Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So, homecoming is over.

The football game has been won. The dance has been danced. The parade has been paraded.

And I'll get to all that soon, but right now I'm so mad I think I might have a stroke.

It all started when the float skirt didn't arrive.

Well, it actually did arrive.

When I got home from the parade.

The sneaky little float people, however, seemed to have removed the return address from the UPS shipping label; probably hoping that I would open the box and therefore be unable to return to sender. But we (my husband and I) went online to the UPS website and found the tracking number of this package and determined that yes indeed it was the float skirt which we no longer needed.

We also found out that the package was originally sent at approximately 7:09 P.M. - or about 3 hours AFTER my final phone call to the company. About three hours AFTER the man said it was on its way and that he would have to get back to me with a tracking number.


Now I know this is probably circumstantial evidence, but it looks as though they not only lied about the package being sent when it actually wasn't; but they also went to the trouble of slicing off the return address so I would open the box or at least have trouble sending it back.

I wrote REFUSED in big black letters on the package, and Paul took it to work on Monday hoping to send it with the UPS man when he made his daily stop at Paul's office. We assumed last night that the package was on its way back to the den of thieves from which it came.


Imagine my surprise...actually my red hot anger...when my doorbell rang today and I saw the UPS truck parked in front of our house. Imagine my surprise...actually my red hot anger...when I opened the door and found the package sitting there again. This package that will not die. This package for which our credit card is going to be billed eighty dollars if I cannot get it back to the big fat liars.

By now I am doing Lamaze breathing to keep from breaking a blood vessel in my brain. I called our local UPS office who were helpful enough to give me an 800 number to call so I could ask how to return a package. I still am not sure why the local UPS people couldn't answer my question but I will ponder that when I'm finished with my stroke.

Of course the 800 number is managed by a robot, who gave me four options; none of which was "how to return a package."

I kept pushing zero-zero, like the local UPS lady said to do. But I just kept getting the same robot who kept giving me the same options. I tried lying to the robot and choosing one of the options, hoping to get an actual person. But the lies only led me to more robots.

So here I sit with a package of silver fringed float skirting and a twitching eye.

Here is my plan of attack.

Tomorrow I am going to call the local UPS office and plead with them to help me. I am going to ask them a simple question: "Could you please tell me how to return this package? The 800 number is not helpful. PLEASE, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, HELP ME!!" I will drive to the office if necessary.

And if that doesn't work, I'm going to go to the post office and ask them about sending a package COD.

And if THAT doesn't work, I'm going to make a road trip to CRS ENTERPRISES float supply company somewhere in Minnesota and politely shove it up...onto their counter and demand a refund.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Now I have to add grave personal injury to my list of reasons not to go to Wal-Mart; although, I am evidently so filled with self loathing that I cannot go a week without visiting that place.

See, I was trying to buy shortening so I could hush the naysaying of my son and bake an apple pie, with homemade crust.

I knew I wanted to buy the shortening that comes in little pre-measured "sticks" like butter. I did not, however, know that I'd have to choose between butter flavored shortening or plain ole shortening.

But really is there any question? I mean doesn't butter make everything better? The only thing that adds more to the flavor of any food than butter is chocolate chips. But I don't want to add chocolate chips to my pie crust.

Or do I?

Anyway, I decided to buy both kinds of shortening so I could decide later which one to use. I will make my decision after e-mailing my favorite aunt for baking advice. But I should probably go with the plain stuff - like Grandma Hale used. But having both kinds on hand will be nice; I surely will be making many many more pies after this, so I'll need all kinds of shortening in my pantry.

Really, I will.

Having decided to get both kinds of shortening, I reached above my head and took a pack from the shelf.

And stood helplessly as a tower of shortening came tumbling down on my face.

Thank goodness they don't sell it in cans anymore.

I did not even bother to look around to see if anybody was watching because I just assumed that they were. I've learned to lower my own standards of dignity when I shop at Wal-Mart.

