Friday, August 29, 2008


We were sitting at the table eating supper.

And by "We" I mean the two children and I - because Paul guessed it...out of the country.

Kayla was 18 months old and Blake was about 4 1/2. I think we were eating something really cool like Dino-Nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

I had not yet started drinking heavily at that point so there was no tequila involved.

Oh, I'm kidding!

I've never had tequila. I just like to say the word a lot.

Anyway, Kayla was sitting in her little booster chair eating her dinner and drinking some milk. Blake was doing the same. Everything was going along quite swimmingly, when Kayla vomited.

And it seriously struck terror in my heart, because: a) when Kayla vomited, it was NEVER a short lived thing and b) when Blake was 18 months old, he was in the hospital for two nights taking IV fluids due to being dehydrated from a severe stomach virus. I had visions of a hospitalized toddler and an unoccupied preschooler. I was SCARED.

So I took Kayla's food away and tried to calm myself. After she threw up three more times in the space of a couple hours, I called my doctor's after-hours number. I got one of his partners who told me "it is not always dangerous for a child to vomit," in a tone that told me she thought I was an over worried mother. I told her I was aware that vomiting was not always dangerous but, in MY experience with MY child, she rarely vomits just a couple of times and I was worried this was going to go on to the point of her becoming dehydrated. "Well, in that case, you should go to the emergency room or the walk in clinic."

Gee, ya' think?

I'm not sure I would have thought of that myself, me being the college educated mother of two that I was. And isn't it always nice to have that after hours number so somebody can tell you to go bother another doctor. I know doctors have a hard job, and there's nothing they can do over the phone; but I'm sure my family doctor, knowing my children's history so well, would have offered something else, perhaps a prescription or a way to avoid the expense and frustration of an emergency room visit.


Our bachelor friend Scott had dropped in for something that evening and he offered to watch Blake while I took Kayla to the ER. I told him that I'd wait it out and see if she improved; and sent him on his way home.

At 11:30 that night, Kayla was still vomiting a couple of times an hour. So I called Scott and woke him up and he drove the twenty minutes to our house, where he camped out on the couch, so he could stay with Blake while I went to the emergency room.

{Funny, Scott never responds to our e-mails or phone messages anymore. Go figure.}

I arrived at the ER right at midnight and was optimistic because there were no other patients there. They gave Kayla a suppository and I returned home.

Five and a half hours later.

I thanked Scott profusely and told him good-bye

I put Kayla in her crib at 6:00 a.m. and lay on her floor.

She woke up 3o minutes later.

And I turned into an exhausted, blubbering, incompetent idiot.

Blake got up 30 minutes after my nervous breakdown began.

In all the years my husband had traveled, I had never asked for help from our parents, even though they lived only 40 miles away. I didn't like breaking the routine by taking them to the grandparents' houses overnight when Paul traveled; and the kids got so excited and wound up when the grandparents came to our house, that any visit beyond a few hours also made me feel frazzled.

But this time, I was exhausted to the point of being loopy; I was frustrated and worried and, for the first time in all those years of being married to a fly-away husband, I honestly thought I wouldn't make it though the day.

I pulled myself together and tried to rationally consider my options. Finally I decided on a very wise and reasonable course of action.

I turned into a wounded 7-year-old and called my mommy.

"M-M-Moooommmm? I've h-h-had the w-w-w-w-worst night of my LIIIIIIFE!" I sobbed into the phone.

She was just getting ready to leave for work and she said "Oh No! What happened?" So I explained my hellacious night, told her I hadn't slept in 24 hours, I was seriously worried I wasn't going to get through the day, let alone the rest of the week and that I "d-d-d-don't kn-kn-know what I'm g-g-g-going to DOOOOO!"


So she took the day off and drove up to help me take care of the kids, allowed me to take a nap and helped in the search for my mind. Because, funny thing, I had lost it again somewhere between the Emergency Room and our home.

I had been told by the ER doctors to follow up with our family doctor that day. Of course our regular doctor was off that day so I waited for an hour and a half (they were squeezing me in) in the waiting room of the doctor's office while Kayla flitted around playing and jabbering as happy as could be, despite the fact that her mother was nearly falling off the chair in exhaustion. I think it's safe to assume I even drooled onto the upholstery. Finally, when it seemed as though I was going to be there all day, I told the receptionist that I wouldn't wait any longer and I packed my happy, healthy NOT vomiting child into the van and drove home.

Where my four year old had actually hand cuffed his grandmother to the rocking chair.

But it's okay, she said it only meant he was gifted.

Grandmas. What would we do without them?


I am going to make fried okra this weekend.

There is something about picking up our organic vegetables from the CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) vegetable co-op we joined this summer and planning to come home, cover them in corn meal and eggs, and deep fry them in artery clogging oil. I don't know, it just seems like that's not the way the CSA people intended their vegetables to be used.

I think they probably intended for them to be sliced and eaten raw; maybe with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled over them, followed with a plate of organic fruit and granola and then a long hike in the woods while playing a bamboo flute and wearing Birkenstocks.

Not that I have anything against Birkenstocks. I hear they're really comfortable.

But no raw vegetable plate for me.

No sir, I'm gonna fry me up some okra and serve it up next to a big ole hamburger, followed by a cosmic brownie and a trip to the basement where I will plop on the couch and watch trashy television.

Okra? You may ask.

Yes, okra. The CSA sent us some okra and I'm going to have to use it.

Since I went to college in the South, I learned to eat fried okra. And I liked it. So I can't look at this fresh organic okra in my kitchen without thinking of my college cafeteria days.

*disclaimer - if you don't think Arkansas is The South, listen to them talk. They're Southerners too, folks. Oh, and the summers down there? O. PRESSIVE. Besides that, that's where I learned the proper usage of "ya'll."

When I was in college we had two cafeterias - the poor students' cafeteria and the rich students' cafeteria. Actually they were called Pattie Cobb Cafeteria (poor) or Heritage Cafeteria (rich).

Guess which one I ate in.

Yep, the poor one.

But it was fun. It was located in the basement of a women's dorm that was actually closed for renovation my freshman year. The cafeteria had a separate entrance so the renovations didn't effect it in any way. And the people there were fun. 'Cause poor people can be fun too.

