Thursday, December 22, 2011


A few days ago, I had a meltdown of epic proportions.

Tears, crying, and, oh, did I mention the tears?

I was decorating my umpteenth batch of holiday cookies for the neighbors. I was simultaneously also preparing a dish to take to the Husband's holiday work lunch the next day. I had been up really late the night before working on client orders and was exhausted. I had laundry literally exploding out of the mudroom, crawling on its dirty hands and knees towards me, begging to be dealt with. I had kids to shuffle to baptisms at the temple. And there had been workmen in my house all day long.

I was almost at my breaking point.

With the timing of a hurtling bomb, a boy reminded me of something he needed at school the next day. Which meant yet another trip to Hades The Target.

Hiding in the bathroom, I dried my tears and took a deep breath. Gritting my teeth, and stifling every urge of protest my feet made, I grabbed my purse and we headed out.

I glared at everyone in my path. I felt no love for the season and wondered why in heaven's name all these people come out of their holes this time of year. I hurried through the store, grabbed what we needed, and headed to the checkout. Shifting my weight from foot to foot, I sighed with impatience. Mentally counting out all that I still had to do this week, I felt the irritation seep out of my every pore.

Finally it came time to pay, and I gratefully prepared to leave.

As I was digging in my purse for my keys, I glanced up and noticed the girl in line behind me. She was short on money and was having to decide which items to take out of her bag.

Instantly, all my irritation melted away and I actually looked at her with kinder, softer eyes. Instead of seeing her worn coat and thin sweater, nails chewed down to the nub -- I saw something else. I saw a sister, younger than me, struggling to pay for her Christmas gifts. Gifts, it appeared, that were for young children. Having been there once myself, compassion flooded over my body like a warm blanket.

I felt like absolute crap. I had been whining and complaining over what, in the right perspective, are no real problems at all. I had momentarily gotten caught up in the material needs of the season and forgotten the meaning behind it.

With tears in my eyes, I reached into my purse, pulled out all the cash I had, and slid it across the counter towards her.

Merry Christmas, I said, and then walked away.

Much happier and more grateful than when I had come.

[I tell you this story not to brag of my good deeds or seek your praise. I tell you in case you, like me, needed a reminder of the good that can be done if we will just look. Look through different eyes at those around us. There just may be some that we can help. ]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Playing catch up

It's been a busy month. Didn't mean to take such a long blogging break, but stuff happens. And in case any of you are left to care, the following is a list of reasons why I have not been blogging. In no particular order:

  • My laptop is playing dead right now, and it's at least a 12-second walk to the basement computer, which is just far enough to leave me distracted by the shiny cover of People magazine or to hear the siren song of the refrigerator calling my name. Laptop did this once before and miraculously came back to life a few weeks later. I just keep telling the Husband that it's on vacation and will start working when its good and ready to. (Fingers crossed!)

  • My customers are strangely not like me and actually wait until December to order prints and/or holiday cards. They don't start thinking about it mid-April and have it done, say, by Halloween. Weirdos. Anyway. They're keeping me far too busy and I have packages arriving daily from the print house. Which is nothing to necessarily complain about, I realize. But still.

  • I'm tired from all the not-exercising that I'm doing.

  • I'm worn out from the constant eating that is brought on by the not-exercising.

  • I'm too busy shopping for another pair of diamond shoes. Those orphans in Africa better hurry up and get sewing. Mama needs new sparkly feet for Christmas!

  • I got sucked into watching this and have seriously not showered for two days as a result of it. I blame my friend Mindy. She told me how good it was. She was right. You should log onto Hulu and start watching. But feed your kids first. They might get hungry and be annoying to you later.

  • I've had men in my house nearly every day for the last two months. Sort of hard to put a coherent thought together with constant interruptions and loud banging/pounding/hammering/singing. Thankfully, they are all but done. Which means I get to post after pictures. Try to hold on to your excitement. I, for one, am ecstatic.

Anyhoo. That about sums it up. Here's hoping life slows down a bit so I can get caught up here again. I love this as my family journal and it breaks my heart to think that there are chunks of our life not being recorded for posterity. Or for my kids' therapy later. You know. Important things like that.

Not to mention the three or so of you who actually come here and like what you read. Sorry to have been MIA. I'll try to be better.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where's a good curse word when I need one?

At the risk of being put on the naughty list, I offer this simple, declarative statement that sums up my feelings today:

I. hate. everything.

I had lovely posts planned this morning that would share our happenings over Thanksgiving, let you see the holiday decor of my home, and entertain you with wit and humorous stories galore.

Instead, I offer this little nugget from my morning.

Imagine, if you will, that it is about 8:30 in the a.m.

I had just taken Hannah to school and was trying to decide if I should start a load of laundry before (miraculously) hopping on the treadmill. My cell phone rings and all hello kitty breaks loose.

The plumber was upstairs installing the boys' bathroom faucets. Apparently, the faucets that I picked out would not fit where the granite guys had drilled the holes. And, lucky for me, the plumber had bent the crap out of the faucets trying to get them in, rendering them likely unreturnable.

Seeing as how our contractor marks up any fixtures that he purchases for us to the tune of about 30 percent, we opted to purchase all those ourselves.