See? Baking from scratch is dangerous work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Updated at 4:36 p.m. CST:
Float mom on brink of insanity. Float supply guy's life in danger after promising to call her back in 45 minutes -AGAIN - says something about "it's gonna be there tomorrow." Float mom yells "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE" after hanging up.
Float company's name to be published tomorrow so that author's ones of readers can boycott.

It all started on the morning of September 13 - a Saturday.

I sat at our computer scouring different websites for parade float supplies. We - meaning the freshman class - needed a float skirt. We needed a silver fringed float skirt.

After browsing through a few different sites I came upon one that was easy to navigate, had reasonable prices and decent shipping times.

Or so I thought.

Let the record show that on September 13 of this year, one Heidi W, mother of a member of the class of 2012, did purchase not one, not two, but THREE silver 30-inch Silver Metallic Vinyl Fringe parade float skirts.

Let the record further show that said mom paid extra for 3-day expedited shipping.

Let the record show that the above mentioned transaction was posted to said mom's bank account on September 15.

Let the record show that the order didn't. Show, that is.

It hasn't shown up, people!

Tomorrow at 5:30 we are to meet at a class member's farm to finish assembling the float and store it in his dad's machine shed overnight so it will be ready for the 3:00 parade the next day.

And I have no float skirt.

The man at the parade float supply shop was so very NOT helpful when I called today; I think he was speaking to me around a big old cigar hanging out of his mouth. He said he'd check into it and call me back. I am not holding my breath.

He has until noon, and then I'm calling my mom so she can go all crazy fierce Grandma on him.

Or not.

But I am seriously going to have to channel my mother and once again become her when I call this man. He is going to be oh so sorry that he didn't ship my order and that he was rude to me on the phone.

I also am waiting on a reply to my e-mail to this oh-so-helpful company. My e-mail that is fairly polite but also sends a vibe of panic. SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!

I need my 30-inch Metallic Silver Float skirt - Quantity 3.

Here's the thing. This was really the only major thing I was in charge of for the float and I really feel bad that it's getting screwed up.

And another thing. I am going to have to stand in front of four young ladies - ages 14 and 15 and give an accounting of my actions.

I'm going to have to hang my head and stare at my shoes while I poke the floor with my toes and tell them why I not only picked the most bonehead company every conceived, but I also chose to pay EXTRA for three-day shipping...ELEVEN DAYS AGO!! I'm going to have to go to Kangaroo Court!!

It's a good thing I already offered to donate half the cost of this order.

Still, I think Mrs. W is in big trouble.

Please don't ask why Mrs. W was doing all this in the first place, when somebody like, say, oh I don't know a class sponsor might do it. We moms are doing all this because there is no guidance or help from the school or class sponsor. We are new to this so we're all flailing just a bit. Next year will be better, I know. But for now I am so frustrated I could scream.

And to top it all off, I have to make an apple pie today.

Be on the lookout for a float supply guy with a ten-inch pie pan protruding from his...well...from somewhere.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This week is going to be full of miracles, I can just tell.

Today, the start of homecoming week at the kids' high school, is Rock the Eighties Day, where the kids can dress in eighties fashion. Kayla, of course has embraced this challenge full on. Blake, of course, is ignoring Rock the Eighties Day, though I insisted he could simply grab a shirt out of his dad's closet and go for it, since his dad really does still have clothes from our high school days. And if I'm not very watchful, he will even try to wear them.

Anyway, I have tried very hard to help Kayla with her eighties fashion day, because in high school, I was the height of fashion flare.

Well, that's not exactly true. I wasn't the most fun dresser in high school. I leaned more to the preppy side of things, wearing mostly oxfords and jeans.

But I always cuffed my jeans I had some pretty awesome earrings. Oh, and my Nikes were always very white.

Kayla finally decided to wear two polos, and after I told her we would turn our collars up, she said "Oh, I can pop my collar?"


Then she put her hair in a really high pony tail - on the side - and asked me to cuff her jeans really skinny. And I said "Oh, you want me to peg them." Because I'm all about throwing around my very extensive fashion lingo.

Anything to teach the children history.

Turns out it's really hard to peg boot cut jeans that are really long, on a girl with ticklish feet.

