Thursday, January 31, 2008


I am a rubber stamper. I make greeting cards and other gift items. I love stamping. LOVE. IT.
I could stamp all day and all night. Although I always feel like I should hang my head in shame when I add " don't scrapbook. It's not that I don't think scrapbooks are perfectly lovely. Some of my best friends are scrapbookers. And I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with scrapbooking. It's a wonderful creative outlet. Really. I totally respect scrapbookers. It's just that I...well...I...I just don't have the patience or the discipline to sort all my photos from the shoeboxes they are in and then put them in a book. I mean, where would I start? It's just not for me, but I'm glad YOU enjoy it. Where would we be without scrapbookers? am not a scrapbooker. But I hope we can still be friends."

Anyway, when we finished our basement a couple years ago my husband built me a stamp room. And yes, that's what we call it.

"Where's Mom?" "In the stamp room." "I'll be in the stamp room kids." "Um, boys, you can't use the stamp room as part of your X-box party..." I love my stamp room. LOVE. IT. Other stampers envy me my stamp room.

No brag. Just fact.

And I am ever so grateful to my husband. So much so that every now and then, I sneak up behind him, while I'm on a break from stamping, throw my arms around his waist and whisper seductively in his ear "Thank you for my stamp room." Gets his motor running every time.

One of my favorite parts of the stamp room is the extra desk we put in. On the wall of cabinets, we put in two desk tops, so I could have a friend stamp with me or, more importantly, my daughter. And every now and then, when she can fit me into her busy schedule, she sits at her desk and does a project. And, tonight being Thursday, she might just fit me in tonight, so we can watch CELEBRITY APPRENTICE while we stamp.

Anyway, I just finished my first major stamp project. I made 53 Valentine cards for the kids at the children's home where my mom works.

For a long time I've really wanted to start doing something meaningful with my stamping supplies and, if I have any, talent. Finally it dawned on me that I could start with the kids at this
children's home.

And I had so much fun. At first I worried I wouldn't be able to come up with enough "boy" looking Valentine cards, then I decided not to fret over that and just go with the ideas that came to me. You know, freely accept the creative energy that floated into my brain.

Yeah, that's it. Creative energy floating into my brain.

So if you notice my hands are stained with purple ink, or red, or pink. That's what it is.

Creative energy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


There was a time when this kind of winter weather would have passed me by without much of an impact on me. I'd alter my day a bit; dress the kids a little warmer, putting them in turtle necks and sweatshirts, thick winter socks. I'd go without a few groceries that I thought I needed just to avoid getting two little ones out in the ice and sub freezing wind chills. I'd "break the rules" a bit when it came to playing at home. We'd build a blanket fort, bring out the macaroni bucket, watch videos. And more videos. We'd ALL get a nap after lunch.

We'd stay in where it was warm. And safe.

Yesterday, as winter weather began to settle in, Kayla's volleyball game was cancelled. And was I ever relieved; because I was nervous about putting my daughter on the team bus in that sleet and those freezing gusty winds which the news had said "could be hazardous for high impact vehicles like buses and semi-trucks." Kudos to the SV school district for cancelling that game. The bad weather had barely started and somebody had the foresight to keep those kids home. So many times, the powers that be will take the chance that the weather won't get any worse, only to have kids and their families on the roads in dangerous conditions. This time their prediction was spot on.

So the game was cancelled and I got to feel that brief moment of relief.

Until I realized my other child was out in that weather. He was at wrestling practice 15 miles away. Thank goodness he had come home and taken the jeep before he went, so at least he wasn't driving that little mustang that makes me crazy nervous. But still. He is 16 and a half. This is his first winter of driving. He was driving on county roads, not major highways. And he's my baby boy. Even his dad was worried. I know because his dad called and said "is Blake home? These roads are bad." So if DAD was worried, then surely MOM had a right to be a complete basket case.

Of course, everyone made it home safely and we settled in for the night and I resisted the urge to bake cookies and we listened to the wind howl and howl and howl all night long. And before falling asleep I turned to my husband and said "Thank you for our wonderful home."

And I found myself thinking all evening long "There was a time, when this weather didn't set me on edge like it does now."

