29 December 2009

Indoor Swimming... A Whole New Perspective...

(Originally posted 7 August 2006)
Rachel and Erin had swimming lessons on Saturday. This is not their normal day to go but they had been making up a missed day, earlier in the week. I wasn’t expecting my Mother and nephews until later in the day but as we were leaving, they pulled up. So after a quick Chinese Fire Drill (I hope everyone knows what this is…) my Mother Nicole and Danielle were left at home and I took my nephews Alexandre and Kasey with our daughters Rachel and Erin to the pool.

As we drove to the pool I tried to explain a few ground rules to the boys who have never been to our gym.
“Gentlemen, this is an indoor pool at a gym. There are not a lot of kids, mostly there are older people.”
Rachel interrupts to tell them “Yeah, and don’t look at the old guys wearing the Speedos because that is just WRONG on so many different levels.” (I almost swallowed my tongue!)
“Please try not to be rude, or splash these people. They are mostly swimming laps, so just keep out of their lanes.”
Rachel starts to interrupt me again, but I head her off at the pass… “And okay, yes, you should probably not stare at the gentlemen in speedos or any other person for that matter. Some do wear speedos or bike shorts or shorts up to their armpits, but do NOT stare, point or laugh PLEASE!!!”  I'm trying to wear my sternest expression.
"The flotation devices are mostly for the elderly so please make sure you don't take the last one if you just want to paddle your feet.  Oh, and the water volleyball?  Unless you can promise that you have the ability not to hit the older swimmers, please refrain.  They are very easy to knock out.  Please don't ask me how I know this.  Just chalk it up to a youthful blunder and leave it at that.  The Styrofoam noodles are not for Jedi Master training, nor are they used as a type of baseball bat.  Please just be mindful of your manners."  I'm thinking to myself, 'Gawd, I hope I covered every eventuality!'

Rachel was going to continue adding her own descriptions but I finally just told her to change the subject because the guys were starting to look a little worried.

So we get there and after getting everyone signed in and changed, we head into the indoor pool area. Erin always has her lesson first because she turns blue faster than her sister. The rest of them jump in the pool and everyone is satisfied for the moment. When it is time for Rachel’s swim lesson, Alexandre decides to get out. We talked for a while not really paying attention to the rest of the pool residents (they always have a life guard on duty) until a much older gentleman enters the indoor pool wearing…yup…a speedo! I have to give my nephew credit. He only stared about as long as I did and when we looked at each other, I was the only one who couldn’t keep from chuckling. Quietly.

QOTD:  "With 60 staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs." ~ James Thurber

28 December 2009

North Dakota Style Of Winter BBQ...

As always, I'm not sure how our conversations at the dinner table ever get started... actually, I guess that's not technically true... most of the time it's because the husband is at the other end of the table.  A long time ago my husband was stationed in Minot, North Dakota.  Despite how darn cold it gets up there he said that, for the most part, he really liked the assignment.  
When asked why, the first thing out of his mouth is always, "All the women are drop-dead gorgeous and of mostly Nordic descent."
I'm often baffled why tall, blond women attract him when he married a short, dark haired brunette?  I think I may have to ask him that question one of these days...

He describes the wide open land, the friendly people and the steak in wonderful and graphic detail.  I think he remembers the steak so fondly because he has high cholesterol and doesn't get to have it in his diet as often as he would like.  AND because his girl friend's father had a garage size walk-in freezer in the barn.  Her father raised beef cattle and had lots to say about the quality of meat at the base commissary (grocery store).  He usually headed home after a visit with what my husband calls "the good stuff".
Me, "If it is that cold, what do the cattlemen do with all the cows?  Wouldn't they all freeze to death?"

Husband, "No, they sell off a good part of the herd before winter and the remaining get moved to more sheltered areas."

Me, "That's still pretty cold.  Don't they do anything else for them?"

Danielle, "What about blankets?"

Rachel, "Electric blankets.  Wait... Wait... Solar-powered electric blankets!"

Husband, looking thoughtful, "Yeah, I can see it now.  When one of the solar powered electric blankets short circuit the cowboys can tell by the big, black poof of smoke in the sky.  'Hey Bob,  do you have any BBQ sauce in your saddle bags?  No?  Well run back to the homestead fast and tell the boys we got us a BBQ tonight and to come quick before it freezes again!'"

QOTD: “I've been told that I have a lot of energy. The secret is that I use renewable resources. Some days I'm solar powered. Some days I'm wind powered. And some people in this room might think I'm hybrid gas-powered. You'll just have to guess which it is today.”  Bill Richardson

25 December 2009

World Peace, The Mad Hatter, And The Tribble...

For Christmas every year, I ask for world peace.; This year I got what I asked for... several of them in fact...

23 December 2009

Teaching By Example?

“Mom, it’s time to get up. Your alarm clock has been going off for about 20 minutes!”
::Rolling over and pulling the covers up over my head::
“Mom, you have to drive us to school. We don’t want to be late.”
::Pulling pillow over head.::
“Mom, I’m going to get the ice water.”
(For those who have not read my blog all that long I just want you to know that pouring ice water over my children is what I normally give them as a consequence if they don't get out of bed when they need to... although for some reason I have never had to actually resort to the pouring.  Standing over their bed with a glass of ice water has been about as far as it has ever taken when extreme measures were called for.  Most of the time the sound of the ice maker dispensing ice cubes does the trick.) Apparently now they have decided not to have any compunction about returning the lesson...
“Tell Daddy to take you!”
“He’s at work. He told me to make sure you got up.”
::Grumbling as I crawl out from under my pillow::
“I vote him off the island.”
“Mom, GET UP!!!”
“All right, already! Shees, give me a minute to fire up the brain cells. You didn’t even bring me tea….or breakfast in bed…or paid me homage yet….”
“I’m going to get the water…”
Why is it that the lessons you WANT them to learn fast, takes a lifetime…and the ones you just wouldn’t mind taking a little longer, they suddenly become the genius child?
QOTD: "They know enough who know how to learn." Henry Adams (1838-1918) The Education Of Henry Adams (1918)

22 December 2009

Mr. Alarm Clock's Resurrection And Demise...