At Pattie Cobb our meal plan was such that we paid one lump sum for our meals for the semester and our meal card was marked off each time we ate. We were allowed three meals a day, but I think I ate breakfast in there twice. Yep, we actually had a construction paper card and the cashier would "X" out the meal or punch it with a plain old paper punch. At Heritage each ITEM was charged separately to the student's account and the cheapest meal plan there was more expensive than the ONLY meal plan available for Pattie Cobb diners. The Heritage plan was tricky because it often meant the guys ran out of money on their meal card while the girls had money left over to use up before their next meal card was issued. My room mate was always bringing in armloads of chips and cookies to use up the money on her meal card. Not that I minded...I like Grandma's Peanut Butter Cookies. Either that, or she'd be buying supper for some guy the last few days of each month. It is important to note that the Heritage diners ALSO had simple construction paper meal cards with several amounts printed on the bottom and the cashier had to "X" out the amount for each item. I don't think plastic meal cards were on the college scene yet when I was in college a LOOOOOOONG time ago.


Also at Pattie Cobb, we didn't have as many selections as the Heritage diners did. I usually had a breaded chicken breast sandwich or the potato bar. And fried okra.

There was one little old man who worked the service line at Pattie Cobb. He pulled the tray off the stack and put a bun on it before passing it to the next person. But before he put the bun on the tray, he'd look at you and say "You want a BISHCUIT?" And I'd say, "Yes, please" or "No thank you." My Southern friends would say "Yes Sir" or "No Sir," because Southern kids always said "Ma'am" or "Sir."

And then we'd hear the BISHCUIT man ask that same question as we moved through the line.

"You want a BISHCUIT?"
"You want a BISHCUIT?"
"You want a BISHCUIT?"

And he'd always say BISHCUIT a little louder and with more ooomph than the other words.

To this day, when Paul and I are making something with buns, or actually serving biscuits, we ask our kids "You want a BISHCUIT?"

And they look at us with the same blank expressions they've responded with for the last several years - ever since the BISHCUIT line was introduced in our household - and say something like "that wasn't funny the first time we heard it and it's not funny now."

But it cracks us up every time.

And isn't that what's important - that WE think we're funny?

So, I've bought my cornmeal and I'm planning my fried okra for tomorrow. And if we get okra next week from the co-op, I will be searching for a good gumbo recipe.

And I think I'll serve it with BISHCUITS.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


It seemed that every time Paul left the country, when the kids were little, something went wrong.

There was the night a bird flew down into our fireplace where it proceeded to beat itself silly against the glass doors trying to get out. This, in turn, caused our cat to also lose her mind as she sat at the fireplace trying desperately to get in and "rescue" the bird. I do not even remember how that problem resolved itself.

There was the time a thunderstorm struck and our 63 inch square picture window blew out and shattered all over the front porch.

There was the time I spent the night in the emergency room with a vomiting toddler, which I will post about tomorrow, if you're lucky. And yes, during each of these adventures, Paul was out of the country.

Is it any wonder I am the way I am?

But this story is the one that tops them all. We shall call it: THE SNAKE.

Paul was in Columbia at the time, and we were in the process of deciding if we wanted to move to a smaller town and build a new house. The house we were living in at the time was a 75-year old bungalow that needed LOTS AND LOTS OF TLC when we moved in. We did a lot of fixing up in that house and made it quite charming, if I do say so myself.

The only thing we couldn't fix up was the basement. Most basements in the houses in that part of town were basically dark damp caves with laundry hook-ups. Since the laundry was down there, I had to spend a lot of time in the dark damp cave.

One night after the kids were in bed, I was in the basement doing laundry and as I set a basket down on the floor a snake slithered past me and behind the machines.


I, of course, instantly scampered up the stairs and slammed the basement door. I remember literally being unable to catch my breath.

I had learned to handle a lot during this phase of our lives, but snakes? Snakes were definitely not part of the deal. So I called our bachelor friend, Scott, who lived 20 minutes away and asked him to please come over and try to catch this snake. I didn't even have to beg because Scott was such a sweetie, he'd do anything for us. In the mean time I stuffed towels along the bottom of the basement door so the snake couldn't slither into my kitchen.

I had no intention WHATSOEVER of doing laundry again until Scott proved to me that snake was gone. When Scott arrived I reluctantly took him to the basement and showed him where the snake had slithered to. I also told him it was probably about 4 feet long. Seriously I remember it being that long. Paul, of course, likes to say it was probably about 8 inches long, but what would he know? He was out of the country. And does it REALLY matter how long it was? It was a snake. In my basement.

I quickly left Scott to his search and waited in the kitchen for him to bring me the snake's dead body. I wanted proof that the snake was DEAD. I wanted to watch him throw the DEAD body of that snake into a garbage can somewhere outside. He couldn't find the snake. But in his effort to comfort me, he said "I wouldn't worry about it, Heidi. She's probably down there having her babies."


I did not do laundry all week. I actually went to Wal-Mart and bought new clothes for my children rather than have to go to that basement and deal with the snake. And her babies.

Now, I had learned long before this episode not to call Paul with everything that went wrong while he was gone. I mean, what was he going to do about it from another continent? I usually saved my adventure tales for when he got home. But this time was different. I knew he was in Columbia. I knew there was nothing he could do about the snake in our basement. But by golly, he was going to hear about it. I could handle a broken window. I could handle a bird beating itself to death in my fire place. I could even handle a night in the emergency room with a sick toddler. But I had no intention of keeping the snake story to myself until he got home.

So he got the call. And during that call I basically said "If you want to find me at home with your children when you return from this trip; if you have any hopes of a happy family life while you travel for your career; if you have any hopes of sleeping beside me ever again - I suggest you give serious thought to getting me out of this house. Because I will NOT deal with snakes in my basement."

Something like that. Because I believe in presenting problems in a calm, clear, non-confrontational manner. I believe in compromise, not ultimatums.

The following week we signed the contract to build our new house.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Dear Fellow Menard's Shopper -

You have seriously ruined my night. The only bright spot in my evening now is that, as I came home from Menard's and started supper, I turned on the television and found the Andy Griffith Show. Not only that but it's the pickle episode. I love that episode. Andy Griffith is saving your skin, mister.