When I first saw these faucets, I fell head-over-heels for them. They were funky and cool, yet totally went with the rest of the bathroom. It had taken me weeks to even convince the boys to let me put them in there in the first place. Now, I was being told that I couldn't have them and would need to pick something else. Oh, and would I hurry and do it right now because the plumber would only wait for a few more minutes before leaving?

Right as I was pondering if I had time to brush my teeth, the electrician informed me that the light fixtures [the ones I had made a special trip to purchase last night!] for the boys' closets were the wrong ones and would not pass inspection.


So, in yesterday's ponytail, my paint-stained sweat pant pajamas, and NO BRA, I headed to Lowes. Not really caring at this point what I got, I searched for faucets that would match the holes already drilled. And, tragically, the only ones that matched the other plumbing fixtures in the bathroom were eleventy kajillion billion dollars.

Grumbling under my breath, I grabbed the fixtures.

Next I stampeded my stinky self over to the light section and (with the help of a probably frightened clerk) found what I needed there.

Remembering the electrician's counsel that I should grab some florescent bulbs for them, as well, I added a few of those to my now-precarious stack.

Here is a visual for your viewing pleasure:


Rounding the corner, boobies jiggling and hair flying, I hurried towards the check out stands. As if in some Murphy's Law super slow-mo, the light bulb on top of the stack went careening off like a suicidal maniac and dove for the floor.

Shown here:






Not having any free hands, I watched it fall like a dummy. It landed with a crash, and shards exploded in a five foot radius around me.

Trying to keep the tears from spilling, I gathered the empty light bulb box and headed back to retrieve another.

Because, hello? Not making another effing trip to this effing store looking like this.

Setting the large pile on the counter, I informed the clerk of the breakage and offered to pay for the light bulb I had broken.

I paid and, to my horror, watched as the genius clerk bagged up the empty box of glass shards for me to take home with the others.

Pretty sure I won't be needing that.


The best part of the day? An hour later, the electrician walks up and asks if I have nine 40-watt light bulbs for the chandelier they are replacing in the foyer.

Frick. Frack. Frock.

Somebody please kill me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

I have decided to invent a new holiday.

One that I'm positive can't offend all the First Americans Indians.

But first? A little back story.

Yesterday I received a letter from a blog reader who has become a friend. Reading through this letter, I had tears streaming down my face and joy in my soul. I won't share the private contents of the letter here, but I will tell you this: This girl is an absolute rock star. She, who is all kinds of awesome herself, was thanking me.

It got me thinking about the new type of friendship that the Internet has given birth to: The Internet friend.

And I'm definitely not talking about the kind of Internet friend who wants to meet you at your house and then is surprised when Dateline: To Catch a Predator is there.

No one should have any of those kinds of Internet friends.

I'm talking about the friend who is in the motherhood trenches, the same as you. The friend whose blog you might read on your lunch hour, clear across the country, or even across the world. The ones you have met in real life; and the ones you have yet to meet. The people who tune in every day to blogs, hoping there are snippets from what you are sure is no ordinary life.

These are the people who get you. And the people whose words touch your heart, make you laugh, or tell you that you are not alone. The people who make our day a little bit better with their stories, photos, and wit.

So what I am proposing is this: Let's start a Thanksgiving revolution today. Think of someone you know (or don't know) whose blog you read. Send them a simple note, letting them know what their words have meant to you. Or simply thank them for continuing to entertain you. It doesn't need to take long - just a few minutes to type a note.

Imagine what that thoughtfulness will mean to someone. Their day is going to no doubt be hectic today; maybe they are traveling. Maybe they are cooking for inlaws. Maybe they are all alone. But to inboxes across the world, let's spread a little love.

We'll call it Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving.

I know what my letter meant to me. Imagine if every single one of you gave that feeling to someone else.

Just think of all the love flying around the Internet today.

It'll be amazing.

And just like the old adage that it's better to give than receive, imagine how great all of US will feel in return.

Go, internets. Fly out to the world with your good deeds. Then return and bring us word.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thirty-eight again


Last Thursday I finally turned 38.

I say finally because I have inadvertently been telling people for the past two years that I am 38. I didn't do it on purpose; I genuinely forgot how old I was and kept thinking I was 38. A few weeks prior to my birthday, I paused and wondered if I was finally going to turn 39 or 40 this year, as it seemed that my thirty-eighth year was really dragging on and on. Calculating my actual age led me to realize my mistake.

After having a good laugh, I decided it is quite telling.

It shows how unimportant the numbers of your mid- to late-thirties are. You're not quite to the forties, and just somewhere in the middle of the thirties, and all rather meh when it comes to years. I don't feel old; yet I don't delude myself into thinking that I am still a little young thing. I am just me. Plugging along happily, living my life, and hoping to eventually drop those 20 pounds I keep meaning to lose, but never seem to care enough to actually give up the food it will require to do so.

I am way more confident than I was in my twenties - both as a mother, a wife, and a friend. My kids are older and much more independent, making them, quite frankly, a lot more fun. I have all day to myself to work, shop, or meet friends for lunch. I happily indulge in an afternoon matinee at the theater and feel no guilt whatsoever. Those books I always intended to read actually get read.

