Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Senator Richard Durbin
State Capital Building
Springfield, Illinois

Dear Senator Durbin,

Please excuse what may or may not have been my husband's fullest potential in that meeting you attended at his office yesterday. You know that meeting that was about...um...well...I don't really know what it was about, but I bet it was real interesting.

Anyway, while he had been working very hard preparing for said meeting, he faced some major distractions.

See, his wife (that would be me) kept calling him about some pressing family matters - urgent matters that concerned the education and welfare of our precious daughter.

I was making price signs for our concession stand, and I needed his advice a couple of times. While we (other officer mom and I) were able to come up with a sign that is just darling (HEY! Why not come to one of the games and see it?) we did not know how to actually SEND it to my husband who had offered to print it on his giant poster sized printer. Think Lucy and Ethel at the computer.

So on the second phone call (or was it the third?) my husband made some comment about how he was simultaneously working on two projects that fell on opposite ends of the spectrum of importance - his upcoming meeting with you, Senator; and pricing m&m's and hot dogs with me. I'm sure he meant no disrespect when he implied that his meeting with you was trivial compared to our concession stand sign, but we all have our priorities.


And in these tough economic times it is the duty of the class of 2012 to offer a low cost but nutritious dinner at basketball games - hot dog, chips, candy bar and water. Anything to stimulate the economy while helping the average Joe.

Plus if we sell lots of stuff, we totally don't have to hold another major fund raiser this year.

While I'm sure my husband did a bang-up job at his meeting with you; I hope this letter explains why he might have seemed a little preoccupied. He truly had some heavy matters weighing on his mind. Further, I know that he is especially grateful to me, his wife, for allowing him to be involved in this major concession stand project. I do believe it is important for children to see their parents tackle life's major problems together. Don't you?

I think that falls within the category of FAMILY VALUES.

Thank you for your time, Senator. Please stop by one of our boys' basketball games and enjoy some of our delicious treats from the concession stand (although, I'm afraid we won't be able to give you a discount) The stand is easy to find. Just look for the brilliant signage.

Yours truly,

Friday, November 21, 2008


Hey readers! Head on over to Antique Mommy and read her post about motherhood. I love Antique Mommy. LOVE. HER. And if I don't win that book, I'm totally buying it for myself.

Merry Christmas to me.

By the way, read ALL of Antique Mommy. She's lovely. And her little boy Sean? SWEET. HEART. I seriously want a five year old boy around here again.

After leaving my comment, I decided to hop back over here to my very own blog and expand on it.

Motherhood takes a toll on our bodies, regardless of how we become mothers. Nobody told me how motherhood would be an all encompassing physical attack, not just from the pains of childbirth but for every second that we are blessed to be called Mom. We feel motherhood in every inch of our bodies.

Let's start at the top, shall we.

The Brain. Motherhood makes your brain bend. Whether it's geometry, biology, or trying to figure out WHY? Why, did he think he could climb on the roof of the grade school? Why? Why did he think it was a good idea to set his army men on fire? Why? Why are there SEVEN bath towels on the floor of their bathroom. Why? Why won't my child's fever go down? And sometimes motherhood can make our brain explode. With anger, that is. Most of the time it's more like an IMPLOSION where we keep all the damage inside our head. Sometimes, though (and I hope I'm not the only one) it's a true explosion that sends splinters and shrapnel across the room - "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!"

The Eyes. For some reason, my eyes water a lot since I became a mother. Happy things, sad things, it doesn't matter. My eyes tend to water a lot for the past 17 years. Sometimes they twitch too, now that I'm a mother.

The Mouth. I admit it, since becoming a mother, certain words slip out that never would have slipped out before. Maybe once, my kids have heard me use a curse word, but I try to be very hypocritical and only utter those words out of their hearing.But motherhood makes us utter things we would not speak if our hearts weren't living outside our bodies. "You went poopie? Big boy-eee" "No, we cannot get a pet lizard. Or a hedgehog." "Don't pick your nose." "Be nice to your brother, you may need a kidney someday." "Seriously, kids. You're fighting over cereal?" "If you don't get BACK IN THAT BED..." "Of course Santa is real." "Never enter mommy and daddy's bedroom without knocking..." "Yes, you can wear cowboy boots with your shorts." "Pink mittens in May? Sure." "Running out of Mt. Dew is not an emergency. Don't call us again unless you're bleeding."

