Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I don't know how to begin to thank you.....

Last night I was driving home and I was hit with an unexpected, and unprompted, memory.

I thought about it and knew where my mind was leading me......

*********************
Six years ago, this coming January, Steven was in an accident. (Yes. Another one.) Ice was on the road and he, and his tractor and wagon he was pulling, slid off the road and rolled over an embankment. He jumped off the tractor, but, upon landing, some portion of it rolled over his leg, breaking it. Unable to move, or stand upright, he waited until someone (my uncle) found him in the ravine, where he lowered a sled to him and two men pulled him out.

He was lucky to be alive.

I remember telling my boss, the funeral director, and his response was "He is the first person to roll a tractor that I know of, and live to tell about it."

He obviously ended up in the hospital, had to have surgery and was immobilized for three months. We had recently paid off our land and was currently living in our trailer hashing out plans to build our house. Because of this, we, thankfully, didn't have a land payment OR a mortgage. This was a blessing because in the instant of his accident, I became the primary bread winner.

Being self-employed, as Steven is, there is no workman's comp. There is no sick leave.

There is nothing.

******************
Due in part to the fact that we lived in an 800 sq ft trailer and had been planning on building, we had money put back and we knew that things would be OK.

Not ideal. But OK.

And life went on.

One day, I remember going to the mailbox. When sorting through the mail, I noticed an envelope with no return address. I opened it up to find $200.00 in cash.

I was immediately flooded with all kinds of emotions.

Embarrassment and gratitude, to name two.

Gratitude that someone thought of us and wanted to help us and embarrassment at the prospect of someone thinking that we couldn't make it on our own.

What is that called? Oh, yeah. Pride.

I won't lie. The $200.00 came in handy. I made decent money, but nothing compared to what we were used to coming in with Steven working. I had budgeted out our monthly bills and knew that we could do it, it would just be tight. We hated to use our savings....however, we could and would.

But..... you know what else happened during those 3 months?

The propane tank never emptied.
There were always diapers for L at the sitter.
The tractor that was flipped was fixed.
The wagon was rebuilt.
Food was brought and left.
Wood for our stove was always cut.

AND ALL OF THIS WAS DONE IN SECRET. Just like the $200.00 in cash.

We never asked it of anyone, but "they" did it anyway.

We didn't HAVE to have help.

We would have made it ourselves.

But people, some that have never revealed themselves, wanted to give to us.

We could have made it without help, but they didn't want us to. They gave freely and, obviously, for no other reason than because they willed it.

Because of the anonymity of their giving, we couldn't call and say "Thanks", we couldn't send them a card and most importantly, we couldn't pay them back.
**********************

I remember discussing the situation with friends. I was completely on my knees with humbleness and humility. I wanted to be a good steward of what we had been given.

I was worried because Steven and I had already made arrangements to take L and fly to Florida that Spring prior to his accident. Steven was to be the best man at his friend, Roberts' wedding. Our gift from Robert was lodging during our stay, but we, obviously, would pay for the flight.

I told my parents and friends that we weren't going. I was afraid that someone who had helped us might think that we were not respecting their contribution to us. Think that we were taking advantage of the situation. Of people's generosity.

The anonymous giver of the $200 really stuck in my mind. Not knowing them made me unable to explain to them the circumstances of this trip. Unable to explain that we "didn't ask for your money" and now we feel guilty for receiving it.

However, the response from relatives and friends alike was the same.

Everyone said we needed to go. If not for us, then for Robert.

"People who knew us would know the type of people we were"........ And I made up my mind that I would not keep what I had been given. Everything we received would somehow eventually be passed on to others.
*******************
As I recalled this period of my life many things became apparent to me. Instead of seeing this time through my eyes, I began to look at it through the giver's.

I realized that when giving, you experience a joy that can not be obtained any other way. In fact, times when I have given anonymously, I have felt even more joy than when someone felt the need to say "Thank you".

I didn't want a "thank you", I wanted to help. I didn't want to police what they did with what I gave, I just wanted to give. Paying the money and generosity forward have been big blessings in our lives. For me and for Steven.

I will admit I haven't always been this way.

Many times I thought that people waited for their hand out, with their hand out. I have seen first hand people who milk the system. It was, and sometimes still is, hard for me to reconcile the fact that I have to work hard for everything I have and others just take what they can get in the form of what others are willing to give.

However, somewhere along the line there became a shift in my way of thinking. I realized that it isn't my job to qualify or dis-qualify some one's worthiness to receive help.

Shouldn't I know first hand that an outsider looking in would think that we knew how to work it when we arrived home from Florida, relaxed and tan. (OK, I don't tan....but still.) If the people who had helped us had went around telling how they had helped and people had then viewed us through those skeptical eyes, they too, would probably think that we had pulled the wool over every one's eyes and that we had sat with OUR hand out.

But we didn't ask for help.

And people gave anyway.

And THEY didn't ask for thanks.


"But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. " Matthew 6:3-4

So this post is serving as a reminder to myself that giving, without getting anything in return, is the best type of giving. I hope to strive to continually do more.

"Paying forward" the generosity that was bestowed on us has blessed us far beyond the original 'gifts' we received.

Almost 6 years later, I wish I knew who to thank, not for the money and the 'help' they provided, but for changing me and the way I look at giving to others.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Family Tradition

There has not been a Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa S's, that I have missed in my 33 years of age.


When I was young this Christmas was celebrated on Christmas Eve. Come rain, snow, sleet or hail, we were there. I remember the snow being so deep that I worried that we wouldn't make it to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Once, we almost didn't.


After being pulled out of the ditch, we carried on our way.


As a child I remember everyone sitting down at a feast. A feast. There really was no other word for it. There was more food than you can imagine.


And we used real dishes. And glasses. And silverware.


This, of course, was torture.


You see, as a child, it was a well known fact that the presents couldn't be opened until the table was cleared and the dishes were washed. It took FOREVER!


The kids would then gather around and one of the older grandkids would play "Santa" and pass out all of the presents.


After the gifts were opened, adults and kids alike, visited and told stories, some of them for the thousandth time. Then when everyone started winding down, it was time to bundle up and head out as everyone went to Midnight Mass. Together.

***********************

I can say without hesitation that these times were some of the best of my life.

***********************

Our family is a diverse group of people. All the same and all VERY different. Honestly, I am quite sure that if not related, there are several that wouldn't choose to spend their holiday season together.


But they do. And they get along. And during this time they find allegiances and common ground.

And I love this.

My favorite part is drifting from room to room, hearing what everyone was talking about and what stories were being retold for the 33rd time.

Last time I counted there were over 50 people that celebrated with us. Together in a house that is maybe 1000 sq feet.





The house looks the same as it did 33 years ago. Most of the furniture is the same too. Same curtains, same dishes, same cups.

However, now that the group has increased dramatically in size, those cups and dishes stay put in the cabinet and they use plastic dinnerware.

I believe that this is the sole reason that this current generation lacks patience.

This, however, is only a small example of the way that time has a way of changing things.

*********************

Grandpa passed away in 1998. He was one of the biggest kids there were. Even in his 80's, he loved Christmas like a child.

Grandma is now 91 years old.

Her mind is all but gone.

An aunt came to live with her several months ago and Grandma keeps forgetting that they live there and believes that they are visiting. Her memory spans only a few moments.

This year as I was preparing food I thought of how I loved this time....and how it made parts of the person I am now.

I knew that with Grandma's health and age, there was a distinct possibility of this being the last Christmas celebrated with Grandma S. Although it pains me to admit it, with the passing of Grandma, will most likely be the passing of this tradition.

*******************

Late last night and into this morning, L was stricken by the stomach flu. In fact, I am currently writing this while lying next to her in bed while watching "Eloise-Miss Merry Christmas", while Steven and B are at Grandma's eating and visiting with family.

Although as a mother, there is nowhere else I would rather be than with my child, I think that this serves as a blatant reminder that we should never take for granted that which we hold dear. Just yesterday I was thinking how this year's Christmas celebration at Grandma's might be my last and how it pained me to think of it as even a possibility, and now I am thinking about how LAST year's Christmas celebration might have been.

Who knows, I hope there are many more and I hope Grandma is there with us at them.

However, as a realist I know that time passes and things change.

********************

With each new day comes a strong reminder that I am no longer the child I used to be.......


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another giveaway....

If you scrapbook, this is the link for you.