Well, that and the fact that I don't know who you are or where you live.

But I saw you.

I saw you checking out my 14-year-old daughter.

And you have gray hair!!! Your face looked pretty young so it might be prematurely gray, but you are waaaaaaay yonder too old for such behavior. And it wasn't my imagination. I saw you look at her, stop and turn around and take another look and then smile...or rather leer.

And, no, her clothes were not inviting the attention. She was wearing shorts but they were not Daisy Dukes; and her shirt was more than modest because it's one that I bought her for her birthday. She wasn't even wearing makeup.

In my mind's eye I pictured myself doing damage to what I suspect is the favorite part of your own anatomy. Do you have children? Because when I was done with my imaginary retaliation, you certainly weren't able to procreate.

Seriously, sir, you do NOT want to go there.

This young woman has many, MANY people who are not afraid to go to battle for her. She has her own Purity Posse, her own Morals Mafia, her own Secret Service of Virtue, her own...well, you get the picture. She has LOTS of people who will be eager to kick your butt when they hear this story.

Her brother is a wrestler and is quite eager to use his skills, perhaps throwing in a few illegal moves. He does this thing called a Splaedle that looks really painful for he who is being Splaedled. His friends are also quite eager to pitch in - anything for a good rumble you know. Her god parents are both police detectives who are usually carrying a weapon. Her uncle is a former military policeman who now works with the Department of Homeland Security. Hypothetically speaking, he could make your life quite complicated. Or make you disappear. Perhaps you'd like a free trip to Gitmo? Or your next airline flight Red Lined? Hypothetically speaking of course. In fact, if I'd gotten your license plate number, your evening would have just gone straight down the toilet due to his connections. Her maternal grandmother is just plain crazy (and not in a good way) when it comes to her kids or grand kids. Oh yeah, I have many many stories about Grandma's protectiveness. Lord have mercy on your body parts, if you cross Grandma.

And her dad? Well, he's not really big in stature, and he is a very mild mannered man - rarely shows anger. But, sir? Do not even think you could have ogled his little girl in his presence. You do not want to see the depths of his temper when it comes to his children's safety - especially his little princess. I daresay he is not afraid to go to prison. Except he's smart enough to hide any evidence. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

But all of that is nothing compared to her crazy fierce pre-menopausal mother. If you think I have watched over her and made ridiculously strict rules all these years so I could sit back and do nothing when a dirty old man decides she deserves a second look, you are SADLY mistaken. If you think I follow her around like an armed guard as often as I can, only to look the other way when men like you make such a show of noticing her, you are sadly mistaken. I will lie awake tonight thinking of the many different ways men like you could be tortured. And I will awaken disappointed that all those torture scenes were merely dreams.

You, sir, have made a serious mistake. I am kicking myself for not calling you out right there in the store; but making a scene in front of my daughter was not the right thing to do. But I remember your face. And I'll be ready the next time you decide to take a second look at my daughter. As a matter of fact, don't plan on looking at any of her gorgeous friends either. Don't plan on looking at H or A or E or S or B or even the other A; because there are people looking out for these girls too.

So, sir, I just wanted to warn...I mean enlighten... you on the error of your ways and the possible consequences.

Now that you know where I stand on your perverted wandering eye, perhaps this will be the end of it.

M'kay, Romeo?


Mrs. W


I am a mother who sees danger at every turn.

Some of my neuroses come from actual life experiences. For instance, my kids are not allowed to play "Dizzy Izzy" - that game where you put your head on a bat and spin in circles and then try to run a straight line. My brother received a severe head injury playing that game, so no dizzy izzy for the W kids.

I was also always scared of balloons. Oh, my kids got to have them but I let them fly away pretty quickly because they are a severe choking hazard and, after hearing of a distant family member who lost their FIVE YEAR OLD from choking on a balloon, I pretty much banned them in our home.

I wish I could convince my daughter to wear a face mask and chest protector IN THE FIELD during softball games because, as a pitcher, she could get injured by a line drive. Plus I totally don't want to have to pay for braces because thus far she doesn't need them. But she is SO not going to wear that gear unless it's required so I don't push the issue.

I do keep a roll of bubble wrap in the van in case I can convince her to let me wrap her in it before each game. So far, no luck.

We used to have a couple of bachelors that hung around the house in hopes of receiving meals. They were so incredibly good to the kids when they were little - so natural and hands on. But they used to pick them up by their hands and lift them high into the air. And I always saw dislocated shoulders when they did that; so I'd say "watch his arm sockets," and the bachelors and Paul would laugh at me. To this day, when we see the bachelors they say "Watch those arm sockets!!" to this paranoid mother.

So when my kids went through a phase when they were constantly playing around the doors of our house - one trying to shut it while the other tried to open it, I saw an orthopedic tragedy in my future. Sometimes they would fight at the door: "Let me in!!" "No, it's my room - stay out!" as they pushed and pulled trying to invade the other's space or keep the other out. Sometimes it was done in a playful mode: "No, you can come in when the surprise is ready!"

And I used to march down the hall and say "Don't play around the door like that, you will smash your fingers!"

But something about pushing against the door while their sibling was pushing the other way, was extremely satisfying to my children. To think I spent all that money on Little Tykes and Fisher Price when they would have been happy with a door.

Finally, one day I had reached my limit with playing around the doors. I think Daddy was out of the country, but I'm not positive. It just always adds a little bit of a dramatic element if I can say "Of course Paul was out of the country." Woe is me.

So the kids were each standing on one side of a bedroom door, pushing with all their strength, one wanting in, the other trying to keep them out when...Mommy lost her mind.


And I went to the kitchen and brought back a plain yellow No. 2 pencil. "This could be your finger if it's smashed in the door." And I put the pencil in the door and slammed the door shut on it. When I opened the door, there was a pathetic jagged half pencil in my hand.


Because I think object lessons are excellent ways to teach our children in a reasonable, gentle, non-threatening manner.

And I'm sure in their precious little minds, they pictured little finger fragments scattered on the carpet and tried to imagine how in the world they would hold a Popsicle with no fingers.