The Shoulders. Motherhood makes our shoulders strong but that strength does not come without pain. Whether we are toting a toddler while carrying a giant diaper bag, or feeling the weight of a teenage daughter's heartbreak, somehow our shoulders can manage it all.

The Spine. Sometimes it disappears while we raise our children. Does he really NEED that Cubs sweatshirt? No, but your spine has disappeared and you buy it. Does she really NEED to go to the movie again? No, but your spine has disappeared and you drive her. Did you think they'd outgrown hugging you? Yes, and your spine disappears when they do. Motherhood turns us into noodles.

And yet, the spine can reappear as needed. NO, she won't be going to that other school's homecoming dance. NO, he won't drive three hours on a Saturday night to watch a fight. YES, I will confront the adult who bullied my child. YES, I will fight the battle of modesty. YES, I will fight the battle of working to potential. NO. YES. Hopefully the spine makes its presence known when needed.

The Arms. Motherhood makes our arms ache. From the joy of holding our infants to the ache of emptiness when they no longer snuggle in them, our arms ache. My arms ache a lot these days.

The Hands. Motherhood makes our hands magic. Our hands touch burning foreheads, place band aids just right, hold down a screaming toddler during shots, frost cupcakes, catch bugs, swat bottoms, wipe noses, color maps, glue collages, place birthday candles, pat backs, tie shoes, struggle with tights, clap, clap, clap. And daily fold themselves together in prayer.

The Stomach. Motherhood makes our stomach weak. And strong. We can catch vomit in our hands and our stomach remains as steal. We can watch our child break a bone, and our stomach revolts. We can watch our child go to her first high school dance and our stomach does flip flops. My stomach does a lot of flip flops these days.

The Legs. Motherhood turns us into runners. Or not. We take baby steps when we're teaching our child to walk. We learn to run when they do. We can move at the speed of light to keep them out of the road or away from the stove. Our legs our horsies, jungle gyms, and arm rests for wobbly toddlers. They know every inch of the hallways of our child's school. They have climbed the bleachers a million times. They could outrun a freight train to save our child.

Our knees. Motherhood weakens our knees. Our knees go weak with worry when our child is sick, weak with relief when they are well again, weak with pride when they've succeeded. And weak with joy simply from seeing them smile and hearing them laugh. My kids' laughter still makes me weak in the knees and I'm sure it always will.

Our feet. Motherhood earns each of us a daily foot massage. Our feet walk the floor at night when our infant is ill - sometimes all night for several nights. They have held the weight of our children as they stand on our shoes to dance. They've paced the halls of hospitals and quickly walked out of church to quiet an angry toddler. They've made a path to the front door as we watch to see if he'll make curfew, and tiptoed around the Christmas tree to play Santa. They've stepped heavy on the gas pedal when our child is sick at school. They've gone without that perfect sandal when our child "needed" light up shoes (see THE SPINE).

And now, though it's closer to the top, the most burdened body part of mothers - THE HEART.

Motherhood makes our heart burst. Over and over again, our heart bursts. It bursts at the first sight of our child. It bursts at all of our child's firsts - first smile, first tooth, first step, first day of school, first date, first prom. It bursts with disappointment, sadness and even anger.

Motherhood makes our heart divide. Somehow our heart is able to divide itself and yet remain whole with each child that God places in our arms. Somehow our heart can be in two (or more) childrens' beds at night, two lunchboxes at grade school, two lockers at high school, two cars on the weekend, two sets of bleachers.

Motherhood is indeed a full body workout and, most of the time, it is my favorite form of exercise.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


What? Two posts in one day? Well, yes because, apparently the day could get worse.

After being told by my door painter that I could be keeping my door a little cleaner...ahem...I skedaddled on out of there to run some errands. Some vital errands.

I had to run to the post office and buy a roll of stamps so that we cold mail out the concession duty schedule to the freshman class. Surprisingly that stop went off without a hitch and I managed to leave our tiny little post office without humiliating myself. The victory would be short lived.

Next was a stop at Staples where I was to have 85 copies made of said schedule, along with a couple of other vital papers for the class of 2012 - four pages in all.

