Thursday, November 18, 2010



Yesterday, I turned 37.

The Husband was out of town, and, knowing this, we had already planned to celebrate over the weekend. I was fine with it; after all, a birthday past the age of 20 is really just another day. But the children could not stand the thought of an actual birthday day passing without fanfare.

So Mack got up and made me french toast and sausage for my breakfast. Of course, he also remembered as he was plating it up that he needed to be at school early, and did I mind finishing cooking my own sausage when I got home from giving him a ride? And, oh, yeah, we need to leave like RIGHT NOW, MOM!

I didn't mind.

And it was still delicious when I got home 20 minutes later.

Hannah had a special card hidden in her room, something she had worked on for days and days. It was beautifully decorated, thoughtfully worded, and still applicable for next year's birthday, as she thought I was turning 38.

I didn't mind. I loved it anyway.

Chase had one of his specialties all ready to go: the birthday hug. And he proceeded to squeeze my soft, squishy middle no less than 13 times before going out the door, and easily that many times when he got home. Of course, he was hoping to schmooze his way into being able to light the match that lit the candles on my cake.

I didn't mind. I'll take a hug from my big, jointy boy anyway.


The birthday dinner was leftover spaghetti, and the birthday cake was made for me by my lovelies. It was topped with neon green frosting, sprinkles, and only three candles, but it was delicious.

And you know what? I wouldn't trade this birthday party for all the glamorous, grown-up parties in the world. THIS is the meat that life is made of. The crooked cake, cold sausage, and leftovers are what make my life greater than the sum of its parts. These are the things I will remember when their babies are making a birthday party for them. This is the story I will laugh about on the phone with the Husband tonight, when he gingerly asks if I had a good day.

This is the good stuff.

A happy birthday, indeed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010



Hannah came running in, her cheeks flushed and her face set. She sighed, an exasperated release of air coming from her tiny chest.

I waited, stifling a grin.

She sighed again, looked at me and rolled her eyes, just willing me to beg it out of her.

Practiced in the art that is Hannah, again, I waited.

Impatient, she burst out, "Mommmmm! The boys called me a tattle-tale!"

I am not sure which offended her more - the boys' description of her; or me, doubled over with laughter, rolling around on the floor, unable to punish them for their keen ability to hit the nail right on the head.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Trying desperately to turn the glass upside down

I am not a glass half-full kind of girl.

I would like to be, but it is just not in my nature.

For example: A bad haircut can dissolve my seemingly rational self into a puddle of tears that lasts several hours, and continues every morning for oh, say, about six months or so.

Also? I am the person that will always react first, and think later.

I frequently resent the consequences of my own choices.

And I even pout in bad weather and cast blame on the universe for its conspiracy to ruin my life.

(Why, yes, I am a treat to be married to. Thanks for asking.)

In short? I'm a two-year-old temper tantrum in a 36 - almost 37 -year-old body. So naturally, when a minor [albeit highly annoying] medical issue* crops up in my life, I do what every sane, rational, intelligent grown-up would do:

I cry and feel horribly sorry for myself. For weeks at a time.

Turns out? I'm really, really good at that. Might be my best talent even.

Only it doesn't take very long and my kids are affected by it, and in puddles of tears themselves. My husband feels helpless and worried that this beast who has come to visit is his new wife.

And at the end of the day, I still feel angry and sorry for myself with the same problems that I had when I woke up. That isn't exactly the way I want to go through life.

So, I'm doing what most of you probably learned long ago: I'm sucking it up and focusing on the good things in my life. Like the fact that I have this awesome man who loves me (in spite of me) and works very hard to support my ridiculously lavish lifestyle. I have three beautiful, healthy, happy children who just want a mom that doesn't cry all the time. I have a wonderful home with all the comforts anyone could ever ask for (and then some). I have friends who love me and bring me dinner and diet cokes. I have family who call ALL THE TIME to see if I'm okay.

And in spite of the fact that the universe probably still has it in for me weather-wise, I think it's safe to say that I'm doing all right. My life is a good one. And I'm going to be okay.

Just wanted to say it out loud.

[*Yes, I am okay. No, I don't want to talk about it. It's truly not a big deal and I will be fine. Thanks to you sweet internet friends who noticed my absence and checked in on me. You all rock.]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A word of advice (the re-run)

[Originally posted April 3, 2008. And still hugely embarrassing]

Let's just say you are in your mudroom, putting in a new load of laundry. You have just finished working out, and are still wearing your exercise clothes. You notice they would fit nicely in the load you are putting in the washer. You then realize that you have nothing else to put on at the moment, but figure you can make a mad dash upstairs. After all, your daughter is in the basement happily singing along to Disney's latest brainwashing tool High School Musical, and your boys are at school. Plus, you were just about to jump in the shower anyway.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, listen to the voice in your head that tells you this is a good thing to do.

It's not.

For as your jiggly, white, naked body is sprinting up the stairs, the doorbell will ring. And you will notice the goofy smile of the UPS man, peeking through the glass on the side of your front door.

And he has just seen you in all your naked glory.

I mean this advice generally, of course. It's not as though anything like this has ever happened to me in real life.

Definitely not today.

