Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in our grade school doing an ArtPals presentation. ArtPals are a bunch of ladies who go into the schools (kindergarten through 4th grade right now but we're hoping to add older kids each year) and guide the kids through Perceptual and Aesthetic Learning through Scanning of various classic prints.

Most kids just call us the art ladies.

Each class gets one visit per month and most of us make two visits through the year.

Last year I presented to third graders but this year they moved me down to first grade. I don't know if that was a reflection on my behavior or a need to rotate personnel.

I won't ask.


If my college Art Appreciation course had been taught the way we teach ArtPals, I would have enjoyed it much more. I would have actually acquired an appreciation for art. Sitting in a dark classroom at 8 a.m. watching slide after slide after slide of various works of art, while listening to a monotone of names and dates does not really induce one into a euphoric interest in art.

Had I been able to look closely at each piece of art, comment on it, ask questions, really ENJOY it, I might not have caught so many ZZZZZZZ's on Tuesday and Thursday mornings during my freshman year of college.

ArtPals? Where were you 24 years ago?

So....first graders?

First graders are really fun little people.

I had several little girls tell me that they were already "awtists" because they take art lessons one day a week.

One little boy cried through the entire presentation and the project to follow. Something very heartbreaking had evidently happened at lunch just prior to my arrival.

Another little boy asked me if the paper I handed out for them to draw on was the same kind of paper our featured artist had used 507 years ago.

Good question.

Oh, and since our print yesterday was Young Hare by Albrecht Durer, I got to hear many many stories of pet rabbits, including how they died.

In one class we spent about 6 minutes discussing why the art ladies felt the need to laminate the prints before bringing them to the school.

In yet another class, in the middle of my riveting presentation of our print, a small digital alarm started beeping and 20 tiny voices yelled "FLOOR CHECK!!" and dropped to the carpet.

Wait, what?

So I had to stop my presentation so the kids could clean up the floor around their desks.

Apparently Mrs. S's first graders have floor check every hour.

Blake, Kayla? We will be implementing the floor check alarm in the W house this weekend.

We ArtPals do receive training with our Area Arts Council. The official ArtPals program offers a total of nine hours of training to prepare us for this volunteer program. Unfortunately, some of my training was scheduled while my dad was ill so I'm not fully trained. But nobody is going to fire me because I'm eager and willing to enter the grade school on a volunteer basis when I have no children in the grade school any more.

Which makes me sort of an oddball at the meetings. As each (much younger) mother would ask me "what is your child's name? Who's their teacher?" (At least they didn't say grandchild.) I would say "Oh, my kids are in high school."

"Oh, so you have a background in art?"

"No, my degree is in social work. I just couldn't tell Mary Jo NO, when she asked for my help."

" have no kids in grade school, but you come in anyway to present ArtPals?"


"OooooooKaaaaaay." As though they've just seen me poking myself with a straight pin over and
over again.

The truth is, I like being back in the grade school with the little kids. I love the phase of parenting I'm in but I like being back with the little ones every now and then. It's refreshing.

It's fun.

It's something I can continue to do after my chicks have left the nest in a few short years.

Those of you with little ones, check out your local Arts Council and see if they have an ArtPals program that you can implement in your school.

Then maybe you too can learn about FLOOR CHECK! and discuss the benefits of lamination.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama to Lift Ban on Funding for Groups Providing Abortions Overseas...

And here I had been saying I was going to be optimistic and hopeful with our new president.

It has taken President Obama, what, two days - forty eight hours, to jump on the abortion bandwagon. Seriously, it appears as though he just couldn't wait to make it possible for more abortions to be performed in our world. This? This is one of his first acts as president? Our economy is falling apart, our sons and daughters are dying in battle and this is what he is thinking about first?

Is it not enough that we slaughter our own unborn? Must we once again give money to groups who wish to perform abortions in other countries? Must we now sanction the taking of tiny Mexican lives? African lives? Haitian lives? Must we once again sanction the taking of tiny lives any where pro-choice groups wish to travel in the name of "education and outreach?"

All of us who are sickened by the war in Iraq, all of us who are sickened by the deaths of not only our soldiers but also the Iraqi people, where is the outrage?

Are we only outraged when we leave our own borders for purpose of war and take lives? Are we not outraged that now we are sending our money outside of our own borders to take the lives of tiny unborn children? Are we not outraged that our leader, capable though he may be, has made a conscious decision to sign an order which will allow OUR money to be used for abortions in a foreign land? In this time of economic collapse, we are sending our money to other countries to END LIFE?