There was a time when I was able to keep both my chicks in the nest, protecting them from winds that howl and snow that bites. There was a time when the closest they came to being out in the elements was pressing their faces against the picture window while they watched the blowing snow. Or they were only out in the snow when I chose to spend 20 minutes bundling them up so they could go out and stumble around in it for 10 minutes, before they decided it was too cold after all; so we'd come in and place mittens and socks on the heat registers, find our favorite blankets and settle on the couch to watch Barney.

There was a time when they were only out in the world when I was right there beside them, watching, monitoring, teaching, protecting.

But now?

Now is the time when they are out in the elements, more and more, without me. And for longer periods of time.

Now is the time when I have to bury my fears and let my face be masked in confidence. Confidence in them. Confidence that they will make the right choices. Confidence that they will heed my usual words as they leave the house "Represent us well. Be safe. Be smart."

As I send them off under an umbrella of prayers and wonder where the years have gone.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I have been living a lie.

An e-lie if you will.

There is something I have been keeping from the blog world that I finally must confess to you.

So far I have just been too ashamed and embarrassed to put forth the ugly truth about myself. I fear abandonment (by all 4 of you) I fear social isolation (e-social isolation? social e-isolation?) I fear finger pointing and snickering.

But, in order to have inner peace, I must let you know this awful truth about myself.

I do not know how to blog.

There. I said it. It's true. I'm a blog phony. A big fat blog liar. A bliar?

Oh, I can put the words to paper, so to speak; and some even say I have a way with words. But that is all I know how to do. Get the words out there. But there are so many other things I can't do.

I can't post photos. Ok, I did it once but it took me FOREVER. And the entire time I was doing it, I kept thinking there had to be a better way. Surely the bloggers who post photos on a daily basis do not go through this daily - with mulitple photos. I know I need to invest the time into really looking and studying and learning this stuff, and soon it will be second nature. But I am impatient and old and set in my ways, and I just don't have the energy to tax myself that way.

I can't link to other blogs or websites. I have looked in the "help" section of blogger and the only thing that accomplished was making my eye twitch. Again, I know this will just require a little bit of time on my part, and the end result will be worth it. Think of the wealth of information that I can open up to you, my readers, when I learn how to link. You lucky people you.

I can't seem to lure commenters onto my blog. Probably because of the other things I can't do. I know this doesn't really matter, because this blog is mainly for my children - a legacy. But still it's nice to know you're not speaking to a brick wall. My own husband doesn't even comment, which shouldn't surprise me, because when he travels, his e-mails home are never more than five words "arrived fine will call later" A man of few words - in person and on the keyboard.

I'm sure if I could post photos my comments might increase. Then again, I don't have small children, and those are the photos people love. My children are teenagers and, even though my 16-year old son runs from a camera, I think they're gorgeous. But most people don't look at pictures of teenagers and send comments like "so cute!" or "can't wait til mine can do that?" I don't have cows or mustangs. My husband is not a cowboy. I don't have triplets. Or a new baby.

But I still want to post photos. Mainly for that legacy thing.

In light of all this, I want to confide in you about someting else.

I'm thinking of breaking up with Blogger. Please don't tell yet. Blogger is just too complicated. I won't go into the details, but we've been having problems for a long time. Blogger's been good to me, in some ways, but I think the end is near. Out of respect for Blogger and our time together I will let Blogger know first the reasons for our breakup. I have been composing the letter in my head for a while. I know I need to let Blogger down gently, but I also know it must be a clean, swift breakup. And I don't really want to leave Blogger until I have someone else lined up. I am a girl who needs a word companion. I know that is weak. But I have to have somebody waiting in the wings before I break off this relationship. I just hope I don't have to get a restraining order.

There. It's all out. Judge me if you will. Now I am going back to bed and regret clicking on "Publish Post."

Friday, January 25, 2008

I (heart) JENNIE FINCH...

I have started to love Thursdays. Thursdays are fun. Thursdays are exciting and full of anticipation. Thursdays are the new Friday. Well, not REALLY, but they are something to look forward to.


Because that's when we watch CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.

The kids and I love that show. LOVE. IT.

Several years ago, when The Apprentice first started, the kids and I sat down to watch the premier episode because Daddy was traveling. And, although, it may not have been the best television for elementary school kids; it was a fun and relaxing way to spend an evening at the (near) end of a week without Daddy.

We haven't always been able to catch it in following seasons, because the kids have become busier. And if the kids are busier, mommy and daddy are busier.