The last time my husband was deployed, I had a slight problem with our alarm clock. (Warning: Alarm Clock Obituary Notice) When my husband came home, he actually managed to resurrect it but this is the first morning I have had to use it during this current TDY (temporary duty for my non-military readers).

What are the odds of lightning striking twice? Of history repeating itself? The likely hood that I would kill it twice?

Apparently very good. :o(

Sigh. I wonder what kind of funeral I should hold this time...

Note: Or when looking to replace your old alarm clock, you might try for something like this or this... ::laughing as I'm trying to figure out who to get these for...::

QOTD: [I can't help myself... there are too many good quotes that seem not only appropriate but downright accurate!]

"An alarm clock is a device that makes you rise and whine." Unknown

"OBLIVION, n. The state or condition in which the wicked cease from struggling and the dreary are at rest. Fame's eternal dumping ground. Cold storage for high hopes. A place where ambitious authors meet their works without pride and their betters without envy. A dormitory without an alarm clock." Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) American Writer, Journalist and Editor

"You will find the key to success under the alarm clock." Unknown

"A snooze button is a poor substitute for no alarm clock at all." Unknown

"A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep." Unknown.
(Originally published 17 September 2007)

The Infamous Gloves...

Rachel to Danielle, "Why are you wearing gloves in the house?"

Danielle, "I'm cold." (She's wrapped up in sweaters, sweatshirts, flannels, bathrobe and a blanket)

Husband goes to look at thermostat and says, "It's 70 degrees in here and it won't be getting any higher till summer!"

Nina, "Just admit it... You just want to imitate Michael Jackson."
QOTD:“I stopped for coffee and there was a guy under the bridge. He had no coat and was cold. I offered him a coffee but he said he just needed to get warm so I gave him my hat, my coat, and my gloves. The people in the store asked where my coat was and I told them I gave it away and they told me I was crazy but I did it from my heart.“  John Velleca

21 December 2009

Made A List, He Did Not Check Twice...

Me, "Honey, here's the shopping list.  Please make like Santa and be sure to check it twice.  I need everything on that list."

Husband, "Sure, no problem."
Me, "Honey, where did you put the half and half.  I need it to finish the Potato Leek Soup."

Husband pauses, then looks me straight in the eyes and says, "Honey, I was so worried that the half and half would spoil in our refrigerator over night.  So I left it in the store's cooler so that it would be really fresh when you needed.  I'll just go get that really, really fresh half and half right now."
QOTD:  "Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'" ~ Charlie Brown

20 December 2009

Mr. Alarm Clock's Obituary...

 A few years ago while my husband was deployed to the sandbox I had to post the following obituary... I was reminded of it when I read Cherish It Hard's post on the Death Of The Alarm Clock. 

19 December 2009

A Wart, Easter Eggs And The Troglodytes...

This morning at the breakfast table...
Me, "Nicole, I just found out about a better way to get rid of the planters warts on the bottom of your foot."
Nicole has been going for almost 2 and a half years to the doctor to get the 'acid' treatment.
Me, "After your shower, you dry your foot very well and then use any nail polish that is not clear (so you can tell where it is), completely cover the wart and then put a non-porous tape like black electrical tape on the top after the polish completely dries.  Do this every day for 1-2 weeks and then one day when you pull the tape off, the wart comes with it.  The wart is a fungus and it requires air.  Keep the air from it and it dies."

Nicole, "Mom, you already told me this last night."

Me, "I did?"

Nicole, "Yes, you were sitting in the living room with me."

I looked at my husband and asked him, "What is wrong with me?  I don't remember saying that?"

Husband, "Don't worry honey.  It's actually a good thing.  Just think... you could hide your own Easter Eggs!"

Nicole, "You could even buy and wrap your own presents and then they'd still be a surprise!"
To be truthful, yesterday was a pretty stressful day, so by last night I was wiped.  But I still live with a bunch of troglodytes!  (Yes, Nicole, I know you will have to go look up troglodyte even though I told you just this morning what it meant....  It's great to prove the brain is still functioning even with my family members baiting me all the time!)  :O)
QOTD:  Normally I don't quote from a web page but this was too good to pass up.  (And just so we are clear on this... I NEVER blog in the basement!  :)

To bloviate means “To discourse at length in a pompous or boastful manner,” or to “orate verbosely and windily.”

And a troglodyte is, among other things, “One of any savage race that dwells in caves, instead of constructing dwellings; a cave dweller.” 

Now, a basement isn’t exactly a cave, but it’s pretty close. So: a “bloviating troglodyte” is somebody who lives in a basement, talks too damn much, and thinks too highly of the things he/she says.

In other words, a blogger.

UPDATE:  I completely forgot to back link to Troglodyte's Blog.  Although I am not one who reads a lot of political blogs and such, he does have some very witty posts so please go over and check him out.  Thank You!

16 December 2009



This blog has always been and always will try to be about the positive things in life no matter how many lemons are lobbed in your general vicinity.; Many times we all need help to maintain faith, a positive attitude and the willingness to sacrifice to make things a safe and better place for all. I intentionally try to avoid any religious or political opinions in my blog.; That is a very personal choice and I have respect for all peoples rights to worship or vote their conscience as long as it does not impinge on anyone else's right to the same freedoms.

