Friday, May 30, 2008


In the interest of full disclosure, I thought it would be great fun to recall with you, my ones of readers, the moments in our parenting journey that have had us scratching our heads and wondering if we would make it through the day without poking our own eyes out with an ice pick.

Let's start with the furniture store.

We usually had good luck taking our kids just about anywhere that was family friendly. They behaved well in restaurants, the mall, the grocery store, church. Well, most of the time they behaved really well; there were, of course, times that did not have happy endings.

Our kids were about 3 and 6, or 4 and 7, when we took them into a furniture store. I can't, for the life of me, remember what we were shopping for; but we were surely ready to purchase something or we would not have been there. We did not routinely stop in at furniture stores just to browse. We had to have a specific purchase on the horizon to enter a furniture store.

Because our kids were usually pretty good when we were out in public, we gave no thought to unloading them from the van and entering this furniture store with them. Looking back, one mistake might have been NOT reviewing our expectations with them. I was really big on that. But perhaps we were smug and overly confident. Or perhaps some of our brain cells had died that morning, as is wont to happen when one becomes a parent.

Whatever the reason, our world turned upside down as soon as we entered that store.

The door had not even closed behind us before our TWO children had seemingly multiplied into SIX. I am not kidding. As soon as we were in the door, the kids zipped off in different directions and started climbing on coffee tables, bouncing on sofas, slithering under end tables, scaling bunk bed ladders, and grabbing every throw pillow within reach. And to top it all off, this store had an open staircase down to their lower level; so they naturally ran down the stairs, and back up again, down the stairs and back up again.

Paul and I were paralyzed.

We stood wide eyed and slack jawed while we watched, for a moment, the children of Satan completely humiliate us. I was wondering how they could turn on us like this. How could they possibly choose to ruin my life like this in public? I'm sure Paul was adding up how much it was going to cost us to pay for every piece of furniture they scratched, chipped, or marred with their grubby little paws as they ripped through the store like two tiny tornadoes.

What in the world had happened?

I figure the elapsed time in all of this humiliating activity was about 2 minutes, but things seemed to move in slow motion. There was a voice in my head that said "GET MOVING! STOP THEM!" But I think I refused, for a moment, to believe that this was happening to me. My kids had turned into those kids at the grocery store that I looked at with sadness and judgment. I was that mom who could not control her children. My worst nightmare was coming true.

Finally, we regained movement in our extremities and rushed off in two different directions to round up the little people who had plotted and planned this horrible exhibition to completely ruin our lives. I honestly don't remember what happened after that. I'm sure I was down on their level whispering through clenched teeth, putting a period after every word, and letting them know they'd be lucky to see their next birthday if they did not "STOP. RUNNING. AROUND. THE. STORE. THIS. VERY. MINUTE. OR. YOU. WILL. RECEIVE. THE. SPANKING. OF. YOUR. LIFE."

I am feeling flushed just remembering it.

About a year later, we took them back to that furniture store to buy a new bedroom suit for ourselves. We were going to use Paul's bonus to buy the first matching bedroom suit we'd ever had in our twelve years of marriage. And you better believe our kids got a huge lecture on how to behave in a furniture store.

Funny, after that last visit, that store went out of business. I think we scared them away.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I used to love grocery day when my kids were little. Really, I did. They always behaved well, and it was a couple of hours out of the house. And I had to get out of the house each day when the kids were little.

Also, when we got home, I made a game out of putting groceries away. I divided the counter top into 3 sections and said "Freezer things here. Pantry things here. Refrigerator things here." And they'd sort the groceries for me so I could put them away.

But as they got a little older - like early elementary school - trips to the grocery store took a little different turn, because I spent the entire time saying NO.

Mommy, can we buy orange soda?


Mommy, can we buy Fruity Pebbles?


Mommy, can we buy strawberry milk?


Mommy, can we buy strawberry syrup to put in our white milk?


Mommy, can we buy oreos.

Absolutely. Make it two.

No no no no no. It seemed that's all I ever said; and I'm sure it seemed to them that's all they ever heard.

So I decided to give the kids a little control over our shopping trips; and I invented the Mommy Dollar.

I made little construction paper dollars and gave each child two Mommy Dollars each time we went to the store. For each Mommy Dollar, they got to choose one item to put into the cart. When they put it in the cart, they handed me a mommy dollar.

With Mommy Dollars, if they asked for something I would simply say "if you want to use a Mommy Dollar on it."

Of course there were some rules for using Mommy Dollars:

-A Mommy Dollar was not equal to one actual dollar. The item could cost a little more, or less.

