Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Kayla recently told me about a little boy who spends most of his day in a wheelchair. When he does walk, it is with the aid of crutches and braces, I believe. This little boy is the brother of her buddy and classmate; and she has seen him at the pool this summer.

Evidently, at the pool, he makes his way to the end of the diving board and tucks himself into a ball and rolls into the deep end then paddles with his arms to the edge. Kayla commented on how neat it was that evidently his parents have treated him as though he could do everything any other child could do; only a little differently.

I so agree.

I saw that little boy today as I was walking around the neighborhood; his family lives one block over.

Before I saw him I saw two other boys ahead of me playing around a pickup truck in a driveway. One was in the back of the truck while one was hiding behind the end of it. Both were armed with giant squirt guns and they were, apparently, taking cover to avoid detection. You know - like all well-trained soldiers.

Then I saw the other little boy come across the street, in his wheelchair (grinning ear to ear) stop at the end of the driveway, lean forward and pick up a third giant squirt gun and prepare for battle.

I, of course, was walking right into a war zone. Each of them stopped and watched as I approached; they lowered their weapons and respectfully waited while I passed. Evidently they were hoping to avoid any collateral damage.

I resisted to urge to stop and watch because I didn't want to interfere with their fun...I mean...battle plans.

Here's the thing. Those two little boys, hiding in and behind the truck, saw in the other little boy a worthy opponent. They weren't going to give him any breaks. Nor were they expecting any less of him than they themselves were planning to dish out.

In their eyes he was just like them.

He could not stomp in mud puddles, but he could drop himself into the deep end of the pool and get himself out again.

He could not run into battle but he could roll in and be prepared to fight just the same.

They were all equal in the battle of the squirt guns.

He was, like them, just finding adventure in every waking moment of a summer day. He was a fellow explorer, a fellow soldier, a fellow cowboy - whatever one of them dreamed up at the moment.

Children don't have to take the blinders off to see the world; they've never put them on in the first place.


Well, now that I've ticked off a major portion of the homeschooling community - or kissed up to them - however you want to look at it - I don't know what to do with myself.

Maybe I should look at it in a more healthy way? Like...I don't know..."now that I've opened the lines of communication about a potentially divisive and volatile topic, allowing each side to air their views in a safe, nonthreatening environment, in order to enlighten others and promote world peace everywhere...."

Anyway, I keep trying to think of something else to put out there - another topic that would generate 31 comments. THIRTY ONE COMMENTS!! The only way I ever dreamed of having 31 comments on this little ole' blog was if I continued to go to my own comment section and pretend to be a different person each time; pretend I had 31 blog friends.

Kind of like when Jan pretended she had a boyfriend (you know, the Brady Bunch) and kept having the operator call her so she could talk to her boyfriend George....George Glass.

I'm thrilled that I may have some new blog friends. But I don't know what I'd do without my "old" blog friends - you three people out there who comment regularly and remind me I'm NOT, in fact, talking to a brick wall - keyboardily* speaking.

(*Keyboardily - adverb - of or having to do with the keyboard, usually of the computer variety, not the piano variety. She was a keyboardily gifted girl but she had the voice of a goose.)

Because I know that friendship should be judged in quality not quantity

(Cue Brownie Girl Scout song now...make new friends but keep the old. One is silver; the other gold...)

And...wait...where was I? Oh yeah 31 comments. I love it!

But it's exhausting. Because to ignore all of those comments would have been rude, so I tried to go back to each blog and respond; or respond right here if the person didn't have a blog. And when I responded I tended to get a little wordy. Because, like in real life, I often don't know when to shut up, keyboardily speaking.

Each time my son would walk by the computer and see me madly pecking away at the keyboard, he'd say "Great...she's at war again..."

To which I'd say "I'm not at war, I'm merely responding to a response, so I can let my appreciation and my opinion be known."

My fingers haven't moved across the keyboard so much since my senior year in college when I wrote 3 papers a week; and then it was on an electronic typewriter, not a computer.

Speaking of writing college that's a whole other post. I'll save it for later.

In other news, Kayla and I are going out today so she can get a new high school look - hairdo wise. Then we're going to do a little shopping for school clothes. Then we'll probably eat Chinese food because that's what we always eat on our girls days out. Then we're going to stop in at the grocery store so I can buy some bacon because we received 2 beautiful fresh tomatoes from our vegetable co-op yesterday, and I absolutely have to have a BLT some time today. Then I ABSOLUTELY have to get some cleaning done in this house.

Tune in tomorrow for "BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH - Part II."

Funny - spellcheck keeps flagging "keyboardily" and I keep telling it that it's 2008, it must be a word.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Dear Blake -

How is it possible that something which happened 17 years ago is so embedded into my memory it's as though I was experiencing it right this very minute?

How is it possible that I remember every minute detail of my 22-hour labor and subsequent
c-section, yet it was SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY? How is it possible that I remember every detail of your precious newborn face, fingers, toes as though I was holding you for the first time right now?

Parenthood has a way of doing that - of making seventeen years fly by as quickly as turning a single page of a calendar.

I will admit to secretly wanting a little girl before you were born. But when I saw you for the first time I realized I had been wrong. I had wanted a boy all along. Suddenly having a little boy was the best thing in the world. Everybody should want a boy!! Everybody needs a son!!

Because boys are so fun!

Because we were young parents, and because you were our first, we probably made a lot of mistakes on you. There were many things we did not know, things we had to learn as we went along. Because with parenthood you definitely get on-the-job training.

But one thing we did know was how to love. And, my stars, did we love you the very second we saw you. Surely no baby was ever as loved as you were. Surely no other couple felt the magic we felt when we looked at you. Surely nobody had ever felt this way before.

That's the way it is with new parents. They are very self centered and wrapped up in their own little world. And our world was wrapped up in a hospital receiving blanket.

We did not have a lot of money back then, so you did not wear designer baby duds. You did not have a nursery fit for a magazine spread. You never got a motorized car or a grand play structure for the backyard. But we had faith that our love and devotion would suffice.

And I think it has.

