If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 4 dogs, and a whole lot of love.





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Friday, May 28, 2010

RETREAT!!!


Here's your official ((((TMI ALERT))))......don't say you weren't forewarned.....

The word 'Retreat' is defined as:
1. A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, & security......OR
2. The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.

Now let me tell you about the Marriage Retreat we attended last weekend with our church.......

My husband and I have been married for seventeen years and have four children ranging in age from sixteen down to three. 'Crazy' doesn't begin to describe our lives sometimes and as with most busy couples with busy kids, we're lucky to squeeze in twenty minutes of alone time and that's the very last twenty minutes of the day when we can barely keep our eyes open.

Recently our church provided some neat opportunities for couples. In March, a wonderful couple offered a marriage class. It was so much fun and very informative. Childcare was provided and for an hour on Sunday evenings for six weeks we got together with other couples and laughed and learned together. Our final night of class was topped off with ballroom dance lessons. (Believe it or not, we took ballroom dance lessons last winter.....that's a whole different story.....and although you might not ever hear my husband admit it, it was a lot of fun.)

On the heels of the marriage class, another wonderful couple planned and organized a Marriage Retreat at a very nice hotel for a Friday and Saturday. We've never been on a nice Marriage Retreat, so when they approached us to ask if we'd go we jumped at the chance. We immediately arranged for our kids to stay with my husband's parents, he scheduled the day off, and we took the kids out of school to allow us time to get there nice and early and really enjoy the experience.

We were the first to arrive at the hotel at 1pm and the organizers rolled in shortly after. We got our key and headed to the room to take full advantage of a hotel room alone. (Who's with me?) A while later we decided to grab our retreat packets on the way to the pool. While I was receiving our information, one of the organizers pulled my husband aside......when he returned I asked him what that was about and he casually told me that they wanted our room key to decorate it. (Here's a good rule of thumb: if you want to surprise a couple and decorate their hotel room, that idea should become void if the couple has already 'used' the room.) Everything in my world went to slow-motion. I looked up to see two of the wives in the glass elevator and it was slowly ascending to the top floor toward our room. Before I could even call him an idiot, I broke away from him and bolted toward the other glass elevator and repeatedly pushed the up arrow in hopes that it would help the thing arrive faster....it didn't. With my hands and face pressed against the slowly moving glass box I was trapped in, I could see the women enter our room. (Four letter word of choice here.) By the time I got out of the elevator and rounded the corner, the women were already leaving our room and one of them was on her cell phone. (I could only assume to the prayer chain.) With my stomach cramping, I entered our room to find roses, rose petals, and chocolate kisses spread all over our bed.....which would have looked wonderful on a made-up bed. By the time he caught up with me I was sitting on the toilet sobbing and he saw the weekend flash before his eyes, I'm sure. Eventually, he talked me down and I even managed to show my face again in public. Which brings me to what happened next......

After we swam, my husband decided to take a nap. (Apparently, all those cannon balls in the small pool of five feet of water exhausted him.) I decided to go downstairs to find the workout room. (And truth be told, to secretly hunt for a tampon machine, as I began to wonder if the room-decorating-debacle wasn't solely to blame for my stomach cramps.) No luck on the machine, but I hit pay dirt on the workout room! It was awesome and fully stocked with every machine you can think of. I had the place to myself so I opted to do my cardio routine....ten minutes fast on the bike, ten minutes on the elliptical at a steep incline, and ten minutes of sprints on the treadmill. It was just the solitude I needed to regain my composure, get out some frustration, and watch the dark clouds moving in as rain pounded against the windows and bolts of lightning seemed to get stronger and stronger. I was on my final rotation and sprinting on the treadmill when one especially strong bolt of lightning struck.....and knocked out the electricity.....(FYI: If you're running on a treadmill that suddenly loses power, you will fall down. There's just no way around it.) Down I went, face first, rolled off the back of the machine and for the second time that weekend, wondered what the heck I was doing here and cursing the word 'Retreat.'

Praying the security cameras went out with the electricity, I slipped out of the gym and tried to get an elevator. It took me all of five minutes of waiting to realize that elevators run by electricity. Who knew? My only other option was to climb the five flights of stairs to our top-floor room. So a mere four hours after this 'Retreat' started, I was in a hot stairwell and I looked like death warmed over: hot, sweaty, cramping, skinned up knees, runny make-up, nasty sweaty pony tail, and passing nice clean couples from church who were headed to the welcome reception, and probably wondering who beat the crap out of me but were too polite to ask. To top it off, the electricity kicked back on just as I reached our floor. (Of course!)