-They could not pick toys.

-I had to approve the item.

They usually picked things like a box of pop tarts that we wouldn't normally buy, a six pack of pudding cups, a bag of chips, occasionally a bottle of soda - things that would not normally go in our cart but I didn't mind if they had occasionally. Sometimes Blake would choose a six pack of IBC root beer, which would usually cost him both of his Mommy Dollars. And sometimes, I'd reward the kids with an extra Mommy Dollar. If they'd been exceptionally good while daddy was gone I'd say "you guys are getting THREE Mommy Dollars at the store today!"

Mommy Dollars worked beautifully for us. We did the Mommy Dollar thing for quite a while - up until they stopped going to the store with me; except when the kids got older, I think we called them Mom Bucks. Mommy Dollars took the negativity out of the shopping trip for me. They allowed me to stop playing the bad guy who always said no; and they made the kids aware of what went in our cart. They made the kids really think before they chose something because they knew their "dollars" were limited.

Now when I go to the store I say "I'm going to the store tomorrow. If you have any requests, write them down."

Blake's list usually looks something like this:

Full Throttle
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Ice Cream
Oatmeal Cream Pies

And I usually say "Um, Blake? You might get one of these items, if you're lucky."

Kayla's list might look something like this:

Ice Cream
Ranch Dressing
Gala Apples
Microwave Popcorn
Fruit Chews

And I will say "Ok, you can share ice cream with Blake, and the rest looks pretty good."

And of course, asking my kids to come to the store with me now is like inviting them to their own execution. It's not gonna happen, people.

But I still get the last laugh because I leave all the heavy stuff in the car for them to carry in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I couldn't decide what to post about today:

- Carpools - again

- Migraines

- The price of gas

- The search for the perfect wedding shoe

- Insomnia

- Other drivel that keeps my ones of readers checking in several times a day so they can become bored enough to fall out of their chairs.

So I didn't post about any of these things and, instead, left a post on that other blog of mine - you know? The grief one. But it's a dark, depressing post, so avoid it if you want.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I do not drink alcohol.

But I totally don't mind if you drink it. Really I don't.

I used to think it was wrong to drink alcohol. I used to allow myself to be swayed by some very strict conservative views that proclaimed the consumption of alcohol was morally wrong; yet at the same time I was never offended to be in the presence of somebody else who was drinking it. I don't know if that made me a hypocrite or not...

Now I don't think drinking alcohol is wrong. I think drinking alcohol to the point of becoming drunk is wrong. Because becoming drunk is an abuse to your body, and it's an embarrassment to yourself and those around you.

But even though I don't think it's wrong to drink, I still choose not to because:

- I take medications that may or may not mix well with alcoholic beverages, and why take the chance that I may or may not have a seizure at some upscale social function. That would totally embarrass my husband and probably ruin a really nice outfit.

-Alcohol can trigger migraines and, as a sufferer of migraines, it's not worth the risk for me.

-I truly believe I have an addictive personality. My grandfather (my dad's dad) was an alcoholic and, from all accounts, a pretty mean one when he was drunk. I know now that when we visited my grandparents when we were little, the "meeting" my grandfather was at was Alcoholics Anonymous. My dad drank a lot. He never got mean or out of line, but he started drinking early in the day and certainly liked his beer. Because of the history of heavy drinkers in my family, and my addictive personality, I choose not to take the chance.

-I don't like the taste. I have tried to acquire a taste for wine. You know? To be social. But I just don't like it. And why learn to like something that may or may not cause a migraine, or a seizure, or excessive vomiting.

So I don't drink.

And people look at me like I'm speaking a foreign tongue when I pass up an alcoholic beverage at a party. And I'm getting pretty tired of it. I mean, if I don't judge you for drinking; then why should you judge me for NOT drinking?

I didn't feel so freakish as a non-drinking teenager as I do as a non-drinking adult.

Can anybody tell me why that is? Because it's really irksome to me.

Last summer, Paul and I were invited to the home of his co-worker for a wine tasting dinner. They have a small vineyard and they harvest their grapes and transport them to her brother's vineyard where he actually makes his own wine and sells it under his own label. They took us on a tour of their vineyard and explained the whole process of growing and harvesting grapes. It was really fascinating and Paul even went back the next day to help harvest. Then with dinner, they served wine that had been made at her brother's winery.