In my demented state I saw little fragments of my mind scattered on the carpet and wondered how I was going to hold on to my sanity with no chocolate in the house.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


When our kids were really little, Paul traveled quite a bit.

If you asked me at the time how much Paul traveled, I would have said "LIKE - ALL THE TIME!!!!" If you asked Paul how much he traveled, he would have said "Oh, my job is about eighty percent travel." Which was basically ALL THE TIME.

During those years he spent most of his time going to Peru, Columbia and Brazil. He did have a trip to Pakistan that REALLY put me over the edge, but that's another story. He typically left on Monday, returned on Friday; left on Monday returned on Friday...

When Kayla was born we both had hoped for a month with no travel, so I'd have time to regain my energy and acclimate to having two little ones at home, knowing Paul would walk in the door at the end of the day. We got three weeks, which at the time we thought was a gift. Looking back, it doesn't seem like such a nice gift. Kayla was three weeks old when Paul left the country on yet another weeks long trip, weekends at home, which may or may not have been a bonus.

I never admitted this to anybody at the time but it got to where I dreaded Fridays. I missed him terribly, and I wanted help with the kids, but when he walked in the door on Friday I instantly started dreading Monday; I didn't want to allow myself to enjoy his time at home because I knew he'd be leaving again in a short time. Plus, our weekends were very hectic because the routine I had established with the kids was broken and I'd have to dive back into it on Monday again.

One good thing that came of those difficult years was that I learned that I could do anything with the kids alone, night or day, sick or healthy. I really became a strong independent woman in my parenting, because there was no backup coming in the door at night. He couldn't slip away for dinner and give me a breather, he couldn't get home in a couple of hours if there was an emergency. It was just me. Which probably also added to the problems on weekends because things really needed to be done MY way in order to maintain the routine our family followed through the week.

Also during those years I gained a whole new, VERY DEEP respect for my mother who raised FOUR kids alone. I don't know how many times I'd put the kids to bed, collapse on the couch and actually say out loud "how did she DO it?" I gained a very deep respect for all single parents and, since Paul still travels some, I maintain that respect. How DO you do it?

As all mothers know, there is a "witching hour" with kids - usually around supper time. My mother used to say "is it the fussy hour?" when she'd call and hear chaos in the background. For us the fussy hour was usually 5 to 7.

With a traveling husband, not only was there a witching hour but there was a "witching day" and that day was usually Thursday. Everything seemed to fall apart on Thursday. I had always reached my limit in the single parent role on Thursday. So I learned to make Thursdays the special day and do something to break up the routine. I also learned to tell myself "Tomorrow will be better, it's always bad on Thursdays."

Anyway, with that background on my life as a stay-at-home mom with a fly-away husband, I want to record for my kids the less-than-sane moments their mother made them endure while trying to hold it all together at home while their daddy was establishing power plants in poor countries.

The first one is a story I remember telling my great aunts as we were talking about how frazzled young mothers become. I remember how all of them laughed at it and how magical their laughter sounded because I LOVE my great aunts. LOVE THE AUNTIES.

So the kids were about 2 1/2 and 5 and I had just had them sit at the bar for their bedtime snack. As was the routine, I listed three things they could choose from: "You may have a graham cracker, a cup of applesauce, or a strawberry bar (nutrigrain bar)"

"We want oreos."
"Can't we have a pop tart?"
"How about ice cream? We want ice cream?"
"Pancakes! Can you make pancakes."

"You may have a graham cracker, a cup of applesauce or a strawberry bar."

"We want.."

And this is when Mommy went a little crazy, talking through clenched teeth in all capital letters, placing a period after each word, eyes bulging...but not yelling.


WHAT WAS THAT OTHER THING MOMMY SAID, FOR PETE'S SAKE?!!" Talking faster and faster with each word.

And with big wide eyes and teeny tiny voices they said "A strawberry bar mommy. You said strawberry bar." And I'm sure they were also silently praying that Daddy would get home very quickly.

So was I, children. So was I.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Last night I watched the U.S. Men's Beach Volleyball Team win a gold medal after winning a match against Brazil. By they way the Brazil team's shirts simply said BRA, so they had BRA 1 and BRA 2 playing out there on the sand. It could easily have turned into a sick Dr. Seuss book.

I'm not actually a big fan of beach volleyball but it was late and I was too tired to get up from the recliner so I sat there through two games and then finished watching in the bedroom. Because once I'd seen each team win a game, I simply had to see the outcome.

And it's always good to see the U.S.A. add to their gold medal count, even if you don't quite understand how a particular sport gets to be an OLYMPIC EVENT. But I feel that way about lots of the sports. I was telling my husband, although he won't remember this because I think he was asleep, that people have found a way to turn their weekend hobbies into Olympic events so they can earn a living having fun. I wish I could do that.

I just need to find a sponsor for the new U.S.A. Oreo Eating Team - Women's. Or the U.S.A. Rubber Stamping Team - Card Making event. That way all the stamping supplies I buy can be considered "training equipment" and my husband can find a way to write it off as a business expense.

Anyway, beach volleyball.

My question with any women's volleyball match is this: Why do women (and young girls) have to wear teeny tiny spandex pants to play volleyball?

And please don't say it's for ease of movement. Women play basketball in sleeveless shirts and baggy shorts, as do men.

My question for women's BEACH volleyball is: Why do the players have to wear bikinis to play beach volleyball? Please don't say it's for ease of movement, because I just saw their male counterparts playing last night in standard tank tops and baggy shorts.

Seriously, I think these women are minimizing their own image as serious athletes. I think they are selling themselves out to their sponsors who obviously have convinced them that, yes, they will put their logo on their "uniforms" but they must be as tiny as possible because we all know sex sells, and they will get more male viewers if they wear bikinis while they run around on the sand in the hot sun.

These women are great athletes, but they need to decide if they want to be known for their great athletic talent or their great bodies.

They need to decide if they want to be in Sports Illustrated or just the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


On Tuesday, the kids' first day of school, which was a half day, Kayla met her friends for pizza after school so I didn't get to see her until after lunch.
After I picked her and her friends up at the pizza place I didn't get to see her until supper time because some of her friends came home with her and she just couldn't fit me in. Because after they spent a few hours here they walked to the park to watch the boys...I mean the boys' baseball team play.