I feel very at home in my skin. I've accepted the inevitability of the stretch marks staying for life, and, quite honestly, I have decided it's the least of my worries when it comes to my body. I work out, but have sort of given myself permission to eat, too. At 38, I have noticed the wrinkles becoming more prominent, but they are not quite concerning enough to act on just yet. Besides, I know my forties will be all about the botox anyway.

I am still slightly schizophrenic when it comes to loving my freckles, however.

But all in all, I am happy. I am experienced enough to be confident in my positive contributions to the world. I am not afraid to try new things and I still know there is a lot for me yet to learn and do. I know it is better to be full of love and forgiveness than to harbor hate and resentment. I know the value of a good friend, and feel my life richer for the beautiful women who I am blessed to know - both near and far.

I think that the thirties and I have done just fine together.

Here's hoping the rest of the decades are just as accommodating.

If not, maybe I'll just keep saying that I'm still 38.


P.S. Awesome things to note in my birthday photo: The coconut cake. If you have not made it yet, please do. It is life changing. And totally worth every bite of its 9,000 calorie self. The diet coke in a goblet? Courtesy of my children. Making their mama's caffeine addiction classy since 1998. The sweater? Courtesy of WHBM. My current favorite place to shop for all things ruffles.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It'll be okay. Don't worry.


A few years ago, when I first heard Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, I was moved to tears. Partly for the tragic horror it would be to face mortality and its consequences as a parent, but partly also for the magnificence of Randy Pausch's mother in letting him draw all over his bedroom walls.

Pausch says:
"When I was in high school, I decided to paint my bedroom. I always wanted a submarine and an elevator. And the great thing about this is they let me do it, and they didn’t get upset about it. And it’s still there. If you go to my parent’s house, it’s still there. And anybody who is out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me, let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry..."
That quote has come to my mind many times. When my kids have asked to hang a particularly ugly poster on the wall in their bedroom or begged to paint their room a hideous color. Without fail, each and every time, I've said no. And patted myself on the back for not letting them make decisions I was confident they'd regret later.

Deep down inside, it's haunted me.

So this weekend, when I announced that I would be painting their walls as part the The Remodel, I was fully prepared to say no when they asked to help.

But I thought of Pausch, his mother, and I somehow found myself saying yes instead.


In the beginning, it was all I could do to not take over the job myself. Every fiber of my being cried out against this loss of control. When I stepped in large gobs of paint spilled on the floor. When I caught their paint drips racing down baseboards, and discovered I had caught them too late.

Most especially when one of them fell off a five-foot ladder, landing in a painful heap on the hard floor.

But once I'd made peace with the inevitable paint smeared on the ceiling, the paint dripping down the closet corners, and the extra hours it took for all of this, I noticed something.

I noticed the eagerness in their eyes as they talked about where they'd place the furniture in their new rooms. I noticed their smiles and laughter, as they sang along to the music. I noticed the teamwork as they helped each other navigate tricky angles. I noticed the ownership and pride on their faces at being given the responsibility of such a grown up task. I noticed us working, side-by-side, as our happy chatter passed the time.

And I noticed something I had missed all along: It's really not such a bad thing to let your kids paint on the walls after all.

And it'll always be okay.

Because the things that matter are not drips in the corner or smudges on the ceiling.

The things that matter are the three wonderfully perfect little people who put them there.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven on the Eleventh of the Eleventh

Today is 11.11.11.

I can't help but flashback to 8.8.88. I was in junior high, and my best friend Christina and I decided to have an eight party. We bought each other eight gifts, had eight things to eat, and I'm not sure what else. We thought we were pretty awesome though. As did the zero boys who were in our life at that time. Correlation?

Nah. We were awesome. And our hair was big and curly. (Hi, Christina!)

I thought I'd spew some random thoughts for your reading pleasure this morning.

You're welcome.

1. I'm up early this morning, having just gotten my boys off on a church youth trip to Independence, Missouri. It's funny to have two old enough to go. Kind of blows my mind how fast the years are flying. I feel like the preschool age lasted like 20 years. Now that they're fun and interesting? Time is flying by at warp speed. Makes me sad.

2. The Remodel is going well. Last night, they FINALLY finished painting the ceiling in the living room, which meant that the Bubble Boy room was dismantled. The two couches in my kitchen have been returned to their rightful place, and it makes everything feel so big. Progress, people.

3. A few days ago, the Husband's company had a dinner at a glass blowing factory where we learned how to manipulate glass that was 2,03950,000 degrees. (Yes, I realize that is not a real number. But I exaggerate to show you just how stinkin' hot it was). We had a long safety seminar where they told us over and over NOT to grab the metal pole with our left hand, as it would take the skin off our hand with the heat. Guess who reached for her pole very first thing? Yeah. Me. Thankfully, the Husband was right there and screamed before I could actually touch it. That could have been bad. And embarrassing.

4. My backyard is covered in leaves and I have ZERO desire to rake them. Seeing as how my two work horses have just spirited off to Independence, it looks like the job may fall to me. Anyone want to do it? I'll pay you five bucks. No? Jerks.

5. I am hungry today. Like REALLY hungry.

6. I think this post just crossed the line and became the worst thing on the internet today. Sorry about that.

7. I am extremely mindful this time of year of what a good place I am in right now physically. I think back to last year -- the pain, the tears, the crippling depression -- and I get teary eyed with gratitude. I do not think I will take my health for granted ever again.