I used to say you were a fussy baby, but now I know I was probably a fussy mother. I was probably nervous and anxious and passed those feelings on to you. But, oh my goodness, you were the sweetest, most compliant little toddler and preschooler. You were so full of joy and a love for life, I would have taken six of you.

There was a time when you were about a year old that I told your dad "The house will be a mess for the near future. I cannot tear myself away from this child to tend to the mundane details of housework. I've fallen in love with another man; he's short and chubby, nearly bald and only has 8 teeth, but he's my world." And your dad just went along.

Because if people thought I was crazy over you, they thought your dad was a blubbering idiot because of you. That kind of love does that to the most stoic of men. I wish we could turn back time to allow you to watch your dad welcome you into the world. He was meant to be a dad. He was meant to be YOUR dad. He was hands-on from the very minute you were born, and he's still hands-on, even as you are several inches taller than he and are approaching adulthood.

Approaching adulthood.

How did we get here?

How did we get to the point where we sit at a restaurant drinking coffee and OUR LITTLE BOY orders cappuccino?

How did we get to the point where our little boy is discussing colleges and career choices?

How did we get to the point where our little boy can have me in stitches laughing at his very irreverent and sarcastic humor?

How did we get to the point where our little boy sometimes jingles when he walks because he has his own set of car keys?

How did we get to the point where we stand at the door and watch our little boy drive off with his friends to do...well, whatever it is you do with them?

How did we get to the point where, when I do get a hug from you, you have to bend yourself into a horseshoe to grant me that blessing? Where to feel your forehead to check for a fever I have to stand on my tiptoes?

I don't know how we got here. It is truly incomprehensible that those long days and nights have turned into lightning fast years.

Every night before I sleep I thank God for you. I thank him for the joy you give me and for keeping you safe yet another day.

I thank him for answering my prayer for a little boy when I hadn't even prayed it.

Happy Seventeenth Birthday, Blake. You are my world.

Sunday, July 27, 2008



I am certainly not used to reading so many comments on my blog. Nothing like putting a controversial topic out there to get people to chime in. Of course, I didn't exactly put it subtley; I came right out and said "answer me this..."

And they did.

And I have learned some things:

I've learned that my children are blessed to be going to what we consider an outstanding public school; because there are some really lousy ones out there.

I've learned there are countless reasons to homeschool - medical issues, individual learning issues, scheduling issues, disdain for the public school system all around. Lots of things.

I've learned the word "educrat." And apparently I am one.

I've learned that many of the questions we ask homeschoolers can be turned around and asked to us. And I kind of like that.

I've learned that some don't mind being questioned about their choices when the questioning is done respectfully; while others...well, they might have been a little ticked off at me and thought my questions were stupid.

That's the trouble with the written word, you can never be sure you are putting out the right tone. You can have the best of intentions and the kindest of thoughts while you write, but it may still come across to some as downright snotty. And perhaps the reverse is true with me; maybe I've read some posts and taken them wrong. Open mind - we all need to have an open mind.

I already knew that homeschoolers were passionate about their choices, so the passion with which these responses were made did NOT surprise me.

No, I have not decided to homeschool my children; we are thrilled with the progress they are making in life walking their current paths. So, no, I haven't been converted; but I don't intend to try to convert any of them either.

But I do like my new insight. I am glad to have "met" other homeschoolers besides the ones in our lives who have made me angry with their attacks on our choices. Because that was my intent - to reach out for information that would help me to conquer my own tendency to stereotype and make gross generalizations.

But can I confess something here?

I've been nervous.

Because I'm such a peacemaker (some would say wimp) I have been nervous all weekend about the thought of offending people. I mean I wouldn't want to make anybody MAD. And we all know if we want to make anybody mad (especially moms) we just have to question their parenting choices. So as much as I am enjoying the responses and, OH MY GOSH, the fact that my comments have reached at least TWENTY, I don't know if it's worth it. I mean I am going to think long and hard before tackling another controversial topic - like say breastfeeding, the death penalty, the upcoming election.

Because I'm not sure my nerves can take it.

But yippee!!! I no longer have to say I have ONES of readers. I think I can now accurately number my readership in the TENS. Of course I'm no Pioneer Woman but still.....

Now if only I can get these homeschool moms to keep coming back when I'm talking about things like cleavage and black napkins.

You know. The important stuff.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


When I "published" my previous post, I was actually a little nervous because I knew I would step on some toes. I knew I would offend some readers although; I also knew I'd offend very few readers because...well...I HAVE very few readers. That's one good thing about having a teeny tiny little blog with a teeny tiny number of readers; you can write almost anything you want and nobody will know about it. I have often wondered if publishing a very controversial post would bring people out of the wood work and make my comments reach double digits. Trouble is, I can't think of anything REALLY controversial. Probably because I'm afraid of confrontation and don't really want to make anybody mad at me.

Anyway, in an effort to show homeschooling mothers everywhere that I do respect them and I would love to know more about their choice, I would like to ask some questions. Keep in mind that these questions are being asked in the most respectful of ways. I am neutral in my asking. I just want to learn your viewpoint. Because the best way to come together with somebody with whom you might disagree is to learn their side of the story. And I just want everybody to get along. I don't want tension on this blog of mine. I don't like blog tension. I don't like blension.

So, home schoolers, please answer my questions in the comment sections, or leave a link to your blog so I can read all about you.

Ok here we go:

1. What was your motivation for homeschooling? Was it based on religious reasons? Was is it based on curriculum - did you want more freedom in choosing what your children were being taught? Was it based on socializing - wanting to have more control in the people with whom your children came into contact with? Was it based on logistics - the nearest school being 20 miles away? What made you finally decide to go this route?

2. Don't hate me for asking this. How to you handle socialization? What steps do you take to make sure your children are around other children and adults? Are you active in a home school group? Do you spend a lot of time at church activities? Maybe you utilize the local Y for activities and they meet friends there?

3. Do you use the public school system for any part of your child's routine? Some children here come to the school for band or chorus, or maybe for science class. Do you send your child to the public school to take advantage of any of their programs?

4. Do your children begin and end school at the same time each day? Do they have a strict schedule, at least as far as waking up and reporting to the school area of your home? If not, when/how will you transition your children into following a more rigid schedule - awaking at the same time each day so that they can follow a routine outside of the home like for college and work?