But we got the job done and Kayla said "Oh, they're like skinny jeans....for poor people."

And then I was witness to a miracle.

Kayla was on the phone - again - with one of her friends getting every detail of this day down when I heard her say "You need to listen to your mom 'cause she, like, lived in the eighties."


*Cue hallelujah chorus now*

These girls may not listen to us about boyfriends, homework, swimsuits, college, or cell phone minutes but by golly, they know to pipe down and listen close when it comes to Eighties Fashion.

In other Miraculous forecasts:

I'm going to make an apple pie.

No, really I am.

Oh stop! I am.

Somebody gave us a boatload of apples and I've decided to make a pie (or two), because I've never made a pie.

*hanging head in shame*

But I'm making one this week because Blake has challenged me.

And I never run away from a challenge.

Well, that's not exactly true. I try to avoid challenges like the plague. But this time, I'm going to shut that young whipper snapper up and make a pie, doggone it. I've already looked up my great grandmother's recipe.

And therein lies the problem, because nobody, NOBODY made pies like Grandma Hale. She worked until she was eighty years old, making pies at a little restaurant in her hometown, and people loved her pies. LOVED. THEM. I will not be telling the older members of my family that it's Grandma Hale's recipe because they will laugh me out of the kitchen. Not that they could do any better because none of us seem able to recreate her pies or sugar cookies.

Her pie crust recipe actually calls for lard. Lard, I tell you! Somehow I think "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - Light" won't do the trick, when the recipe says LARD, so I have to go out and buy some shortnin'. And, JUST IN CASE, I'm going to buy some prepared pie crusts.

Because I'm all about being prepared.

And so what if I don't actually MAKE the crust? Blake will never know because he doesn't read this blog, and I'm sure none of you are going to tell him.

Are you?

Anyway, the week is starting off on a miraculous foot.

Teenage girls listening to their mothers? Miracle

Heidi making a pie? Miracle

And some people say there is no God....

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So my back is killing me. For two days it's been killing me.


Because I hunched over a long piece of silver sparkly fabric, on a garage floor, tracing letters for the freshman homecoming float.

OK, so I only traced about four letters. But they were pretty big.

And I narrowly escaped having to trace more because each time I found a teenager wandering around with nothing to do I'd say "Hey, Suzie Q want to trace some letters?"

And she'd say "Um....I'm, like, not really good at, like tracing," and wander off.

So I'd catch the next one.

"Hey Kitten, want to trace?"

"Well...I don't really like to trace." And then she left with her head bent over whatever text message she was reading. Or sending.

"Um...kids. Those of you who have nothing to do, need to come over here and trace letters," said Mrs. W in her best don't - let - them - see - you - sweat voice.

So I placed a pencil in a an adolescent hand and let the kids do the tracing.

And then.

When it came time to start cutting the letters, I actually heard a voice say "Um...I'm like, not very good at, like, cutting."

And that is when Mrs. W. envisioned herself hog tying some of these kids with royal blue crepe paper streamers and wheeling them to the corner on a dolly. With a CLASS OF 2012 sign protruding from their ear.

But I didn't. Instead I said something very encouraging.

"Look, girls. This isn't kindergarten. All of you know how to cut and trace, and you need to be doing this, not us moms."

"And if you don't work on these letters, then you can't be in my club."

Not really on the club thing, but they all used to say that to each other in first grade, so I WAS thinking it.

And then I grabbed my purse and went to Menard's with Mrs. R to buy sticky letters, green duct tape and white paint pens. Because if there is shopping to be done, then I'm your man...er...woman.

And it's probably a good thing my daughter didn't hear my above statement about kindergarten because I might have gotten in trouble for being sassy. But my daughter was off working on a job. Probably because she somehow was under the impression that if I didn't see her working productively the entire time WE were at the float building session, she might be in just a little bit of trouble. I don't know where she picked up on that vibe, but I'm just guessing she might have been thinking along those lines.

In all actuality the kids are doing an excellent job with this float. They came up with an idea that is fairly simple to put together but that will really pop as it glides down the street. And we really had a good group of workers the other night - just the right number, as we all know that too many workers can really become chaotic.