SVG cuts is giving away a Cricut (love this machine) and the Sure Cuts a Lot software (love this too!).


Click here to enter for your very own chance to win.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wave on wave

Do you ever have those moments?

You know the kind...? Moments when you are knocked over by a wave of surrealism.

The other night I had a moment.

************

My daughter was lying asleep in my arms. The love in my heart was consuming me....but in the recess of my mind, another emotion began slipping up on me.

It felt like a million emotions whirled into one: Anxiety, Disbelief, Love, Adoration, Inadequacy, Depression, Pride, Doubt, Fear.....you name it.

You see, in the moment that I was lying her down in her bed, while she was peacefully asleep for the night, I couldn't help but be overcome by a single thought, "I am a MOTHER!?!"

**************
Now, I realize that you might be thinking that I have had over 6 years to come to terms with this. It isn't anything new. I mean, come on, I have been a mother for some time.

For that matter, I was mothering my sister long before I ever had kids.

However, in that moment I felt like a kid, playing the role of a mom. It happens occasionally. The thoughts consume me....

Who am I? A mother, daughter, sister, wife, child....
How did I get here?
I can't possibly be a 33 year old WOMAN with a husband and two kids!
Where did the years go?
When did I decide that I had what it takes to be a mom?
How did this happen?


(OK, OK, I realize HOW it happened....)

However, the inadequacy that was welling up in me was so overwhelming I had to fight off tears. In that moment I felt crushed by everything I didn't know about being a mom. I didn't have the all the right answers...I didn't do all the right things.... I am unsure about every decision I make.

It was scary.


How could I be in charge of this life? And my children....they never even question my charge. Or me.

I thought of all the questions that had been asked of me over the last six and a half years. Questions as simple as "What's that?" to as big as "Who is God?". My answer, when given, was accepted as, well, the "Gospel".

How could my children place this much faith in me? Can't they see that I am STILL, at 33 years of age, figuring out the answers. Can't they see I am a fraud?

The fear and anxiety followed the tears. How could they not see through me and see everything I lack?

I was shaken. I mean, when I thought about it, really, really thought about it, I realized that the answers I believed, the answers I held onto as the utmost truth, were given to me by my mother.

My mother. A wife at the age of 18 and a mom at the age of 21. My mother. The one I went to with questions big and small and as a child, her answers I never doubted. At such a young age there was definitely no way that she had the CORRECT answers to all the questions I had..... Yet I believed.

Could all that I have built myself on be as insecure as the foundation that I apparently am giving my kids?


Because, seriously, what do I know? Sometimes I stumble through this life I have been given.

*****************

All of the peace, contentment and firmness in faith I felt as a child came into question in that moment.

There are very few things that I feel that I can answer without a shadow of a doubt. And almost unfailingly, the ones that truly, ultimately matter don't fall into that category.

I hope that in the end, what will matter, is that I love my children with every fiber of my being. It is in loving my children that 'stumbling through life' becomes transformed into running, jumping and skipping through life. It is with childlike abandon that I love them. Wrong, right or somewhere in between - I always do what I think is the best at that moment. Or at least I try to.

I hope that as their living 'moral compass' I am pointing them in the direction that they are intended to go. I know that more often than not, I practice the "do as I say, not as I do" method of parenting.... Another evidence of my lack of answers, experience and 'know-how'.

Despite all of this, I hope that my children find peace in my love. Maybe it is because they are blind to my individual insecurities that they are able to see my love clearly. If peace is not found in the answers, then at least, at the very least, in the love.

I hope that I can continue to find peace in knowing that my mother did the same and although, as an adult, when I question some of her "answers", I cling to the realization that she did the best she could with the knowledge and experience she had been given. She has surely faced the same kind of doubt and insecurity that sometimes swallows me....but in the end what matters, or at least I pray is what matters, is that she pushed aside her own insecurity and doubts and gave me the best love she could.

Her best. My best.

Our best.

That is, after all, all any of us can do.

'Tis the season of giveaways...

Boo Mama is having yet ANOTHER giveaway today.


IT is a good one too!


I mean, really, I personally do not know someone who wouldn't like a HP Touchsmart 600?



You either?


See what I mean?
Click here and enter for your very own chance to win. If you do, invite me over for a playdate!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

You will really want to win this....

I don't know anyone that doesn't love them some beauty products. I have tried and tried different cremes, potions, magic spells....you name it.

I could still use some help.


That being said, today I entered a contest on BooMama's blog that is giving away $500 worth of L'Bel Paris skin care products. If you would like to enter this contest, click here.



Good luck!

If you win, please share with me! Please! Pretty please?


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Just a question.

(Insert any given situation here)

Do you stand up, speak up, and prevent yourself from being pushed over and around? Even if you know that it will change nothing in the long run and cause hurt feelings in the short run?

Or

Do you swallow your words, and pride, and sit back down and carry on?


Anyone and everyone, please tell me...what do you do and what do you think should be done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

9 years and counting....

Nine years ago, today, I experienced the best kiss of my life.

Happy Anniversary Steven. I love you more than words could ever say.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I sure would cut a lot, if I had the time....

If you own a cricut, as well as the "Sure Cuts A Lot" software, then I have a contest for you.

If you click on over to the SVGCuts.com you can sign up to be one of four $25.00 gift certificate winners to be used towards expanding your SVG library.

I wonder if I win if I will be also given the time to actually use my cricut....?

A girl can dream, right?

Oh, also, if you don't have a cricut...then sign up anyway and send me the gift certificate when you win.

THANKYOUVERYMUCH!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I might as well be writing about radioactive spiders and kryptonite.

As I walked into Wal-Mart, my phone rang.

Hello?

It was my friend, Andrea, telling me how she had finished another Janet Evanovich book....

I had turned her onto the Stephanie Plum series a few weeks prior. She was hooked.

We chatted awhile and she said, "Did you get it?"

"No."

"Where are you?"

"Wal-Mart."

"Get it now!"

Having always been the type that follows and doesn't 'rock the boat', I knew that I had to. I only wish I would have been prepared.

You see, I needed a disguise. Hat. Sunglasses. The whole works.

Maybe even the glasses with the nose and mustache attached.

I casually sauntered over to the shelf and retrieved the item, glancing around to see if anyone had noticed. Making a b-line for the register I was relieved when I arrived without interruption, unloaded my stuff onto the conveyor, and casually made conversation with the checkout girl.

As she began to scan the item that I had diligently covered up with other merchandise, the tiny, little pre-teen girl in line behind me let out a squeal and exclaimed....."TWILIGHT! I love that book!"

Great.

I was outed. I didn't even want to buy the stupid book. Why did I have to agree to read it if Andrea would read the books I suggested?

I tried to conjure up a little bit of pride and while walking backwards explained away my purchase before turning and darting out the door.

Okay, maybe it didn't happen quite like that. But close. Really close.

***************

I couldn't believe I was going to read a book about Vampires. I mean, come on. I like stories I can relate to. I am not into the supernatural. I don't watch Star Wars.... never liked scary movies with monsters. I want my entertainment to be real.....possible.....

I made my way back to work and since the afternoon was a slow one, I decided that I would go ahead and get it over with.

I opened the book.

I read for two hours straight at work. Left. Picked up the kids from daycare. Came home...read while peeing on the toilet. Got ready to go Branson to see the Christmas lights and then read, by light of my cell phone, all the way to Branson as Steven shook his head beside me.

And then again on the way back home.

I woke up the next morning and read for an hour and a half.....and finished the book.

Like an addict needing his next hit, I couldn't get to Wal-Mart fast enough to purchase the sequel, "New Moon".

I was entrenched in the story, I was in love with the characters and I was as sexually frustrated as a 32 year old woman could be. (Steven later took care of that....ahem....)

Suffice it to say that I read all four books in a weeks time.

I could not, and still can't, believe that young kids are reading these books.

Was I the only one affected in this way? Has some sort of twisted desire been deprived for too long?

You will just have to trust me, but I don't think so.

In February a group of 15 friends went to see the movie.


I found that I was definitely NOT alone. In fact, have yet to meet someone who has read the book that didn't find themselves drawn in.

That alone helps some of the shame fade away yet I still find myself apologizing that I would read such a book.

You know, kind of how a addict knows that what he is doing is wrong.

We He I just can't help it.



I am getting my next hit on Saturday.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Who knew....?

Seventeen years ago today, I went on my first date ever. It happened to be with my husband.