8. Speaking of which, don't you love it when your insurance company overrides your doctor and decides what medication and treatment are appropriate for you? I am thinking I will call their 800 number next time I get a cold or a yeast infection. They seem to know best and will have all the answers for me, right? I'll make sure to especially describe in detail the yeast infection. And definitely to as many male employees as I can get my hands on.

9. I finally got my Christmas card done. This is WAY late in the year for me. I usually have it done and in-hand before Halloween, and have spent days wringing my hands in anxiety. The Husband has just not been home and we've been waiting on him to do the pictures. Though I did consider photoshopping Hugh Jackman or Mr. Darcy in, I felt it could create too much uncertainty and confusion for the children. Now I can rest easy. And it's going to be spectacularly awesome, if I do say so myself.

9. Yes, I realize I'm crazy. No, I don't care. In truth, it's the rest of you who are crazy. Waiting until after Thanksgiving to think about your Christmas card? Gives me hives. Oh, the horror.

10. A few weeks ago, I got the new iPhone and I have to say that Siri has changed my life. It makes texting and driving so easy. You push the big button on the front, tell it with your mouth who to text and what to say, and bam! your text is sent. No one has to die! I set verbal reminders for myself all day long, then go back to my little checklist and cross them off. You all need to get it. It's brilliant. (For the record, I never texted and drove before.)

11. And that's it! Happy Eleven Eleven Eleven. Send a little prayer up for those who keep this country safe. Also? Pray that I provide you a better blog post next time. This is absolute crap.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am a but insensitive


There, I said it. Too late to take it back.

Though I should clarify that statement by also saying that I have yet to even visit the site.


The reason for my rage-filled hate for the Pinterest is this post.

And, yes, I realize that it's my very own post, written with my own hand, almost three years ago.

That post is apparently making the rounds on Pinterest. I cannot tell you the volume of emails and comments I am STILL receiving on it. Most of them wonderfully complimentary.

But quite a few of them not so nice.

Take the most recent one, left by our old, cowardly friend, Anonymous:

Well, they're cute but Wampanoag Indians didn't live in tee-pees. They would be great for a lesson on the Plains Indians but not for Thanksgiving. Lumping all tribes and ways of life together is a but culturally insensitive.

I am assuming they meant it was a BIT culturally insensitive. I don't know what a but culturally insensitive is.

Though I am pretty sure my butt is quite offensive in several cultures. Maybe that was what they were saying?

And that is not the worst of them. I received a two-page email a few weeks ago from someone telling me I was promoting racial insensitivity, and that I was basically a racist pig.

In August, I got an email from a woman begging me to stop misinforming the world regarding the housing of the First Americans (as apparently, some don't like to be called Indians now). There were several informative links and if I gave a crap, I'd put them up here and educate the rest of you, too.

(Sorry. I don't give a crap. At least about educating the world on what the Indians First Americans lived in.)

Another kind reader informed me that I had no morals and was foul for using a swear word in that post.

(The dammit word.)

With the Resistance police hounding me night and day in my own home, I hardly need her to tell me I am going to you-know-where.

When I wrote that post THREE FREAKING YEARS ago, I had no idea that I would be offending Indians and prudes alike. I honestly just wanted a cute, edible decoration to put on my table at Thanksgiving.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, I WRITE WHATEVER THE EFF I WANT. If you don't like it, don't read it. And, if you have something crappy to say, have the courage to at least attach your name to it.

So, tell me, decent people of blog land, is there any reason at all that I should go visit Pinterest? Is it chock full of haters and anonymous trolls? Also? Is my butt offensive in your culture? Do you have obscure First American websites you could link for me? Would you like to send me condemnations for my bad language? Am I sarcastic and obnoxious?

Don't answer that.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My lucky day

A few weeks ago, I went on a little trip across the pond.

Or did I mention it? My trip? Yes?

All right then. Shut up.

While there (and properly following the instructions on my electricity converter, mind you) a slight mishap occurred that involved me and a Chi flat iron.

It broke my heart. (But mostly because it meant I had to walk around London and Paris with bad hair. And how would Darcy, Prince Harry, or Daniel Craig ever be able to fall in love with me?)

Because smooth, straight hair? Slightly important. Unless the Diana Ross ever comes back in style. Then I'm all set.

ANYway, the point of this rambling post is that I had to buy another one. So, first day off the plane, I stampeded my big-haired self into my local Ulta. Hannah came with me because, hello, she's female, and that store is like a magnet for us X chromosomers.

While in the checkout line, the clerk asked if I would like to donate a dollar to breast cancer research.

This happened at the exact moment that Hannah began tugging on my sleeve and whispering asking in a loud voice whether I thought the clerk was a boy or a girl.

The clerk, who was very obviously a boy, was wearing more make up than Cher on her best day in Las Vegas.

In a cheery attempt to distract Hannah and keep the He/She busy, I said that, sure, I'd love to donate to breast cancer. Oh, and what is that lovely thing over there?

I have no doubt that the He/She heard Hannah, and I got out of there as fast as I could.

Fast forward to today. I get a call from Ulta saying that I had won the breast cancer giveaway, which was $600 in free beauty products, and would I mind coming in to pick them up?