Could we not use that money to feed starving children in our own country? Keep a roof over the heads of homeless children in our own country? Educate at-risk children in our own country? Provide medical care to uninsured children in our own country? If we refuse to protect the lives of the unborn here within our borders, could we not, at the very least, put more effort into caring for the children that have been given life HERE WITHIN OUR OWN BORDERS? Isn't that a better use of our funds than, say, an outlined plan that funds the taking of more lives?

It is heartbreaking that our society considers its children to be disposable.

Evidently, we now consider children around the world to be disposable.

*Sorry, readers - the link isn't working today. It worked last night. I found the article on and I'm sure it's on all the major news sites.

Monday, January 19, 2009


It snowed last night, which is no big deal considering it's January in Illinois.

But this was a perfect snow.

There was no wind. The snow was light and fluffy. It was falling just heavily enough to be beautiful, but just lightly enough to be safe.

It was the kind of snow that made you think it wouldn't be so bad to live in a snow globe, where you could spend your evenings lying on the ground and watching millions of twinkles falling on your nose.

It was the kind of snow that made the yards and fields look pure and new. Untouched. Quiet.

It was the kind of snow that made the moon reflect silver through my bedroom window as I fell asleep. Soft silver. Silver velvet.

It was the perfect snow.

But today? Today the snow has been touched by man. It's gray and wet and dirty. Each street corner looks as though a cloudy day has simply collapsed on it. Like so many other things that God gives us, the snow that started out white - spotless, pure - has been discolored by our own touch. The dirt and grime of life have settled upon it and ruined the idyllic scene.

Until I look out my back window and see patches that are still untouched, except by the tiny footprints of children trudging through the yards on their way to play for just a few minutes before their noses sting and their eyes water, forcing them back inside to mothers who were enjoying a few minutes of peace.

Those tiny footprints? Now that's not a bad way to leave our mark on God's handiwork.

Not a bad way at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Last Saturday, we drove an hour and half to watch Blake compete in a wrestling meet.

It was the first time Blake had to wrestle a girl.

Now I am just shallow enough to say: "Thank goodness he won!"

We didn't get to see that match but of course I had to ask him lots of questions about it:

Blake were you nervous when you realized you had to wrestle a girl?

Yeah I was nervous! Because I knew if I lost I'd have to quit right there on the spot.

Was it awkward?

Mom, I didn't have time to feel awkward, I pinned her in 11 seconds. I knew I had to get in there and win fast to get it over with.

Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and offend every feminist who reads my blog....


There I said it.

Now, moving on. I learned this weekend that teenage girls probably shouldn't even WATCH wrestling meets, as evidenced by a brief conversation I had with Kayla after dinner that night:

I'm glad you came today. It was nice of you to give up your Saturday to watch a long boring wrestling meet and support your brother.

Are you kidding? Wrestling meets are great. Those guys are so hot...


And then I stooped down to pick my eyeballs up off the floor so I could place them back in my head.

Note to self: reserve room at convent.

I decided that the only way to get Kayla's mind off all those hot boys was to take her shopping at a mall we would be passing on the way home - one we don't get to often. Paul dropped us off and headed across the street to the nearest safe spot - Best Buy - where he could lose himself in the manly sights and sounds of ipods and laptops.

After wandering through Macy's, we spent some time at Victoria's Secret where we bought unmentionables, some soaps, and body sprays.

Then I got to experience my first visit to Hollister.

I had shopped at Hollister before - online, and somehow my daughter had been in Hollister before even though we don't have one at our mall, but I was a Hollister newcomer.

Here's the thing about Hollister.

I don't get it.

I don't get the dim lights. I don't get the music; although I will say their music was much better than, say, Pac-Sun or Aeropostale. I don't get the crowded area around the check-out that makes it so awkward to wait in line. I just don't get it.

But I don't get most of the stores the kids like to shop in. I mean must they be so loud? And the clothes? The clothes are just darling (but a little expensive) and they look really cute on Kayla and her friends, but when are we going to be done with the narrow shirts?

Seriously each shirt in Hollister and its cousins stores? It looks like a leg warmer with sleeves.

I suppose that is to keep mothers of teenagers from buying clothes that match her daughter's. At least this mother of teenagers has no desire to wear the same clothes my daughter wears.

You're welcome, Kayla.

As Paul picked us up and we were tossing our packages in the backseat (we found a great winter coat at Hollister for Kayla - 75% off!!) I said to him "I know, I know. I need to find a way to bond with our daughter that doesn't include spending money. BUT WE HAVE SO MUCH FUN."

His response? "I'll introduce you to the library next week."

I told him there was no need to be cruel.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Throughout October and November Blake and I had several conversations that went something like this:

Blake you need to get a flu shot when Kayla and I go in.