When I keyed into our room, my husband was up and getting ready, and announced, "Oh man! You're so lucky you weren't up here! The electricity went off while I was asleep and I woke up hot and sweaty! It was awful!" (Dude, how can you even look at me and say that?)

Down to the reception we went....my husband to get snacks and drinks....me on my secretly-find-a-tampon-machine attempt number two. (Insert 'Mission Impossible' music here......) Score! So amongst several women that I knew who were chatting and washing their hands, I discreetly slipped a quarter in the machine behind the bathroom door....the empty machine....then tried to discreetly get my stuck quarter out of the machine and was promptly rewarded with the door swinging open into the backs of my feet, legs, and butt with a loud slamming sound as my body hit the tampon machine and all eyes turned toward me. (So much for discreet.) Off to the front desk I go where I had no choice but to ask the man behind the desk for a tampon.....That's right, a man....who then proceeded to ask me if I wanted large or extra large which brought back the memory of my husband going to Walmart for tampons for me, approaching an employee, and telling her that he needed "the biggest thing you've got" and all I could picture was a giant box of pool noodles.....so I chose large in hopes of avoiding being handed a pool noodle on a string.

I finally made it to the reception and walked up to the bar beside my husband and asked for a mixture of pineapple, orange, and cranberry juice. The bartender asked me if I would like vodka with that and I said, "Yep, I would." My husband turned to me in shock and said, "You don't drink!" To which I replied, "I do now....."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A scroll down memory lane.....

(Several people have requested that I include some of my Facebook status updates in a blog entry. Out of curiosity, I scrolled down my entire wall which took me to December 2008, and began reading.....WOW! The memories, both good and bad, came flooding back. This is way better than a diary! So here is a compiled list of some of my favorites......)

I'm preparing for my "No more cussing" Resolution by taking full advantage of my last day because this #I'm preparing for my "No more cussing" Resolution by taking full advantage of my last day because this #$&*%'ing computer keeps #$%&#'ing shutting down!
amp;*%'ing computer keeps #$%&#'ing shutting down!

I'm surprised at how long it takes for a bathtub full of snow to melt. Maybe we should have taken our baths first.

I'm finally getting some pain relief after a cortisone shot, muscle relaxers, and a lecture from the doctor to my husband to wrestle someone his own size.....

I wish American Idol had a sniper with a tranquilizer gun so that every time Paula Abdul stood up she'd be taken down like a wild monkey.

I'm happy to say the new trampoline is finally intact....sadly, I can't say the same about my "No Cussing" Resolution.....

Was going to take C outside until I saw a cat blow by in the wind.....

Never knew Hungry Hungry Hippo was such a violent game until I played it with a two year old.

I'm bathing suit shopping today. If the Lord would like to return this morning and save me the horror and humiliation, He would have my full support.

T'was a dark rainy morning, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The kids got on the bus as I waved a goodbye, I put the sheets in the washer and the towels are all dry. C is nestled all snug in my bed while visions of coffee dance in my head....

We might be permanently banned from our favorite Mexican restaurant after C's behavior there this evening. (I promise she was yelling "Get my rice!" Unfortunately, that happens to sound exactly like "Kiss my ***!")

Perfect trip to Hilton Head Island until an 8 foot shark circled my family. Experts say to stand very still and he'll swim away. I chose to run from the water screaming "Shark!" and found my approach to be just as effective.

90% of the time, my husband is a gentle giant who never raises his voice or intentionally frightens anyone. Unfortunately, the census bureau lady who's been stalking us for seven months just got to experience the other 10%.

Had fourteen 2-3 year olds in Sunday School this morning. I'll be in therapy if anyone needs me....

I'm thankful for a husband who is really good at grocery shopping and who understands that I'm just really good at pushing the cart.

Just saw my husband use the hose attachment to vacuum his back....there are some things I'd just rather not know.....

Nothing brings a household to a screeching halt like the losing of a pacifier.

Heard that the 3rd Sunday in July was statistically the lowest attended of the whole year....apparently the 2-3 year old class didn't get the memo.

Need to write a letter of complaint to Sesame Street. I have a sobbing two year old because Ralphie the parrot freaking flew away. What were they thinking?!?

Oh crap!! Coffee with Fiber One Cereal....BAD idea.

When Z mentioned seeing a black and white cat in the garage, he left out the part about it being a skunk.

My "Chauffeur" job is kicking into high gear this week. (Someone needs to inform Z and A that it's customary to tip the driver....especially on those rare occasions when I actually bring the car to a complete stop at the drop off.)