This is a post that I was NOT going to write. You will see why by the end of it. But I feel like this will make a small difference for other members of our military family.; When I say 'military family' I mean ANY member of ANY branch that has or is serving their country.

In this case, I am speaking of the family of Army Master Sergeant C. J. Grisham.; Read the original backstory, plus constantly updated coverage about Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham and the milblogging controversy.; Currently a military and government command would strip a proven patriot and his family who risks all to protect the same rights that are now being denied him.; It is a travesty of justice! To add insult upon insult to injury, C. J. must pay for his own council to protect his good name, honor, meritorious service all because of small mind politics that supposedly have more credibility than a highly decorated military member!

After reading his story, please go to GO TO BLACKFIVE AND MAKE A DONATION TO C.J.'s LEGAL FUND

What also really horrifies me is that not only this kind of condemnation from his chain of command and the stripping of his rights but that his PTSD is being used against him!; I am a disabled veteran with PTSD and the fact that the military is helping some ignorant person who has probably never served anyone in their entire life except their own self interests.; That the PTA went along with this and the Army HELPED them?; I can see the even further repercussions in active duty and veterans alike not seeking treatment for any mental health because they have no protection against such abuse by the public and their commands.; And the military thinks this sends the right message?

There is already a lot of talk about how there should not be a stigma attached to seeking help before this kind of situation spirals out of control. There is another wonderful post over at Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys entitled Veterans' Mental Healthcare: Epidemic of Denial.

Blackfive once had the most incredible, dead on post about Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or more properly, Coming Home. This post was the best and most accurate description of what PTSD is and what it isn't that I have had the privilege to read.

The leaper reaction is not solely a military thing. It is prevalent in our society at large. Because the average person does not understand what causes PTS in all it's forms, they rely on what they've seen and heard in the news, tv and movies. People outside of family and friends (and some within that circle) unconsciously act as if they can be infected with the disorder if they get too close and so they either avoid the person affected or refuse to acknowledge the situation so that they won't have to feel uncomfortable or awkward.

I know this is unintentional for the most part, but it reinforces the feelings of worthlessness and isolation. I don't know anyone who would willingly want to be treated this way and so most of the people I know who have been in this position denied a problem existed and/or refused to seek treatment.; The Army sure has shown that they don't walk the walk, they just talk the talk.

From our family to C. J.'s family our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

15 December 2009

What Does A Purse, FEMA, And Being A Packhorse Have In Common?

Another Lesson In Surviving Parenthood...

As I woman, I have often lost essential items in the bottomless pit that is my purse.  Men might not have any idea what I am talking about... yet.  So for you men I have a few questions...

Where do you keep your car keys?  How about your wallet?  Your Blackberry or cell phone?  Your change?  Work supplies?  Your pens?  Comb?  Your lipstick?  (Yeah,  I don't wear lipstick either but I do carry around chapstick.)  If you mentioned a briefcase, backpack, gym bag or computer bag, then you are just carrying what your ego describes as a 'manly bag' which is just another name for purse! (For that matter, I don't like carrying a purse around either. Give me jeans with pockets for change, keys and ID and I'm a very happy woman.  Ah, the joy of life without kids.)

All things change once the children come along.  Children will give you enough experience in Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Planning to be able to run FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) with one eye closed and your hands tied behind your back while standing on your head!

When children are very young you have to bring along a diaper bag every time you go out or horrific events will occur! Trust me on this. As they get older they need even more additional items such as band-aids, antibiotic, snacks, pencil, paper, game books (to keep them entertained), wipes, hand sanitizer or (again.I.repeat) horrific events ensue when they are left behind. (The items, not the kids... actually, I guess that depends on where you leave the kids but that's a different post altogether...)
I was under the gross misapprehension that once my kids were past the diaper and kindergarten stage, I would again regain the use of my arm for more productive endeavors.   Nope.  Then comes the carrying of backpacks, sport equipment, show and tell items, works of art created from the imagination from the same child who can not imagine a clean room.  In winter, there is extra boots, clothes etc.

So it is with no great revelation that I have a love/hate relationship with my handbag. Or purse. Or backpack. Or luggage. Whatever you want to call it as it does change in size and it's variety of optional organization pockets and system of managing everything.  (Including the kitchen sink if you've seen some of the sizes of some of these monstrosities!)

But despite all this, I still had hope.  Once the kids hit the teenage years, I couldn't imagine what I would have to carry around for them. By that time they are self-sufficient, right?

WRONG!  I'm still finding things my kids have kindly deposited in my purse because they either don't have pockets or the item is too big for the pockets they have...  So I decided to stop carrying a purse.  Problem solved...  

Except that now, I have to juggle my wallet, keys, a book while waiting for the kids to get out of whatever activity they're involved in.  Hand sanitizer and tissue (because this is the flu season)  Paper and writing utensils to remind me of all the things that I forget to do.  Date book to keep the appointments of a family of seven. Comb.  And lets not forget the supply of advil, tylenol, midol, feminine products.  (I DO have at least five of us women in the family so far who always seem to need these things)  Grocery list and coupons.  A small first aid kit with only band-aids, individual packets of antibiotics, antiseptic wipes, tweezers and safety pins.  And let's not forget the cell phone and ipod with chargers and earphones.

So I came up with the idea of finding a small over the shoulder beach kinda duffel bag with lots of pockets so that I can leave the things that won't melt or freeze in my car.  (That was my intention anyway.)