The thing is, when we received the invitation, Paul told the hostess that his wife didn't drink wine but that we'd be glad to come. She said she probably wouldn't be drinking that night either because she wanted to be able to get up early the next day, and that she'd have soft drinks available. I was still a little uneasy about the whole evening because I knew I would stick out like a sore thumb being the only person without a wine glass in my hand.

So as they started pouring wine with the appetizers, while the guests mingled, I simply stayed back and didn't grab a glass. One of the other guests actually looked at my stomach and said "Are you pregnant? I'm just not used to seeing somebody NOT drink unless they're pregnant." To which I said "If I was pregnant, Paul would be falling down drunk right now, from the shock. No, I'm not pregnant. I just don't drink wine."

But, really, why did she even have to ask me why I didn't drink wine? Why did she have to draw attention to me for that? Am I the only one who thinks that was rude? Am I the only one that thinks that was a classless thing to do? Because this woman was the wife of a REALLY big wig in the company and she should have had more social grace than that.

And to top it all off, there were NO other drink options. The hostess actually handed me a glass from the counter and pointed to the sink where I could help myself to some tap water. I felt lucky she hadn't sent me outback to drink from the garden hose.

So when we were invited to another "grape picking supper" this year, I told Paul that, if it wasn't that important to him, I wasn't going, but he could sure go without me. I was made to feel so uncomfortable at the first one that I can't see myself going again.

At the office Christmas party, while I was drinking ginger ale, I also had to offer an explanation to the man beside me as to why I didn't drink wine or beer or gin and tonic or martinis. I was very honest and polite and told this man that it triggers migraines, doesn't mix well with my medicine, and, honestly, I just don't care for it. He was actually pretty sweet about it and listened to me as though he was fascinated at having met such a rare person. Oh, and he was British so he can go home and tell his friends he met an American who doesn't drink. Imagine!!

Please don't think that because I don't drink alcohol that I'm not social. Because I am. Really, I'm social. And I can get as wild and crazy as the next girl, without wine or beer.

I've embarrassed myself and my family plenty just by drinking diet Pepsi.

Please weigh in on this. If you are a drinker, does it bother you to be around a NON drinker if he or she is NOT judgmental about your choice? Shouldn't we, as adults, be way beyond the stage where we care who joins us in a glass of wine? Really, why do I make people so uncomfortable?

Monday, May 26, 2008


I just told Paul I was going to write a post on marriage and asked if he had any words of wisdom. His advice to men: Keep the toilet seat down.

Is it any wonder the spark of romance still shines brightly in our marriage?

Last Friday - May 23rd - we celebrated 21 years of marriage. Well, we didn't CELEBRATE exactly. We marked the occasion by taking our kids out to lunch and enjoying a day off for Paul. We had agreed to buy no gifts, but I found out Paul bought me something, so the night before, as I was running Kayla to the hair salon to get her hair done for graduation, I said "Oh, and I'm going to buy your anniversary gift, since you broke our agreement and bought me one."

See? Romance.

Some friends seemed surprised we had no special plans for our anniversary. We usually go out for a nice dinner; and often take a weekend away. Paul always takes the day off. Only a couple times in 21 years, have we done basically nothing to celebrate. This is one of those years where we did basically nothing to celebrate.

And guess what.

That's OK with me.

I love that our marriage is such that we do not need roses and wine; fireworks and sizzle, every time May 23rd rolls around on the calendar. Because, really, we try to celebrate our marriage every day. And I'm just gonna say it - we have a great marriage.

We REALLY have a great marriage.

I don't mean to brag, but it's true.

We have a great marriage, because we work at it.

Our marriage hasn't been great EVERY MOMENT for the last 21 years; in fact, we had a couple of pretty rough years early on. But somehow, we've managed to make a success story out of two people who probably got married too young, while still in college.

So here are my tips for a great marriage - because since it's my blog I can call myself an expert.

- Keep your faith at the center of your marriage.

- Second only to your faith - LAUGHTER - make humor a big part of your home. Be able to laugh at yourself. Laughing with Paul is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. Laughter will get you through many things - even the most difficult.

- Have a financial plan that works for both of you. Don't let one person control the money. If the wife doesn't work, try to allow her some money that is hers to spend without having to check in with the husband.

- Husbands, if your wife is home raising YOUR children, NEVER NEVER NEVER make comments about her going back to work, if she's not ready and if your budget doesn't need it. NEVER minimize her work as a stay at home mom. NEVER NEVER NEVER ask her what she does all day when she spends the day at home with YOUR small children. If you have to ask that question, take a week off and do her job for her. You will fall at her feet in adoration after that.