5. How many spelling bees has your child won? Oh, I'm kidding. We all know most of the recent national spelling bee winners have been home schooled children. I just wanted to throw a little funny in there?

6. Do you have a sense of humor? It's probably a little late for me to ask that but...

7. Where do you find your curriculum? Do you shop for it and order it? Do you create your own?

8. Do you have any worries at all about teaching your teenagers the higher level math and sciences? I, for one, could not teach chemistry to my children but I could probably teach them calculus. Is this a concern for you?

9. What bothers you the most about the reputation home schoolers have? What things do you hate to hear people say about you for your choice? I really hope you don't say that it's my previous post.

10. Be honest, do you, at least in your mind sometimes, judge those of us who choose public school? Do you ever think we are making a bad choice for our children? Are you vocal about that disapproval?

11. Is "home school" one word or two? I've seen it both ways. With spellcheck, it shows it as ONE word when used as a verb, but two words when used otherwise. Please enlighten me.

Um...that's it. I look forward to your responses. And if you have any homeschooling friends, send them on over to weigh in.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Honestly, I do not want my blog to be "preachy" but this has been on my mind for so long and recent happenings have caused me to throw up my hands and say "That's it! I've gotta have my say...."

When Blake was in the sixth grade, I was in a conference with his teacher when she said "I need to speak to you about the fact that I have assigned Blake a new seat. I want to assure you that it is not because he was misbehaving, but because I felt the need to put him beside a boy that well liked. Blake is the only student in the class that has shown this other boy any tolerance. Blake is kind to him."

I went home and told Blake that this meant more to me than any straight-A report card.

There are other instances, which I won't go into, where my children have been a good influence on other kids - where my children have extended a loving hand, spoken a kind word, reached out and loved.

There are instances where our home has been a safe haven for some of their friends.

I do not write this to toot my own horn about my child rearing success. I write this to point out that these things would not have happened if I home schooled my children. For if I home schooled my children, they would never have seen these others in need. They would not see the loneliness of the child who sits alone in the cafeteria or the sadness of a classmate who has endured a verbal attack; and therefore they would never have had the opportunity to reach out with a loving hand. You know. Like Jesus would.

They would not have seen these things, if I home schooled them, because they would only be seeing people just like them. They would only be exposed to people with the same family life, the same values, the same religious beliefs. And where is the opportunity for outreach? Where is the opportunity to share their faith? Where is the opportunity to OWN their faith? Where is the opportunity to put into practice what they've been learning in theory, if they are not out among other children?

Matthew 5:14ff tells us: You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither` do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.

I want my children to shine their lights. And we have decided that they can do that by going to public school. Of course their are other reasons for our decision, but that is one of them. Just as home schoolers have decided their children will best be taught and "used" for Christ by remaining at home; we have made this decision because it is best for OUR family.

I know a few homeschooling families and I think it is a wonderful option. I respect the reasons for which they've made that decision. What I don't respect is the judgmental attitude they have toward those of us who do not home school. Again, this is based on the homeschooling families in my life. I do not respect the way they insert disparaging comments into each conversation about the evils of public school. I do not respect the way they generalize about the children in public schools as though those other children will damn their own child to hell merely by being in their presence. I do not respect the way they overlook the fact that perhaps THEIR children could be a kind and loving influence on these other students they think are so awful; or the fact that the parents themselves could be a kind and loving influence on the teachers or the parents of other students. I do not respect the fact that they talk about the love and prayer and protection they place over their children's lives, all the while insinuating that we public school parents have sent our children off without a thought to their safety and moral upbringing. I do not respect the way they talk about all these things while looking into my eyes, KNOWING I send my kids to public school. I do not respect the way they use their self righteous reasoning as a club to beat the rest of us into submission to their beliefs.

Because we have put just as much time, prayer, worry, and love into the decisions of our children's education (and every other aspect of their lives) as homeschooling parents have put into theirs.

My sister home schools. And yes, she is very vocal about her disdain for public school. The problem is that her disdain extends to me and my children. That disdain for "those public school students" is aimed at my children because they ARE public school students. At least that's how I take it every time she condemns the option of public school because when somebody is taking aim at your choices, it is hard not to be stung by the bullet. I do not even invite her to my children's graduations or other school events because she is so open about her disapproval for public school. And no, I do not say one word about her choice to home school. Because it is not my business. It is her choice. I happen to believe that we each love our children fiercely; we are each flawed human beings just doing the best we can; we just happen to have made different decisions about the paths our children will take in this phase of life.

And the other homeschooling parents in our lives have the same condemning attitude. They approach us as though they and their children are somewhat superior to our families because they are "protected" from the evils of the world. Their children are untouched by the influences of society.

Yes, my children are influenced by society. But, if we are doing our jobs correctly (and sometimes we see small indicators that we are ) then our children will in turn be a Godly influence UPON this same society, if only in our very small corner. But if one life is touched, if one child remembers the kindness of their classmate in sixth grade, isn't that enough? After all, quoting scripture is not the only way to show God's love - it is not the only way to teach God's word. LIVING the example, walking the walk, is also a wonderful way to make people stop and take notice of what is motivating our actions.

These people in our lives want to stand up and pound their chests and proclaim their righteousness; they want to stand firm about their right, their CHOICE to home school, yet they want to disparage us for making a DIFFERENT choice. They want to quote Bible verses to us about the rightness of their decision but they seem to forget the one that says: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1).

This parenting job is hard. It is a daily battle in our minds and hearts as we struggle to do the right thing. The worry can be exhausting. So wouldn't it be nice if we parents could be allies to each other, regardless of the choices we make concerning our children and their education? Because, really, the schooling part is just the beginning. Yes it is part of the foundation of the finished product, but there is more to come, and there is more to do WHILE we educate them because parenting is full of multi-tasking. Education is not the end; it is not THE defining point of a person's character. Our method of education is not the yardstick by which we measure values and faith. At least not in my book.

And that would be a PUBLIC SCHOOL book.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Our children started to attend Sunday school when they were about 4 months old. They'd sit in the little yellow molded plastic seats built into the half-moon table surrounded by other babies, where the tiniest seeds of Bible learning were planted into their hearts and minds.