Yep. I was hooked from the beginning and starting at the ripe old age of 16, dated him for 8 years.




In twelve days, we will celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary.




****************




I have touched on the drama that surrounded our "courtship".




I attribute much of it to our young age.




In fact, almost daily I am surprised by the fact that we seem to be "normal"...and I use that term loosely...adults.




Maybe it is good not to be too normal? Right?




I mean, because of him I laugh almost daily. He has a way of making the most mundane things funny.




For instance.....




Last night as I was going through my nightly bedtime ritual, Steven jumped in the shower. As he finished up, he stepped out, elaborately wrapped the towel around his wet hair in the form of a turban (yes, as I would do), stepped in front of the full length mirror and began flexing his muscles and posing.




Then, as if none of that had just transpired, he peered into the mirror, stroked his 'beard' and commented how nice his facial had hair looked since the beginning of "No-Shave November". He then removed the turban and began elaborately feathering his hair, YES, I said 'feathering his hair', back. The hair that is always covered in a cowboy hat.




All I could do is laugh at the absurdity.




******************




I hope that everyone gets to experience these kind of silly, crazy, sometimes stupid moments with their loved one.




You know the kind. I know that I do.




Moments where I find myself wondering how in the world I ended up with this man.....and thanking God at the same moment that I did.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Prayers...

Stellan can use them....now!

I do not personally know Stellan or his mother, but she has touched me through her blog, www.mycharmingkids.net .

Please be praying for Stellan today.

You can visit her blog and follow her on twitter for updates.

Thanks!

Monday, November 02, 2009

If you ever had any doubts about my dorkiness....

Last Friday night, I went on a quick trip with a friend and our kiddos.

We left the school after the kid's Halloween parties and headed on our way. The trip was a quick one and we arrived back to town just over two hours later.

On the return home my friend and I was talking about all the excitement that our small town had seen in the last week; One, our hometown bank was robbed at gunpoint and two, there was a high speed chase through several counties ending just five miles from town.

During the course of the conversation, my friend mentioned that she wondered just how the interstate could be closed off ....especially allowing enough time for the spikes to be laid down. (You know, the spikes that deflate the tires.)

I told her that, indeed, they do shut the interstate down and that I knew this first hand. Many years ago, on my way to a gynecologist appointment (of all places), I found myself on the interstate with NO ONE around except a couple other cars. Moments after realizing that something was amiss, I noticed the car, presumably the one causing the pursuit was heading down the interstate, in my direction, in my lane, followed by the most Highway Patrol cars that I have ever seen in one place.

Needless to say, I was fine, spikes were laid down, traffic was stopped....but the car jumped the median, ended up on the outer road and wasn't stopped until many hours and counties had passed.

The point of this story is that, although my friend has only known me for a little over a year, she wasn't surprised that I would end up in this, less than stellar, situation.

***************

She dropped me back off at my car and the kids and I headed home.

I got home and started to unload the car and sort and divide the candy, treats and costumes. Amid all of the shuffling it became obvious that I had forgotten my camera....somewhere.

Normally I keep it in my purse but when arriving at school, in time for the party, I had transferred only the essential items over into a pumpkin basket....keys, phone, camera.

I took tons of pictures and tried not to be too sentimental over the fact that my baby was in the FIRST GRADE.

As the party started to round up and kids started getting ready to leave for the day, I helped the teacher pick up and then headed down to my friends classroom, and we then left on our escapade.

Because of this I knew my camera was either in L's classroom, my friends classroom or in her van.

Wasn't it?

I called her and left a message because I was really needing some piece of mind. I was already constructing a "call list" in my mind of parents I could call to see if they had any of the pics I would have lost....B's preschool party, B's daycare party and L's 1st grade party....

My stomach hurt just thinking about it.

She called back and she had checked her van...to no avail.

Then, she told me that she was needing to run to the school and she would just meet me up there. (Likely story)

We met and I ran into the school to retrieve my camera.

It wasn't there.

I checked both classrooms. We scourged her van, again!

It wasn't there.

In an effort to calm my fears....the fears that I thought I was doing a good job of hiding....my friend called some of her school contacts to get the number of the elementary secretary (on a Friday night, at 8:00 pm) to see if my camera had been turned into the "lost and found"....

No one had her number and it was unlisted.

Without me knowing who she was calling, my (sneaky) friend called the school principal. She found out that, indeed, a camera HAD been turned in. Then she was told where it was put.

I was relieved and felt indebted to my friend. She ran into the school and returned a few minutes later. Her words WEREN'T comforting.

She informed me that, once inside, she discovered that something was locked and, you guessed it, the principal had the key. While inside she called the principal, and she said that she would return to the school AT EIGHT O'CLOCK ON A FRIDAY EVENING, to get my camera that I had left in my absent mindedness.

OK, the absent mindedness part was my own thoughts....but still.

My friend suggested that I get my car and pull it around to the closest entrance and that we would wait for her there.

I got into my car and realized that I couldn't even turn the key.

Nice.

**************

You see, a little over a year ago, we bought a car. My primary vehicle had been a Ford F150 quad cab and when gas reached $4 a gallon.....well, it wasn't a very economical choice, especially when I was driving several miles to work, three days a week. One day, while looking around Craigslist I found a four door Saturn for $1500, with only 91,000 miles.

Jackpot.

I put a "pen to it" and figured that if the car made it until October (2008) that it would have paid for itself just in the gas money saved alone.

It wasn't a fancy car...obviously, but it wasn't in bad shape and it ran well.

The only complaints that I had was that the dark green color was NOT a good choice when living on a gravel road, the small size and the fact that occasionally the steering wheel would "lock", preventing the key from even turning in the ignition, then without reason, it would turn and you could go on your way.

***************

Friday night, of course, the key didn't even want to turn. Not even a little bit. As I sat in my car, after what felt like hours, I could just imagine that the principal would arrive, not only to retrieve my camera but to give me a lift home.

I jerked the steering wheel, this way and that, hoping that something would give.

As the panic started rising, the key turned and the car started right up.

I breathed a little easier and pulled the car on around.

The principal came, the camera was retrieved, thanks was given and I was ready to get home.

My friend told me she would wait and see if the car would start again.

It did, without hesitation. We laughed at my luck and went our separate ways. I noticed that the gas tank was low and pulled into a gas station. As I looked inside I noticed that a girl I had went to school with was working the counter. Considering the fact that I had jumped out of the bathtub and headed to town when I got word, I knew that I was looking pretty haggard and worn. I decided that the "pay at the pump" option would be best.

You see, this girl, back in Jr. High, had made my life miserable. I was a follower. I wanted desperately to be accepted. It seemed like some girls picked up on this immediately and manipulated it to fit their agenda.

She was one of these girls. My experience with her was not a good one.

I heard the familiar "click", jumped out of the car, grabbed my receipt, jumped back in and shut the door behind me.

Finally.

After what was supposed to be a short trip had turned into a hour and a half escapade, I was ready to get home.

I held my breath and then breathed a sigh of relief when the key turned. Thankfully it wasn't locked.

My relief was short lived when I realized that when it turned....it turned ALL THE WAY, and nothing.

No crank, no fire, nothing.

Lights shining brightly, radio blaring loudly. Obviously not the battery....but nothing.

I tried again.

Still....nothing.

I glanced over my shoulder to see my schoolmate walking back and forth, occasionally glancing outside, probably wondering why I hadn't left since I had already paid.

I called Steven and in a very condensed and exasperated version, told him what was going on. He told me he would be there shortly.

Not wanting to draw any attention to myself, I glanced inside, waited for her to move behind some food display, and then opened the car door and with ONE foot outside I pushed as hard as I could.

You know the small size that I had cursed before? Well, this time it came in pretty handy.

With one foot out, I pushed my car out of in front of the convenient store, until it picked up momentum, allowing it to coast to a stop in front of the nearby Laundromat.

I laughed at the absurdity of some of the situations I get into.

I called another friend who has known me since college and shared with her my current dilemma.

As I waited for Steven she got a play by play account, and when reaching the part of the story depicting the key turning without so much of a hint of its intended purpose, I turned the key again, as if to make sure that this was actually happening to me. It was. I said, "Can you believe it?" She laughingly replied, "This is you we are talking about....of course I can believe it!"

As Steven pulled in beside me I hung up and waited for him to come to my side. I opened my door and said, "Let me show you the symptoms..." He tried to tell me that he would see for himself but I beat him to it by turning the key myself.