Did I mention it was really windy today? REALLY windy.

So windy, in fact, that when I opened my van door, and stepped out with the vital Freshman documents in my hand, the wind grabbed them and sent them flying like so many white kites into the neighboring empty lot.


I had a fraction of a second to decide if I wanted to chase the documents down, pretending that I was the only person on earth and that nobody would be watching, or if I wanted to call the other mom who had those documents on her computer and run to her house to print more.


Deciding I did not want to swallow my pride (or take the time) to drive to "other mom's" house to get those papers re-printed, I decided on the easy way out.

I chased the papers down.

All four of them.

In fourteen different directions.

Blowing away from me at 12-15 miles per hour across that empty field.

Because that wasn't swallowing my pride at all. Oh no, that was the dignified choice. And I am nothing if not dignified.

And wouldn't you know? Just when I got close enough to one of those papers to pick it up, the wind would snatch it away again, sending me stomping after it for a few more feet until it would tease me again, daring me to reach down to pick it up and then - WHOOSH - off it would go again.


After gathering three papers I stood in that field looking all around for the fourth like one would look for his lost pet. Because by golly I was not going to sacrifice my dignity (and what had been a pretty decent hair day up to that point) for three of the four papers and then give up. Oh, and speaking of pets. I did see a wild cat charge by me. I totally would have brought him home had my mind not been on other matters, mainly because I know how much my husband loves cats....

Finally I spotted the lone paper wedged against something on the ground so I trudged over to pick it up, wondering why on earth I thought it was so important for my daughter to be well-rounded.

See, I wouldn't have been doing this if she wasn't a class officer. But NOOOOOO-uh. I had to raise an ambitious, diligent young woman who wants to participate in things that will look impressive on a college application.

I am totally going to teach her to be a slacker next year. Seriously, leadership is over rated, don't you think? But I bet she would have been proud of her over achieving mother today.

So then.

I walk into Staples with my crumpled papers, march up to the copy center and say:

One tequila - straight up.

Oh, you know I'm kidding; it's just been a while since I typed tequila.

I actually lay the papers on the counter and smooth them out like a fourth grader who had rescued his homework from the dog. And that's when I noticed...um...something...on the edge of one of the papers. I'm not sure what it was and I won't even allow myself to speculate. There was also a suspicious smudge on another paper - obviously something picked up from that blasted field. These papers did not look pretty. At all.

*Note to self - donate hand sanitizer to Freshman class - 85 bottles.*

But that wasn't the end of my really good fortune.

Seems the copier at Staples was down and the repairman may or may not make it today so I had two options:

Let them go ahead and charge my credit card and stand at the "do it yourself" machine and run the copies myself.

Leave the papers with them, NOT let them charge my credit card, and return tomorrow to pick up the copies - letting the nice young folks at Staples do it.

Um....normally I may not have minded standing at the copier at Staples and running 85 copies, times four, but today?

Today, after running through the field chasing papers, gathering said papers, smoothing them along my leg as I entered the store, noticing something...um...questionable on half of said papers, knowing for certain that my hair looked ridiculous, and then being told that the copier was down? And all that after being told by a construction worker in my very own home that I need to clean my door better?

After all that and having to ask myself YET AGAIN why I can't manage to keep my dignity in tact when I leave the house; did it really seem reasonable that I would want to stand at Staples and make copies?

I think not.

To top it all off, once the freshman class finds out about my incompetence, I'm likely to be fired. My title of "Class Officer Mom" might be revoked.

Yeah, right. I could be so lucky.


I was recently telling some friends about the time the Salvation Army refused some of my furniture.

I know.

My furniture was not good enough for the thrift store.

I have never been so indignant in all my life.

I had this sofa to get rid of and, to be honest, the only reason we were getting rid of it was that I was bored with it. It had a small tear in the upholstery but it was by no means a piece of poo. I also had some bar stools to get rid of. Rather than try to sell them through an ad in the paper or by word of mouth, we decided to donate them.

So I called the Salvation Army and arranged a pickup time.

The big truck backed into our driveway and I opened the garage door and showed them the furniture I was wanting them to have, fully expecting them to heave it all into their big truck, hand me a receipt and drive away. But NOOOOO.

Um...we can't take those.

Wait, what?