While doing normal shopping in Target one spring I found one!  It is canvas (so it's washable!), about 18” long with two straps so you can wear it like a packpack. It has two outside pockets with Velcro closures. Inside it had a single zippered pocket and a canvas zippered pouch which could be detached from a canvas line attached near the top of the bag. COOL, I thought. I’ll never lose my wallet/change purse again! I can put my stuff in there and even if stuff gets thrown on top in an emergency, all I have to do is pull the cord. SOLD! I went home with that little baby in my hot little hands. (after duly purchasing said item, of course – my hands are not THAT hot...)

I was thinking all my problems are now solved.  Granted, this canvas bag is slightly bigger than my normal purse but once I get out of the van, I wear it like a backpack. So what’s the problem you ask? It sounds perfect... 

Except that since I am wearing it like a backpack the kids have started to put stuff in the outer pockets when we are out since they’re so handy. MP3 players, earphones, half eaten pack of chewing gum, used tissue (Euwww!!!) Since it’s a duffle like contraption they’ve started asking if they can put their shopping bags inside. And their soda bottles. And whatever else they don’t want to carry.

“What am I? A pack mule?” I finally snapped while in the middle of the mall. You don’t want to know what they answered back with. Let’s just say that if I could’ve gotten my hands on the little darlings, I would have applied some Motherly discipline.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that they are the only ones contributing to this bag….

So I’m standing at the counter at the Subway sub shop yesterday.  Our sandwiches had been made, soda and chips had been picked out. “$28.26, Mam.” I start digging through my purse for my wallet.

I was tugging on the tether strap attached to the wallet. Have I mentioned that this is a LONG strap? Finally it comes out of the bowels of the bag. I open it up and pull out the cash I have on hand in bills. $26.00. No problem, I thought, I’ll just use the debit card. I look through the wallet and pouch three times and NO debit card.

OH NO! I must have just tossed it in on top of everything when I stopped for gas. I peer into the depths of the purse. Nope, not a sign of it. Checking all the pockets just in case. My good luck angel is out to lunch. So I start taking things out of my purse and laying them on the counter. Notebook, envelopes, writing pad, box of tissue – at this point everyone is staring at me. I’m holding up the line. The kids look at the tissue box and start howling with laughter. They are pointing at it and asking in the loudest, most obnoxious voices ever “A BOX of tissue?”

Luckily I found the debit card under the tissue box and handed to the cashier who was now looking at me like I was some kind of alien species.

I turned to the kids “I kept forgetting to put it in the car for you little cretins of mischief. So I had put it in my purse so I wouldn’t forget again!” (And I had forgotten to take it out.)

They continued to howl with laughter all the way out of the store…

QOTD: “Good families are generally worse than any other.” Anthony Hope (1863-1933) The Prisoner of Zenda [1894]

14 December 2009

Janedictorian Or Drivethrudictorian?

We were sitting down to dinner when school grades and school friends were being discussed. Nicole has a wonderful friend I will just call Donna. 

Nicole, "D is so intense. She studies for quizzes all night long! She takes every assignment, every grade like it was supremely important."

Me, "Too bad that kind of behavior didn't rub off."

Nicole, "Mom, she's going to be the class Valedictorian!!! Why would I aspire to that?"

Her father, "It's ok. You can be the class Janedictorian. You could study the world of janitorial services! Or perhaps the Drivethrudictorian...?"

QOTD: "What is not started today is not finished tomorrow." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(Originally published October 2007)

Lifetime Supply Of Chocolate

Danielle, "I wish I had a lifetime supply of chocolate. Milky Way, Snickers, Kit Kat Bars, Turtles..."

Nicole and Rachel, "Me Too!!!!"

Me, "Don't you mean a lifetime supply of candy bars? And I thought you didn't like chocolate?"

Danielle, "I don't like chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream or chocolate pudding but I love chocolate bars."

Me, "A lifetime supply of chocolate, huh? I remember as a kid that my Grandmother would break apart a huge slab of dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate and give pieces to my Aunt, Uncle and Mother."

"I don't know where she would get these slabs but they were between 4 to 8 inches thick and about a foot long and a foot and a half wide. She would freeze them wrapped in plastic. After they were frozen, she would take out the slab, lay a towel over it and break it with a hammer. She would then divide the pieces."

"I remember how this was enough chocolate for our entire family to use for about a year. It was mostly used in fudge, cookies, and chocolate candies. I would imagine that would be about enough to last me a lifetime."

Nicole, "No it wouldn't. We'd keep stealing it from you so that you would have to keep getting more."

Me, ::gasping theatrically:: "You would steal your own Mothers lifetime supply of chocolate?"

Nicole, "Yes!"

Danielle, "Absolutely!"

Rachel, "In a heartbeat."

Me, ::talking out loud to no one in particular:: "I'm raising a bunch of ungrateful heathens!"
Rachel, "We should let Erin win the lifetime supply of chocolate. She's going to live longer so we'll have a more dependable supply..."
It's good to know that I will have to hide that lifetime supply of chocolate should I ever win it...
QOTD: "There always seems to be someone looking over your shoulder - just waiting for an opportunity to lecture on The Darker Side of Chocolate." Sandra Boynton


Erin, our youngest daughter once said to me a couple of years ago (I think she was about 9 years old):
"Mom, there is something wrong with Catastrophe. (Cat for short, one of our felines) Lately he can't seem to get enough attention. I pet him and pet him and pet him and he still wants more. I think he has attention deficit disorder."
Too funny. Even more so because Erin was dead serious when she said this. She was not joking. Our cat has ADD. How could you have a bad day after laughing this hard at the start? I kept a straight face and reassured her that Cat was fine, just spoiled rotten...
QOTD: "Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this." ~ Unknown

12 December 2009

An Absolute Mountain Of Lemons...