-Wives, NEVER NEVER NEVER belittle your husband's job choice. If he is working hard and doing his best to provide for your family, let him know you appreciate it. Much of a man's identity comes from his job and his role as provider; to belittle what he does is like cutting him off at the knees. If he likes his job, is good at it, and well respected by his peers, don't push him to change jobs to make more money. Be proud of his work ethic. I once heard a woman say with great disdain,"My husband's a CARPENTER," and made her embarrassment quite clear. I quickly told her "Jesus was a carpenter."
You most likely knew his career choice when you married him. If it's a different style of living you hope for, change your standards, you'll be much happier. And yes, I have personal knowledge of this; I'll post on it later. Thank your husband for how hard he works to provide for your family. Being a provider is much more than making money, so thank him for the efforts he makes.

-Husbands, take an active role in child rearing. I have realized that Paul spoiled me in this. He set the bar very high when it comes to judging young fathers. Paul was VERY hands on with our babies. Even though I breast fed them; he got up at each feeding, brought the baby to me, sat and talked to me and touched the baby, then changed the diaper and put the baby back to bed. Then he got up for work the next morning. I never had to leave instructions for Paul when I left our babies with him, even the first time. I realize now that he was rare. He is still VERY hands on with our teenagers and actually LOOKS FOR ways to spend time with them, rather than being goaded into it. Husbands, just so you know, a wife finds it very romantic and even sexy to see her husband being an involved, loving father. Wink. Wink.

-Wives, appreciate and acknowledge his efforts with your children. So what if lunch isn't what you'd make, or the outfit doesn't match? So what if the little ones get dirty when Daddy watches them? Here's a secret. They probably have more fun with daddy because there are fewer rules with him. If the child is kept safe and happy - let them do it. Many dads don't chip in because mom's standards are too high and he can't please her. Moms, lighten up and don't rob your child of memories with daddy because he does things differently.

-Wives, learn about your husband's job. Even if the details cause you to fall off your chair in boredom. I've had lots of people ask me "Oh, and what does your husband do?" And I feel good knowing I can give them at least a good enough explanation to make THEM fall off their chair in boredom. Again, his job is a big part of his identity. Be interested in it.

-Husbands, ditto with your wife's job.

-If your child is disrespectful to your spouse, jump in and let them know you won't tolerate it. Let those kids know you are a united team, and you won't let them disrespect your partner. Our kids are very rarely rude to me and I credit Paul's example in that. Also, the one time when Blake was about 10 and he got in my face and raised his voice, Paul's punishment was SWIFT AND HARSH. Swift and harsh enough that Blake, I'm sure, never forgot it. Talk about Shock and Awe. I hope that I've set the same example in the way I treat Paul; and letting the kids know that I won't tolerate them being rude to their dad - my partner for life.

-Along with the above, be a united front in discipline. If your child asks for something, make it a habit to ask them "have you asked your dad/mom and what did they say?" One time when Blake was about 3 he asked to do something and I said "Did you ask Daddy? What did he say?" And he very sadly said "Daddy said 'no way, Hosea.'" And he was busted. As they get older, it's ok to tell them "we have to discuss this, and then we'll let you know." If Paul is out of town, I will tell the kids they have to wait until I speak to their dad on the phone, if it's an issue I'm not sure about. This is a good way to let them see you are a team.

-Go away for weekends. When our kids were little, we went on weekend get aways every 3 months. They were never fancy get aways, but we left them with grandparents or friends and left town. Children need to see you make time for your marriage. They need to see you make your partnership a priority. Now that our kids are older, we don't feel the need to get away as much, because the daily grind of child rearing is not nearly so exhausting; but when they were little, we were very diligent with this; and I think it was good for the kids too.

-Go on dates. Simple dates are great. We at least go out for a cup of coffee, without kids, once a week. When they were little, if we didn't want to hire a sitter, we had "at home dates" where we'd put the kids to bed, order take out and sit on the living room floor, without television and have a quiet dinner. Now, of course, we have teenagers and we have to beg them to go with us, so date night is not a problem. But if you have little ones, try really hard to go on dates. Swap baby sitting if you can't afford to hire one. Even getting groceries without small children can be fun. I really believe young couples don't go on dates enough, and it's so important for a marriage.

-Fight fair. Every couple argues. If a couple doesn't argue, somebody is being treated like a doormat. But think through your words before you say them. This is more of a problem for me than for Paul. Paul would never argue if I didn't make him. I have learned to think about things, sometimes over night, before I speak my mind. And Paul has learned not to run away from an argument; because it really is NOT a good idea to leave the room while your spouse is trying to discuss something. So if you choose your words wisely and your spouse will remain in one place and listen to them, things should turn out great. know what...the bedroom...I can't talk about that because my daughter reads mind.