The freaking car started right up!

He looked at me, shook his head, turned silently and got back into the truck.

In separate vehicles, we both drove back home.

*******************

The next day I forgot my camera at the church's Halloween party.

******************

Folks, I can't even make this stuff up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Come on....somebody back me up.

**First off, let me say that I appreciate all of you coming forward- not to mention the nice things that were said.

I never intended on it sounding like I was quitting, because, well, I'm not. Rather, it was because I like to know who is "listening". I do this whole blogging "gig" because I enjoy having a piece of "recorded history" not because I care if anyone else reads. That being said, when I see the site meter go up and I know that people are out there, I can't help but wonder who. Then, when I write and no one comments, I get to thinking maybe I am just a freak show. (Wait! Definitely don't comment on that!) Considering my blog "recorded history" might be stretching it a little, considering what I write about but, still, I don't want to forget these days of my life......

(key soap opera music)

*******

Carrying on.

I have written many times about my husband. Generally it is while I am singing his praises as a hard worker and the hands-down, best dad, I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Occasionally you get a glimpse of his bad timing.

He is a great guy. Sure, there are times that I would argue why he isn't "that great"....but don't we all have those times?

Last night, I started thinking about this blog and how there is one side of Steven that I haven't adequately portrayed.

His sense of humor.

You see, most people upon meeting my husband, comment on his quietness and how that is in direct conflict with my lack thereof.

(Seriously, what are they saying?)

But, what people find out is that my husband is the sneaky kind of quiet. You know, the kind of quiet that leaves people unassuming until WHAM, he issues that "one liner" that leaves everyone laughing and shaking their heads.

Together, we have had some good times.

However, many times our joking sometimes blurs the lines of material that other couples might deem as "off limits".

Case in point:

A couple of years ago my husband was working for a gentleman that had been married for several years. When joking once with my husband, he revealed that he and his wife had picked out "back ups".

Steven asked what he meant by a "back up" and he (laughingly) explained that they didn't want to have to spend unnecessary time looking for someone to fill their spouses shoes if something were to happen to them.

So, as you can imagine, since then Steven and I have worked tirelessly to find someone that we deem worthy of being our "back up".

I offer suggestions to him on girls that might work, and generally he weeds through them fairly quickly. In fact, I have to laugh that his criteria has now shifted to someone that is -and I quote - "a little trashy" and wears boots.....with it being an added bonus if they are blond.

Ahem.

I am not blond.

The trashy-ness is up in the air and I have only been known to wear boots...sometimes.

I don't know about you but I think his "type" might have changed over the last 17 years.

I, on the other hand, am not even sure what my requirements are....but being able to cook for me would be a definite bonus.

*****************

About six months ago Steven thought that he had spotted a potential back up, pumping her gas at the gas station. He tried to describe her to me and I would try and see if I thought I knew her. I didn't.

Finally, one day we pulled up to the grocery store and he spotted her vehicle. He told me to look for her inside.

I looked and I found.

It was the boots that gave her away, oh, and the bleached blond hair.

Now...please don't get me wrong. She seemed perfectly nice- if a person can "seem nice" as you are watching from a distance. But you see, I am picking out someone for my husband and when I saw her...I couldn't help but think that he could do better.

Seriously.

Once I checked out and returned to the truck I informed him that he had set his sights entirely too low.

He claimed that it was 5:30 a.m. when he saw her and maybe it was too dark to really judge her very well.

Then.... we knew that he was back to square one.

Please note, that I, had never moved from square one.

************

A couple of weeks ago I called to see if Steven could pick up L from school. He said that he could and laughed. I asked him what was so funny and he said, "Do you think Mrs. ***** will be helping the kids in the car today?"

I said, "Hmmm, I don't know. Is she your new back up?"

He answered...."I think she might be....."

*************

A few days after this conversation we went over to the home of one of Steven's friends. He trains horses and he and Steven had bonded over their shared love of horses and buggies. They both had a trail ride they were participating in that coming weekend. Justin was supposed to pull a wagon and give rides....and he joked that he was hoping it was to attractive cowgirls. Not because he needed a back-up, because Justin is single. I think he just needed....well....hmmm.

I think we all know what he "needed"...and I use the term "needed" loosely.

As you can imagine the conversation, somehow, went South - as it generally does when you are around men.

What? That doesn't happen around you?

Anyway, during the course of the conversation I revealed to Justin that my husband has "back-ups" or at the very least, is always looking for one. I, on the other hand, hadn't ever found one.

I told him that Mrs. ***** was Steven's new back up. Justin nodded. He thought that she was a good choice. I told him that he had better watch out because Steven would be sizing up all those women he was hoping to cart around, especially the tall, thin, blond cowgirls.

That is when Justin said, "I would rather my women be too big, than too small."

Time stopped.

I raised my eyes to meet Steven's. He smiled. Then we laughed.

He turned to Justin and said, "I think Kim has just found her back up. She might even be in love."

Later, as we were rounding up to leave, something was said about Justin finding a woman and he made the comment, "Big Daddy (yes, that is what he referred to himself as) isn't looking."

I think I was just turned down as having a possible "back up".

This is High School all over again. Hhhmmmpppff.
**************

When dropping L off at school one day, I stopped in and was talking to a couple of friends of mine who teach at the school. They were talking about husbands and jealousy and I mentioned that I think, some how, some way, Steven and I beat that horse to death during our eight years of dating.

Jealousy wasn't an issue we struggled with.

I related to my friends that if anyone should be jealous it would be me. We laughed at the fact that even into adulthood, many things don't change.

Back in the day, Steven had many girlfriends. However, Steven was MY only boyfriend.

"See what I mean about things not changing? I mean, even Justin didn't want to be MY backup."

We laughed and then went on our separate ways.

******************

Unfortunately for Steven, he later found out that Mrs. ***** is apparently not a good match for him. That is unless he wanted to live with a "terror". Yes, I do believe that was the exact words used to describe her from people who "know".

Now Steven, too, is back at square one.

However, as sometimes happens in small towns, I think that Mrs. ***** caught wind of her initial title as "back up" and hasn't heard that she isn't anymore.

Steven, when picking up L, has gotten some extra smiles and a wink when loading L into the car.

OK. I totally made up the last part about the wink, but still. :)

So, although he has moved on, she hasn't.


I just feel so sorry for him! ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lurkers,....come out, come out, wherever you are.

I have been thinking about my blog lately.

A little over a year ago I started blogging again. I had quit blogging for over a year and I went back and read some of the things I had written about my kids, I knew that I didn't want to lose those thoughts. So, I started again.

Then I started hearing from some people that "claim" to read my blog. I thought, "Wow, people actually READ what I write? Interesting... Kind of creates pressure, but still, interesting". That being said, you would never know it from the comment section.

NOBODY EVER COMMENTS. OK, Sarah. You comment, but you are my sister and you HAVE to.

So, I am issuing this request. If you are a lurker who reads and doesn't comment, please do. You don't have to tell me who you are, but I think it might be interesting to see who is really out there.....or not.

(This will be the post NO ONE comments on! Take my word for it!)

Anyway, considered yourself challenged.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Longing...

This month has been hectic and it seems as if a million things have been going on.


On top of that, the rush that takes place every night to get the kids into bed "on time" so they get enough rest for school is enough to wear a person out.


As I was going through my pics I saw this one, and it made me miss summer, longer days and lazy nights spent together just enjoying life and one another.

Only seven more months until summer vacation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Being a responsible pet owner feels somewhat irresponsible

This spring we found that our two cats, which we had taken in the year before, had given birth.

Both of them. Days apart.

The result? 10 kittens.

We quickly starting hitting up anyone and everyone we knew to take a kitten once they reached weaning age. We had told the kids that they could each keep one.

The mothers, who had been raised together, kept both litters in a single box we had provided.

They lived in harmony, kittens nursing off of one and then later, another.

We didn't know whose kittens were whose.

However, one morning, the peaceful living conditions ceased to exist. Miss L came in the house and told me that there was something "really bad wrong" and that Mr. B's cat was making a weird noise.

I went outside to see that, in fact, she was right. The noise WAS really weird. Apparently the two adult cats had decided that they liked each other NO LONGER.

A couple of hours later Steven spotted Miss L's cat carrying kittens across the yard. Later we tracked her and recovered two out of four kittens that she had moved.

So, at this point, we had one mother and seven kittens that we were caring for. There were two kittens and one mother that were MIA.