And definitely not, say, about an hour ago.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Directions to Where I am (the re-run)

[Originally posted June 20, 2007]

Start in Salt Lake City on the very day that Nixon proclaims to the world, "I am not a crook." Have an older brother who keeps waiting for you to go back where you came from. Be adored by your Grandpa and have him set aside special gifts just for you. Find yourself the princess of quite a lot until that red-headed brother is born and steals your thunder. Love him in spite of this. Be immersed through your Mama in classic Broadway shows such as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Cats". Learn at an early age that you cannot sing. Sing anyway. Be the only girl in a family of four boys. Realize you can run just as fast as the boys can. Embrace your tomboyishness.

Go to kindergarten proudly with a plaid lobster on the front of your jumper. Love your bearded kindergarten teacher who makes his own banjos and guitars. Laugh a lot. Talk so much that they stick you in a special class to help less "social" kids acclimate. Fly from the swings on the playground into salty, coarse gravel. Feel the freeing wind in your hair as you run. Fall off a skateboard and scratch up your face. Run through the sprinklers in your front yard. Try not to cry when your dad goes hunting and comes home with a deer. Go camping with your family at Trial Lake. Be given a box of chocolates in fourth grade by a boy. Have sleepovers with girlfriends and spend hours whispering and giggling. Grow tall early on, and find (to your dismay), that you are taller than all the boys most of your life.

Fall down while roller skating and severely break your arm. Have the first of six surgeries on this arm. Discover how grueling physical pain can be. Spend hours climbing the tree in your Grandma's front yard, collecting the "witch nose" pods that grow there. Pick fresh vegetables from her garden and listen to her Jazz Singer record over and over. Cry the first time you hear this record after your Grandpa dies. Sleep over at the cabin with all your cousins. Dance your heart out to the Footloose soundtrack. Savor the juicy sweetness of ripe peaches. Eat hamburgers at Hires. Go home and cry when boys begin flipping back bra straps and you are caught without one. Feel very womanly the next day when you arrive at school wearing your first bra. Be a little disappointed that no one ever tries to flip yours again. Never really make peace with your many freckles. Discover your love of literature.

Go through the awful stage where your body gets ahead of the rest of you. Be called ugly and fat by mean boys, and believe it for many years. Stuff your bra. Kiss a few very awkward boys. Fight with your parents. A LOT. Slam doors. Cry more than you want to. Pour your feelings into a journal. Feel so unsure of yourself that you wonder how you'll survive. Get on an airplane for the first time right after high school. Go to Chicago and win nationals in FHA. Go to college. Like a lot of boys. Learn to begin liking yourself. Send several boys off on missions, proclaiming your devoted and undying love for each one. Live with six girls and be glad you never had any sisters. Discover that you are a runner.

Meet a smart, cute gymnast quite by accident. Date him for only six weeks before getting engaged. Find that no one around you is shocked or even surprised at the shortness of time - because it just feels so right. Marry this man early one morning, surrounded by all your friends and family. Decide you are finally old enough to no longer pretend to like roller coasters. Move for the first time in your life to Minneapolis so your husband can attend graduate school. Make new friends.

Wonder if it will ever be your turn to be a mother, and blink your eyes to find that you are one. Cherish your babies, each in their turn. Sing each one to sleep with show tunes and John Denver songs. Make chocolate chip cookies and lots of peanut butter sandwiches. Kiss them every night before you go to bed. Wish it wasn't going so fast.

Move from Minneapolis to Seattle to Boston to San Diego. Be thankful for good friends all over the country. Be preparing to move to Missouri for the man you love. Look around and realize that you lead a charmed life. Spend as many days as you can at the beach. Re-learn the painful lesson of what happens when you don't wear sunscreen. Relish the sound of your kids playing so well with each other. Know that you are loved. Take a sip of diet coke. Over the phone, tell your husband just how great your day was. Miss him a lot. Blog. Write this. Wait anxiously to read other posts like this one. You're here.

This post was inspired by my friend, Annie, and her own life roadmap. I was fortunate enough to meet Annie while we lived in Boston, and my life has been richer ever since. Now it's your turn - how do we get to you?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I know, I hate re-runs, too

I'm taking a much-needed blog break. Life has not been on my side lately, and it's time to regroup and find my center.

But I'm not leaving you empty-worded here at Stie's Thoughts. I'm going to pull a few oldies (but goodies) out of the archives and re-post them.

Never thought I'd be one of THOSE bloggers, but such is life right now.

I'll be back next week to regale you with all the boring details of my life.

I know. Try to contain your excitement.


Today I was strolling up and down the aisles of my local grocery store. I kept meeting the same person in the middle of each aisle. Every time I passed this man, he smiled up and me and said, "Hello, pretty lady."

Which, thanks to my most thoughtful son telling me all that is wrong with my fine self, I was needing today.

With each passing aisle, and each passing compliment, my self-esteem soared. See, McKay, SEE? Strangers tell me I'm pretty. I can't be ALL THAT bad.

But our little game ended when I heard him say the exact same thing to another store patron. Sadly, it was not a trim, cute soccer mom that drew his attentions away from me. It was a balding, elderly man wearing a pink shirt.

Next time our carts passed, I eyed him more carefully.

He is mentally challenged.

And I, unfortunately, am still ugly.

[Originally posted October 3, 2007]