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, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Womb with a view

I'm becoming convinced that's it's impossible for women to maintain a shred of dignity. From the time our period starts, we're on a continual loop of humiliating life experiences.

When I was a teenager my cousin thought it would be funny to throw me into the pool....that situation quickly became hysterical when my pad came floating to the top. Enter the 'Learning to insert a tampon' phase. (Don't panic. I've chosen to spare you from my water park story. You can thank me later.)

There's the fun of finding places to discreetly carry our necessities. When K was a baby, we were in the crowded church nursery and I asked Z to bring me a diaper out of her bag. He skipped over carrying an open super-all-day maxi pad with 'wings' no less. Sadly, I think it would have fit her. Of course none of that compares to our annual appointments with the gynecologist. I could practically hear the beeps of a large truck backing up as the nurse directed me onto the scale when I was eight months pregnant with Z. Her gestures looked like she was trying to land a small plane.

And the weigh-ins don't get any easier when you're not pregnant either. Those are followed by stirrups, and a 'you're about to feel a little pressure' comment as you lay there trying to think about anything other than 'what if I farted right now'......

The list could go on. The birthing process, breast milk arriving, engorgement that brightens the eyes of your husband with hopes that those things will stay that size forever, and the fun of trying to learn the art of feeding your own infant with those giant monsters while trying not to suffocate the infant. It's horrifying.

Anyway, last year I discovered a lump under my C-Section scar. My gynecologist diagnosed it as Endometriosis. Painful but nothing serious. I opted to have it removed and we scheduled my surgery. Last November I sat in the surgery center for over nine hours, starving, wearing a revealing hospital gown, hooked up to a constant flow of IV liquids, with the occasional visits from the male nurse anesthetist who would give me shots of something to 'relax me' but that would actually work as truth serum and I would tell him how good looking he was right in front of my husband every time he'd inject me with one. All for nothing because my doctor never freaking showed up! I pulled the plug on that little 'prisoner of war' experience and walked out swearing off Gynecologists forever.

Almost a year later, I was finally ready to deal with this situation once and for all. I found an amazing new doctor who seems like the type that would show up to do your scheduled surgery. He agreed with my previous doctor's assessment of my lump and ordered an Ultra Sound before scheduling my surgery.

My Ultra-Sound was yesterday and I was instructed to have my bladder full. I lay there on the table trying not to pee myself while a technician named Lisa pressed down with her machine as her student follower, Amanda, watched and I thought, "This couldn't possibly get any worse." Then she told me to empty my bladder (whoo hoo) because she's going to do an internal scan. (S***).

Ten minutes later I was lying on the table again, feeling like a human video game as Lisa moved the controller and Amanda studied the screen and once again made the mistake of thinking, "Okay, now this couldn't possibly get any worse." And then Lisa asked me if I would mind if Amanda took a turn. (Why not at this point?) Just before I went to my happy place where my orifices weren't being invaded, I heard Lisa tell Amanda, "Oh look....she has to pee again." (Thanks for the heads-up.......)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Homecoming...The good, the bad, and the clinically insane.

Several weeks ago, our beautiful daughter, Aubrey, announced that she had been voted to be the Freshman Attendant on the Homecoming Court. I was ecstatic! I had never received such an honor in school and was so excited to experience it with her. We immediately started planning our dress shopping day and all the fun we would have together.

The following day, she brought home a contract that she had to sign. The contract stated that we would allow 'The Queen' to pick her dress....huh?!? I'm sorry, I thought this was Homecoming. I didn't realize it was the queen's wedding.

Thinking back to how it worked when I was in school, all of the members of the court got to choose whatever they wanted to wear. (Suits were the attire of choice way back when.) And no one even found out which Senior Attendant was 'The Queen' until halftime of the Homecoming Game. Right? Shouldn't there be a level of suspense here? So, why is it that we even know who the queen is, much less, hand over our checkbooks to her and allow her to choose our daughter's dress?