See that tear there in the sofa? We can't take furniture in that kind of shape. Also, these bar stools? They have some scratches on them here, here and here. We can't take furniture with that kind of damage.

Wait, what?

Sorry, we can't take it.

But...I....um....er....uh...wait, what? My furniture isn't good enough for the Salvation Army? No offense to your organization but.... wait, what?

Apparently, I am also quite eloquent when I'm being insulted.

So, they didn't take my furniture.


If that's not a blow to one's sense of style and decor, I don't know what is.

Fast forward several years to, well, today.

I have a couple of workers here fixing up our door situation.

The man who is going to paint our front door was looking at the inside of the door to decide how to paint it to match the new surrounding trim he is installing.

He pointed to the border around the oval window in our door, rubbed his finger on it and said:

Ma'am, this doesn't have to be painted. You can just wipe it off.

Wait, what?

OHHHHH! I can clean that? Well, that IS a good idea.

Now I think his partner was a little embarrassed that the guy just told me to clean my door better, but I was laughing and, to tell you the truth, I don't think either one of them gets my sense of humor.

Imagine that.

I have never claimed to be the best of housekeepers. In fact, oddly enough, I was a better housekeeper when the kids were little. Now? With the schedules of two busy teenagers, something's gotta give.

And it's been the housework.

But, come on. How many of you think to clean the trim around the window in your front door on a weekly basis?

But to be told by a construction worker that my cleaning standards may not be up to par?

That is as bad as say...I don't know....having your furniture rejected by the Salvation Army. But wait, that happened too.

So I give up. I'm off to shoot me a squirrel for dinner and then I have to whip up some flour sack dresses for me and the younguns. We gotta look spiffy this weekend 'cause two of our cousins are getting married - to each other.

Monday, November 17, 2008


We have a problem.

We have a swarm of fruit flies in our kitchen. We cannot get rid of them. We have no produce out on our counter. We have no food out on our counter. We just have fruit flies swarming around our counter -specifically the sink area. I've cleaned the sink and garbage disposal - thoroughly and multiple times. Paul has set out a cup of vinegar and a cup of water/liquid dish soap per Google's instructions. And still, the fruit flies cometh.

God? Is that you? Are we being plagued?

And darn if I don't want to grab a jar of ether and start suffocating the little devils.

Remember? High school biology? When we got to sedate the fruit flies - the Drosophila - in a test tube and then tap, tap, tap, them out onto the lab table to sort them while looking through a magnifying glass? Remember?

And if you didn't work quickly enough with your sorting, they'd start to wake up and then you'd have to wave the ether-soaked cotton ball over their tiny little bodies to knock them out again so you could finish your experiment?

Except, inevitably, some of them would reach way down inside themselves and gather the strength to get up and fly far....far far away? And then you'd be mad because your ever-so-important experimental statistics would be messed up because you let one with white wings or red eyes get away?


Remember how back in the eighties, fruit flies were merely a means to an end? A project to complete to get an A in high school biology?

Plus, they were like the funnest unit EVER....

And now? They are still a means to an end. They are the means by which I am going to end up a raving lunatic.

I am off to Menard's today to look for a big ole' can of "Fruit Fly Be Gone."

Any other suggestions?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Last night, as Blake and I were discussing his desire to serve in the military, the conversation naturally took many different turns.

At one point - I don't even know when it happened, or how - my son said

"You have to admit, Mom, that there are a few things where I'm smarter than you and dad.."

"Um...first, Blake, I don't have to admit any such thing. Second, I think what you mean to say is that your opinions on many things differ from ours..."

"Yeah, okay, but I will say this. I am SO GLAD I don't have ignorant parents. If I had ignorant parents, I don't know how I'd make it through this life."

Aw, gee. Thanks, son.

I think.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Last week, we got home to hear a message on our answering machine in which the voice simply said "CLINT!!!" And then the sound of a phone being hung up.

That is how my brother lets me know he's trying to reach me. While I desperately wanted to call HIS answering machine and say "WHAAAAAT?" and hang up, I didn't because it was late and I was tired. And, why make my brother think I'm too eager to speak to him?

Instead I sent him the following e-mail this morning. He should receive it at work any minute now. Which means I have about 2 hours before my house is surrounded by federal agents for some reason or another. At least that's the kind of thing he likes to threaten since he works for an agency under the Department of Homeland Security. I tell him that he overestimates his own importance and that I have plenty of dirt on him. Blah, blah, blah.