Pretty sure you have to stop calling it 'baby weight' when 'the baby' can identify the numbers on the scale. Back to the trainer I go....

Spent the day with C in the pool....one of us refused to wear a bathing suit.

K: "Mom, does God call you Fred?" Me: "Uh, not that I know of. Does he call you Fred?" K: "Yep!" Then she sings, "I am a friend of God, He calls me Fred!" (Now I kind of hope He calls me Fred, too.)

(Now's your chance to cast your vote....scroll back to the top and let me know what you think! The majority will decide if this becomes an occasional feature on my blog.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weight....and limits.....


Up until I gave birth to C, I regularly worked out in a gym. Five days a week, I never missed a day, even all through my pregnancy. After C arrived, I realized it was going to be nearly impossible to keep that up with a newborn. So by the time she was seven months old, I decided I was going to have to improvise and bring the gym to me. I needed an elliptical machine.

Sears was having a big sale on all of their exercise equipment. One evening my husband and I left the kids at home and headed out to find the one I liked. As usual, it didn't take long for a salesman to latch onto us once he realized we were in there to make a purchase, and he was more than happy to take us around to let me try them out. After about an hour, I had it narrowed down between two and I could not make up my mind. Both had good things about them and the price was just about the same. My husband asked the salesman what the weight limit was on each machine so that he could try them out and help me decide. The salesman didn't hesitate and said, “Oh, at least 1,000 lbs.” So, he climbed aboard the first machine. This drew the curious eye of two young Mennonite boys who stopped to watch my Linebacker-sized husband attempt an elliptical machine. He started gently cycling the pedals and pumping the arm handles and it was going well. In an effort to seal the deal, the salesman encouraged him to take it up notch. On to level two he climbed. At the salesman's urging, (or taunting), it slowly turned into levels three, four, five, and six. At this point he was sweating profusely and the Mennonite boys were wide eyed and pretty impressed. Finally, the salesman said, 'Take it to ten!' and my husband, who is always up for a challenge, (or dare), obliged. That's when the pedal and arm handle on the right side flew off the front, just as the pedal and arm handle on the left side went flying off the back sending him straight down the middle in a giant split as his arms flew up in the air as if to yell 'Ta Da!'....except that's not what he yelled. The young brothers took off running in what I could only assume was fear for their lives or shock at the word they'd just heard. The salesman helped him to his feet apologizing profusely and blaming it on any and all stock boys employed by the Sears Corporation. That might have been part of it, but on further investigation, he was stunned to learn that he overestimated the weight limit by around 700 lbs. I'm sure he was equally as stunned when that's the machine I ended up buying. (But I demanded the five year extended warranty.)

As we were finishing up our purchase, my husband felt a light tapping on his back. He turned around to see that the two little boys had returned with three more of their siblings and one of them excitedly asked him if he could please do it again. He refused. Every party has a pooper.....

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thou shalt not drop the 'F-Bomb' on Mother's Day


Two years ago, my husband got me a new weedwacker for Mother's Day. I'll let that sink in for a moment.....my Mother's Day gift was a weedwacker. It's not that I complained that I was the one who did all the yard work, and I'm not the type that expects a gift on any occasion. But something about opening that freakin weedwacker on Mother's Day didn't sit well with me. And it didn't help when he saw the look on my face and said, "This one doesn't plug in so it will make your life a lot easier." (What would actually make it a 'lot easier' for me was if he would do the yard work! But I didn't say that.)

The problem with my "make-my-life-easier weedwacker" was that I didn't possess the skills of starting it by myself. (Clearly this "super-easy" weedwacker was made for a man, but little did they know.) Since it doesn't plug in, it requires a heavy tank of gas that rests under the handle and adds about ten extra pounds. So no longer could I simply turn it on, but I had to find a way to balance the contraption on one leg, hold the handle steady and trigger down with my right hand, and yank a pull chord as hard as I could with my left hand. "Gee, that does make my life easier!" The bottom line is, I could not start that freakin weedwacker by myself. That required me to beckon my husband outside every time I needed it started. That process entailed waiting for him to wait for a commercial, get something on other than his boxer shorts, and trudge outside as he loudly commented on how "hot it is out here." (See why I grit my teeth?) To make matters worse, I also seem to lack the capacity to keep the stupid thing running after he starts it.....it doesn't die right away, mind you.....it waits until he's back on the couch in his boxers. Every. Time.