And one week from tomorrow, that float will be rolling down the main street of a little farm community, freshman dads hoping all the nuts and bolts hold, freshman moms hoping the fringe is long enough, freshman girls and boys thrilled over the job they've done - passing out candy to the little ones on the sidewalk.

And in the back of our minds - at least for the moms and the girls - will be the preparations to come the next day.

Hair appointments.





High heels.

Sparkly purses.



Yes, Kayla's first high school dance is on the horizon.

Somehow I think I'll be much busier with her that day than I've ever been with her brother.

Friday, September 12, 2008


It is interesting - heartwarming, really - to be privy to the thoughts and worries of one who knows they are near death. It is a gift to get a peek into the intimate longings of one who knows their days on earth are few.

My dad somehow found a balance between living life as though he weren't dying and making plans for his survivors because he knew he did indeed have little time left with us.

He was a planner.

He left behind a small spiral notebook filled with specific instructions. He made his desires known about his own funeral. He asked us to place a red, white and blue floral spray at the front of his service. He asked that he receive military rites at his graveside. He marked an old paperback Bible with scriptures he wished to have read.

Even though he rarely stepped into a church in his lifetime; he had taken an Old Testament class in college (Did you know he started college at age 50 and earned his business degree?) and he developed a fondness for these specific scriptures.

With all the plans he had made, with all of his organization, he seemed calm about the end of his life. He SEEMED calm. Surely he was fearful. After all, he was just a man. A man who was only 64 and surely wished for many more years of life.

What he wasn't calm about was his own father. His father who passed away several years ago. Sometime during his own broken vertebrae, surgery, diagnosis of lung cancer, chemo therapy, radiation, and the acceptance of his inevitable death, my dad became quite worried about his own dad's grave.

He could not rest, he could not find peace, because he couldn't remember if the American flag was visible from the gravestone of his father. His father who left for World War II when my dad, his first child, was ten days old. His father who landed on the beaches of Normandy on the second day of the invasion. His father who fought hand to hand combat with the Germans. His father who was trapped behind enemy lines for some time. His father who came home with a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a bullet scar.

He HAD to know if that flag was visible for his father. After all, who is more deserving to rest under the flag of our country than one who risked his very life for her?

So my aunt, the angel on earth - Teresa - went to the cemetery where my grandfather is buried, the cemetery where we would soon be burying my own dad, stood at her father's grave and took a picture of the American flag.

Then she simply e-mailed the picture to Marilyn with a note that said "Tell Ronnie to rest easy. Dad can see the flag."

And then my dad's heart was at peace.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I was going to post today about how patriotic my dad was, knowing full well that "patriotic" is, unfortunately, a loaded word these days. We'll get to that later.

Because before I can tell you the story of my dad's patriotism, and the worries that filled his heart during his final days on earth, I must first tell you of my aunt Teresa, his youngest sister, who performed a seemingly small, yet heartfelt task for him shortly before he died. That task will be the topic of tomorrow's post.

But first you must know about Teresa.

She is one of the funniest people I know. She makes everybody, child and adult, laugh. Her eyes twinkle. She is one of those women who is constantly on the go - busy, busy, busy, taking care of her mother, working in the community, and up until a few years ago running her own craft business that at one point landed her on QVC. She is a servant with a heart that overflows with love and joy.

During the week of my dad's funeral, the red carpet was rolled out for us in his tiny home town because he was Teresa's brother. I am not kidding. All I had to do was say, "yes I am Teresa P's niece" and doors would open to me. And not because people feared her but because people love her. People truly love her.

Years ago at a Christmas party at her house I was sitting at the counter talking to her husband Steve and, somehow, we started talking bout Teresa.

First of all, the look of love in this man's eyes while talking about his wife of then 30 years was astounding to me. His love for that woman was palpable. But these words that he spoke to me with such warmth and conviction will never leave my memory:

"You know, Heidi, I truly believe that God has angels on earth to make our lives better. I know, in my heart, that Teresa is one of those angels. There is no other explanation for the beautiful person she is."