-Don't hold your mother-in-law's actions against your spouse.

-Respect your in-laws even if you don't always like them. They are your spouse's parents, and as such deserve your respect. Further, they are your kids' grandparents.

-See your kids through their grandparents' eyes. Watch them like Grandma does and you will see a whole new child. Encourage them to spend time with ALL of their grandparents. Some will do things differently than you and you may not agree with it all but grandparents crave time with your children; so please let them have it. The memories they form will be precious for your child and for the grandparents. When our kids were little, I always thought of my mom first to watch them. When I realized that Paul's parents were just as eager, it was a gift to all of us to allow them to keep the kids. Each set of grandparents did different kinds of fun things with the kids, so they were excited to see all of them. I'm so glad I saw the error of my ways before it was too late.

-Husbands, tell your wife she is pretty. OK what I'm about to tell you is absolutely true.
My husband tells me how beautiful I am EVERY DAY. Sometimes I tell him his eyesight is failing; or he must have just finished a 20 year prison term if THIS looks good to him. But he tells me I'm beautiful. And I really think he means it, despite the weight I've gained, and the wrinkles, and the mood swings.

-And if not for my daughter reading this, I'd tell you how the above benefits my know....

I think that's it for now. But I might think of more. I'm sure I'll think of more. I would recommend two books that are very old and old fashioned - "Letters to Phillip" and "Letters to Karen." These books were written by a father to his son and daughter before their respective marriages. They are simple advice letters on how to be a good husband and a good wife. Again, they were written in the 70's I think but some of the advice still holds true.

Let me know some of your tips on how to keep a marriage happy. And I also realize that now that I've made this list for my ones of readers, someting in our household will blow up in our faces and I'll feel like a complete failure as a wife and mother. But, per number 2 - I'm sure I'll laugh about it.

Sometimes right in the middle of an ordinary life, love brings us a fairy tale...

I am so blessed to be living my fairy tale.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Yesterday, when Blake got home from weight - lifting he found me in my craft room and said he needed to talk to me.

See, I had done something the day before that had hurt his feelings and disappointed him. I did something that embarrassed him; and I don't mean the typical day to day embarrassment that most teenagers suffer at the hands of their mothers. I'm talking about embarrassment that hurt his spirit and, although he didn't say it, probably made him question my loyalty to him.

He sat down and calmly and maturely stated his case and told me why my actions had made him so unhappy. He didn't raise his voice or even appear angry. That's how I knew his heart was hurting and not just his feelings. I told him I agreed with his feelings; explained how I would handle similar situations in the future and apologized profusely for letting him down. I told him that no human being on this earth will come before him or his sister in my heart, except their father, and I hope he believes that.

This one hurts.

This one makes me feel really small. I am disappointed in myself.

Disappointing your child is much worse than making him angry. I've been making him angry for nearly 17 years; and we both know it's part of the parent child relationship. But disappointing him? Making him feel uncomfortable? Huh-uh. That just doesn't fly.

I just wasn't thinking. I wasn't looking at things through his eyes. And now I know better.

The beautiful part of all this was that after our talk; he stood up and said "Thanks mom. I love you." And he hugged me.

I wanted to hold on forever because when you're son is closing in on 17, you don't get a lot of hugs from him. I had to stand on my tippy toes to hug him. And he had to meet me halfway by hunching his tall lanky self into an arch.

This child who learned to walk by following my outstretched arms; this child who learned to tie his shoes under my direction; this child who learned to ride a bike with me running beside him; this child who just moments ago stepped onto the school bus for his first day of kindergarten; this child who has learned from me for nearly 17 years, taught me a valuable lesson yesterday.

Learning from your child - it's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


*Edited to add: I have realized that I completely read my son's diorama instructions wrong. The Biomes are: polar, tundra, coniferous, deciduous forest, grassland, desert, tropical rain forest, temperate rain forest, marine and freshwater -NOT fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals as I had stated. I do NOT in any way want to be responsible for my ones of readers learning their Biomes incorrectly, so I thought I must come on here and clear the air.

Oh, and after I went through all that hassle to buy his animals, Blake decided since it is an OPTIONAL assignment, he wouldn't do it, because it seems impossible to meet the requirements. I have no idea where the students are finding the animals for this project because each project must include TWO animals from each group. I agree with him on why it must seem impossible to do it correctly....but COME ON!!! How much heartache can a mother take!