Would I mind driving five minutes down the road to claim my free stuff? Heck, I'd have crawled there in my underwear while wearing a crown of mayonnaise on my head. I love that store and spend a fortune on anything promising to make me look 12 again. Now you want to give me a whole bag of it FOR FREE?

Internet, I give you the booty, bounty, and beautiful pile of free stuff from the tragically gorgeous He/She at Ulta:


Shampoos, lip glosses, a blow drier, a curling rod, face creams, hair spray, nail polish, name it, I've got it.

Even three pairs of fabulously pink reading glasses.

I'm thinking today HAS to be my day to play the lottery.

Either that, or I should just put everything on my face at once, head over to Ulta, and take a photo with the He/She.

(I'll bet he'd (she'd?) still look better than me. Seriously. Boyfriend rocked the make-up.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Somebody's singing in our shower

Yesterday, Hannah walked in the door, paused, and looked up with horror on her face. Instantly, I knew just what her problem was.

"WHAT. IS. THAT?" she asked.

"Oh, that. It's the man upstairs."

"WHY is he doing that?" she inquired, hands held tight over her ears in a vain attempt at protecting herself from the onslaught raining down from above.

Having endured the sound for the past several hours, I had been asking myself the same thing all day long.

What was this audible horror story come to life, you ask?

It's our drywall guy.

Apparently, he really likes the singing. And music from the 60s.

Both at high volume. (And very out of tune.)

This morning, I walked by the boys' room, hoping my presence would serve as a shameful reminder that he was not, in fact, alone in the house. Sadly, I am afraid it had quite the opposite effect.

He looked up at me through dusty glasses, grinned like a bobcat, and said, "Don't you just love Pandora radio?"

I smiled, nodded, and went back down to the basement --the only place in the house where the new soundtrack of my life is slightly muffled.

Frankly, I'd like to stuff that Pandora back into the box where she came from.

And possibly him, too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My after dinner snack? Tums.

Tonight is the night mothers everywhere look forward to with dread. Not only do you have to try to keep yourself out of the chocolate, but you have to police your children lest they consume too much and find themselves home from school tomorrow with a belly ache and a bag full of candy.

Which, really, is a never ending cycle of misery for all that plays on repeat for days and days.

Plus, you have to parade your children around the neighborhood, frozen hands shoved in your jacket pockets, and beg the neighbors for yet more candy.

It's my least favorite holiday.

I will be glad once again when it's behind us and I can look forward to the real reason to gorge yourself sick: Thanksgiving.

But my scrooginess won't bring the party down -- we'll celebrate in the usual way: A pumpkin-shaped pizza, chocolate for dessert, and maybe I'll even find the energy to whip up a batch of these.

And, since I'm mean beyond belief, we'll also be taking the oldest boy for an after school appointment to get his braces tightened. Because nothing says I love you more than a Halloween orthodontic visit.

But, today, we wish you a very happy Halloween anyway. From a very cute cowgirl:


And two of the cast members from the television show Psyche.

Can you guess who this one is?


No? A cop with a gun, name tag, and handcuffs doesn't give it away? Combine a surly attitude with this, and maybe you'll have it figured out:


That's right, he's our favorite, Carlton Lassiter. Some of the boys' friends decided to band together and dress up as all the Psyche characters. It was an easy sell. Guns? Handcuffs? Bad attitudes?

Done and done.

Chase was assigned a critical, but lesser known, role. Any guesses?


He's the one cop on the Psyche police force who actually dresses like a cop. (And, yes, he wears shoes. As Chase sometimes does.) Give up?

It's McNabb, whose job is usually to bring in a bag of evidence or stand there looking pretty while holding a gun. Chase is quite thrilled to be him.

Happy Halloween, peeps! Raise your bottle of Tums high tonight!

[And last, but certainly not least, courtesy of our friends at Random dot org, the winner of the Son of a Gun giveaway is Amanda D. Email me your address, sister, and a copy is headed your way.]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

At least he doesn't inhale

Last night we had our church Trunk-or-Treat party.

Which, as many of you know, is basically just 75 kids running around on a sugar high begging for that which they do not need: more candy.

As I watched my friend Beckie (whose son, Jack, is a diabetic) administer his nightly insulin shot, I asked her if we ought to maybe just give every kid that walked by a little dose with the insulin pen.

She thought it was an excellent idea, and a possible way out of ANY and all future church callings.

Instead, we handed out candy and opted NOT to drug other people's children.

I know. We're boring like that.

Today, as I'm trying to control my the kids' consumption of the candy we brought home, McKay introduced me to a middle school phenomenon known as smoking the smarties.

The theory behind it is that you crush up a tube of smarties until they resemble a fine powder, keeping the wrapper intact. Holding the smarties like a joint between your thumb and pointer finger, you open one end of the cigarette candy wrapper and suck some of the powder into your mouth. You then blow it out in a sugary, billowy smoke that, honestly, resembles something far more grown up and sinister than candy.

He tells me the key is to not inhale the smartie smoke, to just take a little bit in before blowing it out again. And that his new goal in life is to be able to make the smoke come out of his nose.

He also claims, "It's not bad for you. And it won't hurt you one bit."

Where have we heard that before, hmmm?