Blake, you are a wrestler. You are exposed to who knows how many germs and viruses on those mats.


I'm not getting a flu shot. I won't get sick, but I'm afraid the shot will make me sick.

The shot won't make you sick.

I'm not getting a flu shot.

On New Year's Eve Blake got the flu.

He was hit hard.

It morphed into a severe sinus infection. The doctor looked in his throat and actually gasped. Then he made me come over and look in his throat. I thought I was staring at a giant strep blister, but it was just the infectious drainage caused by the sinus infection.


Then Blake had an allergic reaction to his amoxicillin. He's never reacted before but the doctor put him on a huge dose this time. So we had to switch him to a z-pack this morning.

It's been really hard not to say I TOLD YOU SO to Blake.

But he's been feeling so miserable I just haven't had the heart. I have, however, thought it several times.

If you're going to be like my mom and my brother and ask why I didn't MAKE Blake get a flu shot I'll tell you what I told them:

Because he is 17 years old and I can't very well drag him kicking and screaming into the doctor's office and hold him down on the exam table while a nurse sticks a needle in him, like I did when he was five.

You know - back when parenting was fun.

Kayla gets a flu shot because she has asthma.

I get a flu shot because I get sick if somebody spells F-L-U in front of me.

Paul gets a flu shot because they are free at his office.

Blake doesn't get a flu shot.

But I bet he will next year.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Dear Insurance Company,

I'm not going to publish your name because I assume your influence is far reaching and I don't want you to deny coverage on the elective lobotomy I'm going to need next week after banging my head against the proverbial brick wall all day today. Because of you.

But I do have a couple of requests.

First, could you please send me copies of the medical licenses, credentials and diplomas of all the licensed physicians who make all or your prescription decisions? You DO have licensed physicians who carefully weigh the needs of each individual, don't you? Licensed physicians that respect the knowledge and training of each customer's own personal physicians?

I assume it is not too much to ask for these physicians' credentials since apparently all they do is sit around all day with a big old rubber stamp that says 'DENIED' and gleefully pound it on all sorts of request forms.

They must have amazing upper arm strength in their stamping arms.

I will say this, though. The speed at which you move is quite impressive. In the hour it took me to drop 3 prescriptions off at Walgreen's, take my sick son home, fix my kids some lunch and drive back to Walgreen's to pick up said prescriptions, you had managed to deny one of those prescriptions.

Pretty impressive.

That leads me to my second request.

Could you please explain to me your Step Therapy rule? The way I understand it, you don't want to cover the prescription antihistamine that a licensed physician prescribed for my son because you want us to try the "first step" and go with an over the counter antihistamine first - like Claritin. My question is: how do you know we haven't already tried an over the counter antihistamine? OTC medications require no records for you or for our doctor so how do you know we haven't already tried them?

Four years ago, you didn't want to cover the Nexium my doctor prescribed because you thought I should try Prilosec OTC first. The thing is I had tried Prilosec. And Zantac. And everything else I could grab off the pharmacy shelf.

Here's the thing, insurance people, if you are dealing with a mom, you can be pretty certain that she's tried everything in her power to avoid seeing a doctor for herself, so by the time you get involved, we really need whatever our doctor says we need. On the other hand, if you're dealing with a mom who wants her child to be comfortable from the flu and sinus infection that's attacking his body, it's just not very smart to tell her no.

So how DO you know we haven't tried the over-the-counter medications first? Do you just take our word for it?

If that's the case - my Tylenol isn't working, so I'd like some morphine.
My chamomile tea and St. John's Wart aren't working so I'd like some Prozac.

There. I tried the bottom steps of your step therapy. Now move me on up that ladder and send me the good stuff.

This Step Therapy only serves one purpose. It puts us, your paying customers, one step closer to needing it. Therapy that is.

And it's really making me mad.

By the way, have you considered it? Therapy that is. No offense.

Because you people are nuts!!

See, my son is sick. And yeah, he's 17 and almost an adult but he's still my son. And when somebody tells me that they don't think he needs the medication that a licensed physician prescribed for him - a licensed physician who was kind enough to ask "do you have prescription coverage?" before deciding what to order for my sick son - well, it makes me a little crazy.

Please tell me why we pay for your services. Please tell me why I assured the doctor that we had good insurance coverage and I wanted whatever was necessary to make my child feel better. Please tell me why I walked into that pharmacy today, confident that I would be leaving with the three prescriptions necessary to make him well, only to leave with two prescriptions and one store brand bottle of antihistamine.

Please tell me who you recommend to perform my lobotomy. It was you, after all, who prompted the need for it.