Do you know that song about "Big Rock Candy Mountain?"  I'm trying to imagine Lemon Drops...
I really am... But right now I feel like I am under a MOUNTAIN of lemons with not a drop of daylight showing...  Up until now, as the amount of posts I've put up this week is a great indicator, it's been a busy but wonderful week.  I do not know if it is the change in weather pressure with this latest snow storm, but I've been battling a migraine.  It is official today.  I lost the battle.  So I am going to put up a list of posts from the last week in case you have missed any.  (My kids have told me I have been over-achieving this week with the posts and that I should refrain from doing more than one.  I guess it will be one more thing to ponder as I lay down to check for holes in the underside of my eyelids.  Actually, I want to know what Santa does for Mrs. Claus when she gets a migraine.)

So I hope you enjoy any of the posts that you might have missed in the last seven days or if you happen to know the secret of what Santa Claus gives to Mrs. Claus for a migraine, by all means... spill the beans!

11 December 2009

A Continuing Process, A Combat Zone, And Leopard Print...

Communicating with a teenager requires skill, a quick wit and lots of patience with a rather large dose of humor. 

Case in point: Not too long ago, we were teasing Danielle (because she always rises to the bait so well) :o) I don't remember the exact subject we were discussing but she was getting frustrated at her father's point of view...
Danielle, "I've been insulted!"

Husband, "No... you are being insulted. It is a continuing process."

Danielle, "MOM!!!"
I couldn't help her by telling her father to cease and desist since I was laughing so hard. ::shrugs shoulders::

Conversation veers to China and Chinese as Danielle is taking her second year of the Chinese language in High School.

Danielle wants to go to Chinatown in Boston and her father explained to her that in Boston, Chinatown used to be the 'combat zone' but now is more the theatre district. I think this little history lesson threw her off her stride because then...
Danielle, "Combat zone? In Chinatown?"
Husband, "Yeah, a civilian combat zone. You know... Prostitutes, muggers and pimps, OH MY?"
Another example is of a conversation I had with Nicole.  I told her that 'if she didn't behave, the only things she would get for Christmas this year would have a leopard print on it' and without missing a beat she said, "That's ok, it makes very nice kindling."
Which just goes to show that she's been hanging out with her father too long.
QOTD: "Adolescence is perhaps nature's way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest." Karen Savage and Patricia Adams, The Good Stepmother

10 December 2009

Truly Original Christmas Decorations...

Fantastic.  Greg sends along this DIY FYI:

"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas  decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.  Great stories. But two things made me take it down."

"First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by."

"Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."
My sister-in-law emailed this to me and by time I finished reading it I couldn't stop laughing.  I really don't like putting up lights up outdoors... but this?  Yeah, I could see my husband doing this.

Chaos, Panic, Disorder... My Work Here Is Done...

Back in Tammi's Archives at Tammi's World there is a post that still cracks me up even when I'm frustrated and mad at the kids.
"Chaos, Panic, and Disorder.......My work here is done."
It describes our kids perfectly today. I think my husband and I hit our limit. The following are snippets from our day...
"Are you arguing about cookies? Could we save arguing for something important... like teen pregnancy?"
"You could make Mother Theresa angry!"

"Do you think if I whined like you are doing right now, that I could get you to talk in a calm, rational manner? No? Yeah, well I guess you do not get a calm, rational reaction from me either... go to your room until both of us can discuss this normally... how does a year sound to you? About right?"
Guess it's back to Parenting 101, because we both flunked it today.... Sigh. Tomorrow is going to be a better day. Tomorrow is going to be a better day. Tomorrow is going to be a better day...
QOTD: "Speak when you are angry - and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret." Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990) American hierarchiologist, Educator and Writer

Loretta Lou And The Logistics Of Selling Your Kids On Ebay...

A few years back I was reading another favorite blog of mine, Just Another Snarky Wife. Her post was about her husband coming home after being deployed and doing the happy snoopy dance.  I laughed and cried reading this post.  But the one thing that really stuck with me was her theory about how to be a successful Navy spouse but truly, it is true for any spouse (or single parent for that matter), that has one of those days.  You know the kind I'm talking about...
"I have a theory: The successful Navy spouse is the one who can paste a cheery smile on her face even though she's working out the logistics of selling the kids on eBay, ditching the house, finding a job at a truck stop restaurant in Podunk, Arizona, and changing her name to Loretta Lou. Okay, it's not a theory so much as an intense desire to know I've hit some type of marker of success. /snort"
That was just too funny a definition to pass up passing it on!  Please read the entire post, I've linked it here  (and on her blog name above)

09 December 2009

The Christmas List...

The Cookie Of Trouble And The Ten Commandments...

Not too long ago our family went on a trip with my brother and sister-in-law's family. 

The kids were mixed up between the vehicles we were taking.  There was the familiar jockeying for seat position in my brother in law's car amongst the cousins. When it looked like the youngest member was going to get stuck in the middle of the back seat and was told she would make a wonderful buffer between two possible troublemakers... my husband said to our niece, "Just think of yourself as the sweet center between the cookie of trouble." I guess that about describes it perfectly.
QOTD:  "A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to 'honor' thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, 'Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?' Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, 'Thou shall not kill.'" Unknown

A Cat, A Picture And A Little Bit Of Humor...

OK. This post is not deeply intellectual. It did not require thought or planning. It is not informative or even words of wisdom. It is plain fluff. In the making of lemonade, occasionally, just a smile or chuckle will get you through the day.


It is no secret that we are owned by a pack of cats.  Despite the fact that we saved them from certain death, they consider themselves superior.  I believe that it has been said that dogs have owners, cats have staff. 

Anyway, my kids educated me in this type of artwork.  We spent the next hour laughing at a few sites that excel in this type of thing.   I thought I would share some of the chuckles with you today.  Enjoy.  (I will be back for a regular post a little later...)