I am thinking that in 20 years, there will be Anti-Smartie campaigns and DARE to Keep Kids Off Smartie parties at school.

Anyone know of a good smartie cessation program out there? It's probably best to wean him now while he's still young and pliable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You old Son of a Gun

Whenever I hear people complain about their in-laws, I thank my lucky stars once again for mine. Though I was madly in love with the Husband and could not wait to marry him, I also was madly in love with his family and could not wait to be a part of them. He is one of seven and often jokes that his parents like me better than they like him.

I do not dispute that. I am all kinds of awesome.

But this past year, my mother-in-law was given every writer's dream. She was contacted by her uncle with an idea he had for a western novel. He hired her to write it and breathe life and depth into his characters and story. She worked tirelessly for months to finish the manuscript. On a whim, she submitted it to a publisher, got accepted, and it's been a whirlwind of excitement around here ever since.

In fact, the top of Chase's birthday wish list this year was a copy of Oma's book.

The book is out this month and it's fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and could not put it down. Though Oma kept it pretty clean in the event that any grandkids would one day want to pick it up, there is plenty of adventure for the rest of us: saloons, shoot outs, runaways, ladies of the night, and heroes that save the day. Without giving anything anyway, the ending will leave your jaw gaping.

So, to celebrate her big accomplishment, I am going to give one lucky reader a copy of her book. Leave a comment telling me your favorite author and come Thursday morning, I will randomly pick a winner. If you blog about the book and leave me the link, I will put in two entries for you, doubling your chance to win.

This is a great story - fun for people of all ages. Got a dad or grandpa who likes westerns? Enter and you've got a Christmas present all ready to go.

Hurry quick. Contest ends Thursday morning at 8 a.m. central time. And, yes, I will happily ship internationally.

P.S. Should you not win and want to get the book for yourself anyway, here is where you can find it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We have nothing to fear does that go again?

The Real Bloody Mary, image via

As I mentioned a few days ago, we are in the middle of The Remodel. Now before any of you hunt off to search for free p0rn, I promise this post will not consist of any before and after photos. I do not intend to give a daily play-by-play of what is happening in my home.

Though I could.

But I'd be the only one left reading this blog inside of two hours, I am sure.

No, this story only relates to The Remodel as it is the reason my children are now sleeping in the basement.

Which, according to them, is evil, dark, spooky, and/or haunted.

It's been a bit of a battle, most especially with Hannah, to get them to willingly fall asleep down there.

You know, in our fully finished, well-lit, not haunted or evil, basement.

Last night, I sat down to watch a little television in the family room in the basement. It was like a moth to the flame - instantly, all three kids were at my side, attempting to snuggle on the couch. They simultaneously all pretended that I was beautiful and began petting me on the head while cooing words of love.

It was like a flash mob of sudden and really weird affection.

Not actually minding that much Being a total pushover, I told them they could have 30 minutes with me, and then it was time for bed. We put on an old Seinfeld re-run and settled in for a few laughs together.

In the middle of the show, a commercial came on. For this movie. When the "Bloody Mary" scene appeared (watch at the 57-second mark, if you're very, very brave) they all three crushed me in a vice grip of fear. I peeled their fingers and bodies off me and told them it was just a stupid commercial for a very stupid movie. I explained who Bloody Mary really was and that it was just a superstitious joke about a terrible Queen in British history.

I even went so far as to say her name three times in the mirror, just to show them the stupidity of it all.

Fortunately, she did not appear. That could have been awkward.

But later that night, I was upstairs getting ready to crawl into bed myself. I heard the sniffles before I saw the feet shuffle in sheepishly. His eyes wide with fear, Chase begged to sleep in my room. Eight seconds later, McKay was at his side making the same request. Before I could weigh a judgement, I looked down to find Hannah tucking herself and five stuffed animals into my bed.

With a sigh, I caved again -- threatening that it would only be this one time. After all, the Husband was out of town and it seemed harmless.

And it was.

Until Bloody Mary appeared and killed us all. Until about 11:30 p.m., when we were all still WIDE awake. And feeling very, very unhappy.

McKay was coughing.
Hannah was yelling at McKay because he was coughing.
I was yelling at Hannah because she was yelling at McKay.
Chase was apologizing for everyone because he was afraid I'd send them back downstairs to their graves.

It was a disaster.

In hindsight, it might have been better if Mary had appeared.

At 11:30 p.m. on a school night, my children would probably have had less to fear from her.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hello Newman...

Remember the old Seinfeld episode with the Bubble Boy?

I kind of feel like I am living it. Only without Jerry, Elaine, and their utter hilarity.

Internets, I am the Bubble Boy.

And it's way less fun than it looked on TV:


The reason for the large bubble is because of the giant hole currently in my family room ceiling.


Never fear - it's all for a good cause. (Otherwise, I'm not sure I could stand the dust.)

We are at the early stages of a massive remodel upstairs. When we bought this home four-and-a-half years ago (has it really been that long? WOW.) it had four bedrooms, a guest bedroom and bath in the basement, and two offices. We quickly converted one of those offices into a bigger family room in the basement.

And by quickly, I mean, the Husband took a sledge hammer and knocked the wall down just minutes after we closed on the house.

We have plenty of room for our family and then some. The bedroom upstairs that we put our boys in also happens to be huge. It's literally as big as the master bedroom. Way too much space for just one kid.