Please allow me to take this moment to make something very clear. I hold nothing against the girl who was chosen as queen. My kids have nothing but wonderful things to say about her and although I don't know her well, from my few interactions with her, she seems like a great and down-to-earth girl. She did nothing that wasn't within her rights under the 'law' of this (stupid) tradition. That being said, here we go...

Due to the timing of the vote and the date of the game, we had less than two weeks to make all this happen. We were told on a Friday night that they were going dress shopping on Sunday. We weren't available to go that day. We received word on Sunday evening that Aubrey should bring $200 to school on Wednesday so that they could go pick up her dress. Let's hold on one second here, shall we? We're expected to hand over $200 for a dress, sight unseen, that may not even look right on my daughter and it may very well end up hanging in the back of a closet forever because she hates it so much.....sound about right? Not to this Momma.

Other than my part time massage clients, my husband is our sole provider. As equal partners in this marriage, I see my role with the finances as protector and respecter. He would freely hand over the checkbook to me without so much as a question and I could very easily take advantage of that, but I promise you, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I did. I love and respect him too much for that.

I also love and respect my daughter. She is worthy of a $200 dress and I didn't want her to think otherwise, but here's the deal. Just as my husband sets the standard of a man for Zac to look up to, I'm the standard my daughters see. (Heaven help them.) This is where lessons are taught and examples are set. This is life and this is where the rubber meets the road.

I had to strike a delicate balance between respect for the checkbook and respect for my daughter. I wasn't about to rock the boat for her at school or rob her of the excitement of this huge honor. This was about her, and this was for her, so I proceeded with caution.

I found out the store they chose the dress from, the color and name of the exact dress, and I looked it up on-line. Cute dress. Short dress. Certainly not a $200 dress. I'm not a good shopper, so my next step was to take full advantage of the shopping skills of my several hundred closest Facebook friends. (Technology is great!) I posted the dress information and posted my offer...."free massage to whoever finds the cheapest version of this dress." And, voila! Twenty minutes later, Alison, (ironically a friend I met in Massage School), came through with flying colors. We lined the two dresses up on the screen and Aubrey and I went over it with a fine tooth comb. To our eye, they were a perfect match. But I didn't want to take this lightly, so my next step was to ask another girl on the court who had already purchased the 'real' dress. I sent her our link and she couldn't find a difference. So that evening, we ordered Aubrey's Homecoming dress from Amazon for a mere $66 and a massage. Thank you Alison! And while we're on the topic of awesome friends, a friend from church who is a hair stylist offered to come to our house to do her hair! Thank you Melanie!

Next stop, shoes. We headed to the mall and found $55 shoes marked down to...ready for this?...$6.97. Yes, that's right, six dollars and ninety seven cents! And they fit me too! (But that's neither here nor there.)

Dress, check. Shoes, check. Hair, check. Let's see, what other fun things could we squeeze into this experience....aaahhhh.....pedicures! Back to the mall we went. Aubrey had a wonderful young girl who gave her a luxurious experience and not only painted her nails but decorated them too! I, on the other hand, had a surgical-glove-wearing, angry Vietnamese woman, who communicated to me through mean taps to my legs and if I didn't understand, I was rewarded with harder taps and vicious glares. How relaxing.

Over dinner with Aubrey, I pointed out our victory. We got her dress, shoes, hair, nails, make-up, and hair accessories and it still didn't add up to the price of the 'real' dress. (Whoo Hoo and high fives all around.) That's what we call success!

But the following day I received an angry phone call. Not from the Queen, but from the "Queen Mother." She heard that we bought a 'different' dress. I assured her that the dress wasn't 'different' but that it simply cost a lot less. She proceeded to fill my ear with tales of distraught court mothers, a distraught queen, who I'd apparently "disrespected", and even one distraught male escort from the football team. (We can't have a distraught football player, now can we.) It seems I had single handedly ruined Homecoming with Aubrey's 'different' dress and she demanded to come inspect the dress because her dress wasn't acceptable 'sight unseen.' (Oh the irony.)