For those of you who have a hard time leaving your little ones, this probably seems absurd, but it is the way we do things in our church.; and I loved it.

Anyway, the babies would sit in their little seats and be completely and thoroughly entertained and stimulated by the Cradle Roll teachers for 45 minutes. I mean, it was a veritable table top circus. Since I sat through the class for the first couple of weeks, I saw what went on with the babies and, let me tell you, Cradle Roll teachers are amazing! Talk about energy. Talk about creativity. Talk about patience. There was not one moment of down time for these babies, as books, bubbles, plastic animals, and even combs and brushes, in turn, made an appearance, most accompanied by a song about church or Jesus. The class always ended with each baby having a tiny Bible placed in front of them while the song "Oh I Love to Pat my tells me of God" was sung. And the babies would pat, pat, pat their little Bibles and smile and coo, dribble and drool.

To this day, I cannot look at a little New Testament without thinking of that song.

I thought Cradle Roll was fantastic. Until I taught it for a quarter. As much as I loved the babies, I found it exhausting. It was truly a test of my patience to keep things exciting and stimulating for 45 minutes. I never knew how long 45 minutes was until I taught Cradle Roll. Cradle Roll teachers are heroes!!!

After Cradle Roll came the toddler class. Kayla's toddler teacher was Miss Harriet. We were at a different church when Blake was a toddler so he didn't have Miss Harriet. Miss Harriet was kind of stern and no-nonsense to the young mothers so I was a little concerned placing my baby in her class.

My fears were so far off the mark, I'm a little embarrassed now, when I remember my doubts.

Again, after observing the toddlers for a week or two, my heart melted at the love and patience Miss Harriet showed these babies. I remember when the subject of toddlers came up once at Ladies Bible Class, Harriet said "I've been teaching those babies for 150 years!!" And she might as well have been, because she had that class running like a well oiled machine. A machine oiled with patience, experience, love and, yes, expectations.

Within 3 weeks (that's 3 class times) the toddlers learned to enter the room, pick a puzzle from the shelf and go to the quilt on the floor and sit with Miss Harriet and her helpers. Miss Harriet would have been there for quite a while already, in her nice Sunday dress, walking around with little fleece booties on. She always removed her shoes so she could walk around the babies more easily and be more comfortable to move around on the floor with them. They would sit there and quietly work on puzzles while everyone filtered in. Then the class time was filled with stories, pictures, puppets, bubbles, songs and coloring. If a child wandered off the quilt, one of the teachers simply picked them up, placed them back on the quilt and gave them some extra attention to keep them entertained.

Through this experience I learned that even an 18 month old can follow a routine. Even at that young age, children can learn rules and know what is expected of them. And my child was taught to follow a routine and obey rules in this setting with kind words and patience. These teachers -Miss Harriet - loved my child.

Adding a name to the list of people who love my children is a gift in and of itself.

I learned to love Harriet in a whole new way during those few years that she taught my daughter. After all, when somebody treats your child with such love and tenderness, you can overlook any differences you might have had in your adult relationship.

Recently I learned that Miss Harriet has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

And my heart is breaking for her.

She was a public school teacher before she retired. She was a Bible teacher long after that. She and her husband attended every church function. Every potluck, every game night. She attended every shower, cooked for every funeral dinner. She has touched the lives of so many little ones and their parents.

She loved our children.

She loved teaching them.

She taught them well. She taught them differently than most young mothers today would approve of. But I appreciated her strict routine. Because strict doesn't equal mean. She knew what children were capable of, and she brought these tiny little people to their potential with the gentlest of hands.

And now, her mind is failing her. Her mind won't allow her to remember.

But I remember. I remember dropping my tiny daughter off, in her hair ribbons and puffy dress (yes, sometimes I put a crinoline on her) and watching her toddle to the shelf and plop on that old quilt next to her little classmates. I remember watching Miss Harriet lean over her and help her with the puzzle. And I remember that feeling. That feeling that my child was secure. That she knew what to expect for the next 45 minutes - fun, patience, tenderness. Love.

Thank you Miss Harriet. I am sorry that you may not remember.

But I certainly do.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


When people ask me if I'm taking any kind of vacation this year, I say something like this:

"Oh, our children are getting all sorts of nice trips. Me? Um...I got to spend a night in Iowa"

Let's recap Kayla's summer so far. I will also add in her upcoming travels:

One week of church camp which she hoped would turn into three so she could work as a counselor, also, but she had...

One week of basketball camp at a Christian college about 2 hours from us. She learned a lot at this the names and cell phone numbers of half a dozen boys.

Various numbers of evenings each week spent at the softball field pitching and making memories with her friends. Oh, and visiting with the boys who "came to watch the game" but somehow seemed to end up outside the dug out with their fingers grasping the chain link fence, faces pressed close to tease the girls, like so many love starved monkeys at the zoo. Ah, yes! Boys seem to be making more frequent appearances in our daughter's life, and I am thinking of installing a chain link fence across our front porch. And to think we didn't even get one of my dad's shotguns last month....

Five days at my cousin's house so she could hang out with her daughter Maddie, with whom she went to basketball camp. My cousin and I were born 11 days apart, and we had our daughters about 3 weeks apart. These girls have the same irreverent humor as their mothers and so are very much alike and had a great time together. I see a blossoming friendship and I love it.

One trip per Monday night to various locations in Central Illinois for church youth group activities. These trips are crucial to her summer survival because they give her contact with her many church camp friends because they, too, live all over the state of Illinois. They are uplifting church experiences that draw her deeper into The Word while allowing her to be surrounded by other young Christians whose friendships will last a lifetime (cue organ music now). Plus, they usually get to stop at Dairy Queen or Sonic on the way home, which we all know is a religious experience in and of itself.

One overnight trip to Missouri (upcoming) for a youth rally followed by a completely oppressive trip to Six Flags where she will run around in flip flops, shorts and a tank top, under which she will wear her swim suit so they can run back and forth to the water park. I say "completely oppressive" because the heat is usually UN bearable. Thank the good Lord above we think we've have worked out a rotating schedule with another couple, and this is NOT our year. One year they take the girls, one year we take them. Because last time I went and wandered around Six Flags in the heat of Hades? Well, I was not a very pleasant person by 8 p.m. I would go so far as to say I was minutes away from letting words fly that should never come out of a Christians mother's mouth.