The stress level at the W household is very high right now. Seriously, between 1 and 10 I'd give it a good solid 13 on the stress-o-meter.

Paul has a sore throat and is experiencing some job dissatisfaction right now. Blake is uptight about final exams and end of the year projects. Kayla has final tests and projects, the end of track, the beginning of softball, camps to plan for and occasional junior high girl drama. And me? Well, I have all of the above since I am the wife (slash) mother and it is my job to nurture and take on everybody else's worries, even if they don't want me to.

Plus I am in a state of bereavement, which really has muddled my mind to the point where I find myself distracted by shiny objects and forgetting my children's names.

So when my husband reminded me that he'd be a little late today because he was playing golf this afternoon, I asked him "which restaurants will you be passing on your way home? Cause it would be a good idea for you to bring home dinner tonight. Seriously, you really should not say no to this request." And somehow he knew not to hesitate for one second before saying "I'd be happy to."

I expected today to be a busy but manageable day. I had to drop Boomer off at the vet, run to Wal-Mart for a couple of groceries, run to the mall for softball socks, make two batches of cookies for Kayla's class project tomorrow (which will be the subject of my next post) and find plastic animals for a diorama.

"A diorama?" you say. "Does that mean you have a 3rd grader?" you might ask.

The answer to that would be a big fat NO.

My tenth grader has to make a Biome diorama for biology. And since he wants to make it to match the poster he made of the Temperate Deciduous Forest Food Web, he asked that I find little plastic mammals that were similar to the pictures he placed on his poster.

Do you think that was an easy task?

Again, the answer to that would be a big fat NO.

I found plastic firemen, plastic military men, plastic construction workers, plastic dinosaurs, and plastic aliens.

Where have all the four-legged mammals gone?

What I did find that would fall under the heading of "biology requirement" were a tube of plastic bugs which would, evidently not meet any of the requirements (now that I'm reading the instruction sheet); a tube of plastic fish which would meet the requirement for a biome of the Osteichtyes or Chrondrichtyes Biome; one plastic elephant and one plastic giraffe, which of course are mammals, but would make a pretty paltry Mammalia Biome. Oh and I found some individual sticky sea animals that feel like jell-o, at the Dollar Tree.

My final stop was Target where I found the tube of fish and the tube of bugs. Thank goodness there is a Starbucks in there; the vanilla latte I'm sipping now is saving my sanity.

When the coffee girl asked if I wanted anything added to my latte I said "yes, a shot of tequila wait...make that two!"

Oh, I'm kidding!

I am now hoping my highly stressed teenage son will look at all these plastic animals I have purchased and decide to change his mind on what kind of Biome Diorama he wants to make. Because I simply cannot come up with a plastic cougar, bear, deer, opossum, skunk or rodent mouse. And if he utters one word of dissatisfaction with my efforts today, the Mammalia Biome fur is going to fly.

Now, I mean no disrespect to teachers, 'cause I love them.

But come on!

Asking a 16 year old boy to make a diorama is like asking him to shop for his mother's underwear. Seriously, this is not a good idea.

I am frustrated enough that I'd like to glue the teacher to a shoe box and call it a School Biome diorama.

We'd call it the Secondary Educationus Ridiculosi Biome.

Monday, May 12, 2008


So quite a while ago Beaner mentioned in a comment that she'd love to hear what works for us as parents. I haven't really addressed that because:

a) I thought she surely must be joking

b) I couldn't think of anything

So I asked my kids. "Hey kids, what would you say I've done well as a mom?" To which Kayla replied "you took me to the emergency room the day I broke my thumb; and didn't make me wait two weeks like when Blake broke his finger."

Um, yeah. It's always good to be reminded of your brightest moments as a parent.

And Blake replied "Tuh...I don't know."

See? I am just a shining example of parenthood.

But last night I saw evidence of something that's worked for us.

We had the best evening when we went to dinner. The food was good. The conversation was good; and there was lots of it. All four of us laughed a lot. I sat in the booth thinking I must surely be the luckiest woman on earth.

I am always proud to be out to dinner with our kids and watch them interact with the servers in the restaurant.

We taught our kids very early to order for themselves when we went out to eat. I think by age four, they were ordering on their own, with prompts from us.