We found homes for all the kittens except for the two that the kids decided to keep and we were down to three cats: Mr. B's momma cat, and two male kittens.

A week later, Miss L's MIA mother and her two kittens returned home. They kept to themselves, preferring the deck to the security of the shed.

*************

A couple of months later, after returning home from vacation, Steven discovered that Mr. B's mother cat had given birth, once again. This time we had four kittens-one male and three females.

I knew that this vicious circle had to end.

Since Mr. B's mother cat was still nursing her kittens, I scheduled Miss L's cat an appointment to "be fixed". I took her to the vet and the deed was done.

*************
That evening my dad came over to our house. He asked about my day and I shared with him about the cat and the trip to the vet.

He laughed. In fact, it was kind of a mocking type of laugh. Then he said, "You know, it will probably get ran over next week."

Now, before you think my dad is completely hard hearted- or psychic- please know this: What he said came from years and years of experience.

You see, only in the last 15 years has my dad even taken any pet to the vet. Even then, it was only because his dog had been hit by a car and there was a fear that it wouldn't live without some veterinary intervention. And, incidentally, he was kind of fond of THAT dog.

Growing up on a farm, we were used to having barn cats come and go. In fact, every dog that I have ever owned has died prematurely. And by prematurely, I mean, not by natural causes. Trust me, there is nothing natural about tire tracks.

My current dog, Daisy, which I have had since 1998, has outlived any other dog I have ever had and even she was hit by a car early in her life. She, however, lived to "tell" about it. Once I was married I left home and the highway, and followed Steven to the 'Lotta Rock Ranch', which was located off the beaten path. This alone might account for the fact that, this year, Daisy turned 11.

So, I could appreciate where he was coming from and laughed at the luck that he has always had. I knew what had come to shape his philosophy about animals: "If it doesn't make you any money, then you don't spend any money on it."

Because, most likely, it won't be around for long.

********************
That conversation took place about a month and a half ago.

Miss L's cat, the one that we spent $60.00 on and had "fixed", has, officially, been missing for about three weeks.

I haven't seen any "tire tracks", but I haven't seen any cat either.

Go figure.

Friday, October 09, 2009

They tell me you want me....

A couple of years ago, almost to the day, my sister and I went with my mom and a couple of friends, to Columbia, MO to see Elton John. You can read about it here.

It was great. No, it was better than great.

Regardless of what your feelings are about the man personally, I can't imagine that anyone could discredit his ability as a musician. The concert was everything I thought it would be and more.

Although my sister, 10 years my junior, was somewhat limited in her Elton John exposure, she had as much fun as I did. On the ride home we talked about all the concerts we had been to (and, yes, the list was lengthy) and all the concerts we still wanted to attend.

I told her that I felt like I had enjoyed so many different types of concerts, venues, etc, that I would really be alright if I never got to see another one. Not that I hoped it would come to that, but if it did.... (selflessly) I would survive.

I explained to her that there were only two artists remaining that I could not say "No" to the possibility of seeing.


  1. Michael Jackson (never got the chance)
  2. Bon Jovi

Later that year my husband and I went to Las Vegas with some friends. I remember being in an elevator when my phone rang. My sister spoke urgently once I answered.

"Do you want to go see Bon Jovi?!?!?!?!!?!?!"

"When?"

"Yes or No - In or Out"

So, what could I say?

"In!"

*********************

As it turned out, the concert was in April.

Daughtry opened for them, which was perfect because:

  1. I love Daughtry and have ever since American Idol and
  2. As I mentioned before, with Sarah being 10 years my junior, Daughtry was more age appropriate for her than Bon Jovi....still, who doesn't love Bon Jovi?

My sister actually was first exposed to Bon Jovi back in 1990, when she was a ripe FOUR years old. You see, I was obsessed with the movie, Young Guns II.

Yeah, I don't know why either.

The only conclusion that I can draw is that my personality has a trait, a very DOMINANT trait, that causes me, when I really like something, to throw myself into it completely. Read this to mean that I owned the movie, bought the soundtrack and read encyclopedias and the TIME LIFE Gunfighter book series, to determine what in the movies was true and what was fabricated all in relation to Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett.

It was before the internet, or I would have spent hours "googling it" too.

Also, one of my personality "quirks", as I will call it, is that not only do I throw myself into "it" (the subject of the moment) completely, but I am also compelled to share it and the information that I have found with EVERYONE! And they must like it as much as me.

Period. I am an oversharer.

If you don't like whatever it is, as much as I do, I will then force feed you information coupled with all the reasons you should, until you relent and claim that you love it too.

Now, don't you want to be my friend?

I remember that my fourteen year old self listened to the Young Guns II soundtrack by Jon Bon Jovi so many times that I seriously thought that I was going to "wear out" the tape.

My sister and I would sit in my bedroom floor while it played.

Although I was fourteen and she was four, it was only us. Together. There were no other siblings and her company was enough. She looked up to me and I loved her.

The songs coming out of the 1 1/2 foot by 2 foot speakers would rill up the room and many good times were spent listening to the music.

*****************************

So, in April, my friend, Becky, Sarah and I, loaded up and headed towards Kansas City. We had, of course, brought along our iPod filled to the brim with Bon Jovi songs.

Becky was a hard core Bon Jovi fan and had even been to one of his concerts already.

Sarah and I were novice's; taking bets on what song would be the intro, what song would be the encore and if Daughtry would come out and sing, "Wanted Dead or Alive". (He didn't)

With Sarah's primary knowledge of Jon Bon Jovi being fed to her in the form of the Young Guns II soundtrack at such a young age, her points of reference were somewhat small.

She would throw out something like an enthusiastic "I bet he will end with 'Blaze of Glory!!!!'", to which Becky and I would be mentally shaking our heads at the obvious lack of diverse Bon Jovi knowledge....

It was the moment when Sarah said, "I can't wait 'til he plays 'Blood Money' that actually made Becky and I laugh out loud.

Or was it just me?

You see, I don't even know if Becky, whose knowledge of Bon Jovi far surpasses mine, even knew what the song 'Blood Money' was. And I, who was familiar with 'Blood Money', knew that the song never even made it to radio, wasn't all that popular, and even though I liked it (again, this encompassed all things Young Guns), I recognized that this was a song that would be voted "Most Likely To Be Fast Forwarded Through" if such an election existed for albums.

I chastised Sarah for such ridiculousness and we kept singing and moved on down the road.

***************************

We arrived at the venue in quite a thunderstorm. Being the losers we are, we sat in the car for a couple of hours and waited for the time to arrive that the doors would open.

Nope, no sight seeing or fancy restaurants for us.

Only car sitting and non-stop Bon Jovi playing.

Once in, we took our seats and waited for the show.

Daughtry came on and was excellent. My only complaint was that he wasn't on the big screen so I couldn't clearly see his adorable face.

Of course, when Bon Jovi took the stage, pandemonium erupted.

IT WAS GREAT!

I still can not believe the energy Jon possessed. The whole time he was running and singing and singing and running. The stage had many ramps and levels and there wasn't one he didn't visit.

I was worn out WAY before Jon was.

There was only once that he slowed down enough to catch his breath.

He pulled up a bar stool and 23,750 people hushed down to complete silence. He spoke a little to the audience and then pulled out his guitar.

The crowd waited in the silent anticipation.

Then, after a few acoustic strings were strung, LITERALLY two people out of 23,750 screamed and jumped to their feet.

Me and Sarah.

He was playing 'Blood Money' and I don't think that anybody else there either knew, or cared. I grabbed her and in my excitement for her, hugged her. While the people around us, including Becky, thought we were nuts, I knew that, in that moment, we had experienced a moment we wouldn't ever forget.

I believe that, in part, the song served as a reminder to us that even though we are years apart in age, we are inseparable in spirit.

I don't know two sisters who are closer.....or more alike. I am glad that at the age of four, she allowed me to "force feed" her my musical likes and dislikes -among MANY, MANY other things.

Those ten years separating us has narrowed. Of course, ten years is ten years. But the distance between four and fourteen is a canyon compared to the distance between 23 and 33. Although at four I loved her like I had never loved anything before, at 23, the love still grows.

I love her and I am thankful God gave me a sister who is also my best friend.