One 8 day period (upcoming) during which she will work at our State fair "Church booth." When she is not working she will get to wander around the state fair with her friends and fill herself up on fried foods (Twinkies, Oreos...). Her dad did this growing up too; and she is definitely looking forward to it. At night, I think they will sleep at the local church building. And how fun is that to get to sleep on a church pew and bathe yourself in a sink in the ladies room? Good times, I tell you.

That leads us up to school registration, which will quickly lead to the first day of high school for her. Surely, this girl will say she's had a fantastic summer.

Now let's do Blake, keeping in mind that he is a homebody:

One trip to Wisconsin Dells for wrestling camp. He loved it this year as opposed to last year when he actually had to sleep in an un-air conditioned college dorm (oh my gosh! the horrors).

One trip to New York (upcoming) simply to see the New York Yankees before they tear down the stadium. A guys only trip. I am thrilled beyond measure he gets to do this with his dad.

One trip to our nearby outlet mall to buy Yankees shirts for himself and Dad - completely his own idea.

Three - THREE!! - trips already to see the newest Batman movie. His allowance is gone and he had to borrow money from his sister for the third viewing. He opened a birthday card from his great grandmother the other day, pulled out the five dollar bill and said "Kayla!! Here's part of the money I owe you."

Daily trips to the gym to work out and prepare for Cross Country - no football this year.

One trip to a nearby ball diamond to watch his sister play softball, at which time he, in his own way, complimented his sister (to us) for striking out a girl who was already playing on the high school varsity team.

Daily trips out and about with Cody to do...well...I'm not sure, but sometimes it includes lunch because he tries to sweet talk me out of "just five bucks, mom...please."

Some fishing.

Sleeping in until noon.

Now let's do me:

One trip to Indiana to discard and distribute the worldly goods of my recently deceased father.

One trip to Iowa to get my mother back from my brother (we offered to pay his kids' college costs if he'd keep her, but NO!!!) and bring her safely home without pitching her into a river or one of the many flooded corn fields.

ONE THOUSAND trips to the pool to drop off any number of teenage girls, at which time I always say "Kayla, got your puffer? Got Tylenol? Ok, have fun girls. No boys!!" And they pretend I'm funny because they may need me to bring them home again in a few hours.

ONE THOUSAND trips to the mall. Again, the teenage girl thing.

ONE THOUSAND trips to Wal-Mart to keep food in the house for these teenagers. Seriously, the milk we are drinking....

One trip to...oh wait...that's it.

So, I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?

Not a thing. Not one thing.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I have three drafts in my blog file of posts that I have started but didn't feel deserved the actual clicking of the "publish" button.

I have had many things to talk about. I've wanted to talk about my friend's new baby and what a miracle he is.

I've wanted to talk about my dog Cookie and her irrational behavior lately.

I've wanted to talk about purchasing a new cell phone for Kayla.

I've wanted to talk about my son's upcoming 17th birthday and the overwhelming emotions that accompany it.

And today I decided I needed to write a letter to the makers of Hefty products. You know. To help them become a better company.

But, as you can see....nothing appears on the screen.

I think I am experiencing a severe case of writer's block.

And I'm not even a writer. (Does that mean I could suffer from tennis elbow when I haven't picked up a racket since high school P.E.?)

I type the words but they lack zest. There is no zing. There is no humor. There is no stinging wit or sarcasm. And I am a big fan of stinging wit and sarcasm.

I've had a lot on my plate this summer; actual tasks to accomplish as well as emotional balls to juggle.

Perhaps it is the hectic schedule we are keeping. Perhaps it is the melancholy that seems to have settled upon me with the realization that I now have two high school students living in my household. And that means I can count on one hand the number of years before both of my children leave home.

Perhaps it is the oppressive heat and humidity that not only robs me of energy but also of any cognitive thought.

Perhaps it is getting my mother moved into her new house.

Perhaps it is grief that is making me feel so disconnected and unfocused. After all, it has only been 3 months since my dad died.

Whatever it is; I hope to conquer it soon. I hope to find that zest again. I hope to find something at which to aim my stinging wit and sarcasm.

Until then, I'm just going to go with it. This laziness of summer that makes us move at a slower pace. I'm just going to be that old hound dog that lies on the step in the summer heat and dozes in the sun, swatting flies with my tail.

Oh Autumn, please hurry. Please hurry and rescue me from these long hot blog days of summer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Well, we got knocked out of the tournament last night.

We lost the first game by one run. This was to the number one seed, the team from the neighboring town with whom we are consolidated for school. Their coaches informed us that they had never been held to so few runs before - 7 - and had never lost by such a small margin.

Small comfort, when the rivalry is so fierce. It is a difficult thing to play your classmates - the tension was thick and our girls were heartbroken.

But there is no shame in the way they played. They gave that team a real scare and really showed what good ball players they are, and how much they've improved.

My daughter hit a triple.

Funny thing about that triple is that the ball rolled about 24 inches in front of the plate. It wasn't even a bunt - just a freaky hit where the ball probably rolled down the bat after it was hit. Anyway, due to all the errors in the field, she got to third base on that teeny tiny hit. As she passed second I was laughing uncontrollably saying "She's gonna get a triple off that hit!! OH MY GOSH!!" I told her later that, if nothing else, the other team was humiliated on that one. She said she wasn't even sure what happened or what she should do, so she just kept running until the third base coach held up his hands for her to stop. It was a much needed light moment after the game, as we relived it in the van on our way to the other field to play yet another fierce rival.

We lost our second game by quite a bit. Of course our girls were exhausted. We had to start the games late due to violent rains and so didn't even finish the second game until past 10:30.

The fields were wet but the spectator area at the first field was a lake. Seriously, there was about 2 inches of standing water surrounding the bleachers.

May I just brag for a moment?