08 December 2009

Military Operations And Maintenance...

Now, for those gentle readers who are unaware of certain aspects of military life, you may not understand the particulars of the following story but if you are still game then let me give you a glimpse into certain dynamics of military life. I served in an operations career field (what I like to think of as the brains and common sense part of the equation). My husband has always been on the maintenance side of the house. (what I like to call the brawn of the equation). 

Feminist Subversive Activities...

First off I want to say that I love my husband and he is not only my best friend but one of the most honorable men I know. That said, he is also human....and a man. Although laughter will often follow where ever he goes, flowers do not grow instantly where he treads, harps do not play music when he enters a room and the universe does not generally stop to make sure he remains centered. In other words...he has his moments. It is inevitable....it is the testosterone poisoning...


This morning my husband made himself an egg sandwich for breakfast, complete with *real* bacon. He had drill this weekend and I got to hear an earful about what he calls "Feminist Subversive Activities." Now to give you a little background here, there are no women (at the moment) in the shop where he works. So the guys are pretty free to be..... well ..... guys!

Discussion this weekend included the bacon issue. My husband was glad to hear he was not the only one fending off the "Feminist Subversive Activities" at home. **Roll of eyes** From this conversation, I also gathered that many of the other gentlemen (and I use this term very loosely) in attendance have said they have had to put their foot down about what kind of meat is allowed in the house. They have also put their foot down on a number of other subjects concerning the home front. I wonder if any of these wonderful specimens of manhood are sleeping on the couch?

I did not let my husband draw me into another discussion about this. It was never my intention to raise such a sensitive issue. "Feminist Subversive Activities"..... ppppfffftttt! I only wanted to make sure my man (and family) were eating well. I was concerned for his health, and now I can't cook breakfast without the comments flying. I can't bring up the subject of any pork products without his list of reasons why I shouldn't 'dis' the pig.

Well his cholesterol level is high and he is on medication to help bring it down.  It is a severe genetic problem on his side of the family so I've been trying really hard to make healthy meals.

Enough already. I don't have to worry about his health any longer because I already know HOW he is going to die and I even know WHEN if he doesn't stop with the whining and complaining!  You'd think I was cutting off his beer supply or possibly his access to baseball games...
QOTD: “Always be yourself... unless you suck.” Joss Whedon (1964-) American Screenwriter, Producer and Creator of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also known for Toy Story, Alien Resurrection, and Angel, Firefly and Doll House
 (Originally posted January 2007)

07 December 2009

Recipe For Marriage...

Not too long ago my husband and I went to vote at the town hall. On the way home we stopped at the little general store that also serves as our town's post office, deli, ice cream and liquor store. (Gotta love small town living!) There was no one else in the store and while I went over to get a gallon of milk I could hear my husband quip with the cashier. Somehow the subject of our having been married for over 21 years seemed to come up and the cashier asked us how our marriage could survive so long.
Husband, "You should allow your spouse at least three major failings because it's certain that you have at least that many."
Me, "Marriage is a decision that you make every day to work at it. Your marriage may last years after a decision not to work at it but it truly ended the first time you did not feel the need to make it a priority in your life."
Husband, "Don't sweat the small stuff and most of all is the need for a really good sense of humor."
She looked a little dumbfounded at this advice and said that she and her boyfriend had been friends for 10 years before they started dating, been together for 6 years and had a 3 year old child together but that although she lived with him she still wasn't sure about marriage.

When we got back into the truck to go home, I asked my husband if her comments bothered him. I thought it was a rather sad commentary but he said that she was already married by common law whether she accepted it or not. Then he said:
"A marriage is not a piece of paper declaring you to be wed. It is the commitment to another person. It is trying to live that commitment in everything you do. It also only works if both persons are willing to work at it."
The conversation stuck in my mind and I realized that there is probably a few more things that have kept us going. I feel safe being exactly who and what I am with my husband. I don't have to wonder if he will leave when the going gets tough as it inevitably does. I have an unshakable trust in his friendship and love that neither will be withdrawn if I am not perfect. I make sure he knows the same is true for him.

I guess that is our recipe for marriage. As of last August we have been married for twenty one years. I can't imagine anyone else putting up with me for that long... or vice versa. :o)
QOTD: "There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."

05 December 2009

Things My Kids Have Taught Me About IM...

I was on the computer early one morning before the kids got up. After a while I saw Danielle log onto IM so I knew she was awake. Her bedroom is on the first floor, mine is on the second.
Me, Good Morning!

Danielle, Hi.

Me, Are you hungry?

Danielle, Yes!

Me, I am too. Why don't you make me breakfast in bed?

Danielle, NO!

Me, NO? Don't you love me anymore?

Danielle, I'm checking my email. (Guess we know where HER affections lie!)

Me, OK, how about we meet in the kitchen and I'll make breakfast?

Danielle, No, I am checking my email.

Me, How about I come take your computer for the day?

Danielle, All right. I'll be right there.
Ya know...I don't think they have this covered in any parenting books I know of...Welcome to the 21st century!
QOTD: "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place." George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish Literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist. 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Reindeer Games...

The kids and I were sitting at the kitchen table, eating Dunkin Doughnuts and Hot Apple Cider and talking about Christmas songs.
Erin singing, "You know Dasher and Dancer and Comet and Cupid....Mom, how does it go again?"

Me, "No singing at the table." (Especially with a mouth full of glazed blueberry cake doughnut!)

Rachel, "Mom, when Rudolph wasn't allowed to play any Reindeer games, did they mean Monopoly?"

Me, *Blink*

Rachel, "You know, the game he wasn't allowed to play?"