We taught them to look the server in the eye, speak clearly and politely and say "May I please have chicken fingers," or "I'd like the pizza please." We taught them that when a server comes and brings their food,they are to look at them again and say "Thank you" very clearly. And they are to continue saying thank you each time the server brings them something. If the server asks if they need another drink they are to say "yes, please" or "no thank you" and look them in the eye when they speak to them. They are to hand their empty plate to the server if possible when he or she comes to get it and say "thank you" when the plate is removed.

This stuff can be taught to children fairly early. They do not have to be able to read to order at a restaurant. We simply prompted them by saying something like "tell her 'I'd like chicken fingers, please.'" I don't remember ever having a server seem impatient with us while our kids learned on their time. But I do remember receiving compliments on our kids when they were little, because they interacted with the wait staff so well.

Kids can, of course, also order at fast food counters on their own when they are very young.

These restaurant lessons are important because they teach independence, they encourage verbal skills, they keep the kids busy for a while if you are preparing them to order like a big boy or girl and, most importantly, they teach kids to be polite and respectful to everybody with whom they come in contact.

So last night, I was watching our kids with the waitress and I was so proud of how respectful they were to her and how they each looked her in the eye when they spoke to her. They each said "No thank you" and "Yes Please" They looked at her when they ordered and didn't keep their faces buried in the menu. (I am really big on eye contact. Eye contact makes somebody feel like they are worth your time. I do not trust people who won't make eye contact with me. That's why I keep hammering that point.) I hope our waitress last night finished her service to us feeling good about her job.

I certainly finished dinner feeling good about my job as a mother.

So, there you have it. My first installment of "What Works for Us."

Sunday, May 11, 2008


My typical summer outfit is a plain colored t-shirt and denim, black or khaki shorts or capris. Except this year I've decided to do skirts. I've always loved skirts and now is a good time to wear them since I've decided my thighs do not need to see sunlight until I've lost 5 or 40 pounds.

In the past I have bought my t-shirts at Kohl's.

Can I name stores on here if I'm going to say less than favorable things about their products?

Anyway, Kohl's t-shirts are usually like 7.99 and they have good colors and I like the neck lines and, of course they are cheap.

The trouble is, over the last couple of years, their quality has dropped dramatically.

Very dramatically.

If I dry them in the dryer they shrink up. If I hang them up to dry they lose their shape AND shrink up and I end up looking like Opie. They are fine t-shirts if you plan to wear them only once. You know? A disposable t-shirt.

So this year I have declared an end to the Opie shirt and I let my husband know that I am no longer buying cheap clothes that don't last more than one summer. Heck, these shirts don't last more than one washing.

"I mean it," I said. "I am not buying any more cheap shirts. I don't care how much I have to spend; it will be worth it to get shirts that last several seasons. I'm going to Talbot's."

I am woman hear me roar.

And he actually drove me there. Funny, though, while I was there, he walked to the wine shop. Now I know why that credit card receipt didn't make him have a stroke. I mean he seemed awfully relaxed that afternoon...

So I got to shop at Talbot's. And can I just say....Holy Fashion Plate!! Those are some beautiful clothes! I mean really beautiful.

If I was a working woman, and made, like...I don't know...any money at all...I'd be in there all the time. It's a good thing Talbot's is down town and I forget about it or I'd be the best dressed divorced woman in town.

So I bought myself some t-shirts and a 3/4 sleeve shirt. And a denim skirt that I absolutely HAD to have know...the thigh thing, and I suggested to Paul that he not look at the receipt until...oh, he was like 60 or something.

And now, here it is Mother's Day and it's rainy and windy and cold and the t-shirts are still in the sack because I'm dressed in a sweatshirt and craving hot cocoa.

But I think they are going to last me a while; and I don't think I'll have the Opie look anymore.

Oh! And guess what!! My children got me a Talbot's gift card for Mother's Day. With 3 more just like it, I can afford that polka dot skirt I saw last week.
And they both got me really funny cards. Kayla is into the Hoops and Yo-Yo cards from Hallmark. They are really funny. She got me one of those and I have laughed all day with it. You can see Hoops and Yo-Yo at

And Paul punched me for mother's day....I mean he GAVE ME SOME PUNCHES for mother's day - a complete set of alphabet punches for my card making, which I had pointed out to him and put on my wish list.

Now Kayla is on her way to the mall with Daddy, and Blake is out on a hunt for a Wii, which we promised the kids we'd buy if we had a successful yard sale. Which we did. And I think I'm going to settle in for a rainy day nap.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I started a new blog. It's a grief blog. It allows you to avoid my grieving process if you want to.

So, head on over to if you are interested. I haven't posted anything there except my little test post, but still....