Now, though, we are watching it, because each of the kids has a favorite celebrity on it.

Kayla loves Jennie Finch, the Olympic gold medal pitcher for the U.S. Women's Softball team. And Blake likes Tito Ortiz, a UFC fighter. I watch it because I love to hate (well not Hate exactly...) Omarosa. That woman....

Anyway, last night Blake and I sat side by side on the basement sofa and watched celebrity apprentice. At eight o'clock, I plopped myself on the couch and said "Celebrity Apprentice...I expect complete silence" (a running joke in our house) and lo and behold, Blake comes down the stairs ready for an hour of television himself. Not up in his room, but in the basement. Right beside me on couch. And I knew he was there for the entire hour because he came prepared. With a snack size bag of gardettos, cheetos, and sun chips (that would be THREE snack size bags of various chips) and a 54 ounce bag of skittles.

So I said, "Don't you think you should have some fruit, or maybe another bowl of that stew we had for supper? There's yogurt. Want a yogurt? You know, if you're hungry?" And he said "If I had stew for supper, I don't need it again. Besides, I'm not really hungry."

Oh. Okay. It was just that wheelbarrow full of food that fooled me.

Anyway, Blake and I sat on the couch and laughed and snarked and commented on how we miss Gene Simmons because he was so funny. And we listened to Stephen Baldwin laugh and didn't say a thing because I was laughing so hard at Stephen's goofy laugh. And I tried to eat a few Skittles but they were just so sweet they made my teeth hurt - which is why I bought those at Sam's instead of m&m's - because I won't suck Skittles up like a hoover, and with m&m's my kids wouldn't stand a chance. Neither would my hips.

And the only thing wrong with the evening was that the sofa, on my right, was empty. Kayla was babysitting and couldn't be there. She did, however, come home and say "Did you see that Jennie got fired? I'm so mad." And I said "Yeah, she's too nice. Donald Trump knew it. He knew she didn't belong in that world. She's better off."

Yes, Jennie, you are too sweet for the business world. You are too genuine. We HEART you, Jennie.

Last week, Kayla and I watched CELEBRITY APPRENTICE in my craft room, while we, well, crafted.

And it was the best evening EVER!!!

Because Gene Simmons was SO FUNNY. And I could hear both my kids laughing, Blake from the family room and Kayla from the desk beside me. And no matter how old your kids get, their laughter is pure music.

And, my stars, Kayla has a great laugh. When she was four years old, our friend used to love to hear her laugh. He'd say "She's got the biggest laugh for such a little girl. I love that laugh." She laughs from the belly - a bubbling source of joy that cannot be contained. It's pure and genuine and is guaranteed to make even the grumpiest person smile.

Whether she's laughing at herself (which she can do better than some adults) or recalling a funny experience with a teacher, or relaying something embarrassing that happened to a friend; her laugh is quick and sparkly. It's contagious. It reaches every bit of her body and then radiates outward to anybody who's lucky enough to be nearby. It reaches her eyes and makes them dance. And the accompanying smile? Lord, have mercy, is it ever sweet.

It makes my heart say "What a gorgeous smile. How will any boy ever be able to resist that?"

It makes my head say "What a gorgeous smile. We are so lucky not to have to put braces on those teeth."

So, even though Jennie has gone home to her husband and baby and awesome softball talents; and even though Gene Simmons has gone home to whatever it is Gene Simmons manages to do with himself now that he is a washed up rock-star; I will still look forward to Thursdays. And I certainly hope my kids do too. I am willing to bribe them with skittles until the final episode, if that is what it takes.

Because I believe in instilling certain family values in my kids. Like the importance of sugary treats and trashy television.

Yep. Mother of the Year, that's me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


So I just got a Lane Bryant catalog in the mail. I don't know why. I've never shopped at Lane Bryant. I do not wear the sizes that Lane Bryant offers. But there it was in the pile of mail.

Even though I don't wear their sizes, I looked through it because I like to look at any clothes.

I mean it was kind of like a mini shopping trip in my kitchen.

And that is when I became offended.

Lane Bryant is a store for plus size women. And from what I can tell in their catalog, they have some pretty clothes. Funny thing is - none of the models in the catalog were plus size models.
Seriously I don't think any of these women wore above a size 10. And I don't think that's plus size. In fact, it's probably small compared to the average American woman.

