he said we could see how much it all cost and decide on that when floor guy arrives. But he wasn't totally opposed to the idea.


I've been planning to paint that half bath and redecorate. How simple it would be if I didn't have to protect the vinyl flooring while I'm painting. I already have the fabric for the curtain so it's a project that's been planned for quite a while. Really, it is.

It's so simple. You have a guy come and give you an estimate for a new back door and by the time he leaves you have a new bathroom.

See? How lucky is my husband to have such a logical wife?

Monday, October 20, 2008


After a long dry spell, something has happened that is so utterly ridiculous and outrageous that I cannot keep quiet about it.

Unfortunately I can't get the link to work so just use Google and you can read more about Chick Edwards.

Mr. Edwards is a residential developer in Kennewick, Washington who also happens to be the only member of his neighborhood's homeowners association. Seems ole' Chick, when he sells his properties, makes the homeowners sign covenants stating they will landscape within a certain amount of time. That's pretty standard.

We've signed that kind of covenant, but on the first one we never planted one tiny little sapling in five years and nobody came after us.

That's because we hadn't bought our property from Chick, who had threatened to sue a property owner for not landscaping in the prescribed time. What was this "clown" doing that prevented him from landscaping his lot?

Um....FIGHTING A WAR IN KUWAIT!! After he moved in, his reserve unit was called up and he had to leave. His pregnant wife and young son moved to another state to be with family. The nerve of these people!

Well, that's not good enough for Mr. Edwards. He doesn't give a (beep) where the guy is, he darn well better put in some grass and plant some marigolds. And he's really mad that this "clown" gets to be off doing whatever he wants and the lawn isn't being landscaped.


Because, evidently, this young soldier and his pregnant wife, are just so selfish worrying about his personal safety, the birth of a baby and raising their young son that they can't be bothered with urgent matters like laying sod and planting some marigolds.

Thankfully some very kind co-workers, friends and community volunteers stepped in and picked up the slack. They landscaped the lawn for this young couple who seem to have their priorities all wrong. The volunteers followed the soldier's request and put a big flag pole in the yard - a flag pole big enough that Chick Edwards can see it from his house. Something tells me that Chick won't like that flagpole. Something tells me we all know where Chick can put that flag pole.

I have used a search engine and found Mr. Edwards' address. THAAAAAT'S RIIIIGHT! I'm writing him a letter to say "Shame on you..." and other profound things. There are a few things I'd like to ask him.

Um...Mr. Edwards? Chick? Where's the anger coming from, buddy? Don't you think you might be going a little over the top with the landscape thing? Is there something else that's got you riled up and you are taking it out on this young man and his pregnant wife who are just trying to raise their family while at the same time making an extreme sacrifice for our country? Really, we want to know. Because reasonable people like me really can't understand your completely ridiculous reaction over a lack of rosebushes in a yard that is no longer yours. Where does this insecurity come from? Is it your name? Are you insecure because you are named after a small fuzzy barnyard baby that shows up in Easter baskets? Are you unhappy because your name is a slang term for girl?

Whatever it is that is driving you over the edge with this landscape thing, you might want to resolve it because I think you are running yourself out of business. Seriously, who do you think wants to do business with a man who is so narrow minded that he cannot find his way to cut some slack to a young man who has been deployed to serve in Kuwait? And didn't your attorney tell you that you are not allowed to bring a law suit against a person serving in a combat zone? Perhaps you'd like to hop on over to Kuwait and speak to this nice young man in person? I think there are some of us who would be willing to buy your ticket - one way of course.

And this Homeowners Association? You're the only member. Does that mean you're the president? How exciting it must have been when you were elected by you.

Oh, and Mr. Edwards? I think you made a serious mistake in calling this service man a clown. A clown? Really, he's a clown that is off doing whatever he wants? If you don't have a platoon of veterans swarming down on your property right now it is only because they have better judgment and restraint than you do.

You, sir, are the clown. And I think you've just stuck one of your big ole' floppy clown feet in your mouth.

Perhaps it's time you remove it and apologize.