Anyway, when she finally found time to talk to me about her day she told me that she was not on the roster for any of her classes except one, even though she had followed her schedule very carefully. We both figured this issue would be corrected by the next day and all would be well. Kayla was not worried about it; so I didn't worry.

On Wednesday (yesterday) she came home and said that the office had a completely different schedule on file for her than the one she had been given at registration and she had followed the wrong schedule for nearly two days.

There were tears. There were threats of quitting school. There were promises to complain vehemently to the office over their lack of organization.

Until Kayla calmed me down.

Not really, about my own tears and threats. I learned many years ago to gauge my child's reaction to a potentially upsetting situation and stage my response accordingly. I mean, if they aren't bothered by something, generally speaking, why should I be?

When she first told me about the confusion, I thought "Well, that's just great! What a way to start your first week of high school." But she was laughing about the whole thing. She was laughing as she told me she missed Spanish all together and went to World Geography twice because when the counselor finally gave her the "right" schedule he told her to follow it for the rest of the day. So she ended up returning to some classes and missing some. And she very nonchalantly told me how she just said "oh, my schedule was messed up so I'm in THIS class now" to the teachers. And that was that. She handled this potentially upsetting situation as though it were nothing. She handled it as something she could laugh about. She kept telling us, her parents, "It's no big deal guys" when we kept asking "But it's worked out now, right? You feel comfortable with everything, right?" WE were the ones who were ready to make it a catastrophe. She was the one who was ready to deal with it as the minor glitch that it was. We weren't going to go in and fight her battle for her, but we were prepared to tell her how to fight it. Turns out, she didn't see it as a battle to be fought. She saw it as a funny story that just made her week more interesting.

And that is when I realized that she's going to be fine in high school. She's going to be just fine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


At Wal-Mart today I put a bag of red seedless grapes in my cart and, when I started to walk away, another bag of red seedless grapes somehow grabbed hold of my cart and went right along with me, dropping small clusters of red seedless grapes in a trail behind me.

I hate Wal-Mart.

Luckily I noticed the tag-along grapes very quickly and stopped to pick them up and untangle the bag that had latched itself onto my cart. I think I only smashed one lone grape.

Anyway, I put all the grapes in the bag and looked AAAALLLL AROUND for a produce person so I could confess my wrong doing and make sure nobody bought the red seedless grapes that had been on the floor at Wal-Mart.

Because we all know how sanitary that floor is.

I honestly wanted to turn myself in because my brother is a produce manager at a Wal-Mart and I want to respect produce managers everywhere. Sadly there was no produce person to be found, so I made a big show of looking disappointed and concerned, in case anybody was watching me, and set the grapes among the lemons, thinking nobody would want them if they were among the lemons.

I don't know why I thought that; I just did.

Just let it be known that I tried to hand over the soiled grapes.

But that's not the point. The point is that the whole grape debacle would not have happened if I had not felt so guilty about having filled my cart up with junk food filled with high fructose corn syrup. I feel it is my duty to support the high fructose corn syrup industry because my husband's company manufactures it. Like I've said before, it's not good FOR us but it's been good TO us.

See, I only put the grapes in my cart so I would have something nutritionally redeeming when I paid for my groceries.

Because I at least want to LOOK LIKE a good mom.

I knew when I went to Wal-Mart that, along with my fat free cheese, apple juice, cranberry juice, ground beef and laundry soap, I would be buying lots of Little Debbie Snack Cakes; because, as I've mentioned before, my kids love Little Debbie. LOVE. HER. I bet at least one of them will name their first daughter Debbie. Or maybe Star Crunch.

Blake likes the Strawberry Rolls and the Donut Stix. Kayla likes the Cosmic Brownies. Cosmic Brownies have little colorful candy chips on the icing which I pick off when I eat a Cosmic Brownie. Actually, though, I myself prefer the Walnut Fudge Brownies because the walnuts surely have enough protein in them to qualify as a healthy, muscle building snack.

So I scooted through Wal-Mart hoping that if anybody I knew saw me, they would focus on the grapes and the fat free cheese and not the tower of snack cakes tottering inside my cart.

Now, before you all judge me for the abhorrent eating habits of my family and start pelting me with organic tomatoes; let me just say that my son is 5'11" and weighs 135 pounds. Believe me, he eats lots of meat and fruit and, well, okay just SOME vegetables. And he drinks a ton of milk. He gets a well rounded diet. But the kid is a stick. If he wore vertical stripes he'd look like a drinking straw. So I figure with his cross country running, his weight training and his wrestling he can tolerate a couple of sugary snacks a day.

And my daughter? Well, she just has a darling little size 5 figure and stays active with softball and basketball and running around with her friends. I suspect her Mall Time each week burns lots of calories. She also has pretty good eating habits. Thus, my willingness to keep sugary snacks in the house. They both eat them in moderation.

But I still felt a little sheepish pushing my cart through Wal-Mart loaded with enough sugar to keep a five year old hyped up for days. And of course the checker had to make a comment - "Wow! You do my kind of shopping." And I don't think she was talking about my cranberry juice.

So I'm working on a sign for my grocery cart:


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I sent them off today.

Like so many parents are doing this month, I sent my children off for their first day of school.

There were no crayons to buy; no glue sticks or magic markers; no writing tablets with the wide lines; no giant boxes of Kleenex or big bottles of hand sanitizer. In fact, I don't even know what Blake bought in the way of school supplies as he took care of that himself. Paul took Kayla out one evening, while he was buying her a new softball bat, and picked up her supplies. For us, now, there are just lots of notebooks and folders; index cards and red grading pens. Perhaps we will need some colored pencils for a geography map; I need to make sure we have a protractor and a compass for Kayla's geometry class. Other than that, not much else except an expandable locker shelf, a tiny white board and a mirror for the locker door. Oh, and Kayla and I did shop for a nifty book bag.

And for the first time in a couple of years, our kids are in the same building again. Since we are in a consolidated district; not only have our kids often been in different buildings through the years, but they have been in different towns.