My daughter is our only pitcher on the tournament team. She pitched ten consecutive innings last night. She pitched 4 games for this tournament with no relief. In the first three games combined she only gave up 12 runs. She never lost her composure on the mound. Her pitch never seemed to weaken, even last night, playing two games in a row. After the final game while the girls were gathered in the dug-out, the coach said "Let's give Kayla a big hand. She got us through this tournament with no backup."

Uh-huh. That's my girl. That's my girl who got absolutely none of her talent from me.

But, of course, it wasn't just one player. One player doesn't lose a game, and one player doesn't win a game. All these girls brought themselves from the losers' bracket as the number 13 seed into a game that made the number one seed mighty nervous. Katie made a beautiful catch as shortstop. Becky played great at first, as usual. Shannon and Kaitlyn were tremendous catchers, throwing off their mask and hustling to make the plays at home. Oh, and Kaitlyn also made a tremendous catch in center field when she wasn't catching. Sarah also played great at first, in the second game, and took a ball in the face, finished the play, and then ended up with a knot the size of a peach above her left eye. Way to take one for the team Sarah!! And of course, Gabby on third. We would be lost without her amazingly strong and accurate throw. She can zip a ball from third to first like nobody's business.

All the girls were fantastic, and in the next couple of years they will combine with that number one seeded team when they play for the high school softball team. Then look out! Because we will be a force to be reckoned with.

I hope they are all proud of their performance in this tournament, because I know the parents are.

Yes, they would love to have beat that number one team. Yes, they hope to some day wipe those smug little grins off their faces, but until then, I think they should be extremely proud.

And now they can get back to the business of being a 14-year-old girl on summer vacation.



Friday, July 11, 2008


In hopes of drawing in more male readers, I will now be posting an exciting, nail biting sports commentary.

Just kidding.

I'm just gonna tell ya'll about my daughter's softball team, and their progress in this week's tournament.

We entered the tournament as the #13 seed. Yeah, not so hopeful.

In the first game we beat the #4 seed. It was an awesome game and both teams played very well. The game was one of the quickest we've ever sat through because each team played such good defense that three outs came about faster than you could say "batter up." It's amazing that our seeds were so dramatically different because the teams seemed very equal on the field.

I will just say that our girls played awesome ball that night.

No brag, just fact.

Kayla was pitching and she and Becky, on first base, worked beautifully together to make several of the outs. Shannon, our catcher, made a couple of awesome plays at the plate, thanks to our amazing third base player, Gabby, who has an amazingly accurate throw. And Emily grabbed what would have been a home run hit to left field, and threw it to third base, just as the runner was heading for home. Gabby in turn, fired it to Shannon who was able to tag the runner before she slid in.

Robbing her of that home run was, of course, crucial to our victory.

As was the two run homer Emily hit.

We won 4 to 2 and our girls needed a victory like that.

Last night we won 15-4. Again we played extremely well. The other Emily caught about a zillion pop flies. The pitcher-to-first base plays were smooth and accurate; and several of our girls made some impressive slides into home to score.

For those of you who aren't aware - sliding doesn't come as easily for girls as it does for boys. But it is a rule, especially in tournaments, that they slide into home if the ball is coming in. And, I must say, our girls are picking it up quite nicely. Somebody had told me they taught their daughter to slide with a Slip-n-Slide, so I bought one last year and Kayla and a couple of her friends practiced on that.

Anyway, tonight we play two games, the first of which is against the #1 seed. This team happens to be the neighboring town which is whom we are consolidated with for school. This means the girls are playing their classmates. It is always a difficult game and I wish there was another way to do it. And then we play a second game.

It is a double elimination tournament and we have not lost yet, so who knows how much longer we'll play. The exciting thing is that we started out in the losers' bracket as the #13 seed and we have moved into the winners' bracket and are playing the #1 seed tonight.

Last night, the coach of the team we will play tonight was out "scouting" our game. Because his daughter goes to school with Kayla, we know him fairly well so we were visiting with him. He took off his sunglasses and said "I have $500 and a time share to Hilton Head for you if you convince Kayla to come pitch for me next year."

I simply said "Show me the money..."

But how flattering that he thought she was doing so well. And she actually is.

Pitching is her passion and she's starting to get some notice from it. However well she does, I am proud of her and just want her to enjoy herself during this phase of life. And thanks to Title IX, she will get to enjoy sports, if she wants to, throughout her high school years.

And I want to enjoy it too because it's going by faster than her fast ball.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I've been in a real rut the last couple of weeks.

No, really. I have.

I am not motivated to do anything. I just seem to wander around the house and look at things that need to be done, then tell myself they need to be done, then proceed to leave them undone.

Somebody help me!

Last night in my typical do-nothing mode, I sat in the basement and flipped channels.

Television last night was really stinky. I can't believe the garbage that was on.

I also can't believe I spent 90 minutes flipping from one pile of garbage to the other.

Seriously, folks, when are we going to put a stop to the reality shows? It's getting ridiculous. I think television producers are just getting lazy, so they slap a few "real" people on TV and let them go at it. That way the producers don't have to produce, the directors don't have to direct, and the writers don't have to write.

We shouldn't stand for this.

Anyway, have you seen The Baby Borrowers?

Seems they find some really smart and loving parents and convince them to give their children, of varying ages, to a couple of teenagers to "raise" for a weekend. Then the parents sit in a house across the street and watch it all through a monitor. I think the ages of the children increase each week.

Of course they make it clear that the teenage "parents" are shadowed by professional nannies. Um...the professional nannies last night looked about 19 - not that you can't be a good nanny at 19, but the one who had to "step in" at one point was not very assertive when, in all actuality, she should have been knocking those teenagers on their sassy little butts. Figuratively speaking, of course.

So these parents sit and watch their children through a monitor and see how well these teenagers, whom they've never met, take care of their children for a few days. These children weren't in their own homes. They had not met these "caregivers". They were away from their parents for days at a time - at very tender ages.

One of the teenagers complained that "her" little boy was nearly two years old and here he was "cryin' like a little baby."

Uh...ya think? Maybe that's because he IS a little baby and he's spent the last few days in a strange place with strangers taking care of him and scolding him for being a baby.

One little three year old, before bed, cried inconsolably because he wanted to go home and see Mommy.