(This was obviously in Philadelphia, PA, not Columbia, MO. They seem to be a little more excited at 'Blood Money' than the Columbia crowd, but even they are a little weak. They needed us there to build their excitement.....! Or, Chris Daughtry to help sing, 'Blaze of Glory'! That seemed to work, too!)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Suggestions?

My blog is in need of a makeover.

It seems so drab and depressing, but I enjoy the personal touches that the banner designed by my friend Marlana added to it.

Right now, Marlana has a ton on her plate, and I wouldn't dream of asking for another design. That being said, I either need to design my own (stop laughing..OK, you are right, that would be impossible), find someone else who knows what they are doing or just leave it be.

Any ideas?

Angela, if you are still reading, are you into banners? I am good with a white background and a snazzy, kicky little banner. (I think I just propelled myself so deep into dorkdom with the use of the words "snazzy" and "kicky" in the same sentence that I will never again redeem myself....)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Set your VCR's....um, I mean, DVR's.

I wrote a couple of months ago about my friend, Marlana, and how her brother recieved ABC's Extreme Home Makeover. Need your memory refreshed? Click here.

Just thought I would pop in during my "sick leave" and let you know that the episode airs this Sunday.

So pop some popcorn, dim the lights, maybe light some candles, and then enjoy the show.

Feel free to now return to your regularly scheduled program.......

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The truth (and surgery) hurts....

Monday I had my gallbladder removed and yesterday Miss L had her tonsils and adenoids removed.

Last night we had several friends that stopped by or called, checking on her. Wanting her to feel every bit as loved as she is, I said, "Boy, you must be pretty special considering all the friends that are checking on you...." to which she replied, "yeah, nobody came to see you."

Ouch.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maybe the drugs will help....

I need to post something yet I can't even get motivated to do it.

A couple of weeks ago we went on a float trip with family and the pressure they put on me to blog about it was incredible and I feel as if anything I write will be insufficient.

(Do you guys feel guilty yet?)
*********************


Anyway, Monday I am having surgery to remove my gallbladder. Apparently I don't need it.

I am hoping the drugs they send me home with will cause me to be inspired, or at the very least, to hallucinate.

I am planning on returning to work on Wednesday (yes, I know, I am superwoman). As much as I would love to lie around and have someone wait on me hand and foot, I realize that will never happen in a million years and I might as well lie around and get paid for it at work.

That being said, I am only going to lie around at work for a couple of days before I take off again.

This time it is Miss L who will be having all the fun. They are removing her tonsils. (Apparently you don't need those either) Something about having strep 4-5 times last year and having it twice in the last month not being ideal. Who knew?

We really know how to do it right at our house!

********************
You know, if it weren't for my bosses and the understanding and compassion they show me, I don't know where I would be.


In fact, today, Dale told me that on Monday, Steven was welcome to swing by the funeral home prior to my surgery and pick up the funeral home suburban and a cot.....you know, "just in case".

He went on to explain that it would not only save Steven money (on transportation costs), but also save him (Dale) time.

They are so awesome.......

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I am no Pioneer Woman, but.....

Yesterday, apparently, I lost my mind.


You see, I decided to make cinnamon rolls. For me, this is about as normal as deciding to color my hair lime green.



I have never made cinnamon rolls. I have never made rolls. In fact, I have never made bread. Well, unless you count the "Amish Friendship Bread" that gets passed to me every once in a great while, and I don't. Count it, that is.

*****************

I guess I will blame it on Melanie, or "Big Mama" as she is known.


You see, I don't know her. She doesn't know me. But I read a post of hers about the cinnamon rolls she made from the Pioneer Woman's recipe (nope, don't know her either) and for some reason or another, I was inspired.


Or was it hungry?


Who knows, I so often confuse the two.

Anyway, I found myself thinking that, just maybe, I could do it: I, Kim, could bake.

(Hear the angels singing in the background?)
And so I did.
****************
Yesterday was the day.

I pulled out the directions and went to work. The first instruction was to mix the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a pan....and then "scald" it.


Let me tell you here and now that I was so glad that when the "Pioneer Woman" put these directions together she obviously knew that people like me would be using them.

And by "people like me" I mean "people who don't know what 'scald' actually means".

Let me clarify. I know that when I say that I have "scalded myself", I have obviously burnt myself with a hot liquid....but I didn't know what "scald" meant in the baking sense of the word.



Thanks to her I now know that it means "heat until just before boiling point". Bless her heart.

Since I find it hard to sit still, I went ahead and started getting the other ingredients ready to be added at their appropriate times.


I was feeling very domestic as I was watching Ellen DeGeneres and MAKING CINNAMON ROLLS...... until Ellen said something funny and I looked up and lost count of how many cups of flour I had already added to the bowl.

Oh. Yes. I. Did.

I actually had to get another bowl and recount the cups as I dipped the flour back out of one bowl and put them in another.


Yes, I had added one cup too many.


This, right here, is why I don't bake: A.D.D.

****************

I got back on track and when the time was right added the 'called for' ingredients and waited for my dough to rise. With my fingers crossed.

And it did. Rise, that is.


I then floured my counter top and separated the dough in half and started rolling. It became apparent that I hadn't quite allowed enough room and had to pinch off pieces of the dough and reposition them on the other end before flattening it with the rolling pin.

It was a very scientific process.

Here is where I feel the need to say that if you are on a diet, these rolls are not for you. That is due in part to the cup of melted butter that I then poured on the top of the dough before covering it with sugar and cinnamon.


When I started rolling the dough with my hands I realized, with my limited baking knowledge, that I probably should have put a little more flour in the dough. It was sticky and not wanting to let go of the counter.


I noticed that some of the "toppings" were oozing off the dough and rolling down the front of my cabinets and, ultimately, ending up down on my floor.

Being labeled as a "clean freak" (which I am not), I found myself wanting to clean this up immediately. With my tongue.


I added more flour to the other half of the dough which resulted in half of them looking very cinnamon roll-ish and half of them looking very cinnamon glob-ish.

Exhibit A: Cinnamon rolls

Exhibit B: Cinnamon globs


The recipe made SEVEN pans of cinnamon rolls/globs.

I put them in the oven and began making the icing. I have to say when a recipe starts out with one (whole) bag of powdered sugar, you simply can't go wrong.

Mr. B, who had wanted to get in on the action the whole time, helped by mixing the icing ingredients together until they were just right. Or he was done. Whatever came first.

I waited anxiously to see how they turned out.....and I was surprised to see this:

I mean, they actually resemble CINNAMON ROLLS. Who would have thought it?

They tasted good too. Or at least I thought so. Even the cinnamon "globs". I think the fact that Steven is now working on finishing off his second pan indicates that he does too.

He had better enjoy them because we gave the other five pans away lest I end up on next season's "The Biggest Loser". Not that I don't have self control or anything. I mean, I could totally stop eating them if I wanted to.

Ahem.

****************

If you didn't get one of the five pans I gave away, and you want your own, click here for the recipe. And, trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.




Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Who knew...

Mr. B, my (just turned) four year old son, climbed up in my lap yesterday and said, without any prelude:


"Deserts are hot during the day and cold at night..."


I laughed, and said, "That is right, how did you know that?"


To which he replied, "I read it in a book."


And here I didn't even know he could read..............


*******************

After visiting Urgent Care on Monday and finding out that Mr. B had strep throat for the SECOND TIME in two weeks, and after he received a shot of antibiotics, we went to Sonic for his favorite- a grilled cheese sandwich.


We waited for what seemed like forever. Finally, the car hop brought us our order and I situated his cup in his holder and handed him his sandwich.


I turned the car on and was pulling out of the parking lot when he said, "It's not just good, it's Sonic good."


I started laughing, amazed at his ability to remember and recall the most random things. When he heard me laughing, from the back seat he declared, "That's funny right there. I don't care who you are, that's funny."


I think I may have my hands full.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pulling his weight....

Today Steven was still home when I drug myself out of bed at 6:00 a.m.



Generally, at this time he has been gone for a good hour.



Working for himself, you would think that he would afford himself the luxury of at least waiting until daylight to start working.




No. Not my husband.




I walked into the kitchen and met him as he was coming in from the garage.



He had just changed the oil in his truck.



By. Six. O. Clock. In. The. Morning.



(I feel like such a slacker....)



"What is on your agenda today?", I asked, knowing that he never has anything BUT a full agenda.



"Well, I have to finish up a job and hang a couple of gates....then I have to go to town and get some more pipe, then I need to drop off a bill ...." as he kept talking I lost track of all the things to do on his 'to do' list.