So after seeing the note I sent him, you all will instantly understand why I'm his absolute favorite person in the world.

Dear Clint,

I received a very succinct (apparently encoded) message on my answering machine the other day. I believe it was the evening we had been at the U of I watching the U.S. Gymnastics team perform. Jealous?

Anyway, since the message just said “CLINT!!!!" I immediately picked up the phone and called my good friend Clint Eastwood. While he was happy to hear from me, he assured me he had not called. He did however suggest we do lunch soon. I said “Great, I’ll have my people call your people.” And he said “Go ahead. Make my day.”
I must remember to pencil that in.

Since it was not THAT Clint who had called, I assumed it was you. After listening to your encoded message many times I decided it could mean a few different things:

You were trapped under something heavy and needed my help. And, well, since that was five days ago, I guess you’re out of luck.

You won the lottery and wanted to send me half.

You suddenly remembered you owed me $400.00 and wanted to tell me the check is in the mail.

You wanted to know my favorite flower so you could send me a “BEST SISTER IN THE WORLD” bouquet.

You wanted to apologize for that time you buried my Barbie doll in the backyard next to the cat’s grave.

You wanted me to shovel your driveway since you’ve been hit with a blizzard. Again, you’re out of luck, because you are the one with the fancy new snow blower, while we just have three shovels.

You are coming home for Thanksgiving and want to stay in our guestroom. Please please please let it be number 7. Note: Due to the failing economy we’ve had to raise our rates; I'll send you a new brochure.

I didn’t pick up the phone and call you back because I was tired and my husband has taken away our long distance on the land line and I didn’t know where my cell phone was and I couldn’t see taxing myself to go find it simply to ask you “WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

So, what do you want?

I love you man.


Friday, November 07, 2008


*Updated below*

When Blake was in first grade, Paul and I were going over some things with him that he needed to take to school. I can't remember exactly what it was but I think there was something he needed to give to the teacher.

Evidently our reminders insulted him because he stopped our stream of parental advice by putting his hands up, palms facing outwards and said:


In a tone that let us know he thought he'd never get us raised.

We weren't really surprised by this because he was always one of those kids whose vocabulary was bigger than he was. And nine times out of ten, he used the words in the correct context, if not in the correct tense.

Last night, Blake approached me with a request. A few months ago, he had pre-purchased a video game at our mall and the game was going to be available at midnight. The store was going to be open and he wanted to know if he could go out at midnight and pick up his game. The mall is extremely close to our house; you don't even have to get on a highway to get there from here.

Remembering his assurance, at the age of six, that he did indeed have responsible, I immediately said "Sure. And why not stop at the pub and have a beer with the guys while you're out."

Oh stop. I'm kidding.

I actually said, "Well, I think that would be okay, since you're seventeen and you wouldn't be breaking city curfew. However, if your dad gets home and disagrees, then you'll have to wait until tomorrow. Also, you have to get up without prompting in the morning."

And he accepted that.

Then I asked him about the game and he said it is an alien war game - outer space aliens, not immigrant aliens. And, apparently, it's all about fighting off these alien invaders.

Well, why didn't you say so? Of course, I want you to have that game because I am all about educational activities. And I think it's hugely important for our kids to know as much as possible about our fight for independence from space aliens. History is important, you know.

So then.

As we all went to bed, he assured us that he'd be very quiet as he left and returned on his midnight run for his new toy.

I woke up at 1:30 and checked out the window and saw that his car was home and thought "Ah. He did it. He left and came home safely and quietly. What a big boy."

Turns out my little fella couldn't stay awake and he never made it out the door.

So this morning before school, he handed me his pre-paid receipt and asked me if I would go pick up his game. Because I am the best mom EV. VER. I told him I would take care of that and that I'm sure he wouldn't mind running to the store for me this afternoon to buy water so that he could do all the lifting and carrying. Knowing he had no wiggle room, he agreed.

However, he couldn't help himself from reminding me just how important this trip to the mall was to get his game. He couldn't help asking me a couple of times if I was sure I had the receipt. He even suggested he might call me through the day to see if I had picked it up "...not to remind you, mom, but to feel the excitement of knowing it's at home waiting for me."