And he meant it. He truly believes he is married to an angel sent from God.

I have never heard a man say anything so romantic and loving about his wife.

Regardless of your belief about God or angels or heavenly beings, surely you have to admit that this is a man who truly sees the beauty in his wife and the beauty she adds to his life and the world around her.

And so tomorrow, when I tell you about the simple task she performed that calmed my dad's worried heart, you'll understand that is was simply in her character.

It's as though she can't help it - being an angel and all.


You are the one who enters the flames
when we are racing to flee.
You are the one who carries the air
to our lungs that cannot breathe.

You are the one who carries us out
and hands us to your brother
So that you may return to the heat
and rescue yet another.

You are the one who enters that building
as others watch it tumble down.
And something deep inside of you
won't let you turn around.

You are the one who leaves your family each day
knowing you may not return;
Only to rescue us, mere strangers,
whose names you may never learn.

You are the one who is larger than life
to both adult and child;
As you wear that heroic uniform
to fight flames raging wild.

You are the one who appears fearless
and yet surely you are afraid;
for you are simply a man who faces with courage
the choices you have made.

You are the one who has chosen
a sacrificial path;
but however your day ends
rest assured your legacy will last.

You are the one who has said goodbye
to a fellow hero - to a brother,
who entered the flames of Hell
to give life to another.

You are the one whom we notice
though not as often as we should;
as you quietly go about your life

You are the one to whom we say
And may God bless you for your sacrifice
today and every day.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


I have to say that I'm a little surprised at the big deal being made about Sarah Palin choosing to have a child that she knew would have Down Syndrome.

I guess I'm surprised because it would never for one second enter my mind to terminate a pregnancy because the baby was going to be imperfect; and that makes it hard for me to fathom anybody else's choice to do just that. You know, sometimes you have a belief that is so ingrained in you, so much a part of your spirit, that it really is hard to see that there's another view.

Yes, Sarah Palin's choice, in my mind was the right one but I suspect, like me and so many other conservatives it really wasn't a choice. I suspect she didn't have to give it any thought or take time to "consider her options."

I suspect, like me and so many other conservatives, she probably said "It's my child. There are no options." Or something like that.

After all, which of us, which of our children, was born perfect, without flaw? And for those of us who did give birth to children who had no special needs, are we suddenly going to give up on them if, God forbid, something happened to them that suddenly placed them in the "Special Needs" category? If our "perfect" children suddenly became "imperfect" are we going to somehow pawn them off on somebody else because they have become an inconvenience and no longer fit into our family's or society's idea of "perfect?" Are we suddenly going to say "it's not fair to make them live a life of suffering" or "I'm not equipped to handle the needs of such a child?"

If Sarah Palin had terminated her pregnancy because her child was going to have special needs; if she and her husband had decided they weren't able to handle such demands or that it was not fair to bring a child into this world who would have needs greater than the average child, then what would that say about how they viewed their other children? Would it have said they were loved and cherished as long as they were healthy and convenient? Would it have said that as long as they looked like the average American child and had no scars or features that marred their stereotypical American beauty, then they would be loved? But as soon as there's an accident, as soon as something tragic happens and those children interfere with their lives and their ideals, then what?

You're on thin ice, children. We love you now, but if you have an accident that inconveniences us for the rest of our lives...you're out of here!! Only perfect children for us!

And that's where I have a problem with terminating a pregnancy because a child has been determined to be "imperfect." Everyday, we are all at risk of losing our health. Every day we are all at risk of something happening that will require us to live at the mercy of those around us. And yet, it's OK to decide that an unborn child that will be imperfect is not deserving of life.

As you can see, I am pro life. The abortion issue is the one issue that I, ignorantly perhaps, cannot seem to grasp the other side's viewpoint. I've tried, and I can't. I will not change their minds and they will not change mind.

As for the issue of abortion in the case of rape or incest, here is my answer:


I find it hard to judge a woman who chooses an abortion in that situation. I do not think, even then, I would make that choice, but I would not judge a woman who made that decision FOR THAT REASON - or of course for the necessity of saving the life of the mother.