So why, in the name of all that is relaxed fit and stretchy, would Lane Bryant choose to put these obviously- not- plus- size- women in their catalog for plus size clothing?

Do NOT EVEN TRY to tell me there are not women out there beautiful enough to model for this catalog and TRULY wear their clothes. There are many, many, many beautiful women who are plus size who should have the opportunity to model the clothes this catalog offers.

Shame on you Lane Bryant. And shame on you models who took a job away from the women who truly deserve to model for this catalog.

I am tempted to track you all down and force feed you chocolate.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Why, why, WHY, in the name of all that is on sale and going fast, can't I go to Wal-Mart and stick to my list.

WHY, must a list that started out like this:

cookies/snack cakes
laundry soap

end up costing me $200? Two. Hundred. Dollars!!

Somebody stop me!

Obviously I have issues.

I have stock-up issues. I blame this on my mother's neurotic need to stock up on certain things. I stock up on different things, but still, I've obviously inherited it from her. I probably have the only husband in the world who says "Honey, we have too much food in the house..."

I have "I don't want to have to go to the store again" issues. If I am at the store, I wander the aisles thinking about what else I might need so I don't have to get out again.
I blame this on my husband's former travel schedule.

He used to travel for work quite a bit. I mean VERY. EXTENSIVELY. He went to Peru and Columbia quite regularly, and on short notice. He went to Pakistan and Brazil. He'd leave on Monday, come home on Friday, leave on Monday come home on Friday.....and I'd use his time at home to make sure I had everything I needed in the house before he left again so I wouldn't HAVE to run out with two babies to get crucial items. Because in January and February in Illinois, you don't want to have to bundle two babies up to go buy apple juice, milk, diapers and baby Tylenol during a snow storm. I always took the kids out while he was gone but I wanted them to be trips that I CHOSE to do - like the mall or McDonald's or the children's museum. It was one way to make a stressful time easier for me - eliminating any inconvenience I could because I had no backup.
Isn't it funny how we become entrenched in a certain mindset even after our circumstances no longer warrant it? I am still sometimes stuck in the "MUST BE READY FOR ANYTHING!" mindset. What an impact those years made on me.

Finally, I have "well, now we can afford it" issues. When the kids were little, we lived on a very tight budget so that I could stay home to raise them. I don't regret it for one minute but there were certain things the kids asked for that I would have to say "no" to because they were too expensive.

Like grapes.

Kayla loved grapes. And I almost always told her no we couldn't buy grapes, because they were usually $3.59 a pound or more, and then we'd buy apples. I always felt bad that I couldn't justify fresh grapes for my little girl. When they would go down to $2.59 a pound, I'd run out and buy them, cut them up and let her feast on grapes. But I wasn't going to go to work so that my children could eat grapes.
Which leads me to another question. Would young mothers today consider me a bad mom because I didn't stretch my budget to include more fresh produce for my kids? I was raised on canned fruit and so were my kids to a certain extent. In fact, I think most kids 15 years ago were, at least in my circle of friends. But fresh produce in this part of the country is pretty expensive for half of the year. And it's not always that good because of what it goes through to get here. I a bad mother because I wouldn't buy grapes for my daughter when she was 3?

But back to the "well, now we can afford it" issue. Today I bought two fresh pineapples. Because Kayla has been enjoying fresh pineapple and I want to be able to keep it at home for her; because now we can afford it. I mean it's not a box of chocolates, or frozen pizzas. It's pineapple. So I bought two because she loves it, and so do I.

That, and I wanted to use my new pineapple corer.

Other things I bought,

dog food

ketchup, ranch dressing, and barbecue sauce - because they, along with maple syrup are like nectar from the gods for my family. Seriously my family are condiment junkies.

a space heater for the basement

a shower curtain for the kids' bathroom - because I am ashamed of the words that go through my head when I clean their shower and the "one-piece -with -the -look- of- two -panels -and- a -valance" shower curtain keeps falling in my face. I went with a plain straight shower curtain.

Mucinex - that stuff is NOT cheap
English muffins
canned soup

various other things that will make my husband do that thing with his eyes because we have too much food in the house. But, boy, wait 'til the next blizzard hits and we have everything we need. Who'll be complaining then, huh?

Oh, and guess what I packed in Kayla's lunch this morning.


Yep, life is good.