Yeah, yeah.

And darn, if I didn't think to put my hands up and say "Blake. Son. I have responsible."

I am usually much more quick witted than that but I had not had coffee yet.

But I assume I will have a happy kid on my hands this evening.

Well, once he finds the game.

Because, since I'm the best mom EV. VER, I'm going to hide it from him and make him go on a scavenger hunt for it.

Maybe I don't have responsible.

This was the best part of my day. My normally well spoken son was completley flustered and without words when he walked in and found a note on the dining room table:

Blake, can you find your game. Clue: a peaceful religious sect.

I was at the comptuer when he walked in and I said "Hi Blake how was your day?" And I heard complete silence for a moment and then he mumbled "Is this a joke?" So I knew he had read my note.

Seriously, mom, what is this garbage? Where's my game? You HID my game? MOM! I cannot handle this today. Where's my game?

Think, Blake. What is a peaceful religious sect?

Mormons, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness....I don't know, where's my game?

Um...Blake, I know you've heard of the Quakers.

You DID NOT hide my game in a box of oatmeal.....(opens pantry door)

Ah, but what's your favorite flavor of oatmeal?

I don't know!!!!! Mom, I can't handle this.

Oh, your game is fine, just hunt for it...(desperately wishing I had made lots of clues to send him all over the house. This was much more fun than I imagined. I never knew torturing one's child could bring such satisfaction.)

Thankfully the twinkle in his eye and his obvious attempts not to laugh made me know he was having fun, which really didn't matter because I was literally doubled over in laughter. To see this big ole tough wrestler nearly fall apart over not being able to find his new toy was, for some reason, absolutely hilarius to me. I was just waiting for him to stomp his size 14 foot on the floor and say "I'm telling DAAAD-uh."

As he dug his game out of the box of instant strawberry oatmeal he said "Thanks mom, and I have to admit, that was pretty cute... but don't do that to me again."

I am going straight to hell for my fine parenting techniques.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


For the last few days my sinuses have been on fire. It feels like I've inhaled a pool full of chlorinated water - and not the baby pool, but the big pool.
I can't stop sneezing.
My eyes feel like they have razor blades embedded under the lids.
My nose goes from completely stopped up to running so badly I carry paper towels in my pockets. Yes paper towels, because tissues just aren't substantial enough. Pretty picture, huh?
And evidently I swallowed a feather sometime Saturday night because I can't get rid of that tickle in my throat.

Because I've been suffering the worst head cold ever (because MY colds are always worse than anybody else's) I haven't told you about my new dust mop. So I'm going to do that today. And if you're lucky, tomorrow I'll tell you about my new dish towels.


I've been wanting a new dust mop for quite some time. I like my plain old dust mop, but it's broken. Every time I shake the dust off of it, the head falls off and then I have to reassemble it while I mumble and grumble. But I want a new one just like it - a plain old dust mop. The kind my mom and grandma used.

The kind Aunt Bea used.

I do not like a Swiffer, because I don't like to add a fresh cloth each time I want to clean my floor and then remove the dirty cloth when I'm done. I don't want to change a dust mop diaper when my floor needs to be cleaned.

I found a new fangled dust mop a few months ago but nothing clung to it. It simply moved everything around and let all the dust bunnies fall to the floor. That, I believe, is called a broom; it should not be marketed as a dust mop.

Last week, I went to Menard's determined to find a plain old dust mop.

And it was in the mop aisle at Menard's that my early onset Alzheimer's reared it's ugly head.

First of all, there were no plain old dust mops, so I picked one up that had a large rectangular head on it, which I decided would be nice for the staircase. It looked like it would pick up lots of dust. Funny thing, the handle was quite short - like about 3 feet long.


I took it off the rack and held it by the very tippy top of the handle and "dusted" the floor at Menard's, experimenting with the short handle.

Why would it have such a short handle?

Is it better for my posture?

Is it ergonomically correct?

It didn't have "CHILD'S DUST MOP" on the label.

I decided I could try it, despite it's very strange handle. After all, who am I to doubt the scientific advances of dust moppery?

It was while I was putting the dust mop in my cart that I actually read the label and saw "handle expands to 62 inches."