But according to these statistics, only one percent of abortions are performed for cases of rape or incest. Six percent are performed for reasons regarding the health of the mother or the child (again is that our expectations of perfection - abortions for reasons of the health of the child?) and NINETY THREE PERCENT are performed for social reasons - an unwanted or inconvenient pregnancy.

NINETY THREE PERCENT. That's a lot of babies who are denied life simply because they are inconvenient. And yes, I know Pro Choice activists are adamant that a woman has a right to choose what she does with her body.


But each time an abortion is performed, there is a body that is being denied its very potential for life. And it's not the mother's.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I was going to post this yesterday when it actually happened, but I got myself all riled up about the attack on Sarah Palin's family. Jeesh!! Politics really bring out the worst in us.

Anyway, so what day is it? Oh, Wednesday.

It all started Monday night when I was getting ready for bed. I realized I had forgotten to start the coffee for the next morning. I was going to ask Paul if he would start it before he ran in the morning but he was already snoring...I mean asleep.

Because he has this ability to fall asleep freakishly fast. Like, within 47 seconds of his head hitting the pillow.

No worry, I told myself. Surely, he will have the common sense...I mean forethought...to start the coffee when he sees stale coffee sitting in the pot. Surely he'll rinse it and make fresh coffee before he leaves for his run.

Um....not so much.

As I found out when I came downstairs Tuesday morning. I saw coffee in the pot and, even though the "yes the coffee is hot and fresh" light wasn't on, I had to mumble, "Is this fresh coffee?"

"Um...no, I didn't make it."

"Oh, well I thought for sure you'd think to make it before leaving on your run. I'll start it now."

Must I do EVERYTHING around here?

To which Paul replied, "Well, I've succeeded in ticking off two people already today. Blake has forbidden me to use his bathroom anymore in the mornings..."


See, we DO have four bathrooms. Well, three and a half bathrooms. When Paul finished the basement, we put one down there for the teens. Blake moved into that one a year or so ago when his sister reached teendom and started filling "the kids" bath with all sorts of glitter and lotions and body sprays and hair clips and other various fru-fru (or is it froo-froo?).

So basically our kids have their own bathrooms. And I'm not saying that in a Yippee-our-kids-have-their-own-bathrooms kind of way. I'm saying that in a What-was-I-thinking-adding-ANOTHER-bathroom-to-this-house kind of way.

The thing is, Paul is slowly getting himself banned from all of them.

It was easy enough to ban him from the half bath on the main floor. I mean we don't want the main floor to...well...you know...emit any horribly strong odors when somebody walks in the door early in the morning. Not that anybody will be walking in the door first thing in the morning, but it IS where we eat and start our day, for goodness sake.

He totally got my reasoning on that one.

Then there was the banning from OUR bathroom. I mean, it's not like I don't have to spend my day in this house. It's not like I never enter OUR bathroom. It's not like I don't need to BREATHE the first two hours of each morning as I'm getting ready to face MY day.

What, because I'm a stay-at-home-mom, my respiratory health means NOTHING?

"Seriously, honey? Isn't there another arrangement we could make?" I asked him.

That's how he ended up in the basement bathroom, or Blake's bathroom. But now Blake has convinced him that's not a good idea either. I'm not sure, but that "convincing" may have involved an intricate wrestling move.

I mean, things must be PRETTY BAD if a teenage boy is...um...grossed out.

I wonder if Kayla is feeling doomed because her bathroom is the only one Daddy hasn't tried to take over in the morning.

Kayla, baby? Whatever you do, DON'T let him in. Not by the hair of your chinny chin chin.

And yes, I got permission from Paul to post about this. I told him the other morning, "I so want to blog about this." And he said "Do it, I give you permission to vent...no pun intended."

Which totally made me giggle because I love a good play on words. But it also made me a little jealous because I'm supposed to be the punny one around here, and I felt like he totally stole my thunder.


I am afraid we're running out of options. Except:

- We could put an outhouse in our back yard. We'd put siding and shingles on it to match our house so that the neighborhood wouldn't be all up in our business about how it didn't blend.