I think this means I'm a chain.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Here I sit after a prolonged absence with nothing to say.

Well, actually, I have a lot to say, but don't know which words to put out there.

I feel I need to be careful about the amount of time I devote to my grief on here. You know? I don't want any of my ones of readers to come over and say "Is she STILL talking about her dad's death?" But then again, it is MY blog. It is being written for my own memory and for my children; and I'm hoping that someday, should they be facing grief like this (and they are sure to, because it is a part of life) that they might draw something from my own experience, as unique as it is... WAIT! I've just convinced myself to grieve all I want to on here.

I am swayed so easily. Now you all can see how muddled my mind has been the last few days. I have lost countless items, forgotten events that are coming up, failed to know what day it is (seriously)neglected to fix supper, forgotten common household chores, and allowed myself to become completely overwhelmed at the thought of participating in the neighborhood yard sale. So much so, that my husband, who is in such a hurry to rid our house of crap...I mean junk... I mean somebody else's taking Friday off work to do the garage sale because "I simply cannot focus on doing that right now. I do not have the energy or the desire..."

In other news...I had lunch with Marilyn yesterday. My grandmother and my aunt also joined us. I was struck, sitting at the table in Steak-n-Shake, that four of the most important female relationships in my dad's life were sitting there - his wife, his mother, his daughter, and his sister. And isn't it funny that he had two wives (at different times of course) two sisters, and two daughters. Of course only one mother. But each of those vital relationships was represented. I wonder if he would have been struck by that as well.

I cannot get Marilyn out of my mind. She is driving home today and it will be her first time to be in their home alone. I offered several times to drive back with her, but she insists she must do it sometime so she might as well do it now. She also said she has not really had a chance to sit alone and cry and she needs to do that. Yes, she does, and she will do it often, I'm sure. So I told her if she gets home and decides the solitude is indeed too painful, to call and I can be there in a few hours.

I've learned that grief is one thing, but the worry for the others who are grieving is another very difficult thing for me. I cannot quit thinking of my brothers and sister. I cannot quit thinking of Marilyn or of my aunt who spent the final moments with her big brother. I cannot quit thinking of my grandmother who knows the heart wrenching pain of burying a child and how, even if he was 64, she must surely wish she had not lived to feel that pain.

And I cannot quit thinking of the last day I spent with my dad, in his house, sitting on the couch holding his hand; and wondering if he had a fever because his hand felt hot. He told me a funny story about trying to buy shirts that were on sale but he could never find the actual sale items and he kept taking the wrong things to the checkout counter, and he finally ended up paying full price for everything he bought that day. THAT had to be VERY painful for him because he was indeed one of the cheapest people I've ever known. But he laughed. He could certainly laugh at himself, and had a great sense of humor. Five days before he died, he was sitting up on his couch making me laugh. I still cannot wrap my mind around that.

Given my past with my dad, I never thought I'd miss him so much. But my how I miss him. The last eighteen months were indeed beautiful for me, given the time I got to spend with him and Marilyn helping them at their house.

I have found myself wondering if perhaps God had a plan. Eighteen months ago, when Dad had taken his first chemo treatment, and Marilyn broke her foot mowing the yard, did God have a plan that would lead me back into their lives, that would lead them back into my life? Because it was ME that he called for help - the one child from whom he had been the most distant. He called ME.

And I feel some peace in knowing that he got to know the person I've become. He told me how proud he was of my giving nature and my willingness to go anywhere and do anything for them. He told me how he appreciated that nothing seemed to be a bother to me, and that I seemed to make everything fun. And those were hard words for him to say, because he was a quiet, private man -not given to expressing himself. As hard as the words were for him to say, they will be in my mind forever as a reminder that perhaps I have turned out OK after all. Because no matter the relationship you have with your parents, you want them to be proud of you.

Also during those eighteen months, I got to know him as a person, apart from the biased words I had heard from my mother all my life. I got to know him as the man I thought I remembered from my early childhood years - quiet and funny. That's how I have always described my memories of him and, strangely enough, that's how everybody described him during the week of the funeral - a quiet man with a great sense of humor. I certainly cannot brag about the kind of father he was, but I loved him as a person. I liked him as a person. I enjoyed him as a person. He made me laugh and he made me feel loved for who I was and not for what I could give him.

And it is that person who keeps me awake at night and muddles my thoughts through the day and causes tears to creep up on me at the oddest moments.

It is that person that I miss so terribly.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Hey ya'll. Go on over to and see this little one's version of Hey Jude.

"Remember to ret her in to your heart...."