That was two years ago. Last year on Mother's Day, I ended up doing the yard work after church. No complaints. I find it very relaxing to ride the lawnmower around an acre of land and I don't even mind the trimming, as I chalk that up to productive cardio. But then it came time to drag out that horrible piece of machinery......my nemesis.....that freakin weedwacker. (Notice the term weedwacker never stands alone anymore.) And I made the same mistake I make every single time. I attempted to start it by myself. Several times. Until I was hot, sweaty, and pissed and then yelled my husband's name in my very best devil voice and waited for him to appear in the front yard. Let Round two of our ritual begin. He started that freakin weedwacker and right as he disappeared into the house, it died. And that's when I completely lost it in the front yard. The meltdown to end all meltdowns. Right there, in the front yard, in my bathing suit, on Mother's Day 2009, I had a knock-down-drag-out-F bomb dropping-testimony-losing tantrum and I literally beat the crap out of that freakin weedwacker. A couple minutes later, I stood there dripping with sweat and breathing hard, and that's when I heard it.....the clippety cloppety sounds of horses hoof beats on the road directly behind me. I slowly turned around to see a caravan of Amish Families trekking by our house with their mouths gaping open and horrified looks on their faces, confirming forever their stance against technology. Glad I could help.

I don't do the yard work anymore. Not just because of that incident, although that certainly contributed. Somehow I lost my yard work mojo over the course of the last year. I started hitting things, my husband had to change our mower blades four times, Z took up the sport of golf and I lacked the ability to notice little white balls scattered in the grass, and things got dangerous out there. My husband finally put his foot down and announced that he'll be doing the yard work from now on, and so far, he's lived up to that promise.....with exception of one thing.....he has yet to use that freakin weedwacker.

I wonder why? It always made my life so much easier.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May as well teach em young........


Along with everything else they're responsible for, it seems that Elementary school teachers are also determined to expose our children to a fact of life.....death. How else could you explain their obsession with classroom pets?

A classroom pet is a tragedy waiting to happen. There's no way around it. It's not like they can choose an animal like a dog or a cat because that's unrealistic. So their only options are pets with the shortest life expectancy rates. ie; hamsters, birds, fish, or the dreaded guinea pig.

Here's the scenario. Buy a small caged rodent. Expose defenseless caged rodent to thirty small children with dirty fingers and loud voices Monday through Friday for nine months. What about the weekends, you ask? Well, we'll just let the small children take turns taking it home! What could possibly go wrong?

It was 2002 and it was toward the end of Z's second grade year. The classroom pet was an albino long haired guinea pig named Snowball who, despite the odds, had managed to stay alive until April. We had a black lab named Sadie. (See where this is going yet?) Let's just say that Snowball didn't even survive three hours at our house. My first reaction was to find a secret replacement. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a long haired albino guinea pig on short notice?!? I had no choice but to call the teacher at home. (To be honest, I waited until Saturday to give the impression that he at least made it one night in our home.) She was very sympathetic and understanding. Then she requested that I bring in his body Monday morning so that they could have a classroom funeral....um, about that....Crap. I was really hoping to avoid revealing the cause of death but she wants the body?!? I couldn't very well send in the few chunks that were left of Snowball, now could I? They're second graders, not Anatomy students. After a long awkward pause, I explained that there wasn't a whole lot left to send in and what was left could do some psychological damage. She decided that the best option was to tell the class on Monday morning and have a memorial service, sans the viewing. Thankfully that only left six weeks of Z being referred to as 'the kid who killed our classroom guinea pig' and then they had all summer to forget. The following year when A asked if she could bring home the classroom fish for spring break we answered with a unanimous "NO!" (We had cats, people.)

It's been eight years. K is in the fourth grade. Classroom pet of choice....hamster. (This hasn't been a good year for classroom pets at our school. The guinea pig in the high school science lab didn't survive the winter.....who knew there would be so many consecutive snow days in the month of February? Ooops.) But back to K's class hamster. They got him in September and named him Snickers. Her first question was if she could please sign up to bring Snickers home one weekend. We finally caved and told her if Snickers was still around in May, that she could take a turn. (What were the odds of it surviving the whole year, right?)

Well, it didn't. It seems that Snickers #1 was "really smart" and could open the cage and escaped during his first home visit over Labor Day weekend and was never seen or heard from again. (I suspect cat, but whatever.) Oddly enough, Snickers #2 through #5 were also "super smart" and they ended with the same fate as Snickers #1 by Christmas break. Several more attempts, a new cage, and a new name seemed to do the trick and tomorrow afternoon we'll be responsible for keeping 'Hershey #2' alive until Monday morning. At least it won't be a shock to the kids if 'Hershey #2' doesn't live to see Mother's Day....as a matter of fact, it will be more of a shock if he does......