We are of the mindset that if the two boys share a room, ensuring very little privacy, one or more of those boys are less likely to get into any trouble in said room, always fearing that the other could walk in at any moment. It's our hope anyway. So, much to McKay's chagrin, we make them share.

It's worked well for us, doubly so because of the size of their bedroom. This photo doesn't do it justice, as I didn't have a wide enough lens. It's ginormous.


BUT, this has left us with a spare bedroom that has really only been used once -- and that was at Thanksgiving last year when we had three families visiting. It collects dust and, quite frankly, is just one more place for me to vacuum.

With the help of a (very boring and slightly expensive) architect, we drew up plans to make use of that fourth bedroom. We decided to convert half of it into a bathroom for the boys, and the other half into a walk-in closet for Hannah. The current kids bathroom will become Hannah's and will all connect via her bedroom. And the boys' bathroom will now only be accessible through their bedroom.

Eliminating that mad dash in a towel that my children seem to be so fond of.

It's been pretty okay so far - though I say that rather delicately, seeing as how we are only on day two. But our contractor really is fantastic - he has had a crew here from sunup to sundown each day, working like mad. I am extremely impressed thus far. He seems much sharper than our deck guy from last summer. (Did I ever tell you those stories? Remind me. There are some doozies.)

Anyway, take a peek. And enjoy one last look at the classy brass fixtures and faucets. BUH-BYE.


Hannah's room:



The boys' room:


The spare bedroom/new bathroom/new closet:


Chase practicing getting caught unawares in his new shower:


And my favorite moment was the look on Hannah's face when she stepped inside her new closet for the first time. She, clearly, is not at all excited:


I am thrilled, but completely jealous. Her closet might be bigger than mine now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Je voudrais chocolat viennois...

Internets, I would like you to meet one of my favorite things about Paris:


Chocolat viennois. My sole source of caffeine after my one and only attempt at drinking coca cola light, a.k.a, the horrible French version of diet coke. It was disgusting and not worth drinking. So, tragically, I was forced to move on to bigger and better things.

I had so many of them that it's no wonder the jeans are fitting a whole lot tighter this week. Yikes.

C'est la vie, right?

Other highlights from the trip included:











* The Eiffel Tower both by day and by night. We stayed about a block from the famous landmark and crossed under her massive steel girth many times. She is as magnificent as she looks in the movies. My favorite view was after dark when she had her lights all turned on.

* Unexpectedly catching mass at Notre Dame. Completely amazing in spite of not understanding a word they said. And the cathedral? UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE. So beautiful. So amazing. How did they build such massive perfection without the use of modern tools? Geniuses.

* Walking along the Seine and stopping at little shops.

* The Lock Bridge - you write your name and your lover's name, lock it up on the bridge, and supposedly your love is sealed forever. I was not necessarily excited to pay 15 Euros for a lock, so my love with the Husband remains unsealed. Here's hoping we survive.

* The Louvre. Absolutely fantastic, but way too crowded. My favorite part was eating at Cafe Richlieu which served food from the Angelina's menu. Divine. Especially the dessert.

* Also? Napoleon's dining room is a wee bit fancier than my own. But only slightly. I clearly need to get my gold on.

* Fat Tire Bike Tour through Paris. Amazeballs. Do it if you're ever in a city where they are. Worth. every. penny. Biking on cobblestone streets through the heart of Paris? Nothing like it anywhere else except, well, Paris.

* Fat Tire Bike Tour to Versailles. Slightly scary to put a bike on the subway with 20 other people and their bikes, but so fun. Gorgeous, surreal, and impossibly gaudy. So picturesque to ride around the grounds at Versailles. And definitely a cultural experience to order food at a French farmer's market, as well. Hmm. A food reference again? Are we detecting a theme here?

All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime. I never got tired of Annie, looking at the fabulous architecture, eating all the rich foods, and pretending to understand the language. It was JUST like they tell you it's going to be. It was everything they say and more.

It was magic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Basking in the glow still











I am back!

Physically, at least. I feel sick to my stomach with the jet lag and wonder at those who willingly go to bed at 5 a.m. and sleep past noon on a regular basis. My body has no idea what time it is, and I have never been so happy to see my own bed.

But in spite all of that, it was so worth it. It was such a fantastic time. My companion on the trip was the lovely Annie, and we made the most of every minute there. She was my ideal travel partner - flexible, happy, and eager to see it all. We laughed, ate, shopped, and soaked it all in.

First up was London. We had fish & chips. We rode a double-decker bus -- both to combat the jet lag and allow us to see the city while sitting down. Definitely a must when you're halfway across the world and trying desperately to stay awake.

We saw Westminster Abby. We saw Kensington Palace. We went to Les Mis, and cried from the opening song to the finale. (Though I am still trying to forgive Alfie Boe for being sick the night of our tickets. Boo.) It was amazing anyway. The understudy was perfection. Such a moving experience.

We snagged some last minute tickets to see Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. (FABULOUS play. JEJ completely stole the show. We were close enough that I could see his perfect teeth. Such a great smile.)