Another little boy was dragged across the floor by his hand to get his diaper changed.

And all the while the parents were watching from a monitor across the street saying things like "oh no, we don't want to do that."

Don't you think a better response would have been to march across the street, burst into the house, take your child and tell that sassy little teenager to NEVER. LAY. A. HAND. ON. MY. CHILD. AGAIN. YOU. LITTLE. SNOT. And then leave WITH YOUR CHILD, all the while feeling like a fool for getting involved in such a stupid experiment. Don't you think?

But no.

They all just sat and watched while their children were frightened, sad and confused. And at the end, most of them told the teenagers what a good job they did.

Are you kidding me?

All for the sake of a reality show. Oh, and probably some money.

So basically they have rented their children out to a group of people so these people could use them for their own advantage.

Can I say "pimping" on here?

Because I think that's called pimping.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


No, this isn't a post about basketball.

In order to write anything intelligent about basketball one would have to know something about basketball.

And I don't.

I know that my daughter plays center. Well, until she went to the high school basketball camp (she's an incoming freshman) and they put her in as a guard the whole week.

And, um...well, I don't know for sure what that means. But I know I like to watch basketball, especially when one of my children is playing. Or when our high school team was playing the year they won the state championship during the same school year we had won the FOOTBALL state championship. I mean how cool is that?

But anyway, this post isn't about basketball.

It's about my eating style.

Or my lack of style while eating.

I have tried all of my adult life to conduct myself with some small sense of decorum. I try to be a "put together" woman. I try to dress neatly and wear appropriate makeup. I think I have a pretty good hairstyle going on. I try to be poised and friendly and let people know they matter to me when I speak to them. I try to behave in a way that will not embarrass myself or my family.

All that is well and good, but...

I do not know how to eat an ice cream cone.

Nor do I know how to eat a sandwich without making a mess.

At least I can't seem to do either of the above two (quite enjoyable) things without making a mess and, usually, dribbling on my shirt. You know? Like a three-year-old.

I am a constant source of dining entertainment for my husband.

It all started the summer after my freshman year in college. Both Paul and I had stayed in Arkansas to take college classes and to work, and every evening we'd go to Baskin-Robbins. Yes, EVERY EVENING.

Ladies, if you want your freshman fifteen to turn into the freshman twenty, go to Baskin-Robbins every night. What was I thinking?

Anyway, we'd get our ice cream treat and sit at one of those cute little ice cream parlor tables and dive into our Heaven on a cone, while talking about our day. And always, without fail, I'd be in the middle of a sentence or the middle of licking my scoop when I'd suddenly stop, look at Paul with dread in my eyes, then look downward at my shirt and see the splotch of ice-cream (usually chocolate) that had just landed there.

And Paul would throw his head back and laugh hysterically.

Can you believe that's the summer he proposed to me?

Can you believe my ice-cream-eating abilities haven't improved since that summer 22 years ago?

And things aren't much better when I eat a sandwich.
By the way, I'm talking about big restaurant sandwiches here, not the kind I make in my own kitchen. I can usually be trusted to eat bologna and cheese like a grown-up.

I don't dribble sandwiches so much as I just seem to completely annihilate them while I'm eating them. It's the strangest thing. I will be halfway done with my sandwich, say a nice big cheeseburger, and the bottom bun will be the size of, well, half a bun, as you would expect. The top bun, however, will be the size of a quarter.

I know.

Nobody could recreate that if they tried, yet I do it every time I eat a burger.

I have learned that once I pick up my burger and begin eating, I CANNOT, FOR ANY REASON PUT IT DOWN, or it will all fall apart because of the havoc I have wreaked upon it. The times when I can't finish my sandwich, which is almost always when we're at a restaurant, I'll hand it to Paul so he can polish it off, and he just looks at it with wonderment and says "How do you DO this?"

It's a gift, honey. It's a gift.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


My problem with the "too-much-cleavage-showing"tops may just have been solved.

I have now found the place from where I intend to order my clothes from now on. Need some stylish clothes, but want to keep things covered? Then go here. Of course it appears they only make children's clothing, but I bet I can work out a deal with them to make some for me.

My daughter will be getting several items also. She's thrilled.

If anybody wants to combine orders so we can save money on shipping, just let me know.

Now I'm off to find some sister wives....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


So, this morning I got up before Paul left for work. It is going to be part of my new routine. Not necessarily to see Paul first thing in the morning, but so I can get my morning walk in at a reasonable time and not feel like it's eating into my day too much. Seeing Paul is just an added perk...but probably not for him.

I suspect Paul will now try to leave for work by 4:30 a.m. to avoid my chipper presence before he starts his work day.

Because, even though I'm not a morning person, for some reason I was quite talkative this morning.

Is it a full moon?

Anyway, I think the clincher was when I said "I have a big decision to make today." And he said "Mm."

"Yeah. I have to decide if I want to paint my toenails red for the Fourth of July or try that bright pink of Kayla's."

Because my life is full of dilemmas like that.

And I have never seen a man fill a travel cup with coffee and skedaddle out the door so quickly.

Or maybe it was because I said "Oh, and after work tonight, I'd like to go to Sam's Club"

And then I heard him mumble something about adding a shot of whiskey to his coffee....


Riveting, dark, depressing new post over at my other blog. Guaranteed to ruin your day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Because of the recent death of my dad, and the accompanying emotions and conflict that came from my parents' divorce over thirty years ago; I've had divorce on my mind a lot. I've wished there was a handbook out there - and there probably is - about how to do it right. That is, how to do it right from the children's perspective.

So I'm going to give it to you - the handbook. And it will be cheaper than

Divorce is usually an ugly thing. I know there are some of you, amongst my ones of readers, that have been divorced or are now going through a divorce. For some, it is through no choice of your own but your spouse has given up and decided to knock you down and keep kicking. And kicking and kicking and kicking. Frankly, that stinks.

For some, maybe the divorce was a mutual agreement but there are still lots of heavy emotional issues to deal with.

Most parents, in my opinion do it right - this divorce thing. But some, like mine, totally miss the mark. Some break all the rules and in doing so break their children's hearts.

I am not a family therapist.

Nor am I a divorce lawyer.