But now they are in the same building again. And until Blake leaves for college in two years, it will remain so. Because we have begun the final chapter in this phase of our lives.

Last night, at freshman orientation, I watched as Kayla opened her locker on the second floor (because lower class men have lockers on the second floor), and as I watched her arrange her notebooks and folders, insert her shelf, and place her mirror and white board on the door, I nearly turned into a puddle of goo.

This is it, I thought to myself. This is the final chapter of this book. My baby girl is entering high school. Oh, I know my job as a parent is far from over. I know high school isn't the end. But after high school, we close a book and open a new volume. And this book is nearing its end.

And yet it seems I've blinked only a couple of times since her first day of kindergarten. I remember her outfit that day. It came from a store in Indianapolis - a store called Chocolate Soup. It was yellow and white and had an applique of a little girl with balloons on the front. The top buttoned in the back. She wore a big yellow bow in her hair and gleaming white tennis shoes with ruffled socks. And she was tiny. Oh, so tiny.

And now she is entering a part of life which, if my predictions are correct, will turn out to be truly magical for her. I loved high school and I believe Kayla will too. I think she will find her niche and shine for the teachers. I think she will work hard but make each day a party. I think she will keep her grades up but always be happiest when she is with her friends. I think she will remember our constant reminder and represent us well.

So as I am sad that my baby is moving to the edge of the nest, I am happy - thrilled even - that that edge holds such promise for her. She will be making the best of memories.

So, yes, somewhere on the second floor of a high school nestled among the corn and soybean fields of Illinois, there is a locker that contains my heart.

And on the first floor of that same building, where upper class men have their lockers, a young man is now placing his own notebooks and folders as he prepares for his last two years of high school.

And because of a math problem that only God can solve, that locker contains my heart too.

Monday, August 18, 2008


So, I had a headache this morning and, because my refill for my happy pills hadn't arrived in the mail yet, I decided I'd try some caffeine, namely Diet Pepsi, to fight the pain - along with some extra strength Tylenol. Because I like to use my extensive medical and pharmaceutical knowledge whenever I can.

Trouble is, I don't keep soda in the house.

Here is when it is SOOOOO handy to have a child that drives.

"Blake, if you'll run out and get some fountain Diet Pepsis for Kayla and me, you can keep the change...." handing him a ten.

Because addicts will do desperate things for a fix.

I had suggested Taco Bell because I LOVE Taco Bell Diet Pepsi. LOVE. IT.

But Blake knew that going to the gas station/convenient mart would be cheaper (plus the drive through service at Taco Bell is WELL below satisfactory) thus yielding him more change from the ten he'd received from the junkie....I mean his mother.

So off he went.

About 20 minutes later, he returns with two BIG Styrofoam cups full of diet Pepsi. AND NO LIDS.

Seems the idiots at the convenient mart didn't have lids in stock. Because the idiots at the convenient mart run it very...well...idiotically. So instead of aborting the mission, my son, MY HERO, managed to get two BIG Diet Pepsis home for his mother and his sister, unprotected by lids, without spilling a drop.

My enabler...My hero. Definitely the man to get the job done.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Because I know my husband will get on here and point it out, let me clarify that HE is the one that usually does the laundry in our house.

Now all of you may be wondering how in the world I get him to do laundry.

The question should be: How do I get him to STOP doing the laundry?

Several years ago, it used to drive me crazy when he would grab the laundry and start sorting and washing it - usually on a Sunday afternoon. I'd always say "I WILL do that, you know. I do it through the week." And he'd say "I need something to do, I don't like to sit and do nothing."

Because he's a fidgeter.

Seriously, he started doing the laundry to expel his excess energy.

And I can't get him to stop.

Anyway, when I was the laundress of the household, I hated sorting. In our previous house, the washer and dryer were in the "kids bathroom" in a closet. I used to keep baskets in the bathtub, hidden behind the shower curtain and sort laundry on the bathroom floor. I actually liked that setup better than what we have now because I had more space.

Eventually I decided that all the sorting was driving me crazy and I needed to teach the kids to do it - the sorting that is.

Because isn't that why we have children - so they can start doing all of our work for us and, by the time they're teenagers, we can sit on our duffs and eat chocolate all day?

So my children were five and eight years old when I decided to turn them into little laborers.

I bought 3 tall narrow laundry baskets for each child and placed them in their rooms. I told them that each basket was for a different kind of clothes - dark, whites and brights. Then I spent a week or two helping them put their clothes in the baskets each night after they undressed - jeans go in this one, underwear in this one, your colored shirt in this one. Sheets and towels were done separately.

Within a couple of weeks, they had learned to sort their clothes as they undressed each night, and when I was doing laundry I'd say "Blake bring me your dark basket," or "Kayla put your bright basket in the laundry room." Then when that load was moved to the dryer I'd tell them to bring in another load.

They learned it very easily.

See it's important to indoctrinate...I mean TEACH our children these things very young while their brains are pliable enough to resist rebellion...I mean take things in easily.

And this has worked beautifully for us all these years. It basically means that only one person's laundry is being done at once and it really cuts down on the congestion in my laundry room, which is also the entrance from our garage and is very tiny. It also makes folding and putting away easier because it's all going to one room.

Now we are tweaking things a little bit. This summer we made a rule that each child will do his or her own laundry.


Upon hearing that announcement, the children wailed and thrashed and moaned. Child labor lawyers were called. The term "sweatshop" was thrown around.

Oh, I'm kidding.

They have accepted it pretty well.

There are a few reasons that I insist my children do their own laundry:

- They are part of this family, and as such, can do part of the work. Period.

- When I got to college, I was SHOCKED, shocked I tell you, at the number of young adults who could not do their own laundry. I do not want my children to be laundrarily* challenged.

{*laundrarily -(lawn - DRARE - i - lee) of or having to do with laundry, the washing, folding and putting away thereof. }

- This summer I really got behind on household chores and decided I needed to get them to help.

So we had a brief review on the workings of the washer and dryer and I told them it is up to them to get their clothes washed, dried, folded and put away.

I know they are getting them washed and dried and taken to their rooms. I'm not so sure about the folded and put away part. But I don't care. They're doing their own laundry.