Then he said, "I think I will take Mr. B with me".



This made me smile.



Steven is a hard worker. I have yet to meet someone who works harder.


Even more impressive is the fact that he is an outstanding father. I have yet to meet one better.




Mr. B was going to be so excited. He always is when he gets to work with his daddy.



I went into the bedroom and knelt down by the side of the bed, laying the upper portion of my body over the side, towards my baby.



He was sleeping and there is nothing as sweet, or as soft. I swept my hand along side of his face and whispered, "B, do you want to go to daycare? Or would you like to go to work with daddy today?"



My still sleeping boy (it was, after all, only six) rolled over and with his eyes still shut, a broad smile spread across his face as he whispered "daddy".

*********************

In a matter of minutes he was up, dressed, and out the door, clinging to his daddy's neck with a honey bun in his free hand.



As they loaded up preparing for the day, I began preparing for mine.



When I noticed they were about to leave I headed out to the garage and found myself at the passengers side of Steven's truck giving instructions to Mr. B.



"Make sure daddy drives safe."


"Mind daddy."


"Be good."


"Work hard."



The last one got a response. "I do work hard everyday. In my dirtpile."


And it is true. This boy of mine does work very hard at staying dirty.


Even though his 'work day' had yet to begin, I was pretty sure I knew what it held:


Chocolate milk,







dirty boots,


.....and big smiles.

You know, I always was a sucker for man who wasn't afraid to jump in and get his hands dirty.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

What a day....

This morning at 1:00 I was awakened by Steven shifting in the bed and Miss L crawling into the middle of us.

I could see his profile in the dark as he said, "She's hot."

"Mama, my head hurts really bad and my throat is sore."

Great.

We had finished ten days of amoxicillan a mere 36 hours before this to treat the strep throat that she developed only two days into the school year.

I was certain it was back. And I was right.

Miss L and strep throat go way back.....
******************
A shot and a referral to an ear, nose, throat doctor later, one thing became painfully clear.

Between my gallbladder issues, Mr. B having his ear tube removed and Miss L possibly losing her tonsils, I am going to go out on a limb and say that we will have more than our share of medical deductions this year on our taxes.

Isn't that worth something?

Yeah, you are right. It isn't.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Little teeth, big repercussions

Monday, on arriving at daycare to pick up Miss L, I found that a monumental moment had occured during the school hours, away from me and my watchful eye.

Yes, at the age of 6, she had lost her first tooth.

As she greeted me at the door with a jump and a finger pointing to the gaping hole in her mouth, she exclaimed, "I LOST MY TOOTH!"






I congratulated her, hugged and kissed her, and took a picture with my cell phone to send to her daddy. She knew he would be excited too.

Since her daddy was working out of town and unable to join in the happy occasion, we invited MiMi and Papa, and Uncle Jason and Aunt Sissy to come over, eat pizza and celebrate this important moment.

*******************

Underneath all of the celebratory happenings I was a little sad.

It felt too official. Almost as if, now, there really was no turning back.

She is growing up. Period.

Almost as sad is the fact that this is, indeed, the beginning of the ugly, awkward period that follows.

(Did I just "say" that?)


(I will NEVER admit to saying that.....)


I can't be alone on this. We have all been there.

The cute, innocence of childhood starts eroding away and in its place is left too large, too crooked teeth and an "I know it all" adolescent that is seven going on seventeen......

OK, maybe that is an exaggeration.

Or, maybe it isn't.

Hopefully, for Miss L, the awkwardness (and the attitude) won't last too long.

Because, we all know, that if she takes after her mother, the awkwardness will follow her well into adulthood and the attitude won't be far behind.

Ahem.

**********************

For now, I choose to focus on the positive and embrace the joy that Miss L felt upon finally losing her tooth. She had, after all, been "wanting to lose a tooth for, like, the last five years."

And, right now, that is all that matters.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mississippi River can't keep us apart....

This year's vacation was going to be a new sort of vacation for me. That's right, a vacation with no planning.

Steven declared early on that we were to make NO reservations ahead of time, schedule nothing to constrain our time and take everything as it came.


So, we did.


We left out at 9:30 am which was going against everything I had ever been taught about vacation. That's right....."Thou shalt not leave house later than 7:00 a.m. on the first morning of vacation".


We drove for about 2 hours and ended up stopping in Mtn. View, MO. The town is only a bump in the road, but there was a nice little park that we decided would be perfect for a picnic lunch. With fried chicken from the night before, and drinks from the cooler, we ate and contemplated the beginning of our vacation.


After letting the kids run off some extra energy that they had accumulated from two hours in the car, we hit the road.

It wasn't much after this that I realized, and fully appreciated, a fear that I have developed since being a parent: Bridges.


Yes, bridges.



Isn't it crazy? As we drove over the bridge connecting Missouri to a very small portion of Illinois, and crossed the Mississippi River, I could almost feel the anxiety in my chest as my mind raced wondering that if, yes, if, the bridge were to collapse, what exactly would my plan be to get my children - and myself - out of the vehicle and to safety.


Steven? Well, Steven was on his own.


We no more than made contact with land before we crossed over another huge bridge, this time crossing the Ohio River, if I remember correctly. I have to admit that when we crossed the second bridge into Kentucky, I had the same sense of relief and completion that I have when a plane's wheels make contact with the runway.



Yes. I know. I need therapy.



That evening we arrived in Nashville, checked out the Opryland Resort, grabbed something to eat and started looking for a hotel. Of course, the only requirement was that the hotel MUST HAVE a pool.




We scoped out several places and did the required "drive around" until we saw the "perfect one". The kids enjoyed playing in the pool and would have been satisfied if that would have been the only place we stayed for the duration of our vacation.



That night as the kids and Steven lie sleeping in bed, I found myself warring with the idea of not having a place already lined up for us to stay in, in Gatlinburg. I got online and found a cabin that was available for the next two evenings. I roused Steven from his sleep and he muttered something that sounded a lot like "do whatever", and so I booked the cabin and crossed my fingers.





There is, after all, only so much you can find out about a place online. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but I am a talker and I need more like a million.


*********************************


The next morning we left, heading towards Gatlinburg, and the kids were being troopers.





We stopped at a rest stop in Tennessee and they played a game of tag. Afterwards they watched about an hour of a movie. There was only once when Mr. B decided that maybe he had had enough of Miss L and he just wanted some peace and quiet. This is how he decided to achieve it. I think it was a good alternative to handle the situation:


Maybe we should try this tactic at home..... I think I definately will.


Once in Pigeon Forge, we knew we were close to our destination. We stopped, picked up supplies, grabbed our place in traffic and made our way to our cabin.


Once there, I realized that the cabin was, incidentally, perfect for us.




Rustic looking- for Steven, modern conveniences (like internet)- for me and a hot tub for, um, the kids.



From this pic, I am not sure what they like more......the hot tub OR each other? Something is fishy.......


Maybe they were just being EXTRA good to prepare us for a long night spent walking the streets of Gatlinburg and playing "Dukes of Hazzard" miniature (indoor) golf.


Yes. Dukes of Hazzard.
To be honest, I don't care if I see another picture of Boss Hog for a long, long time.


**********************************

The next day we grabbed some pop tarts, some gas and some groceries and headed towards the National Park. The first area of interest, that we came upon, was Laurel Falls. I knew that this was supposed to be really pretty (thanks, TSK), so we stopped, got out and prepared to hike a little over a mile to see the falls.

After hiking a little over a 1/4 of the way, we came upon a hiker returning to the parking area. He told us that up ahead, a little over 100 yards, was a mother bear and two cubs.


It was at this point that I realized another fear of mine: my kids being attacked by a bear. Considering that there have only been "supposed" sightings of bears around our house, and no actual documentation of one, I don't have to actively worry about this at home. Here, confronted with a mother bear and two cubs, the fear seemed a little more real.


As we continued on, Steven and the kids excitedly closing the gap between themselves and the bear siting, I found myself thinking of what I could do to prevent us from being featured on the nightly news.




"Miss L, don't smack your gum and keep your mouth closed...."

Steven turned around and said, "Why does she have to keep her mouth closed?"



"Because.....I read that bears can SMELL food. We can do what we can to keep from tempting them.."

I think it was at this moment that I was completely solidified in Steven's mind as being totally crazy.

Truthfully, I am surprised it took this long.

*********************


As we reached the area that where the bears had been spotted, we found a few other people trying to get a good view.