-Paul can stop at the Phillips 66 station each morning as he runs home.

In the spirit of the upcoming election, let's have a vote.

Outhouse or filling station?

Where do you, the people, think Paul belongs - Bathroomically Speaking?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Sarah Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant. And evidently this is the worst thing that could ever happen to a family. In fact this teenage pregnancy is evidently enough to drive a promising political campaign right into the ditch.

Because a teenage girl is choosing not to hide her mistake, some people will not vote for their chosen candidate. Because a teenage girl is taking a very courageous step and allowing her baby to have life, people are giving up on her mother.

Our society has made it very easy for girls like this to do away with their problem and make like it never happened. Our society has made it very easy for something like this to have never been made known.

But it has been made known. Because she is choosing life. Had she made another CHOICE we would never know about her little secret and their would be no ammunition against her mother and we wouldn't be taking potshots at her for not teaching her child any of her own "Family Values." Except evidently she has taught her daughter family values. She's taught her that after you make one mistake you don't resolve it by making another.

But certain liberals - political bloggers, news anchors, regular citizens - don't want to focus on that. They want to focus on the fact that a teenager had sex and got pregnant.

Oh my gosh!!!

We shall all meet in the courtyard and stone her swelling body.

*Hurray for Senator Obama for his very clear statement that this should be treated as a private issue - that families, especially children are off limits. Hurray for his honesty in reminding us that his own mother was a teenager when she had him. Is anybody attacking HIS family values? Senator Obama, you are a class act.*

As a mother, my heart is breaking for Sarah Palin because, as a mother, I know how harsh other mothers are when our children make mistakes.

As we go about our busy lives raising kids, we keep our radars finely tuned to any blip that tells us there's a child in our midst that has made a mistake - a child that is not our own of course. And when that radar beeps we get to drop all of our mothering tools, forgo our carpooling duties, neglect the housework, meet somebody for coffee or get on the phone and breathlessly say "Did you hear...so and so's child really screwed up this time." And we rub our hands together and smack our lips as though it's a morsel of gossip that's tastier than the best chocolate.

"How could they let that happen?"

"If only they had..."

"My child would NEVER..."

"She won't be so smug now" *snort*

And then it's your child.

It might not be a teen pregnancy. But maybe it's cheating on a test, or fighting on the bus. Maybe it's stealing a pack of gum from the gas station, or torturing the neighbor's pets. Maybe it's bullying another kid, being the MEAN GIRL at school. Maybe it's drugs or drunk driving, or vandalizing someone's property. Maybe it's any number of things that you yourself did as a kid that could have brought shame upon your own parents.

And then you hear it - the judgment, the gossip. You may not hear it with your ears but you hear it in your heart. You know it's being said. You know, because you used to be the one saying it - at least once.

"I can't believe what their child did."

"I thought they were church going people."

"She used to be so hard on other people's kids - heh - she'll keep her mouth shut now."

And you will be ashamed at your lack of compassion.

And you will be sad - so sad. You'll be sad because you'll fee like there's nobody to talk to about this because they will all judge you. You know they are all laughing at you behind your back. You know they are all commenting on your failure as a parent.

But you will also be determined. Determined, hopefully, to discipline your child with just the right amount of firmness mixed with the perfect portion of mercy. You'll hold that child's face in your hands and tell them that, yes, they screwed up and they must face the consequences. You'll tell them that there will be shame and embarrassment to walk through, but that you will walk through it with them - every step of the way. You'll tell them that you are not proud of their actions but that you HAVE NOT FOR ONE MINUTE STOPPED BEING PROUD TO BE THEIR MOM.

And then you will wait. You will wait for the next child to screw up - a child that is not yours. And you will have a whole new sense of compassion for that child's parents. And you will tell people who dish out the juicy tidbits "As a mother, I know how their hearts must be hurting." And you will reach out to those parents in a way that you had hoped somebody would have reached out to you.

And you will also think back to the time when your child rarely left your side. When you had nearly total control over their actions. When you got to decide what they ate, what they wore, whom they played with, when they went to bed.

And you will remember how naive you were when you thought they would never make a mistake.