Blake has jokingly said he doesn't like this new rule because it really takes a lot of time to fold clothes and put them away.

I told him "Waaah! Welcome to my world."

Because I like to set a good example of compassion and maturity.

Now, after school starts we are going to make the kids each commit to a laundry day. They will have to pick a day to do their laundry and it MUST be done that day so as not to cause a traffic jam in the laundry room. Because each of us is eagerly awaiting our turn for our weekly laundry experience.

Now, once I get them to clean the toilets I'll be on easy street.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I registered the kids for school today.

I left early so I could be one of the first in line and get it over with. On my drive up there, I became a little nostalgic and even found myself tearing up a bit because my daughter is a freshman now and my son is a junior.

I even thought I'd write a post about how quickly the time has passed and, oh my, what a milestone this is registering our daughter for high school for the first time. And, goodness gracious, only one more registration day after this one for our son. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I was all melancholy and telling myself to enjoy this time. I was actually rubbing my forehead on the drive up to prevent tears from spilling out of my eyes.

Boy did that blow up in my face.

When I arrived they hadn't even started the registration process yet, so I was feeling
PRIT. TEE. good about my decision to arrive early. Boy am I a smart one to leave home so early and get a jump on this process. I was going to get through this sometimes annoying process quite easily, be on my way home and hop right on this computer and post a tear jerker of a post on how quickly time flies when you're raising children.


I was first in line at the FRESHMAN table. Only nobody was there to register the freshmen. No worries. I just hopped on over to the Junior table, thinking I'd take care of that and then slip back to the freshman line and zip on out of there. Surely there would be a Freshman helper by then.

Trouble is, by the time I registered my junior and moved back to the freshman line, there still wasn't a worker there.

AAAAAANNNNNDDD!! There were about 15 people ahead of me.

Well Crap!!

So there we freshman mothers were, looking around for some sort of guidance.

Do we stand in the freshman line and wait for a helper?

Do we move to the sophomore line and expect that lady to do both classes?

Somebody help us!!

I certainly don't blame the ladies who were working registration. They had their hands full, to say the least. My guess is that somebody didn't show up to work her shift.


Here I was the first one at the table to register my freshman and now I was behind 15 other moms who were just as confused as I was.

And I was paying good money to stand there and look like an idiot.

Finally the librarian (I think) took over the freshman line and gladly accepted my check made out for over two hundred dollars for our free public education.

By that time I was hot, grumpy and hungry.

I no longer wanted to buy a sparkly spirit wear shirt.

I simply could not be bothered to write another check for a yearbook.

I just wanted to take my 63 forms, pamphlets, information sheets and calendars and get out of there.

So in the space of an hour my mood went from "Oh boo hoo! My children are growing up so fast. Only a few more registration days after this one. Where has the time gone? Sniff. Sniff," to "HOLY COW!!! I cannot possibly live through another registration day. Thank you, Lord, that I have these kids almost raised so I can be done with this nightmare portion of their childhood. And why can't their father do this anyway? I am SOO having a brownie at home..." while banging my head on the steering wheel.

And that concludes this anatomy lesson.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Did you hear?

On Thursday August 7th, Diary Queen is donating part of each blizzard sale to the Children's Miracle Network.

I am giving you plenty of notice so you can plan around this - plan your points, your exercise, your budget, your fat grams, your guilt around this worthy event.

I myself will find it very difficult to consume a blizzard (double Oreo) but I intend to do it.

For the children.

Our family will be ordering four. I doubt our children will be with us, but we will still order four.

For the children.

You must go out and do this. In fact, I think it is a biblical obligation:

"For surely thou shalt enter the land of (ice) milk and honey and partake of the feast the Lord hath setteth before thee. Do not fear, sayeth the Lord; for just as our Lord and Savior did multiplieth the loaves and fishes, so shall our Lord divideth the calories and fat so that thou shalt not suffereth for this, thy sacrifice..." 2nd (Dairy)Queens 13:3 RCDV*

*Revised Crazy Dieters Version - soon to be released at divine weight loss centers everywhere.

Monday, August 04, 2008


We just had a small emergency in the house, grocerily* speaking.

*Grocerily - (grow - SHARE - i -lee) - of her having to do with groceries, the purchasing and putting away thereof.

Blake had run out of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls!!

Please do not worry; we are all ok now. But things were a little frightening there for a while.

(For those of you who are not in the teenage phase of parenting, let me just give you one simple tip. Teenagers are a lot like infants - if you feed them frequently and make sure they get lots of sleep; you will go a long way in making this phase of life pleasant. Thus, my willingness to purchase these favorite snacks ASAP upon learning we were out. Plus I kind of like the kid...)

Anyway, since I had to go to the store anyway to pick up a few things for dinner, i.e. an onion, enchilada sauce and chopped green chiles (to add to the chicken breasts I cooked on Saturday) to make chicken enchiladas tonight; I told Blake I'd pick some up.

Then, wonder of wonders...Blake said he'd just go with me because "we need some food in this house."

Before I continue with this riveting story, let me just pause and talk about the meaning of "we need some food in this house..."

For a loving caring mother, the above statement means we have no fresh fruits and vegetables, no bread, no milk, no cheese, no cereal, no chicken breasts and no tuna. And no chocolate. Of course we would have to be out of ALL of these items before the "we need some food in this house" line would be considered an appropriate statement.

For teenagers, the above statement means we have no ice cream, Little Debbie snacks, frozen chicken chunks, french fries, fruit chews, pizza rolls, ice cream or poptarts. And we only have to be out of ONE of these items before the emergency alarm rings, grocerily speaking.

It does not matter if the pantry is so full I could feed our family through a week-long blizzard; it doesn't matter that the refrigerator is full enough to feed the local football team and that there is plenty of overstock in the basement freezer. If the above mentioned essentials are missing, then "we need some food in this house."

Anyway, Blake and I headed to the grocery store. I knew it would be a quick trip because Blake, like his father, is a no-nonsense shopper. Get what you need and get out. There is no strolling up and down the aisles looking for something new and exciting to put on the table. There is no hunting for sale items.

Plunk, plunk, plunk. Put the essentials in the cart and get out.

So that's what we did.