Steven took the kids over to where the view was better. We were so excited that we all had the chance to see, not one, but three bears, out in the wild.

Although you had to peek through some pretty heavy brush cover, you could, indeed, see bears.


And, surprisingly, they didn't try to attack us....... Probably because they didn't smell Miss L's gum due to my wonderful advice and motherly instinct.

After this encounter I relaxed a little. Although the bear was, no doubt, very strong, I felt sure that Steven could, at the very least, put up a good enough fight that the kids and I could make it back to the truck in time.


Isn't that what husbands are for?


Finally we made it to the falls.....and it was beautiful. The kids took off their shoes and put their feet into the cold mountain water....





They loved it!


They also liked climbing on the rocks to "explore" and go on "adventures" surrounding the fall area.


We made our way back to the truck and couldn't wait to call Aunt Sissy. You see, Aunt Sissy and Uncle Jason had went on vacation to Colorado with Mi Mi and PaPa.


Steven didn't want to go.


At the time I pouted and complained and it was only made worse by a phone call from Aunt Sissy informing us that she had, indeed, seen a bear. I was so jealous....


But now....yes now..... we had seen three! Life was good. As I picked up the phone to make "the call" I realized that we had no service..... and wouldn't for the rest of the day.
So much for bragging..... it would have to wait.
********************************

We made our way down the road and found a nice picnic area along side a stream. We sat on a log and ate our picnic lunch.

********************************

As we continued on towards Cade's Cove, we passed by an apparent local attraction. It seemed to be where two mountain streams combined and then converged into one stream. At this junction there were adults and kids of all ages swimming, and floating in the water. People could be seen jumping off rocks in the form of cannonballs, only to surface with their teeth chattering and their lips turning blue.


I could only imagine how cold the water must be.


Of course, Miss L, only thinking of her love of water wanted to stop and swim. Mr. B, however, was just buying time until the evening, knowing that we had promised him a trip to Pigeon Forge to take his turn driving Go Carts. Steven told her that on our way back through, we would stop at the water "and wade".

****************************


We made our way to Cade's Cove and the beginning of the 11 mile loop. I love history and everything the discovery of it brings with it and it seemed as if this was the place for me!


Our first stop was the cabin of the first settler in Cade's Cove.

(I think Miss L likes to pose....)



We then got on the loop road and continued on. We turned off on a gravel road to head toward an 1800's Baptist Church.



It was a narrow road and we approached a car that was heading back to the loop road. We both commented on this car and how, instead of hugging her side of the road, she was somewhat in the middle of the road, preventing us from passing her.



It was then that I noticed her wildly waving at us to look to our left.



So, I looked.




Before my mind even had time to register what I was seeing, my body was moving. In one fluid motion I grabbed my camera, turned it on, crawled over the console, kneed Steven in the groin and hung the upper half of my body out of his, the driver's side, window to capture this shot:




OK, so now we had seen four bears.


********************

We stopped and enjoyed a couple other churches and cabins. We were a short distance away from the mill area which had several historical buildings and a visitors center, when I noticed a group of people standing on the side of the road, outside of their cars. As we narrowed the distance we noticed that there was also park rangers....doing their version of traffic control. As we passed by, some of the bystanders started pointing up. It was at this point that I leaned forward and looked up out of the windshield and noticed a bear, above us on a limb.




Now, we had seen five bears.
******************

With every bear siting, the size of the bears grew, as did the story the kids were going to recount to Aunt Sissy.


At the visitor's center, Miss L picked up a little stuffed black bear and showed it to me. Considering that the kids had asked for nothing, I told them that they could pick out a souvenir to take home.


Miss L, being practical and sentimental, clung to the original stuffed bear she had spotted. Mr. B, on the other hand, said he wanted a stuffed Robin.


"But Mr. B", I exclaimed, "a bear would remind you of our trip! Think of how many bears we have seen!'


To which he replied, "Yeah, but I saw a lot of birds too..... I want the bird!"


And so, he got the bird.

****************
We toured the old buildings, took many pictures and made wishes in the water trough of the old mill.

As we left, we again returned to the loop road and immediately spotted an old cemetery, with only a few cars. We turned into the cemetery lane and parked and got out. As we walked up to the few people there, they began to point and show us that up in the tree there was a mother and her three cubs.

Yes. Three cubs.


Nine bears total. (Take that Aunt Sissy!)


(Baby bear taking a nap...)

I only had time to take a picture or two before another bystander shouted, "The mother's coming down...."


Now, although I had only finished reading my "what to do during a bear encounter" manual, my mind erased any trace of the rule about not running. Because, I will be the first to tell you that I am a follower and when complete strangers find it necessary to run from the mother bear....then I follow right behind them and run too.

Miss L was in front of me and Steven and Mr. B were behind.


Or so I thought.


Primal fear, instinct, or maybe it was just a really good understanding of my husband, made me turn around and take inventory.

Miss L in front. Mr. B behind. Steven still watching the mother bear.


I picked up Mr. B and scooted Miss L along until we reached the truck. I quickly deposited them inside and told them to stay put.


I watched the mother bear turn and head into the woods. She looked bigger than the others and I was thankful that I didn't have to sacrifice Steven to her.

It might not have been a fair fight after all.


As I took my place along Steven I watched as the three cubs, one by one, decided to follow their mother.

Although I am not sure why I had the preconceived notion that bears descended from trees much in the same way a cat did, I quickly found out that I was wrong. In fact, I would liken it to that of a firefighter sliding down a pole.

Fast.


**************************

We headed back towards the cabin and as we closed in on the swimming hole, Steven and I found ourselves trying to make a deal with Miss L.

You see, we had been out the whole day and it was already after six. We saw that we could bypass the National Park and take a Hwy straight into Pigeon Forge. However, if the kids swam (in their clothes) we would have to go through the National Park and go on into Gatlinburg to our cabin and THEN go to Pigeon Forge.


The kids agreed that they would just wade in the water and then we would go straight into Pigeon Forge, eat and ride Go Carts.


Everything was fine and well until Mr. B, slipped and fell into the water.


Plan aborted.


We were obviously going to have to head to the cabin, after all, and change his clothes. I gave Miss L the "green light" to go ahead and get wet.


And she did.

And although her teeth were chattering, her lips were blue and goosebumps covered her body, she was "NOT COLD".

Mr. B, was cold and decided that swimming in the water wasn't for him. Instead, he threw stones while trying to keep from succombing to hypothermia.


After they decided they had enough, we stripped them down to their skin, wrapped them up in their blankets, and drove 30 miles to our cabin with our naked babies in the back.

***********************

The next day we decided to head towards Chattanooga, TN. Once there we took in the Incline Railway (major anxiety trigger for me) and the "largest model train in the South".


(Incline Railway, 73% grade)



The kids were intrigued by the mechanical make-up of the Incline Railway and wanted to see how it worked. A nice man that worked there told us where to go to see the pullies in motion.



The kids loved it. Mr. B echoed my own thoughts...."What happens if one of the cables break?"

He is SO my child.


Both Miss L and Mr. B were thrilled with the detail of the model railroad. Of course, this wasn't your average model railroad. It was approximately 100' x 15'. The life like scenary and props brought it all to life.





They sat in silence, moving up and down, different parts of the track, for right at an hour.


***************************

Once we left the Chattanooga - Choo Choo, we decided to search for a hotel and turn in early for the night.




Although when we left we had no deadline, or itinerary, I found that once the truck started back West, it was really hard not to head on home.



We were ready. The kids were ready.



They had been troopers the whole way. Although I had packed movies, snacks, coloring books and Leapsters, they found themselves entertained by the new and exciting scenes that passed by their truck windows.




They never once slept in the truck. No naps. Nothing.




They watched about an hour of a movie and never turned the DVD player on again.




I couldn't have asked for better, more content, children.


*************************

That night we stayed in Murfreesboro, TN. The next morning we decided that we would sleep in our own beds that night.


And on our way home, in the same town that we kicked off our vacation, we ended it. Mtn. View, MO.....this time a different park, but fun just the same. The first park had a airplane in it and this park had a caboose. The kids spotted it on the very first day and we vowed to take them to see it on our way back through.


We kept our promise and the kids enjoyed their last hoorah before we arrived at home. Five days prior we had contemplated our vacation and this time we reminisced it.


Five days. Four nights.


We had a blast.
Still, there is NO place like home....