OOOOHHHHHH! Now I get it.

So then.

I came home, more eager than ever to search for dust bunnies. I expanded the handle and started to swish swish swish my new toy across the dining room floor.

Only to have the handle collapse back to its original child size length.

And because evidently I don't learn very quickly, I repeated this exercise about four times, getting the same results each time.

Swish swish swish, collapse.
Swish swish swish, collapse.

Finally, I went to the garbage can and dug out the label and actually read the directions.

That's right. I had to read directions on how to operate a dust mop. My self esteem was taking a real beating that day.

Turns out I was operating it correctly, which relieved me greatly. It is nice to know my college education was not a complete waste. It appears, though, that my expandable dust mop handle is just a little loose and cannot withstand the swishing pressure of dusting my hardwood floor.

Because I didn't buy a service warranty on my dust mop and didn't want to call a repair man, I did something that will make my husband extremely proud. I taped the handle in place with black electrical tape.

Now I not only have my new dust mop; but it looks really classy too.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


The other morning, while I was giving my kitchen a (semi) thorough cleaning, I decided to go ahead and make the meatloaf I had planned for dinner.

That's right, by 11:00 am I had my meatloaf mixed up and sitting in the fridge all ready to bake.

June Cleaver couldn't do better.

Anyway, the phone rang while I was finishing up and the caller I.D. said "U.S. GOVERNMENT."

Well, Great! You rip one tag off of one throw pillow...

Turns out I need not have worried. It was simply an Army recruiter looking for my son.

Hello, this is Sergeant Bates (or was it Gates?) May I speak to Blake?

And in an instant I went from June Cleaver to Mad Mother Bear.

Blake is at SCHOOOOOOL. *snarl*

Oh, has he gone off to college?

No, he's a junior in high school. And you can't have him.

Not really on that last part, but I was thinking it.

Blake has been talking to a couple of recruiters. He's spent some time with a Marine recruiter and yesterday visited with a Naval recruiter. Of course, the Army got wind of his military interest and decided to get in on the action.

Regardless of the fear that grips my heart when he talks about a life in the armed forces, I can't disparage that choice.

See, the pebble of military service has left a huge ripple in the pond of Blake's life.

My great grandfather fought in World War I and World War II. He spent the last thirty years of his life in a veteran's hospital suffering from battle fatigue. His body came out of both wars unharmed, but his spirit was scarred forever. Perhaps that is a worse fate than a bullet wound.

His son-in-law, my maternal grandfather, also fought in World War II in the Navy Sea Bees, leaving my grandmother at home to worry over her father and her husband as they fought on different fronts.

My paternal grandfather landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought behind German lines.

My brother spent 22 years in the army.

My dad served in the army.

My surrogate dad, Uncle Ivan, served in the Army.

My cousin retired as a captain from the Navy.

My father-in-law, Paul's step dad, was a medic in Korea and Vietnam. He has seen first hand the atrocities man can inflict on one another.

When Paul was four, his dad died of cancer after serving nearly 20 years in the Air Force.

Blake's "godfather" was a marine.

His wrestling coach, the father of his best friend, recently retired from the Navy.

Make no mistake, Blake adores his dad. It still makes me weak in the knees to see the bond Paul has with our son. But besides Paul, all the men Blake admires the most have a military past. These are honorable men. These are selfless men.

And because of that, to disparage a military choice would be like cutting them off at the knees in Blake's eyes. Because of the long history of military service in my family, to disparage it would be like hating the very essence of myself.

As an American, I think military service is among the most honorable of careers. It is a selfless career. It is a difficult career. And, unfortunately, in our society, it is a career that is easily mocked and vilified, making it a courageous choice in more than one way.

As a mother, the whole story changes. As a mother, I want to bar the door. I want to throw myself at his feet and plead with him to walk a different path. I want to beg him to choose something else - ANYTHING ELSE - that would not put his precious life at risk.

But I can't do that.

I am coming to realize more and more that he has a heart for service - military service. He has a heart for this challenge. And who am I to quash that spirit, that eagerness?

Who am I to live in fear and teach him, at this late date in parenting, to live in fear?

He has one and three-quarters years of high school left. He has time to make a decision. We have time to have some serious conversations and ask some serious questions.

And I have time to pray. A LOT.