Blake chose frozen fries, some tequila lime chicken wings, some crab salad, and his beloved strawberry shortcake rolls. I chose some clementines, a pineapple and my enchilada fixings.

I think we made it from the garage and back again in 27 minutes.

And that is how a food emergency led to quality time with my son; grocerily speaking.

*I think there is something wrong with my spellcheck function. Now it is flagging "grocerily." Is anybody else having problems with theirs?

Friday, August 01, 2008


Paul and Blake are on their way home from New York where they have spent a few days so they could watch the Yankees play before Yankee stadium is torn down.

Yesterday morning I sent Paul this tender heartfelt email:

So. You know that little orange stop watch of yours that you keep on the dresser? The one you set to make sure you get up in the mornings? The one that was set for 4:15 A.M.?


So if you ever want to see it again, I suggest you send DIRECT, CONCISE instructions on how to turn the alarm off.

Lucky for you the garbage has already been taken or it would have been slung in there because, yes, while you are off preparing to see the Yankees play, I did remember to get all the garbage to the curb.

You’re welcome.

If above mentioned instructions are not received in a timely manner one of many things will happen. Maybe two:

I will put the watch in the Jacuzzi with me this morning and, yes, turn on the jets.
I will slather it with peanut butter and let Cookie have it.
I will lay it in the driveway and repeatedly run over it with the van.
I will send it to your mother and tell her “I just couldn't bring myself to throw this away…”
I will throw it in the local pond, with a tiny brick tied to it so you won’t fish it out.
I will wait until you come home tomorrow night and assume you already know where to put it.

And yes, I already know you’re out of the office so I really don’t want to see that AutoReply message shot back at me……

I am SOOOO shopping for purses today.

So, love you, call me!!

Yeah, I know I'm a shrew.

But come on!!


Let me give you a little background.

Paul is a morning person. An obnoxiously cheerful morning person. He normally gets up at 5:15 each morning (6:00 on weekends) to run. After his run and shower, he'll come back to bed and snuggle me and say "good morning honey bunny. I love you," or something equally sweet. To which I replay. "UHH! Have you started the coffee?" And I try to say that without moving my lips.

Because I am SOOO not a morning person. Even opening my mouth to talk is much too much work first thing in the mornings.

Paul is such a morning person that he often gets up before his alarm. Trouble is, he forgets to turn his alarm off before he leaves the bedroom, which leaves me in a grumpy tizzy when it does go off at 5:15 because I am trying to fumble around to shut it off while curbing my less than loving-Christian-wifely thoughts about my husband.

So, see? The alarm thing is a little bit of a pattern.

He sets two alarms on most days - one beside the bed and one for ten minutes later on the dresser so he will be sure to get up, walk to the dresser to turn it off, and then make himself stay up. Except most days he doesn't need one, let alone two.

So when this little freebie of a stop watch went off at FOUR FIFTEEN the other morning, I most certainly was NOT a happy person.

Now, let's dissect the letter.

Yes, I did need directions on how to shut the alarm function off. Because I have no experience with stop watches. Why would I? Stop watches are usually used for extreme physical activity.

Enough said.

The garbage to the curb thing is, indeed, no big deal but I couldn't think of anything else to throw in there to make me sound like a martyr. You know. "Oh, woe is me!! I'm stuck here doing filthy jobs like garbage removal while you live it up in New York City. Don't worry about me. I will muddle through."

Yes, our dog Cookie would have eaten the watch had it been covered in peanut butter. And wouldn't it have been lovely for Paul to come home and find it half expelled with the string hanging out of her hind end. It would have been something for him to take care of for sure. Welcome home dear!!

My first thought upon stumbling to the dresser was to run the watch over with the van. In fact I could have let Kayla do that. She needs the driving experience and it would have been a great mother daughter bonding time.

Sending it to his mother....Paul's mother has been known to bring me sacks of well... CRAP... because she knows it is well...crap...but, like her son, cannot throw anything away. So she loads it up and brings it to me in Wal-Mart sacks thinking I might want it and, if not, I can take the very brave step of throwing it away, which I usually do IMMEDIATELY. The fun part is that she used to deliver these sacks of crap to me at the kids' basketball games. She'd march up those bleachers and hand over the newest
Sack-O-Crap. It got to the point where I finally told Paul "If your mother brings me ONE MORE SACK OF CRAP....!" My favorite has been a sack of tennis balls she collected over a period of time on her daily walks.

Don't even ask.

Tying a brick to it so Paul would not fish it out of the pond...Paul is known for his dumpster diving, but only at home. If he sees something in the garbage that I have thrown away and he thinks we need, he will dig it out and insist we keep it. Remind me to tell you about the cookie dough and the shower gel....So I would not have been the least bit surprised to see him dive into the pond to find his little orange stop watch that might still work.

"...and assume you will know where to put it." OK. I know that is crude.

But come on!! It was FOUR FIFTEEN IN THE MORNING, so perhaps I can get a pass on that one.

The AutoReply message is one that Paul sets his email on when he travels, so people don't expect an immediate reply. Even though I know it's automatic and he eventually gets my messages I always want to tell it "But I am HIS WIFE. Don't tell me he's unreachable. Do you KNOW who you're speaking to?"

Paul had said he would bring Kayla and me some knock off purses from a street vendor; but then decided he didn't want to mess with it but encouraged us to go shopping for purses ourselves. The beeping stopwatch made the decision for me on that one; though we have not gone purse shopping yet.

And, no, I did not receive instructions on how to disarm the alarm.

So before I crawled into bed last night, I examined the watch and found a piece of tape on the back, holding in a small wad of white paper. Apparently the cover to the little battery had fallen off and gotten lost; so Paul had stuffed a little paper in there and put some Scotch tape over it. Because we certainly wouldn't want to spend $5.99 on a new stopwatch when we had somewhere gotten this neat little TicTac stopwatch for free (I'm guessing with a pack of TicTacs)
And he hadn't even used Duct Tape.

So I begrudgingly just removed the tape and paper wad and let the battery fall out.

Paul can have his beloved stop watch back for the near future.

But, boy, he better turn that thing off before he leaves the bedroom each morning.

My next reminder may not be so sweet.