Nor have I ever been divorced.

But I am a child of divorce. A child of divorce who, I believe, has seen the worst of human nature come out and take center stage because the adults involved have allowed it to. Well, at least one of the adults involved. But one is enough to turn things into an ugly mess.

So because of my CHILD OF DIVORCE (COD) status, and because it's my blog, I am declaring myself an expert on divorce and; therefore, I give you the do's and don'ts of divorce. These are written in no particular order and will have my personal comments added where applicable. There will be no proofreader or editor on staff to make sure it's all done correctly. But if there were it wouldn't be cheaper than, now would it?

-First and Foremost - and I mean business on this one - NEVER EVER EVER SAY A NEGATIVE THING ABOUT YOUR FORMER SPOUSE WITHIN EARSHOT OF YOUR CHILDREN. NEVER. JUST DON'T DO IT. DON'T EVEN HINT AT IT. DON'T USE VEILED WORDING. DON'T WHISPER. Kids will pick up on it. Kids will remember it. And they will resent you for it.

Most definitely you have some colorful words about your former spouse, and that's understandable; you must release those feelings, but save them for when you're with a close friend or a therapist. Or write them in a blog that your children don't read. Your kids will thank you one day that you thought of them in this area. And, if your former spouse is indeed the horrible person you think he/she is, your children will one day see that for themselves through adult eyes. Let them learn it on their own. Do not teach them to hate.

*My dad was not a good dad. But he never uttered a bad word about our mother within earshot of us. NEVER. NOT ONCE. That will forever be a gift to us.

-To the best of your ability, if you are NOT the custodial parent, make sure your new home has room for your children when they visit. Don't, for instance, rent a one room studio apartment when you have four children that will be spending weekends with you. Especially when everyone knows you can afford more space. Make your new home - THEIR home - a soft place they can fall into. Allow them to have a space of their own.

*My dad didn't hit the mark on this one. Maybe that was his way of hinting he didn't want us around, but the one room studio with four growing kids? Um...not a good idea.

-Related to the above, do NOT spend your days with your children napping or working on things from the office. Don't worry about making every moment with your children a big exciting party. But be with them. Be present emotionally and physically.

-Always pay child support on time, and in full.

*Dad earned an A+ on this. The support check was on time every month, even when we were in college and it was coming directly to us. In fact, as we went through his date books over the last twenty five years, as we cleaned out his belongings, the tenth of each month said "Support check." He made it a priority and never lapsed on that.

-However. Try to be generous when it comes to extras, like school supplies and clothes, Christmas shopping, prom dresses, yearbooks, sports fees - the extras that come up, especially during the teen years that cost a lot of money. These things put a strain on the custodial parent, especially one who is raising four kids alone. It doesn't matter if you pay support every month, try to help out with the out-of-the-ordinary expenses. Don't tell your kids or their other parent "I pay support; that's what it's for." Your kids are missing out when you take that attitude.

-If you are the custodial parent, do not do anything to try to keep your children from seeing their other parent. Do not hint that you will be lonely while they're gone. Do not imply that they are not loyal to you if they leave to visit their other parent. Do not act sad, angry or disappointed when they leave. And when they return from seeing their other parent, do NOT make them wish they hadn't gone by attacking their loyalty and reminding them how lonely your day was. First off, if you are the custodial parent, you should enjoy a break from the children, as much as you love them. Second, it's just mean and manipulative to play those games with your kids.

*This was a big one in my life. I stopped seeing my dad in my early teen years. One main reason was self preservation, because my life was miserable when I returned home. I won't go into detail, but trust me, you do not want your children having those memories. DON'T DO IT.

-Do NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES bring your issues into an event at which your children are participating or are the guest of honor. Love your children more than you hate your former spouse, by allowing them to see you be civil to their other parent while others are watching. Allow your children to be proud of you by showing others that you can get along for their sake.

-Make sure your children see their extended family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, on both sides of the family. If those family members won't make the effort it is up to you to do it for your kids. You make sure the kids see YOUR family. Your kids have two family trees. Make sure they are part of each.

-Ask about your child's other parent. This may be hard, but try to do it somehow. "How is your mom doing this week?" was a question that meant a lot to me when I was young and visiting my dad. I don't exactly know why, but it brought me some comfort.

-Stay involved. When your kids reach the teen years and become busy with all sorts of activities, make an effort to come and watch them. Make an effort to know about all of their sports, dance, camps, whatever they are interested in. Make an effort to know their friends. Know their teachers and coaches. To do this, you need to live near by. I know that may not be possible, but move Heaven and Earth to do it.

-If and when you begin dating again, make sure your significant other knows your children are your priority. Make sure your children like the people you bring home to meet them. Children can sometimes read people better than adults. If they don't like somebody, think about it and try to discern why. If the person you are dating doesn't want to spend time with your kids, or won't see them as a priority, dump them. At the same time, make your children treat your special someone with respect.

-If and when you remarry, make sure your children are part of the planning and celebrations. Make them an important part of the day. Even if they aren't in the wedding, take them shopping for new clothes. Make sure they feel good about the day. Be sensitive to the mixed emotions they might feel. Watching a parent remarry, no matter how much you love the new step-parent is not an easy thing. Be sensitive to that. And the parent who is NOT remarrying? It would really be nice if you could help your children shop for a wedding gift, if they are too young to go on their own to do so. If you can't do this, find somebody who can. Be sensitive to your children's feelings during this time of big change.

-When your children have families of their own, be involved with your grand kids. When your grandchildren are born, drop everything and go see that new baby. Your child wants you to hold that baby and get to know him or her. And your grandchildren, when they are older, want to have memories of you.

-When your former spouse becomes terminally ill; put all your hard feelings aside and minister to your children. Do NOT question why they are running to his bedside to help him. Even if the ill parent was far from a good parent, your children are sick with worry and regret. And when your former spouse dies, put your children's feelings first. Treat them the way you would treat anybody who has lost a family member. Your children are heartbroken and grieving the loss of a parent and, in some cases, the loss of hope.

-Remember your children did not choose this divorce; and I know you may not have either, but it is your job to carry the baggage of it, not theirs.

Now if somebody could help me down from this soapbox....