My favorite London meal was high tea at The Orangery on the grounds of Kensington. It felt so royal, so British -- sitting on a patio, snacking on our finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, eating our tarts, and sipping our tea - staring at the beautifully manicured grounds and doing it all just yards from Kensington Palace. Many times I wondered aloud if we were really there. It felt like I was living a movie.

Another highlight was The Tower of London. Having read all the Philipa Gregory books and nurturing a slight obsession with all things Henry VIII, it was surreal to stand in the places where they once did. Standing on a tower walkway, looking down and seeing cars, it felt so wrong and out of place with the ancient magnificence of the Tower. Walking through darkened hallways and windy staircases, you almost forgot what century you were living in. It was fantastic. I could have spent days there.

I had a surprisingly teary-eyed moment at Harrods. Walking through the store, feeling awed by the architecture and beauty, I remembered a silly bucket list that I made when I was about 14. Something I haven't thought about for years. On it were several things you couldn't pay me enough to do now (such as skydiving and bungee jumping), but one of the things I wanted to do was buy something at Harrods in London. The naive little 14-year-old me, who had never yet even been out of her home state, dreamed of what it would be like to travel and see the world. I remembered making the list and my determination to do all of the items on there at some point in my life. It was a sweet moment, indeed, to cross that one off the list. A dream come true, as they say, silly though it may seem.

After drying my tears, smiling at my teenage self and proudly thinking, "I did it! Just for you!" we set out to conquer as much of the city as we could. We shopped. We strolled through Hyde Park. We ate at Byron's. We ate at Jamie's. We collapsed into bed exhausted every night.

We made the most of it.

It was just divine. I am slightly heartbroken that it's over, but am so happy to be home and in the arms of my babies.

Stay tuned for highlights from Paris and the brutality of re-entry which somehow always seems to involve a sick kid.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And I'm off...

I am heading out the door in just under an hour and my stomach is a nervous ball of butterflies. Last night, I had a meltdown of epic proportions. So much to do, so little time. Panic about leaving my babies for 10 days. Worry that I wouldn't get it all cleaned in time for the mother-in-law to come. Anxiety over all the things that could possibly go wrong.

There was crying. All of it ugly.

Today, with suitcases packed and passport in hand, I can hardly believe I'm really doing this. I stare in awe, and wonder whose fabulous life it is I'm really living.

How many men are there that not only say yes, but encourage the taking of trips to faraway lands? Who gladly work, sacrifice, and move heaven and earth to make dreams a reality? I am beyond blessed to have found one who does. He, who knows the toll this past year has taken on me, and encourages me to leave it all behind. He, who knows the healing power of gifts beyond measure.

He had my heart when all he had to give was his love. He gives me his as he makes my dreams come true.

I love him.

I am forever indebted to him for my every happiness.

Thank you, baby, for the trip of a lifetime. Au revoir!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Twelve + six days


Dear Chase,

Last Friday, you turned twelve. You have been pretty excited about it and all the milestones that come with turning twelve. I'm left wondering when exactly twelve years came and went. It doesn't seem to be slowing down, either.

You are shooting up right before our eyes, and I am often tempted to measure you at night before you go to sleep. I swear, you are taller every morning. It is killing your big brother that you are taller than him. But you don't make it an issue, you don't rub it in. When people comment on that fact, you just shrug your broad, lanky shoulders and smile. Like it's no big deal.

Would that everyone had a brother as good as you, Chase.

The big excitement of this year is that you are now old enough to get your own gun.

It should not surprise any of us that the gun you picked is a replica of an old gun -- a collector's item -- and not necessarily one we can pick up at the local sporting goods store. It had to be special ordered, purchased through a federally licensed firearms dealer, and brought across state lines with lots of red tape and paperwork. This is pretty typical of you, Chase, as you have always prided yourself on being anything but ordinary.

You are one of a kind.

And we thank god every day for that fact.


This year, you also entered another milestone - that of middle school. It nearly tore my heart in two to watch you saunter so easily to the bus stop with your brother. Watching the two of you walk, the happy banter between you going back and forth, brought back a flood of memories. Memories of the two of you in diapers, playing together - best friends, even then. I can't count the hours spent watching your two heads bent together over a set of legos or sitting exhausted on a park bench, wondering if you'd ever run out of energy.

Which you never did, by the way.

And here you are, taking more independent steps away from me with grace and ease, and growing into a very fine young man in the process.


You are still such a sensitive little soul, and I hope you never lose that. Your kindness for the underdog in every situation has drawn friends to you that others wouldn't have the patience for. You don't mind the quirky kids, the ones with the special needs. In fact, you are so good at looking beyond their limitations and only see the best in them.

Quite frankly, you see the best in everyone.


Your quest for knowledge is as alive as ever. Gone are the days where you need anyone's help to satisfy your thirst for information. Quite often, it's me asking you about something, and without fail, you are always spot on with the right answer. Your brain is a sponge, kid.

And I have no doubt that should we ever find ourselves in a survival situation, I will live through it because of you.


Chase, your heart is pure gold. You love unconditionally and without guile. You draw others in and love them wholly.

There is nothing I love more than your lone dimple in a big smile - it lights up my world. You are so special and you have taught me more about kindness than anyone else ever could. You make me a better mom. You make me want to be worthy of the trust god placed in me when he made you mine.


I love you, kid. Happy twelfth birthday.