Me, "No, I don't think it was Monopoly...." (I'm thinking to myself that maybe it should have been Twister.... Imagine..."Right front hoof on red. Left back hoof on blue. Dancer, you skewered me with your horns again!")
QOTD: "I think there should be something in science called the 'reindeer effect.' I don't know what it would be, but I think it'd be good to hear someone say, 'Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.'" Jack Handy - American Writer and cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1991-2003.

04 December 2009

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty...

Have you ever been owned by a cat? (Humans do not "own" the beasts) A cat only allows you to bask in the gloriousness of it's presence. We have always had a variety of pets. Currently we have 4 cats (to match the 4 daughters :o) and one corn snake for the 5th daughter-habitating with us. More on the different types of cat personalities at a future time.

Now, you'd think our cats would be more grateful considering we saved them from a garbage bag thrown away at the dump, but NOOOOO, they are constantly bringing us mere mortals the mice they find so they can "teach" us how to catch our food. (I think they're severely disappointed in our abilities to hunt and gather!)

They also chase each other down the hall, across the living room, up the stairs, down the hall and then back down again. Always at about 0300 (3am)! We have started calling this phenomenon "The Kitty 500".

They also want to lay on your chest while you are trying to sleep, chew on your hair to wake you up, yowl loudly when you do not pay enough attention and if you do not clean out their bathroom "Facilities" often enough they punish you by finding your most cherished clothing to "Christen" it or make mincemeat out of your carpet, minutes before company arrives.

Ah the joys of being owned by a Cat. I think it's time to adopt a rottweiler. What do you think? :o)

QOTD: "When I play with my cat, who knows whether she isn't amusing herself more with me than I am with her?" Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) Essais (1580)

Again, For Sarah...

Too often in my posts I write about the frustrating things about our daughters but there truly is plenty of wonderful things note. I think that being in parental mode all the time we sometimes forget to acknowledge the precious milestones that are reached as children grow older.
Once they hit their preteen years there will come a time when they can be home alone without adult supervision for short periods of time. As they get older, this time expands. We don't have to worry about the older three girls being home alone. They have been trustworthy and responsible. The older three have babysat outside the home and Rachel will be stepping up to that plate soon.

Another plus in our house is that I now get steal the older children's sweatshirts, sweaters and coats instead of them always borrowing mine. It doesn't work just one way anymore. :o)

As teenagers their enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge is inspiring. Granted, most of the time this knowledge is not for school work but rather other areas of interest. It is amazing to watch them choose interests that you would never have thought they'd consider and then explore that world beyond your own knowledge to be able to teach YOU something new.

What I love most about my own teenagers is the opportunity to shed the parental hat at times to be able to enjoy being invited along with them on their journey of discovery. One on one time is rare when you have 5 children but it is so special when it does happen.

They all have such different personalities and varied interests and I often used to wonder what they would grow up to be. With what they teach me through this growing process, I now wonder what 'I' will grow to be before they are done with me...
QOTD: "My mom told me you don't have to be popular or the prettiest. Just be who you are. Don't do what everybody else is doing. The last thing we need is more Stepford teens. It was great advice." Unknown

03 December 2009

A Pirate, Happy Juice, And A Sharpie...

A few years ago, my mother went into the hospital for double knee replacement surgery.  I went to stay with her at the hospital while the surgery was taking place.  My mother was laying in bed with one of those Johnny's on that you will never see in any magazine because believe me, even Photoshop can't make that thing look good on anybody. She is attached to the saline solution and has a little granny cap on her head which of course keeps slipping down over her left eye. Since she had the IVs attached I tried to help her adjust the thing but to no avail. I suggested she just pretend it was an eye patch and she was a pirate....I got 'the look'. OKaaaay, so I helped tuck it behind an ear. (Till the nurse came back in and put it back where it was....)
The nurse anesthetist came in and started asking my Mom all sorts of questions. Things like, do you have any special markings? It took me a second to realize she was asking about scars, moles, or tattoos. My Mom mentions her scars. Then the nurse asks about body piercings and my Mom says two. One in each ear. (By this time I am trying very hard not to laugh.) The nurse finishes up and leaves.
My Mom turns to me and and says "WHAAAT?"

"Reason number 236 why body piercings are not a good idea. Mom, I can see MYSELF at 70 and saying yeah, I have a belly button ring, both ears pierced 7 times and oh yeah, both nipples..."
(I know my kids are going to read this and say GROOSSSS MOM!!! - Well, sweeties, don't read the rest of this then!)

You know? They say timing is everything and just as I was saying this the doctor comes around the screen. He was smiling but thankfully didn't say anything. He does his spiel and then he, too, leaves.

So my Mom and I are still laughing and another nurse comes in to administer the "Happy Juice". She kept checking the chart and I'm sure she thought that we were probably "Happy" enough.
After she leaves I tell my Mom, "That is also the reason I won't get a tattoo. I don't think they look as good with the wrinkle, wave effect....Hey, you can see my tattoo, just let me stretch it out flat for you....Nope, not gonna happen."
I asked my Mom if she needed a sharpie and she asked what for. I told her about a story I heard about a woman who was in a bad accident and had to have part of one leg removed. She had used a sharpie to write notes all over her body to the doctors, nurses and anesthesiologist. On the good leg she wrote NOT THIS LEG, THIS IS THE GOOD ONE. On the bad leg she wrote THIS IS THE RIGHT LEG, I MEAN THE BAD LEG, CUT HERE. She also wrote notes with arrows about where the reconstructive surgery was NOT taking place so that there was no need for them to look there. I couldn't remember all of them but it didn't matter, we were laughing so hard by this time that the staff had come to see what was up and then we had to tell them the story. Needless to say, Mom went into surgery with a big smile and tears on her face (and so did everyone else :o)
QOTD: "Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine."  Lord Byron (1788-1824) English Poet

Milestones Of Motherhood...