A little back story on me here. I have a long history with a controlling narcissist in my life. My role was to 'fight' and I lived up to my role. The narcissist loves a good fight and thrives on conflict and the role of victim they get to play after the very fight they started in the first place. I've spent the past 3 years enmeshed in Beth Moore workbooks making changes in my behavior and subsequently learning how to handle narcissists. I'm practically a professional at this point. The lesson:  Don't fight and the narcissist eventually loses interest and goes away. Mark my words. It works.

So it took me about 5 minutes for my 'narcissist red flag' to raise in my head and I knew what I was dealing with and I adjusted my responses accordingly. I struggled with my 'fighting seeds' as they desperately tried to push to the surface. I could have (and would have loved to) rip this woman to shreds and leave her weeping in my wake. But this wasn't about me. This wasn't about the queen. This wasn't even about this woman. This was about my daughter. So I fought the good fight. I went against my very nature and I fought the fight of patience and grace and I took one for the team. Not because I had to, or because I wanted to, but because of a love that is greater than the need to be 'right.'
I endured five phone calls in the span of one afternoon. I stayed as quiet as I could and let the narcissist do all the talking. (They love that.) I even kept from laughing aloud when she told me that other women resent her because she's so attractive. (Wow. Classic narcissist. They're either 'too attractive, too smart, too holy, or too victimized' to see that they actually crave the conflict.) Between rantings about the dress, slight bits of the truth began to emerge, and pretty soon it became clear that the only person upset about this was the narcissist herself, and I can totally live with that.

Last night was the big game. Aubrey looked beautiful. She had a cheering section full of extended family. All the girls matched and all the moms were friendly and happy...except for one. After the game, one of the other court mothers approached me and seemed a little perturbed as she leaned in to tell me something. In an angry whisper she said, "I wish we'd ordered the $66 dollar dress too!!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dumplings, Cobblers and Pies, oh my!

We're extremely blessed to have two giant apple trees in our backyard. They were already here and well established when we moved in, which is the only reason they're still alive. The first year we were here, we got to experience the wonderful benefit of having our very own source of fruit at our fingertips, so we decided to take things a step further and planted grapevines, strawberry bushes, a cherry tree, and a peach tree. I weedwacked the grapevines in a moment of weedwacker rage, (see earlier post for my history with the freaking weedwacker). Our strawberry bushes produced a giant crop one year, but under our not-so-watchful eye, C ate them all. Eventually they were overtaken by weeds and ended up under our freshly poured concrete patio. Bye bye strawberry plants. Japanese Beatles devoured our cherry tree. Our peach tree, on the other hand, seems to be thriving and produced a whopping crop of four peaches this year.....C ate three of them. Hers likes her fruits.

But every other year, like clockwork, we get a bumper crop of delicious and beautiful apples. This was our year. During a cookout we hosted back in July, a friend asked me what we do with all of those apples and I told him that I spend several weeks picking, peeling, coring, and freezing them to make yummy apple desserts all through the winter. He asked me why it took several weeks and when I explained that I use a potato peeler he looked at me like I'd just sprouted an apple tree out of the top of my head. "You don't use the apple machine?!?" he asked. (What the heck is an apple machine?) Well, I was about to find out.....

When my apples were ready to pick, we wasted no time in tracking down this miracle apple machine and found one at Meijer for $9.99. Awesome. That Sunday afternoon I asked my husband to please pick me as many apples as he could. Apparently what he heard me say was "Duct tape empty trash bags into the trees, climb them like a monkey, and shake the limbs as hard as you can so that the apples fall into the bags." PS. That doesn't work and he was taken off 'picking' detail which was probably his intent.

The kids and I picked several bags of apples and excitedly attempted our apple machine. By the end of the evening, Z had sliced open three of his fingers, the thing wouldn't suction to the counter as promised, one of the prongs broke off in an apple, (I assume we'll find that in our next cobbler), and I only ended up with two freezer bags of apples because that stupid apple machine took the inside of the apple right along with the skin of the apple and I was left with tiny curly ques of apple nubs by the time it was done. This thing is supposed to save time, not cause more work and mame my only son and all I wanted to do was beat it against the floor and throw it out the freakin window. (I have rage issues.)

So I'm going to pretend that you've asked me to rate this machine for your future reference. I give it a D+. But if you're in the market for high blood pressure, bloody fingers, and a foul mouth, you too should get the apple machine. It'd be perfect.

Just for fun, here's a recipe for my easy Apple Cobbler:
1. Peel, core, and section 10-12 apples and place them in a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with non-stick spray
2. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon
3. Combine 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of oats and sprinkle over the top
4. Pour 1/2 a box of dry white cake mix over the top and stir it all together.
5. Place several pats of butter all over the top and bake uncovered @ 350 until the top is browned, then stir and cover with foil and continue baking until the apples are tender. (About an hour cooking time total.)
6. Added walnuts are delicious, but optional. I only add those when I want to witness my husband throw a dramatic temper tantrum....because that's kind of fun.

Monday, September 6, 2010


The date was Thursday September 2nd, 2010 and the temperature outside was a whopping 94 degrees. Yet on that day, Facebook was lit up with talk of pots of chili on the stove, crock pots full of barbecue meatballs and ovens stuffed with spicy chicken wings. What can explain the underlying current of electricity that causes grown men to withdraw from society for an entire season? Football. Who are they following? The Ohio State Buckeyes. Who is their leader? Jim Tressel.

The closest I ever came to being a 'Football Fan' was when I cheered in High School and I don't think that counts. When my husband and I began dating in March of our Senior year, football season was over so although I knew he played, I had no idea the depth of his passion for the sport.....until I accidentally planned our wedding on Super Bowl Weekend. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot.

Over the years I've gotten to experience firsthand what it's like to live with a Buckeye Fan, where suddenly the wardrobe color of choice is Scarlet & Gray and deciding on anything blue or (heaven forbid) yellow might very well get you spit on......by your own husband. (And speaking of wardrobe, several years ago, my husband told me that if he lost 50 lbs he was going to buy a 'Jim Tressel vest' to wear. Suddenly, using real butter in the mashed potatoes seemed like a really good idea.) This is a world where the mention of (whispering) "Michigan" is strictly prohibited and when he randomly yells "O-H!" from anywhere in the house, (or Walmart), you better be prepared to yell "I-O!" or risk getting the look of betrayal. Have an allergic reaction to a hazel nut when you're 6 months pregnant? Too bad if it's during an Ohio State game. The best he can do is call the squad and that's after a dramatic sigh and eye roll of inconvenience at your nerve to ask. And don't even think about going into labor unless you want your 'partner' and 'coach' to be sitting across the room in front of the television, loudly cheering and eating McDonalds while the nurse preps you for your c-section. (Am I bitter? Naaa.....)

But the vows said 'for better or for worse' so I am a Buckeye fan by marriage. I've learned to live with his glazed over eyes and know to stock up on library books to keep myself busy. I make the chili, meatballs, & wings, I turn my nose up at anything that has the nerve to be blue and / or yellow, I willingly cheer for a giant buckeye named Brutus, and our children know to spell out OHIO with their arms whenever my husband has the camera. I swore off hazel nuts and I even tracked my menstrual cycle so that I didn't taint Buckeye season with a pesky birth.....although he could have warned me that 'March Madness' has the same effect on him. Sorry C.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not a Buckeye fan because, really I am......those little balls of peanut butter dipped in chocolate and shiny parafin make me want to scream...."O-H!"