I was over at When In Rome and Sara wrote a post about babysitting a neighbor's son and the trials and tribulations of such an endeavor.  After having left a comment and receiving a note from Sara, I started to think about children and parenting.
Lately I have been pondering the effects of having kids. This having been brought on by recent events such as two of our daughters have driving permits.

Do you know that it is very difficult to hide your shaking hands when the rest of your body looks like it is being rocked by an earthquake at about an 8.4 on the Richter scale? OK. To be honest they are doing great. It is probably just coincidence that I have been drinking a glass of wine when we get home... you know... for medicinal purposes only... of course it's hard to pour that glass when your hands are clenched.... Harder still to drink said glass when you have to pry your teeth apart with the jaws of life...

Looking back, I now realize that there are many other milestones related to the side effects of having kids. All you mothers out there can probably relate to the fact that after you have a baby, you are not as uncomfortable changing in a locker room. Believe me, when you are giving birth, you won't care if a platoon marches through your room while you are buck naked. After that experience, I really thought nothing of changing into a bathing suit at the gym without heading into a bathroom stall. By time you hit the birth of child number four, modesty means wearing a bra to hold up the sagging breasts instead of going without one while wearing a tank top to the grocery store.

Cleaning up vomit, blood and bowel movements (especially the kind used by little kids to do finger painting on self and every available surface) doesn't make you bat an eye anymore.

Learning that little pitchers have ears and WILL repeat anything and EVERYTHING you say at the most inopportune time that will have the most embarrassing effect, is a lesson a parent learns quickly.

A close corollary to this is that kids will ask the most embarrassing questions at the most public of times. After the first two or three kids you will start to have some fast answers available to you.

But there is also the side effect of seeing things fresh and new through the eyes of a child. Let's also not forget the heart wrenching sight of seeing a child on the night after the tooth fairy comes, Christmas morning, Easter Egg hunts or the day they go off to school for the very first time.

The first time you hold them in your arms, their first word, first step, first tooth, first tricycle, first school performance, first heartache, first date, first dance.

I try to remember all these things when I step out of the car after taking the girls for a practice drive. I find that this works best as long as I have something to hold on to since my knees do not seem to work properly when I get out of the passenger seat. That is until my legs give up and I fall down, knocking myself out...
QOTD: "You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine.'" Tommy Cooper

02 December 2009

What Does The English Language, Hoo Hoos And Pole Dancing Have In Common?

If you have teenage daughters, then some of the following might seem a little familiar... in a twisted, humorous kind of way...

Nicole and I do not see eye to eye on the length and height of a few articles of clothing. I know the style these days is to wear your pants as low as it can go without being arrested for indecent exposure... but not on my daughters.

The same can be said for the depth of cleavage shown. We have tried to instill a sense of morals and values and I think our kids have very good heads on their shoulders for the most part. As teenagers, however, it must be some unwritten rule, somewhere, that 'thou must argue, whine and generally be disagreeable about fashion, music and what the friends are allowed to get away with that you are not.'

Having said this, tonight's conversation will make more sense to you. We open the scene with Danielle arguing with me about her jeans and the fact that she is not wearing a shirt that will cover her midriff.
Finally her father says to her, "If you are going to attempt to communicate primarily in the English language, then you should learn to use it in a more intelligent manner."
Argument over.
We all sit down to eat dinner. Remember Nicole who is notorious for getting spoken to about her clothing choices? Well, she looks across the table at her sister and says to her, "Your shirt is way too low. I get yelled at if I don't wear another shirt underneath."

The husband says, as Nicole continues on this train of thought, "You have made your point, don't lose the moral high ground. Besides, if your sister wants to show her hoo hoos at the dinner table for us all to comment upon, who are you to ruin our fun?"
Danielle quickly pulls up her shirt.

Danielle, "I wore a sweatshirt over this all day!"

Me, "Yeah, I've been meaning to ask for you to give me my sweatshirt back.  It's older than you are and I've just gotten it broken in."

My husband looks at me and says, "Is that the one she was conceived upon?"

Danielle, "EEEEUUUWWWW!  Did you have to tell me that?  That is really not a mental picture that I want to have!"

Husband, "Will you be able to wear your mother's sweatshirt again without picturing it?"

Danielle, "Noooooooo!  You've ruined it for me."

Husband, "Mission accomplished."
Not that this is true, mind you, but I decided not to add to this conversation... not even to mention that her shirt now bares her midriff again. It may not seem like it sometimes, but I do try to pick my battles.
My husband says, "I don't get it. You don't mind the world seeing you but you are embarrassed if anyone in your family sees you? Aren't you the same daughter who just showed that you can't stand to hear even a hint that your parents have a love life?"

Me, "Honey, maybe she just needs to get used to us? Maybe we should try to be a little louder?"

Danielle, "Euuwww! Dad, how about we bring up your parents love life?"

My husband, "Why? You're the only one embarrassed by it. If you want to embarrass me you will have to try a lot harder."

Danielle, "At least I didn't pursue pole dancing as a form of exercise."

Nicole very loudly states, "Not in my house!"
My husband, (imitating Dr. Seuss)
"Not in my house,
not in my car,
not in my yard,
not in my town,
not in my time zone,
not in my hemisphere!"
Yes, indeed. It's just another day in the life of the Lemon Stand household. Aren't you glad your family isn't as strange as mine?

End of scene. Exit. Stage right.
QOTD: "You know your children are growing up when they stop asking where they came from and refuse to tell you where they're going." P. J. O'Rourke